Wednesday, August 31, 2016

CNO Goes Salamander on LCS?

Well, he didn't go full Salamander - just part Salamander.

You never go full Salamander.

I'm reviewing over at USNIBlog. Come visit and let me know what you think.

Monday's post is over 600 comments, let's see what we can generate over at USNIBlog.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

National Security Welfare Queens Ask for More Benefits

The audacity of the entitled and spoiled.

There are two NATO nations who, in living memory, were not only under Russian (Soviet) occupation, but they were invaded by the same Soviets even while they were ostensively allied with them. These nations are Hungary and Czech Republic.

One would think that since they threw off the Communist yoke, joined the club of democratic Western nations and even NATO, that this memory would have them focused on a robust defense. Sadly no.

NATO sets a goal of defense expenditures at 2% of GDP for members. Only the USA, GRC, GBR, EST, and POL meet that minimum.

Of the 27 nation NATO members, CZE and HUN ranked 21st (1.04%) and 22nd (1.01%). Almost the very bottom. In the great alliance effort in AFG, neither nation contributed more than a token force, caveat laden and ineffective.

Amazing, but here they go again - demanding others do what they won't do themselves;
The leaders of the Czech Republic and Hungary say a "joint European army" is needed to bolster security in the EU.

They were speaking ahead of talks in Warsaw with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They dislike her welcome for Muslim migrants from outside the EU.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said "we must give priority to security, so let's start setting up a joint European army".
I am not sure what is going on - but sometimes nations behave like children poorly raised by irresponsible parents.

No one owes you a living folks. If you want help from others, at least show an effort you are doing all you can with what you have available. Look at plucky Estonia. Want goodies? See that EST kid? Be like that kid. Everyone in the neighborhood wants to help that kid. You?

Spoiled brat behavior will most likely get spoiled brat results.

Also remember; if people didn't at their core like you, they wouldn't try to give you good advice.

Monday, August 29, 2016

LCS: Icon of a Failed Era of Procurement Hubris

It is, as with most things, best in French;
"Personne n'est corrigé; personne n'a su ni rien oublier ni rien appendre".
Via the great diplomat, we have this beautifully borrowed phrase that wasn't actually his. The above quote is the original form he borrowed, it is believed, from a 1796 letter to Mallet du Pan by French naval officer Charles Louis Etienne, Chevalier de Panat.

The phrase was borrowed by better, so why not by a fellow naval officer today?

Let's translate this for our STEM buddies, as it is just about perfect when it comes to the LCS battles of the last decade plus;
"Nobody has been corrected; no one has known to forget, nor yet to learn anything."
LCS, the icon of a failed era of procurement hubris, provides us another opportunity to remind all who will listen what a millstone we have put around our Fleet and its leaders for the next few decades. The more I think about it, the more our procurement decisions from the last decade were of a Bourbon mindset. The dynasty, not the medicine - well, perhaps both.

After DivThu, I think I despise posts on LCS for the same reason; they are facts fighting against emotion. It is rare that one side will even listen to the other. My facts trump your feelings, and the excuses are beyond stale.

First thing; the "first in class" excuse no longer applies. This ship is over 1/3 of the way through its service life and the serial, sub-optimal performance only reinforce the facts at the pier and drydock.

Second, this is another in a huge pile of examples of how detached from operational reality this ship is from what it was designed to address. It can barely perform in peacetime conditions. War? Child please.

Is it the people, the equipment, or the process? With LCS, you always have to go in reverse order; always start with the process.

The process that brought this snake-bit concept to displace water brought a bag of equipment poorly suited for the job, and forced it on the Navy via a toxic command climate. The process that ignored centuries of evolution about how Sailors and their warships remain at sea and keep each other going. The process that, in spite of all clear and unbiased opinion outside the Iron Triangle, continued with a class of ship that eight years after commissioning Hull-1, still cannot successfully find a single mine, a single submarine, or engage any other warship of similar size with any chance of victory.

So there - we have the usual LCS tirade. Now, to the latest news.

Two articles that will get you started on the latest "of course" series of LCS rake-stepping, and the pull quotes below come from, are by Chris Cavas at Defense News and San LaGrone at USNI News;
In yet another blow for its seemingly perpetually-troubled littoral combat ship program, the US Navy revealed Sunday that one of two main propulsion diesel engines on the San Diego-based Freedom has been damaged so badly it either has to be completely rebuilt or replaced.

It’s the third time since December that a Freedom-class LCS has suffered a serious malfunction.
...
Word of Freedom’s casualty comes as USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) is in transit to San Diego following a separate propulsion causality in which operator error caused extensive damage to the LCS’ combing gear – the complex mechanism that links the output of the ship’s main propulsion diesels and the gas turbines to the ship’s water jets.
...
The Freedom’s latest problems began July 11 when a sailor noted a drain leaking into the bilge from a seawater pump seal attached to the ship’s No. 2 main propulsion diesel engine as the LCS was operating off Southern California. Sources familiar with the incident told Defense News the leak was plugged using a damage control plug.

Seawater then entered the engine’s lubrication oil system, said Lt. Rebecca Haggard, a spokesperson for San Diego-based Naval Surface Forces (SURFOR), but the ship continued to operate.

In a statement, SURFOR said Freedom returned to San Diego on July 13 on her own power to conduct repairs on a separate, unrelated issue and, while in port, carried out procedures to decontaminate the lube oil system of seawater. The Freedom then got underway on July 19 for more than a week of Rim of the Pacific Exercises off Southern California, returning to San Diego July 28.

But back in port, an investigation of the engine on Aug. 3 “found significant damage to the engine caused by rust and seawater,” SURFOR said. So many engine components were damaged that, SURFOR added, the engine “will need to be removed and rebuilt or replaced.”
...
The Navy’s top leadership is known to be especially unhappy with this latest incident.

“Given the engineering casualties on USS Freedom and USS Fort Worth, I believe improvements in engineering oversight and training are necessary," Rowden said in the SURFOR statement.

“The recently-completed LCS Review of manning, design, and training looked at a number of sailor performance and ownership factors, to include crew rotation, size and proficiency. From this work, I believe we will be able to make immediate changes to help reduce chance for future operator error. I am fully committed to ensuring that our ships and the sailors who man them have the proper tools and training they need to safely and effectively operate these ships.”

