Saturday, January 31, 2009

No kidding ...

Having spent a fair part of my life in that part of the world and its fleet of shi'ite trucks, unique garbage disposal traditions, and interesting view on environmental protection - I also find the sky to be blue on most inhabited planets.
A noxious tide of toilet paper, raw sewage and chemical waste has transformed Dubai’s most prestigious stretch of shoreline into a foul-smelling health hazard.

A stretch of the exclusive Jumeirah Beach — a magnet for Western tourists and home to a string of hotels — has been closed. “It’s a cesspool. Our tests show too many E. coli to count. It’s like swimming in a toilet,” said Keith Mutch, the manager of the Offshore Sailing Club, which has posted warnings and been forced to cancel regattas.The pollution is a blow to Dubai’s reputation as an international holiday destination offering almost guaranteed sunshine and clear seas.

The debate over who is to blame is also turning toxic, pitting the city’s wealthy expatriates against local authorities, who have been criticised for failing to stop lorry drivers dumping human and industrial waste into the ocean.

The row also illustrates how Dubai’s rapid development threatens to outpace the Emirates’ ability to enforce environmental standards, angering the foreigners that the boom town seeks to attract. Mr Mutch first detected trouble during a walk on the beach last summer. “The stench was unbearable and the water was a muddy brown. There was toilet paper in the sand,” he recalled.
I only hope it made its way to Michael Jackson's hidey-hole.

Making LT Black happy ...

It is the simple things in life - and the pleasures found in them - that you cannot take away from a man if he won't let you.

He who smiles last, wins.
...and yes, we like that ship here.

The hollowing begins ...

In the middle of a war. It has started.
The Obama administration has asked the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon's budget request for the fiscal year 2010 by more than 10 percent -- about $55 billion -- a senior U.S. defense official tells FOX News.

Last year's defense budget was $512 billion. Service chiefs and planners will be spending the weekend "burning the midnight oil" looking at ways to cut the budget -- looking especially at weapons programs, the defense official said.

Some overall budget figures are expected to be announced Monday.
Elections mean things.

We cannot leave troops in the field hang'n can we? Nope, therefore look for more than the fair share to come from the USN and non-AMC USAF.

$55 billion? What does the Navy throw on the alter? At the low end, I would think that we will have to eat at least 30% of that - let's call it $18.3 billion that needs to go as a baseline. Where do you start? Eat the sunk cost and kill DDG-1000 like they did the
USS United States (CVA-58)? Cut SSN production in half? Kill LCS (not going to happen, sadly, because it is the "cheapest" way to get new CDR Command slots)? Kill the new CVN design, eating those sunk costs, and go back to Nimitz with a slide to the right? Cut personnel faster, going down to the 311-300,000 line? For the USMC - kill the EFV? Does that get us to $18.3 billion? I need a stable of staff weenies to run some numbers ... but that is what people are doing this weekend.

USAF, you're done with F-22. As for BMD - Sen. Levin ain't playing.

If you were wearing a uniform and hoped for change - you're going to get it good and hard. If that makes you mad, take a powder.

Hat tip MajHam.

Hmmmm, more nuance?
The Pentagon refused to comment publicly on why it would need the higher amount. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said the fiscal 2010 Defense budget must contend with the realities of the bad economy and stop the trend of steep increases in military budgets since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Gates also has said the department will deliver Congress a formal request for a second tranche of fiscal 2009 war funding “in the coming weeks.” He sent Congress an estimate for that tab of $69.7 billion.

“I believe that the FY 2010 budget must make hard choices,” Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 27.
Is someone in uniform playing games - or are requirements requirements?

Gear up, flaps up

ThePersonnelRoster from our drinking buddy Skippy-san is up and running. Check it out!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ahh, the sneering class speaks ....

A little warning for my gentle readers: while military families have spent almost all of the last decade at war - do you really want to know what the other ~95% of the US population has been doing? What their life concerns are? Really want to know? If so, keep going. If not, you may want to avoid the damage caused by throwing things around the house and office and head on down the page for Fullbore Friday.

