Monday, November 30, 2009

The retreat from the NE continues

With such a high percentage of its business relying on the slowly withering Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance community, is was just a matter of time.

Still - fewer assets in fewer locations. Yea.
The last two planes at Maine’s Brunswick Naval Air Station lifted off Saturday in blustery winds, ending nearly 60 years of maritime patrol operations at New England’s last active-duty military air base.

The P-3 Orions of the VP-26 squadron lumbered down an 8,000-foot runway before heading off to a six-month deployment in Central America. After that, they fly to their new home at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

The planes took off without any speeches or fanfare about 50 minutes apart Saturday afternoon. A small group of visitors gathered at the base operations building to watch, including Albert Stehle of Bowdoinham, whose father, Leroy Stehle, commanded the VP-26 during the early 1970s.
Once you lose it - you never get it back.
The decision to shutter the base was made in the final round of closings by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission in 2005. The 3,200-acre base will be turned over to a redevelopment group.
Yep - a Boomtown Rats song comes to mind.

As for Maine - with your high taxes, 9-month winter, litigation environment, workers-comp nightmare, and generally bad business climate - good luck with that.

Brit media RECCE fail

OK, some Brit yachtsmen get nabbed by the Iranian Navy for poor seamanship .... no crisis really, regardless of what they say. This will work itself out.

Why am I not getting excited? Well - because the TimesUK obviously did not have a person knowledgeable of anything nautical working the story (see pick below and see if you can figure it out). And second; these things work out.


LCS's "Bottom 5"

I will only say this because it bears repeating; we do not have a command climate in the Navy that allows honest and fair debate of some issues. Full stop.

LCS is one of those issues. The author - rightly - does not want his name, rank, or former position known.

What I can tell you is this individual has an extensive background and first-hand knowledge of LCS. It is worth your time to review.

All I asked him was, "What is your LCS Bottom 5?" Below is his response.

Take a deep breath and dive in. Byron, roll around in #2.

1. They chose to make RSO the LCSRON.
Huge mistake. RSO is literally where people went to retire, people went who were on light-duty, females went when they were pregnant. It was a building full of unskilled, unmotivated individuals. They didn't have a clue on how to do their job as an ISIC, and even now - they've made improvements by leaps and bounds, they're still waiting on some of the 'dead-weight' to transfer/retire. One of my favorite quotes came from one of the LCS-[REDACTED] CO's as he described his frustration with the N6 shop,
" We can lead them to water, we can shove their heads in it, but I'll be damned if I'm going to stick my lips to their asses and suck... "
Part of me wonders if they assigned RSO as the LCSRON because someone wanted the program to fail.

2. 3-M.
They decided they wanted to make use of Sked via distance support. They took away the admin rights of the LCPO's, and push their boards from LCSRON to the ship. There's no printed boards, 13 week reports or anything. This boils down to zero accountability for maintenance, and depending on the crew, maintenance either gets done or it doesn't. The ISIC isn't enforcing these discrepancies even though they are openly talked about. I won't even begin to talk about how the minimum manning affects maintenance or their philosophy of hiring civilians to do maintenance.. well, I take that back - here's 1 example. A civilian shows up to do an A-1 MRC. Doesn't check in with anyone, just shows up and goes down to the gear to start maintenance. When we stop him and ask what he's doing, he says he's been hired to do this MRC. When asked about the 5 related maintenance checks that must be done with that card, he says, "We weren't hired to do those." Hmmm... not a great solution. Oh, and the N43 shop at LCSRON doesn't have a single Combat Systems guys actively working to fix the 3M problems that exist such as wrong MIPS and MRC feedbacks.

3. Standards of acceptance.
The standards for accepting various pieces of gear continually shifted as it became apparent that certain systems weren't going to work as advertised. To date, the main gun can not be employed accurately via the DORNA FCS. The IFF doesn't sync with the TRS-3D target data. The WEBR 2000 is almost useless. And the 30MM guns that have been installed are another problem completely. They are going to stay installed, but unusable for the time being. Did we really get what we paid for?

4. Bandwidth.
All the programs on the ship that are supposed to take a burden off the crew rely on a lot of bandwidth to stay connected with the LCSRON, keep NIAPS synced up, etc. They started us out with EHF and INMARSAT, but they tied together these systems with a unique comms suite that created constant problems. When it became obvious that the bandwidth just wasn't going to cut it, they decided to give the ship the commercial broadband antennae. They came out to the ship, and the crew gave them a suggestion of where to place the dish in order to maximize the cut-out zones, but even though their surveys agreed with the crew, they pulled off the EHF dishes x2, and replaced 1 of them with the new system. This gives that antennae a huge cut out zone, and has resulted in spotty bandwidth with only INMARSAT as a back up. When you design a ship around distance support - how are you going to be so blind as to limit it's bandwidth, basically crippling most programs across the board?

5. The attitudes of the people in charge of the program.
How many times have blind optimism and this idea that 'all change is good' created an unsafe standard in this program? The LCS program keeps pressing the different organizations to change their standards in regard to LCS due to the small crew and 'new-design' of the ship. Sometimes these standards feel like they are being changed just for change sake. [REDACTED], and to be honest I hope the ship never comes in harms way - because the only real systems that it has to defend itself are the CSW mounts. At least I know the GMs on board are good shots.

There - a little Fleet Input for 'ya.

The bland leading the bland

Britain may be falling apart - but they still produce some of the best politicians around.

Need an update on what is going on in Europe?


Nigel Farage (UKIP), MEP. A new Salamander hero.

Meanwhile ... on our shores ....

Hat tip No Pasaran!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Music to invade Poland to

Germans are a funny bunch ... just another example.

This isn't you father's Ramstein .... this is
Rammstein has reached its goal. The band's best-selling new album "Liebe ist für alle da" ("Love is There for Everyone") has been taken off German shelves after offending government censors -- a first for the bad boys of German rock.

The news reached the band while it was preparing for its European tour, which starts in Portugal and takes it through the continent's major concert venues. Rammstein's new album "Liebe ist für alle da" ("Love is There for Everyone"), which was topping the German charts, was "indexed," or censored, by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons. As of last Wednesday, it was only allowed to be sold to adults with identification. It was an interesting coincidence that the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall were beginning in Berlin at the same time, because the Rammstein case is also a tale of art in reunified Germany.
It is a little much for fully cover here, so follow the link and read about the whole story - interesting Cold War angle to it.

Let's see - if you took a little bit of
Kraftwerk, a bit of Devo, and added pinch of The Sex Pistols & Drowning Pool - then you have Rammstein.

Oh, and if you want to hear LBG's favorite Rammstein song - everyone but Kristin click here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ouch .... just plain ouch

I don't know Larry - and I don't know the why - but I do know that he is not in a happy place right now.

The act is bad enough - but the timing ......
just ouch.
The executive officer of the destroyer Chafee was fired Friday, the same day he was supposed to move up and become that ship’s skipper, Navy officials said today.

