It has been a pleasure being part of the MicroMentor Team for the last 9 years of our dramatic growth in volunteer mentoring services worldwide.
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Monday, June 15, 2020
Monday, May 25, 2020
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Friday, May 01, 2020
Friday, March 20, 2020
As the pandemic-strapped U.S. continues into a second decade of the war on terror and a new war on COVID 19 our citizens and our volunteer military are growing disinterested in warfare and focused on re-aligning our priorities.
The Military Industrial Complex (MIC) has made grand strides in technology, spending billions on new air craft and naval vessels, cyber warfare tools and sensors, while we have downsized combat soldiers to stand in the job line or wait for admission to veterans’ hospitals as our health care infrastructure was sacrificed for war profiteering.
CRITERIA FOR WINNING
Yet from a strategic perspective, to say nothing of the human cost, most of these dollars might as well have been burned. “At this point, it is incontrovertibly evident that the U.S. military failed to achieve any of its strategic goals in Iraq,” a former military intelligence officer named Jim Gourley wrote recently for Thomas E. Ricks’s blog, Best Defense. “Evaluated according to the goals set forth by our military leadership, the war ended in utter defeat for our forces.”
In 13 years of continuous combat under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the longest stretch of warfare in American history, U.S. forces have achieved one clear strategic success: the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Their many other tactical victories, from overthrowing Saddam Hussein to allying with Sunni tribal leaders to mounting a “surge” in Iraq, demonstrated great bravery and skill. But they brought no lasting stability to, nor advance of U.S. interests in, that part of the world.
When ISIS troops overran much of Iraq, the forces that laid down their weapons and fled before them were members of the same Iraqi national army that U.S. advisers had so expensively yet ineffectively trained for more than five years.”
The Tragedy of the American Military
Our government has not considered the risks, the indigenous cultural impact, the expense and the sacrifices required to sustain the nation building that must occur after we invade countries in pursuit of perceived enemies and place the burden of governance on military personnel who are not equipped to deal with it or manage USAID contractors who have profit motives in mind and corruption as a regular practice.
"Cost-plus contracts have long been criticized by government watchdogs like the Project On Government Oversight and waste-conscious lawmakers. Most recently, incoming Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) bluntly stated that these contracts are “disgraceful” and should be banned."
Your Tax Dollars Defrauded
THOSE WHO HAVE FOUGHT ASK GOOD QUESTIONS
‘NEW YORK TIMES”
“There are 26 veterans from the United States’ two most recent wars serving in the House and Senate.
Many say their experience in Iraq and Afghanistan taught them that the American military cannot fix what is fundamentally a cultural and political issue: the inability of governments to thwart extremism within their own borders.
Ted Lieu of California, said he would not support giving the president the formal authority he had requested because, like many veterans, he finds it difficult to see how the conflict will ever end.
“The American military is an amazing force. We are very good at defeating the enemy, taking over territory, blowing things up,” said Mr. Lieu, who served in the Air Force and remains in the Air Force Reserve as a lieutenant colonel. “But America has traditionally been very bad at answering the next question, which is what do you do after that.”
Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now serving in Congress have emerged as some of the most important voices in the debate over whether to give President Obama a broad authorization for a military campaign against the Islamic State or something much more limiting.”
NO SKIN IN THE GAME
The Tragedy of the American Military
BUYING OUR WAY OUT?
Foreign aid in the billions continues to the Middle East. US weapons export sales have reached a crescendo, increasing by 31% to 94 countries. with the Middle East receiving the line share.
A single Weapon, the 1.4 Trillion dollar F-35 will soon account for 12% of our total national debt.
QUOTE BY ERIC PRINCE, EX- CEO BLACKWATER:
“NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE”
"The world is a much more dangerous place, there is more radicalism, more countries that are melting down or approaching that state."
At the same time, the Pentagon is under growing pressure to cut spending and the cost of the all-volunteer force keeps rising, Prince said.
"The U.S. military has mastered the most expensive way to wage war, with a heavy expensive footprint." Over the long run, the military might have to rely more on contractors, as it will become tougher to recruit service members.
Prince cited recent statistics that 70 percent of the eligible population of prospective troops is unsuitable to serve in the military for various reasons such as obesity, lack of a high school education, drug use, criminal records or even excessive tattoos. In some cases, Prince said, it might make more sense to hire contractors.”
Did not the Roman Empire run into these issues when they outsourced their wars and went to the baths?
Can we insist our government representatives consider these factors and plan ahead?
Future generations, their wealth, health and treasure will depend on our answers.
