Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Type 26 and the Remnant Royal Navy

Joseph Trevithick over at TheDrive has one of the better summaries out there on the Royal Navy’s new frigate, the Type-26 “City Class” whose first hull will be named HMS GLASGOW. 

She’s a nice bit of kit;
Originally known as the Global Combat Ship (GCS), BAE’s frigate will displace approximately 6,900 tons and have a crew of just more than 150. A pair of electric motors, four high speed diesel generators, and a gas turbine will provide onboard electrical power and propel the ship to a maximum speed of over 30 miles per hour over a range of some 7,000 miles.

Intended primarily for anti-submarine warfare, the ships will have both a sonar system in the bow and a built-in towed sonar array, both linked to a central BAE Systems battle management system. An enlarged helipad and attached hangar can accommodate a Wildcat or Merlin helicopter or vertical takeoff capable drones, any of which could carry torpedoes or additional sensors.

In addition, the vessel will have significant air defense and surface warfare capabilities, consisting of 12 vertical launch system (VLS) cells for the Sea Ceptor surface to air missile and another 24 multi-purpose Mk 41 VLS cells. European defense consortium MBDA’s Sea Ceptor missile is a navalized variant of the company’s active radar homing Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM).
What is striking to me in the review is the heartbreaking numbers of how many they plan on building. Heartbreaking, as it is simply amazing how small the Royal Navy has become.

Let this sink in a bit;
… construction of the Royal Navy’s future Type 26 frigates has officially begun at a shipyard in Scotland. The full class of eight ships will provide a number of critically needed capabilities, including acting as additional escorts for the United Kingdom’s up-coming pair of supercarriers. The first of those flattops, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is in the middle of her first sea trials in the North Sea.

As The War Zone noted in its deep dive into the Queen Elizabeth carrier, the Royal Navy would need to commit significant numbers of ship to escort the flattop during actual operations. With only six Type 45 Daring-class destroyers and seven Astute- and Trafalgar-class attack submarines, as well as another 13 Type 23 frigates, in total as of 2017, the service could be hard pressed to sortie out a carrier battle group while still conducting other missions, yet alone two battle groups.
Make no mistake; Great Britain is the best friend our nation has, and she has stood shoulder to shoulder with us for most of the last 100 years – but her military capability is auxiliary. She makes up for it with national will and professionalism, but that is about it.

They have a spotty capability to patrol, much less control, their home waters. We should be very clear eyed on what they would be able to supply from the sea in any future conflict … and plan our fleet accordingly.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Let it be written; let it be mocked

Your weekly reminder to question the “who” and “why” of everything you read. Don’t assume alternative news outlets are all garbage, and don’t assume mainstream brands deliver brilliance to your brain.

A classic case of being very careful with what you read comes to us today from Reuters. Having that stamp should not give news or opinion any more credence than anything else. Same from BBC, CBS, CNN, Fox, etc.

First, always check if you are reading straight news or opinion. Yes, that can be difficult in some places, but in other cases like Reuters, they will give it an “Opinion” stamp as they did here.

Then look at the author. Give your head an extra tilt if it isn’t a regular opinion writer – as a lot of the stuff out there is all about something else but providing an opinion or viewpoint. You can figure that out on your own – but case in point is Peter Apps’s dogs breakfast from July 18th. There is so much wrong here, but let’s look at the Top-5;

1.
This month’s G20 meeting in Hamburg showed Western countries still struggling for a strategy to stop suspected Russian meddling in their politics and hacking their elections.
Style note: anyone thinking Russia “hacked” the election – as in they got in to systems to change votes - is either grossly mal-informed, or is a hack – or both. Russia and the Soviet Union before it, tried to influence or generally jackass elections in the West. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, we have done the same in their elections and that of their allies. You will never stop meddling any more than you will stop spying.

2.
This summer has seen NATO conducting cutting-edge anti-submarine and electronic warfare exercises in the North Atlantic, near daily flights by surveillance aircraft operating in the Baltic and a host of other war games from the Black Sea to the Arctic.
”Cutting-edge?” As defined by whom? Air & Surface ASW and to a lesser extent EW have been starved of funds more than any other area since the end of the Cold War. Most equipment are based on or are themselves a generation or more old. They are no more cutting edge than a 1995 Mercury Mountaineer is the cutting edge of SUV design.

3.
The effectiveness of Moscow's techniques shocked U.S. strategists, many of whom had come to believe Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya-style insurgent foes were all they would ever confront.
Who? Give me some names. The latest iteration of the COIN vs. Conventional intellectual debate is well over a decade and a half old – and the pro-COIN side lost. I don’t know a single professional who was “shocked” by what Russia has done recently. Impressed? Sure, but shocked? No. This hyperbole gives the Russians too much credit, and makes the West look like a bunch of buffoons. Though there might be cases for each in detail, in general? Silly.

