Tuesday, December 31, 2013

COIN, Colombian Style

In, ahem, a variety of areas - I've been an advocate for years of looking to Colombia to see what works. From Riverine to COIN - there is a lot in that nation that is being done right.
The 50-year-old Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), once considered the best-funded insurgency in the world, is at its smallest and most vulnerable state in decades, due in part to a CIA covert action program that has helped Colombian forces kill at least two dozen rebel leaders, according to interviews with more than 30 former and current U.S. and Colombian officials.

The secret assistance, which also includes substantial eavesdropping help from the National Security Agency, is funded through a multibillion-dollar black budget. It is not a part of the public $9 billion package of mostly U.S. military aid called Plan Colombia, which began in 2000.
You need to read the whole thing - it is that good of an overview.


... and yes; because we are talking about Colombia, I don't want to let anyone down as you try to get ready for New Year's Eve.

You know one of Salamander's Truisms ... the ideal female body shape can be found in abundance in only one place - Colombia!

Of course ... (this isn't unsafe for work, per se ... but if you have harpies morale-sponges nearby - you may want to be subtle)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Your Pacific Pivot Playcard

Via Australia's The Strategist, a little handy reference card. 

Sure, you an pic a nit here and there, but nice visual.


The Ottoman Implosion

What started in Tunisia worked its way back to the center.

Tunisia. Libya. Egypt. Syria ... a nice counter-clockwise turn towards Constantinople ... errr ... Istanbul.

Things are getting a bit wobbly ... perhaps in the New Year we should all be looking a bit closer at Turkey.
Turkey is coming apart. The Islamist coalition that crushed the secular military and political establishment–between Tayip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party and the Islamist movement around Fethullah Gulen–has cracked. The Gulenists, who predominate in the security forces, have arrested the sons of top government ministers for helping Iran to launder money and circumvent sanctions, and ten members of Erdogan’s cabinet have resigned. Turkey’s currency is in free fall, and that’s just the beginning of the country’s troubles: about two-fifths of corporate debt is in foreign currencies, so the cost of servicing it jumps whenever the Turkish lira declines. Turkish stocks have crashed (and were down another 5% in dollar terms in early trading Friday). As the charts below illustrate, so much for Turkey’s miracle economy.
...
Turkey is a mediocre economy at best with a poorly educated workforce, no high-tech capacity, and shrinking markets in depressed Europe and the unstable Arab world. Its future might well be as an economic tributary of China, as the “New Silk Road” extends high-speed rail lines to the Bosporus.
...
The whole notion was flawed from top to bottom. Turkey was not in line to become an economic power of any kind: it lacked the people and skills to do anything better than medium-tech manufacturing. Its Islamists never were democrats. Worst of all, its demographics are as bad as Europe’s. Ethnic Turks have a fertility rate close to 1.5 children per family, while the Kurdish minority is having 4 children per family. Within a generation half of Turkey’s young men will come from families where Kurdish is the first language.
Ahhhh, demography - that great midwife of history.

A civil war in Turkey with as many sides as a Game of Thrones season-ender - let's wargame that, shall we?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

USMC Asks God for a Training Time Out

This is all rather silly.
Females in the Marine Corps currently are not required to do even a single pull-up, and a deadline mandating that by Jan. 1, 2014, they be able to do at least 3 pull-ups as part of their training has been delayed for at least a year, the Corps quietly announced on social media.

Unlike their female counterparts, male Marines have long been required to do at least 3 pullups as part of the Physical Fitness Test (PFT). That's the minimum requirement for males.
...
The deadline for women to meet the men’s minimum standard of three pull-ups has been postponed a year and “will continue to be assessed,” Capt. Flanagan told CNSNews.com. The Marines' Twitter announcement on the topic was posted on Nov. 20. But by Dec. 27, few media outlets had mentioned the news.
Time delay will not change a few million years of evolution. This is only a delay so people can argue about the politics of trying to convince the irrational that water is wet and grass is green.

It will be very interesting if the USMC decides to be fact-based and honorable, or they will bend the neck to the socio-political fascists.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fullbore Friday

Character - how much is it nature and how much nurture?

When does a common humanity push pass everything else? Is it common, and why is it there? Does it drive or subvert honor? 

Around Christmas time, it is very common to hear about the story from WWI where the German and British forces decided to take a break and enjoy Christmas ... together.

What is more interesting to me though is why? Was there something deeper in the decisions that led to that very unique moment?

Well - for those who are fans of game theory, you may be familiar with Robert Axelrod's The Evolution of Cooperation.

RadioLab did a great storyline to flesh of the event from a quasi-scientific point of view - and gave the listener a lot more to think about. The whole show is well worth the listen. You can download the archive here.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Diversity Thursday

I hope that everyone had a great Christmas ... so let's get back in to it, shall we?

Time to follow the Army's lead and stand up to the (D)iversity Bullies.
Two weeks ago, a routine meeting was held at the Mississippi base with various leaders of the 158th Infantry Brigade. During the meeting, they discussed an upcoming Christmas football tournament. The equal opportunity officer immediately objected to the usage of the word “Christmas.”

“Our equal opportunity representative stopped the briefing and told us that we can’t say Christmas,” the soldier told me. “Almost the entire room blew up. Everybody was frustrated. The equal opportunity rep told our commander that not everyone celebrates Christmas and we couldn’t say Christmas celebration. It had to be holiday celebration.”
...
“She said an individual can say Christmas, but as an organization in the Army you can’t say Christmas,” the soldier told me.
So what does the Army have to say about the DEOMI officer’s edict?

