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Monday, April 05, 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, March 25, 2021

"ODYSSEY OF ARMAMENTS" - Inside Pentagon Procurement from Vietnam to Iraq


This document is free electronically in pdf format. An excerpt is provided below.

If you desire a copy of the book please download it in Adobe format from the "BOX" Cube in the mid- margin of this site to your immediate right. 

- Ken Larson - from the book, "Odyssey of Armaments, My Journey Through the Defense Industrial Complex"

In 1968, I came home from serving two US Army tours in Vietnam, having been awarded five medals, including a Bronze Star. During my second tour I acquired Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression. Treatment would not become available for either ailment until the mid to late 70's. Returning to the University of Minnesota at Morris, I found that most of my former classmates were either facing the military draft or were violently against the war. I was not their favorite person.

Feeling isolated and alone, I was unable to relate to my family due to untreated Depression and PTSD. Disillusioned with school, I moved to Minneapolis Minnesota and began a career in the Defense Industrial Complex that would span over three decades from 1969 through 2005. I thought that through working on defense systems, I could contribute to the quality and quantity of weapons that the next generation would take to war. Given a clearly defined mission and the best armaments and systems in the world, I believed that another Vietnam could be avoided for the American Soldier.

In pursuit of this goal, I participated in the design, development and production of 25 large scale weapons systems under Federal Government and Foreign Military Sales Contracts. I worked in several different disciplines for the companies that produced these weapons, negotiating and controlling the associated contracts with procurement agencies in the US Armed Forces and in 16 allied countries.By the time treatment for PTSD and Depression became available, I had such high security clearances that had I been treated for these disorders, the US Government would have revoked my clearances and my career would have ended or would have been sharply curtailed. This quandary led to my journey through the Defense Industrial Complex.

I found that accepting extreme challenges and succeeding at them became a way to displace PTSD and elevate depressive moods. For extended periods of time this method of self-management led to a satisfying, although somewhat adventurous and diversified life. However, down periods always occurred, especially after the latest challenge had been met. A new challenge was then required. Family, friends and acquaintances were often puzzled by the frequent changes in my job sites and locations. Two marriages fell by the wayside.

I became known in the industry as a front-end loaded trouble shooter on complex projects, installing processes and business systems required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation. These systems included estimating and pricing, proposal preparation, contract administration, cost and schedule control, program management, design to cost, life cycle cost, export management and other specialties unique to US Government Contracts. Getting through government source selection boards and surviving audits during competition was a significant challenge for defense contractors. 

Installing required business systems after contract award, under ambitious cost, schedule and technical conditions, was an even more difficult undertaking. I became a leader in the problem solving and creative processes necessary to win contracts and successfully fulfill them. When my mood demanded it, there was always a new job, with a new challenge and a subsequent elevated feeling from success. It was not unusual for a career professional in the Defense Industry to move regularly with the ebb and flow of competitive procurements and associated government funding shifts.I came to know many of the career military and civil servants who managed the government procurement process. These individuals never went away, regardless of elections or politics. They developed the alternatives from which elected officials must choose. The American Public rarely heard from these powerful insiders, while the insiders slanted the choices supplied to elected officials in a self-perpetuating manner.

I recognized the mirror image way in which procuring agencies and defense contractors organized their operations on the largest systems acquisitions. Key executives regularly moved back and forth between government and industry. I often observed the short, happy life of a defense company program manager. Appointed by the powerful insiders to head a single project, he had no authority over company resources, he perpetually competed with other program managers for the same talent pool and he always took the heat from management when things did not go well. His counterpart in the government quarters had similar experiences. I often supported several program managers at the same time. They all were desperate to achieve success. They each believed they had the most important program in the company.

In early 2005, approaching age sixty, I found myself unable to self-manage an extremely deep depressive episode. The journey had simply wound down. This situation nearly resulted in an end to my life. Recovering with help from my family and the US Veteran's Administration, I now reside in a veteran's home, volunteering through the Service Corps of Retired Executives(SCORE)and MicroMentor Foundations to Small,Veteran-Owned, Women-Owned and Minority-Owned businesses that are pursuing contracts with the Federal Government. I provide advice, alternatives and business examples based on my experiences. It is refreshing to witness the successes of small, motivated and flexible companies. I believe they deserve every special consideration they have achieved under our system of government.

After thirty-six years in the Defense Industrial Complex my greatest satisfaction came from watching "Stormin Norman" and his Gulf War Forces defeat the Iraqi Army in Operation Desert Storm. They used the Abrams Main Battle Tank, the Hellfire Missile and an array of communications and other systems on which I worked. I have had the privilege of meeting several young soldiers coming back from current conflicts in the Middle East who have praised these systems for their life saving performances.Operation Desert Storm had a clearly defined mission to liberate a small country from an aggressor. We accomplished the mission utilizing the best weapons in the world. Unfortunately, we did not leave the area. 

