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Posts Tagged ‘military’

Certain Comments For China-Watchers

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 13, 2018

I published a new article on LinkedIn today and some of you may find it interesting, particularly those interested in foreign relations, and most especially China.

What has gotten the Chinese government so anxious, so upset about Michael Pillsbury’s controversial book, The Hundred-Year Marathon,​ published several years ago, that they would publish an op-ed last week attacking it and defending themselves?

I’m going to print the URL for the article here, and make it a hyperlink. Obviously, I would be grateful if anyone read it, and ideally, liked it and/or commented on it. Thanks so much!

Certain Comments For China-Watchers

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/certain-comments-china-watchers-scott-holstad/?published=t

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Chair of the Joint Chiefs Wants Money & Has Some Interesting Comments To Make. What Are To Be Made of These?

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 24, 2018

(Note: I originally published this on LinkedIn on 11/23/18. The URL may be found here:  https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/chair-joint-chiefs-wants-money-has-some-interesting-comments-holstad/.)

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford wants some serious budgetary money from Congress to “maintain its [the US military] eroding military edge against Russia & China — but also to start innovating.” Interesting, & interesting choice of words. I have many questions, among them being … why haven’t we started innovating already? Funny, but I was under the distinct impression that we have been innovating recently & in some cases, for awhile. I remain under the impression that we’ve committed to EW & have been making some new, “innovative” progress in that field. And with Cyber Command’s new directive & “rules of engagement,” again I was under the impression that we’ve been moving in the innovation department there for awhile with major plans to proceed at lightening speed. Moreover, I research, read & am exposed to a number of various types of information implying or outright stating that, with the help of the increasingly numerous defense contractors, new technology with new capabilities, & new weapons systems are well under way, not only in R&D, but in actual production. So, I guess what I want to know is are my beliefs & assumptions wrong or did General Dunford simply utilize a somewhat unfortunate & potentially misleading choice of words in his statement?

Dunford further goes on to say “U.S. alliances would provide a decisive advantage in any major conflict. The U.S. would not lose a war with Russia or China, but such a war would be lengthy. And the U.S. has the edge today.” Again, interesting. Much of the information to which I am exposed suggests that the US does NOT have the edge today & moreover both Russia & especially China have surpassed us over the past couple of years. Indeed, China has doubled down on its R&D & technologies budget while allegedly, America’s R&D investment budgets have been slashed! Are we really that confident that in 3-5 years, the US would NOT lose a war (presumably cyber) with either country, particularly China, as that country has done more in the past two to three decades than what no country in the history of the world has done, in terms of the overall advancements it has made with its continuing commitment to Asian leadership, if not the world’s, as the US withdraws into nationalistic isolationism?

Please forgive me if I sound skeptical, jaded, sadly naïve or anything else that a number of you may not appreciate. My purpose in commenting on these issues is sincere. I truly DO want to know if I misunderstand current & future facts as they seem to appear, or if my understandings & assumptions are simply wrong – or perhaps a combination of both. And perhaps right as well. I have a great deal of respect for the Joint Chiefs & have many, many connections there, at the Pentagon & even with certain individuals who are or have been on the actual Joint Chiefs. I listen to the things they say – as well as to the things they don’t say. And I have numerous connections throughout the military & foreign policy communities. I have heard a great deal of worrisome predictions, beliefs, facts, data & statistics, & I find it difficult not to assume certain things, & my particular personality is one in which I hope for the best while planning for the worst. Additionally, while I do not presently have time to address this topic, I am curious to which “US alliances” the Chairman is referring. Such things are subject to change at any time, as we have seen & will likely continue to see….

The Chairman makes some additional interesting observations & statements, which I really do not have the time to address at the moment. And I do realize most to all of you in these respective industries are not at liberty to comment or address them. But I would welcome communication from any who wish to discuss these & related topics, who wish to share my concerns or correct my understanding of certain things, etc. Feel free to contact me. I promise to keep our communication confidential. As I tend to stay tremendously busy & am regularly deluged with hundreds of messages & emails, it may take me awhile to respond, but I shall certainly try to as best I can. And if anyone does care to publicly comment on these & related topics, that would also be welcome.

Finally, the article that inspired this post may be found at https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2018/11/17/saving-americas-military-edge-will-take-money-and-new-ideas-dunford-says/. I’ve always found DefenseNews to be a solid, reliable source of information & appreciate the job the people there do on a consistent basis.

I strongly support our military & the strides & efforts made throughout its branches, as well as joint efforts. But for too long, I have been worried about the seeming trend in which we fall behind other growing powers, particularly in technology, R&D & cyber. Space too, for that matter. And I am anxious to see new & greater commitment to these & other substantial areas, as many of us believe many real threats do exist & will certainly grow, most likely fairly quickly. And I’m determined we regain our lead & remain in the lead in new & expanding theaters & branches. This is my stance. I like to believe it is shared by many. Thank you.

Scott C. Holstad

November 23, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

LinkedIn Update: Totally Surreal

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 27, 2018

As some of you know, I’ve been “growing” my LinkedIn network (https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottholstad/) this year, both in terms of quantity & quality. I’ve been doing this with the goal of having a high-quality network for consulting purposes at some point in the future. I first blogged about this on May 14 (https://hankrules2011.com/2018/05/14/linkedin-and-my-recent-adventures-there-part-i/) & May 15 (https://hankrules2011.com/2018/05/15/linkedin-and-my-recent-adventures-there-part-ii/). It’s interesting to compare my statistics then with what they are now. However, those two blogs told the story of my LI “experiment” to seriously grow my network, again, both in terms of quantity & quality. When I published those blogs, I had grown my network from a little over 400 in January to over 3,300. My network is now over 13,800 people, nearly half of whom are senior execs. And I’ve posted some of the more “notable” new connections online a couple of times. Well, here I go again. It’s been crazy & I’m about to post a list of seriously “notable” LI connections that I’ve gotten just over the past three weeks. Take the time to go through this list. Some of them are just mind blowing. And I don’t post these to brag. Every day I’m amazed & it seems so surreal & I just want to share my amazement at the type of people who join my network. Frankly, I have no idea why some of these people would want me in their network or would want to be in mine. Sometimes it’s just a little shocking. And by the way, I’ve had a small IT company for several years now, which I haven’t been able to do much with due to my extremely bad health. But a few months ago, I had the website redesigned to reflect current capabilities, as our focus has changed this year. If you want to visit it, you can find it at https://wiremedesigns.com. As to the list of incredible connections, here goes:

Some New/Recent “Notable” LinkedIn Connections – 10/27/18

 

