Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The GAO just provided a gift the other day to critics of LCS, but are often told something to the effect, "Don't quote me something you heard off some blog - that isn't reliable ... " - well, you know how that goes.
If you need to, send them the links to DefenseTech and Rueters with this summary,
One of the primary missions of the LCS is to act as a screen for larger fleet ships, fending off small boat swarms in coastal waterways. The standard package for that mission is the Surface Warfare module (SUW), which includes a 30mm cannon and the NLOS-LSBetter yet, read the whole GAO report here - is has a lot about more than just LCS.
GAO says the launcher was tested last summer, but failed due to a malfunctioning sensor and battery connector. The Navy expects delivery of another SUW package this year, this time with the launcher, but minus the missiles. As we noted in our previous write up, Army officials told us they think the missile’s targeting problems are pretty serious ones, considering how far along the NLOS-LS is in development. They’ve hinted they may look at a low cost alternative to the NLOS-LS.
Yet, the Navy is going ahead with delivery of the launcher. Why is the Navy taking delivery of a problematic launcher to fit in a mission module for an unproven missile? I’m guessing they’ve already sized the module for the NLOS-LS and at this stage it may be tool late to redesign it for another launcher without incurring serious costs. Absent a functioning SUW package, the LCS is not mission capable for its primary function as a small surface combatant.
GAO said the total cost of the LCS program so far, including research and development as well as procurement funding, was $5.1 billion, nearly 300 percent more than the $1.3 billion cost projected in 2004.
It said the unit cost per ship was $730 million, up from $331 million in 2004, but analysts said that included the first ship of each design, which generally cost more to produce.
GAO said the Navy was conducting dynamic load testing of Lockheed's LCS-1 ship, but integration with the Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle was not due to happen before the ship's so-called shakedown cruise, although it is a "physically stressing system to launch and recover."
For LCS 2, testing of the crane used to launch and recover smaller boats "revealed performance and reliability concerns that were not fully addressed prior to installation."
Lockheed spokeswoman Kim Martinez said the company's first LCS ship, the USS Freedom, had successfully completed its small boat launch and recovery tests, and had used the capability during Freedom's current deployment to catch drug traffickers.
GAO said the main propulsion diesel engines on the General Dynamics ship had not completed a required endurance test due to corrosion in the engines' intake valves, which had to be replaced so the ship could complete acceptance trials.
The General Dynamics ship had also experienced pitting and corrosion in its waterjet tunnels, an issue that the Navy has temporarily fixed, but which will require welding work during a future dry dock availability, GAO said.
Design changes were also made to the General Dynamics ship to address the corrosion and pitting in its waterjet tunnels by isolating the propulsion shafts from the waterjets, GAO said.
General Dynamics spokesman Rob Doolittle said issues sometimes arose during construction of the first ship of any class, but the company and the Navy had already addressed the concerns raised in the GAO report.
The GAO report also noted previously reported concerns about the stability of Lockheed's ship if critically damaged, but said the Navy had added external tanks to the rear of the ship to allow it to meet the damage stability requirement.
The design for Lockheed's second ship was also modified to lengthen its transom by four meters to improve stability.
Do I need to add that you read it here first a few years ago? Naw ... that would be just rubb'n it in.
If you don't like reading clear, direct, fact-based discussion about LCS - you can always soak in stuff like this instead.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
... I know about about fixed marine fire fighting systems from magazine flooding, sprinklers and CO2 to HYFOG, Halon replacements and the rest. You ducked the point.Can I get an AMEN!
They all assume a degree of structural integrity to work at all. They work fine in a sealed isolated space with delivery piping in place. ONCE, for the most part. In a running fight with multiple hits that is a rosy scenario indeed. Fire fighting in a battle on a battle damaged ship is done with hoses, hose teams, bunker gear (fire fighting clothing ensemble), AFFF cans, in line foam proportioners and pick up tubes, HV and LV fog and OBAs/SCBA's. And Guts.
You crawl down ladders that will scorch the skin off you without the gloves and fire suit, sqeeze through scuttles you can't see for the smoke in spaces where ambient temperature approaches the inside of a toaster oven, lugging the very breath of life on your back. You wade through ponds of shifting scalding water you applied to the fire moments before and clouds of scalding steam from the same source. You use every firefighting tool you have as fast as you can get it to the scene, because the fire doubles every minute. The key is isolation, which assumes structural integrity, to stop the fire, force it back, force down, and force it out. You exhaust the sailors you don't loose to burns, scalding, incoming ammunition, internal flareups, or
heat stroke establishing and maintaining the fire boundaries and backup boundaries. Most of the gee whiz stuff you cite is used up, shot up, or screwed up and didn't work. THAT is how you fight fires.
Monday, March 29, 2010
This very interesting blurb from Radio Netherlands Worldwide caught my eye.
Major cutbacks on defence spending would be at odds with the constitution, according to former finance minister Gerrit Zalm.A few things to keep in mind here.
The former conservative VVD politician chaired an enquiry on the future international role of the Dutch armed forces, which presented its findings on Monday. The study is intended to form a basis for the Netherlands’ long-term defence policy.
