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Wild Blue Yonder on the Air - Ep. 2 - Major Tom Clark on Strategic Competition, Air Power and Expeditionary Basing in Africa

Opinions, conclusions, and recommendations expressed or implied within are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Air University, the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, or any other US government agency.

0:00:00.6 Dr. Margaret Sankey: Welcome to Wild Blue Yonder. This installment we have Major Tom Clark, who is an Air Force fellow for this academic year. Could you tell me a little bit about your background before you were an Air Force fellow?

 

 

0:00:14.2 Major Tom Clark: Absolutely. So I'm an Aircraft Maintenance Officer by trade. Started out at Little Rock back in 2008, and then I got to go overseas for a couple of assignments to Japan and Germany, and then got picked up for this fellowship here in the DC area, and that's where I'm at now.

 

 

0:00:28.7 MS: And so this year you've been with the State Department, so POLAD, political advising. How did that lead you to get interested in Africa?

 

 

0:00:37.2 TC: Basically, in a lead up to it, they asked me which bureau I would like to be in, and after kicking it around with the folks at the State Department a little bit, we settled on the Africa Bureau. I thought it would be interesting and that I hadn't had a lot of exposure to before, and so just getting into... So specifically, I was in the Regional Peace and Security Office of the Africa Bureau, and I got to spend a lot of time just looking at... Seeing things that are going on around the continent. And then I was also taking some classes over at Georgetown University, auditing those, and got to take a class on China in Africa, and that was really eye-opening to see what they're doing. And in some ways, it doesn't fit the paradigm of what a lot of the media tension has been, but it's still a place of interest that the United States has to look at and figure out how to compete with China.

 

 

0:01:23.9 MS: So one of the most interesting features of your paper was considering a lot of the resource and economic impact that Africa has, and I think probably a lot of American consumers don't think about the things that go into their cell phones, but you did. So could you tell me a little bit about why we need to care about rare-earth elements?

 

 

0:01:43.6 TC: Yeah, absolutely. Like you mentioned, cell phones, really anything that's modern technology uses at least one type of rare-earth elements. And they're those things that not many people have ever heard of that have got really hard to pronounce names. Unlike their name kind of says, they're actually, they're pretty abundant, they're just spread really thinly throughout the Earth's crust, and that process of actually getting them tends to be the hard part just because you have to go through a lot of... A lot of soil to actually get enough to do anything with. And like I said, cell phones, any kind of rechargeable battery pretty much, especially lithium ion batteries, use them. But everything from a laser to cell phones, to the computer, to your iPad or whatever it is, any you kind of consumer electronics, the things that really make the modern world the modern world, use those rare-earth elements.

 

 

0:02:32.6 MS: And so aside from just consumer electronics, this has a real impact on military supply chains, right?

 

 

0:02:39.7 TC: Absolutely. I mean, so just rare-earth elements, you look at the F-35, it requires about 920 pounds of rare-earth elements, just for that single fighter craft. Virginia-class attack submarines use about a little over 9200 pounds of rare-earth elements. Those are just the rare-earth elements, that's not even getting into other things that are found almost exclusively in Africa, such as cobalt's a big one, and then you also have... Pretty much all of your platinum group elements, so the things that make a lot of your chemical reactions that you need in modern industry as a catalyst comes from Africa, and that's where the primary source of those elements is at.

 

 

0:03:20.6 MS: Well, and it just now occurred to me that as an aircraft maintainer, this is something that you have to think about pretty closely, is where do all these parts come from and how do you keep things in the air with a complicated supply line?

 

 

0:03:32.8 TC: Absolutely. So far we've been talking about those... Just the raw materials and where they come from. And while Africa is the main source for a lot of those in 2018, the Department of Defense really kind of got to looking into it hard with one of their defense industrial board reports, looking at the supply chain that supports the modern US war effort, if we were to go to war somewhere. Not only did it identify the actual raw materials, but also the components and a lot of other things that without even realizing it, we have gradually become dependent upon China to produce those things.

 

 

0:04:07.1 TC: Just looking at, going back to the rare-earth elements, the US only has one mine in the entire country to produce rare-earth elements, and then we don't have a processing plant for them though. We have no way to refine them. So everything that that mine produces currently goes back to China or another country in the Western Pacific, in order to get refined into a usable material. That wasn't always the case. In the 1980s, or up until the 1980s rather, the United States was actually the leading producer of rare-earth elements, but then because it's a messy process that requires, like I said, a lot of soil to be disturbed, the refining process produces a lot of toxic waste. So for that, and a couple of other reasons, basically, we started shutting down processing plants here in the United States, and China was quick to pick up that slack and took over as the world's leading producer of rare-earth elements.

