Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sen. McCain Starts the Most Important Thing You're Ignoring

Senator McCain (R-AZ) seems to be taking point on a critically important area that is in dire need of updating - the archaic framework that our national security infrastructure is built around; the Cold War Goldwater-Nichols.
Sen. John McCain plans a long-term review of the law underpinning the modern American military, the Goldwater-Nichols legislation that created the current chain of command from president to defense secretary to combatant commanders.

“The Committee will be conducting a preliminary examination of the structure, roles, and missions of civilian and military organizations within the (Defense) Department. That will set the stage for a broader review of these issues starting after this year’s NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) and extending into next year, many of which are tied directly to Goldwater-Nichols Act,”
We've asked this question a lot over the last half-decade with some of our guests on Midrats, and the general consensus was that almost three decades was long enough.

Read the whole thing, but I find question #3 the most interesting;
“At the same time, three decades later, there are real questions about how Goldwater-Nichols has been implemented and what unintended consequences may have resulted. For example:
- “Are the roles and missions of the Joint Staff, Combatant Commands, Joint Task Forces, and other headquarters elements properly aligned to conduct strategic planning, equip our warfighters, and maximize combat power?
- “Does the vast enterprise that has become the Office of the Secretary of Defense further our ability to meet present and future military challenges?
- “Does the constant churn of uniformed officers through joint assignments make them more effective military leaders, or has this exercise become more of a self-justification for a large officer corps?
- “Is the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act of 1980 still appropriate for the joint force of 2015 and beyond, or is it time to review this law?
This is a good and meaningful development. More to come, if we're lucky enough to have proper followthrough. I don't think keeping with the status quo is the right answer.

Don't get by wrong, I loved the '80s ... but that was a very different time with different threats and different solutions to problems we face.

Monday, March 30, 2015

General Mattis and the Path not Taken

Alternative histories can be instructive - if for no other reason than they reinforce the importance at inflections in time which leaders hold the levers of power. "The Big Man Theory" is not a parlor game, it is how the world works.

Usually, alternative histories in the second decade of the 21st Century involve either the WWII era or the US Civil War. Let's flop that a bit and instead play it a little closer.

Run our own little wargame where at certain decision points, as a nation, we:

- Did not let a vacuum exist where Iran and her lead proxy Hezbollah did not have the white space to step in to preserve the Assad regime in Syria, and instead Russia took that point instead; keeping Iran and her proxies out. Better yet - before the Islamic State grew from just another militia, some other power became the lead anti-Assad force, or none did. As a result, Assad crushed his opposition before the death toll went in to six figures? Bloody civil war as all are and it would not be pretty - but an Assad in power would be a status-quo outcome, but not a raging medieval nightmare spreading a violence of slit-trench executions and barrel bombs that we have now.
- What if we actively went after the arms shipments to the Yemeni Shia rebels early and with vigor, and helped keep them to just a small threat in the mountains? No combined Sunni Arab army massed to slaughter a Shia rebellion wholesale. Not another ink-spot of growing Iranian influence.
- What if instead of Quds Force commander Major General Qasem Soleimani being turned in to a hero in al-Anbar, he was killed by some roadside bomb on in an helicopter crash along with a batch of Iraqi Shia death squad leaders?
- What if we joined in supporting the Sunni Arab nations and Europe to push for harder sanctions on Iran, as opposed to having the USA take the Iranian position on the way to getting a nuclear weapon?

Well, sometimes that isn't the way history turns in a representative republic. You vote for a world view, and you get it good and hard.
Ret. Marine Gen. James Mattis, who oversaw U.S. forces in the Middle East from 2010 to 2013, was among the most insistent voices inside the military pushing for a policy focused on punishing Iran and its proxies.

Mattis lobbied for more interdictions of ships and planes carrying Iranian arms to battlefields such as Yemen and Syria, said former defense officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. And Mattis pressed for more covert actions to capture or kill Iranian operatives, especially after the foiled 2011 plot by Iran to kill the Saudi ambassador at a Washington restaurant.

The former defense officials said plans to punish Tehran were often sidelined over concerns that they could disrupt negotiations to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

“The Iranians showed that they could intervene everywhere even as they were negotiating on the nuclear issue,” said Ilan Goldenberg, who served as the Iran Team Chief in the Pentagon. Mattis’s pressing on the issue caused him to fall out of favor with the White House and ultimately led to his leaving command early, the former defense officials said.
Sigh.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Partnership, Influence, Presence and the role of the MSC, with Chris Rawley - on Midrats



This week we will return to the “unsexy but important” topic, specifically that of “alternative naval platforms and missions.”

In part, the concepts that underlay Jerry Hendrix’s “Influence Squadrons” are in practice on a smaller scale today. In most cases they are being conducted using Military Sealift Command assets and the Navy Reserve.

To focus on this part of our maritime power, our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Commander Chris Rawley, USNR. 

President of Periplus Holdings in his day job, he is also Commanding Officer of the Military Sealift Command Afloat Mission Command and Control Units in the Navy Reserve, in addition to being Vice President of the Center for International Maritime Security.

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

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.


Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio


Friday, March 27, 2015

Fullbore Friday

One way to know that someone is Fullbore? Well, for starters, they have their own tag at CDRSalamander.

For well over a decade I have seen Ayaan Hirsi Ali for exactly what she is; a hero to the West and the ideals of The Enlightenment. 

