Monday, April 24, 2017

Your Future? Bio-ethnic Warfare

I'm not sure a good word has been coined yet for the weaponized by-product of the advances of understanding DNA, our ability to manipulate and target DNA, and the power of modern computing ... so I'll coin one for today's use; Bio-ethnic warfare.

Advancing technology is dove-tailing with a regressing sectarianism that emphasizes race and ethnicity.

What has been for years simply a "what if" is on the cusp of "when?" 

Combine the technology of "23 & Me" and "Ancestry DNA" to a sociopathic ethno-nationalist, and what do you get?
Some scientists have raised the still-controversial idea that as the availability of basic genetic engineering techniques also rises, it could become easier to create new, more sophisticated weapons, perhaps targeted to the DNA of an individual or even an entire ethnic group.

Last month, former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman — who has been warning of biological attack since before 9/11 and has said the United States has been “damn lucky” to avoid it — called on President Donald Trump and Congress to make biodefense a national priority.

In a 2010 paper, former CIA officer Rolf Mowatt-Larssen described how al-Qaida wanted to acquire biological weapons with roughly the same level of priority that it sought a stolen nuclear weapon. It never came close to getting either, focusing instead on more conventional attacks.
If I were to place bets, it wouldn't be a large nation or trans-national terrorist organization that would first use this technology. The risk for blow-back etc for most nations and organizations would be too great. No - I think the real danger is a small group of like minded sociopaths or a cult would be the party to step forward.

Jim Jones meets 12-Monkeys;
The greatest danger may come if any of the handful of people who have relevant expertise decide to mount solo attacks. After anthrax-filled envelopes began to appear in government and other offices in late 2001, FBI agents concluded that a microbiologist and U.S. Army researcher, Bruce Ivins, was likely responsible and was believed to have acted alone. Ivins committed suicide in 2007, shortly before his planned arrest; a panel of scientists later cast doubt on the FBI’s evidence against him.

There are other dangers. If the regime in North Korea were to collapse, some worry Pyongyang could unleash its biological arsenal, which may include smallpox.

World War I saw the emergence of chemical warfare, World War II the atomic bomb. The next era-defining superweapon, some experts have long warned us, could be biological.
Do you know your haplogroup? With whom do you share that haplogroup, and would anyone want to eliminate you?

Have a great week!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fullbore Friday

Speaking of oil in the water off Louisiana. 
U-Boats in the Gulf you ask? Oh, yea.

Now and then, I have to tip my hat to the men of the German U-boat fleet. They didn't have the great submarines like we did - no, not even close. But what they did with them ... it is still amazing.

In the summer of 1942, U-166 patrolled the Gulf of Mexico in searches for a new victim. Steamer Robert E. Lee appeared 70 kilometers from the Mississippi mouth on July 30. The passenger carrier of 5184 tons displacement was going from Trinidad escorted with a PC-566 cruiser. There were over 400 passengers on board the vessel, mostly technical specialists and seamen rescued from sunk ships. The cruiser contacted with the coast station over the air and reported its coordinate position; it was a fatal mistake as the negotiations were intercepted by the German submarine.

The U-166 captain Kullmann ordered to immediately open fire against the ship. People on board the passenger carrier saw a white foamy trace on the sea surface and then a torpedo explosion followed. Marshal Charlton, who was a sailor on Robert E. Lee steamer tells: ?We felt a quick bump, as if the ship ran against a stone wall. The torpedo got into the engine-room and smashed it to pieces.¦ The steamer got a serious breach and sank very quickly; passengers on Robert E. Lee were rather lucky v only 25 people sank.

German submariners were eager to find out whether the hunting was a success. They got so used to remain unpunished for their doings in the Gulf of Mexico that U-166 surfaced without any cautiousness. PC-566 seamen rescued passengers from the steamer, then they noticed the hostile submarine and showered it with depth-bombs. One of them hit the fore body. A catastrophe was inevitable, and the submarine broke into two pieces just in few minutes and sank. The debris went down at a depth of about 1.500 meters in Mississippi-s underwater canyon. Not far from the dilapidated submarine hull, was lying an awkward carcass of the steamer that it torpedoed.

Germany waited for any information from U-166 in vain. No information about the submarine appeared after July 30, 1942, that is why U-166 and its crew of 52 seamen were considered missing.

In almost 60 years, at the beginning of 2001, researches were held at the sea bottom for further laying of oil pipelines there. By that time, the place where Robert E. Lee steamer sank was known, as its framework was found in 1986 already. However, when measurement was done, underwater robots detected strange anomalies of the sea bottom near the place where the steamer was lying. Maritime archeologists joined the researches and determined that wreckage of a submarine of the IX-C class were quite close to the steamer.

But what was the submarine that American pilots bombed not fat from the Mississippi delta? On July 24-25, 1942, U-166 executed a secret mission in the Gulf of Mexico near the Mississippi mouth and laid mined there. In that very place U-166 came across U-171, a giant submarine of the same class. In several days, an American plane noticed U-171.

The pilots decided to attack the submarine. Submarine specialist Krist says that the pilots had one depth-bomb weighing 120 kilograms. ?It would have been an exceptional case if the pilots had managed to sink a submarine of the IX-C class. But no miracle happened.¦

The American pilots remained above the place where they dropped the bomb for an hour. They even saw an oil spot spreading on the sea surface, that is the reason why they were sure that they managed to sank a submarine. But out of the whole number of 
German submarines that furrowed the Gulf of Mexico, only U-166 didn-t get back home from there. But it is unlikely that U-171 submarine seriously suffered from the dropped bomb, as the submarine moved away from the American shores. But the days of U-171 were also numbered: it was blown up when it approached the base in Lorient, near the French shores. Some members of the U-171 crew were saved, but 22 men were killed.U-166 suffered the same fate that majority of the Nazi Germany-s submarines did. Within ten years, 1935-1945, over a half of submarines out of the whole number of 1167 didn-t get back from their combat missions. German historians sum up losses of the enemy: 2900 vessels and 33 thousand seamen at the cost of the life of 30 thousand German submariners.Underwater pictures of the U-166 framework and wreckage of the steamer that it sank lying side by side produce a painful impression: the hunter and the pray, the killer and the victim are lying together in one underwater grave, covered with sand and silt, almost forgotten. This is just another reminder of the war horrors.

The U-boat fleet suffered extremely heavy casualties, losing 743 U-boats.
From one of my favorite books of all time, Gaylord Kelshall's The U-Boat War in the Caribbean, the story is told in much greater detail.U-166 was a Type IXC U-boat commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Günther Kuhlmann, 28 years old.

He made 
three patrols - but his third, 44 days, is the one he is remembered for.

