The Checkride

August 21, 2008

Next Monday, weather permitting, I will start a three day period containing three consecutive check rides. For pilots, that’s not a fun series of days. The checkrides themselves are rather vanilla in flavor: conduct rather boring autorotations, normal and steep approaches, demonstrate knowledge of emergency procedures, perform some turns in holding, and a few instrument approaches. However, should I fail a checkride, the ramifications for me are severe, with consequences including the potential of losing my flying status.

This leads me to refocus on the purpose of the checkride. The purpose of a checkride is to establish whether I am capable of meeting a given aviation standard. That standard does not exist in a vacuum. The standard exists so I may properly employ the taxpayer’s aircraft in a tactically responsible and effective way, in direct support of other American and allied forces. It is not about me and my piloting skills. It’s about the people who need my support, and my obligations as a professional military officer, the Constitution, and the taxpayer’s money.

Should I fail a checkride, I ought to demand appropriate action be taken against me, as that would be the only responsible, professional thing to expect. It would be a failure of the professional ethic for me to retain flight status with a checkride failure.

My flying career is of little consequence in the scheme of things. I am of equally little consequence. However, my obligations to my fellow Marines, and to my country, are burdensome. It is with these obligations in mind, not my personal fortunes, that I prepare for the checkrides.

Needless to say, I probably won’t be posting much next week.

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Motivations

August 16, 2008

Yesterday I spoke to a younger Marine officer. He was a first lieutenant and a student naval aviator (flight student) who was clearly flustered with his performance on recent flights. I was trying give him a little morale boost while telling him to watch his bearing, as looking flustered and stressed does not inspire confidence in your peers, superiors, or subordinates.

He then confessed to me why he joined the Marines: To become a pilot. I told him not to say that ever again. I cannot answer to the purity of his motivations, save for the fact that in the Marines, and especially in the officer corps, it is “not about you.” The second you start thinking that it is about you is the second you start to fail in your obligations to the Constitution, to the mission, and to your Marines.

His self-motivation is somewhat dangerous: There are countless avenues by which on can become a pilot, and becoming a Marine to become a pilot is perhaps one of the toughest routes to wings that one can undertake. Yet he’s willing to go that distance for himself, and himself alone. This speaks to incredible selfishness. He needs to be watched.

Hopefully, when the pressure is on, at night, with dogshit visibility, and assholes shooting, and he’s flying a casualty evacuation mission, he will have the fortitude to deny his selfishness and continue the mission, even though it might cost him his life. The Marine Corps, after all, is not always great for self preservation, but we will look after each other.


Stewing–Bumped; see newer posts below.

August 5, 2008

My anger has been stewing. The honor of the the officer corps has been weakened.

Over the weekend, Galrahn at Information Dissemination broke the news that the new DDG-1000 Zumwalt class of destroyers were designed without capability for area air defense, a fatal flaw in the design of the ship. I have been silent on this topic for a couple of days, hoping my anger to settle somewhat, but it hasn’t.

This is a massive failure of the American officer corps.

Read the rest of this entry »


Maximus

August 5, 2008

From Maximus I learned self-government, and not to be led aside by anything; and cheerfulness in all circumstances, as well as in illness; and a just mixture in the moral character of sweetness and dignity to do what was set before me. I observed that everybody believed that he thought as he spoke, and that in all that he did he never had any bad intention; and he never showed amazement and surprise, and was never in a hurry, and never put off doing a thing, nor was perplexed nor dejected, nor did he ever laugh to disguise his aggravation, nor, on the other hand, was he ever passionate or suspicious. He was accustomed to do acts of beneficence and was ready to forgive, and was free from all falsehood; and he presented the appearance of a man who could not be diverted from right rather than of a man who had been improved. I observed, too, that no man could ever think that he was despised by Maximus, or ever venture to think that himself a better man. He had also the art of being humorous in an agreeable way.

Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations, I:15

There are few figures like Maximus alive today. Where do we find them?

I think many of them are found in our resolute, obedient, and loyal enlisted force.  They do their required tasks without fanfare and drama.  Their stiff upper lips are tribute to their virtue.

There are surely other figures in the mold of Maximus in the world.  Where are they?


Excellent Discussion @ OSD!

August 4, 2008

And that’s not the Office of the Secretary of Defense! It’s Opposed Systems Design, and we’re talking about Tom Barnett’s proposed bifurcating of the military.

Check it out here and join the discussion.


New Reading List

August 3, 2008

Col Tom Hammes, of the Marines, has published a new reading list in Armed Forces Journal.  These books will undoubtedly be added to my personal reading program.

I have seen Col Hammes speak.  He gave a seminar to my unit back in 2004 on 4GW, although I think that most of the officers in attendance weren’t intellectually equipped to handle what Hammes had to say.  I impugn their lack of professionalism and lack of a personal program of independent study.

I will publish my personal reading list when I have completed it for public consumption.

The Hammes list is here.  Zen wrote about it here, too.


Quote to Ponder

August 3, 2008

“The quickest way to end a war is to lose it.”

George Orwell