Consider yourself warned; this ain't going to be pretty.

Cry me a river, 'hon.
This almost reads like it came from The Onion, but it didn't. Ponder the wives of the deployed, killed, or injured ... or heck, just the wives who have been through a half-dozen or more deployments unscathed .... then listen to these girls; and yes, girls not women.
Dawn Spinner Davis, 26, a beauty writer, said the downward-trending graphs began to make sense when the man she married on Nov. 1, a 28-year-old private wealth manager, stopped playing golf, once his passion. “One of his best friends told me that my job is now to keep him calm and keep him from dying at the age of 35,” Ms. Davis said. “It’s not what I signed up for.”
Talk about someone who couldn't handle married to someone in the military - it gets worse - almost like one of the circles of h3ll Skippy might design.
In addition to meeting once or twice weekly for brunch or drinks at a bar or restaurant, the group has a blog, billed as “free from the scrutiny of feminists,” that invites women to join “if your monthly Bergdorf’s allowance has been halved and bottle service has all but disappeared from your life.”
Quel horreur!
Once it was seen as a blessing in certain circles to have a wealthy, powerful partner who would leave you alone with the credit card while he was busy brokering deals. Now, many Wall Street wives, girlfriends and, increasingly, exes, are living the curse of cutbacks in nanny hours and reservations at Masa or Megu. And that credit card? Canceled.

Raoul Felder, the Manhattan divorce lawyer, said that cases involving financiers always stack up as the economy starts to slip, because layoffs and shrinking bonuses place stress on relationships — and, he said, because “there aren’t funds or time for mistresses any more.”

(One such mistress wrote on the blog that when she pouted about not having been taken on a trip lately, her married man explained that with money so tight, his wife had taken to checking up on his accounts.)
I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.
Ms. Petrus, a lawyer, and Ms. Crowell, who works for a fashion Web site, started the support group when they realized that they were facing similar problems in their relationships with bankers last fall.

“We put two and two together and figured out that it was the economy, not us,” Ms. Petrus recalled at a recent meeting in the lobby bar of the Bowery Hotel. “When guys in banking are going through this, they can’t handle a relationship.”(She and her boyfriend split up last year; he declined to discuss it.)
Good for him. At least one of those guys sounds like he doesn't shave his chest hair.
“I was like, ‘O.K. I signed up for that, it’s fine,’ “ said Ms. Cameron. “But all of a sudden,” she said, her boyfriend “couldn’t focus. If he stayed over he’d be up at some random hour checking his BlackBerry, Bloomberg and CNBC.”

Ms. Cameron said that she and her boyfriend broke up at the end of November but that they still saw each other occasionally.
Snort. Nature calls, I guess .... or bootycalls ....
One frequent topic among the group is the link between the boardroom and the bedroom. “There’s actually the type of person who has a bad day on the trading floor and they want to have sex more,” Ms. Spinner Davis offered as she sipped a vodka gimlet, declining to say how she knew.

Ms. Petrus chimed in.

“If you’re lucky you’ll get that guy,” she said, not revealing whether she considered herself lucky. “Middle-case scenario: It gets relegated to the weekends.

“Worst-case scenario,” she began, and then took another sip of her drink.
Should we tell her about a 15-month deployment? No, let her wallow in her ignorance.
Brandon Davis, Ms. Spinner Davis’s husband of almost three months, acknowledged in a recent telephone interview that his new job was “certainly more stressful and there’s certainly more pressure” because of the economy, but disagreed that such stresses had affected his home life. He did not want to talk about golf.
Brandon ... dude ... you married a chick called Dawn Spinner ... who talks like this to the entire nation - about you in the sack ... or lack of it ... or whatever. The economy is the least of your problems; or the guys stuck with these catches;
Some women in the group said the men in their lives had gone from being aloof and unattainable to unattractively needy and clinging. Others complained of being ignored — one, who called herself A.P., wrote on the blog that three weeks had passed without her boyfriend “asking a single question” about her life. Another wrote, fearfully, that her beau had told her to make a list of their favorite New York restaurants before the bad market forced a move to the Midwest.
Another, though, seemed chagrined, after her boyfriend told her to “grow up” and stop “complaining about vacations and dinner” since he had to “fire 20 people by the end of the week.”
Despite the seemingly endless stream of disparaging remarks and shaking heads, some of the appeal of dating a banker remains.

