Thursday, April 24, 2014

URR Shall Complete the, "Homosocial bonding rituals/ceremonies" Abstract for the Front Porch

LCDR Armstrong picked the wrong weekend to go to the UK. He should have waited until June.

All I know is this really needs a good cadre of Shellbacks to spend at least 3-hours at a pub prior to the start of the event to prepare to contribute to the discussion in a manner befitting the topic at hand.

Someone at the University of Bristol really has too much time on their hands (I've added pictures because - workshop).
Crossing the Line: Ritual and Superstition at Sea CFP
University of Bristol
contact email:
jimmy[redacted]; l.[redacted]
A workshop at the ss Great Britain organised by the University of Bristol and the Brunel Institute
Thursday 12 June, 2014
Admission Free / Lunch Provided

Plenary Speaker: Dr Kirsty Reid

Dating at least to the sixteenth century, and taking place on various kinds of vessel, ‘Crossing the Line’ ceremonies were staged when a ship passed the equator, usually from north to south. Those who were doing so for the first time (‘polliwogs’ or ‘Johnny Raws’) were initiated into the Kingdom of Neptune by experienced sailors (‘shellbacks’) in a hazing ritual that could be deeply humiliating and unpleasant, but could also afford a strange satisfaction. Subjected to head-shaving and ducking, and asked to crawl through and swallow foul substances, sea-farers took part in a ritual that involved cross-dressing, oath swearing, and various forms of pageantry. The ceremony both inverted and strengthened shipboard hierarchies, with young naval officers often initiated by those they outranked.

What did this ceremony aim to achieve? How seriously should it be taken? This workshop, run by the ‘Perspective from the Sea’ research group at the University of Bristol, invites participants to consider this shipboard ceremony within a number of contexts. These will include (but are not limited to):

• On-board rituals and ceremonies, particularly those taking place in deep water
• Homosocial bonding rituals/ceremonies
• Border-crossing and transgression
• Similar ceremonies involving the subversion of normal hierarchies (i.e. the Boy Bishops)
• Literary representations of the ceremony
• Street theatre and civic pageantry
• The carnivalesque, saturnalia and clowning
• The role of tedium in generating seafaring rituals and superstitions
• The crossing of other lines (i.e. the arctic circle, the Pillars of Hercules, and the date-line)
• Sadism, masochism, and homoeroticism
• The ceremony as a ritual of re-birth

Participants are invited to give 15-minute papers, or to give shorter presentations (perhaps simply detailing an incident of ‘crossing the line’) that could then be discussed by the workshop.

Please send brief abstracts (up to 250 words) to L.[redacted] or Jimmy.[redacted] by Monday 28 April.
I've got nothing more here.

Hat tip C.

Diversity Thursday

I just want to have a real quick DivThu this week, to savor a great step forward towards a more fair, just, and color-blind society.

Of course, I am referencing the Michigan case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defendant Affirmative Action (By Any Means Necessary)

NRO's Bench Memos is my go-to place for all things legal - and Carrie Severino did not let me down. Read it all, but here is a good summary;
Justice Kennedy’s opinion is very encouraging, and is well worth reading. As an initial matter, Justice Kennedy limits the political process doctrine, and argues that if the Sixth Circuit’s conception of the doctrine were adopted, it would require the courts to decide “which political policies serve the ‘interest’ of a group defined in racial terms.” As Justice Kennedy correctly points out, it is absurd to think that all individuals of the same race think alike, so attempting to go around categorizing individuals by race would be “inherently suspect.” Such an effort would impose no end to the courts’ constitutional legitimacy problems, not least because “Racial division would be validated, not discouraged,” if the Sixth Circuit’s reasoning were upheld.

Perhaps the most inspiring sentence in Justice Kennedy’s opinion is on page 15 of the slip opinion: “The freedom secured by the Constitution consists, in one of its essential dimensions, of the right of the individual not to be injured by the unlawful exercise of governmental power.” That may seem like Con Law I material, but it needs to be said. Often.

