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SKYBIRD:
Dale Brown’s Ops Report
Copyright © 2006, ABFI

Bomb Damage Assessment: Replies to e-mails at readermail@dalebrown.info

Better get caught up with answering some e-mails!

2 January 2006

(from an Australian Army warrant officer)

G'Day Dale,

I'm an Army Warrant Officer currently deployed in Southern Iraq with the [name withheld] We have been here for over three months, enjoying the locals & their culture (my group is responsible for assisting in the training & mentoring of the new Iraqi Army). Whilst here I have had opportunity to visit the ruins of Ur three times. An absolutory amazing experience. I appreciate that you (& your agent) must receive scores, if not hundreds, of requests like this; but I'll persevere any way. I started reading his books in the 80s.. I have a most of your books in hardcover. To describe me as an ardent fan would be an understatement. Would it be possible to prevail upon the author's good nature (given that you are not reading this yourself) and send across an autographed photo of himself? Could you please forward this request, given that Dale does not read this personally? If this is possible you can contact me at the address I've listed below (I have deliberately not sent my mailing address as I think that would be a little presumptive). I hope this proves to be an acceptable request with you. I eagerly await your reply. Regards,

I am always happy to send books to any service member of any of the Coalition armed forces anywhere in the world. I ask only that you send me an e-mail to let me know the books arrived OK. A photo or two of your guys and maybe a unit patch would be a real treat.

3 January 2006

(from a lady writer from Canada)

thank you... thank you Dale Brown :)

I fell in love with 'the bone' at the Abbotsford Airshow in 1993. Before that it was all about the CF-18, the Thunderbirds, Blue Angels, and Snowbirds... yes I still love them too, but the B-1B is at the top of my aircraft 'love' list. I might even consider chewing off my left arm just to get a look inside one ;) to actually be able to sit in one, both arms.. heehee. The B1 didn't make it to the Airshow last summer, so neither did I... hopefully this year or I may go into serious withdrawals.

As I was perusing book shelves several years ago, I saw the front cover of Battle Born and felt my heart lurch into my throat. I would recognize that silhouette anywhere. Also scared neighbouring perusers as I tried to stifle a shriek while snatching the book off the shelf. It has taken a long time to sit down and read it for various reasons, not the least of which is that once started it would eventually have to come to an end. It is now physically finished, but lives on in my mind and heart. That is the closest I will ever come to riding in one, and through your amazing writing, and my own gift of imagination, I felt like I was inside Rinc, Rebecca, and John Long going for the ride of my life... WOOO HOOOO.

Again, thank you for bring me the B-1B. I am eternally grateful, and will be heading over to my favourite bookstore this weekend to find more of your books.

a new fan in Abbotsford, BC, Canada

Thanks for your great e-mail! I completely share your love for this great war machine!

The B-1B "Lancer" has had a long and difficult career, but it has managed to survive because it is without question the most capable heavy bomber ever developed. It has everything: big payload, speed, stealthiness (not as great as the B-2A "Spirit" stealth bomber, but ONE HUNDRED TIMES better than the B-52!), low and high-altitude capability, and plenty of room to grow.

It is especially telling that the U.S. Air Force, in an effort to raise more money to build more F/A-22 "Raptor" fighter-bombers, will mothball the B-52H bombers and the F-117 "Nighthawk" stealth fighters, but leave the B-1B fleet intact at 60 combat-ready machines--even though the B-1B is currently not nuclear-capable.

The B-52 is the only aircraft in the U.S. military that can employ EVERY air-to-ground weapon in the U.S. arsenal, but the planners realize that the B-52 will find it harder and harder to survive over even a Third World battlefield. The B-1 can employ most air-to-ground weapons AND can survive and fight over even heavily-defended enemy airspace.

4 January 2006

Hello Dale, Just found your statement on the backwards flag as worn on the right shoulder. Having completed twenty years active duty as a sailor, spent the last seven years teaching both cub and boy scouts, and having a daughter in the Civil Air Patrol cadet program, I was appalled when my daughter said she needed such insignia. I do not know the policy of other countries, but as you mentioned, the US flag code states that the flag should be displayed with the field to it's right. Good luck in your endeavor to have this desecration of our flag discontinued.

I'm starting to get more and more feedback on this subject, and I hope to use your feedback to petition Congress to cancel military uniform regulations allowing the use of the reverse-side flag. It's against public law to alter the flag for any reason. The backwards flag, wherever it's displayed--even as a fin flash on aircraft--is an abomination.

7 January 2006

Good morning.

I am just completing "Chains of Command". When I finish "Razors Edge" I will have read all of your books, other than "Act of War", waiting for paperback.

As I was reading "Chains of Command", one question kept creeping in: How accurate were the White House segments compared to the administration that was being portrayed? I can visualize those scenes as actually happening, and the angrier I became at the possibility of the "First Lady", the Steel Magnolia, having that much control and access.

