Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Vietnam War Will Have to Wait Awhile Longer

To say that Ken Burns's documentary on The Vietnam War was a lost opportunity is to be kind.

Say what you want about Oliver North, but his critique here is sound;
It’s sad, but I’ve come to accept that the real story of the heroic American GIs in Vietnam may never be told. Like too many others, Ken Burns portrays the young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines of the Vietnam War as pot-smoking, drug-addicted, hippie marauders.

Those with whom I served were anything but. They did not commit the atrocities alleged in the unforgivable lies John Kerry described to a congressional committee so prominently featured by Mr. Burns. The troops my brother and I were blessed to lead were honorable, heroic and tenacious. They were patriotic, proud of their service, and true to their God and our country.

To depict them otherwise, as Ken Burns does, is an egregious disservice to them, the families of the fallen and to history. But his treatment of my fellow Vietnam War veterans is just the start.
Next North shifts his fire rightly to what was done by Burns to Nixon.
Contrary to the film’s portrayal, Nixon had a complicated strategy to achieve “Peace with Honor.” His goal was to train and equip the South Vietnamese military to defend their own country in a process he called “Vietnamization” and thereby – withdraw American troops.

President Nixon succeeded in isolating the North Vietnamese diplomatically and negotiated a peace agreement that preserved the right of the people of South Vietnam to determine their own political future. Imperfect as the Saigon government was, by 1973 the South Vietnamese had many well-trained troops and units that fought well and were proud to be our allies. This intricate and sophisticated approach took shape over four wartime years but receives only superficial mention in Mr. Burns’ production.
By the time President Nixon resigned office on August 9, 1974, the Vietnam War was all but won and the South Vietnamese were confident of securing a permanent victory. But in December 1974 – three months after President Nixon departed the White House – a vengeful, Democrat-dominated Congress cut off all aid to South Vietnam.

It was a devastating blow for those to whom President Nixon had promised – not U.S. troops – but steadfast military, economic and diplomatic support. As chronicled in memoirs written afterwards in Hanoi, Moscow and Beijing, the communists celebrated. The ignominious end came with a full-scale North Vietnamese invasion five months later.

Despite the war’s tragic conclusion – and the trauma that continues to afflict our country – there is little in the Burns so-called documentary about the courage, patriotism and dedication of the U.S. troops who fought honorably, bravely, and the despicable way in which we were “welcomed” home.
This sticks.
Though Ken Burns and his collaborators claim otherwise, the real heroes of “The Vietnam War” were not U.S. protestors, but the troops my brother and I led. They fought valiantly for our country and the president who brought us home.

Since meeting President Nixon in the 1980s, I have always remembered how he understood the incredible sacrifice of American blood in the battlefields of Vietnam. He was dedicated to ending the war the right way and committed to sustaining American honor. He kept his promise to bring us home.

Ken Burns failed to keep his promise to tell all sides about the long and difficult war in Vietnam. Mr. Burns, like John Kerry, has committed a grave injustice to those of us who fought there.
So, the Vietnam Era veterans will have to wait longer for a truly fair telling on the national stage.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Cluelessness and the Africa Challenge

One the strangest things I've seen in the last few weeks has been the attempted Benghazization of the deaths of our Green Berets in Niger.

Sadly, many in the natsec left, who are smart and should know better, made a go of it and lost a lot of credibility in the process. Still, there were others in the press and general public who kept trying to politicize it.

I've come to the conclusion that they have such narrow news sources and interests that they simply missed the whole story. That or are so blinded via politics-uber-alles they refuse to see it. 

Outside natsec pros, there is the fact that so many left leaning people narrow their information sources - and in the last year can't seem to get Trump out of their head - to a degree there isn't room to keep track of the big picture.

Some of the info that they are getting is complete garbage. Take the latest from ViceNews;
... the U.S. military has already seen significant action in Africa, where its growth has been sudden and explosive. When U.S. Africa Command, the umbrella organization for U.S. military operations on the continent, first became operational in 2008, it inherited 172 missions, activities, programs, and exercises from other combatant commands. Five years in, that number shot up to 546.

Today’s figure of 3,500 marks an astounding 1,900 percent increase since the command was activated less than a decade ago, and suggests a major expansion of U.S. military activities on the African continent.
No context. No ability, even in 2017, to understand the nature of Global War on Terrorism - and the critical "bleeding edge" where Dar-al-Islam and Dar-al-Harb meet in Sub-Saharan Africa. As we move them out of one area, they will move to the next etc. We knew that they had Africa as their back yard right after 911 when we first began HOA OPS - it is even more true now.
“The huge increase in U.S. military missions in Africa over the past few years represents nothing less than a shadow war being waged on the continent,” said William Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.
“This military-heavy policy,” said Hartung, “risks drawing the United States more deeply into local and regional conflicts in Africa and generating a backlash that could actually aid terrorist organizations in their recruitment.”
If you get your news from ViceNews, you are getting it from an organization that isn't even trying in this case to educate anyone. This is the worst form of natsec yellow journalism.

Ever heard of "Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy?" If you are a serious person, probably not.
The Center for International Policy (CIP) was founded in 1975, in the wake of the Vietnam War, by former diplomats and peace activists.
In the late 1970s, the Indochina program promoted the normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

In the 1980s, CIP staff turned its focus to Central America.
...the effort to end the counter-productive isolation of Cuba,...
Yeah, those guys.

Oh, for the love of Pete, this guy;
“There is a notion,, in some circles at least, that training missions are ‘safe,’ and that U.S. troops are not exposed to the same level of risk as if they were engaged in direct combat,” said Hartung. “There may be an element of truth in this, but when push comes to shove, training missions can easily cross the line into combat operations.”
What circles? Your drum circle? 

I hated those Commie loving bastards in the 80s, can't abide them now.

Did ViceNews make any effort to talk to anyone who actually knows about the mission? Might have a bit better historical knowledge of the subject?

“We’ve seen a significant increase in U.S. military training to the African continent in recent years,” Colby Goodman, the director of the Security Assistance Monitor, which tracks U.S. spending on foreign militaries, told VICE News. The number of African troops trained by U.S. military personnel jumped 89 percent, Goodman notes, from 22,825 trained in 2014 to at least 42,815 individuals a year later.
Hartung shared similar concerns and said it was critical for the public to stay informed of the military’s often quiet expansion. “Congress and the public need to pay more attention to far-flung U.S. military train-and-equip missions, both in Africa and globally. They can too often sow the seeds of greater U.S. military involvement,” he said.
Who is "Security Assistance Monitor?" Glad you asked, it is just a project of CIP. A human centipede of knowledge this is.

ViceNews has done some good work in the past. Like PBS, now and then good stuff is pushed out there.

Here is an idea for ViceNews. Look at the demographics and economic trends we are seeing in Sub-Saharan Africa and discuss how that is trending WRT creating a place where people have opportunity ... or not.

