Monday, February 29, 2016

The Matrix of Money and Motivation in Military Spending

Via, of all places Price Waterhouse Coopers, we have one of the more interesting graphics on the global status of defense spending priorities I have seen in awhile.

There is just so much "there" here that I can't stop looking at it.

It is from their report, Global Defense Perspectives: Mapping Prioritization and Posture in a Challenging World;
Our approach for developing these global defense perspectives looks at recent defense spending trends and the major investment, institutional, structural and strategic priorities and challenges impacting these nations.

..., we have measured and plotted these 60 nations against two dimensions: 1) how they prioritize defense spending and 2) how they position or ‘posture’ themselves in the global security environment.
Ponder.

Hat tip Claire Chu.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Year of the Monkey in the South China Sea with Dr. Toshi Yoshihara - on Midrats



Claims hundreds of year old in the South China Sea are being acted on today. Ethnic tensions that date back to recorded time are returning to the surface with renewed importance.

Regardless of what may be happening in the Middle East or Europe, China and the nations that border the South China Sea have their own set of priorities they will pursue this year.

Join us Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss the present state of play in the area and the events to look for as the year unfolds with a returning guest of the show, Dr. Toshi Yoshihara from the Naval War College.

Professor Toshi Yoshihara holds the John A. van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies and is an affiliate member of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the Naval War College. Before joining the College faculty, he was a visiting professor in the Strategy Department at the Air War College. Dr. Yoshihara has also served as an analyst at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, RAND, and the American Enterprise Institute. He holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and a B.S.F.S. from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. He is co-author of Red Star over the Pacific: China’s Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy and other books related to maritime concerns in national defense policy.

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.



Friday, February 26, 2016

Fullbore Friday

This is more of a reading assignment than anything else - this "summary" describes a ship's life in full.

When most people think of her, they think of her at her lowest point.

At 0755 on the morning of December 7, 1941, the USS PENNSYLVANIA was sitting in dry-dock in the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard. Her screws had been removed from their shafts and were resting on the bottom of the dock. She had been scheduled to leave the dock on the sixth and berth at Ten Ten Dock, immediately adjacent, but delays had been encountered, those delays probably saved the ship.

It was a normal quite Sunday morning and there was little activity aboard. The watch had just been set and the Chaplain was making preparations for the eight o'clock mass on the quarterdeck. Virtually all of the Ships Company were aboard. In view of the existing conditions general over-night liberty had not been granted.

Suddenly and with complete surprise, Japanese dive bombers and torpedo bombers roared out of the high overcast. The PENNSYLVANIA was one of the first ships in the harbor to open fire. Her 50 caliber machine gun crews had their guns in action even before
General Quarters was sounded.
But there is so much to her story. This is just a taste. From the start;
The PENNSYLVANIA was commissioned June 12, 1916, after having been authorized by Congress August 22, 1912. Her keel was laid on October 27, 1913, and she was launched at Newport News Shipbuilding Company, March 16, 1915. America's and the worlds biggest Battleship slid down the skids into her native element at 10:11 am while 20 thousand spectators cheered. Special trains from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia brought thousands to Newport News. Governor Stewart of Virginia and Governor Brumbaugh of Pennsylvania and Secretary of the Navy Daniels, were among the honored guests.

In the Fall of 1917 when Allied Naval Forces began collecting to form what was to be known as the Allied-British Grand Fleet, Sixth Battle Squadron, there was great unhappiness aboard the
USS PENNSYLVANIA, flagship of the United States Fleet. The USS PENNSYLVANIA, together with the USS NEVADA joined the Fleet in 1916 as the first two oil burning U.S. Battleships, was told that she could not hope to operate with the forces seeking out the German Navy because she was "too modern". Only coal-burning dreadnaughts were to be included in the Allied Force because no tankers could be spared to carry fuel to the British Isles (a private note: that was good for my Grandfather - he served on the USS ARKANSAS (BB-33) in WWI).
She survived to the next war - and executed her orders with style.
At this time the PENNSYLVANIA had set a record of which she could well be proud. She was the only battleship to take part in every combat amphibious operation in the Pacific Ocean Areas and the two largest operations on the Southwest Pacific Area from May 4, 1943 to February 10, 1945, from Attu through Lingayen.

In the Guam Operation alone the PENNSYLVANIA expended not counting the false start on 16 June
almost l800 rounds of l4", 10,000 rounds of 5", l4,000 rounds of 40mm and 1600 rounds of 20mm. This is probably a greater amount of ammunition than any other ship has ever fired during a single operation. And it was done without any personnel or material casualties.

Air spotters reported that the PENNSYLVANIA put out of action fifteen planes, six large guns, eight medium guns, three 5" guns, twelve 3" guns, nineteen dual purpose guns, two coast defense guns, eight large AA guns, four twin mounts, nine heavy AA guns, twelve machine guns, two anti-boat guns, numerous mortars, and much field artillery. The ship discovered and destroyed a very large ammunition storage near Adelup Point, at the time of the landing and permanently silenced them.

Since her first action at Pearl Harbor she has steamed almost 150,000 miles. Her self discipline had been excellent at all times, no man was ever lost overboard except by enemy action, she had never hit any friendly troops, installations, ships or planes and never had to report "not ready" for any operation. Nearly 150 officers and almost 1000 petty officers were trained and transferred from the PENNSYLVANIA during this period. She probably fired more ammunition than any other ship in history.
Sad that she was nuked in the end - but seeing what has happened to USS Olympia in PA - perhaps it is better this way.

If I can part with one item to perhaps cause some reflection - and hopefully humble some.