Cmdr. Larry Gonzales was detached “for cause” after Capt. Richard Clemmons, who commands Hawaii-based Destroyer Squadron 31, “lost confidence in Commander Gonzales’ ability to lead the command,” said Agnes Tauyan, a spokeswoman for Navy Region Hawaii.

The decision “was based on findings from a DesRon 31 investigation,” Tauyan said, declining to specify what findings or events led to his firing. She said the commodore’s decision was not based on any operational, safety or security issues involving Gonzales or the ship.
Note his last job - he was on the fast track; now, notsomuch.
Gonzales graduated from the Naval Academy in 1992 and has served on several ships, including as engineering officer aboard the frigate Vandegrift and as XO aboard the cruiser Normandy. He served as a flag aide with 2nd Fleet in Norfolk, Va., before reporting to Chafee.
Well Larry - I do wish you the best going forward. This too shall soon pass.

Lesson to all; always, always have Plan B ... and Plan C .... and Plan D. Regardless of how well you think you have things set up - life will throw you inside curve balls; and on occasion kick you in the teeth.

Though it has nothing to do with this case, for the record - I do not like the Fleet-up program. It is hard for an XO to be an XO when he is to focused on being CO. $.02.

Fullbore Friday

Is there a Fullbore attitude? Is there something about the game that can demonstrate an attitude that is hard to describe - but is essential to what makes an American an American?


To understand the USA, you must understand football.

Hat tip The Good Lt.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Diversity Thursday

This Diversity Thursday will be a 3-parter. Part I will be by a new guest blogger, USNA alumnus Dave Quint, ‘87. Part II will be a detailed discussion of the "Whole Person Multiplier" by Professor Bruce Fleming. Part III with be a brief reminder of what this all means for the Fleet - and for those who are being used as someone else's toys.

He is an SPHR certified human resources professional. In his day job, he is the HR Director for a company of 5000+ employees at 200+ locations in 11 states.

In his post, this quote stood out and you will see it again at the bottom of his post.
I have never seen anything even close to this kind of a disparate impact on one race, ever. As an HR professional, these numbers are horrific. As a USNA graduate, I am embarrassed that several administrations have put a nice label, “Diversity”, on a very bad practice – blatant racial discrimination.
This post is not a Salamanderesque "Bachelor of Arts" babblefest of theory. No, Dave has done the 100# heavy lifting here that even a Surface Nuke would respect.

This is a serious post in tone, fact, and effect. Its importance demands your time. His method is sound, his delivery air-tight, and his numbers will leave you gobsmacked.


Professor Fleming alleges racial discrimination in the admissions process at USNA.

I have just received proof over the weekend via a FOIA request.

Let’s take the most recent data – the Class of 2013:

Overall % of SAT scores below 600 (verbal): 33.6%

This figure represents the entire class of 2013, all races, all genders, etc. Everyone.

Keep that 33.6% figure in mind because once we break it down between blacks and whites, the % figure for each race shouldn’t stray very far from that average of 33.6%.

Whites: Overall % of SAT scores below 600 (verbal): 25.7%

This figure is off the average by 7.9% . . . more than I would have expected. But, this figure could be deemed “reasonable” if the figure for blacks is off the average by a similar amount. Not that it would be, but it could be. Add that 7.9% to 33.6% and we come up with 41.5%. While it’s actually a stretch to take a 25.7% acceptance rate for one race and 41.5% acceptance rate for another race, the evaluation becomes irrelevant when we look at the actual data. (Side note: I believe this would-be notion falls apart quickly with actual statistical measures including standard deviation, etc.)

Blacks: Overall % of SAT scores below 600 (verbal): 70.7%

This figure is off the average by 37.1%!

There is no plausible explanation for this other than racial discrimination.

Proof: If you took the SAME data and switched the races, what would it look like?

Other-way-around view: 70.7% of whites get into USNA with a verbal SAT score below 600, while only 25.7% of blacks were admitted. Wow!

If it qualifies as discrimination for one race, then it qualifies as discrimination for ANY race.

If this ever occurred there would have already been a relentless storm of protests.

The SAT scores for math for the Class of 2013 display the Disparate Impact is even worse.

Overall % of SAT scores below 600 (math): 22.3%

Whites: Overall % of SAT scores below 600 (math): 14.4% That’s 7.9% off the average.

Blacks: Overall % of SAT scores below 600 (math): 71.7% That’s 49.4% off the average.

So, how did this Disparate Impact occur without notice, much less a protest? It’s called “Diversity”. You let the Sup declare “Diversity” as his #1 objective and all his staff (if they know what’s good for their career) will step up and deliver. The problem is, what they have delivered is racial discrimination, plain and simple.

Dean Latta, Director of Admissions says that he believes their process is legal. Apparently, he’s not that proud of it though. When a taxpayer like myself asks for something as basic as SAT scores listed by race, he refuses to provide the information. Instead, Dean Latta insists on forcing me to use the FOIA request process, and he charged me $59.72 for the information. Therefore, I believe it is very unlikely that Dean Latta would be very inviting of anyone else who asks too many admissions-process-questions of this “man behind the curtain”.

I have never seen anything even close to this kind of a disparate impact on one race, ever. As an HR professional, these numbers are horrific. As a USNA graduate, I am embarrassed that several administrations have put a nice label, “Diversity”, on a very bad practice – blatant racial discrimination.

- Dave Quint ‘87

Phib back here.

One thing that is often brought up in admissions discussions is what at USNA they call the "Whole Person Multiplier," or just WPM.

To try to get ahead of the emails this time, I have decided to tap into my WPM SME, USNA Professor Bruce Fleming. He kindly offered to describe, in detail, what the WPM is and what is does - and more importantly does not - have to do with the Diversity side of admission.

Professor Fleming - over to you.


The logical question on looking at what is clearly a system rigged to admit non-white applicants—shown by a huge proportion of non-white (especially African-American) midshipmen with SAT scores below the level of 600, which is the with-some-exceptions LOWEST limit for competitive (white) applicants—is, how do they do it? Let me explain. I was on the Admissions Board in 2002-2003, and have confirmed from more recent members that these practices are unchanged, though some details have altered (for instance now Asians are a special racial group, as they were not 7 years ago).

First, this. The assumption of the outside world is liable to be that whatever the mechanism, it has to be legal, or the US Naval Academy (and the other service academies) wouldn’t be doing it. This is like saying, Pat Tillman can’t have died as a result of friendly fire, because the US Army is saying he didn’t. The Army was lying; Pat Tillman did die of friendly fire. The military misleads its civilian paymasters all the time. Similarly, when the inevitable lawsuit against USNA like the lawsuit against the University of Michigan in 2003 finally gets going, the ruling will have to be that what USNA (and other service academies) have been doing for years is quite illegal.

