Monday, December 31, 2012

LCS, Swarms, and the Smallness of our Problems

While working on the orchard at my Dacha/bolthole this weekend, acreage so far off the grid I can't even get broadcast TV unless I get a 20' tower, I had a little revelation when thinking about a video I saw last week.


What is one of the breathless reasons we seem to have disgorged so much intellectual, professional, political, and real capital on LCS over the last decade? What is the panic button ... ah yes; "the swarm." Sure, you hear MIW and ASW wishfull chattering of "make it work" about; but the swarm is the driver.

The fear of a bunch of expendable guys in small expendable boats with unguided weapons or suicide packages attacking ships in relatively confined waters. Yep, to some, that is the billion dollar tactical challenge of this generation.

Excuse me if I am not impressed.

Not content with doing the logical thing, which would be to plus-up existing ships with everything from .50cal crew served weapons, to the well developed 25mm and 30mm manned or remote weapons out there that are "bolt and go" with a few minor alterations and training (which we have done some, here and there) - no - instead we had to throw away decades of solid experience in shipbuilding, repeat the vice of our ancestors with speed fetish, and squash anyone who spoke against the buzzword named Littoral Combat Ship.

Now we have a sub-optimal Tiffany China Doll of a ship with nothing but shame and excuses to show for it. All of this for what is really only a very small, and frankly, a relatively easy tactical problem to solve in just a couple of years of pondering; if that for a partial solution - heck, WWII could have been fought twice+ in the time we have been trying to find "the" solution.

If you need any evidence of how broke our system is - look at the inability to efficiently address the smallness of our problems.

You want a tactical problem to solve?

How about a regiment sized horizon of these guys?

A couple-three generations ago, those who came before had significant challenges with the TU-22M and the older bombers with newer ASCM. From the F-4 to the F-14 and Aegis, they found solid solutions to that tactical challenge. A challenge that was from a serious peer competitor.

Those who drove the Pop Warner level LCS clown car over the last decade+ were JO's when the varsity-level challenge of long-range naval aviation and the ASCM came to the front - along with the submarine threat, and the .... etc.

In the large scheme of things, look at the exquisite dog's breakfast that is the attempt to confront a 3rd-rate power's suicide fleet and terrorist bomb laden clusters of Carolina Skiffs.

Next time you hear someone make excuses about how "hard" it is to get a WWII DD sized warship to get more than a 57mm to work with a couple of Bushmasters, ask them, "Hard compared to what?"

Until then, just be glad we didn't have to face these guys - after all, it looks like someone just got their qual.

 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Take a Powder: You Voted for Him

Oh, this is just rich.
They’re ready to jump off a real cliff.

New Yorkers of all income levels got a rude awakening yesterday when they saw in The Post how much more they will pay in taxes next year without a fiscal-cliff deal by Jan. 1.

“It’s that much higher?” asked IT worker Vikas Kataria, 34, who discovered that his combined household income of about $250,000 per year will cost him nearly $10,000 more in taxes.

“I thought it was a couple thousand — but that’s a lot,” said Kataria, who works at Merrill Lynch in Manhattan and is married to a systems analyst for a brokerage firm. “That’s huge!”
...
Small-business owner Haim Hagon, 51, said it’ll be tough to afford college for his two high-school-aged children.

“Every dollar counts when the situation is tough,” said Hagon, who makes about $150,000 and already moved his son from a private school to a public school due to financial concerns.

“Another $6,000 could have gone to my daughter’s tuition. I’ll have to find that money another way.”

He works 12 hours a day, six days a week to keep his children’s-clothing store in Forest Hills, Queens, afloat — and is now mulling staff and pay cuts.

“What am I supposed to do, work harder?” Hagon said. “I don’t want to find myself in front of my store dead with a heart attack!”

There's more at the NYPost. Read it and laugh like Tim the Enchanter.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fullbore Friday

Sadly, much of our WWII history is from clunky Technicolor movies decades old, or worse - even the very good movies are very American centric. If you make an effort though, there are a lot of good examples out there of those who took the initiative, who had the patience, and who had a focus on mission that should give all pause and ponder on how focused they are in their profession.

Norwegian warrior Birger Stronsheim just passed after living an example of how it is done right.
... four Norwegians became stranded in the area after British soldiers for whom they were doing advance work were captured, tortured and eventually killed. That first group hunkered down for the winter in an abandoned cabin, built a makeshift radio from a car battery and stolen fishing rods and began planning their own rescue and another assault on Norsk Hydro. They ate lichen that they scraped from rocks, killed an occasional reindeer for meat and vigilantly avoided detection by the occupying Germans.

The second effort would not fail. After parachuting to a plateau, the second group, some of whom grew up in the area, skied in subzero temperatures for several days before uniting with the four stranded soldiers. The combined group then made its way to the opposite side of a steep gorge from the Norsk Hydro facility. With the only bridge across guarded by Nazis, they descended to the bottom and climbed to the top on the other side.

Mr. Stromsheim was 31 at the time of the assault, the oldest member of the mission. He was particularly respected for his expertise in explosives and for his calm.

“We didn’t think about whether it was dangerous or not,” Joachim Ronneberg, the leader of the mission, recalled in an interview in The Telegraph of London in 2010. “We didn’t think about our retreat.”

A Norwegian caretaker, a civilian, was the only person in the room where the heavy water was produced and he quickly agreed to cooperate with the soldiers. Mr. Ronneberg said that setting the dynamite proved to be “easy,” but the men still worried that they would be detected at any moment. They lighted a 30-second fuse and ran.

“They didn’t reckon that they would get out alive,” Mr. Stromsheim’s son, also named Birger, recalled in an interview for this obituary. “They weren’t sure of that. They were scared in some ways, but there was no panic.”

