Friday, May 27, 2022

Fullbore Friday


I am, generally, not all that taken in by large memorials to the fallen. Perhaps it is just me, but I find them cold, a bit off-putting, and many - but not all by any measure - seem to be more about something else than the memory of fathers, mothers, daughter, sons, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, and friends who answered the call of their nation and never came back.

Like the little neighborhood memorial back when I lived in Norfolk I've written about before, I find the smaller ones speak to me more - they have an intangible quality to them.

For this Memorial Day weekend I'm reaching out of the USA and in to a lost world that is still remembered.

Well off the beaten path is a small Moravian village in the southeast of the Czech Republic near the border with Slovakia called Louka. She has a population of 900 today, probably not that different than what it was a little over a century ago when she was simply another village in the vast Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

When the Habsburg Emperor called, her citizens answered. Four years later, their Emperor was dead, their empire was dissolved, and 20 of her young men didn't come home. 

In 2020, Norfolk, VA had a population of 244,300 in the city proper. The Hampton Roads area (Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Virginia Beach, etc) will bring you to about 1.7 million souls.

If you upscale little Louka's sacrifice by population, that would be 5,429 dead in Norfolk, 37,778 for the Tidewater, and for the USA ~7,400,000 killed.

In the end, for what?

When nations go to war, their people will respond. They usually don't know why, they just know duty. They didn't make the decisions, they just fulfilled their obligations. 

Before a nation's leaders head in to war, they should know what the implications are. Did they do all they could to avoid the war? Did they do all they could in the years of peace to ensure that if war comes, their people have the leadership and tools needed to win?

War sometimes is unavoidable. Sometimes it is the best option. For many nations, it is the only option.

When we have a weekend to think about those who have fallen in our nation's wars, we should take a moment to remember that - even for our nation's enemies (as the Austro-Hungarian Empire was to us in WWI) - their families, villages, and towns are not that different than ours when the call comes.

War, sacrifice, death, and loss have a lasting impact on everything they touch. Even generations past living memory in wars for causes forgotten and empires dissolved, the grief remains. The flowers still are brought. The candles are still lit.

The charter to the living is to think what is worth the cost to give rise to the next village's memorial.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Navy Missiles for all my Friends

There are some smart decisions being made by the Army when it comes to what the cool kids call “long range fires” (I don't care if they call in medium) … and the products are blue and gold.

Via Sydney Freedberg at BreakingDefense;

Instead of picking a single missile to be its thousand-mile Mid-Range Capability, the Army has chosen to mix two very different Navy weapons together in its prototype MRC unit: the new, supersonic, high-altitude SM-6 and the venerable, subsonic, low-flying Tomahawk.


Lockheed Martin won the OTA contract, worth up to $339.4 million with all options, to integrate the two missiles – both built by Raytheon – into the Army fire control systems, vehicles, and support equipment required for a fully functioning artillery battery. Lockheed builds the current wheeled HIMARS and tracked MLRS launchers, which can handle a wide variety of current and future Army weapons, but neither the service nor the company would say whether they could fire either SM-6 or Tomahawk, citing security concerns.

They are set to enter service in 2023.

The most important factor in the Pacific remains what it has always been, range.

The subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile is the long-serving mainstay of long-range strike. It was first fielded in the Reagan era and has been much upgraded since, with more than 2,000 fired in combat since 1991. There used to be a whole family of different versions, but nuclear-tipped, land-based, air-launched, and anti-ship variants were retired after the Cold War. That left the Navy’s conventional-warhead Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM), which can only be fired from ships and submarines, and only at stationary targets ashore.


The supersonic SM-6 is the latest and sexiest version of the Navy’s Standard Missile family, whose primary role is defensive, built to shoot incoming enemy aircraft and missiles out of the sky. But the new SM-6 is also capable of striking surface targets on land and sea.

Range, range, range. For reasons probably best discussed between them and their confessors, since the end of the Cold War our Navy has retreated from range. Our airwing forgot about it. Our surface force remembered it shortly, then forgot it again. I don’t think out submarine force ever did … but we don’t talk much about submarines because they seem to do a great job in most things (though that may change next week if I can get a post out of draft).

The SM-6 selection surprised me at first, because its reported ranges are well short of the 1,000 miles the Army wants for the Mid-Range Capability. While the real range is classified, estimates range up to 290 miles (250 nautical miles).