U-166:Displacement: (tons) 1,120 (sf); 1,232 (sm); 1,540 (total)
Length: (m) 76,76 oa; 58,75 ph
Beam: (m) 6,76 oa; 4,40 ph
Draught: (draft) 4,70 m
Height: 9,40 m
Power: (hp) 4400 (sf); 1000 (sm)
Speed: (knots) 18,3; (sf) 7,3 (sm)
Range:(miles/knots) 13450/10 (sf); 63/4 (sm)
Torpedoes: 22; 4/2 (bow/stern tubes)
Mines: 44 TMA
Deck gun: 105/45, 110 rounds
Crew: 48-56 men
Max depth: ca. 230m (755 feet)

First posted OCT 2010. New additions below.



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Diversity Thursday

It has been a month, and it is time.

Unlike most DivThu, I'm not going to be making many of the points, I will let others do that for me.

This doesn't quite fit as a DivThu either, but in the end it does because the same tactics used by Diversity Bullies who work out their own demons and insecurities on an isolated, undefended target are in play ... and if I had one I had 100 requests that I say something.

So, here you go.

Think about where you went to college. Does this meet the standards of a "Distinguished Graduate Award?"
Mr. Webb graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968, receiving a special commendation for his leadership contributions. First in his class of 243 at the Marine Corps Officer’s Basic School, he served as a rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam and was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts. He graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1975.

Mr. Webb served in Congress as counsel to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs from 1977 to 1981. In 1982 he led the fight to include an African American soldier in the Vietnam Veterans memorial on the National Mall. In 1984 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, and in 1987 became Secretary of the Navy.

He was a Fall 1992 Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics.

In addition to his public service, Mr. Webb has enjoyed a varied career as a writer. He taught literature at the Naval Academy. Traveling widely as a journalist, he received an Emmy Award for his PBS coverage of the U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1983, and in 2004 was embedded with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. A screenwriter and producer, his original story “Rules of Engagement” held the top slot in U.S. box offices for two weeks in April 2000. Mr. Webb has written ten books, including “Born Fighting,” a sweeping history of the Scots – Irish culture, and “Fields of Fire,” widely recognized as the classic novel of the Vietnam War.

Mr. Webb has six children and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Hong Le Webb. He speaks Vietnamese and has done extensive pro bono work with the Vietnamese community dating from the late 1970s.
Unspoken, of course - he was also a Senator.

But ...
Female U.S. Naval Academy alumni are protesting an award given to Jim Webb, a decorated Vietnam veteran, former senator, and secretary of the Navy, because he argued against women in combat nearly four decades ago.
I'll save you all the emoting by people about how other people used Webb's article to hurt their feelings. You can read the whole article from 1979 here.

I'll let Aaron MacLean at the Free Beacon outline a few thinking points;
The most widely cited reason for his political toxicity is an article he wrote in 1979 (side note: almost forty years ago!) in Washingtonian Magazine entitled "Women Can't Fight." Never mind that he has apologized for both the vivid language of his youth and the ways in which the article made life difficult for women already in the service. ("Clearly, if I had been a more mature individual, there are things that I would not have said in that magazine article. To the extent that this article subjected women at the Academy or the armed forces to undue hardship, I remain profoundly sorry.") Never mind the fact that Webb was channeling the beliefs of the vast majority of his fellow infantrymen, if in somewhat impolitic language—or that even today, the vast majority of Marines of all grades oppose the inclusion of women in combat units. Never mind that in 1987, as secretary of the Navy, Webb opened a tremendous number of new positions in the service to women. Most of all, never mind that as of December 2015, combat units were all opened to women by order of then-Secretary of Defense Carter, overriding the objections of the Marine Corps (though not of the Army).

In other words, the proponents of including women in combat units have won. But, as the case of Webb shows, that's not enough. You have to salt the fields.

Returning to our midshipman, here is what the Naval Academy has taught you this week:

- Do not take a bold stand, especially in public. It does not matter if your argument is made honestly and in good faith, or if you are an expert on the matter of policy under discussion.
- Keep a keen sense of which way the political wind is blowing. Don't fight it—drift with it.
- No matter the number of your accomplishments or their objective prestige, you will be humiliated for once having promoted a Wrong Opinion.
- The more effectively and memorably you promoted the Wrong Opinion, the greater your punishment will be.
That is about right.

Captain Gary Storm, USN (Ret.) President of the USNA Class of '68 also made some great points;
... as Secretary of the Navy. It led to a historic increase in the opportunity for women to serve at sea and ashore. Jim approved tightening the Navy’s definition of “combat mission” to open nearly 9,300 sea billets to women. Aviation opportunities were also increased by authorizing women to serve with shore-based reconnaissance squadrons. These changes significantly increased the opportunities for women to serve in major command billets—an important factor in enhancing their career progression and prospects for promotion.

One of our classmates, Karl Krumbholz, was a member of the panel that researched and contributed to the writing of the Navy’s study in 1987. “As a Commander,” he said, “I was on the Sexual Harassment and Fraternization Panel. This was an enormously educational experience for us and raised awareness of women’s issues within the Navy. It clearly helped Jim make changes that improved the environment and opportunities for women going forward in their careers. The members of our study group brought a spectacular focus and desire to do a good job. In my view, as a former commanding officer, the study group’s recommendations that Jim approved were well beyond the thinking of my contemporaries at the time.”
Again, what more can this NROTC guy say?

For your additional ponderings about how and why Webb was attacked now, in the way he was; Rule 12 from Saul Alinsky;
"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.
You operationalize it as such.
You don’t communicate with anyone purely on the rational facts or ethics of an issue”. ... “moral rationalization is indispensable,” ... “clothe” one’s goals and strategies with “moral arguments”. But there can be no conversation with one’s opponents, for to converse with them is to humanize them.
My instincts were right to wait a month to comment on this sad little occurrence - mostly because I had to digest my own complicated feelings about Webb that long time members of the Front Porch are familiar with, no reason to go there again.

A month ago I was not all that happy that he backed out from receiving the award like he did, as it fit a pattern of his, but now I am having second thoughts.

I realized that I needed to look at his decision in the context of the cultural reference we both share; we are both from Old Line Scots-Irish families. When I think about it that way, it is all clear.

He dearly loves the Naval Academy. What he loves is weak and under the power of a force that is foam-flecked and inflexible. Nothing he could do by his presence would do any anything but to give that power more reasons to abuse and hurt that which he loves, as he was powerless to stop it and was without support. As such, there was no honorable option but to back away in sadness and regret - sadness and regret of what time and ill-treatment by others had done to the object of his affection.

He made the right call. Those who insist on judging people by what they said over 37 years ago and ignoring all they did afterwords - I hope in the future you are judged by the same standard.