What are those implications? What are the mitigation options? That is a story.

Of note, there was also the story about a decade+ ago about Yemen and the societal tensions caused by demographic and economic realities pressing on an already tender ethnic and religious situation.

How did that work out for you? Did Yemen sneak up on you? If so, you are a repeat offender.

Ignorant people make dumb decisions. Everyone needs to up their game for the collective good.

As a side note, not to toot our own horn - but there's some fair stuff on Africa here, just click the tag below. You can also listen to one of the Midrats episodes of many we did on Africa, this one from FEB 2015 with the Commander of CJTF-HOA.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

NavyCon: Science Fiction's Important Role in National Security - on Midrats

This Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern we're going to convince you to make plans to be in Annapolis next month.

Coming up Saturday, Nov. 18, from 12 - 5 p.m. Eastern, our friend Claude Berube is husbanding the Naval Academy Museum's latest effort in what promises to be a very original and entertaining conference, NavyCon.

NavyCon has a great line up to discuss how fleet forces have been portrayed in science fiction, in comparison to our Navy today.

It kicks off with former NASA astronaut and Naval Academy Class of 1981 graduate, Capt. Kay Hire, on “NASA Today and Tomorrow.” Other speakers include the current Director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security, Dr. Jerry Hendrix, the former Program Manager of the U.S. Navy’s DDG-51 program, Captain Mark Vandroff, and “Service, Citizenship and ‘Starship Troopers,’” will be delivered by Congressman Mike Gallagher, who served as a Marine in Iraq. The concluding address will be given by the author of the best-selling “Honor Harrington” science fiction series, David Weber.

We will have Midrats regulars USNA Museum Director Claude Berube, LCDR USNR - Senior Fellow at CNAS Jerry Hendrix, CAPT USN (Ret) - and Mark Vandroff, CAPT USN, CO of NSWC Carderock and former DDG51 Program Manager to come on to discuss their part, do a little geek’n on Midrats time, and generally get you ready for NavyCon. ...and not, that isn't too much Navy for you. You can never have too much Navy.

We’ve got them for the full hour, don’t miss it!

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, October 27, 2017

Fullbore Friday

Funny how things fold in to each other.

I was pondering one of the pivotal scenes of Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms, where in a general retreat, he is pulled to the side by the Carabinieri, as all officers were. They were being briefly interviewed - and then shot. Shot by the very Army that ordered them to retreat in the face of the advancing Germans and Austo-Hungarians.

I decided to dig a bit into the background of the real battle that was the backdrop, and came across this piece of work; Field Marshal Luigi Cadorna.

Historians describe Cadorna as a martinet, excessively ruthless with his troops and dismissive of his country's political authorities. During the course of war he fired 217 officers; during the Battle of Caporetto he would order the summary execution of officers whose units retreated. His harsh approach to discipline has been described as follows by one historian:
One in every seventeen Italian soldiers faced a disciplinary charge in the war, and 61 per cent were found guilty. About 750 were executed, the highest number of any army in the war, and Cadorna reintroduced the Roman practice of decimation - the killing of every tenth man - for units which failed to perform in battle.
Battle Caporetto. That rang a bell. Part of that campaign was the Battle of Longarone.

Why is that of significance? Well ... one of my favorite military minds is Field Marshal Rommel. I got along real well with a German Army 1-star who, much to my shock, had a portrait of him in his office. From him I learned that there are very few WWII officers who are acceptable to have pictures of in your office in the 21st Century German Army - in uniform nontheless. Rommel was one.

One thing that broke Rommel apart from many of his peers was that in WWI he won the "Pour le Merite" - the Blue Max. It is hard to find out how though. Such an award should not be an afterthought.

Well - let's give the good JO his moment. Above you have a horrible battlefield leader - and below let's review the moment that helped bring one of the best battlefield leaders, of any army.

Let's spend a moment to review Rommel at the Tactical level as a JO.

David Irving, in his paper The Trail of the Fox, gives the best account.

General von Below’s aim was to penetrate the main defense line south of the Isonzo River. The high points of the line were the towering Monte Mataiur, Monte Kuk, Kolovrat Ridge and Hill1114. Tens of thousands of Italian troops and well-constructed gun sites commanded each of these high points, and the German unit commanders scrambled to take them, knowing that honors would be the reward. The rivalry among these young officers leading proud units from the German provinces of Bavaria, Silesia and Rommel’s Swabia was ferocious.

Lieutenant Ferdinand Schoerner, a Bavarian commander, set the pace, driving his coughing, staggering volunteers so ruthlessly forward despite their heavy loads of machine guns and ammunition that one of his men dropped dead from exhaustion before the unit reached the objective: Hill 1114, key to the whole Kolovrat Ridge. For taking Hill 1114, Schoerner was awarded Prussia’s highest medal, the Pour le Mérite. That outraged Rommel. He considered that the credit was due him.

Rommel’s part in breaching the Kolovrat position was indeed great. As night fell on that first day of the offensive, Schoerner’s promising position had seemed thwarted by Italian fortifications. Rommel’s superior, Major Theodor Sproesser, commander of the Swabians, wrote a battle report, a faded copy of which still survives, which describes the emplacements. “Like fortresses,” he wrote, “the strongly built concrete gun positions . . . look out over us. They are manned by hard-bitten machine gunners, and bar our further advance to south and west.” During the night Rommel reconnoitered the enemy defenses and found a gap, and shortly after dawn his Abteilung penetrated the Italian lines. Three hours later he stormed Monte Kuk itself. Finding Rommel in their rear, the Italians panicked, their line began to crumble and German infantry poured through the breach.

But Schoerner, the Bavarian, got the Pour le Mérite! Rommel was stung by this injustice, and after the war he asked the official army historian to make petty corrections to the record; he even arranged for future editions to read “Leutnant,” not “Oberleutnant,” in referring to Schoerner, and he persuaded the Reich government to print a fourteen-page supplement which in part set out his own role in more vivid detail describing how forty Italian officers and 1,500 men had surrendered to Oberleutnant Rommel, how he had pressed on ahead of his unit with only two officers and a few riflemen, how the Italians had surrounded and embraced him and chaired him on their shoulders and rejoiced that the war was over for them. This sort of prideful revisionism would become part of the Rommel style.

But Rommel still had a chance for a Pour le Mérite. General von Below had specifically promised one to the first officer to stand atop the loftiest Italian high point, the 5,400-foot Monte Mataiur. Rommel intended to be that officer. His own fourteen page supplement to the official army history tells the story: “Before the prisoners from the Hill 1114 engagement were removed, some German-speaking Italians betrayed to Lieutenant Rommel that there was another regiment of the Salerno brigade on Monte Mataiur that definitely would put up a fight. . . . Heavy machine gun fire did indeed open up as the [Swabians] reached the western slopes.” By nightfall, after hours of hard fighting, Rommel was at the base of the last rise of Mataiur. He and his men were dog-tired, but he drove them on. The report of his superior, Major Sproesser, takes up the account: “There is an Italian with a machine gun sitting behind virtually every rock, and all the appearances are that the enemy has no intention of giving up Monte Mataiur so easily. Although their strength is almost at an end after fifty-three hours of continual full pack march and battle, Rommel’s Abteilung crawls in to close quarters. After a hail of machine gun fire, which has a murderous splinter effect among the rocks, the enemy tries to escape into a ravine.”