“There is no policy at the 158th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East or First Army that forbids using the word ‘Christmas’,” Public Affairs Chief Amanda Glenn told me.
Lots of lessons about your local cadre of the (D)iversity industry, and their ilk in general.

1. Not the sharpest tools in the shed.
2. They overcompensate in all they do.
3. They are insecure.
4. What they cannot find, they will invent.
5. They do not really support diversity - they enforce compliance with their world view.
6. It is always in the end about the money.

With each passing year they get more and more away from the mainstream, as 1972 gets further and further away as well. As such, they are overextended and their intellectual logistics chain exceptionally vulnerable.

Calmly and fact based - when they give you an opening, you can stand up to them; you should stand up to them. Those who base their world view on race, creed, color, and national origin are the most retrograde force in our military. Show them no quarter.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Senate's First Official Festivus?

I don't care what your politics are or what you think of the Senator ... but you have to respect this from the 23rd;


Is today the feats of strength? More over at HotAir.

Trolling Pakistan Like a Boss

So Pakistan - you played both sides against the middle and so we're leaving before the job is done, happy; oh how do you like these apples?
NEW DELHI: India is stepping up training of Afghan National Army (ANA) in a major way, even as it also considers supply of military equipment to the fledgling force, in the backdrop of the US-led coalition preparing to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014.

Defence ministry sources say "a major Indian effort has been launched for capability enhancement of the ANA" to ensure it can handle the internal security of Afghanistan after the progressive exit of the 100,000 foreign soldiers from there by end-2014.
...
A joint Indian military-civilian team had also gone to Kabul earlier this month after Afghan President Hamid Karzai submitted "a wish list" of military equipment to India during a visit here in May. The 17-page list includes armoured vehicles, 105mm artillery guns, utility helicopters, trucks, communication equipment and the like.

Sources said the visit of an ANA "Strategic Group", with 10 high-ranking officers, was also planned to India from September 1 to 13. The delegation will hold talks with the top military brass here, part from visiting military establishments in Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore.
The Salamander approves. Sort it out.

This happened a few months ago. Anyone heard how it came out?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fullbore Friday

19 December 1967. You just got through closing the shore in daylight and punched it out with shore batteries. Your CO comes on the 1MC.

Wish you were there? Well ... at least we have a recording from the CO of the USS NEWPORT NEWS (CA-148) Captain Lindsay C. McCarty, USN that day.

Fullbore as it should be. Solid, matter of fact leadership at war. Nice.



Big thanks to JE & MS for the audio.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Things Books & Careers Are Made Of

Somewhere out there is a young investigative report who doesn't know it right now, but they are going to make a career on this story if they are a good writer and are willing to dig hard and deep. In a year, in five - who knows; but someone will write it.

It is really a nice slow pitch. I wonder who will swing at it?

Connect these two dots.

Dot 1:
The U.S. is on track to reach records for crude-oil production by 2016, as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques continue to unlock oil in shale rock.

The renaissance in the oil sector feeds into the debate of whether the U.S. should allow crude oil to be exported freely. The U.S. has kept a lid on oil exports since 1973, when the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries stopped selling crude to the U.S. in retaliation for its support of Israel in a war with Egypt and Syria.

The rising U.S. production "will weigh heavily on oil prices," said Ed Morse, head of commodity research at Citigroup. C -0.41% He said he believes that in the second half of the decade the global benchmark price will be $15 a barrel below where it is now.

Dot 2:
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus have announced that the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Navy’s joint Farm-to-Fleet venture will now make biofuel blends part of regular, operational fuel purchase and use by the military.
...
“A secure, domestically-produced energy source is very important to our national security,” said Navy Secretary Mabus. “Energy is how our naval forces are able to provide presence around the world. Energy is what gets them there and keeps them there. The Farm-to-Fleet initiative we are announcing today is important to advancing a commercial market for advanced biofuel, which will give us an alternative fuel source and help lessen our dependence on foreign oil.”
...
Preliminary indications from the Defense Production Act Title III Advanced Drop-in Biofuels Production Project are that drop-in biofuels will be available for less than $4 per gallon by 2016, making them competitive with traditional sources of fuel.
Government run industrial planning. What a great and glorious economic track record that has. I have a flex-fuel truck; forget about the higher price, you will have significant range reductions to go with it. Just what a military needs in the INDO-PAC, shorter ranges. Buy hey, let's not let real Tactical, Operational, or Strategic considerations come in to play - much less budgetary challenges. We'll just cut pay and benefits to support the corn industry.

That isn't the story though. Hey, at least we don't have money and powerful business with the ability to lobby and push this issue for financial gain. Ahem.

Ideology and personal agenda folded in everything from ADM lobbyist to farm-state politics. There is your future - all you have to do is keep pulling strings.

All those who think the most important thing for the US Navy in the next decade and a half is biofuel, please raise your hand. Those who do not have your hands raised, answer this question for me then; why?.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What You Leave Behind

Another piece of red left my atlas today.

Last week, following a few years behind their friends in Uruzgan the Dutch, Australia has withdrawn maneuver forces from AFG.
Mr Abbott has announced that Australian troops have completed their withdrawal from Uruzgan Province, bringing an end to Australia's longest overseas combat deployment.

During the 12-year mission, 40 Australian soldiers were killed and 261 were seriously wounded.

Around 400 Australian military personnel will remain in Afghanistan in training and support roles, mostly in the capital, Kabul, and in Kandahar.
Along those lines - I think I will let one of the Diggers outline the rest.

