Propaganda 104 Supplemental: The Sound of Silence

by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

“Silence is argument carried out by other means.” – Che Guevara

“Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.”
– “The Sound of Silence”, by Simon & Garfunkel, lyrics by Paul Simon

“Darkness isn’t the opposite of light, it is simply its absence.” – Terry Pratchett

“In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.” – Henry David Thoreau

Just as darkness is the absence of light, silence is an absence. We’ve considered the word and the image as propaganda up to this point, so let us pause to consider their antithesis as a form of propaganda. The phrase “[t]he only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” is often attributed to 18th Century Irish born English statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, although what he actually wrote in Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents was that “when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” Regardless of the apocryphal attribution, the quote goes right to the heart of the issue of silence being a form of propaganda. Like most tactics of propaganda, silence has multiple forms and uses.  Let us examine some of these variations on a theme.

What is “silence”? According to Webster’s it is:

silence \ˈsī-lən(t)s\, n.,

1: forbearance from speech or noise : muteness —often used interjectionally

2: absence of sound or noise : stillness

These are the common meanings of silence that automatically leap to mind when one reads the word, but more to the point in discussing propaganda, we need to consider the full definition of the word and even enhance it a little bit.  Consider the third meaning of the word “silence” . . .

3: absence of mention: a : oblivion, obscurity b : secrecy

With this fuller definition, it becomes clear that silence is more than the absence of sound or stillness.  For discussion of propaganda, let us use an expanded specialized definition to have silence mean not just the absence of sound, but rather the absence of information. All propaganda is aimed at shaping the flow and content of information. With this expanded definition, we can see the broader scope of silence as a propaganda tactic. As you will see, this can lead to an interesting contradiction.

The first use of silence as a tactic is what you’d expect and the traditional definition of silence: the “No Comment” maneuver. You see this all the time coming from Hollywood and the entertainment industry as well as in the political arena. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and this is dependent upon a variety of factors.  The public’s perception of the speaker, the relative severity and the public or private nature of the topic not being discussed, any associated value loading that can go with a scandal, how amenable to obscuration or obviation is the topic in general and are there any related topics currently drawing the public’s attention that may either attract or detract attention are some of the mitigating factors that influence how well playing the “No Comment” card will work out. Let us consider a couple of examples from both the entertainment and political realms and why or why not they succeeded.

Movie stars are well known (or not) for their scandals (real or imagined) popping up from time to time in the tabloid press. Very often, attempts to mitigate the damage of an embarrassing disclosure do more harm than good. An example of this is the current Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson/Rupert Sanders story. After photos of Stewart and Sanders (a married man with children) surfaced, naturally her relationship with her Twilight co-star Pattinson became somewhat complicated. In an effort to mitigate the damage, Stewart made a very public apology to Pattinson. This effort backfired as she caught criticism for everything ranging from the public nature of what most would consider a private message to the content for not being apologetic enough concerning the impact on Sander’s marriage and children to the impact the negative press would have on the forthcoming installment of the Twilight series. This in turn led to speculation that the studio might be reconsidering her for future roles as well as much distress among the Twilight fans. To complete this study in contrasts, consider the recent development in this story where Stewart (possibly after taking advice from her former co-star and actress/director well acquainted with the silence strategy, Jodie Foster) is now refusing to answer questions about her and Pattinson’s relationship.

In the political arena, silence is playing a larger part than usual in the Presidential campaign. The Romney campaign is trying silence as a tactic on his business dealings, his tax returns and the more extremist views of his choice in Vice Presidential running mate Paul Ryan. So far this application of the tactic has generally backfired miserably. For his business dealings, silence makes him look like a liar and a fraud considering it is his past business dealings that make up the bulk of his alleged experience and skill set to lead a nation.  With his taxes, silence simply makes him look like he has something to hide in addition to the arrogance he has displayed on the issue showing him to be massively out of touch with the American people and an elitist with remarks about “you people” and “trust me”. With silence about the points of view of his running mate, Paul Ryan? It is early in the use of that strategy to see how well it will work, but early indications are it is going to only serve to highlight Ryan’s extremist views as the media and the public start asking questions. Another spectacular backfire as Ryan’s stance come under greater scrutiny including his budget proposals (even attacked by Conservative King of Trickle Down Economics – David Stockman), the privatization of Social Security, replacing Medicare with a voucher system (also a form of privatization), cutting funding and participation in Medicaid, his dubious and manifestly politically expedient disavowal of his nearly life long love for Ayn Rand and all things Randian, his hypocritical support for economic stimulus when Bush was for it but attacks on it when it is Obama for economic stimulus, and reports of general dissatisfaction among voters of all persuasions about his selection.