  1. Sr VP Creative Advertising, Universal Pictures
  2. COO, Universal Music Group Nashville
  3. Head of Social Marketing, Billboard
  4. VP Mission Assurance, Space & Airborne Systems, Raytheon
  5. Marketing Director, Rolling Stone
  6. Sr VP, The Aerospace Corporation
  7. Director Operations, Harris Corporation
  8. Sr Director Security & Risk, Oracle
  9. CIO Digital Growth, KraftHeinz
  10. CTO/CIO, AAA
  11. Corporate Director Engineering, Northrop Grumman
  12. Sr VP Command, Control & Intelligence, CACI International Inc
  13. Director Automation & Cloud Security, Nike
  14. Founder/Chairman/CEO, Napster
  15. CIO SP Networking, Cisco
  16. VP Global HR Service, VMware
  17. Sr VP Live Media & Strategic Partnership, Rolling Stone
  18. CEO, ATLAS Space Operations, Inc
  19. Director Advanced Programs, General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems
  20. CTO, WebMD
  21. Principal Director, The Aerospace Corporation
  22. Brigadier General, Kosovo Military
  23. Deputy Director Advanced Space Capabilities Directorate, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office
  24. Deputy Commander, US Third Fleet. 60,000 sailors, 120 ships, 4 aircraft carriers
  25. Director Advanced Technology Program, Lockheed Martin
  26. VP Global Crisis Management & Business Continuity, NBCUniversal
  27. VP PMO, Commercial Aviation Sector, L3 Technologies
  28. CSO, Fidelity Investments
  29. VP Data & Advanced Analytics, Bitdefender
  30. Deputy Director France International Nuclear Agency
  31. International Relations Expert, Islamic Republic of Iran
  32. G3 (Lieutenant General) & Desk Officer, Multinational Future Development, German Army HQ
  33. Director Government Missions, SpaceX
  34. Assistant Federal Security Director, Department of Homeland Security
  35. CTO, Microsoft Azure
  36. CFO, Thales Defense & Security
  37. Director Security, Indianapolis Colts
  38. Corporate VP Communications, Microsoft
  39. VP Thales eSecurity Federal, Thales Defense & Security
  40. Corporate VP Cybersecurity Solution, Microsoft
  41. CEO, Rackspace
  42. Ambassador of Georgia to Washington
  43. Assistant CIO, US Navy
  44. Director for Iraq, National Security Council, The White House
  45. CFO Technology, NBCUniversal
  46. VP Security, JetBlue Airways
  47. Director Rule of Law, Executive Office of the Secretary General, United Nations
  48. Deputy Director Public Affairs, USAF
  49. VP Public Policy, Verizon
  50. Global Head Information Security, AIG
  51. Director, Department of Peace Operations, Government of Romania
  52. Nuclear Safety & Security Director, Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  53. Commander, Pacific Air Forces
  54. Deputy Federal Security Director, US Department of Homeland Security
  55. Director of Department for Radiation Applications, Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority
  56. CTO, Leidos
  57. Deputy Director, Office of Counterintelligence, Department of the Treasury
  58. Special Operations Team Leader, US Secret Service
  59. Sr VP Mobility Solutions, Blackberry
  60. Chief of Intelligence, Department of Defense
  61. CIO, Quicken Loans
  62. Chief of Staff/Assistant Director, INTERPOL
  63. VP/CAE, Symantec
  64. Sr Director Engineering, Harris Corporation
  65. VP Strategy & Solutions, CACI International
  66. Radiochemist, Chernobyl Ukraine
  67. Director of Intelligence, NATO
  68. Sr VP Engineering, The Aerospace Corporation
  69. Federal CTO, Symantec
  70. VP Engineering, Qualcomm
  71. CTO, IBM Cloud Platform
  72. Director Software Engineering, Fidelity Investments
  73. VP Engineering & Global Product Development, Northrup Grumman
  74. Director of Weather, USAF
  75. Exec VP Engineering, Parsons Corporation
  76. Director of Cyber Strategy, Architecture & Solutions, Freddie Mac
  77. Exec Director Cybersecurity, Morgan Stanley
  78. VP, Freddie Mac
  79. Sr Director Cybersecurity, PepsiCo
  80. Director Operations, Amazon
  81. Sr VP, Booz Allen Hamilton
  82. Director Future Concepts, Test & Analysis, USSTRATCOM
  83. VP, Head of Technology Risk Management, Capital One
  84. Sr VP Mobile B2B, Samsung
  85. Exec Director Cyber Threat Management, EY
  86. CSS, Panda Security
  87. CISO, Major League Baseball
  88. President, The Ohio State University
  89. Federal CIO, US Office of Management & Budget
  90. Head of Online Threats, Bitdefender
  91. CISO, Equifax
  92. Sr VP Enterprise Incident Manager, Wells Fargo & Co
  93. CISO, Penn State University
  94. Global CPISO, GE Aviation
  95. Head of Cybersecurity Threat Detection & Response Center, The Home Depot
  96. Sr VP Global Information Security, Citigroup
  97. Head Private Sector Development & Outreach Department, Office of the President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
  98. CISO, Deluxe
  99. CHRO, McAfee
  100. Sr VP Operational Excellence, CACI International
  101. Global Head of Threat Intelligence, Deutsche Bank
  102. Sr Director Mission Support Solutions, BAE Systems
  103. Director Technology, CBS Interactive
  104. Sr Director US Army Programs, Honeywell Aerospace
  105. CISO, Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems
  106. CISO, Intercontinental Hotels Group
  107. CISO, eBay
  108. Director Research & Engineering, Office of the Secretary of Defense
  109. Global Director Industrial & IoT Security, Unisys
  110. Sr VP Consulting, Mandiant
  111. Sr Director Information Security, Parsons Corp
  112. Sr VP In-Theater Marketing, Twentieth Century Fox
  113. CPO, US Senate
  114. Sr VP Intelligence & Defense Programs, Parsons Corp
  115. CISO, Avaya
  116. CFO, Lyft
  117. CLO, Department of Veterans Affairs
  118. Associate Producer, 60 Minutes
  119. CPSO, Harris Corp
  120. Director Global Security, Kimberly-Clark
  121. CSO, SAIC
  122. Sr Director Global Product Security Engineering, Intel
  123. CRO, Brown University
  124. Deputy Director, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  125. CPO, US Department of Health & Human Services
  126. CISO, Yale University
  127. Sr VP, Mastercard
  128. VP Business Development, Parsons Corp
  129. Director IoT & AI, Microsoft
  130. Justice of the Supreme Court, South Carolina
  131. Chief of Staff, US Delegation to NATO
  132. CIO Enterprise Technology, NBCUniversal
  133. CTO, Motorola
  134. Director Media & Digital Communication, Cartier
  135. VP Marketing & Product, SOG Knives & Tools
  136. Sr VP, CACI International
  137. VP Business Development, CACI International
  138. CTO Data, IBM Analytics
  139. Director Analytics & Data Services, Dunkin Brands
  140. VP Financial, Benchmade Knife Co.
  141. Chief of Staff Worldwide Safety & Regulatory, Pfizer
  142. VP Capture, CACI International
  143. VP HR, Cartier
  144. Deputy Assistant Director – CIRG, FBI
  145. Director Global Security, Pfizer
  146. CTO, US Department of Homeland Security
  147. Director Technology Finance, Target
  148. Sr VP Logistics & Digital Commerce & Ecosystems, Target
  149. CIO, Better Business Bureau
  150. Presidente/CEO, Beretta
  151. CISO, Barrick Gold Corp
  152. Sr VP Operations, Dick’s Sporting Goods
  153. CISO, Petco
  154. CISO, University of Georgia
  155. Director National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois
  156. Division VP, Applebee’s
  157. CFO, Panera Bread
  158. CISO, University of Wisconsin
  159. CIO, University of Texas
  160. Director Business Intelligence & Analytics, Macy’s
  161. Director Computer & Network Security, Columbia University
  162. CISO, The Ohio State University
  163. VP Information & Security, Citi
  164. VP Information Risk Lead, JPMorgan Chase
  165. CISO, Valvoline
  166. VP Business Development & Strategy, Leidos
  167. VP Consumer Solutions, Bitdefender
  168. VP Business Development, Lockheed Martin
  169. CIO/CHCO, US Capital Police
  170. Director Information Security – Risk, Governance & Awareness, Fannie Mae
  171. VP Marketing &Product SOG Knives & Tools
  172. Exec VP Global Marketing, Twentieth Century Fox
  173. Director Information Security Architecture & Engineering, Harvard University
  174. VP Operations & R&D, Beretta
  175. Sr VP WW Sales End-User Computing, VMware
  176. Sr Advisor to DHS from NORAD
  177. Sr Director Cyber Threat Intelligence & Detection, Target
  178. Associate Deputy Director Community HUMINT, CIA
  179. Director Systems Engineering – Infrastructure & Cloud Service Delivery, Macy’s