Strong, fearless and direct - there is no better advocate for the freedoms that the West takes for granted, and few better at describing the true nature of the fringes that threaten modernity, human rights, and the progress of our civilization.

Rich Lowry has a great primer for those who aren't fully up to speed on who Ayaan is and what she stands for. Read it all, but here is a taste;
Ayaan Hirsi Ali should be the perfect feminist hero. Viewed from a certain level of abstraction, it is hard to imagine one person who fits the role on so many levels: She’s an escapee — literally — from an abusive patriarchy. She’s an African immigrant who made her own way in a Western country, the Netherlands, starting from nothing. She’s a fierce advocate for women’s rights. She’s a target for deadly violence by angry men who want to shut her up. She left her religion and became a scourge of its repressive practices. 
All this — her searing personal experience, her Third World background, her secularism — would seem fit to make her a rock star of contemporary feminism. Except for the blemish on her record: Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a dissident from the wrong religion.
Yes, that is the great irony of all this. She is despised by the left because she pushes back at the force that is most aligned with the self-loathing towards their own society as the left - radical Islam.

As it is with much of the left, the most important thing for them is to feed that which helps prop up the left's cultural masochism, and destroy those who try to get them to tell light from dark.
When all respectable people nod sagely at the cliché that Islam is a “religion of peace,” she says, “No, it’s not.” When all respectable people — and many discreditable ones — recoil and insist, “You can’t say that,” she says, “Yes, you can.” 
Our society, and especially the left, tends to reflexively celebrate dissenters. But some heretics are more welcome than others. In the case of Islam, the pieties of multiculturalism clash with what should be an imperative of feminism (i.e., forcefully standing up for the basic rights of women in Muslim societies), and feminism tends to lose out. 
“The concern,” as one feminist wrote of Hirsi Ali, “is that her intervention into the issue of gender equality in Muslim societies will strengthen racism rather than weaken sexism.” In the fashionable neologism designed to be an all-purpose conversation-stopper, she is “an Islamophobe.” Brandeis University notoriously rescinded a planned honorary degree for her last year, and the Muslim Students Association at the school huffed, “she incites and supports insensitivity and irresponsibility.”
That great stew of cognitive dissonance, hypocrisy, and a need to feel superior to the comfort purchased by others that nurtured you ... yep, that's our left.

In her life, she survived multiple times things that would crush lesser men and women ... yet she thrives ... and she keeps up the fight for the one light left on this planet; the fruits of The Enlightenment.
Hirsi Ali recalls the dissidents from communism in the 20th century like the great Whittaker Chambers. Their personal experience redoubled their commitment to the fight for freedom and human dignity. They, too, were often dismissed as fanatics and as embarrassments to polite opinion. But their intellectual contributions, and the examples of their own bravery, were indispensable in the long ideological struggle. 
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not just a heretic; she is also a believer. She has more confidence in Western civilization and its values than people who have never had to live outside it, or face down the enemies who want to destroy it. If she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves, so much the worse for her detractors.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What if we gave a war and everyone came

The Middle East sure is a dog's breakfast.

The last few years have seen a victory squandered in Iraq that is now soaked in blood again.

Syria is to a point that all one can expect is for it to be bled to still a lighter shade of pale.

Lebanon is, well, from worse to more worse.

Israel has won the Golan Heights argument for the next few generations, will keep building in the West Bank, and is still the jewel of that part of the world - but is having a bad relationship on a personal level with its benefactor.

Jordan is being held together by duct tape, bailing wire, and the best Arab leader of this generation.

Saudi Arabia is all over the place and decided yesterday to invade Yemen again to kill Shia. Looks like they are leading a Sunni coalition of the spanking with fighter jets from Jordan, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain. Yesterday saw Egypt and Pakistan stating they are in.

Interesting. As I've stated before, only someone who understands the plot lines of Game of Thrones will be able to explain how to the north of Saudi Arabia that in conjunction with Sunni partners we support Iranian proxies and Iranian-actuals to kill Sunni, and then to the south of Saudi Arabia we have those same Sunni partners who are at war with Iranian proxies.

Someone needs some quality time on the white-board to diagram it. I understand it in my head, but for the life of me I can't explain it in under 5,000 words and five diagrams.

Oman is  ... well Omanish - we can call that a draw along with Morocco and Algeria.

Yemen ... check your news feed on this proxy to not-so-proxy Sunni-Shia conflict, as I am sure my few words above did not help at all.

Egypt is back under the only thing that works there - a military dictatorship.

Tunisia is trying to pretend it is a suburb of Caan ... but is infected with Islamic fundamentalists who have the morality of Thulsa Doom.

Libya is Madmaxistan.

The only nation doing well is ... the Islamic Republic of Iran ... with whom we are are now acting as their tactical air force. Aloha snackbar ... or something like that. Let's make nose-art out of it.

The future? At best, we cull the herd and let the scavengers fight over the remains of the Islamic State. Even if the Islamic State is defeated, thousands of radicalized young fighters who survive will return home to France, Germany, Britain, Australia and the USA. They will not come home in peace.

What to do about Iran? We missed that boat when we abandoned the Green Revolution years ago.

Long war ... a very long war.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What nasty name do you want to call me?

I'm sorry, but I have to comment on this - but I am not sure how to do it in today's political climate.

