Sunday, October 25, 2020

Pre-election Melee - On Midrats

 

We don't do politics here ... but we do touch on how politics can impact national security issues ... so here we go! 

 Why has national security almost been a non-issue this election? What to expect if Trump gets a second term. 

 What and who will come to the front if Biden is elected. 

 What will drive the challenge regardless of who gets elected? 

 Come join us for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern as we discuss this and more with an open chat room and open phones if you want to join in.

It will be an open topic, open phones free for all ... so if you think our topics are bogus, bring your own!

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 23, 2020

Fullbore Friday

 

I look at what some men did so young, and I look at pity at what little I have done, and am perplexed about all the complaining from others.

That photograph on the right? That is Horace Greasley looking down at Himler. As Peter outlines, 
He admitted to not know who the man was, only that he was a high ranking Nazi. He is shirtless because he was showing Himmler how skinny he was and was requesting more rations for the prisoner. Because that is what you do when you are carrying on a secret love affair with a Jewish girl that could get you killed, you stand up to the head of the SS and the guy most responsible for the Holocaust.
He was maybe 25 when that was happened. What else did he do?

Via TheTelegraph;
The reason for the frequency with which Greasley put his life in danger, he admitted with engaging good humour and frankness, was simple: he had embarked on a romance with a local German girl. Rosa Rauchbach was, if anything, running even greater risks than Greasley.

A translator at the camp where he was imprisoned, she had concealed her Jewish roots from the Nazis. Discovery of their affair would almost certainly have meant doom for them both.

Greasley recounted the almost incredible details of his wartime romance in the book Do The Birds Still Sing In Hell? (2008), which he had been "thinking about and threatening to write" for almost 70 years. But while the book is described as an "autobiographical novel", the story was largely confirmed at his debriefing by MI9 intelligence officers shortly after the war.
...
He was 20 and working as a young hairdresser when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, 
...
But his war proved a short one. After seven weeks' training with the 2nd/5th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, he landed in France at the end of the "Phoney War" as one of the British Expeditionary Force; on May 25 1940, during the retreat to Dunkirk, he was taken prisoner at Carvin, south of Lille.

There followed a 10-week forced march across France and Belgium to Holland and a three-day train journey to prison camps in Polish Silesia, then annexed as part of Germany. Many died on the way, and Greasley reckoned himself lucky to have survived.
In the second PoW camp to which he was assigned, near Lamsdorf, he encountered the 17-year-old daughter of the director of the marble quarry to which the camp was attached.

She was working as an interpreter for the Germans, and, emaciated as he was, there was, Greasley said, an undeniable and instant mutual attraction.

Within a few weeks Greasley and Rosa were conducting their affair in broad daylight and virtually under the noses of the German guards – snatching meetings for trysts in the camp workshops and wherever else they could find. But at the end of a year, just as he was realising how much he cared for Rosa, Greasley was transferred to Freiwaldau, an annex of Auschwitz, some 40 miles away.

The only way to carry on the love affair was to break out of his camp. 
...
Sometimes, Greasley reckoned, he made the return journey three or more times a week, depending on whether Rosa's duties among various camps brought her to his vicinity. His persistence in their love affair was not the only testimony to his daring. A wartime photograph shows Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, inspecting a prison camp and a shirtless skinny PoW close to the fence confronting him.
...
Rosa repaid his attentions, he said, by providing small food parcels and pieces of equipment for him to take back into the camp, eventually including radio parts which enabled 3,000 prisoners to keep up with the news by listening to the BBC.

Greasley was held prisoner, working for the Germans in quarries and factories, for five years less one day, and was finally liberated on May 24 1945. He still received letters from Rosa after the war's end, and was able to vouch for her when she applied to work as an interpreter for the Americans.

Not long after Greasley got back to Britain, however, he received news that Rosa had died in childbirth, with the infant perishing too. Horace Greasley said he never knew for certain whether or not the child was his.

After demobilisation he returned to Leicestershire, swearing that he would never take orders from anyone again. He ran a hairdressers', a taxi firm and a haulage company in Coalville, where he met his wife, Brenda, at a fancy dress party in 1970. They married in 1975, retiring to the Costa Blanca in Spain in 1988.

Greasley was delighted with the publication of his book and was to have undertaken a return visit to Silesia for a television company this spring, having, he said, been promised the company of "a very attractive 21-year-old female nurse for the entire journey". He died in his sleep before the offer could be made good.

Horace Greasley is survived by his wife and by their son and daughter.

First posted in July 2015. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Great Power Competition is Singular, not Plural


In the last couple of years, as the phrase "Great Power Competition" has grown in use, more often than not people use it to mean "China and Russia" not together, but to imply that - at least at sea - they are both growing to challenge the USN.

I'm sorry, but if the future is what you are building today, Russia does not fit that bill.

That is my take over at USNIBlog.

Come on by and give it a ponder with me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

USS Stout Returns

So, I guess we need to talk about the STOUT.

This is a regular topic here, so let's see what the navy has to say.
The Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55) returned to Naval Station Norfolk today, marking the end of a nine month deployment to U.S. 2nd, 5th, and 6th Fleet areas of operation. In mid- January Stout’s crew departed Norfolk and operated under U.S. 2nd Fleet, taking part in the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Carrier Strike Group’s (CSG) Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), the final certification exercise prior to deployment. Upon successful completion and certification, Stout and the rest of the IKECSG immediately crossed the Atlantic to execute missions as assigned.

While in U.S. 6th Fleet Stout conducted two port visits in Rota, Spain, bookending their record-breaking 215 days at sea. Both port visits in Spain enabled the ship to take on fuel and fulfill other logistical requirements before continuing their mission at sea. 

As COVID-19 made frequent port visits unsafe, Stout competed the first modern Mid-Deployment Voyage Repair (MDVR) period at sea, spending a week executing scheduled maintenance and preservation to maintain mission readiness while deployed. Throughout deployment, Stout’s technicians executed depot level repairs on vital engineering and combat systems equipment. During that period the ship conducted morale events, like swim calls and steel beach picnics. 

Stout conducted nearly 40 replenishments-at-sea enabling their continuous support to the mission. To allow the crew time to relax and reenergize, they had a "rest & reset" period at sea.
Of course, one has to give a great nod of respect to the crew of the STOUT. As our Sailors have from even before the founding of our nation, they answered the bell - that is not the issue.

I have the three big pictures above for the simple reason that it saves me 1,000 words about how appearance matters for a Navy whose primary peacetime mission is presence. Our warships represent our nation - and looks matter. 

Yes to all in the above pullquote ... but that is an excuse, not a reason. The reason is that someone decided that - best told by them - it was best to keep the ship and its Sailors at sea, because?

...and don't blame COVID-19.

