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Friday, September 24, 2021

Help for Veterans In Translating Military Experience To Civilian Job Openings

As Veterans Ascend CEO Robyn Grable put it, her site is essentially “Match.com for veteran employment.” (Photo provided by Veterans Ascend


MILITARY TIMES”
“Veterans Ascend, a website that gives veterans a direct link to contact prospective employers and also translates military-speak into the keywords that recruiters are looking for on a resume. “
________________________________________________________________________
“When Col. Mindy Williams took her resume to a civilian recruiter for fine-tuning, she was told that it would “scare people.”
Apparently, the Marine language she was using essentially “translates to ‘hired killer’ in military terminology,” Williams said she was told.
As Williams learned, it can be very hard for veterans to explain on a resume how the skills they learned in the military are applicable to civilian jobs.
“At Veterans Ascend, you have people who served in the military and cut through all the formalities and make that match between a civilian employer and the veteran,” she said. “And they know what they’re talking about.”
Veterans can sign up for free and create a Veterans Ascend profile that contains information about what they did during their military service. Then the site’s algorithm translates that language into layman’s terms, to highlight skills recruiters are looking for. Finally, employers who have also made profiles can match with veterans and contact them for interviews.
It’s essentially “Match.com for veteran employment,” Veterans Ascend CEO Robyn Grable said.
“Because we’re matching on skills, veterans are getting the ability to match with jobs they’d never find anywhere else and for jobs they wouldn’t even begin to think their skills would qualify them for,” she said.
Veterans Ascend launched in late 2018. Grable said that about 2,000 veterans have signed up for it so far, as have several employers. Recently, Lockheed Martin signed up, and the company has pledged to do interviews with at least three veterans, according to Grable.
Grable believes that Veterans Ascend solves a few issues veterans face when applying for jobs. For one, it eliminates the chance that computer-screening software won’t be able to interpret their resumes and will scrap their applications before they ever reach a recruiter.
Grable hopes that it will also help diminish veteran under-employment as well as unemployment.
“Veterans can get jobs … It’s the problem of under-employment and getting good careers that use our skills,” she said. “For a veteran to come out of the military and get offered a $10-an-hour job to support their family, it’s embarrassing. That’s the bigger issue, getting them into a job that’s commensurate with all their skills.”
Such a service probably would have helped Stacey Wiggins, Veterans Ascend’s chief operating officer, when he was separating from the military. The Air Force veteran said he went through the military’s Transition Assistance Program and yet still had to send out about 200 resumes before he landed a job.
A very small percentage of the population has served in the military or has an immediate family member who has served. That means there’s a gap in civilian knowledge out there about the terminology the military utilizes to describe skills that could translate to a civilian workplace, Grable said.
“Those are skills that go across every civilian occupation,” Grable said. “But employees are missing out on these people because employers don’t understand those skills.”
Veterans Ascend hopes to bridge these gaps.
“I just really want all the veterans and all the employers to jump on this bandwagon,” Williams said. “It could do great stuff for both.”
Wiggins believes that Veterans Ascend can help vets who feel like they were “left hanging” after TAP didn’t prepare them well enough for finding civilian employment.
“Networking is one of the most important things, because it really is about those connections,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to facilitate those connections.”
Williams also felt that TAP didn’t get her sufficiently ready for life after the military. That lack of preparation creates a huge divide between what employers want to see from veterans and what veterans think employers are looking for, Williams said.
“If we could focus on that chasm, we could have results,” she said. “I think that Veterans Ascend does provide a really great fix to the chasm.”

Military Times

Thursday, September 23, 2021

What Has Happened To All the Great Leaders And What The Next Ones Are Facing


The next great world leaders will be faced with the following:

  • Facing geopolitical and economic realities, stopping war interventions and investing in relationships within and without our country by offering mutual collaboration.
  • Ceasing dwelling on threat and build long term infrastructure, education and international development.  The threats will melt away. 
  • Investing for the long term based on a strategy dealing with challenges in education, communication and society value transitions.
  • Developing government working modes that know how to strike a balance between long and short term actions. We must let them know what we think regularly by communicating with them. 
  • Knowing that most cultures and societies in upheaval today are watching our national models and choosing whether or not to support them, ignore them or attack them. 

Let us hope they are up to the challenge

The world is crying for great leaders. They are out there, but I believe they are hesitant to step forward, from the US to Britain and beyond. It is worth examining why and what has happened to some recent United States great leaders.

