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

SKYBIRD: Dale Brown's Ops Report
Copyright © 2006, TDPI

September 2006


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It's not quite Labor Day here in Lake Tahoe as I write this, so the weather hasn't changed--yet. Labor Day is when someone throws a celestial switch somewhere and Tahoe changes from summer to fall almost overnight. It is very busy here in town as it always is during any long holiday weekend any time of the year.

I love living here in Tahoe but I probably don't enjoy it or appreciate it as much as I should. For example, you would think living in Lake Tahoe in the summertime and being raised around the water for a good part of my life I'd be out on Lake Tahoe on the boat every day--but in fact I've been on the boat only three times this season, with probably less than a month left to go.

The picture above is of my good friend Alexander Kallis (recognize the name?) and his dog Ben on board our boat "Battle Born" as we head for Emerald Bay on Tahoe's southwest corner, a narrow inlet surrounded by California state park lands where you can camp overnight on a boat or on land. At the end of Emerald Bay is Vikingsholm, a former private summer home built in 1929 nestled in the trees right on the water. It's a beautiful spot and our favorite place to take visitors…but I've gone just once this year.

Yes, the trip to Sturgis did take two weeks out of the already short summer season. But the fact is, I write in the summer. I write year-round.

Why do I waste an absolutely gorgeous and very short summer season sitting indoors writing when I could be out on the boat? Simple: I love it. I like the solitude of immersing myself in the universe I create, then telling stories about what happens there. To tell the truth, if I was out on the boat I'd probably be thinking about the story waiting for me back at home.

Someday I will rearrange my schedule so the writing is done in the summer and I need to work hard in the fall, winter, and spring. The publishers tell me that my readers expect a new book every Father's Day, so slipping the delivery date is probably not a good idea. If I was to take the summer off I would miss a year until the manuscripts are in, which I'm not ready to do. So I'm not sure if the schedule will ever be arranged. Maybe if I work faster.

Soccer season has begun so I'm busy as a volunteer referee for the local American Youth Soccer Organization region. I do three to four games a week, usually one or two of my son's Under-10 Boys games and as a center or assistant ref on a Under-14 Boys or Girls game.

Refereeing kids' soccer games is fun and challenging for me, but it's a double-edged sword in many ways. I like getting outdoors and running around with my son and his team and getting to know the kids in town. But it's physically demanding. There is a short quarter break to change players and a halftime break, but otherwise it's pretty constant running. It's the only running I've done since getting out of the Air Force 20 years ago. That's a big part of why I like soccer as a spectator--the almost non-stop action--but as a participant, it's tiring.

It's great exercise, but for me aerobic exercise like running doesn't affect my blood sugar or weight very much--it's anaerobic exercise, like weight/resistance training, that really helps. Problem is, during soccer season I'm usually too pooped to pump iron, so my weight and blood sugar levels actually tend to creep up during soccer season. It takes a lot of work to counteract that tendency.

I'm doing something about that--more later. Let's get to e-mails:

1 August 2006

I have a potential subject for your op-eds at milcom... Fidel Castro is sick, and may actually die. Little bro Castro, is a total s…head. What might be the ramifications?

First off, I have to apologize to the good folks at Military.com--I've been promising them editorials and essays for months.

The danger of Cuba was its close relationship with the Soviet Union, basing Russian nuclear weapons so close to the United States, and Cuba's past practice of sending troops overseas to assist or foment Communist-inspired insurgencies. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba does not participate as much in training and assisting insurgent forces. Cuba's main danger to the world today is serving as the model for dictatorships throughout the world.

