Friday, August 12, 2022

Fullbore Friday

At the end of the day, when we are all called home, how would you want to be remembered?

As a naval officer, what legacy do you wish to leave? 

Few mortals know the day and time, but if you are looking for a benchmark, you would be hard pressed not to look to Captain Paul Rinn, USN and say, "That. Him. There."

As skipper of the frigate Samuel B. Roberts, Capt. Rinn took his crew into the war-torn Persian Gulf where they joined other U.S. warships protecting Kuwaiti tankers that had been reflagged as American vessels during the Iran-Iraq War. Returning from a convoy on April 14, the frigate struck an Iranian contact mine, which blew a massive hole in the hull.

The explosion broke the Roberts’s keel and knocked out its electrical power. The ship immediately began taking on water. But Capt. Rinn had prepared his crew for such an emergency, crew members recalled, and over four grueling hours they saved the vessel, which the Navy repaired and kept in service for another 27 years.

The fight to save Samuel B. Roberts remains a case study in combat preparedness and a model emulated by successive generations of commanding officers, said Bryan McGrath, a retired U.S. Navy destroyer captain and consultant.

“Captain Rinn had enormous influence in the way that captains who commanded after him approached their job,” Capt. McGrath said. “What we all heard from our captains and what we all heard from the training pipeline was a similar story: We’re going to practice this over and again, until it’s perfect. And then we’re going to practice it perfectly over and over again.

“That’s what I told my crew maybe 500 times. That is the legacy of Paul Rinn and the lessons that came out of Samuel B. Roberts: They were ready. They had prepared. They had actually thought through things. And they performed when it was most important.”

We unexpectedly lost Captain Rinn last week;

Paul X. Rinn, a Vietnam War veteran and ship captain who in 1988 led a desperate effort to save a U.S. Navy vessel from sinking after it struck an Iranian mine, died Aug. 3. He was 75.

His inspirational leadership in the face of crisis made him an icon among fellow sailors long after his retirement at the rank of captain in 1997. He served 29 years in the Navy and settled in Fairfax Station, eventually turning full-time to lecturing on military leadership and shipboard operations at the service’s professional schools and elsewhere.

Capt. Rinn died unexpectedly while in Boston for a speaking engagement, his family said. A cause of death was not provided.

Very nice job by David Larter and Brad Pensiton. You should take the time to read the whole obit.

If you didn't catch the interview we did with Brad on Midrats about his book on Captain Rinn's crew and the Sammy B., No Higher Honor.

You can catch the podcast here.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Diversity Thursday


The legal system works at the speed of smell, but we are getting closer to what may be one of the most important civil rights cases to come in front of the Supreme Court in the last half century.

There are new readers coming to CDRSalamander every day, so once again let me set the foundation. The cornerstones are rather simple but essential for our wondrously polyglot experimental republic to survive; persons deserve to be judged as individuals; individuals deserve equal opportunity; people deserve to be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin; no favor should be given to nor ill-favor placed on any person based on something they can do nothing about – their race, creed, color, or national origin, etc.

With that out of the way – it really should be self-evident, but the excessively emotive on this topic sometimes need a reminder – let us get back to the subject of todays DivThu.

The case in question is Students for Fair Admission v. President and Fellows of Harvard College & the University of North Carolina that is finally on the docket of SCOTUS. In summary, universities have shamefully been discriminating against different ethnic groups in favor of those they deem more desirable. Merit, objective criteria for success, academic excellence, and all those things one would expect to be determining factors are not what is driving the zero-sum game that is admissions. No, the diversity industry (those who derive financial, power, or psychological gain from promoting discrimination), have their metrics and they must be met. Turning their stated goals on it head, they are not about equal opportunity or the elimination of discrimination or sectarian division, instead they have decided that they want to use these evil methods to pursue their own goal; equity.

