All posts by Patty Evans

When Pride Becomes Folly

  • By Jeff Saperstein

Special Commentary for the National Security Forum

This year marks the 100th anniversary of US entry in WW1, which claimed 116,000 American lives during just one year of combat. The “Great War” is mostly forgotten, but there may be an important lesson for today: it is not just how does a war begin, but how and when it ends that may matter most.

Human conflict and war is as old as recorded history. Glorified in Homer’s Iliad (Helen of Troy, the face that launched a thousand ships) to Joshua conquering the land of Canaan. War has been glorified.

Today, most of us have a different attitude. We have learned that armed conflict may sometimes be necessary, but for us glory is neither the purpose nor reward. War technology and weaponry of war has made the consequences of unrestricted conflict immeasurably more destructive. We hope conflict the US engages in become a means to end a conflict, or targeted to eliminate implacable foes dedicated to our destruction, rather than unconditional surrender of one nation winning, while the other totally loses in humiliation.

WWI is mostly remembered as a set of mistakes that triggered a war few wanted, but alliances among countries in Europe ensnared them into a war that commenced in August, 1914 and was supposed to end quickly as did the previous Franco-Prussian War of 1871. However, much had changed in the forty plus years of limited conflict by cavalry and cannon.
Between August and December 1914 France alone lost more than 300,000 soldiers killed. The industrialized machinery of war had enabled unprecedented murder. So if the European countries had blundered into such a war, why did they not stop after several months? Why did the war go on for four years, resulting in twenty million men losing their lives, until the 1918 Armistice?

The English poet Wilfred Owen, who lost his life in battle in 1918, voiced the cynicism of the era; he participated in what seemed like a never ending, meaningless conflict in trench warfare that not only destroyed much of Europe’s youth, but poisoned the belief in their ethos and culture. His words in “The Parable of the Old Man and the Young” still have power and resonance:

 “So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron, But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps, and builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son, And half the seed of Europe, one by one.”So “the Ram of Pride” is the folly that can protract wars beyond any hope for gain.Each generation of Americans since that War have been engaged in major conflict that defined their respective eras. For my generation, the Vietnam War was such a conflict like WWI that split the nation. Many who opposed the war believed that the war was both ill-founded and unwinnable. Good men were sacrificing their lives not for our national safety, but for our national pride.Lyndon Johnson famously said, I do not want to be the first President to lose a war, while his friend Senator Russell Long advised, “Declare Victory and get the hell out of there”.One of the few Western Democracies who has experienced similar trans-generation conflict is Israel. In the brief 70 years of its existence every generation has fought multiple wars. The average Israeli man today may have fought in four separate conflicts. With reserve duty for 30 years after the three years of compulsory military service, it is not unusual for everyone to have seen active combat.

So perhaps we can gain some insight in the transformation of one of Israel’s great warriors, Ariel Sharon. Feared by Israel’s enemies and beloved by the soldiers under his command. As a military leader he was often brutally effective, but as a statesman he became wise. He famously said of conflict with the Palestinians, “Let’s do what we have to do, but let’s not do more than we have to do.”

Similarly, Colin Powell, during the first Iraq conflict  “Desert Storm”, labelled his doctrine as defined specific objectives with overwhelming force, knowing what the limited end game is intended to be and stopping when it is achieved.

It is with hope and pride that I see the current generation of American military leadership in Generals Mattis, McMaster, Petraeus, and others who have emerged from long conflicts to be both strategic and competent to use American force carefully, and with forethought to action, consequence and realistic outcome.

Let’s hope moving forward that the follies of past conflicts that should have ended, but for the Ram of Pride, will be lessons learned by American leaders who may need to put our soldiers in harms way, but judiciously.

Jeff Saperstein is a Marin-based Career Coach and University Lecturer in Communications. He is an NSF member and contributor.

Summary of the presentation on….

“A Looming Global Debt Crisis?”


Dr. Jerry O’Driscoll


CATO Institute Senior Fellow and former Vice President at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, Jerry O’Driscoll, addressed the creeping crisis of rapidly rising government debt at all levels, and in many countries.  Jerry surveyed the growing debt that has observers of many industrialized countries deeply concerned.