Stormy conditions helped muffle the explosion inside the building, and the men made it safely back across the gorge before the Nazis realized what had happened. Nazis searched the area for days afterward, but no shots were fired and no one was hurt in the second mission. Many years later, experts determined that the Nazis were far from being able to build a nuclear weapon.

Mr. Stromsheim, who grew up skiing, hiking and bicycling, was among several soldiers who made it to safety by skiing more than 200 miles to Sweden.
Speaking of bad Techicolor history; yep, you've see it. The Heroes of Telemark


I like how Birger put it,
“He saw that,” Mr. Stromsheim’s son said. “He didn’t like it. It was too glamorous.”
Here is a better telling.


Hat tip BR.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Who's Afraid of the Big Red Dragon?

A couple of interesting articles floating around out there concerning China that are worth a ponder - not because I think China is a threat to us from a military POV (I don't), but that it could be. 

I can't see the future any more than the next guy - which is why when it comes to national security, unless someone is without question an ally or at worst a neutral in almost any conflict, like the UK - you have to look at capabilities, not intentions. 

First, a little something from POPSCI,
In some ways, China’s rise echoes that of imperial Germany at the turn of the 20th century. At the time, Britain was the world’s undisputed economic and military superpower. When Germany decided to build battleships to match the Grand Fleet’s dreadnoughts, the two nations entered an arms race that helped set the stage for the first world war. But when war broke out, Britain didn’t lose a single battleship to Germany’s High Seas Fleet. German mines and submarines, on the other hand—new technologies that arrived unexpectedly and changed the rules of battle—sunk 13 British battleships.

Similarly, the PLA has more to gain by developing new technologies than by racing to match American sea and air power. China doesn’t have to amass a navy as powerful as the American fleet if it can make the seas too dangerous for U.S. ships to travel. To that end, the PLA is acquiring weapons such as mobile, truck-launched anti-ship ballistic missiles and radar-evading, ramjet-powered Sunburn cruise missiles, which tear toward their targets at Mach 2.5, giving defenses only seconds to respond.

China could also easily go after American vulnerabilities in space. More than 80 percent of U.S. government and military communications, which direct everything from soldiers in the field to precision missile strikes, travel over satellites. GPS satellites control the movement of 800,000 U.S. military receivers on everything from aircraft carriers to individual bombs and artillery shells. The system isn’t foolproof: In early 2010, a GPS “glitch” left almost 10,000 of these receivers unable to connect for days.
That outlines what I have stated for years is the realist China Maritime Strategy; regional porcupine with global peacetime presence. If war comes, make it too costly for the USA to get within the 1st island chain. In peace, create effects and show the flag in support of commerce. Kind of like ours a ~120 years ago.

The next is a dark view from down under. As I have been on a little Medieval and Classics kick as of late, it resonates;
THIS is how wars usually start: with a steadily escalating stand-off over something intrinsically worthless. So don't be too surprised if the US and Japan go to war with China next year over the uninhabited rocks that Japan calls the Senkakus and China calls the Diaoyu islands. And don't assume the war would be contained and short.

Of course we should all hope that common sense prevails.

It seems almost laughably unthinkable that the world's three richest countries - two of them nuclear-armed - would go to war over something so trivial. But that is to confuse what starts a war with what causes it. The Greek historian Thucydides first explained the difference almost 2500 years ago. He wrote that the catastrophic Peloponnesian War started from a spat between Athens and one of Sparta's allies over a relatively insignificant dispute. But what caused the war was something much graver: the growing wealth and power of Athens, and the fear this caused in Sparta.

The analogy with Asia today is uncomfortably close and not at all reassuring. No one in 431BC really wanted a war, but when Athens threatened one of Sparta's allies over a disputed colony, the Spartans felt they had to intervene. They feared that to step back in the face of Athens' growing power would fatally compromise Sparta's position in the Greek world, and concede supremacy to Athens.
Hopefully we have the right people looking at this scenario with a stable of solid COA to start with.

Hopefully. And let's hope they just sit there and collect dust like the TS plans from the 1980s I got a kick out of reading before I sent them off for destruction in the 90s. 

I like to joke to family and friends that the only way I will ever be recalled to active duty is if war breaks out with China ... so I'm not going anywhere. I don't want to eat crow; everyone behave yourselves.

Hope, eh?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hawaii trades Sen. Inouye for ....

No further commentary needed if you know Inouye's background. Here is the life experience taking his place.
Brian Schatz grew up in Hawaii, attending Punahou School there followed by a B.A. in Philosophy from Pomona College in Claremont, California. While at Pomona, Schatz also spent a term studying in Kenya as part of the International Training Program, where Schatz developed skills as a public servant. After returning to Hawaii, Schatz taught at Punahou School before moving into the non-profit sector. ... Schatz first became active in the community when he became involved in the Save Sandy Beach movement in the 1980s. He served as CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii as well as Director of both the Makiki Community Library and the Center for a Sustainable Future. In March 2010, Schatz stepped down from Helping Hands to focus on his campaign for the office of Lieutenant Governor.
Oh I forgot ... he had this exceptionally challenging political position.
In 2008, Schatz worked as spokesman for the Hawaii campaign of Barack Obama. He was elected chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii at the state convention in May, 2008.
I may not have been on the same page as Senator Inouye on many things - but one thing I knew - it was good to have someone in the 100 who knew what he knew about war and those who serve. Well ... soon to be Senator Schatz - good luck. I am sure you bring to the Senate something it is very lacking - career political experience and community activism with other people's money, something you are very good at.

Retro Wednesday: VOGE

Back in the heyday of the Hairy Navy ... a little shot of the USS VOGE (FF-1047) coming alongside for UNREP.