Stuck in a mid-20th Century mindset, they desire to legally be able to discriminate against people born in the 21st Century based on their race, creed, color, etc while at the same time, picking a desired group that they want to give preferential treatment to based on self-identified criteria.

Regulars of DivThu know the extended commentary. New people can click the “Diversity” tab to review if they wish.

This is where the military comes in.

It didn't have to weigh in on this political topic - but ideologs decided they needed a shield of political retired General and Flag Officers ... so be it.

Shots fired. Let the battle be joined. 

As we have documented through the last two decades – the military (especially at the service academies) have protested that they do not discriminate in admissions, but of course we know they do. Many of us have seen the data. As the data became known, then the excuses and smoke screens came out, but in the last half decade or more as the light of truth became brighter on their actions, they decide to turn in to the skid and claim, “Yes, we discriminate. Discrimination is a good thing. We will keep doing it. You will like it, and if you protest against our bigotry we will call you a bigot.” 

You know the drill.

In this case that involves college admissions, the natsec left decided that they would service-shame the civilian side of the house by gathering a bunch of retired senior officers to – and this is the amazing part – say, “Universities need to be allowed to discriminate, because if you don’t let them discriminate, then we won’t be able to discriminate. We love discrimination and we will lose all our wars if we can’t continue.”

Strange flex, and I’m taking a little artistic license with their verbiage, but there it is.

Well, some interesting things have come out that connect two cases, one from 2015, and the other the one that is the subject in today’s post.

I’d like you to look over two amici curiae. The first one from 2015’s Fisher vs. University of Texas at Austin.  You can read the details of the case here.

There was an amici curiae filed in 2015 that you can read here signed by 34 retired senior officers, a former Senator and Medal of Honor recipient, and one of Bill Clinton’s Army Secretary, Joe Reeder. Remember that name…he is one of the major players in the 2015 and 2022 efforts.

In their amici curiae they state;

In Grutter, Justice O’Connor, writing for the majority, stated:

It has been 25 years since Justice Powell first approved the use of race to further an interest in student body diversity in the context of public higher education. . . . We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today. 539 U.S. at 343. 

History may prove Justice O’Connor’s prediction prescient, but the day that racial preferences are no longer necessary to achieve student body diversity in the context of public higher education has not yet arrived. 

That was always a great gift to those who have been fighting this fight for so long. At last, a high profile “Ref. A” out in the open so that no one is silent due to a whole variety of reasons, that, yes, the military does discriminate.

People – though a shrinking pool of the ideological and ignorant – still claim that this does not take place, but even those who did not see it firsthand now at least had a Ref. A. to push

So, we now have Students for Fair Admission v. President and Fellows of Harvard College & the University of North Carolina. If you need the details of that case, click here.

We have a 2022 amici curiae for this case as well with Joe Reeder and his law firm again at the front.

We have this time 35 (33 retired GOFO plus Sen. Kerry and Reeder) signing on vice 36. Their Summary of the Argument seven years later from Fisher reads in part;

Prohibiting educational institutions from using modest, race-conscious admissions policies would impair the military’s ability to maintain diverse leadership, and thereby seriously undermine its institutional legitimacy and operational effectiveness. Amici respectfully request that, in considering whether to reverse decades of precedent affirming the constitutionality of such admissions policies, the Court will continue to consider how such policies enable the military to serve our Nation’s security interests.

What a gift to truth. Their policies can never survive the light of day. They can try to defend it – but especially as our nation becomes even more mixed-heritage – as the people are WAY ahead of the entrenched sectarians – fewer people are going to see any positive attribute to having government institutions line up with some outdated “one drop” rule, or look the other way to red in tooth and claw racial self-identification fraud for fun and profit.

Nope, however, there are some retire GOFO who are quite happy to. 

Let’s look at those 34 GOFO who signed on in 2015 and see which way the wind is blowing. Of those 34 GOFO, 15 returned to sign the 2022 document.