Hesitantly, one Italian after another came out into the open and surrendered. At 11:30am. the last 120 men on the actual summit surrendered to Rommel. Ten minutes later he stood there himself. He ordered one white and three green flares fired to announce his triumph. Rommel had reached the top first and victory was his all the sweeter, too, for having cost the life of only one of his men.
The victory soon turned sour. Next day General Erich von Ludendorff, chief of the General Staff, announced the capture of Monte Mataiur by the gallant Lieutenant Walther Schnieber, a Silesian company commander. Schnieber accordingly carried off the prize promised by General von Below for the feat, the coveted Pour le Mérite.
It was obvious to Rommel that Schnieber had captured the wrong summit. Choking with anger, he complained to his battalion commander, Major Sproesser. Sproesser advised him to forget the matter, but Sproesser did mention in his dispatch of November that during the hour that Rommel’s Abteilung had rested on the Mataiur’s summit they never saw any signs of the Silesian regiment. Rommel was not satisfied, and according to his own account many years later he sent a formal complaint all the way up to the commander of the Alpine Corps, claiming that the medal belonged by rights to him. Silence was the only reply.

This disappointment did not affect Rommel’s fighting zeal. He stayed hard on the heels of the retreating Italians. His Abteilung was at the head of Sproesser’s battalion of Swabians, and that battalion was the spearhead of the whole Fourteenth Army. On November the river Tagliamento was reached. Now Rommel began a relentless pursuit of the demoralized Italians, using the same tactics of bluff, bravado, surprise attack and rapid pursuit that were to distinguish him later as a tank commander.
He had found his métier. He had learned how to exploit sudden situations even when it meant disobeying orders from superiors. He led his troops to the limits of human endurance so as to take the enemy by surprise climbing through fresh snowfalls that were murder to the heavily laden men, scaling sheer rock faces that would give pause even to skilled mountaineers, risking everything to work his handful of intrepid riflemen and machine gunners around behind the unsuspecting Italian defenders. He suddenly attacked the enemy however greatly he was himself outnumbered from the rear with devastating ma- chine gun fire on the assumption that this was bound to shatter the morale of even the finest troops.

His little force’s victories were remarkable. On November 7, Rommel’s companies stormed a 4,700-foot mountain and captured a pass. Two days later he launched a frontal attack on some seemingly invincible Italian defenses and captured another pass.

Then followed an action of the purest Wild West, one that wonderfully illustrates Rommel’s physical courage and endurance.
He was following an extremely narrow and deep ravine toward the town of Longarone the kingpin of the entire Italian mountain defensive system. What Rommel found ahead of him was a road blasted into the vertical rock face soaring 600 feet above. The road first clung to one side of the ravine, then crossed to the other side by a long bridge precariously suspended some 500 feet above the ravine floor.

“Relentlessly the pursuit goes on toward Longarone,” Major Sproesser wrote. “Now the big bridge spanning the Vajont ravine lies ahead. Not a moment to lose! . . . Lieutenant Rommel and his men dash across, tearing out every demolition fuse they can see.”
The Swabians took the next stretch of road at a trot. But when they emerged from the valley, they came under heavy rifle and machine gun fire from the direction of Longarone, about a half mile away. Between them and the town lay the river Piave. Almost at once a loud explosion signaled the demolition of the only bridge across the river. Through field glasses Rommel could see endless columns of Italians fleeing south on the far side of the river. The town itself was jam-packed with troops and war paraphernalia. He ordered one of his companies and a machine gun platoon to advance downstream. He himself went with them, then watched as eighteen of his men successfully braved the Piave’s fast-flowing waters under violent enemy machine gun fire. More men followed, and by 4:00 pm they had established a position on the other shore, a short distance south of Longarone. From there they could block the road and railway line leading out of town. Over the next two hours this small force disarmed 800 Italian soldiers who ran into their trap.

As dusk fell, Rommel himself forded the river, followed by five companies of troops. Taking a small party, he began to advance on Longarone. Stumbling into a street barricade manned by Italian machine gunners, Rommel ordered a temporary retreat, and now the Italians began running after him. It was a tricky situation: there were some 10,000 Italian troops in Longarone, so Rommel was vastly outnumbered. In fact, he had only twenty-five men with him at that moment, and when the Italian officers saw how puny Rommel’s force was, they confidently ordered their men to open fire. All Rommel’s force here was wounded or captured, but he himself managed to slip away into the shadows.

He reassembled his Abteilung just south of Longarone in the darkness. Six more times the Italian mob tried to overrun him, but six times Rommel’s machine gunners sent them running for cover back into the town. To prevent the enemy from outflanking him in the darkness, Rommel set fire to the houses along the road, illuminating the battlefield. By midnight, reinforcements began arriving from Major Sproesser and from an Austrian division.

Rommel decided to renew the attack at dawn. His official account concludes: “There is, however, no more fighting to be done. South of Rivalta, Rommel’s Abteilung meets Lieutenant Schoeffel, who was taken prisoner during the night’s skirmish, coming toward them. Behind him follow hundreds of Italians, waving all manner of flags. Lieutenant Schoeffel brings the glad tidings of the surrender of all enemy forces around Longarone, written by the Italian commander. An entire enemy division has been captured! . . . Exhausted and soaking wet, the warriors . . . fall into well-earned beds in fine billets and sleep the sleep of dead men.”

In his later published account of the battle of Longarone, Rommel romanticized. There he described how he himself had swum the icy Piave at the head of his Abteilung. Yet there can be no doubt of his own physical courage in battle, even if these 1917 victories over the Italians were purchased relatively cheaply. In the ten-day battle ending in the Italians’ humiliating defeat at Longarone, Sproesser’s entire battalion lost only thirteen enlisted men and one officer (he fell off a mountain). At Longarone, Rommel captured 8,000 Italians in one day. Not for another quarter century would Rommel really meet his match.

One month later, the Kaiser gave him the tribute he ached for, the matchless Pour le Mérite. The citation said it was for breaching the Kolovrat line, storming Mataiur and capturing Longarone. Rommel preferred to attribute it to Mataiur alone unless he was in Italian company; then he took a certain sly pleasure in saying he won it at Longarone. Rommel was never diplomatic.
Fame never found anyone who was waiting to be found.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

NATO Wakes Up and Asks - Whose Guarding the SLOC Again?

I know NATO needs another staff like a fish needs a bicycle, but maybe that big building in Norfolk needs to dig up some of its old letterhead.