Anyway, I am looking forward to finishing the next two books, and hoping more will be coming out. Thank you for you time and talent, great reading! I was a private pilot until the Dr. grounded me for heart conditions. It's good to get back into a cockpit this way.

First off, sorry to hear you were grounded. Private general aviation flying is at once a gift, a skill, for some a profession, artistry, and science, and it's a tough thing to lose that. I'm glad my books give you back a little of that.

As a work of fiction, please don't try to draw any parallels between my portrayals and the real world. I try to be as accurate as I can, but in all works of fiction, the story comes first, and it is the author's job to alter the universe to serve the story.

"Chains of Command" was written before the 1992 presidential elections. One of the plot elements was to try to depict what it might be like if a guy like Bill Clinton (whom I was very familiar with because many of my family live in Arkansas) became president. In my mind, George H.W. Bush was the prototype president--experience, intelligence, background--and I couldn't imagine him defeated. But he was no match for the campaign powerhouse called Bill Clinton.

I do believe now-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton had extraordinary power and influence in the Clinton White House as First Lady. But again, my depiction was purely fictional and a product of my imagination.

8 January 2006

Just finished reading " Shadow Of Steel" and thought it was outstanding. I wonder through your research for this book while you were a Whitman Air Force Base, Missouri did you ever see a B-2-A with the nose art Enola Gay II painted on the fuselage, or met the A/C? I'm under the impression that either Gen. Paul Tibbets son, or grandson was or still is a B-2 Driver?

I was indeed a guest of the 509th Bomb Wing, Brigadier General Ron Marcotte, and Colonel William Fraser in 1995 while doing research for "Shadows of Steel." The 509th was my old bomber wing when I flew the FB-111A at Pease Air Force Base, now converted to the B-2 stealth bomber. It is the only military unit authorized to have a mushroom cloud on its unit insignia.

It is also true that U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Paul Tibbets IV, a B-2A aircraft commander based at Whiteman AFB in Missouri, is the grandson of retired Brigadier General Paul Tibbets Jr., the pilot of the B-29 "Enola Gay" that dropped the first atomic bomb. Check out http://www.afa.org/magazine/nov2005/1105guam.pdf for a great pictorial on both Tibbets and the B-2s deployed to Andersen AFB on Guam.

I was fortunate to be part of a media pool, organized by my good friend Lieutenant-General Bob Beckel, former commander of Fifteenth Air Force, to cover Operation Giant Warrior at Andersen Air Force Base in the summer of 1990. Little did we know that the exercise would be abruptly halted as the United States geared up for what was to be known as Operation Desert Shield, eventually leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 1991.

When the exercise was halted and our tankers were scattered all around the globe preparing the incredible "tanker bridge" that would send thousands of planes and millions of tons of equipment to the Persian Gulf, we had a chance to explore the island of Guam, and I was impressed. The people are friendly, the hotels beautiful, the scenery idyllic, and the pace was slow and easy--except at the military bases, of course.

I had requested a B-52D assignment to Andersen AFB on my Air Force "dream sheet" when I was in the Air Force, and after seeing it first hand, I was disappointed not to get it--but I did get my first choice instead, the FB-111A to Pease AFB!

10 January 2006

Hi Dale,

A google search on "do what makes you happy" turned up your article at the top of the results. An inspiring article that adds support to feelings that selling insurance for my boss just isn't right for me right now. Thank you so much.

God Bless

It's telling--and maybe a little sad--that folks are Googling terms like "happiness" to try to discover how to find it. I'm glad that my little essay had an impact on your life.

Guys, it's really very simple: life is too short, and to get the most out of what little time we choose to have in this time and space, you have to do whatever inspires, excites, or motivates you. While I do believe that every experience, even bad ones, have value or purpose, I also believe that our lives are shaped by no one else but ourselves.

I am God. Things happen because I want them to happen, and therefore every event has meaning and purpose--it's up to me to discover what it is, or re-discover it. Life is what we make of it. There is no past and no future because I control what was, what is, and what will be. If you can think of it, you can achieve it--you just need the guts and determination to affix the image of whatever that goal is in your head and move it from the realm of imagination to the real world.

Stop me if I'm getting too metaphysical, but it's what I truly believe. If you can imagine it, you can have it.

11 January 2006

Mr. Brown, Some years ago I read Flight Of The Old Dog. It was excelent reading. But I got busy with life. Last month I found your book while cleaning and I read it again. This time i got sucked in and started looking for your other novels. I've have found a lot of them and because of my job now I have the time to read. I just want to thank you so much for the hours of enjoyment they have given me and how easy it is to get caught up in the characters. One question? Will there be a sequel to Tin Man? Just finished it yesterday (in one day. couldnt put it down). Again thx.