...
One naval analyst told USNI News on Sunday the casualty comes at a difficult time for the LCS program.

“Regardless of the cause, however, it comes at a sensitive time for the LCS program which still remains controversial both within the Navy and inside DoD,” Eric Wertheim, the author of the U.S. Naval Institute’s Combat Fleets of the World, told USNI News on Sunday.

“Eight years since the first unit of the class entered service, proponents and opponents on each side are still trying to figure out what the future of the LCS fleet will hold, how many ships should be built, where they should operate, and what types of missions they can perform. With all those questions still up in the air, any issues that arise can have an outsized impact on the future of the program.”
Bingo. These problems were identified over a decade ago here an other places. Why in 2016 are we only now getting to it? See Shipmate Etienne's quote above and the fallen nature of man.

We neither understand the concept of "sunk cost" or "opportunity cost" and as such we are building a fleet of vanity, buttressed by hope, spin, and the promise of post-retirement food troughs.

The world's largest navy awaits a new group of leaders that will clearly break with the errors of the past, return us to a solid foundation of fact based leadership, and demand a mastery of the fundamentals. 
Succisa Virescit

UPDATE: Host note: I cannot keep up with all the LCS fail around us this week. I have a paying gig to maintain. Consider this post the LCS free swim now that we have an even-numbered hobbled mid-Pacific. Imagine what it will be like when we have a fleet full of these Little Crappy Ships.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Baltic Security with Bruce Acker and Dan Lynch, on Midrats



With a resurgent Russia, the security environment from former Soviet Republics to the traditionally neutral nations of Finland and Sweden has changed dramatically.

What are those changes and how are they changing how these nations see their place in the larger Western security infrastructure? We’re going to look at how thing are changing in how they work and see each other, NATO, and what they need to do to provide for both their and collective defense.

Our guests for the full hour Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Colonel Bruce Acker, USAF (ret) and Captain Dan Lynch, USN (Ret).

Bruce is currently a Defense Strategy Consultant in Stockholm Sweden. He spent 30 years on active duty starting as a Air Defense Weapons flight test engineer upon graduation from the Air Force Academy, and subsequently served in Space, Missile Warning, and Missile Launch operations culminating as a Minuteman ICBM squadron Commander. Following staff tours managing future Air Force and Defense Space systems programs, he broadened to political military assignments as the US Air Attaché to Malaysia and as the US Defense Attaché and Senior Defense Official in Stockholm. Col Acker has published articles on regional security issues in the Swedish Royal Academy of War Sciences journal as well as leading National daily newspapers.

Dan is currently beginning his fifth year on the maritime faculty of the Swedish Defense University in Stockholm. He spent over 35 years on active duty starting as an enlisted Marine and upon graduation from the Naval Academy selected Naval Aviation where he commanded a VP squadron and a patrol and reconnaissance wing. Following major command, he served on the staff of the US ambassador to NATO in Brussels and retired after his last tour as the Naval Attache to Stockholm.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio or Stitcher

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, August 26, 2016

Fullbore Friday

A man of my father's generation, this path sounds familiar;
Following high school graduation, Kettles enrolled in Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University), where he studied engineering. Two years later, Kettles was drafted to the Army at age 21. Upon completion of basic training at Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, Kettles attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and earned his commission as an armor officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, Feb. 28, 1953. Kettles graduated from the Army Aviation School in 1953, before serving active duty tours in Korea, Japan and Thailand.

Kettles returned in 1956 and established a Ford Dealership in Dewitt, Michigan, with his brother, and continued his service with the Army Reserve as a member of the 4th Battalion, 20th Field Artillery.
He answered the call to serve again in 1963, when the United States was engaged in the Vietnam War and needed pilots. Fixed-wing-qualified, Kettles volunteered for Active Duty. He attended Helicopter Transition Training at Fort Wolters, Texas in 1964. During a tour in France the following year, Kettles was cross-trained to fly the famed UH-1D “Huey.”

Kettles reported to Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1966 to join a new helicopter unit. He was assigned as a flight commander with the 176th Assault Helicopter Company, 14th Combat Aviation Battalion, and deployed to Vietnam from February through November 1967. His second tour of duty in Vietnam lasted from October 1969, through October 1970.
Sublime.

Then there was that moment that solid, ordinary men find themselves in extraordinary circumstances and a measure is taken.
During the early morning hours of May 15, 1967, personnel of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, were ambushed in the Song Tra Cau riverbed by an estimated battalion-sized force of the North Vietnamese army with numerous automatic weapons, machine guns, mortars and recoilless rifles. The enemy force fired from a fortified complex of deeply embedded tunnels and bunkers, and was shielded from suppressive fire. Upon learning that the 1st Brigade had suffered casualties during an intense firefight with the enemy, then-Maj. Charles S. Kettles, volunteered to lead a flight of six UH-1D helicopters to carry reinforcements to the embattled force and to evacuate wounded personnel. As the flight approached the landing zone, it came under heavy enemy attack. Deadly fire was received from multiple directions and Soldiers were hit and killed before they could leave the arriving lift helicopters.

Jets dropped napalm and bombs on the enemy machine guns on the ridges overlooking the landing zone, with minimal effect. Small arms and automatic weapons fire continued to rake the landing zone, inflicting heavy damage to the helicopters. However, Kettles refused to depart until all reinforcements and supplies were off-loaded and wounded personnel were loaded on the helicopters to capacity. Kettles led them out of the battle area and back to the staging area to pick up additional reinforcements.

Kettles then returned to the battlefield, with full knowledge of the intense enemy fire awaiting his arrival. Bringing reinforcements, he landed in the midst of enemy mortar and automatic weapons fire that seriously wounded his gunner and severely damaged his aircraft. Upon departing, Kettles was advised by another helicopter crew that he had fuel streaming out of his aircraft. Despite the risk posed by the leaking fuel, he nursed the damaged aircraft back to base.

