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SKYBIRD: Dale Brown’s Ops Report
Special Post-Election 2004 Report
Copyright © 2004, TDPI

3 November 2004

Welcome to this Special Post-Election Ops Report!

I hope all my eligible American readers got out and voted.

I started this special edition before knowing the results of the election. Read on for my commentary FOLLOWING the election!

What’s my overall take on the Presidential elections? As far as defense is concerned, I don’t believe they’ll have too much impact. No matter who is elected President, I think all of these things will happen:

  • Spending for retention will definitely go up in an attempt to keep the best soldiers, which will mean pay hikes, better benefits, and more incentives to re-enlist. But the slow exodus will continue, especially for the Guard and Reserves, unless there is another major attack in the United States.

  • Another round of base closures will definitely be in the cards.

  • Deployment tempo will remain the same because our military force has changed to a deployment-style force versus an overseas-based force. The emphasis will be to deploy U.S.-based forces to austere and lightly-manned bases as necessary.
  • However, WHICH bases we deploy to will change. Under a Kerry Administration, we may keep more bases and facilities in Western Europe as a way to appease European allies. Under a Bush Administration, the trend will be to close bases in Western Europe and start setting up austere non-permanent bases in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania, and facilities in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.

  • Transformation will continue to take short baby steps towards reality, with less emphasis on all forms of army-on-army combat—wars between large numbers of heavy land, sea, and air forces--and more emphasis on light armored land forces, unmanned launch-as-necessary surveillance, special operations forces, and “brilliant” long-range standoff (cruise missile) attack capabilities.

  • We will still be in Iraq. The situation will degrade to the point where Iraq will be “Balkanized” into three distinct and almost separate entities: the Kurdish north, the Shia south, and the Sunni center. The United States will still be in Iraq although we will be forced to withdraw outside the cities into the desert, where we will support the central government as much as possible as it attempts to subdue the insurgents.
  • FROM THIS POINT FORWARD, I know that President Bush won the election. Congratulations to the President and Vice President, and Thank You to Senator Kerry for not contesting the outcome.

    One of my initial reactions to the outcome of the election came, as many of my tirades have come over the past several weeks, from the New York Times Op-Ed Section’s Nicholas Kristof, who appears to be flaming on his fellow Democrats for being so gullible and lemming-like for voting for the President. He rags on the working poor, farmers, waitresses, factory workers, and anyone who votes against spotted owls over keeping their own jobs in the timber industry.

    It is Kristof who is deluding himself, not his fellow Democrats that voted for Bush, for three reasons:

    One: Republicans did not invent social issues to confuse and cloud Democrats’ views on economic issues, as Kristof claims. Democrats made gay marriage, the environment, education, welfare reform, and job creation the highlights of the campaign, as they ALWAYS do each election year. But the fact is that the economy is doing pretty well considering we are at war in the Middle East and Central Asia and we suffered through the Nine-Eleven terrorist attacks and the huge loss of jobs that it caused.

    The fact is that the Bush administration addressed each of these typically Democratic topics over the years. It may not have been exactly how the Democrats wanted it—tax credits instead of giveaways, which generally mean you have to be a taxpayer and tax filer to take advantage of the program, which Democrats abhor; or making teachers test rather than just giving school districts more money—but those issues have been touched on. The best the Democrats could argue is “That’s not the best way to do it.”

    Two: the Kerry campaign was not about real solutions—it was simply a negative campaign that railed against the President without putting forward any concrete, attractive ideas. Senator Kerry could have swayed the vote in his direction if he only had come up with more SOLUTIONS instead of more criticisms.

    For example: I always thought the Bush administration was vulnerable on Iraq. I was waiting for Senator Kerry to state the plain and simple position (one that I feel in his heart he truly believed): I WILL BRING OUR TROOPS HOME AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Why didn’t Senator Kerry just say, “I am committed to bring our boys home as soon as possible”? It was something President Bush never said, and it’s something a lot of Americans agree with. Yes, the “war on terror” is important to Americans too, but I feel the safety of our troops is more important.

    But he never said it! In my opinion he missed a great opportunity.

    Senator Kerry didn’t have to be any more specific: he didn’t have to say he would bring the troops home in six weeks, six months, or six years. But the President was committed to keeping the troops there “as long as necessary”—such a position was too general, vague, and sounded dangerously like another Vietnam or Korea.

    I always admired Governor Howard Dean because he had a clear and unequivocal position about Iraq: if elected president he would bring our troops home immediately. I disagreed with his view, but I admired him because he took a position and stuck with it, no matter how worrisome or unpopular it was in the “war on terror.”

