Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Strikes Seem to Work

There is so much going on with the T-45/F-18 O2 problem that it is hard to get your head around exactly what is the most interesting.

Is it the fact that this has been a known problem for over twice the time it took to fight WWII and nothing was seriously done until now?

Is it the cycles of aviation leadership that couldn't or refused to see it as an issue ... or decided the easier thing to do was to shift the problem in to someone else's PCS cycle?

Is it the hubris of engineers who put more faith in their theories than the facts in the aircraft?

Hard to say, but what I find most interesting is the fact that what finally got things moving was after a body of the best junior officers in Naval Aviation went on strike.

There is a broad and deep well of trust junior officers in aviation have in their aviation leadership. It is a byproduct of the shared risk they take in the aircraft and the trust you have in each other, regardless of paygrade, in a world where even the most routine flight holds a chance of death from a whole host of reasons, most beyond the control of the pilot.

As there is this shared risk and background, there isn't a belief that your leadership would knowingly put your life in risk for anything but the mission.

Sure, you may not personally like your leadership, may not think some are as good at flying than you are, and perhaps even eyeroll at their careerism ... but it takes a lot for you to finally run out of confidence in them when it comes to safely operating the aircraft. NATOPS is written in blood ... etc ... etc ... etc.

For goodness sakes, in Navy and USMC aviation we have relieved Commodores and Flag Officers who have gundecked annual written tests and check flights.

That is why the IP's revolt and its aftermath are so interesting.

Absolutely nothing would have been done without it ... which is why it happened. The collective opinion of the best aviation junior officers realized that the well of trust had gone dry, and they had to do something for their concerns to break through. Sad commentary, but it happened.

Word did get through. Via Mark Faram over at NavyTimes;
The commander of the Pacific Fleet, Adm. Scott Swift, will lead a month-long review of the recent physiological episodes experienced by pilots flying in the T-45 and F/A-18 aircraft.

The rash of incidents involving pilots in flight who had trouble breathing prompted the Navy to ground the T-45 trainer aircraft in early April. Dozens of Navy flight instructors had refused to fly the aircraft.

In response, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran issued a short memo to Swift telling him to investigate and respond “within 30-days,” according to a copy of the April 21 memo obtained by Navy Times.

“To better inform future operational, fiscal and personnel decisions, [Swift] is directed to lead a comprehensive review of the facts, circumstances and processes surrounding the recent PE’s involving T-45 and F-18 aircrews to include how these issues have been addressed,” Moran wrote.
...
"The seriousness in which I view these incidents is reflected in the seniority of those leading this review,” Moran said in an April 24 Navy press release. “They will provide a full and open accounting to our aviation community, their families and the public."
The right thing to do, finally.

What will they find out, and what will the resolution be? That is a story still to be told.

Until then, BZ to the IPs and their revolt - and the senior leaders for listening.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Your Future? Bio-ethnic Warfare

I'm not sure a good word has been coined yet for the weaponized by-product of the advances of understanding DNA, our ability to manipulate and target DNA, and the power of modern computing ... so I'll coin one for today's use; Bio-ethnic warfare.

Advancing technology is dove-tailing with a regressing sectarianism that emphasizes race and ethnicity.

What has been for years simply a "what if" is on the cusp of "when?" 

Combine the technology of "23 & Me" and "Ancestry DNA" to a sociopathic ethno-nationalist, and what do you get?
Some scientists have raised the still-controversial idea that as the availability of basic genetic engineering techniques also rises, it could become easier to create new, more sophisticated weapons, perhaps targeted to the DNA of an individual or even an entire ethnic group.

Last month, former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman — who has been warning of biological attack since before 9/11 and has said the United States has been “damn lucky” to avoid it — called on President Donald Trump and Congress to make biodefense a national priority.

In a 2010 paper, former CIA officer Rolf Mowatt-Larssen described how al-Qaida wanted to acquire biological weapons with roughly the same level of priority that it sought a stolen nuclear weapon. It never came close to getting either, focusing instead on more conventional attacks.
If I were to place bets, it wouldn't be a large nation or trans-national terrorist organization that would first use this technology. The risk for blow-back etc for most nations and organizations would be too great. No - I think the real danger is a small group of like minded sociopaths or a cult would be the party to step forward.