Wednesday, March 04, 2020
|Image: Beltway Bandits, Cronyism and Department of Defense Exclusive Contracts|
The following article in “Task and Purpose” by Jeff Schogol, although a bit risque, is an apt description of the annual event I witnessed for 36 years on the inside of the Military Industrial Complex among the nations largest defense contractors. At times those of us who know the venue well appreciate a lighter view of it. I found Jeff’s talent for knowledgeably creating that view delightful and along the lines of the legendary HBO Movie, “Pentagon Wars” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXQ2lO3ieBA
– Ken Larson
“TASK AND PURPOSE” By Jeff Schogol
“One thing your friendly Pentagon correspondent has learned is there are two things you can write about on budget day: Toys and people.
Right now, the U.S. military is like a 5-year-old at a birthday party. Every time it sees that another kid has received a present, it decides that it must have the exact same thing. (Oh, China got hypersonic weapons this year? I want one!)”
“Beloved readers: Monday is the most wonderful all days – budget day!
The Defense Department will unveil its part of the president’s budget request. If you’re a trade reporter, budget day is like Independence Day, Christmas, and the Super Bowl wrapped up in a crushing orgasm.
Your friend and humble narrator has covered quite a few of these budget rollouts over the years. Each time, this reporter asks himself the same question: “How the hell did I get through this last year?”
The answer is simple, really: Budget day is a smorgasbord of figures that have little bearing on reality because lawmakers will end up rewriting the budget to reward their constituents. Defense officials also spend hours speaking in tongues by using arcane acronyms like “POM.” (A Program Objective Memorandum outlines defense spending for the next five years. Since that spans two election cycles, POMs are altered so many times that they become totally unrecognizable from their original form.)
Each defense budget is loaded with toys so that defense industry executives can pay the mortgage for their winter homes in the French Riviera. For reporters who cover the Navy, the big question is how many ships the service plans to build.
Navy leadership has stressed that it is committed to having a total of 355 ships by 2030 even though they have no plan to get there. (For their next miracle, they will walk on water and hand out enough fish and loaves for everyone to enjoy.)
Air Force watchers want to know how many F-35 fighters, KC-46 tankers, and B-21 bombers the service plans to pay for – and then act surprised when the aircraft don’t work. The KC-46, for example, is years behind schedule and the need for a new tanker is urgent because the Air Force’s KC-135s first entered service in the 1950s. (Rather than listing everything that is wrong with the KC-46, I’ll sum up by saying this: It’s built by Boeing.)
While the Air Force is tucking $100 bills into the aerospace industry’s bra strap, the Army will get to talk about all of its new and wonderful modernization programs that don’t have a prayer of becoming a reality. Do you remember the multiple times the Army has tried to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle? Yeah, they couldn’t even do that.
God bless the Army, but they are always looking for the gold-plated solution so they can never make a decision. Instead, they will down-select from 150 vendors to 75, and then order five years of intensive testing to find out things such as whether the new squad automatic rifle can fire in space. By the time the Army is comfortable choosing between two options, all the people who were originally in charge of the project have retired or died of old age and Congress will end up cancelling the project.
If you cover the Marine Corps, budget day is about looking for scraps. The Corps’ acquisition budget is tiny compared to the other services because they don’t buy aircraft carriers or bombers. They are constantly looking for a new amphibious vehicle or other weapon systems that are the equivalent of Dollar Store specials. That’s one reason why Marines know there is no better acquisition system than stealing gear from the Army.
The other major category of budget stories looks at whether the military services are adding people – like the Army and Marine Corps did during the Iraq War – or drawing down, as all the military branches did during President Barack Obama’s second term. (The Air Force was so enthusiastic about cutting airmen that one can imagine the service’s leadership singing “It’s Raining Men” at the time.)
When President Donald Trump was elected, there was some speculation that the Marine Corps could become much larger because Trump had endorsed a recommendation from the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank that the Corps have a total of 36 battalions. But in 2017, then-Defense Secretary James Mattis told the Corps to fix its readiness problems without adding more Marines. (Once again, the Marine Corps was SOL. Note the pattern.)
Whatever great and wondrous things are included in the Pentagon’s latest proposed budget, expect your friend and humble narrator to be listening with rapt attention as military officials go through endless Power Point presentations that have all of the excitement of J-Lo and Shakira’s halftime show – without the vibrating derrieres.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jeff Schogol covers the Pentagon for Task & Purpose. He has covered the military for 14 years and embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq and Haiti. Prior to joining T&P, he covered the Marine Corps and Air Force at Military Times.
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
|Please Click On Image To Enlarge|
If one aspires to simply maintain one’s material life style, retain responsibility for those close to us and relax as objectives, that is one form of retirement – call it maintenance.
Many cannot undertake a maintenance retirement due to challenges such as the economic events of recent years, family responsibilities involving their children, or aging parents. They must continue to generate an income but must adjust to advancing age and find new ways to generate revenue.
I hear from many individuals at “Small to Feds” http://www.smalltofeds.com who seek to go into business for themselves on-line or in the home as a way to supplement their retirement.