However, the Navy is now developing an extended-range model of the SM-6, the Block 1B. (It’ll use the rocket booster from another Standard Missile variant, the ICBM-killing SM-3, which is known to have a range greater than 1,000 miles). What’s more, while the current SM-6 maxes out at Mach 3.5, the SM-6 Block 1B will reportedly reach hypersonic speeds, i.e. above Mach 5. While the Navy plans for Block 1B to complete development only in 2024, it wouldn’t be a stretch to have a handful of missiles available early for the Army’s MRC roll-out in late 2023.

The maritime gods of the copybook headings are back, and they are pissed. All the non-transformational concepts such as range, affordability, production lines, and robustness are coming back to the front. Why? Simple.

We are running out of time to be unserious. From the Army's press release;

“The Army and joint service partners have conducted extensive mission thread analysis to solidify the kill chain and communications systems required to support MRC operations. Details are not publicly releasable due to OPSEC considerations,” Army officials wrote me in an email.

“The Tomahawk and SM-6 were chosen in order to accelerate a mature capability to address near-peer threats. They provide the required mix of capability to engage desired targets at mid-range distances. Working closely with the Navy, the Army will be able to integrate these missiles for the MRC prototype battery to meet the FY23 fielding date.

“The Army will not modify the Navy missiles. While working on materiel solutions, the Army is also consistently doing analysis to determine the best mix of weapons systems, how the enemy is going to fight against new capabilities, and how to address capability gaps.

“The MRC prototype battery is planned to include a mix of both SM-6 and Tomahawk missiles to provide the desired capability in FY23.”

The best way to keep the People’s Republic of China from being a danger to our interests is to keep her close to shore. To do that, you need to hit targets on the coast and inland. With her impressive S/M/IRBM forces, you need to do that at range at sea and ashore. 

The maladministration of our airwing over the three decades is almost criminal, but we have what we have. Working at the speed of smell, NAVAIR may have a F/A-XX (AKA NGAD or whatever we are calling it this week) shadow on the ramp before the crack of doom, and one hopes that one of the primary design priorities is … range … but for the near-term fight to come, we and our sister services will have to do with what we have to keep a proper distance from shore based weapons systems. We knew that in the Cold War, but then we got smart enough to be stupid. We will have to find range other ways – and in missiles, the Navy has a lot to be proud of.

This is where the Army’s decision to go Navy and buy the updated 1970s era TLAM (though that is just the shape and speed. The warhead and guidance is 21st Century smart) and the SM-6 is just smart as it can be. We have good (actually, very good) now as we wait for better later that may or may not come. We need to be ready to fight now, not a decade from now.

A final note to my fellow geeks and classics fans.

Do you know what "Typhon" is on slide above?

Based badassery and a superb name.

... the Giant-God whose power is to overturn oceans. ... the largest and most fearsome of all creatures, his prowess exceeded that of even the Titans and was enough to be regarded as the deadliest threat to Olympus, and was one of the few beings in existence whom Zeus openly feared. ... His true form is always accompanied by a massive and devastating storm, obscuring his body and making it difficult to see. However, it is said that his human upper half reached as high as the stars, and his hands reached east and west. Instead of a human head, a hundred dragon heads erupted from his neck and shoulders; some, however, depict him as having a human head, with the dragon heads replacing the fingers on his hands. His bottom half consisted of gigantic viper coils that could reach the top of his head when stretched out and constantly made a hissing noise. His whole body was covered in wings, and fire flashed from his eyes,

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

How Do You Work With the Russians at the Negotiating Table and Post-Conflict?

While there is a lot more fighting left to be done in Ukraine, there is one safe assumption regardless of what happens; we will have to learn to live with Russia as she is.

Russian victory in Ukraine runs the spectrum from unconditional surrender of Ukraine to a negotiated settlement that lets Russia retain Crimea and the Donbas. 

One may define a Ukrainian victory on an extreme edge with Russia retaining only Crimea over to being expelled entirely back to pre-2014 boundaries. The longer the war goes on, the less the Ukrainians will find the Crimea option acceptable, and we may already be past that point.

If you think the war will be the end of the Russian desires in her near-abroad, then you have not studied enough Russian history.

Russia will always be Russia. All you can do is to realistically accept that and adjust accordingly. 