Later that day, the infantry battalion commander requested immediate, emergency extraction of the remaining 40 troops, and four members of Kettles’ unit who were stranded when their helicopter was destroyed by enemy fire. With only one flyable UH-1 helicopter remaining, Kettles volunteered to return to the deadly landing zone for a third time, leading a flight of six evacuation helicopters, five of which were from the 161st Aviation Company. During the extraction, Kettles was informed by the last helicopter that all personnel were onboard, and departed the landing zone accordingly. Army gunships supporting the evacuation also departed the area.

Once airborne, Kettles was advised that eight troops had been unable to reach the evacuation helicopters due to the intense enemy fire. With complete disregard for his own safety, Kettles passed the lead to another helicopter and returned to the landing zone to rescue the remaining troops. Without gunship, artillery, or tactical aircraft support, the enemy concentrated all firepower on his lone aircraft, which was immediately damaged by a mortar round that damaged the tail boom, a main rotor blade, shattered both front windshields and the chin bubble and was further raked by small arms and machine gun fire.

Despite the intense enemy fire, Kettles maintained control of the aircraft and situation, allowing time for the remaining eight Soldiers to board the aircraft. In spite of the severe damage to his helicopter, Kettles once more skillfully guided his heavily damaged aircraft to safety. Without his courageous actions and superior flying skills, the last group of Soldiers and his crew would never have made it off the battlefield.
Attention to CITATION:
OFFICIAL CITATION

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to

MAJOR CHARLES S. KETTLES
UNITED STATES ARMY

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Major Charles S. Kettles distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving as Flight Commander, 176th Aviation Company (Airmobile) (Light), 14th Combat Aviation Battalion, Americal Division near Duc Pho, Republic of Vietnam. On 15 May 1967, Major Kettles, upon learning that an airborne infantry unit had suffered casualties during an intense firefight with the enemy, immediately volunteered to lead a flight of six UH-1D helicopters to carry reinforcements to the embattled force and to evacuate wounded personnel. Enemy small arms, automatic weapons, and mortar fire raked the landing zone, inflicting heavy damage to the helicopters; however, Major Kettles refused to depart until all helicopters were loaded to capacity. He then returned to the battlefield, with full knowledge of the intense enemy fire awaiting his arrival, to bring more reinforcements, landing in the midst of enemy mortar and automatic weapons fire that seriously wounded his gunner and severely damaged his aircraft. Upon departing, Major Kettles was advised by another helicopter crew that he had fuel streaming out of his aircraft. Despite the risk posed by the leaking fuel, he nursed the damaged aircraft back to base. Later that day, the Infantry Battalion Commander requested immediate, emergency extraction of the remaining 40 troops, including four members of Major Kettles’ unit who were stranded when their helicopter was destroyed by enemy fire. With only one flyable UH-1 helicopter remaining, Major Kettles volunteered to return to the deadly landing zone for a third time, leading a flight of six evacuation helicopters, five of which were from the 161st Aviation Company. During the extraction, Major Kettles was informed by the last helicopter that all personnel were onboard, and departed the landing zone accordingly. Army gunships supporting the evacuation also departed the area. Once airborne, Major Kettles was advised that eight troops had been unable to reach the evacuation helicopters due to the intense enemy fire. With complete disregard for his own safety, Major Kettles passed the lead to another helicopter and returned to the landing zone to rescue the remaining troops. Without gunship, artillery, or tactical aircraft support, the enemy concentrated all firepower on his lone aircraft, which was immediately damaged by a mortar round that shattered both front windshields and the chin bubble and was further raked by small arms and machine gun fire. Despite the intense enemy fire, Major Kettles maintained control of the aircraft and situation, allowing time for the remaining eight soldiers to board the aircraft. In spite of the severe damage to his helicopter, Major Kettles once more skillfully guided his heavily damaged aircraft to safety. Without his courageous actions and superior flying skills, the last group of soldiers and his crew would never have made it off the battlefield. Major Kettles' selfless acts of repeated valor and determination are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.
First person, spoken word. What a man.



A final selfish note after seeing that short video, reminds me of my father at his best, a lot, who passed away the year after I finally left active duty and came home for good. I think I'll ruminate on that for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The "T" in T-AKE stands for "Toothy"

This is a 100% Salamander endorsed effort. If we are going to discuss "Distributed Lethality," then let's also discuss "Distributed Risk."

Spreading assets around different platforms does more than just mitigate some risk, it also expands a Commander's options and complicates an enemy's targeting.

Via Lance M. Bacon over at MarineTimes;
Military Sealift Command is making Marine-driven changes to its nontraditional fleet to give amphibious forces a greater edge on an ever-evolving battlefield. The developments promise to advance the Corps’ use of alternative platforms for everything from maritime security and riverine missions to disaster response and flight operations.

The MV-22 is also key to this new concept.
...one key conversion will enable dry cargo and ammunition ships to stow an MV-22 Osprey.

MSC dedicated two dry cargo and ammunition ships (the two oldest) to the Marine Corps pre-positioning fleet: Lewis and Clark, and Sacagawea. They provide ammunition, food, repair parts, stores and small quantities of fuel — but the aft flight deck is a highlight among Marine strategists who have used ships from the T-AKE class as alternate command, control, operational and logistics platforms in recent exercises.

Landing an Osprey is not enough. The Corps has asked for a converted hangar that will allow an MV-22 to be folded and stowed. Sacagawea will receive these modifications during a regular overhaul planned to run from October through January, ...Dry cargo and ammo ships aren’t the only ones slated for an amphibious upgrade. Two expeditionary fast transports — Spearhead and Trenton — have upgraded cranes that allow boats and personnel to launch from the mission bay. That modification will eventually be added to all EPF ships, Thackrah said.
There are some issues to quibble - but let's not let the good and doable lose to the perfect and unattainable;
Because it is a USNS ship, rather than USS, it cannot conduct “belligerent acts.” While the shallow-draft catamaran can quickly move troops deep into littoral areas, it has no mounted guns or defense systems. And a reasonable explosion would likely tear through the commercial-based aluminum vessel.

In fact, its weak structure requires the ship be delivered to theater and remain there.

“They do not do well in rough seas,” Thackrah said. “They are a ship based off the design of a commercial ferryboat. There is a safe operating envelope for the ship, and they are proving that if you violate the safe operating envelope, you can wrinkle them up. But this is not an open-ocean vessel. This is a near-shore, high-speed vessel.”

