LT General Michael Flynn – US Army (Retired)

LT General Russel L. Honoré – US Army (Retired)

Maj General Paul E Vallely – US Army (Retired)

Colonel Michael Ward – USAF, US Army (Retired)

Colonel Rob Maness – USAF (Retired)

Commander Cliff Alligood – US Navy (Retired)

Captain / Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Harmes – US Army (Retired)

Chief Master Sgt Michael P Wenzel – USAF (Retired)

Our Military Contributors:
LT General Michael Flynn – US Army (Retired)
LT General Russel L. Honoré – US Army (Retired)
Maj General Paul E Vallely – US Army (Retired)
Colonel Michael Ward – USAF, US Army (Retired)
Colonel Rob Maness – USAF (Retired)
Commander Cliff Alligood – US Navy (Retired)
Captain / Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Harmes – US Army (Retired)
Chief Master Sgt Michael P Wenzel – USAF (Retired)

From the early civilian colonists (known as  Minute Men) who independently organized to form a well-prepared militia, through 2 world wars and conflicts in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East, veterans over the centuries have defended this country, protected us and made possible the lives we lead today. This article attempts to honor those included here as representatives of all who served; all who committed their lives and actions to the service to our country.

They each have a story to tell. Some have expanded on the basic questions with their own personal experiences. Their answers are their own and varied – which makes our overview so interesting and unique to the individuals. LTG Honoré will be joining us again from the road and catching up – he’s on special assignment during this time.

I trust you’ll enjoy this in-depth glimpse into some very interesting and dedicated military professionals.

This is Part 2 of my series. Part 1 and 3 can be FOUND HERE: In this part we reveal insight into race relations in the service, “Don’t Ask- Don’t Tell,”  women in the military and U.S Acceptance around the world.

Part 2:

RB ~ When I first entered in ’68, in basic there were many mixed groups; black, white, native American, Hispanics – people who normally, except for the draft, might not associate but were thrown into living and working together, and it didn’t always work smoothly. The military, for its size and many intricate parts, functions fairly smoothly without regard to outside factors. In my last unit, I had a black first Sargent who always made the point that “in our unit, there is no black, no white, only green.” Was race considered at all during your service or did you see any changes over time?

FLYNN ~ “Everyone wore (wears) the same name tag…US Army (emphasis on U.S.) If you create a team atmosphere, if you build an effective team, if you create an atmosphere of trust, you will function as an effective team. I rarely dealt with any racial issues—I was aware of them and nipped them in the bud when they came up (and very fairly). We are a standards-based military. If you can meet the standards, you can serve. I don’t care what color you are, nor did 99 percent of the people I served alongside.

HONORĖ  ~  “All people, wherever they were in the world – if we truly believe Christian-Judeo philosophy, that the man-made laws that define our boundaries are just, that people who believe, “Hey! God wants me to do just as well as them” – I don’t think people are going to stay in a place where they’re starving and persecuted and demonized, that they’ll try to find a place where they can raise their family in peace. So, that’s a long answer to that threat question – but it’s inclusive of what I think.”


WARD ~ “Race was never a consideration in all aspects of my career.

MANESS ~ “Race was not a factor in any of my decisions, nor was gender.

ALLIGOOD ~ “There was a period in the early ‘70s where race was an issue. I was stationed on USS CANOPUS (AS-34) in Holy Loch Scotland when this “racial period” occurred and how the Navy handled this period was terrible and caused much resentment and hard feelings. The situation in the Navy as an outcrop of what was happening the society as whole in ’72, ’73. The Navy’s answer, as is always the “answer” in the service, was mandatory training. The mandatory training was one week’s seminars and working groups and was called UPWARDS (Understanding Personal Worth and Racial Dignity). It did not work and only time and getting back to “mission focus” fixed the problem. That was the only period during my service that race was an issue.

HARMES ~ “In my (1973) Basic Training Platoon, there were only 5 or 6 whites. It was not bad, until they gave us a race relations class. After that I was not sure if I was safe in my own barracks. What the class taut was if you were not white you were being held back, not give a chance, so demand that you should be given what you wanted when you wanted it, otherwise it was prejudice.

WENZEL ~ “I’ve always thought it was one of the best parts of military service.

RB ~ In my unit we had two gay men (not a couple) and it was open, and actually mutually dealt with humorously, but it had no major influence. Admittedly, in combat situations it might have been different. DADT (Don’t ask, don’t tell) wasn’t introduced till 1994. In your areas of work, was this a needed policy? Did it achieve its purpose, or something better left undiscussed assuming no discrimination issues?

FLYNN ~ “We are a standards based Army (and Military)…if you can meet the standards, you can and should be able to serve.

VALLELY ~ “Not good for the military. Has caused many morale problems.

WARD ~ “DADT was a disaster and getting rid of it has not been fully worked out. Now with the transgender issue, is even more messed up. Deployed forces should not have to worry about these issues, they are there to kill people and break things.