This author watched for over 35 years in aerospace as the massive machine of government ground up men of integrity who had a true sense of leadership, purpose and service.

Unknown to the average American is the swinging door of military personnel who enter the defense industrial complex and then move on into government civil positions, lobbying activities or enterprises tapping their former service background for gain and greed.  Statesmanship and integrity have a difficult time surviving in that environment. The potential for waste, fraud and abuse is tremendous:

Oversight organizations such as POGO have highlighted many cases of abuse where former military personnel have been involved. The POGO data base at the link below has public record details regarding these type of occurrences:

Colin Powell had difficulties in a government role because real integrity fares poorly in the big machine and he made the mistake of trusting the NSA and the CIA, as well as Lockheed Martin, SAIC and CSC on Iraq war policy.

Dwight David Eisenhower was one of the last, great, ex-military presidents who led well in government. He warned us at the ink below about the big machine gathering power as he left office:

Harry Truman could not have made the type of hard decisions and "Buck Stops Here" operations in this day in age. The machine would have crippled him.

Jimmy Carter had integrity but did not fare well because the huge gears of government were grinding away by then.

General Schwarzkopf demonstrated true leadership potential in the first Gulf War but very prudently moved away from the government he served as a military officer when he retired. He was a Vietnam vet who knew the machine too well..

I worked in Aerospace through 7 Administrations and all I saw was the machine getting bigger, grinding up leadership principles, young soldiers, creating new enemies and spewing foreign interventions and profits for large corporations.

Our hope for the future is that 
the massive machine of government will be re-sized small enough so a true leader with statesman qualities will be inclined to take the helm and steer it in a direction away from political stagnation while fostering a resumption of the premiere place the US has had in history. 

We found the STRATFOR Article by George Friedman exceptional in its analysis of the limited power of the President and the absolute necessity of anyone holding office to be capable of evolving coalitions effectively in governing domestically and on the world stage: 

U.S. Presidency Designed to Dissapoint

Here are some select extracts: 
*** "The American presidency is designed to disappoint. Each candidate must promise things that are beyond his power to deliver. No candidate could expect to be elected by emphasizing how little power the office actually has and how voters should therefore expect little from him. So candidates promise great, transformative programs. What the winner actually can deliver depends upon what other institutions, nations and reality will allow him." 


*** " The power often ascribed to the U.S. presidency is overblown. But even so, people -- including leaders -- all over the world still take that power very seriously. They want to believe that someone is in control of what is happening. The thought that no one can control something as vast and complex as a country or the world is a frightening thought. Conspiracy theories offer this comfort, too, since they assume that while evil may govern the world, at least the world is governed."






Thursday, September 16, 2021

How Does A Military Veteran Feel About Recent Events?

File photo (Bumble Dee/shutterstock.com)

Whether it is soldiers deployed to the Middle East or soldiers deployed to the streets of our country, viewing threats, including our present civil unrest,  as “war” brings more spheres of human activity into the ambit of the law of war, with its greater tolerance of secrecy, violence, and coercion — and its reduced protections for basic rights. 

The civilian must accept his or her role in the issue. Elected representatives appropriate money and approve U.S. activities in other countries [and in our own].

Solders go where they are ordered by their commander.

If the civilian wishes change, then change can be at hand if the elected official is contacted and a strong input from the citizenry makes the demand heard. [violence is deafening and self-defeating]. 

“Rose Covered Glasses”

“Asking warriors to do everything poses great dangers for our country — and the military. Our armed services have become the one-stop shop for America’s policymakers.

Here’s the vicious circle in which we’ve trapped ourselves: 

As we face novel security threats from novel quarters  — emanating from [civil unrest, pandemics] non-state terrorist networks, from cyberspace, and from the impact of poverty, genocide, or political repression, for instance — we’ve gotten into the habit of viewing every new threat through the lens of “war,” thus asking our military to take on an ever-expanding range of nontraditional tasks.”

How the Pentagon Became "Walmart"

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

A Combat and Defense Company Veteran Connects the Dots On American Warfare




U.S. Wars and Healthcare for Those Who Fight Them 
 
FACTS:

The U.S. has spent $ Billions on warfare and invasion in the Middle East and many other world locations, sacrificing young soldiers lives in the name of security and military industrial complex profits. 

