The Novi Post
by David Staudt



Thoughts on National Security

February 6th, 2007

From January 30 - February 1, I was honored to participate in the Air War College National Security Forum Alumni Outreach Program held at MacDill Air Force Base.  As a 2001 Alumni of the Air War College National Security Forum, I was selected as one of 18 individuals from around the country to be updated on current Air Force and Department of Defense issues and provided the opportunity to share our ideas and opinions with some of the top military leaders in the War on Terror.

The Air War College National Security Forum

Each year the Air War College (AWC), a senior military service school located at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, hosts the National Security Forum (NSF).  The Secretary of the Air Force sponsors the forum.  NSF began in 1954 as an expansion of the Civilian Outreach Seminars held from 1947 through 1949.  The Forum has been conducted each consecutive year since 1954.  The purpose of the NSF is to expose influential American civilians to the United States Armed Forces in order to gain an appreciation for each other's perspectives.  It's an opportunity for the AWC students, our future military leaders, to interact with a broad cross-section of civilian leaders from businesses, universities, industry, media, law, the clergy, and state and local governments.  On average, about 120-130 guests attend the NSF each year.

The primary objective of the NSF is a frank and candid exchange of views on national security matters among our invited guests, Air War College students, and senior military and civilian leaders. The week is devoted to exploring the many issues that affect the current and future security of our country.  Historically, the NSF occurs at the end of the school's academic year and lasts four and one-half days.

Objectives of the NSF

1.      To provide a privileged forum in which authorities on various aspects of national security may discuss their views with students, faculty of the AWC and invited guests.

2.      To provide an extended opportunity for free and candid dialogues on national security issues among the college's students, faculty, and guests.  Guests represent a diverse group of American citizens drawn from many fields of American life and endeavor.

3.      To enable distinguished American civilians and prospective future leaders of America's armed forces to get to know one another in the interest of broadened perspectives and mutual understanding.

4.      To increase our guests' knowledge of national security issues and expose them to our professional military education system.

Air War College National Security Forum Alumni Outreach Program

During the three day program, briefings included “Fourth Generation Warfare” by Vice Admiral David Nichols, Deputy Commander, US Central Command (CENTCOM), “Global War on Terror Update from a Special Operations Command Perspective” by Major General David Scott, USAF, Deputy Director, Center for Special Operations, United States Special Operations Command (USSOC), “Air Force Horizons” by Lt. General Steve Lorenz, Commander of the Air University and former Commandant of the Air Force Academy, and “Arabs and the Middle East” by Dr. David Sorenson of the Air War College.  In addition to the briefings, we were given a tour of MacDill Air Force Base by Colonel Tim Smith, Vice Commander, 6th Air Mobility Wing.  The tour included meeting with an air crew and an escorted tour of a KC-135 Tanker. 

Briefings generally included a slide presentation and an extended period for questions and answers.  While the briefings themselves were not of a classified nature, a non-attribution policy was in place for the NSF that does not allow me to quote specific presenters directly. 

Almost as important as the briefings was the opportunity to have diner and interact with some of the most remarkable, humble and distinguished leaders in our military.  Major General Dave Scott is Deputy Director of the Center of Special Operations, an organization that plans, synchronizes and executes special operations in the conduct of the Global War on Terrorism in order to disrupt, defeat and destroy terrorist networks that threaten the United States, its citizens and interests worldwide. 

When I met Dave at a reception held in our honor by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, he introduced himself and we had a chance to chat for nearly 45 minutes.  We discussed everything I could think of, including Donald Rumsfeld, how he perceived the Presidents he served under, the role of television in modern warfare, his career in the military as a C-130 pilot delivering Special Operations forces worldwide and his current role in the war on terrorism.  I never felt he was anything but forthcoming and honest in his responses.  I walked away in awe of his service to our county and his professional demeanor. 

