Friday, July 01, 2016

Fullbore Friday

100 years since the Battle of the Somme.

As our friend Derb reminded us a decade ago;
When the barrage lifts

... , July 1, is the ... anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. They took 60,000 casualties, of whom nearly twenty thousand were killed.

The Tommies were to get out of their trenches and advance across No Man's Land towards the enemy trenches. This maneuver was to be preceded by an artillery barrage on the enemy lines.
The following is from Paul Fussell's 1975 classic The Great War and Modern Memory:
Every day still the Times and the Telegraph print the little "In Memoriam" notices — "Sadly missed," "Always in our thoughts," "Never forgotten," "We do miss you so, Bunny" — the military ones dignified by separation from the civilian. There are more on July 1 than on other days, and on that date there is always a traditional one:
9th AND 10th BNS., K.O.Y.L.I. — To the undying memory of the Officers and Men of the above Battalions who fell in the attack on Fricourt (Somme) on July 1, 1916. "Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts."
B.H. Liddell Hart, who was in the 9th Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, explains. Just before the Somme attack, "the officers assembled in the headquarters mess, in a typical Picardy farmhouse. Recent strain between the commanding officer and some of the others led to an embarrassing pause when the senior company commander was called on to propose a toast to the C.O. On a sudden inspiration, he raised his glass and gave the toast with the words: 'Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts'."

The battalion attacked with some 800 men. Twenty-four hours later its strength was 80 men and four officers.
To understand the British military from Churchill to today - you need to know the Somme. As Churchill said, was at Somme, the hinge of popular opinion on the nature of war changed and forever altered our perceptions of war.
A great video summary from the BBC.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Farsi Island Investigation Released

The Navy released the redacted and declassified report on the Farsi Island incident.

You can find it all over at the FOIA website, but you'll have to poke around to find it (click "Read" on the circa-1998 style page).

I've included the Executive Summary below for your review.

I do have a pullquote for you to consider as well, from the bottom of page 75 and top of page 76;
As the boats approached, some crewmembers observed a flag and eventually identified the vessels as Iranian Revolutionary Gurad Corps (IRGCN). [redacted] ordered the RCB 802 gunners to back away from their weapons so as not to appear intimidating. At the same time, [redacted] ordered the RCB 805 gunners not to chamber rounds in their weapons because he believed the approaching boats had the advantage and he did not want to escalate the situation. RCB 805's Coxswain attempted to maneuver between the boats and RCB 802, but could not block both IRGCN patrol craft at the same time. Many crewmembers believed, contrary to their pre-deployment training and the CJCS Standing Rules of Engagement that they could not engage in serlf-defense unless the Iranians fired first.
As RCB 802 attempted to accelerate, the two Iranian boats maneuvered into its path and pointed their weapons at the crew; [redacted] directed RCB 805 to "go, go, go" via bridge-to-bridge radio. [redacted], seeing the Iranians charge their weapons and point them at RCB 802 crewmembers, refused to move RCB 802. [redacted] reinforced the need to move, but [redacted] refused, believing that he would have gotten a fellow crewmember shot. He later characterized the exchange as "this dumb conversation with [redacted] about how I am not going to drive."
I highly encourage everyone to read this. There is a lot to rage about from a leadership, seamanship, training, maintenance, and crew planning perspectives, but I'm not going to do that. I don't need to - and here is when things get positive.

I don't need to because the report does so for me. This is a good report. Open and clear eyed, and at my first reading in line with how things should be done. It is the only way we learn from these things, and it says a lot about the best parts of our service culture that we have this out in the open for all.

Read it. Learn from it. Be glad you serve in a navy that would publish this.

Now, let's revisit the decision a few years ago to classify INSURV so I wouldn't blog about them ....

Diversity Thursday

When you put the racist hate, grievance mongering, and opportunity to walk around groups of people with a hand-bell yelling, "Shame!", we all know what the diversity cadre are all about, right? It's about the Benjamins for these maleducated and otherwise unemployable people.

James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer Riley over at TheWeeklyStandard lay it all out for you;
In May, Tennessee lawmakers banned all funding for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The $436,000 that had been budgeted for the office will instead be put toward scholarships for minority students in engineering. The UTK diversity office was sponsoring “Sex Week," a program of lectures and demonstrations on, well, "innovative" sex practices. Sex Week started at Yale more than a dozen years ago and has since been presented on campuses from Harvard to the University of Kentucky.

It should come as no surprise that the Office of Diversity brought embarrassment to the university. Diversity enclaves like this are supposed to promote tolerance and understanding among students, but in reality they are a main source of turmoil at schools across the country, including protests at the University of Missouri and Yale this last school year. The administrators and faculty who run these diversity programs have a vested interest in disruption—making the protests go away usually entails boosting the budgets of the diversity offices that were behind the protests in the first place. As long as schools sponsor such centers and offices, there will be no peace on the American college campus.
That is why there are demands for these offices and mandatory diversity focused classes. As we have discussed for years here, this has nothing to do with bringing people together or solving problems - this is about fanning tensions and creating conflict in order to maintain the crisis and the money flow. There is only one answer, and TN has it figured out; you have to starve the beast.
Diversity centers don't hide that they are engaged in political activism. The University of Texas Multicultural Engagement Center claims its "efforts to raise awareness continue to strongly emphasize social justice and leadership development." It sponsors leadership institutes and teach-ins in order to "assist in the development of leadership skills that our students must possess in order to be effective agents of social change in the community." Such centers train students in the kinds of protests and confrontations that have raged on campuses in recent years and do so on the colleges' dime. Claremont McKenna College recently announced that it would actually pay students to work as leaders in the multicultural organizations that have been protesting the school's policies.