Mr Zalm concludes that serious defence cuts would prevent the armed forces from carrying out their constitutional task of maintaining the rule of international law. Mr Zalm argues that little should change in the present nature of the Dutch armed forces. The military should stay ready for deployment in a wide range of situations, both for national defence and for overseas peacekeeping operations.
According to a survey by TNS NIPO published by de Volkskrant on Monday, supporters of the Labour Party, Green Left and the liberal D66 party see defence as a prime area for cuts.
The Dutch have a classic European Welfare State with an extensive presence by the government in its economy. Exceptionally high taxes (gas 3-4x what it is here), higher income taxes, a 16% VAT tax, and fees on about everything you can think of. They have a national health care system. In summary - they are now where we are heading.
- A Dutch Conservative is a bit to the left of a "Scoop Jackson Democrat." Somewhere near or slightly to the left of Sen. Webb (D-VA) and Rep. Taylor (D-MS) with a bit of Sen. Graham (R-SC) thrown in. The comparison is inexact - but you get the idea.
- The Dutch are one of the more serious nations on the Continent when it comes to national defense. Their performance in AFG and the fact that their government will fall because of the desire to extend the committment should show you that seriousness.
- The Dutch do not have a nuclear arsenal to spend money on.
- The USA spends ~4.1% of its GDP on national defense.
- The Netherlands spends ~1.4% of its GDP on national defense.
Depending on how you define it - the USA defense budget in 2010 is from $533 to $663 billion. Let's round it to $600 billion to make it simple.
If we were to spend as a % of GDP what the Dutch do (34% of what we do now), our defense budget would be $204 billion.
Our shipbuilding budget is now ~$14 billion. Were we to follow the Dutch lead - our shipbuilding budget would be $4.8 billion. You can do that for the entire budget using static percentage reductions to a level of 34% of what we have now.
As we move towards a period of exceptional stress on the national budget - ponder that.
Also remember - the Left in The Netherlands thinks that 1.4% of GDP is too much. With the Left - it is always too much until some tyrant is rolling down the street near their vacation condo. No shocker there. They don't feel good about themselves nor can they buy votes for their party with silly things like national defense. That is a topic for grown-ups.
Sad - you would think the Dutch would have remembered what happened the last time they starved their military - but their Left didn't help then either.
Anyway - back to the USA. Where would there be an issue - if any - with our defense budget from a Constitutional POV? The argument could be made that even $204 billion is too much. Could you cut it further without Constitutional problems? Sure.
Article 1 Section 8:
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;Can you do that for $204 billion if you have the votes? Sure you can. In land forces alone, a lot of money could be saved by having a very small active duty force and a greater reliance on the National Guard. Sound familiar? Of course it does - it was the pre-WWII standard.
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
Don't think military expenditure levels and politics aren't related? Don't think military expenditure levels and macro-economics aren't related? Think again.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
First Prince Charles, and now,
Barack Obama made his first trip to Afghanistan as U.S. president on Sunday, delivering a rousing speech to troops and telling Afghan President Hamid Karzai that progress on fighting corruption should match military gains.Well done. Oh, and for the record because I brought it up with Prince Charles - it appears that for the US troops - even McChrystal was unarmed.
Air Force One landed in darkness at Bagram airfield north of the Afghan capital, and Obama was whisked by helicopter to Karzai's palace in Kabul, where he was greeted by the Afghan president and a band playing the U.S. national anthem.
"I want to send a strong message that the partnership between the United States and Afghanistan is going to continue. We have already seen progress with respect to the military campaign against extremism in the region," Obama told Karzai in front of reporters inside the palace.
"We also want to continue to make progress on ... good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption efforts -- all these things end up resulting in an Afghanistan that is more prosperous, more secure, independent," he added.
Karzai said he hoped "the partnership will continue in the future toward a stable, strong, peaceful Afghanistan that can sustain itself, that can move forward into the future."
Saturday, March 27, 2010
The leader of the secular alliance that narrowly won Iraq's parliamentary election has offered to work with all parties to form a coalition government.
Iyad Allawi said his Iraqiya bloc would start by talking with the rival State of Law alliance of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, which it beat by two seats.
Mr Maliki has refused to accept the result and said he would challenge the count through the courts.
Both the UN and US envoys to Iraq have said the 7 March poll was credible.OK - not smooth, but that's OK. A democracy as messy as ours.
I'll take it.
Yes - that Julia Lillis, United States Naval Academy Class of 2001 methinks. Funniest SWO I've ever seen - and easy on the eyes.
She's no dummy either, graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy with a B.S. in Naval Architecture, and then after graduation, she attended The Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, where she earned an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. I like her day job too.
Been a fan of hers for a long time - not just because of her work - but the fact she gives back. Thought I would post this here as I just realized - I never shared her with ya'll before.
UPDATE: Via Sid in comments a 2007 video that proves one thing - methinks she would have made a great Engineering Duty Officer.
A Math Problem
Julia Lillis | MySpace Video
Friday, March 26, 2010
First reports are ...well ... first reports. I'll watch this during the day and update as needed.
My first thoughts - damage control training and abandon ship drills - though DC won't do you much good on a ship this size on the receiving end of a heavy weight torpedo.
