Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

After Europe spent itself fighting two world wars, America stepped in to fill the vacuum. The Soviet Union filled the bit that America couldn't. Having nuclear weapons and a large, if poor quality, conventional force gave it superpower status. After 50 years, though, the Soviet Union couldn't pay for all the trappings that superpower status demanded.

Now known as Russia, it's living in a trailer while drunk driving a 15 year old Cadillac Escalade around the neighborhood while yelling "I used to BE somebody!" out the window and rocking out to Motley Crue.

We are rapidly approaching a similar point. The United States is going further into debt each year. Even with a rapidly growing economy, the deficit has ballooned to over $1 trillion. When the business cycle eventually tanks, it will get even worse.

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(YouTube screenshot)

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Forty years ago today, Apocalypse Now was released. As they say, it was kind of a big deal at the time, and actually it still is. Unlike some other movies about Vietnam released soon after the war, Apocalypse Now still largely stands up, unlike, say, The Deer Hunter, which is damn near unwatchable today. I know. I tried. Even Christopher Walken can't make two hours in rural Pennsylvania exciting.

Apocalypse Now might be the first example of people in the military turning a movie meant to highlight the horrors of war into a motivational video about killing the enemy.

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President Donald Trump (DoD photo)

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

The U.S. military, and particularly the Marine Corps — in which I served both as an enlisted Marine and officer — puts a strong emphasis on leadership. Marines are taught leadership traits and qualities and are expected to exhibit them at nearly every level.

During my three decades of service, I saw good and great leadership, poor leadership, and toxic leadership. Nearly everyone in the military knows what toxic leadership looks like, even if they haven't experienced it directly.

Unfortunately, our commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump, exhibits the qualities of a toxic leader.

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Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

The commander of the US Navy Special Operations Command, Rear Admiral Collin Green, issued a letter to his subordinates last week telling them that there is a problem with discipline within the SEALs that must be addressed immediately. It's been obvious for awhile that there is something dysfunctional within special operations generally, and naval special warfare in particular.

Special operations forces are famously afforded latitude in certain regulations not given to conventional forces. Those are supposed to be for legitimate operational reasons, such as modified grooming and uniform standards for working with indigenous forces. They aren't supposed to be a reward for being "special."

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(Paramount Pictures)

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick was everything an aviator or wannabe aviator could hope for. I'm a sucker for a good military action movie as much as the next guy, so of course I'll go see it. Even a longtime helicopter and tiltrotor pilot like me can appreciate that a Low Altitude Tactics (LAT) flight at 500 knots is pretty badass — and yes, even acknowledge that an F/A-18E Rhino might be almost as sexy as a V-22.

In 1986, Top Gun (or TOPGUN for purists) changed civilians' whole perception of the military in general, and the Navy and naval aviation in particular. Applications for Annapolis skyrocketed. So did enlistments, along with buyer's remorse when thousands of sailors realized the only need for speed they'd feel would be manning their brooms a little quicker during "sweepers."

Top Gun: Maverick will probably be a very entertaining movie. While the Navy definitely would have shit-canned Mav years ago, Xenu has come through for him big time. Tom Cruise will be at his Cruisiest. But while popcorn sales will be through the roof in 2020, recruitment numbers won't skyrocket like they did in 1986. In fact, I'd bet they won't even budge.

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Editor's Note: The following op-ed is written by an active-duty Marine aviator. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

"Lat[eral] moves for [all aviators] to become a MARSOC [Special Operations Officer] are not being approved" at this time, the email from the Monitor said, adding that "[Inter-Service Transfers] for [any aviator] to any branch, to include the USCG, are not being approved [at this time]."

The email was just the latest restriction on aviators, and the next round of Headquarters Marine Corps' (HQMC) ineffective strategy for dealing with a critical shortage of company grade aviators in the Marine Corps.

The Air Force has garnered most of the attention regarding pilot shortages over the past few years, but it's hardly unique to their service, as the entire military is struggling to keep its aviators in the midst of an airline hiring frenzy and a strong economy. For years, the pilot shortage was attributed to Obama-era sequestration, aging platforms, and a lack of sufficient flight time.

But there is a more significant contributor to this shortage: mismanagement of pilots due to unwritten rules of the aviation promotion system.

Unfortunately for the Corps, company grade aviators catch on to these rules early, and flight school cannot produce enough new pilots to balance the inevitable exodus of captains. If this exodus is not effectively addressed, our ability to fight from the air could be critically compromised in a way that will take decades from which to recover.

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