Jim Jones meets 12-Monkeys;
The greatest danger may come if any of the handful of people who have relevant expertise decide to mount solo attacks. After anthrax-filled envelopes began to appear in government and other offices in late 2001, FBI agents concluded that a microbiologist and U.S. Army researcher, Bruce Ivins, was likely responsible and was believed to have acted alone. Ivins committed suicide in 2007, shortly before his planned arrest; a panel of scientists later cast doubt on the FBI’s evidence against him.

There are other dangers. If the regime in North Korea were to collapse, some worry Pyongyang could unleash its biological arsenal, which may include smallpox.

World War I saw the emergence of chemical warfare, World War II the atomic bomb. The next era-defining superweapon, some experts have long warned us, could be biological.
Do you know your haplogroup? With whom do you share that haplogroup, and would anyone want to eliminate you?

Have a great week!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fullbore Friday


Speaking of oil in the water off Louisiana. 
U-Boats in the Gulf you ask? Oh, yea.

Now and then, I have to tip my hat to the men of the German U-boat fleet. They didn't have the great submarines like we did - no, not even close. But what they did with them ... it is still amazing.

In the summer of 1942, U-166 patrolled the Gulf of Mexico in searches for a new victim. Steamer Robert E. Lee appeared 70 kilometers from the Mississippi mouth on July 30. The passenger carrier of 5184 tons displacement was going from Trinidad escorted with a PC-566 cruiser. There were over 400 passengers on board the vessel, mostly technical specialists and seamen rescued from sunk ships. The cruiser contacted with the coast station over the air and reported its coordinate position; it was a fatal mistake as the negotiations were intercepted by the German submarine.

The U-166 captain Kullmann ordered to immediately open fire against the ship. People on board the passenger carrier saw a white foamy trace on the sea surface and then a torpedo explosion followed. Marshal Charlton, who was a sailor on Robert E. Lee steamer tells: ?We felt a quick bump, as if the ship ran against a stone wall. The torpedo got into the engine-room and smashed it to pieces.¦ The steamer got a serious breach and sank very quickly; passengers on Robert E. Lee were rather lucky v only 25 people sank.

German submariners were eager to find out whether the hunting was a success. They got so used to remain unpunished for their doings in the Gulf of Mexico that U-166 surfaced without any cautiousness. PC-566 seamen rescued passengers from the steamer, then they noticed the hostile submarine and showered it with depth-bombs. One of them hit the fore body. A catastrophe was inevitable, and the submarine broke into two pieces just in few minutes and sank. The debris went down at a depth of about 1.500 meters in Mississippi-s underwater canyon. Not far from the dilapidated submarine hull, was lying an awkward carcass of the steamer that it torpedoed.

Germany waited for any information from U-166 in vain. No information about the submarine appeared after July 30, 1942, that is why U-166 and its crew of 52 seamen were considered missing.

In almost 60 years, at the beginning of 2001, researches were held at the sea bottom for further laying of oil pipelines there. By that time, the place where Robert E. Lee steamer sank was known, as its framework was found in 1986 already. However, when measurement was done, underwater robots detected strange anomalies of the sea bottom near the place where the steamer was lying. Maritime archeologists joined the researches and determined that wreckage of a submarine of the IX-C class were quite close to the steamer.

But what was the submarine that American pilots bombed not fat from the Mississippi delta? On July 24-25, 1942, U-166 executed a secret mission in the Gulf of Mexico near the Mississippi mouth and laid mined there. In that very place U-166 came across U-171, a giant submarine of the same class. In several days, an American plane noticed U-171.