There is a second variation on silence as a tactic and that limited silence or partial disclosure.  A fine example of this is the career of Michael J. Fox in its post-Parkinson’s phase. Since his diagnosis, he was careful with the media but remained largely silent. After announcing his condition, he carefully controlled his media presence until the scope and effect of his condition and the effectiveness of his treatment could be assessed.  What started with silence became partial disclosure of his progress, using his celebrity to draw attention to the condition and support for research, and eventually a slow and partial reintroduction into promoting active acting projects. This illustrates that in the process of information management, what you don’t say and when you don’t say it can be as important to image management as what you do say and when you say it, and that balance in tactics can be crucial.

The third use of silence is a close variant to the “no comment” form of silence and that is the tactic of externally enforced silence. Oddly enough, this tactic can arise from tactical missteps as well as situational elements and there is a perfect example of this going on in the current Presidential campaign.  Consider Mitt Romney’s camp and their inability to mention one of his (few) great successes in political leadership without having it blow up in their face and that is the so-called Romneycare he shepherded to life while Governor of Massachusetts. Their silence on this issue is externally enforced because of the similarities to Obama’s ACA plan. Romney cannot attack Obama for actions incredibly similar to actions he took as governor and then tout his actions as governor without tactically shooting himself in the foot with his target audience.

The fourth use of silence is where silence as the absence of information comes to the forefront as well as the previously mentioned interesting contradiction.  Sometimes silence can be noisy. Another way to create silence in the sense of an absence of information are the strategies of obfuscation and distraction (which can employ many tactics from white noise to straw men to simple misdirection). In this regard, when evaluating information it is just as critical to ask “what does this speaker not want me to think about or discuss” as it is to look at the explicit content of what they are saying.

Consider in a broader media sense the contrast between the television news coverage of World War II, Vietnam, the first Gulf War, and Iraq/Afghanistan. The media kept silent about a great many details of World War II and in those days of analog media dominance, it was possible to maintain such silence. To the credit of those in government who controlled the flow of information during World War II, the bulk of what was kept silent was validly done so in the name of operational security and once Allied troops were out of danger fuller disclosure was usually forthcoming.  Contrast this with the media coverage of Vietnam and the then relatively new medium of television. The collapse of public support at the end of the Vietnam war was due in part to the inability of the government to exert control over television. Once the images of what was really going on over there and the cost it was taking on our citizen draft military with daily visions of caskets being broadcast into a majority of American homes, it was only a matter of time before any public support for that war evaporated.

Fast forward to the first Gulf War. The war mongers in government had learned their lesson from Vietnam and the Draft was not a concern with a volunteer force – removing some of the direct impact into American homes from a war abroad. True, many civilians were against conscription, but getting rid of it came with a hidden cost to civic duty and a hidden opportunity for the unscrupulous to make war easier because of less public challenge. Add to this a high level of embedded journalists, a whole new bag of technology that made showing night actions possible and a theater conducive to night actions and relatively low casualties and you get the first war sold to the American public as essentially a video game. This war as an exercise in modern media control can only be termed a success from the point of view of policy hawks. Silence was kept where needed to keep public support flowing and the flow of information out was carefully controlled. The effectiveness of pro-war propaganda was back to WWII levels.

Now comes the invasion of Iraq. America was reeling in the aftermath of 9/11, but anyone who focuses on intelligence in looking at foreign policy issues knew that Iraq didn’t have a damn thing to do with those heinous terrorist attacks. The general public was in a state of fear and the Bush Administration seizing upon that opportunity forced through Congress the purposefully vague Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as well as the arguably prime facie unconstitutional Patriot Act. Using their media savvy sharpened by the Gulf War, little if any media mention was made of the pure irrationality of attacking Iraq was mentioned during the lead up to that action and once again the television was ablaze with video game warfare images. However, that silence about the cost and irrationality of this invasion had to deal with a change in technology analogous to what transpired in Vietnam with television: the Internet. Although it had technically been around for a while, the World Wide Web hadn’t reached maturity until roughly the same time the war in Iraq started. Due to the very nature of the medium, government found it difficult to control the message and enforce silence, but also due to the massively increased number of media outlets, the impact of negative reporting of the true costs of invading Iraq were somewhat diluted compared to the impact of television on Vietnam. Combined with the lack of impact created by a conscription military, a situation ensued where dissent against the invasion slowly built though the alternative information channels the World Wide Web provided, but instead of ending the war in 13 years (1962-1975) in Vietnam, the pressure to end the invasion of Iraq took 8 years (2003-2011)  to “officially” end – seemingly an improvement.  But is it?  We still have troop presence there so anyone paying attention knows that it is not over. A lesson learned in Vietnam is the euphemistic language of calling a war something other than what it really is, like “police action”, “liberation”, and “nation building”.