Watch it the whole way through as a reminder that those who say, "but the sea is so calm," usually speak too soon.

Speaking of the VOGE ... one of my favorite frigate stories involves her.

Who wouldn't want to write this OPREP?

Why Gunowners Do Not Trust the Government or the Press

In what is probably one of the best descriptions of why many citizens - and almost no gun owners - have faith in any information they give the government. 

Behold what a newspaper in New York has done. Yep - if you have a registered gun, everyone knows and it is on a map

Privacy? Just wait until the guv'munt starts keeping all your medical data too.

Every day this experiment in self government in a representative republic fades a little more. Police dressed as some fascist shock troops. Police conducting cavity searches on the side of the road. In an effort, in theory, to protect us from young men who are trying to blow up aircraft, we do full body pat downs on small children and people in wheelchairs. American citizens are looked at being imprisoned without charge or trail. Our institutions of higher learning have speech codes.

None of the above even touches on the unsustainable peace time debt that has exploded in the last half decade. 

The 4th estate, who exists only because of a few words in our Constitution, aggressively goes after another few words on the same document. They won't be the first to go, but they will follow shortly once the other basic Rights of free people are cut away bit, by bit by bit. It is the way it always happens.

In a nation held together not by geography, ethnicity, religion, or unique language - but an idea - when you parse that idea in to nothing, then the experiment is over. If the experiment is over, what holds the whole thing together?

Interesting times.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Oh, that threat ...

Syndey and John, I hate to break it to you - but they have already degraded - well over a decade ago, this started during the "peace dividend" of the 1990s ... and when 911 took place, it just got worse.
The U.S. Navy's anti-submarine warfare (ASW) skills are getting rusty during the same period that quiet submarine technology in China and Iran is improving at a noticeable rate.
I wish that were the only bad news on the submarine warfare front, but it isn't. We have U.S. ASW capability going backward, submarine capability of U.S. strategic adversaries going forward, and U.S. Navy capability as a whole in decline, according to a top Navy official.
In all fairness, it got that way for understandable reasons;
During a decade of relentless focus on counterinsurgency, the military has let other skills erode, skills it will have to struggle to get back even as budgets tighten. In particular, the capacity of the US and allied navies to hunt enemy submarines has suffered even as potential adversaries like China and Iran have built up their sub fleets.
This is rather simple. ASW expertise on the surface side of the house has always been outside the Aegis mafia. The SpruCans are long gone, that left the FFG. Let's be honest; the DDG side of the Aegis house did/could not make ASW a priority.

On the air side of the house, we all know how the S-3 community was treated by TACAIR. The RW side of the house as been multimissioned in to the jack of all trades, master of none. The MPR community has tried their best, but overland reconnaissance combined with much less actual non-compliant ASW operational experience (quality and quantity deficit) and aircraft that are usually partially mission capable at best with decades old technology. At least they have a new aircraft coming online with the P-8, but the one thing that is missing is the institutional knowledge that is needed for exceptional ASW - which is why they got rid of their MAD in the American (but not Indian) P-8, it has been so long since they had enough that worked, they forgot its utility.

The subsurface community ... well, we'll just assume that they are silent but deadly. You cannot fight the ASW battle from under the sea alone.

The path to success in ASW is simple, but not easy.
1. Stop combining ASW with MIW. It hurts both.
2. Stop putting your faith in PPT thick futurist ASW programs, some of which have been making the same promise for decades. Others have good specific uses, but will not be the thing that will get you to the point you can kill the submarine. No one needs to say more.
3. Admit that our ASW weapons are not what they need to be. No one needs to say more about that either.
4. In peace, you have to exercise against the thing you need to kill at war. If we are not going to buy/build our own non-nuke submarines, then greatly expand inviting other nations to deploy here and exercise with us extensively ... and help pay their tab. These exercises need to be brutally realistic, as unscripted as possible, and debriefed properly. The best I have seen done since the end of the Cold War were at RIMPAC.
5. Acknowledge what has always been known about Agonizingly Slow Warfare; it requires specialists. It requires investment of time and personnel. It is not something you do once a quarter and consider yourself expert. It isn't something you can master in simulation. You need be actually at sea, with actual targets.

Hey, speaking of ignoring the human side of ASW;
The Navy's long-term solution for this shallow-water sub hunt is the Littoral Combat Ship, a small, high-speed vessel built to take different "mission modules" so the same vessel can switch from hunting subs to fighting small attack boats to clearing mines. For now, however, the LCS sub-hunting module is still in development, with entry in service in fact delayed until 2016.
Yes. A few might show up in 2016, and then it will take years until you know what you can do with them, and if that CONOPS can actually work for the weeks-long effort that is ASW on average. Months-long? With that endurance? No. LCS will be at best, even if the technology works, the modern equivalent of a high-grade sub-chaser.

As with what the Army and USMC found out a decade ago when they had to go where the enemy has a vote - with ASW we will have to get back to fundamentals - those uncomfortable fundamentals that aren't sexy, but are essential to success at war. Those start with properly equipped and realistically evaluated operators, with enough sensors and weapons to be able to operate in sustained ASW operations when called on to do so.

It is good to look forward to new technology and new ideas - but you do not throw away what works for an unproven promise. When you do that, you get people killed. You also produce junk like in the video below that just screams, "Did you have anyone murder-board this? Does no one in your team ask any hard questions?"



Seriously, just a quick top-3 on that bucket of goo.
1. Seastate & Weather.
2. What if you are under EMCON and/or have no satellite access?
3. In line with #2, what if you find yourself in a non-permissive EW environment?