 

 

0:05:00.1 TC: So now that we've kind of realized that we let ourselves get into this predicament, we're starting to gradually see some steps in order to overcome that. There is a rare-earth element processing plant that is under construction in Texas, that will hopefully be up and running here in the next year or two, but that's still nowhere near to producing the amount of rare-earth elements that we need, especially if we were to go to war with particularly China since we could expect all of those elements in all those sub-components that we rely on [0:05:26.1] ____ cut off. So figuring out how to reshore specific industries is definitely a critical concern for the United States.

 

 

0:05:32.1 MS: China is following the same process that the US has in looking at where do the resources come from that they need in the case of not just big industrialization, but conflict, and something really interesting from your paper was that China's drawing on some really traumatic historical experiences to inform what they're doing now. So what in their background leads them to think about securing these resources the way that they are?

0:05:57.0 TC: Yeah, so the main example that I use is what they experienced during World War II, and I think that's still... Since the Chinese Communist Party was... Well, it wasn't in power yet, it was in existence, and then it kind of grew out of the aftermath of World War II. I think that's probably a very formative experience for them. And basically as the United States started cutting off the export of oil and iron to Japan, because we started getting concerned about their military build-up, Japan started going out into other countries looking for places to get those suppliers because they really did not have any domestic sources of iron coal or oil, and so China bore the brunt of a lot of that.

 

 

 

 

0:06:33.8 TC: And it is true that there's some cultural things in their background. There are several wars between the Chinese and the Japanese leading up to World War II, and there's also, to some extent, they probably started their conquest for China sooner than they intended because they had a group of overzealous army officers, they kicked things off before they were ready because they really wanted to start those imperial ambitions. But at the end of the day, as the conflict progressed, it really became about that how do we get resources to keep our defense industries going for Japan.

 

 

0:07:03.2 MS: Even without Chinese intervention, the US has a lot of commitments in Africa right now, and so we know a lot about the challenges of working with allies and partners there without great power competition coming in, so could you fill us in a little bit of the background of where we stand, even without China on the scene?

 

 

0:07:22.2 TC: I would say that China, even today, is very much on the scene, just not in a real conflict armed forces type of way, but you're right, the majority of the US focus in Africa is really on that counter-terrorism component, and so working with African nations to try to basically ensure their security and help them develop the military capacities that they need to fight insurgents and terrorists with varying success in different places.

0:07:48.6 MS: A lot of African nations are used to the kind of foreign aid that the US sends in order to do counter terrorism packages, but you speak a lot about a very different approach that China takes in building their One Belt One Road and working with infrastructure around the world, and especially in China. Could you highlight some differences of how does China look at building partners differently than we do?

 

 

 

 

0:08:12.8 TC: Sure. So China, so through their Belt and Road Initiative, is really primarily concerned about economic opportunities for themselves and for their companies. So they've really focused on building roads between... So they're involved in a lot of the mining processes in Africa, so they really focus on infrastructure that links the mines and wells back to the ports where they can bring that stuff out and back to China. I think in addition to that economic focus, the other big area that differs is the fact that their... The Chinese do not have any kind of... Or typically do not have any kind of political strings attached to their infrastructure investments. As long as an African country is willing to sign on the bottom line and say, "Yep, come do this." then they'll come in there and do it. Whereas the United States, we very much believe in trying to promote democracy and human rights around the globe, and so a lot of times when we provide foreign aid to African countries, it comes along with stipulations of meeting various democratic and human rights standards in order to receive that aid. And even to the extent that sometimes we will cut that aid off midstream if a significant enough event happens to make us really question that nation's commitment to especially human rights.

 

 

0:09:24.6 MS: Something that I didn't appreciate, really, until I was in the middle of an Atlanta to Johannesburg flight was just how big the challenges are in terms of varying terrain, huge, huge distances. Even if you're in a jet plane, it's gonna take you hours and hours to get somewhere. So could you speak a little bit about just the geographic challenges and limitations when it comes to planning or thinking about Africa?