A South Korean naval vessel with more than 100 aboard was sinking on Friday in waters near North Korea and Seoul was investigating whether it was hit in a torpedo attack by the North, South Korean media said.As I was typing this - reports are now that it has sunk.
Broadcaster SBS said many South Korean sailors on the stricken vessel were feared dead.
South Korea's YTN TV network said the government was investigating whether the sinking was due to a torpedo attack by the North, and Yonhap news agency said the Seoul government had convened an emergency meeting of security-related ministers.
Yonhap also reported a South Korean navy ship firing toward an unidentified vessel to the north.
North Korea in recent weeks has said it was bolstering its defenses in response to joint South Korean-U.S. military drills that were held this month.
The ship — reported to have 104 crew on board — began sinking off the coast of South Korean-controlled Baengnyeong Island close to North Korea around 10:45 p.m. (1345 GMT, 9:45 a.m. EDT), an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with department policy.
He said the exact cause was not immediately clear. South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported an explosion in the rear of the 1,200-ton ship, but the official said he could not confirm the report.
There are no details on the cause of the explosion but South Korean officials are not ruling out a possible torpedo attack from North Korea, the reports said. Another South Korean Navy vessel that was patrolling nearby fired at unidentified ships to the north of the area, according to an online report from the Korean Broadcasting System. So far, 54 of the 104 crew on the 1,200-ton Cheonan have been rescued, the reports said. South Korean security officials have convened an emergency meeting to discuss the developments.The CHEONAN is a POHANG class corvette.
- Displacement: 1,350 tonsUsually has ~95 personnel on board.
- Armament: 2 OTO Mellara(76mm)/62 compact, 2 Breda 40mm/70, 4 RGM-84D Harpoon SSM, 2 MM-38 Exocet, MK-46 mod 2
- Sonar : Signall PHS-32 Hull mounter sonar
- Speed: 32 knots
- Range: 5,000 at 15 knots
Could be a torpedo - I guess. They do this.
Bubblehead is tracking too. Wonder his thoughts on the Soviet era torps the NORKs have?
UPDATE: Where do we stand now? Well, as most things involving the Hermit Kingdom and their brothers to the south - details are slow coming.
This update helps - what do I think?
Well - let's look to Ockham's Razor. Torp? Maybe. Mine? Probably. Internal explosion? Maybe .... but would the South Koreans admit to that if it was? Well....
Put aside any snarks or other thoughts you may have about Prince Charles on other subjects.
Prince Charles follows Harry's footsteps to Afghanistan and visits British troops in secret trip to frontline.
It is a trip the prince, the Commander in Chief of ten regiments, had wanted to make since the conflict began to see first hand the situation and to express his admiration and thanks to soldiers for their 'incredible efforts'.
During his visit Charles took a trip over Helmand aboard a Chinook and received a briefing on the roadside bombs that have claimed so many British lives.
Hailing the troops fighting in Afghanistan, he said: 'Their mettle has been tested to the full and, as always, they have not been found wanting.
During the two-day tour, the Prince, who wore an armoured jacket with goggles and helmet, visited bases in Nad-e-Ali, where much of the UK's effort was based during Operation Moshtarak, and Lashkar Gah.
After being told of the progress troops were making, Charles left a wreath paying tribute to dead soldiers at Camp Bastion. He was also given a chance to try out British troops' mine clearance equipment.
A Clarence House spokesman said: 'The Prince of Wales has wanted to go to Afghanistan for several years and was very keen to see for himself the Armed Forces and allied members.
'He was also keen to see civilian involvement in regeneration projects and to thank them for their incredible efforts.'
During a briefing from troops, Brigadier James Cowan, Commander of Task Force Helmand Black Watch, told Charles the troops were winning the trust of locals.
He said: 'We have greatly reduced the use of lethal force through courageous restraint which requires our soldiers to be much more courageous, to put themselves in harm's way.
He spoke to President Hamid Karzai before flying in but they were unable to meet during the visit.
His spokesman added: 'The Prince was very pleased to have finally been able to make the visit.'
After visiting Kabul, Charles flew by helicopter to Patrol Base Pimon, in Nad-e-Ali, where he was met by Officer Commanding Right Flank Scots Guards, Major Ian Lindsay-German.
Maj Lindsay-German told Charles: 'We have seen a very, very steep drop in violence to the point where we are getting some signs of Taliban who want to come in.'One little note for you. None of the soldiers were disarmed. None.
The Prince later attended a brief memorial at Camp Bastion, where he laid a wreath of paper poppies and white carnations in honour of the fallen.
How much do you really know what is happening to your children in school, especially when it comes to history?
History and Parents; the cornerstones of a free society.
If you do not understand the context - you don't know the meaning. If you don't know the meaning of something - it is nothing.
When parents are passive about what their children are being taught - everything that has meaning can be used for anything.
Just ask the students at Langley HS. What to know what they are being shown to explain why Americans fight and die overseas?
Well, this FbF - look at the other side of the coin.
UPDATE: More from A Soldier's Perspective.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
From piracy to exercises to warfighting - what are the plusses and minuses of working with other nations at sea?
Are we leveraging the capabilities of other nations enough - or are we in danger of relying on them too much? How does the American Navy see working with other naval forces - and how do they see working with us?