MANESS ~ “DADT was bad for us as a culture. It forced a culture of honesty, integrity, and selflessness to accept dishonesty and selfishness. And I include all sides of the DADT equation, not just straight people. I implemented the repeal of DADT as a Wing Commander. To a man and woman, my subordinate commanders all said the repeal was not going to be an issue unless personnel policies such as housing policies, were changed.

ALLIGOOD~ “There was a gay, or two, in many units that I served, and it was never an issue. This was during the ‘60s and ‘70s.

HARMES ~ “Until DADT (Don’t ask, don’t tell), I did not see any problem with gays, there were some I am sure, but it was more just joking around, as far as I ever knew. It seemed that after 1994, there were some that used it as a way to move to the front of the line. Mostly females, suddenly it seemed half the females in the army were gay, and had another reason, they could not be told to meet the standard. Of course I spent most of my career in combat units prior to that, so women were not a consideration.

WENZEL ~ “That never came up in my time in service. I’m sure it was there. It was just never discussed. I retired in 1994 and don’t recall DADT being an issue.

RB ~ Women have many attributes and great skills that are of value to the service. How do you view women in combat and, understanding there have been some great women fighter pilots, are we really in need of that segment in those situations or are they better used in other, less dangerous and volatile Occupational Specialties? (Were they really needed or just brought into combat for “equality” and “socially inclusive” reasons? Leave it as their personal choice?)

FLYNN ~ “Women have been serving in and supporting combat actions since the beginning of time and certainly since the founding of our Country. I am proud to say I have worked alongside many professional women, both enlisted and officers, who today continue to serve and have achieved high rank, to include Sergeants Major, and Flag Officer. Again, we are a standards-based military and if you can meet the standards, you can and should be able to serve.”

VALLELY ~ “Women have always served in some capacity in our Armed Forces. I was of the first to select women into the Academies. They are doing well and serve in many, varied career fields. They are excellent in almost areas they serve. Should not be in Infantry (or maybe Intel officers).

WARD ~ “It should always be a personal choice. No forced acceptance and not changing requirement, especially physical, to get the job done.

MANESS ~ “I commanded a combat flying squadron, was the vice wing commander of the largest airborne intelligence wing in the Air Force, and commanded the wing with the largest nuclear mission on the planet. I had the pleasure of leading and serving with men and women, gay and straight people, people from all religions, all races and never had an issue with anyone. I supported my people based on their merit and ability, nothing else. 50 percent of my best combat aviators were women, my best intelligence squadron commander was a gay woman (I helped select her for squadron command and it was during DADT so I was not aware of her orientation but I don’t think it would have mattered had I known.), and I could go on and on, not a factor for us.

ALLIGOOD ~ “I never had a problem with women in the service. The overwhelming majority of women I encountered in my time in the Navy were superlative performers and contributed to the unit. This was especially true of the senior female NCOs. When I had command of the LANTFLTILO Program my enlisted staff were all senior NCO’s – E7s, E8s – That staff would usual number 25+. This was the late ’80 and females were very visible in the Navy and the senior ranks. I thought it strange that with my large number of senior NCO’s on staff I had no females. I finally called the assignment detailer for Chief Storekeepers and was told the detailed did not think I wanted any females in a unit so close to the fleet. Women served in ships and I said I want my share of female CPOs. Within six months I had four female CPOs on staff and each performed superbly.

HARMES ~ “In Iraq, because I was running an entry control point (gate) at night, I always had to have at least 1 female, in case a patrol brought in a female prisoner. I had 1 tell me she could not be on a machine gun. Guess where she was the next night. Late on, they became a big problem, because there was a higher bounty for females by rank, (an extra 50,000) than males. That meant if they want to go to the port-a-potty. I had to pull a male to go with them, beside cover their job. I always laughed, because command was worried about the females, and there bounty, when mine (a personal bounty) was 7 times as much, and I was everywhere, to include outside the perimeter as a lone American.

WENZEL ~ “I remember when the first women were allowed into my career field (airborne defensive fire control). It took some adjustment and not necessarily due to heavy lifting requirements but just learning to cope with the job. Many women spent most of their time trying to get into a different job.

RB ~ If/when you worked in various locations around the world, what was the acceptance of the US military and did you see a level of cooperation, acceptance from our foreign partners or host countries?

FLYNN ~ “I did. All of the countries we worked alongside loved their relationship with the US Military, especially the very close-knit Special Operations Forces community from around the world. Their tight and very professional relationships were strong.

VALLELY ~ “Very well accepted in most areas that I served.

WARD ~ “Always had a great experience and acceptance.

MANESS ~ “Accepted very well from a capability perspective but women and Christians were not initially accepted into Muslim majority nations at first.

ALLIGOOD ~ “I never saw an open hostility towards the US military or military personnel in any of the countries I was stationed in or visited.

HARMES ~ “In both Iraq and Afghanistan, once you were accepted, they would die for you. If you were not they would leave you on your own, if you were bad enough, one of your own local soldiers might kill you. Everyone else was lying to you.

