Thursday, February 28, 2013

NATO Builds Starfleet Headquarters

I've been in a grumpy, snarky mood all week - why stop now?

I always thought that San Francisco was a bad place for Starfleet Headquarters - so Brussels is not bad by comparison. Look.


NATO Headquarters Brussels.
When Anders Fogh Rasmussen drives to his office in the Schaerbeek neighborhood of Brussels in the morning, he gazes longingly at a large construction site across the street. The site, where construction cranes jut into the sky, will eventually be the home of the new, 250,000-square-meter (2.7-million-square-foot) NATO headquarters. Price tag: more than a billion euros.
In 28FEB13 Dollars - that comes to over $1.31 billion. That is a lot for an organization that really doesn't need something that big. Really. It doesn't. It should have something that is both more reasonable, to scale - and artistically ... well ... more something else than a modernist masturbatoreum found in a dusty B-roll from Tomorrowland.

Our friends over at NATOSource ask nicely;
The revelation comes as NATO is pushing to slash its costs and streamline its bureaucracy against a backdrop of savage defence cuts in practically all member states.
... I'll be a bit more blogg'y. OK serfs ... errrr ... I mean taxpayers. As European economies sag under austerity plans, the USA pretends it is Greece spending wise as it stumbles through a 4th year without a budget - the NATO militarizes are fading in to gendarmerie level of capability; here is the NATO staff's response;
Nations recognised that the current facilities were inflexible and had reached saturation point. (The current HQ was constructed on a temporary basis in 1967 and has now been in service for 41 years). Put simply, the need for a new Headquarters is overwhelming. The revision of NATO's working methods, launched under NATO +, must be underpinned by modern, flexible, user-friendly facilities which provide a pleasant and effective working environment for all staff.

The new Headquarters will be designed around staff needs. A state-of-the-art building will ensure maximum flexibility so that working space can be configured in different ways to suit individual and collective needs. New restaurant, leisure and support facilities (shops, banks) will bring working and living conditions closer together and provide staff with better overall services on site.

In consequence, nations agreed that NATO needed and deserved a new building for the new millennium to reflect its success as an organisation and its new missions and activities.
A comfortable Staff building in NATO is about as important as the Flags-to-Post outcome. Actual expenditures in to capability too by our European friends? Child please.
According to an internal breakdown by Rasmussen, the American share of the NATO budget has increased from 63 to 72 percent in the last decade, a development the Americans have long deplored.
Joseph A. Harriss over at TheAmericanSpectator isn't all that impressed either;
... the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has just begun construction of a splendiferous new $1.38 billion headquarters on a 100-acre site in Brussels. Designed by Chicago architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, renowned for luxurious commercial buildings including the tallest in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the futuristic new NATO offices will feature eight sweeping wings covering 2.7 million square feet. Glass-walled elevators overlooking cavernous atriums showering natural light. Ecologically correct grass growing on the roof. Seventeen conference rooms. A range of amenities from cafeterias, restaurants, and banks, to shopping, sport, and leisure facilities.
...
Today about 4,500 staff are at the Brussels headquarters. Along with thousands of others in its multifarious agencies and strategic and regional commands, they engage in a giddy flurry of activities. Many have only an imaginary relation to security. For example:

• The Academic Affairs Unit runs a fellowships program and organizes conferences, seminars, and visits for academics and think tank researchers to “project the Alliance’s point of view and strengthen information on its goals.” In other words, a glorified PR operation with academic pretensions.

• The Science for Peace and Security Committee “contributes to NATO’s mission by linking science to society,” whatever that means. Concretely, it funds grants for research on soft, fashionable subjects like civil science and environment.

• The NATO Undersea Research Center in La Spezia, Italy, has a vast program including Marine Mammal Risk Mitigation that studies the effects of sonar on marine animals, “to counter the threat from quiet submarines.”

• Then there’s the NATO Multimedia Library with its more than 18,000 books and subscriptions to 155 newspapers and magazines. And its annual Manfred W├Ârner Junior Essay competition with a $6,800 prize. And the NATO photo competition for young shutterbugs who learn that, for example, “Taking photographs of random strangers can be risky.”
To keep the snark going strong; those who have done NATO tours know that the 4th billet is the most important for the new HQ.
The facilities will comprise :
  • up-to-date conference facilities;
  • office accommodation for Delegations, Military Representations, International Staff (IS) and International Military Staff (IMS), Agencies and Partner Missions;
  • modern, up-to date communications and IT facilities.
  • a variety of support services such as: restaurants, banking, shopping, leisure and sports facilities;
Look at it closer and then think of all the metal and glass structures that has blighted the landscape since WWII. They don't age all that well, do they?  This will be different, yes? If we are spending over $1.31 billion on a building, then we plan to have it last a long time, right? Responsible with other people's money, correct?
... the requirement for an austere, sober and functional building with the need for a reasonable level of comfort and the provision of modular, flexible space, which can be systematically reconfigured and/or extended. The facilities must also guarantee value for money (a sensible level of cost over a 30 year life cycle) as well as long term soundness.
Also, putting on my red hat; give me an Airbus and three guys who want to die; unlike the Pentagon, this doesn't have a stone anywhere nor all that much concrete to get in the way. Easy target.


I know, I'm just being a cynic - but honestly; I'm not all that impressed. Mostly, it is because I prefer neo-Classical, Romanesque, and neo-Gothic architecture - with stone. But, that is just me.

Here, let these guys explain themselves.



As per the DD1390, in the 2013 DoD budget, we are spending $26.969 million, representing DoD's 60% of the USA contribution. DoS is covering the other 40%.
- 2012 it was $24.118 million.
- 2011 $31.863 million.
- 2010 $41.4 million.

That gives you a running average. Construction started in 2009, and the land came gratis from The Kingdom of Belgium.


So, there you go.  Here is a shot of the old building. Just another clapped-out modernist 1960s building ... which is what this will be in 30-years. 