The 5 largest weapons production and services companies are experiencing the best years in their respective histories. 

Many Americans do not know the number of locations in which we have a military presence today, since in many instances we are not informed when we invade a new country. 

For well over a decade, the US has reacted to the 911 tragedy by creating a behemoth machine that:
  • Knows Only Killing
  • Has Little Understanding of Foreign Cultural Factors in Nation Building
  • Spawns New Versions of Our Old Enemies 
  • Creates a Dangerous Outgrowth of Technology in the Military Industrial Complex and Then Exports It for Profit
  • Defies Financial Control With Dire Consequences for the Nation’s Economic Future 

Economic competitors like China on the world stage have invested enormous amounts in networks involving prudent infrastructure, financial investment and relationship building while avoiding warfare. 
  • China is quickly growing into the world’s most extensive commercial empire. The scale and scope of the "Belt and Road" initiative is staggering.
  • Estimates vary, but over $300 billion have already been spent, and China plans to spend $1 trillion more in the next decade or so.
  • Unlike the United States and Europe, China uses aid, trade, and foreign direct investment strategically to build goodwill, expand its political sway, and secure the natural resources it needs to grow.
 
A Change Must be Brought About in the Following Manner:


Facing geopolitical and economic realities, stopping war interventions and investing in relationships within and without our country by offering mutual collaboration.

Ceasing to dwell on threat by building long term infrastructure, education and international development.  The threats will melt away. 

Investing for the long term at the stock holder, company and national levels based on a strategy dealing with both present day and long term challenges in education, communication and society value transitions from threat scenarios to cooperative, peaceful ventures. 

Electing a Congress and an Administration that knows how to strike a balance between long and short term actions and letting them know what we think regularly by communicating with them. 

Knowing that most cultures and societies in upheaval today are watching our national model and choosing whether to support it, ignore it or attack it.





The Cost in Dollars and Human Suffering to Our Volunteer Military and Its Veterans Involves Profiteering Among Federal Contractors

The massive backlog in veteran's services recently highlighted in the press and in Congress  reveals a dire necessity for simplification, communication and efficiency in processes, systems and government service contracting in DOD and the Veterans Administration as well as better management of federal government contractors. 

The news media, the auditors and the average American are pointing the finger at the President and the Head of the VA.  One cannot ignore the accountability aspects of these individuals.  

However, the real root causes lie in the massive volume of war veterans returning from our pointless incursions in the Middle East over the last decade, coupled with the historical  lack of integration in process and systems work conducted between the Department of Defense and the VA with poorly managed military contractors taking home millions on systems specifications that change like the wind blows.  


 
A Veteran Connects the Dots in the Military and Veterans Healthcare Systems Maze
The present state of the economy and the needs of our servicemen will not allow the aforementioned to  continue. Government agencies are now hard pressed to insure the most  "Bang for the Buck". It is in the long term interests of the politician, the DOD, the VA and astute contractors to assist in that endeavor. 

The only way to achieve such an objective is through sound technical, cost and schedule contract definition via an iterative process of baseline management and control.

Contract Baseline Management

Government civil servants must be trained to report systemic poor service up the line in lieu of hiding bad news from superiors or developing workarounds.  This must be an expectation built into their job description and they must be rewarded and promoted for meeting that requirement just as they are for the other requirements of their jobs. 

The first whistle to be blown must be to the boss when the service issue occurs, not to the press a year from the occurrence.  

Military Health Care Systems Maze

Strategic and Economic Trends in U.S. Warfare Cannot and Will Not Continue

The debt is too great a burden for generations of tax payers.

It is too risky in terms of technology that falls into enemy hands, either through the "Internet of Things" or by blunders in export management and battlefield events.  


It will be replaced by domestic and foreign relations programs that emphasize global human progress and economic development in lieu of threats.  The result will rely on uplifting, cooperative efforts among nations in lieu of killing. Our competition on the world stage has recognized this fact and is proceeding accordingly. 


The globe has become too small to operate the Military Industrial Machine and the resources that have fueled it will be redirected. 
  There simply is no other way.

 Our returning soldiers and those who have served before deserve better.