4.
Growing numbers of Western strategists believe Putin hopes Russia’s propaganda and political disruption efforts may ultimately cause both NATO and the European Union to collapse. Few see that as likely - but countries most vulnerable to Russia, such as the Baltic states and Finland, are taking few chances.
Again, who? Names. Only fringe types or carnival barkers see an ultimate collapse of both NATO & EU due to Russia. Both are under stress, but it is almost entirely due to internal conflict and contradictions, not outside pressure from Russia.

5.
That may not be enough to stop Russia launching a surprise assault on a slice of NATO territory. However, even that would likely just further intensify Europe’s commitment to defending the rest of its territory.

The fact is that Europe is now better defended than at any point in decades. If Russia feels threatened by that, then Putin has only himself to blame.
Come on! “…likely just further intensify…” – GMAFB, that would be war.

As for the last paragraph, define “decades.” 30 years ago was 1987. Just look at what NATO was then. 20-years, 1997. Look at the size of the Royal Navy compared to now, just as an example.

Beyond silly, and it would be funny if so many people didn’t give the Reuters name such props.

Don’t get me wrong, I love opinion bits – as a blogger it is pretty much all I do – but this article is something I wouldn’t publish as a guest post on my homeblog it is so disjointed and unsupported by any objective review of facts concerning its core points.

This is pretty ballsy stuff for a well-biased blogger who can’t even copy-edit his own stuff, I know - but question everything you read, regardless of where it is. Sure, in The Economist you don’t know who the author is – but everywhere else you can – and you should take that in to account. You can get some good stuff from some, but don’t assume quality or insight just because of the URL.

Watch out for those who shop around cobbled together articles that are really just self-promotional items that are meant to signal that, “We need to listen to this person.”

Well, hogwash.

Find out who manages to get Peter’s stuff on Reuters? Sure, that is a good idea. If this can get published at a major institution …. well.

Peter should be smarter than this, and given his CV, I expected better from him. That’s OK though – he gave us a good example; question everything you read.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Midsummer's Thucydides with Kori Schake - on Midrats


For a man who last walked the Earth almost 2,500 years ago, 2017 has been a great year for Thucydides.

The old Greek historian is having quite a renaissance. Of course, he's always been there, but the Whitehouse is interested in him, so everyone else is as well, especially with regard to the often mentioned, "Thucydides’s Trap."

For those not familiar with his work, The History Of The Peloponnesian War, in her article earlier this month in The Atlantic, our guest this week outlines where people should focus.
Thucydides is often associated with hard-edged realism, as in the quote “the strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must.” ... But it’s important to remember that those views are one thread in a tapestry—Thucydides recounts the views of the war's combatants, but he doesn’t endorse them. In fact, the states that profess those hard-edged sentiments are plunged into ruin by them. 
When and how they take the plunge has, at the crucial moments of decision, everything to do with rambunctious crowds or ambitious usurpers of their betters egging on policies that result in the destruction of their state’s power.
For this and related topics, please join us this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern with our guest Kori Schake for the full hour.

Kori is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. She teaches Thinking About War at Stanford, and with Jim Mattis edited Warriors and Citizens: American Views on Our Military. Her book on the Anglo-American hegemonic transition comes out from Harvard in the fall.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio or Stitcher

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.




Friday, July 21, 2017

Fullbore Friday

Inspired by a scene from "Dunkirk" and giddy that our friends from ThinkDefence have already done the work.

You make what you can with what you have.

First via the BBC;
A makeshift pier

After the first day or so we began to receive motorised units in La Panne, after which a new evacuation stratagem was devised. At low tide, the highest vehicles were to be driven out to a given point, and a pier formed by driving out and parking up more trucks alongside. From these, the troops would be able to clamber into the boats that were now able to come alongside.

The hard part was the organisation of the assembly of the pier between bouts of shelling, low-level bombing and machine gunning from enemy aircraft. Once it was done, though, this procedure was a most welcome break for us. It made filling the boats so much easier. There was no more brute force required to push out the boats and get wet through in the process.
The amazing thing - no one to this day really knows who idea it was.
The piers were built by various Royal Engineer units including 246 Field Company RE, 59 Field Company, 38 Field Company and divisional elements from 1 and 4 Division, read more here. I have also read that members of the Corps of Military Police took part, especially in driving the lorries onto the beach at low tide.

I suppose the reality of the situation was that anyone and everyone was involved to some degree although there are conflicting reports of whose idea it was, the balance of evidence seems to point to a Royal Navy Sub Lieutenant requesting a pier be built be who came up with the idea of using 3 ton trucks, I guess that is lost to history.
...
The piers enabled several thousand personnel to escape to fight another day.
Read it all ... and check out all the great pics.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Diversity Thursday

Some good news in the diversity battles.