I'm sorry - but none of the missions outline justify what is clearly abuse of our Sailors' service.

If we don't have enough ships to do the missions we tell ourselves we "need" to do ... then leave those mission gapped. Deploy for 180 days as is standard for peace. If the powers that be want more, then they can buy us more ships - but we cannot have a navy ready for war if we are wearing them out at peace.

Yes, STOUT will look better after a lot of money and time ... but what a waste.

I note that we have already forgotten the lessons of 2017. There is nothing to be institutionally proud of a ship having to do depot level maintenance.  BZ to the crew, but raspberries to those who forced them to do it ... at peace.

How does the reality vibe with this?
"... Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander U.S. 2nd Fleet. “Sailors are our Navy’s asymmetric advantage..."

Cringe. 

The Skipper is spot on, however;

“I don’t have the words to describe how immensely proud I am of this crew,” said Rich Eytel, commanding officer, USS Stout. “This crew defined what it means to be self-sufficient and resilient. We’ve gone for significant lengths of time without new parts, stretched our food and fuel limits, and they continued to give 110% every day. They faced our challenges head on, which allowed us to continue to meet all operational tasking.”

Those words do not cause cringe. Those words ring true ... but they are also words that speak to unnecessary sacrifice and abuse.

It speaks to a poorly run and utilized Navy.

You can spin all you want. You can spit at me for saying it ... but you know it to be true.

I don't know what it will take for our navy to stand up for itself, but right now we are in an abusive relationship with our COCOMs and those who should be standing up for it are not. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

A Beheading in France

 


Another chapter in Islam's slow war on France.

You need to take time today to read a critically important article by John Lichfield. Below I will pull extensively from it, but you need to read the whole thing.

On October 6, Mr Paty, 47, a much-liked history and geography teacher in a dull Paris suburb, produced for his middle school civics class a pair of the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed which provoked the attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine five years ago.

Cartoons. History. A significance moment in their nation’s history. That is the job of a teacher. A secular teacher in a secular republic.

What happens when that republic allows, and indeed encourages, the growth of an imported culture that is contrary to those same values?

How can publishing such cartoons be justified, he asked the teenagers, if they offend people of the Islamic faith? Where does the freedom of expression end and respect for others’ feelings begin?

These questions are not easy, Mr Paty explained. That is why fundamental principles exist in democratic states such as France to help people of different faiths and opinions to get along without murdering one another (as they have in not-so-distant parts of French history). The complexities are the lesson. But this lesson cost Mr Paty his life. Ten days later he was dead – decapitated by a 19-year-old Chechen refugee to France as he walked home from school.

One of the pupils, a 13-year-old Muslim girl, had given her father a misleadingly lurid account of the lesson – from which she was absent. The father, with the help of a radical imam, started a campaign on the internet to have the teacher sacked. The lesson – or a false and inflammatory account of the lesson – became a cause celèbre on radical Islamic sites on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Parents at the school received as many as 10 messages day, some from Algeria and other Islamic countries, calling Mr Paty a “criminal”, a “thug” and a “paedophile” and demanding that he should be sacked.

The murderer, Abdullakh Anzorov, was a Chechen Muslim, born in Moscow 19 years ago. He did not know Mr Paty or the school. He lived in Evreux in Normandy, 60 miles away.  It is likely — but not certain — that he acted alone, enraged by the lies that he had read on the web.

Anzorov followed Mr Paty as he left the Collège du Bois d’Aulne in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north west of Paris last Friday evening. He attacked him with a 12-inch butcher’s knife, stabbing him in the arms and abdomen and then beheading him. Anzorov was shot dead by police a few minutes later.

Twelve people have been arrested, including his father, grandfather and brother and the parent and imam (apparently unknown to Anzorov) who started the hysterical hue and cry online.

France once again starts to protest … but besides talk, what does their ruling class do?

In the grim litany of islamist terror attacks in France in recent years, the killing of one teacher may seem relatively unimportant. It will soon be the five-year anniversary of the Bataclan and associated attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015 which killed 130 people. Nine months earlier, in February 2015, 17 people died in the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Hypercacher supermarket – for which 12 alleged associates of the terrorists are currently on trial.

But forget the numbers. Mr Paty’s lone murder has struck a raw and angry nerve in France – and not just because of the appalling manner of his death. Tens of thousands of people turned out to mourn and honour the teacher in demonstrations in Paris and other French cities on Sunday.

If this sounds familiar, it should. The French ruling class and its people spoke this after every attack … and yet, what happens?

Secularism is France’s state religion, the soil in which French democracy grows. The state guarantees a freedom to believe, and a freedom not to believe. It must otherwise be neutral on all religious questions. Teachers in state schools, though poorly paid and often criticised, are regarded as a front-line infantry, or secular priesthood, which passes on these Republican values of tolerance, freedom of expression and secularism to new generations.

The fact that Mr Paty was brutally murdered precisely for trying to explain these principles has made him into a kind of Republican martyr. There is talk of him being buried in the Panthéon, the secular cathedral on the Paris left bank which is the last resting place of great French men and women.

This is the challenge.

Mr Paty, though, was not the only target of last Friday’s attack. Anzorov also left a garbled message for the President, posted moments after the murder: “To Macron, leader of the infidels, I have executed one of your dogs of hell…Calm down others like him or we will inflict on you a severe punishment.”

Is freedom of speech worth it? That is the wrong question. To even ask it is to advertise you don’t understand the challenge. Freedom of speech is the fundamental liberty that allows all the others to freely exist. It is a concept not just worth civil war, but general war on a global scale. 

Embedded deep in the West, and not just France, are those who have other plans than enjoying the fruits of The Enlightenment.

They see the game in full.

Don’t forget, modern day Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, much of Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco were once Christian areas. There is a history here. Know it as they do. Act on it as they do. Spain was once part of an Islamic empire and wars were fought to hold off further invasion deep in to France and modern Austria. 

As I am wont to say; history is sticky.

Back to today’s challenge. The policies of previous decades have not been successful, and things have gotten worse. To continue to do the same but expect a different result is just folly. Fixing the problem will be more challenging now than earlier, but the French Republic must stand up firm to the challenge of its own creation.

This was obviously influenced by the furious response in parts of the Islamic world to a speech Macron had given in Les Mureaux two weeks ago. Les Mureaux is a more troubled, multi-racial, outer suburb of Paris in the Seine valley 20 kilometres west of Conflans. In the speech, the President proposed new action to prevent French Muslims from becoming a separate community who give their allegiance wholly to the Koran rather than French laws or values.

He promised a law on “secularity and liberty” to combat extremist Islamist indoctrination by forbidding the teaching of children at home after the age of three and by ending the “importation” of foreign-financed imams. Mosques will be placed under greater surveillance. State funding will be available to mosques which sign a charter on secularism and democracy.