This is not to mention that we are still in Afghanistan, a country well known to military history buffs both professional and amateur to be a place practically impossible to occupy due to both terrain and a fractured culture in part created by that terrain. So here we are, still involved in two wars, one an invasion of questionable legality and unquestionably bad tactics (unless you’re in the oil business) and the other an attempt at occupation against a legitimate target but a target that historically has been shown highly resistant to occupation strategies. Unlike Vietnam though, the propaganda masters in government rapidly adapted to the World Wide Web. If you look only at MSM Web sources for news, you might be minimally aware of some sanitized facts of what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you only watch television, you might be hard pressed to even realize there are two wars going on at all. In either case, you can hear the media’s politically driven drumbeat starting already for war with Iran.

The propaganda masters have learned their lessons and put them into application. Where they could not directly silence, they sowed confusion. Where they could not sow confusion, they manufactured false support with tactics like hiring propaganda trolls and astroturfing. Where they could not manufacture support, they outright lied. And when their lies where exposed by whistle blowers like Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, they resorted to that old standby of fascists and totalitarian regimes to enforce silence about their misdeeds and malfeasance in representing the best interests of the general citizenry: threats and intimidation.

In being or seeking to become a critical thinker and a responsible citizen in the age of modern media and propaganda techniques, silence as an absence of information is your enemy. It can be overcome by diligent research, practiced evaluation, supporting whistle blowers who bring the public evidence of institutional and personal wrong doings by government, industry and its members and to practice through and proper analysis (in context) of as many sources of information as your mind can handle. But is it enough to overcome the silence of information to make your decisions about such matters? As George Orwell so famously noted, “Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.” Is it enough to find the truth behind the silence? Or is it your civic duty to speak truth to power?

I think the answer is quite clear if you are following the sage advice of Marcus Aurelius and “seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed.”

What do you think?

________________

Source(s): E!, The Daily Beast, Times Live, Huffington Post (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), Politico, New York Times, League of Women Voters, CNN (1, 2), Slate, Vanity Fair, The Raw Story

~submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

The Propaganda Series;

Propaganda 105: How to Spot a Liar

Propaganda 104 Supplemental: The Streisand Effect and the Political Question

Propaganda 104: Magica Verba Est Scientia Et Ars Es

Propaganda 103: The Word Changes, The Word Remains The Same

Propaganda 102 Supplemental: Holly Would “Zero Dark Thirty”

Propaganda 102: Holly Would and the Power of Images

Propaganda 101 Supplemental: Child’s Play

Propaganda 101 Supplemental: Build It And They Will Come (Around)

Propaganda 101: What You Need to Know and Why or . . .

Related articles of interest;

Mythology and the New Feudalism by Mike Spindell

How about Some Government Propaganda for the People Paid for by the People Being Propagandized? by Elaine Magliaro

 

537 thoughts on “Propaganda 104 Supplemental: The Sound of Silence

  1. Gene,

    When the storm clears know that I am eagerly waiting for your opinions on the 3/5, Plural Presidency motion that is before this distinguished body of thinkers.

    (So help me, Slarti, if you change thinkers to stinkers I will send in my one man flying machine!)

  2. “One of my favorite humorous quotes is about economics, but could be equally applied to political prognostication: ‘The art of explaining tomorrow why the predictions you made yesterday did not come true today.’ ” (Tony C.)

    Also applies to religious end-timers 😉

  3. @Gene: However, if you wish to assign priority and are using primacy in that manner of speaking,

    I am using it in that sense.

    However, the management aphorism “Prioritization is an indirect way of deciding what will not be done” has some logic behind it; if there is enough time, money and personnel to do everything we would like to do, we can proceed on all fronts.

    Prioritization focuses limited resources on a subset of goals, so that when the time runs out or the money runs out we have accomplished our most important goals and ditched the least important.

  4. @Blouise: One of my favorite humorous quotes is about economics, but could be equally applied to political prognostication: “The art of explaining tomorrow why the predictions you made yesterday did not come true today.”

  5. The blog’s name is taken fro this quote: Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage. (H. L. Mencken)

    These people have a sense of humor

  6. lotta,

    Tony’s points regarding polarization of the white vote are valid.

    I know people like to dismiss polls but I think that is because they are so use to the dramatization the news media coughs up using polls as the basis for gobbledygook.