In the post-Cold War era there were well meaning but wrong people who thought Russia was just a Western nation with a rough childhood.

Do you remember 2003’s “Spinning Boris” loosely based on the American political consultants rescuing Boris Yeltsin in the 1996 election in Russia? You can watch, I believe, the whole movie here, but just get a little flavor of a shirtless Goldbloom;

We can call that the high/low-water mark of post-Cold War arrogance to Russia that carried on until the middle of the last decade when the balance of people realized with the invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine that the doves may not have it quite right. 

Up until the invasion of Ukraine this year, there was still hope that somehow Russia could be contained as a slightly dangerous but otherwise manageable hydrocarbon extraction territory.

A lot of those same people (Department of State and the Joint Staff, I’m looking at you) quickly moved as the invasion was on the way to, “Russia is unstoppable” and tried to convince the Ukrainian government that their best bet was to retreat to Lviv but probably best to leave the country while they had the chance. 

Of course, President Zelenskyy used that as an opportunity in February to deliver one of his best lines to President Biden and the world’s Smartest People in the Room™;

I need ammunition, not a ride!

So, my preference here is to not listen too much to what is coming out of DC and Brussels. They have been too wrong for too long. I prefer to listen to those who have generations deep understanding of the Russians; the Central Europeans and the Baltic Republics. They will best inform us of how we should position ourselves relative to Russia.

What is the informed opinion, as much as one can be found? 

Regulars here know my affection for Estonia and the Estonian people. As such, let’s check in with their superb Prime Minister Kaja Kallas;

I warned about premature calls for a ceasefire and peace. We cannot give anything to the aggressor that it didn’t have before – or the aggression will sooner or later return. No sign Russia has changed its calculus. I don't believe in goodwill by an outright aggressor and a cold-blooded war criminal.

We must avoid a bad peace. A badly negotiated peace for Ukraine would mean a bad peace for us all. We need to focus on pushing back the aggressor and drying up his war machine. 

What Ukraine needs today are weapons to fight back the aggressor and liberate its territories. We need to help Ukraine win. And we need to make a leap forward in our own defence.

What is victory? This is solely up to Ukraine to define. But we must help them to reach the best position for any negotiations with the aggressor.

The Russian threat will not go away tomorrow. We mustn't get tired. After all, Ukrainians are not tired.

This is sound. I think I will adopt this as the Salamander Position.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Yes, Taiwan is an Island Worth Dying On

Sometimes at gaffe is just the truth spoken out of turn. Yesterday, President Biden said something that isn’t that surprising to those who have been pondering this for a while;

Of course, there are those who will come out to “clarify” etc., but we nearing the point where we need to pause a bit and talk clearly to each other as adults; we need to be ready for the war to come because if we don’t, come it surely will.

We need to move past the comfortable strategic ambiguity of the past and move forward based on the clear intent by the Commander in Chief. We should take the Commander in Chief at this word, the leadership of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are going to. They will act accordingly and so should we.

The coming conflict with the PRC may not be unavoidable, but the need to prepare for one is. If we take the challenge seriously and prepare for it, then the challenge may never come. If we pretend the challenge is not growing, then the challenge will move on to action as the opportunity to change centuries of failure will be ripe for the taking.

We’ve run “The Long Game” series here since 2004. I picked up where smarter people started a decade earlier and more. In 2022 when you look around, there are a lot more of “us” now and it is time that we set those remaining on the fence on notice.

The utility of “Strategic Ambiguity” no longer serves its purpose in support of American national security requirements. If you look at the internal second and third order effects of it, we are past the point that it is counterproductive. It gives those charged with funding our military an excuse not to be ready while at the same time making the risk calculation for the PRC less with each passing year of inaction on our part.

Taiwan cannot be allowed to fall under the control of the Communist Party of China. There are a whole host of reasons. My top-5 I will outline below. 

1. The Map;

With Taiwan, you control Japanese access to half the planet, and you extend your military influence east through the Philippine Sea. The PRC would hold the north gate to the South China Sea and on to the Singapore Strait. She will have Taiwan as a shield for her coastal cities that drive her economy and build her navy. I know if I were in the PRC leadership, taking Taiwan would always be at the top of my list. The key is waiting for the moment to be ripe where risk is low and gain is high. That math is what will drive peace or war. We can drive that math to our direction if we have the will that matches our desire for peace.

