Airman Reportedly Denied Reenlistment For Failing To Say ‘So Help Me God’

It would appear that someone needs to introduce the Air Force to Article VI of the Constitution.

church-state-street-signs

The Air Force Times is reporting that an enlisted member of the Air Force has apparently been denied reenlistment in the military because he refuses to say ‘so help me God’ at the end of the oath that soldiers and airmen are required to take:

An atheist airman at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada was denied reenlistment last month for refusing to take an oath containing “so help me God,” the American Humanist Association said Thursday.

And in a Sept. 2 letter to the inspectors general for the Air Force and Creech, Monica Miller, an attorney with the AHA’s Apignani Humanist Legal Center, said the airman should be allowed to reenlist without having to swear to a deity, and instead given a secular oath. Miller said the AHA is prepared to sue if the airman is not allowed to reenlist.

According to the AHA, the unnamed airman was told Aug. 25 that the Air Force would not accept his contract because he had crossed out the phrase “so help me God.” The airman was told his only options were to sign the religious oath section of the contract without adjustment and recite an oath concluding with “so help me God,” or leave the Air Force, the AHA said.

That is unconstitutional and unacceptable, the AHA said.

“The government cannot compel a nonbeliever to take an oath that affirms the existence of a supreme being,” Miller said. “Numerous cases affirm that atheists have the right to omit theistic language from enlistment or reenlistment contracts.”

Creech officials referred inquiries to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Officials at Nellis referred questions to Air Force public affairs officers at the Pentagon, who had not confirmed the incident by Thursday night.

The AHA’s letter also called attention to a quiet update last year of Air Force rules governing reenlistments, which now require all airmen to swear an oath to God.

Air Force Instruction 36-2606 spells out the active-duty oath of enlistment, which all airmen must take when they enlist or reenlist and ends with “so help me God.” The old version of that AFI included an exception: “Note: Airmen may omit the words ‘so help me God,’ if desired for personal reasons.”

That language was dropped in an Oct. 30, 2013, update to the AFI. The relevant section of that AFI now only lists the active-duty oath of enlistment, without giving airmen any option to choose not to swear an oath to a deity.

“Reciting ‘So help me God’ in the reenlistment and commissioning oaths is a statutory requirement under Title 10 USC 502,” Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson said Thursday. AFI 36-2606 “is consistent with the language mandated in 10 USC 502. Paragraph 5.6 [and] was changed in October 2013 to reflect the aforementioned statutory requirement and airmen are no longer authorized to omit the words ‘So help me God.’ ”

The Air Force said it cannot change its AFI to make “so help me God” optional unless Congress changes the statute mandating it.

The unidentified airman’s story has been picked up by other media outlets, including USA TodayThe Washington Postand The Huffington Post,  none of whom have as of yet been able to obtain official confirmation of the incident from Air Force officials. However, assuming that the facts that are being reported are true, it seems fairly apparent that the service’s actions, while apparently authorized and required by Federal Law, are most likely unconstitutional.

To start at the beginning, the oath that all service members are required to take upon entering the service or reenlisting is set forth at 10 USC 502(a), which states as follows:

(a) Enlistment Oath.— Each person enlisting in an armed force shall take the following oath:

“I, XXXXXXXXXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

There has been some suggestion in some of the reading I’ve done on this case since first learning of it last night that the oath was changed by Congress some time last year, thus requiring a change in the Air Force regulations. However, the preliminary research I’ve been able to do indicates that the ‘so help me God’ language has been part of the statutes since at least 2011, if not earlier. Despite the statute, though, the service branches have each apparently adopted regulations that state that an enlistee can be given the option of omitting that language if it is contrary to their beliefs, which is an important point not only for people who might be atheists but also for certain sects of Christianity that have objections to swearing to an oath. For example, Army Regulation 601-210 states as follows:

A commissioned officer of any service will administer the Oath of Enlistment in DD Form 4 orally, in English, to each application. Make a suitable arrangement to ensure that the oath is administered in a dignified manner and in proper surroundings. display the U.S. flag prominently near the officer giving the oath. The words “So help me God” may be omitted for persons who desire to affirm rather than to swear to the oath.

