Friday, April 19, 2019

Fullbore Friday

An encore FbF from '07.

USS Utah (BB-31). Most people think of her from her days as a target for the Pacific Fleet, and then the Japanese. Well, like the Arizona, she lies in Pearl Harbor.....and has a great history of being one of the Big Boys. 

The girl in her prime.

And the mother of REAL Naval Infantry...

High res of the above pictures here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A World Awash in Pirates

The only thing better than a good chart, is an interactive chart.

Here's a screenshot from The Visual Capitalist with the last 40-years of piracy related events in port or the high seas.

Even better, go here for the interactive chart where you can get all the details.

There goes your AM.

H/t ZeroHedge.

Monday, April 15, 2019

We Need to Talk About Wargames

If someone comes to you to sell a certain CONOPS, strategy, or program and they open with, “We’ve wargamed this, and … “ – then immediately take everything that follows with a grain of salt. You are being either played by crafty people who think you a fool, or you are being bluffed by someone who really does not know what they are doing.

One of the most important things you can do in peace, or prior to any operation, is wargame, but it is a supporting activity, not a lead.

Wargaming is hard, takes time, and can create additional staffwork … which is why they can be unpopular, and sadly often not done or done improperly. That isn’t the problem with wargames – the problem with wargames is that they are not understood for what they are; games.

There are too many people who think that wargames are some kind of crystal ball, that they can tell you what the future holds. That is one of the most dangerous misconceptions out there.

Wargames are just a planning tool. They test out assumptions. They also allow, if you are lucky, for a creative Red Team to find your weaknesses and oversights.

Wargames are also a tool people with agendas use against the uninitiated and unassuming. You tell me the results you want, and I can create a set of wargames to will give you the results. Ask me to get the opposite result, and I can do that as well; with the same Blue Team, Red Team, White Team, and Green team – whatever rainbow of complications we start with.

Here’s how.

At their core, a wargame is about assumptions and the action/reaction to them. How much of this or that; how effective is this or that; what can or cannot be done from where; what you start with – what the opponent starts with. You can get vastly different results from tweaking any of those variables. (See Millennium Challenge 2002)

What wargames are not good at are measuring political will, morale, intent, and to a lesser extent (depending on the quality of the wargame), readiness.

It also cannot – often due to the compartmentalization of various capabilities – fully account for the role of intelligence, underappreciated capabilities, and of course, blind stinking luck.

In the last week, I’ve had some very smart people use the, “I was briefed by Admirals X,Y, & Z that they’ve wargamed _____, and it tells us that we need to get rid of _____ and expand _____.”

That set me off a bit, roughly in line with the above. Then today, we had this;
A Russian invasion would depend on rapidly seizing the Baltics in less than a hundred hours, presenting a fait-accompli before NATO can effectively respond. In 2016, wargames by the RAND think tank found that Russian forces could seize the capitals of Estonia and Latvia in between thirty-six to sixty hours—though the study may have been based on debatable assumptions.

Meanwhile, Russia’s cyber propaganda and disinformation campaigns would seek to turn international opinion against NATO “starting” a war against Russia’s “humanitarian intervention.” Moscow would essentially be gambling that Western European countries would be unwilling to risk nuclear war to liberate already-conquered Baltic states.

“Debatable assumptions.”

Any wargame of value has “debatable assumptions.” If done correctly, it will be followed by another wargame with equally “debatable assumptions.” THAT. IS. HOW. THEY. ARE. DONE.

If anyone tries to make a point with you by throwing wargame results in your face – without leading with a discussion about the “debatable assumptions” that went in to them – kick them out of your office. They are either trying to con you or don’t know what they are doing.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Fullbore Friday

How do you protest draconian defense cuts?

Well, this is one way.
Alan loved the RAF and felt its 50th anniversary should be celebrated with a flypast over London. There had been an official dinner and a few parades — but no flypast. This, he felt, was a terrible slight.

‘One thing that was in the Air Force’s blood was that you celebrated in the air, not on the ground,’ Alan, now 82, says at his home in Surrey.

He was serving at the time in No. 1 Squadron. This is the RAF’s oldest unit and as such he believed it had a responsibility to take the lead in ensuring the half-centenary was celebrated properly.

Alan decided to take matters into his own hands by staging a flypast of his own.

On April 4, Alan and three other Hunter pilots from his squadron had flown from their base at West Raynham in Norfolk to RAF Tangmere in Sussex, the former home of No. 1 Squadron, where they were helping to celebrate the base being given the freedom of the city of Chichester. He decided that the following day, on their way back, he would make a detour over the capital.

‘It was worth flying over London, even if I was going to get court-martialled,’ Alan says. At the very least, a trial would give him a chance to have his say on the problems facing the Air Force.
Read the whole thing from last year ... and watch the video.

On a personal note - I love the Hunter. I see them fly on a not infrequent basis, as some are owned by a civilian "Red Air" company that visits my airspace now and then.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Justice Delayed & Then Thrown Away ... and a New CNO

In almost half the time it took to fight and win WWII, the families of those Sailors killed in the FITZGERALD collision in WESTPAC have waited for justice; for some accountability - some understanding - as to why their loved ones died in their rack.

Well, we have this;
The Navy is expected Thursday to drop criminal charges against the commanding officer of the warship Fitzgerald and another officer who were facing court-martial trials tied to the fatal 2017 collision with a merchant vessel, according to Navy officials and the family of one of the fallen sailors.

Navy Times obtained a letter to the family of one of the sailors drowned in the disaster and it indicated that Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson was dropping charges against the Fitz’s skipper at the time of the collision, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, and the tactical action officer, Lt. Natalie Combs.

“The cases are being dismissed for legal reasons that impede the continued prosecution of either officer,” the message states.

Instead, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer will issue letters of censure to both officers, the message stated.
If there was ever a case that needed Court Martial, it was this.

How will CDR Benson and LT Combs ever have their day in court to either be held accountable for their professional conduct - or let the evidence prove that they are not to blame?

Where is the justice for them ... and for the dead ... and for the families ... and for our nation and its Navy.

We deserved to know more about why the charges are dropped. Congress needs to perform its oversight of the Navy on this issue. The deaths, the hundreds of millions of dollars of damage, the strategic damage done to our reputation in a part of the world where "face" matters.

This is UNSAT, needs to be treated as UNSAT, and I hope it all breaks in to the open.

This story, in a just world, should be far from over.

Sadly, this is a shadow over what should be good news. I hope that wasn't the plan - to sweep away the old-CNO errata prior to the new, or to make smoke - but here you go;
The man President Donald J. Trump has nominated to replace Adm. John Richardson as the Navy’s 32nd chief of naval operations is a Cold War aviator who helped reinvent the sea service as its top personnel officer.

If confirmed by the Senate, Adm. William Francis “Bill” Moran will fleet up from his position as the vice chief of naval operations to take the helm of a Navy in flux, pursuing a fleet of 355 warships during an era of increasing competition from Russia, China and other rising powers.

In a prepared statement emailed to Navy Times, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer welcomed the White House on the nomination of Moran, calling him “a stalwart partner and adviser."
Admiral Bill Moran, USN is the real deal. What you see is what you get. At least from this chair, he has a large account of professional and personal capital to draw on. This is a great leader and as such, a great opportunity for our Navy.

As a side note, he joined us twice on Midrats, give it a listen if you have not yet.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

All Your Data Are Belong to Us

Nice Data Lines of Communication you have there.

Shame if something happened to them.

Pondering over at USNIBlog. Come on by.