Can we even start to talk about the odds of a submarine just sitting there waiting to be killed/tracked? Talk about who is doing the processing and contact classification? For the one use I can find for this perhaps, as a SURTASS surrogate, what is stopping a bunch of gomers in a fishing boat with sledge hammers making short work of it (remember our Chinese friends)? .... OK, my 3 went to 6, sorry. I would just be much happier if this money was spent of something that can survive the follow-up question. 

Merchant community will LOVE having something tooling around their SLOC that cannot be reached on channel 16. OK, I went to 7. I need to stop.

Good news? Iran is no more scary from an ASW POV than she has been for awhile, and China's growth still gives us time to get back to where we need to be. We have the nucleus. The big question will be money, as it always is. That and institutional support. Hmmmm. Let's see. FF(not-so-G) are going away and have no sponsorship anyway. Aegis mafia really does not care about Aegis radars & VLS tubes doing ASW. TACAIR doesn't have a bird in this fight. The RW community to too busy doing everything else but ASW. The MPR community is, well, doing whatever they are doing. The submarine people will take care of submarine people ... so ... how about that senior level sponsorship for ASW? Besides those who want to work for SAIC after they retire? Bueller?

Outside the submarine community, I will believe it when I see more money going towards something to kill besides the LWT. When we start treating, openly, the Chinese submarines like we did the Soviets. Until then, we will limp along waiting for a crisis. That bucket of goo in the video tells me we aren't serious. We are just playing around.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Best of China & its Neighborhood; on Midrats


As you are taking time to open all your stuff with the "Made in China" label, I thought the Sunday before Christmas it would be good to think about what all the money and debt is doing to shape the geopolitical landscape.

Today from 5-6pm EST, step back with us to SEP11 with our guest Mark Stokes, the Executive Director of the Project 2049 Institute. As a stepping off point for our discussion we will be using the institute's latest report, Asian Alliances in the 21st Century.

Previous to his present position with 2049, Mark was the founder and president of Quantum Pacific Enterprises, an international consulting firm, and vice president and Taiwan country manager for Raytheon International. He has served as executive vice president of Laifu Trading Company, a subsidiary of the Rehfeldt Group; a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and member of the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan. A 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran, Stokes also served as team chief and senior country director for the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan and Mongolia in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. He holds a B.A. from Texas A&M University, and graduate degrees in International Relations and Asian Studies from Boston University and the Naval Postgraduate School. He is a fluent Mandarin speaker.


Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Sunday Funnies

No less realistic than Top Gun.
Hat tip PK.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Patriot Deployment to Turkey: Netherlands Wins!

From a liberty perspective; Hup Holland Hup!
Germany, the Netherlands and the United States have offered to provide two Patriot batteries each. Germany will deploy its batteries to Kahramanmaras, the Netherlands will deploy its batteries to Adana, and the United States will deploy its batteries to Gaziantep.
Maps are important. Look at the below, ponder ....


A lot about what you need to know about NATO is right there. 

As anyone who has tried to fill a NATO Combined Joint Statement of Requirements will tell you, this deployment makes sense.

The USA is deployed closest to the danger. Germany has found a place near the rear and out of the way. The Netherlands - game as she usually is and boxing above her weight compared to her neighbors - takes what is left ... with the extra bonus that she has the best view and liberty options. Adana is in a beautiful location with great beaches just a short drive away.

Win to the Dutch!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

LCS, Griffin, and the Swarm

From almost day-one of the LCS saga, the turrets-like response to any criticism to the capabilities of this sub-optimal platform has been, “Swarm attack, swarm attack, swarm attack, boobies, pee pee” – or something like that.

When the never-was-has-been that was NLOS was deleted from the PPT, about the only reasonable thing that could fill the literal gaping holes was the Griffin missile. After all, we all know in hushed tones the limitations of sensor to shooter of the single … yes single .. 57-mm “main” gun and they had to get something. An OK something now is always better than a perfect thing that may never arrive. The key is to know you just have an OK and act accordingly.

Thank goodness that we have the 30-mm and .50-cal onboard, as that really is the best response against swarms as it stands going in to 2013. We also know that history tells us that when actually faced with such attacks, like the Royal Navy did in San Carlos Water (but from the air), you will have Sailors with small arms shooting as well – all the while cursing that you are on a ship that, simply, does not have enough easily added medium caliber general purpose guns.

Every war starts with ships getting additional small/medium caliber weapons added; so it will be with the next. But … let’s move on to the Griffin.

Something is better than nothing, but we need to be clear that Griffin is simply not the answer. It is useful, but as sub-optimal for its needed purpose as LCS is.

From a well known expert in weaponeering, I got the nod to share his thoughts and observations on Griffin. The balance of the below is a paraphrase with a few modifications and additions from his email.

Assuming that Griffin is the Navy's answer to swarming tactics, there's a drawback. Griffin uses semi-active laser homing. That means the target has to remain painted by the laser so that the Griffin's seeker can home on the reflected laser light (visible or invisible to the human eye). Meanwhile, what about multiple bogeys? Unless you have multiple laser designators for the other bogeys, a swarming attack can overwhelm this kind of system. That's what the Iranians and others are training to do.

Weather also affects laser targeting. Water droplets in the air (low cloud, rain, fog, mist) or smoke particles will scatter the laser beam to the point the missile cannot identify its target (unless it has some kind of "home on last good fix"). Those who have had to fly in the Arabian/Persian Gulf know what a nightmare the atmospherics can be in that place.  The problem with the "last good fix" is the target is moving so it will be gone when the missile gets there.

What is needed is a missile that has its own guidance system that's fire and forget once target lock is established. Once you get "tone", fire and switch to a new target. The Israeli Spike MR or ER is a fire and forget type of missile that's perfect for swarming attacks. Comparing Griffin to Spike, the better missile is the Israeli Spike MR or ER. The Spike guidance uses both imaging infrared and charge coupled device sensors for guidance. Countermeasures that work against lasers don't work against this kind of guidance.