2. Justice: If “The West” and her auxiliaries stand for anything, it should be for representative governance and individual liberty. There is a wide half-standard deviation from the mean in this regard, but one thing is clear; the PRC and the future she desires is outside that spectrum. Taiwan is well within that center. The Taiwanese people do not desire to be Hong Kong on a larger scale. Well meaning, freedom valuing nations should support her. As a species, what kind of future do we want to our planet? Do we want the messy chaos of an imperfect framework of freedom that the West hobbled together after the defeat of fascism and the Soviet Union last century – or the autocratic and Orwellian surveillance state the PRC is perfecting? 

3. Stand Against Aggressive War: the international community in Ukraine is setting a precedence that we will not stand by quietly and reward aggressive war by Russia. Yes, no one is committing forces, but especially since the first month of the war, the Ukrainians have shamed nations in to at least providing her the tools to defend herself. Talk is not enough. If you mean to prevent war, you must be prepared for it. Ukraine before the war made poor decisions with regards to her preparedness. Someone advised her that she was either unable to fight Russia or would never have to. The Smartest People in the Room™ were wrong on both counts. +/- these are the same people who have dulled our senses with comforting talk that “Strategic Ambiguity” should continue to be the way forward in Taiwan. They were wrong in Ukraine, and we should call them on their wrongness in Taiwan.

4. Economics: the world’s economy and Western militaries are mindlessly dependent on Taiwan. This country of just over 23 million souls – not much more than my home state of Florida - is the single point of failure for the microchips that power our modern world. Industry and governments in the West were greedy and stupid to let this be the case, but here we are. We should no more let the PRC control this – or destroy it in a war – than we should have her take over the oil fields of Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. 

5. West of Wake: with the loss of Taiwan, the ability of Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and other nations in the western Pacific – who are either auxiliaries to the West or trying to become such – will be in what position in face of a stronger and emboldened China? In their history – thousands of years older than the USA’s history – tells them. They’ve seen it before, they don’t want to see it again. Their future, and that of the entire hemisphere will drift away from the promise of individual liberty, rule of law, and optimism for the future.

There are my top-5 reasons why those with a clear head about the PRC should welcome the President’s comments. Accept and promote them.

Regular readers know I am not a fan of American as global hegemon or policeman. I’ve had no change in that regard … but I try to listen to history’s lessons and do my best to look a half dozen plays down the board – and Taiwan’s independence is one of those things where I’m willing to say, “Yes, here we make a stand.”

We either rise to PRC’s challenge at Taiwan’s shore, or shrug at what was the American Century. 

This is no time to shrug. Other nations closer to China are moving past their recent delusions and see that war is coming. I believe Japan is one, Australia another. Vietnam needs no convincing. 

So, what do we do? We wake everyone else up in the West who can think.

Internationally, we should speak clearly to our European allies that, yes, we are doing most of the heavy lifting in providing aid to Ukraine now, but this is it. You need to rebuild your defenses. We will always be your friend. We will always be by your side – but that is it – by your side. Even if Russia is soundly defeated in Ukraine, she will be back. You have a larger economy and population than the USA does. Build your armies up, we will not station ours there. We will come to exercise now and then. We will have combined logistics and training facilities there. We will contribute to NATO staff and even combined units … but we will not garrison your frontiers. Over to you.

Domestically we have hard conversations that need to take place. Personal and financial interests will be injured, habits disrupted, and egos bruised. The pushback will be hard.

Yes, we need to spend more, but more importantly we need to spend smartly. We need to break the ossified adhesions of decades of Beltway nomenklaturaesque habits and spend our money like we know what the challenge is and where our comparative advantage lies; we are a maritime and aerospace power. That point needs to be its own post later – perhaps a summary of a draft I’ve had since the summer of 2020 that I keep to myself. Enough of the Joint self-deluding posturing that hobbles clear speaking.

Again, look at the map;

In a war west of Wake, we can accept risk at peace keeping a smaller standing Army. Efficiencies can be gained by having most of our ground forces in National Guard and Reserve formations that can be activated as needed. We need the surge capability in sealift and airlift there as well. All three things need to be done in conjunction while we expand the forces that tare hardest to generate in number: maritime and aerospace power. These must be a priority and front loaded. 