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog. Come visit.

AFG; a Dozen Years of ... well ... something

On my second round in the Afghanistan War, a dozen years ago at the Staff level this time, I began my evolving role in a multi-year effort on the Afghanistan War as both a USA and NATO officer.

Much of this speech last week at Columbia University by John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, was difficult to read in so many ways. I am afraid it has put me in a funk of unknown duration.

This could have been written a dozen years ago;
There’s only one problem, and it’s one that SIGAR has consistently identified in our work. These agencies routinely fail to coordinate with each other at the strategic level, let alone at the project level. This, to say the least, is problematic. If our long-term strategy in Afghanistan is to increase battlefield pressure on the Taliban, while at the same time helping the democratically elected Afghan government increase its legitimacy, then it would seem that DOD, State, USAID, and every other agency need to be working together.

Let me share two of the many examples SIGAR has come across. First, it’s no secret that a great deal of opium comes from Afghanistan, perhaps as much as 80 percent of the world’s total supply. The United States has spent over $8.5 billion since 2001 trying to combat narcotics production and trafficking in Afghanistan. Despite that massive expenditure, Afghan is producing opium at or near all-time record levels.

Given that the U.S. military has estimated that as much as 60 percent of the Taliban’s funding comes from the narcotics trade, one would think they would make the counternarcotics mission a priority. Yet, in Afghanistan, the Department of State has responsibility for counter-narcotics programs but is doing little.
If that didn't give me a case of the deep-dwell, time-traveling grumps - this did;
The vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum, a strongman whose reputation vies with that of Hekmatyar, has formed a protest alliance including the foreign minister and a governor accused of running abusive militias. They met in Turkey where Dostum has lived since coming under investigation for the rape of a political rival.

Recently, the Guardian accompanied Hekmatyar as he strode into a mosque in a poor eastern Kabul neighbourhood to lead Friday prayers. His sermon revolved around politics. His party plans to participate in forthcoming parliamentary elections, but he has not decided if he wants to run for the presidency in 2019, he says.
No, I don't have a solution - I don't know if this is actually a problem. I think it is all just part of the terrain of the now.

As I go to slumber, my funk turns a bit rage-ish as I think again about the arrogance of the Bonn Agreement of DEC 2001 that set us on this COA in face of all history tells us about that miserable part of Central Asia. So much time, blood, treasure, and human capital invested in pouring water in to a bottomless well of nothing.

In the context of its time, it was what it was - but is why we are where we are now.

Fools. We were all fools.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Trumpism, NeverTrumpism, and their Discontents

I haven't done much politics here over the last year - I keep that to twitter mostly. Today, I need some more space.

Indulge me a bit.

At one time, I was all about the #nevertrump hashtag army ... then faced with Hillary, I decided to stop sniping at both sides and retire from the field.

The Never Trump attitude post-election has not changed all that much, and the Trumpist base's attitude to the GOPe hasn't either. Some call it a "Republican Civil War" - but not really. This friction has existed in a variety of forms through the years. I still remember the GOPe attitude towards President Reagan during his Presidency. It was different in many ways, but only slightly.

Over at National Review, Victor Davis Hanson has put together one of the better outlines of this divide.

He picks up the "how you got Trump" track spot on;
Trump is a symptom of widespread disgust, not the head of a carefully crafted ideological movement with a checklist of issues. What created him was furor at a smug, entrenched Republican political establishment. In a bout of virtue-signaling, this cadre had deliberately conflated opposition to illegal immigration with supposedly racist resistance to legal immigration, while damning principled conservatives as “nativist” and “xenophobes” simply for wanting existing laws enforced. It had preached free-market economics without worry for the losers of globalization, while many of its megaphones cashed in on the government-corporate-media nexus. And its prior presidents and presidential candidates had been reduced to mushy punching bags, strangely bragging about their own virtue in not responding to invective while their own supporters and defenders were left to be smeared and defamed. Worse yet, they caricatured the base voters who used to defend them while they themselves went on to defend, even if indirectly, their erstwhile critics.
Trump won no more of the voters who turned out and who identified as “conservative” than did Romney. But again, Trump apparently did get Democrats, Independents, and lapsed and previously uncounted Republicans to vote in key states in a way that Romney and McCain did not. The few Republicans that Trump lost were more than made up by others who were won over. (This raises the question of whether there was a cause-and-effect relationship between the two phenomena. But I doubt that the reason working-class voters turned out to vote for Trump was that most writers at National Review and The Weekly Standard were against him.)
Never Trumpers now see the Trump base as prone to demagogic frenzies on immigration and trade; too monolithically white; often-angry blame-gaming losers of globalization; naïve rather than self-critical about so-called white pathologies; and in their populism too dismissive of the importance of political experience, impressive education, and the changing demography of the U.S. The far more numerous Trump base voters sees the Never Trumpers as too self-important; predictably bicoastal careerist; too quick to judge and write off their supposed ethical inferiors; too eager to get along with liberals within their own bubble; too wedded to traditional definitions of political qualifications and success; and more worried about decorum than winning. But all that said, most Republicans were in neither camp, and just voted for their party’s nominee, explaining a 90/10 percent split among Republicans on Election Day, which is proof of party unity. Do Never Trumper hold Trumpers in contempt more than vice versa? Each side counts its hate emails and claims to be the more aggrieved party and the more victimized. Each thinks voting for or against Trump revealed a darkness not noticed before in supposedly well-known colleagues and associates. Certainly friendships have been strained and lost, and invective and accusations leveled. Much on a personal level cannot be repaired. But more unites than divides. If one side is civil and respectful to the other, the other usually reciprocates — unlike what’s going on now in the streets and campuses of the progressive, Democratic left.

...the war is mostly infighting among politicos, pundits, politicians, and media people and so far does not necessarily change the realities of the voting public. We saw that reality in 2016 when the thunderous damnation Trump received from his own party had no profound effect on his candidacy.
His final call is why I walked away from my #nevertrump friends' club a bit over a year ago;
Meanwhile, the administrative state expands, the debt is headed for $21 trillion, crass identity politics tear the nation apart, the effort to restore deterrence abroad grows ever more dangerous, and the campuses, Hollywood, the NFL, and the media are reminding us that progressive politics are now our culture’s orthodoxy, vital for success in nearly all fields. And dealing with all that is the only conservative fight that counts.
Has my opinion of Trump changed all that much since I called "Peak Trump" after the McCain insult of 2015? No, but I'm ok, and so are you.

In the end, I am content with the following; I am more than happy to apologize to others for a President Trump; I could never forgive myself for a President Hillary.

We may have been hit with a baseball bat, but we missed a load of napalm. Bruises and breaks heal just fine.