The above is the Executive Summary of the sub-optimal missile we play on putting on our sub-optimal platform.

More work needed, and LCS are still in production ... and will be filled with Sailors who will be put in harm's way. We need to do the best we can with what we have.

Still ... in many ways the LCS drama kind of reminds me of  ....



UPDATE: Our weaponeer has a few more thoughts.
...as I re-read the article, one thing seemed to jump out at me and I thought it worth commenting upon.

The demise of Raytheon's NLOS-LS PAM with a range of 21 miles resulted in the Griffin-B with a 3.5 mile range and is semi-active laser guided.

I discussed the limitations of the SALG method of targeting on CDR Salamander's blog, but then I banged into this range issue. "3 Griffin missiles were fired from a sea-based launcher at 3 separate speeding-boat targets more than ... 1.2 miles away." This is TOO close! We are talking .50 caliber machine gun range here. What happened to the 3.5 miles?

Both Rafael's Spike MR and ER are fire and forget missiles with ranges of 1.5 miles and 5 miles respectively. Given my choice, I'd like to engage at 5 miles rather than 3.5 or 1.5 or 1.2 miles. Since the USN is already testing Spike MR, why don't we upgrade to the longer range bird? When engagements happen under real world scenarios, ranges typically get closer. I'd rather start out with a longer range missile to engage at a shorter range, rather than a shorter range missile with an even shorter range. If I could really have Santa give me my wish list, I'd opt for Spike NLOS with a range of 16 miles.

Why are we spending our hard earned money on these short range birds? Longer stand-off distances are our friend. Why not longer range?"

Diversity Thursday

Hey, I know things will not be where I want them to be overnight. We have a long way until we can get by the retrograde racialist attitudes as pushed by the Diversity Bullies.

After decades of Mau-Mau'n their way in to nice paid billets, the Navy's branch of the Diversity Industry has too many BA/NMP filled, and millions of millions going to their pockets that then go to support their approved political buddies - we won't get to a race neutral place soon. No, there is too much money to be made on division and encouraging sectarianism.

There is also quite the headwind, though not as strong as it was a few years ago. I also know that incredible damage was done to race relations and unit cohesion by the previous CNO's unhealthy obsession with early 1970s race theory, and that the present CNO can only try to bring us back to centerline a bit at a time.

That is why I can pause, read, and nod my head in approval at the Admiral Greenert's (D)iversity Vision. It says the right things to keep the Commissariat at bay, but it also does not say a lot of things.  Read it yourself and you should see what I mean.

We will not get this right overnight - but especially considering some of the patronizing goo that has oozed out in the last few decades, this is at least not worst ... at better perhaps a sign that things will get better.

Is it what I would write? No - but considering the circumstances, is it OK? Sure.

Oh, and yes ... it is OK to still giggle at the Potemkin pictures the (D)iversity types continue to pick out.
USN DEC 12 Diversity Vision 
At the same time, things in some areas where the retrograde forces are stronger, there is still bad news. To continue to justify those who get paid to collect numbers and create briefs with them. 

So, the Navy is a model employer because it forces multi-ethnic and multi-racial people to "pick" which part of their DNA is "them?" It forces you to accept that you are defined by something as useless as where your DNA came from a few thousand years ago?

Pathetic. Please tell me it lets you pick as many as you want to. If so, jam the system. They don't have "other" - so pick them all. You are an American. The rest of the world sees you that way regardless of the shade of your skin or the nature of your hair.

Jam the system - select them all.
 Verification of Workforce Disability Statue

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

From the words of a French Captain

The eldest Wee Salamander made the mistake of asking me, "Dad, can you help me find some quotes on the impact of the Peace Movement on the Vietnam War?" .... oh, boy; she had no idea what she was getting herself in to.

In a flash I took off to my rather jumbled stacks of books and shelves I call a library. To her slightly humored frustration and her mother's eye rolling, I soon had a rather high stack of books in my hands, and through much protestations I began handing her books, tossing hastily selected books aside, and flipping through indexes.

I was in my zone, and I think I was hearing things like, "I just need a quote or two about the impact of the protesters ... no, no, Dad, that's OK ... I only need one reference ... it's only a small paragraph ... Dad ... " but I was on a roll, and heard nothing.

After much geeky fun, I found what she was looking for in our regular guest on Midrats, Jim Robbins's book, This Time We Win.  I also found a quote she could use in Lewis Sorley's, A Better War.

In one of the books I grabbed, Jim & Sybil Stockdale's 1990 printing of In Love and War, I found a torn off bit of legal paper with the following quote from French historian, soldier, and resistance fighter who was executed by the Nazis, Marc Bloch. I don't know if it came from the Stockdale's book, but you can find it in Bloch's 1940 book, Strange Defeat.

In it, you can if nothing else take some solace that others have been here before - led by those who take power for power's sake, but do it for things other than the good of the democracy that granted them that power.

I am reminded of what we just signed up for four more years of. Though I was not raised in the same political stew that they were, I do come from the class of which Bloch speaks.
A democracy becomes hopelessly weak, and the general good suffers accordingly, if its higher officials, bred up to despise it, and necessarily drawn from those very classes the dominance of which is pledged to destroy, serve it only half-heartedly.
Some time in 1990 I felt the need to write that down and put it in a book. If you told me that as 2012 was coming to an end I was about to write about it in place where well five-figures worth of people will read it before it is archived forever - I would have laughed at you; or maybe not. 

Hey, here is something fun. Want to know what books are thrown in front of you (literally) if you ask Sal a question about the impact of "peace" protestors during the Vietnam War? Well, in about 90-seconds you get the following:
 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

MIDN Cheech?