 

 

0:09:51.0 TC: Definitely one of the biggest, no pun intended, is just the sheer... Like you said, the sheer scale of the continent. If we were thinking about theoretical air operations in Africa, especially if we're kind of still in an economy of force type scenario. So say, we actually go to war with China and the Pacific is the combat zone, and we're doing something in Africa to support those countries' security and basically give them the option to still conduct trade with us, you can probably... The closest existing Air Force installation is a Aviano Air Base in Italy. And to get from Aviano just to the north coast of Africa, is about 600 miles. You figure even in a fighter aircraft, that's still at least two and a half, three hours to get there, depending on how much fuel you're willing to burn. But if you want to go all the way to the southern tip of Africa, that's 5500 miles. So just to kind of try to put that in perspective for folks that's like flying from Miami, Florida to Seattle, Washington, and then back, that's about the flight from Aviano to the southern tip of Africa. So it's an extremely long flight, and just to make that flight would require probably somewhere in the order of two to three air re-fuelings just to get there, not to mention getting back. That scale is definitely a huge challenge.

0:11:11.7 TC: For some of the other infrastructure in Africa, really, it comes down to geography. There are parts of the continent that are just really rugged, very mountainous, where you're cutting through various mountainous terrains and jungle and so trying to really... Roads are always problematic. There's been a lot of emphasis on building them, but between just the weather... So you go from a dry season where it just bakes all season and then you switch to a flood season, and roads get swept... Roads and bridges just get swept away on a pretty routine basis. Same thing with rails and pipelines, you've got these pieces of infrastructure that require a lot of maintenance over a very long stretch of train in order to keep them operational. The other option that you've got, which unfortunately in Africa isn't really an option, is inland waterways. The US has tons of inland waterways, the Mississippi, the Ohio, just to name a few. Well, really, the only river in Africa that's truly navigable along the majority of its length is the Nile, pretty much all the other rivers, they've got very short stretches where there's some boat traffic, but it's not like interstate commerce, it's just regional or perhaps getting across one of the large lakes that do exist in Africa. And that's largely just due to terrain, because the number of locks and canals that you would have to build would probably make the Panama Canal look like child's play.

 

 

 

 

0:12:29.5 MS: We've seen very vividly recently what happens when the Suez Canal is held up even for a couple of days.

 

 

0:12:35.0 TC: Absolutely.

 

 

0:12:37.6 MS: And you've highlighted earlier that a lot of these infrastructure projects were done for the convenience of a resource or for a foreign company sponsor, and so these don't even necessarily work for anything except transporting resources. It's not something that might be militarily useful if you needed to move population or get to strategic geographic points, it's kind of a mismatch of why they were constructed and why you would need them.

 

 

0:13:04.3 TC: There are a few railways, especially in East Africa that were made for moving people, but yeah, for the most part, it's very specific of getting a commodity to a port to get it out of the continent. And so that was part of why when I was looking at the problem of the geography and how we might use airpower to actually address that challenge, what it essentially came down to was using Agile Combat Employments and moving forces around pretty rapidly to provide close air support, most likely actually to African ground forces as they defend those various lines of communication, whether rail or road, the US still has the chance to have access to those materials that we need.

 

 

0:13:42.0 MS: This is definitely an Air Force kind of media outlet, but I often run into people who think airpower is just kind of magic, that if you don't have roads or you don't have a pipeline, that man, airplanes can just swoop in and do what you need to do. But one of the really interesting and really useful pieces of your research is that it's just not that easy, you can't just put an airfield wherever you want it and have things work out like magic. So could you talk a little bit about the challenges of putting expeditionary basings in geographic challenges like Africa offers?

 

 

0:14:16.8 TC: So my first real introduction to Agile Combat Employment was actually in USAFE when I was assigned to Spangdahlem Air Base there. So we're working with F-16s and trying to figure out how we'd move them around the European continent, and even that wasn't easy. And Europe's small, has lots of infrastructure. And we quickly realized there's just... There's a lot that you have to take into consideration.

 

 

0:14:36.3 TC: So the first thing really is pavements. So whether you're talking about the runway itself or the aircraft parking ramps. Especially in Africa, a lot of runways are not designed for heavy aircraft, they're made for small light aviation type propeller aircraft. In a lot of cases they're just dirt, and those I pretty much just said, "Yeah, that's probably gonna be way too much work." But you also have some that are maybe useful. They're... Especially the asphalt or some of the thinner concrete runways and parking ramps, you might be able to use those for US Air Force fighter aircraft. But you have to be careful because for a given pavement, its thickness and material, it's able to take a certain pounds per square inch of loading. And what a lot of folks don't realize is they look at F-16s and they go, "Oh, look, it's such a little fighter, or a little airplane, it can't weight that much." And then they're look at, say, C-17, and they go, "Oh man, that thing is huge." But what a lot of folks don't realize is that the pounds per square inch under each wheel of a C-17 is actually lower than that of F-16, especially when you've got it loaded up with fuel and bombs.

