Netanyahu’s Dilemma; Drone Pilot Loss; White Roofs?

Chaos Manor View, Thursday, March 19, 2015


Despite all the US experts with their predictions of the end of Netanyahu, he won and will form a new government with even more personal power; and he did so by rejecting the two-state solutions, land for peace, that the West, and particularly President Obama has always counted on.

Netanyahu has no reason to consult the US about Iran policy now: whether it know it or not, the Obama regime is depending on good relations with Iran, trust and good will, and it seems unlikely that this will put any hamper on Iranian acquisition of nuclear capability. They will have a bomb no more than two years from when they decide to get one. What they do with it is unpredictable, although Obama predicts that they will do no worse than North Korea, see that they are impoverishing themselves, and turn into nice guys over a long period of time.

What Netanyahu predicts they will do is another story. The stakes are much higher for him. The men making the decisions in Iran are not reasonable in what they say. Some say that End Times are coming, when Jews will hide and the very rocks will cry out, ‘O Muslim there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’ After all, the Koran says that will happen, and the Supreme Leadership of Iran – and the Commander in Chief of the Praetorian Republican Guard – are Ayatollahs who have won their positions through scholarship of the Koran and their strict monotheism. They say they believe in the Koran. Obama says ‘not really.’ What Netanyahu, who controls the IDF Air Power believes they believe, and how much he is willing to risk Tel Aviv on the strength of his convictions; we also do not know is the IDF thinks it can end Iranian nuclear capability, and whether, absent US deep penetrators, it can be done without Israeli nuclear weapons I do not know. Nor, really, does Netanyahu. What he is sure of is that he does not have the 99% backing of the US that he once could count on.


The Internet – Time Warner Cable – slows or stops each afternoon around 4 lately.  DNS errors even trying to reach Google. Probably net neutrality as about then some downloads his night’s worth of porn.

I have LASFS tonight. I may have more at 1100.


: March 17th View

Belated Happy St. Pat’s day – hope you were able to celebrate with the appropriate beverage…
I have the feeling that I may be sticking something into a meat grinder, here – but I have a bit of a problem with “A law requiring white roofs everywhere in the US would make significant climate changes…”
A bit of Google-fu and a touch of key-punching to get a feel of what the difference just might be – and I come up with, at the very highest possible value, a 0.05% change in reflectivity. That is just taking the median size of single-family detached homes (2005 HUD), times the total number of housing units (total, not just SFDH), divided by total US acreage.
Obviously, missing the following:
1) Number of housing units that have nowhere near the 1,764 ft^2 “roofprint.” Live in a three story apartment building, and you probably don’t have that much footage – and only a third of the roofprint is yours.
2) Non-residential roofs. Some places that is significant, others it is not; I am making an assumption that the way over-stated figure for residential more than accounts for this.
3) Roofs that are already white – look at an aerial view of my city (Tucson) and dark roofs are few and far between. Eyeballing, I would say less than 1% of all roofs here are something other than white (or at least a light tan, depending on the recency of significant rain). Most other cities in the Southwest look much the same, except those that went crazy with tiles…
4) Roofs that are seasonally white, when they have just about the same reflectivity as anywhere else in their area.
5) The fact that the difference is not between 100% reflectivity for a (clean) white roof and 100% absorption for a “dark” roof (which vary widely from asphalt black to a very light color like many Spanish tile roofs). I really wouldn’t even know where to start with determining this factor; claims of the companies selling the coatings are, of course, the most optimistic possible.
6) And, of course, that a chunk of US total acreage is water (although much of that is seasonally white also).
The upshot is that I just do not see where the difference would be noticeable on a macro scale. Yes, it could be significant in a UHI where the change in reflectivity would be much greater – but get ten or twenty miles away from urbania and I think there would be essentially zero change in the climate.

Richard Skinner

I have not done the math myself but I have seen enough to offer a wager, that painting all the roofs white in the US would affect the temperature more than all our anti CO2 measures.

Your reply to my post concerning the heating of the environment misses something very important: even roof-top solar increases heat in the environment. Much of the solar energy that reaches the Earth’s surface is reflected back to space as visible light. It is the portion of that energy that is absorbed by the surface of the Earth that heats the environment, because much of that energy is released as infrared radiation, not visible radiation. Our atmosphere is largely transparent to visible radiation, so the reflected portion leaves the environment without a net increase in temperature. The absorbed portion, re-emitted as infrared, finds the atmosphere largely opaque and is reflected back to the surface, leading to a net heating of the environment.
Any solar radiation employed in energy production, weather collected on the ground using roof-top solar or in space by an SSPS would be dissipated into the atmosphere as infrared radiation and would therefore contribute to a net heating of the environment. All energy consumption ends with heat dissipation. Even intercepting a portion of the solar radiation that would ordinarily hit the Earth anyway would not alter this, but it would reduce the amount of visible light reaching the Earth. Do this on a significant scale and it would reduce crop yields, oxygen production, and CO2 cycling, which would not be good.
There is no “free lunch.” There is no way to make ANY energy production system have zero environmental impact. The system that comes closest is geothermal that taps into heat already being released into the environment, such as is used in Iceland. Second closest is mined geothermal, where wells are bored to heat water. All of the heat recovered would have entered the environment anyway, but not at the rate caused by the mining, thus leading to a net increase in environmental heating.
When I say we are smarter than that, I am saying that we can foresee such impacts and be honest about them. We can calculate their magnitude and possible impacts on the environment. We can then attempt to mitigate them before they are a problem, not wring our hands and shout at each other ineffectually as is happening now.

Kevin L Keegan

And perhaps this, but I am still willing to wager a good dinner for 6 that painting the roofs white will have more effect on the temperature than our current efforts.  It is also easier to undo.