    I prefer to read the analysis of polls from political scientists and I have mentioned the Monkey Cage blog site as an excellent place to read sane analysis. For instance, they have a posting regarding Ryan’s popularity:

    ” Since he was picked, Ryan has become somewhat less popular. As more Americans have developed an opinion about him, those with unfavorable opinions have increased faster than those with favorable opinions. Gallup’s data show that opinions are slightly more favorable than the YouGov data in the linked post, but they also show that those with unfavorable opinions have increased faster in the past few weeks—up 19 points—than have favorable opinions (up 13 points).” (John Sides, professor of political science, George Washington University)

    The point was also made in another article that “winning,” is indicated by showing change over time. Thus polling showing that attitudes toward Paul Ryan have grown less favorable over time do not support that he was a “winning” choice.

    Polls are useful if one does not approach them from a partisan angle and if one is willing to believe straight forward analysis.

    The polls regarding Obama must be read with the same sort of detachment.

    After both parties receive their “convention bump” which is predicted as small for Romney but even smaller for Obama, we shall see how things settle in.

    As far as numbers go right now, and keeping partisan hype out of the mix, it is still Obama’s to lose.

  7. @GBK: Here is a link to the Department of Defense definitions and a list of sites.

    What the DoD defines as an installation is basically anything they operate; they have 412 sf sites, smaller than my living room, that are basically a leased office inside a building which they call an “installation.”

    The DoD report I linked to shows 716 installations overseas, but are they all “bases,” or just a warehouse the German government is letting them lease for off-site storage and backup?

    200 is a number I heard by word of mouth some years ago, so it may be wrong, but for illustrative purposes I will stick with it, because I would not be surprised if 70% of those “installations” are not actually “bases” in the sense of their own land, security fence, etc.

  8. @Lotta: I read that article, I see no way Romney gets 61% of the white vote; I do not think whites are that polarized against minorities. Racism is still out there, but there is also a great deal of mixing and disgust with racism. Part of that is proven by the election of Obama in the first place, clearly the majority are sincerely over it even in the permanent secrecy of the ballot box.

    What Romney forgets, or perhaps fails to comprehend, if that really is his strategy, is that we have an empathic community; hurting minorities hurts the friends and peers of minorities, and there is enough “mixing” going on in businesses, universities, the military and in particular public services of various kinds, the middle class of America and lower, that a large percentage of whites feel connected to minorities. They eat together, joke together, work together and rely on each other, it is an integrated work place.

    You don’t betray your friends in the ballot box, secret or not. I think too many whites feel that way for Romney to win on the white vote alone.

  9. I hate how double spaces and sometimes cr/lf are stripped out of comments. Here, again, is the cut/paste from Globalsecurity, hopefully with cr/lf in between the “installation” definitions.

    Installation Complex — A combination of land and facilities comprised of a main installation and its noncontiguous properties (ranges, auxiliary air fields, annexes and/or missile fields) which provide direct support to or are supported by that installation. Installation complexes may comprise two or more properties, e.g., a major installation, a minor installation, or a support site, each with its associated annex(es) or support property(ies). See also major installation, minor installation, support site.

    Major Installation — A self-supporting center of operations for actions of importance to Air Force combat, combat support, or training. A Main Operating Bases (MOB) is operated by an active, Reserve, or Guard unit of group size or larger with all land, facilities and organizational support needed to accomplish the unit mission. It must have real property accountability through ownership, lease, permit, or other written agreement for all real estate and facilities. Agreements with foreign governments which give the Air Force jurisdiction over real property meet this requirement. Shared use agreements (as opposed to joint use agreements where the Air Force owns the runway) do not meet the criteria for a major installation. This category includes Air Force bases, air bases, Air Reserve bases, and Air Guard bases. Any Active Army installation which has 5000 or more US service members, US DoD civilian employees, and/or other tenants authorized as reported in the Army Stationing and Installation Plan (ASIP). Homeport locations of the operating forces with a minimum assigned strength (or equivalent) of a battlegroup, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON), Submarine Squadron (SUBRON), Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON), or six or more fleet air or land-based squadrons, and activities that provide depot-level maintenance to the operating forces.

    Minor Installation — A facility operated by an active, Reserve, or Guard unit of at least squadron size that does not otherwise satisfy all the criteria for a major installation. This category includes Air Force stations, air stations, Air Reserve stations, and Air Guard stations. Examples of minor installations are active, Reserve and Guard flying operations that are located at civilian-owned airports. Any Active Army installation not categorized as Major which has between 1000 and 5000 US service members, US DoD civilian employees, and/or other tenants* as reported in the ASIP; or 300 or more US DoD civilian employees authorized as reported in the ASIP. RDT&E activities, training activities, hospitals, and homeport locations of the operating forces with a lesser assigned strength than that of a major activity.

