Friday, May 31, 2024

Between Land and Sea: A Nonfiction Tom Clancy-type Book

  "Between Land and Sea: A Nonfiction Tom Clancy-type Book"

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
March 2023--Article 46 (2023-0-046)

Rear Admiral (RADM) Dur’s
rare combination of intellect, military expertise, and true patriotism helped shape this country during the Cold War and post-Cold War eras.  He has a deep knowledge of naval operations at sea and this nation’s national security affairs. His career as a surface warfare officer specializing in national policy helped him funnel his Cold War experiences into the geo-political environment. Imagine rising from the rank of ensign to flag officer to serve at the highest levels in the Navy and the U.S. government’s executive branch—that’s Phil Dur! 

His book, “Between Land and Sea,” offers the reader a front-row seat to thirty years of American and world military and diplomatic history. This fact-based analysis and reflection centers around the national security bureaucracy and operating at sea throughout the Cold War.

Read about challenges commanding ships and a Carrier Battle Group and strategy and policy assignments, including leading the Navy’s strategy division and serving as Director of Political-Military Affairs on the NSC staff, advising and briefing President Ronald Reagan on critical events in the Middle East. Discover opportunities overseas, such as the admiral’s assignment as a U.S. Defense attaché in Paris, working with the highest levels of the French national security establishment as the Cold War ended and as War erupted in the Persian Gulf.

Philip Dur witnessed history and had a hand in shaping its course! From growing up in post-WW2 Europe and Japan, through historical events including the behind-the-scenes views of the attack on USS Liberty, the gun line off Vietnam, the Reagan White House, and more, Phil Dur was on the scene, not as an observer, but as an engaged and aggressive participant and contributor.

RADM Dur participated in the last great act of the Cold War:  a serious and intentional bumping of his command ship, the USS Yorktown, by the Russian Navy during maneuvers in the Black Sea. This confrontation was one of those cat-and-mouse events that could have started World War III.

As a flag officer, he was the chief architect of the Navy’s strategy. RADM Dur’s story provides a concise description of the Navy’s role in the Cold War from the 1960s to its end with the fall of the Soviet Union. His seat at the table during most of the critical events of that period offers an insightful perspective of policy formation and execution.

This book is highly relevant and essential reading today for anyone seeking to understand the current European security environment, including the present Russian-Ukranian conflict. As someone completely unfamiliar with the workings of the Navy, reading about his command of two great warships—a destroyer and a cruiser—was mind-boggling and fascinating. His book “Between Land and Sea” is a must-read for those interested in a better understanding of military, political, and national security issues. This instructive book is fast-moving, a real page-turner, very well-written, and hard to put down.

Vice Admiral Doug Crowder, USN (Ret), Former Commander, U.S. SEVENTH Fleet, reviewed the book as follows: “If you have loved Tom Clancy’s novels of Cold War intrigue, military operations, grand strategy, and political policy-making, then you will enjoy Admiral Philip Dur’s new book, BETWEEN LAND & SEA.

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Former Press Secretary Opens NWFSC Speaker Series

  "Former Press Secretary Opens NWFSC Speaker Series"

By Pastor Doug Stauffer
Faith Independent Baptist Church
Journalist for Bay Life Newspaper
March 2023--Article 45 (2023-03-045)

Kayleigh McEnany opened this year’s President's Speaker Series at Mattie Kelly Arts Center. While introducing Kayleigh, President Devin Stephenson NWFSC stated, "Northwest Florida State College is certainly honored to do our part in improving the quality of place in our community by enhancing our regional cultural activities." Last year's speakers were former federal prosecutor and Congressman, Trey Gowdy, and financial journalist Charles Payne with Fox Business Network. February's speaker was Dr. Ben Carson. 

I was fortunate to spend some one-on-one time with Kayleigh McEnany, so I thought I would begin this story by describing my impression of her in one word: Authentic, Personable, Sacrificial, Fearless, Patriotic, Conservative, Christian. Well, that adds up to seven one-word descriptions. But then I could add: Working-mom, Brave, and Articulate, and no, she is not the One that walked on water, but she often speaks of her personal relationship with the Creator. And I thought I would add that she was born and raised in the Free State of Florida.  