What special capabilities do other nations have that we don't, and what could we learn from them?
What do the lessons from multilateralism in ground combat in Afghanistan, and multilateralism against pirates tell us?
Our guests will be Hans de Vreij and James S. Robbins.
Hans de Vreij is the Netherlands correspondent at Jane's Defence Weekly, and the Security and Defense specialist at Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
Hans received his education at the University of Amsterdam. Previously, he web editor, was Economics, and EU & NATO correspondent for Radio Netherlands World.
Our second guest will be James S. Robbins. James is the Senior Editorial Writer for Foreign Affairs at the Washington Times. He is also author of the book, Last in Their Class: Custer, Pickett and the Goats of West Point, and a political commentator and contributing editor for National Review Online.
Dr. Robbins holds a Ph.D. and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Massachusetts. He also has Masters and Bachelors degrees in Political Science from the University of Cincinnati.
In addition to contributing to a wide variety of publications, he served in government for ten years, and in 2007 was awarded the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Meritorious Civilian Service Award.
Make sure and join us live - all you need to do is click the Midrats widget on the right side of the blog to go to the showpage - or click here. At that same link during the show, at the bottom of the page, we will have a chat room going for you to join in with your comments among the usual suspects, and input your questions host and guests in real time.
If you miss the show or want to catch up on the shows you missed - you can always reach the archives at blogtalkradio - or set yourself to get the podcast on iTunes. If you're feeling real lazy - well, the widget below has the archive for you as well.
You have heard me talk about Diversity as an intellectual cancer. As the way it is practiced and implemented, it requires double-speak, euphemisms, and living in an alternative universe where people are described like pure breeds at a dog show. Where skill does not matter. Racial self-identification fraud does not matter. Multi-racial Americans do not matter. Social demographics (such as different high school and college graduation rates per ethnic/racial groups) do not matter.
No, all that matters are the metrics. Feed the PPT. Feed the division. Feed the sectarianism. Feed the hate. Most of all though - feed the Diversity Industry - their paycheck depends on halting the evolution towards a color blind society.
Sent: Thursday, March 11, [REDACTED]
Subject: RE: Minutes from [REDACTED]
I attended the DiversityInc event yesterday where VADM Ferguson was the keynote speaker. Event was attended by ~200 ppl (my estimate) including 14 uniformed personnel (11 USN, 2 USA, 1USAF). I believe most of the USN attendees were all out of CAPT Barrett's N134 Diversity Directorate. CAPT Barrett followed VADM Ferguson on the speaker agenda and provided the next level of detail to USN's highly proactive diversity vision. The founder and CEO of DiversityInc, Luke Visconti, is a former naval aviator (helo's) and is very involved in the Navy's diversity efforts, hence the Navy's reciprocal involvement in their event.
DiversityInc annually rates the top 50 diverse companies based on voluntarily supplied data. This year they had 489 companies participate (side note: none of "our" contractors, [REDACTED], appeared in the top 50). They are also trying to increase interest in the top 50 diverse federal agencies. Last year they had 39 agencies participate and the top agencies were:
1) IRS (guess the only color they discriminate against is green)
The event was very informative and made me personally aware of many aspects of diversity of which I must embarrassedly admit I was unaware. I've collected some of the common themes from all of the speakers as well as some of the things I found particularly enlightening:
-Lead from the top - have a diversity vision. Companies that show success in diversity all have formal, robust programs with significant CEO involvement. CNO involvement cited as a perfect example.
-Lead from where you are - diversity management is a business operation, not a strategic goal. Make it part of day to day operations and it becomes collaborative change instead of forced change. Best practice: make reviewing diversity metrics part of the regular business metrics review, not a separate review. This reinforces that it's part of daily ops as opposed to a secondary objective.
-What gets measured, gets done. Diversity metrics are essential - they make many uncomfortable, but that is part of the process of getting change implemented. Move the needles - it doesn't have to be solved overnight, but it does have to show movement.
-Life/work balance. Shift from culture of attendance to culture of performance. Technology enables getting tasks done independent of physical location. This is a critical aspect of quality of work/life in recruiting/retaining women. Removing this barrier allows tapping into a huge talent pool (majority of top 100 grads from USNA are women - another reason to open sub service to women; 57% of bachelor degrees awarded last year went to women).
-Diversity is not about quotas. It's about setting goals and having leadership ensure that there is equity in outcome. The only way to do that is to measure it and talk to the numbers. To quote Congresswoman Sanchez: "Over 50% of children under 5 are hispanic. We deserve a place at the table. But that means we have the responsibility to do what is required when we take our seat at the table." To me this was the single most important aspect of the entire conference: diversity is not about trying to manipulate selections/promotions/hirings; it's about manipulating applications/opportunities to get a broader diversity in the selection pool. Time and time again, the theory is proven out that if you widen the aperture, the available talent pool gets deeper.