Thanks for your e-mail!

I have used the Tin Man technology in many books, including "Battle Born," "Warrior Class," Wings of Fire," and "Plan of Attack," and similar technology in "Act of War" and "Edge of Battle." I truly believe that armored soldiers and manned and unmanned robots are the future of tomorrow's military.

22 January 2006

Dear Sir,

Could you please let me know if the are going to write any follow-ons to Act of War

Many Thanks

The sequel to "Act of War," entitled "Edge of Battle," will be published in early April 2006 by William Morrow Publishers.

25 January 2006

Mr. Brown,

The first book I read of yours was “Flight of the Old Dog”. I was in high school at the time, I really didn’t have any interest in reading at that point, but after reading your book I was changed. I had a new interest in reading and continued to buy your books as often as I could. When I couldn’t find a new one I reread the old ones until they fell apart. Eventually I found another author that wrote on the same lines as you. Between you and Richard Herman Jr. I have enjoyed many hours of enjoyable reading. I am now in the Air Force stationed at Pope Air Force Base, NC. I just thought that I would send an email to you to thank you for your wonderful stories, once again you have given me hours of entertainment and allowing me to escape the reality of yet another long exercise and long shifts. I have notice however that you have never touched the subject of the A-10 Warthog. I know that it isn’t the high performance and sleek airframe as most of the aircraft that you write about, but like the Buff it is an ever present, rugged, and vital part of the Air Force in the past present and future. And much like the Buff it just needs to be reborn and to regain a new lease in the Political eye. Just a though I know those of use who work on it love to hate it, but that goes with every maintainer on every airframe. It would be nice to see an author give it a new image someday though. Anyway I’ll stop babbling now, thanks again for all your works I’ll look forward to more in the future.

The main reason I've never written about the A-10 is because my good friend and former neighbor in Sacramento, California, Dick Herman, DID write about the A-10 in several novels: "The Last Phoenix" and "Dark Wing," among others, and he's definitely cornered the market on that amazing war machine. If you like the A-10, or a good military-political yarn, buy Richard Herman Jr.'s novels.

26 January 2006

(from a reader in the UK)

Hi Dale,

Heaven is sitting in a comfortable chair reading one of your books waiting for the trout to rise.

Regards

What else can you say to that?

26 January 2006

Mr. Brown,

Have read everything you've written from Flight of the Old Dog through Plan of Attack and as an retired Air Force guy (22 years) thoroughly enjoyed the books. I really enjoyed many of the technical explanations and the evolution of the Megafortress . This book, Act of War, was not up to your usual standards. It appears to be just a "rehash" of the Tinman book, with different characters. Perhaps I've just read too many of your books, and now can anticipate what is going to happen and when before I even get to page it is on.

Anyway, that is just my opinion. Looking forward to your next book and hope you get back to the standards you set in Flight of the Old Dog.

Yours truly,

The purpose of "Act of War" was to depict the War On Terror in a different way than usual: show what a more high-tech small-unit war might be like. It was also a collaborative effort with Atari for the PC game "Act of War: Direct Action" because we developed both projects from the original "Act of War" outline I wrote in October 2003, and therefore had a different origin than my other novels. And yes, I did want to develop a new cast of characters for the future.

I had a great time with "Act of War" and told a story about the future of ground combat and anti-terrorist operations in the U.S. and abroad. It was a story I thought needed to be told because frankly I don't think we've made a true commitment to battling terrorism, and "Act of War" depicts what it might be like if we DID.

It seems that declaring a "War On Something" has lost its meaning in America. World War Two was perhaps the last "War On" something that Americans really rallied behind--the "War On Fascism." But the "War On Communism," the "War On Drugs," the "War On Poverty," and now the "War On Terror" seems to ring pretty hollow in our ears.

Is it because we never really fought a "war" on these other things, or is it because we did fight wars on Communism (Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War) and couldn't claim a decisive victory? The "Wars On" poverty and drugs are still being fought, but so far look like resounding defeats to me. Or were these just clever political campaign slogans that had no real meaning in the context of true "war?"

The "War On Terror" certainly started out as a real war as we searched for the ones responsible for Nine-Eleven and whoever supported them. But for a variety of reasons, that same mission to Afghanistan to eradicate al-Qaeda spilled over into Iraq, and the objectives of the "War On Terror" were all of a sudden made unclear. Afghanistan was a no-brainer--Usama bin Laden was based there, and probably is still there, or on the Pakistan border nearby. But Iraq had nothing to do with Nine-Eleven. The connection was unclear.

Sure, Saddam is a bad guy, deserving to get his butt kicked. But we were fighting a "War On Terror," a war to avenge the victims of the attacks on Nine-Eleven and hunt down those responsible. Saddam was a threat, but not an imminent threat like Usama. We had Saddam boxed in pretty well, but Usama was on the loose. Many feel that the emotions and anger stirred up after Nine-Eleven were unfairly taken advantage of to press for an attack against Iraq.