The lessons of Vietnam have not been remembered and once again political factors govern our presence in several countries. This time it is the Middle East. Future combat systems are now under development geared for urban warfare with unmanned vehicles, state of the art sensors and remote standoff capabilities. The enemy has grown to become a formidable force, cable of striking without notice even within our own country. He threatens the world economy with violent disruptions in several domains at the same time. He is a product of our own creation, rebelling against the "US Police Force" with help from neighbors who play either benign or active roles. 

Our enemy knows his neighborhood far better than we do. US intelligence and military capabilities are strained to the maximum monitoring perceived hot spots all over the globe. We must face the fact that our long term presence in other countries is resented.

How much longer can we afford to be the "World's Policeman"? We are spending over $700B per year for defense, homeland security and nation building. Investments we are making in developing new democracies are draining our domestic programs such as health care, stifling the education of our young people and limiting research and development in valuable commercial technologies. 

The largest corporations selling to our government are no more than extensions of our government in the cloak of industry. They are not in the business of making money for the stockholder. They are in the business of spending money for the government. As a result they are some of the poorest growth stocks on Wall Street.

Recent consolidation in the Defense Industrial Complex has dramatically reduced competition. Only public laws mandating a twenty per cent allocation of Federal Contract Funding to small business have kept diversification in the mix. Even then, much of the moneys that flow to small business go through a select group of large business prime contractors who add their respective overhead and general administrative expense to the small business cost and pass it on to the government.

When we consider the largest evolving countries in the world today, such as China, India and others, we should note that they are successfully competing with us in a fast moving, complex world economy. These countries are not all pure democracies and probably never will be. No overt action on our part created these powerhouses. As we struggle to compete with them we must have education, research and development and a healthy work force to keep pace. How much can we afford to spend forcing our capitalistic ideologies on other societies? Events have proven that the world has become a tightly wound place economically. Countries who wish to succeed and grow will play the game anyway.

I hope that this account of my experiences has supplied useful insights into the US Government Defense Industrial Complex. My odyssey was driven by a need to manage illnesses acquired in warfare. I found a way to deal with the maladies for years by spreading myself thin and accepting every new challenge. I thrilled at success and moved on after defeat, pursuing a misguided goal. 

Out of necessity I have now been forced to look inward, wind down to a smaller perspective, take care of my health - begin serving the little guy.

Perhaps it is time for our country to consider a similar transition.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

The Dire Necessity for U.S. Long Term Strategic Vision




Although by far the most powerful country in the world, the U.S. is suffering from a lack of long term vision. The individual citizen is as much at fault for this condition as the politician or the military industrial complex.  

From our political parties to our relationships with each other and with other countries, from corporate board rooms to Wall Street stock run ups, we have lost our long term vision in favor of short term gains. 

The results are polarization between the "Haves" and the "Have Nots", ignoring geopolitical realities, engaging in costly war intrusions, neglecting education/infrastructure and accumulating a $28 Trillion National Debt, heavily mortgaging future generations.

National Debt Clock
 
Geopolitical Realities and the US Role

George Friedman accurately sums the present geopolitical state in a recent article atSTRATFOR”:

“To put it simply, a vast swath of the Eurasian landmass (understood to be Europe and Asia together) is in political, military and economic disarray. 

Drawing on the recollection of Desert Storm  it was assumed that American power could reshape the Islamic world at will after the US was attacked September 11th, 2001.

All power has limits, but the limits of American power were not visible until later in the 2000s. 

At that point two other events intervened. The first was the re-emergence of Russia as at least a regional power when it invaded Georgia in 2008. 

The other was, of course, the financial crisis. Both combined to define the current situation. 

The United States is, by far, the world’s most powerful nation. That does not mean that the United States can — or has an interest to — solve the problems of the world, contain the forces that are at work or stand in front of those forces and compel them to stop. Even the toughest guy in the bar can’t take on the entire bar and win.”A Net Assessment of the World 

China the Peace Maker 


David Grammig enlightens us in a recent article in “Geopolitical Monitor to an alternative to war and debt laden international finance being practiced by the Chinese:

Geopolitical calculations are as much a reason for this 2-trillion-dollar project as economic ones.

The OBOR project represents one of China’s new overarching foreign policy goals, and it demonstrates a willingness and ability to challenge old power structures, especially in Central Asia and the Middle East. 

The Silk Road, or OBOR project, aims at creating an enormous economic bloc and fostering trade, cultural exchange, political collaboration, and military cooperation among its members – under Chinese domination.