Do I make a lazy, sexist ... yet quasi accurate comment about "women drivers"? No, sexist.

Do I make a cynical comment about, "What do you expect from the Representative of DC?" No, some drone will make that racist.

Do I make a rather easy, "Typical Democrat." swipe? No, too partisan.

Do I make a plant the flag, "A perfect demonstration of the attitude that rules, consideration, and generally responsible behavior is for little people."

Yes, that is it ... though all four are accurate in their own way.

So, call me a name - it seems to be a thing the scolds like to do when someone is trying to laugh at life.

I'm sorry I didn't give you a chance to call me homophobic ... though I'm sure you can find some way if you just imagine hard enough.




On the other opposite side of the equation ... I just fell in love with Leona Chin.

The Body Count as Datapoint

Body counts are a useless metric by themselves. They should never be a primary metric, but they are useful in showing if nothing else the breadth and depth of conflict.

In the Briefing section on the Islamic State, The Economist has, as they often do, a graph that tells a story in a way 5,000 words cannot. It answers questions, as well as offers new ones. It is open to a variety of interpretations, sure, but that is not the point.

People are entitled to their opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.

For review:


Though their article is on the fragility and weakness of the Islamic State, there is another story in the above graph, one I want to revisit.

It tells a story that some don't like to hear - but needs to be repeated as this is the actual history as I saw it, the first part first hand.

1. Withdraw of forces in Iraq began under Bush43 in late 2007 with the success of the surge, just as we were halfway through designing the upcoming uplift of forces in Afghanistan.
2. With a firm victory in Iraq in the late-summer and early fall of '08, the death toll was at a steady low pace as we worked towards what the military wanted, a low five-figure force in place to ensure a properly secure environment until the Iraqi government was fully ready to defend itself. Then the zero-option took place. Shortly after, the slow buildup of death began again, and 24 months later we were off to a death level not seen in half a decade.
3. They Syrian civil war, right across the border, started its blood soaked path almost a year prior to our IRQ zero-option. A risk we wished away.
4. This Islamic State inspired and related killing is not going to stop any time soon, indeed, from Nigeria, to Libya to Yemen ... one could argue that it has only started.

This is President Obama's challenge to fix or let fester.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Politics of the Narrative does not Work Well Internationally

Adult leaders of adult nations speak clearly about what is happening in the world.

We try to teach out children, heck our Sailors, one fundamental; if you make a mistake, own up to it. If you get something wrong, it is better to admit it early than to double down or hide.

Then again, you have the rule of some politicians; never apologize, never admit a mistake. ... and we wonder where the kids get their ideas ...

This habit on the world stage can get dangerous. No one is perfect, the world gets a vote, and human beings have a tendency to do what they want regardless of what you will them to do. Well meaning people will cut you some slack.

They key to remaining credible and to ensure the right intellectual effort is going towards making the best of a changing situation is to ... gird your loins ... admit mistakes and move forward.

First;



I will grant you that Yemen is a success, in a fashion, if your goal is to increase Iranian influence - which Administration is doing quite grandly in Iraq and Syria - then sure, it is a great success. If not, well ...

Now, let's look at where we are in the White House this week;



... and the truth on the ground;



So, where does that leave us? The late night cynic in me sees an administration that is relying a lot on hope and in a large measure are trying to run out the clock on hard decisions so the next President will have to the dirty work.

I don't know if you can run out the clock on this wreck of a foreign policy in the Middle East - but one thing is for sure, we're about to find out.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part LXIII

At a time when many discussions about China tend to be of a worrisome type, emphasizing China's positives while ignoring her challenges, Dan Blumenthal over at FP has a solid article out which gives a little more depth to what China is.
the easy days are over. Resources are shrinking. The situation is Xinjiang is getting worse. And an anti-corruption campaign announced by CCP secretary Xi Jinping shortly after he took office in November 2012 is starting to pick up steam in the military. Meanwhile, China’s land borders no longer appear as secure, as terrorists infiltrate China from South and Central Asia. For the first time since the Cold War, the PLA faces a real set of tough strategic and investment trade-offs and challenges to its weapons program development.

First, China’s fiscal situation is under severe strain. Its debt burden increased from $7 trillion in 2007 to $28 trillion in mid-2014, while Chinese national wealth has only increased by $5 trillion since mid-2008. As my colleague Derek Scissors argued in a November essay, “Chinese growth since 2008 has been built entirely on sand.” China is also aging rapidly: its labor force shrunk by 2.44 million in 2013, and by a whopping 3.71 million in 2014. Moreover, its gross domestic product grew at only 7.4 percent in 2014 — a 24-year low — and Beijing is aiming for around 7 percent for 2015. The current economic slowdown could potentially derail the PLA’s gravy train. Its military budget will have to align with China’s fiscal realities. The CCP will have to meet pension obligations to retirees and try and service the debt.

Second, Xi’s anti-corruption campaign is going after PLA elites. In early March, the PLA announced that 14 more of its generals were targeted in the anti-corruption crackdown. And in October, Beijing indicted Xu Caihou, a former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, the body that oversees the PLA, on bribery charges. Xu, who died last week, was the highest military official in decades to be publicly accused of corruption.
A wounded and slightly paranoid China is not necessarily for us a better China - but it is one that in the near future may be more inwardly focused than one externally focused.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Intellectual Responsibilities of the Naval Professional with Will Beasley - on Midrats



What are the intellectual responsibilities of the naval professional? What is the canon sound thought in the maritime realm is based?
Historically, what has been done, what has worked, and what should we be doing? Should the naval professional just focus on his narrow area of expertise, or does he need to have a more interdisciplinary approach to his intellectual development?