There are apparently comparable versions of this regulation, and the opt-out provision in the last sentence, for the Navy and the Marine Corps. There was also apparently a similar opt-out provision in the comparable Air Force regulation until its most recent revision in October 2013 at which point it was removed for reasons that haven’t been made clear at this point. The effect of that removal, though, is that no person who wishes to enlist, or re-enlist, in the Air Force can do so without agreeing to say the words “so help me God” whether or not they have a religious or philosophical objection to doing so. Notwithstanding the fact that service members do give up certain rights when the enter the military — they are forbidden, for example, from campaigning for a political candidate while in uniform, as one Ron Paul supporter who did just that found out in 2012 — it seems clear that this is unconstitutional.

Article VI, Clause 3 of the Constitution states quite clearly that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”  While this is generally taken to mean that Congress could not pass a law that someone who is an atheist or a Muslim could not hold a government position, it also means that no person can be required to do anything that acknowledges a religious belief. Since Federal law requires every enlistee to take an oath before they are considered a member of the military, any requirement that they acknowledge a religious belief of any kind strikes me as being patently unconstitutional.

As The Washington Post notes, this isn’t the first time that the Air Force in particular as run afoul of religious liberty issues:

The Air Force, in particular, has faced intense scrutiny for what some believe is a preferred status for Christians in the service and at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Critics, including Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation, have in the past lobbied for changes to the way the Air Force references God and the Bible. For example, in 2011, the group helped to successfully eliminate an Air Force nuclear training program that taught ethics using Bible passages and religious figures for reference.

And in the same month that the Air Force’s enlistment oath rules changed to make the “so help me God” portion mandatory, the Air Force Academy announced that it would allow its cadets to opt out of the very same phrase in the honor code.

Those changes, however, have angered some conservatives and evangelicals in and out of the Air Force, who believe that many accommodations designed to protect religious minorities in the service violate the Christian majority’s right to religious freedom.

A 2012 Air Force Times survey about perceptions of religious freedom in the service found both atheists and Christians in the Air Force complaining of a need to “walk on eggshells” about the issue.

As McClatchy reported, conservative groups and Republicans in Congress heavily criticized the Air Force for a rule change that prohibited commanding officers from “the actual or apparent use of their positions to promote their religious convictions to their subordinates.”

While conservatives argued that the regulation prevented those officers from expressing their religious views, the regulation’s supporters believe that it’s necessary, given the hierarchical nature of military culture. As of May, that rule was under review by the Air Force.

I’m not sure what it is about the Air Force that seems to engender these types of conflicts, perhaps others can comment on that. Assuming that the reports about this Airman are true, though, it seems pretty clear that the service has put itself in the middle of yet another church-state conflict that could be easily avoided if they only complied with the Constitution.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Military Affairs, Religion
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mu says:

    God can put you in hell, violating the constitution only helps your officer evaluation. Of course they’re not going to care, especially not the Air Force with their evangelical culture throughout the hierarchy.

  2. Rafer Janders says:

    Oh god….

  3. Lenoxus says:

    For far too many people, any opposition to the military behaving like this is itself somehow un-Constitutional. Not to mention “anti-Christian”, given that those two things are so tied up in their minds.

    One can try framing it with hypothetical counterfactuals — what if it was about a refusal to swear on the Koran, or a refusal to say “God doesn’t exist”? — and the point will rush over their heads because Christianity is the Right Religion and this is a Christian Nation.

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    The Air Force has a real problem with this. Just visit Colorado Springs and you will find more Evangelical mega churches than anywhere else in the country. This is another good reason to simply do away with the Air force and give their responsibilities to the Army, Marines and Navy.

  5. Mikey says:

    Seems to me 10 USC 502 is unconstitutional. It does dictate word-for-word the content of the enlistment oath, with the only allowance for variation being a choice between “swear” or “affirm.”

    Prior to October 30, 2013, AFI36-2606 “Reenlistment in the United States Air Force” allowed an Airman to omit “so help me God” “if desired for personal reasons.” The change matches the enlistment oath to the requirement of 10 USC 502.

    Interestingly, though, 10 USC 502 has contained “so help me God” since 1962, but the services have all interpreted it as allowing an enlistee to omit the phrase if desired. Only the Air Force has applied the strict word-for-word interpretation, and for less than a year. AFI36-2606 was issued 9 May 2011, with Change 1 issued 29 August 2012. The change to the enlistment oath was issued as a separate administrative change on 30 October 2013.

    Why the oath change was issued separately and–in my 20 year USAF experience, anyway–suddenly, I have no idea. It seems rather strange.

  6. Mikey says:

    @Ron Beasley: I was in Colorado Springs earlier this year and was apparently quite fortunate to have missed the evangelical mega-churches. All I got was dizzy from riding the exercise bike in the hotel. 6500 feet elevation ain’t no joke when you’re used to exercising near sea level.