Wednesday, August 18, 2021

A CITIZEN’S GUIDE TO CRITIQUE THE PENTAGON


Lt. Colonel Daniel L. Davis

INTRODUCTION

This Article was first posted in 2012. It has been updated only to adjust the amount of the national debt in the concluding paragaph from what was then 16 Trillion to what is now approaching 29 Trillion. We offer once more in this posting not only our opinion on the massive Military Industrial Complex, but also the opinions of three experts who have lived war fighting - on the recent fields of battle, and in weapons systems development.

The quotations are extracts from larger articles. We suggest the reader follow the links after each to become further informed. 

It is our hope that the facts offered here will contribute to the knowledge of US citizenry regarding hard decisions forthcoming on the nature of war fighting and its role in the future of our country.

OUR VIEW

This Blog was founded in 2006, based on the 36 years experience of a soldier in war zones and major corporations in the US Military Industrial Complex.   Our view is expressed in the below article, an extract of which reads:

Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and "Rice Bowls" which are never mixed.

Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exorbitant in terms of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon's many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and Overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years. What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing.

Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Men like Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establishment wants. This still continues - with increasing high technology and potential for abuse.”


A FELLOW VETERAN’S VIEW

Paul Riedner is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. December 13, 2011 – Minneapolis Star Tribune Commentaries. Personally, sacrificed four years in support of the war effort -- one deployed as an army engineer diver.
There remain countless inner struggles that lurk in dark corners of my psyche. They are difficult to measure or even explain.
What does it mean to have been a part of this war?
To have been a part of: 4,500 American deaths; 33,000 Americans wounded; estimates as high as 600,000 Iraqi deaths; more than $1 trillion in taxpayer money spent; $9 billion lost or unaccounted for; huge corporate profiteering; a prisoner-abuse scandal; a torture record worthy of the Hague; a hand in the financial crisis, and runaway unemployment when we get home.
I've learned that we are easily duped and that we quickly forget. Saddam has WMDs. No, we are exporting democracy. No, we are protecting human rights, and by the way, their oil will pay for it all.
I've learned that 9/11 was used against us. We gladly handed over our civil liberties in the name of security. And recently our Congress quietly reapproved the unconstitutional Patriot Act.”
AN OFFICER’S VIEW
Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel L. Davis in the United States Army, serving as a Regular Army officer in the Armor Branch. He has just completed his fourth combat deployment. (Desert Storm, Afghanistan in 2005-06, Iraq in 2008-09, and Afghanistan again in 2010-11). In the middle of his career he served eight years in the US Army Reserve and held a number of civilian jobs, one of which was an aide for US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (Legislative Correspondent for Defense and Foreign Affairs).
From “Dereliction of Duty II
Senior Military Leaders’ Loss of Integrity Wounds Afghan War Effort 27 January 2012”

We have lavished praise a few of our senior military leaders for being “warrior-scholars” whose intellectualism exceeds those of most wearing the uniform. But what organization in the world today – whether an international terrorist organization or virtually every major company on the globe – needs physical territory on which to plan “future 9/11 attacks”? Most are well acquainted with the on-line and interconnected nature of numerous global movements. We here in the United States know video conferencing, skyping, emailing, texting, twittering, Facebooking, and virtually an almost limitless number of similar technologies.

And a few men have convinced virtually the entire Western world that we must stay on the ground in one relatively postage-stamp sized country – even beyond a decade and a half – to prevent “another 9/11” from being planned, as though the rest of the world’s geography somehow doesn’t matter, and more critically, that while the rest of the world does its planning on computers and other electronic means, al-Qaeda must be capable only of making such plans on the ground, and only on the ground in Afghanistan.

When one considers what these few leaders have asked us to believe in light of the facts pointed out above, the paucity of logic in their argument becomes evident. What has been present in most of those arguments, however, has been emotionally evocative words designed to play strongly on American patriotism: “…this is where 9/11 was born!” “these young men did not die in vain” “this is a tough fight” etc. It is time – beyond time – for the evidence and facts to be considered in their comprehensive whole in a candid and honest public forum before we spend another man or woman’s life or limbs in Afghanistan.”