It's a fairly slow news day on the maritime beat, so as a lot of the email that has come across the transom in the last few days has been about the "drug problem" at Annapolis - before the Front Porch gets grumpy with me, let me dive in to it a bit. From our friends from The Capital;
When the Naval Academy closed its 11-month investigation last year into the use of synthetic marijuana by midshipmen, officials said they’d dismissed 16 mids — but found no evidence of drug dealing.

What the academy’s account didn’t reveal was just how significant a drug culture Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents found.

The investigation ended the military careers of at least 27 midshipmen, including those allowed to resign while being investigated for drug use and an undetermined number suspected of drug use who were dismissed for collateral reasons.

...

The investigation also uncovered a drug culture replete with users and dealers. Agents not only found use of synthetic marijuana, called “spice,” but that some mids had used cocaine, mephedrone, mescaline and psychedelic mushrooms.

Some mids possessed soda bottles with secret compartments to hide their drugs, and fake bladders called “Whizzinators” to avoid detection of their drug use in urine tests.
First of all, let's start with the obvious, USNA does not have a "drug culture" and to imply that it does is an insult to no-kidding colleges out there that have robust and entertaining "drug cultures" - in a counter-cultural fashion.

What we may have actually going on here are a few things:

1. Any, and I mean any, population of young men and women who all of a sudden find themselves away from their parents and are stretching their wings in to adulthood, will have a certain percentage who will not only test the envelope, but will jump WAY past it.

2. These are human, fallen creatures who make poor decisions and have bad judgement. Some worse than others. Some with less luck than others.

3. We are talking about a long running NCIS investigation here; not something with a track record of .... well .... we all know what we means.
The drug problem was so rampant NCIS agents sometimes interviewed dozens of mids in a day, according to NCIS documents The Capital received in September in response to a federal Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request. “If I had to estimate the number of mids who are actively smoking spice or doing other drugs,” a midshipman and lead informant told NCIS, “I’d say it’s about 300 to 500 mids.”
Ah, there we go. 


 
Something else we know, there are certain personality types who, when they are caught doing something they should not, will turn on everyone and anyone. 

Like a drowning man, in an effort to save themselves, they will drag down anyone and everyone around them they can. In order to try to elevate themselves in any way, they will try to drag down as many people as possible in a desperate effort to save themselves.

Are there MIDN who use drugs? Of course, always have been, always will be. Does USNA as an institution - and the student body of Midshipmen in general - have a "drug culture?" Don't be silly.

I like to use nice round numbers; USNA student population is ~4,500. After over a year of trying to find out who stole the strawberries, they have kicked out 27 - or .6%.

Let's say the rat is right, that there are ~400 drug users, that is 9%. Give me a break.

As a NROTC guy from a large institution, I have some exposure to what it takes to have a small drug using population - and 9% at a place like Annapolis? No. 1%, sure, but until Cheech and Chong buy season football tickets and join in the tailgating festivities, I think you can put that number in the "drowning men do the strangest things" category.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Great call in SC

What a great, if obvious choice, by Gov. Haley in replacing Sen. DeMint (R-SC) with Rep. Scott (R-SC).

The Senate needs someone like Scott who comes from a business background and knows what it takes to create jobs and grow the civilian sector.

From his time as a candidate through his time in the House, he has been a calm, focused, clear headed professional with an exceptional temperament that should lend itself well to the Senate.

I will also show something else obvious; soon to be Senator Scott, who won Strom Thurmond’s old House seat by defeating Strom’s son, and now will hold the Senate Seat that was Thurmond’s – he represents the South that I know - not the archaic smears and bigoted assumptions from the ossified views of the chattering classes in the Blue States and the stay-too-long Mandarins in DC think.

We should all wish him well.

Meanwhile in Japan

Not insignificant from a national security POV.  Not bad, just not "background noise."
Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) surged back to power in an election on Sunday just three years after a devastating defeat, giving ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a chance to push his hawkish security agenda and radical economic recipe.

Exit polls by television broadcasters showed the LDP winning nearly 300 seats in parliament's powerful 480-member lower house, while its ally, the small New Komeito party, looked set to win about 30 seats.

That would give the two parties the two-thirds majority needed to over-rule parliament's upper house, where no party has a majority and which can block bills, which should help to break a deadlock that has plagued the world's third biggest economy since 2007.

An LDP win will usher in a government committed to a tough stance in a territorial row with China, a pro-nuclear energy policy despite last year's Fukushima disaster and a potentially risky prescription for hyper-easy monetary policy and big fiscal spending to beat deflation and tame a strong yen.
...
The soft-spoken grandson of a prime minister, who would become Japan's seventh premier in six years, Abe also wants to loosen the limits of a 1947 pacifist constitution on the military, so Japan can play a bigger global security role.

Generational Warfare: GenX has been at it from day 1

Matt Towery outlines for you what we've talked about here for years - the Greatest Generation beget the Worst Generation.

As an-early cohort Gen-X type, of course none of this is news to me. I've had to wade through their cultural and economic debris my whole life - something outlined very well by Douglas Copeland in his 1991 fun romp, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture (dogs eating from discarded bags of yuppie liposuction fat still makes me wince).

What was once funny and irritating is now existential in its threat. Matt, over to you;
Regardless of how the so-called "fiscal cliff" ends, one thing is clear: The combined group of Americans whose age comprises either the last few years of the "baby boom," which is said to have ended in 1963, and most of the so-called "Generation X," which followed and ended in 1984, will collectively get the worst end of a deal that, as a whole, they do not want — when and if ever Congress and the president quit playing their games of alternative threats and capitulation.

That particular "Forgotten Collective Generation" should be mad as hell — particularly those between the age of 55 and 35. The combined vote of that age group, no matter what survey one uses, was in the majority against President Obama and has a disdain for government in general.