 

 

0:15:41.4 TC: And so you have to be really careful where you land strike aircraft, whether it's F-16s, A-10s, F-15s, whatever. You have to be really careful where you land them, because they can actually sink into the pavement, especially if it's some of that softer asphalt on a really hot summer's day in Africa, and you come to a stop and you're sitting there trying to turn it and then you've got the aircraft ready to go and you look down and you realize, "Oh wait, the wheel has managed to sink an inch into the asphalt, how are we gonna get this thing out of here without tearing up the landing gear?" Just the simple things like pavements, really a big issue that we have to consider.

 

 

0:16:16.2 TC: Also things like, how do you get fuel to an airfield? The easiest way, and the most economical way is to have a pipeline that runs right to that airfield. But like we already discussed, there's not a lot of those in Africa to begin with, and there's even fewer that are moving refined petroleum products into airfields around Africa. There's some along the coast to supply the major international airfields. But when you start getting into some of the smaller ones, there's not. So now you start having to look at, do we truck it in? Do we bring it in by rail? If you're bringing it in by rail does a railway even come anywhere close? Because again, there's not a lot of railways in Africa, most of them are focused along the coast lines. So, how do you just get stuff there is an issue.

 

 

0:16:55.6 TC: Another one that people don't think about is just cleanliness. Especially for an F-16, it's really sensitive to foreign objects, so little pieces of debris on a runway that can get sucked up by the engine and ingested. And a lot of times especially with modern engines, if it's just a little pebble or something, one doesn't do that much, it just scratches the blades a little bit. But when you start getting a lot of that stuff getting pulled down the engine now you start running into issues because you can quickly erode blades to the point where they're in danger of failing, maybe you get enough debris goes down that it starts to clog the little cooling airports back in the turbine that keeps things from melting down.

 

 

0:17:31.7 TC: If you have any kind of metal debris, especially on the runway, you run the risk of cutting a tire. They've got certain wear limits, they can take some damage, but if it's bad enough, you can... A tire could fail on you. Especially if that's on take-off or landing, that could be really catastrophic. At best maybe you've got an aircraft stranded, at worst maybe you lose an airplane just because of the non-combat-related things didn't work out right for you. So you've gotta figure out how you're gonna keep those surfaces clean. And like I said, a lot of these little airfields are not meant for modern fighter aircraft, they're meant for light aviation. So do you preposition sweeper trucks there, so that they can go hit that, hit the runway and the parking area you're gonna use with that before you land.

 

 

0:18:10.7 TC: And then the other thing with African aviation infrastructure is they still suffer from a relative lack of ground-based aviation infrastructure. So things like VORs, TACANs, so the navigational aids on the ground that the aircraft can use to navigate and instrument landing system that lets us use those airfields when the weather is not so great, if we can invest in some of that stuff, we can make things a little better for us. Especially since GPS, which we primarily rely on, uses a pretty weak signal, and it's actually pretty easy to jam.

 

 

0:18:40.5 MS: Well, I was about to ask about that. All of the kind of planning and thinking about technology that I see assumes that great power adversary is probably gonna mess with that kind of capability. So if you lose your GPS navigation, what do you do? Especially in big, unmarked areas that have maybe not been as terrain mapped as USAFE or the continental US.

 

 

0:19:03.9 TC:  The biggest thing is starting early, starting right now, especially with... So we already have... We do expeditionary site planning, where teams go out to these airfields and survey them and map up, kind of look at the immediate surroundings, but we could also expand that out to looking at getting better terrain maps of the continent. But I think really going back to those ground based navigation aids, that's really probably where we'll get the most bang for the buck, especially since African nations know that this is an issue. The African Union has actually made this a somewhat of a priority to try to upgrade their aviation infrastructure because those navigation aids will also benefit civilian and commercial traffic around the continent, which is what they're primarily worried about. But if we could get that infrastructure in place ahead of time then that at least allows our aircraft to reliably get around the continent without being so reliant on GPS.

 

 

0:19:55.0 MS: Absolutely. And of course, just because we're most interested in great power competition doesn't mean that counter terrorism or smaller wars go away. And I was thinking about airfields are enormous assets, especially if things have been pre-positioned there that are useful, or if there are fuel stocks. We know from civil wars in West Africa and Sierra Leone and Liberia, that controlling the airport makes you pretty powerful, and so what sort of investment has to be made in protecting these things?