And then: “It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds.”
Justice Sotomayor gives everyone a multipurpose assist to understanding the fight ahead to get to a more fair and just society - but not how she thinks.

Her dissent wraps up all that the racialist left has to argue; emotion, grevience, retrograde theory - and more importantly - their self-centered desire for society to codify and allow their desire to get revenge on the dead by punishing the yet unborn.

They are, at their core, sectarian and slightly flavored with a self-defined desire for race-based discrimination motived by hate; one of the most primitive and base emotions.

Don't get me wrong, good people can disagree, but some many think that it is OK to punish children for the sins of their parents for seven generations. They are wrong ... but some have a more sinister drive to their ideas. The more emotion they show, more often than not - the baser their drive.

I think Sotomayor showed a little of the later. Via Robert Barnes at WaPo;
It is a 58-page dissent, longer than the combined efforts of four other justices who wrote. The court’s first Latina justice directly took on Roberts’s view that the nation’s continued reliance on racial classifications hinders rather than promotes the goal of a color-blind society.

Sotomayor noted Roberts’s famous statement in a 2007 opinion that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Too simplistic, she said.

“This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable,” Sotomayor wrote. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”

She added: “As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society.”

Roberts responded with a short, sharp statement of his own.

“To disagree with the dissent’s views on the costs and benefits of racial preferences is not to ‘wish away, rather than confront’ racial inequality,” Roberts wrote.

“People can disagree in good faith on this issue, but it similarly does more harm than good to question the openness and candor of those on either side of the debate.”
“Race matters,” she wrote, to the minority teenager who sees “others tense up as he passes;” to the young person addressed in a foreign language although she grew up in this country; to the young woman who is asked “No, where are you really from?”

“Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: ‘I do not belong here,’ ” Sotomayor wrote.

Roberts repeated Sotomayor’s words before coming to the opposite conclusion.

“It is not ‘out of touch with reality’ to conclude that racial preferences may themselves have the debilitating effect of reinforcing precisely that doubt, and — if so — that the preferences do more harm than good,” he responded.

The debate provides a remarkable view of the court’s ideological split. But it is unlikely to change many minds — not of those who support what is a step-by-step effort by Roberts to remove racial classifications, or of those who support Sotomayor’s defense of what is clearly a minority view on the court.
Yep, she has issues - and I would offer that they are way too self-referential.

Her mind is stuck in the 1970s. The kids who are trying to get in to the University of Michigan or just entering the workforce were born in the second Clinton Administration. Their formative years were with a mixed race President, etc. etc. etc.

The America writ large that seems to haunt Justice Sotomayor exists only in her mind.

As the nation continues to turn towards fairness and looking at citizens as individuals, not self-identified DNA sub-groups - those who have such an emotional investment in sectarianism like Sotomayor will lash out more. You will see more emotion, less reason. More personal attacks, less a desire for unity.

Gird your loins, grow thick skin, and put on your big boy pants - join the fight, it is going to be a long, hard, slog.

Getting back to Severino,
But Michigan was trying to prevent discrimination or preferences based on sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin, not just race. And Michigan was trying to prevent discrimination and preferences in public hiring and public contracting, not just education. She acknowledges the breadth of Michigan’s effort to create neutrality, but her opinion is quite a disappointment on this score. Although the Michigan constitution demands strict neutrality in hiring, firing, admissions, and contracting, Sotomayor thinks neutrality itself is constitutionally suspect.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In This Area at Least, the Russians are Winning

I know that we are trying real hard to close our eyes and make Russia go away - but the Russians for now don't seem to want to play.

A fair bit of tut-tut'n is going on about, "Cold War nostalgia," and in a fashion I get that snark. Leaving that behind, especially for those who spent their early JO days and more in the last gasps of the old Soviet Union, there has been some old school propaganda going on - hyperbole and all.

