Suggestions to preserve and protect iconic Manitou Incline

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on November 30, 2017. It can also be found online here.

For some, it’s a once-in-awhile brutal workout. For others, it’s just a steep hill next to a hippy, happy town. For others, it’s a daily obsession.

But to all, there’s no doubting the Manitou Incline’s value as a unique community asset. As the region’s most loved trail celebrates its official grand reopening on Dec. 1, we should set aside a moment to think about how best to protect and preserve this one-of-a-kind trail. Continue reading “Suggestions to preserve and protect iconic Manitou Incline”

The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2037

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

The memoir that follows takes us on a “darkly imagined excursion into the future.”

In it, an unknown brigadier general, identity sanitized through encryption, recounts “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2037,” a series of trends that caused the evitable to become inevitable. Our brigadier general traces the start to the years after 2012, with a severe erosion of the nonpartisan ethic within the officer corps, which led to open political party affiliation, and finally a planned incursion into America’s political process to restore domestic civilian control and roll back a foreign military invasion.

This coup is fiction, a respectful twenty-fifth anniversary re-boot of Charles Dunlap’s 1992 essay. Like that work, this essay is a “literary device intended to dramatize my concern over certain contemporary developments facing the armed forces and is emphatically not a prediction.” One book employing such future-fiction-as-history described its value as a way to better understand and avert an undesirable future. Another has written that one of fiction’s great abilities is to help us examine some potential consequences of trends already in motion. Today’s US Army chief of staff has said fiction is “something that we pay close attention to” for its value in understanding the future. It is in the spirit of avoiding such a disturbing and dangerous calamity that this essay is presented to the reader. Continue reading “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2037”

Enough with Political Endorsements from Retired Military Officers

*Note: This essay was published at War on the Rocks on November 27, 2017. It can also be found online here.

Recently, Dan Helmer, a West Point graduate running for a U.S. House of Representatives seat in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, released a list of eight retired generals and admirals he calls his “National Security Advisory Committee.” At the top is retired Lt. Gen. Dan Christman, who formerly served as superintendent at West Point (akin to a college president) while I was a cadet. I looked up to him then.

But I’m not so sure about that now.

Christman’s and other public endorsements from retired military officers are legal, but are nonetheless inappropriate and harm both the military and country. Most Americans are naturally prone to see these retired officers — especially retired admirals and generals — as representing the entire military. As such, one person’s individual endorsement necessarily trades on the military’s reputation in service of a party, ideology, or candidate. This pulls the military into partisan politics.

Read the rest at War on the Rocks.

Some heroic veterans have four legs

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on November 11, 2017. It can also be found online here.

While Veterans Day typically conjures up images of gray hair, cemeteries, and the flag flying through fall leaves, maybe our minds should make room for a different kind of combat soldier.

Wanted: A marathon for the masses, to help Americans lose weight

*Note: This essay was published in the New York Daily News print edition on November 5, 2017. It can also be found online here.

Sunday, 50,000 physical elites will line up to run the New York City Marathon. Watch and you’ll see the best of the endurance world: lean, lithe and little in the way of body fat. At a start line a few miles from the site of the Occupy Wall Street protests, another enviable 1% will congregate.

Most runners will be fairly uniform; spectators won’t see many, if any, overweight competitors. Slower movers don’t make the cut: The “sweep bus” pulls anyone out of the race taking over 15 minutes per mile. Police support and precious volunteer hours drive down the time the course is open. This deters the obese, the overweight and aged. Continue reading “Wanted: A marathon for the masses, to help Americans lose weight”

Manitou race proves politics can be decent

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on November 3, 2017. It can also be found online here.

We’re now repeatedly reminded that Americans are intensely divided: a recent poll found “seven in 10 Americans say the nation’s political divisions are at least as big as during the Vietnam War” and a writer recently opined that too many believe “politics needs to be weaponized to be enjoyed.”

Not in Manitou Springs. You may not have heard, but there’s a tight race for mayor. Incumbent Mayor Nicole Nicoletta, elected in 2015 to a two-year term, seeks another on Tuesday against a challenge from long-time resident and retired lawyer Ken Jaray. Continue reading “Manitou race proves politics can be decent”

Four Deaths in Niger and the Savage Logic of Military Operations

*Note: This essay was originally published on the Modern War Institute’s Commentary & Analysis site. It can also be found online here

The furor over the recent loss of four Army Special Forces soldiers’ raises the grandest question of them all: Why?

To answer, we have to peek through the fog that often clouds military operations—to reveal an uncomfortable truth.

Two rigid, bloody axioms govern the logic of military operations: time is often more valuable than human life, and the good of the many nearly always matters more than the few. Continue reading “Four Deaths in Niger and the Savage Logic of Military Operations”