When the man who started World War I came to visit

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on September 30, 2018. It can also be found online here.

One hundred twenty-five years ago this week — Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and empire, came to town. He arrived in Colorado Springs on Sept. 30, 1893, spent the day in Manitou Springs on Oct. 1, 1893, and his visit provides a look into what the Pikes Peak region was like then and how far it has come since.

Continue reading “When the man who started World War I came to visit”

Once More, Unto The Breach: What Makes Supreme Commanders Successful

*Note: This essay was originally published on the Modern War Institute’s Commentary & Analysis site.

“Once more, unto the breach,” wrote Shakespeare, a fitting sentiment for an essay aimed at continuing a conversation that has unfolded over several articles, one of which has already alluded to Henry V.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article describing the merits of optimism as a character trait of supreme commanders. In response, Ryan Leach and David Danford co-wrote an essay that disagreed, arguing that, instead, America should seek out cynical generals, or, “leaders who will paint the situation in the worst possible light.”

Leach and Danford should be applauded—whereas too many others are content to lazily launch one-liners from the sidelines or ad hominem remarks on social media, they’ve taken the time and effort to mount a thought-filled response. I appreciate their effort and find that they’ve raised some important points, questions, and anecdotes. But as I read their piece and reflected on my own, I realized that the response suggested the presence of a disagreement where there really isn’t (or shouldn’t be)—and in so doing this might just warp understanding of what successful supreme commanders need to be and do. Continue reading “Once More, Unto The Breach: What Makes Supreme Commanders Successful”

Keeping book buying local has value

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on September 24, 2018. It can also be found online here.

I paid more for a book this week than I needed to, and that choice matters a lot to the local economy. Small-business owners live and die on the outcome of such consumer decisions. Continue reading “Keeping book buying local has value”

Why it matters that Google’s gone AWOL

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on September 13, 2018. It can also be found online here.

The empty chair representing Google at last week’s Congressional testimony in Washington spoke volumes. The nation called, and Google opted out.

This might otherwise be excused as an oversight. But it came on the heels of Google’s decision to step away from work with the Department of Defense by backing out of a Pentagon contract (Project Maven) the company had signed to improve image detection for defense surveillance platforms. The cancelled project was spurred on by thousands of Google employees petitioning their chief executive, arguing that continued work with the Department of Defense would “irreparably damage Google’s brand” and that the company should stay out of the “business of war.”

It seems that one of America’s most important companies has gone AWOL.

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Why America Needs Optimistic Generals

*Note: This essay was originally published on the Modern War Institute’s Commentary & Analysis site.

It’s not very often that a US commander in Afghanistan sets off a social media firestorm. But recently, Gen. John “Mick” Nicholson in his final press conference as outgoing US commander in Afghanistan, was accused of wearing rose-colored glasses or blinders. Others took out their frustration on him for the interminable nature of America’s long war in Afghanistan. One voice even went so far as to indict America’s senior military leadership and wrote that the “indefatigable optimism of [America’s] generals is a national liability.” Continue reading “Why America Needs Optimistic Generals”

Time for a civilian Medal of Honor

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on July 15, 2018. It can also be found online here.

They’re safe. The world sighed relief as the 13 members of the “Wild Boars” soccer team emerged safely from the Tham Luang Cave in northern Thailand. Their safety was secured in large part by the efforts of many civilian volunteers, in particular two British cave divers, Richard Stanton and John Volanthen, who alerted the public that the boys were alive a little over a week ago.

As a career military officer, I’ve been stunned by the heroism of civilians in such dangerous circumstances — the high water and low oxygen, to name just two frightening aspects.

It reminds me that while we often see so clearly the heroism on battlefields, we too often miss the heroes at home. It’s time for a civilian Medal of Honor.

Continue reading “Time for a civilian Medal of Honor”

Make Colorado Springs a major tourist destination

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on July 9, 2018. It can also be found online here.

Roland, our food tour guide on a recent vacation to Montreal, had a great personality to match his great size. Reassured by the reverse of the aphorism to ‘never trust a skinny chef,’ you couldn’t help but like and put faith in Roland’s recommendations.

Roland was our key to unlock Montreal. He marched our group of 12 or so around the Old Port, where we ducked in and out of restaurants, nibbling samples of spectacular eats while Roland taught us about the 4 million inhabitants that call the island of Montreal “home.” Continue reading “Make Colorado Springs a major tourist destination”