    Senator Kerry simply did not have the same firm stand on any position. His position always was “President Bush is wrong, wrong, wrong, period.” Negative campaigns may have worked well for candidates like Bill Clinton in 1992, who was a personable and interesting everyman going up against a powerful but disconnected incumbent, but it was a loser for Kerry.

    Third: I always felt the close Democratic vote was always AGAINST President Bush and not FOR Senator Kerry. This was borne out by Kerry’s high “negatives” in various polls: those that liked Bush liked him more than the ones who liked Kerry; those who didn’t like Kerry disliked him more than those who disliked Bush (got all that?). I was actually disappointed that many Democrats ran to the safety of a “traditional” candidate like Kerry versus the original front-runner, Howard Dean—supporters of Howard Dean liked him more than supporters of Kerry like Kerry.

    A couple more observations:

    I found the national media polls very accurate but the regional polls and so-called “exit polls” very inaccurate. That’s a good thing. The “margins of error” were mostly irrelevant except for the smaller national, regional, and statewide polls, where they will probably need to be tweaked.

    This highlights another good reason why our government leaders shouldn’t be making decisions based on polls. The traditional polling models don’t work any more.

    The three- to four-seat gains (still undecided as of this writing) in the U.S. Senate are significant. In fact, President Bush became the first President since Franklin Roosevelt to win the popular vote and electoral vote AND gain seats in both the House and Senate. It slays me that many Democratic commentators are pooh-poohing a possible four-seat gain in the Senate, claiming that the Republicans are still many seats short of a filibuster-proof chamber. Such a large jump is still extraordinary—I feel many Americans prefer smaller majorities and even split branches of government versus clear majorities, and for the Republicans to pick up so many seats and STILL re-elect a Republican president is amazing.

    Many commentators will claim that all this is not surprising in a “war time election,” but there is enough controversy and perceived disillusionment with the war in Iraq for such gains to be extraordinary. Maybe Americans are not as divided about the “war on terror” as the media would have us believe…?

    I was very happy to see the turnout was so high.

    I was happy to see the victory of so many initiatives that support keeping marriage only between a man and woman. Although I am not predicting the demise of “civil unions,” I’m happy to see so many states assert the simple idea that the term and idea “marriage” is the traditional one.

    I was dismayed by Senator John Edwards’ assertion that he will “fight on” after it was apparent that President Bush won, and then relieved when Senator Kerry conceded defeat. The nation didn’t need more legal fights to decide the results of a national election. I was worried that Ohio’s “provisional ballots” and the ACLU’s expected lawsuits would hold up the results and further divide the nation, and I’m glad they didn’t.

    I’m wondering how in the world California will be able to afford $3 billion to contribute to stem cell research. I’m not against stem cell research, but California’s budget problems aren’t going to be solved by this kind of spending.

    I’m wondering if Senator Hillary Clinton—and maybe Senator John Edwards—are secretly very, VERY happy right now that Senator Kerry lost?

    INTEL REPORT: The case against the F/A-22 Raptor

    Want a hint on how to break out of writer’s block? I suggest reading the New York Times’ editorial page. If you’re like me, it’ll piss you off enough to go back to the computer and fire off a newsletter and several more pages of your book, like it did for me back in October.

    On 29 October the Times ran an editorial against funding for the F/A-22 Raptor fighter, calling it a “gold-plated” relic of the Cold War that will do nothing to enhance our security or solve any problems in Iraq. They admitted it was a high-tech marvel, but said because it’s not effective against roadside bombs and terrorists hiding in caves, it’s a waste of money. The editors whine that the money should be spent to put more troops into Iraq—more “boots on the ground,” my all-time HATED phrase—and more armor out there.

    We don’t need more “boots on the ground” in Iraq or anywhere else—what we need is the political and moral will to use our technological superiority to their best advantage. More “boots on the ground” will only create more targets for suicide bombers and cause more fear, distrust, and anger amongst the citizens of whatever country those boots are in.

    The F-15 Eagle, which made it first flight over 32 years ago, is getting old and its combat envelope is shrinking because of airframe limitations. The Air Force’s only other operational fighter, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, is almost thirty years old. America’s NEWEST fighter, the F/A-18A Hornet, is over 21 years old (the upgraded model, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, is newer but is still an upgrade of the older airframe).

    But is a replacement really needed? Are air superiority fighters really gold-plated Cold War relics, as The Times suggests? The United States, either on its home soil or on a foreign battlefield, has not been attacked from the air since World War Two (with the one possible exception of the Nine-Eleven terrorist attacks). No American warplane has been shot down by enemy aircraft since the Vietnam War. So why do we need new fighters?