  180. Director NA Sales, Benchmade Knife Co.
  181. CTO, Pfizer
  182. Sr Cybersecurity Analyst, Supreme Court of the United States
  183. Assistant Secretary of the Army – Manpower & Reserve Affairs
  184. Assistant Secretary of Defense – Asia & Pacific Security Affairs
  185. VP Specialized Intelligence Services, CACI International
  186. CTO, ICANN
  187. CDS, Department of Defense
  188. Director Global Cybersecurity Architecture & Operations, Abbot
  189. CPO, CBS Corp
  190. Sr VP Engineering Enterprise Networking Business, Cisco
  191. VP Public Cloud Security, Salesforce
  192. Sr VP Agile Management, CA Technologies
  193. CTO Analytics, Cisco
  194. CISO, Deloitte Consulting
  195. Network & Security Operations Manager, Pittsburgh Steelers
  196. VP Global Operations, Land’s End
  197. CMO, Books-A-Million
  198. Director Missile Defense Programs, Teledyne Brown Engineering
  199. VP Homeland & National Defense, CACI International
  200. CTO Software, Cisco
  201. CISO, Aetna
  202. VP Advanced Programs & Technology, Northrup Grumman
  203. Sr VP Strategic Business Development & Acquisition, Teldyne Brown Engineering
  204. CEA & Director Strategic Transformation & Operation, Proctor & Gamble
  205. Director IT Shared Services, Fossil Group
  206. Director Communications, Audi
  207. Global CTO, Proctor & Gamble
  208. Director Service Operations, Audi
  209. VP Sales, Seiko
  210. President/CEO, Crocs
  211. Director IT, Development & Enterprise Systems Architecture, Crocs
  212. Sr Director Global Sourcing & Manufacturing, Converse
  213. Director Department of Justice Cybercrime Lab
  214. Director Operations, CBS Corp
  215. Sr VP, Christie’s Watch Department
  216. Director Digital Analytics & Site Optimization, Eddie Bauer
  217. Sr Global Brand Director, Converse
  218. Director Retail Experience, Gucci
  219. VP, Head of Retail, Strategy & Operations, Gucci
  220. Sr VP Global Media & Digital Marketing, Twentieth Century Fox
  221. VP Menswear, Home & Business Outfitters, Land’s End
  222. Director Global Ecommerce Technical Operations, Crocs
  223. CISO, Bed, Bath & Beyond
  224. CSO, The Home Depot
  225. Sr VP Engineering, Oracle
  226. Divisional VP, Eddie Bauer
  227. Chief of Staff, Survivability Assurance Office, USAF
  228. Director of Nuclear Operations, HQ Air Mobility Command, USAF
  229. Sr Director Communications, Converse
  230. Co-Founder, Ubuntu
  231. VP Marketing, Cumulus Media
  232. VP Business Development, Booz Allen
  233. Global CRO, Bloomberg Media
  234. Sr Director Information Security, Sony
  235. CISO, Raymond James Financial Inc
  236. President/CEO, TVPPA
  237. CEO/President, Engility Corp
  238. VP Retail, Cartier
  239. Sr Director Global Market Access Policy, Johnson & Johnson
  240. VP Space & Missile Systems, Engility Corp
  241. Deputy CIO, UC Berkeley
  242. Regional Counterintelligence Director, NASA
  243. VP Engineering, Sophos
  244. Sr Director Brand Protection, Nike
  245. VP Strategy, Twentieth Century Fox
  246. Director Corporate Communications, The Aerospace Corp
  247. CISO, UNICEF
  248. Director IT, USAA
  249. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Military Personnel Policy
  250. VP Global Brand Marketing, Fossil Group
  251. Secretary of the Air Force
  252. Head of Network Infrastructure, NASA
  253. Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, US Department of State
  254. President Worldwide Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox
  255. IBM CTO Open Technology
  256. VP Aviation, Strategic Plans & Programs, Sierra Nevada Corp
  257. Managing Director Application Security, Deloitte
  258. VP Integrated Tactical Solutions, Sierra Nevada Corp
  259. VP National Services, CACI International
  260. Director Engineering, Sierra Nevada Corp
  261. Sr VP Legal & Business Affairs, Twentieth Century Fox
  262. VP Finance, Twentieth Century Fox
  263. Sr Director Global Sales & Marketing, Missile & Weapons System, Boeing
  264. Director AI, Booz Allen
  265. Deputy Director Cyberspace Operations Centre, NATO
  266. VP ISA Systems, L3 Technologies
  267. CTO, L3 Communications Systems
  268. CIO/CTO, Deloitte
  269. Sr Director Engineering, L3 Technologies
  270. VP Corporate Quality, Sierra Nevada Corp
  271. Exec VP Business Operations, Comcast
  272. VP Strategy, L3 Technologies
  273. CIO, USAF
  274. Director Big Data Platform Development, GlaxoSmithKline
  275. VP & Chief Engineer Missile & Weapons System, Boeing
  276. CTO, L3 Technologies
  277. CTO Americas, NetApp
  278. President, Microsoft
  279. CEO Battelle
  280. President Broadband Communications Sector, L3 Technologies
  281. Director Global Partner Marketing, Cisco
  282. Global VP, Thales Security
  283. Sr Director Logistics & Operations, Samsung
  284. VP Customer Delivery, TVA
  285. Sr Director Security Engineering, Symantec
  286. VP Security Research, Trend Micro
  287. Director Systems Analysis & Concepts, NASA
  288. Director Innovation & Strategic Partnerships, Visa
  289. VP AI Enterprise Solutions, Wells Fargo
  290. CTVO, MIT Lincoln Lab
  291. Deputy Director High Performance Computing Innovation Center, Lawrence Livermore National Lab
  292. CSO, Visa
  293. Director Operations, Warner Brothers
  294. Director Engineering, Western Digital
  295. Sr Director Analytic Business Partners, Western Digital
  296. VP Mission & Launch Operations, Space Exploration Tech
  297. VP Combatant Command, General Dynamics Information Technology
  298. VP Operations – International Division, Engility Corp
  299. VP Cyber Risk Officer, Citi
  300. Global Head of Storage & Engineering Systems, Citi
  301. VP IT Security Operations & Strategy, Charter Communications
  302. CIO, Raytheon Intelligence & Information Services
  303. CISO, Delta Dental
  304. Sr Director Advanced Analytics & Machine Learning, Nike
  305. Director Materials Science Department, The Aerospace Corp
  306. Director Growth – Creative Cloud, Adobe
  307. VP Infrastructure Operations, Visa
  308. CIO, Parsons Corp
  309. VP Sales NA Home Entertainment & Sound, Sony
  310. CIO IT, Yamaha Motor Corp
  311. Director Cybersecurity Intelligence & Response Team, Dell
  312. Assistant Secretary General, United Nations
  313. Deputy Director Center for Effective Public Management, The Brookings Institution
  314. CFO, The Brookings Institution
  315. Sr VP Engineering, Malwarebytes
  316. COO, SAP
  317. President, SAP National Security Service
  318. Ambassador of Poland to United Nations
  319. VP NA Sales, Bitdefender
  320. VP Digitization, Customer Experience, Shared Services & Future Skills, Deutsche Telecom
  321. Sr VP Defense & Security Group, Engility Corp
  322. Executive Director, European Union Agency for Network & Information Security
  323. VP Growth Business Operations, Engility Corp
  324. Sr VP Intelligence Solutions, Engility Corp
  325. Special Assistant to the President for Tech, Telecom & Cyber Policy, The White House
  326. Assistant Secretary General, NATO
  327. VP Finance, Knot’s Berry Farm
  328. VP Sales, Twentieth Century Fox
  329. Assistant Secretary General Central Support Service, United Nations
  330. CTO National Security Group, Microsoft Federal
  331. Director Consumer Experience, Carhartt
  332. Sr VP/Chief Architect, Intuit
  333. Director Cybersecurity, Carhartt
  334. COO, Wells Fargo
  335. Cyber Security Coordinator, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel
  336. VP Field Sales, Toshiba
  337. Deputy Assistant Secretary, US Department of State
  338. CIO, University of Georgia
  339. VP Operations, Fanatics
  340. General Counsel, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
  341. CSO, HP
  342. Director Strategy, Cisco
  343. VP Engineering, Sierra Nevada Corp
  344. Sr Director Electronics Solutions, Honeywell
  345. Director Project Engineering, Thales
  346. Head of Global Business Development, Xerox
  347. VP Engineering, Google
  348. Director Counterintelligence, Harris Corp
  349. Exec Director Global Operations & Investigations, Caterpillar Inc
  350. Inspector General, US Naval Research Lab
  351. COO, SEC (Securities & Exchange Commission)
  352. COO, AFOSI
  353. VP Engineering, McAfee
  354. Director End User Services, Levi Strauss & Co
  355. Exec Director, US Marine Corp Forces Command
  356. Deputy CTO, US Department of the Treasury
  357. CPO, IRS
  358. Deputy Under Secretary, US Army