I'm still grinning at this;
Russian Sukhoi Su -24 with the newest jamming complex paralyzed in the Black Sea the most modern American combat management system "Aegis" installed on the destroyer "USS Donald Cook". Pavel Zolotarev, Deputy Director, Institute of USA and Canada, shares details about this version which is being actively discussed in the Russian media and by bloggers.

US destroyer "Donald Cook" with cruise missiles "Tomahawk" entered the neutral waters of the Black Sea on April 10. The purpose was a demonstration of force and intimidation in connection with the position of Russia in Ukraine and Crimea. The appearance of American warships in these waters is in contradiction of the Montreux Convention about the nature and duration of stay in the Black Sea by the military ships of countries not washed by this sea.
SU-24, the old Soviet version of the F-111.

Good times, good times ....

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mr. Lind, may we focus our rage please?

Many of you have by now have at least heard of, if not read, William S. Lind’s latest, “An Officer Corps That Can’t Score.” If not, give it a read and come back. A lot of people are taking a swing at it – and now what everyone is back from Easter doings, time for me to give it a shot as well.

Off the bat, Lind made a statement that needs immediate rebuttal;
The most curious thing about our four defeats in Fourth Generation War—Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan—is the utter silence in the American officer corps.
Well, I’m not sure where or who he is listening to – but there is not silence on any of these issues … and there is the problem I think. I’ll get to that in a second. First things first:
1. Lebanon? I assume he is referring to our ’82-84 Lebanon incursions. That was an aborted peace enforcement operation that was a fool’s errand to begin with. Good thing we left when we did. Mistake? Yes. Poor concept and design? Yes. Military defeat? No. Strategic bumble – absolutely.
2. Somalia a decade later? See above. This whole exercise in CNN-effect meets UN-fuzzy warfare was a political error from beginning to end. The military did what it could given the constraints and restraints that were put on it. This was a failure of the civilians in leadership of the military. Full stop. I’ll repeat. Mistake? Yes. Poor concept and design? Yes. Military defeat? No. Strategic bumble – absolutely.
3. Iraq? After fits and starts, like you always see in complicated wars – I’m sorry - we got this about right in the end. We walked away with something we could call a victory here. Good people can argue if we should have left a small counter-terrorism force behind, but on balance we can walk away – due to President Bush’s determination to see this through BTW – with something we can accept. Of course, it is up to the Iraqi’s to make the best of the opportunity we gave them – and that is fine. You can try to make the argument that it was a defeat, but good luck with that, as no one has made that a convincing argument yet.
4. Afghanistan? The jury is still out, but when I was there, we were still on the path to winning with Shape, Clear, Hold, Build district by district. Six months after I left is where things started getting iffy following the President’s December 2009 West Point speech. That naive nightmare will make the odds of something acceptable like we had in Iraq a lot less likely. But again … the civilians make the calls. Win or loss? TBD.

Let’s review Operational Planning 101 for a moment, shall we? I’ll do a 2-week seminar in just a couple of paragraphs or so.

The military does nothing without political direction and guidance. Depending on your Operational Planning confession, POL/MIL guidance informs the Strategic level plan. That prescribes the Operational level plan. That in turn gives the outlines for the Tactical level plan.

Besides their drudge work on Staffs, O-6 and below do not make anything happen above the Tactical level. For that matter, neither do 1-2 Star General Officers/Flag Officers (GOFO). Further up the chain, the Operational level belongs to the 3-4 Star GOFO. The Strategic level belongs to the 4-Star senior leadership and their civilian masters. 

For those who know how Afghanistan works from the NATO side of the house: Tactical:ISAF, Operational:JFC Brunssum, Strategic:SHAPE. (NB: is actually isn’t that clean because there is also national levels, and the tactical is blurred by the Regional Commands and the occasional reference of ISAF as the bastardized “In-theatre Operational” – just an ugly C2 diagram).

Above the Strategic, again this depends on your Operational Planning confession, there is the Political/Military, AKA POL/MIL. That is your senior civilian and military leadership … with the civilians running the show. Mark that.