One would think that a modern organization such as NATO would go for a much smoother, smaller, more nimble HQ - especially when you consider that SHAPE is just down the road in Mons ... but this is a largely European run bureaucracy - hence it must grow, and we have Starfleet Headquarters. 

Other people's money and all. Good positive things here in one way; NATO orders are simple outstanding both professionally and for the family ... so a chance to live in Europe for Americans.

Got to get you money's worth.

UPDATE: Yea ... as Pat points out in comments; perhaps not the best design. Look at the pick above ... and .... ummmmm ....

Diversity Thursday

This DivThu is a bit different - I'm a bit pi55ed off. I don't want this to get personal against a man who had a hard job and did the best he could do - but now he's just another retired guy in line at the Commissary ... so here you go.

While he was CNO, Gary Roughead couldn't have a bowel movement without playing Great White Father and paternalistically prattling on about (D)iversity like it was 1973.

All the time he was doing this, our Navy stumbled through a lost decade, left with an unaffordable string of ships and a too-big-to-fail F-35 program along with other areas of institutional delamination issues from preventative maintenance to, well ... pick your topic.

So, he takes a break from the food trough to pump out his wisdom. Was this what you heard from him when he was in uniform? Ponder ...

Good googly moogly man - if you were pounding this drum while you were in CNO, you would have had everyone with you - you could have moved mountains. I'm sorry Admiral, your record on these from optimal manning on, but - this.was.not.what.you.invested.your.
professional.capital.in.while.you.were.CNO.
Certain internal cost pressures in the defense budget make reductions in
spending especially difficult, but unless these areas of cost growth are addressed, they will crowd out spending in other areas and begin to remove military capacity and capability. This paper lays out a strategy to address these challenges in three parts:
(1) design a force better aligned to face future challenges,
(2) improve the efficiency and efficacy of the acquisition system, and
(3) control rising personnel costs.
Together, these reforms set the stage for a sustainable defense budget—one that preserves our capability both to face challenges in the near future and to rebuild as new challenges arise.
Here - read it all shipmates. Frankly, it has no credibility with me. He had his chance. This wasn't his priority when he was CNO, I'm not interested in his views on it now.

Gary, where were you when we needed you? Amazing, in uniform - it was all (D)iversity, all the time. You pump this out - and not one mention about (D)iversity, not one. A simple word search gets the word once - and for once you use it in a proper military context.
But our margin of error is also quite wide because of the diversity of tools we are now bringing to the fight: increased surveillance and more precise and timely intelligence attention, better border and immigration controls, layered defenses that provide more than one opportunity to identify and prevent access to suspicious individuals and organizations, and greater public awareness and resilience.
I'm going to stop now - I can't see more through the rage - and that is my problem, I know. I'll pray on that, maybe it will get better. 

The lost decade is on you. Until you address your failings, I'm not interested in your proposals to fix them. If you care so little now for what was your #1 priority when you had power - without telling us why you are changing - well - that is on your conscience, not mine.

Here it is folks, for what it is worth. Just remember - his actions are pierside now. If you find something of use, please share it in comments. I'm shifting fire and am going to look for some smart ideas from the under-40 crowd.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Friend Strikes His Colors

Chuck of "From my position ... " is ending his time blogging. 

Please stop by and wish him well.

Sen. Rubio Just Gained 10-pts in the 18-34 Age Group

Name one other Senator who could even come close to handling this as well. 



I told ya'll ... don't discount Marco. He was Speaker of the FL House in his 30s.

Retro Wednesday: Save the HMS CAROLINE

As we continue to watch the USS OLYMPIA rust away, it is good to see another nation making the extra effort to preserve part of her very rich history.

She was commissioned in 1914 and with the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron, fought in 1916 in the Battle of Jutland. On an off duty, she was finally and at last decommissioned in 2011.

We discussed her a couple of years ago - but I wanted to bring her up again so you could see this great photospread via the TelegraphUK. More via the DailyMail.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

LCS: Paint by Numbers

Nice video overview of the repainting of LCS-1. If you find the concept interesting, try here, here, here, and here as well.



... and yes, I like the fact that this will help hide the nasty exhaust ports.
>UPDATE: Some great professional fact-based snarking over at SailorBob on the topic.

Institutions cowed and politicized

One of the most important things about a leader is knowing when to say, "No."

You can say it nicely ... you can say it respectfully - but you can say, "No."

There is a danger, especially at the Service Academies, that you can quickly become a tool of the culture wars. Mau-mau'd by those who scare warfighters (or at least those uniformed fonctionnaires appointed above the warfighters) because they might call you a nasty name.

When you allow a political point of view without an opposing point of view, you just endorsed it.

The first case makes me a bit well ... resigned to my fate.  Go ahead, beat me and tell me, "I told you so." 

I supported the repeal of DADT - years before it took place. Dare I say, I was one of the first milbloggers to "come out" in support of it. Good people can disagree, but those on the other side of the argument would often bring up something that I knew more likely than not, they were right on. "If you allow A, then B will follow ...

I knew others would come along to try to play the same, "Justify me too!" game, but I wouldn't hold back a good thing out of fear of a possible bad. A possible bad, BTW, that doesn't have to be bad with the right leadership.

As I never underestimate the spinelessness of uniformed fonctionnairs in the face of the Cultural Commissariate, I knew my opponents were more likely than not be right. I also knew that many of those who once enjoyed my support would turn on me. That's OK. It's expected. I knew that many of them were cultural fascists who at the first hint of not being lockstep with their agenda, they would turn on a dime calling names and throwing the "hate" word around. So, I guess it is my turn.  

I supported DADT, but I don't support homosexual marriage any more than I support flying starfish. I don't consider "transgendered" the same as homosexuality for the same reason I don't consider full-body tattoos the same as pierced ears. I have no problem drawing distinctions. Others, however, don't have that characteristic, and I think they do all a disservice.