Update: Did you know that there is a #DiversityThursday hashtag on facebook ... but none of the posts here (where it started) use it?

Instead, it is a happy tag by the Diversity Industm.ry. Huh. Shame if something should happen to it. Ahem.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Imperial City; Why They Hate Thee

I first fell in love with DC back in its slightly grimy 1980s. Even when the crack wars were raging and the rents were so low in Georgetown that you could have punk bars on main roads - I liked the city.

Like I did, it grew up and cleaned itself up over the last few decades. A little less radical, a lot less dangerous, but the cost of living burn rate is much higher.

In the last year or so, the screed against the DC establishment has been over the top in a few places causing a bit of eye-rolling by those who live in a commute distance, but the baseline critique is sound and growing. Reality on the ground backs it up.

I think some of my DC friends are a bit tired of my "Imperial City" warnings that I have been giving for years - well before the last election. They don't see the disconnect, as they live in the bubble. They don't see themselves as "The Other" because they are The Other surrounded by The Other.

Those in the Provinces look to DC and do not see "of the people, by the people, for the people" and for good reason.

Because no one really hears you until you are sick of telling them something, The Washington Examiner puts it out there again for folks in DC to ponder and sniff if they wish.

If you really want to understand why the rest of the country seems a bit insane, contemplate a bit if the problems isn't them, but you.
The two richest counties in America, and five of the seven richest, are in commuting distance of the U.S. Capitol. Big government is the cause.
Whereas Detroit once made cars, Hollywood makes movies, and New York finances the economy, Washington mostly makes government.

How does big government enrich D.C. and its denizens? What's the mechanism? There are a few ways.

Most straightforwardly but not most importantly, federal salaries are high and the benefits even higher. The average federal employee makes $84,153, about 50 percent more than the average private-sector worker. Sweet benefits such as health insurance for life make the gap even wider. Government unions argue that federal workers are underpaid. Their arguments are self-serving hogwash based on bad data and excluding benefits.
Home values have doubled since 2000 compared to a 35 percent increase in St. Louis and Milwaukee, to cite just two examples.

More federal spending means more wealth in the city that makes those decisions. More regulation also means more wealth there. A more complex tax code and higher tax rates means more and yet more.

The more businesses profit from federal contracts, bailouts, and regulatory arbitrage, the more swanky restaurants, opulent homes, and corporate headquarters Washington and its environs get.
I see no indications of the gap between the Imperial City and the Provinces changing anytime soon. As such, don't expect any coming together soon towards a trust in, and confidence with our government.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Thoughts on Turkey’s Turn

Over at his blog, Dani Rodrick is making a point about the latest from Turkey that is about center-mass for many of us who once had a sliver of hope that they would be wrong about Turkey’s drift;
I don’t write a lot on Turkey these days. … It’s partly because the subject is too depressing: try hard as I might, I really cannot find a good scenario developing over the years ahead.
I think of the many good Turkish officers I served with and their families. Culturally, they were modern, forward looking people almost as Western as I am. Sadly, history does not seem to be going in their direction.

Ataturk, one of the great men of the 20th Century, knew the problem and did what he could to push it back. The modernizers of the last few decades lost their spine … and so they will lose their secular and sporadically advancing republic, as imperfect as it was.

This seems reasonable;
Had he won the referendum with a comfortable margin, we might have consoled ourselves by thinking that the country would be moving into a calmer period. Erdogan might then have chosen to contest the next election for executive president – which will happen in 2019 latest -- as a unifier. But he lost all the major cities and may have needed some last minute skullduggery for the constitutional change to pass. So I do not see Erdogan easing up on his divisive rhetoric and policies anytime soon. 
Asked to predict Turkey’s future by a Turkish newspaper a while back, I said the country would end up looking like Malaysia at best and Afghanistan at worst. A liberal, secular path, with tolerance for diversity, civil liberties, and free speech no longer seems in the cards. That is still pretty much my prognosis.
Not a good day for anyone, but who lost Turkey? No one to blame but the Turks.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fullbore Friday

An under-told story from an under-studied (at least in the last decade) war.

The story of Vulcan 607.
"We're short of fuel, but we've come this far," he told them. "I'm not turning back now." At 290 miles away from the target, 607 began a shallow descent towards Port Stanley.

Even now they could not be certain where they were. The inflight navigation system gave two different compass readings.

The Radar Officer, Bob Wright, and the Navigator, Gordon Graham, had split the difference. If they were on course, the computer would respond with the information needed for Wright to get the bombs on target but only when the radar was switched on again - seconds before the planned drop.

Simon Baldwin in Waddington had worked out that the bomber should approach low to minimise its 'footprint' and then climb upwards to 8000 or 10,000 feet to try to stay clear of the "kill zone" of the Argentinian defences before unleashing its weaponry.

As Vulcan 607 streaked towards her target, Graham called the mileage before the rapid climb, and Hugh Prior, the electronics officer, made sure that the chaff and decoy flares, which would be fired to draw enemy fire, and the American Dash 10 detection jammer were operational.

A radar contact appeared: 607 was dead on target. It was 4.30 in the morning, local time, when the Vulcan roared upwards, straight into view of the Argentine search radars. But the young radar operators were unperturbed. The bomber could only be one of theirs - this had not been a shooting war so far.

During the few minutes it took the Argentinians to wake up to the fact that this was in fact an enemy aircraft, the Vulcan had soared to its 10,000ft altitude and levelled off for the bomb run.

Its speed was 400 mph. From this moment the aircraft could not deviate, even if enemy radar was locked on them. At this height the runway would have been the size of a scratch of a fingernail on the map and the bomb run had to be precise to a few yards.

Two miles from the runway the first of the thousand-pounders fell away from the Vulcan's cavernous belly. When all 21 were away, Withers turned the Vulcan in a steep curve, in time for the crew to see a blossom of fire as the first bomb bored deep into the centre of the runway and detonated. Other blasts hit the airfield, gouging out massive chunks of its surface.

Vulcan 607 did, in fact, have enough fuel to make the rendezvous. It returned to Ascension Island and a heroes' welcome. The most ambitious sortie since World War II, had by the skin of its teeth been successful.

The damage destroyed any remaining hopes Argentine forces had of using the runway for their fast jets. Their entire Mirage fighter force had to be moved promptly back to the north of Argentina, and any jet cover during the coming British invasion would have to come from the mainland.

It shook Argentine morale to the core and provoked Galtieri's decision to order a naval offensive against the British Task Force, which had disastrous consequences for the Argentine Navy.

The V-bomber had been designed decades before to reach into the snowy wastes of Soviet Russia, but had never been used in anger. Their last outing, to a part of the world no one had dreamed they would visit, had finally justified these beautiful aircraft.