 

Here are some interesting stats on my network.

LinkedIn Connections: 13,834

 

Senior Execs:  6,631

C-Level Execs:  2,224

Writer/Editor:  535

Project/Program Manager:  493

Network Engineer:  354

Developer/Software Engineer:  421

Engineer:  885

IT:  935

Security Professionals:  1,807

Federal & International Government: 2,077

 

I had been tracking HR/Recruiters, but I stopped. I also had been tracking corporate communications/marketing professionals, but I stopped that too. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had tracked researchers/scientists, because I have a huge number of them in my network, but I don’t have the time to go back to the beginning & count them all up, so that’s that.

 

Here is a list of the companies & organizations that are most represented in my network, in order of the highest number of connections on down. I won’t post the totals for each because that would take too much time, & I have other things to attend to right now. But here it is:

 

  1. US military/DoD
  2. Microsoft
  3. Cisco
  4. C Spire
  5. Dell
  6. Malwarebytes
  7. TVA
  8. United Nations
  9. Amazon Web Services
  10. Raytheon
  11. Oracle
  12. Booz Allen Hamilton
  13. Northrop Grumman
  14. Palo Alto Networks
  15. Lockheed Martin
  16. Leidos
  17. Samsung
  18. Seagate
  19. IBM
  20. Intel
  21. Citi
  22. Harris Corp
  23. Boeing
  24. Google
  25. CACI International
  26. European Commission
  27. Western Digital
  28. NATO
  29. General Dynamics
  30. Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  31. Parsons Corp
  32. Ticketmaster
  33. Visa
  34. Twentieth Century Fox
  35. BAE Systems
  36. JP Morgan
  37. Bitdefender
  38. Trend Micro
  39. Amazon
  40. NBCUniversal
  41. Adobe
  42. Symantec
  43. The Aerospace Corp
  44. Engility
  45. McAfee
  46. Lawrence Livermore National Lab
  47. Sophos
  48. Sierra Nevada Corp
  49. RAND
  50. Sony
  51. L3 Technologies
  52. Deloitte
  53. VMware
  54. SAIC
  55. The Brookings Institution

 

What a list, huh? Heavy on defense contractors, heavy on IT. But also finance, film, think tanks, research labs, etc. A couple of more tidbits: I have very senior connections with nearly 20 international militaries. I also have many hundreds of nuclear connections, including many – some very senior – at over 40 countries. If that didn’t put me on the CIA & NSA’s radar, I don’t know what will! LOL! Actually, I have many very senior connections at virtually all of the intelligence agencies, including DIA, DISA, DTRA, FBI, CIA, NSA & more. And actually, I think I’ll list all of the nuclear countries where I have connections. It’s a bizarre & interesting list. In addition to international agencies, here are the countries in no particular order:

 

  1. United States
  2. Sweden
  3. Nigeria
  4. Belgium
  5. Egypt
  6. Italy
  7. Pakistan
  8. Tanzania
  9. Bosnia Herzegovina
  10. Saudi Arabia
  11. Canada
  12. Chile
  13. Argentina
  14. France
  15. Jordan
  16. UAE
  17. Ukraine
  18. England
  19. Romania
  20. Serbia
  21. Bulgaria
  22. Zimbabwe
  23. Turkey
  24. China
  25. Slovenia
  26. South Africa
  27. Montenegro
  28. Tunisia
  29. Spain
  30. Palestine
  31. Hungary
  32. Syria
  33. Malaysia
  34. Sri Lanka
  35. South Korea
  36. Bangladesh
  37. Norway
  38. Dubai
  39. India
  40. Armenia
  41. Slovak Republic

 

Wow! Geez. What a list. A few of those countries make me a little nervous. Oh, I don’t know … Pakistan? India? China? Ukraine? Maybe a few others. And I have hundreds of US connections. I’m not a nuclear expert, so I’ve been reading and researching books and articles on nuclear engineering, nuclear power, “limited” nuclear warfare, and more.