Our guest this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and more will be William M. Beasley, Jr., associate attorney with Phelps Dunbar, LLP in Mississippi. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Mississippi with a BA and MA in history where his graduate thesis examined the impact of popular culture, inter-service rivalry, civil-military relations, strategic planning, and defense unification on the "Revolt of the Admirals" of 1949.

Mr. Beasley received his JD from the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he served on the editorial board of the Mississippi Law Journal. Prior to joining Phelps Dunbar, Mr. Beasley worked as a research consultant with the Potomac Institute in Arlington, Virginia. He is a member of the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) and his work on maritime history and security has appeared in Proceedings, The Strategy Bridge, and USNI Blog.

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

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.


Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that you should also get BJ's first book if you have not already, 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fullbore Friday

Almost a year ago we had a FbF about a true Shipmate. I wanted to bring it back as we now have the official report via our friends at USNI News.

I'm going to republish what I put out a year ago, then go to the bottom and read the VCNO's endorsement. Lots to ponder there, and in honor of Perry Officer Mayo, you should give it a read.


In port.

Just another watch on the pier.

Tic. Toc. Yawn. It's 23:20. Watch is almost over.

Thing is, there is no such thing as a normal watch. You never know when the call comes. You don't even have to be at sea. You don't even have to be overseas. You can just be at the largest naval base in the world in your own nation.

When in a moment things can turn from boredom to the point where character, instinct and training take over. The first, is the most important - the rest only support it.

MA2 Class Mark Mayo, USN. Fullbore Shipmate; fullbore.
(the shooter) parked his tractor-trailer cab near Pier 1, was able to walk onto the pier and began heading up a ramp toward the USS Mahan when he was confronted by Navy security, said Mario Palomino, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agent in charge of the Norfolk field office.

The man then got into an altercation with a female petty officer and disarmed her, Navy officials said. Palomino said Mayo stepped over the disarmed officer and fired his weapon at the assailant. He was serving on watch for the installation that night and came to help once he saw the civilian board the ship.

Multiple pistol rounds were fired between the gunman and Navy security forces responding to the scene, Palomino said. The Navy has said previously that the truck driver fired the shot that killed Mayo.

The base's commanding officer, Capt. Robert Clark, said Mayo's actions to protect the disarmed officer (sic) were extraordinary.

""He basically gave his life for hers," said Clark said during a news conference.
Ship, shipmate, self? Yep; it means exactly what it says.
MA2 Mayo enlisted in the U.S. Navy in October 2007 and began working in Norfolk in May 2011.

“Petty Officer Mayo’s actions on Monday evening were nothing less than heroic. He selflessly gave his own life to ensure the safety of the Sailors on board USS Mahan (DDG 72),” said Capt. Robert E. Clark, Jr., commanding officer, Naval Station Norfolk.
There is more background at the above links and here about the shooter that I really don't want to cover here. There is plenty of time later for that and what lessons we can take away from it.

I have my opinions, but not here, not today. 

Petty Officer Mayo, well done.

Petraeus and Salamander on Iraq: in full alignment

Yes, yes, yes ... haters can keep those comments to themselves. I expect perfection of no one, as I sure can't deliver it myself. 

With that one, and last disclaimer, I think I will move on and speak no more of it.

Petraeus is back in Iraq.

The wonderfully named Liz Sly over at WaPo has an interview with the retired General while he was attending The Sulaimani Forum at the American University of Sulaimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In it, he describes how we got where we are in Iraq exactly as I saw it, how I see it and how I believe history will judge it.
The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011. The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. (They) alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.

The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted — and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki.

As for the U.S. role, could all of this have been averted if we had kept 10,000 troops here? I honestly don't know. I certainly wish we could have tested the proposition and kept a substantial force on the ground.
It is worth your time; read it all.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Diversity Thursday

If one must think of Woman's History Month, I like to think of Mama Salamander. Honors graduate in Math. Trailblazer for women in the computer industry, mother, entrepreneur and never ... never one to suffer fools or fads.

A misogynistic, woman hating, male chauvinist pig would be harder pressed to create an event that tee'd up an "I told you so" ball better than what I am about to share below - and about as contra-Mama Salamander as you can get. (think of Mama Salamander as a slightly younger Grace Hopper ... if Grace Hopper was also a model as a side job)

As someone who from MIDN days supported women serving wherever they physically and realistically could, this torques me off, as it gives the "I told you so" crowd all the negative stereotype fodder they need.

Of what do I speak? Well, if you haven't eaten yet - you may want to hold off. If you have a spray shield for your computer, you may want to go get it.