Many hulls have cracked and been damaged by strong seas. This was evident when Fall River, the fourth ship in the class, was sidelined by one rogue wave off the coast of Florida. MSC has since started reinforcing the bow structure.
...
“What we do have to say no to is trying to put too many ideas on the same boat. We have run into that,” he said. The ships have been used to do “anything and everything you can dream of. What these guys are thinking of is just fascinating.”
It is good to hear this is getting people excited - and the fact that we are having to pull people back instead of kicking them forward tells you something.

There is "there" there.

Monday, August 22, 2016

If Forced to Choose; Iraq vs. Kurdistan?

There was a little I&W last week that needs your attention.

From just a few sources, in this case Kurdista24, the Kurds are seeing a moment they don't want to let pass. I don't blame them, it was only a matter of time. This isn't a new issue, just another card being pulled out of the deck as facts on the ground are meeting centuries of desire.

If this continues forward, there will be a point when we will have to make a choice. 

Since 1991, there has been one part of Iraq that has been reliable; Kurdistan. There is one major ethic group in Iraq that is respectful of religious and ethnic minorities; Kurds. If there is one ethnic group in the Middle East that offers a view of how we wish the rest of the area would behave, there would be just one; the Kurds.

Things are moving in a direction that may force us to choose between backing the chimera of dysfunction that is what ever power holds in Baghdad, or the Kurds. Here's why.
A member of the Iraqi parliament stated on Thursday that Peshmerga forces will receive the same treatment as the Islamic State (IS) if they do not withdraw from liberated areas.

Mohammed Saihoud an Iraqi MP from the State of Law bloc, led by the former Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki, said that “if Peshmerga forces do not retreat from the liberated areas, they will be considered as occupiers, not liberators.”

“IS and Peshmerga forces are equal before the gunfire of the Iraqi security forces and Hashd al-Shaabi if they insist on the occupation of the liberated areas,” the Shia MP told an Iraqi news outlet.
The Kurds are known for understated firmness. They do not fail to deliver;
...KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee told Kurdistan24 that Peshmerga forces will not withdraw from the areas in their control because Peshmerga is the source of security and stability for people.

Dizayee stated that Peshmerga forces will make further advances towards the Islamic State (IS)-held areas surrounding Mosul that are considered outside of the Kurdistan Region administration.

“The areas were liberated by the blood of the Peshmerga forces. Peshmerga will not retreat,” he reaffirmed.
I'd take them at their word.

Here is the part that shows where the game is;
Arif Taifoor, the commander of Peshmerga forces in Khazir frontline told Kurdistan24 on Thursday that the Peshmerga forces will liberate all the areas included in the Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, particularly IS-held Christian-populated areas and they will stay there.
What is Article 140?
Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution is supposed to deal with the country’s disputed territories – that is, land that Iraqi Kurdistan says is part of its quasi-independent region but which Baghdad says belongs to Iraq proper. This includes the much disputed area of Kirkuk. Article 140 outlines a series of steps that should be taken in order to resolve who exactly the disputed territories belong to – these are, firstly, normalization - a return of Kurds and other residents displaced by Arabisation – followed by a census taken to determine the demographic makeup of the province's population and then finally, a referendum to determine the status of disputed territories. Obviously whether a territory is home to mainly Kurds or mainly Arabs will have an effect on who can lay claim to the area.
As the Iraqis are learning, paper is paper.
“And if the Iraqi Kurdish region demands that Article 140 be implemented, then they would have to do that according to the Constitution,” Qurbani argues. “In which case, Iraqi Kurdish forces would need to withdraw from the land they are now occupying. But instead,” he concludes, “the Iraqi Kurdish are creating their own reality, on the ground.”
The scramble for the most land to negotiate with is well underway.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Farsi Island Incident and its Aftermath - on Midrats



The thankfully bloodless embarrassment that was the Farsi Island Incident is still making news after the January 12, 2016 seizure of 10 U.S. sailors by Iranian forces. 

Especially for our Surface Warfare community, there are a lot of hard, cold lessons here not just about the incident itself, leadership and professionalism – and institutional lessons about how conditions are set and organizations are sub-optimized to a degree that an incident - in hindsight – was just a matter of when vice if. 

Using his recent article at CIMSEC on the topic, our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss the background leading up to the Farsi Island incident, its aftermath, and the lessons we should be taking from it will be Alan Cummings, LT USN. 

Alan is a 2007 graduate of Jacksonville University. He served previously as a surface warfare officer aboard a destroyer, embedded with a USMC infantry battalion, and as a Riverine Detachment OIC. The views expressed in the article and on Midrats are his own and in no way reflect the official position of the U.S. Navy.

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 or Stitcher

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.



Saturday, August 20, 2016

Airlander 10 - Underway

Yes, yes, yes - I know you blinkered troglodytes like to make fun of my and Campbell's faith in these aircraft - but I'm sorry; we should have at least two squadrons of these on order; one we give to the logistics guys, the other one to the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance guys and tell them; figure out what you can do with these.

From long-dwell ASW patrols to humanitarian assistance (not to mention a few SEAL missions I'll keep my mouth shut about), this platform has a lot of capabilities that have not been thought of yet. Perfect for the Reserves ... but that would require imagination and the willingness to take risks with proven technology. I know that isn't fun; but it sure has a good track record.

Well, we don't live in Salamander's world, so just watch her take off and ponder.



We believe in a new vision for air transport. That new vision is called Airlander. Hybrid Air Vehicles’ goal is to change the world of aviation through Airlander.
- We believe aircraft should be able to land and take-off anywhere.
- We believe aircraft should be able to fly for weeks at a time.
- We believe aircraft should be low cost and should pollute as little as possible.

Airlander takes the best of aeroplanes, helicopters and airships and combines them with the latest innovations in materials to create a truly revolutionary aircraft. The Airlander is a “hybrid” of an aeroplane and an airship – we get 40% of our lift from the aerodynamic wing shape of our aircraft, and 60% from the helium fill – it is therefore inherently more efficient than other forms of air transport. It uses the very latest fabrics to maintain its shape and is technologically years ahead of other aircraft. Airlander has flown before under a US Government programme, but is now being developed for commercial purposes, such as freight, remote access, aid distribution, advertising, surveillance, communications and luxury passenger transport.