Even if you do put transgendered in the same category as heterosexuality - there is also a question of context, venue, and approriateness.

Sorry folks - this at USNA is just out of bounds. Pathetic and fully in the "mind so open your brain fell out" category.
Colleagues-

Navy Spectrum invites you to join them to hear their special guest, Allyson Robinson, speak about the following topics:
What does it mean to be transgender?
Who makes up the transgender community?
What is life like for transgender people in America today?
Relating respectfully to transgender people, and resources for additional learning.

Allyson Robinson is a graduate from West Point (class of '94) and former Army Capt. She is a transgender woman and the Executive Director of Outserve-SLDN.

If interested, please join us in RI-103 at 1915 tomorrow night (Monday, 25FEB).

[redacted]
Mr. Robinson has been married for 18-years and is the father of four children. Graduated from West Point etc. The mechanics of the above is fuzzy, but really no ones business anyway.

The below intro video will give you some of the background. I'm sorry Mr. Robinson, but you are XY not XX. Whatever you and your doctor have done to your body does not change that. You can no more say you are a woman than I can say that I am Napoleon. I don't say that with any anger at you or your decisions - and you are free to do what you want with yourself - but don't ask everyone to join you in your delusion. 

That isn't respectful of actual women out there; straight, gay or otherwise. I think the homosexual rights community has made a mistake putting Mr. Robinson out front, but with the repeal of DADT, I guess some still need to justify their fundraisers or whatever reason they feel they need to use. It still makes a farce of it all.

I wish you and your family well - but sorry dude, I'm not impressed.

So Annapolis - when will you allow, oh I don't know, James Dobson to come to speak about sexuality, or has the Commissariat declared that hate speech yet? Westboro Baptist Church? They do so love their speech codes, so tell me - when does free conscience become hate? 

If military leaders need to understand people like Mr. Robinson, how about polygamy? Polyamory?



OK, enough of Annapolis, let's go to another demonstration of institutional cowardice. West Point - this too is just pathetic political pandering. I thought this was a DuffleBlog joke at first - but it isn't. From the West Point FB page - which I still had to triple check to see if it were real.
Cadets on the Brigade Energy and Environmental staff will introduce a new insignia to the Corps when they don their cadet uniforms this week. These cadet energy and environmental officers and noncommissioned officers, or E2Os, are tasked with leading the charge on initiatives related to recycling, energy and water conservation at the academy.

The insignia has the chevrons customary to cadet rank. The three rockers below are designed as waves to signify energy and water. It has been decades since the last insignia has been approved for a cadet staff position, and the process took nearly a year before the rank received approval from the Brigade Tactical Department and the Commandant of Cadets.
There you go Shipmates. Silence is approval. You can't complain that you've lost something you let drift away.

Oh, and don't even go there in comments; I still stand 100% by repeal of DADT; it was the right thing to do, but putting Robinson's face on that just makes it a cheap side-show that is no longer about letting good people serve their nation.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Not getting the new reality

Stick with me, I'm going to bounce around a little here. 

Some stories have been around for so long, complaints and memes that cycle - after awhile it all becomes Kabuki-esque.

We've covered the lack of any fair share workload by our NATO allies before - heck, just listen to General Craddock's departing speech from May of 2009 again if you need to.

Well, Anders; I guess you had to at least clear your conscience.
The head of NATO urged member countries Thursday to stop cutting their defense budgets in response to tough economic times, saying continued reductions will compromise the safety of all of the military alliance's 28 members.

"It is of course a matter of concern that we have seen and continue to see declining defense budgets all over the alliance," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on his way into a two-day meeting of NATO country defense ministers.

"My appeal to governments is, firstly, hold the line, stop the cuts," Fogh Rasmussen said. "Secondly, make more efficient use of the resources we do have, through more multinational cooperation. And thirdly, once the economies recover, start to increase defense investments again."
Actually, their economies will not be getting back on solid footing for quite awhile, and once they do - they won't be spending more on their military. Their addiction to the failed Welfare State model needs to reach crisis before that addiction will be broken. With debt maintenance combined with cattywampus demographics, reality won't allow real strong recoveries anyway.

Another hard truth is they have three generations of leaders who are too used to Uncle Sam doing the heavy lifting and to bail them out when they need it. I don't know if they fully realize it that the American taxpayers and political class have tired of Europe after a century of fiddl'n around. Reality has changed.
U.S. officials have long urged that the burden of mutual defense be shared more equitably. A senior NATO official pointed out this week that the U.S. still spends 4.3 percent of its gross domestic product, while most European countries are dropping below 1.5 percent. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk about the discussions before the meeting had taken place.
There's Ref. A as to why there will be little desire to keep subsidizing European defense while our carriers collect barnacles pierside. Frankly, most Americans are just plain tired of it all. It is insulting.

Even before the European Welfare State started to eat itself half a decade ago, defense spending was just sad for our NATO friends. If you haven't been paying attention - you may not realize how far the already low numbers have fallen. Chew on this.
Since 2008, in response to the economic downturn, most big European countries have cut defence spending by 10-15 per cent. The longer-term trends are even more striking. Britain’s Royal Air Force now has just a quarter of the number of combat aircraft it had in the 1970s. The Royal Navy has 19 destroyers and frigates, compared with 69 in 1977. The British army is scheduled to shrink to 82,000 soldiers, its smallest size since the Napoleonic wars. In 1990 Britain had 27 submarines (excluding those that carry ballistic missiles) and France had 17. The two countries now have seven and six respectively.
And yet Britain and France are commonly regarded as the only two European countries that still take defence seriously. The British point out that, even after the current round of cuts, the UK will have the fourth-largest military budget in the world. Britain is also, for the moment, one of only two European nations to meet the Nato target of devoting 2 per cent of gross domestic product to defence – the other is Greece.