Monday, October 23, 2017

On to the Next Stage of Foreverwar

As the last few blocks are being cleared of the Islamic State's fighters in their capital Raqqa, let's review the core of PLAN SALAMANDER from a little over two years ago;
Let the Iranians and Russians kill Sunni Arab Islamists in the west of Syria while we kill them in the east. How about this: we'll kill them east of the Euphrates and south of road from Nassib in the southwest, through Damascus to Deir ez-Zur on the Euphrates. The Russians, Syrians, and Iranian proxies can kill them in the rest. Once they are done in the north and west, we can just do CAS for the Kurds on the front lines of their frontier as we all push IS forces in to the Iraqi desert.
Though adjusted in REV. 1 four months ago, that holds up well over time.

Note a key word in the above, "kill." That is the best long-term solution to the question of what to do with the Islamic States fighters. Kill them there before they get back here. 

You kill them as they are non-state actors and unlawful combatants. They will continue to kill until they have assume room temperature. Eliminating their "caliphate" and taking their capital does undermine their Strategic Center of Gravity (The religious justification for their existence), it does not eliminate the threat.

In may, SECDEF Mattis outlined what was really the only way to properly end the Islamic State;
Mattis pointed to the battles for Mosul and Tal Afar as models for how these tactics will be implemented in other places. In both cases, forces on the ground, some with U.S. help, have surrounded IS targets to try to prevent Islamic State militants from retreating and foreign fighters from leaving the battlefield to return home. The forces then advance and clear these cities block by block, a hard task that takes time. This is what Mattis described as annihilation. The Islamic State’s greatest strength on the battlefield has been its ability to retreat and regroup, and the goal of annihilation is to destroy that strength.
We won't get them all. Every day more and more who stayed at home are getting radicalized in place and are just looking for an opportunity.

We've seen so much already, no one should be surprised what is on the way.
Now, those cities have fallen to American-backed forces, but the number of combat-hardened returnees has been much smaller than anticipated, if still worrisome, counterterrorism officials say. That is in part because the Trump administration intensified its focus on preventing fighters from seeping out of those cities, and more militants fought to the death than expected. Hundreds also surrendered in Raqqa, and some probably escaped to new battlegrounds in Libya or the Philippines.

“We’re not seeing a lot of flow out of the core caliphate because most of those people are dead now,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, said last week. “Some of them are going to go to ground.”
And so we are at the next phase: their "big pond" has dried up. Like the walking catfish, they are now scattering about looking for new ponds. Due to the self-loathing policies of decades, in Western Europe there are plenty of small ponds nearby for them to find, hide, swim and plan in. In Africa and SE Asia, opportunities abound.
Some 40,000 fighters from more than 120 countries poured into the battles in Syria and Iraq over the past four years, American officials say. Of the more than 5,000 Europeans who joined those ranks, as many as 1,500 have returned home, including many women and children, and most of the rest are dead or still fighting, according to Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s top counterterrorism official.
“I’ve been saying for a long time that there won’t be a ‘flood’ of returnees, rather a steady trickle, and that’s what we are seeing,” said Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study for Radicalization at King’s College London. “Many of them are stuck in the Turkish border areas, where they are contemplating their next move.”

As it becomes harder for the Islamic State to plan attacks from Iraq and Syria, some plotters may have also moved to the Philippines or to Libya. The bomber who killed 22 people at a pop concert in Manchester, England, in May had met in Libya with members of an Islamic State unit linked to the Paris attacks, according to current and retired intelligence officials.
“It only takes one or two fighters to slip through the cracks back to Europe — armed with militant knowledge or even instructions by their handlers — to wreak havoc and bring ISIS back to the TV screens,” said Laith Alkhouri, a director at Flashpoint, a business risk intelligence company in New York that tracks militant threats and cyberthreats.

That cold reality is pressuring European politicians and policymakers to erect or strengthen the legal frameworks and institutions needed to identify, arrest, prosecute and imprison foreign fighters before they can build new networks or join existing ones, wherever they end up.
Europe, Australia, and even the United States already have a low-grade insurgency in place. Policy makers need to plan for what is coming. We can't kill them all.
Some fighters leaving conflict zones seem to have been briefed in detail on how to act when they encountered government authorities, in an apparent attempt to ensure that they would not be deported to countries where they may be arrested, the United Nations report noted. That might indicate a deliberate attempt by Islamic State leaders to establish a presence in different regions, the report concluded.

The report said people returning from these conflict zones fell into three broad categories: First, those who were disenchanted by their experiences in Iraq or Syria and were good candidates to be reintegrated into society.

Second, a much smaller group who return intending to conduct terrorist attacks. And third, individuals who have cut ties with the Islamic State and are disillusioned by the organization, but who remain radicalized and are ready to join another terrorist group should the opportunity arise.

“It is an incredibly difficult adversary,” Mr. Pompeo said at a security conference in Washington last week. “They still have the capacity to control and influence citizens all around the world.”

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fullbore Friday

Does this guy look badass enough for you?

You have no idea

In the summer of 1897 tribesmen of the North-western frontier of India (now a part of Pakistan) began attacking and intimidating British forces in the area. The Indian Government decided that the unprovoked attacks by the Afridis and the Orakzais tribesmen could not go unpunished and decided that a show of force in Tirah, the tribe’s summer home, was appropriate. Accordingly, Sir William Lockhart was ordered out from Britain and

appointed to command a force of 32,882 officers and soldiers. The intention was to advance into the Chagru valley on 20 October but the Alikhel tribesmen had seen the preparation of a mountain road by the army working parties.

They anticipated the route to be taken by the army and occupied the village of Dargai and the Narik spur. This formed the western boundary of the valley and completely dominated the road along which the Expeditionary Force was to descend. It was therefore necessary to dislodge the tribesmen from their position. The water supply of Dargai was some distance away from the village and General Palmer saw that adjacent heights would have to be taken if it were to be reached. The tribesmen were not expected back and the order to retire was given. Two companies of the Gordon Highlanders were left to hold the tribesmen in check till the other regiments had taken up a new position. First one company was ordered to retire and then the other. Only half of the last company remained when the enemy appeared behind them from over a hill only thirty yards away. The Gordon Highlanders promptly formed up as the enemy fired and rushed them thinking them defeated. The men stood their ground and killed six of the tribesmen only yards from them. The other tribesmen turned and ran.

General Kempster’s brigade was ordered to storm the Heights and the 1st Division was strengthened by the 2nd Derbyshires and the 3rd Sikhs. They were to be supported by three batteries with another on Samana Sukh if required. The Gurkhas, Dorsets and Derbys all suffered terrible casualties and were met by such intense fire, from only 200 yards away, that those who were not cut down in the charge could do no more than hold onto the position they had reached. Over 100 men lay dead and wounded. The tribesmen rejoiced, waving their standards and beating their drums as victory seemed assured. General Kempster ordered the Gordon Highlanders to the front. The Gordon Highlanders advanced. The dead and wounded of the other regiments were brought back. On getting to the spot reached by the Derbys and Dorsets, the Gordons lay under cover for three minutes as the guns again concentrated their fire on the summit.