David Brooks Licks the Jackboot

I have officially put Brooks in my Friedman box. I will never read his stuff the same way again.

Four days ago, his desire for more "unified authority" made me want to reach for the black flag of my youth. He even rolled around in Fukuyama for the love of Pete.

He hit a lifetime touchy subject for your humble blogg'r. In my youth, in my nogg'n I raged against everything that stood in front of where I wanted to go (I had no idea where that was, but that didn't matter), throwing "fascist" at everything that tried to put a fence around me. I then did a 180 and went military as the only thing worse than fascists were communists, but through a little luck managed things to give me the intellectual and personal running room I needed, somehow threading the needle from a one-tour-and-go to a career still pulling against the yoke of whatever I felt was around my neck.

For my adult life, with time I largely mellowed, refining my black flag in to a love of liberty and small "l" libertarianism - seasoned with an understanding of the sublime success of this nation's founding. The younger me is just a little under the surface, and the right thing can bring him out.

People like Brooks, who in their vanity, desire to toss away messy freedom for the mirage of a kinder authoritarianism drive me to distraction.
It’s a good idea to be tolerant of executive branch power grabs and to give agencies flexibility. We voters also need to change our voting criteria. It’s not enough to vote for somebody who agrees with your policy preferences. Presidential candidates need to answer two questions. How are you going to build a governing 60 percent majority that will enable you to drive the Washington policy process? What is your experience implementing policies through big organizations?

We don’t need bigger government. We need more unified authority. Take power away from the rentier groups who dominate the process. Allow people in those authorities to exercise discretion. Find a president who can both rally a majority, and execute a policy process.
Most of the world suffers under the choking hold of one type of tyranny or another; usually large, often small. We, along with a couple of dozen other nations, live in strange but nice world of personal freedom in a fashion that fits the desires of the people who live there. 

Those like Brooks, Friedman and Fukuyama benefit from the freedom they find so inconvenient. These brilliant idiots don't like the fact that our difficult government structure is a feature, not a bug. They all make me sick - like a baying gaggle in Greece and Rome who cried for a leader to get rid of all that messy freedom.

Slit trenches throughout the world are full of the bodies put there by a pampered, self-important, over-credentialed, appointed betters who - unable to convince the masses of the brilliance of their ideas - decide it would be best to grab the jackboot and wallow in option of power. 

They have to know that outside of St. Petersburg, Munich, Madrid, Havana, Barcelona, Phnom Phen and other places - there are smaller pits filled with the bodies of those like-minded with Brooks et al who, in their time, thought they could control and contain the tyranny they traded in place of a messier society outside their control. 

There is a very short path from "unified authority" to lining people against the wall and having them shot. All three of those guys should know that - but their arrogance blinds them to the failures of better men who went down the same path before.

Amazing misreading of human nature.
UPDATE Why, yes. As mentioned in comments by DB;


Monday, December 16, 2013

The Great War and our Great Unknown

It is comforting to look about us and simply not imagine any possible reason for there to be a major war. 

History teaches us that we really shouldn't get comfortable with that thought. 

The New Year will bring WWI once again to the front, as we look at what happened 100 years ago. This is good. We need more hard thinking - as 1914 has a lot to tell us about 2014.

In a simply outstanding article that needs to be read in full, Margaret MacMillan, warden of St. Antony’s College, Oxford, in the NYT lays it out;
The decades leading up to 1914 were, as now, a period of dramatic shifts and upheavals, which those who experienced them thought of as unprecedented in speed and scale. New fields of commerce and manufacture were opening up, such as the rapidly expanding chemical and electrical industries. Einstein was developing his general theory of relativity; radical new ideas like psychoanalysis were finding a following; and the roots of the predatory ideologies of fascism and Soviet Communism were taking hold.

Globalization can have the paradoxical effect of fostering intense localism and nativism, frightening people into taking refuge in small like-minded groups. Globalization also makes possible the widespread transmission of radical ideologies and the bringing together of fanatics who will stop at nothing in their quest for the perfect society. In the period before World War I, anarchists and revolutionary Socialists across Europe and North America read the same works and had the same aim: to overthrow the existing social order. The young Serbs who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria at Sarajevo were inspired by Nietzsche and Bakunin, just as their Russian and French counterparts were.

Terrorists from Calcutta to Buffalo imitated one another as they hurled bombs onto the floors of stock exchanges, blew up railway lines, and stabbed and shot those they saw as oppressors, whether the Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary or the president of the United States, William McKinley. Today, new technologies and social media platforms provide new rallying points for fanatics, enabling them to spread their messages to even wider audiences around the globe.
...
Globalization can heighten rivalries and fears between countries that one might otherwise expect to be friends. On the eve of World War I, Britain, the world’s greatest naval power, and Germany, the world’s greatest land power, were each other’s largest trading partners. British children played with toys, including lead soldiers, made in Germany, and the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden resounded with the voices of German singers performing German operas. But all that did not translate into friendship.

Quite the contrary. With Germany cutting into Britain’s traditional markets and vying with it for colonies and power, the British felt threatened. As early as 1896, a best-selling British pamphlet, “Made in Germany,” painted an ominous picture: “A gigantic commercial State is arising to menace our prosperity, and contend with us for the trade of the world.” Many Germans held reciprocal views. When Kaiser Wilhelm and his naval secretary Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz built a deepwater navy to challenge British naval supremacy, the unease in Britain about Germany’s growing commercial and military power turned into something close to panic.

The Other Mahan; 8-Bells w/LCDR Armstrong

Good on all involved in getting this online. Regulars of Midrats know BJ; he's our version of cowbell.

