Thursday, May 21, 2015

Diversity Thursday

I'm going to let someone else make my post this DivThu.

You need to read all of Jeff Edwards bit over at UnprecedentedMediocrity;
Personally, I am convinced Americans liked each other a lot more before the age of Facebook where they actually knew what each other thought about everything. So take notes America, here is the secret sauce.

Humor

That’s right. It might shock you given what I just said, but you will never find more seemingly racist banter spoken out loud than in the military. Honestly, it is just an Alpha male dog eat dog world and the dogs could care less about being offended. You see, nothing is off limits to conversation in the Marines. Not race, ugly girlfriends, your weight, your education, or just how generally stupid boot you are. It is all fair game and you better be able to give it as well as take it.

General Daniel “Chappie” James Jr. from the Air Force said this in 1970, ” The Marines don’t have any race problems. They treat everybody like they are black.” I think the movie Full Metal Jacket is a good example of the type of banter one might see to one degree or another. However, the point is, Marines generally don’t care.
But that isn't good enough; no.

Scabs must be picked, sectarianism must be nursed, paychecks must be justified.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Migrants, economics, culture, and the growing challenge

Don't bother looking; Waldo isn't there.

From the Mediterranean to the waters of Southeast Asia – huge masses of people are on the move.

What is going on? Why is it going on? What are the implications?

I’m pondering it over at USNIBlog. Stop by and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Black Swan Tuesday: It's OK, Just Send us the Plan, We'll Build it Here

Every technological advance, from TNT to the airplane has found a military use. This is a world ruled by the aggressive use of force. Always has been, always will be. Every way to increase access to more force will be examined and adopted.

As such, each, "Hey - that is exciting!" moment we come to with significant technological advancements or improvements needs to looked at while wearing a Red Hat.

As such, this is quite exciting.
Scientists at GE Aviation’s Additive Development Center have made a working jet engine entirely from 3D-printed parts.

...The engine is about the size of an American football, ... there is the potential for 3D printing to help develop more complex designs with less waste than traditional manufacturing techniques.
Yes ... less weight, less bulk, less ability to intercept from point-a to point-b.

Yes, much potential.

A jet engine is an exceptionally advanced bit of kit. If you can make a jet engine ... what other complicated designs can you build - purpose built for one time or short duration use?

You thought 3-D guns were making people break out in flop sweat?

Yes, ponder.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Calm and humble yourself; it is always the land you control, not the body count that matters

Good folks did some good work this weekend, according to reports:
A senior Islamic State leader was killed, and his wife captured, in a raid in eastern Syria by U.S. Special Operations forces, the first on-the-ground mission in that country targeting wanted extremists, defense officials said on Saturday

The operation was conducted at Al-Amr, in the eastern region of Syria, to capture Abu Sayyaf and his wife, Umm Sayyaf, also thought to be part of the organization, Pentagon officials said.

During the mission late Friday, Abu Sayyaf “engaged U.S. forces” and was killed. Special Operations forces, however, captured Umm Sayyaf, the Pentagon said.
All is well and good, to go after their leadership - but we should temper any excessive optimism by this one fact; in the Long War, the theory of "decapitation attacks" failed to gather the results we thought it would - and it still won't. Nice to have, but not key.

We kill and capture leadership all the time, but they will simply replace them. This was true even before the enemy was building a quasi-State - but it is even more true now that the enemy is taking and holding significant amount of territory for a length of time that, as we discussed at the New Year on Midrats, they will soon move from quasi-State to actual State - if not already there.

That is why, once the hooting about Abu Sayyaf reaching room temperature is over, the below is the more important news of the Long War from the weekend;
The key Iraqi city of Ramadi fell to ISIS on Sunday after government security forces pulled out of a military base on the west side of the city, the mayor and a high-ranking security official said.

The ISIS advances came after militants detonated a series of morning car bomb blasts, Mayor Dalaf al-Kubaisy and a high-ranking Iraqi security official said. The explosions forced Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters to retreat to the city's east, they said.
Ramadi is the capital to Anbar, and is the key to the western approaches to Baghdad. That is why hundreds of Americans died to take and hold it.