In the United States, federal debt is at a 66-year high as a share of the economy. It is forecast to continue growing. Though varying by state, most have worrisome debt levels. This is especially true when one factors in unfunded pension obligations.

Dr. O’Driscoll stressed that as the burden of debt grows at all levels of government, more resources must be devoted to just servicing that debt.  That leaves fewer resources for investments that enhance productivity and stimulate economic growth.

In his presentation, Jerry included a number of graphs that starkly illustrated the rising challenge represented by soaring public debt.  It is so bad that the debt burden will at least partially offset any estate a person may be planning on leaving. The soaring public debt at all levels also imposes a serious, rising burden on younger Americans.

In the Q&A period, O’Driscoll was asked to differentiate between debt held at the national, state, and local government entities.  Only the federal government has the option to print more money, which the United States and most other countries have been doing for some time. This practice has not lead to a commensurate rise in lending, but has created a risk of inflation.

As O’Driscoll pointed out, politicians can’t agree on what steps to take to address the crisis.  Thus, entitlement programs, compensation for government employees, and, especially, rapidly rising healthcare costs are leading U.S. government entities to the verge of insolvency. However, O’Driscoll reluctantly concluded that until a real crisis occurs; e.g. the collapse of a major city or state, it is unlikely that anything will be done.

Local and state governments need to take the first step of a “12-step program” and admit they have a problem.  Until they do, not much will change.

A number of questions related to China, which on the one hand is a major holder of US. debt and on the other itself is increasingly assuming a greater debt burden.  O’Driscoll noted that as the Chinese economy slows, leaders have resorted to the “tried and true” method of simply issuing more debt and printing more money.  It is becoming more difficult to maintain economic growth with these strategies.  O’Driscoll was also asked if China used debt as a weapon.  “Yes”, he replied, but noted that on the other hand the United States in a way has “China over a barrel” because China owns so much of our debt!

Dr. O’Driscoll was asked if he were Trump’s economic czar, what would he recommend doing to reign in the national debt. The first step he said would be to mandate a balanced budget!  And in doing so he said this meant reigning in spending on the major outflow categories– healthcare, defense, and social security.  He recommended attendees look at the CATO Institute website titled, Downsizing Government (here is the link:

Surveying the international scene, O’Driscoll said several countries were on the verge of serious financial crisis, including Venezuela and Italy. Venezuela is closer to a debt crisis, but Italy is by far the larger economy. Should these economies be unable to service their debts, there could be a ripple effect that will negatively impact the global economic order.

Attendees agreed that Dr. O’Driscoll’s presentation was informative and enlightening, but it was anything but upbeat! His PowerPoint slides are attached.

Dr. Tyrus W. Cobb

Please save the dates for these very timely and certainly provocative discussions….




Dr. Eliot Assoudeh

The Ramada, Thursday, June 29, 2017, 9:00 a.m.

Iran’s population is one of the best educated in the world, and certainly in the Middle East. No wonder then that the ruling elite continues to struggle in its desire to impose an Islamic political culture and system following strict Shia dictates. And that the Mullahs face more serious confrontations outside of Iran, especially against the Sunni Muslim states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Persian Gulf Emirates.

Dr. Eliot Assoudeh will discuss internal Iranian political conflicts, with a focus on Ayatollah Khamenei’s dictate to impose a “Cultural Revolution” in Iran. Assoudeh, who just received his doctorate from UNR, will discuss Khamenei’s vision of “Cultural Engineering” in Iran, and compare that to President Rouhani’s role in this attempt to impose more religious discipline. And, what is the stance of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), as well as the Basij?

Please save the date for what will certainly be an interesting presentation and discussion! Dr. Assoudeh was born in Iran and speaks Farsi fluently. He has written and spoken extensively on Iran’s regional policies and what he describes as “Shia expansionism”.


The Nevada Terawatt Facility

Training Researchers in the Field of

High-Energy-Density Science


Dr. Aaron Covington

The Ramada, Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 9:00 a.m.