Go get another cup of coffee, put the phone to voicemail and put the headset on if needed.

BJ - over to you. I would offer to the front porch who have already read the book; at least watch the Q&A at the end.



If you don't yet have a copy of the book - now is no time better than now. Get a copy of 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

In Honor of Peter O'Toole

He had a good and full life; well played.

He also gave me one of my favorite scenes in any movie.

Small ships, flotillas and the maritime requirements of a Global Power, on Midrats

For a maritime power with global requirements, what is the role of the small ship in times of peace and war?

What are the tradeoffs between quantity and capability, size and range, survivability and affordable?

Does the US Navy need a high-low mix; or a Strike Group-Flotilla mix?

Where do our national requirements influence how we build our Fleet vs. the process other nations build theirs?

Do we have a sustainable path towards a balanced Fleet, or are we sailing on based on outdated charts?

This Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern, our guest for the full hour to discuss this and more will be returning guest U.S. Naval War College Center for Naval Warfare Studies Dean, Captain Robert C. Rubel, USN (Ret.)

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, December 13, 2013

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part XLIX

A little shoulder now and then is OK; we've been down this road before with much more at stake.

Everyone Year-Group 1991 and younger take a powder;
“On December 5th, while lawfully operating in international waters in the South China Sea, USS Cowpens and a PLA Navy vessel had an encounter that required maneuvering to avoid a collision,” a Navy official said.

“This incident underscores the need to ensure the highest standards of professional seamanship, including communications between vessels, to mitigate the risk of an unintended incident or mishap.”
...
The Cowpens was conducting surveillance of the Liaoning at the time. The carrier had recently sailed from the port of Qingdao on the northern Chinese coast into the South China Sea.

According to the officials, the run-in began after a Chinese navy vessel sent a hailing warning and ordered the Cowpens to stop. The cruiser continued on its course and refused the order because it was operating in international waters.

Then a Chinese tank landing ship sailed in front of the Cowpens and stopped, forcing the Cowpens to abruptly change course in what the officials said was a dangerous maneuver.

China is, near what she considers her waters, an insecure bully. Everyone here remembers the EP-3 incident from the dawn of the last decade. These things happen now and then - and will happen more often as China continues to stretch her reach.

It is up to us to do a few things, as we are the ones along with the Russians who have a lot of experience at this bit of maritime posturing. Calm but firm in our resolve should be the baseline.



1. Do not give in. If you surrender anything to the Chinese, they will consider that theirs forever - and will only be encouraged to reach more. From ADIZ, to FON-OPS, to snoop'n around her ships - we need to do it early and often.
2. Get together as soon as opportunity presents itself to get a USA-CHN INCSEA Agreement in place and in practice.
3. Video tape everything .... and take the first hit.

Fullbore Friday

Moral courage. More often than not, it can take decades for others to see it - but you must always do the moral thing.

Bouncing around the radio yesterday, I heard this story that is part of a certain book. It has been at least a decade since I thought about a true officer.
On March 16, 1968, Chief Warrant Officer Thompson and his two crewmen were flying on a reconnaissance mission over the South Vietnamese village of My Lai when they spotted the bodies of men, women and children strewn over the landscape.

Mr. Thompson landed twice in an effort to determine what was happening, finally coming to the realization that a massacre was taking place. The second time, he touched down near a bunker in which a group of about 10 civilians were being menaced by American troops. Using hand signals, Mr. Thompson persuaded the Vietnamese to come out while ordering his gunner and his crew chief to shoot any American soldiers who opened fire on the civilians. None did.

Mr. Thompson radioed for a helicopter gunship to evacuate the group, and then his crew chief, Glenn Andreotta, pulled a boy from a nearby irrigation ditch, and their helicopter flew him to safety.

Mr. Thompson told of what he had seen when he returned to his base.

"They said I was screaming quite loud," he told U.S. News & World Report in 2004. "I threatened never to fly again. I didn't want to be a part of that. It wasn't war."

Mr. Thompson remained in combat, then returned to the United States to train helicopter pilots. When the revelations about My Lai surfaced, he testified before Congress, a military inquiry and the court-martial of Lt. William L. Calley Jr., the platoon leader at My Lai, who was the only soldier to be convicted in the massacre.

When Mr. Thompson returned home, it seemed to him that he was viewed as the guilty party.

"I'd received death threats over the phone," he told the CBS News program "60 Minutes" in 2004. "Dead animals on your porch, mutilated animals on your porch some mornings when you get up. So I was not a good guy."

On March 6, 1998, the Army presented the Soldier's Medal, for heroism not involving conflict with an enemy, to Mr. Thompson; to his gunner, Lawrence Colburn; and, posthumously, to Mr. Andreotta, who was killed in a helicopter crash three weeks after the My Lai massacre.

If you only have a few minutes, please listen to this via NPR:


Better, take time for this series from USNA.






Thursday, December 12, 2013

Think 85% Engineer Wardroom is a Good Idea

Well, the CNO does.

I'm asking the question over at USNIBlog. Come visit and tell me what you think.

UPDATE: Joel has some thoughts on the subject as well.

What 'cha do'n after school today?

If you are within a quick drive of Newport, RI - this is a required event.
On Thursday, 12 December, The Naval Institute will host a Happy Hour in Newport, Rhode Island for members, prospective members, or anyone who wants to show up to talk about daring “to read, think and write” about sea power and national security.

A member of our Editorial Board will be there to answer questions, and some writers and thinkers who have contributed to the Institute to share some of their experiences. While there will be no punches thrown, sparing over strategy and grappling with the naval issues of the day will be encouraged.