A bunch of Shia militia trying to take it back will only do one thing; drive the Sunni of Anbar to go in the only other place available - the arms of the Islamic State.

Enough talk about "offset" introspective think-bits that have the whiff of fried-air; how about we discuss the croc closest to the canoe here ... what about Iraq?

UPDATE: Required reading by our friend James S. Robbins over at USAToday;
But ISIL's victory in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, shows that the group can seize and hold important ground. ISIL is more than a ragtag guerrilla army; it can field combat units potent enough to defeat Iraq's U.S.-trained conventional forces. The world has again seen the image of the Iraqi army retreating in disarray, and the brutal slaughter and enslavement of civilians that always follow in the wake of Islamic State conquests. ISIL is making good on its vision of being a quasi-state, taking, holding and governing vast territories in Iraq and Syria.

Perceptions are critical in irregular wars, and the perception in the region is that the Islamic State is winning. ISIL now openly controls the Iraqi cities of Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul, which is more than its parent al-Qaeda franchise could ever have claimed at the height of its insurgency. It is a sobering fact that all the gains made during the execution of the coalition's 2007 "surge" strategy that pacified western Iraq have been given back to the extremists.

UPDATE II - Electric Boogaloo: One of the better video reports? Oh, all our money? Yes, at the 0:58 point, that is a Lee-Enfield wrapped with duct tape. Hope and change, indeed.

Friday, May 15, 2015

LCS: It just never stops giving

Commentary? Do we need to review over a decade of commentary here on LCS and the huge tactical, operational, and strategic risk this ego-based program has slathered all over our Navy and our nation?

No, I'll just pull a little bit from press release from the Senate Armed Services Committee Completes Markup of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016.

If it was so great, needed, and invaluable, would ...
Cutting Excessive and Unnecessary Spending
...
$55.8 million—LCS Mine Countermeasures (MCM) mission module
$65.6 million—Remote Minehunting System (RMS)
...
What was that again?
"We must deliver this critical capability to the warfighter now."

Fullbore Friday

Some FbF are so good ... you have to bring them back every few years.

After a couple of week's FbF on other subjects, let's catch up with the Battle Off Samar. This time the USS HEERMANN (DD-532).
HEERMANN screened transports and landing ships safely to the beaches of Leyte and then joined Rear Admiral Thomas L. Sprague's Escort Carrier Task Group 77.4 which was made up of three escort carrier task units, known as the three "Taffies" because of their radio call signs: "Taffy 1", "Taffy 2", and "Taffy 3". Destroyers HOEL and JOHNSTON joined her in screening Rear Admiral Clifton A. F. Sprague's unit, "Taffy 3" which also included his flagship FANSHAW BAY (CVE-70) and three other escort carriers.

Dawn of October 25, 1944 found Taffy 3 east of Samar steaming north as the Northern Air Support Group. Taffy 2 was in the central position patrolling off the entrance to Leyte Gulf, and Taffy 1 covered the Southern approaches to the Gulf some 130 miles to the southeast of HEERMANN. At 0645 Taffy 3's lookouts observed antiaircraft fire to the northward and with 13 minutes later were under heavy fire from Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's powerful Centre Force of four battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers. The battle off Samar was thus joined.

The only chance for survival of the little group of light American ships lay in slowing the advance of the enemy warships while withdrawing toward Leyte Gulf and hoped-for assistance. The carriers promptly launched their planes to attack the Japanese vessels, and the escorts promptly set to work generating smoke to hide the American ships.

HEERMANN, in a position of comparative safety on the disengaged side of the carriers at the start of the fight, steamed into the action at flank speed through the formation of "baby flattops" who, after launching their last planes, formed a rough circle as they turned toward Leyte Gulf. Since smoke and intermittent rain squalls had reduced visibility to less than 100 yards, it took alert and skillful seamanship to avoid colliding with friendly ships during the dash to battle. She backed emergency full to avoid destroyer escort SAMUEL B. ROBERTS and repeated the maneuver to miss destroyer HOEL as HEERMANN formed column on the screen flagship in preparation for a torpedo attack.