Given reasonably good health and a responsibility-free environment, most find retirement rather boring after a time and seek continued professional growth. In fact it has been espoused that such a lethargic existence can be hazardous to our health.
Balance is the key – Balancing age with wisdom, lifestyle with responsibility and available means; a new professional endeavor, volunteer work, recreation, the arts, – that which gives meaning to continued existence.
If the need to generate revenue is a prominent factor, care must be taken in assessing risk to health and fortune by investing too much in effort or treasure. That is where the balance comes in.
We have heard 40 is the new 30, but yet I think “old” seems to always stay the same distance for me. At 25 I thought 50 was old, at 35 I thought 60 was old, now that I am approaching 75 years of age, 95 is old.
I know true age is more a matter of mind. I took a fall on the ice in front of the Middle School and 2 dozen 5th graders. The fall didn’t hurt nearly as much as the laughter and the subsequent whispers this year, “There goes that old guy again, do you think he might fall?”
I took a nap out in the wildlife refuge in a beautiful stand of aromatic pines. When I awoke I found two huge turkey buzzards staring at me intently from their perch nearby. I had known I was getting older but had not realized I had reached the carrion stage.
I reported a pollution spill in the Vermilion River and the Minneapolis paper picked up the story. A reader commented on the web site that the Minnesota pollution control program had now been relegated to an “Old Guy” in the vets home.
I feel fine about getting old. It’s how I am perceived by others that bothers me.
We will all retire in some form. We have no choice. What we invent or re-invent along the way to make the most of it is our personal challenge.
Saturday, February 01, 2020
“Veterans are 45 percent more likely than non-veterans to start a small business.
Today, veterans own 2.52 million small businesses — nearly 1 in every 10 — while employing 6 million Americans and generating $1.14 trillion in receipts.
Veteran-owned small businesses have always been a pillar of America’s economy, but they are in a generational decline.
More than 1.1 million veteran business owners are over the age of 65, and in 2014, only 4.5 percent of Post-9/11 veterans started a business, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When considering that nearly half of World War II veterans and 40 percent of Korean War veterans started businesses, the differences are stark.
As an estimated 200,000 service members transition from the military every year, the Small Business Administration knows how imperative it is to connect service members, veterans and military spouses with the tools and resources they need to become business owners — and what the nation risks losing if they don’t.
Starting a successful small business is a tough mission. It requires tenacity, discipline and adaptability — all character traits found in a veteran, alongside many other skills. But being your own boss doesn’t mean going it alone.
Transitioning service members and veterans need ready access to business assistance services, resource networks, capital and market opportunities to ensure success. Empowering and regenerating America’s veteran entrepreneurs is one way to help reverse our declining trends in entrepreneurship while also facilitating the economic revitalization of small towns and rural America.
The SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development works to formulate, implement and promote policies and programs that equip members of the military community with counseling, training and education, as well as access to capital to start their own businesses and assist them with contracting opportunities.
Since 2013, 50,000 transitioning service members and military spouses have participated in the Boots to Business program as part of the Defense Department’s Transition Assistance Program. B2B provided — for the first time since World War II — a strong, visible pipeline of potential veteran business owners.
Boots to Business provides free entrepreneurship training in more than 200 military installations and military communities. Graduates of these programs are 53 percent more likely to start a business, and 91 percent are still in business after a year, according to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families.
Resources like the Veterans Business Outreach Centers provide entrepreneurial development, counseling and mentoring, and referrals for eligible members of the military community. The Service-Disabled Entrepreneurship Development Training Program supports organizations that deliver entrepreneurship training to service-disabled veterans, and the Veterans Institute for Procurement is an accelerator-like program that focuses on procurement.
In addition to the resources listed above, female veterans, active duty, and military spouses can also access resources through Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship, or V-WISE.
Surveys of Post 9/11-era veterans show as many as 25 percent would like to own a business after leaving service. However, lack of seed capital can be a challenge. There are no grants for veteran-owned businesses, traditional SBA lending programs are not for new businesses and the SBA’s micro-lending intermediaries do not focus on veterans, leaving veteran entrepreneurs more likely than nonveterans to rely on personal savings and credit cards to fund their businesses.
Seeking to bridge the seed capital gap, Congress proposed the Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition, or VET, Act of 2016. It proposes an SBA program that would evaluate the use of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits as seed capital for starting a new business, similar to the World War II era-GI Bill, connecting B2B and other technical assistance programs to GI Bill grants by leveraging existing SBA infrastructure and administration.
The SBA activates the entrepreneurial potential of military and veteran entrepreneurs. Recognized through the SBA’s annual celebration during National Veterans Small Business Week and beyond, generations of these brave women and men have answered the call to start their own small businesses. The Post-9/11 era of veterans represents the next great generation to continue this legacy of success.”
Veteran Owned Small Business Keeps America Strong