Oh! I also forgot to mention something else that’s pretty cool. I now have very senior connections with most of the four major team sports professional teams, including several owners, as well as a number of players! In fact, I’ve been working on some projects with some players & coaches! I have senior connections with 29 NFL teams, 24 NHL teams, 25 MLB teams & 29 NBA teams.

Okay, I could keep going on & boring you to tears, but I truly do have other things to do, so I’ll stop now. One final thing. A few weeks ago, LinkedIn sent me an email that said due to my posting regular quality content & to my excellent network, they advised me to change my “Connect” button on my profile & in search results to “Follow.” Typically, the only people who have Follow as an option are usually very high profile people, like the CEO of Google, CEO of Microsoft, CEO of GE, Director of the MIT Media Lab, etc. So it’s kind of an honor to be placed in that class of people. And I went ahead & made the change & people have been slowly but surely following me, as well as still sending me connection requests. So that’s cool. And unreal. There’s a whole lot more I could share, but I’m stopping now. Have a good weekend, everyone!

 

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Book Review: Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 14, 2018

Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction by Joseph M. Siracusa

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At a little over 150 pages, this book covers a lot of ground in a short format. Unfortunately, while I did think it was pretty good, its focus wasn’t entirely what I wanted, and it lacked in some areas. There is an initial introduction to the creation of atomic bombs from a very minimal and layman’s technical perspective, but then the book launches into the history of nuclear power, the history behind the Manhattan Project and the WW II race for the atomic bomb, America’s legacy of being the first and only country to use it, and the bulk of the rest of the book is a history and discussion of the Cold War politics, diplomacy, and military strategic readiness (from a US perspective) between the US and the Soviet Union. The book ends with a minor bit on how, with the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has had to try to find a place for the Bomb in its arsenal, for some people, how to justify not only maintaining a large stockpile, but improving it, for others, how to decrease a load of weapons large enough to destroy this planet many times over. It ends by acknowledging the fact that now that there’s not another nuclear “enemy” to construct a strategy around, and with the advent of non-state sponsored organizations, terrorists and the like, the effort to construct a new ideology and strategy is much more difficult than it used to be.

All of that was good, if not occasionally repetitive. What I had hoped to see was more scientific and technical detail behind, not only the creation of the early bombs, but current technology, and where we are heading. And I didn’t get that. I also wanted to see more of a discussion on the ethics behind this, and on the justifications of maintaining the current seven nuclear powers while working to ensure no other country, and especially no other country the US “disapproves” of (Iran…), obtains nuclear weapons or a nuclear weapon industry. I mean, why is it okay for Pakistan to have them, but not Iran? Why is it okay for Israel to be thought of of having them (they won’t admit to it), while other countries cannot? I’m not saying I support the idea of more or warmongering countries getting nuclear weapons, but who made America the planet’s god, to decide who gets them and who doesn’t? That strikes me as incredibly arrogant and hypocritical. And I’m American! Naturally, the world would be better off without nuclear weapons, but that genie is out of the bottle, so this is a complex problem requiring, yes, political and diplomatic discussions and solutions, and not saber rattling. I’m currently reading another book on “limited” nuclear warfare for the 21st century. It’s incredibly interesting, and I think it would make a good companion piece to this book, maybe as Volume 2 of a two volume series. Because that’s where the world has gone, that’s where the world should and will have to go if we intend to not commit global suicide, and nuclear power countries need to dialogue about these issues and more.

This book doesn’t have the highest rating out there, and I’ve read a lot of reviews and it seems mostly due to lack of sufficient discussion on a wide range of topics, such as I’ve brought up. But I think its lower rating is unfair, because the subtitle for the book is “A Very Short Introduction.” What the hell do you expect for 150 pages?!? Of course I would have liked more. For that, I need to buy a 750 page textbook for $200. This was exactly what it advertised itself to be, so I feel it merits four stars at a minimum. If this is a topic that interests you, I certainly recommend it.

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Book Review: Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 21, 2018

Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of DunkirkBlitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk by Len Deighton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a pretty good book, but it had some information and assertions that surprised me. I’ve spent my whole life as a war buff, spent much of my youth consumed with WW II, thought I understood how Blitzkrieg theory was actually fought in WW II, but apparently, I’m wrong.

The book gives a pretty good history and summary of German war status, theory, preparation, Hitler’s rise, mindset, theories of various military strategists. And then the war finally commences. Obviously, then, if this is well known to others, I’m showing my own ignorance here, but I’d always heard that Germany’s Blitzkrieg techniques were unleashed on Poland, before excelling in Belgium and France, and ultimately later Russia, to a degree. If you’ve believed that too, Len Deighton will argue you’re wrong. His thesis is it was not used in Poland, it was somehow not used in Russia, and it wasn’t even really used in Belgium. Merely in France, in the Ardennes, to a shocking degree of success. This was news to me, but I’ll grant Len authority status and take his word for it.

I wasn’t totally stunned at how inept France’s leadership, both political and military, was, as I’d read other books on France in other wars of the century where the beaurocracy, logistical and communication nightmares are simply legendary, but it was still a bit of a shock to find out how the previously thought to be best army in Europe/the world was so incredibly fucked up! It took 48-72 hours to relay orders, because the leaders didn’t use radios, everything was hand carried (orders), and just because you got orders, you didn’t do anything until they had been confirmed one to two more times. By which point the German army was 60 miles behind your lines, destroying your country. Fucking idiots! The British, initially, weren’t a lot better, at least not the vaunted RAF, which was disappointing to read, but if the truth hurts, it hurts. Some of the French actually played soldier at Dunkirk, allowing hundreds of thousands of British and French troops to escape to Britain, but again, I continued to be shocked at how willing the French political and military leadership was to surrender to Hitler and essentially conspire in his plot against Jews and others, while the Free French forces in Britain were led by only one real general of note, and we all know who that is. Why France is on the UN Security Council is beyond me. They’ve insisted they’re one of the great world powers, but they got their asses kicked in WW I, went over to Hitler after getting their asses kicked in WW II, lost Indochina (although embarrassingly, America followed France’s exact same mistakes with the same results), lost most or all of their colonies, and while they’re the centuries biggest losers, they land a permanent spot on the UN Security Council. Don’t get it. I’ve read about how they insisted. THEY HELPED HITLER! They shouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near the UN Security Council! Of course, while implicitly bragging about the US in the first half of the century, like an ugly American, I could admit to a number of American “irregularities” that many people wouldn’t want known about a LOT of countries around the world where uninvited or unwanted westerners stuck their noses into things and propped up or took down “dictators” all over the damn place, so in the end, maybe the US shouldn’t be on the Security Council either, eh? LOL!