As she began the run, dye from enemy shells daubed the water nearby with circles of brilliant red, yellow, and green. HEERMANN replied to this challenge by pumping her 5-inch shells at one heavy cruiser, CHIKUMA, as she directed seven torpedoes at another, HAGURO. When these "fish" had left their tubes, HEERMANN changed course to engage a column of four battleships whose shells began churning the water nearby. She trained her guns on the battleship KONGO, the column's leader. Then she quickly closed HARUNA, the target of her of her last three torpedoes, which were launched from only 4,400 yards. Believing that one of the "fish" had hit the battleship, she nimbly dodged the salvoes which splashed in her wake as she retired. Japanese records claim that the battleship successfully evaded all of HEERMANN's torpedoes, but they were slowed down in their pursuit of the American carriers. The giant, YAMATO, with her monstrous 18.1-inch guns, was even force out of the action altogether when, caught between two spreads, she reversed course for almost 10 minutes to escape being hit.

HEERMANN sped to the starboard quarter of the carrier formation to lay more concealing smoke and then charged back into the fight a few minutes later, placing herself boldly between the escort carriers and the column of four enemy heavy cruisers. Here she engaged Japanese cruiser CHIKUMA in a duel which seriously damaged both ships. A series of 8-inch hits flooded the forward part of the plucky destroyer, pulling her bow down so far that her anchors were dragging in the water. One of her guns was knocked out but the others continued to pour a deadly stream of 5-inch shells at the cruiser, which also came under heavy air attack during the engagement. The combined effect of HEERMANN's guns and the bombs, torpedoes, and strafing from carrier-based planes was too much for CHIKUMA who tried to withdraw but sank during her fight.

As CHIKUMA turned away, heavy cruiser TONE turned her guns on HEERMANN who replied shell for shell until she reached a position suitable to resume laying smoke for the carriers. At this point planes from Admiral Stump's "Taffy 2" swooped in to sting TONE so severely that she too broke off action and fled. The courageous attacks of the destroyers and aircraft thus saved the outgunned Taffy 3.

Temporary battle-damage repairs were applied at Kossol Passage. From there, she was sent to Mare Island, California for a much-needed overhaul. She would not return to the Western Pacific until January 1945.
It's not the size of the ship in the fight .....

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Airpower in Isolation - How Many Times Must This be Relearned?


The Madmaxistan that is now Libya is just one in a long line of bitter fruits where the Western military mind, always weak to its technology fetish, has sown chaos from its desire for quick, efficient, bloodless (for us) conflict.

All these facts should crush this sexy little theory, but it is so strong, so inviting, that we keep hoping that this time, it will all be different.

Micah Zenco over a DefenseOne has a nice overview over what our latest Luft Macht ├╝ber alles exercise is accomplishing;
It is possible that the slight increase in coalition contributions since March 25 reflects Canada’s April 8 decision to expand its kinetic operations into Syria—becoming the only other country, besides than the United States, to do so. As of May 5, Canada had conducted 564 sorties by CF-188 Hornet fighter-attack aircraft. However, the Canadian military does not disclose how many of those sorties resulted in the actual dropping of bombs, so the percentage of overall coalition airstrikes that it is responsible for cannot be attributed.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military has documented that lots of people and things are being destroyed. For a military that often claims it does not do “body counts,” it has done so repeatedly. Most recently, General Austin declared in March that 8,500 IS militants had been killed. The Pentagon lists more than 6,000 IS targets as having been destroyed. Most notably, CENTCOM press releases indicate that more than 500 “excavators” have been destroyed—as if IS is the world’s first terrorist landscaping company. All of this destruction is coming at a direct cost to taxpayers of an estimated $2.11 billion, or $8.6 million per day. How this open-ended air war will shift when the United States begins providing close air support for trained Syrian rebels in a few months is unknowable.
Will it work this time and for our quasi-allies in Yemen?

Don't know, yet - and at least we have ground forces ... proxy ground forces ... but ground forces. Then again, we had proxy ground forces in Libya as well.

Regardless of what we do from the air, as always, it is the person who controls the 19-yr old men with weapons, standing in the street corner that will tell this story - as true now as it was 3,000 years ago.