The pilots decided to attack the submarine. Submarine specialist Krist says that the pilots had one depth-bomb weighing 120 kilograms. ?It would have been an exceptional case if the pilots had managed to sink a submarine of the IX-C class. But no miracle happened.¦

The American pilots remained above the place where they dropped the bomb for an hour. They even saw an oil spot spreading on the sea surface, that is the reason why they were sure that they managed to sank a submarine. But out of the whole number of 
German submarines that furrowed the Gulf of Mexico, only U-166 didn-t get back home from there. But it is unlikely that U-171 submarine seriously suffered from the dropped bomb, as the submarine moved away from the American shores. But the days of U-171 were also numbered: it was blown up when it approached the base in Lorient, near the French shores. Some members of the U-171 crew were saved, but 22 men were killed.U-166 suffered the same fate that majority of the Nazi Germany-s submarines did. Within ten years, 1935-1945, over a half of submarines out of the whole number of 1167 didn-t get back from their combat missions. German historians sum up losses of the enemy: 2900 vessels and 33 thousand seamen at the cost of the life of 30 thousand German submariners.Underwater pictures of the U-166 framework and wreckage of the steamer that it sank lying side by side produce a painful impression: the hunter and the pray, the killer and the victim are lying together in one underwater grave, covered with sand and silt, almost forgotten. This is just another reminder of the war horrors.

The U-boat fleet suffered extremely heavy casualties, losing 743 U-boats.
From one of my favorite books of all time, Gaylord Kelshall's The U-Boat War in the Caribbean, the story is told in much greater detail.U-166 was a Type IXC U-boat commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Günther Kuhlmann, 28 years old.

He made 
three patrols - but his third, 44 days, is the one he is remembered for.

U-166:Displacement: (tons) 1,120 (sf); 1,232 (sm); 1,540 (total)
Length: (m) 76,76 oa; 58,75 ph
Beam: (m) 6,76 oa; 4,40 ph
Draught: (draft) 4,70 m
Height: 9,40 m
Power: (hp) 4400 (sf); 1000 (sm)
Speed: (knots) 18,3; (sf) 7,3 (sm)
Range:(miles/knots) 13450/10 (sf); 63/4 (sm)
Torpedoes: 22; 4/2 (bow/stern tubes)
Mines: 44 TMA
Deck gun: 105/45, 110 rounds
Crew: 48-56 men
Max depth: ca. 230m (755 feet)


First posted OCT 2010. New additions below.

Shot:



Chaser:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Diversity Thursday

It has been a month, and it is time.

Unlike most DivThu, I'm not going to be making many of the points, I will let others do that for me.

This doesn't quite fit as a DivThu either, but in the end it does because the same tactics used by Diversity Bullies who work out their own demons and insecurities on an isolated, undefended target are in play ... and if I had one I had 100 requests that I say something.

So, here you go.

Think about where you went to college. Does this meet the standards of a "Distinguished Graduate Award?"
Mr. Webb graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968, receiving a special commendation for his leadership contributions. First in his class of 243 at the Marine Corps Officer’s Basic School, he served as a rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam and was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts. He graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1975.

Mr. Webb served in Congress as counsel to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs from 1977 to 1981. In 1982 he led the fight to include an African American soldier in the Vietnam Veterans memorial on the National Mall. In 1984 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, and in 1987 became Secretary of the Navy.

He was a Fall 1992 Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

In addition to his public service, Mr. Webb has enjoyed a varied career as a writer. He taught literature at the Naval Academy. Traveling widely as a journalist, he received an Emmy Award for his PBS coverage of the U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1983, and in 2004 was embedded with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. A screenwriter and producer, his original story “Rules of Engagement” held the top slot in U.S. box offices for two weeks in April 2000. Mr. Webb has written ten books, including “Born Fighting,” a sweeping history of the Scots – Irish culture, and “Fields of Fire,” widely recognized as the classic novel of the Vietnam War.

Mr. Webb has six children and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Hong Le Webb. He speaks Vietnamese and has done extensive pro bono work with the Vietnamese community dating from the late 1970s.
Unspoken, of course - he was also a Senator.

But ...
Female U.S. Naval Academy alumni are protesting an award given to Jim Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran, former senator, and secretary of the Navy, because he argued against women in combat nearly four decades ago.
I'll save you all the emoting by people about how other people used Webb's article to hurt their feelings. You can read the whole article from 1979 here.