A PENTAGON DEFENSE ANALYST’S VIEW

Franklin C.   "Chuck  " Spinney Pentagon’s Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation (better-known by its former name, Systems Analysis, set up to make independent evaluations of Pentagon Policy)

Author - "Defense Facts of Life: The Plans-Reality Mismatch", which sharply criticized defense budgeting, arguing that the defense bureaucracy uses unrealistic assumptions to buy in to unsustainable programs, and explaining how the pursuit of complex technology produced expensive, scarce and inefficient weapons. Spinney spent his career refining and expanding this analysis. The report was largely ignored despite a growing reform movement, whose goal was to reduce military budget increases from 7% to 5% after inflation. Two years later, he expounded on his first report, including an analysis on the miscalculation of the burden costs of a majority of the weapon systems and re-titled it "Defense facts of life: The Plans/Reality Mismatch", which later became simply known as the "Spinney Report":
And that's why we ought to treat the defense industry as a public sector; and if we did that then you wouldn't see these gross disparities in salaries creeping in. But essentially if you try to understand what's going on in the Pentagon and this is the most important aspect, and it gets at the heart of our democracy. Is that we have an accounting system that is unauditable. Even by the generous auditing requirements of the federal government.
Now what you have to understand is the kind of audits I'm talking about these are not what a private corporation would do with a rigorous accounting system. Essentially the audits we are required to do are mandated under the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, and a few amendments thereafter. But it's the CFO Act of 1990 that's the driver.
And it basically was passed by Congress that required the inspector generals of each government department, not just the Pentagon, but NASA, health, education, welfare, all the other departments, interior department where the inspector general has to produce an audit each year. Saying, basically verifying that the money was spent on what Congress appropriated it for. Now that's not a management accounting audit. It's basically a checks and balances audit.
Well, the Pentagon has never passed an audit. They have 13 or 15, I forget the exact number, of major accounting categories. That each one has it's own audit. The only one of those categories that's ever been passed is the retirement account.
Now under the CFO Act of 1990 they have to do this audit annually. Well, every year they do an audit and the inspector general would issue a report saying we have to waive the audit requirements, because we can't balance the books. We can't tell you how the money got spent.
Now what they do is try to track transactions. And in one of the last audits that was done the transactions were like… there were like $7 trillion in transactions. And they couldn't account for about four trillion of those transactions. Two trillion were unaccountable and two trillion they didn't do, and they accounted for two trillion.”
CONCLUSION:
https://billmoyers.com/content/inside-pentagon-30-year-insider-chuck-spinney-health-americas-defense-systems/ The material here is submitted on its own merits. Consider it carefully as the Pentagon consumes 70% of US disposable tax revenue and our national debt approaches $29 Trillion.  

Ask yourself if there are other alternatives for the future of our country.


Thursday, August 05, 2021

U. S. Single Year Government Funding, Budget Control And The National Debt

                                                                     
Image: Kickstarter.com/Rose Coveredglasse

 

Having  dealt with the funding process in the government contracting industry  (both large and small business) for over 40 years through many  administrations and much frustration, I can discuss with  some  credibility a major weakness in the huge machine we call the US  Federal  Government -- the one year budget cycle. It is whipping everybody and we have undergone sanctimonious "Shutdowns" with the promise of more to come.
  
A huge reason for much of the largess in this entire area is the one year budget cycle in which the US Government is entrenched.  

About mid-summer every agency begins to get paranoid about whether or not they have spent all their money, worried about having to return some and be cut back the next year. They flood the market with sources sought notifications and open solicitations to get the money committed. Many of these projects are meaningless.

Then during the last fiscal month (September) proposals are stacked up all over the place and everything is bottle-necked. If you are a small business trying to get the paperwork processed and be under contract before the new fiscal year starts you are facing a major challenge.

Surely the one year cycle has become a ludicrous exercise we can no longer afford and our government is choking on it. It is a political monstrosity that occurs too frequently to be managed.

Government must lay out a formal baseline over multiple years (I suggest at least 2 fiscal years - ideally 4 - tied to a presidential election)  - then fund in accordance with it and hold some principals in the agencies funded accountable by controlling their spending incrementally - not once year in a panic mode.

Naturally exigencies can occur. A management reserve can be set aside if events mandate scope changes in the baseline due to unforeseen circumstances. Congress could approve such baseline changes as they arise.

There is a management technique for the above that DOD, NASA and the major agencies require by regulation in large government contracts.    It is called "Earned Value Management" and it came about as a result of some of the biggest White Elephant overruns in Defense Department History.

Earned Value Management Systems

I contend we have one of the biggest White Elephants ever in front of us (a National Debt approaching $29 Trillion)
We need to get this mess under control, manage our finances and our debt or it will manage us into default.