Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Strategic Claustrophobia

For a moment today I put on my Chinese Red Hat, and suddenly had a bit of strategic claustrophobia.


A map.

All it took was a map perspective.

Come on over to USNIBlog to see the obvious hidden in plain sight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Staring in Admiral Adama

We have all seen this brief every decade or so for decades. You can almost use the same sales pitch as before, just move the clauses around.

We know what is wanted - but it is hard. Instead of saying that, we try to trick everyone in to thinking there is a new idea out there.

There isn't ... and every time "we" pretend there is, we lose more credibility. 

The latest example from the, “This is Why DOD Can’t Have Nice Things” is the superbly mockable “Joint All-Domain Command and Control" (JADC2) concept. It is almost insulting in that is seems to be written by people who either themselves don’t know what has been going on in this area for the last few decades, or they assume no one else has institutional memory either. Just bask in the opening;
Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) is the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) concept to connect sensors from all of the military services—Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Space Force—into a single network.
For those with an Electronic Warfare background and an onion-paper thin understanding of what the Chinese and Russians are capable of today – or even what they did as far ago as the Vietnam War - just behold Figure 1.
If you transmit, you will be tracked, identified, and attacked. Transmit all day long, even easier. You then have the intellectual hangover from a couple decades of colonial policing; 
JADC2 intends to enable commanders to make better decisions by collecting data from numerous  sensors, processing the data using artificial intelligence algorithms to identify targets, then recommending the optimal weapon—both kinetic and nonkinetic (e.g., cyber or electronic weapons)—to engage the target.
Do we assume the enemy can’t do the same? What is your backup? 
Some analysts take a more skeptical approach to JADC2. They raise questions about its technical maturity and affordability, and whether it is even possible to field a network that can securely and reliably connect sensors to shooters and support command and control in a lethal, electronic warfare-rich environment. Analysts also ask who would have decision making authority across domains, given that, traditionally, command authorities are delegated in each domain rather than from an overall campaign perspective. Some also question how much a human will be needed for JADC2 to make decisions in real time, and whether it is appropriate to reduce the amount of human involvement in military-related decisions. 
Oh, I don’t know … is there a reason to be skeptical?
This diagram, or variations of same, is decades old. Jokes about it are older than those just putting on LCDR. This was always the promise that was never kept. Why would anyone use this diagram who wanted to be taken seriously?  

Unachievable at war. War isn't that clear or clinical. You simply will not have that level or reliable access in a peer conflict’s most important inflection points. 
The Joint All-Domain Operations concept, thus, provides commanders access to information to allow for simultaneous and sequential operations using surprise and the rapid and continuous integration of capabilities across all domains—to try to gain physical and psychological advantages and influence and control over the operational environment. 
Misuse of the word “concept” here and all over the place. I don’t know, maybe we can tell what you are proposing through all all the recycled CONOPS, opaque verbiage, and word salad acronyms. 
DOD is leading a Joint Cross-Functional Team to explore JADC2 as the concept evolves.
Have you filled out your bingo card yet? Multiple bingo cards.
The Army and Air Force have announced programs to implement JADC2; what are the Navy’s plans to implement this new command and control concept?
Is that Deptula throwing shade there? Anyway, I don't know .. maybe we can tell what you are proposing this to be through all the recycled CONOPS, opaque verbiage, and word salad acronyms. 
What role would AI have in JADC2 development? 
None. How about that for an answer. It isn't ready - not even close - and those in industry know AI isn't ready for late night, much less prime time. That is before the JAG gets at it.
How much human-in-the-loop is necessary if sensors are linked to shooters in real-time?
A lot. 

As someone who used to work in this area, let me help you out. 

Ahem: “After decades of attempts, the Secretary of Defense will conduct a baseline reset of the ability for each service’s data links to communicate with each other in real time through peacetime and degraded wartime constraints. Systems shall also maintain the ability to function as stand-alone systems, partial functionality, or in an offline mode.” 

So much of this, again, is trying to sweep up as much money as possible for a program that promises perfect information and perfect knowledge. Both are impossible at war. 

Good communications links, both voice and data, are important – but history shows us that they can be as much of a danger as a help. When overused or over-relied on, they tip towards a Critical Vulnerability vice a Critical Capability. 

Better yet are efforts in instead invest in the ability of our commanders to understand themselves and their mission – and that of potential enemies. That should be the goal. A vain attempt to make the real world look like a game you play on your computer should not.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Australia Pivots from 30-yr Set


It is one thing to talk about a "Pacific Pivot" or the importance of the Indo-Pacific theater ... but you signal you are serious by your actions.

I think Australia has put down a marker ... and they are making the correct move.

A three-decades-long Australian naval presence in the Middle East will come to an abrupt end this year as the Federal Government grapples with an increasingly uncertain strategic environment closer to home.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has announced Australia will no longer send a Royal Australian Navy ship to the Middle East every year.
The shift was flagged in the Government's recent Defence Strategic Update, which declared that deteriorating strategic circumstances would force the military to focus more sharply on the Indo-Pacific and Australia's immediate region.

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..."


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.