Embrace and Use Your Fears

Alfred Pennyworth : Why bats, Master Wayne?
Bruce Wayne : Bats frighten me. It’s time my enemies shared my dread.
— Batman Begins (2005)

Christopher Nolan knows how to tell a story through the use of film as a medium.  In 2005, Batman Begins started the rebooted Batman trilogy as part of the Dark Knight universe and introduced the world to a more realistic portrayal of Bruce Wayne and his mission to bring justice to Gotham City.  Nolan’s approach was much darker than the 80s-90s Batman, but with limited computer generated images (CGI) and real sets Nolan crafted a story for the viewer where Batman could be something seen on the evening news broadcast.  The appeal of the Dark Knight Trilogy is watching the Bruce Wayne develop his alter ego and utilizing his traumas and past experiences.

The first Act of the Batman Begins focuses on Bruce’s journey from childhood trauma of losing his parents, the subsequent anger, then seeking to understand the criminal mind, and seeking the training to find justice.  The best part is watching Bruce become Batman as he dawns his first generation suit using technology that would be common around us all.  He even orders thousands of masks that they destroy to replace with another order of thousands of masks with the hope that they meet the design standards.

As the movie progresses, it comes to a scene where Bruce is grinding away on a Batman symbol when Alfred comes up and asks him about why he chose the bat-themed persona.  His response (as quoted above) relates back to earlier in the movie when after he fell down an abandoned well and the bats thrash past him causing him significant fear.  It is that fear that causes him to urge his parents to leave the opera early exiting in the alley where the gunman kills his parents in a botched robbery.  It is his fear of the bats during his injury that lead to so much trauma and therefore, the people who break the law will face the same fear he has.


In the past two weeks, this author had the true pleasure of sharing with the Airmen of the 39th Air Base Wing one of my passions:  nuclear weapons and instruction.  The wing has a seminar-like class once a month where topics related to the nuclear mission and the larger theater concerns in Great Power Competition.  Discussions are rather engaging as the audience is mostly people who have limited or no experience with the nuclear mission and have even less experience with international partnerships.  These briefings increase situational awareness and provide an insight into a mission that is esoteric and limited appreciation.

My job entails lining up the topics and speakers.  Who would have guessed; no way would the guy who has based his entire career branding himself as a nuclear operations and policy expert be the one who organizes all of this.  Each time, even if this author is not the main briefer, there is some part for me to pass along some knowledge and engage the audience.  These experiences are fun, inspiring, and force this author to refresh their knowledge on the topics while exploring more and more my passion.

Following the last class an individual asked this author a question on their career and how they ended up at this point.  To think several years ago upon joining the U.S. Air Force, this author was not the most keen on the nuclear mission, but over time the entire brand of “Pred” comes down to the nuclear mission.  How has this been so possible?  A good friend of this author asked this very question when returning to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota following aviation school and aircraft qualification.

As a child, this author was utterly terrified of nuclear war and the subsequent armageddon and civilizational collapse that would come from geopolitical events.  Living in constant fear of mushroom clouds that would destroy not only community, but the sandbox in the backyard.  Political opinions and societal dread were presented through education and television only frightening a little kid and young man into anxiously waiting for the Soviets and the Americans to destroy the world.

Perhaps it would come like the invasion in movie Red Dawn.  This could definitely happen in Central Illinois and there was an absolute determination to be like one of the one teenagers who make it to the end of the movie.  There would be times when looking at the nighttime sky, the light pollution would make a cloudy sky look a violet color.  My mind would wonder whether or not this would be similar to a radiation cloud placed over my hometown would look like.  Today’s younger folks dread the geopolitical competition and threats of war that have pervaded, but today’s global instability is nothing knew for children who lived in the 1980s.

How does one go from a crying child terrified of becoming ashes due to nuclear annihilation become an adult military officer whose brand and military speciality is a nuclear expert?  Time.  The emotional energy associated with the fear of societal destruction was funneled into the processes that would prevent it all from happening.  If nuclear deterrence is done correctly, then there is no war or massive destruction.  Perhaps being a low-wattage pacifist found a home in the game of nuclear deterrence.  Every ounce of this author’s professional essence was put into the very thing that caused such a traumatic childhood existence that this fear will cause our adversaries to question their actions.

Only those who truly understand the effects from war will be able to reserve or execute as necessary.  This author’s career has been very successful and has been very focused around the components of the nuclear mission.

Where does this author go from here?  Keep educating the world the dangers and benefits of nuclear deterrence.



A United States Air Force officer who is only a few months short of 20 years and the retirement line and has spent their entire career executing the nuclear mission.