What about the other 19? Well, three have passed away (Clemins, Griffith, and Neal) and one LTG Becton, USA (Ret.) is 96 years old. That leaves 15 who decided that 2022 is a different time and it was time to reassess.

Those who signed on in 2015 but did not return in 2022 were Abizaid, Brown, Casey, Dunwoody, Fogleman, Giambastiani, Keane, Maddox, Magnus, Powell, Prueder, Regni, Rondwau, Schwartz, and Tilelli. 

The highest profile the non-repeats are Abizaid, Casey, Fogleman, Keane, & Powell. That begs  the question, "What caused them not to join?" They will have to answer that on their own.

Who are the repeat defender who are doubling down on pro-discrimination? Blair, Christman, Clark, Hill, Inman, Jumper, Lennox, Lyles, Mullen (of course), Myers, and Oelstrom.

Look aback at who the high-profile non-repeats are. That is quite the group who did not return. Who replaced them? Abbot, Bolden, Bostick, Brooks, Carter, Caslen, Dunford, Haney, Johnson, McRaven (of course), Miller, Robinson, and Scaparotti. 

Who is high-profile in this group? Dunford, McRaven, and Scaparotti I think.

This is a great filtering mechanism to see who is who in the zoo, so to speak. A Salamander Pardon to 2015 alumni will be provided to those who did not show up in 2022, and BZ to a few high profile people whose name is not on either and will given a respectful nod to.

However, to come back in 2022 knowing the details of what this case is … that is just plain clear as day what these people support.


A final note, an organization called Veterans for Fairness and Merit also submitted an amici curiae for the latest case. You can read it in full here, but of note; remember the alumni from 2015? General Ronald R. Fogleman, USAF (Ret.) is on that amici curiae. He saw the light and didn’t just demur, put his name to it.


Watch this case. It is time that we meet the promise of our nation’s founding and to address the reality of the 21st Century. The time for racial discrimination and preferences is over. No more sectarianism.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Saki’s Lessons for WESTPAC

Was it Ukrainian Special Operations forces? Did the Ukrainians operationalize their Grom SRBM? Did the USA sneak in some ATACMS along with HARM missiles to strike Saki Airbase in Russian occupied Crimea?

My bet is in that order, and in time we will find out … but there is one thing I do know for sure; this is just another reminder that this regional conflict is telling us a lot about what we need to understand about the future of war that will manifest itself in the likely big war to come in the Western Pacific.

Multiple explosions on Tuesday rocked a Russian air base in occupied Crimea — killing at least one and wounding several others, Russian authorities said.

Videos circulating on social media purported to show large explosions at a military airfield in the Saki district of Crimea, a disputed peninsula annexed by Russian forces in 2014.

Russian state media reported one death at the airfield, and at least five wounded.

“We have blasts at the airfield. All the windows are broken,” Viktoria Kazmirova, deputy head of the occupation government in Crimea, told Russian outlet TASS.

Local residents reported hearing 12 explosions coming from the base. Russian officials said the explosions were caused by the detonation of several ammunition stores.

Not unlike how the Spanish Civil War gave hints to what WWII would look like, the Russo-Ukrainian War today is showing shadows of what is to come.

From drones, to highly accurate long range precision fires by conventional ballistic and cruise missiles, to exceptionally well-trained special forces – if you have a high percentage of your air forces, supply depots, maintenance facilities, and ammunition magazines within range of your enemy – if they have the ability, they will attack them. If you concentrate your forces, you distill your operational risk to an essential vulnerability too attractive not to attack.

The Russians are lucky that the pre-war Ukrainian government and its blinkered Western advisors did not have the Ukrainians properly ready for the war that came this February. 

America and her allies do not have that luxury in the Pacific west of Wake. There is no larger power who will send us meaningful amounts of aid to cover our peace time distraction.