    Support Site — A facility operated by active, Reserve, or Guard unit that provides general support to the Air Force mission and does not satisfy the criteria for a major or minor installation. Examples of support sites are missile tracking sites, radar bomb scoring sites, Air Force-owned, contractor-operated plants, radio relay sites, etc. Annexes, minimally manned/unmanned installation/site with little or no real property, and leased office space. Examples are: units that are located on installations belonging to other Services, Maxwell Gunter Annex, radio relay sites, radio beacon sites, remote tracking sites, radar sites, and NAVAID sites.

    Colocated Operating Base (COB): A host nation base containing US owned facilities. These facilities are used and/or maintained by host nation personnel as stipulated by contract.

    Geographically Separated Unit (GSU): A location where permanently assigned US Air Forces in Europe personnel are not collocated with a US Air Forces in Europe Main Operating Base. Does not include contingency locations.

    A Main Operating Base (MOB) is an enduring strategic asset established in friendly territory with permanently stationed combat forces, command and control structures, and family support facilities. MOBs serve as the anchor points for throughput, training, engagement, and US commitment to NATO. MOBs have: robust infrastructure; strategic access; established Command and Control; Forward Operating Sites and Cooperative Security Location support capability; and enduring family support facilities. These are already in existence.

    A Forward Operating Site (FOS) is an expandable host-nation “warm site” with a limited U.S. military support presence and possibly prepositioned equipment. It can host rotational forces and be a focus for bilateral and regional training. These sites will be tailored to meet anticipated requirements and can be used for an extended time period. Backup support by a MOB may be required.

    A Forward Support Location (FSL) is a support facility outside of CONUS but not (necessarily) in a crisis area. FSLs can be depots for US war reserve materiel (WRM) storage, for repair of selected avionics or engines, a transportation hub, or a combination thereof. An FSL could be manned permanently by U.S. military or host-nation nationals, or simply be a warehouse operation until activated. The exact capability of an FSL will be deter-mined by the forces it will potentially support and by the risks and costs of positioning specific capabilities at its location.

    A Forward Support Location (FSL) Option consists of a theater where multiple squadrons at various locations are supported by a single Consolidated Support (or Queen Bee) activity called a Forward Support Location (FSL). The model computes stock both at the aircraft locations (called Forward Operating Locations-FOLs) and at the FSL.This option properly aggregates the demand at the FSL and estimates the total spares requirements based upon the NSN’s [National Stock Number’s] commonality. There may be significant benefits, namely savings in cost and airlift requirement, that could be achieved through the implementation of the “pipeline on the fly” technique. In fact, the unique adaptation of the FSL Option created during this research pointed to the possibility that the Air Force could save over 80 percent in both spares cost and cargo movement needs when the “pipeline on the fly” approach. No component repair is performed at the FOLs; all parts are immediately retrograded back to the FSL where they are either repaired or declared Not Repairable This Station (NRTS) and sent back to the Depot. Only LRUs are repaired at the FSL; all SRUs are sent to the depot for repair (100% NRTS).

    A Cooperative Security Location (CSL) is a host-nation facility with little or no permanent U.S. presence. CSLs will require periodic service, contractor and/or host nation support. CSLs provide contingency access and are a focal point for security cooperation activities. They may contain propositioned equipment. CSLs are: rapidly scalable and located for tactical use, expandable to become a FOS, forward and expeditionary. They will have no family support system.

    A Preposition Site (PS), by definition, is a secure site containing prepositioned war reserve materiel (Combat, Combat Support, Combat Service Support), tailored and strategically positioned to enable rotational and expeditionary forces. They may be collocated with a MOB or FOS. PSs are usually maintained by contractor support and may be sea based. They are an important component to our transformation efforts.

    En Route Infrastructure (ERI), is a strategically located, enduring asset with infrastructure that provides the ability to rapidly expand, project and sustain military power during times of crises and contingencies. ERI bases serve as anchor points for throughput, training, engagement and U.S. commitment. They may also be a MOB or FOS.

    Aerial Port of Debarkation (APOD) operations, by their very nature, cross inter-Service boundaries. The arrival and departure data for all unit equipment, personnel, and sustainment cargo moving to and from the APOD must be captured in AISs. There are three primary organizations operating at the APOD that may possess AIT enabling tools; Air Mobility Command’s Tanker Airlift Control Element (TALCE), the Army Port Movement Control Team (also referred to as an Air Terminal Movement Control Team, [ATMCT]), and the Army Arrival Airfield Control Group (AACG). Passengers arriving at an APOD may immediately board ground transportation for movement to the theater staging base, or they may process through a holding area before moving into the theater. Unit equipment moving inland from the APOD flows through a holding area and a marshaling area (if established) before movement to theater staging bases. The equipment holding area is usually located in close proximity to the aircraft unloading location. The holding area may be separated into several distinct physical locations (e.g., helicopter assembly area, equipment-holding location, pallet holding/reconfiguration area).