“It’s not even about a $200 dinner,” Ms. Petrus said. “It’s that he’s an alpha male, he’s aggressive, he’s a go-getter, he doesn’t take no for an answer, he’s confident, people respect him and that creates the whole mystique of who he is.”
She really has no idea, does she? Excuse me for a moment - I need to go over and give Mrs. Salamander a kiss and thank the good Lord for bringing her to me.
UPDATE: Doh. It took a month - but it was too good to be true.

Fullbore Friday

Here's a non-traditional FbF for 'ya.

Some things never change ......
The offences commonly committed on board ship, are such as these: disobeying and thwarting the rules for the preservation of cleanliness, system and order; defacing the ship's furniture, and throwing parts of it overboard ; stealing; smuggling liquor on board, and getting drunk there-on ; fomenting mischief, in all its varieties; throwing every possible obstacle in the way of the quiet performance of the daily routine of duty; misbehaving grossly when away from the ship in boats, and deserting from them and from the ship temporarily, to have a spree on shore; inciting quarrels at meal times; getting up fights; receiving orders with contempt, obeying them with sullen murmurs or neglecting to obey them at all; appearing dirty, when they should be clean; soiling purposely the paint and decks just after every thing has been scrubbed and put in order; contriving all kinds of malicious and outrageous acts to throw discredit upon the ship generally, and often upon occasions of evolution and ceremony in foreign ports, when the best foot is to be put foremost; getting up insubordinate plots; discouraging willing men from working freely, as "their pay will go on all the same, if they work slow "; skulking as before described, and in any other way that offers : going deliberately to sleep on the look-out, and thus hazarding the frightful consequences of a collision with passing ships; refusing flatly to obey orders; uttering mutinous language and setting at defiance the authority of the ship; taking shelter under the cover of crowds and of darkness, to be insolent, to be noisy, to get up riots, to thieve, to make indecent noises, to violate the sanctity of the quarter deck, to commit filthy nuisances in improper places, to take revenge of each other by unseen blows, to fight out their battles, to be dilatory, impudent and disobedient aloft, and to require frequent calls to move them to their duty.
And what do you do? Flog them of course!

Hat tip Sid.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Personnel bleg by proxy

Skippy is hard at work on some cheap therapy - he is building up a new blog about DOD personnel policy that will be called The Personnel Roster.

Right now he is trying to sweep up some Army personnel sites for reference. If you can help him with the Green machine, drop him a line via comments here.

Funny thing Skippy - I always thought you would start another blog like this.

NATO goes to war .... with itself ...

Goodness .... no way for Alliance 4-stars to play in the sandbox together.

The approach to combatting the drug mafia in Afghanistan has spurred an open rift inside NATO. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, top NATO commander John Craddock wants the alliance to kill opium dealers, without proof of connection to the insurgency. NATO commanders, however, do not want to follow the order.

A dispute has emerged among NATO High Command in Afghanistan regarding the conditions under which alliance troops can use deadly violence against those identified as insurgents. In a classified document, which SPIEGEL has obtained, NATO's top commander, US General John Craddock, has issued a "guidance" providing NATO troops with the authority "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan."