Airlander aims to revolutionise transport and travel by:
- Being one of the lowest carbon emissions aircraft in the world, like for like.
- Having game-changing endurance (it can stay airborne for weeks rather than hours).
- Providing significantly lower delivery cost for airborne freight.
- Being able to land anywhere (water, land, desert, ice) thus opening up new point-to-point routes to previously inaccessible areas.

We will focus initially on Airlander 10, which has a 10 tonne payload, and ultimately could produce a range of hybrid aircraft capable of carrying up to 1000 tonnes.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fullbore Friday

- 108 Australians of D Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (including 3 New Zealanders).

- ~2,000 North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong.

- A storm riden rubber plantation in Vietnam.

- A nine hour battle, 50 years ago.

Don't forget, the Australians and New Zealanders fought with distinction in Vietnam with us. This was one of their finest hours.
D Company left the base at 11.15 that morning bound for the Long Tan rubber plantation. As they departed Nui Dat the sounds of a concert by Little Pattie, the Australian entertainer, reached their ears. They entered the Long Tan plantation at 3.15 that afternoon. Less than an hour later the Viet Cong attacked in force, putting the Australians under mortar, machine gun and small arms fire. Only the quick response of a New Zealand artillery battery to desperate calls for support saved D Company from annihilation.

Almost as soon as the battle began a torrential downpour added to the gloom in the rubber plantation. The Australians, surrounded, short of ammunition and fighting an enemy whose strength they could only guess at, called for helicopters to drop ammunition to them. Flying at tree-top height, braving the terrible weather and heavy Viet Cong fire, two RAAF helicopters located the beleaguered Australians and dropped boxes of ammunition and blankets for the wounded.

The survivors of D Company along with accurate artillery fire from New Zealand's 161 Field Battery as well as the Australian 103 and 105 Field batteries and a United States battery inflicted heavy losses on the Viet Cong. As the fighting continued Australian reinforcements were committed to the battle. B Company was on the way and A Company, loaded into Armoured Personnel Carriers of 3 Troop, 1 Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron, which fought its way into D Company just before 7 pm as daylight was fading. The Viet Cong had been massing for another assault but were forced to retreat into the plantation. They had suffered terrible casualties, but only when the Australians returned to the scene of battle the following morning did they realise the extent of the defeat that they had inflicted on the enemy. The Australians counted 245 enemy dead still in the plantation and surrounding jungle with evidence that others had already been removed from the battlefield. Captured documents and information from prisoners suggested that D Company had faced some 2,500 Viet Cong. Eighteen Australians were killed in the Battle of Long Tan and 24 wounded, all but one of the dead were from D Company.
At the end of the battle, 18 killed, 24 wounded with the Australians.

For the Vietnamese Communists? 245 killed, 350 wounded (estimate), 3 captured.

A bit more detail on the battle here

Fullbore.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Diversity Thursday

I’ve avoided a DivThu long enough these last few weeks – so let’s get back to this fetid topic for a bit.

“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”
Well, at least on this topic you can’t call us cowards. Sigh; let’s wade in.

Today I ask you to pray, again, for our recruiters. As all who have worn the uniform have done, they have been given an almost impossible set of orders that they will do the best they can to achieve. It isn’t illegal, so it must be done.
Statistically the youngest, most junior and most male of all the military services, the Corps also skews strongly caucasian, particularly in the senior ranks. African-American and black Marines make up roughly 12 percent of all enlisted troops, according to Marine Corps data from February. Less than 6 percent of Marine officers are black, and only 10 general officers in the entire force are non-white.

In 2012, the Marine Corps launched an advertising campaign aimed at attracting black and female officer candidates. Officials cited the importance of developing role models for female and minority enlisted troops in creating the ads, which showed Marine officers leading in their home communities as well as in uniform.

"What distinguishes certain groups, particularly African-Americans, is that they are closely associated with their communities at home," Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, then head of Marine Corps Recruiting Command, told The New York Times at the time.

In 2013, then-Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos published a memo to Marine leadership saying the Corps had "failed" in promoting diversity in its officer ranks. It was "imperative that the Corps take a fresh approach to diversity, one that reflects our reputation for performance and leadership," Amos wrote.
… "Targeted studies toward specific demographics have been part of our marketing program for several years, to include research focused on races and gender," he said.

As we’ve discussed before, if you treat everyone the same and use objective performance based standards, the US military will never fully reflect the ethnic composition of the USA – much less the various billet types and communities within. Some is cultural, some just is.

There is one fact that is beyond dispute; the US military can only access the talent pool coming out of our education system at the end of high school. For the enlisted ranks, and especially for our officer accessions, academic background and performance are THE entering argument for objective selection criteria.

If each ethnic group showed up at age 18 with the same aggregate marginal propensity to serve and objective criteria qualifications, then within a half standard deviation or so, all ethnic groups would be about the same. For a variety or reasons – all beyond the control of the military – we don’t live in that country.

From just one major highly diverse metropolitan area; here is the entering argument – the facts that recruiters face.


According to just released data, only 31 percent of Duval’s African-American students passed Florida’s annual reading assessments in grades 3 through 10, while Hispanics did slightly better, with 41 passing.

That is worse than the 62 percent passing rate for white students and 68 percent passing among Asian-American students in Duval.

Similarly, African-American and Hispanic students under-performed white and Asian-American students by wide margins in math and other subjects.
...
But the latest state testing data show that African-American and Hispanic students scored far below white and Asian students in 10th grade reading last spring; 28 percent of African-American students and 41 percent of Hispanic students passed, compared to 60 percent of white students and 65 percent of Asian-American students.

Students need to pass 10th grade reading to qualify for a diploma their senior year.
Know this – you cannot get from there to a military that “looks like America.” You can only get there via a variety of artificial manipulation methods and discrimination through acts of commission or omission against “over represented” self-identified ethnic groups.

That stands against what should be a core belief of all Americans; we do not discriminate against people by race, creed, color, or national origin. 