If you are in Newport, please join us to splice the main brace at the USNI Happy Hour/Social:
The Malt
150 Broadway
Newport, RI

12 December 2013, 1700 until the tab runs out or the grog runs dry.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DDG-1000 and Defining Terms Properly ...

Are our friends at WiB trolling CDRS? Second time this week ....

Kyle, son, nothing but luv, but come a bit closer so the front porch can slap 'yo face

You started out with a fine article with some engorging BB historical couldhavebeens and then ... well ...

BEHOLD!
The upcoming Zumwalt-class destroyers will go a long way towards providing battleship-quality naval gunfire support for the Marines. Minimally manned, relatively small, stealthy and precise, the Zumwalts are the antithesis of the Iowas, but functionally their successors. Although each Zumwalt can only provide the explosive mass of a single one of an Iowa’s 16-inch guns, the newer ship can fire its smaller shells with GPS-aided precision up to 83 miles away, versus 20 miles for an Iowa.

Should the Zumwalt design be successful, the torch of the battleship could finally be transferred to them, and the Iowas can finally slumber in peace as museums, safe from the schemes of those who would revive them.
Good googly moogly, the fail is so strong here I can't seem to catch my breath.

1. "...battleship-quality naval gunfire support for the Marines." 6.1" does not equal 16" in so many ways, especially with the Tiffany priced LRAP warheads planned for those guns. Beats a 5" - but 16" ... child please!
2. Size? "relatively small, stealthy and precise," Well; DDG-1000 600' long. BB-61 887' long. Neither can be called small, only the blind could call it stealthy, and precise ... both are, in a fashion.
3. The guns man; the guns.
- DDG-1000 Class: Two 6.1" guns with a magazine of 335x2 for a total 670 with a 25# bursting charge each.
- BB-61 Class: Three Turrets of nine guns total. Magazines of Turret I: 387, Turret II: 456, Turret III: 367 for a total of 1,210 with a bursting charge of 153.6# each.

Do we even need to go in to the issue of self protection? That big CENTCOM Watch Flooresque CIC in the DDG-1000? Talk about a 1-hit wonder that even an unarmed drone strike can put out of action.

Heck, a BQM-74 hits a BB, all you have to do is call out sweepers.

No, I am not asking for unicorns ... errr ... return of the BB - but I am asking that we back off from the hyperbole of the light cruiser that is the DDG-1000. Yes, it is the size of a WWII German Pocket BB, but that doesn't make it one.

Now ... find a way to produce a 21st Century 11" gun to slap on them and give it at least a CA's armor? Well, then we may talk.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Admiral Adama says; "The poo-poo is on you!"

Remember last month when some of you poo-poo'd Captain Mark Hagerott's, USN, warning about the "air gap?"

Well ... you just sit right down there Sailor! Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
Computer scientists have proposed a malware prototype that uses inaudible audio signals to communicate, a capability that allows the malware to covertly transmit keystrokes and other sensitive data even when infected machines have no network connection.The proof-of-concept software—or malicious trojans that adopt the same high-frequency communication methods—could prove especially adept in penetrating highly sensitive environments that routinely place an "air gap" between computers and the outside world. Using nothing more than the built-in microphones and speakers of standard computers, the researchers were able to transmit passwords and other small amounts of data from distances of almost 65 feet. The software can transfer data at much greater distances by employing an acoustical mesh network made up of attacker-controlled devices that repeat the audio signals. 
The researchers, from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics, recently disclosed their findings in a paper published in the Journal of Communications. It came a few weeks after a security researcher said his computers were infected with a mysterious piece of malware that used high-frequency transmissions to jump air gaps. The new research neither confirms nor disproves Dragos Ruiu's claims of the so-called badBIOS infections, but it does show that high-frequency networking is easily within the grasp of today's malware.

The CHANCELLORSVILLE Shrug

I don't know more than anyone else here, but I think that some are getting a little too excited over what happened with the USS CHANCELLORSVILLE (CG-62). Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar; a training incident is a training incident.

Most you need to know will come out in the investigation - but for those who need a refresher;
An aerial target drone malfunctioned and struck guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) off the coast of Southern California at approximately 1:25 pm local time today, Nov. 16, while the ship was conducting a radar tracking exercise during routine training at sea.
Our friend Galrahn over at ID really got a bone in his teeth on the incident the week after;
Based on where the rogue drone hit the ship, had it been a real ASCM - it could have easily been a mission kill for the ship. This is a very serious incident involving the most advanced AEGIS warship in the US Navy, and the Navy has started the incident with a press release that intentionally omits a critical detail - that the ship tried to defend itself and the specific technology designed to defend the ship for this specific situation failed.

This incident is a big deal, and on the first day there is already a deception effort underway to conceal key details of the incident - an omission that only serves to cast doubt upon the reputation of sailors for purposes of protecting the reputation of a piece of technology. Why did the Navy conceal from the public that the point defense system of the most advanced AEGIS ship in the US Navy failed to protect the ship from a direct hit from a rogue drone?
He raises some good points, but I hesitate to see any kind of malicious deception going on. I am willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and there could be very good reasons why there is conflicting information out there. We don't know what we shouldn't know.  

Training accidents happen all the time - I've been in the middle of them as have many of you - accidents where people die or are disfigured. That didn't happen here and I don't see the upside to hide anything, especially with so many people who will eventually know the truth. I'm going to go with my favorite cliche mash-up on Occam's Razor: don't contribute to conspiracy what is best explained by human incompetence. 