According to the document, deadly force is to be used even in those cases where there is no proof that suspects are actively engaged in the armed resistance against the Afghanistan government or against Western troops.
The NATO commander has long been frustrated by the reluctance of some NATO member states -- particularly Germany -- to take aggressive action against those involved in the drug trade. Craddock rationalizes his directive by writing that the alliance "has decided that (drug traffickers and narcotics facilities) are inextricably linked to the Opposing Military Forces, and thus may be attacked." ... (neither) Egon Ramms, the German (General) ... in charge of the NATO ISAF mission, as well as David McKiernan, the commander of the ISAF peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. ... Both consider the order to be illegitimate and believe it violates both ISAF rules of engagement and international law, the "Law of Armed Conflict."
German NATO General Ramms made it perfectly clear in his answer to General Craddock that he was not prepared to deviate from the current rules of engagement for attacks, which reportedly deeply angered Craddock. The US general ... has already made his intention known internally that he would like to relieve any commander who doesn't want to follow his instructions to go after the drug mafia of his duties.

Pistols at 20 paces gentlemen? The enemy will wait while you figure it out.

I think we can do better as a team against a common foe - and have a good few decades of a shared history and all.

Is bringing fights into the press like this worth it?

Capt. Dave McCloy - BZ

Forget about those pampered pilot types playing seaplane dude on the Hudson - let's buy Capt. McCloy a round or two of Anchor Steam ...
Quick action by the ship pilot in control of the tanker Overseas Cleliamar helped prevent what could have been a serious accident in the Golden Gate when the ship suddenly lost all power at sunset Tuesday just after it passed under the Golden Gate Bridge.

Capt. Dave McCloy, a bar pilot for about a year, had just minutes to stop the tanker from crashing into the steep rockbound cliffs of the Marin Headlands just outside the Golden Gate.

McCloy had just ordered the ship's helm put slightly to the right. So when the Overseas Cleliamar lost power, it was headed for the rocks.

McCloy acted fast. He directed the crew of the tanker to lower the starboard anchor, one of two massive anchors carried on the bow. He had the anchor lowered only partially, so that it would take hold in shallower water close to the shore.

The water in the strait is too deep for ships to anchor, and the shoreline drops off steeply on the Marin side, so there is little shallow water close to shore. The ship had to come very close to rocky Point Diablo before the anchor took hold and stopped the ship.

But McCloy had little choice: Without power or steering, anchoring close to shore was his only option.

"Capt. McCloy did a great job," said Capt. Peter McIsaac, president of the San Francisco Bar Pilots Association, whose ship pilots are specially trained to guide ships through the bay.

I can't find a way to embed the video, but go here for the transponder data. I watched it about 10 times. I'm such a geek.

More over at gCaptain, and the photo (first tug on scene outlined in box) via Duncan Davidson.
UPDATE: Wait, sure I can, I'll just steal the code. Usually, I would never steal anyone's code - but I am making the guess they won't mind. If they do, I will remove it. Refresh the page to see it again.

Hat tip Perry.

I feel so lightheaded ....

Meg gets close to describing almost how Dr. Harvey M. Sapolsky of MIT makes me feel after reading his bit in the JAN09 Proceedings.

From your lips to the SECDEF's ears ...
Nevertheless, some ideas, perhaps not all that new, will never appear in a National Defense University report or be aired in a Brookings Institution seminar. But Secretary Gates, old hand that he is, ought to be apprised of them.
But hey, it'll make it to CDR Salamander.

I'm not with all the good Dr.'s ideas - but I don't want to quibble about that stuff. Let's start to bask in the awesomeness; shall we?
First, the Office of the Secretary of Defense should stop preaching jointness. The services' inherent rivalry should be tapped, not suppressed. It is good that we have big, proud, and overlapping armed services. The overlap allows for comparisons, and the scale and pride provide the opportunity to follow a different path when one becomes apparent. Not much that goes wrong with our military can fairly be attributed to the parochialism of the armed services.