-Despite the above theme being pretty consistent, many of the speakers also pointed out that humans are highly visual. If we don't see others like ourselves we don't come in or, if we do come in, we don't stay. This was mainly pointed toward the leadership, where the highest diversity gaps exist. The point being a lot of highly talented people will join a company (or the Navy), but you won't be able to keep them if they don't see equitable outcomes in promotions. There's no longer any excuse for lack of diversity in leadership and talented people won't tolerate it. They'll move on to somewhere their talent is valued. Navy: 40K new personnel every year with 48% diversity compared to only 20% diversity in leadership; female retention is half the rate of males in the surface force; low diversity in TACAIR, clustered within particular sqdrns; sub force has lowest diversity with large yr group gaps with no flag eligibles (up to 7 yrs without a diverse accession).
-Navy's technology challenge: highly skewed towards STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) backgrounds -- 85% of officers. STEM divsersity in society is historically 14% - a benchmark the Navy meets. Due to the LLT to grow an Admiral (30 yrs from recruitment) our diversity benchmark for current accessions should not be the historical percentage today, it should be the expected percentage in 2040. Shift focus to 2040 demographics and grade officer accessions to that benchmark and we will remain on track.
-Many tools in the Diversity toolbox for leaders to tap into:
--Employee Resource Groups - "employee-owned, leadership supported"; groups chartered to create an inclusive culture and drive organizational objectives.
--Affinity Groups - this is something we EDO's are already doing: reaching out to affininity groups to drive changes in applicant pools (e.g. sending reps to Nat'l Assoc. of Black Physicist mtg).
--Diversity Training - anchor/embed training in your company's learning continuum.
--Communication - tailor comms to your audience and control the message: building diversity in your organization develops character in your "brand." Celebrate the successes.
--Supplier diversity - don't just focus on your organization, bring your suppliers in as well. (Marriott Int'l practices "positive discrimination" - all things being equal, pick the diverse supplier over all others).
Last observation: The conference had a steady drum beat on under-representation and its debilitating effects and the great business case for equity in outcome. Despite this, I noted that based on the audience in attendance, there appears to be a disconnect in the current diversity stakeholders and the future demographic. I estimated the audience to be 85% female and 80% African American (i.e. the groups we most commonly associate with under-representation). However, I only saw a handful of latinos despite all future demographic forecasts expecting the population to be 30% latino by 2043. My takeaway is that diversity management is way behind in addressing the coming explosion in this demographic (read: even diversity management has a diversity issue). Bottom Line -- Diversity will continue to be a lagging indicator unless addressed the way the CNO proposes: benchmark against future demographics as opposed to historical.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A suspected pirate has been shot dead as private guards repelled an attack on a cargo ship off Somalia, in what may have been the first such incident.That is another way to impact the pirate economic model. Increase risk.
...Pirates had launched an attack on the MV Almezaan. This was successfully repelled by members of an "armed private vessel protection detachment" on board the ship, who returned fire.
A second attack was also repelled and the pirates fled the area, Navfor said.
A helicopter from the Navarra sighted the suspected pirates' boats and ordered them to stop, firing warning shots when they refused to do so.
When a team from the Navarra boarded the vessels, they found three suspected pirates in one skiff and three in the second, along with the body of a fourth man.
If you want to learn more about private security firms and what they do - listen to the interview with Kevin Doherty on Midrats - or read the one I did with him last fall at USNIBlog.
UPDATE: Via Howie @ Jawa;
Shifts in global security landscape demand changes in force posture.
You need to read the whole thing, of course, but here are a few pull quotes to tease you a bit.
The geo-strategist Halford McKinder once divided major states between Land and Sea Wolves. States that have an expeditionary capability are not limited to either/or status. They crossbreed their wolf packs to swim if needed and conduct operations ashore far from home when called upon. This expeditionary capability allows a state to apply strategic leverage across the physical domains. Most critically, expeditionary capabilities allow powers to deal with or minimize geographical and environmental constraints. Expeditionary forces allow maritime powers the opportunity to exploit their mastery of the seas to their advantage. Equally important, expeditionary forces can help offset the disadvantages of a purely maritime-based approach and provide even Continental Elephants the ability to project power when their interests are served by that capability.Yep - we need him as a guest.
It is a safe wager that war will always be with us. What is not a safe bet is the character and frequency of war. The causes, character and consequences of wars in the future will be influenced by many factors. Historical patterns and future trends point to shifts in the character and forms of warfare. Some of these shifts are captured by the interest in “new wars,” net wars, and “n-th generation” warfare. Most of these frameworks reflect an interest in novelty, overlook enduring elements of conflict and are short on prescriptions. A myopic focus on purely conventional threats leads us to dismiss rising challenges and the confluence of modes of conflict that led to 9/11. These two extremes should be avoided when trying to determine how to best posture U.S. forces to cover an expanding threat and mission spectrum in the 21st century.
The potential for major interstate warfare has been low, and will remain a rare but ever-present element in the international system. The fashionable presumption that interstate conflict is a thing of the past should be dashed with a clear understanding of history and human nature. “Over the past two centuries,” Donald Kagan noted, “the only thing more common than predictions about the end of wars has been war itself.”
The neat distinctions or intellectual bins we make between conventional and irregular warfare are useful, but only to a degree. The future portends potentially aggravating circumstances that will make the neat distinction between state and nonstate moot, and the delineation between conventional and irregular adversaries irrelevant. Thanks in part to globalization and the rapid transmission of ideas and technology, there is a recognizable fusion or blurring of regular and irregular modes of combat, into what might be called “combinational” or hybrid warfare.