The situation in most other European countries is worse – Spain devotes less than 1 per cent of GDP to military spending. And much European military spending goes on pensions or pay, not equipment. The Belgians distinguished themselves in the Libyan campaign of 2011. But about 75 per cent of Belgian military spending now goes on personnel – causing one critic to call the Belgian military “an unusually well-armed pension fund”.
FT is a Brit publication, and a smart one. I doubt very much they read CDRS ... but my regular readers will recognize this train of thought.
None of this might matter much if the US was still willing to step in whenever the Europeans fell short. In fact, America is losing patience with Europe’s inability to act on its own. The Obama administration was clearly reluctant to get involved in Libya. And when the French found that they needed American help on air-to-air refuelling for the Mali operation, they were aghast to discover that the Americans initially wanted to charge them.

In the end, the US agreed to provide its facilities for free. But the point was made. The US is fed up with a situation in which America alone now accounts for about three-quarters of Nato defence spending. One day, perhaps soon, the Europeans may wake up and find that the US military is simply not there to deal with whatever threat is lapping at the frontiers of Europe.
Read it all. As long as they feel we will do their work for them - the Europeans will be glad to let us do their wet work. Make them a little insecure - then maybe ... maybe they will do more.
Yet you do not have to look very far beyond Europe’s borders to see an array of potential threats massing over the next decade. The Middle East is in turmoil and thousands are dying in Syria, threatening the stability of the whole region. Iran’s nuclear programme could well lead to confrontation and threaten European energy supplies. Russian military spending is rising. And growing tensions between China and its neighbours could one day menace the freedom of navigation on which European trade depends.

The risk is that Europeans may suddenly find that they need armed forces, after all – only to discover that they are not there any more.
Tough love. We need to continue to come home. WWII and the Cold War are long gone.

As I've said for well over half a decade; we should only have Combined logistics and training bases overseas and personnel on NATO Staff position as needed. Maybe keep the 173rd in Italy - but that would be about it. Ya'll have heard it before, no need to repeat it.

Going back to the UK press; old habits die hard. 

As they know very well that even if they wanted to, they do not have the ability to do anything in Syria of significance; even though NATO's second largest army is on its border in Turkey - what is the default answer when things get tough in Europe's backyard? Via The Economist;
Suffering on such a scale is unconscionable. That was the lesson from the genocides and civil wars that scarred the last half of the past century. Yet President Barack Obama has suggested that saving lives alone is not a sufficient ground for military action. Having learnt in Afghanistan and Iraq how hard it is to impose peace, America is fearful of being sucked into the chaos that Mr Assad has created. Mr Obama was elected to win economic battles at home. He believes that a weary America should stay clear of yet another foreign disaster.

That conclusion, however understandable, is mistaken. As the world’s superpower, America is likely to be sucked into Syria eventually. Even if the president can resist humanitarian arguments, he will find it hard to ignore his country’s interests.
Well, we acted in AFG and then made the mistake of doing what Europe wanted via the Bonn Agreement and all the talk about fixing AFG "with our allies." Well, how did that work out?

DEU, ESP, ITA and the rest of the NATO forces in RC(N) and RC(W) were so caveat laden and FOB-bound as to waste years of time. The CJSOR was never filled, and eventually when the Europeans couldn't even send enough rotary wing assets to support their own forces - USA decided in late-2007 it needed to take the keys back.

We were proactive in IRQ, and how did the Europe stick with that once things got rough? The Obama administration was right in letting Libya be a little test case for the non-USA lead.

Syria? Really? As if the American people, politicians, or military really want to get stuck in the middle of that tribal bloodlust again. Bleeding out thousands of American in that dusty, nasty, country? For what? So Europeans can feel like someone is doing something? (though not them, of course)

Anyway, we made the mistake of following the Western European's failed Welfare model and are now pretty much broke too. That and we have tired of war, thank you.

Uncle Sam should just shrug. We've had our fill of trying to fix people who do not wish to be fixed. I think we have learned that lesson. We have tired of defending people who have no interest in making a fair effort to defend themselves.

As for Syria, if we did start something, then all the Europeans would do is second guess, Monday morning quarterback, and generally tut-tut us to death with their self proclaimed moral superiority.

Pass.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fullbore Friday

I really appreciate Charles sending the story of LCDR Eugene Esmonde, VC, DSO, Royal Navy.

Want to measure your service? What more could I say?
Born 1st March 1909, at Thurgoland, Wortley, Yorkshire. Eugene Esmonde was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in the RAF, on the 28th December 1928, and was posted to the Fleet Air Arm, serving in the Mediterranean until the expiry of his commission five years later. On leaving the RAF, Esmonde joined Imperial Airways as a First Officer on the 9th August 1934. Esmonde flew on the mail carrying routes between London and Glasgow, and as Imperial Airways expanded its service, to the Middle East and India. In 1935, he flew on regular service between Rangoon and Mandalay in Burma, and survived a serious accident when his aircraft crashed into Irrawaddy. He was promoted to Captain on the 3rd July 1937, and was one of the first to fly the giant flying boats which introduced the first airmail service between the UK and Australia. On the 3rd May 1939, Esmonde resigned to take up a commission as a Lieutenant-Commander in the Fleet Air Arm.

Esmonde was a survivor of the carrier HMS Courageous, which was torpedoed and sunk in the Western Approaches on the 17th September 1939. Following this he served at RNAS Lee-on-Solent and other naval air stations in the south of England. He was then appointed to the aircraft carrier HMS Victorious. On the night of the 24th May 1941, he led a squadron of nine Swordfish aircraft, armed with torpedoes, to make a 120 mile flight in foul weather and into head-winds to attack the German battleship, Bismarck. Esmonde’s aircraft attacked through intense anti-aircraft fire from Bismarck, and scored one hit, amidships on the starboard side. Esmonde received the Distinguished Service Order for this action on the 11th February 1942.