In WWII, this is what it took for a
Navy Unit Commendation.
"For outstanding heroism in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific war area from May 4, 1943 to February 10, 1945. Operating under ten separate commands, the USS PENNSYLVANIA was the only battleship to take part in every amphibious operation during this period from Attu in the Northern area to Lingayen in the Philippines. Imperiled by perpetual fog, she served as flagship of the task force commander during the Aleutians campaign and navigated in poorly charted waters to deliver her accurate broadsides on predetermined but invisible targets; intensive fire from her batteries blazed the way for our assault waves in the Gilbert's, the Marshall's and the Mariana's silencing the enemy's heavy coastal guns, locating and neutralizing camouflaged emplacements and rendering steady support for our land forces. A gallant and dependable veteran, the PENNSYLVANIA completed nearly thirty years of unfailing service by her deadly close in bombardment and gun fire support in the recapture of the Philippines, fulfilling her prolonged and vital mission without casualty to herself or her personnel by Japanese fire. Handled superbly in the face of many obstacles throughout this period, the PENNSYLVANIA achieved an illustrious combat record, reflecting the courage, skill and brilliant teamwork of the Officers who plotted her course, the Pilots who spotted her gunfire and the operational force which aided in maintaining her fighting efficiency."



This FbF first appeared in March of 2010.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Diversity Thursday

Nice article worth your time by our friend Professor Bruce Fleming at The Washington Free Beacon; Trigger Warnings in Annapolis Review: Joanna Williams, ‘Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity’.
The immediate subject of Joanna Williams’s depressing but compellingly written chronicle of the threats to Anglo-American academia over the last several decades is the concerted attack, first by the professors themselves and now by students, against the academic freedom of the title. Academic freedom is the ability of the professorate to express, explore, and teach even those ideas that don’t happen to be cut to this decade’s fashions.

Thus academic freedom and its enemies may seem initially to be a narrow issue, of interest to few outside the now dwindling number of tenured professors who thought they were free to follow truth, and who discover instead that they can be shouted down by colleagues or students who feel that what the professor is saying “supports oppression.” Even worse, in Williams’s view, are those who self-censor to get their writing published and gain advancement while avoiding disapproval.

However, the issues Williams addresses are of far wider importance than the professional interests of academics. First of all, most of the people reading a review like this will have been students at such institutions, and now may well have children going to them or hoping to do so. Indeed many readers may themselves be associated with such institutions—so central to our national economic health that President Obama suggests that virtually all young people should, for their own benefit and that of the country, go to college. Universities matter to the nation.

Williams suggests that these vital institutions have rejected reasoned discourse and become free-for-alls where individuals don’t take turns at the microphone but instead grab it, or shout down those they disagree with. In Williams’s hair-raising account, those who shout the loudest and are the most destructive are most likely to get what they want.
I've only touched on about 10% of what is going on at Annapolis with the slow but steady advance by the diversity bullies and SJW, but know this: the "trigger warning" and "micro-aggression" people are already in place, pushing their agenda, and infecting the seed corn of our future officer corps.

Most MIDN think it is a joke from what some of them tell me (and I agree), but enough of the motivated and easily convinced do not and are embracing the People's Committee mentality;
At Annapolis, certainly neither students nor faculty enjoy the freedom to pursue truth. Students (and as I have learned, faculty) at Annapolis have to parrot what the brass hand down from on high. What they hand down changes from year to year, decade to decade. In the old days, the party line was anti-gay and misogynistic. Now the winds have shifted and (voila!) we are per diktat just as enthusiastically for the inclusion of out gays and soon, clearly, transgendered individuals, as we were against it before. What civilian schools call “hate speech” (jokes about women, say) is punished at Annapolis with the full force of the military “justice” system. Being able to pursue a radical left-wing agenda with radical right-wing power is a dream of progressive politicians, and at Annapolis it has become a reality. The left wing says it wants to liberate you, but actually it wants to tell you what to do just the way the right wing does.
This is very true. For years I have been in correspondence with MIDN, and they act like they are taking huge risks even emailing me. Once they get over that hump and are comfortable to share more, I learn that they just wanted to let me know that they are disgusted as we are, but they cannot speak out. They cannot write. 

The most upset of my correspondents at the 3rd Wave Leftist cant coming out of Annapolis have been the female MIDN. Based upon what they have told me about the ideology of some of the female officers appointed over them - I don't blame them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

So, a BB and a LCS walk in to a bar ...

On 07 Dec 41, the USS MARYLAND (BB-46) suffered the following damage;
Maryland was struck by two armor-piercing bombs which detonated low on her hull. The first struck the forecastle awning and made a hole about 12 ft (3.7 m) by 20 ft (6.1 m). The second exploded after entering the hull at the 22 ft (6.7 m) water level at Frame 10. The latter hit caused flooding and increased the draft forward by 5 ft (1.5 m). Maryland continued to fire and, after the attack, sent firefighting parties to assist her compatriots, especially attempting to rescue survivors from the capsized Oklahoma.[7] The men continued to muster the AA defenses in case the Japanese returned to attack. In all, two officers and two men were killed in the attack.
...on 30 December, the damaged ship entered Puget Sound Navy Yard for repairs just behind Tennessee. Two of the original twelve 5 in/51 cal guns were removed and the 5 in/25 cal guns were replaced by an equal number of 5 in/38 cal dual purpose guns. Over the course of several months, she was repaired and overhauled, receiving new fighting equipment. Repairs were complete on 26 February 1942. She then underwent a series of shakedown cruises to West Coast ports and the Christmas Islands. She was sent back into action in June 1942, the first ship damaged at Pearl Harbor to return to duty.
Repaired in 2.5 months and then back on deployment in 6. All while much of the Pacific fleet was demanding every bit of ship repair capability as possible.

Benchmark.

Now;
The littoral combat ship Fort Worth remains sidelined at Singapore's Changi Naval Base, waiting both for the results of a mishap investigation into how major portions of the ship's propulsion gear was damaged and a decision on where to fix the ship.

Several sources indicated the LCS needs between six to 12 months in a shipyard to repair the damage sustained in Singapore during a pierside accident while undergoing scheduled maintenance Jan. 12.
Noted.

The Damming of the Free Flow of Information

As some of you know by now, after an over eight year presence on Facebook with thousands of followers there alone, I have been declared as persona no grata by the powers that be. 

Actually, that isn't completely true. Just as Mark Twain never had a passport, CDR Salamander does not have a photo ID. Millions of profiles are on FB that don't have one either, but they get by. They just don't acquire enemies like so many beggarweeds. You have enough people report you as not receiving a 1099 in the same name as your FB account, and there you go.