Who is Kayleigh McEnany? She was the former White House Press Secretary and the national spokesperson for the Republican National Committee (RNC). She now Co-hosts Outnumbered on the Fox News Channel. Before joining the RNC, she worked as the lone conservative political commentator at CNN and as a producer for the Mike Huckabee Show. She has also authored several outstanding books.

As I read her book, I was overwhelmed to learn about the many sacrifices her family experienced for the American people. Some may recall that her tenure at the White House commenced during the earliest days of the COVID-19 lockdowns. The CDC guidelines curtailed (or discouraged) travel, forcing some difficult choices. It was also during the death of George Floyd. Unfortunately, some people used this tragedy to threaten Kayleigh and her family.

Kayleigh tells of balancing her concern for her family with her job's demands. She strove to be much more than a press secretary. Kayleigh wanted to be a voice for those who do not "qualify" for national attention and are often ignored and certainly overlooked. She strove for substance over sensationalism.

Her motto in the press secretary’s office was "Offense!" intending to challenge the media, never allowing others to drive the narrative. She insisted on holding the press accountable. I will hone in on her beginnings at the White House because there is not enough ink and paper to cover the highlights of her life.

When President Trump called to ask if Kayleigh was interested in becoming Press Secretary, she was in the backseat of her car with her baby girl while her mother was behind the wheel. The phone rang with the White House switchboard on the line. "Would you take a call from the President?" A quick answer of "yes" followed an even faster prayer. The President asked if she would consider becoming the White House press secretary. Without hesitation, she responded, "Mr. President, that would be the honor of my lifetime." Thus, Kayleigh's story took another turn.

She was understandably nervous about taking on this enormous task, especially in the middle of a novel pathogen just entering the country. However, she also realized the honor it would be to communicate clearly to the American people. She began reading everything, calling everyone for advice, but her dad sent her the best advice. "Kayleigh, maybe you were made for such a time as this," a direct reference to the book of Esther. She knew God wanted her to hear this and believes He wants us all to understand that we are on this earth for a specific purpose and reason.

Her first day at work was April 13, 2020. It had been 400 days since a press secretary, Sarah Sanders Huckabee, had gone to the podium. Her first press briefing was less than three weeks later. On that day, she tweeted out Philippians 4:13 about being able to do all things which strengthen us through Christ. She had prepared herself academically. Still, the spiritual preparation gave her peace—listening to sermons on faith over fear, Christian music, and prayer.

As she sat in the Press Secretary's office wondering how the first day would go, the Chief of Staff's office called and told her to go to the Oval Office because the President was preparing to do a Coronavirus task force briefing. She was asked for input and then watched as the President used some of her feedback during the briefing.

That week, she fielded texts from Christians who said they were praying for her. One text was from Sarah Sanders Huckabee with advice: "Pray and let God carry you through the tough times and give you strength when you don't have the wisdom."

Sarah then sent Kayleigh the day's devotional from when Sarah was Press Secretary - "You are on the path of My choosing. There is no randomness about your life … As you give yourself more and more to a life of constant communion with Me, you will find that you simply have no time to worry." Never a more true statement! Her assistant entered her office and got her parents on speakerphone to pray together. As she walked through the President's private dining room, the Vice President motioned with praying hands that he would continue praying for her.

Finally, she slipped into the private West Wing bathroom, got on her knees, and prayed yet again. She retells the story of going to the podium, and everything changed. Her fears and worries vanished and turned to complete serenity. That divine intervention made her feel like she had been at that podium her whole life. She pointed out that the peace came from the millions of Christians who prayed for the administration. She mentioned being a personal testament to the fact that those prayers made a difference. Her speech contained so much more thought-provoking, uplifting, and inspirational material.

Her family almost moved to this area but settled in the Tampa Bay area. She agrees with many of us that Northwest Florida has the best beaches and promises to vacation here during the offseason. Another example of the Emerald Coast drawing the best and the brightest. I look forward to tuning in for the next chapter of the Kayleigh McEnany Woman of Faith saga. 

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