First, NAVAIR ... you own this. All of it, so just soak it in.
-----Original Message-----
From: TOTALFORCE_HR_NEWS
Sent: Monday, February 23, 2015 2:37 PM
Subject: Women's History Month event, 3 March

All hands,
Celebrate Women's History Month on 3 March featuring LeeAnn Mallorie, founder and CEO of Leading in Motion, who will address "Leadership Sustainability." Ms. Mallorie specializes in coaching, personal development, leadership training and organizational change. This event is jointly sponsored by NAVAIR's Women's Advisory Group and Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Office.
EVENT DETAILS:
Date: Tuesday, 3 March 2015
Times:
-- 1000-1130 (main event: "Sustainable Leadership")
-- 1230-1345 Breakout Session 1 ("Increasing and Managing Your Energy")
-- 1400-1515 Breakout Session 2 ("Emotion and Stress Management")
Location: River's Edge Conference Center, Patuxent River, and via video teleconference
Flyer: https://mynavair.navair.navy.mil/links/WAGFlyerEastCoast
REGISTRATION INFORMATION:
Note: Each program segment requires separate registration.
-- Visit https://navairu.navair.navy.mil . (Note: You must have a NAVAIR University account to register. If you do not have an account, follow the instructions below.)
-- Click on the "Classes" tab on the top menu bar.
-- Enter "CISL-EVT-0101" in the search field and click the blue search button.
-- Click on "Register" in the register column for the session you wish to attend.
-- Click the "Yes" button to enroll in the event.
Course numbers and titles:
-- CISL-EVT-0101 - Women's History Month -MAIN EVENT
-- CISL-EVT-0102 - Increasing & Managing Energy
-- CISL-EVT-0103 - Emotion & Stress Management
NAVAIRU REGISTRATION INFORMATION:
-- Visit https://navairu.navair.navy.mil .
-- Select "Register" in the upper left corner of the screen.
-- Complete all fields, and click the save button.
If you are unable to register in NAVAIRU, email [redacted]@navy.mil and list sessions attending.
Thank you,
Total Force Strategy & Management Department
I guess that comes under the category of Conference Weaving & Group Energizers.

Oh, I don't know if I can really do this ... but, sigh, if not me, who? If not now, when? Let's go.

NAVAIR is a fairly technical organization. We can all agree on that I hope. Nothing in life is free. Especially for events like this. In an era where every other speech by senior leadership squeals about sequestration, one would expect all organizations to be very careful how funds are used. After all, it is hard to cry poverty when you are spending $20 on popcorn at the movie theater every weekend.

So, with that set - what is the mindset NAVAIR wants its very technical force to have? Especially their female cadre? What tools are they giving them to compete? 

What does LeeAnn believe?
I believe in GUT-FEELING and intuition. I believe that MUSIC & MOVEMENT can unlock the soul. I believe that ILLNESS is a wake-up call. I believe in SIMPLICITY. I believe in RADICAL SELF-CARE. I believe experts don’t always know BEST.

I believe in PLAY… that our life depends on it. I believe in BOTH-AND. I believe our INTENTION affects our destiny. I believe that our PRESENCE is the ultimate gift. I believe we must FEEL in order to HEAL.
That doesn't reinforce negative tropes ... nope ... not at all.

LeeAnn has her fingers in all sorts of stuff. What else can she offer? We have "Dancing Freedom;"
Dancing Freedom is a global movement supporting liberation, community and leadership through the sacred medicine of dance. We are co-creating a global rEvolution, dancing towards a world in which all beings feel more at home, empowered, peaceful and free.

Dancing Freedom blends conscious dance and the essence of medicine ceremony, taking you through an elemental wave of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. Each Dancing Freedom class provides a safe and dynamic space to explore your own body sensations and emotions, while connecting with whole group consciousness. The ceremony begins with a powerful prayer for your life, and ends with a harvest circle where collective wisdom is shared.

We believe that oneness includes everything, no exceptions. Therefore welcome all people to participate in the journey, from experienced dancers who want to deepen their practice to those who have never stepped foot on a dance floor.
She can bring in her skills as a Somatic Coach;
There are many perspectives on coaching today, yet rarely do you see a methodology that fully encompasses the totality of our humanness. Somatic Coaching is the discourse that represents this unity of the whole human being. A somatic perspective includes our thinking, feeling, emotions, and acting; this also accounts for our narratives and stories, our moods, and our energetic body. This comprehensive and integrated view is what sets the SI Somatic Methodology apart from other styles and methods. While some systems may simply add the body as an element in their coaching curriculum, we treat the body as a fundamental place of change, learning, and transformation. We hold that the self and the body are indistinguishable and by working through the body we can directly work with the self. Working through the body at this level is Somatic Coaching. Through systemic, bodily intervention, transformation occurs. It is through this holistic coaching process that fundamental, sustainable change is possible on a level not achieved through most coaching modalities.

Our narratives, belief systems, world views, bodily contractions, streamings, pulsations, and a yearning for that which is beyond the self all live in our soma. These experiences shape our mood, our actions, our perceptions, our way of being – and our bodies. Through the SI Somatic Methodology, coaches learn to observe the self in the body. With this skill, one can assess aspects of the self by observing the shape of the body. This is not body language; this is a skill that allows one to deeply and respectfully see who someone is. Our somatic shape, the shape of our self, produces possibilities and limitations. Through disorganizing the conditioned, historical shape we can re-shape ourselves into a more relaxed, confident, bold shape through which we can live our full potential. SI’s methodology offers the skills to bring forth this level of change for your clients.
There have always been issues raised on the sexist nature of the PRT. Maybe LeeAnn would have some options we can look at in order to be more inclusive. She is really in to Nia, that could be a start.
Nia is the art of movement the body's way. Nia is a cardio-dance workout, a movement practice, and lifestyle based on the intelligent design of the body.