Well, it is a shame. I put some original stuff on there, like my recent commentary on the Imperial City, that I can no longer access, but no big deal. Skipper, Old Blue and a few others have been given boot too. Such is life.

I was thinking about this as I have been watching the slow motion train wreck that has been twitter in the last few weeks. There is something going on, what it is ain't exactly clear - but this much is; it is not trending in the direction of individual liberty.

I'm old enough that I remember when the internet was supposed to be this great open space for rough and tumble discussion. Regulars on the Front Porch here know that those who have a fetish for the jack-boot have always tried to silence those who differed in thoughts than their blinkered views - but they always seemed to lose out to the default towards freedom. Not any more. Freedom is waning.

If you don't like something, don't read it. If you don't want to hear something, block it, unfollow it, generally get on with your life. Sticks and stones may break my bones and all that. 

Well, no. In 2016, the bullies and fascists are on the march. Like rust, they never sleep.

Of all I have read recently, no one has put it together better than William A. Jacobson over at LegalInsurrection.

He starts out reviewing what some of those younger readers never knew - the salad days when I started blogging in 2004;
I’m so old I remember when conservative blogs and websites used to communicate with each other on email lists and by frequent linking to each other.

When Legal Insurrection started in October 2008, that was how we let the world know we existed and what we were writing. So-called “blog whoring,” whereby smaller blogs clogged the inboxes of people at larger websites hoping for a link, was how it was done. This website would not have thrived without the appreciated links from Instapundit, Hot Air, Michelle Malkin, and dozens of other blogs.

Our Twitter page says we joined in December 2008, but I think it was another year or so before Twitter became a central communication focus for conservatives. In those “early” days I remember conservatives dominating Twitter — the common wisdom was that liberals ruled on Facebook and conservatives ruled on Twitter. That has changed over time, and liberals are just as if not more influential on Twitter.

Along the way Twitter changed how conservatives interacted. Who needed mass emails when we could send a tweet and be seen by other conservatives? That ease of interaction and ability to mobilize people had a downside. I credit/blame Twitter for the demise of most smaller conservative websites.

I went through our blogroll recently, and deleted dozens of links to defunct or barely functioning conservative blogs. It was truly shocking how many no longer exist or rarely post. Part of it certainly is dreaded Blogger Burnout. But part of it is that Twitter is the new blogosphere.

Twitter helped destroy the conservative ecosystem of small blogs by replacing it with something easier to use and more effective.

But in the process, I can’t help but feel we have become prisoners of Twitter.
I remember it well. From bookmarks on the browser, to RSS feeds, to email - even pimp'n posts to those who started earlier. Checking where you were in the TTLB Ecosystem. Sigh.

That is why the recent changes at twitter, where they have brought on a strange mix of Star Chamber and French Terror committee, has left me a bit flummoxed. In a blink of an eye, what was once a libertarian bastion has become almost Stalinist;
Baldwin, who currently stars in the TNT hit show ‘The Last Ship,’ tells Independent Journal Review that Twitter’s new policy of punishing users for speech it finds “offensive” is the reason for his departure from the social platform:

“It’s really a shame that so-called ‘liberal thinkers’ and the so called ‘tolerant crowd’ is intolerant of varying viewpoints. They’re so afraid to hear people disagree with them. Instead of ignoring it or providing their own arguments in return, they say “shut up!”
“I’ve had enough. Twitter is dead to me,” Baldwin tells us, “I’m going to find greener pastures elsewhere and I’m not coming back.”
...
Baldwin cites the banning of prominent conservative tweeter Robert Stacy McCain as a major reason for leaving and points to a recent article by The Federalist for an explanation of the situation:

On Friday, Twitter suspended the account of Robert Stacy McCain, a conservative blogger and dogged critic of feminism, apparently without warning or explanation. This has led, in true Twitter fashion, to protests under the hashtag #FreeStacy.

Only a few weeks earlier, Twitter had announced the creation of a “Trust and Safety Council,” to which it appointed Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist known for denouncing “sexism” in video games, a prominent figure in the Gamergate controversy—and oh yes, a frequent target of criticism from McCain. So it sure looks like the moment Twitter gave Sarkeesian the power to do so, she started blackballing her critics.
Baldwin tells us Sarkeesian’s role in the new Safety council directly affected his decision.
The lights are going out all over the place. To be frank, I'm a little bit flatfooted on knowing what to do about it. Let's go to PopeHat;
I don’t have any problem with Twitter deciding that it wants to be less of a shithole and more of a place where people can go to express themselves and read other peoples’ expressions without it turning into an intellectual trash-heap. Remember: it’s their site, their rules.

Nevertheless, I do fault Twitter for is its hypocrisy and its outright lies about what it claims that it is doing. Twitter is not at all interested in making Twitter a "nicer" place, nor promoting more constructive discourse. Twitter is taking a side in the culture wars, and it has chosen that it will be the destination of choice for the "social justice warriors" echo chamber.

A stark example came to light this weekend when Milo Yiannopoulos discovered that his account had suffered the “discipline” of having his official public figure status revoked. On Twitter, the real public figures get a blue checkmark next to their names so that people realize that they’re dealing with the real celebrity, and not one of any number of imposters, impersonators, or satirists. Mr. Yiannopoulos is, for those who are uninitiated, a conservative who frequently disagrees with the “social justice warrior” mentality. And that’s strike one against him. Yiannopoulos had the audacity to disagree with certain politically correct notions, and thus he was subjected to this minor form of discipline.
...
There’s not a damn way that his account would have suffered any discipline at all had his views not been from the disfavored side of the debate. For all Twitter’s lip service to freedom of expression and prevention of abuse, Twitter believes in neither. As Allum Bokhari wrote, "The fingerprints of social justice warriors, who delight in redefining political disagreement as “harassment,” are all over this new rule. Twitter’s reputation for arbitrary, politically-motivated punishment looks set to grow."