The Falklands War lasted just 74 days. Though taken by surprise, Britain launched a task force to retake the islands and after conflict costing 255 British and 649 Argentinian deaths, the Union Jack was hoisted in Port Stanley on June 14.

First posted FEB09.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Diversity Thursday

A quick reminder to those who missed it the first time around. There was once a time when the USCG Academy was a rare light where everyone was on an equal footing. There was no discrimination based on race, creed, color, or national origin.

As we covered in 2010, not any more.
Buried in the annual Coast Guard authorization act passed this week by Congress is wording that would strike from the U.S. Code the statement that all appointments to the Coast Guard Academy "shall be made without regard to the sex, race, color or religious beliefs of an applicant."

Under current federal law the academy is "race neutral," but the change would put it on the same footing as other colleges and universities in balancing its enrollment by admitting students from specific groups.
It is to the Republican Party's great shame that they have let this last minute, racist act by the outgoing Democrats stand since they took power in the 2010 elections. The race-hustlers had been working on it for years, why those who value equality can't do the same is without excuse.

Let's check in with the USCG Academy and see how it has "evolved" since it started basing its existence on sectarianism and identity politics.

Diversity Peer Educators are cadets who volunteer to be the "go to people" for sensitive topics. Those distinguished cadets wear the Pin. The torch symbolizes leadership and courage while the light of the torch refers to the illumination of intellect provided by peer educators. The anchor represents the maritime heritage and the star symbolizes the connection of that heritage to the Academy. #diversity #uscga #eclipse2017
At least this makes it easy to see who the Zampolits are.

It gets better.

Who is the face of the Commissariate? Those who get their paycheck from forcing sectarian and a racialist view of the world on young men and women? Check out this guy.

Yea ... that guy

Aram is one of those "sub-conscious bias" & microaggression folks. You know, they don't have to prove you are a bigot, and you cannot prove you are not one. So ... 

You can hear more of his self-loathing prattle here.

7 affinity counsels that right out of the gate. They "encourage" first year students to tribalize themselves with a sectarian mindset. 

Leadership doesn't just turn a blind eye to division, it spot-welds incoming students to it.

Now that the Republicans have the legislative and executive branches, they have one more year for this foolishness, then no excuse. This will be a Republican position as much as a Democrat one.

How far we've come since the USCGA could not discriminate based on race, creed, color, or national origin. Now such discrimination is actually policy.

Shame on the Republicans who have held power since 2009 and have yet to reverse the open sectarian change put in as the Democrats left power......

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Navy Adopts Sal's PLAN SALAMANDER ~8-yrs Late

Well, this is fun;
The look at other hulls – potentially foreign designs – could bring in additional competition beyond the two yards. While the U.S. has not focused on traditional small naval ship designs, Western European shipbuilders have designed several guided-missile frigates that could partner with U.S. companies for a new frigate bid.

The new study and the expansion of the hulls under consideration call into question when the service will release the final Request for Proposal for the final frigate design, which was due sometime this year.

“While the design for the frigate matures, the Navy remains firmly committed to execution of the current LCS program of record, in order to maintain the viability of both shipyards, maximize competition for future ship contracts and deliver critically needed capability to the fleet as quickly as possible,” read the statement from the service.

The following was the complete statement from the Navy on the ongoing frigate study provided to USNI News.

As a result of the Navy’s 2016 Force Structure Assessment, increased emphasis on Distributed Maritime Operations, and increasingly complex threats in the global maritime environment, the Navy continues to assess the capabilities required to ensure the Frigate outpaces future threats. Therefore, the Navy is pursuing an update to the analysis performed by the 2014 Small Surface Combatant Task Force (SSCTF) to reassess Frigate requirements and capabilities. The Navy Frigate Requirements Evaluation Team (FFG RET) will update the SSCTF analyses to investigate the feasibility of incorporating additional capabilities such as Local Air Defense and enhanced survivability features into the current LCS designs, as well as explore other existing hull forms. The result of this update will inform PB18 deliberations, and will be briefed to OSD leadership and the Congressional committees once completed later this spring. Our goal is to get the best capability possible in our future Frigate, at an affordable price, and with a mature design that will ensure a relevant platform for decades to come.

While the design for the Frigate matures, the Navy remains firmly committed to execution of the current LCS program of record, in order to maintain the viability of both shipyards, maximize competition for future ship contracts, and deliver critically needed capability to the Fleet as quickly as possible.
I really should never have to buy a beer in the Beltway ever again.

Just have an open tab at Kelly's Irish Times and we'll call it even.

LCS: This Time with More PAO

With the new LCS report out, I think it is time to kick LCS around a bit.

I'm getting pull quotes all over the place at USNIBlog.

Come by and see what's what.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Russian Navy in the Med? Everyone Just Take a Powder

Do you ever read a headline, nod, and move along to read something else for a few minutes ... and then pause ... tilt your head a bit ... and ask, "What the hell was that again?"

Many navalists were having one of those moments to start the week, especially those of us old enough to remember the Cold War.

Here's the quote in question;
Recent Russian naval activity in Europe exceeds levels seen during the Cold War, a top U.S. and NATO military officer said, voicing concern that the distributed nature of the deployments could end up "splitting and distracting" the transatlantic alliance.

Navy Admiral Michelle Howard, who heads NATO's Allied Joint Force Command in Naples and commands U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa, said Russia had clearly stepped up its naval actions in recent years although the size of its navy was smaller now than during the Cold War era.

"We're seeing activity that we didn't even see when it was the Soviet Union. It's precedential activity," Howard told Reuters in an interview late on Saturday during a missile defense conference.

Howard cited a wide range of activities, including Russia's deployment of its Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean, increased patrols in the north Atlantic and Arctic region, significant out-of-area submarine deployments, and submarine movement in the Black Sea.
I'm sorry, but time to be a skunk at the "Ermahgerd Russians!" party.

I knew the Soviet Navy in the Cold War, and as a young JO, cut my teeth chasing the last few of them around the Med .... and the Russian Navy is not the Soviet Navy.

Let's just run the numbers. First of all, let's define the "Cold War." Plus or minus an American election cycle, can we agree that the classic years of the Cold War from a naval perspective were from 1965 to 1985? OK, then lets look at the numbers, shall we?

Referencing Gordon H. McCormick's 1987 RAND study, "The Soviet Presence in the Mediterranean," what were the average number of Soviet ships in the Med each day?

That is an average daily strength in the Med of about 45 ships. At the most, what did the Russians have in the Med in the last year, 10? 12?