I'll let Aaron MacLean at the Free Beacon outline a few thinking points;
The most widely cited reason for his political toxicity is an article he wrote in 1979 (side note: almost forty years ago!) in Washingtonian Magazine entitled "Women Can't Fight." Never mind that he has apologized for both the vivid language of his youth and the ways in which the article made life difficult for women already in the service. ("Clearly, if I had been a more mature individual, there are things that I would not have said in that magazine article. To the extent that this article subjected women at the Academy or the armed forces to undue hardship, I remain profoundly sorry.") Never mind the fact that Webb was channeling the beliefs of the vast majority of his fellow infantrymen, if in somewhat impolitic language—or that even today, the vast majority of Marines of all grades oppose the inclusion of women in combat units. Never mind that in 1987, as secretary of the Navy, Webb opened a tremendous number of new positions in the service to women. Most of all, never mind that as of December 2015, combat units were all opened to women by order of then-Secretary of Defense Carter, overriding the objections of the Marine Corps (though not of the Army).

In other words, the proponents of including women in combat units have won. But, as the case of Webb shows, that's not enough. You have to salt the fields.

Returning to our midshipman, here is what the Naval Academy has taught you this week:

- Do not take a bold stand, especially in public. It does not matter if your argument is made honestly and in good faith, or if you are an expert on the matter of policy under discussion.
- Keep a keen sense of which way the political wind is blowing. Don't fight it—drift with it.
- No matter the number of your accomplishments or their objective prestige, you will be humiliated for once having promoted a Wrong Opinion.
- The more effectively and memorably you promoted the Wrong Opinion, the greater your punishment will be.
That is about right.

Captain Gary Storm, USN (Ret.) President of the USNA Class of '68 also made some great points;
... as Secretary of the Navy. It led to a historic increase in the opportunity for women to serve at sea and ashore. Jim approved tightening the Navy’s definition of “combat mission” to open nearly 9,300 sea billets to women. Aviation opportunities were also increased by authorizing women to serve with shore-based reconnaissance squadrons. These changes significantly increased the opportunities for women to serve in major command billets—an important factor in enhancing their career progression and prospects for promotion.

One of our classmates, Karl Krumbholz, was a member of the panel that researched and contributed to the writing of the Navy’s study in 1987. “As a Commander,” he said, “I was on the Sexual Harassment and Fraternization Panel. This was an enormously educational experience for us and raised awareness of women’s issues within the Navy. It clearly helped Jim make changes that improved the environment and opportunities for women going forward in their careers. The members of our study group brought a spectacular focus and desire to do a good job. In my view, as a former commanding officer, the study group’s recommendations that Jim approved were well beyond the thinking of my contemporaries at the time.”
Again, what more can this NROTC guy say?

For your additional ponderings about how and why Webb was attacked now, in the way he was; Rule 12 from Saul Alinsky;
"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.
You operationalize it as such.
You don’t communicate with anyone purely on the rational facts or ethics of an issue”. ... “moral rationalization is indispensable,” ... “clothe” one’s goals and strategies with “moral arguments”. But there can be no conversation with one’s opponents, for to converse with them is to humanize them.
My instincts were right to wait a month to comment on this sad little occurrence - mostly because I had to digest my own complicated feelings about Webb that long time members of the Front Porch are familiar with, no reason to go there again.

A month ago I was not all that happy that he backed out from receiving the award like he did, as it fit a pattern of his, but now I am having second thoughts.

I realized that I needed to look at his decision in the context of the cultural reference we both share; we are both from Old Line Scots-Irish families. When I think about it that way, it is all clear.

He dearly loves the Naval Academy. What he loves is weak and under the power of a force that is foam-flecked and inflexible. Nothing he could do by his presence would do any anything but to give that power more reasons to abuse and hurt that which he loves, as he was powerless to stop it and was without support. As such, there was no honorable option but to back away in sadness and regret - sadness and regret of what time and ill-treatment by others had done to the object of his affection.

He made the right call. Those who insist on judging people by what they said over 37 years ago and ignoring all they did afterwords - I hope in the future you are judged by the same standard.