    Orwell is alive and well.

  10. Tony,

    “The same goes for our 3000 intelligence departments, and 200 foreign bases.”

    I have no idea of whether your 3,000 intelligence departments statement is true or not, though I suspect it’s close to that. However, your assessment of 200 foreign bases is far short of the mark — given known data.

    Granted, quantifying the number of US military installations in the world is not an easy task, by design, I’m sure. The first stumbling block is that the US military does not officially refer to any of their installations as a “base,” with one exception (see below).

    The US military has specific definitions of nomenclature predicated on the utility of the “installation,” and the most reliable source I have found in helping delineate what most everyone else in the world would call a base is from the pay-site globalsecurity dot org.

    Globalsecurity lists fourteen delineations of “bases” of which only one is referred to as a base, (I apologize for the huge cut and paste to follow, but it is what it is):

    ————————————————————————-
    Installation Complex — A combination of land and facilities comprised of a main installation and its noncontiguous properties (ranges, auxiliary air fields, annexes and/or missile fields) which provide direct support to or are supported by that installation. Installation complexes may comprise two or more properties, e.g., a major installation, a minor installation, or a support site, each with its associated annex(es) or support property(ies). See also major installation, minor installation, support site.
    Major Installation — A self-supporting center of operations for actions of importance to Air Force combat, combat support, or training. A Main Operating Bases (MOB) is operated by an active, Reserve, or Guard unit of group size or larger with all land, facilities and organizational support needed to accomplish the unit mission. It must have real property accountability through ownership, lease, permit, or other written agreement for all real estate and facilities. Agreements with foreign governments which give the Air Force jurisdiction over real property meet this requirement. Shared use agreements (as opposed to joint use agreements where the Air Force owns the runway) do not meet the criteria for a major installation. This category includes Air Force bases, air bases, Air Reserve bases, and Air Guard bases. Any Active Army installation which has 5000 or more US service members, US DoD civilian employees, and/or other tenants authorized as reported in the Army Stationing and Installation Plan (ASIP). Homeport locations of the operating forces with a minimum assigned strength (or equivalent) of a battlegroup, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON), Submarine Squadron (SUBRON), Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON), or six or more fleet air or land-based squadrons, and activities that provide depot-level maintenance to the operating forces.
    Minor Installation — A facility operated by an active, Reserve, or Guard unit of at least squadron size that does not otherwise satisfy all the criteria for a major installation. This category includes Air Force stations, air stations, Air Reserve stations, and Air Guard stations. Examples of minor installations are active, Reserve and Guard flying operations that are located at civilian-owned airports. Any Active Army installation not categorized as Major which has between 1000 and 5000 US service members, US DoD civilian employees, and/or other tenants* as reported in the ASIP; or 300 or more US DoD civilian employees authorized as reported in the ASIP. RDT&E activities, training activities, hospitals, and homeport locations of the operating forces with a lesser assigned strength than that of a major activity.
    Support Site — A facility operated by active, Reserve, or Guard unit that provides general support to the Air Force mission and does not satisfy the criteria for a major or minor installation. Examples of support sites are missile tracking sites, radar bomb scoring sites, Air Force-owned, contractor-operated plants, radio relay sites, etc. Annexes, minimally manned/unmanned installation/site with little or no real property, and leased office space. Examples are: units that are located on installations belonging to other Services, Maxwell Gunter Annex, radio relay sites, radio beacon sites, remote tracking sites, radar sites, and NAVAID sites.
    Colocated Operating Base (COB): A host nation base containing US owned facilities. These facilities are used and/or maintained by host nation personnel as stipulated by contract.
    Geographically Separated Unit (GSU): A location where permanently assigned US Air Forces in Europe personnel are not collocated with a US Air Forces in Europe Main Operating Base. Does not include contingency locations.
    A Main Operating Base (MOB) is an enduring strategic asset established in friendly territory with permanently stationed combat forces, command and control structures, and family support facilities. MOBs serve as the anchor points for throughput, training, engagement, and US commitment to NATO. MOBs have: robust infrastructure; strategic access; established Command and Control; Forward Operating Sites and Cooperative Security Location support capability; and enduring family support facilities. These are already in existence.
    A Forward Operating Site (FOS) is an expandable host-nation “warm site” with a limited U.S. military support presence and possibly prepositioned equipment. It can host rotational forces and be a focus for bilateral and regional training. These sites will be tailored to meet anticipated requirements and can be used for an extended time period. Backup support by a MOB may be required.