Heck, as our friend Bryan McGrath pointed out, at the peak of the Yom Kippur War, things in the eastern Med were a bit sporty

Lyle J. Goldstein and Yuri M. Zhukov point out in their 2004 Naval War College Review article, "A TALE OF TWO FLEETS: A Russian Perspective on the 1973 Naval Standoff in the Mediterranean," that in the Med in 1973 it was quite the, "Happy Halloween there Shipmate!"
The Fifth Eskadra’s force strength peaked on 31 October at ninety-six units, including thirtyfour surface combatants (five armed with SSMs) and twenty-three submarines (at least seven with SSMs), constituting a force capable of launching eighty-eight SSMs in a first salvo.

The sixty U.S. ships then present, including three attack carriers, two amphibious assault helicopter carriers, and nine attack submarines, found themselves in an increasingly uncomfortable position, in which a preemptive strike seemed the most attractive option should combat seem inevitable. Around each carrier were three Soviet ships—two destroyers (one carrying surface-to-surface missiles, the other surface-to-air) and one “tattletale” AGI capable of providing midcourse guidance to SSMs fired from elsewhere.

If the situation ashore had been defused, the crisis at sea not only persisted but now reached its most dangerous stage. The four U.S. task groups were constantly targeted for a Soviet attack. The three anticarrier groups trailing the U.S. carrier groups could have launched first salvos of at least thirteen SSMs each against their respective targets. Four Soviet cruise-missile submarines were on submerged patrol nearby. The U.S. amphibious task force south of Crete was likewise shadowed by a group of five Soviet warships, some equipped with SSMs.
I don't think such exaggerated hyperbole coming out of a 4-star is doing anyone any good. It distorts historical perspectives and unnecessarily puts everyone on edge. 

When you increase emotion, decrease historical perspective, and blinker nuance - you limit the flexibility and decision making processes of everyone. 

Unmoored hyperbole increases the odds of bad decisions and even worse - when such statements are easily debunked with 5-minutes on google - it degrades the standing of US military leadership and the nation it serves.

Let's try to keep such hyperbole and abuse of the English language to our FITREPS, and out of our national security discussions.

Hat tip McGrath.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Did we Declare Victory Against Somali Pirates too Early?

Let's go back to the summer of 2014 and the article by Christian Bueger in The Georgetown Journal of International Affairs;
The pirates of Somalia have gone silent. There have been no successful Somali pirate hijackings reported in the past two years. Hollywood movies like Paul Greengrass’s Captain Philips, rather than news of actual attacks and ransom negotiations, now make the headlines. But is the threat of Somali piracy truly over? In May, the international Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia held its 16th plenary meeting at the United Nations in New York to discuss the endgame of the fight against piracy. The group, which is the central global governance entity organizing counter-piracy efforts, discussed how to restructure its counter-piracy response mechanisms and what measures will be required in the future. But as the Contact Group deliberations have made clear, the international community should not be so quick to declare victory in the war against Somali piracy. Although incidences of piracy in the region have decreased, sustained local and international efforts are still needed to prevent this trend from reversing.
At that time he outlined three reasons for the quiet on the piracy front off HOA;
First, the shipping industry has improved its self-defense measures. Commercial vessels now sail at higher speeds through high-risk areas, post additional watches, are protected with barbed wire, and follow the procedures of the so-called international Best Management Practices. Additionally, the majority of these ships employ armed guards on board.
Second, the international naval missions launched by NATO, the European Union, or unilaterally by individual nations have become more effective since the early days of counter-piracy operations. International cooperation between different missions works well, and national navies have become more experienced in conducting joint counter-piracy operations and handling piracy suspects. Until 2010, many piracy suspects were released after being apprehended. Now, however, naval personnel are skilled in arresting, collecting evidence on, and handing over piracy suspects.
A third factor contributing to this decline has been the rejection of piracy by local Somali communities, who have increasingly begun to view it as an illegitimate activity. The first generations of Somali pirates gained local support by presenting themselves as guardians of the coast and protectors of the Somali seas. Somali coastal communities no longer consider this justification valid. Indeed, many villages, including Eyl, the former pirate stronghold, have seen open protests against piracy. Community support is vital to pirates not only for recruitment but also to support the logistics of piracy operations, which require, for instance, the provision of food and water during lengthy ransom negotiations.
As spring of 2017 comes, where do we stand?

As reported by Jason Patinkin at FP;
After being all but stamped out by international naval forces following its late-2000s heyday, piracy has made a sudden return to the Horn of Africa. In the past month, there have been six suspected piracy incidents near Somalia, five of them successful, including three in the last week. That’s compared with zero successful attacks in 2016.

Three more murky maritime incidents off the coast of Somalia’s Galmudug state, where suspected illegal fishing vessels paid “fines” that may in fact have been ransoms, suggest that piracy has rebounded on a scale even larger than previously reported.
What happened? Well, go back to Christian's Three;
The resurgence of piracy in the Horn of Africa’s busy transport corridor comes when both anti-piracy forces and shipping companies have let down their guard. A NATO naval force pulled out of the Horn in December, citing the decline in pirate attacks, though a European Union force remains. Lawellin said that many cargo ships plying Somalia’s waters have also stopped taking basic precautionary measures, such as hiring armed guards on their ships and sailing at higher speeds farther from shore.
That's a start.

It is becoming clear that we only addressed the symptoms, but did little to mitigate the root cause. There actually is very little the West has the desire or innate ability to do to address the root cause, so perhaps there just needs to be a mowing of the grass and a longer lasting effort.

But with what and by whom? 

As Russia has NATO's (and naturally the EU's) navies looking to play catch-up, who will return to push the pirates back?

An opening and opportunity almost from central casting is in the offing and doesn't come along all that often on the international scene.

PLAN ... call your office. The US Navy cut its international teeth on Muslim pirates. There is a certain rhyme to it.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Fullbore Friday

Imagine a ship that had the following life;
(She) reported to Admiral "Bull" Halsey's Third Fleet and participated in task force strikes on the Japanese mainland near the close of World War II. On August 9, 1945, she fired the final salvo on the home islands of Japan. She rescued two British POWs just before entering Tokyo Bay for the surrender ceremonies on September 2, 1945. From November 1945 until early 1946, she was anchored off Shanghai, China as the flagship of Task Force 73.

During the Korean War, (She) supplied close gunfire support for United Nations troops, conducted gun strikes against enemy supply lines, and rescued downed pilots. She participated in the drive to Chongjin, the Inchon invasion, Wonsan, and the Hungnam evacuation. On July 27, 1953, (she) fired the last salvo of the war, just two minutes prior to the cease fire.
(She) became the first heavy combatant to be permanently homeported in the Orient since the pre-World War II days of the Asiatic Fleet. She operated from Yokosuka, Japan as the Commander Seventh Fleet flagship for more three years. In June of 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower embarked on (Her) for a trip from the Philippines to Taiwan. Three weeks later, she became the first Navy ship to raise the new 50 -star flag. She hosted nearly a quarter million visitors during this extended Far East assignment.
On 17 November, she provided gunfire support to the United Nations troops advancing on Chongjin. That day, shrapnel from a near miss by a shell from a Communist shore battery injured six men at gun mount stations. The cruiser destroyed the enemy emplacement with counter-battery fire and continued her support mission.