We should provide equal opportunity based on objective criteria without any consideration to race, creed, color or national origin. If at the end of the day that meant that 80% of surface warfare officers were of Philippine extraction, pilots were African-American, submarine officers of Japanese extraction, SEALS all had last name that began with “Mc,” your doctors Muslim, and Marines had last names that ended in “o,” “a,” or “z” – who cares?

Well, people whose jobs rely on promoting a racialist mindset and keeping us divided do – to their great shame and ours for employing them.

One day we will achieve the goal of judging each other by the content of our character and not the color of our skin - not to mention getting away from the "one-drop" rule that ignores actual diversity from being multiracial, but the Department of the Navy is not there yet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What if I told you ...

All may not be exactly what you think in the great "Sunni-Shia Civil War" taking place from Aleppo to Saana.

I'm discussing over at USNIBlog. Come visit and ponder.

Turkey, by the Numbers

As reported by Reuters via Conflict news, take a look at this little datapoint;


Now, let's Americanize those numbers.

The USA is ~4.26-times the size of Turkey, based on population. What that works out to is, if the same thing happened in the USA, 170,362 detentions and 86,545 arrests in such a short time.

Ponder what kind of impact that would have on everything from the economy, to families, to civil society. Add to that the fact that they are emptying prisons of real criminals to make room.

Yes, interesting times.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Anjem Choudary; Not Free, at Last

One of the great blights on the Mother Country in recent years has been how long she was played by that hateful Islamic Radical, Anjem Choudary (Peas be Upon Him). 

From gaming the welfare system, to radicalizing who knows how many people and injecting fear every time he spoke, etc - you should all know his background. If not, shame on you.

For those who know this sad tale - this is a good day. Years past from when there should have been action taken, but a good day none the less.
One of the UK's most notorious radical clerics has been convicted of inviting others to support the so-called Islamic State, it can now be reported.

Police said Anjem Choudary, 49, had stayed "just within the law" for years, but was arrested in 2014 after pledging allegiance to the militant group.

Many people tried for serious terror offences were influenced by his lectures and speeches, police said.
Choudary was convicted alongside confidant Mohammed Mizanur Rahman.

Counter-terrorism chiefs have spent almost 20 years trying to bring Choudary, a father of five, to trial, blaming him, and the proscribed organisations which he helped to run, for radicalising young men and women.
Let's see how long they put him away. We have room in Gitmo.

Do know this; the horrible delay in holding this guy to account has cost lives. This PC cancer has blood of the innocent all over it him.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Drone Overreach is Nigh

This technology, only a POM away, is the answer to all our problems. If we only invest a bit more and trust this one braintrust, the future will be ours to dominate with fewer units, fewer personnel, less bloodshed, with more power and flexibility. All we need to do in to close our minds and trust our seers of the future who know. They just know, dontchaknow.

What we need to do is to throw away all that oldthink, embrace the Tommorowland of Our Betters, ignore the reality of the conflict and operational reality all around us and focus on the vignette. Focus on the presentation. Focus on our pristine, exquisite, transformational vision of what will be.

We just need to recapitalize, redirect funds, retire oldthink platforms early and hold out hands together is the only way smart, visionary, right thinking, and - ahem - promotable people think. The post-retirement jobs are all going to be here for those who, well, you know. We don't need to get in to specifics about that right now, now do we?

We have seen this movie before. An experienced and slightly world weary matron is once again seduced by the handsome flatterer who tells a story clear to all but the matron that is is little more than the usual over-promise and under-deliver sweet talk that she has fallen for in the past. What follows is a roller coaster of great expectations followed by excuse laden disappointment that in the end leads only to painful recriminations and prenury.

Unmanned systems will continue to provide incremental additional utility if we are smart with our money, humble with our ambitions, and harsh in our evaluations. But no, that is not good enough. Once again we are seeing slick aspirational ideas that we are all supposed to embrace - in spite of the reality of what we see around us tells us what is actually needed, regardless of what the last few conflicts have tried to teach us - indeed, what centuries of solid military experience has taught us. 

Like the push for the A-12 prevented us from having a viable and much needed replacement for the capabilities of the A-6, this snake-oil pushing may lead us to miss what unmanned systems have to really offer us by mid-century.

The industry overreach never ends, they never stop. There is always a new group of thinkers who think they have, like those cute teenagers who think they have discovered s3x, discovered something that no one else ever has. They have an insight in to a new way that no one else. They have an idea, a technology, a concept that they are sure - if only everyone trusted them and showed the same enthusiasm they had - will transform, offset, or generation jump their way in to the future where enemies fall away before their dominance while everyone is quickly victorious and makes it home for supper.

Sorry, it never works that way. In spite of a few thousand years of people trying to convince their leaders it really will this time - after all, they are smarter and more insightful than previous generations. It. Never. Works. That. Way.

And so it is for drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) - or whatever we are calling it this FY.

Drones have been with us for decades and technology holds the promise of their greater utility in the future. They key is "promise." We should continue to build a little, test a little, learn a lot - but that isn't good enough for some. Those "some" need to be challenged at every step or they will put us right were we are now; the A-6 to A-12 debacle; the loss or organic tanking; the myopic victory of the Light Attack Mafia that left our multi-billion dollar CVN with decks full of short ranged strike fighters and little more; the LCS who seems to only be able to combat the effort to build a functional fleet; and the white elephant DDG-1000 who, I am willing to bet, has only begun to build on its record of transformationalist under-performance.

Where there are solid, sane, and defensible developments in the drone world, such as the decision to focus the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program on Carrier-Based Aerial-Refueling System (CBARS) - that doesn't keep the drone good idea fairy from pushing. They will always push as their product is the push.

We're going to unpack something, and it is going to be painful - at least for me. From the 11 July Defense News, retired Air Force Generals John Loh and Ronald Yates ask, "What Next for Drone Warfare?" The executive summary is, "Not this." - but what fun would that be? Let's pull apart the juicy center, a mini-Fisk if you will;
There is no shortage of scenarios well suited to this next generation of combat RPAs. Obviously, their current effectiveness can be improved with all-weather stealth technology, longer endurance, better sensors, larger payloads and connectivity to the global "info-sphere". With these improvements, they can cover targets in other regions where terrorists congregate, such as North Africa, Yemen, Somalia and Southwest Asia. Further, with an optimized vehicle, RPAs can be incorporated into war plans against aggressive nation-state adversaries.