We believe every person can discover, explore, unleash, and enhance their individual potential to live a healthy and meaningful life by engaging their senses and listening to their bodies.

Nia Workout

Nia tones your mind and tunes your body. Each workout brings mindfulness to your dance movement experience leaving you energized, mentally clear, and emotionally balanced.

Nia cardio-dance workouts combine 52 simple moves with dance arts, martial arts, and healing arts to get you fit in 60 minutes - body, mind, emotion, and spirit.

Nia is practiced barefoot, non-impact, and adaptable to individual needs and abilities.
There ain't no party like a NAVAIR dance party; mark it down as command PT.

I know, I know ... you must be asking yourself, "Where does NAVAIR find its motivational speakers?" Usually, you see one, you like them, and then you ask them to come speak to your people.

The City of Brotherly Love is just a day's drive from NAVAIR, isn't it? Perhaps someone met her at the 2014 Poly Living Philadelphia Conference. Did she bring this advice and perspective to NAVAIR. Goodness knows we need to make sure we access all the tools in the toolbox.
LeeAnn Mallorie recently moved to Philadelphia to pursue her first love: building authentic communities through the power of dance. For the past ten years, she has trained with Bay Area conscious dancers, martial artists, sound healers, shamans, coaches, somatic therapists, body workers and musicians, while boldly disseminating their cutting edge work to the rest of the world. LeeAnn believes that intimate relationships are a path to personal transformation. Walking her talk, she followed the thread of her parents failed marriage and her own series of tumultuous monogamous relationships, through the barriers of social convention, to the joy of loving openly. She has been in a creative and open relationship with her partner, Jorge Cortez since February of 2013, when her sexuality cracked open while studying the practice of Orgasmic Meditation.
OK, that is an interesting form of meditation. Are there practical exercises, vignettes, and possibly workshops? I have no idea. If you are interested in more, Salon.com has a primer.

Even better, visualize this at NAVAIR ... not that there is anything wrong with it, though LeeAnn seems a bit heteronormative in her practice.

One last bit. I am never one to want to take away someones honest living - no one owes you a job and you have to make your way in the world as best as you can. 

That doesn't mean that anyone is entitled to the money with your stamp on it though. If this is really what NAVAIR leadership thinks is best for their organization and what present Navy leadership wants, then so be it.

I do want to take a moment to emphasize a central tenet of DivThu: this is all about the $$$$. There are a lot of otherwise unemployable people who have invested tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in education that they have to find some way to monetize. LeeAnn is, in this respect, a hard driven and successful entrepreneur. Part of the Diversity Industry? You'bet'cha;
Founder LeeAnn M. Mallorie has a passion for culture and a knack for supporting people in "ah-ha" breakthrough moments. LeeAnn completed her M.A. in Cultural Social Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, focusing on bicultural identity negotiation among Chinese-American biculturals and inter-cultural communication v. conflict among U.S. majority/minority groups. She was trained in dialogue facilitation through the University of Michigan Program on Inter-group Relations and Conflict. She studied and worked abroad as a Princeton In Asia Fellow teaching EFL for ten months in rural Hunan, China. In addition to running the Cultural Horizions Institute, she currently works as a life coach, on-site facilitator and 360° feedback specialist at Learning as Leadership, a San Francisco based consulting firm. Her clients include NASA, Shell Oil, Sandia National Laboratories, Harvard Business School, and Artech Inc, Taiwan. LeeAnn is fluent in Mandarin, Chinese.
Fluent in Mandarin. What a waste. I'd rather have her in the N2 shop at PACFLT, but then again - knowing those guys, the last thing any of us need is seeing them dancing in yoga pants and going on an orgasmic meditation workshop retreat.

I hope all my NAVAIR bubbas had a chance to go ... for goodness sake, you don't want to miss a chance to explore your, what do you call it,
"Our narratives, belief systems, world views, bodily contractions, streamings, pulsations, and a yearning for that which is beyond the self ..."
Yeah, that. Take your local ABHC.

As you watch the two video below ... which I know you will as your tax dollars are paying for this ... think about all that sequester talk ... and think of your happy place.



... and yes, this new age snake oil as about as non-diverse as anything I have seen in a long time.

I'm a giver ... so I give. Behold URR and MTH's next girlfriends having a chat.




Hat tip K.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Long Nasty Record of the Seduction by Short Splendid Wars

As I am going through my pre-WWI reading arc (latest is Margaret MacMillan's The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914), what keeps coming to mind is the repeated failure throughout history of those of us in uniform to make sure that our civilian leaders understand the difference between "The Operational Art" as some like to call what is done in the "Five" part of the world, and the horribly named "Military Science."

Some do warn, as happened in multiple nations prior to WWI, but these people are often marginalized by the politicians and politically minded uniformed leadership who only want happy stories that answer with what politicians want to hear, not what they need to hear. You get what you promote - in a fashion.

Take it from a Planner, if we include the right Assumptions and have a planning staff that is malleable enough, wecan create any plan they want to. Of course, plans never survive first contact with the enemy, but people dismiss that. People want something they can point to and say, "Let's do this. Our top men have show how it can be done. Our. Top. Men."

So many times in history, nations have stumbled in to war because a plan was written to match the aspirational goal of the politicians - in this case - the desire for a short war that won't excessively impact trade, commerce, election cycles, or pre-existing stockpiles.