As the Chinese Communists began massive attacks late in November, United Nations forces commenced a general withdrawal to consolidate and hold south of the 38th parallel. She provided close support for the Republic of Korea I Corps on their east flank as they withdrew from Hapsu, and along the coast, as they retired from Chongjin. On 2 December, she moved north again, conducted night harassing missions above Chongjin, then moved south to support the withdrawal of the Republic of Korea Capital Division to Kyongsong Man. She entered the harbor at Wonsan on 3 December to provide a curtain of shellfire around that city as United Nations forces and equipment were moved to Hungnam; then followed the forces there, and remained to cover the evacuation of that city and harbor between 10 December and 24 December.
From 21 January to 31 January 1951, She conducted shore bombardment missions north of Inchon where, on 26 January, she was again fired upon by shore batteries. On 7 April, in special TF 74, with destroyers Wallace L. Lind (DD-703), and Massey (DD-778), landing ship dock Fort Marion (LSD-22) and high speed transport Begor (APD-127), She helped to carry out raids on rail lines and tunnels utilizing 250 commandos of the 41st Independent Royal Marines. These highly successful destructive raids slowed down the enemy's resupply efforts, forcing the Communists to attempt to repair or rebuild the rail facilities by night while hiding the work crews and locomotives in tunnels by day.

She returned to the United States for yard work at San Francisco, California, from June to September, then conducted underway training before sailing on 5 November for Korea. She arrived off Wonsan on 27 November and commenced gun strike missions. During the following weeks, she bombarded strategic points at Hungnam, Songjin, and Chongjin. In December, she served as an antiaircraft escort for TF 77, and, following a holiday trip to Japan, returned to operations off the coast of North Korea. In April 1952, She participated in combined air-sea attacks against the ports of Wonsan and Chongjin. On 21 April, while the cruiser was engaged in gun fire support operations, a sudden and serious powder fire broke out in her forward eight-inch turret. Thirty men died. Before returning to Japan, however, she carried out gunstrikes on railroad targets near Songjin, during which she captured nine North Koreans from a small boat. Following a brief stay in port and two weeks on the gun line, she headed home and reached Long Beach, California, on 24 June.

On 28 February 1953, She departed the West Coast for her third Korean tour and was in action again by April. In mid-June, she assisted in the recapture of Anchor Hill. With battleship New Jersey (BB-62), she provided close support to the Republic of Korea Army in a ground assault on this key position south of Kosong. The cruiser was fired upon many times by 75 mm and 105 mm guns, and observed numerous near misses, some only ten yards away. But on 11 July at Wonsan, she received her only direct hit from a shore battery. No one was wounded, and only her three-inch antiaircraft mount was damaged. On 27 July, at 2159, she conducted her last gunstrike and had the distinction of firing the last round shot at sea in the war. The shell, autographed by Rear Admiral Harry Sanders, was fired at an enemy gun emplacement. The truce was effective at 2200. She then commenced patrol duties along the east coast of Korea.
In 1963, she was visited by the Secretary of the Navy, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Commandant of The Coast Guard. John Wayne and Kirk Douglas filmed scenes for the movie "In Harms Way" as she steamed from Seattle to Hawaii in 1964.
(Her) second Vietnam deployment began April 3, 1967 when she steamed west from San Diego. It would be seven months and 20,000 rounds later before the Fighting Saint would return. In her 1966 deployment, she had fired more than 10,000 rounds in support of allied troops south of the DMZ. Prior to that it was in Korea that CA-73 had last fired her big guns at hostile forces; and more than 20 years since the "Snooky Poo Maru", as she was affectionately known to her crew, had participated in World War II.
On September 1, 1967, she engaged in her toughest battle of the deployment. Accompanied by two destroyers, she moved in to attack waterborne logistics craft when about 25 coastal defense sites opened fire. She immediately returned the enemy fire and a running batle ensued with shells falling all around the ship.

More than 500 rounds were fired at Her that morning, and one round found its mark. A shell entered near the starboard bow and damaged a storeroom and several staterooms. There were no personnel casualties. Continuously firing, the ship maneuvered to safety and retired to sea for repairs. Working all, night, crewmembers pumped the damaged area dry and welded a patch over the hole. The patch held during high-speed turns, and the next day, "The Fighting Saint" returned to the gunline.

The ship later steamed to Subic Bay for permanent repairs. (She had been in Subic Bay just a month earlier to have all of her 8" guns replaced.) She returned to Sea Dragon where she destroyed six more waterborne craft, two concrete blockhouses, and two costal defense sites. She also heavily damaged railroad yards at Cong Phu and the shipyards Phuc Doi. She was relieved by USS NEWPORT NEWS CA-148 in October and headed to San Diego.
In May 1968, on her third Vietnam deployment, (she) returned to Sea Dragon operations. She picked up right where she had left off, shelling enemy targets on call-fire missions on a round-the-clock basis. She silenced North Vietnamese Army gun positions and sank three 30-foot logistics craft while damaging two 50-foot motorized tugs. The ship again took a brief mid-deployment break for regunning in Subic Bay. In over 1300 missions, she was credited with 380 enemy killed and 800 military structures destroyed or damaged. She was relieved in October by USS NEW JERSEY BB-62 before pointing her bow eastward for San Diego.

During her 130 days on the gunline on this deployment, "The Fighting Saint" fired a total of 64,055 rounds, making a total for the Vietnam conflict of more than 93,000. These figures established the 23-year old CRUISER as "Top Gun", having fired more rounds during a single deployment, and more rounds in all of her deployments, than any other warship.
Although "The Fighting Saint" had been decommissioned by the time the Vietnam conflict ended, she holds the distinction of two famous gunfire "lasts". As a member of Admiral 'Bull' Halsey's Third Fleet, she fired the final round on main home islands of Japan on August 9, 1945. She followed up that notoriety by letting go the last salvo of the Korean War on July 27, 1953, just two minutes before the armistice took effect. In more than a quarter century of service to her country, She earned 18 battle stars and fired more rounds of ammunition than any other United States crusier in history. She hosted eight heads of state. A total of 18 of her commanding officers and executive officers ascended to flag rank.
What a girl.

You know my bias, and the story of the ST PAUL just makes it stronger. Think about the bang for the buck we got from the
ST PAUL. Then think about the limited gene pool of a fleet we have now. Think about Somalia, Pakistan, SE Asia, China, South America - anywhere there is a shore line. Look at the mission she did and the firepower, and ability to take a hit, she took with her. Littoral? Yea, she has that. Range? Ditto? You can go on and on.