The People’s Republic of China’s rocket forces have our bases covered. You can safely assume that the PRC’s clandestine services are good and well set. They know what needs to be done. They have been preparing for decades and the Russo-Ukrainian War shows they were on the correct path.

If we continue to assume that we will be able to have access and use of these fixed facilities in any future conflict for more than a day or two, we are setting ourselves up for an inability to operate forward.

Yes, this is an election season, but time is short and our leaders need to act now.

We need to start to better distribute our risk, faster – especially maintenance and rearming. Otherwise, we will find ourselves – once again – pushed back east of Wake and south of New Guinea for the second time in a century in the opening months of a global war that will last years – one fate does not guarantee we will win this time. 

Photo credit NZHerald.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Overspec'd, Overpriced, all Navy: Bob Work on Institutional Addictions

Last Wednesday I had a few observations on Jerry Hendrix's latest article over at National Review, The Navy’s Littoral Hubris.”

Yesterday in comments, a man familiar to readers here, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, weighed in with some counterpoints that I feel need to be brought above the fold for your consideration.

With his permission, I've copied his comments in full.

There are the bones of one hell of a book here in six short paragraphs.  

Bob, over to you;

As he always does, my good friend Jerry writes a compelling, well written post. However, I think he misses an important point. The problems the Navy has faced has less to do about technological hubris and more with incompetence in developing cost-informed requirements and executable support processes.

Let's start with the Ford CVN. Back in the day-- around the time of the 1993 Bottom Up Review, long before the word transformation had found its way into Pentagon thinking--the Navy and Air Force were competing for the "rapid halt" mission. The thinking went that the enemy could launch an invasion of allied territory at a time of their own choosing. The job of the Joint Force was to halt the invasion as quickly as possible through intense guided munitions bombardment. The Air Force argued the best way to do this was using bombers and regionally based aircraft, which enjoyed a big advantage in sortie rates from land bases. The Navy was intent on proving they could match sortie generation rates from forward deployed carriers. To do that, they needed a new electromagnetic catapult system; an electromagnetic arresting system; new high speed low drag elevators, etc etc etc. They called for these new capabilities with no clear understanding of the cost to get them, or a sensible land-based prototyping and testing approach to work out the bugs before shipboard integration. It is true that OSD demanded that all the new technologies be incorporated into the first ship of class of the new CVNX (later Ford), rather than inserting them over the first three hulls. That caused a technology integration overload. But the original sin was setting new requirements with no clue how much it might cost to get them.

Then came the DD-21, aka DD(X), aka DDG-1000. The surface community knew that the 31-ship Spruance class was going to start decommissioning starting in 2005 (that was the plan, anyway). The community needed a plan to replace them. The community was also tired of taking a back seat behind the carrier and sub forces, a circumstance they were force to tolerate throughout the long Cold War. And it wanted to get in on the rapid halt mission. The arsenal ship was a conceptual start point. But the surface community wanted something even more exotic. So they called for a stealthy surface ship with deep magazines--missiles, or guns, or both. OSD was not the one pushing the stealth design. That was all Navy. And, in the end, the Navy designed a 15,000-ton battle cruiser with a hull that was literally too expensive to produce. The ship suffered the same technological overload at the Ford class, but the over-spec-ing of the ship was all Navy, not OSD. Again, these were sins of the Navy.

The LCS is a more complicated story. OSD told the Navy that OSD would not support their DD(X) unless there was a smaller combatant in the Navy's battle force. The Navy decided to get out of the frigate business during the 1997 QDR--again, a Navy decision. This meant the smallest surface combatant in the 21st century fleet would have a full load displacement of nearly 9,000 tons (DDG-51 Flt I). OSD didn't think the Navy could afford to build and maintain such a fleet. They were, of course, spot on...see fleet of today. The ONLY requirement OSD levied on the LCS program was that the Navy needed to be able to build three of the ships for the same cost as a DDG-51. And guess what? The Navy hit that mark. We just forget about it--and how important a metric it was.