David Axe over at WiB decided to pick at the scab a bit too;
But there’s a more frightening possibility. BQM-74 drones are tailored to simulate different kinds of enemy anti-ship missile. If Chancellorsville’s Phalanx did indeed fully fire at the robot and failed to hit, it could mean the drone—either by design or by accident—found a gap in the gun’s fire control. Perhaps the drone was moving too fast, too slow or too low. Any enemy missile matching the drone’s physics could dodge American ships’ defenses.
I may owe someone beer over this, but let me put this out there; everyone take a powder. This isn't frightening, it is interesting.

I'll say here what I said SEPCOR to a few people after the pics came out, specifically the one above. Look where it hit and how it hit. I looks just like a perfect early-MOD Harpoon targeting algorithm hit. The drone hit wings level. Odds are this was a controlled hit. Wasn't planned by the humans to do that - but the drone thinks it did everything perfectly.

Now, all sorts of questions come up from here, many really don't need to be discussed or answered on this medium.

First up; where was range control? Was that link down?

Second, we don't know what profile this was programmed for .... or they thought it was programmed for, and that deserves more thought than most. Even drones are subject to human error either in their programming or their maintenance.

Third, so what if this were a live fire exercise? Let's discount that this might just be a standard-issue human screw up. Not all offensive and defensive weapon systems work as advertised all the time. Nothing is perfect or 100% guaranteed. Even if you have everything working, everyone qualified, and not a single CASREP on the ship - there is always blind stupid luck; good or bad. Sometimes you can make it through the SM-2, the ESSM, and CIWS on a clear, calm, beautiful day.

If this was a just a TRACKEX, when things start to go sideways with seconds to react, you really cannot expect a ship to respond as if they expected a regiment-sized formation of Tupolev Tu-22M3 coming over the horizon. It just doesn't work like that.

Either way - I don't think there are any larger lessons here about our defensive capabilities that we didn't already know. I'm not willing to place any bets on the cause right now - but I do like this effect; it is causing people to think again if we are doing what navies have done since the threat first appeared from the air; shortchanging defensive systems and defense in depth due to money issues and a faith in "magic bullet" technology that in peace promises easy war.

After WWII started in earnest, shipyards festooned all ships with as many anti-air weapons as possible - as in peace it was determined they weren't needed. In San Carlos Water four decades later, in addition to Sea Dart, Sea Wolf, Sea Cat, and 4.5" guns - the rails were full of Sailors and even civilians with all manner of side-arms, crew served weapons, and long guns shooting at A-4 and Mirage aircraft scooting down the sound. Why? Because, you see, modern systems were so good that you didn't need all those messy extras.

We all know that SM-2/3/6 are not really perfect even with RAM, 5" guns, ESSM, CIWS, and others backing them up. Very good and almost without peer? Sure - but not perfect. Shoot-Shoot-Look-Shoot; Shoot-Look-Shoot etc all are based on nice pretty assumptions in peace and the right things packed in the MK-41 VLS tubes when you need them. In war, WINCHESTER will be heard a lot. SHOOT-SHOOT-LOOK-OHSHIT-SHOOT-SHOOT-HOLYSHITIDONTCAREKEEPSHOOTING will happen; just ask the ASW Commander in the Falkland Islands Battle Group.

Does any of the above have anything to do with the CHANCELLORSVILLE? No, not really - but - it is a good excuse to ponder if our "perfect" systems really are that perfect. Before they were needed in war, did the homing torpedo, depth charge, 30-cal guns on aircraft, or AAA on the CV really worked as advertised? No. Is our AAW - untested in combat BTW - as good as our PPT say?

No. Not even close; you can take that to the bank.

Even when systems in the past were honed to almost perfection after years of war - did they still fail? Of course, as the crew of the USS FRANKLIN (CV-13) can tell you.

This is a tough business where things can go wrong even when you do everything right. If you can learn something from those occasions without anyone getting killed - like we did here - then be happy. 

In the final evaluation, you really can't buy training like that. I look forward to reading what the investigation finds - even if I can only read the low side now. Hopefully, we will have something of value to come out of it.


UPDATE: The shorter SJS comment;

Monday, December 09, 2013

Always watch the monuments

There is a huge potential in Ukraine for liberty to grow, but there is also huge potential for a standard-issue European blood bath.

I'm not getting the blood bath vibe, but Russians are exceptionally hard to read, even for professional Russian watchers.
Public protests thundered into a full-throttle civil uprising in Ukraine on Sunday, as hundreds of thousands of protesters answered President Viktor F. Yanukovich’s dismissiveness with their biggest rally so far, demanding that he and his government resign.
Related

At the height of the unrest on Sunday night, a seething crowd toppled and smashed a statue of Lenin, the most prominent monument to the Communist leader in Kiev.
This is all good as the natural desire of man for freedom tries again to assert itself.

I'm optimistic but cautious. Until we see more cards pulled, we should just enjoy the moment.



... and yes, I was surprised that it was 2013 and they still had a statue of that butcher in Kiev.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

A 21st Century Navy With John C. Harvey, Jr, ADM USN (Ret) - on Midrats



In less than a month we will be firmly in the middle of the 2nd decade of the 21st Century. What path were we put on at the start 21st Century that got us here? How do we evaluate the right decisions, the neutral decisions, and the less than optimal calls of the last decade and a half? What lessons can we take away now in order to make decisions to best position the Navy on the approaches to 2030?

Join us this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern when our guest for the full hour to discuss this an much more will be Admiral John C. Harvey, Jr, USN (Ret).