    The role of the air superiority fighter is to protect friendly airspace and to clear enemy airspace of as many counterair fighters as possible to allow strike aircraft to do their mission. We have not been attacked from the sky because of America’s technological superiority, the skill and dedication of its airmen, and because we have built and retained sufficient forces to meet any adversary. We’ve been challenged many times, as recently as the conflict in Serbia. But even under highly challenging conditions, such as the No-Fly Zones over Iraq throughout the 1990s and on until the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, we’ve managed to retain our dominance of the skies because we’ve fielded the best crews, the best planes, and the best technology.

    The original buy of the F-22 Raptor was supposed to be 800 planes, almost equal to the original number of F-15 Eagles built. I questioned the need for that number. The F-15 buy was based on the looming possibility of an Eastern European battle between the Warsaw Pact and NATO, where we had to face the Pact’s numerical superiority with operational and technological superiority. The F-15s were supposed to protect NATO bombers by flying combat air patrols near the forward edge of the battle area and possibly over enemy airspace itself, knocking down enough of the first wave of defenders to allow the bombers to sneak in.

    I will never be the one to proclaim that an East-West conflict is out of the question (my latest novel “Plan of Attack” describes such a battle), but it certainly doesn’t look like we’ll be facing a massive invasion by Communist forces any time soon. Therefore I was relieved to see the initial buy of the F-22 decreased to about 390 copies—in an era of budget-slashing, the Air Force either had to cut the buy order substantially or face cancellation of the entire program. The current planned buy of 277 planes is a very realistic number, augmenting and eventually replacing all eight F-15 wings in Air Combat Command, Pacific Air Forces, and Air Forces in Europe as the Eagles leave the active duty fleet. The fighter fleet will be smaller than before, but at least it won’t be gutted.

    But what made me even happier with the Raptor was its “spiral” development as a multi-role fighter and attack plane, versus just an air superiority jet. America has had much success with multi-role fighters in the F-4E Phantom, F-15E, F-16, and F/A-18, and with upgrades in computer capabilities and a new generation of “smart” and now “brilliant” weapons, a single pilot is no longer in danger of being overwhelmed and being rendered less effective by the dizzying array of weapons and assignments per mission.

    Bottom line: I hated the F-22 at 800 and even at 400 copies, but at 277 copies of the multi-role F/A-22, I like it.

    The total cost of the F/A-22 program could be upwards of $70 billion. Could that money be better spent elsewhere?

    The money will be spent elsewhere, but the money needs to be spent on modernizing the fighter fleet as well until the Pentagon definitely concludes that fighters aren’t needed any longer, which is not likely to happen. We will still spend huge sums on special ops forces, airlift, sealift, and unmanned systems—in fact, the greatest budget increases for the Air Force are going to unmanned aircraft, information warfare, and space systems. Almost as much money goes into intelligence-gathering and communications systems as into all other Air Force operations combined, showing the definite trend towards the Air Force transforming into a space force.

    So, as usual, The New York Times fails to look at all sides of an issue when it comes out with these diatribes. No big surprise there.

    On a related topic: I am not a fan of the Air Force’s version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and I believe we should be “skipping a generation” by NOT developing the F-35. The Air Force variant of the F-35 had significantly lower payload and performance capabilities of the F-16, which it is supposed to replace. Now that they have given the F/A-22 Raptor a much better air-to-ground capability, the Air Force can afford to defer buying the F-35 in favor of more 21st century systems.

    We should be developing more unmanned attack aircraft such as the X-45 and augmenting the F-16 fleet with “brilliant” cruise missiles, the Joint Air To Surface Standoff Missile, and armed versions of the Predator and Global Hawk unmanned aircraft. But the Air Force should back out of the F-35.

    The Navy version of the F-35 might be a better complement to the F/A-18 Hornet because of its longer range, but it will not have a better air-to-air capability nor carry a bigger payload. The U.S. Marine Corps version as a replacement for the Marines’ F/A-18 and AV-8 Harriers might be the best option because of the F-35’s ability to both go supersonic AND to do STOVL (short takeoff/vertical landing) profiles.

    Let the Marines have the AV-35—the Air Force should just say “No.”

