Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Midsummer's Thucydides with Kori Schake - on Midrats


For a man who last walked the Earth almost 2,500 years ago, 2017 has been a great year for Thucydides.

The old Greek historian is having quite a renaissance. Of course, he's always been there, but the Whitehouse is interested in him, so everyone else is as well, especially with regard to the often mentioned, "Thucydides’s Trap."

For those not familiar with his work, The History Of The Peloponnesian War, in her article earlier this month in The Atlantic, our guest this week outlines where people should focus.
Thucydides is often associated with hard-edged realism, as in the quote “the strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must.” ... But it’s important to remember that those views are one thread in a tapestry—Thucydides recounts the views of the war's combatants, but he doesn’t endorse them. In fact, the states that profess those hard-edged sentiments are plunged into ruin by them. 
When and how they take the plunge has, at the crucial moments of decision, everything to do with rambunctious crowds or ambitious usurpers of their betters egging on policies that result in the destruction of their state’s power.
For this and related topics, please join us this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern with our guest Kori Schake for the full hour.

Kori is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. She teaches Thinking About War at Stanford, and with Jim Mattis edited Warriors and Citizens: American Views on Our Military. Her book on the Anglo-American hegemonic transition comes out from Harvard in the fall.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio or Stitcher

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.




Friday, July 21, 2017

Fullbore Friday

Inspired by a scene from "Dunkirk" and giddy that our friends from ThinkDefence have already done the work.

You make what you can with what you have.

First via the BBC;
A makeshift pier

After the first day or so we began to receive motorised units in La Panne, after which a new evacuation stratagem was devised. At low tide, the highest vehicles were to be driven out to a given point, and a pier formed by driving out and parking up more trucks alongside. From these, the troops would be able to clamber into the boats that were now able to come alongside.

The hard part was the organisation of the assembly of the pier between bouts of shelling, low-level bombing and machine gunning from enemy aircraft. Once it was done, though, this procedure was a most welcome break for us. It made filling the boats so much easier. There was no more brute force required to push out the boats and get wet through in the process.
The amazing thing - no one to this day really knows who idea it was.
The piers were built by various Royal Engineer units including 246 Field Company RE, 59 Field Company, 38 Field Company and divisional elements from 1 and 4 Division, read more here. I have also read that members of the Corps of Military Police took part, especially in driving the lorries onto the beach at low tide.

I suppose the reality of the situation was that anyone and everyone was involved to some degree although there are conflicting reports of whose idea it was, the balance of evidence seems to point to a Royal Navy Sub Lieutenant requesting a pier be built be who came up with the idea of using 3 ton trucks, I guess that is lost to history.
...
The piers enabled several thousand personnel to escape to fight another day.
Read it all ... and check out all the great pics.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Diversity Thursday

Some good news in the diversity battles.

One of the most excused and patronized organizations in the USA that centers its existence on racist assumptions is having a bit of trouble as more and more people realize what they are about. So much, it appears, they had to change their name.
La Raza has decided to rebrand. The liberal political group announced last week that it would change its name from one suggestive of adversarial Chicano politics to something with broader appeal: UnidosUS.
Here's why;
The name La Raza—“the race” in Spanish—flies in the face of this reality. It is off-putting to many “Hispanics,” an artificial Census category comprising many razas. The organization’s CEO, Janet Murguia, admitted as much in a video announcing the name change: “We must make sure that our name and our organization evolves along with and remains relevant to our ever changing Hispanic community.”
...
The shift appears to stem from a recognition of long-ignored social and financial transformations in the U.S. 
Since its inception in 1968, made possible in part by a grant from the Ford Foundation, La Raza has been far more dependent on boardrooms and government than grass-roots support. But with government largess drying up, the liberal political-advocacy group may find itself needing greater support from the rank and file. This won’t be easy.
The nation’s “Hispanics” are undergoing a radical shift that most politicians are missing: A white majority is likely to persist in America. “Many children growing up today in mixed families are integrating into a still largely white mainstream society,” sociologist Richard Alba noted in American Prospect last year. These children are “likely to think of themselves as part of that mainstream, rather than as minorities excluded from it.”
As I've always said; the diversity industry is a racket. It is an amalgam of rent-seekers, grievance mongers, racists, and otherwise unemployable people who have no desire to bring people together, but to keep them apart in little manageable tribes to use for block political and financial gain.

Along the way, people are moving in our direction towards a more equal and color blind society. People who first see race are simply that, racists. They have no place in a modern society.

You can change your name, but you remain what you always were, "UnidosUS" - a group acting like the most base racists who use tribalism, fear, and division to enrich yourselves. Nixon's made up ethnicity, "Hispanic" exists no other place but in the minds of the American left. About as useful and deserving of special treatment as "Scandinavian." Actually less so. Danes, Swedes and Norwegians have more in common than Cubans, Mexicans, & Uruguayans. 