This is where I think Lind is referencing when he says “military officers” – as much of his critique is not the fault of anyone below O-6.
Substantively, at the moral level—Colonel Boyd’s highest and most powerful level—our officers live in a bubble. Even junior officers inhabit a world where they hear only endless, hyperbolic praise of “the world’s greatest military ever.” They feed this swill to each other and expect it from everyone else. If they don’t get it, they become angry. Senior officers’ bubbles, created by vast, sycophantic staffs, rival Xerxes’s court. Woe betide the ignorant courtier who tells the god-king something he doesn’t want to hear. (I know—I’ve done it, often.)
Notice that? Yep’r, a little too much Boyd on the brain. 1,024 words, four of which are “Boyd.” Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Boyd … but too much is too much. Moving on.

A few things above. In my experience, in private few of your best Junior Officers buy any of the rah, rah BS. The best are just the opposite; they are critical and questioning. I say “in private” – as only a select few will say anything but the official line in public. That is a byproduct of a very real issue that he only touches on briefly – command climate about contrary opinion. That has been and always will be a part of military life even before Mahan was told, "It is not the business of naval officers to write books." – the question is how heavy a presence is it? Is it Soviet level or Dutch level?
The vast majority of our officers read no serious military history or theory. A friend who teaches at a Marine Corps school told me the most he can now get majors to read is two pages. Another friend, teaching at an Army school, says, “We are back to drawing on the cave wall.”
This is not too far from one of my major critiques of our wardrooms, but here Lind is missing the source of the problem – how we access our officers. He is only yelling at the symptoms.

For an example, the CNO, a nuke submariner, natch, is pushing the Navy towards 85% STEM major requirement for officers. By their nature and education, science, technology, engineering and math majors do not know their history that well, nor will they make the effort to educate themselves on it. In practice, technicians infrequently are intellectually curious about the other side of their brain. There are exceptions of course, but you get out of one end of the machine the results of the raw material you put in it.

The officers in company and field grade are also rational beings; they are responding to the risk/reward factors in their career, and the demand signal from the system in general. As the sayings go, you get what you inspect, and you get what you reward. Until you have a system that rewards intellectual effort, critical thinking and creative friction, you will only have those things at the margins – especially in the GOFO ranks.

There are plenty of officers who are interested in history and theory – but – you have to look for them. You also will have a lot of trouble finding them in the GOFO ranks. There is Lind’s problem – he doesn’t have an issue with the officer corps – he has an issue with the POL/MIL level – that is the senior civilian leadership and the Generals and Admirals in the seats next to them.

Besides Admirals Stavridis and Harvey in the naval service – both of whom are now retired – there has been little intellectual give and take where GOFO will happily paint outside the lines on various topics. Off the record I have seen more, but they will only do so on background or on a personal basis. Why? Simple; command climate. GOFO have them too. Where does that come from? Senior civilian and military leadership.

The first half of Lind’s article is a hot mess, but the second half has some very valid and Salamanderesque observations;
… an officer corps vastly too large for its organization … Command tours are too short … the “up or out” promotion system and “all or nothing” vesting for retirement at 20 years. … It is not difficult to see how these two structural failings in the officer corps morally emasculate our officers and all too often turn them, as they rise in rank and near the magic 20 years, into ass-kissing conformists.
I had to read the last bit a few times. The “too often” is perhaps accurate depending on how you define percentages. He doesn’t say, “all.”
Congress could quickly fix all of them. Why don’t they? Because they only look at the defense budget, and these are not directly budgetary issues.
Closer. That is civilian leadership. Again, Lind misses this critical point about our system. He double downs at the end;
Only our officers themselves can fix these deficiencies. Will they? The problem is circular: not until they leave their bubble.

If American military officers want to know, or even care, why we keep losing, they need only look in the mirror. They seem to do that most of the time anyway, admiring their now-tattered plumage. Behind them in the glass, figures in turbans dance and laugh.
OK, there is some internal house cleaning that needs to be done – but it isn’t going to happen until there is a SECDEF or Service Secretary who makes it happen – or enables the right 4-star to make it happen.