One of the most excused and patronized organizations in the USA that centers its existence on racist assumptions is having a bit of trouble as more and more people realize what they are about. So much, it appears, they had to change their name.
La Raza has decided to rebrand. The liberal political group announced last week that it would change its name from one suggestive of adversarial Chicano politics to something with broader appeal: UnidosUS.
Here's why;
The name La Raza—“the race” in Spanish—flies in the face of this reality. It is off-putting to many “Hispanics,” an artificial Census category comprising many razas. The organization’s CEO, Janet Murguia, admitted as much in a video announcing the name change: “We must make sure that our name and our organization evolves along with and remains relevant to our ever changing Hispanic community.”
...
The shift appears to stem from a recognition of long-ignored social and financial transformations in the U.S. 
Since its inception in 1968, made possible in part by a grant from the Ford Foundation, La Raza has been far more dependent on boardrooms and government than grass-roots support. But with government largess drying up, the liberal political-advocacy group may find itself needing greater support from the rank and file. This won’t be easy.
The nation’s “Hispanics” are undergoing a radical shift that most politicians are missing: A white majority is likely to persist in America. “Many children growing up today in mixed families are integrating into a still largely white mainstream society,” sociologist Richard Alba noted in American Prospect last year. These children are “likely to think of themselves as part of that mainstream, rather than as minorities excluded from it.”
As I've always said; the diversity industry is a racket. It is an amalgam of rent-seekers, grievance mongers, racists, and otherwise unemployable people who have no desire to bring people together, but to keep them apart in little manageable tribes to use for block political and financial gain.

Along the way, people are moving in our direction towards a more equal and color blind society. People who first see race are simply that, racists. They have no place in a modern society.

You can change your name, but you remain what you always were, "UnidosUS" - a group acting like the most base racists who use tribalism, fear, and division to enrich yourselves. Nixon's made up ethnicity, "Hispanic" exists no other place but in the minds of the American left. About as useful and deserving of special treatment as "Scandinavian." Actually less so. Danes, Swedes and Norwegians have more in common than Cubans, Mexicans, & Uruguayans. 

More work needs to be done, but each day that organizations such as this have to change to try to survive, the better. They should be kept at the margins to stew in their own sectarian juices - shunned by well meaning, modern, forward looking Americans.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

In Syria, Looks Like We're Very Close to my SEP 2015 PLAN SALAMADER, Rev 1

If you are not too familiar with the almost 2-yr old PLAN SALAMANDER for Syria, JUN 2016's REV 1 is here, and the SEP 2015 original here.

This predates the Trump Era by over a year, so you can stow any lame attempt to play Boot on Carlson's show - that won't wash.

Here is the unvarnished truth that has been evident for a year prior to my coming up with PLAN SALAMANDER; the only way to successfully eliminate the Islamic State is to at a minimum coordinate with the Russian, and preferably plan with them. Also, unless you have a realistic plan for someone to take Assad's place without slaughtering the balance of non-Sunni Syrian Arabs & Kurds, than go sit in the corner and play with the other children on Earth 2.

In a solid interview by The Tampa Bay Times with CENTCOM Commander General Votel, USA - the truth is right there for anyone to see it.
What are your thoughts on working with the Russians?

The word we use is not cooperation, but it is deconfliction and that is principally what we are doing. I have characterized this interchange as being very professional military to military interchange and I think trust certainly has to be earned over time here. But I will tell you the deconfliction line that we have had in place and has become more robust over time, meaning that not only do our air components talk to each other but (Army Lt. Gen. Stephen) Townsend (in charge of the ground war against Islamic State) now has the ability to talk to his counterpart.
That is a mature approach.

Read the whole interview, and keep this in mind as the investment of Raqqa moves forward;
The battle for Raqqa is now on. How long will that take?

We are not going to make any time estimates on this. You just watched what took place in (Mosul), a city of 1.6 million, 1.7 million people. It took nine months. Raqqa is probably 300,000 to 400,000 people, but it's in an area that again has had a long time to prepare and the forces we are operating in Syria are different than the forces we are operating with in Iraq. We're not talking about the Iraqi army that has ministries to lead it. Now we are talking about a much more indigenous force made up largely of Syrian Arabs and Kurds — and Kurds are part of that indigenous force. They don't have all the trappings of a big army, so I think it is important for people to understand the context of what we are doing here. A large city, an indigenous force, a well-prepared enemy. And by the way, an enemy now that has suffered a significant defeat, so they are running out of space there. We would expect they are going to fight harder, and more aggressively than they are and a large part of that is going to be exploited again. So I think it is going to be a challenging fight and it will take months.