Want to start a successful dictatorship in your country? Just follow Fidel Castro's template:

  • 1) Start by decrying the central government as corrupt and vowing to lead the fight to rescue the government for the working-class people;
  • 2) After taking over the government, immediately give yourself "emergency" power to enact laws for "social" and "economic" "reform;"
  • 3) Hire your family and friends to take over key government leadership positions;
  • 4) Use the military to help in civil programs such as road and school construction, police and fire protection services, criminal justice, medical services, and transportation;
  • 5) Institute "land reform measures" by taking property away from non-supporters and giving it to supporters
  • 6) Blame foreigners for economic problems; take over foreign-owned companies;
  • 7) Organize frequent "people's rallies" and stage often-violent counter-protests against opposition groups to try to highlight your own popularity among the people and repress any dissention;
  • 8) Nationalize and control heavy industries, the media, labor unions, and the banks in the name of social, economic, and labor reform.
  • Fidel Castro's most ardent protégé appears to be President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Although first elected to office in 1998, Chavez twice attempted military coups and spent two years in prison for it. Chavez has pretty much gone down the entire list of above activities, and he's encouraging other Latin American presidents to do the same: Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and even Mexico may follow the same Castro-inspired track. Recently, outgoing president Vincente Fox announced he would not deliver his outgoing address in person because of fears of violent protests by defeated leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his followers.

    Revolutions have begun with less.

    The death of Fidel Castro and his brother Raul might not mean an end to the Communist regime or the repressive society in Cuba--the death of Yasser Arafat, for example, did not stop the cycle of violence in Gaza or the West Bank--but at least the death of the inspirational strongmen in past revolutions may at least allow other points of view to surface. Time will tell.

    1 August 2006

    Dale:

    just finished Air Battle Force that was sitting there all nice and clean and crisp at the library. Loved it as i do whatever I read of yours Am down for a week or so with an accident and needed to catch up on my reading . Of the eight books that I got before becoming a shut-in yours was by far the most gratifying.

    I still like Flight of the old dog as it is in my top ten books of my life list. The emotions that it brought back from my time serving my country were as strong a they were when i joined up as a 20 year old. For that I am eternally grateful it is always nice to know that my heart still understands that actions always spaek louder that words, unless of course they are words written by a master such as yourself.

    Again thank you

    I hope you're doing better, and thanks for taking the time to write.

    1 August 2006

    Dear Dale,

    What has happened to you? Act of War has to be the worst book you've ever written!!! The dialogue is terrible, the action forced, the plot ridiculous. Go back to Flight of the Old Dog and others like it!!!

    Naturally I disagree with your opinion about "Act of War." But what do I have to say about it?

    "Act of War" was a rare and welcome opportunity for me to write something a little different. Because it was born of Atari's real-time strategy war game project "Act of War: Direct Action" for the PC, it was not entirely my conception from the beginning, and many of the themes in the book were steered by the computer game project. But I had been looking for an opportunity to change direction a bit in my writing, and "Act of War" was the one.

    I believe "Act of War" and its sequel "Edge of Battle" are my most character-driven novels since "Day of the Cheetah" and "Wings of Fire," but as such they appeal to different readers. Those who prefer plot-driven novels might be disappointed. But since novels are SUPPOSED to be about the characters and not the technology, I thought I should try doing it that way for once. Not everyone's ear or taste for dialogue or character development is the same.

    Will I stick with character-based stories from now on? Probably not. I've made my bones writing about slightly futuristic weapons and technology as the main characters in my stories, and I'll undoubtedly go home with the girl I came to the prom with (how about THAT for mixing metaphors!)!

    3 August 2006

    Dear Major Brown,

    I want to thank you for your many hours of entertainment. As a former 326 in the 57th during the 1970’s I am proud of the old F111. I worked on many of the A models and one is at Wright Pat. I was thrilled to see it after so many years. My question is about the 111 and why dreamland never modified one for secret missions. It was a very fast and versatile platform and I would love to hear about an EF111 that made a difference in world politics.

    Thank you so much for the techno.

    See? Someone DOES appreciate the techno stuff as much as I do!

    The F-111 and its derivative, the FB-111A "Aardvark" medium bomber I flew as part of the 509th Bomb Wing at Pease Air Force Base in the mid-1980s, was a fine warplane--when it worked. Its highly accurate analog-digital bombing and navigation system made it the king of Strategic Air Command's Giant Voice bombing competitions, winning nine of twelve competitions between 1974 and 1986, including five in a row (interrupted, I might add, by my 320th Bomb Wing, Mather AFB, California, in 1980, the year I competed in Bomb Comp!). The FB-111 continued to win other trophies in bombing competitions until it was taken out of the inventory in 1990.