    POST-STRIKE REPORTS: Replies to reader’s e-mail from readermail@dalebrown.info

    2 October 2004

    I was very impressed with your knowledge of edinburgh in silver tower. I am 22 living in Scotland in the United Kingdom I have dyslexia but always make the effort to read your books. Everytime I read one I cant wait to read the next one. I especially enjoy the dreamland series, have you ever thought of creating a robotic exoskeleton for zane to enable him to walk again? that would be cool. I have always been fascinated by military aircraft experimental and operational. I was wondering if you had any tips for someone wanting to write their first novel?

    Edinburgh, Scotland is one of my favorite cities in the world. I have visited there twice and enjoyed myself each time. My strongest feeling of deja-vu was when I stood atop the wall of Edinburgh Castle looking out over the Firth of Forth. I firmly believe I have stood guard on those very same walls centuries ago in a previous life.

    Quick and simple answer to writing your first novel? WRITE! Don’t “outline,” don’t think about it, don’t talk about it with others, and most importantly, DON’T STOP. There will always be important demands on your time; there will always be ideas better or similar to yours; there will always be reasons to give up. KEEP GOING!

    5 October 2004

    Mr. Brown,

    I would just like to say thank you for writting such wonderful books. I am an ex-airline pilot and currently flying corporate out of Greenville, S.C. I absolutely love your work. It is so hard to find aviation books that keep getting more intense as you keep reading. The way you describe the aircraft systems are unbelievable. I feel like I could actually get into one of the aircraft in your books, and fly it. I look forward to your next work and maybe if you are ever in the area we could go up and talk about flying. Thanks for helping me pass the long waits with utter excitement. I thought that I would let you know that you have turned two of my friends that would never touch a book, into avid readers. I just let them borrow one of your books and now they will not put them down. Thanks,

    Thank YOU for reading and for telling your friends!

    7 October 2004

    Sir;
    I have been reading your books since you wrote "Flight of the Old Dog". But, I "m sending Wings Of Fire back to Putnam. The story stops at page 209 and then continues at page 241. The pages in between are a completely different story. Keep writing great story's, and I'll keep buy them.

    Printing and binding errors happen on occasion. You should return books with obvious printing or binding errors to the bookstore you bought it from—they should give you a new book immediately. Return the books to the publisher only if your bookstore won’t make it right.

    10 October 2004

    Dale, keep up the good work. I think I have just about caught up with your books and your colaboration with Jim Defelice. I just finished Armageddon and have to get Plan of Attack and then wait for your next one. I did twenty years in the Air Force including Project Harvest Reaper, when we took the first F111A's to Nam and then I spent twenty five years with the … Metropolitan Police Dept . Now that I have retired, I have the luxury of time to enjoy your novels. You are so accurate and timely that its almost scary. Your tecno-knowledge is awesome and so is your ability to portray your characters the way people really are. Some how I don't think you picked up those skill at the "O" Club. Its good to see some of our jocks did something besides go to work for United Air Lines when they got out. Keep the good stuff comming. Your Country needs it.

    It is my pleasure. I’m glad an old pro still finds my work interesting.

    11 October 2004

    i would like to known if you have another book in the works? If so when might we expect to find it ready buy?

    “Act of War” should hit the bookstores around the end of May 2005, and I’m hard at work on the next one.

    13 October 2004

    Good Morning,

    I realize you are a very busy man but I felt I needed to comment.

    I have been listening to books on tape from the library for many years. A couple of months ago, I picked up "Air Battle Force". I have since listened to "Battle Born" and am now listening to "The Tin Man".

    I must say that I have enjoyed thoroughly these stories. I had never heard of Dale Brown before so I wasn't sure what to expect. I do not recall who narrated the stories. "The Tin Man" is out in the car right now, but this guy does a great job.

    Keep up the good work and thank you for writing such intriguing and interesting stories.

    Take care.

    “The Tin Man” audio was produced by Random House Audio and narrated by Victor Garber (star of the movie “Titanic” and the TV series “Alias”).

    21 October 2004

    First of all i believe that you have had a rather torrid time just lately, this i have just learnt when i looked on your newsletter site. I sincerely hope that everything has turned out okay for you whatever it was.

    Secondly, i enjoy reading and have a handful of favourite authors, and , of course Dale Brown is one of them! I have read several of your books over the last couple of months and have now started to collect them. I have my entire family searching for all of the books that i am missing, a rather difficult task in South Africa.

    Your books are absolutely brilliant and once i have started one i have a problem putting it down, i enjoy aircraft and even have a couple of desktop backgrounds of the B52/Backfire and Bear bombers mentioned in 'Plan of Attack' which i have just completed. But PLEASE do not stop writing, i know this sounds a little selfish...you do all the work for our pleasure, but a pleasure it is and money most definately well spent!!