An obvious competitor against Russia’s Eurasian Union and India’s Act East and Connect Central Asia initiatives, the OBOR project has many Central Asian and Middle Eastern states justifiably worried of being caught up in a race for dominance in the region, producing somewhat cautious reactions to China’s big plans. Yet, some countries in the region – even those torn by sectarian conflict – may still be inclined to step into a new age due to China’s vast investments and its associated desire to protect its economic engagements.

The United States and its military interventions on the other hand, which aimed at securing political influence and protecting economic interests, bore no sustainable fruits and have led to growing instability in the region. Furthermore, US policy in the Middle East yielded anti-American resentment in the public and political spheres. 

China’s approach, however, will most likely not lead to demonstrations, burning flags, and attacks against its embassies, because it will not be seen as a war-mongering imperialistic force, giving itself a chance to establish itself as a partner whose outstretched hand is worth taking.” China - The New Peace Maker in the Middle East 

The US Market Mirage 


“One of the hardest-dying ideas in economics is that stock price accurately reflects the fundamental value of a given firm. It’s easy to understand why this misunderstanding persists: price equals value is a simple idea in a complex world. But the truth is that the value of firms in the market and their value within the real economy are, as often as not, disconnected. In fact, the Street regularly punishes firms hardest when they are making the decisions that most enhance their real economic value, causing their stock price to sink.

There are thousands of examples I could cite, but here’s a particularly striking one: the price of Apple stock fell roughly 25% the year it introduced the iPod. The technology that would kick-start the greatest corporate turnaround in the history of capitalism initially disappointed, selling only 400,000 units in its debut year, and the company’s stock reflected that. Thankfully, Steve Jobs didn’t give a fig. He stuck with the idea, and today nine Apple iDevices are sold somewhere in the world every second.

CEOs, who are paid mostly in stock and live in fear of being punished by the markets, race to hit the numbers rather than simply making the best decisions for their businesses long term. One National Bureau of Economic Research study found that 80% of executives would forgo innovation-generating spending if it meant missing their quarterly earnings figures.

Nobody–not Economists, not CEOs and not policymakers–thinks that’s good for real economic growth. Yet the markets stay up because of the dysfunctional feedback loops. Eventually, of course, interest rates will rise, money won’t be cheap anymore, and markets will go back down. None of it will reflect the reality on the ground, for companies or consumers, any more than it did during the boom times.”
The Market Mirage 

Achieving Strategic Vision

From the above analysis by experts, it is apparent that the US is in dire need of strategic vision.  To achieve it we must:

Face geopolitical and economic realities, stop war interventions and invest in relationships within and without our country by offering mutual collaboration.

Cease dwelling on threat and build long term infrastructure, education and international development.  The threats will melt away. 

Invest for the long term at the stock holder, company and  national levels based on a strategy dealing with present day and long term challenges in education, communication and society value transitions.

Elect a Congress and an Administration that know how to strike a balance between long and short term actions. We must then let them know what we think regularly by communicating with them. 

Know that most cultures and societies in upheaval today are watching our national model and choosing whether or not to support it, ignore it or attack it. 




What Could The USA Have Done To Win The Vietnam Conflict And What Does This Tell Us About Current And Future Wars?

Vietnam was not a declared war. It was a setup by the Military Industrial Complex (MIC).

I was there as a combatant and a US Army Intelligence Base Development Planner, working with Philco Ford CAGV, Pacific Architects and Engineers, Leo Daley and other huge corporations resident in the country supplying American occupation and making billions.

The Vietnam Conflict was an incursion; one of the first setup by the Military Industrial Complex and the "Best and the Brightest" in the Pentagon. 


"WIKIPEDIA"




"David Halberstam's book offers a great deal of detail on how the decisions were made in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations that led to the war, focusing on a period from 1960 to   1965 but also covering earlier and later years up to the publication   year of the book.

Many influential factors are examined in the book:


•    The Democratic party was still haunted by claims that it had 'lost   China' to Communists, and it did not want to be said to have lost Vietnam also
•    The McCarthy era had rid the government of experts in Vietnam and surrounding Far-East countries
•    Early studies called for close to a million U.S. troops to   completely defeat the Viet Cong, but it would be impossible to convince   Congress or the U.S. public to deploy that many soldiers
•    Declarations of war and excessive shows of force, including bombing   too close to China or too many U.S. troops, might have triggered the   entry of Chinese ground forces into the war, as well as greater Soviet   involvement, which might repair the growing Sino-Soviet rift.
•    The American military and generals were not prepared for protracted guerilla warfare.
•    Some war games showed that a gradual escalation by the United States   could be evenly matched by North Vietnam: Every year, 200,000 North   Vietnamese came of draft age and potentially could be sent down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to replace any losses against the U.S.: the U.S. would be 'fighting the birthrate'
•    Any show of force by the U.S. in the form of bombing or ground   forces would signal the U.S. interest in defending South Vietnam and   therefore cause the U.S. greater shame if they were to withdraw
•    President Johnson's belief that too much attention given to the war effort would jeopardize his Great Society domestic programs
•    The effects of strategic bombing:   Most people wrongly believed that North Vietnam prized its industrial   base so much it would not risk its destruction by U.S. air power and   would negotiate peace after experiencing some limited bombing. Others   saw that, even in World War II, strategic bombing united the victim population against the aggressor and did little to hinder industrial output.
•    The Domino Theory rationales are mentioned as simplistic.
•    After placing a few thousand Americans in harm's way, it became   politically easier to send hundreds of thousands over with the promise   that, with enough numbers, they could protect themselves and that to   abandon Vietnam now would mean the earlier investment in money and blood   would be thrown away.
The book shows that the gradual escalation initially allowed the Johnson Administration to avoid negative publicity and criticism from   Congress and avoid a direct war against the Chinese, but it also lessened the likelihood of either victory or withdrawal"


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Best_and_the_Brightest


War is a racket.

Wars cost money, treasure and make millions for corporations. 

THE PAST

A quote many years ago from Major-General Smedley D. Butler: Common Sense (November 1935)

" I spent thirty-three years and four months in active service as a member of our country's most agile military force---the Marine Corps. I have served in all commissioned ranks from a second lieutenant to major-general. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the bankers, In short I was a racketeer for capitalism

Thus, I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place to live for the National City Bank boys to collect   revenues in…. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking   house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican   Republic for American Sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras   "right" for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in1927 I helped   see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years  I  had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. I was rewarded honors, medals, promotion. Looking back on it, I feel I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate his racket in three city districts. We Marines operated on three continents. War Is A Racket"

THE VIETNAM WAR - THE COSTLIEST TO DATE

It's been 40 years since the U.S. ended its involvement in the Vietnam War, and yet payments for the conflict are still rising.

Now   above $22 billion annually, Vietnam compensation costs are roughly   twice the size of the FBI's annual budget. And while many disabled  Vietnam vets have been compensated for post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss or general wounds, other ailments are positioning the war to have large costs even after veterans die.

Based on an  uncertain  link to the defoliant Agent Orange that was used in Vietnam,  federal  officials approved diabetes a decade ago as an ailment that  qualifies  for cash compensation — and it is now the most compensated  ailment for  Vietnam vets.

The VA also recently included heart disease among  the Vietnam medical problems that qualify, and the agency  is seeing  thousands of new claims for that condition.

THE PRESENT

If  history is any judge, the U.S. government will be paying for the  Iraq  and Afghanistan wars for the next century as service members and  their  families grapple with the sacrifices of combat.

An  Associated  Press analysis of federal payment records found that the  government is  still making monthly payments to relatives of Civil War  veterans — 148  years after the conflict ended.

At the 10-year anniversary of  the start of the Iraq War, more than $40 billion a  year is going to  compensate veterans and survivors from the  Spanish-American War from 1898, World War I and II, the Korean War, the  Vietnam War, the two Iraq  campaigns and the Afghanistan conflict. And  those costs are rising  rapidly.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray said such expenses should remind the nation about war's long-lasting financial toll.

"When  we decide to go to war, we have to consciously be also thinking about   the cost," said Murray, D-Wash., adding that her WWII veteran father's   disability benefits helped feed their family.

With  greater numbers of troops surviving combat injuries because of   improvements in battlefield medicine and technology, the costs of   disability payments are set to rise much higher.

THE IRAQ WARS AND AFGHANISTAN

So  far, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the first Persian Gulf conflict in the early 1990s are costing about $12 billion a year to compensate   those who have left military service or family members of those who  have  died.

Those post-service compensation costs have totaled  more than $50 billion since 2003, not including expenses of medical  care and  other benefits provided to veterans, and are poised to grow  for many  years to come.

The new veterans are filing for  disabilities at  historic rates, with about 45 percent of those from  Iraq and Afghanistan  seeking compensation for injuries. Many are  seeking compensation for a  variety of ailments at once.

Experts see a variety of factors  driving that surge, including a bad economy that's led more jobless  veterans to seek the financial benefits they've  earned, troops who  survive wounds of war, and more awareness about  head trauma and mental  health.

THE FUTURE

Recent events involving US war "Interventions" and the incredibly out of  control nature of the Military Industrial Complex have demonstrated  their danger, their folly and their contribution to the largest national  debt ever to grace the face of the earth.

Alternatives to war in terms of scientific advancement not only are required, but are in progress. The war makers are broke and operating on world credit subject to world approval.