Colonel Rett Benedict
The MOAA Catalina Mountains Satellite Chapter met February 20, 2016, at the Splendido at Rancho Vistoso. The speaker was General John A. Wickham (U.S. Army retired), a graduate of West Point, who was the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army under President Reagan. During his 37 year career he served in Vietnam, Germany, and Korea and was the Commander of the 101st Airborne Division and the United Nations Command.
General Wickham provided interesting insights about foreign affairs, specifically in regions that occupy current headlines – why the Sunni/Shia split, the origin and challenges of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State and how Russia’s history of being invaded affects their outlook on NATO. General Wickham emphasized the value of dialog with friends and adversaries alike as it is critical to understand where we can mitigate dangerous situations verbally and where we might have to make use of one of our most valuable resources, our military personnel. This latter point is one he understands very well having suffered major wounds during the Vietnam War, to the point that he was read his last rites.
In spite of many negative headlines on the trouble spots in the Middle East and elsewhere, General Wickham sees some good signs on the horizon. Our emphasis on degrading the sources of funds for ISIS seems to be paying off and there are indications of disillusionment on the part of new recruits. Furthermore, in Egypt, the government formed a panel of clerics and scholars to address reforms in Islam.
On national security, General Wickham emphasized a strong military posture and a convincing willingness to employ it, but that does not mean we need to always send troops. He noted that the Army has only about 50% of the personnel it had when he was Chief of Staff and that all the services have a major maintenance backlog that has to be dealt with. Furthermore, parts of our force structure are very old, for example the A-10 Warthog is 45 years old and needs a replacement for the ground support mission specifically.
Splendido hosted our meeting and provided tours of the facility for interested members of our group. It was an excellent luncheon in a very comfortable environment.
Our next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, March 19, 2016, at 11:30 a.m. in the East Room, MountainView Country Club. The planned speaker will be L/C Rick Felker from the Pima Air Museum. Spouses are welcome and invited.
For additional information, contact Colonel Rett Benedict, President, 825-7424, [email protected] or Colonel Tom Owens, MOAA Tucson President, 760-3476, [email protected] Check our website www.tucsonmoaa.com for information.
The Catalina Mountains satellite is part of the Tucson Chapter and encompasses North West Tucson to include Catalina, Oracle, parts of Oro Valley and Marana, SaddleBrooke and Sun City.
The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) is a nonprofit veterans service association dedicated to maintaining a strong national defense and to preserve the earned entitlements of members of the uniformed services and their families and survivors.