Okay, I’ll stop with the politicizing. Sorry. It’s a good book, an easy read, interesting to those who would find the topic interesting, but stops with the capitulation of France, and I guess I knocked a star off because I wish the author had gone on to address Russia and explain just why that was NOT blitzkrieg warfare — what the differences were — because without having studied it in detail lately, it seems like similar tactics were used to launch the Eastern Front, but obviously I’m wrong. I just want to know how and why I’m wrong, and I never got that information from this book, so one star off for that. Otherwise, recommended.

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A Review of The Green Berets

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 7, 2015

The Green Berets: The Amazing Story of the U. S. Army's Elite Special Forces UnitThe Green Berets: The Amazing Story of the U. S. Army’s Elite Special Forces Unit by Robin Moore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book. I first read it many years ago in high school and it’s stuck with me ever since, so when I saw it in a used bookstore, I bought it and reread it and I’m glad I did. The Green Berets is journalistic nonfiction being marketed as fiction to protect the identity and locations of the people and places involved. Since this book was published in 1965, the north Vietnamese could have read it and done some damage with it if it named actual people or locations. Since it was published in 1965, you can guess that it’s about American military “advisers,” not actual servicemen as the war hadn’t started yet. But it had, secretly. This book has stories on green berets in Laos with local militias they’ve recruited and trained hitting the Viet Cong and the NVA (Viet Minh, as they’re referred to here). This book shows real life heroes in action, in harm’s way, far from safety, doing a lot of damage to Uncle Ho. Makes one wonder if Special Forces had been allowed to keeping fighting the war their way how differently things might have gone. There’s a sweet, but sad, love story in the book. There are some humorous moments. I think one thing that really has stuck with me over the years is the fact that this book started my disrespect for the South Vietnamese military, which was full of crooked pansies who wouldn’t fight at night, wouldn’t get up early in the morning to march, wouldn’t land their helicopters in “hot”” DZs, demanded to be in charge but when the fighting started, would run away and let the Americans do it. This surprised me, but as I’ve read dozens and dozens of books on the Vietnam war over the years, this fact is told over and over again. Yet I’ve never understood why. The northern Vietnamese army was tough as nails, to be feared, would charge into machine gun fire without thinking. The south Vietnamese army was a bunch of pussies. Why? They were supposed to be fighting to save their country. Didn’t they care? I have read accounts where some of them said let the Americans do it, we won’t. That’s a sick attitude. Frankly, it was a civil war and the US had no business being there. I’m glad the country’s reunified, even if it is communist. It’s just a shame that so many had to die. However, the book is not for the squeamish. There are accounts of Viet Cong atrocities that turn your stomach. But that’s war and it happened, so it had to be reported. I’m sure Moore could have made his book twice as big with all of the stories he collected while he was over there serving in the field himself, and I sometimes wonder why he chose the ones he did, but they’re all good. By the way, before the green berets let him tour with them, they made him become, essentially a green beret. He had to go to jump school, get scuba training, jungle warfare training, all of it. He earned his beret. Great book. Strongly recommended.

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A Review of Warrior: Frank Sturgis

Posted by Scott Holstad on May 3, 2015

Warrior: Frank Sturgis---The CIA's #1 Assassin-Spy, Who Nearly Killed Castro but Was Ambushed by WatergateWarrior: Frank Sturgis—The CIA’s #1 Assassin-Spy, Who Nearly Killed Castro but Was Ambushed by Watergate by Jim Hunt

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is about a legend in the subject’s own mind. And perhaps the co-authors’. And perhaps even a few others. But he’s really not all that. This book is poorly researched, is largely hearsay, is mostly guided by the nephew of the subject, who lived with him for awhile and is one of the co-authors, and seems spurious at best.

Sturgis joined the Marines in WWII and fought in the Pacific, winning several decorations. He was later stationed in Europe after the war. This is where he began spying for the Zionist movement for Israel, pre-Mossad, something which would have been illegal and would have resulted in dishonorable discharge at best and perhaps even loss of his citizenship. After leaving the Marines, he joined the Navy and the Army, although in what capacity, I’m not sure. The book states he served in all four armed services, but he did not serve in the Air Force, one of a number of factual mistakes made by the authors.

Following his military career, Sturgis, who’s real name was Fiorini and who changed his name to suit his circumstances some 33 alleged times opened up several bars, but grew restless, so he became a mercenary and started becoming involved in several South and Central American country’s military efforts, both in terms of training and arms supplying. At some point, he became interested in Cuba and was put off by the dictator there and intrigued by the new rebel, Castro, who promised reform and democracy. So Sturgis went off to offer his help to Castro. He trained his rebels, supplied arms and ammunition, an airplane and boats, and helped Castro and Che take over Cuba. A famous picture of Sturgis holding a rifle and identified as a captain in Castro’s army standing on a mass grave appeared in a Philadelphia newspaper, which later got him into trouble. When he returns to America, he was stripped of his citizenship, and held for trial. His Florida senator got him off. He returned to Cuba, retained his status in the army, was given control of the air force, and was then made the gambling czar. In this capacity, he met all the mob bosses, many of whom he pissed off, most of whom he forced back to the US. Still, he seemed to be on good terms with them. During this time, he was approached, apparently, by a CIA agent who asked him to spy on Castro and supply them with any information about communism or anything else that could be indicting. Since Sturgis was extremely anti-communist, he agreed. And he was becoming nervous. It seemed Castro was backtracking on his promise for democracy and was filling his cabinet with communists. Che played a big role in this. Sturgis thought it might be time for him to head back to Miami. But first he contemplated assassinating Castro. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d done such a thing, apparently. He was, after all according to the book, the CIA’s “#1 Assassin-Spy,” and someone Castro later called the CIA’s “most dangerous agent.” He apparently had at least four opportunities. On page 80 in the book, it states “Throughout his anti-Castro career, Frank participated in more than 150 air operations and 60 boat incursions. As Frank put it, these missions were done both ‘with the green light and without the green light’.” So one of my biggest questions about the book is, at some point, Sturgis is asked why he didn’t pull the trigger and he replied that he never got the green light. So if he hated Castro that much, why suddenly wait for the green light when everything else he does is done without any authority? That makes utterly no sense at all. It sounds like a bad cop out and I don’t buy it.

In 1959, Frank leaves Cuba for Miami, where he sets up an anti-Castro operation, where he sends in teams of people, including himself, to disrupt, antagonize, breed anti-Castro resentment, etc. It barely ever works. He does this for the rest of his life.

Much later, he is hired to commit the Watergate burglary, where he is caught and goes to prison. He allegedly does this as a CIA operative, along with other CIA operatives, most of whom are Cubans who the CIA are just dying to hire to join the CIA fresh off the boat (sarcasm intended) when Sturgis remains an independent contractor his whole career and is never an actual employee of the Agency.