Does anyone here think this will fix anything? Does this point you down the narrow path, or simply delay the inevitable off ramp to a deeper and more dangerous abyss? 

Islam is not structured like Christianity and Judaism. To pretend it is only plays in to the ignorance that got you here. There are some Islamic sects that are not a threat to a free republic, but the sects that are driving the violence in France are on the rise and are not of that confession.

Sad it is here, but this is the natural result of decades of clearly self-destructive policies of mass immigration without assimilation from cultures that are now fully embedded and well pass the critical mass to be self-sustaining. 

Again, just look at what started this latest skirmish.

One of the pupils, a 13-year-old Muslim girl, had given her father a misleadingly lurid account of the lesson – from which she was absent. The father, with the help of a radical imam, started a campaign on the internet to have the teacher sacked. The lesson – or a false and inflammatory account of the lesson – became a cause celèbre on radical Islamic sites on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Parents at the school received as many as 10 messages day, some from Algeria and other Islamic countries, calling Mr Paty a “criminal”, a “thug” and a “paedophile” and demanding that he should be sacked.

That is home grown.

The present situation is not sustainable and yet, as the murderer of the teacher shows, the present policies are doing nothing to stop it from getting worse.

France has, proportionally, the largest Muslim population in Europe – between five and six million, or just under tenth of its people. Many – probably as many as a half – are non-practising. The great majority are law-abiding and accept the primacy of national laws. But there has been a shift in the last 20 years, even among moderate muslims, towards a more overt expression of their faith and sense of Islamic identity.

I’ll repeat myself to emphasize the critical points; this was all known for decades. The path to today was well marked out and visible, but the ruling class pretended they did not see it. I have been warning in this venue for a decade and a half – but it has been obvious since the last few decades of the 20th Century that this crisis was coming. 

As previous generations of the ruling class failed to do their job, it is up to the present-day leaders and citizenship to fix the problem. As we are well past critical mass, the best path is now a narrow one – surrounded on one side by a gapping maw of the destruction of their nations as founded, and on the other being forced to become something they don’t want to be to defend it.

If the ruling classes won’t fix it, then the people will rise up – that is stepping through a door in to a dark room no well meaning person would like to see, but that is where it is heading.

Macron’s speech, clumsily worded in places, offered no snap solution. It offered a long-term strategy to create a barrier between the majority of the French Muslim population and a minority of extremists. This approach has been attacked, in the wake of Paty’s murder, by the Right and Far Right in France as a feeble response to the Islamist threat. Marine Le Pen of Rassemblement National called for a “real war against the poison of radical Islam…a real war to eradicate it finally”. Bruno Retailleau of the centre right Les Républicains said that “Islamism” must be “thrown out of the country by force”.

These are largely meaningless words. What sort of force exactly? What kind of real war? Most of France’s muslims are French and French born. They are not going anywhere. Any violent attempt to isolate an extremist but often submerged minority could prove disastrous.

...

But simple-sounding responses and explanations, whether offered by French politicians or by radical Muslim intellectuals, are not the solution. They are part of the problem. We should heed Mr Paty’s lecture to the 13 and 14-year-olds of Collège du Bois d’Aulne at Conflans-Saint Honorine.We should cling to the principles of tolerance and freedom which western societies have evolved from their own dark centuries of intolerance and violence. The principles are often muddled and confusing. But that is the lesson. Complexity is the lesson.

Exactly. What the ruling class needs to do is, as we say in NASCARistan, turn in to the skid. 

- Macron should publicly display the cartoons the teacher died for.

- All schools should do the same and while they are at it, pick a few scenes from “Life of Brian” that equally poke fun at Christianity and Judaism.

- Every newspaper should publish the cartoons.

- Saturate the intellectual marketplace to make a point.

You will be called names – but isn’t Paris worth a few idiots calling you names? Muslims and Islam can live just fine in the West, but not the kind that is causing the trouble in France.

Cowardice in the face of name calling and extremism brought on this crisis. If the French Republic, and the West for that matter, is a culture worth defending – then defend it.

Do that or lose it and accept what replaces it. What are you afraid of - being called names? 

Knives and Kalashnikovs may kill you, but words will never hurt you.

Stand or submit. Those are your options, and because of the errors of previous generations, you/we are running out of time to do it the easy way. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Middle East's Future Imperfect with Steven Cook - on Midrats

In a very rough year, there were sprinkles of renewed optimism about the Middle East as Israel established relations with a few of the Gulf Arab nations, but the Middle East is, and has been, always about more than Arab-Israeli relations.

From North Africa across the Mediterranean coast to Syria and across the Arabian Peninsula to Yemen, what is the state of play in the Middle East as a whole, and where are the trends taking the region?

Our guest this Sunday, October 18th from 5-6pm Eastern for the full hour to discuss this and more will be Steven A. Cook.

Steven is Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is an expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S.-Middle East policy. Cook is the author of False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East; The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square, which won the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s gold medal in 2012; and Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey.

He is a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine. He has also published widely in international affairs journals, opinion magazines, and newspapers, and he is a frequent commentator on radio and television. His work can be found on CFR.org. Prior to joining CFR, Cook was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution (2001–2002) and a Soref research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (1995–1996). Cook holds a BA in international studies from Vassar College, an MA in international relations from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and both an MA and a PhD in political science from the University of Pennsylvania. He speaks Arabic and Turkish and reads French.  

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 16, 2020

Fullbore Friday

So, what exactly have you done in your military career worth talking about? 

Let's take a moment to remember a great American Army officer, Major Larry Alan Thorne ... but let's not quite go there yet. 

First we need to check in with Lauri Allan Törni. NB: I'm going to outright steal from wikipedia, but they won't mind;

...Törni entered military service in 1938, joining the 4th Independent Jäger Infantry Battalion stationed at Kiviniemi; when the Winter War began in November 1939, his enlistment was extended and his unit confronted invading Soviet troops at Rautu.

During the battles at Lake Ladoga, Törni took part in the destruction of the encircled Soviet divisions in Lemetti.

His performance during these engagements was noticed by his commanders, and toward the end of the war, he was assigned to officer training where he was commissioned a Vänrikki (2nd lieutenant) in the reserves.[8] After the Winter War, in June 1941, Törni went to Vienna, Austria for seven weeks of training with the Waffen-SS, and returned to Finland in July; as a Finnish officer, the Germans recognized him as an Untersturmführer. Most of Törni's reputation was based on his successful actions in the Continuation War (1941–44) between the Soviet Union and Finland. In 1943 a unit informally named Detachment Törni was created under his command. This was an infantry unit that penetrated deep behind enemy lines and soon enjoyed a reputation on both sides of the front for its combat effectiveness. One of Törni's subordinates was future President of Finland Mauno Koivisto. Koivisto served in a reconnaissance company under Törni's command during the Battle of Ilomantsi, the final Finnish-Soviet engagement of the Continuation War, during July and August 1944. Törni's unit inflicted such heavy casualties on Soviet units that the Soviet Army placed a bounty of 3,000,000 Finnish marks on his head. He was decorated with the Mannerheim Cross on 9 July 1944.