Another individual I spent a lot of private time with was Major General Steve Miller, the Commandant of the Air War College.  A command pilot, Steve has logged more than 2,800 flying hours in F-15 fighter aircraft.  If ever there was a role model for the Air Force fighter pilot, Steve epitomized it.  He attended every event with the Outreach Program participants and always treated each of us as a very special guest.  While on duty, Steve wore his squadron colors tucked neatly into the front of his jumpsuit.  As we moved around the base, he took every opportunity to speak with the enlisted personnel and ask them about their families, their role in the military and encouraged them to continue to their career.  This is a man that you would trust with your life and be honored to call a friend. 

Some of the more fascinating information from the briefings includes the follows: 

§         The traditional battle field has been replaced with a non-linear “battle space”.  Our enemies exploit the seams and attack wherever there is vulnerability.  Media has become “terrain” and information has become a main line operation.

§         The current cost of occupation in Iraq is $12 billion dollars per month and we may need to remain in the region for the next 25 to 50 years.

§         US military leadership suggests that Osama Bin Laden and Iran become less a focal point on the Global War on Terror.  Focusing on them does more harm than good.

§         Iran's President Ahmadinejad is becoming increasingly unpopular at home and will likely be told to “sit down and shut-up” by the Assembly of Experts of Iran.

§         Special operations forces are facing exposure in the media and it is making their ability to conduct covert operations more difficult and dangerous.

§         Many military bases are provided with an 11 month budget to cover utility costs are required to figure out how to reduce expenses to live within that budget.

§         Shortly after 9/11, three women stood on Bayshore Boulevard, outside MacDill Air Force Base on Friday afternoons and waved American flags.  They called themselves the Bayshore Patriots, and continue to do so to this day.

§         All 600 operating KC-135 Stratotankers were built between 1955 and 1964 and are not anticipated to be replaced for at least 20 years! These tankers are essential to operational readiness and national security. 

Participating in the Air War College in 2001 and the recent NSF Outreach Program are among the most memorable things I have done in my life.  I will never forget the lessons learned, the truly remarkable military leaders that touched my life even briefly and the relationships I developed as the result of these programs. 

Recently, after a presentation from the Library Board, Novi City Council voted 6-0 (Council Member Margolis was on vacation and had a letter of strong support read into the record) to move forward with a request to place a $16 million bond on the November ballot. There is only a single message I want to share at this point. Show your support for the current proposal and vote YES on the bond proposal in November.


With elections only a few months away, I have not yet heard of any candidates who have filed for the School Board election.  I have also heard very little about the bond proposal the School Board is going to present to the residents.  Should residents approve a bond for adult education and elementary school improvements?  It might be a very tough sell this year.

With a new Geographic Information System interactive mapping portal, visitors to the City of Novi’s website at can get a bird’s eye view of any property or location of interest.  I don’t know about you, but the amount of information now available on nearly every property parcel in our City makes me a little nervous.  Anybody can find the exact location of nearly anybody living in our community.  Want to know how much your neighbor paid for their house, where the Detroit Lion players and there families live or how much property tax City Council members pay, just go to the Cities website and it is all there for our preying eyes.  I guess that is the price we pay for progress.

Kudos to Mayor Dave Landry for his State of the City speech.  I saw it twice and it was well done and came from the heart.  I hope he chooses to run for another term as our Mayor.  He has accomplished a great deal and has much more to offer.

Happy retirement to two outstanding City of Novi employees, Jack Lewis, Deputy Director of Parks & Recreation, and our Library Director, Brenda Lussier.  They have both done great jobs for many years and I will miss working with both of them.  I hope they stay around as volunteers.


Finally, watch for yours truly on Cable Access Channel 13 doing a segment of my friend Celia Todd’s public interest show.  I cooked up several dishes (which the SWOCC crew devoured) and the segments will show during the next several months.  It was great fun and the recipes will be available on my website in the near future.



- Well done is better than well said.

Benjamin Franklin US author, diplomat, inventor, physicist, politician, & printer (1706 - 1790)

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