WENZEL ~ “It all depended on where you were assigned. In my case, I spent all of my overseas assignments in Europe (UK, Germany, Spain} and we always had a very high level of cooperation and acceptance.

RB ~ When I entered, I enlisted but it was during a time of the draft. I saw a lot of changes in some people during basic and at the Academy. Many I’ve talked with think the draft was a good idea in that it does build discipline and traits in people they don’t seem to find elsewhere in life, and it provides a diversity of personnel. Is the military as large and strong with an all-volunteer military or would bringing back the draft be a viable idea for needed size and quality?

FLYNN ~ “The answer requires a Masters thesis. I am pro the all-volunteer force, but I am also pro-service to Country. We have to find ways to cause young people to want to serve. Currently, we do not have the capacity to take on the vast array and number of challenges our Country faces here at home and overseas…and our readiness is nowhere near where it should be. The DOD is bloated at the top and we waste too much time on unnecessary issues and actions. Instead, we should be exceptional at the basics. One last point on this topic, when budgets are cut, among the first things to be cut are training programs (not weapons systems and platforms that never see the light of day on the battlefield). We better have really effective training programs when we do require a draft to fill the ranks of troopers to fight our enemies—that is how newly inducted trainees will be prepared for combat. We should also exercise the draft processes routinely so we’re ready when it does have to be implemented.

VALLELY ~ “Should bring back the draft for men and women. All of society needs to serve the country in some capacity, especially in times of War. Less than 1% of our society serve in the military. Not right or fair.

WARD ~ “I do not believe we need a draft at all.

MANESS ~ “We don’t need a draft under current conditions, but it’s a close call considering the current combat mission sets we’re facing. The other issue is not every segment of our society is shouldering the burden of war equally. We have a lot of politicians in office that never served and don’t have children that served. That is something to consider as we move forward and if we need a larger force. We have no problem recruiting right now.

ALLIGOOD ~ “The “draft” had its day and is gone unless national security would deem otherwise. I was subject to the draft and joined as a volunteer before I could be drafted. I think the all-volunteer force is a better approach.

HARMES ~ “I was in at the end of the draft. The military is a much better place without the draft. The overall quality of soldiers improved with the all volunteer army.

WENZEL ~ “That’s a good question, I didn’t notice a big difference in the draft or all-vol force in the USAF. We all wanted to be there for many different reasons such as the draft, lack of jobs or just excitement.

RB ~ Do you/ had you personally seen a higher level of quality in individual personnel based on the all-volunteer system?

FLYNN ~ “I see / saw people serving our military that love our Country. When members of our military are willing to sacrifice everything they have, for something bigger than themselves, that is pretty special.

VALLELY ~ “Not now.

WARD ~ “Having people that want to be there is always best.

MANESS ~ “Yes. I came on active duty in 1979 after the AVF was implemented but we still had a large population of draftees. Drug use was higher, professionalism was lower, and UCMJ incidents were higher. AVF changed all that over time.

ALLIGOOD ~ “I saw quality people with and without the draft.

HARMES ~ “The overall quality of soldiers improved with the all volunteer army. The draft seemed only to catch the ones that could not figure out a way out, and were too often trouble on the outside and brought that with them.

WENZEL ~ “No, not really.

RB ~ Was 9/11 a turning point in patriotism for the military? Has it waned?

FLYNN ~ “9/11 was a seminal crisis for our Nation. As we have gotten further away from it and yet the war wages on, the American public and the American psyche start to lose sight of what we’re supposed to be doing and more important, why. We can never forget 9/11 or other seminal events and crises our Country faced. Too many Americans sacrificed too much to forget.

VALLELY ~ “Late 1960s (Vietnam era)

WARD ~ “I believe it was and it has waned.”

MANESS ~ “Yes it was. What is amazing is that the kids volunteering after 9/11 KNEW they could get hurt or killed when they signed up. The volunteer rates have not waned. I am so proud of these young American men and women! Honored to have commanded some and served with them.

ALLIGOOD ~ “I have been retired for 24 years, so I am not sure about individual patriotism in today’s force.

HAMES ~ “Yes, for recruiting. The people suddenly wanted to do something. I saw people beyond the normal initial enlistment age, joining. Prior service, which could not get on active duty, was joining the National Guard, because they wanted to do something. Now it seems that too much of the nation is embracing the enemy. The same enemy that wanted to destroy us in 2001, that still wants to destroy us today.

WENZEL ~ “I wasn’t in the military then but it seemed to spark more enlistments.


Part 3 will deal with the important changes in military technology, military operations and readiness, the acceptance of the US overseas, possible improvements to the military, the VA and… is anyone ready to reenlist? LTG Honoré will be joining us again from the road and catching up – he’s on special assignment during this time.

You can get a more personal insight from their writings. Click the images below for access to their bestsellers.


You can follow Col Rob Maness on CRTV

MG Paul Vallely can be found at Stand Up America US Foundation and the Scott Vallely Soldiers Memorial Fund Foundation

RB ~

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