Of course, “complex expeditionary warfare” implies a notion of complexity presumed to have been absent in the past, but one can look back three and half millennia when the Greeks fought against Troy and find the challenges no less complex. Homer’s “Iliad” dramatizes the complex expeditionary circumstances faced by the Greeks.
The Greek expedition was no simple matter. The assembly of their swift black ships was not a simple task, and the navigator originally landed miles off target. Nothing new here to veterans from Gallipoli or Normandy. Landing and storming Troy’s beaches and boggy plain was not easy. Likewise, sustaining the mission was a logistics nightmare.
Troy’s dense battlements pose no less danger or challenge than the sprawling megacities of Asia or Africa today. Achilles’ debasement of Prince Hector’s corpse should be seen in terms of its influence on the population of Troy. This effective imagery cowed the defenders of the city’s battlements and their families better than a posted video of a beheaded prisoner by al-Qaida. Clearly, the famous Trojan horse represents one of history’s first examples of the cunning inherent to the expeditionary mindset.
Whether the warriors are wearing greaves and bronze helmets, or leather boots and Kevlar headgear, the complexity is always present.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
A senior Pentagon official told missile-defense contractors yesterday "quality control" of industry products is so poor it has risen to be one of the preeminent problems facing the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). "I have gone to a point where I am withholding funding for current contracts because I don't see the level of certainty and the level of culture necessary for the precision work that's required," MDA Director Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly said at a Washington conference.Does he need Joint Credit somewhere? I can sure think of a few Navy jobs we need him at.
O'Reilly, who has led MDA for roughly a year now, called for "culture change" and "personnel changes" in industry.My heart is all a'flutter.
"Replace people, fire people, do whatever you've got to do," he said at the conference full of defense contractors. "But we've got to have the change in the culture so you produce precision instruments in which many of these capabilities are, or (you have to) redesign so that we can then take advantage of greater tolerances."
He said the government also contributed to quality-control shortcomings, and "the blame's on all of us."
Hat tip YNSN.
The federal government has given powerful reasons to worry to the 180,000 residents of Guam, a balmy tropical island whose military importance derives from its location as by far the closest U.S. territory to China and North Korea.Slow roll. So, who wins this fight?
The Environmental Protection Agency said last month that the military buildup, as described in Pentagon documents, could trigger island-wide water shortages that would "fall disproportionately on a low income medically underserved population." It also said the buildup would overload sewage-treatment systems in a way that "may result in significant adverse public health impacts."
A report by the Government Accountability Office last year came to similar conclusions, saying the buildup would "substantially" tax Guam's infrastructure.
"We're trying to identify and understand the current conditions on Guam and the potential impact of the relocation," said Nancy Sutley, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, who on Tuesday will lead a delegation to the island. "There's no question that the environmental conditions on Guam are not ideal."Hey look - we can even include this in the "Take a Powder" label,
Besides a new Marine base and airfield, the buildup includes port dredging for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a project that would cause what the EPA describes as an "unacceptable" impact on 71 acres of a vibrant coral reef. The military, which owns 27 percent of the island, also wants to build a Marine firing range on land that includes one of the last undeveloped beachfront forests on Guam.
The Marine Corps is sensing a populist backlash on Guam, which is three times the size of the District of Columbia and more than 6,000 miles west of Los Angeles.
"I see a rising level of concern about how we are going to manage this," Lt. Gen. Keith J. Stalder, the Hawaii-based commander of Marine forces in the Pacific, said in a telephone interview. "I think it is becoming clearer every day that they need outside assistance."
Many residents have hoped that Obama -- a fellow Pacific islander, who was born in Hawaii and lived in Indonesia -- might understand their anxieties and unlock federal resources. The White House said Obama will visit Guam when his Asia trip is rescheduled, perhaps in June.I don't care who you are - that thar' is funny. And then this:
"I just want to remind President Obama that his story is our story," said Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, an English instructor at the University of Guam and a leader of a group opposing the buildup. She said her students read Obama's autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," focusing on a coming-of-age passage from his years in Hawaii, in which he describes his realization that he was "utterly alone."
"That's how we feel here," she said. "We feel like we are not being listened to, like we are not being respected."
...a third of the population receives food stamps and about 25 percent lives below the U.S. poverty level --Yep - you would do a lot better without a single US dollar.
"This is old-school colonialism all over again," said LisaLinda Natividad, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Guam and an activist opposing the buildup. "It boils down to our political status -- we are occupied territory."Silly Marxist - LisaLinda, not that other dude on page 101 of his book.
I don't hold anything against the citizens of Guam. They are great Americans - and too much is too much. I very much sympathize with them. I also feel sorry for the Sailors, Marines, and Airmen stationed or due to be stationed there. It is a hard place to be stationed now - squeeze that many Marines in there .... well ... there are better places to put Marines.
Now, back to the BRAC discussion ..... and LBG - could you please remind everyone again what Guam stands for in the Fleet?
