Monday, March 18, 2019

Build a Few Unmanned Surface Vehicles, Test a Little, Learn a Lot

As our friend Dave Larter reported late last week, the Navy seems to be moving forward in a smart way to see how much of the theory of operating large surface ships in an unmanned manner can actually be operationalized.

I have questions, a lot of questions, but this seems like a good start. 

Let's see what happens.
The Navy raised eyebrows in its budget rollout Tuesday when it requested $400 million for two large unmanned surface vessels to be purchased in 2020, with 10 total to be purchased across the five-year projection known as the future year defense program. But it was not immediately clear what exactly the Navy was buying two of, since no program of record exists for a large unmanned surface vessel (or LUSV).
...
In total, the service has programmed $2.7 billion across the FYDP. And on Wednesday evening, the Navy dropped a request for information from industry seeking to “determine if sources exist that are capable of satisfying the Navy’s anticipated program requirement for Large Unmanned Surface Vessels (LUSV).”
...
According the 2017 draft plan, Overlord is seeking a ship that can do virtually everything a larger manned vessel can do – obey the international rules of the road for navigation, plan a route for a mission, communicate with other ships (manned or otherwise) in a task force – and do it with very little interaction with sailors once it gets underway.

“The Overlord program will develop core autonomy, communications, and C2 components and field prototype USVs capable of being seamlessly operable with the fleet,” the draft says. "The Overlord program will have built in redundancy in all critical hardware and software systems. The program will involve integration and test of payloads for [electronic warfare], [anit-surface warfare], and [strike warfare].”

The program, in keeping with SCO’s modus operandi, places an emphasis on using and adapting existing vehicles and technologies, the draft says, and “will take advantage of commercial technologies, integrate existing vehicle designs, and mature existing autonomy capabilities to accomplish its goals.”

The draft lays out a two-phase plan that starts with a 12-month phase I, which asks industry to demonstrate a vehicle that could meet the requirements laid out in the draft, including a range of 4,500 nautical miles, “capable of operating in at least Sea State 5, with at least 80,000 lbs. of payload capacity and 75 kW of 450V, 60 Hz, three-phase AC power reserved for payloads."
I am encouraged by this in that the usual suspects will overhype this for their own uses, institutional Navy is not. This is testing and evaluating as it appears it should be done.

Quite encouraging.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Fullbore Friday

Last week we reached back in the archives for an Austrian FbF ... so let's go back almost a decade and do that again.


The date of 11 SEP is one pregnant with history. So is the 12th (though some say the event in question was 11 SEP - I bet al Qaeda does) - and one we should take a moment to recognize a great man who the West owes to no small measure its freedom to.

As the song goes; Istanbul was once Constantinople. What stopped Vienna being something else?
The battle started before all units were fully deployed. Early in the morning, at 4 AM, the Turks attacked, seeking to interfere with the deployment of the Holy League troops. Charles of Lorraine moved forward with the Austrian army on the left and the German forces in the center.

Mustafa Pasha launched a counter-attack, with most of his force, but held back some of the elite Janissary and Sipahi units for a simultaneous assault on the city. The Turkish commanders had intended to take Vienna before Sobieski arrived, but time ran out. Their sappers had prepared another large and final detonation under the Löbelbastei,[4] to breach the walls. While the Turks hastily finished their work and sealed the tunnel to make the explosion more effective, the Austrian "moles" detected the tunnel in the afternoon. One of them entered and defused the load just in time.

At that time, above the "subterranean battlefield", a large battle was going on, as the Polish infantry launched a massive assault upon the Turkish right flank. Instead of focusing on the battle with the relief army, the Turks tried to force their way into the city, carrying their crescent flag.

After twelve hours of fighting, the Poles held the high ground on the right. The Holy League cavalry waited on the hills, and watched the infantry battle for the whole day. Then at about 5 PM, the cavalry attacked in four groups. One group was Austrian-German, and the other three were Polish. Over 20,000 men, charged down the hills (one of the largest cavalry charges in history). The charge was led by Sobieski at the head of 3,000 Polish heavy lancers, the famed "Winged Hussars". The Lipka Tatars who fought on the Polish side wore a sprig of straw in their helmets to distinguish themselves from the Tatars fighting on the Turkish side. The charge broke the lines of the Ottomans, who were tired from the long fight on two sides. In the confusion, the cavalry headed straight for the Ottoman camps, while the remaining Vienna garrison sallied out of its defenses and joined in the assault.

The Ottoman troops were tired and dispirited following the failure of both the sapping attempt and the brute force assault on the city. The arrival of the cavalry turned the tide of battle against them, sending them into retreat to the south and east. In less than three hours after the cavalry attack, the Christian forces had won the battle and saved Vienna.