    It was certainly ahead of its time. It was the first bomber with terrain-following radar technology which allowed automatic high-speed nap-of-the-earth flight. Its variable-geometry "swing-wings" gave it very short takeoff rolls, very high cruise speeds at altitude, and supersonic cruise speeds at treetop level. Its avionics were very accurate and fairly reliable, with a lot of redundancy built in. It had such innovations as a star tracker (first used on the B-58 Hustler bomber) that allowed it to derive accurate heading data by tracking stars, even in daytime; and a crew escape module that allowed the crews to safely eject even at high speeds and low altitude.

    I've used the "stretch" version of the FB-111 in several novels. The "stretched" FB-111H was the interim replacement supersonic bomber proposed after the cancellation of the B-1A bomber by President Jimmy Carter in 1977, and I'm sure there were several stretched FB-111s out there. The stretched version was designed to alleviate the FB-111's main deficiency--short range--by adding space for more fuel. But the B-1 was resurrected by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, so the FB-111H was never put into production. The B-1B continues to serve today.

    The B-1 Lancer has everything the FB-111 had--speed, accuracy, low-level penetration capability, survivability, stealthiness--but it has one thing the FB-111 lacked: range and payload. It carried only four weapons--two external gravity bombs and two internal attack missiles--and it needed a lot of tanker support to get to its assigned targets in Europe and Asia. We flew our FB-111s with FOUR 500-gallon external fuel tanks (one fixed and one swiveling on each wing) and we still needed at least two air refuelings just to make it from New Hampshire to Europe.

    Although I enjoyed my years flying the "Aardvark," it represented old technology that I decided wouldn't be around in the near future, so I never featured it in my novels.

    4 August 2006

    Hello Mr. Brown, I was turned on to your books by my Dad. I have become a huge fan of yours and have listened to all of your books on tape except for Shadows of Steel and Act of War. I am totally blind and get your books through the Library of Congress, and to date they do not have either of these books on an audio format. I was wondering if they might be in stores in an audio format so that I may fill in the missing chapters of the lives of Patrick and the crew? I thank you for the excitement of your novels and am always looking forward to the next books. Thank you once again for your time. Please keep up the great writing.

    "Act of War" is available unabridged by BBC Audiobooks America (check Amazon.com) and abridged on Audible.com. "Shadows of Steel" is available on Amazon.com from private sellers and as a downloadable audiobook on Audible.com.

    5 August 2006

    I'm almost 18 and have read almost every book you have published. Your writing style, putting advanced technology and integrating it into the military is amazing. You are truly the best of the best.

    I was a little sad to see the end to Muck and the advanced concepts in the Air force. Although the new idea of Task Force Talon is great and I cannot wait for the next book you write, I do hope eventually you will come back to the Air force maybe with a new character. All the concepts from the original "Old Dog" to the new and improved Megafortress', Dragon Lady's and the upgrade B-2s and B-1s with their weapons and UCAV's to the Tin Man suits and the CID units, your concepts have blown me away. I think Day of the Cheetah is one of my favorites, because it was fighter on fighter and a change from the bombing missions, and the same goes for Talon. But I still would love to see some new aircraft and weapons systems being deployed whether from Sky Masters or Dreamland or somewhere else. Speaking of Dreamland, I was wondering when the next book in that series will come out? Maybe even a series on Whiplash could be made.

    I won't keep repeating myself; I just wanted to let you know how much of a fan I am, and hopefully the Air force will come back with some new ideas maybe even a book focused on some F-22’s.

    Patrick McLanahan and crew have not gone away--they'll be back in book #19 (can't reveal the name yet but I will as soon as the catalog copy comes out). The first draft is due to Henry Ferris at Morrow on October 1. Wish me luck!

    7 August 2006

    Mr. Brown,

    Please keep up the wonderful work you've been doing. My father introduced me to your first book "Flight of the Old Dog," and I have yet to be able to put any of your books down. I check weekly at my local book store for the next installment into your world. Your ability to entrance your readres and suck me into a world where all time is lost is an art form. You have inspired me to start writing on my own, and with each new page my laptop produces, I realize how much talent you have. Thank you from all your loyal readers, and keep those fingers busy. There are some people (like me) who just can not wait!

    Thank you for everything you've done, and all the dreams you've inspired.

