nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Regarding the campaigns, a couple of definitions and comparisons


The last couple of weeks have been wild and exciting. This presidential campaign is the most interesting I’ve seen in over twenty years.

Like most of you, I have my own thoughts about how to choose a president. But I don’t want to get into that here.

However, I’ve noticed that there is some confusion about a couple of military things that have entered the discussion. I usually write just about medical stuff, but 27 years in the AF is also a credential.

The American people know so little about the organizations that provide for the national defense. I think I told you that a woman once thought I was an airline pilot.

1. First, being a commander is pure authority and responsibility. As a commander, I had the power to imprison, garnish wages, and even put people on bread and water (yes, technically you can still do that…but it’s never done)

Next, there’s been some discussion of the National Guard and how it’s commanded. We have two large groups of non-active duty forces in the country: the Reserves and the National Guard. The Reserves are federal; they belong to the US and are commanded (ultimately) by the President, whether they are here in the US training, or deployed to conduct combat operations.

The Guard is loosely overseen by a Director in the Pentagon, but command and control is exercised by the state. They are “owned” by the state, and their Commander-in-Chief is the governor. He or she exercises complete control and discretion over their use. The origin of the Guard is pre-Revolutionary War…the Minutemen.

Once a Guard unit is mobilized, or “federalized”, their status under the law changes and command passes to the President. But practically speaking, the Governor has to “go along” with the mobilization. The Governor resumes commander-in-chief role upon their return, or release from active military duty. Then, the governor can use them for any purpose he/she wants within the state again.

It gets more complicated that this. I won’t bore you with it much: there is COMCON (command control), OPCON (operational control), TACON (tactical control), and ADCON (administrative control).

If you want to impress your friends say the following: “Gov Palin normally exercises COMCON. She relinquishes OPCON and TACON for overseas military operations, but retains ADCON.” It sounds like you’re really smart.

2. Over the last few years, I’ve run across comparisons between now and Vietnam. Military personnel know the vast difference between the war on terrorism and Vietnam, but I ran across the following graph that gives a taste for the magnitude of the two. Considering that Vietnam is tiny and Iraq/Afghanistan is huge, the casualty comparison is striking. (by the way, what happened to the media reporting the casualty total all the time?) The total number of deaths, all a tragic loss, since 2003 is 4154. This is total, not all are combat (accidents happen). By comparison, the first day at Antietam was 23,000…June 6, 1944 was ~5000 (I think). The average is about 15/mo now, about 130/mo at the height of the counter-insurgency.

Doc D

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