The Air Force more than other military services has jumped enthusiastically on the Obama administration’s campaign to socially engineer the military through politically correct programs and policies.
A case in point comes to Inside the Ring in an email from the U.S. Transportation Command, known as Transcom, an Air Force-dominated command. The email revealed that the command is holding “self-awareness” seminars for troops aimed at boosting their “emotional intelligence quotient,” or EQ.
The effort is not sitting well with some of the more warrior-oriented Air Force members who are concerned that the service is being transformed into a military version of Federal Express or UPS. One officer joked: “This is still the armed forces of the United States, is it not? Lord help us.”
According to the email, EQ seminars are part of Transcom’s strategy “to develop customer-focused professionals.”
“Each and every one of us is vital in transforming the command for the future, supporting those who count on us to deliver whatever they need on time, every time,” it says. “In order to maintain and retain great customer relationships, the EQ workshops help establish the necessary tools to do this and more.”
For those seeking better social skills, one upcoming EQ seminar, No. 401, is set for April 18 on “social awareness,” further described as: “Look outward to learn about and appreciate others. Pay attention to your surroundings.”
“EQ 401 explores body language, timing, greeting people by name and other skills to apply to your daily interactions,” the email says.
On April 25, the command will hold EQ 201 on self-awareness.
“An emotional journey, this seminar helps uncover the true essence of you,” the email says. “Facilitators provide a gateway to the inner truth and future path of your personal road map to your own emotional intelligence.”
Those interested were urged to contact Transcom’s Change Management Team.
Transcom spokesman Maj. Matthew Gregory said the EQ program is about communication and “trying to figure out what our customer needs.”
A former Pentagon official said that if Transcom is taking its people away from mission activities for this type of politically correct training, “the command is over strength and can afford cost-saving personnel cuts at this critical time.”
Other signs of political correctness included the Air Force’s removal in 2011 of a sign at storied Nellis Air Force Base that read “Home of the Fighter Pilot.”
The banner was removed over concerns it wasn’t “inclusive” and may have harmed the feelings of nonfighter pilots.
Also, late last year, the Air Combat Command went on one of the military’s more extensive searches to seize inappropriate materials of a sexual nature. The squadron-by-squadron shakedown came after a female sergeant filed a complaint alleging rampant harassment by superiors.
By mid-January, the command reported finding 17,790 offensive items 6,700 of which were of a personal nature stored on government computers.
“Of the remaining items,” the command said, “the majority of items were potentially offensive pictures, posters, calendars, magazines or graffiti located in common areas, offices and latrines. Identified items were documented and either removed or destroyed.”
Mixed strategic message on Korea
A U.S. defense official says the Obama administration and Pentagon sent a dangerous mixed strategic message during the current showdown with North Korea. The apparent softening of U.S. resolve in the standoff is increasing the chance of a military miscalculation leading to war, the official told Inside the Ring.
After dispatching nuclear-capable B-52 and then B-2 bombers to South Korea last month as part of exercises meant to signal “extended deterrence” nuclear protection for South Korea, the administration backed down. Instead of continuing the pressure on North Korea with a test launch of a Minuteman 3 missile that had been set for this week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the launch scrapped.
The defense official said the Minuteman 3 flight test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., was meant to further signal U.S. strategic resolve in the face of unprecedented threats by North Korea to attack the United States with nuclear missiles.
Compounding the messaging problem, the test cancellation followed China’s suggestion that both the United States and North Korea take steps to reduce tensions. At the same time, Beijing has refused to pressure its fraternal communist ally in North Korea into reducing its bellicosity.
“The test was to signal the reliability of U.S. nuclear capabilities,” the official said. “This is another example of U.S. government doing as China suggests.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire Republican, said on MSNBC on Tuesday that she was worried about the signal sent by the cancellation of the missile test.
“I am a little concerned that that could send the wrong message to the new young leader there that what he is doing is actually going to get us to take actions that he would appreciate,” she said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Russian President Vladimir Putin praised the U.S. missile cancellation, suggesting Moscow has been pressuring the United States to limit the needed missile flight tests. Last year, the Pentagon postponed a Minuteman 3 launch three times and then waited until after the November election as the result of what defense officials said was pressure from both Russia and China.
“I think the United States took a very important step in delaying the test of a ballistic missile,” Mr. Putin told reporters during a visit to Germany.
North Korea has not responded in kind. Pyongyang is set to conduct the first test-firing of a new intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missile, as well as other missiles, in the next several days.
Rose on nuke modernization
Rose Gottemoeller, acting undersecretary of state for arms control, this week seemed to add to the worries of officials and advocates of U.S. nuclear deterrence that the administration may be abandoning the promised modernization of the aging U.S. nuclear weapons and support infrastructure.
“We’re not modernizing. That is one of the basic principles and rules that have been part of our nuclear posture review and part of our policy,” she said during a conference at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
U.S. nuclear weapons are being maintained, because the United States needs a safe and secure arsenal as long as atomic weapons exist, she said.
The comment that the United States is not modernizing its arsenal immediately raised concerns that President Obama may be reneging on his promise in 2010 to spend $85 billion over 10 years to modernize the nuclear weapons complex. The promise was crucial to gaining Republican Senate support for ratifying a new strategic arms reduction agreement (New Start), although the White House has not pressed Congress to fully fund the modernization.
A spokeswoman for Ms. Gottemoeller clarified to Inside the Ring that she was responding to a question about U.S. efforts to develop space weapons and missile defenses and to use a U.S. nuclear laboratory to build new nuclear weapons.
“The meaning of Acting Undersecretary Gottemoeller’s response was that the United States is not developing new nuclear warheads,” Alexandra Bell said. “The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review stated that the United States would not develop new nuclear warheads.”
The undersecretary “confirmed that the administration is committed to ensuring a safe, secure and reliable arsenal through our stockpile stewardship program.”
Ms. Gottemoeller made no mention during her remarks that the Obama administration is planning further cuts in U.S. nuclear weapons beyond the New Start level of 1,550 deployed warheads.
Another official suggested the comment may have been a “Freudian slip” reflecting Ms. Gottemoeller’s anti-nuclear weapons activism.
The cuts are expected to be announced by the president in the near future as part of a new round of arms talks with Moscow.
Ms. Gottemoeller described herself at the conference as “the negotiator of the New Start treaty,” and said she looks forward to an upcoming meeting of U.S., Russian and Chinese officials in Geneva to discuss “multilateral arms control negotiations.”