The moment came to advance. The Pipe-Major of the Gordon Highlanders was superintending the bringing up of the reserve ammunition when the order to advance came through and he was still doing so when the order to charge was given. Lance-Corporal Piper Milne was the next most senior piper and he led Pipers Findlater, Fraser, Wills, and Kidd into action. In his despatch to the Adjutant-General in India on 9 December 1897, Sir William Lockhart recalled that, "The Gordon Highlanders went straight up the hill without check or hesitation. Headed by their pipers, and led by Lieut-Colonel Mathias, CB, with Major Macbean on his right and Lieutenant A F Gordon on his left, this splendid battalion marched across the open. It dashed through a murderous fire…" As the Gordon Highlanders burst into the field of fire Major Macbean fell almost immediately, shot through the thigh. He dragged himself to the shelter of a boulder and cheered on his men as they passed. A bullet hit Piper Milne in the chest and he fell, unable to continue. Three-quarters of the way across the exposed strip of land Piper Findlater was shot in the ankles. He fell and, leaning against a rock, continued to play his pipes as blood ran from his wounds, dying his kilt red. Of the five pipers who led the charge only Piper Kidd made it to the Heights.

The first division reached the sheltering rocks and paused for breath. As their numbers increased to 400 they started again up the precipitous path to the crest of the hill. Reaching the top they rushed along the succession of ridges as the tribesmen took flight. The position was won at 3.15pm. The Gordon Highlanders gave three cheers for Colonel Mathias. As he came over the last ascent the Colonel had rather breathlessly commented to a colour-sergeant, "Stiff climb, eh, Mackie? Not quite - so young - as I was - you know." With a friendly slap on his commanding officer’s back the sergeant replied, "Never mind, sir! Ye’re ga’un vara strong for an auld man!" Major-General Yeatman-Biggs reported favourably on several Gordon Highlanders. "Major F Macbean, who was the first to spring out of cover and lead his company to the attack... Piper Findlater, who after being shot through both feet and unable to stand, sat up under heavy fire playing the regimental march to encourage the charge... Private Lawson, who carried Lieutenant Dingwall, when wounded and unable to move, out of a heavy fire, and subsequently returned and brought in Private Macmillan, being himself wounded in two places in so doing... I recommend Piper Findlater and Private Lawson for the Victoria Cross."

Later, Findlater wrote, "I remember the Colonel addressing the regiment, telling them what they were expected to do. I remember again the order for the regiment to attack, and the order "Pipers to the front". I am told that the ‘Cock of the North’ was the tune ordered to be played, but I didn’t hear the order, and using my own judgement I thought that the charge would be better led by a quick strathspey, so I struck up ‘The Haughs o’ Cromdale’. The ‘Cock o’ the North’ is more of a march tune and the effort we had to make was a rush and a charge. The battle fever had taken hold of us and we thought not of what the other was feeling. Our whole interest being centred in self. Social positions were not thought of, and officers and men went forward with eagerness shoulder to shoulder. When I got wounded the feeling was as if I had been struck heavily with a stick. I remember falling and playing on for a short time; but I was bleeding profusely and in a few minutes sickened. I am told that the time I continued playing after falling was about five minutes. After the position was won, and the wounded taken to the rear, my first thoughts on recovery were how lucky I had been in getting off so easily. It never occurred to me that I had done anything to merit reward. What I did I could not help doing. It was a very great surprise when I was told that my action had been brave, and a recommendation had been made to award me the soldier’s prize - the VC."

I don't think the FbF is fully complete unless you know what these men followed up that hill. Here's "The Haughs o' Cromdale."

Hat tip Claude & David.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Diversity Thursday

After a couple of positive DivThu, time to bring things down a bit.

Remember, all these sectarian, Cultural Marxist fidget-spinners eventually find themselves in to the military branch of the Diversity Industry. Remember I warned you a few years ago about microaggression and safe spaces? Already inside the lifelines.

So will be one of the most openly racist byproducts of that fetid stew soon be in your local "Diversity and Inclusion" officer's nogg'n, if not already there;
Are the yellow Minifigures in the Lego universe white people? A Grade 8 social-studies class at Allan A. Martin Sr. Public School in Mississauga mulled this existential question on a recent afternoon while their teacher delivered a lesson on one of the most politically charged topics addressed in Canadian classrooms.

The lesson of the day was white privilege, the idea that white people enjoy unearned advantages due to their race. Her exercise was meant to show that white people receive greater public profile for many of the occupations society deems to be the most important. This isn't a required subject, but one Ms. Hardy has elected to teach for the past four years.
In the eighties, a white woman named Peggy McIntosh wrote a piece titled White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, which listed particular privileges white people have that many racialized people do not. It has become one of the key teacher resources on the subject in North America. She enumerated the daily effects of white privilege in her own life in the piece, among them: "I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed."

When a Grade 11 anthropology teacher at a high school in Caledon, Ont., passed out Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack to her class last spring, one of her students, Logan Boden, was skeptical. He declared white privilege to be a racist ideology. The teacher responded, "Coming from a white male …," according to Mr. Boden.

When he got home from school, he told his mother, Rebecca Knott, about what had happened. He'd encountered the term "white privilege" before that day and was surprised his teacher was bringing it up in class.

"I've seen a lot of social-justice warriors and feminists use the term … to shut people down, to say their opinion isn't valid because they're white," he said. "It's a term basically coined to make you feel bad for being white."
"We have to challenge our assumptions and work through them and sometimes that can be uncomfortable for people for a long period of time, especially if they're the ones who are benefiting from that privilege."

It's not just students and parents who have taken issue with the subject, but educators, too.

Mohammed Saleh, a teacher in Southern Ontario, leads workshops on white privilege for ETFO throughout the province. Many have elected to attend but others have been sent by their superintendents and don't hide their skepticism around the topic.

Some say this isn't an issue for them because all their students are white. Mr. Saleh tells them those students likely will venture beyond their homogeneous communities as adults.

The issue with the workshops is that only the truly committed turn what they learn into lessons for their students, says Sam Hammond, ETFO's president, and that's not enough.

"White privilege should be incorporated into the curriculum both at the faculty of education level and in the curriculum across the system in a non-colonialized way," he said.
Racism can only exist when good people allow it.

Stand up. Speak up.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

So, How is Your Cruiser Program Going?

A cruiser by any other name is still a cruiser.

I'm pondering the latest offering from the PLAN over at USNIBlog.

Come on by!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The line is holding ... but you can hear the load it is carrying

Many of the threads we've discussed here over the years have come together in this one deployment of a cruiser.

In all the discussions about what we need to do to remain the premier naval power in the world and the tools we provide our Navy to do it, there is a lot of theory talking about talking. That is natural, as it is easy to hide some problems from the general public and even those in "the know" when your greatest challenge is yourself. 