    Please take care of yourself and your family and i sincerely look forward to your next book. All the best.

    27 October 2004

    Dear Dale, First, I have never been able to get into high tech military novels until I read "Air Battle Force." That book absolutely blew my mind. I am curently serving in the USAF doing a four month tour in Tallil, Iraq. I am a POL troop of four years time in service. The thing that really got me was your attention to detail and how much of the reall Air Force comes out in your books. Well, on to my question. I really love your books and want to read them in order. Do you have a timeline of the order the books take place, not the order they were writen? If so, it would help extremely. Thanks in advance.

    The plot order of the books can be found on the “Books” page of my Web site at http://www.DaleBrown.info. Thanks!

    29 October 2004

    Mr Brown

    Just completed Plan of Attack. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I have read all of your published novels and enjoyed them all. Keep it up. Your characters are very realistic and action scenes are great.

    I am a 20 year retired enlisted weenie Some of the thrills of Plan of Attack come from the fact that I am a Shemya alumnus. Spent a lifetime there one year (1966) before they allowed females on the island. Also got over to Attu to go Salmon fishing in a small inlet there. Was supposed to spend two days there but ended up, because of weather, spending almost a week.

    By the way, Shemya now has a web site, www.shemya.com.

    Thanks

    29 October 2004

    Dear Dale; I have become a follower of Patrick McLanahan and all the other characters in your books and would like to tell you that you are an excellent author. I started recently reading your books and have read from Flight of the Old Dog to the current book that I am reading now, Warrior Class and would like to make one comment to you. Why has it become necessary in Battle Born and Warrior Class and I assume books to follow to start using vulgar language, it does nothing to the plot and could be left out without any damage to my reading, in fact by putting vulgar language in your writing it does the damage to people like myself that do not use this kind of talk. Just a comment.

    This is probably my most frequent criticism. I can honestly tell all my readers that I’m working hard to reduce the amount of vulgar language in my books.

    When I started writing military fiction, I was just out of the military, and I have to say that four-letter words were commonplace—it was realistic and “sounded” correct to use vulgar language. I also noticed it with my friends in law enforcement. We never bought into the notion that “vulgarity is used when you don’t have anything intelligent to say.”

    Today, I feel that vulgar language is less widely used. I don’t know if it’s because there are more women in the military or the military guys are simply becoming more careful and conscious of foul language. It might be because my son listens to my audiobooks and is even starting to pick up some of my books to read and I subconsciously worry about him running across swear words.

    And yes, I feel the heat from my readers: when I get a lot of mail asking me to “tone it down,” I can’t help but listen. So trust me, I am working hard to reduce vulgar language in my books.

    30 October 2004

    Hi Dale,

    I am writing from Australia. I have read most of your books and eagerly await the latest. A novel set in Australia would be super. It is a vast land nearly the size of the USA...plenty of desert, American Strategic Bases ( electronic surveillance) and a history of joint cooperation with the USA. Keep up the good work... you provide me with many hours of literary enjoyment!

    I can’t tell you how many letters I’ve gotten after publishing the last Ops Report about my interest in doing a novel set in Australia. I’m researching the possibilities!

    I need some guidance on Australian defense issues. I’ve been directed to some great Web sites, and I’m still looking into story ideas.

    Have a great November! GBA, Dale…

    www.DaleBrown.info

    Click here for more on Plan Of Attack!

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    Plan Of Attack (MAY 2004)

    The unthinkable is about to happen in this high-flying novel of adventure and suspense.

    In Air Battle Force, Dale Brown introduced U.S. Air Force aerial warfare expert Major General Patrick McLanahan and his air combat unit of the future. Armed with a force of these robotic planes, the general and a handful of commandos were secretly deployed to the oil-rich nation of Turkmenistan to stop a Taliban invasion. And though the Americans won the battle, the war is far from over....

    To punish McLanahan and his fleet of robot warplanes for their audacity, Russian president General Anatoliy Gryzlov decides to do the unthinkable: a sneak attack on America-unlike anything ever believed possible-that devastates her strategic air forces.

    McLanahan has collected information that not only foretold the Russians' daring plan, but also gave him the data he needs to plan a counterstrike that could stop the Russian war machine dead in its tracks. But Patrick is no longer in charge of Air Battle Force, and the Russian sneak attack has left the embattled U.S. president with few options: retaliate with every weapon in his arsenal, even if it triggers a global thermonuclear war, or to a cease fire on Russia's terms...

    ...or listen to a disgraced and discredited young bomber commander's long-shot plan of attack.

    "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."
    --San Francisco Chronicle

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