Some ideas:
- Remove STEM degree requirements completely, or to no more than 50%.
- Benchmark some of the British officer accession and retention policies – specifically related to up-and-out and specialization of career paths.
- Repeal and update Goldwater-Nichols starting with JPME requirements. Move war college attendance until after selection to O5 (CDR/LtCol). Replace with opportunity for fellowships or advanced education 24/36-month opportunity windows. Only fund resident programs at civilian institutions. Emphasize in precepts to selection boards.
- Expand foreign exchange tours. Emphasize in precepts to selection boards.
- Forget BRAC, empower a broad Staff consolidation and restructuring of manning documents. Force pain ashore.
- Freeze all officer and senior enlisted on-base housing and begin to decommission sub-standard housing without replacing units. Force leadership to live in the communities they serve.

That’s a start.

Finally, I would offer to Mr. Lind that he needs to power down, reset circuit breakers, restart, and then recalibrate. He has some valid points … it is just that his targeting is off.

If you don’t like what happened in Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq & Afghanistan – don’t expend all your rounds on military officers – especially those 2-star and below – they are not your problem. Look at the selection process for the 3-4 star levels on the uniformed side of the house – then more importantly look at the sources of those in civilian outfits that came in to power via political parties, think-tanks, & preferred PhD issuing institutions that created the intellectual raw material that informs decision makers.

It won’t make you as popular as bashing a bunch of Colonels/Captains and junior – but it will get you closer to the problem that vexes you so.

Now for Part II and III on Mr. Lind's article.

I'm an early-cohort Gen-X type who left active duty in '09. Perhaps my view is generational? Let's compare and contrast.

Exercising a rare bit of self-control on my part, two friends of the blog published over the weekend their responses to Lind; the late-cohort Gen-X LCDR BJ Armstrong, USN and the Gen-Y LT Matthew Hipple, USN. I didn't read either until I wrote the above.

Both these gentlemen are well known to members of the front porch. We can't seem to get the Millennials feet off my lawn and faces out of their smart phones - so we'll go with what we've got. I'm going to quote generously, but read them all in full. We have some overlap - as we are seeing things from a slightly different angles.

Let's look at BJ's first, Gardening in a "Barren" Officer Corps.
Lind errs on the side of being insulting to some of the dedicated men and women in uniform, but that does not really worry me. They have thick skin. More seriously, he leads his civilian readers astray, leaving them with an inaccurate depiction of a military completely unused to debate.
Exactly. It isn't the military readers that should be our concern, but the impression the civilian readers take away.
This past Wednesday, the U.S. Naval Institute held their annual meeting in Washington D.C. In an auditorium full of junior officers, mid-grades, and admirals, as well as civilians, academics, analysts and retirees, the past year’s writing in the institute’s flagship journal Proceedings was recognized. An award went to Rear Admiral Robert Wray, who advocated an unpopular position: a tiered readiness and forward deployment system for our naval forces that would fundamentally change much about our Navy. The institute also recognized Lieutenant Ryan Hilger, who wrote a prize winning article on reform of the NATO alliance and adjustments to the relationships between the United States and our overseas partners. These are just two recent examples, but they are not outliers. And they run counter to Lind’s claim that “not a military voice is heard calling for thoughtful, substantive change.”
Just an example of the top-shelf discussion that is going on. Not rough-n-tumble, but important creative friction. You need all levels - and if you are looking you can find it.