0:20:24.6 TC: Well, luckily, I think that counter-terrorism fight goes a lot with the how do we protect airfields for our future use in the great power competition. It's really... So in my paper, the airfields are actually one of the easier infrastructures to guard because it is a small, relatively discrete patch of land that, A, you can fence off and then, B, you can actually put enough people on it to guard it. And so those same forces that we are training in the counter-terrorism fight are probably some of those same forces that the African nations will use to guard those. I think that's really how we would get to make sure that those are still accessible. That and ensuring that African nations really engaging in the diplomacy before any kind of conflict breaks out on the continent, so that African nations know that we're here to help them, whether that is in the counter-terrorism fight, or if it is basically guaranteeing their ability to choose who they do business with during a conflict between the United States and China, and I think that will go a long ways towards building that goodwill ahead of time, so that they actually want to let us use those airfields rather than just saying, "No, stay away."

 

 

 

 

0:21:28.0 MS: That really underscores what you said earlier about the US approach, that it's trying to do things that are a win-win for both parties, that this is probably gonna help their civil aviation or their economic development. You've mentioned that the Chinese are interested in resource futures, that a lot of their interaction with these countries is locking them into fairly long-term resource contracts that seem in retrospect pretty one-sided. So is this... Do you think that the soft power diplomacy approach is the most effective and maybe the best in terms of international relations?

 

 

0:22:06.4 TC: So I think it is, mostly because... So like I mentioned in the paper, so all those contracts that the Chinese have signed with African nations, they... Everybody especially about six to eight months ago made a big deal about the waiving of sovereign immunity when it came to arbitration, and a couple of other factors, but doing the research into what that really means, it really came to the bottom line of that, yeah, that language is in there, but the chances of enforcing it in any way short of the Chinese simply invading is really, really low. So really the best thing I think we can do is to foster those relationships with those African nations so that when push comes to shove, they want to be with us, and making sure that they know that we will step in if that need is there to guarantee that choice for them, and I think that'll go a long ways toward actually getting them to side with us in a conflict with China.

 

 

0:22:58.4 MS: And we've been talking in general and about Africa as a huge continent, are there any... Do you have kind of like a top list of places to be watching, things where the resources or the strategic location are of particular importance?

 

 

0:23:14.9 TC: So off the top of my head, I would say particular importance for China would be Angola, because they get a good share of their oil from Angolan wells, so they're gonna be keen to maintain that flow. And then the other places which are really of interest to both China and the United States are places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where I think it's like 55% of the world's cobalt supply is at, which is another one of those minerals that's just extremely important when it comes to both consumer goods and to the military end items to be able to prosecute war. And then the other place that I would say is South Africa. So they have historically been a little bit standoffish towards outside involvement in the country, but they are almost the sole source of those platinum group elements that I was talking about before. We're gonna continue to need access to both the United States and China to maintain a war time industrial output.

 

 

0:24:07.6 MS: So the experience this year, thinking about Africa, how does this change your view going forward into your next assignment about the way things work? What are the takeaways that you have from your Air Force fellowship this year?

 

 

0:24:21.9 TC: I think the first one is probably that things are not as they always seem on the surface, so you really have to kind of dig in and really figure out why is that the nations are actually doing something. For instance, just the debate about what China is actually trying to do in Africa is a very interesting one. When I first came to the fellowship program, I had pretty much heard the same thing all along of like debt-trap diplomacy, that they are really just trying to suck up as much African land and resources as they could, which is true to an extent, but it was not... Especially in my Georgetown class where I was looking at what China's doing in Africa, it became clear that, while yes, there is some truth to that, if you look at the motives behind it, a lot of times it's not what it seems. So for instance, everybody thought that they're just trying to completely take over Africa. That was the conventional wisdom. In retrospect, they're probably not necessarily trying to do that. They're probably trying to, one, get access, but really they are happy to work through Africa nations and for the most part, follow what they want to do. Now, how that would change in the event of a major war with the United States is anybody's guess.

 

 

0:25:29.5 TC: That was definitely one of the big takeaways for me. And then I think it also just the entire experience and working with the folks at State Department really reinforced how, if the United States is gonna be successful as we move forward, especially as we get into a more multipolar world, that we're gonna have to really start ramping up diplomacy efforts to be effective because the days of just being able to put military forces everywhere around the world is long gone. As most folks I think have started to realize, we gotta figure out how to work with other countries to achieve what we want to.