It is plainly absurd to claim that colleges and universities, among all institutions in American life, are bastions of racial bigotry and violence against women. What are supposed to be institutions based on reasoned discourse are increasingly consumed by irrational fears, fears stirred up by small, but now powerful and well-funded, campus groups. Instead of sending them more money, academic presidents and deans should follow the lead of the Tennessee legislature and defund them altogether.
One day, everyone will go Salamander on these people, but until then, we shall slog along each Thursday.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

If China Had Just One More Wish...

...I think they'd like a tasty fish.

Over at USNIBlog, I'm discussing something totally unrelated to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but has everything to do with China's growing Navy.

Stop by and pay a visit.

Front Porch Seamanship Roundtable

Not often I go to RT as a source, but they have the sexy video of the nice little dance between the USS GRAVELY (DDG 107) and the Russian Neustrashimy-class frigate, YAROSLAV MUDRY.

“The US sailors, in particular, neglected Rule 13, which stipulates that an overtaking vessel must keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken,” the Defense Ministry said. It added that the USS Gravely had also violated Rule 15, which says that a vessel that has another vessel on the starboard side must yield and avoid crossing ahead of her.

The ministry also said the Pentagon should take note of such incidents rather than accuse the Russian Air Force and Navy of unprofessional conduct. “US sailors allow themselves to neglect key foundations of navigation safety without thinking of the consequences that dangerous maneuvering in a heavily trafficked maritime area might involve.”
Have fun with this one!

Here's the video from the Russian POV.

Hat tip ZeroHedge.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Your Daily Mahan

In a discussion of nuclear proliferation in the Indian Ocean as it relates to India, China, and a lessor extent Pakistan, over at the Sri Lanka Guardian, Maimuna Ashraf digs up a quote that has mad me pondering all day;
“Whoever controls the Indian Ocean will dominate Asia… This ocean is the key to the seven seas in the twenty-first century, the destiny of the world will be decided in these waters. ”
- Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, USN (Ret)

Hat tip Mike.

UPDATE: Well, crap. Bogus quote:
James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara of the United States Naval War College have followed the uses and abuses of Mahan. He is often selectively quoted, suppressing his equal emphasis on peaceful commerce. There is also this dictum: “Whoever controls the Indian Ocean dominates Asia. This ocean is the key to the seven seas in the 21st century. The destiny of the world will be decided in these waters.” Both Chinese and Indian papers quote it. But it is a fabrication; Mahan never wrote it.
Thanks for the heads-up MJ.

Monday, June 27, 2016

An Army’s Three Cyber Arrogances

Have we learned nothing? Do we remember anything? When it comes to supporting the defense industry to sell multi-billion dollar systems that will be at best no use in war, and more likely a significant risk, I guess not.

How Kris Osborn at TheNationalInterest wrote this without screaming is beyond me.
The Army is upgrading and more widely deploying a cutting-edge battlefield force-tracking technology for dismounted Soldiers, enabling them to know the locations of their fellow Soldiers and more quickly find, identify, target and destroy enemy fighters.

Called Nett Warrior, the technology is a cell-phone-like device showing graphics on a small, digital moving map identifying fast-moving combat information.
Think about all those electrons bleeding out in to the environment? Think about how advanced the offensive EW and EW surveillance capabilities are of our peer and near-peer competitors.

“It provides unprecedented situational awareness at the dismounted level through the map display. The icons show where all the other users are on the battlefield and the device allows for battlefield messaging. Everyone sees the same picture,” Marsh explained. “The battle changes in real time and information can transmit across the force in real time.”

The technology uses a moving digital map display to mark friendly forces, surrounding terrain, enemy forces, targets and other high risk items such as IED locations, Marsh explained.

“As they sweep up into a house, they don’t have to worry about fratricide, because they can see where the other maneuvering forces are. You can track the location of friendly units as you are moving up on a target,” said Jason Regnier, deputy product manager for Nett Warrior.
Do we not know our own history? Units get captured. Items get lost and dropped. This is an order of magnitude worse than broken codes and maps wrapped around cigars. Gobsmacking.
Nett Warrior can even connect with nearby vehicle units who might need to know the location of mobile, ground or infantry units or wish to pass along combat-relevant information, Marsh said.

“Every Nett Warrior display is visible to every other Nett Warrior system. That is the key part. That is the game-changing revolution,” he explained.

While the Nett Warrior device looks like a cell phone or smartphone, it uses what’s called software programmable radio – a technology which sends IP packets of information, such as voice, video and data, across the force using high bandwidth radio frequencies.

The high bandwidth frequencies, such as Soldier Radio Waveform, use computer technology and function quite similar to wireless internet. The cell phone function of the system is turned off. The radio, called the Rifleman Radio or PRC-154, uses NSA encryption to safeguard combat information transmitting across the force.

The technology also uses a technique called a “chem light,” wherein a Soldier can highlight or “light up” a location to pass along key information such as the location of a cleared building or other data relevant to an ongoing fight.

And what about those friendly and allied units that have systems that don’t work, or simply don’t exist? This is even a worse situation than, “Those can’t be friendly units, they aren’t on Blue Force Tracker.”
The platform is now being built with what the Army calls “open architecture,” meaning its software and hardware are engineered to quickly embrace and integrate new technologies or applications as they emerge, Marsh said.
At least our peer and near-peer adversaries don’t have dedicated forces that do nothing but learn to break in to open architecture devices. Good googly moogly.

Meanwhile, important requirements learned in a decade and a half of warfighting remain unfunded and languishing. The only thing this would be of use in, besides micromanaging exercises, is to be used as a textbook example of the Army’s Three Arrogances; access, accuracy, assumption.