In fact, in order to test Twitter’s so-called newfound prevention of harassment, I have tracked a number of Twitter accounts and even have set up decoy accounts. In what I've tracked, so far, pretty strong “harassment” emanating from accounts that purport to promote a "social justice" or feminist agenda remain unscathed – even with pretty extreme content, up to and including death threats. However, even slightly offensive messages coming from conservative voices wind up being disciplined. Thus far, the experiment has not gone on long enough to actually call it "scientific," so I'm not going to say that the early stages of studying the bias in Twitter suspensions is ready for prime time – but it is certainly confirming what we hypothesized.

Twitter, we see through your bullshit. It’s okay, you can simply announce that you’ve decided to take a side in the culture wars and you’re just not going to apply the rules the same way to conservatives as you will to liberals. You can say you’re going to discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, and anything else you want. But please don’t pander to us by trying to tell that this has anything to do with “harassment” or “free speech.” Somebody, or a group of somebodies in your organization has a political agenda and you’re going to use your power, diminishing as it is, to promote that agenda. That’s allowed. Maybe it will even make you more popular than ever, but just cut the lies. Because some of us are watching and we know better.
For now, I'm still on twitter. I'm also on Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Yik Yak and all that jazz ... but nothing seems to work or build community like facebook did and twitter once had.

I'm not sure if everyone sees what is going on here. There is a top-down narrowing of voices. Facebook and twitter are selling their souls and businesses for an ideology that is based on exclusion, punishment, and just petty bullying.

If you are interested in more detail on twitter specifically, TechRaptor is a must read.

Monday, February 22, 2016

So Sal, if the Balloon Goes Up - What Keeps You Up at Night?

As a side-bar on yesterday's Midrats, I mentioned one of the areas that I believe is being almost criminally left behind in the whole "distributed lethality" and "warfighting first" talking points - the Lightweight Torpedo.

As is the lesson in all wars of the last century and even recently with the Swedes playing with Russians - if you only have one tool on the terminal end of your anti-submarine warfare kit, you are set up to fail.

In a combination of arrogance and complacency, we have been drifting for decades with only one way for a non-submarine to kill a submarine, the lightweight torpedo.

I need to stop right there. Those who know, know exactly what I am taking about when it come to this issue from both a quality, quantity, and ... well ... enough said.

With that out on the table, if these following paragraphs don't make you pray for peace, I don't know what will.
In 2013, the Navy ordered the MK-54 MOD 0 array and transmitters. The MK-54’s sonar array and transmitters hadn’t been produced since the Navy completed MK-50 production in the mid-1990s, as the MK-54’s common parts were just taken from older MK-50 stocks. The new MOD 0s are substantially the same design, but obsolete parts and material have been switched for modern electronics. A new receiver is also part of Northrop Grumman’s contract, and the technology refresh and proof of design testing were accomplished by Advanced Research Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University (ARL PSU).

The MK 54 MOD 1 LWT kit is an upgrade that adds a new sonar array assembly, and improved processing capability. The full kit includes a 112-element array, transmitter, receiver, Processor Group Assembly (PGA), Modular Recording and Exercise Control System Second generation (MRECS2), and associated cables. It’s still a developmental product, under a SBIR Phase III framework. Progeny Systems Corporation, of Manassas, VA owns the intellectual property rights, so they’ve been the sole-source for all contracts.
In the name of all that his holy.

If you want my revised and extended remarks, reactivate my clearance and let's go behind the cipher door. Until then, until this is fixed, pray for peace.


Hat tip Lee.

Post-SC Primary and looking to the SEC Primary ... and April's Season Opener of GoT ...

Laugh, cry, or scream. I think I will start this week with laughing ... sigh.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Midrats February Free For All



We're back live after a mid-winter break this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern!

If there were some topics you'd like us to cover, or want to call in with a question for the hosts - now is your time.

We have a full and open hour. Call in at the number above or join in the chatroom as we catch up on the developments in the national security arena this month.

From the Med, to the South China Sea, to shipbuilding, to Syria, and whatever else strikes our fancy, we'll be there.

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.



Friday, February 19, 2016

Fullbore Friday


Via Sid's suggestion and tin-can.org, the fuzzy-face Navy at its best.
Rowan was a Gearing class destroyer commissioned too late in World War II to see any combat. That changed just a few years later when she was bloodied for the first time during the "Forgotten War" when she took a medium caliber shell hit in her starboard quarter, damaging the after steering compartment and causing a number of casualties. She had been providing counter-battery fire against North Korean shore batteries when she was hit. And counter-battery would prove to be her specialty in another twenty year.
...
27 August 1972 ... the skipper came on the 1MC again confirming that Rowan was, indeed, going to raid Haiphong harbor in a matter of hours along with Newport News, USS Providence (CLG 6) and USS Robison (DDG 12).
...
We went into battle well prepared. Rowan was amongst the sharpest shooters in the Navy having had more gunnery practice under combat conditions with the same crew during the few months leading up to this night than few ships have in a lifetime. Moreover, Rowan had just had her guns relined in Yokosuka and the 80 plus rounds of 5" HE that we could put into a precise area in under a minute was devastating. The Shrikes were a plus; but, the plethora of fire control radars in and around Haiphong overwhelmed the four missiles that we had at the ready. In the final analysis, it was the experience and solidarity of her crew that gave Rowan her edge.