Next-generation RPAs can also be the foundation for enforcing international truces and treaties. They can provide continuous, high-resolution surveillance of important facilities to detect activity that could violate agreements, and immediately strike targets.

Establishing no-fly zones over contested areas is a viable alternative to nation-building. The continuous no-fly zones over Iraq for twelve years after the First Gulf War in 1991 demonstrated their effectiveness as a deterrent to further warfare. No-fly, no-drive zones patrolled with RPAs and manned aircraft can detect and strike any air or ground target, obviate the need for "boots on the ground", and maintain air dominance over the area.

In the same vein, new, optimized RPAs would be the best choice for tracking activity and exerting U.S. influence in hot spots such as the Ukraine, Taiwan Straits, North Korea, Spratley Islands and Central America.

A new fleet does not require new infrastructure. Today's RPAs have capable ground-based flight and mission-control facilities, and robust, jam-resistant data links. Fortunately, programs are already underway to upgrade them such that fielding a new force of RPAs would require little, if any, additional capabilities. And, the global info-sphere of space-borne, networked communications already exists to link RPAs in any region of the world.
Goodness. What a start;
There is no shortage of scenarios well suited to this next generation of combat RPAs.
Of course, if you carefully design your vignette to remove the enemy's vote, assume your dominance of the electromagnetic spectrum and low-Earth orbit, and you can keep the JAG/LEGAD hogtied and ball-gagged in some fan room with two MA's securing the door. No problem.
Obviously, their current effectiveness can be improved with all-weather stealth technology, longer endurance, better sensors, larger payloads and connectivity to the global "info-sphere".
There, in a nutshell, is how we got ACS, A-12, LCS, DDG-1000, FCS etc etc etc - we just assume all challenges away and all good things to happen as a result of just saying so. Additionally, on the back of a cocktail napkin, I think the drone in the above paragraph will need to be something between a G4 and a 737. Good luck hiding that from anyone. It would also help having a vertically challenged contractor in the back room spinning hay in to gold.
With these improvements, they can cover targets in other regions where terrorists congregate, such as North Africa, Yemen, Somalia and Southwest Asia. Further, with an optimized vehicle, RPAs can be incorporated into war plans against aggressive nation-state adversaries.
How many years lost to "making do with what legacy systems we have left after we retire others to capture the cost" will that take? What opportunity cost for those hundreds of millions? What of the conflicts we will be in that - as history tells us - this brave new world capability will be useless in? I assume "optimized" means that whatever you have is covered with fairy dust and will even cure the Heartbreak of Psoriasis?
Next-generation RPAs can also be the foundation for enforcing international truces and treaties. They can provide continuous, high-resolution surveillance of important facilities to detect activity that could violate agreements, and immediately strike targets.
Will someone check the fan room? I am sure I heard the JAG screaming through the ball gag. Also, we are pretty much already doing that, minus the AI implied "immediately." But, yeah.
Establishing no-fly zones over contested areas is a viable alternative to nation-building. The continuous no-fly zones over Iraq for twelve years after the First Gulf War in 1991 demonstrated their effectiveness as a deterrent to further warfare. No-fly, no-drive zones patrolled with RPAs and manned aircraft can detect and strike any air or ground target, obviate the need for "boots on the ground", and maintain air dominance over the area.
Wait, did someone just come out of a coma? I'm sorry, but I don't think the Shia or the Kurds agree all that much and - in the end analysis - that the NFZ in Iraq prevented any conflict. Sure, prevented one unknown possible conflict, but conflict came anyway. Any air or ground target? No need for "boots on the ground?" My Buddha, it is almost as if nothing has happened in the last decade.
In the same vein, new, optimized RPAs would be the best choice for tracking activity and exerting U.S. influence in hot spots such as the Ukraine, Taiwan Straits, North Korea, Spratley Islands and Central America.
"Best choice" under what terms? Define how you exert U.S. influence via something that no one sees, interacts with, or knows what it is doing? That is ISR, not presence of influence operations. Oh, and if they can see or interact with it - then you won't have that asset any more to do your subliminal influencing - or what ever this means.
A new fleet does not require new infrastructure. Today's RPAs have capable ground-based flight and mission-control facilities, and robust, jam-resistant data links. Fortunately, programs are already underway to upgrade them such that fielding a new force of RPAs would require little, if any, additional capabilities.
So, no new hangars? No new facility to support troops and contractors? No new simulators or repair facilities? No new bandwidth requirements?
And, the global info-sphere of space-borne, networked communications already exists to link RPAs in any region of the world.
"Info-sphere" - is that a new term I need to add to BS-Bingo? Will we see that more? Again, I assume that all the bandwidth we are using right now is fully under military control, robust against jamming, can avoid hacking or ASAT, and can operate against a hostile EW environment against peer and near-peer operators? Scaleable and secure? Redundant with ready spares?

Really?

Read it all. It all sounds so clear, easy, and doable - and of course it does. This is the classic problem of choosing the "all assumptions are green" nested best case scenario thinking that has set us back time and time again. This needs to be challenged at every step of the way or we will once again find ourselves passing up "good" evolutionary products that were doable for ethereal "generation jumping" ideas that just never wind up making a shadow, or are produced in such small numbers that they have little use.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Fisheries as a Strategic Maritime Resource with Scott Cheney-Peters, on Midrats


We live in a crowded world with limited resources. What happens when this meets modern technology's ability to shorten the time/distance equation and increase the ability to know of what lies below the waves?

What complications do we fine when the above two points meet up with the eternal search by growing nations to reach for the seas to support their homeland's growing needs?

As populations demand more protein in their diets as per capita incomes rise, many nations see the open seas as the best place to fill that demand. With more competing for shrinking resources, can fishing be seen as a security threat? How does it impact coastal states' economic, food, and environmental security? What are the roles of transnational organized crime and state power in this competition. Is international law being strengthened to meet this challenge, or is the challenge undermining the rule of law? More than last century's quaint "Cod Wars," does this have the potential trigger to broader, more serious conflict?