But how do they do it? Many people will assume that what papers over this racist and un-Constitutional practice is the thing called, at Annapolis, the WPM, Whole Person Multiple. This assumption probably comes from the fact that the Supreme Court held in the 2003 U of Michigan case that race could be considered not separately (as we do it) but as part of a whole package, just the way playing the ‘cello could be considered a positive commodity. (The assumption still was that, say, “African-American” means you see the world in a specific, and interesting, way, that will be enlightening to your fellow classmates: in an age of middle- and upper-class African-Americans this is highly questionable.) It fact it doesn’t; “how they do it” is precisely to essentially disregard the WPM for racial minorities and bring them a) over a lowered bar and b) through a separate door, called “direct” admissions. The WPM is in fact the good guy, and my argument has always been we should let it do its job for more than half the class.

What is the WPM? When someone applies to USNA the computer generates a WPM, in the days before women (i.e. pre-1976) called the WMM, Whole Man Multiple. This is a sophisticated algorithm that gives points via the computer for high school athletics, academics, and leadership, calibrated in a way a computer can calibrate: so many points for a certain GPA, so many points for upper 5% of class, so many points for a good high school (shown by the % of students going to 4-year colleges), so many points for team membership and more for captain, so many points for club membership and more for president, so many for Student Council or Government membership and more for office, so many points for SAT. Math is rated higher—it’s been given as much as 3x the weighting of verbal but I believe now is “down” to 2x, on the grounds that “we are an engineering school”—as we sometimes still hear. Yes, this is suicidal in the age of a brain-based counter-insurgency war, but we still do it. You get 500 points for being the child of an alumnus or an active duty service member, 500 points for a super essay, 500 points for a grade of l during USNA Summer Seminar. For competitive (white non-athletic recruit) students, the lowest we’re supposed to vote “qualified” is 58K (though the Superintendent can make any exception he chooses); a truly stellar WPM score is 70K (so 500 points isn’t much).

In fact we disregard the WPM for half the class: we generate it for all, then set it aside as irrelevant for the students we’re desperate to get. Athletic blue-chips and non-white minorities have a WPM but they are offered DIRECT admission typically with WPMs that would have resulted in white applicants being voted “not qualified.” The WPM does not have a “racial multipler”: it doesn’t have to, because it’s simply ignored for non-whites and team members.

The more important factor is that, in the briefing session at the Admissions Board, a self-identified minority applicant will probably be voted “qualified” for grades of largely Cs, with SAT scores down into the low 500s (remember 600 is usually the lowest score to get a vote of “qualified” for whites whereas a white applicant with the same scores will almost l00% of the time be voted “not qualified”). The minority applicant’s WPM doesn’t actually even matter, though it’s liable to be low 50Ks with these scores. They’re in. Even lower, and they’re in via a year at the hand-holding remedial school NAPS—which is filled with racial minorities with scores down to about 400 SAT, recruited athletes (same profile), and a handful of priors—and an even smaller handful of whites put into NAPS for political reasons. To repeat: low-performing whites are simply rejected: a white applicant with 450 SAT scores and not, say, a football player, will be rejected. NOT sent to NAPS. So NAPS (this year about 20% of the plebe class, 260 up from 204 the year before) is the other answer to “how do they do it?” If you say you’re Hispanic and can get 400 SAT scores and C grades (with no necessary athletics or leadership) you are coming to Annapolis via NAPS.

NAPS has become an embarrassment as the push to get in non-whites has intensified. In 2008 a whole trimester’s worth of (low) grades was thrown out because they would have doomed the students to a GPA of lower than 2.0, the minimum guaranteeing Annapolis acceptance. Besides, the 2.0 is regularly lowered either for the entire class or for individuals: once again Admiral Fowler, the current USNA Superintendent, has absolute deciding power on whether somebody comes to Annapolis or doesn’t, regardless of his GPA at NAPS. He personally goes to Newport to cook the books: he can’t be over-ruled, whatever his decision. NAPS had to introduce an even lower remedial level last year, and the CAPT in charge at NAPS was relieved of command; now the Academic Dean at NAPS has not had his contract renewed. Clearly they couldn’t make silk purses out of sow’s ears, so the USNA administration “lost confidence” (as the press reports had it) in them.

So, what use does the WPM have, except to eliminate low-level whites as not “qualified”? White candidates who are not also athletes or priors are never offered direct admission. Being voted “qualified” only means they are allowed to compete to win a “slate” of up to ten other applicants that (most typically) a Congress(wo)man has awarded nominations to. (Getting a nomination is a necessary but not sufficient condition of coming to Annapolis: we simply hand Secretary of the Navy “noms” to NAPSters and minorities direct-admitted; whites have to compete for them.) About half the time, the Congress(wo)man can name the winner of a slate (no reasons need be given, though many of them have their staff conduct interviews). In the other half of the cases, the highest WPM wins. So a white applicant with, say, a 62K WPM from a competitive state will still be rejected by not winning his or slate, while the self-identified (say) Hispanic with 52K got direct admission to USNA.

USNA hates to share this information: I was punished (I’ve filed a whistleblower complaint) for sharing this information with the world—and I’m tenured. Those in uniform or untenured civilians can’t open their mouths. It took a FOIA demand even to get the stats that show the clear two tracks based on race, above.

The WPM is the good guy. It gives points for smart studs with charisma (that’s the idea behind the three categories, anyway). But since we’ve already filled about half the class with team members and racial minorities (handful of priors too), they only have about 600 slots available to them. Since we get many more smart studs applying than 600, the others are rejected.

Bottom line: USNA works on a two-track admissions system which includes race as an absolute determiner. We have two sets of standards, two doors, and a taxpayer-supported remedial school, NAPS, that is not awarded to lower-track whites, who are simply rejected—and even higher-track whites, who come from competitive states and fail to win their Congressional slate.

Final point: the Commandant tried to explain the sudden increase in non-whites (27% to 35% between the Class of 2012 and the Class of 2013 as something beyond USNA’s control: as the result of the necessity for geographic diversity and the fact that Congress(wo)men can say who wins their slate. This is a total fabrication: minority candidates do not have to win their Congress(wo)man’s slate; they’re offered direct USNA admission or admission to NAPS. Minority admissions can all be from, say, El Paso and Oakland: there’s no necessary geographical spread in this at all. If you check one of the racial boxes and can write your name, you’re in, regardless of where you’re from. So that’s a lie too. Unless the Commandant really hasn’t been briefed on how it works?

So now we know “how they do it.” Why do they do it? I’ve speculated: they’re dinosaurs who think they’re being progressive in admitting and promoting to race, as if this were l968. My conservative friends assume that the conservative military would never do something like this on its own, but is either acting as a result of Congressional (i.e. liberal, bad) pressure, or to curry favor before the fact with that same liberal (bad) Congress. I don’t see this, and the military insists that this “sea change” belongs to them alone. What’s clear is that it’s decimated morale in the ranks and raised hackles against minority officers, now that the assumption now is (understandably) that they’re where they are because of their skin color: it’s a hugely destructive “solution” to an imaginary problem, namely the fact that about 40% of the enlisted corps in this time of an all-volunteer military and a bad economy are non-whites, and “only” 20% of officers are. So? We hear that volunteer military people only want competence, not skin color. Which—not to forget—is not a Constitutional reason for admitting or promoting.