  7. pylon says:

    The purpose of allowing an affirmation option is usually meant to allow for non-believers. The removal of the option at the end seems at cross-purposes. Perhaps this is a begnign accident in the reg.

    But the interpertation of it is clearly off side.

  8. Scott says:

    I’m not sure what it is about the Air Force that seems to engender these types of conflicts, perhaps others can comment on that.

    I spent 20 years in the AF and the last 14 in and around it and I still cannot figure out why these issues continually crop up. Maybe it is due to the natural arrogance of the officer corps which is dominated in attitude by pilots. Maybe it starts at the Air Force Academy. Mikey Weinstein has been fighting these issues for a long time.

  9. James Pearce says:

    The overtly Christian stuff going on down at the Academy makes this story all too plausible.

    Semi-related: I was just thinking the other day how Ted Haggard’s experiments with meth and male prostitutes has really deflated the Evangelical movement in this state. I, for one, couldn’t be happier that we’re known for legal weed now, rather than anti-gay discrimination and focusing on other people’s families.

  10. Tyrell says:

    I would say that this is unconstitutional. Likewise the suspension of a school student for saying “bless you” after someone sneezed. Seems like the teacher or school had a list of things you can’t say. One of the other words was “can’t”.

  11. argon says:

    Cool. The Air Force creates a situation that breaks the first amendment of the Constitution via an oath to defend the Constitution

    That Catch-22 is some catch, eh?.

  12. C. Clavin says:

    The SCOTUS in the Greece, NY decision and the Hobby Lobby decision has made it clear that Christianity is the national religion and the rest of us just have to deal with it.

  13. Vast Variety says:

    When I took my Air Force Oath I was not required to say that. That was in 1991.

  14. steve says:

    It all goes back to the Academy. It is an evangelical church that just happens to produce pilots.

    Steve

  15. Tyrell says:

    Here is the real deal: religion stays out of government, government stays out of religion.

  16. bill says:

    so he struck out at burger king or something? why would you want to work for someplace that requires you to take on oath- especially if you already did previously? they don’t need anymore whiners there, move on.

  17. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Ron Beasley: I think you’re forgetting that we have the most powerful and most doctrinally advanced Air power the world has ever seen. Ever. No one is even wasting time building an air force to challenge us. NO ONE. There a reason for that and it isn’t because Airmen are squirreled away to caddy for ground pounders and sailors. It’s because the art that is air power was allowed to flourish as a unique discipline. Something it could never do in another Service.

    This happened at Creech for goodness sakes. The sharpest knives in the drawer aren’t going to be posted at Creech. It was a freak occurrence by morons against someone who was probably low hanging fruit anyway. When it’s drawdown time, they look for anything to put the unachievers and those barely treading water out. This was over the top though.

  18. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    Those changes, however, have angered some conservatives and evangelicals in and out of the Air Force, who believe that many accommodations designed to protect religious minorities in the service violate the Christian majority’s right to religious freedom.

    Interesting concept, one’s religious freedom comes from being able to force someone else to say what you want them to say. Another idea (that some Christian sects hold to BTW) is

    But I [Jesus} tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one single hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.;” anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matt. 5: 34-37, NIV)

    When people who claim to be Christian don’t even know what their own leader said, they need to look at what they actually believe and reconsider what their actual faith is. I suggest they give it a new name–maybe “me-ism.”

  19. RGardner says:

    What a lovely bunch of entertaining talking points I’m seeing here. I think simple CYA (cover your ass) is involved. A JAG saw the law and said it is the law until a court overturns it. Not for us as mere underlings to interpret the law that Congress passed. So the Air Force Instruction took a strict interpretation of the law (and may have done so in order to provoke a court response, imagine that). Nor is it the right of the military (or any Federal Agency (like the EPA!)) to decide not to follow the laws passed by Congress until a Court has declared them invalid.

    So the question remains, why did 10USC502 change? That is the root cause [Troll bait, why did the Obama Administration in 2011 force Christian oaths on the military, LOL]

    I also think the evangelical Christian connection to the USAF is overblown (outside the Academy issues of 5+ years (?) ago) = beating a dead horse Steve (like the old Vet talking about the Vietnam-era Army/Navy of the 1950/60s). BTW, I questioned the propriety of a USAF BGEN leading a bible study at lunch in 1997 at a Joint Command I as leading = command influence. I also questioned the bigotry of the USAF EO 2000 (Equal Opportunity 2000) course that focused on Army and Navy issues, ignoring similar Air Force issues like the Barstoolers (message was we must avoid the scandals of the other Services, we are Pure, no problems here).