Often in peace, when things are not where they need to be nothing bad happens. Why should it? They system is not under stress. Likewise, when things are going real well, nothing really bad happens either. It is hard to find something that you can put your hands on to get a tactile feel of what is going on.

The USS MONTEREY (CG 61) just gave us one of those moments. We should take a moment to see why the world's largest Navy continues to show the signs - from retention to collisions at sea - of an organization under stress from overuse.

We did not get here by accident. From the rise of China, the demographic/economic/religious drivers of migration and terrorism, to the expansion of mid-20th Century weapons technology - all the threats we see evolved in clear sight.

How did we get there?

First of all are the 2nd and 3rd order effects of the manning concepts of the Transformationalists. Instead of seeing our Sailors as our greatest asset, they saw only costs. As a result, they were treated as green-eyeshade mentalities have always treated people as a cost.

The shambolic mess of at-sea manning speaks for itself.

Instead of joining a long, almost anonymous list of people making strong, steady progress in evolving the fleet step by step, they decided to reach for fame in an arrogant leap as none have done before - to succeed for their name - or sell the future of others to fate when it was time to make the flash flesh.

LCS, DDG-1000, CG(N?)-X, and the restart of the DDG-51 line speaks for itself.

Training and readiness were no longer seen as how one prepares and measures the ability to take ships and Sailors to go in harm's way when the time comes, but uncomfortable and difficult things that if not properly "shaped" might produce the wrong color on a stoplight PPT. Fudge, hedge, ignore.

The material condition of the SPRU as we decomm'd them were the first sign, and then to the everyday results of a the lack of depot level support requiring already undermanned ships to do that work themselves that we see today speaks for itself.

We will do more than less, not because it is the best thing to do, but because it is what we want to do to make the theory flesh, get our check in the block, and hopefully make it through the change of command ceremony without a bad FITREP, crunched ships, and dead Sailors.

The initial reports of the factors that led to the FITZGERALD and MCCAIN speaks for itself.

Instead of a natural progression from the TICO cruiser, we created an unaffordable, program and technology risk laden monster that went nowhere. We still do not have a modern frigate - or any frigates for that matter. We tried to force-mode a "no frigate" requirements on a world that demanded them. We still do not have a DDG-X design. Will the Arleigh Burkes become the Navy's B-52, where four generations of a family will serve on the same platform?

And in OCT of 2017, where have two decades of malpractice gotten us? We find ourselves at the second half of the second decade of the 21st Century surrounded by threats in hostile waters we watched grow for years and did little ... and are found wanting not by some exotic and advanced adversary - but our inability to execute the very basics of seamanship from anchoring to avoiding being run over by merchant ships.

With no great battles at sea, no lurking threat in the deep attriting our fleet, we are running short of ships.

...and so, we have to do this;
The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) departed Naval Station Norfolk Oct. 16, for a surge deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet and U.S. 6th Fleet areas of operation.
The guided-missile cruiser Monterey will deploy on Oct. 16 as the Navy shuffles ships around to ensure there are enough ballistic-missile defense ships in the Pacific in the wake of two major accidents that rendered the destroyer’s McCain and Fitzgerald unable to deploy.

“Monterey will leave on a previously unscheduled deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas to conduct maritime security operations,” Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson told Navy Times Thursday.

“This deployment will allow the Hawaii-based destroyer O‘Kane to deploy to 7th Fleet to provide more BMD-capable ships in the region,” she said, referring to ships with ballistic-missile defense systems.
Didn't MONTEREY just get back from deployment? Yes, she did;
It will be Monterey’s second deployment to both regions in the past year. Monterey left Norfolk June 1, 2016, as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group and spent most of that deployment in 5th Fleet supporting operations there. The ship returned home Jan. 19.
Deployed 7.5 months. Home 9 months. Deploying again.

This 27-yr old cruiser and her crew are headed out again. Didn't we just spend a couple of months talking about how riding our ships hard and leaving them up wet, along with burning out crews was bad?

The MONTEREY will turn-to and take care of business as ships and Sailors have done for thousands of years. The why and when are the responsibility of senior leadership. I hope she has the material, training, and manning support she requires that the MCCAIN and FITZGERALD didn't.

This little vignette is exactly why the likes of Jerry Hendrix and Bryan McGrath have been warning that our Navy is too small.

We know what not to do, but we continue to do it - because we have decided we "have to." Hope isn't a plan, as the saying goes - but that is where we are. We hope that the MONTEREY will not find herself in a place where she demonstrates what we just got through telling Congress and the American people what happens when you ask too much - stretch demands too far - of our ships and the very human men and women we put on them.

The line is holding fast, but can you hear that? That sound resonating up and down the line?

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Report on the HMS SHEFFIELD: 35-yrs Later

Top of the fold article in the UK's The Guardian that should demand your attention this AM.

Ian Cobain has a superb summary following a review of the fully declassified results from the board of inquiry into the loss of the Sheffield during The Falkland Islands War.

I'll make the assumption that my readers are very familiar with the attack on the SHEFFIELD, if not - slap yourself three times, get to the bookcase and comeback. Instead, here are some of the findings as reported by Ian. And yes, we can all see this moment in time on ships we've served on;
- Some members of the crew were “bored and a little frustrated by inactivity” and the ship was “not fully prepared” for an attack.

- The anti-air warfare officer had left the ship’s operations room and was having a coffee in the wardroom when the Argentinian navy launched the attack, while his assistant had left “to visit the heads” (relieve himself). 
- The radar on board the ship that could have detected incoming Super Étendard fighter aircraft had been blanked out by a transmission being made to another vessel.

- When a nearby ship, HMS Glasgow, did spot the approaching aircraft, the principal warfare officer in the Sheffield’s ops room failed to react, “partly through inexperience, but more importantly from inadequacy”.

- The anti-air warfare officer was recalled to the ops room, but did not believe the Sheffield was within range of Argentina’s Super Étendard aircraft that carried the missiles.
- When the incoming missiles came into view, officers on the bridge were “mesmerised” by the sight and did not broadcast a warning to the ship’s company.
I have a lot of sympathy for the crew and leadership of the SHEFFIELD. They fit in a centuries long record of navies content in peace having a spotty transition to war.

The attack always come at a bad time, from a bad direction, doing things you were trained the enemy could not do, when you are worn down by constant watches and little sleep. 

At the end of the day, later with plenty of time, hindsight, and comfort; other people ashore will pick and pick at every detail to find fault - and so it was, is, and will be.

Before one judges too much Captain Salt, RN and his crew, make the effort to read it all - and understand the context and time.

I cannot find an online copy of the unredacted version The Guardian mentions, but here is a copy of the previously highly redacted copy.

The results continue to rightfully influence ship design and training. There are very few examples of what can happen in modern naval combat, and the weapons have not changed all that much in the last few decades - and physics along with the human element are unchanged.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fullbore Friday

No more complaining about a long Sea & Anchor detail.