The overall point to grasp is: in making its decisions, even if they’re illegal and destructive—as this race-based admission and retention policy is—the military thinks of itself as a special interest group whose livelihood is guaranteed by putting positive spin on events. It’s acting like a political party rather than the military of the entire society. For the record, this is a bad attitude, and hugely self-destructive, because it reduces civilian confidence in the military when the scandals finally break—as this one of race-based admission and retention finally has done. The military is once again “circling the wagons”—against the people they’re supposed to be protecting, and who pay their bills. Still, this “us vs. them” mentality with respect to the civilian world seems endemic to the military as currently constituted, and the defensiveness it engenders the source of the military’s greatest weakness (this is the subject of my upcoming book Bridging the Military-Civilian Divide).

But yes. Treating people differently based on their race is quite illegal. The Constitution says you can’t do it, and we’re doing it. And lying about it. With your tax dollars paying them to do it. Write your Congress(wo)man now. Write the Superintendent of the US Naval Academy. Write Senators McCain and Webb. And write to CDR Salamander.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Now some final thoughts. As is my nature and training, let's talk about just a few of the second and third order effects of all this.

Second Order Effects:
- When you break a peer group into different cohorts that have different average indicators of future success from each other, those different cohorts will, on average, perform at different levels going forward. Those cohorts that have higher indicator levels will perform better. Those with lower indicators will perform worse. As a result, in a zero sum game the only way to ensure that all cohorts receive equal outcomes is to discriminate against higher performing cohorts. If you want to maintain parity between each cohort, you must actively intervene at each career milestone. If you do not, you will create the appearance of inequality - because in a system with objective criteria, the cohort with lower indicators will always, on average, perform worse - and therefor will promote at lower rates in such a way that the identifiable cohorts will have drastically different outcomes. If all had equal outcomes at point 1 - and then don't at point 2 - then you have to explain why. Again, to avoid different outcomes between cohorts - you have to remove or work around objective criteria - if you don't then you have to admit your prior discriminatory behavior, or blame someone else.

- If you reach a career milestone (Commissioning, FITREPS, promotion boards, Command screen boards, etc) where active discrimination to ensure cohort parity is stopped and career progression is permitted to proceed on a meritocracy basis, then you will reach a point where others will have to make the quality cut. You pushed honesty and fairness to the right. The music will stop - only the quick get the chair.

That is the narcissistic selfishness of Diversity. It pushes the decision to someone else. Sure, you are may get your "minority accession goals" because you used different criteria for different cohorts - but at some point, when lives are at risk and the luxury of do-good-feel-goodism is no longer a smart thing - the breakout will have to take place. That of course, assumes that such behavior is allowed. See first point. In the case where cohort equal outcomes is paramount, the organization has accepted that Diversity is more important than lives, ships, aircraft, and nuclear reactor safety. Interesting world view - but not uncommon it seems.

Third Order Effects:
- Some, if not most, of the cohort that received special consideration beyond objective success indicators would be more than capable of being accepted under the objective criteria alone like their peers in the unprotected cohort. Those individuals with the highest success indicators will still be rewarded well beyond their peers of equal success indicators in the unprotected cohort, however. Middle-range protected like high-range unprotected, and so on.

What will always bother these individuals who would make it on their own merits, however, is that they will be forever tainted by being thrown in with the special consideration cohorts. They will forever be in a cloud of suspicion by their peers because a system has been set up to ensure that there will always be a question if they could have succeeded in a meritocracy, or if they were just another person's pet project.

- Being an officer in the Navy is not an easy job. It is not for everyone. An average Navy officer would most likely have an outstanding future in another field of work that better matched their skill set. When other people decide to artificially inject people into a career field where, by the demands of the field and its different success indicators, they are not qualified for - then the vast majority of those people selected under special consideration will expend their finite time pursuing a career path that they are ill-suited for and will not excel in. They will become frustrated with their job, and resented by their peers who have to make up for their shortcomings. Qualified watch standers are needed for the watch bill. Instructor pilots are needed to instruct. Short notice taskers require those who can perform quickly under pressure. We all know how this goes.

The narcissistic selfishness comes into play again. You only have a few short years in your life to set yourself up when you are young. Older leaders are using younger people's lives to meet their own desired PPT slides and talking points. As a result of a 50-something's desire to pursue a unicorn and enrich their own career prospects - they consume other's youth.

The inherent vampirism of Diversity. Sad.

Gobble, gobble.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The new Byzantines

What Edward Gibbon was the Roman Empire focused on the Western Empire in his
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Luttwak is to the Eastern Empire.

Following Luttwak's
The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire, has has added a focus on a little known history - that focused on what many call The Byzantine Empire or the Eastern Roman Empire. Called The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire, it covers the Roman Empire in the East from the fourth through the fifteenth centuries.

From Stuart Kohel in the
WeeklyStandard, something to ponder. I'm not buying into the whole premise - but it is worth a ponder.
In his FP article, Luttwak lays out seven principles of Byzantine strategy which he believes would be applicable to the United States in its present strategic situation. They are worth repeating here:

I. Avoid war by every possible means, in all possible circumstances, but always act as if war might start at any time. Train intensively and be ready for battle at all times . . . The highest purpose of combat readiness is to reduce the probability of having to fight.

II. Gather intelligence on the enemy and his mentality, and monitor his actions continuously. Efforts to do so by all possible means might not be very productive, but they are seldom wasted.

III. Campaign vigorously, both offensively and defensively, but avoid battles, especially large-scale battles, except in very favorable circumstances. . . employ force in the smallest possible doses to help persuade the persuadable and harm those not yet amenable to persuasion.

IV. Replace the battle of attrition and occupation of countries with maneuver warfare . . . [T]he object is not to destroy your enemies, because they can become tomorrow's allies. A multiplicity of enemies can be less of a threat than just one, so long as they can be persuaded to attack one another.

V. Strive to end wars successfully by recruiting allies to change the balance of power. Diplomacy is even more important during war than peace . . . The most useful allies are those nearest to the enemy.

VI. Subversion is the cheapest path to victory. So cheap, in fact, as compared with the costs and risks of battle, that it must always be attempted, even with the most seemingly irreconcilable enemies.