 Sometimes because the plan itself was unrealistic and the assumptions too fragile - but more often than not it is that Goals and Endstates change at some point when you are already down a few lines of operation towards a different set of Goals and Endstates, etc. What was a modest little war gets carried away in to a broader war. Not a Sequel to a Plan, but a Plan that degenerates in to a grabassary of making it up as you go along (Wes Clark call your office).

For some reason, as I was reading about how sure the German General Staff was that the war would be short and decisive, I was thinking about the panel I watched Jim Holmes moderate at USNI West 14, he wrote about it here.
Enlightened opinion on this side of the Pacific Ocean evidently finds one of two things unfathomable: that Beijing is contemplating war, or that the People’s Liberation Army prefers to avoid a protracted test of arms should one prove unavoidable. Let’s take those possibilities in turn.

First, what else should PLA strategists do than plan for a war to uphold what the political leadership obviously considers an important national interest? .... Armed services exist to furnish their political masters options in times of trouble. Thinking about the unthinkable — and doing advance legwork should statesmen deem the unthinkable thinkable — is what they do.

Indeed, commanders commit malpractice if they fail at this basic function.
...
It’s also irresponsible for military leaders to game the strategy-making process, foreclosing certain options or pressing others on policymakers. That’s why proclaiming that one course of action is “the” solution to some politico-military dilemma or another is so problematic. If military commanders take a one-size-fits-all approach to complex problems, they hand policymakers a stark choice in wartime: select the only option on the table or do nothing. That amounts to the tool — the military — instructing the repairman — the president or prime minister — how to do his job.
...
In very broad terms, there are two strains in Chinese strategic culture. One favors protracted war, the other prizes quick, decisive victory. We can put Mao Zedong’s face on the former, Sun Tzu’s on the latter. But does China really prefer Maoist methods of protracted war? Does Beijing automatically string out armed conflicts? No. Even for Mao, conventional victory is the ultimate goal, protraction a mere expedient in situations where China starts off as the weaker combatant. There’s little reason to think the Great Helmsman relished the grind of irregular warfare and what-not.

If China starts off as the stronger antagonist, then, why wouldn’t it take the swiftest and surest route to success? Sun Tzu warns that no protracted war ever benefits the state. Such conflicts sap the national treasury and other warmaking resources while leaving the state vulnerable to predatory neighbors — even in victory. That being the case, why not heed Sun Tzu’s wisdom if China is the stronger competitor in the East China Sea? Beijing is doubtless content to win through Sun Tzuian methods if it can.

However execrable a statesman, Mao the war leader counseled sagely against letting strategic doctrinaires, or “chatterers,” dominate debates over strategic and operational questions. He professed a more supple approach contingent on relative strength. In this case, at least, it may be wise to listen to the man brandishing a Little Red Book. If Beijing confronts a united U.S.-Japan alliance, it may incline to the protracted approach. If the alliance shows fissures, suggesting that China can go mano-a-mano with a peer or weaker Japan, then Beijing may indulge its Sun Tzuian proclivities. It may strike suddenly, like a hawk — as the grand master advises.
If the Chinese fo make the mistake of being seduced in to running the odds on a "short splendid war" that draws the USA in, are we ready for that? Not materially - though that is a good question in itself - but intellectually? Do we have a clear view of the Chinese military of 2015?

As Dingding Chen reminds us; the modern Chinese Army isn't the waves of men in quilted jackets rolling over hills;
... resolve is absolutely critical. This factor has not been given adequate attention by military analysts when estimating the PLA’s ability to fight a war. If the PLA does enter a war, then it most likely will be a defensive war for China in areas near its borders. This is about defending China’s sovereignty and territories and this is fundamentally different from conquering others’ territories. Thus morale will be high. If history is any indication, the Korean War tells us that the weaker Chinese army could repel and defeat a stronger U.S. army. The fact that China then was fighting for its sovereign integrity is a key factor in explaining the defeat of the United States.

In sum, the Chinese PLA can indeed fight a modern war regardless of its potential opponent. Whether the PLA can win a war is a different story as it depends on many different factors. The key point is not to only focus on the PLA’s material capabilities; instead we should examine the PLA’s morale and resolve, two factors that have so far not been seriously studied.
If their leadership is unwise enough to think, in a moment of weakness by others, that they can do a Crimea-like snatch-n-grab, or find a way to have a contained conflict, the potential for everyone to fall down in to that pit is a non-zero figure.

Combine that ever present planning-risk with, on our side, a significant cadre of over-confidence and, well ... it makes you ponder a bit about the darker side of history's patterns.

Somewhere, there are a few Chinese plans out there that promise a "splendid little war." Let's hope they get ignored.

I keep saying it, because it boils down to one of the few things I feel to be as true as can be in the military world: war is a dark room; you can see the door just fine, but you have no idea what you will find once you go inside - and you can't back out once you are in.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

About the Israeli Election ...

I'm only going to say a very little.

So, President Obama and his crowd decided to weigh in hard in the elections in another nation - and to personalize it.

Anyone could, and someone probably did, tell them it was a bad idea.

Let's call that person Tim. Je suis Tim.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Has the Islamic State Forced a Change in Obama Policy in Syria and Afghanistan?

The weekend brought two bits of news/trial-balloons that indicate that the reality of the present situation is causing the ideological desire to decouple being put under critique inside the Obama Administration's lifelines.