Almost a year since he joined the retired ranks, when in uniform Admiral Harvey was one of the of the more engaged, visible, and accessible Flag Officers of his generation - and in retirement he continues to be an influential voice.

Admiral Harvey was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a 1973 graduate of the U S Naval Academy.

In his thirty-nine year Navy career, he specialized in naval nuclear propulsion, surface ship and carrier strike-group operations and Navy-wide manpower management/personnel policy development.

He commanded the USS DAVID R RAY (DD 971), the USS CAPE ST GEORGE (CG 71), the THEODORE ROOSEVELT Strike Group/CCDG-8 and also served as the Navy’s 54th Chief of Naval Personnel and as the Director, Navy Staff.

Prior to his retirement from the Navy in November, 2012, Admiral Harvey served as Commander, US Fleet Forces Command. He now makes his home in Vienna, Virginia where he resides with his wife, Mary Ellen.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, December 06, 2013

Fullbore Friday

When he was reported to be very sick earlier this year, right after there was a false report of his death, I typed out a post about Nelson Mandela but never published it. Reading it now, I've decided it is way too long and unfocused. No, he deserves much better than that.

I remember very much watching one of his first speeches after he was released from jail. When he started to quote your standard issue Marxist blather, I sighed and turned the TV off. I thought it would all unravel from there, but something happened.

As with truly great men, he was a thinker with an open mind. Where lesser men would have seized power and with Zimbabwe-like destruction destroyed economic potential in orgy of revenge - he didn't. Where even worse men would have enabled a slaughter of the former oppressors - he didn't. Where almost every other possible leader in his part of the world would have seized power as President for Life and just let South Africa become another sub-Saharan hell hole - he didn't. He had the wisdom to know when he might be thinking the wrong thing, brought in smart people and was willing to learn and change.

He took power. He did not take revenge. He compromised between his friends and those who once imprisoned him, and did the best he could to steer his nation in a positive direction.

Some of his people were not that great. Many of the people who followed him were not that great, but that isn't the issue.

Sometimes you have the right man in the right place at the right time - and he does the best he can. Then, in the face of all human nature - he lets that power go and gives the nation he gave his one life to a chance. Not a guarantee, but a chance.

In that light, there is only one other person that from an American world view one can really compare Nelson Mandela to - George Washington.

Mandela had a long life, a good life and by any measure - one that no one else could have replicated with such honor. Well done sir, rest well.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Things Adult Nations Do

Regulars here have probably picked up a wee bit of pro-Polish bias. I'm really don't hide it that much. Such a great nation with such a tragic history and sketchy neighbors, but an indomitable spirit from the Gates of Vienna to the summit of Monte Cassino. Perhaps it is the defeated idealist Southerner and Jacobite in my bloodlines that has me giving them a nod, who knows. Pawel might say it is just my inherent good sense and wisdom ... and who am I to argue with that .... ahem.

Something happened mid-week that just gave me pause to reflect that, yes, my bias towards the Poles is well placed.

In addition to a older historical issues, in living memory, the Poles and Ukrainians took turns filling ditches with each other in one of the nastier sub-plots of the even nastier Eastern Front (the book Bloodlands is a good start).

The two nations have shared a few things recently. They both know the soul crushing nature Communism and the ever present danger of Russia.

I had the honor of serving with a few Ukrainian officers and Polish officers, and have great respect for both. Though the Ukrainians didn't have quite the "Western" vibe as their Polish counterparts - they were sure trying. It would be such a waste for Ukraine and Europe is they slide back in to the Russian orbit. 

In that light, this picture just gave me a feeling that, yes, something good has potential in Eastern Europe.


Godspeed.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

An ADIZ for All My Friends

The best description for China's clunky power grab last week was, "Dumb and Dangerous."

Almost 19th Century in its pig-headedness, the only way it makes sense was a propaganda act for internal consumption - but with exceptionally destabilizing effects outside their borders. 

The only positive aspect of their act, at least from the American point of view, is that it will drive Japan, South Korea, The Philippines, Vietnam and others closer in to our orbit as they start to recognize China's ambitions for what they are.

The bad part of that, is we need to be mindful that those who are closer to us are not under our control. Humans are imperfect institutions and things can get out of control.

South Korea isn't really being helpful here;
South Korea is finalizing plans to expand its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in response to China establishing the East China Sea ADIZ, local newspapers are reporting.

According to a number of local reports, ROK National Security Office chief Kim Jang-soo convened a meeting of top South Korean security officials on Sunday to discuss the new ADIZ.

The Korean Herald reported that the ADIZ is rumored to include the “country’s southernmost island of Marado; Hongdo Island, an uninhabited island south of Geojedo Island; and Ieodo, a submerged rock within the overlapping exclusive economic zones of South Korea and China.”

Yonhap News Agency quoted an unnamed local official as saying “(The new KADIZ) has been conceptually finalized. The government will announce the plan after carefully reviewing the military operation and aviation safety as well as the international regulations.”
History; she is such a needful and insecure woman. She will not be ignored.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

It Must be the Altitude in Colorado Springs

The drop-flop-and-foam at the USAFA has finally broken above my USAFAdontgiveadamn ambient noise threshold. Sure, I just shook my head in shame for years as they knuckled under to the anti-Christian jihad being waged by Weinstein and his ilk, but the two events below have finally led me to say; "Good googly moogly people; who's in charge of this clown car?!?"

First the most serious;
Facing pressure to combat drug use and sexual assault at the Air Force Academy, the Air Force has created a secret system of cadet informants to hunt for misconduct among students.