The Nevada Terawatt Facility (NTF) performs high quality research in the area of high-energy-density (HED) physics, the study of matter under extreme conditions of temperature and density.  It is one of the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Science Centers as part of the nuclear stockpile stewardship programs.

Located at the former Stead AFB, the NTF was established by UNR in 2000.  The primary focus of the NTF is to conduct research that focuses on the study and behavior of matter subject to conditions of extreme temperature and density.  This rapidly developing field explores the “4th state of matter”, called plasma, under conditions similar to those occurring in the interiors of stars, nuclear fusion reactors, and lightning bolts.  Dr. Covington will discuss the science behind the work of the NTF, as well as the very advanced pulsed-power generator and Leopard Laser that are two of the highly specialized tools needed to conduct these experiments.

Dr. Aaron Covington is the Director of the Terawatt Facility and is a professor in the Department of Physics at UNR. He has expressed a readiness to welcome members of the NSF, if there is interest, to come to the Terawatt facility to view the experiments first-hand.

Note: There will also be a program in August on the Cyber threat with Todd Shipley, and General John Abizaid will meet with the NSF to discuss the Ukrainian-Russian confrontation and developments in the Mideast on September 7. The General has been serving as a senior advisor to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and the Chief of Staff of the Ukraine military.

No need to RSVP now. Please just reserve these dates.


OPLAN 5015: 

America’s Opening Break Shot in Korea

– by Col. Michael Haas, (USAF, ret.)
Special Analysis for the National Security Forum

“If this goes to a military solution, it’s going
to be tragic on an unbelievable scale.” 


Secretary of Defense James Mattis

                                        2 June 2017, interview in Seoul, Korea

Prologue:  As in both billiards and war, the opening break shot into the pyramid of balls–targets–is intended to create chaos.  So, too, in both these activities, the edge goes to the competitor taking the break shot.

The U.S. and the Republic of Korea (ROK, or simply South Korea), have long agreed to a combined, defensive response to a North Korean attack.  The current agreement is titled “Operations Plan 5015 (OPLAN 5015),” and is heavily classified as one would expect.  Still, small bits of the plan have reached the public domain.  And it does appear the latest version adds a new wrinkle:  The concept of a preemptive attack on North Korea.

Which begs the obvious question, just what would a U.S.-ROK preemptive attack look like?  Accepting the daunting challenge from our NSF Director–to answer this complex question in a mere nine hundred or less words–your author takes a crack at the most-likely aspects of OPLAN 5015 in the preemptive mode.

We begin with a succinct look at North Korea’s strategy, then its order-of-battle (OB) forces.  Thence how OPLAN 5015 might counter them. As for its strategy, the North Koreans have their own version of OPLAN 5015.

Theirs is a ‘two front war’ with both fronts launched within hours of each other.  The more conventional front (‘One Blow Non-stop Attack’), consists of a massive hammer blow against the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two countries.  Making up for its lack of creativity is the sheer brutality of its overwhelming artillery, infantry and armor attacks.  So too, chemical attacks against key targets (e.g., Osan Air Base) will highlight this front.

Launched simultaneously or more likely hours in advance, the second–unconventional warfare–front will create massive disruption and confusion in South Korea’s rear areas.  Thousands of North Korean Special Forces infiltrating by air and sea, as well as ‘sleeper’ agents already in South Korea will foment this disruption.  Wildcard:  North Korean attacks on U.S. bases in Japan?  With favorable circumstances, Pyongyang’s leadership believes they may achieve victory in a month.

To execute this strategy, North Korea counts on four formidable weapons: (1) The world’s fifth largest army (2) 200,000+ politically indoctrinated and well-equipped Special Forces (3) Ballistic missile forces and (4) Cyber commands with advanced sophistication.  Taking them in this sequence, we return to OPLAN 5015.

America’s high-tech military suffers a painful history of losing post-WWII guerrilla wars to sandal-clad opponents.  But this outcome has invariably stemmed from this asymmetric form of warfare presenting few targets upon which our war machine can focus its overwhelming firepower (not to mention an appalling lack of civilian political astuteness).

