That pic is rather eerily and depressingly symbolic of the entire U.S. military and the entire U.S. itself, come to think of it.
Remember a few months back when Air Force Commissar Deborah James told Congress the following:
Also speaking at the hearing, about the Fiscal 2017 budget request for the military, Air Force [Commissar] Deborah James said half of her combat forces were not "sufficiently ready" for fighting against a country like Russia.
"Money is helpful for readiness but freeing up the time of our people to go and do this training is equally important," James said.
Earlier this month Air Force officials said they were facing a shortage of more than five hundred fighter pilots, a gap expected to widen to more than eight hundred by 2022. [emphasis added]
Consider the following a revision and extension of her remarks:
Draconian budget cuts on the nation's military by the Obama administration have taken such a toll that the U.S. Air Force needs four thousand service personnel to maintain its aircraft, seven hundred pilots to fly them — and members are now foraging for parts in a desert site called "The Boneyard."
In essence, a military aircraft cemetery, located in Arizona, where permanently decommissioned planes are sent because the Obamagon can't afford to destroy them.
"It's not only the personnel that are tired, it's the aircraft that are tired as well," Master Sergeant Bruce Pfrommer, who has worked on B-1 Lancer bombers for more than twenty years, told Fox News.
Pfrommer is stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, located about thirty-five miles from Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
He told Fox that only about half of the 28th Bomb Wing’s fleet of bombers could fly.
"We have only twenty aircraft assigned on station currently," he said. "Out of those twenty, only nine are flyable.
"The [B-1] I worked on twenty years ago had a thousand flight hours on it," he added. "Now, we're looking at some of the airplanes out here that are pushing over ten thousand flight hours. [emphases added]
The dismal, dangerous litany goes on. Captain Elizabeth Jarding, a Lancer pilot out of Ellsworth, says that bomber crew training time and resources have been cut in half over Obama's two terms. The Air Force has pink-slipped countless irreplaceable skilled personnel (whose replacements, even if there were any, would take a long time to train for their jobs, and the Air Force has cut way back on ALL training, remember?), and those few that have stuck it out, perhaps thinking, like many of us did, that there's no way Obama could possibly be re-elected four years ago, are worn down, demoralized, burned out, and frankly, hopeless:
"When I first came in seven years ago, we had six people per aircraft — and the lowest man had six or seven years of experience," Miller added. "Today, you have three-man teams and each averages only three years of experience."
Jarding said: "Honestly, from the perspective of an air crew member, the squadron is wiped out."
Now intersect this story with two others we've been tracking:
1) The fact that air power is about the only area in which the U.S. has appeared to retain even a slight military advantage over the Sino-Russian Axis. But if only half of our aircraft are flyable at any given time, then we effectively become outnumbered by the Russians and ChiComms almost two to one, and they have better, more modern, and better maintained fighters and bombers. And qualitative superiority is a multiplying factor of quantitative advantage.
2) Vladimir Putin does not respect us, does not fear us, and by this time fully expects to conquer us:
And when [the Russians used our warships and warplanes for war games target practice] again, then what? Putin knows we don't have the means or willingness to back up such a warning, just as he has no more respect for or fear of Trump than he does Obama. Is The Donald even capable of realizing that it might be a lot more complicated than "don't do it"?...
And how would a President Trump react to getting double-crossed and humiliated by Putin? I think we have a pretty good idea: some combination of impotent Trumpertantruming compounding our national embarrassment and an impulsive desire for revenge that could be, shall we say, dangerously destabilizing. [emphasis added]
....to us, because we would and do not have the means to back it up.
As Fandral said to Odin after the Dark Elf attack on Asgard, "We are all but defenseless". Precisely the sort of situation that calls for "firm, steadfast, steady, philosophically-informed and -reinforced leadership," not a volatile, witless oaf like Donald Trump.
The terminally frightening part is that there really are no better options. Hillary Clinton will continue the slow American decline until we collapse or are conquered; Trump would get us decimated all at once in a fit of wounded ego and braggadocious bluster.
As Volstagg said after being summoned by Heimdall, "We're doomed".
Enjoy the rest of your weekend, assuming we live through it.