VAGO’S NOTEBOOK

VAGO'S NOTEBOOK
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The USS Zumwalt, commissioned over the weekend in Baltimore, is a revolutionary step forward for the US Navy in terms of stealth, ship systems and firepower that will shape future warships.

For that to happen, the Navy must keep investing in the class — rightly seen as a key transitional step to the future — while using them as operational units and developmental test beds for new systems and weapons.

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Every two years since 1969, the US chief of naval operations has invited his global navy and coast guard counterparts to attend a three-day, closed-door symposium on seapower.

Between Sept. 20-23, representatives from more than 100 nations answered the call from Adm. John Richardson and descended on the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. (Full disclosure: we were invited to provide exclusive video coverage of the event.)

To critics, meetings like these amount to little more than military tourism, junkets for senior leaders and their spouses.

But the reality is: interpersonal relationships are critical among all leaders, especially military ones that hold jobs for a few years at a time. Every little bit helps build a network of bridges for use during future crises when knowing the guy on the other end of the phone makes all the difference. This year, spouses and families were encouraged to attend as well, expanding opportunities for networking beyond those in uniform.

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The naming of any new aircraft is a big deal, and the stakes are particularly high given it happens so infrequently.

Striking the right balance among history, symbolism and menace without veering into the corny is always tough. The names of the last two bombers, the B-1 Lancer and the B-2 Spirit, weren’t exactly resounding hits.

So all eyes were on what the Air Force would name the B-21 that is under development by Northrop Grumman. Air Force Secretary Deborah James and Gen. David Golfdein, the chief of staff, picked the winner from names submitted by airman service wide.

In front of a packed auditorium at the Air Force Association’s flagship annual conference last week, the new bomber was named the Raider, in honor of Jimmy Doolittle’s daring raid on Tokyo by the last survivor of the mission and one the Air Force’s greatest living heroes, retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole.

The 101-year-old Cole, Doolittle’s copilot, said he as honored and humbled by the gesture, wishing his comrades were alive to share in the moment.

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Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have little in common but their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Both presidential candidates have incessantly bashed the largest trade deal in history. To hear them tell it, 12 nations led by Washington spent years negotiating a deal to kill as many US jobs as possible.

On the contrary, TPP will help the US economy and advance Washington’s strategic relationships in Asia at the very time China is working hard to push America from the region.

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Fifteen years after the deadliest terror attacks on US soil, Americans are remembering 9/11 and still grappling with its implications.
As with any mass tragedy, scars for some remain fresh as others have worked hard to move beyond the searing events of that sunny September day. Many – particularly those who experienced the chaos of that day first hand – still struggle with anxiety sparked by memories or images of buildings falling, scenes far more gruesome, or wonder why they survived when others didn’t.

Sept. 11, 2016, will be a day of public remembrance and personal reflection for a tragedy that killed 3,000 and injured some 6,000 more. A thousand first responders and others have died since of illnesses linked to the attacks, along with nearly 6,000 American troops who fought in the wars to avenge that attacks and prevent others.
In an election year, there will also be vulgar political grandstanding that shouldn’t distract us from thoughtfully taking stock.

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The Pentagon has tried to keep F-35 funding stable, but there is mounting pressure to slow the program to pay for other priorities. It must do all it can to get as many JSFs into service as quickly as possible to cut its own costs and field capabilities so potent they will serve a key conventional deterrent.