Here is the point to ponder, did we take the wrong fork in the road when we left the gun cruiser behind? Don't talk to me about the 5" guns we put on our CLG (which is what a Tico class is) or the Arleigh Burke class (which are a CLG as well - I don't care what you call them).

The dirty little secret here is that the Navy has realized that it did make a mistake when it decided to go all missile and pop guns, and left the MK-71 behind. DDG-1000 proves my point.

155mm = ~6.1". DDG-1000 is the size of a WWII Pocket Battleship. It may be a lot of things, but it is not a DDG. It is another CLG. One with 6.1" instead of 5", but a CLG none-the-less.
The problem though, was the execution. Instead of doing what the USAF is doing with the B-3 Bomber (proven technology that is evolutionary not revolutionary), we fell in love with the theory, the bleeding edge of what might be able to be done if we just throw enough money at it. Everyone wants to be part of something cosmic, not pedestrian. Some people join Comet Cults, some people build warships that work. As a result, the Comet Cult has bought us an expensive bucket of unproven technology in one unaffordable short run of a half-dozen ships, if we get that. All on the promise of the CGX, which is really going to be a CBX. Right answer, wrong execution. Enough of that, just look at the ST PAUL and say, Bravo Zulu. Fullbore.

First posted June 07.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

TLAM Strike; Syria

A few thoughts about the recently announced strike tonight against Syria. 

It is early, but I have a full day tomorrow and wanted to make a few points.

When I heard it was "a few dozen TLAM" I figured I would dust off my old TLAM background for a quick overview.

Here is what we know now;
The United States launched dozens of cruise missiles Thursday night at a Syrian airfield in response to what it believes was Syria's use of banned chemical weapons that killed at least 100 people, U.S. military officials told NBC News.

Two U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles intended for a single target — Ash Sha'irat in Homs province in western Syria, the officials said. That's the airfield from which the United States believes the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fired the banned weapons.

59 from two ships sounds about right. Depending on the loadout, and the usual "Primary, Backup, Ready-Spare" that leaves us a few more to play around with if needed. 

We should at some point find out which ships fired the TLAM, but assume they were some of the Arleigh Burke DDG we have in the Med. 

FLT I have 90 VLS Cells and FLT II and IIA have 96. Not all those will have TLAM loaded but enough do.

The target:
- Ash Aha'irat (Al Shayrat) airbase is about 25 miles SE of Homs City.
- That is a photo of the base above. Just about a perfect place to attack with TLAM. The targeting is almost school-house training classic.
- It is well away from most Russian forces, and the approach to the target given the range gives you enough options to avoid even flying over their main units with a wide separation.
- It makes a point.
- It will not interfere with operations against ISIS - which is the primary effort.
- No USA lives are directly put in danger. Besides the odd advisor or training team - should not threaten Russian or Iranian forces either.
- Based on what has been said by the US government over the last 24-hrs, we had to do something.
- If we had to do something, this was the right call.
- For a point of scale for TLAM punitive expeditions; in Desert Fox against IRAQ in 1998, we shot over 330 TLAM over three days in addition to airstrikes.
- This is a focused strike. Proper COA selection, IMAO.

This should check a few boxes and hopefully this will be it for now.

We have enough fighting in this horrible part of the world right now. We don't need more.

UPDATE: Lucas Tomlinson is reporting that the ships were the USS ROSS (DDG 71) and USS PORTER (DDG 78).

UPDATE II - Electric Boogaloo:

2017's Black Swan: The Chinese Economy?

As we are always hearing, "Wow! Six months ago no one saw that coming...." and then eventually we find that, well, some people actually did.

I'm always looking for that first pop above the ambient noise, especially in those areas that seem counter to the conventional wisdom.

Over the years, when we've done a Midrats show on China, we always spend a few minutes discussing that China has significant structural economic issues, but that are not talked about often.

Over at TheNationalInterest, Gordan Chang has your must read for today;
Beijing, which once thought it would dominate the world, has been playing defense for the last year and a half as almost no economic trend has been going its way.

We start on the 14th of this month, when Janet Yellen inadvertently highlighted China’s fragility. The Federal Reserve’s hawkish comments on interest rates—the central bank signaled three rate increases next year instead of the expected two—along with the quarter-point rise in rates forced bond prices down across the world. In China, the damage was historic.

Last Thursday, just a few hours after the Fed’s announcements, futures on China’s benchmark 10-year obligation stopped trading when they hit the daily down limit, the first time that has ever occurred. Trading on the five-year also was halted, another first. The People’s Bank of China, the central bank, injected the equivalent of $22 billion in short-term money, and that allowed trading to resume.

The next day, bond prices recovered in China, but only because the PBOC injected more than $57 billion. Beijing, by brute force, was able to stabilize the bond market, already rocked by defaults and cancelled offerings.

And the Chinese central bank has also muscled the currency markets by orchestrating rescues. The renminbi is ailing, down 6.9% this year against the dollar. Beijing once had ambitions of the “redback” replacing the greenback as the world’s reserve currency, but now it is merely trying to stage an orderly descent.
Even if you aren't an econ geek, read it all.

Diversity Thursday

The cancer of identity politics, where politicians and professional agitators earn their living by dividing the people in to small, easily manipulated sectarian groups, is a common feature in much of the West but especially in the Anglosphere.

In this video from Australia, the author outlines a lot of the issues we've raised here over the years. It is both encouraging and discouraging. Give it a watch.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Budget Smudget

The VCNO has put out a few markers on the budget. 

Catch the details over at USNIBlog.

The IPs Revolt

When you can't breath, nothing else matters.

Take your stereotypical Naval Aviator; cocky, aggressive, devil-may-care, hour-hounding etc, etc ... now double it.

That is your standard issue Navy Instructor Pilot. More often than not, the top pilots coming out of their first tour go on to some kind of billet as an Instructor Pilot at their FRS or a VT squadron.

Keep that in mind.

Via Lucas Tomlinson, the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News, this is something.
More than 100 U.S. Navy instructor pilots are refusing to fly in protest of what they say is the refusal of top brass to adequately address an urgent problem with training jets’ oxygen system, multiple instructor pilots tell Fox News.

The boycott started late last week and has effectively grounded hundreds of training flights.

“The pilots don’t feel safe flying this aircraft,” one instructor pilot told Fox News.

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, head of naval aviation, told Fox News in an exclusive interview that the training jet issue is the “number one safety priority” across naval aviation right now.