Cost aside, the crewing, training, maintenance and deployment process decisions were all the Navy's to make. But every choice ultimately proved to be beyond the ability of the surface community to execute them. This was a case of process, not technological, overload. It appears the surface community may be finally figuring things out on the ship. But no objective review of the LCS fleet transition plan would conclude anything other than it was abysmally bungled.

The reason I think we have to remember these vignettes is we need to ask ourselves if we are about ready to repeat the process. IT DOES NOT MATTER THAT THE NAVY CHOSE A PROVEN DESIGN FOR FFGX. The Navy is cramming as many requirements and capabilities into the FFGX hull as they can. Eric Lab at CBO is convinced the Navy has once again overspec'd the ship and underestimated the costs to build it. I hope he is wrong. But if we can't build a minimum of two FFGXs for the cost of a DDG FltIII, it is not clear it is worth the cost, or the smaller fleet it will inevitably lead to.

Robert O. Work spent 27 years on active duty as a Marine artillery and MAGTF officer. He is a former Undersecretary of the Navy and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security. He served as the Deputy Secretary of Defense alongside three Secretaries of Defense spanning both the Obama and Trump administrations.

Monday, August 08, 2022

China to the Slot

The US military and her Commonwealth allies lost over 10,000 men killed in the Solomon Islands Campaign in WWII. 

Over 40 USN ships were sunk, 800 aircraft shot down.

We killed almost 90,000 Japanese, sunk over 50 of her ships, and destroyed over 1,500 of her aircraft to kick her out. 

You should know the map and the names.

How many warships do we have named after this campaign from battles to those who fought in it? 

How have we honored this legacy? How have we maintained this legacy?

We've been reporting on our lack of stewardship in the islands of the Western Pacific for years now, and things are getting more attention, but still do not seem to be getting much better as, step by step, the People's Republic of China keeps advancing. 

The latest news?

Chinese state-owned company is negotiating to buy a forestry planation with a deep-water port and World War II airstrip in Solomon Islands amid persistent concerns that China wants to establish a naval foothold in the South Pacific country.

A delegation from China Forestry Group Corp. visited the plantation that covers most of Kolombangar Island in 2019, asking questions about the length of the wharf and depth of the water while showing little interest in the trees, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported on Monday.

The board of Kolombangara Forest Products Ltd., the takeover target known as KFPL which is owned by Taiwanese and Australian shareholders, wrote to the newly elected Australian government in May warning of the “risks/strategic threats” posed to Australia by such a sale, the ABC reported.
If that name does not ring a bell, let me help you out a bit.
On August 2, 1943, Moses and Koete were part of a team of eight scouts, working as indigenous guerrilla fighters, saboteurs, and spies behind enemy lines, feeding information on the movements of the Japanese back to the Allies. After witnessing an explosion at sea before dawn on August 2, they searched the atolls around Kolombangara for survivors of what they assumed to have been a shipwreck. On August 4 the scouts found the survivors, terribly dehydrated and sunburned, but alive. It transpired that a Japanese destroyer had cut an American torpedo boat in half and the surviving American crew had been swimming between atolls for days. This crew was led by a young lieutenant called John F. Kennedy.
There is a lot of American history here - not that our professional historians teach it all that much anymore as opposed to their trendy group-think causes of the quarter.

Also, what do you notice on this map?

There she is, Vella Gulf ... as in the Battle of Vella Gulf;
In Vella Gulf shortly before midnight, with the two divisions in formation 4,000 yards apart, they probed Blackett Strait; then turned north along the Kolombangara coast. Soon, radar contact was made with four Japanese destroyers carrying reinforcements for Kolombangara and closing on a course for Blackett Strait at a relative speed of nearly 50 knots. Less than ten minutes later, Division A-1 had maneuvered into position—exactly as planned—and fired 24 torpedoes. As it turned away to evade any Japanese response, Division A-2 crossed ahead of the oncoming Japanese formation to attack from a new direction.