The September 1944 Moscow Armistice required the Finnish government to remove German troops from its territory, resulting in the Lapland War; during this period, much of the Finnish Army was demobilized, including Törni, leaving him unemployed in November 1944.

Well, there's chapter 1. What is a communist hating Finn supposed to do now? Well, like many men of his age ...


In January 1945, he was recruited by a pro-German resistance movement in Finland and left for saboteur training in Germany, with the intention of organizing resistance in case Finland was occupied by the Soviet Union. The training was prematurely ended in March, but as Törni could not secure transportation to Finland, he joined a German unit to fight Soviet troops near Schwerin, Germany. He surrendered to British troops in the last stages of World War II and eventually returned to Finland in June 1945 after escaping a British POW camp in Lübeck, Germany.

He was a slippery fella ... and so ends chapter 2. But, he's not done with the communists yet;

As his family had been evacuated from Karelia, Törni sought to rejoin them in Helsinki but was arrested by Valpo, the Finnish state police.[ After escaping, he was arrested a second time in April 1946, and tried for treason for having joined the German Army. After a trial from October to November, he received a six-year sentence in January 1947. Imprisoned at the Turku provincial prison, Törni escaped in June, but was recaptured and sent to the Riihimäki State Prison. President Juho Paasikivi granted him a pardon in December 1948.

At this point you'd think he'd come to peace with Finlandization ... but no, not his style. The anti-communist game was still afoot; 

In 1949 Törni, accompanied by his wartime executive officer Holger Pitkänen, traveled to Sweden, crossing the border from Tornio to Haparanda (Haaparanta), where many inhabitants are ethnic Finns. From Haparanda, Törni traveled by railroad to Stockholm where he stayed with Baroness von Essen, who harbored many fugitive Finnish officers following the war. Pitkänen was arrested and repatriated to Finland. Remaining in Sweden, Törni fell in love with a Swedish Finn, Marja Kops, and was soon engaged to be married. Hoping to establish a career before the marriage, Törni traveled under an alias as a Swedish seaman aboard the SS Bolivia, destined for Caracas, Venezuela, where he met one of his Winter War commanders, Finnish colonel Matti Aarnio, who was in exile having settled in Venezuela after the war. From Caracas, Törni hired on to a Swedish cargo ship, the MS Skagen, destined for the United States in 1950.

While in the Gulf of Mexico, near Mobile, Alabama, Törni jumped overboard and swam to shore. Now a political refugee, Törni traveled to New York City where he was helped by the Finnish-American community living in Brooklyn's Sunset Park "Finntown". There he worked as a carpenter and cleaner. In 1953, Törni was granted a residence permit through an Act of Congress that was shepherded by the law firm of "Wild Bill" Donovan, former head of the Office of Strategic Services.

Like I said ... he was a slippery fella ... and I think you can see where this is headed;


Törni joined the US Army in 1954 under the provisions of the Lodge-Philbin Act and adopted the name Larry Thorne. In the US Army, he was befriended by a group of Finnish-American officers who came to be known as "Marttinen's Men" (Marttisen miehet).

With their support, Thorne joined the US Army Special Forces. While in the Special Forces, he taught skiing, survival, mountaineering, and guerrilla tactics. In turn he attended airborne school, and advanced in rank; attending Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the Signal Corps in 1957. He later received a commission and a promotion to captain in 1960. From 1958–1962 he served in the 10th Special Forces Group in West Germany at Bad Tölz, from where he was second-in-command of a search and recovery mission high in the Zagros Mountains of Iran, which gained him a notable reputation. When he was in Germany, he briefly visited his relatives in Finland. In an episode of The Big Picture released in 1962 and composed of footage filmed in 1959, Thorne is shown as a lieutenant with the 10th Special Forces Group in the United States Army.

...

Deploying to South Vietnam in November 1963 to support Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) forces in the Vietnam War, Thorne and Special Forces Detachment A-734 were stationed in the Tịnh Biên District and assigned to operate Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) encampments at Châu Lăng and later Tịnh Biên.

During a fierce attack on the CIDG camp in Tịnh Biên, he received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star Medal for valor during the battle. This attack would later be described by author Robin Moore in his book The Green Berets.

Thorne's second tour in Vietnam began in February 1965 with 5th Special Forces Group; he then transferred to Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV–SOG), a classified US special operations unit focusing on unconventional warfare in Vietnam, as a military advisor.

On 18 October 1965, as part of the operation Shining Brass, Thorne was supervising the first clandestine mission to locate Viet Cong turnaround points along the Ho Chi Minh trail and destroy them with airstrikes. Two Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF) CH-34 helicopters launched from Kham Duc Special Forces Camp and rendezvoused with a United States Air Force Cessna O-1 Bird Dog Forward Air Controller in inclement weather in a mountainous area of Phước Sơn District, Quảng Nam Province, Vietnam, 25 miles (40 km) from Da Nang. While one CH-34 descended through a gap in the weather to drop off the six-man team, the command CH-34 carrying Thorne and the O-1 loitered nearby. When the drop helicopter returned above the cloud cover, both the CH-34 and the O-1 had disappeared. Rescue teams were unable to locate the crash site. Shortly after his disappearance, Thorne was promoted to the rank of major and posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross.

After all that ... a helo midair. What a man.

We did not forget him ... and neither did his native Finland.

In 1999, Thorne's remains were found by a Finnish and Joint Task Force-Full Accounting team[nb 3] and repatriated to the United States following a Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport ceremony that included Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Ambassador Pete Peterson.

Shared grave of Thorne and fellow Vietnam War casualties in Arlington National Cemetery

Formally identified in 2003, his remains were buried on 26 June 2003 at Arlington National Cemetery, section 60, tombstone 8136, along with the RVNAF casualties of the mission recovered at the crash site. He was memorialized on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 02E, Line 126. He was survived only by his fiancée, Marja Kops, who later remarried.

He was 46. 



Thursday, October 15, 2020

Diversity Thursday


A call for grace and spine. We need both if we are going to get through this latest cultural crisis.

I was going to post a good news DivThu, but that may have to wait for next week as this article by Rod Dreher requires your attention today

The Diversity Commissariat is still strong, and I think is about to ride a new wave of strength depending on the upcoming election. If you don't see that, then you were not paying attention as, in real time, a Senator declared "Sexual Preference" to be a hate-term, and shortly thereafter the woke brigades at Merriam-Webster Dictionary changed the meaning of the world.