Esmonde’s next appointment was on HMS Ark Royal, and his air squadron rescued members of the ship’s company when the ship was sunk off Gibraltar on the 13th November 1941. By the end of November, Esmonde was back at Lee-on-Solent, until 12th February 1942, the day when the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, with the cruiser Prinz Eugen, and a strong escort of surface craft, made their ‘Channel dash’ from Brest back to Germany. In the Straits of Dover, Esmonde led the 825 Squadron of six Swordfish aircraft to attack the German ships. The squadron encountered a hail of fire from the German ships off Calais in their desperate but unsuccessful attempt at least to damage the enemy vessels. Esmonde’s plane sustained a direct hit, just after he had fired its torpedo, he continued the run-in towards his target until his plane burst into flames and crashed into the sea. The attack continued and three of the other Swordfish were also shot down and their crews killed. Five men of Esmonde’s flight survived, four of them wounded. The four officers received the DSO, while the sole rating who survived received the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. Admiral Ramsey stated that ‘the gallant sortie of these six Swordfish constitutes one of the finest exhibitions of self sacrifice and devotion to duty that the war has yet witnessed’.

Esmonde was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions, which was gazetted on the 3rd March 1942. A memorial to Eugene Esmonde is at Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham, Kent.
Here is what he flew in to the face of the German Fleet.



... and in this very scratchy German newsreel, you can probably watch his last moments.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bloomberg Goes Salamander on LCS

Not even a wee link for 'ols Sal - dude who has been calling LCS "Little Crappy Ship" at since FEB 2006 - but that's OK.

A couple of friends of the blog get some good swats at the ship in a Bloomberg article you can catch over at gCaptain- I'll take that.
The 2010 decision guaranteed jobs in shipyards building the two designs and ensured political support from the communities and defense contractors that benefit. It also has added at least $400 million in taxpayer costs to support and maintain dual sets of ships over their lifespan, according to the Navy’s estimate.

As the Pentagon faces $500 billion in spending cuts over a decade that are set to begin March 1, the $37 billion program to design and build Littoral Combat Ships may become a target for reductions that would take business from Lockheed and Austal.

“The ships are costing too much,” Norman Polmar, a naval analyst and author, said in an interview. “The support costs are ridiculous with two different designs.”

The Littoral Combat Ship — derided by critics inside the Navy as the “Little Crappy Ship” — reflects the enduring influence of the “military-industrial complex” that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against in his 1961 farewell address. It is an example of a troubled project that has sailed on with the support of a military seeking the most advanced war- fighting equipment possible, companies eager to build it and politicians hungry for the jobs created.
Now for our friend Bryan McGrath;
Critics such as Bryan McGrath, a retired naval officer who advised Romney’s campaign, have already made their judgment on the ships.

“My problem is they’re strategically unwise,” said McGrath, director of consulting at Delex Systems Inc. in Herndon, Virginia. “They’re too expensive to be built in numbers, and they don’t pack enough combat punch.”
To the authors David Lerman and Nick Taborek I would just like to say - welcome to the party. Nice summary of issues Norman, Bryan, and others like John Patch, and the folks at CDRSalamander have been making for a long time, even during the fat years.

You've only scratched the surface though. Only scratched the surface.

UPDATE: Hey - the new paint job is done at least. Fun.


So, about directed energy weapons

What does this make me think about?



I'm pondering over at USNIBlog. Come join me.

Diversity Thursday

Let's return to one of the race hustlers we've been tracking here for a few years as he polluted the lecture at USNA and other places.

I just want to make sure you are enjoying what your taxes and the loans taken out in your children's' name is buying you. This guy has been sucking high-teet off the guv'munt for years. Yes, let us bask in the glow of Samuel Betances.

I think that this guy actually means well - but his ideas represent the worst retrograde concepts that feed the most base, bitter, bigoted, spiteful, historically ignorant parts of our national conscience. There is nothing constructive about this - it is so biased that one could argue that he may only be in this for the money and a feeling of his own moral superiority to the racists he sees all around him. That may not be what he intends - but that sure is how it comes off.

It comes off as well as some - well - George Orwell would understand.

The USDA forced its employees to watch this FOD in order, I kid you not, to make the USDA according to then Secretary of Agriculture Vilsak, to “make USDA a model employer."




Want to get the full flavor of what $200,000 borrowed from your children was used to purchase? Get the full thing with more video from Judicial Watch here.

Hat tip TheCorner.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

NAVAIR Industry Day - Sequestration

Interesting presentation today by NAVAIR's Garry Newton.

Well played and well done. Educate and leverage technology.

Another cry for leadership, and the calm of the fading echo

Alas, we hear another cry from the formation.

We heard it at USNIBlog the other week - now at gCaptain we have it again; a cry for leadership. Another anon JO puts it well;
Senior leadership ranks within the US military are unfortunately a hazy reflection of the countless stellar young officers commissioned each year. The junior officer cadre is comprised of top graduates from prestigious schools, remarkable over-achievers, athletes, and proven leaders. These are individuals who would undoubtedly excel in the corporate world, but who instead chose to serve our great nation.

Idealistic, bright and innovative, these are the leaders the military needs as we enter an increasingly challenging strategic and fiscally-constrained era. Yet that optimistic, creative and intelligent young officer is forced to navigate an often draconian and inflexible system- one that has succeeded in pushing out our best and instead retaining only those officers willing to slog through the bureaucratic minefield.
...
Young officers with bright futures are often exasperated by this promotion system which rewards time over performance. Those recognizing the value of their talents elsewhere often count down the days until they can resign and apply their talents in a profession where competency is acknowledged and prized. The prospect of waiting 15 to 20 years to finally be promoted on merit is too disheartening for many to stick around- even before recognizing the politicized nature of senior level promotions.

... the military is inundated with the average performer merely plugging away time until reaching retirement.

Instead of inspiring those around them to perform to their utmost potential, these leaders inspire mediocrity and strive to accomplish what merely needs to be done.