Drone pilot exodus 


With respects to Col Couv, the AF leadership is “at a loss to explain” the RPA pilot exodus because they’re the ones causing it, and it has nothing at all to do with “real pilots” being disgruntled at driving a drone around. Rather, it has to do with a loss of trust and respect bottom to top in the USAF pilot force. The AF leadership sends drone pilots to be “deployed in place” flying continuous combat ops 6 days a week (12 hr shifts around the clock) for 3-5 years straight, then the leadership refuses to adjust the promotion system to account for the fact that almost every one of these officer and enlisted crew members has little to put on their promotion recommendation forms beyond “flew classified combat ops”. It took 15 years after the start of RPA ops before we had a “drone pilot” come back to be a squadron or wing commander out at Creech AFB, not for lack of good officers, but because for 15 years those good officers were passed over for promotion and command in favor of officers who had down time to pad their promotion recommendation forms and do something, anything, other than continuous combat ops.

We had a guy who was a squadron commander as a Major get passed over for Lt Col. That NEVER happens, but it did to a drone pilot. Any wonder why he quit? It wasn’t because he couldn’t fly real airplanes anymore.

To hammer home the point that USAF leadership is completely out of touch with what is going on in the trenches among RPA crews, they took a long look at the high suicide and mental illness rate among RPA crews and decided that the way to fix it was through a “resiliency training” program. Sounds great, but in practice what it means is that on what should otherwise be a weekend day off with family and away from our job of hunting and killing people every single duty day for 5 years (what do people think armed ISR means?), we have to spend that day doing a social activity with others from our squadron. Taking away my family time is supposed to somehow make me more resilient? What they need to do is acknowledge that these are no kidding deployed combat billets and relieve the crews from the garrison nonsense additional duties and training requirements, and let us get on with the job without pestering us with nonsense. And come up with a scheduled training, garrison, or leave rotation, to give people some real down-time like every other combat unit in the history of forever. We are finally starting to see signs of improvement in the performance reports and promotion rates now that we have a couple of commanders who have flown RPAs before assuming command, but for crying out loud show us a little support and take some of the garrison admin nonsense off our backs while we’re flying combat ops. Bagram air base in Afghanistan has better support facilities than the bare-base facilities at Creech AFB. Questions about support functions are universally answered with “there are no further services facility upgrades planned for Creech AFB”.

We just got word a month ago that almost everyone at Creech is getting their tours of duty extended from the usual 3 years to 5 or more years, with nowhere to go after an RPA instructor or non-flying staff job except back into the grinder doing the same thing. That is a dead end career path no matter how you look at it or where the pilot came from.

A recent survey of RPA pilot experience asked a series of questions regarding various topics including things like “how many combat actions have you actively participated in that directly resulted in the death of enemy combatants”, and “how many engagements have you witnessed or participated in that resulted in the death of enemy combatants”. I had to laugh when the top answer was only “50+”. I witnessed, enabled, directly supported, or directly participated in more than that in less than 6 months, watching the carnage up close through the best zoom lenses money can buy. 5 years of that plus actually deploying overseas for 4-6 months every 2 years in addition to the combat ops shift work without any down time, and we’re demeaned by the likes of Col Couv for being selfish and quitting because we throw tantrums due to not being in the cockpit? Flag officers get compensated in many different ways for accepting that sort of duty tempo and responsibilities, but we’re talking about E3-E7 and O1-O5 here. The ops tempo situation hasn’t changed but the AF has halted the “use or lose” leave extension program. That means we have a lot of people, myself included, who will lose leave at the end of this fiscal year due to carrying too many days of leave built up since we can’t actually take it due to ops tempo. Thanks again AF leadership.

That’s why there is an exodus. There is one more thing, regarding it being unnecessary to be a “pilot” to operate RPAs…

The Army has been experimenting for a couple of years now with non-pilots flying their drones around, through the use of improved automation. The last time I was watching they were still routinely crashing quite a few due to errors in simple pilot skills (like flying a perfectly good drone into a mountaintop). There is no way the USAF will accept that sort of casual loss due to lack of training. The RPA business is far too important (and the current crop of unmanned aircraft too difficult to fly) to leave it to those without the proper rigorous training. The Army seems to be ok with letting kids drive around expensive M-1 Abrams tanks knowing that they’ll occasionally flip one upside down into a ditch, so maybe its no wonder there is a huge service-specific cultural divide in opinion on how to approach such things.

Come on out for a tour of the simulators and see how hard it is to fly these things. Then you’ll be able to imagine a 2Lt with less than 200 hours experience being asked to perform the on-scene commander role for combat search and rescue without the benefit of the normal recurring 6-12 month home-station training periods a “real aircraft” squadron tasked for CSAR support (such as the A-10) gets. The MQ-9 does ISR, CAS, SCAR, CSAR support, direct fire support to anyone with a high enough tasking priority, and air interdiction, with no training cycle built into the program. Except for a select few instructors and crews, its just continuous combat ops after initial mission qualification training with any advanced skills and upgrades picked up on the job. Nobody has to do that but us and we’ve been doing it for more than a decade now with no change even remotely considered in the long term planning process. Last year we had enough enlisted sensor operators that we could have initiated a plan to rotate crews out for advanced training, to improve the long term quality and health of our enlisted RPA crew members. Instead, the USAF involuntarily separated the “extra” airmen who had the bad luck of having nothing but combat ops on their performance reports. Hence exodus.

There is no mystery here, just what feels like either callous neglect or malicious mis-management of the personal welfare and careers of the crews who fly the USAF’s most in-demand platform. Anyone who quits has a far better future ahead of them regardless of what they did before they started flying RPAs, and the sooner they quit the better their opportunities and family situation especially if they want to transfer to the USAF Reserves to continue serving.

Serving fighter pilot turned drone pilot





Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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