Our guest this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and more will be Scott Cheney-Peters, LT, USNR.

Scott serves as a civil servant on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, and is the founder of the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC).

Scott's active duty service at sea included the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS Oak Hill (LSD 41). His shore duty before leaving active service was in Washington, DC, where he served as the editor of Surface Warfare magazine.

Scott graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in English and Government and holds an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. Scott researches issues affecting Asian maritime security and national security applications of emerging technology.

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 or Stitcher

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, August 12, 2016

Fullbore Friday


Sometimes training and instinct make the hero. Sometimes though, the more difficult thing takes place. Against the grain, with great risk and for no material gain - someone makes the conscience decision to do what is often the more difficult choice - do the right thing.

As brave as any Medal of Honor recipient- last month we lost a lion; Irena Sendler.
POLAND suffered more than any other European country during the second world war. And there was an extra twist: the history of that suffering was then systematically distorted by the Soviet-imposed Communist rulers, and widely misunderstood abroad. Auschwitz, for example, is still often referred to as a “Polish death camp”—rather than one run by the country's Nazi occupiers, in which huge numbers of Polish citizens perished. And gentile Poles are typically imagined to have rejoiced, collaborated or simply stood by as their Jewish compatriots were exterminated.

Poles, said the former Israeli leader Yitzhak Shamir, “imbibe anti-Semitism with their mother's milk.”

Certainly prejudice was prevalent in pre-war Poland; but many Poles defied it. One of the bravest was Irena Sendler. As a doctor's daughter, she had been brought up in a house that was open to anyone in pain or need, Jew or gentile. In the segregated lecture halls at Warsaw University, where she studied Polish literature, she and likeminded friends deliberately sat on the “Jewish” benches. When nationalist thugs beat up a Jewish friend, she defaced her grade card, crossing out the stamp that allowed her to sit on the “Aryan” seats. For that, the university suspended her for three years. All this was good preparation for the defiance she was to show after 1939, when the Germans invaded.

She was, a friend said, “born to selflessness, not called to it”. Certainly she had good genes. A rebellious great-grandfather was deported to Siberia. Her father died of typhus in 1917, after treating patients his colleagues shunned. Many were Jewish. Leaders of the Jewish community offered money to her hard-up mother for young Irena's education. Like many social workers in pre-war Poland, Mrs Sendler belonged to the Socialist party: not for its political ideology, she said, but because it combined compassion with dislike of money-worship. No religion motivated her: she acted z potrzeby serca, “from the need of my heart”.

Under Nazi occupation the Jews of Warsaw were herded into the city ghetto: four square kilometres for around 400,000 souls. Even before the deportations to the Treblinka death camp started, death could be arbitrary and instant. Yet a paradox created a sliver of hope. Squalor and near-starvation (the monthly bread ration was two kilos, or 4.5lb) created ideal conditions for typhus, which would have killed Germans too. So the Nazis allowed Mrs Sendler and her colleagues in and out of the tightly guarded ghetto to distribute medicines and vaccinations.

That bureaucratic loophole allowed her to save more Jews than the far better known Oscar Schindler. It was astonishingly risky. Some children could be smuggled out in lorries, or in trams supposedly returning empty to the depot. More often they went by secret passageways from buildings on the outskirts of the ghetto. To save one Jew, she reckoned, required 12 outsiders working in total secrecy: drivers for the vehicles; priests to issue false baptism certificates; bureaucrats to provide ration cards; and most of all, families or religious orders to care for them. The penalty for helping Jews was instant execution.
Names in glass jars

To make matters even riskier, Mrs Sendler insisted on recording the children's details to help them trace their families later. These were written on pieces of tissue paper bundled on her bedside table; the plan was to hurl them out of the window if the Gestapo called. The Nazis did catch her (thinking she was a small cog, not the linchpin of the rescue scheme) but did not find the files, secreted in a friend's armpit. Under torture she revealed nothing. Thanks to a well-placed bribe, she escaped execution; the children's files were buried in glass jars. Mrs Sendler spent the rest of the war under an assumed name.

The idea of a heroine's treatment appalled her. “I feel guilty to this day that I didn't do more,” she said. Besides, she felt she had been a bad daughter, risking her elderly mother's life with her wartime work, a bad wife to both her husbands, and a neglectful mother. Her daughter once asked to be admitted to the children's home where her mother worked after the war, in order to see more of her.

Mrs Sendler need not have worried. Far from being honoured, she narrowly avoided a death sentence from the Communist authorities. Her crime was that her work had been authorised and financed by the Polish government-in-exile in London; later, she helped soldiers of the Home Army, the wartime resistance. Both outfits were now reviled as imperialist stooges. In 1948 repeated interrogations by the secret police in late pregnancy cost the life of her second child, born prematurely. She was not allowed to travel, and her children could not study full-time at university. “What sins have you got on your conscience, Mama?” her daughter asked her.

It was not until 1983 that the Polish authorities allowed her to travel to Jerusalem, where a tree was planted in her honour at Yad Vashem. Many of the children she had saved sought her out: now elderly themselves, all grateful, but some still yearning for details of their forgotten parents. In 2003 she received Poland's highest honour, the order of the White Eagle. It came a little late.
No regrets needed. Thank you Irena - I hope to see you on the other side.

This FbF first published in June 2008.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

LCS BellGate

OK, call me old, but I like my ship's bell in polished brass.

What do you think of the LCS bell? I'm not all that inspired, but that is just me. I know some have a nice polished bell, like FREEDOM's here - but what in Neptune's name is that abomination in the pic below?


I'm more of a USS NORMANDY (CG 60) type.


That doesn't look like a cover, that look painted. Did they use the stunt bell for the photo shoot? Poor form. Let us hope that this is just a builder screw up and we can speak no more of it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

If We Aren't Going to go Roman on ISIS, Should We Go Israeli Instead?

Had a chance to ponder what Israel has been doing in her corner of the Long War the last few years?

I'm discussing some interesting concepts the Israelis are working with over at USNIBlog. Come by and visit and tell me what you think.