Cadets who attend the publicly-funded academy near Colorado Springs must pledge never to lie. But the program pushes some to do just that: Informants are told to deceive classmates, professors and commanders while snapping photos, wearing recording devices and filing secret reports.
Yea. Let that soak in.

Where do we start? Let me keep this simple; there are few lower kinds of human beings than informants, snitches, stool pigeons or whatever you want to call them. Especially when you attack the seed corn of the officer corps for your snitch population - regardless of your good intentions - that is beyond the pale. 

Snitches are not the same as witnesses - they are people who intentionally become an agent of whatever petty-Stasi they sell their soul to. They prey on their friends, families, and Shipmates under a false flag for profit, fun, or worse - to save their own skin. What a low form of scum.

Not only does it debase the snitch, it creates a climate where you absolutely do not trust anyone. It creates an Orwelian fascist atmosphere that has no place in the military of a representative republic. No excuses, and this will not do;
Gen. Mark Welsh, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the service’s top officer and only commander with authority over both the academy and OSI, said he was unfamiliar with the cadet informant system.

“I don’t know a thing about it,” he said in an interview in October.

Members of the academy’s civilian oversight board, which includes members of Congress, also said they had not heard of the program.
OK. Full stop. Who has been fired, or when is the press conference call that is going to announce firing and resignations? This is way over the line. If USAF senior leadership does not act sooner more than later, then they are just validating everything other services have said over the years about their culture.

There is no justification for this Stasi like program. Read the whole article and tell me you do not feel ashamed for your nation and your Air Force.
Then in 2001, the academy was rocked by high profile cases of drug use that resulted in Congressional investigations. That year an OSI officer named Keith Givens, who is now vice commander of OSI, wrote in the Air Force’s official legal journal, The Reporter, that the Air Force should use “a web of undercover agents and informants to detect drug abuse.” In 2003 the academy was hit by more scandals over drugs and sexual assaults that resulted in the removal of top brass. By 2004, court documents show, OSI was recruiting cadets as informants. Documents show that at least some academy leaders have knowledge of the program, but it is not clear if they know who is involved and what they do.
There is your starting point on inviting people to seek employment elsewhere. It is 12-yrs overdue. Taking Cadets and making them informants? Is that what we want to train young leaders to think is normal and right?

Another reason I recommend ROTC and OCS. Universities and ROTC may have their issues - but at least you can conduct your daily plans with the mind of a free citizen. 

No quarter. No question. This should not stand without heads on pikes. If it does - then a pox on the USAF. Give them back to the Army.

Now let's shift fire .... you know how much I LOVE how academy athletic boosters are focused on mission! Now, don't be silly. We aren't talking about building leaders for tomorrows military - heavens no - we are talking about making sure we have teams that help insecure adults with self-esteem issues to plaster over the gaping holes in their lives with games played by others. Everything else is second to being able to say, "Yea, my team won!" Those people would sell their daughters in to bondage for a bowl win.

Yep - soak in it.
Air Force football coach Troy Calhoun has expressed frustration this season about the competitive disadvantage of not being allowed to have cadets play a fifth year. The Falcons are 2-9 and winless in Mountain West play. Their season finale is Saturday at Colorado State.
Speaking about selling your soul cheaply - check out the spin.
Discussions are being held within the Air Force Academy that could lead to expanding the basic four-year classroom program for graduation to a five-year program for some cadets in order to enhance academic achievements. Such a plan, if adopted, could have a huge effect on the athletic program, thereby allowing an extra year of competition.
...
"At most universities, the average years to graduate is something over five years. For the service academies to hang tough on four years, it may be time to seriously discuss other options. "

Mueh pointed out that a program exists that potentially could add a ninth semester to a cadet's time at the academy, but it is rarely used. The additional semester is usually granted to make up for time lost for illness or injury.

"If there's a way we can help our students reach their academic potential and become leaders in the Air Force and that means talking about a five-year program, I'm all for it," Mueh said. "We won't change our academic requirements, the physical fitness requirements, or the active duty commitment after graduation. The one we might adjust is the time they spend here at the academy.
Who here really thinks this is about academic excellence? If you do - we should play poker some time. Making it so that Cadets can take a 10 to 12 hour semester load is not doing the right thing. 

Or could something else be in the mix too?
"It's going to take some doing. This basically always will be a four-year institution, but we bring in students from a widely diversified population and it may be time to expand our program in order to meet the different needs."
As this is not Thursday, I'm just going to leave that sitting there for you to ponder.

For those who believe in the American service academy model, you need to push back hard. If you allow them to continue to drift towards being a playpen for jack-booted government thugs, football-uber-alles fanatics, and cultural marxists, then you are creating the conditions for a series of scandals that will rock the institutions to their foundation. Just imagine the effects on par with what Penn State just went through. That is where this leads. Not perhaps to pederasty, but scandal that comes from entitlement and arrogance and misplaced priorities - yes.

Just be lucky the usual suspects don't line up the pictures from the first story linked above - or for that matter the last dozen people kicked out of Annapolis for sexual assault. If they notice superficial (d)iversity in color guards, they're seeing it there. Again, as this is not Thursday - I won't go there any further.

When people who do not have the best interests of an institution at heart; and the Ameri-Stasi, sports addicts, and grievance industry don't - but instead are only focused on their personal agendas, then they will tear your institutions apart in pursuit of their primary goal. 

The dirty little secret is that the service academies could disappear tomorrow, and the Republic will survive just fine - but that would be a sad loss for the nation, and a pathetic failure of moral courage on the part of those in uniform who are focused on the real mission; building leaders.