We can take that risk ashore; we cannot take it at sea or in the air. We are not going to deploy hundreds of thousands of ground forces on the Asian mainland on a hair trigger. If we do, we are fools. What will need to do it to ensure we control the seas and air for the nations we are supporting in Asia so their ground forces can defend their land. If we do not dominate the air and seas, then I don’t care how large our standing army is, it isn’t getting there.

That is the reality. That reality is what must drive requirements for both the USA and Taiwan.

Time is late. Taiwan needs to spend a lot more on defense. Right now she is spending 2.1%. We need to have a come to Jesus meeting with her to let her know that, really, she is going to quickly spend 4% on defense and this is what she is going to buy with it. We will back her play in the open now, but we will not be more concerned with her freedom than she is. The Taiwanese porcupine must have more and longer quills. We should also start having American forces train with Taiwan in Taiwan a lot more. Underline our point. No one calls a bluff if a bluff does not exist.

The “Long Game” is now the short game inside our POM cycle. Navalists in Congress and other places with access to levers of power need to have a polite conversation with airpower advocates that they need to join us on this path or suffer with the army in the budget battles to come.

The argument for maritime and aerospace spending is the easiest sell due to the reality of the situation – we just need leaders to make the argument.

No more “Joint Force” talking points. Navalists need to keep their list of Navy leaders who keep going back to this verbal tic and work to keep them out of positions of power. They don’t know what time it is and they are too senior to retrain. 

Make enemies as our friend Blake Herzinger has. Speak the truth and tell those who can’t take it to simply cope-and-seethe. 

Hard fact – Taiwan is our fight to have. Our Nationalist Chinese allies in WWII would not have been able to hold Taiwan without the cover of our imperfect umbrella over more than seven decades. Over that time, Taiwan has developed in fits and starts in to a prosperous, free, and uniquely different society than that on the mainland. 

To abandon her now, knowing her fate, will not just do immeasurable damage to our national security, it would be an amoral act of cowardice by a decayed and intellectually bankrupt empire.

We are not alone. If we show strength, others will too.

Australia is holding firmer against the PRC than they have in decades. This is good.

India is looking for friends to counter the PRC to her north. This is a growing fertile field at a tender inflection point but trending the West’s way.

New Zealand is problematic. Sad, but true. I’m not sure what to do with her compromised elite. We’ll call them a wash until they wake up and rediscover what they stand for.

As we started covering a year ago, we have problems from the Pacific island nations from the Philippines to the Solomons to Kiribati etc. We are behind the 8-ball in our own back yard, and we did this to ourselves through our own sense of entitlement and arrogance. It is also not too little a portion of our Department of State being distracted away from their core job by an equally distracted bureaucracy who often act as if they really wish they picked a different career field.

There is nothing new that needs to be done here. Nothing “transformational” requiring “new” ideas, concepts, or approaches. This is all Vince Lombardi fundamental great power competition – something humans have been practicing since the Stone Age.

Embrace Biden’s gaffe as Commander’s Intent and move forward. It is a blessing, really.

Monday, May 23, 2022

The Coming Burkopolypse

On yesterday's Midrats David Larter mentioned something in passing that I really had not pondered since he was still on the journalism gig in 2020

In a move with sweeping consequences for the U.S. Navy’s battle force, the service is canceling plans to add 10 years to the expected service lives of its stalwart destroyer fleet, a cost-savings measure that would almost certainly hamper plans to grow the size of the fleet.

In written testimony submitted to the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Navy’s Assistant Secretary for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts said performing service life extensions on Burkes designed to bring them up from 35-year hull lives to 45 years was not cost-effective.

This little extra flavor to The Terrible 20s needs to be fleshed out a bit, as in 2022 we are close to coming to the Arleigh Burke cliff.

DDG-51 herself was commissioned in 1991. She will be 35 in 2026. That is just 4.5-yrs from now.

If we assume that +/- the Burkes do fall off at 35, and the below is roughly correct, what does that look like?

2026: 1

2027: 1

2028: 1

2029: 4

Then it really takes off;

2030: 6

2031: 5

We took a 5-year break from 2012-2017 as the DDG-1000 fever dream caused a Flight-IIA restart, and have been building 2-3 a year on average since.

I'm not sure - LCS aside - if we have ever been decommissioning a class of ships at the same time we are building them, but we soon will with Arleigh Burke. 