A lack of vulnerable ground targets should not be a problem with much of North Korea’s million-strong army marching southward in the open.    As for fleeting, ‘pop-up’ targets (e.g., mobile artillery), the U.S. possesses a ready answer:  Its fleet of MQ-9 Reaper, MQ-1 Predator, and the stealth RQ-170 drones, all maintaining a persistent presence overhead likely targets.

As a bit of perspective, North Korea’s Special Forces outnumber those of the entire U.S. Special Operations Command, by at least a 4:1 margin.  Likely dressed in civilian attire or South Korean military uniforms and obviously speaking Korean, these ‘rear area disruption forces’ pose an extremely dangerous threat.  Thus, the solution to this threat lies in the only sources that can possibly deal with it:  The ROK military and police.  U.S. bases in South Korea will likely have to fend for themselves as obvious targets.

OPLAN 5015 will have the fixed-site air defense and control sites targeted by both air and sea, before a preemptive strike is undertaken.  So too, the stealth B-2 and F-22 aircraft overhead will put a serious dent in mobile platforms; particularly if it proves feasible for Special Operations to place strategic reconnaissance teams on high terrain. With North Korean air defenses rendered negligible, U.S. and ROK non-stealth F-15, F-16, F-18 aircraft will deal effectively with the North Korean Air Force and Navy.

North Korea’s cyber capabilities are assessed as formidable.  ROK computer systems are more likely vulnerable than are U.S. systems; both electronically and of course physically.  We can only rely on the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), as well as whatever offensive cyber-capabilities possessed by the NSA and CIA, to deal with this digital snake-pit.

The U.S. and ROK militaries have the capabilities to take an effective opening break shot.  And ‘probably’ deal with North Korea doing the same to them. But not since World War One would a conflict begin with such uncertainty regarding ‘unintended consequences.’

Which reduces this entire drama to one question to which our dysfunctional political leaders in Washington had better find the right answer:  Which is worse, war in Korea today, or taking our chances with an ICBM-equipped, nuclear armed North Korea tomorrow?

Col. Michael Haas, USAF, ret., served in numerous Army and Air Force Special Operations commands during his dual-service career.  His Pentagon tour included assignments to the Air Staff (Strategy Division) and the Defense Intelligence Agency.  HIs published works include In the Devil’s Shadow:  UN Special Operations during the Korean War.  He is a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School.

Meet Patty Evans the new Executive Director

Meet Patty Evans

Executive Director, the National Security Forum

We are very pleased to welcome Patty Evans, who assumes the recently established position of Executive Director of the National Security Forum. The NSF has grown considerably in the past few years, with more meetings, more commentaries, more members and participants, and, of course, more administrative requirements.

Patty is a perfect hire for this position. She is an accomplished professional who has successfully managed large projects and major organizations for several years. Patty began her career in bank data processing in 1973 for First National Bank of Nevada, now Wells Fargo Bank.  She progressed over a 16- year period to the position of Assistant Vice President and Operations Manager of the Reno data center.

Following her career at the bank Patty worked for 26 years at Renown Health where she held several roles.  Most notably she served as the Chief Information Officer,  Process Improvement Administrator and Construction Administrator. With Renown, Patty focused on major IT project management, process improvement and construction management. When Renown completed the construction of the newest tower project, Patty was asked to assume the responsibility for running the Construction Department of the entire Renown Health organization.  This meant she was responsible for all construction projects throughout the entire Renown integrated health network.

In January 2016 Patty retired from Renown Health and has enjoyed spending time with her young grandson, and traveling, car racing and golfing with her friends and husband. Yes, with an emphasis on golf! And that’s right—car racing! She is a licensed pilot, car races with the Sports Car Club of America, and, by the way in case you ever need her help, she won the Nevada State Masters Powerlifting Championship!

Here is a link to a TV interview with Patty on her car racing activities:

Please join me in welcoming Patty Evans as the NSF’s first Executive Director!

James Megquier, MD

Chair of the Board, the National Security Forum