They are a nasty and autocratic bunch. They are not playing games.

Let's go to Rod's article for an example;
This morning comes news that a venerable Dallas-based national advertising agency, The Richards Group, is going down because of some ill-chosen words spoken by its founder, 87-year-old Stan Richards. More:
Motel 6, Home Depot and Keurig Dr Pepper have cut ties with the Richards Group, an advertising agency in Dallas, after a report that its founder had made racist remarks in a meeting last week.

During a Zoom gathering of more than three dozen Richards Group employees on Thursday, a creative team working on the Motel 6 account presented an idea for an ad to Stan Richards, who founded the Richards Group in 1976. Mr. Richards responded to the idea by saying, “It’s too Black,” according to a person at the meeting, who said the ad would have featured Black, white and Hispanic guests. Mr. Richards, who is white, added that the ad might offend or alienate Motel 6’s “white supremacist constituents,” the person said.

A Richards Group spokeswoman confirmed that Mr. Richards, 87, had made the “too Black” remark, but said in an email that he was trying to convey that the proposed ad “was not multiculturally inclusive enough.”

When asked about Mr. Richards’ comment on white supremacists, which was first reported by the publication AdAge, the agency spokeswoman said, “Although his comments did reference that group, that quote is not correct.” Mr. Richards apologized to hundreds of the agency’s employees on a Zoom call on Friday.

 The old man’s remarks were offensive, and he apologized. But now, some the firm’s big clients are leaving. Except for this client:

The Salvation Army, another client, said that it was “deeply concerned” by the comments but “encouraged by the fact that Mr. Richards has made an apology.”

Grace. The Salvation Army shows it; the major corporations, not so much. Motel 6 had been a client for 34 years; Home Depot, for 25 years. Just like that, gone. Such is loyalty in the Age of Wokeness.

Who knows if the agency will survive this? That man, Stan Richards, founded it in 1976, and built it into a national powerhouse. But today, a few dumb words from him in a meeting are enough to put his life’s work in peril — and the jobs of everyone who works at the massive agency.

Is that social justice? Is it really?

Is this the culture we all want to live in? Really? Is this it?

What can we do? 

Stand up to the Commissariat and their shock troops. If someone in your organization makes someone upset for no intentional reason, show some grace. If someone who works for your or is a business partner comes under attack, stand up for them against the mob.

Like most bullies, they will back down when they meet resistance. 

Some think that if they just do what they want, throw an employee or business partner to the wolves now and then that it will buy them time, but it won't. 

If as a culture we don't start to stand up to them they will come after everyone. You will be next, and when everyone else is gone - who will stand up for you?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

An Orion Comes to Vietnam?


Exciting news, well at least to me, of the growing presence of Japan in the security environment in the Western Pacific.

It looks like one area she might be selling aircraft and related services will be in Vietnam of all places.

I barely contain my joy over at USNIBlog.

Come on by for the details!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Civilian Side of the Terrible 20s


I'd love to bring you good news to help you try to move pass this horrible year, but that is not to be.

I posted on this topic back in June at USNIBlog, but I re-read it again last night and it seems to have become even more clear and I wanted to bring it back here.

You all know the warning I gave a decade ago about the upcoming "Terrible 20s" for our military, well it appears that there is a similar issue on the civilian side, the ‘Turbulent Twenties’
 

Read again Jack Goldstone and Peter Turchin's observations
Top leadership matters. Leaders who aim to be inclusive and solve national problems can manage conflicts and defer a crisis. However, leaders who seek to benefit from and fan political divisions bring the final crisis closer. Typically, tensions build between elites who back a leader seeking to preserve their privileges and reforming elites who seek to rally popular support for major changes to bring a more open and inclusive social order. Each side works to paint the other as a fatal threat to society, creating such deep polarization that little of value can be accomplished, and problems grow worse until a crisis comes along that explodes the fragile social order.

These were the conditions that prevailed in the lead-up to the great upheavals in political history, from the French Revolution in the eighteenth century, to the revolutions of 1848 and the U.S. Civil War in the nineteenth century, the Russian and Chinese revolutions of the twentieth century and the many “color revolutions” that opened the twenty-first century. So, it is eye-opening that the data show very similar conditions now building up in the United States.

In applying our model to the U.S., we tracked a number of indicators of popular well-being, inequality and political polarization, all the way from 1800 to the present. These included the ratio of median workers’ wages to GDP per capita, life expectancy, the number of new millionaires and their influence on politics, the degree of strict party-line voting in Congress, and the incidence of deadly riots, terrorism and political assassinations. We found that all of these indicators pointed to two broad cycles in U.S. history.

In the decades following independence, despite growing party competition, elites in office often compromised and voted together, and rising national prosperity was broadly shared. But that wave of positive conditions peaked around 1820; from there, political polarization and economic inequality rose sharply in the years leading up to the Civil War. The crisis indicators peaked in the 1860s but did not fall sharply after the war; instead, they remained high until 1920 (the years of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Gilded Age and violent labor unrest, and the anarchists).

Then, the tide shifted, and a second wave of greater unity and prosperity began to gather strength. Contrary to expectations, World War I and the Great Depression did not produce a rise in political instability indicators. Instead, the country pulled together. The reforms introduced during the Progressive Era and clinched in the New Deal reduced inequality and strengthened the economic share of workers; during and after World War II, the country agreed on new tax policies and increased spending on roads and schools.

The 1950s were a golden age of worker progress and party cooperation; even in the 1960s and 1970s, despite serious racial conflicts, the country’s leaders were able to agree on remarkably far-reaching reforms to improve civil rights and environmental protection. However, the 1960s were a high point in our indicators of political resilience; in the 1970s and 1980s, things began to turn, and by the 1990s, a new wave of rising inequality and political divisions was well underway, exemplified by Newt Gingrich’s policies as speaker of the House. In the next two decades, the crisis indicators rose just as sharply as they had in the decades before the Civil War. It was not just that by the late 2010s, overall inequality was rising to the levels not seen since the Gilded Age; median wages in relation to GDP per capita also were falling to historically low levels.

If you think anything will get better after the NOV election, you haven't been paying attention.

 This has already been, and will continue to be, a violent year in America. We need to brace for post-election violence and prepare bipartisan methods to ensure that the election outcome will be widely regarded as fair and legitimate. It will take heroic efforts to rebuild the political center, to join businesses and workers in partnership and consensus, and to restore fairness in both taxation and public spending. Only if all sides can again recover a stake in our government, no matter which party controls it, can we avoid sliding into a crisis that will undermine our Constitution and pit Americans against each other in a way we have not seen for generations.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Generational Failure

 


My youngest daughter was born in the first half of 2001. I was deployed for half of the first year of her life. She's now a sophomore in college and a great blessing is that I still see her and her friends on a regular basis.