... math tells us that by the time these folks start to reach the age of eligibility that now exists, they either won't be eligible, or the costs they share will be sky-high, or the quality of care will be so regulated, limited and uncaring that it won't come close to resembling the Medicare program their parents or older siblings enjoyed.

Particularly if one is on the younger side of this unfortunate group, don't count on that little statement you receive telling you what you have contributed and what you would receive down the road. The math says it is impossible — particularly if you are contributing to the "fund" at a higher level.

And of course these folks in general will have the great honor of having to work years longer than many of their parents or older brothers and sisters (I know there are many exceptions, so don't think I don't feel your pain, too, remaining boomers and seniors).

The same goes for Social Security, which is not really a separate fund or trust, just another growing obligation for a debt-ridden nation.
Read it all.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Offshore Control & the Asia/Pacific Challenge, on Midrats



With significant budget cuts already underway and expected for years, how do we adjust through the Pacific Pivot as these cuts take place, yet still remain postured to influence the region in peacetime and defend our national interests in war?

What is the best way to match required capabilities inside an economically sustainable military budget?

While many are familiar with the concept of “Offshore Balancing” – what is “Offshore Control?”

Join EagleOne of Eaglespeak and me this Sunday from 5-6pm EST with our guest for the full hour, Colonel T.X. Hammes, USMC (Ret.), to discuss the concept he raises in his latest article in the United States Naval Institute’s Proceedings, Offshore Control is the Answer.

Col. Hammes served thirty years in the Marine Corps at all levels in the operating forces.  He participated in stabilization operations in Somalia and Iraq as well as training insurgents in various places. 

He has a Masters in Historical Research and a Doctorate in Modern History from Oxford University, and is currently a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. 

He is the author of “The Sling and the Stone: On War in the Twenty-First Century” and “Forgotten Warriors:  The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, the Corps Ethos, and the Korean War,” and many articles and opinion pieces. He has lectured at U.S. and International Staff and War Colleges.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio - the best way to get the show and download the archive to your audio player is to get a free account and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fullbore Friday

Leadership. Honor. Decades of honoring others you saw on the other end of the field of battle.

Leadership.
Franz Stigler was 26 when he was conscripted into Hitler’s Luftwaffe in 1942, a former commercial airline pilot whose father and brother had both died while serving their country. Stigler had been assigned to Squadron 4 of the German air force, and was initially stationed in Libya.

On his first day on base, he was taken aside by his commanding officer, Lt. Gustav Roedel, who would have a profound impact on his life during and after the war.

On the afternoon of his first mission, Roedel decided he’d join the young pilot. Before takeoff, they talked. “Let what I’m about to say to you act as a warning,” Roedel said. “Honor is everything here.” “Every single time you go up, you’ll be outnumbered,” Roedel said.

Stigler nodded, but said nothing.

What did Roedel mean by that? Stigler was overwhelmed. There never seemed to be a right way to respond, and the irony that he couldn’t, above all, trust his fellow soldiers was not lost on him.

Roedel kept on: “What will you do, for instance, if you find your enemy floating in a parachute?”

How to answer? How to answer? A hedge.

“I guess I’ve never thought that far ahead,” Stigler said.

“If I ever see or hear of you shooting at a man in a parachute,” Roedel said, “I will shoot you down myself. You follow the rules of war for you — not for your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity.”
Honor.
Within minutes, Stigler, alone, was on the B-17’s tail. He had his finger on the trigger, one eye closed and the other squinting through his gunsight. He took aim and was about to fire when he realized what he wasn’t seeing: This plane had no tail guns blinking. This plane had no left stabilizer. This plane had no tail-gun compartment left, and as he got closer, Stigler saw the terrified tail gunner himself, his fleece collar soaked red, the guns themselves streaked with it, icicles of blood hanging from the barrels.

Stigler was no longer energized. He was alarmed. He pulled alongside the plane and saw clean through the middle, where the skin had been blown apart by shells. He saw these terrified young men attempting to tend to their wounded. He drew equal to the B-17 and saw that the nose of the plane, too, had been blown away. How was this thing still in the air?

This plane was going down, and its crew was paralyzed. Stigler pointed to the ground, and, finally, a reaction: The Americans shook their heads. They’d rather die in flames than be taken prisoner by the Nazis.

Stigler was exasperated. As it was, he was risking his own life: Everyone knew the story of the German woman who, just one year before, had been gunned down by the Nazis for telling a joke against the Third Reich. If Stigler’s plane were to be spotted by a civilian alongside a B-17, and if that civilian wrote down the number on his tail and reported him, he was as good as dead.

Then Stigler remembered what Roedel had told him, that to shoot the enemy when vulnerable went against the code of chivalry and honor. Stigler felt he had to do what was right.

Near the Atlantic wall, flak gunners spotted the two planes approaching, the American and the German. They were stunned — they’d never seen anything like this, the enemy flying alongside a German plane, both seeming to be in sync, neither one firing or in pursuit or dodging or spiraling.
Read the rest, and find out how these two old gentlemen finally met.



.... or get the book.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Muslims love those who deny God exists, right?

By their own scripture, it isn't Jews and Christians - who are "people of the book" - who are the issue. No, it is idolators and pagans that are the issue.

An actual Muslim actually respects a practicing and believing Christian - but they despise non-believers. So, in a Muslim country, do you want to be seen as maybe a Christian - or as someone who denies the existence of God/Allah?


Take your time, it is just one question.



In a gobsmacking example of institutional cowardice, NSA Bahrain has cancelled, in essence, one of the few things that I remember with a smile from that horrible country; a camel at Christmas.