    A Forward Support Location (FSL) is a support facility outside of CONUS but not (necessarily) in a crisis area. FSLs can be depots for US war reserve materiel (WRM) storage, for repair of selected avionics or engines, a transportation hub, or a combination thereof. An FSL could be manned permanently by U.S. military or host-nation nationals, or simply be a warehouse operation until activated. The exact capability of an FSL will be deter-mined by the forces it will potentially support and by the risks and costs of positioning specific capabilities at its location.
    A Forward Support Location (FSL) Option consists of a theater where multiple squadrons at various locations are supported by a single Consolidated Support (or Queen Bee) activity called a Forward Support Location (FSL). The model computes stock both at the aircraft locations (called Forward Operating Locations-FOLs) and at the FSL.This option properly aggregates the demand at the FSL and estimates the total spares requirements based upon the NSN’s [National Stock Number’s] commonality. There may be significant benefits, namely savings in cost and airlift requirement, that could be achieved through the implementation of the “pipeline on the fly” technique. In fact, the unique adaptation of the FSL Option created during this research pointed to the possibility that the Air Force could save over 80 percent in both spares cost and cargo movement needs when the “pipeline on the fly” approach. No component repair is performed at the FOLs; all parts are immediately retrograded back to the FSL where they are either repaired or declared Not Repairable This Station (NRTS) and sent back to the Depot. Only LRUs are repaired at the FSL; all SRUs are sent to the depot for repair (100% NRTS).
    A Cooperative Security Location (CSL) is a host-nation facility with little or no permanent U.S. presence. CSLs will require periodic service, contractor and/or host nation support. CSLs provide contingency access and are a focal point for security cooperation activities. They may contain propositioned equipment. CSLs are: rapidly scalable and located for tactical use, expandable to become a FOS, forward and expeditionary. They will have no family support system.
    A Preposition Site (PS), by definition, is a secure site containing prepositioned war reserve materiel (Combat, Combat Support, Combat Service Support), tailored and strategically positioned to enable rotational and expeditionary forces. They may be collocated with a MOB or FOS. PSs are usually maintained by contractor support and may be sea based. They are an important component to our transformation efforts.
    En Route Infrastructure (ERI), is a strategically located, enduring asset with infrastructure that provides the ability to rapidly expand, project and sustain military power during times of crises and contingencies. ERI bases serve as anchor points for throughput, training, engagement and U.S. commitment. They may also be a MOB or FOS.
    Aerial Port of Debarkation (APOD) operations, by their very nature, cross inter-Service boundaries. The arrival and departure data for all unit equipment, personnel, and sustainment cargo moving to and from the APOD must be captured in AISs. There are three primary organizations operating at the APOD that may possess AIT enabling tools; Air Mobility Command’s Tanker Airlift Control Element (TALCE), the Army Port Movement Control Team (also referred to as an Air Terminal Movement Control Team, [ATMCT]), and the Army Arrival Airfield Control Group (AACG). Passengers arriving at an APOD may immediately board ground transportation for movement to the theater staging base, or they may process through a holding area before moving into the theater. Unit equipment moving inland from the APOD flows through a holding area and a marshaling area (if established) before movement to theater staging bases. The equipment holding area is usually located in close proximity to the aircraft unloading location. The holding area may be separated into several distinct physical locations (e.g., helicopter assembly area, equipment-holding location, pallet holding/reconfiguration area).
    ———————————————————-

    There have been many attempts to quantify the number of US military “overseas” installations. It’s quite possible that Senator John Tester’s preamble on his site in referencing his letter dated May 19, 2011 to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reveals some facts:

    “The U.S. currently operates more than 1,000 military installations on foreign soil, including 268 in Germany, 124 in Japan and 87 in South Korea. Approximately 370,000 U.S. military forces are currently deployed in more than 150 countries around the world.”

    http://www.tester.senate.gov/Newsroom/pr_051911_overseasbases.cfm

    If what Senator Tester states is true, or even close to true, your number of 200 US bases is inadequate.

    I don’t mean to disrupt the enlightening discussion on this thread, (a sincere statement), but when one presents numbers in passing of their argument the numbers should at least be in the ballpark.

  11. lotta,

    I agree that the vote will be closer than before but I still think this is Obama’s to lose. Saying it’s Obama’s to lose is not implying a shoe-in; it’s recognizing that he could lose if he takes a misstep but if he doesn’t, “white-man rule” will not carry the Republicans … the South never did and never will rise again.