VII. When diplomacy and subversion are not enough and fighting is unavoidable, use methods and tactics that exploit enemy weaknesses, avoid consuming combat forces, and patiently whittle down the enemy's strength. This might require much time. But there is no urgency because as soon as one enemy is no more, another will surely take his place. All is constantly changing as rulers and nations rise and fall. Only the empire is eternal -- if, that is, it does not exhaust itself.
So, what would the Emperor Maurice do in this situation? Undoubtedly the first thing he would do is collect the best possible intelligence on Iran, its rulers, its society, its military and its economy, using all available sources, including spies, merchants, scholars, and traitors within. Having built up a reasonably accurate picture of the adversary and his potential weaknesses, Maurice would see that the government is becoming isolated from the people, and relies increasingly on oppression to maintain its position.
Rather than recognizing the legitimacy of the recent Iranian elections--widely regarded as farcical by the Iranian people, if not by our State Department--he would begin funneling support to opposition political groups, highlighting human rights abuses by the Iranian government to undermine its international support, and destroying its moral authority (such as it is). He would observe Iran has many disgruntled ethnic minorities, many of which have violent militant groups, such as the Baluchi separatists who recently killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guard leaders in a suicide bombing attack (the biter bit!). Maurice would delicately reach out to these groups, subverting their leadership (putting all of them on the Byzantine payroll), providing them with training and equipment (untraceable, of course) and then letting them loose on the Iranian government.
Imagine what would happen in Iran if not just Baluchis, but half a dozen other insurgent groups suddenly began staging attacks, day in and day out. But Maurice would also maintain a tight leash on his attack hounds, and through diplomatic channels would make it known that the attacks could be stopped in return for concessions. And, just to make sure his overtures would be well received, Maurice would buy key members of the Iranian government and religious councils (but of course, the United States does not engage in bribery, any more than it engages in assassination).
This can pay long-term dividends, since once an enemy official takes your money you have a hold on him for life. Finally, there must always be the iron fist in the velvet glove, so Maurice would carefully plan for a limited military strike in the event all other means fail. But he would not aim to invade and occupy the whole country, recognizing that he did not have the wherewithal to do so, and that such a war would tie down too many resources and make him vulnerable to attack from other quarters. So, he would limit his objectives to a raid to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities, to cripple the Revolutionary Guard Corps, and maybe, if the situation warrants, to cut out enclaves along Iran's borders to serve as havens for Iran's dissident minority groups--a constant threat to Iran should it lapse into bad behavior in the future.
BTW, did you SAMS graduates know this?
In writing about Byzantine foreign policy, Luttwak's task was made easier because, unlike the Romans, the Byzantines did write manuals of strategy, including such classics as theStrategikon of the 6th century Emperor Maurice, or the 11th century Strategikon of Kekaumenos.

So many books - so little time.

....and another little note. From the
Wikipage (I know, I know), ponder.
....the inaction and ineptitude of the Angeloi quickly lead to a collapse in Byzantine military power, both at sea and on land. Surrounded by a crowd of slaves, mistresses and flatterers, they permitted the empire to be administered by unworthy favourites, while they squandered the money wrung from the provinces on costly buildings and expensive gifts to the churches of the metropolis. They scatterred money so lavishly as to empty the treasury, and allowed such licence to the officers of the army as to leave the Empire practically defenceless. Together, they consummated the financial ruin of the state.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Next time, give the job to the sniper ...

Always be careful until you get a few reports and/or the CM is done ... but man this smells nasty; about as nasty as half-burned bodies hanging from a bridge.
Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told

The three, all members of the Navy's elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral's mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named "Objective Amber," told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.
I hope those three Petty Officers have the best lawyers possible.

BZ to them for refusing NJP.

As for the USA - weak horse; very weak horse.

The memo of shame

Via NPR ... yes NPR, we have a memo that anyone with more than 10 years of commissioned service should recognize - the classic CYA memo that kicks a decision upstairs because you know that you don't have the top cover to survive an attack of the Diversity Bullies.

How do I know? I had been guilty years back of the same thing for the same reasons - I knew there was negative top-cover from my CO's ISIC and acted accordingly. I'm not proud - but I protected my CO; I thought that was my job.

Diversity - it makes cowards of us all - except for our MIDN perhaps; we'll see how their CMEO complaint goes.

Hat tip MTH.

A Very Fleming Christmas

This week's book recommendations come from United States Naval Academy Professor of English, Bruce Fleming. If you want to know what he wants bouncing around the nogg'n of tomorrow's leaders in the Navy and Marine Corps, well here is your chance.

Prof. Fleming's personal top five book suggestions for leaders and wannabe leaders, and perhaps all alpha types:

l. THE QUIET AMERICAN, by Graham Greene.
This is the novel, published in 1954 (the year of the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu) that, if read and taken on board by the right people, could have prevented the American disaster in Vietnam by keeping us home. The narrator is a burned-out British journalist without much going for him except that he sees through the bumptuous, destructive idealism of the young American of the title. This fellow has been sent by Washington to Saigon (probably he's SpecOps, or CIA--it's unclear) to propagate the American illusion of a "middle way" between Communists and traditionalists in French Indochina. The American (played tellingly as a smart-dumb hunk in the movie version by "George of the Jungle"/ "GI Joe" Brendan Fraser) is convinced he's right and the illusions-gone-but-fighting-anyway French are simply just not good enough: his theories are based not on experience, but on books written by a man who spent a few weeks in the country and concocted a theory Washington liked to hear. All in all, this book is a reminder: that the people who have been there before might actually know something (think of Afghanistan), that Americans see through their own filter, and that "All-American" buffed up smart guys aren't necessarily right, though they will always have the tendency to think they are. Sometimes the ones who are right are the broken down opium-addicted journalists who live there, like the narrator. Or the French. Gulp.

The best war novel ever written. It's all here, folks: the carnage of battle, the reduction of the fighting man (or boy, and now perhaps woman or girl) to a kind of bestial state focused only on killing, eating, and defecating, the fact that soldiers fight not for an airy principle but for their buddies, who in turn are fighting for them (NB: this is circular), the fact that the brass are distant and frequently clueless, the fact that soldiers are more like other soldiers (say, on the other side) than they are like anybody else, the fact that soldiers do not "fall on the field of battle," they die from a bayonet or from bleeding to death after their legs are blown off. Think about it the next time you hear politicians getting revved up about "kicking some enemy butt" with our military. The enemy aren't the only ones who die, and even so, all of them are just like us. This is, after all, told from the POV of the bad guys in WWI, the Germans.

3. HEART OF DARKNESS, by Joseph Conrad.
On the surface, an adventure story about Africa, colonialism, and the strange scenarios to which the "white man's burden" can lead. But its relevance for the military is suggested by the fact that Coppola's Vietnam war movie "Apocalypse Now" is based on this book. For military types, HEART OF DARKNESS is most interesting as an admission that, at some level, war is fun. Okay, okay, it's not fun. But at least it's an adventure, and men today still see it that way. It's different, it's not sitting behind a desk, it's (we still say this) the ultimate test of manhood; it's a break from routine. Plus for Westerners, it's frequently far away, which means you get to act out without worrying that somebody is doing a similar number on your wife and kids. (You're doing the number on theirs.) In those far-away places, you can do things they told you not to do when you were in kindergarten. Thus they're frequently things the folks back home don't want to know about, as the too-successful ivory merchant Kurtz, whom the narrator has been sent to find at the bend of the Congo River, seems to be doing (apparently human sacrifices and allowing himself to be worshipped as a god). Still, it works. And it may be the fundamental human desire: to do things that we aren't allowed to do at home. Going beyond the pale is always justified on the ground that it works. The heck with the Geneva Conventions: we have a job to do, many infantry troops want to say to the uncomprehending civilians back home. Let us do it, and say thank you. After all, do the folks back home really want to know? Conrad seems to say they don't, though they say they do.