Initially it seemed like another LINEBACKER II raid. I felt the ship heal and slow as we turned onto our twenty knot firing run. I heard the guns in action and the Shrikes firing at varying intervals. While the action seemed heavier than normal, it wasn't any more than what I had been expecting. After the firing run I felt Rowan again heal in a tight turn. The blowers in the fireroom just aft increase in pitch and the wave noise from the ship's passage increase as we worked up to the thirty plus knots for our getaway. The command over the 1MC to "Now set condition YOKE" was the next thing we expected to hear. It came in due course and I had just taken off my phones and was opening the scuttle in the hatch above preparing for the "Secure from GQ" command when the captain's voice came over the 1MC. "This is the Captain speaking. It's not over yet! We've two high-speed surface contacts closing fast! Reset condition ZEBRA. Re-man all General Quarters stations."
Then three things happened virtually at once: The whine from the fireroom increased to a crescendo, the height of which I had never before heard as Rowan worked up to over thirty-five knots; she started to heal one way and then reverse her rudder and heal hard over in the opposite direction; and the guns were firing at a frantic rate.
...
ET2 Richard Spicer kept a contemporary log of his time in Rowan . An excerpt from his log of that night stirred many memories for all that have read it. "27 Aug 72 2230 Hrs. I was at my GQ station in the crypto room in radio central, when we went to general quarters at the start of the operation. It was a good place to be to hear what was going on, as we had tac-air and Navy-red frequencies up on remotes and listening in on the battle group! That was one night I had my life vest on good and secure!" From the log, "Arrived at Haiphong harbor with the USS Newport News, USS Providence, and USS Robison. At 2230 GQ is sounded, 2310 all ships came to firing course. At 2325 all ships are ordered to go "hot" and commenced firing at coastal gun sites, NVA barracks and other targets. ECM in CIC now sees three cross slot gun site radars radiating, and we now are receiving counter battery! All ships are continuing firing at their targets, still receiving counter battery. Oh shit they are hitting real close now! Providenceand Robison turn out to sea as they have fired their rounds at targets, leaving the Newport News and us in the harbor. The Newport News and we keep firing, when ECM gets a bearing on a cross slot radar site and we launch our first Shrike anti-radar missile at it. This is from our new "SOB" system (Shrike on board). [Seven] min. later another cross slot radar is radiating at us and the second Shrike bird is launched. We are still receiving counter battery and lots of it! Newport News is still providing cover for us, with her 8-inch guns. We see another cross slot radar come up and fire our last two shrikes at it, this time hitting the site! With our entire Shrike missiles fired the Newport News and we turn out to sea at 26knts. As fast as we can. We are still taking heavy counter battery, and sonar reports closest hits at 20 yards off the port bow. We are hauling ass out to sea when radar sees Skunk-A at 17,000 yards closing at 48knts. We request to go hot on Skunk-A and turn 180 degrees to go back and provide cover for Newport News and shoot at Skunk-A. We are shooting at Skunk-A, now at 9,000 yards and closing [on the] stbd. beam. Newport News and we continue shooting at Skunk-Alfa when CIC radar sees Skunk-Bravo closing in on us. But we have tac-air cover and they take Skunk-Bravo. The Newport News and we connect on Skunk-Alfa, a torpedo boat with Russian [Stix] missiles on it, and sink it while tac-air sinks Skunk-Bravo!
...
Dana Perkins who was a SM3 at the time was manning his GQ station on the exposed signal bridge. Perkins relates, "I remember the night of the Haiphong Harbor pretty well. I don't think they passed the word of our objective until shortly before General Quarters, as I'm sure the mission was of utmost importance and secret. Also I think that they didn't want us to have much time to think about what was about to unfold. As a signalman I was on the highest point on the ship and had a clear view of all the action. Myself and three other signalmen were manning the Redeye shoulder fired missiles, loaded, armed and ready to squeeze the trigger in the event the time should come. When we started to see the lit shoreline and the lighted buoys of the harbor, make no mistake about it, the tension was high. All of a sudden the whole shoreline lit up with counter battery, spewing bright fireballs as each round was fired at us. The North Vietnamese weren't using flashless powder like we had. At one time I remember counting about 22 shore batteries rapid firing at the squadron. The shells were dropping all around us like seagull shit, leaving thunderous columns of white spray as they splashed into the ocean. Some of the shells were proximity and burst in the air. I remember one shell passed over the Rowanand burst in the air, causing the shrapnel to hit the side of the ship. I think it put some heavy-duty dents on the starboard side of the ship along the upper outer passageway. Luckily no one was hit! The whole time the ships in the squadron were firing on their intended targets with gunmounts and Shrike missiles. It was like the most intense 4th of July display I'd ever seen. The Newport News was off our port side at about 270 relative position, rapid firing her 8-inch guns and launching missiles as fast as they could get them off the deck. All of a sudden the word came over the sound powered phone that we had 2 torpedo boats, (Russian Osha class I believe) about 80 feet long coming out to attack. The guys in the magazine were jamming whatever shells they could get their hands on into the hoist. The first round that we hit one of those boats with was actually a practice starburst round and it tore right through it. The second round did explode. I think an A-6 Intruder came in and finished it off with an air to surface missile. The Newport News I believe sank the other boat. All I could think about the whole time was how un-watertight some of those hatches on the old Rowan were. Luckily we got past them and then the word came in that there were some inbound bogeys [MiGs] headed our way. I white knuckled the pistol grip of that Redeye missile and prepared for whatever was about to happen. At about 30 miles inbound we pushed the power button and the gyro on the missile head whined as it spooled up. Adrenaline was in overdrive by now. Then at about 20 miles out, we got word that they turned away and were outbound. I guess they knew the deck was stacked against them! As we turned away (at probably flank speed I might add), the shore batteries were trying their damnedest to get in a few last shots at us. We were out of sight of land and an occasional round was still reaching us and splashing into the ocean. The whole event probably didn't take 15 minutes but seemed like an eternity with all the action going on. The next day I remember as a chill passed through me, they told us that we weren't that far from the mines that were dropped at the harbor entrance. Thanks for that comforting bit of info." Note: The air support, whether it was an A-6 Intruder or an A-7 Corsair II, came from an attack squadron flying from USS Coral Sea (CV 43).


That's how it was to the best of our fading memories. A veteran destroyer with a veteran crew fighting the U.S. Navy's last night surface gun battle. Perhaps, also, it was the last of a long tradition of destroyers placing themselves between a heavier ship and harms way.

This was originally posted on 19 Feb 2010.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Diversity Thursday

Time for a big pixel DivThu: why do this?

I don't like this topic. I find each post on the topic depressing to do. I find excuses not to do it every few weeks. However, like cleaning the toilet, it must be done. Well, that, and when I don't do it or the few times I hint that I will stop doing it, I am flooded by notes from civilians to Flag Officers asking me not to.

