Friday, October 20, 2017

Fullbore Friday

Does this guy look badass enough for you?

You have no idea
.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



Hat tip Claude & David.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Diversity Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand up. Speak up.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

So, How is Your Cruiser Program Going?

A cruiser by any other name is still a cruiser.

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

Come on by!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did we get there?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Report on the HMS SHEFFIELD: 35-yrs Later

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fullbore Friday

No more complaining about a long Sea & Anchor detail.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Diversity Thursday

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

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

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

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