There BJ parts with the first half of Lind's article and gets close to the same place I did with the second half;
However, we also shouldn’t entirely dismiss Lind’s critiques. The structural issues Mr. Lind raises are important and worth considering, from staff bloat to using an industrial age promotion system in the 21st century. He also raises the specter of careerism and the classical lament of military conservatism. The reality is there are plenty of officers who are too comfortable with the status quo. The majority avoids the difficult and messy work of reform, or even innovative thinking. The same was true in the days of Lind’s friends Boyd, Wyly and Wass de Czege, officers who struggled with this reality as they tried to reform their services in the 1970′s and 1980′s. The fact that these men are best remembered as colonels, and not as service leading general officers, helps illustrate the point. These are weighty issues. Yes, they are the kind of things that a number of officers are writing and thinking about. But is that enough?
BJ also sees that there is a cultural thing that we need to get right.
The list of today’s creative thinkers and reformers tends toward the more junior ranks, at least in public. It is still a legitimate question to ask, “Are the flags and general officers listening?” Is there any sign that these efforts are valued institutionally? I’ve never seen anything that would appear to support critical thinking, innovation, reform or any other similar topics in the precepts of a promotion or selection board.
You get what you select. Full stop.

BJ ends with a good roll-up;
William Lind is 100 percent correct when he points out that there is much about our military, which is desperately calling out for reform. He is also 100 percent wrong when he categorically states, “only our officers themselves can fix these deficiencies.” It takes reform-minded men and women in uniform, advocates and supporters in our nation’s political leadership, and an interested and informed American populace. We should take his article as an opportunity to demonstrate that have many been working hard to develop and advocate the reforms we need. We also must continue that work and expand our debates and solutions to include an ever-wider audience.
Verily. Now to Gen-Y. Over to Matt and his take, Our Debating Military: Here if You're Looking.

Those who lurk in "discussion boards" best viewed in DOS 3.0 and read email chains full of AOL email addresses, will nod their heads at the following. There is a lot of discussion, at the company and field grade levels at least, if you are willing to get outside your comfort zone to look for it;
Rather than our officer corps living in a bubble, perhaps some of those discussing the internal debate of the military writ-large need to reach out of their bubble to see the rich discussion happening -right now-.
opinions will be heated and varied. The Center for International Maritime Security has featured an entire week debating the merits of the Navy’s,“Air Sea Battle,” concept. The United States Naval Institute archives decades of articles relating to the debate over carriers. Small Wars Journal is a running testament to the continued debate over insurgency and irregular ground conflicts. There are also sometimes-anonymous outlets, like the Sailor Bob forum, Information Dissemination, or the wild wonderful world of Commander Salamander’s blog; they are quite popular in -light- of the often unique and critical perspective taken by writers.
If I may indulge myself a bit here; I would add the wee talk show I host with EagleOne of EagleSpeak once a week, Midrats, to the mix if you like your talk a bit nicer.

Hipple does a solid job helping expand the net a bit;
Perhaps Mr.Lind is disappointed in our lack of engagement with Mahan, in which case I would direct him to LCDR Benjamin Armstrong’s book, “21st Century Mahan.” Perhaps Clausewitz is our flaw? The Army and Air Force officers writing at “The Bridge” would likely demolish THAT center of gravity, if the snarky Doctrine Man doesn’t get there first.
Like BJ, a strong roll-up;
The military is by no means perfect, but such imperfection is what drives the debate that both officers and enlisted are engaging in on a daily basis. Mr.Lind suggests interesting structural reform to better cultivate leadership in our officers. However he cites the need for such reforms based on a decrepit caricature of an officer corps the US Military is not saddled with. If one hasn’t, as a USNI author once told me, “done one’s homework,” ideas fall flat. There IS a debate happening in America’s Officer Corps, an educational and engaging one. We’re not too hard to find if you look.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I am offering a letter of marque

Here it is - to whomever can get me usable audio or better yet - usable video and audio, I offer the following.

For video and audio: dinner paid by your humble blogg'r for you and one other person hosted by said blogg'r. Location and time to be determined by best coordination of schedules. If too difficult or the privateer chooses, two bottles from the Catoctin Creek product line, if of legal age. If not of legal age, pizza delivery for six.

For audio: one bottle from the Catoctin Creek product line, if of legal age. If not of legal age, pizza delivery for three.

Of course, all my sources are kept in strict confidence.