One thing that’s interesting about the book is the Kennedy assassination conspiracy. Apparently there are those who believe Frank was involved and indeed was the “only one who could pull off killing Kennedy.” Um, right. Yep. Apparently, because of his Cuban connections, his mob connections, and his right wing CIA connections, all of whom wanted Kennedy dead, he was the one to pull it all together and pictures show him as one of the tramps on the grassy knoll. The two co-authors offer their own interpretations, one of which places him in Dallas on hand and ready to pull the trigger, and the other of which states that he had to have been in Miami through an eyewitness account, but that he could have overseen everything and indeed, probably did. If this is true, it’s likely the only successful thing he ever did, as he failed at unseating Castro and he failed at Watergate. Now, he did help assassinate a couple of small time banana republic dictators, apparently, so I guess that’s something, but for a man who considered himself a true patriot, he sure did a lot of unpatriotic things, including hating Kennedy for life after the Bay of Pigs incident, which he apparently trained the men for, and including virtually everything else he did.

Enough. It’s hard enough to believe that much of this is true. If it is, Sturgis was an interesting failure. He’s dead, so we’ll never truly know. His nephew thinks he knows, but he doesn’t — it’s conjecture. The tale is fascinating, but largely unbelievable and thus not recommended.

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A Review of The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1963-1973

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 19, 2014

The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1963-1973The Rise and Fall of an American Army: U.S. Ground Forces in Vietnam, 1963-1973 by Shelby L. Stanton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This could have been an interesting book if the author hadn’t gotten so bogged down in minute details. It’s about the American military in Vietnam, circa 65-73, and it’s pretty comprehensive, at least through 1969. One of its faults, though, is that it spends an inordinate amount of time going over each year of the 1960s and then lumps all of the 1970s into one final chapter. It’s like the author gave up, just like the military did. Another fault I found was that the author made the US military out to be virtually unbeatable and told countless stories of us giving the VC and NVA beatdowns in the jungle, which didn’t actually happen all that often. He’s really gung ho about the US military and it’s just not authentic. He does go into detail on Tet ’68 and the US did win the battles of Tet, but we lost the war then and there — the war of public opinion — and from that moment on, we tried everything possible to extract ourselves from Vietnam and turn the war over to the South Vietnamese, who were worthless as fighters. Granted, I didn’t necessarily want to read an entire book of battlefield failures, but it should have been more balanced and it wasn’t. Another — major — bone I have to pick with the author is that he went on and on about the specific US, VC, and NVA units engaged in battle, to the point where it was simply mind numbing. Witness:

“Kontum was also struck early on January 30 and the 24th NVA Regiment, the 304th VC Battalion and the 406th Sapper Battalion crashed into the MACV compound, post office, airfield, and 24th ARVN Special Tactical Zone headquarters…. The initial assault was met by two Montagnard scout companies, which were rapidly brushed aside, and the 2d Battalion of the 42d ARVN Regiment, which fell back…. At noon the Americans rustled up the ground crews of the aerial 7th Squadron, 17th Calvary, fused them with the 1st Battalion of the 22d Infantry, and gave them tanks from Company C of the 1st Battalion, 69th Armor….”

Oh my freakin’ God!!! And on and on he drones. It’s a real snoozer. If the author had just said some soldiers and Marines were fighting the enemy, he could have shortened the book and made it a lot more readable. Only mega-history geeks will like this because it’s mind numbingly boring.

The author also kind of goes elitist on us. He attributes our loss to the draft, specifically to drafting poor men from racially diverse backgrounds, many of whom were allegedly on drugs. “By 1969 the US soldier in Vietnam usually represented the poorer and less educated segments of American society. He was often being led by middle-class officers and inexperienced sergeants, creating a wide gap between attitudes, abilities, and motivation.” Poor, inexperienced men on one year rotations just wanted to get home alive and stopped fighting, per the author. I really think Stanton thinks we could have beaten the NVA if we had kept fighting an offensive war without one year rotations. I don’t believe that, but I think he does.

I did enjoy reading about the various battles, but Stanton had this annoying habit of slimming them down to five sentence paragraphs, which obviously left a lot out, and then incredibly just jumping right into another conflict with no real transition visible. It’s bizarre!

I am giving this book three stars because I’m interested in the subject matter, but it’s a poorly written book that will bore the hell out of most people. As such, it really deserves a two star rating and I certainly can’t recommend it at all.

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A Review of Hazardous Duty

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 6, 2014

Hazardous DutyHazardous Duty by David H. Hackworth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an excellent book written by a military hero who sees a lot wrong with the military industrial complex, politics, and the military itself, calls it like he sees it, and offers solutions to the problems he points out. It should be required reading for just about anyone.

I’ve been reading Hackworth since the 1990s when he was writing for Soldier of Fortune magazine. He’s dead now, which is a shame, but he served in post-World War II Europe, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. In this book, he comes back as a war correspondent accompanying our military to the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Somalia, Korea and Haiti. What he discovers along the way is horrifying.

I could write a LOT about this book and quote a lot from the book, but I don’t have the time or energy for that. Suffice it to say that this book was published in 1996 while Clinton was in office, so much of the time Hackworth, a conservative, reams Clinton. I’m a Clinton lover, so I didn’t enjoy that, but at least Hackworth was bipartisan, because he rips Reagan and Bush 1 too. He interviews the grunts, as well as numerous officers, to get at the truth that today’s generals and admirals are political pansies, looking out for their own advancement, not giving a damn about the troops. He takes issue with our spending billions on super duper weapons we’ll never use or are terrible to begin with while not issuing armor to our fighting vehicles, body armor to our troops, meals, logistical nightmares, etc. It’s very demoralizing and he consistently demonstrates how NOT ready our military is for action. Here’s one quote:

“Our modern generals put first priority on their headquarters. In days of old, General Ulysses Grant would hit the field with six or seven aides and they traveled light and slept on the ground. The rest of his men were fighters. Today, inflation of military brass and headquarters staff is so bad is should embarrass us. At the end of Word War II we had a military force of 13 million. Today we have a total of 1.5 million active soldiers and sailors. But we have more generals now than we had during World War II. We also have more bureaucrats so that all those generals won’t be lonely. In 1945, with 13 million under arms engaged in a multitheater, multinational alliance, the War Department had about eight undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, and special assistants. Now with about those 1.5 million in uniform, we have somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty undersecretaries, deputy secretaries, assistant secretaries, and special assistants. All draw six-figure paychecks and have aides, offices, and all the other trappings of Pentagon royalty.”

Wow. That’s just a tiny portion of what this book holds in it. In addition to going to the theaters of military action already mentioned, he also goes to South Korea to assess our combat readiness and finds it sadly lacking too. He thinks we should just get out. After all, what are our 6,000 fighting men and women out of 34,000 troops stationed in South Korea going to do when a million North Koreans come pouring over the border? Additionally, South Korea has an army of five million with better weapons that we do. It’s nuts. We have to have parts FedExed to us because the military can’t handle the logistics. Amazing.

Later, he writes, “The essence of leadership is integrity, loyalty, caring for your people, doing the honorable thing. Over and over since Vietnam, I have seen political expediency killing these values. When slickness and cheap compromise run the show, people who refuse to cave in and play the game get zapped. And when that happens, the ultimate loser is our country.”

Hackworth also has things to say about our government’s priorities, writing that we spend over 300 billion a year on defense, but only 10 billion on education. Point taken.