Their subordinates are neither challenged nor motivated to remain part of the organization which values aggregating “fiefdoms” in a struggle for power or stars in an increasingly unwieldy bureaucracy. Change is often made to highlight a bullet on a performance report for an officer desperately seeking promotion, not to improve the organization. “Soul-crushing” is an activity seemingly relished by many senior officers when dealing with their subordinates.
...
They will continuously be tested by a personnel system which fails to match talents and training with billets, fails to recognize potential and capabilities and assign them appropriately, fails to recognize the merits of keeping an officer in a position which they enjoy and can excel at- making a positive influence on those around them- and instead pushing them into positions far beyond their abilities or personal preferences in the futile attempt to craft every leader into a commanding officer, regardless of whether or not said leader has the desire or ability.

Personal preferences and skillsets are almost universally disregarded when the “needs of the service” demand a body- any body- be plugged into an open slot.

This bureaucracy can turn the most optimistic young leader into a jaded pessimist content with biding their time until the next opportunity to transfer, resign or retire. The impact this type of leader then has on those around them is immense- a gloomy outlook is contagious. People stop caring and instead perform at a minimum level to get by. The eager young officer reporting aboard sees officers only a few years older whom are sullen, dismissive and pessimistic. The unfortunate result is the hastening of the downfall of that very officer who wanted to make an impact, to make a difference and was so incredibly motivated and prepared to do so.

Despite years of outcry, the personnel system continues to operate in mysterious ways, failing to match talent, capabilities and interests with billets. We refuse to acknowledge that perhaps some officers are best suited to junior or mid-grade leadership positions and can have the greatest impact by remaining there. By continually trying to mold each officer into a CO, we instead end up with unfit commanding officers who have been pushed beyond their capabilities, interests or leadership abilities. This, in turn, manifests in record high failures at the upper echelons, failures within the leadership chain, and failures to our troops in the most dire need.
That is the set-up for his proposal at the end, I'll let you read it all.

Though the article is quite Salamanderesque and I support the effort, the proposed solution isn't really one. The problem is much more systematic than the proposed fix will cure. It is like fighting crab-grass by mowing the yard. I just won't work.

As I mentioned to the gaggle over at FB, the system as we have it now is hopelessly ossified. We all have our stories.

The author's complaint could have been written a decade ago - perhaps longer.

This problem can be fixed, but like Goldwater-Nichols, this is a root and branch problem that will only be fixed with the right civilian leadership in the Executive branch with partners in the House and Senate. 

If we were a smaller and more nimble nation, perhaps we could effect change - but we are not. In any event, to even try we have to have the right leaders in place; and we don't. Either luck or crisis will give us an opportunity. Until then; embrace the suck and do the best you can.

We can nibble around the edges a bit - but until then we must wait. When the opportunity comes, you will know it. Now is not it, but a job remains to be done. 

Wait, ponder, discuss, write. LT WT Door - keep pounding. Keep pounding. Keep pounding. Do not accept what is unacceptable. Make a noise; make the comfortable uncomfortable; make the entitled uneasy. 

Set the conditions for change. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How mindless PC makes idiots of us all

I know, it isn't Thursday, but I don't consider female issues a (D)iversity issue.  Sure, the (D)iversity Commissariat tries to make it such, but that is just because they are a bunch of self-serving, empire building, fonctionnaires. I have too much respect for women, and refuse to play. After all, I was taught to stand up for the honor of women, and they don't need those clock watching, quota mongering, excuse makers in the (D)iversity industry to fight their battles.

As the regular readers know, I have always been a supporter of women serving in those places they are capable of meeting the standards to do so - going to the the MIDN Salamander days. Is how the Navy doing things right now perfect, no ... but few things are. I also acknowledge one of the great things about life; men & women are build differently - and that's OK, at least to me.

I like reality, just as I like a good liberal arts based education (even engineers can get that BTW), and blunt honesty. Well, it appears that at USNA - the (D)iversity Bullies have squashed not only free discussion, but have also managed to destroy linear, logical thought based on reality, and sound thinking that a well rounded education should give a young man or women. 

So, here we find ourselves. One of the generation that is going to have to fix the mess the Boomers made had the temerity to ask - shock - a logical question. The results can be found in the pic below; part of a weekly feedback from MIDN that is answered by MIDN at USNA.

Get out the white board and diagram this logic chain for me. Seriously ... please try to do this. I am lost in a sea of intellectual dishonesty, PC diktat, and general nausea at the stupidity inducing 2nd-order effects of Cultural Marxism.

A+ question; D+ answer.

BEHOLD!



So, let's review. To destroy sexism, we must engage in sexism. To fight claims that women are measured by a lower bar, we must keep that lower bar. To keep high standards, we must allow a lower standard. 

Madness.  This could have been fixed decades ago if we had the moral courage to speak truth to inanity.

There is a couple that I know who are regular readers here; though they don't know it (I may be about to out myself to them, but that is OK - they can keep a secret). They were a couple in my NROTC unit, got married after commissioning, and are still going strong - she is still on AD I believe. 

They are both great individuals. They were better MIDN, and probably better officers, that I was. That is not the point.  The XX of the couple of was a PT goddess. I'm no slack (wait, in NROTC I was a slack, but different subject for a different day), but she ALWAYS ... and I mean ALWAYS did better than I did on the PRT.  Not gender-normed score mind you ... no; she could do more real push-ups (I have real long arms and a middle back problem from football, ahem), finish the run in a faster time (I'm a sprinter, ahem), and could max sit-ups faster with better form (I have a back injury, ahem).

There are women out there that can meet an objective standard. Not that many - but enough.  If they can, then let them try and let them serve. If they can't, well, that is just acknowledging that XX is different than XY - and there are other places they can serve their nation as well as the others who cannot physically qualify in spite of having XY. Damage control, combat, or taxes; they don't care; better meet a common standard or you get yourself and others killed.