After the battle, Sobieski paraphrased Julius Caesar's famous quote by saying "Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vicit" - "We came, We saw, God conquered".
Though most give, rightly, much of the credit to the Polish King Sobieski - there is another man who the West owes great thanks to. It is that man on the upper right; St. Marco D'Aviano.
An impassioned preacher, Marco d'Aviano played an important role in maintaining unity among the 'Holy League' armies of Austria, Poland, Venice, and the Papal States under the leadership of the Polish king Jan III Sobieski. In the decisive Battle of Vienna (1683), the 'Holy League' armies succeeded in repulsing the invading Ottoman Turks. There is, however, no basis in fact for the legend that, during the fighting, Marco d'Aviano brandished a crucifix at the Turks, shouting, 'Behold the Cross of the Lord: Flee, enemy bands!' He spent the time of the battle praying in a chapel. From 1683 to 1689 he participated in the military campaigns in the role of promoting good relations within the Imperial army and to help the soldiers spiritually. His assistance helped to bring about the liberation of Buda in 1686 and Belgrade in 1688. In 2003, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II.
Awww....I'll give him the legend.

A man who to this day gets spat on for it, the Islamists can't stand the guy. Perhaps he should be the Patron Saint for the USA (Catholic folks - is there one already?), I think we can feel his pain. Just a bit more about him here, here, here, here, and here. Think of him today - last year a Good German did.

As Navy folks, we should especially like the guy and give thanks to him every morning. You see, he was of the Capuchin Order, .... kind of sounds like Cappuccino, doesn't it?
In the early morning of September 12, 1683 the Christian army, having participated in the Holy Mass, and responding to the Friar’s preaching and encouragement attacked the Ottoman’s camp. The Christian army, under the command of John Sobieski, King of Poland, and led by Marco d’Aviano were able to use the element of surprise to defeat the enemy’s much stronger army.

In retreat the Turks – in addition to leaving behind the important harem belonging to commander Kara Mustafa – abandoned 500 bags of coffee beans, a daily beverage for the Turks, but still unknown in the West.

A certain Brother Diodat, considered by many as the one who introduced coffee to Europe, captured many of those bags and sold some of them in Vienna. But the Viennese did not like the bitter beverage, so they added honey, milk and cream, typical local products. The resulting beverage had great success among the soldiers and the population.

That’s how Cappuccino, the innovative beverage, colored white and brown like the Capuchin Friar’s frock-coat, was born and was named after the religious order.
PS: The picture (besides the paintings) is mine from last time I was in Vienna. Life ain't all that bad.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Diversity Thursday

This just ties in some of the many glorious threads we have covered over the DivThu through the years, along with another.

We all know how much higher education costs have gone through the roof. Google it if you are not up to speed.

We know a lot of this has to do with the bloat of administrative staff.

That is one thread, now let's tie it in to a common thread of DivThu; the Diversity Industry.

It is a common joke, here at least; ok "doctor" - you have a PhD in Gender Studies ... what are you going to do with that?

As the Diversity Commissariat are the storm troopers of the totalitarian left, leftist administrators and those looking to have their diversity metrics look right to their friends, they love to find jobs for diversity experts. As you know, as young men and women naturally show up at college being tolerant and welcoming to everyone, we can't have that kind of atmosphere. How can we signal virtue if we don't have someone to explain how people are really being oppressed - even if they don't know it yet.

Who is going to help us pick the right pictures for our Potemkin brochures? 

Everyone needs a job, right?

Well, let's take a look at a cute little private Catholic liberal arts college in Minnesota called the University of St. Thomas where mom and dad will send at least $43,000 a year to (it went up 4% last year, BTW).

Over to the excellent Rod Dreher;
JOB SUMMARY

In accordance with our University of St. Thomas mission of advancing the common good and convictions of dignity and diversity, the university seeks to create and sustain a diverse, equitable and inclusive community. Reporting directly to the President, the Associate Vice President for (AVP) for Inclusive Excellence will lead the development and implementation of a proactive diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, which will support St. Thomas’s mission and strategic priorities.
..
TYPICAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Collaborating with university partners, lead the development and oversee implementation of a vision and related strategy and action plan that advances university priorities and champions the importance and value of a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. Comprehensively assess university culture and make recommendations about campus climate, student diversity, equity and success; and employee outcomes related to diversity and equity.
That means creating PPT slides and inviting speakers no one wants to see, and making sure the "wrong" kind of speakers don't get a chance to speak.

Read the whole word salad.