3. THE KEEL LAYING CEREMONY, THE FIRST MAJOR MILESTONE IN A SHIPS CONSTRUCTION, FOR THE CUTTER BERNARD C. WEBBER WILL BE ON 09 APRIL 2010 IN LOCKPORT, LA. WE ARE HONORED THAT HIS DAUGHTER, PATRICIA, WILL BE THE SHIPS SPONSOR AND HIS GRANDDAUGHTERS, LEAH AND HILARY, WILL BE THE MAIDS OF HONOR. THEIR PRESENCE WILL FORM A LIVING LINK BETWEEN PETTY OFFICER WEBBER AND THE CUTTER.BZ to USCG - beats the heck out of this.
4. ALL OF THE SENTINEL CLASS CUTTERS WILL BE NAMED AFTER ENLISTED HEROES TO HONOR OUR PAST GUARDIANS WHO STOOD THE WATCH. BY CHOOSING THIS NAMING STRATEGY, WE CAN HIGHLIGHT OUR MARITIME HERITAGE BY TELLING THE STORIES OF THE PEOPLE WHO CREATED OUR VIBRANT HISTORY.
Hat tip Lee, photo USCGPress.
Monday, March 22, 2010
I have avoided the subject mostly because I can't blog about everything - and others are doing it better. For the sake of the regulars though, I will tell you where I plant my flag.
I have seen the European health care systems up close. Notice "systems." That is the key. Each European country has its own system for providing care. Some are run much better than others - and all are accountable on a much more local level. There are a bit more than 5 million Danes. Their health care system is run by Danes - and you are always within an hour's drive of the guy who runs the whole thing.
Move up the scale, and you have 17 million Dutch. You are within 2 hours of the guy(s) house. The Dutch system is very different than the Danish - but even then in a nation like The Netherlands between the size of Maryland and West Virginia and a population between Florida and New York, their "responsive system" is expensive, clunky - and does not have the capabilities of the US system to provide fast service in critical specialties. When your right knee is bone on bone - getting a replacement in 2 months compared to 2 years, if at all - is what you are paying for.
Move up the scale more - and you have 61 million Brits - 62 million French - and 82 million Germans. Each have a different system. Each are accountable to a quasi local group - and generally speaking the larger they get - the less responsive they are, and the fewer options you have. Governments work that way.
The USA has a population well north of 300 million with a population as diverse as North Dakota to Mississippi, Maine to New Mexico. That is the key to the comparison. You cannot compare a system that serves 5 million to one that served 305 million.
The founding fathers - even when they only had 13 to deal with, much less 50, knew that in large nations, centrally dictated governments tend to be at first clunky, at middle inefficient, and at the end oppressive. The beauty of our system was that it allowed each state to experiment - figure out what worked best for them and their citizens. Other states could watch, and then benchmarking their sister states' efforts - improve those systems to meet the stated desires of their citizens. What worked best for Tennessee may or may not work well for Massachusetts. If Oregon's system turned out bad - they could adjust quickly and move on - if its citizens wanted to. The folks in South Carolina didn't care as long as they had a system that worked for their needs.
For those who feed off of power though - they don't like that system. You see, the closer you are to the citizens - as you are in Denmark, Tennessee, The Netherlands, or Massachusetts - the more accountable you are to the unwashed masses, and the harder the path to exercising power.
That is where we are for now. There is hope though. The Founding Fathers saw this tendency in governments throughout history. As a result, they built in checks and balances to let the system self-regulate against the fallen nature of man. Being that the Executive and Legislative Branches have taken this path - there is one hope left to preserve the Constitution - the Judiciary.
The States are planning to bring this to the Supreme Court - as are some private organizations. My hope is with the States - as this is the real fight. All can argue the need or want for government mandated health coverage - but it is hard to find a place in our Constitution that allows the Federal Government to force it. Let the fight go forward there. It will be interesting to watch. With the Executive and Legislative Branches already attacking the Judiciary at the SOTU - the pump is primed for our system of government to check itself in a nasty, noisy way - which is good.
If the States lose and we drift further into a post-Constitutional governement, then we can discuss tactical aspects that will manifest themselves in all sorts of nasty ways to mitigate the destruction of the world's best health care system. First of all, a if not the cost driver the last few decades WRT health has been the excesses of the Trial Lawyers. That has not been addressed in this bill and will not be addressed as long as the Democrats have the power to stop it. Health care costs are high in Europe - and they would be as high as ours if they had the same Trial Lawyer Bar as we have here. Forget all the cost extimates on this - it is much higher.
With that cost shifting to the government - the American public will need to be reminded of something. You voted for a Leftisit government - so you are going to get it good and hard. Taxes are already primed to go up a lot over the next few years. That won't be enough though - there will have to be other ways to get money to, shocker, give all these new goodies to the Baby Boomers in their high health care cost years.
If all is lost - you can at least have some comfort in this. As was well documented in the UK and Canada- once health care is socialized, you can live for 2-4 decades off the fat of the previous system. Care does not fall off the cliff, it just slowly fades like the pastel paint of a beach cottage. After 30-40 years - then it cracks and falls off to the point that even the elite, like Canadian Provincial Premeirs, have to go elsewhere to get their care.