 

 

0:26:03.6 MS: And some of your remarks earlier also come back to one of my favorite themes, which is whole of government approaches. You talked about reshoring some of these industries. That it was easy to offshore them because we didn't want a lot of the second and third order effects, but for security, for supply lines, domestic policy is fairly important in this as well.

 

 

0:26:22.8 TC: Yeah, absolutely. Going back to things that I've come to appreciate more the interplay between domestic politics and foreign policy is it's extremely interwoven, and if you disregard either one at the expense of the other, then you're setting yourself up for failure. I think we definitely have to figure out how that whole of government approach is the way to go. Reshoring some of the stuff is just absolutely critical because we don't know what the future holds. Kind of like the old quote goes, better to be prepared and not need it than need it and not have it. That's really what this entire project came down to me, was how do we prepare in case we need it? And there's... Not to say that my recommendations are necessarily gonna go anywhere or get taken up, but it's stuff that we have to at least think about and ponder, like what do we do? If we go to war with China, how do we respond to that? Because in a lot of cases, unfortunately, if we wait until the crisis is upon us, it's too late and we can't do anything really meaningful about it.

 

 

0:27:18.9 MS: So I think these are all the questions that I had for you. Is there anything you'd like to add that we didn't touch on?

 

 

0:27:25.7 TC: So I think the last point I'd like to make really is... Like I recommend at the end of my paper, if we want to be prepared to be successful in Africa, we've gotta do some investment in infrastructure, and that's absolutely true, but there's also some things that we can do unilaterally by ourselves to kind of reduce the amount of infrastructure that we really need in Africa in order to be successful using this Agile Combat Employment. And that really comes down to how we design and build future aircraft, especially with fighter aircraft and strike aircraft, and not to say that a future manned fighter aircraft is the solution to Africa. It could be any assortment of unmanned/manned type strike platform, but whatever that platform is that we decide to go after, we need to stop assuming rather that the runway is... We're gonna have these exquisite runways that we're used to building.

 

 

0:28:13.7 TC: You look at the runways that you have at an Air Force base, and they're multiple miles long, they're super thick reinforced concrete that you can land anything on, but if we would take a step back and look at what environment do we actually want to use these airplanes in and start building them to be able to use improved dirt fields where it's just a dirt field that has been compacted, or at least some of the softer, like asphalt type runways, that would go a long ways to easing the amount of infrastructure investments that we need in Africa. And then I think the other thing too is the tanker capacity, tanker, and airlift, that's definitely been the... Whether we were talking about it a couple of years ago in Europe, or Africa, 20 years from now, the tanker capacity to not only get airplanes to and from different theaters, but also to conduct operations in multiple theaters, it requires a lot.

 

 

0:29:03.6 TC: If we have the tanker capacity, then we could stop worrying about fuel capacity at these forward airfields because we'll have tankers nearby, as long as it's an environment that's conducive to them operating. So having those support aircraft to be able to actually conduct Agile Combat Employments is very important. And while, I think the Air Force as a whole has started to realize it, even with the increases in the number of operational squadrons that General Goldfein started campaigning for a couple of years ago, that wasn't predicated on Agile Combat Employment, that was predicated on wings operating, his full up wings up close to airfields or to combat zones that we wanted to operate in. So it's just that the calculus is a little bit different, and I don't know that we fully addressed that, and that's something we've gotta dig into further.

 

 

0:29:49.6 MS: Growing up, one of my neighbors was a Flying Tiger with Claire Chennault. So my takeaway is always, you don't always get to land where you want. [chuckle]

 

 

0:29:58.3 TC: Absolutely.

 

 

0:30:00.1 MS: It's not always the good quality that you want. Sometimes it's where in the Himalayas there's a gap. So that kind of brings some of the Air Corps experience full circle. This has been great. I think this is all I need. Is there anything else that you want to say?

 

 

0:30:12.5 TC: No, I think that's it. Thanks again for this opportunity. It's been great talking to you and hopefully, if nothing else, this will stir a couple of thoughts out there in folks to go dig into something and take a look at how do we actually prepare ourselves for a future conflict. Thanks.

 

 

0:30:30.0 MS: You've been listening to our conversation with Major Thomas Clark, an Air Force fellow this year at the State Department in POLAD. This is Wild Blue Yonder on the air, Episode 2. I'm Dr. Margaret Sankey. Thank you for joining us and I invite you to listen in next time.

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.

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