First of all, I want to thank Cindy, my wife, for sticking with me through all the years in the military but especially for the first year after I retired from thirty-two years in the Air Force. While I was busy pounding away on a keyboard, trying to complete my first novel, myriad family crises flooded around our door steps. I wanted to dedicate my first book to her, but when I saw the need for this nonfiction book, I knew I would have to wait until I finally had a completed novel written to pay her that honor.
This book has to go out as a cry in the night for sanity to return to our political, diplomatic, and military processes. I’ve always believed the greatest test of leadership was to know when to follow. When I was deputy commander of the Air Force Doctrine Center’s Detachment 1, which mostly dealt with joint (multiple military services) doctrine and NATO doctrine, I felt like I had the ears of many decision makers. I freely offered my skills as they became keener with each project. Then in 1999, I was called to return to the cockpit, due to the shortage of pilots in the Air Force. They told me I was needed there, so I went.
It was interesting, getting back into flying the B-52 after being out of the jet for nearly eight years. As it turned out, I had lost very little of my skills. The ones that had left me quickly returned, and I was an instructor again, teaching others how to fly and fight in the B-52. The view is wonderful from 40,000 feet. In addition, I’ve always been a teacher at heart, thus every aviator I influenced to develop their skills was a pure joy to me. However, I found myself buried in the tactical execution of a flying schedule and a training program.
The Global War on Terror exploded onto the world scene, and I felt like a foot soldier in Washington’s army, waiting to cross the Delaware River. Certainly, the man in the trenches does a valuable and necessary job, but I believed that I should be there with the planners and advisors, but alas, time had passed me by. I was told that I was too senior of a Lt Colonel to be considered for a command position at the squadron level and too old to be considered for a move back to the air staff, thus my career would end as a trainer and advisor to the next generation of aviators. I’ve much to be thankful about, and I am. However, I see some mistakes happening and there is nobody I have access to in order to help them see that there is a better way to do things. Thus I’ve written this book.
It is an amalgamation of the things that have been passed down to me. From my civilian graduate work, to my instructor and course director jobs in professional military education, and later my work in Air Force and joint doctrine development, I’ve been fascinated by great thinkers. Unfortunately for them, really great thinkers tend to be on the outside of their contemporaries and controlling leadership. From Billy Mitchell, who was at first court marshaled then elevated to hero-status when his prediction about airpower were fulfilled during World War II, to Colonel John Warden, who was the mastermind of the air strategy during the first Gulf War, but then was politically flat-lined to retire as a colonel. I was at his retirement, the Air Force Chief of Staff flew into officiate the ceremony; not quite making him a hero, but certainly making his day.
Upon these giants’ shoulders I stand as I believe I’m seeing a bit further than the decision makers that are conducting, in many ways, a tactical war of attrition against foot soldiers--there must be a better way. Deterrence is the art of war without killing.
CHARLES D. SUTHERLAND