    Thank you for your great e-mail! Much appreciated!

    7 August 2006

    Dale,

    You've done it again! When Fatal Terrain was released, I picked up a copy that day and devoured it. I then sent you an email about your seemingly uncanny ability to take current events and predict the next step or two in your novels. I am now reading Edge of Battle and only last evening reached the part where Falcone remorsefully commits suicide over the unintentional slaying of the illegal immigrants attacking him. Imagine my absolute amazement when I logged on this evening to find the attached headline on MSN! You never cease to amaze and thoroughly entertain. Keep them coming..........and ask your publicist for a big fat bonus! You deserve it!

    Thanks again!

    8 August 2006

    I enjoy your books immensely, however, it would be nice if your editors could use the proper fuze (as in ordnance) instead of fuse (as in circuit breaker). Cheers

    Unfortunately I can't blame this one on my editors or proofreaders--the mistakes are all mine.

    17 August 2006

    Hello,

    I have just finished your book Act of War and I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I must confess that I bought the book by mistake thinking it was written by Dan Brown. I loved Angel's and Demons and Davinci Code and thought I would give it a try seeing as though I was heading off for vacation and only had a few pages left in 1776. After finishing your book, I can safely say that it was one of the most enjoyable mistakes that I have ever made. As a former Marine I found the technical jargon nostalgic and the plotline, combined with the rich character development was compelling to say the least. Thanks so much for a fun and enjoyable read. Keep up the great work!

    I can't tell you how many times I've been confused with Dan Brown--I'm glad to see at least one reader is happy with the mix-up!

    23 August 2006

    Dear Dale:

    I have been a fan of yours since the 90's when I discovered the "old dog" series. I was, for a time, an Air Force wife. My son was born at Kirtland and my daughter was born at Cannon, back in the days when the F-111's were still based there (yeah, I am on "old dog").

    Later, we lived outside Blytheville, AR and my kids used to wave at the pilots of the buffs as they came in. Sometimes weather conditions put them so low that the pilots waved back. We were about five miles south of the runway. So, with some knowledge of B-52's, some military dependency background, etc., I thoroughly enjoyed your books.

    Having said that, I am writing to notify you of what I consider to be a problem. For a variety of reasons I have switched to audio books and so, I am currently struggling thru Act of War. Why am I struggling? The reader!

    Since I know your writing I know you write strong female characters and they are not necessarily "whiny butts". This reader, however, is characterizing both the politician and the fibbie in that manner. While it might fit the politician based on the dialog so far, I am not sure it fits the agent. He is getting on my nerves!

    I do not know what control you have over the recorded versions of your books or if you have listened to any of the recordings. If you haven't, I recommend that you do and seek a different reader for future books. There is a fellow named Scott Brick who would be excellent but I think you are with a different recording company than the one he works for. Too bad, he does female characters very well and also does accents very well.

    Anyway, the chosen reader for Act of War, in my opinion, is doing a great disservice to your writing and he is definitely reducing my enjoyment of the book.

    One last thing, I got a big kick out of your setting at least the early part of the book at Cannon. (I'm still there..... they are just getting settled in to quarters).

    Thanks for your e-mail!

    I have script approval for the abridged version of the books and I'm usually given a choice of several available voice talents. But I have never been given any say in HOW the audiobooks are done.

    I was lucky enough to be present when the great Joseph Campanella was recording "Day of the Cheetah." The guy was amazing: he had developed a unique color code for each line in the script, telling him which character, inflection, gender, pace, and volume to use for that line. Using the code, he could do his recordings in a fraction of the time in studio as other artists. It was truly awe-inspiring to watch this pro at work.

    I've been very lucky in the choice of artists chosen to record my audiobooks, and I assure you I'll continue to be diligent in picking the very best ones. William Dufris is a highly sought-after and acclaimed voice talent that I've been lucky enough to work with on several projects.

    To tell the truth, it's a little difficult for me to listen to any of my audiobooks--in fact, I've never listened to one all the way through. It's a little eerie to listen to your own words spoken by a stranger, especially spoken dramatically. I had a similar reaction when I saw the live actor cut-scenes in the Atari PC game "Act of War: Direct Action"--it was very weird to actually SEE Jason Richter, Ray Jefferson, Harold Kingman, and Robert Chamberlain, the characters I created, come alive and actually say the words I wrote!