As discussed often here, the end of the 20s and the start of the 30s is when many consider there to be the greatest threat-window with China. That happens to overlap with our primary surface combatant decommissioning faster than they are being replaced.

It also points out that, indeed, where is DDG(X)? When is hull-1 expected to displace water?

As our LCS fleet is either decommissioned early or are speed limited due to this design flaw or another - where is FFG-62 and her sisters?

Pray for peace.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Larter, Returning ... You Never Get the Sea out of Your Blood - on Midrats


If you've missed having David Larter on the Navy beat, well you're in for a treat.

Though everyone's favorite former OS2 is no longer a defense journalist, like most Sailors, he doesn't leave his love of the sea or affection for his Navy behind. 

Returning to Midrats, but this time with a little California sunshine kissing his cheeks, David will be with us for the full hour Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern. We will cover the waterfront from Ukraine, fleet size, how we treat our Sailors, global food security, China, and the things navalists should be thinking about, but aren't.

Join us live if you can, but it not, you can get the show later by subscribing to the podcast. 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. You can find us on almost all your most popular podcast aggregators as well.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Fullbore Friday

A little over a decade ago, we lost the last half of one of the great teams of WWII; a local boy and father of USAF Special Operations. If what they did took place in Europe, they would have had a movie made out of it. As it took place in the Burma theater - well - at least we can cover it here.
John R. Alison, a World War II fighter pilot who helped lead a daring and unprecedented Allied air invasion of Burma, has died, a son said Wednesday.

The retired Air Force major general and former Northrop Corp. executive died of natural causes Monday at his home in Washington, John R. Alison III said.

Alison's wartime achievements included seven victories, six in the air, qualifying him as an ace, according to the Air Force Association, an independent organization in Arlington, Va., that promotes public understanding of aerospace power.
What did he do?
Operation THURSDAY began on March 5, 1944, when the first C-47 launched from India towing two overloaded gliders filled with Wingate's troops, equipment, and supplies. A total of 26 transports towing gliders comprised the first wave. The gliders, carrying from 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of excess weight, strained the C-47 tow planes and ropes and caused significant problems. With eight of the first wave of C-47s each losing a glider, Colonel Cochran decided to limit one glider to each remaining transport. This decision allowed the air commandos to successfully deliver Wingate's initial and succeeding forces to the jungle clearings over 200 miles behind Japanese lines in Burma.

During the first day the strip, designated "Broadway," was improved so transport, glider, and liaison aircraft could land safely. They brought supplies, equipment and reinforcements, and evacuated the injured. A second strip, opened by glider assault, relieved congestion at Broadway. Airlift inserted almost 10,000 men, well over 1,000 mules, and approximately 250 tons of supplies. Casualties from the high-risk, untested concept, including missing, were less than 150, and for the first time in military history aircraft evacuated all killed, wounded, and sick from behind enemy lines.

The air commandos also protected the British ground forces by harassing the Japanese. This harassment, conducted by P-51s and B-25s equipped with a 75mm cannon in the nose and 12 .50 caliber machine guns, included bombing bridges, strafing and bombing parked aircraft, air-to-air combat, and destroying the communications, transportation, and military infrastructure.
Wait, who is that Cochran character? Funny you should ask.

See that guy to the left - that was then Lt. Col. Philip Cochran, USAAC. He passed away in 1979. He was - wrap this around your head PCO pipeline guys and gals - 1st USAAF Air Commando Group Co-Commander with Alison. Co-Commander. I guess if Hap Arnold tells you, you work it out.

See him and his men in action below. Remember - he was only 34 in 1944. Alison was 32.

Remember that next time you dismiss the capabilities and opinion of your senior LTs and junior LCDR.

Ponder a lot.

One more bit about Cochran - talk about character.
Cochran was the inspiration behind characters in the Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon by Milton Caniff.
Cochran dated actress Betty White in the early 1960s after being introduced by Jack Paar. White declined his marriage proposal; later dating Cochran and her future husband Allen Ludden simultaneously, until her romance with Ludden became serious.
Hat tip GOH. First posted June 2011.

UPDATE: If you are interested in this, you need to read William Y'Blood's Air Commandos Against Japan by USNI Press. Our friend B.J. Armstrong reviewed it a few years ago at The Journal of Military History.