The Navy directed service members serving in Bahrain to cancel and dismantle a “Live Nativity” after receiving a complaint from a military atheist group who said the manger scene endangered Americans serving in a Muslim country and violated the U .S. Constitution.

The chaplain at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain confirmed to Fox News the nativity scene was cancelled – but referred any further comments to the NSA’s public information officer.

The “Live Nativity” was a long-standing tradition at NSA Bahrain that featured the children of military personnel dressed as shepherds, wise men, along with Mary and Joseph. It was part of a larger festival that included a tree lighting, Christmas music and photographs with Santa Claus and a camel.

But the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers objected to the Nativity and filed a complaint with the Navy’s Inspector General. They argued the Nativity promoted “Christianity as the official religion of the base.”
... and we folded to that small, insignificant gaggle of fun sponges?

I don't fault the MAAF crickets, I fault one thing - Navy leadership. If we are not going to allow a voluntary, culturally significant goodie for Sailors and their families forced to live in a nasty part of the world, then what are we actually defending?

MAAF shouldn't have an impact on anything people are doing - as they don't understand religion even in its most basic form - much less specifically Islam.
“Also of concern is the likelihood that the predominantly Muslim local population will see the U.S. military as a Christian force rather than a secular military support U.S. – but not necessarily Christian values in their Muslim country,” the MAAF wrote in their complaint. “This even threatens U.S. security and violates the Constitution as well as command policy.”

“It’s unconstitutional, it’s bad for the military and in a Muslim country it’s dangerous,” MAAF spokesman Jason Torpy told Fox News.
Actually, you can drive just 20 minutes out of the base to the Christian hospital in Manama, a missionary hospital at that. It has been there 100 years. There are even HUGE churches with big-a55 crosses in the country. What ignorance, the people of Bahrain have no issue with Christians.

This has nothing to do with Bahrain or Islam - this has everything to do with a small group of bitter, agenda driven people, and the cultural cowardice of Navy leadership. Leadership willing to do this;
“Upon further review, the CRP (Command Religious Program) will be removing the Living Nativity Program from the general base secular holiday festivities and co-locating it more appropriately with some of our other private religious and faith-based observances at the chapel at a separate time,” read a statement the Navy reportedly sent the NAAF.

Some service members in Bahrain told Fox News called the cancellation heartbreaking and children who were supposed to act in the Nativity were devastated.

“It was horrible,” said one officer who asked not to be identified. “It was devastating. Here we are serving in the Middle East, defending our country and other people’s religions and we couldn’t understand why we can’t enjoy our own religious freedoms.”

Crews had already started building the Nativity structure, but orders were given to have it dismantled.

“You can go outside the gate and hear Christmas music, but on the base you can’t have a Nativity,” said another officer. “The sense of hypocrisy is overwhelming.”
It didn't have to happen this way. Not even close.
Hiram Sasser, of the Liberty Institute, said the law is clearly on the side of the service members.

“Once again the Grinches prove their hearts are two sizes too small,” Sasser told Fox News. “The Supreme Court already saved nativity Christmas displays in 1984 and the Navy of all organizations shouldn’t back down against Grinches when law and history are on its side.”

Torpy said he is pleased with how the Navy handled the matter.

“We want to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to exercise their religion freely and we want to make sure people on the base have fun and exciting activities available for them without feeling like the base itself is establishing Christianity as the preferred belief system,” he told Fox News.
Folding in the face of such weak cheese. Amazing. Will someone ask SECNAV about this next time they see him?

More at The Examiner and USNIBlog.

Christmas with Dr. Kuehn

Books.

You know my weakness; I'm not one for squishy Christmas presents.

Feed the mind; build depth; honor the accumulated knowledge of our civization.

Especially for a young man or woman who is either thinking of, or is already engaged in the profession of arms; being well read is essential.

One of the "hail fellow well met" guests we have had on Midrats is John T. Kuehn, Ph.D., CDR USN (Ret), Professor of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, KS. 

I've asked him this year for book recommendations for those who need to flesh out their noodle. 

Great choices, and here they are!

- Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, by Carl Marlantes (JTK comment: every naval officer should read this book)

- The Master and the Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (JTK comment: mind bending, really) 

- A Song of Fire and Ice, George R.R. Martin, The Game of Thrones or whatever is next in the series (JTK comment: just fun. I am on Dance of Dragons)

- Joe Rochefort's War, Elliot Carlson (JTK comment: super naval history for any educated reader)

The Next two are older, but they ARE old favorites. One is very readable. The other is cathartic.
- The Two Cultures, by C.P. Snow (JTK comment: a plea for mutual understanding between the humanities and the sciences)

- Life and Fate, by Vasily Grossman (JTK comment: that rare novel/book that explains World War II in Russia, the Holocausts--to include Stalin's--and the Cold War)

For the stocking stuffer consider Tom Ricks' The Generals: American Military Command from WW II to Today (JTK comment, it is shaking up the blogs and the conversations inside and outside the Beltway).


Salamander comment: I can't pass up a comment about Ricks's book that I just got through reading. First, like John, I highly recommend it, but with a few exceptions where Ricks makes critical oversights. 

First, his narrative about AFG describes the war in a way to USA-centric overview. He just skims a discussion on NATO's role from taking over in late '05 to '10 when USA took back the keys, but that part of the book gives me the impression that he simply has not interviewed enough people familiar with the war from a NATO perspective. Second, he is very wrong about Gen. McKiernan.

McKiernan was the one who brought COIN as refined by Petraeus-Mattis to AFG with the uplift of USA forces in late 2008 - he is the one responsible for bringing Shape-Clear-Hold-Build in to the OPLAN before that.

Nothing malicious on Ricks's part, again, it just shows that his source bench is a bit thin for that part of the war and it bugs me.

If you are interested in his extended reading list ... well ... here you go!