4. OTHELLO, by William Shakespeare.
Finally, a play. The title character, a mercernary admiral for Venice (all Venetian military figures were from out of town, and worked for money; no shame here), is a "stud" on the battlefield and an absolute zero in society. He's been with the guys since he was seven, he tells the Venetian senators gathered to find out if he's really eloped with the daughter of his drinking buddy: he has. Othello makes the fatal mistake of putting all his trust in the "band of brothers," exemplified by his XO Iago, who tells him his wife is cheating on him. She has to be, says Iago: Othello is old, he's not Venetian, and he's African (if not black by our standards, darker than the Italians: they call him "the thick-lips" when they want to insult him). And besides, it's a his military subordinate telling him: this has to be the truth, Iago insists, and Othello accepts. Othello has absolute faith in his male XO, who's going to "explain" women to him (Iago says all women are whores), and no faith in his wife--he feels absolutely ignorant of the rules of domestic life. As a result he believes Iago and serves as judge, jury, and (literally) executioner for his wife, who turns out to have been innocent. A lesson against putting too much trust in the buddies, in being hot-headed and sure you're right, and in the dangers that come from being too much the career military man. Leave it at the office, men. You have to learn to switch gears.

5. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, by Jane Austen.
This one is my long shot. Male midshipmen hate this book, which is why it's good for them to read, and for all alpha types of whatever age. Still, I admit, it's not promising at first glance: it's about five young women, sisters, who are looking for husbands. Not exactly what a self-respecting stud or even studette would be caught reading, you'd think. But wait. It's really a story about powerlessness: the main characters have to do what they're told, can't contradict those setting the rules, and have to simply eat being misunderstood. Sound familiar? It's the military, or any top-down "you do what I say" organization. Inside they're seething, or at least the main character, Elizabeth Bennett is, caught in the shackles of her position. Of course, she's the best of the lot. The military attracts alpha types--who probably would identify more readily with the men in this book than with the women: men here are free to come and go, have incomes, can look for a wife (or not), while the girls wait for the men to appear and try to catch them. That's the way alphas see themselves, as individualists, Rambos all. But the paradox is, many of the alpha types drawn to the military find that they're more in the position of the women in this book than of the men: forced to hurry up and wait, unable to speak out directly, and the victim of other people's decisions. For many people in the military this is a rude awakening, and the cause of disillusion. If they'd read about it first in Jane Austen, the disillusion might at least be tempered.

Happy Holidays!

In case you missed them; my list is here and Barney's is here.

Editor's note: Yes, there is an extra book in the carousel - you need six to make it work - I added that book by Professor Fleming, and recommend it. You may also wonder what that book is in the upper-right hand corner of the post. Well, that is his next book, due out next year. When you can pre-order it on Amazon, I'll let you know.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Caption Contest!

The Katie Couric edition.

Next time she talks about qualifications, behavior around children, or the time of day - well - yea.

Oh, and please don't go to 11 in comments.

Hat tip Ace.

Avast 'ye! We be talk'n Pirates ...

... over at USNIBlog. Join us.

We should follow the Tory lead ...

WWII is long over. Everyone should come home.
British troops could be withdrawn from Germany for good, nearly 70 years after the end of the Second World War, if the Conservatives win the general election, it emerged last night.

Liam Fox, the Shadow Defence Secretary, said that it was “no longer necessary” to keep more than 20,000 military personnel in the country. Ending the commitment would free up forces to carry out vital Nato operations outside Europe, he said.
Exactly right.

With the exception of some joint logistics bases and NATO training areas - American maneuver forces should be on the way home. If some time in the future Europe needs American forces - well the one thing we have learned over the last 100 years is how to transport forces over seas - and hey - we could even build the strategic air and sea lift to do it.

I got a kick out of this line,
Dr Fox signalled his determination to conduct a “wholesale recasting of our foreign and defence policy” in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. He wants new Nato member states from eastern and central Europe, particularly Poland, to take over Britain’s commitments in Germany, freeing British troops to be deployed elsewhere.
How about this; Germany has one of the strongest economies in the world and plenty of spare GDP % to spend on defense - let them defend Hanover for goodness sakes.

.... and yes, I also grinned that the last holdout was around Hanover .... the ancestral home of Queen Elizabeth's family.

Hat tip AT1.

CDR Bryan M. Cochran, USN: Salamander leader of the month

Dude. You take Command while armed. That is so fullbore that I am simply in awe .... and a little green.
Cmdr. Byran M. Cochran, U.S. Navy, Task Group 56.4 assumed command of U.S. Naval operations in Basra province from Cmdr. Patrick T. Britt, U.S. Navy, Riverine Squadron (RIVRON) 2, in a transfer of authority ceremony on Contingency Operating Base Basra Nov. 15.
I don't care that the rest of the CoC personnel forgot they were in a war zone - I think you set the tone for your Sailors just right.

And as someone who has spent some time with our Army friends as well, I just have one thing to say to you; HOOAH!

Any excuse to show some luv'n to our baby the Riverine.

Oh, one last note. Shipmate, your left thigh pocket.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lessons on Italian hand gestures

By the Italian Senate!

Back in '07 the Leftist Prodi government fell then got back up again. Well, I love this picture from the fracas. You can learn a lot

Need a lesson, this guy can help you out. How many Italian hand gestures do you see?

...and yes, you must watch this again.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fullbore Friday

Do you always fight to win at all costs? When do you retreat?

Time today to look at our own backyard - the
War of 1812, and a Navy leader that - to my great shame - I knew nothing about until this year.

This is what got my attention,
Aboard a pontoon boat chugging past the marshland of Maryland's upper Patuxent River on a recent Saturday, Ralph Eshelman pointed to the spot where the muddy brown water hides a shipwreck nearly two centuries old, part of the American flotilla that defended the Chesapeake Bay when the British burned Washington during the War of 1812.
That only hints at the story.

Before we get to the War Story, let's look at the man - and the questions his story asks.

When do you stop serving your nation? When your nation is in peril - is any job beneath you? Do you have an idea that can take your "low" position - and make it great? How flexible are your Sailors? How flexible is your leadership?