So, it is good to be loved. Also, that is where my most entertaining trolls come from. Sure, they threaten my family and livelihood now and then, but that too comes with the territory - and that is the nature of the people who rely on hate and division for their paycheck.

Enough of that. You came here for your weekly dose of outrage, so let's dive in to it.

The modern incarnation of "diversity" is actually as old as the hills. It taps in to lower brain functions of tribalism and group hate, and has found its purchase in a variety of ideas through time. In the end, it has everything to do with using hate and division to control the intellectually flaccid, and as a result, give those who push it what they want, power.

That is why in a free society, it must be fought. It erodes all that The Enlightenment brought us. It destroys free thought, and discourages critical thinking and open discourse.

It is worst in our education system and our government - places where control through threat is easiest to access. A great overview of the mindset and habits of this cancer can be found in an article from late last year by Jonathan Haidt.
They curse professors and spit on visiting speakers at Yale. They shut down newspapers at Wesleyan. They torment a dean who was trying to help them at Claremont McKenna. They threaten and torment fellow students at Dartmouth. And in all cases, they demand that adults in power DO SOMETHING to punish those whose words and views offend them. Their high schools have thoroughly socialized them into what sociologists call victimhood culture, which weakens students by turning them into “moral dependents” who cannot deal with problems on their own. They must get adult authorities to validate their victim status.
So they issue ultimatums to college presidents, and, as we saw at Yale, the college presidents meet their deadlines, give them much of what they demanded, commit their schools to an ever tighter embrace of victimhood culture, and say nothing to criticize the bullying, threats, and intimidation tactics that have created a culture of intense fear for anyone who might even consider questioning the prevailing moral matrix. What do you suppose a conversation about race or gender will look like in any Yale classroom ten years from now? Who will dare to challenge the orthodox narrative imposed by victimhood culture? The “Next Yale” that activists are demanding will make today’s Centerville High look like Plato’s Academy by comparison.
You really need to read it all, but I especially enjoyed this brief exchange with students from one of the elite prep schools. It mirrors almost perfectly what you can find in our Navy;
Me: What kind of intellectual climate do you want here at Centerville? Would you rather have option A: a school where people with views you find offensive keep their mouths shut, or B: a school where everyone feels that they can speak up in class discussions? 
Audience: All hands go up for B. 
Me: OK, let’s see if you have that. When there is a class discussion about gender issues, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking? Or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the girls in the class, raise your hand if you feel you can speak up? [about 70% said they feel free, vs about 10% who said eggshells ]. Now just the boys? [about 80% said eggshells, nobody said they feel free]. 
Me: Now let’s try it for race. When a topic related to race comes up in class, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking, or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the non-white students? [the group was around 30% non-white, mostly South and East Asians, and some African Americans. A majority said they felt free to speak, although a large minority said eggshells] Now just the white students? [A large majority said eggshells]\ 
Me: Now lets try it for politics. How many of you would say you are on the right politically, or that you are conservative or Republican? [6 hands went up, out of 60 students]. Just you folks, when politically charged topics come up, can you speak freely? [Only one hand went up, but that student clarified that everyone gets mad at him when he speaks up, but he does it anyway. The other 5 said eggshells.] How many of you are on the left, liberal, or democrat? [Most hands go up] Can you speak freely, or is it eggshells? [Almost all said they can speak freely.] 
Me: So let me get this straight. You were unanimous in saying that you want your school to be a place where people feel free to speak up, even if you strongly dislike their views. But you don’t have such a school. In fact, you have exactly the sort of “tolerance” that Herbert Marcuse advocated [which I had discussed in my lecture, and which you can read about here]. You have a school in which only people in the preferred groups get to speak, and everyone else is afraid. What are you going to do about this? Let’s talk.
Any embrace of the anti-intellectual, sectarian, divisive, Cultural Marxist philosophy that is the modern diversity movement by our Navy is at best a threat to good order and discipline; at worst the antithesis to what the military of a representative republic should even let through the gate. 

From your command representative of the diversity industry to the cadre of paid consultants brought in to speak, lecture, and spread their poison, and yes - even to our shipmates that have defiled themselves in to specializing in diversity and gender studies specialties at our institutions of higher learning - they should be shunned and shamed. Treat them as respectful military professionals in the Soviet Union treated their political officers. After all, that is their heritage, make them own it.

Do we coddle, or should we build a culture of intellectual challenge? The below video is highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Money, Shrug'n, and Un-made Beds

I've been pondering some of the gall and cognitive disconnect coming out of the Munich Conference over at USNIBlog if you'd like to check it out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Friends Come and Go; Enemies Accumulate

In general, when I hear that someone who served is running for office, I nod my head with a validating eyebrow that says, "Good. We need more of that."

Not everyone that serves should get a pass though. There are great people who have never served, and some who have that should really just ... well ... not even.

In the course of a life, especially one that tries to transfer what you did while you served to make a living when you become a civilian, you will gather friends and opponents. That is only natural.

When you decide to go political you should have a dog, a thick skin, and be prepared. It is fine and a natural part of the vetting process.

That is why it is interesting to see to what degree a candidate takes incoming fire, the nature of the fire, its accuracy, and intensity. When that fire comes what should be friendly territory, then it is time to take notice.

Today's case in point; Eric Robert Greitens, the soon to be 42 year old former SEAL, aspiring politician, and author of three books of a rather peculiar genre of what may be best described as self-referential self-improvement books.

His latest venture, after party-shopping, is to go for the Governor's billet in the Show Me State.

As the story is complicated, I will let the video below speak for itself. I've asked around a bit, and from some exceptionally reliable sources that have zip to do with MO politics (NB: neither do I, as a matter of fact MO is one of only 11 States I have not been to), the points made in the below video roughly check out. 

Who made the video and why? They answer that here - but for now, watch the video and investigate for yourself.



The story is in the press the last few days, and he has replied on his website here, and a few others are coming to his defense.

This is bizarre and I think the next month or so things will flesh themselves out. He really needs to flesh out his record he has on his website. If you are going to do that ... do that. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Realism We Should All Agree On, but Won't

Uncomfortable truths.