Your target:
Gender Matters Presents:

Under Covers: Midshipmen's Perspectives on Gender at USNA 2014

Tuesday, April 22 and Thursday, April 24

at 7:15/1915

in Mahan

Performances are FREE for Midshipmen, Faculty, and Staff

(This event is closed to the general public.)

Under Covers is an annual Midshipmen written and performed collection of monologues expressing the diverse attitudes about sex and gender from across the Brigade. Subject matter ranges from humorous to serious and is intended for adult audiences only. A brief open-mic discussion will follow each night's performance.
By all means, if you want MIDN not to look at each other as sexual objects, please have them go to a performance where they can talk to each other about "diverse" attitudes about sex. Unless, of course, it is a strictly controlled self-criticism session run by the jack-booted stormtroopers of gender identity - then it will be just another boor.

I wonder if the MIDN who advertises herself for service on a BDSM "dating" website (links sent to me by her fellow MIDN BTW), in partial uniform, natch, will be there? Or did she graduate and is already in the Fleet?

Yes, we've covered this before - and I know why it is closed to the public. Josh Foxton kind of ruined it for everyone.

Funny thing about this - in spite of its patronizing self-parody, I don't think it will every go away. The commissariat will destroy anyone - especially a male - who ever tried to can it.

Wait ... perhaps a female leader could ... or we do just shame it away by letting it see the light of day year after year after year ...

Because after awhile, people tire of being made the fool

The hard questions often have the most simple answers.

Why do people laugh and grin at our press conferences?

Why are senior leadership met with not-infrequent contempt from members of Congress?

Why do the smartest JOs seem to also be the most cynical?

Well, it is one thing to have trouble costing out a huge warship like the DDG(sic)-1000. You can even cut people some slack with something as complicated as the F-22/35. But ... via Brendan McGarry;
The Navy’s MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned chopper developed by Northrop Grumman Corp. ... had “critical” cost overruns of more than 50 percent over original projections, according to a summary of the Defense Department’s latest Selected Acquisition Reports.
The Navy has already nixed plans to buy 17 more Fire Scouts over the next five years as part of its budget request for fiscal 2015, which begins Oct. 1. The move left the future of the program unclear.

Warren Comer, a spokesman for Falls Church, Va.-based Northrop, said Fire Scout has proven to be “highly successful” program. The company since 2011 has made three significant upgrades to the platform, including endurance, weapons and radar enhancements to support various types of missions, he said.

“These upgrades, originally contracted as separate rapid deployment efforts, are now being incorporated into the baseline program of record,” Comer said in an e-mail. “This allows the Fire Scout system to spend greater time supporting missions with fewer aircraft.”
The Navy had planned to buy a total of 126 of the aircraft, including seven prototypes and 119 production models, for an overall cost of $3.47 billion – a 33-percent increase from the original estimate of $2.6 billion, according to the Pentagon report.

The increase in unit cost was “due to an increased requirement for warfighter capabilities of the system and an overall reduction in the total air vehicle quantities being procured,” from 177 to 126, or 51 aircraft, the document states. Specific unit cost figures weren’t given.

The Navy stopped production of the MQ-8B after buying 30 of the aircraft with the Schweizer 333 airframe, according to a separate Pentagon test report from earlier this year. The service had considered switching to the Bell 407 airframe for the MQ-8C, another version of the drone based in part on requirements from U.S. Special Operations Command.

While the service has successfully integrated the Advanced Precision Weapon Kill System, which converts unguided Hydra rockets into precision-guided missiles, on the Fire Scout, “additional sea-based testing is required before the Navy can field a sea-based, weaponized unmanned aerial system,” the test report states.
Nothing says "highly successful program" more than being cancelled.

The whole helo-drone program was a good experiment, but as with many experiments as of late - it was as oversold as the verbiage in your #1 MP LT's FITREP.

Overpromise and underdeliver; never a good business model.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fullbore Friday

As the Ukrainians and everyone else is learning again, international law, custom, and just plain good manners are only useful if everyone agrees to stick by them - otherwise they are about as useful and valuable as the air and paper they are on.