You know what kind of cheese that is? $135,000 to $146,000 a year. They have almost 9,878 students as of 2017, undergrad and graduate. ~$14.78 per student per year.

Not a bad gig. Get your money's worth.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Crow is a dish best served cold

I'm serving up a dish or two over at USNIBlog that I'm hoping a few people might take a bite of.

...with kindness and goodwill, of course.

Come on over and take a look.

So, how was your deployment?

... good liberty?
A US warship has essentially been quarantined at sea for over two months and has been unable to make a port call due to an outbreak of a viral infection similar to mumps.

Twenty-five sailors and Marines aboard the USS Fort McHenry amphibious warship have been diagnosed with parotitis, which causes symptoms similar to mumps, according to US military officials.

Until CNN asked about the incident, the US military had not disclosed it. The illness first broke out in December, with the most recent case being reported on March 9.
...I guess there is enough time for preservation work now?

What, too soon?

H/t Bob.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Venezuela is not our war

I am sure I’m not alone in taking a pause to this announcement;
The United States announced late Monday that it is pulling the remaining staff from its embassy in Venezuela, citing the deteriorating situation in the South American nation.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the decision as Venezuela struggles to restore electricity following four days of blackouts around the country and a deepening political crisis.

The U.S. has led an international effort to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro and replace him with opposition leader Juan Guaido, who vows to hold a new presidential election. Guaido is backed by some 50 countries, while Maduro maintains support from countries such as China, Russia and Cuba.
Most CDRSalamander readers know their history enough to remember that removing embassy staff can be a prelude to military action. It isn’t a sure thing, but has a track record.

Especially when there are a lot of people who should know better talking about why we should go in to Venezuela – it would be a crime of omission for those who make a habit of commenting in the natsec arena not to put their markers down, again.

I’ve stated this a few times on twitter, so I’ll do it here too; there is zero reason anyone should expect a net positive outcome from US military intervention in Venezuela. I don’t care about the Cubans. I don’t care about the Russians. I don’t care about the Chinese.

We have a history in the Caribbean, Central & South America with direct military intervention. It isn’t a track record of success, and it is not in the long term appreciated by the people who live there. We do have a better record of non-direct intervention and assistance and that is the model we should continue to use.

Yes, the condition of the 32 million citizens of Venezuela is a tragedy, but it is a tragedy of their own creation.

They once had the greatest per-capita GDP in Latin America. They once had many freedoms, but they threw it away for the promises of a leftist populist and his socialist snake oil. They voted for it over and over and over. They allowed themselves to be disarmed. They allowed their military to become a corrupt tool of the government. They taunted and threatened much of their citizens who had the education, capital, and connections to lead a resistance – so those people are now in the USA and other Latin American nations getting on with their lives.

32 million Venezuelans. That is roughly the same population of The Netherlands and Belgium combined. It is rife with crime and corruption. They have a history of anti-Americanism. Sure, some expats are calling for the USA to intervene militarily – but we’ve played that fool before. Not again.

We don’t need their oil. We don’t need their affection. We cannot afford the military adventure looking for another dragon to slay.

If a single military boot needs to go on the ground, then let it be Brazil (population 209 million) in conjunction with Colombia (population 49 million) to do the wet work.

The best solution is for the Venezuelans to solve this problem on Venezuelan terms. Peaceful as they are doing now, or if that is not tolerable, then by armed rebellion. Once they do that with some success, perhaps they will get some international help.

Of course, having disarmed their citizens a few years ago, by design, it will be difficult to extract cities and areas from the control of government forces - but it can be done.

What should not be done is to have US military forces have anything to do with overthrowing the government of Venezuela – regardless of how unpleasant it seems.

We are not a missionary nation. We are not a global empire. Every time we forget that, we fail.

The Venezuelans marched behind banners stating, “Socialismo o Muerte” – well, they are going to have both.

Let them be an example for others so tragedy such as this wont’ be repeated again soon.

If you think we should intervene militarily, then feel free to lead a MP company in one of the myriad slums run by drug lords.

Monday, March 11, 2019

No, the next war won't be livestreamed

Looks like the NYT discovered and wants everyone to know that "the cloud" and all the internet that binds our world together is not floating around us, but is under us and the great blue sea. 

The article is behind the paywall, so I won't make you go there, but let's touch on the topic.

Oceanic cables might seem like a 19th Century wonder, and they are, but that was just the first time our world was stitched together.

At war, it is not a new thing to consider data part of commerce and a nation's C2 infrastructure. Ever more so, the Information Age or Cognitive Age or whatever you want to call where we are now, it is all driven by fiber optic cables. Along those cables run everything from free pr0n to, as we discussed on Midrats yesterday, the command signals to our drones we use to fight our foreverwar.