First in Syria;
Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he still believed it was important to achieve a diplomatic solution for the conflict in Syria and that the negotiations should involve President Bashar al-Assad.

“We are working very hard with other interested parties to see if we can reignite a diplomatic outcome,” Mr. Kerry said on the CBS show “Face the Nation.”

“We have to negotiate in the end,” Mr. Kerry added.
Unless Kerry is off the reservation, that is a clear signal that the neo-realists in the administration - what few there are left - are on the accent. That is a good thing.

The Islamic State is by far the greatest threat in the area. Assad is the only power in Syria that can defeat the Islamic State in the balance of that nation's territory. Ironically, Assad is also the only power in that area is even close to respecting minority rights, women's rights, and generally can be worked with in a 21st context. Assad is not a "good guy" - not  by a long shot - but he is the least horrible option in the area unless the United States wants to deploy 200,000 of its military and lose thousands dead.

No, I didn't think so.

We can effectively forget red-lines and "Assad must go" talk. Get rid of the Islamic State first, then we can have the luxury of a vanity based foreign policy.

Next to Afghanistan; second thoughts at the last minute.
The United States has abandoned plans to cut the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan to 5,500 by year's end, the Associated Press reported on Saturday, but a senior U.S. official told Reuters no decision has been made.

Many of the 9,800 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan would probably remain well into next year, although no final decision on numbers had been made yet, AP reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials.

President Barack Obama probably will use a Washington visit by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani this month to announce the new withdrawal timeline, AP said.
This may just be a delay of the inevitable, like the shift of the IRQ withdraw from the original date to the right a few years to placate those - who were right - that stated a zero-option was too risky. In the end they lost, but at least delayed the rise of the Islamic state by a couple of years.

Seeing Iran now fighting well inside Iraq, perhaps the Administration sees this truth; Iran of 2015 will not let the Shia Hazara in Afghanistan be slaughtered wholesale again if Afghanistan falls apart. 

If there is a vacuum following a USA zero-option, they will move in to Herat and through the center of the country to the Hazara heartland to defend their co-coreligionists and culturally aligned but Sunni western Afghanistan leaders.

I do think that President Obama wants a zero-option in AFG before he leaves office; perhaps he has see in IRQ the truth that though ideologically correct, it may not be realistic. Maybe, if we are a little lucky and a little more smart ... we may manage to avoid catastrophe in AFG, but more cards need to come out of the deck.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Red Flag" and the USAF, on Midrats



In parallel efforts that in the Navy which led to Top Gun, the US Air Force looked hard at the lessons of air to air combat in the Vietnam War and brought forward "Red Flag,"

Moving beyond the technical focus, they looked to training and fundamentals to bring back a primacy of combat skills.

Our guest for the full hour Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and his new book, The Air Force Way of War: U.S. Tactics and Training after Vietnam, will be Dr. Brian D. Laslie, Deputy Command Historian, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM).

A historian of air power studies, Dr. Laslie received his Bachelor’s degree in history from The Citadel: The Military College of South Carolina, his Master’s from Auburn University Montgomery in 2006 and his Doctorate from Kansas State University in 2013.

Dr. Laslie was Honorably Discharged from the United States Air Force in 2007 as a Captain after serving as a logistics officer, doctrine instructor, and Action Officer to the Commander of Air University.

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

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.


Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that you should also get BJ's first book if you have not already, 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fullbore Friday

Around every corner there are Fullbore stories that people will never know. Many times is because the Fullbore story never gets to its final act. Many times the actors are modest and demur. Sometimes there is simply no one there to witness it.

The following is the first case, and it is one that applies to everyone who serves, active duty, reserves, guard, or perhaps even living your everyday life going to pick up the kids or fill up the car.

When you get a chance to bring one of these out in to the light for a ponder, you should. Let's do that today.

Sometimes history calls you. How do you act? Well, that is where your true character comes out;
Things are different today, ­Degnon says. At least two “hot-cocked” planes are ready at all times, their pilots never more than yards from the cockpit.

A third plane hit the Pentagon, and almost at once came word that a fourth plane could be on the way, maybe more. The jets would be armed within an hour, but somebody had to fly now, weapons or no weapons.

“Lucky, you’re coming with me,” barked Col. Marc Sasseville.

They were gearing up in the pre-flight life-support area when Sasseville, struggling into his flight suit, met her eye.

“I’m going to go for the cockpit,” Sasseville said.

She replied without hesitating.

“I’ll take the tail.”

It was a plan. And a pact.

‘Let’s go!’
Penney had never scrambled a jet before. Normally the pre-flight is a half-hour or so of methodical checks. She automatically started going down the list.

“Lucky, what are you doing? Get your butt up there and let’s go!” Sasseville shouted.

She climbed in, rushed to power up the engines, screamed for her ground crew to pull the chocks. The crew chief still had his headphones plugged into the fuselage as she nudged the throttle forward. He ran along pulling safety pins from the jet as it moved forward.
You all know how it ended, but read the whole thing anyway.

Both pilots have gone forward with your standard issue careers, and yet ... for that one moment on that beautiful September morning - history called and they stepped forward. Then, history decided to take a rain-check.

Just another entry in the log book.

I want to indulge myself on one thing. I am a father of daughters and a big goosh about them. See the pic below, that is Penny with her father, another pilot. I think the pic, especially for fathers of daughters, speaks for itself.


Hat tip WG.