More work needs to be done, but each day that organizations such as this have to change to try to survive, the better. They should be kept at the margins to stew in their own sectarian juices - shunned by well meaning, modern, forward looking Americans.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

In Syria, Looks Like We're Very Close to my SEP 2015 PLAN SALAMADER, Rev 1

If you are not too familiar with the almost 2-yr old PLAN SALAMANDER for Syria, JUN 2016's REV 1 is here, and the SEP 2015 original here.

This predates the Trump Era by over a year, so you can stow any lame attempt to play Boot on Carlson's show - that won't wash.

Here is the unvarnished truth that has been evident for a year prior to my coming up with PLAN SALAMANDER; the only way to successfully eliminate the Islamic State is to at a minimum coordinate with the Russian, and preferably plan with them. Also, unless you have a realistic plan for someone to take Assad's place without slaughtering the balance of non-Sunni Syrian Arabs & Kurds, than go sit in the corner and play with the other children on Earth 2.

In a solid interview by The Tampa Bay Times with CENTCOM Commander General Votel, USA - the truth is right there for anyone to see it.
What are your thoughts on working with the Russians?

The word we use is not cooperation, but it is deconfliction and that is principally what we are doing. I have characterized this interchange as being very professional military to military interchange and I think trust certainly has to be earned over time here. But I will tell you the deconfliction line that we have had in place and has become more robust over time, meaning that not only do our air components talk to each other but (Army Lt. Gen. Stephen) Townsend (in charge of the ground war against Islamic State) now has the ability to talk to his counterpart.
That is a mature approach.

Read the whole interview, and keep this in mind as the investment of Raqqa moves forward;
The battle for Raqqa is now on. How long will that take?

We are not going to make any time estimates on this. You just watched what took place in (Mosul), a city of 1.6 million, 1.7 million people. It took nine months. Raqqa is probably 300,000 to 400,000 people, but it's in an area that again has had a long time to prepare and the forces we are operating in Syria are different than the forces we are operating with in Iraq. We're not talking about the Iraqi army that has ministries to lead it. Now we are talking about a much more indigenous force made up largely of Syrian Arabs and Kurds — and Kurds are part of that indigenous force. They don't have all the trappings of a big army, so I think it is important for people to understand the context of what we are doing here. A large city, an indigenous force, a well-prepared enemy. And by the way, an enemy now that has suffered a significant defeat, so they are running out of space there. We would expect they are going to fight harder, and more aggressively than they are and a large part of that is going to be exploited again. So I think it is going to be a challenging fight and it will take months.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The 350 Ship Navy: Don’t Hold Your Breath

Editor's Note: The below is a guest post by Bryan McGrath. 

It was originally posted elsewhere last week, but the editor of that site feared retribution from their sponsors and pulled it down shortly after it was posted.

I offered to post it here, and Bryan accepted the offer.


President Trump has made a large increase in the size of the Navy the centerpiece of his promise to rebuild American military strength, telling audiences on the campaign trail that he would grow the Navy from its current size of 276 deployable battle force ships to 350, to include growing the carrier fleet from 11 to 12 hulls. 

Scheduled to speak at the July 22nd commissioning ceremony for the USS GERALD R FORD (CVN 78) (a ship he had considerable criticism for earlier this year), it is conceivable that he will renew his call for this expanded fleet. This is music to the ears of naval advocates who believe American Seapower occupies a unique place among the components of American military power in its capacity to advance the nation’s prosperity and security. 

The enthusiasm for Trump’s naval buildup was somewhat dampened with the release of his FY18 budget, which did not grow the Navy appreciably over the levels described in his predecessor’s final budget. There was no shortage of criticism of the President for this seeming reversal of a campaign promise, but as I wrote elsewhere, there was wisdom in using the FY17 budget amendment and the FY18 budget submission to shore up anemic readiness and weapons procurement accounts before beginning what would be an expensive, decades long project to grow the Navy by 25%. Secretary of Defense Mattis’ statement of priorities upon assuming office made this emphasis clear.

I am no longer sanguine about the prospects for a 350 ship Navy, and I base my view on the uninspiring testimony yesterday of Richard Spencer, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee as the Trump Administration Secretary of the Navy nominee. Spencer was presented with the opportunity to voice full-throated advocacy for the fleet called for by the Commander-in-Chief and buttressed by a recent Navy Force Structure Assessment calling for 355 ships. Instead, he waffled, sounding very much like those in the Obama Administration who argued against a larger fleet, telling the SASC “What I will tell you is that, whether it’s a 355-ship or not, what we also want to get our head around is, can we have a capacity number, but have a capability that’s even greater than that, so have the capability of a 355 that might be a 300-ship Navy.”  

