James Byrd was among the bus load of invited visitors to check out the hulking C-130's at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. This was part of the 61st annual National Security Forum, a chance for guests to see how the military works and exchange ideas.
Byrd is a state representative from Wyoming and one component of the forum surprised him.
"I didn't realize there would be so many colonels and majors in this program," Byrd said.
Inside the War College, Major General Brian Bishop was quite candid about the potential military cuts coming down the pike, cuts that could impact Maxwell-Gunter, which has been staple in central Alabama for decades. There are 5,000 military and civilian personnel at Maxwell-Gunter.
"What the Air Force is trying to do is certain career fields are undermanned and certain career fields are overmanned, so we're trying to balance that and make sure we have the right manning levels," Bishop said.
There is another military issue that just won't go away.
"I can't begin to tell you why sexual assaults are a problem. I've never had an issue myself, but again it's not just a military issue but a societal one as well," Lt. Colonel Stacy Craig said.
Far beyond the secure gates of Maxwell is the toxic situation in Ukraine.
"That potential conflict to spill over into allied territory is very real," said Dr. Mark Conversino, Dean of Academics at the War College.
Conversino has no idea at this point whether we're in for another Cold War. What is clear at the moment is the relationship between Russia and the United States has become chilly.
For now it's warm and inviting on the tarmac for people like James Byrd who is learning how the big wheels turn in the American military in the 61st annual National Security Forum.
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