During the Revolutionary War, Barney became the youngest Commander of a Continental Navy frigate. Tales of his capture by the British and his daring escape were well known. After the defeat of England in America, Barney traveled to Paris to deliver peace documents to Benjamin Franklin. While in France, he was introduced at court and met Marie Antoinette. In 1795, he accepted a position as commander for the French Navy which he held for five years before returning to his home in Maryland. In 1812, Joshua Barney was fifty-three years old and living in Elk Ridge, Maryland. Because of his previous service to France, Barney was not allowed a leading position in the U.S. Navy, but accepted command of the schooner Rossie.
....and so a great man gets to work for his nation.
By December of 1812, the Royal Navy was raging across the Tidewater region blockading towns, looting and plundering. The Chesapeake and Delaware Bays were blockaded. The first defeat the British suffered was at the mouth of the Elizabeth River in Virginia when they failed to take Norfolk, but their wrath was so great they sacked the city of Hampton for revenge. As the British invaded the Eastern Shore, the American army was concentrated in Canada and the strategic Chesapeake was relatively undefended. Although something had to be done, America's forces had few reinforcements and little money.

In response, Joshua Barney designed a plan entitled "Defense of the Chesapeake," and submitted it to President Madison. The detailed plan included sketches of gunboats similar to barges, with oars, light sails and one large gun. The small, quick barges, manned by local men would be tricky targets, could keep watch over the enemy and sail into the shallow Chesapeake waters where the larger British gunboats would not dare enter. They were relatively inexpensive to construct, and Barney believed the barges could be sold after the war for commercial use.

In August 1813, Barney was appointed commander of the Chesapeake Flotilla and local shipyards began constructing the barges. Bounties were offered to entice men who would otherwise continue to privateer to enlist. News of the flotilla spread quickly and the British began constructing their own barges on Tangier Island. Although stymied by a shortage of men and supplies, Barney's Chesapeake Flotilla with seven 75' barges, six 50' barges, two gunboats, one row galley, one lookout boat and the flagship Scorpion set sail in April 1814 investigate the Potomac and check any defects in the flotilla.
Note the nature of his vessels. Do you see the seed of the PT boat? The PGM? Dare I say - irregular warfare - littoral warfare? Nothing is new, only the people and the tools they use are.
With eighteen ships and barely a month's supplies, the flotilla sailed from Baltimore on their first mission, to attack Tangier Island and destroy the British barge fleet under construction. Like all able commanders, Barney adjusted his tactics to his terrain and his strength, becoming a waterborne gadfly. Obviously he could not challenge Cockburn's heavyweights ship-for-ship. But he knew the Chesapeake: its deep water, its shoals, its numerous shallow creeks and estuaries into which he could fly for safety. So he buzzed, rather than assaulted, the enemy; waiting until a likely victim came too close to his watery sanctuaries, whereupon his flotilla, led by his appropriately named flagship, the sloop-of-war USS Scorpion, mounting eight carronades and one long gun, plus a furnace for heating shot, would sally forth to inflict damage on them. He never hoped to sink them, but he did make Sir George pay attention.

On June first the flotilla encountered the British schooner, HMS St. Lawrence and her seven boats, between the mouths of the Potomac and Patuxent Rivers near Cedar Point. The flotilla pursued, firing away, until the beleaguered schooner came under the protection of the huge 74-gun line-of-battle ship HMS Dragon. When Dragon's big guns opened up, Barney's gunboats put about and ran for shallow water with the British ship lumbering in futile pursuit. This spirited engagement was known as the Battle of Cedar Point. Because of Barney, Cock burn's hopes of renewing in 1814 the pillage of the previous year were frustrated, and instead of repeating such atrocities as he had inflicted on the town of Havre de Grace, Maryland, he was reduced to pig-sticking and tobacco-pilfering operations.

Thus began a series of darting attacks, retreats and tardy reinforcements, evident on both sides, that ultimately locked the entire Chesapeake Flotilla within the confines of the Patuxent River. But this story is not without its moments of sheer terror, true leadership, frustrations and small victories that proved the men, and their Commodore, to be some of the great American heroes of the War of 1812. "The bravery of the 500 flotillamen and marines was proven time and again as they turned back wave after wave of the numerically superior foe seeking to destroy it ..." says the introduction to Flotilla Battle for the Patuxent. ...
On June 7th .... The British Commander Barrie of the HMS Dragon blockaded the mouth of the Patuxent and waited for reinforcements from the eighteen gun Jaseur and the thirty-eight gun HMS Loire. Barney continued to retreat up river and landed on the shores of St. Leonard's Creek. Outgunned by more than four to one, Barney had little hope for victory. But, the shallow waters of St. Leonard's Creek and the surrounding high grounds were an excellent location to mount a defense.
The mouth of the creek was blockaded by two British frigates, HMS Loire of 38 guns and HMS Narcissus of 32 guns, plus the sloop-of-war, HMS Jasseur of 18 guns. For three days the British Navy launched wave after wave of assaults against the U.S. forces, often employing Congreve rockets to destroy the flotilla, but the Commodore and his men stood fast. On each occasion the British boats came up until they caught sight of Barney's flotilla, and were promptly chased off by the Americans, who took care, however, not to meddle with the larger vessels.

Colonel Wadsworth, commanding a force of American artillery on shore, offered to cooperate from the shore while Barney assailed the two frigates with the flotilla. Assisted by a force of U.S. Marines, commanded by Captain Miller, the joint attack took place most successfully on June 26th. The Loire and Narcissus were driven off, although not much damaged, and the flotilla rowed out in triumph into the Patuxent.
Someone think "hybrid Sailors" is anything new?
In mid-August, arrival of a large portion of the Royal Naval fleet commanded by Admiral Cock burn, and four thousand veteran soldiers of "Wellington's Invincibles" under Major General Robert Ross, made their appearance in the Chesapeake, escalating an already desperate situation.

The District of Columbia formed a part of the Fourth Military District, in which the effective troops, under Brigadier General William H. Winder, numbered about two thousand, scattered over widely separated points, some as far away as Nor folk. A company of the Marines was at the barracks in Washington, and a company of Artillery in Fort Washington. General Winder had warned the government that imminent peril threatened and had asked for troops with which to meet it, but it seemed impossible to convince the authorities that he was right, or that any circumstances could arise that would place the capital in peril. General Winder was personally convinced that Annapolis was the real British objective, but most other military and government officials believed that Baltimore must be where the British troops were heading.

Commodore Barney moved his flotilla up the Patuxent as far as Nottingham, about 40 miles from Washington, where he reported to the Navy Department that the enemy had entered and were ascending the river. "The British are in the Patuxent," Commodore Barney wrote Navy Secretary Jones on Friday, the 19th. The Admiral, he was told, planned to destroy Barney's flotilla and "dine in Washington on Sunday." The orders of Secretary Jones were to run the flotilla as far up the river as possible, and upon the enemy landing, to destroy it and march to join General Winder.