This debate between naval capacity (numbers) and capability (i.e. weapons, sensors, and networking) is evergreen, and every responsible administration must wrestle with it. Resources are not unbounded, and the right mix between numbers and capability is the ultimate aim of Navy budgeteers. But for a Secretary of the Navy nominee—given the gift of Presidential imprimatur upon a vast naval buildup—to make his public debut by questioning the wisdom of such a buildup, something is amiss. That something is, I fear, the Secretary of Defense.

Tucked into Mattis’ statement of priorities linked-to above, is a section in which he points to an ongoing strategic review (the 2018 National Defense Strategy) that will provide a new force sizing methodology to be used to shape the growing force. Presumably, the National Defense Strategy will be used to impact the FY19 defense budget process later this year, to include broad guidance on where additional resources are to be prioritized. Putting it another way, if there were going to be a significant naval buildup, it would be reflected in the strategic narrative advanced by the Secretary of Defense and then codified in the FY19 budget submission.

That Secretary of the Navy nominee Richard Spencer did not get behind the President’s goal appears to indicate lukewarm support for it within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), especially if it means re-allocating resources from other parts of the Department. Given the ongoing budget stalemate on the Hill, this would appear to be the only way the Navy would get a significant budget increase. And since Spencer is known to be close to Secretary Mattis (but not particularly close to the Trump inner circle) it is not difficult to envision Mattis providing Spencer with clear direction not to enthusiastically ratify the President’s naval buildup, in order to retain sufficient freedom of maneuver while the strategic review is underway. 

A military buildup the size of what Trump called for on the campaign trail would be very expensive. I calculate the annual cost to build, man, maintain, and operate a fleet the size the President desires to exceed $40B a year in FY17 dollars. Trump also wishes an increase in the size of the Army and a stepped up program of fighter procurement for the Air Force. These increases would dramatically raise the defense budget, something the President simply does not possess the political capital to accomplish. Contributing to this lack of political capital is the administration’s seeming inability to frame policy and then harness the Congressional majority to achieve it. Mattis sees this, and I suspect he realizes that there will be no significant buildup, although there will be a modest boost to the DoD topline. 

This bleak outlook for increased defense spending leaves Mattis in very much the same position as his predecessor Ash Carter was, in which expensive programs designed to increase capacity (including shipbuilding) were sacrificed to fund what were considered higher priority needs such as offensive weapons, networking capabilities, cyber capability, and electronic warfare upgrades. This is a reasonable position to take in a severely restricted budget environment, but Trump campaigned on ending that environment to rebuild the military. Success in achieving this goal was always a long-shot, but with the President’s ongoing weakness, it is virtually unachievable. I suspect the Secretary of Defense is aware of this.

Given the theory I have advanced, what can navalists hope for?  

First, it is clear that the operating forces can expect better operations and maintenance funding, enabling ships and aircraft to gain the proficiency they need through at sea and on-range training even as their accumulated maintenance backlogs are worked through. 

Second, I expect there to be significantly higher investment in increasing the capability of the platforms we already have by fielding more and more capable weapons and sensors, and then backfitting them into the current fleet. 

Third, I expect the Navy’s shipbuilding program to increase fleet size at a gradual pace, with much of the growth planned for 10-30 years from now, when future administrations will have to figure out how to pay for it. 

The prospect of a dramatic naval building program was fun while it lasted, but the reality of our modern political milieu has intervened. Unless the Congress steps up and takes control of the naval building effort—in spite of what the Secretary of Defense may desire—we are in for at least four more years of muddling through. 




Bryan McGrath is the Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group LLC, and the Assistant Director of the Hudson Institute Center for American Seapower. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Building the right carrier; heavy, medium, or light with Tal Manvel - on Midrats



As the USS FORD (CVN 78) delivered to the US Navy, the Royal Navy’s new HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH underway, and many nations either building or wanting built carriers of a variety of sized, the second decade of the 21st Century is an exciting time for those who are interested in carrier design.

With the Senate recently dedicating $30 to the study of a light carrier design, the discussion has begun again about what is the right size carrier for the requirements of our navy.

We have the perfect guest Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss, returning guest J. Talbot Manvel, Captain, USN (Ret).

Tal teaches at the US Naval Academy. While on active duty he served as an engineering officer specializing in aircraft carriers. He served on three, assisted in building two, and ended his career developing the new FORD class of aircraft carriers. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1972, earned a masters in mechanical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1979, a masters in liberal arts from St John’s College in 2008.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio or Stitcher

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.