Update: Did you know that there is a #DiversityThursday hashtag on facebook ... but none of the posts here (where it started) use it?

Instead, it is a happy tag by the Diversity Industm.ry. Huh. Shame if something should happen to it. Ahem.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Imperial City; Why They Hate Thee

I first fell in love with DC back in its slightly grimy 1980s. Even when the crack wars were raging and the rents were so low in Georgetown that you could have punk bars on main roads - I liked the city.

Like I did, it grew up and cleaned itself up over the last few decades. A little less radical, a lot less dangerous, but the cost of living burn rate is much higher.

In the last year or so, the screed against the DC establishment has been over the top in a few places causing a bit of eye-rolling by those who live in a commute distance, but the baseline critique is sound and growing. Reality on the ground backs it up.

I think some of my DC friends are a bit tired of my "Imperial City" warnings that I have been giving for years - well before the last election. They don't see the disconnect, as they live in the bubble. They don't see themselves as "The Other" because they are The Other surrounded by The Other.

Those in the Provinces look to DC and do not see "of the people, by the people, for the people" and for good reason.

Because no one really hears you until you are sick of telling them something, The Washington Examiner puts it out there again for folks in DC to ponder and sniff if they wish.

If you really want to understand why the rest of the country seems a bit insane, contemplate a bit if the problems isn't them, but you.
The two richest counties in America, and five of the seven richest, are in commuting distance of the U.S. Capitol. Big government is the cause.
...
Whereas Detroit once made cars, Hollywood makes movies, and New York finances the economy, Washington mostly makes government.

How does big government enrich D.C. and its denizens? What's the mechanism? There are a few ways.

Most straightforwardly but not most importantly, federal salaries are high and the benefits even higher. The average federal employee makes $84,153, about 50 percent more than the average private-sector worker. Sweet benefits such as health insurance for life make the gap even wider. Government unions argue that federal workers are underpaid. Their arguments are self-serving hogwash based on bad data and excluding benefits.
...
Home values have doubled since 2000 compared to a 35 percent increase in St. Louis and Milwaukee, to cite just two examples.

More federal spending means more wealth in the city that makes those decisions. More regulation also means more wealth there. A more complex tax code and higher tax rates means more and yet more.

The more businesses profit from federal contracts, bailouts, and regulatory arbitrage, the more swanky restaurants, opulent homes, and corporate headquarters Washington and its environs get.
I see no indications of the gap between the Imperial City and the Provinces changing anytime soon. As such, don't expect any coming together soon towards a trust in, and confidence with our government.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Thoughts on Turkey’s Turn

Over at his blog, Dani Rodrick is making a point about the latest from Turkey that is about center-mass for many of us who once had a sliver of hope that they would be wrong about Turkey’s drift;
I don’t write a lot on Turkey these days. … It’s partly because the subject is too depressing: try hard as I might, I really cannot find a good scenario developing over the years ahead.
I think of the many good Turkish officers I served with and their families. Culturally, they were modern, forward looking people almost as Western as I am. Sadly, history does not seem to be going in their direction.

Ataturk, one of the great men of the 20th Century, knew the problem and did what he could to push it back. The modernizers of the last few decades lost their spine … and so they will lose their secular and sporadically advancing republic, as imperfect as it was.

This seems reasonable;
Had he won the referendum with a comfortable margin, we might have consoled ourselves by thinking that the country would be moving into a calmer period. Erdogan might then have chosen to contest the next election for executive president – which will happen in 2019 latest -- as a unifier. But he lost all the major cities and may have needed some last minute skullduggery for the constitutional change to pass. So I do not see Erdogan easing up on his divisive rhetoric and policies anytime soon. 
Asked to predict Turkey’s future by a Turkish newspaper a while back, I said the country would end up looking like Malaysia at best and Afghanistan at worst. A liberal, secular path, with tolerance for diversity, civil liberties, and free speech no longer seems in the cards. That is still pretty much my prognosis.
Not a good day for anyone, but who lost Turkey? No one to blame but the Turks.