When power wants something, they will think about taking it. They can especially be prompted when power is facing what they see as weakness.

Weakness, however, can be deceiving. As in any venture with human beings, there is a wildcard variable there - leadership. 

Just looking on paper, what are we looking at here on a windswept island in the middle of the Atlantic. 
The General Armstrong had passed Sandy Hook on the 9th, sailing from New York (with) ... their one 42-pounder long gun and eight long 9-pounders ... On the evening of 26 September 1814, the American privateer ... lay quietly at anchor in the harbor at Fayal, in the Azores.
Keeping her company at that neutral port;
(HMS) Carnation (an) 18-gun brig ... HMS Plantagenet , a third-rate 74-gun ship-of-the-line, and HMS Rota , a 38-gun frigate.
I'm just going to pull Act II of a three act play that our friend LCDR BJ Armstrong, (USN) reviews in the latest edition of Naval History with his article, A Daring Defense in the Azores.

Privateer or not - this is clearly in the finest traditions of the naval service, and a great example for those who find themselves on paper in a hopeless situation;
The second attack began at midnight. A dozen British boats came on in close order and in single file. Reid’s men had spent the entire evening at their stations, and the General Armstrong was prepared. When all the boats were in range, the captain gave the order to fire and musket and cannon balls from the privateer smashed into the approaching craft. Sailors and marines in the boats returned fire with carronades, swivel guns, and small arms. Blasts from the privateer’s 42-pounder long gun, nicknamed “Long Tom,” however, staggered the British line. After a moment of disorder, the attackers recovered and raised three cheers. The boats then broke from the disciplined line of advance and, with tars pulling hard at their oars, raced for the American schooner, reaching her bow and starboard quarter.

As men in the boats grappled the General Armstrong ’s sides, the Americans heard British officers shout an order: “Board!” Stepping away from the big guns, the privateer’s crewmen took up any weapon at hand. With muskets, pistols, cutlasses, and boarding pikes they met the first group over the rail with a ferocious counterattack. Driven back into their boats, the British reorganized and made another attempt, but were once again cut down by the defenders.

The American crewmen at the bow, with Reid at their side, decimated their attackers as the bloody back and forth of assault and repulse continued. After 20 minutes, Reid received word from the division defending the stern of the ship that Second Lieutenant Alexander Williams had been killed and Third Lieutenant Robert Johnson wounded. Without leadership, the defenders there had begun to fall back.

Reid joined the aft division and rallied the men. After unleashing a fresh volley of musket fire, they charged and forced the British back over the stern rail. Forty minutes after the first shots had been fired, following wave after wave of boarding attempts, the attackers had been routed. As musket shots continued from the deck of the privateer, some of the British sailors and marines dove overboard and swam ashore to escape the bloodbath. Finally several of the boats limped away, others drifted across the harbor, and three remained lashed to the bow and stern of the General Armstrong , filled with the mangled bodies of the dead and wounded.

The Americans looked around their debris-strewn deck as quiet descended on Fayal Harbor. Long Tom had been dismounted in the fight, and several of the carriages of the smaller guns shattered. Wreckage lay all around them, both from the ship and in the form of six wounded sailors and the body of Lieutenant Williams. But the magnitude of the British loss was entirely different. With hundreds of men having participated in the attack, they reported suffering 36 sailors and marines killed and more than 80 wounded. Based on discussions with British officers after the battle, the Americans and Portuguese put the number closer to 120 dead. Reid would report two of his crew killed, seven wounded.
Of course, you need to read the whole thing.

Not an isolated event either. After reading this accounting I realized that in no small measure, I probably owe my existence to Captain Reid. 

You see, there was a second order effect of the action with the crew of the GENERAL ARMSTRONG that greatly increased the odds of your humble blogger's ancestors would survive the action that they were soon to be involved with as part of a rag-tag group of militiamen under an irascible Major General named Jackson.