“Right now we don't have the smoking gun,” he cautioned.
In the last five years, physiological episodes, caused in part by problems with the oxygen system, have nearly quadrupled on the T-45 training jet,

Last week, a student from training squadron VT-86 in Pensacola, Fla., had to be “dragged out” of his jet because he became “incapacitated” from the faulty oxygen system, according to two flight instructors.

In March, a British exchange instructor pilot with thousands of hours in the cockpit had to conduct an emergency landing during a training flight near Meridian, Miss., after both he and his student experienced hypoxic symptoms.

In August, a flight instructor and his student were forced to eject near Kingsville, Texas, when they felt symptoms of hypoxia, crashing the multi-million dollar jet.  Both pilots ejected safely and were not seriously injured.

Last month, there were 10 episodes in T-45s, according to Shoemaker.

Anticipating the pilot protest, the Navy sent a team of engineers and other specialists this week to its T-45 training bases in Kingsville, Meridian and Pensacola for talks with the pilots.

A meeting Tuesday in Meridian “got heated,” Fox News is told.  The pilots told the civilians from Navy Air Systems Command their complaints about the oxygen system were being ignored. When a senior Navy pilot showed photos of a faulty oxygen system he claimed had been sent up to NAVAIR’s headquarters in Maryland, the engineers said they never received the photos.

Navy spokeswoman Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld acknowledged that 40 percent of instructor pilots refused to fly their training flights Friday. A flight instructor said the number was closer to 75 percent, because the Navy reduced the flight schedule knowing more than half the pilots would refuse to fly.

Shoemaker said following a meeting in Kingsville, flights there had resumed.  
Navy IPs are not drama mamas. They are not type-B personalities who look for excuses not to fly. They do not make stuff up except for liberty stories.

...and JOPA ain't changed;

I don't think this is a helpful response;
“We have been working this for five, six years now to try to get to the bottom of this,” one official said.

Both officials acknowledged “communication problems” between the upper echelon of the Navy and the instructors.

Six months ago, the Navy sent the T-45 and other jet squadrons Sorbent tubes to measure the air the pilots were breathing. After each flight, the tubes were sent to a lab in Maryland for analysis. After 1,500 flights worth of air samples, the results remain inconclusive.

“We haven’t come up with anything conclusive … showing a contaminant or something like that,” a senior official said.

The instructor pilots see it differently.

“They sent our squadron six tubes,” one pilot said. “That’s part of the frustration. They are doing the absolute minimum.”
A longer period of time than it took to develop the atomic bomb. Longer to fight WWII.

And yet ...
The dangers with the oxygen system are not limited to the T-45 training jets either. U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornets have been known to suffer similar problems.
As was stated earlier, this is not a new problem. Bad on me, Meghann Myers at NavyTimes wrote about this 11 months ago;
"There’s only one thing that scares the s--- out of guys that fly the airplane, and it’s OBOGS," the pilot said in an interview.

That day in Nevada, the pilot and the NFO pulled out their backup oxygen bottles, landed the plane and met with the squadron's safety officer to file a report. It turned out, the pilot said, that the jet's OBOGS had stopped producing oxygen. What's more, he added, the filtering material inside the system had just been cleaned and it was the jet's first flight with a fresh oxygen generator.

That was back in 2007, when aviators reported annually a dozen or so reports of physiological episodes — the technical term for the effects when a plane stops producing oxygen, pumps a toxin into the cockpit or loses pressurization.

The rates were troubling. In 2010, Navy aviation pushed to get pilots and aircrew to report every time they thought they'd had an episode. And NAVAIR engineers focused on how to improve OBOGS and the environmental control system — the pieces of the airplane that keep clean, dry air circulating.

Navy officials say it's progress that more fliers are recognizing and reporting physiological episodes. They say the causes of these distressing incidents are varied across the air systems' dozens of components, many of which have been modified and are now being more regularly checked. Meanwhile, engineers work to develop sensors that detect air contamination and low oxygen levels.

The Navy's air warfare director summed up the dilemma in a tense exchange during a February hearing.

"It’s like chasing a ghost," said Rear Adm. Mike "Nasty" Manazir, a career Navy pilot. "You can’t figure it out, because the monitoring devices that do this are not on the airplane."
The air flow issues have bedeviled the Navy and Marine Corps' fleet of F/A-18 Hornets, EA-18G Growlers and T-45C Goshawk trainers, all of which use the OBOGS. In the case of air contamination, there are no warning systems to alert the aviators breathing disorienting and potentially deadly gases. Complicating the assessment of the breadth of the incidents is the general reluctance of pilots to report what seem to be physiological problems, which can remove their flight status.

Meanwhile, the reported number of events is skyrocketing. Aviators reported 15 physiological episodes in 2009, concentrated in strike aircraft and the trainer jets that aviators learn on, according to Naval Safety Center data.

By 2015, the fleet reported an eight-fold increase to 115 episodes: 31 in the T-45C Goshawk trainer and 41 in Hornet variants, plus 19 in the EA-18G Growler. The Marines also reported a spike that year, including hypoxia and OBOGS failure in the brand new F-35B joint strike fighters and seven more events involving its legacy Hornets, as the F/A-18 A through D variants are known.
"I’ve been flying Navy airplanes since 1982 on oxygen," testified Manazir. "I commanded an F-14 squadron that had OBOGS back in 1998. I have two cruises on that system and I have four cruises on the Super Hornet. I’ve never experienced a hypoxic event."

If the Navy were concerned about the safety of the jets, he added, they would ground the fleet.

But inside ready rooms, his comments landed like a ton of bricks.

"We have definitely upped the reporting since 2010 and it is a huge issue for us," the East Coast pilot said. "In my opinion, the admiral is just lucky that he has never had an incident."

The West Coast pilot shared that disappointment.

"I have a concern. I have a huge concern. Lots of guys have concerns. That’s the perfect time to go, 'We have a problem and we need the funding to get it fixed,' " he said. "If that’s for a media comment, then I get it. But if that’s what he’s really thinking, then I’m disappointed."

The pilot also pointed out that Manazir's timeline suggests his first 16 years flying were with liquid oxygen pumping into his mask, a system which OBOGS replaced.

"I would say, go to his log book and take all of the LOX flights out of there, and those numbers are going to come way down," he said. "We’ve got guys who have never been hypoxic, and guys who have been multiple times."
Her article goes in a to a lot of detail on the OBOGS. Read it all.

I can't get over on how long we are taking to solve this problem. BZ to the IPs for keeping up the pressure.

So, how long would it take and how much money to either convert back to LOX until we ID the problem or fix it like the USAF did with the F-22? Is either an option? 

If not, what is Plan C?

Or are we going to play management for Convair and McDonald-Douglas to Dan Applegate's memo? Just put a price on dead Naval Aviators and figure that is cheaper than fixing a hard problem?