A few of her peers have already been in the military for a year or more. All they have known their entire life is that, of course, we have always been at war in Central Asia.

As readers here know, I helped in a very minor role to kick off the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and then deployed there again in 2008 and 2009 as another staff weenie before I left active duty to come home.

I've been thinking a lot about that country for two decades. I've thought a lot about my role, and more importantly, the role of the uniformed and civilian leaders I worked for had in delivering todays status to us. There is one thing that keeps coming back to the top of my mind, especially since December of 2009 when we culminated there; generational failure.

We have failed the American people and the Afghanistan people. There were a few times in the last 20 years where we had an opportunity to do what needed to be done and go home, but in our arrogance and faculty lounge theory mongering, we just couldn't follow through.

One window was in early 2020 where we simply could have realized what we were looking at in Afghanistan - something any reader of Hopkirk could tell you - and then with a reasonable cold eye said, "We're just doing a punitive expedition. We don't need to stay here to kill Bin Laden. We have a $10 billion in gold bounty on his head ... and yes we require his head ... or $5 billion for the information leading to his capture by us. There will be double that bounty if either happens in the next 90 days." ... and then just left to the boos and hisses of the internationalists who would never put their life or the lives of their children on the line for Afghanistan. But no, we had the Bonn Agreement and all that followed instead.

Fast forward to the end of the decade, and we had an opportunity to actually deliver on what the internationalists wanted through Shape, Clear, Hold, Build with the surge ... but before the effects could start to set in place, the West Point December 2009 speech killed any opportunity for that. 

Since then, we have been running on Taliban time. As I stated at the time, they will do the smart thing and let time solve their problem. We have been just waiting for the music to stop ever since.

The Silent Generation and the Baby Boomers failed the younger generations. It really is that simple.
Nineteen years ago on Wednesday, a generation of Americans deployed to Afghanistan to root out the terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks, believing that by fighting in the country more than 7,400 miles away, they would spare their children the need to do so too. But as the U.S. war in Afghanistan begins its 20th year, some of those same service members have watched as their sons and daughters have deployed to continue the fight. “When we started this, people asked why I was going, and my response was, ‘So my sons don’t have to fight this war,’” said Master Sgt. Trevor deBoer, who has deployed to Afghanistan three times with the 20th Special Forces Group since 2002. Nearly two decades later, deBoer’s son, Spc. Payton Sluss, also served in Afghanistan — including at Forward Operating Base Fenty, north of the city of Jalalabad, where deBoer had served.

In the USA, NATO and the general international community - all our leaders failed us. They did not know what they were doing, and lack the moral courage to admit it. They were always willing to play to not lose on their watch, pushing the timeline to the right so someone else would have the job when the music stopped.

They all need to be held to account, but they won't be - at least not yet.

Meanwhile, the Taliban wait with sure knowledge that they will step forward again. The Westernized and modern Afghans have either already moved out of the country, have plans to do so - or will stay to join with the Taliban when it is best ... or die to make a point.

Would the punitive expedition COA or giving SCHB a chance have resulted in any different outcome? A worse outcome? Hard to say, but in 2020 all we can say is that we have been engaged in an insurgency in Central Asia for over two decades with no realistic chance for a "W" ... and yet the blood and treasure keep flowing.

I was unkind to the Canadians and Dutch when they announced they were removing their maneuver forces in 2007 (though CAN & NLD forces are still there +/- in smaller support roles), but perhaps they were just smarter than us - or to be perhaps more accurate - their people let their political leaders know that enough was enough.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Fullbore Friday

 Some FbF are so good ... you have to bring them back every few years.


After a couple of week's FbF on other subjects, let's catch up with the Battle Off Samar. This time the USS HEERMANN (DD-532). 
HEERMANN screened transports and landing ships safely to the beaches of Leyte and then joined Rear Admiral Thomas L. Sprague's Escort Carrier Task Group 77.4 which was made up of three escort carrier task units, known as the three "Taffies" because of their radio call signs: "Taffy 1", "Taffy 2", and "Taffy 3". Destroyers HOEL and JOHNSTON joined her in screening Rear Admiral Clifton A. F. Sprague's unit, "Taffy 3" which also included his flagship FANSHAW BAY (CVE-70) and three other escort carriers.

Dawn of October 25, 1944 found Taffy 3 east of Samar steaming north as the Northern Air Support Group. Taffy 2 was in the central position patrolling off the entrance to Leyte Gulf, and Taffy 1 covered the Southern approaches to the Gulf some 130 miles to the southeast of HEERMANN. At 0645 Taffy 3's lookouts observed antiaircraft fire to the northward and with 13 minutes later were under heavy fire from Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's powerful Centre Force of four battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers. The battle off Samar was thus joined.

The only chance for survival of the little group of light American ships lay in slowing the advance of the enemy warships while withdrawing toward Leyte Gulf and hoped-for assistance. The carriers promptly launched their planes to attack the Japanese vessels, and the escorts promptly set to work generating smoke to hide the American ships.

HEERMANN, in a position of comparative safety on the disengaged side of the carriers at the start of the fight, steamed into the action at flank speed through the formation of "baby flattops" who, after launching their last planes, formed a rough circle as they turned toward Leyte Gulf. Since smoke and intermittent rain squalls had reduced visibility to less than 100 yards, it took alert and skillful seamanship to avoid colliding with friendly ships during the dash to battle. She backed emergency full to avoid destroyer escort SAMUEL B. ROBERTS and repeated the maneuver to miss destroyer HOEL as HEERMANN formed column on the screen flagship in preparation for a torpedo attack.

As she began the run, dye from enemy shells daubed the water nearby with circles of brilliant red, yellow, and green. HEERMANN replied to this challenge by pumping her 5-inch shells at one heavy cruiser, CHIKUMA, as she directed seven torpedoes at another, HAGURO. When these "fish" had left their tubes, HEERMANN changed course to engage a column of four battleships whose shells began churning the water nearby. She trained her guns on the battleship KONGO, the column's leader. Then she quickly closed HARUNA, the target of her of her last three torpedoes, which were launched from only 4,400 yards. Believing that one of the "fish" had hit the battleship, she nimbly dodged the salvoes which splashed in her wake as she retired. Japanese records claim that the battleship successfully evaded all of HEERMANN's torpedoes, but they were slowed down in their pursuit of the American carriers. The giant, YAMATO, with her monstrous 18.1-inch guns, was even force out of the action altogether when, caught between two spreads, she reversed course for almost 10 minutes to escape being hit.