100% of men can't give birth, and 99.9% women can't objectively meet infantry or SEAL warfare requirements.

So? I can't dance or sing. 

Think being a SEAL is tough?

Hat tip TheFarragutCellOfTheSalamanderUnderground.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Therapist 1: call your office

Hollywierd is in a major funk. What is with all the dead-Earth vibe?

Exhibit 1.



Exhibit 2.




Oh, still waiting for the Fallujah movie; just 9-years since you found your lead.

The SWO Gods Speak

... at about the 21-second mark.



This has been up for about 7 years, but I'm just now getting to it. Thing is - this isn't the audio I want to hear. It is on the other bridge where the fun conversation is taking place.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Signal Flag 16; on Midrats


Change is in the air as we look at sequester, a new SecDef, France in North Africa, preparing for the last fighting season in Afghanistan, and what looks like a long decade of budget stress.

Is this a pivot-point of opportunity, or just a winter of our naval discontent?

No guests, no set agenda - open floor and open phones.

Just EagleOne and me today from 5-6pm EST for the full hour. If there is a topic you want discussed, call in at (347) 308-8397 or roll your questions in the chat room.

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

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Oh, that's why a combo cover has a chinstrap ...

After using his picture earlier this week, I realized that 99.9% of my readers probably had no idea who Admiral Alexander Vasilyevich Kolchak, Russian Navy, was.

Being that we are generally bad at our own history, much less others, I think this is a good time as any to point to a person who deserves another look.

I had only a very passing knowledge of Kolchak - mostly just as a leader of White forces during the Russian Civil War. I dug a bit deeper and found out that - hey - they've made a movie of him. It looks like a good one too, one that makes you wish we could make such movies like this. We used to.

So, thanks to the joys of youtube - here are the first two parts of the 2008 Russian movie, Admiral.

More than just the Kolchak though; the opening of the movie should give pause to the naval professional. When it comes to close in naval warfare, little has changed since WWI. In a lot of missions, you will not be fighting at max range, as a matter of face - for LCS especially - many of the ASUW and SOF support operations, it is very likely that the first shots will be well within visual range - indeed, within hailing range. (just like other naval engagements since then up to present age as well - hmmmmm - a trend perhaps)

You need to be able to fight hurt, you need redundant weapons systems that can be fired in a couple of different manners, and robust enough to work even when damaged. You need enough personnel to fight the ship and do damage control at the same time. Of course, LCS can do none of these things.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fullbore Friday

Of course;
Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Section Leader with Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during combat operations against an armed enemy at Combat Outpost Keating, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on October 3, 2009. On that morning, Staff Sergeant Romesha and his comrades awakened to an attack by an estimated 300 enemy fighters occupying the high ground on all four sides of the complex, employing concentrated fire from recoilless rifles, rocket propelled grenades, anti-aircraft machine guns, mortars and small arms fire. Staff Sergeant Romesha moved uncovered under intense enemy fire to conduct a reconnaissance of the battlefield and seek reinforcements from the barracks before returning to action with the support of an assistant gunner. Staff Sergeant Romesha took out an enemy machine gun team and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds. Undeterred by his injuries, Staff Sergeant Romesha continued to fight and upon the arrival of another soldier to aid him and the assistant gunner, he again rushed through the exposed avenue to assemble additional soldiers. Staff Sergeant Romesha then mobilized a five-man team and returned to the fight equipped with a sniper rifle. With complete disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire, as he moved confidently about the battlefield engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter. While orchestrating a successful plan to secure and reinforce key points of the battlefield, Staff Sergeant Romesha maintained radio communication with the tactical operations center. As the enemy forces attacked with even greater ferocity, unleashing a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and recoilless rifle rounds, Staff Sergeant Romesha identified the point of attack and directed air support to destroy over 30 enemy fighters. After receiving reports that seriously injured Soldiers were at a distant battle position, Staff Sergeant Romesha and his team provided covering fire to allow the injured Soldiers to safely reach the aid station. Upon receipt of orders to proceed to the next objective, his team pushed forward 100 meters under overwhelming enemy fire to recover and prevent the enemy fighters from taking the bodies of their fallen comrades. Staff Sergeant Romesha’s heroic actions throughout the day-long battle were critical in suppressing an enemy that had far greater numbers. His extraordinary efforts gave Bravo Troop the opportunity to regroup, reorganize and prepare for the counterattack that allowed the Troop to account for its personnel and secure Combat Outpost Keating. Staff Sergeant Romesha’s discipline and extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty reflect great credit upon himself, Bravo Troop, 3d Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and the United States Army


You should also take the chance to get the geography via the Army's Battlescape. It should also be noted that Ref. A for this all is Jake Tapper's book, The Outpost.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Diversity Thursday

Oh NOES! 

I bet they will take sequestration serious now!

From: TOTALFORCE_HR_NEWS
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:57
Subject: Postponed Events for Black History & Women's History Months

All hands,

NAVAIR's Black History Month (26 Feb) and Women's History Month events (7 March) have been postponed because of the current fiscal environment and recent training guidance.

We will inform you when these events have been rescheduled and apologize for any inconvenience.

We value the contributions of all our team members. A diverse, well-trained workforce is a key enabler of NAVAIR's success.  

Thank you,
Total Force Strategy & Management Dept. 
Could that be more patronizing? 

As if NAVAIR's sluice of money going to support the self-licking ice cream cone that is the (D)iversity Industry is going to make any serious professional question personnel policies. 

Oh, and thank you again "TOTALFORCE" - you just made my point again that you don't care about different ideas, perspectives, or academic backgrounds - you only care about the same thing the KKK does; the useless color of ones skin or the self-reported source of their DNA. 

I wish NAVAIR spent half the effort on decreasing operational loss of drones than this - but hey, I guess that is asking too much.