    But in this case, blame the law passed by Congress. And CYA by JAGs.

    And Creech, where this happened, isn’t the usual AFB. It is drone central [a friend’s son is there, it is geek-ville]. This was a lawsuit in the waiting.

  20. lounsbury says:

    @Pharoah Narim:
    not particularly caring about the overall subject, however your assertion re your air-power being uniquely strong because of a stand-alone air force is not per se supportable. Your nation is spending orders of magnitude more on defence budgets than any other country on the planet.

    That alone explains why no one is trying to beat you at this. No one else is playing the game.

    Rather doesn’t matter how your armed forces are structured.

  21. Tyrell says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Yet courts require that anyone who takes the stand swear an oath to tell the truth, and this is commonly done on a Bible, at least every time that I have been in court or watched trials on tv, and that includes “Perry Mason”, and “Matlock”. I have read that people can be excused from this sort of oath based on the Biblical references that you mention, if they go through certain procedures and bring in a statement from their pastor. Most judges will not excuse someone without this documentation. Otherwise they would have a lot of people who would later say that “I never swore to tell the truth – can’t get me !”

  22. Mikey says:

    @RGardner:

    So the question remains, why did 10USC502 change?

    It didn’t. The most recent change was 2006 and that had nothing to do with “so help me God,” which was added in 1962. The services all made the phrase optional for over 50 years, until the USAF changed the AFI last year.

    Was the motivation to provoke a court response? Maybe, but why upset an apple cart that’s been rolling smoothly for 51 years?

  23. Ron Beasley says:

    @Pharoah Narim: We have the most powerful and most doctrinally advanced Air power the world has ever seen because we spend more moneythan anyone else not because we have an Air Force. Most of the pilots flying to stop IS today are Navy Pilots not Air Force pilots. The old Army Air Corp worked just fine in WWII.
    Even before this recent Bible thumping controversy I thought doing away with the Air Force made sense as a way to do away with an unnecessary level of bureaucracy. In the future most air combat will come from carriers not fixed air fields.

  24. Liberal Capitalist says:

    As one of the resident atheists, I’m getting a kick out of this kerfluffle.

    On my part, there’s not a need to make a snarky comment, or one of righteous indignation: It’s clear that as the oath stands today, the Air Force is in the wrong.

    Likely this will be changed within the week. And they will also likely release a statement saying that this was an oversight, and they are unsure how it changed.

    This will be followed by the traditional non-apology (“…we are sorry if anyone was offended…”)

    Of course, this will get many individuals up in a tizzy, as they tend to do. No doubt, great hand-wringing and wailing at the usual conservative and evangelical outlets. The fact that the god-part of the oath was not previously mandatory will be conveniently overlooked.

    And their blame and anger will be shifted to this godless atheists, as we wouldn’t have this “problem” if it wasn’t for THEM.

    Of course, I’ll keep an eye on this… so help me dog.

  25. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tyrell: Wow! I didn’t know that judges and legislators were as foolish and short sighted where you come from. Out on the Left Coast–where I grew up–people who do not want to swear and oath to God–for whatever reason–have been able to affirm, under the penalties for perjury, that the will tell the truth. It seems to work pretty well and doesn’t require a note from anybody.

    By the way, who do atheists bring a note from? They don’t have pastors to go to. Just wondering.

  26. Tyrell says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: There are some religious groups that do not believe in taking oaths, promises, or covenants in the name of God or the Lord, or using a Bible for that purpose. A while back some guy tried that in a trial and the judge about blew a gasket. He questioned the man for a while about his religious beliefs, how often he went to church, was he a Christian, and then he said he would have to think on it. He told the man he was disrespecting the court. I don’t know how it turned out.
    An atheist would have no documentation so that would be a problem. In courts around here, I would not dare get up and tell the judge that I was an atheist.

  27. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    ” or watched trials on tv, and that includes “Perry Mason”, and “Matlock””

    And so we come to the wretched center of the shrubbery maze. If Perry Mason did it… I mean, we must never question T.V. must we. Please tell me this is satire.

  28. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Tyrell:

    An atheist would have no documentation so that would be a problem. In courts around here, I would not dare get up and tell the judge that I was an atheist.

    Seriously… You should get out more often.

    If your reference for the US legal system is Matlock and Perry Mason… well, that’s not how the US legal system works.

    An individual does not need to document their faith.

