2016 Speaker SeriesForeign PolicyNational DefensePat Testerman

SYNOPSIS of “Reversing America’s Decline”, Lt. Col. Testerman (March 8, 2016)

This evening’s talk and discussion, “Reversing America’s Decline”, was an inspirational event.  Several times during the presentation the truth of the statement of the Founding Father John Adams came to mind:

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. “  Afterward, Lt Col Testerman agreed that that quote did indeed accurately parallel much off his assessment of the current decline of our nation and military.

Honored guests of this event included two men from MMIA.  We urge our ICON friends to look this group up and participate in their efforts to help veterans.  MMIA is acronym for Military Missions in Action,   “Dedicated to assisting veterans with disabilities, members of the Armed Forces, and their families.” www.militarymissionsinaction.org.  Their periodic publication is titled “After Action Report”.  This organization is a LOCAL, North Carolina organization, and almost every penny of donations goes to services for veterans and their families.  It was highly recommended by Lt Col Testerman and also by other retired members of the Armed Forces who support ICON programs.

Lt Col Testerman introduced the talk by recognizing the veterans in the audience and welcoming home all Viet Nam veterans, also commenting on his regret that the Viet Nam veterans had not received suitable welcomes at their return.  His topic this evening was Virtuous Leadership.

In the US, we are deeply and abundantly blessed.  It is to be recognized that all blessings come from God, especially those of liberty and security.  Our nation is now gravely threatened, and has also been threatened in the past.  As in the past, the nation’s men must stand in her defense.  Success in defense requires virtuous leadership. This being an election year, we have an opportunity to choose virtuous leaders.

In exercising national power and defending the nation, there have been four core instruments.  The acronym DIME stands for Diplomacy, Information/Intelligence, Military, and Economy. 

Diplomacy:  Failures of virtuous leadership have led to turning against allies including Israel and Ukraine.  By appeasing our enemies and non-allies we have become a laughing stock such that our allies mistrust us and our enemies scoff.  In 2002, Testerman visited Lithuania on an official military mission during which President Bush assured the Baltic States that they no longer stood alone.  A senior Lithuanian Air Force officer was overcome with emotional gratitude, believing that because of US backing the repeated invasions of Lithuania of the past could no longer occur.   Now, 2015, the Lithuanian government has widely distributed a manual for the entire population on behavior during the next invasion: “What We Need to Know; How to Act in Extreme Situations of Instances of War”.  There is no longer trust that safety is conferred by a relationship with the US.

Information/Intelligence:. Our population is not exhorted to sacrifice or support a national effort toward defense.  During WWII we sold war bonds and the general population helped widely and enthusiastically.  Currently, much of the intelligence efforts are directed against our own population, and we are unable to protect even the most highly classified of national documents and information.

Military:  Already before 9/11, our military had declined in manpower by over 30% compared with the 1980s.  Since then deep attrition of personnel and equipment has continued.  Testerman read off a very long list of geographic places where US forces are deployed.  Deployment rates are way up, and numbers of personnel way down such that back-to-back deployments are very common, and men in their 20s commonly have had three or more deployments to war zones, often without interval periods to refit, retrain, and reconnect with their families.  Military personnel and their families are being sacrificed to idols of national comfort.  Meanwhile, 22 veterans PER DAY are committing suicide.  Rules of engagement prioritize excessive avoidance of collateral damage at the cost of greatly increased rates of our own casualties, and death among our personnel has deteriorated morale.  Many important goals have been futile or impossible given current rules of engagement.  Along with dangerous rules of engagement, active forces also face leadership that suffers from a lack of clarity of goals.  Both of these (rules of engagement and lack of goals) cause deterioration of unit morale.

He described a recent event in Marjah, Helmand province Afghanistan when soldiers were wounded during a mission.  It took over 19 hours for nearby forces to rescue the wounded because of the fear of collateral damage of the timid NATO commander.  Units in the armed forces which fight knowing that their own leaders do not intend fully to support them seldom are able to mount an efficient much less an optimal effort.  This and other similar military actions have gone unreported by our press and media, and consequently the public is hardly aware that the US currently has fighting forces in that area.

In the current military, criticism by military personnel of leadership or policy is severely punished.  Military leaders and personnel have a choice of dissenting or accepting, and in this administration dissention leads to a quick dismissal.  Examples appear to be Generals Ham and Petraeus.  Accordingly, the President and his administration are not held accountable by the military for failures, and Congress has shown no skill or wish to hold the executive branch accountable.  This has left the serving military without its usual support from the public, from elected representatives, or from their own senior officers.

Economy: The final instrument of national power has been our robust economy.  However, we have damaged our control over this force by incurring such a massive debt that our grandchildren will still be heavily burdened.  Incurring such a debt outside wartime has not been in our previous history.  Now, we have had 25 years of unremitting and undeclared warfare and deployments.  Our military is at war, but our civilians are not.  With undeclared war, there is no draft, nor war bonds.  Civilians are barely involved economically while emotionally are also detached.  Instead of a wartime population ready and willing to sacrifice for national goals and safety, we have crony capitalism from this administration.  The economy is further strangled by mounting regulations.  See the investigative report by Ann McElhinney “Frack Nation”.


We must raise up leaders to be constitutional and virtuous leaders.  The powers of personal and national strength must line up as moral, ethical, and legal convictions and habits in our leaders.  Their responses to challenges must be based on practiced virtue.

The elements of virtuous leadership as practiced in the real world are based on:

  • The Right.  God’s will must be perceived and practiced.  It must be understood that there is a reality to God’s will for human behavior.
  • The Legal.  Society’s laws must conform to God’s and be observed.
  • The Ethical and Moral.  These internal structures must be strong and foundational.

These elements must all be present in the entire population in order to produce virtuous leaders.

Where will we find virtuous leaders?  Right where we have always found them.  We must develop our own children as future leaders.  Everyone must help, mentor, and support our young to develop in virtuous directions.  In their adulthood they will inherit the currently corrupted situations and will have to deal with them.  It is not fair, but that is what will happen.  We must help them meet the challenges wherever we find them, such as 4H clubs, Boy Scouts, and so forth.  All these youth groups that have instilled virtue into earlier generations are now under attack and NEED our help, so help them!

Reagan said that our leaders come from where we have always found them.  They are the product of the freest society man has ever known, and our own birthright.

The Question and Answer session was vigorous.

Q:  Are groups in the military organizing to oppose the destruction of our armed forces?  A:  Yes, to a considerable extent.  See “Special Operations Speaks”.

Q: What proportion of our population serves in the military now?  A:  One half of one percent, which is one person in every 200 general population.

Q: Does he favor a draft?  A: He favors some sort of national service.  Asked if he worries that national service will just be another opportunity to proselytize youngsters, he said that that is a possibility to defend against.

Q:  A student asked what she should be doing. A: Work toward these goals from every opportunity that she finds, which will be at every aspect of her life.

Q: Should the US be in undeclared warts, given how chaotic wars are.  A: Undeclared wars are unconstitutional and our wars should only happen with the full support and investment of the entire nation.

THANK you for participating, and please be sure to watch our website for information on future programs.

Watch Video of the lecture