HEERMANN sped to the starboard quarter of the carrier formation to lay more concealing smoke and then charged back into the fight a few minutes later, placing herself boldly between the escort carriers and the column of four enemy heavy cruisers. Here she engaged Japanese cruiser CHIKUMA in a duel which seriously damaged both ships. A series of 8-inch hits flooded the forward part of the plucky destroyer, pulling her bow down so far that her anchors were dragging in the water. One of her guns was knocked out but the others continued to pour a deadly stream of 5-inch shells at the cruiser, which also came under heavy air attack during the engagement. The combined effect of HEERMANN's guns and the bombs, torpedoes, and strafing from carrier-based planes was too much for CHIKUMA who tried to withdraw but sank during her fight.

As CHIKUMA turned away, heavy cruiser TONE turned her guns on HEERMANN who replied shell for shell until she reached a position suitable to resume laying smoke for the carriers. At this point planes from Admiral Stump's "Taffy 2" swooped in to sting TONE so severely that she too broke off action and fled. The courageous attacks of the destroyers and aircraft thus saved the outgunned Taffy 3.

Temporary battle-damage repairs were applied at Kossol Passage. From there, she was sent to Mare Island, California for a much-needed overhaul. She would not return to the Western Pacific until January 1945.
It's not the size of the ship in the fight .....

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Diversity Thursday

There are some DivThu that simply write themselves … and there are some Thursdays that I simply don’t know what to post because there is so much … often from the same place. 

 This DivThu let’s turn our attention to USNA. Some of you may think I’m going to get involved with the 1/C MIDN who got a bit over his skis on twitter, but RedState covered it in great detail. Read it all here - but focus on the comments and actions of uniformed leadership and the interplay of football. It speaks loudly how much USNA has brought inside its lifelines all the worst aspects of civilian universities from the warping effects of alumni sports fetishes to fear of the Woke Red Guards. I’m not going to cover that. No, I’ve got something better that has a connection to both as well. 

You don’t have to be a USNA graduate to know about the Tecumseh tradition. Well, once tradition. 

Behold!

I have had multiple people reach out to me on this since mid-Summer, but now that football season is upon us – the issue is breaking above the background noise. 

I warned years ago that, as people are policy, that the USNA’s desire to compete on the US News and other college ranking self-licking ice cream cones, that they were going to hire people who are focused on the same things their colleague in civilian universities focus on and do … which may not fully align with what the US taxpayer thinks it has service academies for. 

Sure enough, when you dig through the public and private exchanges on the topic, it becomes clear what is going on. You have a group of civilian professors who are pushing this issue along with a select group of Woke Youth Brigades to give them cover. 

Professors using students as shield and sockpuppets is one of oldest radical tactical moves in the book. I won’t name them, because they are the scorpion to USNA’s frog; this is their nature. USNA invited them for the ride, they are only acting as to their nature. Heck, in one interview, one of the professors involved stated, 
“My initial interests were centered solely on questions of race and identity formation. But I realized that I had an opportunity to tell an important story about maritime communities in the Caribbean often forgotten in histories of the plantation complex and postemancipation labor struggles.” 
Of course, such a person would look for some way to manifest her interests in the bare and rocky soil of Annapolis. I don’t fault such a person. They are what they are. 

What I find most interesting is the utter and complete terror uniformed senior leaders have when faced with such a challenge. These are people who have faced the dangers of combat and a career in the military … and yet when faced by the Woke Brigades, they turn in to things we used to tut-tut about when we read about them in communist countries. You can see them trying to find a compromise, but they simply do not understand their opponent. You cannot make them happy. They demand that you agree with 100% of their opinion – and that is just that, and opinion – but they will be content with your submission.


Sadly, many others have jumped on the bandwagon hoping that by doing so, they won't be denounced. Why sad? Many of these are historians. They know history and its patterns. They know what this is ... and yet they play along with the script. 

They will join the surrender, but don't want to believe the battle is not over. The Woke Brigades will take this hill you surrendered without much complaint, and then they will move to another. Then another. It will not stop. We have all seen this before. They can smell your weakness. Your attempt to compromise will simply be used as a lever against you. 

Again … 

BEHOLD!
Colleagues, 
I am compelled to bring a matter to your attention and ask for your support.  Please indulge me as I bring two email threads together on an important initiative and then make a case for your patient support.
1) An email thread and attachment from Prof XXXXXX regarding the misnaming of Tamanend to Tecumseh and an articulate basis for why it should be corrected. I fully support correctly identifying that man and great leader, as well as who and what he represents. In that email thread I make the case that rather than a unilateral decision by leadership our best case to accomplish our mission of developing leaders and provide a tangible example of change relative the the nation's unrest on racism here on the yard is to put this in the hands of the Brigade Midshipman leadership with coordinated support and guidance, and take the risk that they will choose to do the right thing. 
This is still a work in progress; I meet with the Commandant of Midshipmen today.  It will be a topic of discussion with the SLT today as well.  Work in progress. 
2) An email thread below with attachments from Jodel on an exchange regarding "taking down" the statue of Tecumseh, including crass disparagement of faculty.  A close reading indicates the ability to make a compelling argument to at least one respondent amidst messy discourse but also the challenge and reaction to change from the outside (in this case perceived as faculty vs Midshipmen).  The continuing conversation on Jodel becomes more and more about pushback against it being a faculty initiative.  
My request.
If you support the idea of having Tamanend correctly identified by his correct name, please do not take lead on this issue as faculty.  You have a great role to play, a critical one, an essential one in asking the right questions and providing advice to Midshipmen to evaluate the issue with facts and then encouraging them to act with moral conscience.  In the same way that as XXXXXX I am not the main effort and my role is to provide XXXXXX, yours is to support and develop these leaders.  To make this your initiative is to invite a fight, opposition and reinforce the narrative that change of this type comes only from on high and at someone else's expense (School pride, traditions, revered symbols).  It's not that you can't get it done, it's just that there is a way to potentially achieve a greater good. 
  Instead I ask you to be informed (i.e. Read XXXXXX's article) and be ready to ask good questions if the issue is already broached or continues to come up. Please do not preach.
 Fact - No one wants to take the statue down.
- Tamanend, misnamed Tecumseh @1940 by Midshipmen has become a term of endearment, but offends native Americans and misrepresents the renowned leader of the Delaware and an ally of early colonists.
Questions- Shouldn't the Brigade know who Tamanend really was and decide for itself who they want to revere and refer to him as?   
The broader issue - In times like these, would not the Brigade like to figure out how to to (sic) correctly apply racial fairness for itself?  
Is it an insult to refer to him as Tecumseh?  
Would you knowingly offend a tribe of allies or insult their leader in a warfighting coalition environment? 
Is this completely destroying a school tradition?  Do we have to rename T-Court? (No to both).
Didn't the OG (original gangster if you'll permit the Boomer colloquialism) Midshipmen get it right?  Is it wrong to get back to the original truth of why he was chosen and placed there?
If you change a school tradition back to its original school tradition, have you really destroyed a school tradition? 
Can you not honor the man and leader Tamanend in conjunction with the tradition? 
For those of you who may be opposed to the change, I respect that for whatever the many reasons may be.  A year ago this proposal was met with indifference, including my own. And I personally have not fully grasped the issue of warpaint as a Marine who appreciates and admires the great American Indian warriors and refers to putting on my own face camouflage as warpaint, as do many athletes in preparation for competition.  But I am willing to go there, and listen as well as change when faced with the right circumstances.
I and for your patience and trust that if we teach our Mids how to think, we will not need to tell them what to think or do their thinking for them. Most importantly, if we allow them to own the conversation and decision, then we have taught them what change (perhaps only incremental or even more) looks like by their own hand.
I am pulling out all the names here as I have zero interest in shaming anyone in public. Those who know, know, and I have had people sending me a lot more than I am published here from civilians, to MIDN to uniformed members who received forwards of forwards of forwards. Good people are in tough jobs trying to address issues they are not trained to deal with, have experience dealing with, on socio-political seas that are foreign to them and their professional experience. 