    I know of no requirement in the USA to carry a religious identity card or provide any sort of documentation (unless the specific person was a minister, and the fact that they are a minister is germane to the case… but that would be a different situation than you discuss)

    Admitting to a judge that you are an atheist and do not wish to swear on that (or to that) which you do not believe, will have no ramifications in a legal setting. If it DOES, then if this is significant and impacts the outcome of the case it is basis for a mistrial and/or appeal.

    Why? Judicial Bias.

    Now, as to being hesitant to admit in public that you are an atheist, THAT I can understand.

    Atheists are a minority in the USA. Our beliefs tend to upset many, as our belief (or more succinctly, lack of belief in what others believe) places THEIR sanity in question.

    People tend not to like when one points out that the emperor has no clothes.

  29. Tyrell says:

    The judges and courts must be different around here. I in no way endorse any sort of faith requirements in courtrooms such as swearing on a Bible. My studies of the Bible show that it actually warns against that.
    The courts around here do not put up with any foolishness such as someone being late. And if you walk into a courtroom here wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and a t shirt, I will guarantee that you will get thrown out (if you are lucky to get off that easy), that after a harsh blessing out by the judge.

  30. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Tyrell:

    At this point, I don’t know if you are intentionally trolling this thread, or if these perceptions are more in your head than in reality.

    While some judges request that attorneys present themselves in a respectable manner, the attire of those in attendance in court is rarely called into question (unless that attire is specifically worn to incite or influence the court: ie: T-shirts with printed slogans relating specifically to the case. Again, not what you are describing.)

    Clearly, you must live in the Taliban states of america.

  31. Grewgills says:

    @James in Silverdale, WA:

    Please tell me this is satire.

    I’m pretty sure it is.

  32. Tyrell says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Thanks for the reply. The last time I went to the courthouse there were signs. I don’t remember all the rules, but some were: no t shirts, no shorts or cutoffs, no saggy – beltless jeans, no caps, no talking, no going in and out, cellphones off, no food or drinks. I do remember local newspaper accounts about a juror who was late and got a fine. I don’t go to that courthouse unless I have to. Some of those judges are tougher than a third grade teacher and won’t put up with nothing. Same thing with the local police. You will get a ticket for glas packs (loud mufflers), burning rubber, and loud radios. This is a quiet, peaceful town. No alcohol beverages allowed, most things stay closed on Sundays, and the big things here are the drive-in theater and fast food place.Things are slower here.
    “I fought the law and the law won” (Bobby Fuller, 1966)

  33. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Ron Beasley: Well of course, ISIS is nothing but a media/defense industrial complex created hype so it only makes sense to use the closest assets for the paltry number of sorties being flown against them. The air campaign against then is commanded by an Airmen however…as it should be.

  34. Liberal Capitalist says:

    As I said, the Taliban states appear to have a problem with self expression and freedom..

    The further south and east you go, the more challenging it gets.

    I am shocked, but it appears that there are mandatory dress codes in some locations.

    For example: http://citycourtofslidell.com/dress.php

    Women: better cut your hair to the court’s liking.

    (… i would move.)

  35. Tyrell says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Interesting set of rules , even stricter than I have seen around here. Most courts have dress requicodes to preserve the decorum and dignity of the court. Some of our friends and new neighbors just can’t believe this town is dry. The people voted down alcohol drinks a few years ago, by a wide margin. Twenty minutes to the closest restaurant or store that will sell you some wine. We still have Sunday closing laws here, but now places can open at 1:00 pm.

  36. Pharoah Narim says:

    @lounsbury: Actually your conclusion is flawed in that money spend cannot explain 60+ years sustained competitive advantage in the Air. Spending could explain a short term advantage (See New York Yankees) but not a now 2 generation advantage. This type of run can only be explained by intellectual capital and talent which yields innovation in technology, strategy and tactics. Our Air Power is the reason we havent seen large force on force conflicts like WW1 and 2. I get the feeling that people conflate despising this great tool we’ve built with the foreign policy in which the tool is used. That’s a mistake.