The Droning About Drones

After yesterday's post, I'm already tiring of drones - but they are going to be a growing and important part of the Navy, so we need to keep an eye on them.

I am a fan of drones, but in the context of what they are and can realistically be, not to the degree that the usual futurist fan-boy suspects who seem to believe that they at last have the technological answer for everything and who believe what every program manager and industry PPT tells them.

The ground truth is out there, you just have to look for it.

Case in point; long decom'd VP-19 is to re-animated later this year as VUP-19;
After years of testing and providing surveillance in 5th Fleet, the Navy is creating the first squadron to fly long-range unmanned surveillance planes.

Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19, or VUP-19, will operate the MQ-4C Triton, an unmanned aerial vehicle with a 130-foot wingspan that can fly more than 10 miles high and spend 28 hours aloft. The craft is part of the service’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program.

... It’s estimated there will be 108 officers and 290 enlisted in the squadron. Of those, 104 officers and 126 enlisted will be at Jacksonville, with the rest at Point Mugu, said AIRLANT spokesman Cmdr. Phil Rosi.

VUP-19 is expected to set up three “orbits” for the Triton to patrol. Each orbit is expected to have four aircraft and a runway, and Big Red will be responsible for ones in 5th, 6th and 7th fleets. In all, the Navy eventually wants five orbits around the globe, and each orbit will have forward-deployed Tritons, as well as sailors who will have line-of-sight control when the UAVs take off and land. Air vehicle operators will head to the various operational bases on a rotational basis.
That will be a lot of officers to run through the Millington Diktat. Career management will be interesting, "#1 of 75" will be nice to have, I guess. Good luck with that.

So. Three orbits of four aircraft each. 12 aircraft. If memory serves me right, deployed P-3 squadrons had 8-9 aircraft. 20 years ago they were all mission birds, now notsomuch. They did that with about 1/3 the number of officers. So much for big personnel savings.

As people have been saying for well over a decade to the Navy - if you think UAS will save you tons of money in manpower, you are wrong. Some, but not tons. The argument can be made that when you consider BAMS doesn't even buy you much multi-mission flexibility ... not much of a bargain when viewed from that perspective, thought I would be more comfortable arguing FOR BAMS than against it, as long as it is look at with clear eyes. Heck, if nothing else, I like the late Cold War retro P-3 paint job on the things.

Back to BAMS more sexy brother - a little reality to the Flash Gordon guys out there.
Ruling out weapons aboard the X-47B demonstrator raises an issue for UCLASS. Since the demonstrator’s tests, currently occurring at Patuxent River, Maryland, are supposed to inform the specifications for UCLASS, how can the Navy learn anything about operating UCLASS’ weapons systems and integrating them with the other systems on the drone?

Winter said that the Navy staff is talking with fleet commanders to understand the “best strike capability that the UCLASS should carry.”

“I will tell you that it will be something that, from a munitions perspective, it will be something that’s already been certified… that is carried in our magazines on our aircraft carriers,” Winter continued. “There is no new weapons development program associated with UCLASS, and that strike capability will be organic to the UCLASS system.”
Proven, affordable weapons ... and in the end, probably not a lot. Sane. Let's see the plan for secure bandwidth next and redundancy.

Like I said though - UCAV/UCLASS is simply a reusable TLAM with a bit more flexibility and ES utility, nothing more. There are some fun concepts and PPT out there - but for the next couple of decades, that is what you should plan to have.

  Other things to consider, for instance; the loss rate. From The Guardian (I know, I know);
The figures show the military has lost one Reaper drone since 2007 – it is the only UAV that carries Hellfire missiles as well as surveillance and intelligence-gathering equipment. The drone, which has not been replaced, cost £10m.

There have been nine losses of another large UAV, the Hermes 450. Eight of the £1m aircraft were lost in Afghanistan and another in Iraq. The surveillance fleet has halved in size because of the incidents. According to our analysis, there have been more than 100 crashes of the larger class of military unmanned aerial vehicles in over 20 countries since 2007.
We here about the ones that are near the political-media complex in Pax River, but the others it seem happen in shadow.

Drones are good and useful - and will be even more if we make sure we remain informed, sober, and respectful of the fact that these are not revolutionary. They are evolutionary and will be another tool in the box Nothing more - nothing less.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It is official: we are the North Korean Boy Scouts

I am seriously trying to find something positive or programmatically interesting to post on - well, one is on the way - but the FOD around the deck this week is off the hook.

Judging from my email, most of you think so as well

We've hit on this subject before, and it is time again - it is getting worse. We give out WAY too many ribbons, medals, and "warfare" pins - and have diluted those that we have. From "good bowel movement NAMs" to "Bronze Stars for all my friends (combat V not included)" to the "haven't deployed EVER but am at 1.5 rows ... it is just pathetic.

It is patronizing to the individual, it hides true accomplishment, and to the outside world - we start to look buffoonish. Not everyone deserves a trophy, and "you pick your rate - you pick your fate."

Just look at Rear Admiral Woodward, RN right prior to taking his Task Force to retake The Falklands Islands. Who is the real professional warrior - the Brit with one ribbon, or the North Korean gangsters?

This is seriously becoming self parody. A lot of people thought this was from The Onion or Duffleblog, just not funny enough.

This is just pathetic to the extreme.
The Pentagon is creating a new high-level military medal that will recognize drone pilots and, in a controversial twist, giving it added clout by placing it above some traditional combat valor medals in the military’s “order of precedence.” The Distinguished Warfare Medal will be awarded to pilots of unmanned aircraft, offensive cyber war experts or others who are directly involved in combat operations but who are not physically in theater and facing the physical risks that warfare historically entails.
What insecure little man-child came up with this idea, and why did no one up the chain stop it?

It is nothing more by an award created by insecure people, approve for insecure people, to be issues to insecure people. Sorry .... but we have awards that exist that will fit the bill fine for doing what you are doing in your chair - no need to clutter things up.