Day to day lives in this age without access to internet? Look south;
Internet Collapses in Venezuela with 80% Offline; Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud Blocked
That is just entertainment in a 3rd rate nation. Now consider what would happen to a global mercantile power engaged in military action. Not just a "soft kill" that has to do with electricity and software ... but a hard kill?

No, this isn't a new threat. It is old. Go back a bit over 120-years;
To isolate Cuba from Spain and other countries of the world was the problem which, upon the breaking out of war between the United States and Spain, immediately engaged the attention of our fleet at Key West. The blockade became virtually effective along the entire coast-line of Cuba, preventing the landing of food-supplies and munitions of war, as well as cutting off communication by mail between the island and the outside world. This, however, was not enough. General Blanco at Havana was still in direct communication by ocean telegraph-cables with many of the islands of the West Indies, and thence with the home government at Madrid. To cut these cables and thus destroy the Spanish telegraphic lines of communication, preventing the authorities at Madrid and at Havana, and the ships of Admiral Cervera's fleet, from sending or receiving information, was of the utmost strategic importance.

No ocean cables are landed on the north coast of Cuba except those leading directly from Havana to Key West. The United States, holding the terminal at Key West, controlled these lines. On the south coast the telegraph-cables are looped along the shore from Batabano, a port about thirty miles nearly due south of Havana and connected with that city by railroad and overland telegraph, to the eastward as far as Guantanamo Bay; the northern loops of the cables touching at San Luis, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, and a point on the shore of Guantanamo Bay.
...
The naval force operating on the south coast of Cuba in the early part of May, at the time of the cutting of the cables at Cienfuegos, was composed of the cruiser Marblehead, the gunboat Nashville, the converted yacht Eagle, the revenue cutter Windom, and the collier Saturn, at that time forming the fourth division of the fleet, under the immediate command of Commander B. H. McCalla, U. S. N., who flew the senior officer's pennant on board the Marblehead.

Cienfuegos is situated about six miles from the sea, and the bay or harbor is entered by a channel three miles in length. On the east of the entrance is Punta de la Colorados, where a lighthouse is situated. Overlooking this low strip of land and extending some miles to the eastward is a ridge or plateau, from two to three hundred feet in height, steeply sloping to the shoreline. Trees and the dense chaparral of Cuba cover the rocky and irregular surface of this hillside, the wild confusion of nature forming better rifle-pits here than the efforts of man could produce.
...
Shortly before sundown on May 10, signal was made directing the commanding officer of the Nashville and me to repair on board the Marblehead. On our arrival on board that vessel, we were informed by Commander McCalla that he intended to make an attempt at daylight the following morning to cut the ocean telegraph-cables; that an expedition of boats under my command would be sent in to endeavor to find and cut the cables landing near Colorados lighthouse, that the expedition would be opposed by a force of the enemy, and that the Marblehead and the Nashville would shell the country and attempt to dislodge the enemy or silence his fire. I was told that I could have the steam-cutter and the sailing-launch of the Marblehead and the steam-cutter and the sailing-launch of the Nashville, and that Lieutenant E. A. Anderson of the Marblehead would accompany the expedition as second in command. I had no further orders as regards the fitting out of the expedition, the details being left entirely to my own judgment.
...
The crew of each steam-cutter consisted of a cockswain, two seamen, a fireman, and a coal-passer. In addition to the crew, a sergeant of marines and half a dozen privates were to go as sharp-shooters. They were to be armed with rifles. In the Marblehead's steam-cutter a one-pounder Hotchkiss cannon was to be mounted on the forecastle. The Nashville's steam-cutter was to have two Colt machine-guns, one forward and the other aft. All boats were to be supplied with life-preservers. The tools for cutting the cables, to be carried in each sailing launch, consisted of cold-chisels, blacksmiths' hammers, a heavy maul, a block of hard wood with iron plate for its upper surface, an ax, wire-cutting pliers, and a hacksaw. Coils of stout rope and grapnels of different sizes were to be used in grappling the cables and bringing them to the surface.
...
My own individual orders were very brief. I was simply to cut the cables as directed above, and under no circumstances to land. The orders were quite sufficient, and I was glad to escape being hampered by more explicit instructions.
All should be nodding their heads here. Short clear orders.

Now days, things won't be so dramatic. Submarines and drones can do it ... but the impact will be the same and more dramatic as it will impact everywhere from teenagers' bedrooms to The Pentagon.

Silence. How the world would change in the blink of an eye.

So, what is the backup plan?

Head on over and read the whole thing by the guy who did the mission, LCDR Cameron Winslow, USN.

H/t Claude & Sid.