You have to reach a point that you simply put aside what you may have believed the world was, to be, or could be, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, a year ago - or even a month.

Accept that the world simply is what it is and that you have to make the best of it. Sometimes, it is just picking the least worst of bad options, or adopting a resignation that your path was not the one chosen. Perhaps for better, perhaps for worst - but we don't know for sure "what if," only what is. 

There is also a point in time where moving forward is accepting that some people you respect need to be ignored, and on the other side of the coin - people who you used to ignore, now need to be listened to.

There are things you know need to be done, but know that for some reason or set of reasons, cannot be done. Politically, economically, or just the priorities of those who hold the levers of power being what they are - things just won't happen and as a result other things will.

There is a reality today that you know didn't have to be. If something was not done or was acted on at a certain point in time, then a problem that we are facing now wouldn't be here. If that one person in that one place of influence had not been there, then we would or would not have done something that would have changed all.

It didn't. They didn't. We are.

Well, that is simply how history works. After awhile, you have to stop screaming in to the wind and playing "what if." You close your eyes, take a deep breath - and then open your eyes to look at the world with ease.

And so, we reach a point to look at 2016 and see what, in an election year of all things, we need to accept. That or we fight to change it. Do you feel the desire from leadership to fight any of these things? A push from an actionable plurality of the citizens to?

Ahem.

Three items where realism is breaking above the ambient noise.

First to the great never-was-has-been of US national security policy, Syria.
... Russia’s policy should be ours: prevent the fall of Bashar al-Assad’s government, craft a new regime that would include Assad or his supporters, and then work for a cease-fire.

The fall of Assad would create a catastrophic power vacuum like those that have turned Iraq and Libya into terrorist havens. This would be bad for the United States, and even worse for Russia and Iran. We should recognize this common interest, and work with countries that want what we want.

This may seem eminently logical, but the very suggestion is hateful in Washington. It violates a central precept of the liberal/conservative, Republican-Democrat foreign policy consensus: Russia is our eternal enemy, so anything that promotes Russia’s interests automatically undermines ours — and that goes double for Iran. Instead of clinging to this dangerously outdated with-us-or-against-us mantra, we should realize that countries with which we differ in some areas can be our partner in others. Russia is an ideal example.
In your brain, ignore your heart if you still have one, you know this is true.

The Navy wants a Pacific Pivot? Well, isn't that cute.
Russia has re-emerged as the number one threat to the US. So if there’s a pivot happening anywhere it’s to Europe, and it’s clear the Army will lead.

President Obama’s last budget request more than quadrupled the amount of overseas contingency operations (OCO) money funneled into what is being called the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI).

The $3.4 billion in fiscal 2017 funding is part of an effort to deter Russia’s military aggression in Eastern Europe and to bolster allies’ defense capabilities.

And it’s clear that the majority of those dollars — $2.8 billion of it — are Army green.

The majority of the Army’s OCO boost in the budget is due to ERI, Maj. Gen. Thomas Horlander, the Army’s budget director, said.

Prior to 2014, before Russia annexed Crimea and invaded Ukraine, it would have been hard to imagine seeing a renewed Cold War-like posture in Europe.

“I never thought I’d see a land war in Europe again but when I went to Ukraine you saw it,” Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, director of operations, readiness and mobilization in the Army G-3, said.
Besides a few sandy beach replenishment projects that are one super-typhoon away from vanishing, where is China any where close to being as much of a threat to their neighbors as Russia is to hers?

Finally - and this is hard to believe - reality has set in to true nature of the invasion of Europe to the degree that even John Frack'n Kerry, who served in Vietnam, is going Salamander;
And the flood of desperate migrants has now spread well beyond the Middle East. As we know, 50 percent of the people now knocking on the door of Europe – with a whole industry that’s been created to try to help move them and some very perverse politics in certain places that turns the dial up and down for political purposes – half of them now come from places other than Syria. Think about that – Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan. So the burdens of Europe, which is already facing a complex economic, political, and social strain, is now even more intense. And I want to make it clear to all of you: We in the United States aren’t sitting across the pond thinking somehow we’re immune. We’re not sitting there saying this is your problem, not ours – no. This is our problem. The United States of America understands the near existential nature of this threat to the politics and fabric of life in Europe – and that is why we are joining now in enforcing a NATO mission to close off a key access route, and that is why we will join with you in other ways to stem this tide because of the potential of its damage to the fabric of a united Europe. ‎
See? This is why you need to read CDRSalamander every day. Eventually, even John Frack'n Kerry, who served in Vietnam, comes around.

Happy Monday to you, and hopefully I have given you one less reason not to day-drink. Cheers!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fullbore Friday

I like traditional FbF. Let's go OldSchool.

Let me set the stage for you.

You have had a fairly
successful career for a Naval Officer. The highlights included shortly after Commissioning, finding yourself in the middle of an insurrection overseas. With a grab bag of Allies, the insurrection is put down, and due to your actions, you get a quick promotion to Lieutenant.

You continue to excel and a dozen years later you find yourself promoted to Commander. War comes soon thereafter, and a successful series of ships later, you are promoted to Captain and shortly after the war ends given Command of a Cruiser.

Peacetime was not good for you though. Less than a year after Command at Sea, you find yourself at Court Martial for insubordination during your Shore Command. You survive the Court Martial, but two years later the inevitable "peace dividend" arrives and so do the forced retirement boards.

25 years of Commissioned service and weakened by the Court Martial, the expected happens. You retire and return with your wife and family to country living away from the sea - content in your civilian life.

16 years pass. You are 60 years old. History, as it does, intervenes.

Your nation is at war again. There is only one thing to do. You volunteer. You go to sea. You get Command.

Folks, I present to you a man, and officer, of the highest caliber. If you need to measure yourself by others - you could do much worse than Captain Edward Coverley Kennedy, RN.