  37. Sherparick says:

    The Conservative Christianist movement has probably made its deepest in roads in the Air Force, probably because the most influential man at the Academy for a 22-year period was the football coach, Fisher DeBerry, who became very involved in the political Evangelical Christian Movement and has a close relationship with the Colorado Springs based Chrisitanist group founded by Dr. James Dobson, “Focus on the Family.” The insistence by Christianist Conservatives that their “free exercise” of religion requires them to proselytize non-Evangelicals and to use coercion to bring them to the “faith,” causes a deeply polarizing effect that is adverse to military organizations like the Air Force. Such organizations require cohesion and trust, which is why when I became an Army officer in 1977, the “Officer’s Guide,” the bible (so to speak), on all the customs and etiquette for being a good officer, stated a rule that an officer should avoid discussions of politics and religion on duty and off with colleagues and subordinates. I expect that this policy will be changed by this morning as both the DoD General Counsel’s and Air Force General Counsel’s office know that the Justice Department will not defend this loser in Federal Court.

  38. lounsbury says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    Actually your conclusion is flawed in that money spend cannot explain 60+ years sustained competitive advantage in the Air.

    Primo, I was commenting on current events, but Secondu, this is a bald assertion – I see no reason why spending can not in fact explain a presumed X decades advantage. It might not as an empirical fact, but there is no particular reason on evidence to say it can not.

    Spending could explain a short term advantage (See New York Yankees) but not a now 2 generation advantage.

    Again, an assertion without any sign of grounding in empiricism – merely an opinion erected as fact. USA has massively outspent all other nations on the planet – indeed since the Soviets no one has been even pretending to try to keep up with this spending.

    This type of run can only be explained by intellectual capital and talent which yields innovation in technology, strategy and tactics.

    Another assertion, with numerous unexamined assumptions, most notably that spending is some how not fundamental to the attraction and maintenance of human capital. That would be a most peculiar assumption given the history of technology (ex-sacred Air Power) rather teaches otherwise.

    Our Air Power is the reason we havent seen large force on force conflicts like WW1 and 2. I get the feeling that people conflate despising this great tool we’ve built with the foreign policy in which the tool is used. That’s a mistake.

    I really don’t care either way, about your “great tool” or the dubious assertion regarding air power being “The Reason” for lack of wold wars à la WWII (unless somehow one is folding nuclear weapons into air power).

    My observation was simply that your assertion grounding the reason for American air dominance in a specific branching structure was strange and unfounded as it presumed a competition that simply hasn’t existed in decades – no one else is trying to play your game.

    Yes, rather clear you are most enamoured of air power in the classic General Mitchell fashion. Super. Your assertions are those of a kind of ideologue and simply are not following logically.

    I note again, I haven’t any specific opinion about the advantage or disadvantage of having a specific air force, merely that to assert that it is the explanation ipso facto of American air superiority is borderline bizarre given for decades – Cold War and yet more so post-Cold War – you have spent on your strategic forces, as memory serves, more than the next top ten spenders combined.

    I’m sure as a True Believer you will come up with some rambling response, but really…. the special thing about USA in air power is you’re spending more than the rest of the planet on it. Americans would have to be grotesquely, insanely and unprecedentedly incompetent not to have an advantage. Particularly when no one, again, since the Sovs has bothered to compete.

  39. Pharoah Narim says:

    @lounsbury: Rambling??….lol Im not going to bother responding to your essay except to point out that — You dismiss my opinions as mere assertions when your own original assertion as to outspending being the reason for US air dominance is also an assertion. How’s the sayings about correlation and causation and glass houses and stone throwing go again? I think were in agree to disagree territory. Cheers.

  40. lounsbury says:

    @Pharoah Narim:
    My original “assertion” regarding USA outspending everyone else and no one else spending for strategic air superiority nowadays is not assertion, it is empirical fact.

    It is rather self-evident that if no other country is attempting to achieve what USA is doing, then jingoistic assertions relative to the brilliance of your air doctrine or attribution to a specific forces structure as the reason for such are rather misplaced. Structure may or may not play a role, but since no one else is playing the game one cannot really tell.

    Very simply you have an ideological view and some chip on the shoulder re air power (whose efficacy or not was hardly the subject of the comment)

  41. Pharoah Narim says:

    @lounsbury: Seriously???? You cited the spending as the REASON for US Air superiority…which IS empirical. Now you try to play a switcheroo and say “Well US outspending everyone else is a FACT”! Well duuuhhhhhh…… I never challenged that. I challenged your use of that fact to weave an opinion into it. I’m finished debating you— amateur. This isn’t huffpo or Redstate…if you aren’t going to debate in good faith…those sites might better serve your purposes.

  42. HarvardLaw92 says:

    The “So Help me God” verbiage dates from at least 1962, in PL 87-751, and arguably earlier to the initial enactment of 10 USC 502 in the mid 1950s.

    It’s clearly, blatantly a violation of Article VI