On August 19th and 20th the British invasion forces landed at Benedict, Maryland and directed the
march of their forces upon Washington on the 21st, following the Patuxent River both by water and by land. The advancing British troops numbered five thousand, including one thousand Royal Marines. Following his orders, the Commodore retreated upriver to about five miles north of Pig Point. There he landed with four hundred men, leaving about a hundred men to blow up the flotilla. On the morning of August 22nd the British were astounded to see an orderly line of American row galleys and merchant ships extending before them upriver, blown up in quick succession. More than sixteen ships of the Chesapeake Flotilla sank in the Patuxent within a few minutes.

General Winder's militia were scattered here and there, and when it became known that a large land and naval force had landed at Benedict, only a small body of men were at hand to checkmate the movement, and General Winder had slight confidence in them. The General found himself with five hundred regulars and two thousand undisciplined militia -- mostly farmers, many armed only with shot-guns. Learning on the 22nd that the British had camped the previous night at Nottingham, General Winder began to believe that they might indeed be heading for Washington rather than Baltimore or Annapolis. But he sent orders to his various military units to wait at various "half-way points," in order to ensure at least some defense at each possible objective. The General knew that a sizable British naval force was proceeding up the Potomac, and feared that they would be joined by the British troops to attack Fort Washington, an easy march directly west from Nottingham. Attacking across the bridge over the Eastern Branch of the Potomac at Bladensburg seemed a fairly remote possibility.
The General's scouts continued to report on the activities of the British, now in Upper Marlboro. One report said they were on the road to Annapolis; another that they were heading for Fort Washing-ton; another that they were again on the road to wards Bladensburg. At 10 AM the morning of August 24th, a scout came galloping in with news that the British had been marching for Bladensburg since dawn and were nearly halfway there!
Commodore Barney's little force of five hundred flotillamen proceeded by forced march to Bladensburg, accompanied by Captain Samuel Miller and 120 U.S. Marines, and five pieces of heavy artillery from his flotilla and from the Washington Navy Yard. Following were two ammunition wagons which he had hastily procured.

General Winder had drawn up his forces to cover the road for some distance west of town, on the west bank of the eastern branch of the Potomac, in a fine position to defend the bridge over which the British must pass. President Madison, Secretary of War General Armstrong, and Secretary of State James Monroe were also there, but they hindered far more than they helped by giving conflicting orders.

Arriving at 1 PM, at the same time the British had begun attacking General Winder's forward line, he arranged his artillery in battery at the center of the second line position on the west bank of the eastern branch of the Potomac. The Commodore himself directed the artillery (2 eighteens and 3 twelve-pounder ship's guns mounted on carriages), while Captain Miller of the Marines commanded the rest of the force -- 120 Marines and 370 flotillamen armed as infantry.

As at Bunker Hill, the two first attacks of the British were bloodily repulsed, chiefly by Barney's guns. By his own account, "At length the enemy made his appearance on the main road in force and in front of my battery, and on seeing us made a halt. I reserved our fire. In a few minutes the enemy again advanced, when I ordered an 18-pounder to be fired, which completely cleared the road. Shortly after, a second and a third attempt was made by the enemy to come forward, but all were destroyed. They then crossed over into an open field, and attempted to flank our right. He was met there by three 12-pounders, and Marines under Captain Miller, and my men acting as infantry, and again was totally cut up. By this time not a vestige of the American army remained, except a body of five or six hundred posted on a height on my right, from which I expected much support from their fine position."

As the British attempted their flanking movement, the Commodore ordered Captain Miller and the flotillamen-infantry to charge, while he poured a destructive fire upon their flank. The charge was executed with great celerity and determination; the veterans of the 86th and 4th -- the "King's Own Regiment" -- giving way before it, pursued by their assailants, the sailors crying out to "board `em." They were driven back to a wooded ravine 3, leaving several of their wounded officers in the hands of the Americans. Colonel William Thornton, who bravely led the attacking British column, was severely wounded, and General Ross had his horse shot under him.

It would have been well for the honor of America if all who were present on that day had behaved with the same decision and effect as Commodore Barney and his command. Their heroic resistance saved the combat at Bladensburg from being an unqualified disgrace to American arms. "It was a magnificent stand; the slightest follow-up of Barney's counterattack might have produced an American victory. As it was, the road to Washington now lay open." But while they were sustaining the credit of their country, the other troops had disappeared, and in the confusion of their retreat, the wagons containing the ammunition for the cannon and small arms had been carried off. The British light troops acting en tirailleur had, in consequence of the total absence of any support, gained positions on his flanks near enough to produce effect with their fire, and to wound and kill several of his best officers. Captain Miller had been wounded in charging the enemy; and Commodore Barney himself, after having had his horse killed under him, received a musket ball in the thigh.

The force of the enemy was constantly increasing, for the lack of ammunition for Barney's artillery ended the only effective resistance to the British advance. When it became evident that a reinforcing column of Virginia militia could not arrive in time to aid the gallant flotillamen, who were obstinately maintaining their position against fearful odds, and that further resistance would be useless, General Winder ordered a general retreat. The retreat order was never passed to Barney's command, but with no ammunition, flanked on the right and deserted on the left, the Commodore knew that the end had come. He ordered the guns spiked and the men to retreat. The officers and men who were able to march effected the retreat in excellent order; but the Commodore's wound rendered him unable to move, and he was made prisoner.

General Ross, who had lost nearly three hundred men before getting across the river, gave great attention and care to the wounded Commodore; he so admired the bravery of the "blue-jackets" that he paroled all the flotillamen, including the Commodore, on the spot. The General ordered that he be taken at once into the city and his wounds treated.
That is leadership.

I took a lot of text, from
here and here, but that story needed to be read without interruption. If this doesn't get you going - I don't know what will. Want to know what is behind the phrase, "Finest traditions of the Naval Service?" That should help.

I need you USNA guys to help me a bit here.

The British have a great tradition - they do battlefield tours. From Flanders to Afghanistan - they dedicate days to unit battlefield tours, and use them as both a training opportunity and a way to inculcate the traditions of their military and lessons of the giants who served before.

Now, all the above took place in Annapolis's backyard. Please tell me there is some kind of classroom or even better - shipboard "battlefield tour" set-up involving Barney's example.

Imagine taking one of the USNA's sailing yachts and following the path of the Chesapeake Flotilla - at sea and on land. A Navy version of the
Nijmegen march - if you will.

There - chew on that. Give that idea to a good JO and a couple of 1/C MIDN and let them run with it.

...and speaking of shame - think of all the "people and things" we have named our ships after this decade; know this - we have not had a
USS Barney since 1992.

One final note of caution - like I always say - you are irreplaceable until you leave; then you are forgotten.
Joshua Barney returned to his home in Anne Arundel County and began petitioning Congress for compensation for his men. The wound he received at the Battle of Bladensburg was a bullet deep in his thigh which could not bq removed and which he lived with for three years before it caused a fever that caused his death on December 1, 1818.