His command at age 60? HMS Rawalpindi, built in 1925, an Armed Merchant Cruiser (a converted passenger ship). The
ship you go to war with.
During her refit RAWALPINDI was armed with eight 6-inch guns built in 1900 and two 3-inch gun mounts, the crew learning that they saw service in the First World War. The passenger liner’s aft funnel was removed, as were most of the civilian luxuries leaving a bare bones passenger liner. By mid September HMS RAWALPINDI was out of the yard as an AMC, heading for the RN Base at Scapa Flow to begin conducting patrols in the Atlantic that would last three weeks at a time.
And what are you facing?
SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU were ... 38,000 tons and armed with nine 11-inch guns as their main armament and twelve 5.9-inch guns as their secondary battery. With a speed of 31 knots and a crew of over 1450 sailors, they were at the time the most advanced battleships built by Germany.
From the TimesOnline, here is his story - the story of the HMS Rawalpindi.
On the bridge of the British ship , on November 23, 1939, stood Captain Edward Coverley Kennedy, a 60-year-old Scot, father of the late Sir Ludovic Kennedy, with a distinguished naval career behind him, who had come out of retirement to command the Rawalpindi. Its role was to intercept merchant vessels carrying grain to Germany but, in the darkening afternoon, Captain Kennedy saw something far more threatening — the silhouette of an enemy battleship.
...
In fact there were two – the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, each weighing 32,000 tons, with a maximum speed of 31 knots, and fitted with state-of-the-art guns and armour plating. The British ship stood no chance. Kennedy took immediate evasive action but was outrun. Ordered to surrender, he faced a momentous choice — whether to give in or to fight.

Turning to his chief engineer, he remarked calmly: “We’ll fight them both, they’ll sink us, and that will be that. Goodbye.” They shook hands.

The Rawalpindi’s first salvos hit the Gneisenau but fell short of the Scharnhorst. Both ships opened fire, to devastating effect. Fifteen minutes later it was all over.

They destroyed the
Rawalpindi’s bridge, wireless room, gunnery control room and engine room, plunging the ship in darkness and disabling the electric ammunition hoists. Kennedy ordered shells to be pulled up by hand and rolled to the guns, now forced to fire independently. Although the ship was on fire the guns kept firing, scoring hits on both German vessels. But as Kennedy went aft with two ratings to organise a smokescreen, they were met by another enemy salvo. All three were instantly killed.
By this stage Rawalpindi’s steering gear was out of action, her water supply had failed and her guns fell silent. As the crew took to the lifeboats, a shell the Scharnhorst penetrated Rawalpindi’s forward magazine, causing a huge explosion. The ship split in two and began to sink.

The loss of her Captain and nearly all her 300 crew was a devastating blow so early in the war. But back home, the engagement caught the public’s imagination. The
press portrayed the action as a sign that the fighting spirit of the Royal Navy had not been broken. Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, spoke of Kennedy in the same breath as Drake, Hood and Nelson.
Some can look at this as folly, bravado, or worse. Really?

No, that is focus on mission and understanding your place in war - and the fact that in war, you don't choose your role or your moment.

Among naval historians, controversy still surrounds Kennedy’s orders, which had been been to evade action, not seek it out. But, in fact, the circumstances of that day left him with no alternative. The Rawalpindi did its best to seek the shelter of a fog bank, and sent out smoke floats, which failed to ignite. An iceberg four miles away offered better protection, but it was too late. The outcome of Kennedy’s refusal to surrender led to the loss of his ship and most of its crew. But it was also a significant setback for the German navy. Not only did the Rawalpindi inflict damage on the two battleships but it ensured that they gave up any notion of breaking out into the Atlantic, ...
With today's communication, we often forget what it was like for those whose loved ones were at sea in WWII.
Captain Kennedy’s daughter, Katherine Calvocoressi, 82, (was) Aged 12, (when) she had learned of her father’s death on the radio: “We were living in a cottage in Scotland with no telephone and my mother heard it on the 9 o’clock news.

“My sister and I had gone up to bed and my mother came rushing upstairs saying, ‘Girls, you must come down!’ She told us what had happened, which was a huge shock. I remember saying, ‘Perhaps Daddy’s one of the survivors?’ and my mother replying, ‘
No, he was the Captain’. She was an extremely strong character.”
As a side-note, for you Anglophiles here is a link to his son, Sir Ludovic Kennedy.


This FbF first appeared in FEB10.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Diversity Thursday

Priorities and selective selectivity.

From the Severn School for Wayward Boys and Girls. 

On Fat Tuesday;
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David [redacted] [redacted]@usna.edu
Date: Mon, Feb 8, 2016 at 8:09 AM
Subject: Guest Speaker Tara Allison - Transgender Experiences and Family Life - Tues, 9 FEB, 1230, R102
To: [redacted]

With the recent DoD policy changes related to transgender military service members and the forthcoming working committee results, we are fortunate to have Ms. (sic) Tara Allison talk with us about her (sic) experiences related to transgender families. For many of us, we probably have never met anyone who is transgender and this is good opportunity to gain perspective and learn. Tara is a 1987 graduate of USNA and served as a Nuclear Submarine Officer before transitioning to civilian life and becoming a lawyer.

Please join us on Tuesday, February 9th at 1230 in Rickover 102 to hear Tara Allison talk about her (sic) experiences as a transgender woman (sic), family life, and life before/after her gender transition.

Who: Ms. (sic) Tara Allison
When: Tuesday, February 9th, 1230-1315
Where: Rickover 102

CAPT David [redacted], USN, Ph.D.
Permanent Military Professor
Leadership, Ethics and Law Department
[redacted]
112 Cooper Road, Stop 7b
U.S. Naval Academy
Annapolis, MD 21402
[redacted]@usna.edu
(410) 293-[redacted]
Interesting anti-science from a biology POV, but anyway - note the desire to promote awareness. Note the all so cutting edge socio-political follower hipsterdom.

Yawn.

The next day was Ash Wednesday. From what I have been told, about half the Brigade of MIDN are Catholic.

What do they cater in? Mission BBQ. BBQ, on the day Catholics can't eat meat.

Who knows, maybe they'll have and Eid dinner with pork chops ... but I doubt it.

Celebration of some kinds of diversity are more important than others.

Yes, this is a petty DivThu ... but a funny one.

Hat tip Y.