What a great story about a frigate ... and three hurricanes.

Read the full thing, but here is how it starts;
THE 24-gun frigate H.M.S. Experiment was built in 1740 by Henry Bird of Rotherhithe. She sailed on her maiden voyage on 21 July 1740 from Spithead to join Vice-Admiral Vernon's squadron in the West Indies. Her captain was James Rentone, who had piloted Vernon's squadron into Portobello Harbour and had been given the honour of bearing the news of Vernon's victory to the king. George II had rewarded him with a present of 200 guineas and the promise of a 6o-gun ship. Under his command H.M.S. Experiment had nearly completed her passage to the West Indies when she received her first taste of what a hurricane could do.

By her reckoning she was in latitude 16° 34' N, longitude 43° 04', west of Madeira. Her log reads:
Saturday 30 August 1740
The first part fresh gales and squally, the latter a very hard Gale of wind at NNE and NE with a great swell from the ESE. At 6 p.m. took all the reefs in the topsails, furld the foretopsail, bunted the courses, brought too under main topsail and got down the topgallant yards: at 1 a.m. handed maintops'!, lower'd the main and foreyards and reef'd the courses: at daybreak the gale continued increasing and, having no hopes of its breaking, about r o a.m. cut away the topmasts to save the lower masts: soon after the mizon mast went away at the lower part of the hounds: the sea made a breach over the ship and we kept one pump constantly going, the wynch of the other being broke render'd it useless: lost one of the swivell guns over board by the fall of the foretop mast and had one of the lower studding sail booms wash'd away and severall other things of the deck harness, barr'l with beef 45 pd. and sev'l casks.

Sunday 31 August 1740
The first part a violent storm of wind from NE to East with a very great sea making a breach over us, the latter part the gale somewhat abated: at 4 a.m. the foresail being split in pieces cut him away from the yard and lost most part of the canvas: at 8 a.m. bent a new foresail and set the reef' d courses.
On that afternoon her company raised a jury maintopmast and let the reefs out of the courses. On the next day they got up a fire-boom for a foretopmast and a maintopgallant yard for a topsail yard. At daybreak on 3 September they sighted Antigua and sailed into English Harbour. There Captain Rentone delivered the Duke of Newcastle's letters to General Mathews and wrote to the Admiralty a description of the hurricane which adds a little to the log-book entry.
I made a great deal of water, my comings being very low and the tarpaulings, tho' double battened, being insufficient to keep it from getting down in a very great quantity for 14 hours which the gale continued without the least intermission and one of my pumps disabled by the wynch breaking so that I had but one to depend on and that almost constantly going and if the gale had continued many hours longer, the least increase of water would have made it very difficult to save the ship.
Hat tip Society for Nautical Research.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Diversity Thursday

Apple's first VP of Diversity and Inclusion goes Salamander?

It seems so;
“Diversity is the human experience. I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT.” Her answer was met with a round of applause at the session.

Young Smith went on to add that “there can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.” The issue, Young Smith explains, “is representation and mix.” She is keen to work to bring all voices into the room that “can contribute to the outcome of any situation.”

Young Smith wants to also focus on “allies and alliances,” and called on “those who have platforms or those who have the benefit of greater representation to tell the stories of those who do not.” She said when that’s accomplished, it’s a “win for everyone.”
In a month where we are looking for good news, I'll take it at face value.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Relax, no Coup

One of the less enlightened talking points of the last few weeks was started by the left flailing away at Trump, but instead just smearing the military. Their whole argument is both an insult to history and to the intelligence of the reader.

It has been bubbling up over the last few months from those associated with the previous administration. Mostly that group who floated around in the miasma one found in the Rhodes/Rice/Powers circles. They and their comrades seem to be suffering, ahem, from a little historical amnesia seasoned with varying degrees of fainting-couch flopping and communal bed wetting.

Last week, Jerry Hendrix & Adam Routh writing over at National Review showed mercy by bringing in a truck-load of cold water to this sad intellectual spectacle.
It seems that President Trump’s reliance upon retired and active-duty generals in staffing the upper echelons of his administration has raised concerns among a large number of well-informed people.

With retired Marine general John Kelly serving as White House chief of staff, retired Marine general James Mattis serving as secretary of defense, and Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster serving as national-security adviser, charges are being levied that the nation has embarked down a dangerous path. Some feel that the abundance of retired military officers in high-level government positions undermines the “non-partisan nature of the military” and decreases the public’s trust in its armed forces. Others are of the opinion that Trump’s reliance on military men will “throw off the balance of a system that for good reason favors civilian leadership.
They bring up Stephen Kinzen in the Boston Globe as a solid example of this breathless irresponsibility.
Among the most enduring political images of the 20th century was the military junta. It was a group of grim-faced officers — usually three — who rose to control a state. The junta would tolerate civilian institutions that agreed to remain subservient, but in the end enforced its own will. As recently as a few decades ago, military juntas ruled important countries including Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and Greece.

These days the junta system is making a comeback in, of all places, Washington. Ultimate power to shape American foreign and security policy has fallen into the hands of three military men: General James Mattis, the secretary of defense; General John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff; and General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser.
That guy, that overheated and ill-informed guy, is – perhaps not shockingly – a professor at Brown University.

Everyone needs to take a powder.
The historical fact is that the government of the United States has always relied heavily upon retired military men for advice and service. Three former generals — George Marshall, Alexander Haig, and Colin Powell — have served as secretary of state. A fleet admiral and a general — William Leahy and Haig — have served as White House chief of staff. One vice admiral and four generals — John Poindexter, Brent Scowcroft, Powell, James Jones, and McMaster — have served as national-security adviser. The military has also played strong leading roles in the nation’s intelligence community, with ten admirals or general officers serving as either the director of central intelligence or the director of national intelligence. Additionally, while only two former generals have served as secretary of defense since the position was established in 1947, of the 56 men who served as secretary of war before that position was replaced by the secretary of defense, eleven had served previously at the military rank of general. Even more important, twelve of our nation’s 45 presidents have held the rank of general, beginning with General of the Armies George Washington and ending (for now) with General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower, who left office in January 1961.
There is an additional factor to keep in mind to help explain why we have so many General Officers in the Trump Administration. In 2016, as a reaction to what rightfully is considered a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, many of our best and most experienced right-of-center leaders took themselves out of consideration for any position serving a possible Trump Administration. That narrowed the pool of people to pick from to either Trump partisans or those who kept themselves quiet to neutral.

There are consequences to elections and actions taken in the course of one. In the end though,
...everyone should take a breath. Historically, the appointment of former and actively serving generals to high-level political positions has been the norm. The service of former generals in high office does not signal the beginning of a military coup today any more than George Marshall’s service in the 1950s indicated an attempt to overthrow civilian authority then, nor does the service of retired military officers threaten to damage the reputation of the military so long as they provide considered advice and act in a responsible manner.