After what seemed like an eternity, Division A-1’s torpedoes hit all four Japanese ships, blasting the first three and holing the rudder of the fourth. Division A-2 promptly opened gun and torpedo fire, completing the destruction of the three destroyers while the fourth, unseen, got away. The two divisions lingered, trying to pick up survivors but they refused rescue; Division A-2 then followed Division A-1 in retiring down the Slot, having sustained no damage or casualties.

The Battle of Vella Gulf, the U.S. Navy’s first independent destroyer action in the South Pacific, marked a turning point in American surface warfare. Coming a full year after the Guadalcanal landing, it showed that our weapons worked, that our doctrine was sound and that a surprise torpedo attack—delivered by destroyers as the primary attack unit—could be devastating to the enemy.
We like that battle because we won - where a a few months earlier the Japanese got a "W" at the Battle of Klomangara.

That is why we have a USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) and not a USS Klomangara.

Why does this matter today - these old battles?

The Solomon Islands were worth hundreds of thousands of lives last century for a reason. Nations may change in power dynamics in the Pacific, but geography does not.

Look at the Pacific from the Chinese perspective and it all makes sense.

If you want to delay the American navy from threatening your seaboard, you make her fight her way there.

If you want to threaten SLOC between North American and Australia, you have to control the Solomons at a minimum.

This is all known, or should be known. The Chinese sure know it. 

Chart credit to Rhodes Cartography.

Sunday, August 07, 2022

China’s Decade to Win with Jim Fanell - on Midrats


Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan managed to bring the national security eyeballs back to the Western Pacific after half a year in Eastern Europe.

The People’s Republic of China has not been distracted by the Russo-Ukrainian War any more than she was with our two decades distraction in Central and Southwest Asia. She remains focused on two things:

- Pushing America to her side of the Pacific.

- Establish herself as the primary regional and then global power.

Where does China stand today, and where is she heading for the rest of the decade?

We have a great guest this Sunday at 3pm Eastern to dive in to these and related topics, James E. Fanell, Captain, USN (Ret.)

Jim concluded a near 30-year career as a naval intelligence officer specializing in Indo-Pacific security affairs, with an emphasis on China's navy and operations.  His most recent assignment was the Director of Intelligence and Information Operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet following a series of afloat and ashore assignments focused on China, as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence for the U.S. Seventh Fleet aboard the USS Blue Ridge as well as the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier strike group both forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.  Ashore he was the U.S. Navy's China Senior Intelligence Officer at the Office of Naval Intelligence.  

In addition to these assignments, he was a National Security Affairs Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and is currently a Government Fellow with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in Switzerland and the creator and manager of the Indo-Pacific Security forum Red Star Risen/Rising since 2005.

Join us live if you can, but it not, you can get the show later by subscribing to the podcast. 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. You can find us on almost all your most popular podcast aggregators as well.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Fullbore Friday

Listen to this story and think ... today's challenges are not really that great ... are they?

We posted this shortly after Jim's death nine years ago. I think he deserves a replay.
Jim Muri, a Montanan whose legendary flying prowess saved his stricken bomber and crew during the Battle of Midway in World War II, died Sunday at age 93.

Muri earned national recognition and became the subject of a popular song for his exploits during the battle, June 4-6, 1942. He piloted a twin-engine B-26 bomber, one of dozens of land-based aircraft that attacked a massive Japanese invasion fleet on the opening morning of the battle.

Muri’s plane endured withering attacks from Japanese fighters and anti-aircraft fire during the harrowing flight. After completing a torpedo attack against the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi, Muri probably saved his plane and his crew by flying lower than treetop level above the deck of the massive ship. He reasoned that skimming the flight deck, end to end, gave him the best chance to survive.

You can get some nice visuals to the above interview at the 7:34 point in the video below.

First posed Feb 2013.