Funny thing that - for the world's elite - those with the money - the USA had always been the place to go when you needed life saving care. For the best medical students - it was the place to practice once you became a Doctor. Well, as we bring our system down to the rest of the world's standard - remember you get what you pay for - then where will they and us go when we need care now - not after a 2-year wait or outright refusal?
Now, even middle class people from Canada and Europe can come to the USA to get treatment if they have the money. Once our superior infrastructure and higher quality care are gone in a few decades - then it will only be the rich that will have that option. Costa Rica is a very nice place, thank you.
They rest of us? Suck it up - you will get the guv'ment you voted for. If you give up your freedom for the promise of "more affordable" health care - you will neither get nor receive either.
Wait - let me do some more generational warfare for you. If history tells up that you can go 30-40 years feeding off the previous system with just slowly declining care before there are significant, unrecoverable cracks that can't be ignored ... what happens in 30-40 years. Oh, that's right - most all the Baby Boomers will be dead.
Let's see. The Boomers are mostly past their prime earning years. The first cohort of Boomers are already retired. They will, by and large, miss the higher taxes. Nice - they will suck the younger generations dry even more - and then leave the nation with a worse health care system than the one they inherited. Of course.
Another note - there are national security issues. We will have four years of taxes before any of the new system takes root - the I would guess another five until we get a better picture of the exploding costs ... that leads us to when Salamander readers - you got it - the "Terrible '20s" and the shipbuilding budget train-wreck.
Opening the aperture though - I think Mark Steyn put it best over at The Corner.
Even though you can expect a fighting retreat in DC - the Democrats have the power to make this happen at the Federal level. The battle moves to the States and the Courts. The Democrats own this monstrosity - so don't let them forget it. Thank your local Republican Representative - and the few Democrats - that voted "no," but you need to shift your efforts to your home state. Get in touch with your Governor, State Attorney General, and State Representative/Delegate/Senator and let them know how you feel and ask them what they plan to do.
Well, it seems to be in the bag now. I try to be a sunny the-glass-is-one-sixteenth-full kinda guy, but it's hard to overestimate the magnitude of what the Democrats have accomplished. Whatever is in the bill is an intermediate stage: As the graph posted earlier shows, the governmentalization of health care will accelerate, private insurers will no longer be free to be "insurers" in any meaningful sense of that term (ie, evaluators of risk), and once that's clear we'll be on the fast track to Obama's desired destination of single payer as a fait accomplis.
If Barack Obama does nothing else in his term in office, this will make him one of the most consequential presidents in history. It's a huge transformative event in Americans' view of themselves and of the role of government. You can say, oh, well, the polls show most people opposed to it, but, if that mattered, the Dems wouldn't be doing what they're doing. Their bet is that it can't be undone, and that over time, as I've been saying for years now, governmentalized health care not only changes the relationship of the citizen to the state but the very character of the people. As I wrote in NR recently, there's plenty of evidence to support that from Britain, Canada, and elsewhere.
More prosaically, it's also unaffordable. That's why one of the first things that middle-rank powers abandon once they go down this road is a global military capability. If you take the view that the U.S. is an imperialist aggressor, congratulations: You can cease worrying. But, if you think that America has been the ultimate guarantor of the post-war global order, it's less cheery. Five years from now, just as in Canada and Europe two generations ago, we'll be getting used to announcements of defense cuts to prop up the unsustainable costs of big government at home. And, as the superpower retrenches, America's enemies will be quick to scent opportunity.
Longer wait times, fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana, and global Armageddon. Must try to look on the bright side . . .
Virginia seems to be leading - Sic Semper Tyrannis.
UPDATE From a friend in Germany - a view of where you are going, IF, you get a system as good as the German one. Look at the cars - that should give you an idea.
As someone who has lived in Germany as a civilian on the economy for 20 years, let me tell you what you're in for.
Of course, I always get an appointment, and I get very good care. Ah... but even with all that, pre-exisiting conditions are not covered. Enjoy!
- My income is taxed at 52%.
- I pay $8 / gallon for gasoline, most of which is tax.
- 18% VAT on almost everything.
- I pay $1000 / month for my private health insurance policy.
- Whenever I call a new doctor for an appointment, the first question is, "do you have private or government health insurance?"
A number of Northrop Grumman’s top innovators are being mysteriously replaced without any clues about where they are going. Are they being fired, retired? Don’t you believe it. They are being cloistered to win the next combat aviation prize.
They are the major players in a strategy to capture the next great military aviation program – a very stealthy platform that combines bomber and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. But you’ll find them only if you look very closely. ..... So it appears that Northrop Grumman is moving many of its most experienced, operationally grounded, and most successful advanced technology geeks to create critical mass for both its existing black programs – including, according to multiple sources, a next-generation bomber demonstrator as well as UAVs - and a parallel, semi-white effort to capture the future bomber/ISR prize.
6/16/2009--Reported to Senate without amendment. (This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The summary of that version is repeated here.) Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act - Prohibits, in any case arising out of the administration of laws and benefits by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), considering any person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness from being considered adjudicated as a mental defective for purposes of the right to receive or transport firearms without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.There is one Democrat cosponsor: Senator Jim Webb (D-VA). BZ and thanks.