    I just hope I don't have the same reaction when (not "if") I see Bruce Willis or Clint Eastwood do the same on the big screen!

    24 August 2006

    I normally don’t write the authors of books I read, but I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed the few books of yours I have thus far read.

    I picked up your “Act of War,” in the Carson City Wal-Mart a few months ago, because I confused your name with another author. Man, am I ever glad I made that “mistake!” As soon as I finished the book, I went to Borders and bought everything else they had of yours in stock and ordered the rest.

    Usually (at least with my job), when someone takes the time to write it’s a complaint. I just wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed the books I have read so far, and look forward to the ones I haven’t.

    Thanks again! Another reader satisfied even after making a purchasing "mistake"!

    28 August 2006

    Re your novel "Act of War"

    On page 68 you refer to the Coast Guard as a "paramilitary" organization. The Coast Guard is one of the five armed forces of the United States and has been since its beginning. Please see Title 14, U.S. Code.

    I received a lot of e-mails on this gaffe--some not as polite as this.

    The unique formation and administration of the Coast Guard contributed to my confusion. I shouldn't have lumped it into the same basket as the Customs Service and ATF, which are civilian law enforcement and investigation services that sometimes use military-style weapons and tactics. However, the Coast Guard wasn't born as a military service.

    The Coast Guard has its roots in the U.S. Department of the Treasury as the U.S. Cutter Service, patrolling America's seas to protect its fisheries, stop smuggling, and help save the lives of merchantmen. Nonetheless, it was the only American naval force until the U.S. Navy launched its first ship, the USS Constellation, in 1797. The Cutter Service was often merged into the fledgling Navy during emergencies and was involved in many conflicts, including the War of 1812 and the Spanish-American War.

    The Cutter Service was combined with the U.S. Lifesaving Service to become the Coast Guard in 1915 and was then officially designated a military service. Although the Coast Guard has always been operated under civilian agencies (Treasury, Transportation, and now Homeland Security), its members are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and receive the same pay and benefits as other military personnel.

    The Coast Guard currently serves alongside other sister services in such places as the Persian Gulf. Even though the Coast Guard is a military service, it is not subject to the Posse Comitatus Act and routinely performs law enforcement functions--in fact, it is unique in that it is one of the few agencies that enforces international, federal, state, and even local laws simultaneously. Coast Guard personnel form LEDETs (Law Enforcement Detachments) that serve on naval vessels and perform law enforcement functions that are prohibited by law for U.S. Navy personnel deployed overseas.

    Write anytime at readermail@airbattleforce.com. I read every e-mail, good or bad. I respond to a few e-mails personally, and I'll post some on the Web site along with my answers. I'll never (knowingly) reveal your identity unless you say it's OK.

    Have a great September! GBA, Dale…

    www.AirBattleForce.com

    Click here for more on Edge Of Battle

    [AMAZON.COM]
    Get Edge Of Battle At Amazon.Com!

    Edge Of Battle (May 2006)

    Violence and tensions along the U.S.-Mexican border have never been higher, sparked by battles between rival drug lords and an increased flow of illegal migrants. To combat the threat, the U.S. has executed Operation Rampart: a controversial test base in southern California run by Major Jason Richter and members of Task Force TALON.

    But their success is thretened by a drug kingpin and migrant smuggler named Enrique Fuerza, and the Mexican president, a nationalist who causes a storm of controversy on both sides of the border, calling for a revolution to take back the northernmost "Mexican states"-the southwest U.S.

    Soon Richter and his force are reassigned to the FBI to investigate the murders of several Border Patrol agents-a deadly mission that will set off a wave of bloodshed that threatens to become an all-out guerrilla war.

    The "best military adventure writer in the country today" (Clive Cussler) takes it to the terrorists with high tech firepower in this electrifying new military thriller.

    Contact Information:

    Rights:
    Robert Gottlieb
    Trident Media Group
    (212) 262-4810

    Webmaster:
    Parker Information Resources
    bparker@parkerinfo.com

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