  12. Blouise, This is an interesting article on the importance of race in this election; it is paramount. It explains why the party is willing to give the white, ultra-conservative base anything it wants and rely on disenfranchising groups that will not support the party without major changes in the party. They have completely lost the African American, youth and (most of the) Latino vote. Whatever they want as a party, whatever goals were set that required a 30 year plan for re-positioning, comes to fruition this year or will have to wait for a retooling of the the party to cultivate a much more broad constituency.

    “Team Romney White-Vote Push: ‘This Is the Last Time Anyone Will Try to Do This’”

    “A Republican strategist said something interesting and revealing on Friday, though it largely escaped attention in the howling gusts of punditry … The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.”

    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/08/2012-or-never-for-gops-white-base.html

    Like SWM I am not confident that the race is going to be a shoe-in for the President. The 10 million vote majority that Obama had in 2008 was an anomaly in terms of voter turnout. I think that this will be a more normal election year in that regard. The numbers would be much closer without the voter suppression efforts which will further skew the results.

  13. Tony,

    Then the disagreement if over function versus priority. There is no primary singular function of government. It is an inherently multifunctional tool. However, if you wish to assign priority and are using primacy in that manner of speaking, I have no issue with it other than from the technical standpoint about function. Function and priority are not the same thing. It is a fine but important distinction especially when some people (and agendas) want to “simply” the role of government to attack and/or attempt to dismantle it (such as simplifying it to a protection racket where taxes are theft ala Rothbard). Government is a more complex and subtle structure than any of those appeals to the fallacy of oversimplification.

  14. @Gene: Let me consider this from a different point of view; that of the founders. What is encoded in the Constitution as Amendments? In my view, other than organizational points, it is protections. The DOI may well give a nod to happiness, but in the primary document of the country, what has the most armor against being changed by the whims of any particular Congress are the rights of citizens which are protections. (They can still be changed essentially by vote, but a super-majority of votes).

    Unlike Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid, all of which can go down in a conservative storm, because they are mere laws.

    When I say something has primacy, I do not mean the government should be composed of that alone. Our funding of our military is ludicrously overdone to the point of danger, we are involved in our foreign adventures primarily because of that five-fold overfunding, I think. Our military would be perfectly capable of defending us from invasion on 20% of its current budget, with far fewer soldiers. The same goes for our 3000 intelligence departments, and 200 foreign bases.

    When I say it has primacy, I mean that is what needs to be funded first, that is what gets done right, but that is not what the government is about 100%. I believe in the Norway model and 50% socialism, 50% capitalism. To me that is the fair and intuitive split between partners, which is how the Norwegians consider it and how I think we should.

    That said, I also think that spending money on parks or monuments to 9/11 or an off-ramp for the new Walmart when the inner city has zero police protection and is awash in crime is just misguided. Protect first. Let Walmart fund its own off-ramp. When we have the murder rate at the floor of preventability, when our firemen have the equipment they need, when our soldiers have bullet-proof vests, then we will still have tax money left for parks.

    What I am talking about is the priorities of minimizing crime and predation. I do not think that takes an infinite amount of money; there is plenty left over for collective projects.

  15. Slarti,

    I’m sorry … I got your points all jumbled in my mind. Talking about Republican strategies does that to me.

  16. Blouise,

    I think you misunderstood my point—I agree Romney has damaged his chances with independents and moderates, I just think that he wrote them off when he picked Ryan and that he did so because the strategy to rally the base, suppress the vote, and outspend, outspend, outspend gives him the best chance of winning. Furthermore, having pretty much burned his bridges with the center (unless he releases his taxes which I can’t imagine him doing…), he doesn’t really have the option of changing horses in midstream anymore. I would also point out that I think Tony is implicitly assuming a well-informed electorate which is clearly not the case in the US…

    And yes, I’m happy that by the time Isaac gets here it will be a rainstorm rather than a deluge…

  17. Tony C.

    Gene makes a very good point. Do you think, perhaps, that the time for government to inspire has faded … is now behind us?

    I’m with you on the prostitution thing on all points and as equally flummoxed about how to handle the military. We need to step way outside the box on that one.

  18. Gene,

    Glad to see you still have electricity.

    Thinking of you at all times and imploring the storm god to keep y’all safe.

    Slarti,

    I believe Tony was more right than wrong when he opined that Romney stood a better chance of attracting independents and moderate conservatives before the all in approach.

    Ain’t it nice living up here around the Great Lakes rather than the Gulf?!

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