I am not one of those people. Although Iraq had nothing to do with Nine-Eleven, Iraq has everything to do with the War On Terror. Shutting down Saddam and instituting a new West-friendly regime in the heart of the Middle East was important for our capability of maneuvering around the rest of the Middle East and urging--or forcing--all the Islamist regimes there to cooperate or face America's wrath.

But it was Nine-Eleven that sparked the War On Terror, and Iraq had little or nothing to do with that horrible day. Invoking the "War On Terror" to describe the necessity of attacking Iraq doesn't make sense to a lot of folks. Now it seemed like the government was invoking the "War On Terror" to include any initiative or program deemed important. The "War On Terror" has become just another jingoistic slogan, almost meaningless even less than five years since Nine-Eleven.

I digress…

"Edge of Battle" is the sequel to "Act of War" and takes the War On Terror to the next level, and I think you'll like it. I hope you'll give it a try.

However, the new untitled 19th novel brings back Patrick McLanahan and aerial combat, and I'm happy to be back where I belong--in the skies!

28 January 2006

(from a reader in Belgium)

Good Afternoon Mr Brown,

I am an addict of your books ; I almost read them all I especially liked the 'impossible' partnership (I cannot find a more precise word) between the Tin Men and Turabi. (in "Air Battle Force") I would love to read more of that kind of 'impossible' partnerships , it is very intriguing. Are you a fan of the popgroup the B-52's ?

By coincidence, during my first trip though the USA in 1994 we stopped for the night in Tonopah, totally ignorant about all the tech stuff in its vicinity.

Many thanks in advance !

I'm only familiar with one of The B-52s' cuts, "Love Shack," which is one of my all-time favorite music videos.

My Tonopah story:

I was flying a newly-purchased Cessna 414 from Springfield, Illinois to Reno, Nevada. There was a line of fast-moving thunderstorms blocking my path from Las Vegas north towards Reno. Since I was getting uncomfortably low on fuel, I wanted to divert to the nearest airport to refuel and sit out the thunderstorms, and that airport happened to be Tonopah Municipal.

But when I arrived there, the airport was SURROUNDED by thunderstorms. The airport was getting pummeled by lightning strokes--they looked like a stand of aspens or willows around the airport. I got clearance from Air Traffic Control to orbit east of the airport, away from the path of the storm, and was treated to a dazzling lightning show. I was less than 20 miles from the airport, and I was very lucky one of those bolts didn't decide to fly horizontally at me!

After 30 minutes or so, I finally landed. The rain was still coming down in sheets and the airport looked as if it was beginning to flood--taxiing around in all that rain and groundwater was tough, the worse I'd ever experienced. I was glad to be safely on the ground.

I don't know if it was the weather, the lightning, or the region, but taxiing around Tonopah Airport was very eerie. The airport is an old World War Two bomber base that is still used as an alternate landing strip for military aircraft using the Tonopah Test Range, the first home of many super-secret planes like the F-117 stealth fighter. There is an old oil refinery on the airport that looked as if it has been bombed out or set on fire, but off to the east you can see some brand-new and very large aircraft hangars. The main parking ramp is immense, almost seventeen hundred yards long, but there is only one little FBO building servicing the local pilots. It is a very lonely, deserted-looking place...

…but at the same time you had that feeling that SOMETHING was going on, or that you were being watched, or that even though it is a public airport you weren't really welcome…

Anyway, I gassed up the C-414, chatted briefly with the FBO owners while I waited for the rain to subside, called the Reno Flight Service station to assure them I was OK--I had dropped out of radar and radio contact while orbiting and was afraid they'd think I crashed--then blasted off and had an uneventful trip to Reno.

Personal note and request:

The Ops Report was delayed a bit because my father Francis Brown suffered a stroke around the end of January, during surgery. Thankfully he's doing pretty well and is scheduled to be released from acute rehabilitation on 10 February 2006 to go home. He will continue physical, occupational, and speech therapy on an outpatient basis.

At the risk of creating a flood of mail and a lot of consternation from the wonderful hospital staff, I think he'd be tickled to receive some Get Well cards from any readers who might care to write. You can reach him c/o Baxter Regional Medical Center, 624 Hospital Drive, Mountain Home, AR, 72653, Room 3307, until 10 February 2006. Please don't send flowers--his place isn't that big! Any gifts will be donated to the Baxter Regional Hospital Foundation on my Dad's behalf.

Have a nice February, stay well and happy! See you in March!

GBA, Dale Brown
www.DaleBrown.info

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Edge of Battle (May 2006)

"The novels of Dale Brown brim with violent action, detailed descriptions of sophisticated weaponry and political intrigue... His ability to bring technical weaponry to life is amazing."
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