As far as lessons being learned, from the feedback I’ve seen, I don’t think it is quite what senior uniformed leaders think. These MIDN are smart, and they grew up under the already existing commissariat. They see the fear. They see. 

I’m not an alumni of USNA, so I haven’t covered all the scraping and erasing of names and monuments that has been going on there the last half year – but this topic was worth the trouble.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Not Our War; Not Our Problem

Today I want us to return to the same subject we covered last Wednesday; Turkish adventurism.

Russia is coming in to play, as is Iran. Turkey is embedding herself more and more.

I'm not an alarmist, but I don't like the odds here. The USA needs to make clear that nothing that derives from this is our concern nor that of NATO.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

The Islamic State Was Defeated; Long Live the Islamic State

 

If you haven't clued in yet, the Islamic State may have lost its caliphate in Syria and Iraq, but it is far from done. A solid comparison would be to call it a franchise, like its Al Qaeda forerunner.

As we will continue to remind everyone here, you need to keep and eye on Africa - the Islamic States more active franchise. 

Great article from Critical Threats

Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, the commander of US Special Operations Command Africa, gave a sobering assessment of the increasing security threats posed by al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and their ilk in Africa in an AEI webinar on September 9 (see the video and transcript here). He warned of African al Qaeda affiliates’ growing responsiveness to their parent organization and highlighted al Qaeda’s “methodical” playbook for coercing and controlling local populations in West Africa while remaining under the US policy radar. Maj. Gen. Anderson acknowledged the US military’s small footprint in Africa and the centrality of non-military challenges in stoking Salafi-jihadi insurgencies, underscoring the need for a clear strategy and more coordination with international partners and the US interagency to combat the Salafi-jihadi threat.
The background problem is that Islamic fundamentalist organizations will take advantage of a continent soaked in poor governance, corruption, unsustainable demographics, environmental devastation, and economic systems that cannot support a modern standard of living for the surging masses.

There are islands of hope here and there in sub-Saharan Africa, but those trend lines are not outpacing the advance of the Islamic State.
The US needs a policy framework for Africa that enables prioritizing and scaling US responses to prevent local conflicts from spiraling into regional crises, as well as rolling back the crises that have already passed this threshold. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) is resource-constrained and likely to face further cuts. In any circumstance, AFRICOM should not be the sole or lead actor for a US approach to African security. The factors that underpin the Salafi-jihadi movement are political, not military. Addressing the fragility that feeds extremism requires a new holistic strategy, and preventing or reducing inflammatory proxy interventions requires both diplomatic leadership and leverage. The US needs to rethink its engagement in Africa — quickly — before the continent’s developing threats are more immediate and more difficult to address.
The USA military cannot "fix" this area of the world, only help. Ultimately, those nations will have to fix themselves. Unfortunately, many of their best and brightest are not staying and working to build a better future, but are moving to Europe and the Americas. The brain drain is a challenge no one really has good metrics on, but it is there.

That too is part of the problem - and a much harder one to fix.

Monday, October 05, 2020

The Market Will Tell You What You're Short of


For navalists, the very short answer to the question of, "How many carriers do we really need?" is "More." 

Why is that the answer? Simple ... look at the length of deployments and the foolish "double pumping" of the CVN we have.

"High demand - low density" is just a PPT way of saying we didn't buy enough of what we actually need.

Let's take that simple economics concept over to the Army.

What are they short of? Remember when we were naked to attack from the Iranians? We don't want to have that happen again.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and Patriot missile batteries remain among the most frequently deployed units in the service, Army senior leaders have said previously. They’ve also acknowledged a need to ease the burden on soldiers manning those systems.
...
“Every Patriot unit assigned to the 32nd AAMDC was forward deployed during this period of time," Stewart said Wednesday at the conference. "More importantly, every weapon system in our arsenal, to include C-RAM, Stinger, Avenger, Sentinel Radar, Patriot, THAAD, all those were deployed forward during this time.”
Here is a question; our allies have a lot of air defense forces. How many of them have deployed to help us during this surge? 

In NATO alone, the Germans, Dutch, Spanish and Greeks have Patriot. The Romanians just got their last month, so we'll give them a pass.

The Army has been funding something ... but too much of that and not enough of this.

Imagine the requirements we would face in a war with even a half-peer.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Missile Barges and the Modern Auxillary Cruiser with Chris Rawley

 Turning merchant ships in to warships is a story as old as mankind. From war canoe to privateers to auxiliary cruisers fo the modern era - they always fit a certain niche in the drive to control the seas. What of today? 

What options are there if we need the ability to get as much "national will" downrange and over the horizon as soon as possible? Combine that question with a new one, "Where are all the VLS cells we need?" - and you have a great episode of Midrats. 

Returning to Midrats this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss these and related issues will be Chris Rawley. 

Captain Chris Rawley is Reserve Chief of Staff for Commander, Naval Surface Forces, helping to oversee 3,800 reserve sailors supporting fleet units around the world. During his 28 year military career, Rawley has filled a variety of leadership positions in naval, expeditionary, and joint special operations units afloat and ashore. He has deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, throughout Africa, the Persian Gulf, and Western Pacific. Rawley has a degree from Texas A&M University, earned an MBA at George Washington University, and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and Joint Forces Staff College. In his civilian role, Chris is the CEO of Harvest Returns, a platform for investing in agriculture.

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.