Towards the end of the book, Hackworth offers a series of suggestions to serve as solutions for curing what’s wrong with the military. After showing how inter-service animosity has hurt the country and cost our country countless millions, he begins by suggesting that the Army and the Marines be merged, while the Air Force be entirely eliminated. He would put the Navy in charge of all strategic missiles, and get the missiles moved from land to subs asap. He would form a new agency to take control over all of the cargo demands of the forces, and reconfigure the Pentagon, eliminating the separate service chiefs and civilian secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force in favor of a combined Defense Force headquarters run by one civilian Secretary of Defense. He would eliminate the current evaluation reports that encourage unwarranted promotions, merge the National Guard and the Reserves into one organization to cut waste and more. He would also merge the duplicate, non-war-fighting functions of the services — intelligence, medical, legal, R & D, logistics, training, etc. — so that we have one and not four separate entities. He would do a whole lot more to get the military back to where it once was, and these suggestions should be read and considered by all military officers and thinkers.

In addition to stats, criticisms, and suggestions, this book also has a lot of exciting stories of harrowing experiences that Hackworth endures to get the real picture. This is a great book to read and I think many people would like it if they give it a chance. Highly recommended.

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A Review of Victory at Any Cost: The Genius of Viet Nam’s Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 17, 2013

Victory at Any Cost: The Genius of Viet Nam's Gen. Vo Nguyen GiapVictory at Any Cost: The Genius of Viet Nam’s Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap by Cecil B. Currey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cecil B. Currey’s book on Vo Nguyen Giap is an utterly excellent book! It’s gripping, engaging, provides historical context, contains essential quotes, and shows Giap to be the logistical, tactical, and strategic genius he was as a general leading North Vietnam to defeat the Japanese, the French, the US, the South Vietnamese, the Cambodians, and the Chinese. No one else has done so much with so little. I’m going to reprint my review for Giap: The General Who Defeated America in Vietnam by James A. Warren (a book I read a few months ago…) in its entirety here, because I think many of the same things can be said about this book. Read on.

Giap: The General Who Defeated America in Vietnam by James A. Warren
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

General Vo Nguyen Giap was the North Vietnamese mastermind who defeated the French and American superpowers over 30 years in what was previously an unthinkable possibility — that countries with so so much more military and economic power could lose to an underdeveloped third world country. And yet it happened. (Also, Giap had to battle the Japanese toward the end of World War Two.)

Giap came from humble beginnings — a history professor turned professional solider from the Quang Binh Province of Vietnam. He was self taught. Aside from Hi Chi Minh, Giap was probably North Vietnam’s most important figure. He learned communism from Ho and never strayed. He learned how to battle from the Chinese and adapted what he learned to the Vietnamese battlefield. When the Vietminh defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu to end the French colonial war with what was then Indochina, he showed that he had mastered guerrilla tactics as well as conventional war strategies, and these carried over to the American war. He was also a master at logistics. It took months for the Vietminh to carry broken down parts of artillery pieces up into the mountains surrounding Dien Bien Phu, where they were then assembled and used with devastating success. Another strength Giap possessed was learning that the political counted as much as the military. He indoctrinated his soldiers, the Vietnamese peasants, and won a war of attrition against both France and America — both countries, he knew, that wouldn’t have the stomach for a protracted war. He was right. Now he took horrifying losses throughout both wars. When all was said and done, the NVA and Vietminh lost over a million soldiers (to America’s 56,000), but he knew that a country united in revolution against colonialism was destined for victory. He never lacked in confidence. The Tet offensive was, of course, the turning point in the Vietnam war with America. Looked at it militarily, the US won, giving the NVA and Viet Cong horrifying casualties, but strategically, North Vietnam won because America now wanted out and started the process of withdrawing troops and halting the bombing of North Vietnam in an effort to get to the negotiating table — a place where America had no leverage.

The author makes some good points in his final chapter in this excellent book.

“The power of the US military machine posted immense challenges to Giap as a commander. He knew that the conflict would result in horrific losses, but he also realized that those causalities were the inevitable cost of victory, and neither the reality of those casualties, as regrettable as they were, nor the destructive capacity of American forces, would prove to be decisive factors in the war’s outcome…. Giap was first and foremost a revolutionary war strategist, which is to say he conceived of war primarily as a social struggle by people committed to breaking down the status quo and replacing it with a new set of power relationships and institutions, not as a strictly military activity carried out by full-time soldiers and guerrillas…. the work of building a powerful political infrastructure that could challenge French and American efforts was far more important than achieving victory in a series of conventional military battles and campaigns…. He also believed that he could instill a sense of futility and exhaustion in the French and American armies by avoiding large-scale combat engagements in favor of harassing tactics, including ambushes, booby traps, and luring the enemy into patrolling forbidding mountainous terrain and steamy jungles where his own troops were more at home.”

“Giap never doubted that the power of his soldiers’ and citizen’s commitment to the Vietnamese revolutionary vision would compensate for the inferiority of their military forces. It was only necessary to instill the same level of belief and determination he himself possessed for the cause into the Revolution as a whole, and to direct that energy toward victory…. When all is said and done, Giap’s enduring importance lies in recognizing that he was a successful general largely because he could see with extraordinary clarity all the factors and forces that shaped the trajectory of the wars in which he fought, and how each element related to all the others.”

Giap then, who might still be alive at over 100 years old, was the instrumental commander that foresaw victory and instilled that vision in his troops and citizens. He was Ho’s second, and as such, wielded great power. He built his army up from a tiny platoon in 1945 to hundreds of thousands of hardened troops by war’s end. When the NVA rolled into Saigon in 1975, the revolution was complete and Vietnam was reunited. Communist, yes, but under no colonial authority for the first time in over a century. It was a mighty struggle, and even though I’m an American, I’ve studied this war for decades and have seen how American stupidity lost us the war — which we could have won with the right strategies and leadership, I believe. Giap’s commitment never wavered. He should be looked at as one of the greatest military leaders of all time. I can’t think of a single instance in which a tiny, impoverished, technically backwards country defeated two of the world’s superpowers within two to three decades of each other. His legacy will live on for a long time. This was an excellent book to read and I certainly recommend it to any military buff or historian, or to anyone interested in the Vietnam war. Great book!

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Well, that’s what I wrote about the previous book, and the same holds true for this one. The thing that separates them, I think, is Currey actually got to interview Giap for this book. It made it more compelling. There was more narrative and a lot more on actual thought patterns and secrets behind North Vietnam’s successes. I also didn’t know that Giap whipped China when China invaded in 1979. Truly amazing. After Ho died, though, the Politburo demoted him several times over the years, and that was disgraceful for the founder of that country’s army and leader of victorious military campaigns. Still, he handled himself with grace and dignity and while he wasn’t always the most likeable person in the world, you can’t come away from this book without some sort of admiration for the man. Truly one of the greatest generals in history. Recommended.

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Damyanti Biswas is an author, blogger, animal-lover, spiritualist. Her work is represented by Ed Wilson from the Johnson & Alcock agency. When not pottering about with her plants or her aquariums, you can find her nose deep in a book, or baking up a storm.