May 2006
By Alan W. Dowd

His and Hers Bombers
It only makes sense that a history-making warplane would have a history-making crew. In what Air Force News labeled a “historical first,” Rob and Beth Makros have been assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri—home of the vaunted B-2 Stealth Bomber.

The husband-and-wife pilot team are both captains in the Air Force. Both graduated from the Air Force Academy, and both have served in combat during the war on terror. However, they have flown different aircraft to prepare for their B-2 service. Rob had flown F-15E Strike Eagles, while Beth had specialized in B-1 Bombers.  

Their aircraft specialties usually kept them on different bases—until now. By July, the pilot tandem will be based together at Whiteman. “The 509th Bomb Wing is fortunate to gain two superbly talented aviators who will now become part of an elite team that can deliver mass, precision and stealth—anytime, anywhere,” said Lt. Col. Steve Moulton, commander of the 349th Combat Training Squadron. 

Capt. and Capt. Makros tell Air Force News that they plan to fly the B-2 for three to five years.  

On the Water Front
Before your next purchase of bottled water, the Earth Policy Institute wants you to think about another liquid that’s almost as essential to everyday life: oil.  

A new study by EPI tallies the hidden costs of the global bottled-water craze, including the sobering fact that America’s demand for bottled water “requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 cars for a year.” Other eye-opening facts uncovered by EPI include:

-At as much $10 per gallon, bottled water costs more than gasoline.

-Bottled water consumption has doubled in the last six years. Predictably, America chugs the most, followed by Mexico, China, Brazil, Italy and Germany.

-In the US and other parts of the developed world, bottled water is often no healthier than tap water, but it can cost up to 10,000 times more.

- Only 14 percent the water bottles used in the US are recycled; the rest become garbage.

-According to EPI, the rapid growth in the bottled-water industry is draining water reserves from communities that produce bottled water. “Water shortages near beverage bottling plants have been reported in Texas and in the Great Lakes region.”

Find out more at http://www.earth-policy.org/.

Mission in Progress
After his latest trip to Iraq, Karl Zinsmeister of the American Enterprise Institute issued yet another report from the front. As usual, the report includes information we seldom hear on the evening news.

-By the end of 2005, per capita income in Iraq was up more than 30 percent from 2004. Not surprisingly, Iraq’s GDP is expected to grow by 17 percent by the end of 2006.

-Iraqi parents, by a margin of three to one, say education is better than before the war.

-Research polling conducted by Oxford Research International revealed that 71 percent of Iraqis say life is “good;” more than half say that “life is already better for them than it was under Saddam;” and 61 percent say security is good in their area.

-There are 44 Iraqi commercial TV stations and 72 commercial radio stations. In 2003, there were none.

-There are 200,000 Iraqi security forces in uniform (and counting). One quarter of all operations in Iraq are carried out by units comprised only of Iraqis. Another half are being carried out joint US-Iraqi units.

As a contributing editor to The American Legion, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.