On the contrary, inter-service competition has been the source of much of our strength. The Navy's determination to get into the nuclear weapons game gave us solid-fueled rockets and the submarine-launched ballistic missile. Our four—or is it five?—air forces ensure that we have theater air dominance, the best helicopters, the longest logistical reach, and the constant urge to improve performance. Navy aircraft and tactics saved the day over North Vietnam, and Air Force technology allowed us to penetrate defenses in the Balkans and Iraq.
Just the foreplay.
Finally, it is important that Secretary Gates call a moratorium on changing management systems. DOD does not need more of this kind of change, but less. Military commanders and SecDefs have relatively short tenures. Each commander and each Secretary apparently feels compelled to leave his or her mark in the form of a reorganization or management scheme. It is TQM or Lean Six Sigma or privatization or base consolidation, and on and on. One new scheme is announced before the other is fully fielded. Civilian servants, contractors, and service personnel are constantly in organizational turmoil, attending training sessions, learning new buzzwords and acronyms, and being assessed on their adherence to newly mandated procedures and standards.

The war might be just the needed excuse for Secretary Gates to call a long halt to this wasteful obsession with management fads and reorganizations. Most of the change imposed produces little of observable value. DOD under any imaginable scheme will surely remain a huge, complex, hard-to-fathom, nearly impossible-to-run organization.
I am sated and now need a smoke.

Hat tip Eagle1.

Diversity Thursday

Jonah Goldberg just about nails where I am on President Obama and racial politics in general.
I am proud and excited by the fact that we are inaugurating the first black president of the United States. He wasn't my first choice for president, but he is nonetheless my president. And if ever there were a wonderful consolation prize in politics, shattering the race barrier in the White House is surely it.

Conservatives who try too hard to belittle the importance of this milestone are foolish on several fronts. First, this is simply a wonderful -- and wonderfully American -- story. Any political movement that is joyless about what this represents risks succumbing to bitter political crankery.

For instance, you will not soon see a German chancellor of Turkish descent. Nor will a child of North African immigrants soon take the reins of power in France. It will be a long time before a Pakistani or Indian last name appears on the mailbox at 10 Downing St. And yet these countries bubble over with haughty finger-waggers eager to lecture backward and provincial America about race and tolerance. Why not enjoy rubbing Barack Obama in their faces?
Well done.
...opponents of racial quotas and other champions of colorblindness on the right should be popping champagne nearly as much as racial liberals are. Yes, yes, Obama's a passionate defender of affirmative action and the like, but the symbolism of his presidency cannot be contained within narrow liberal agendas.

"There is an entire generation that will grow up taking for granted that the highest office in the land is filled by an African American," he told the Washington Post last week. "I mean, that's a radical thing. It changes how black children look at themselves. It also changes how white children look at black children. And I wouldn't underestimate the force of that."

Neither would I. The media understandably, if tediously, focus on how Obama's presidency is a death blow to the legacy of official discrimination and racism. True enough. But the fact that a black man can become president of the United States may well also be transgressive to all sorts of more relevant racial orthodoxies on the left and in the black community.

Obama's personal example is only part of the equation. He has voiced an admirable disdain for the notion that academic excellence is nothing more than "acting white." His famous Father's Day speech in 2008, although hardly novel in its content, nonetheless showed that Obama was willing to lend his voice to the effort to fight black illegitimacy and absentee fatherhood.

This puts Obama behind the two most important ingredients for black success, at least according to most conservatives: a rededication to the importance of education at an individual level, and the restoration of the black nuclear family.

At a more political level, a black president surely undermines the argument that American racism is so endemic that a system of racial quotas must remain a permanent fixture of the political and legal landscape.
Now, let's get that idea into the CNO's nogg'n.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

VDH spanks the baby .... boomers

Victor Davis Hanson calls out his own. I, of course, have to quote in full just to get AW1's blood pressure up a bit - it is cold in Bath you know.
If anyone wished to know what the baby-boomer generation would do when, in its full maturity, it hit its first self-created, big-time recession, I think we are seeing the hysterical results. After two decades of unprecedented economic growth, rampant consumer spending, and unimaginable borrowing to satisfy our insatiable appetites, we are suddenly going into even larger debt and printing trillions of dollars in paper money to ensure that someone else after we are gone pays the debt. As if the permanent solution to a financial panic and years of spending wealth we didn't create were a government take-over of the economy in the manner we currently witness in Spain, Italy, and Greece—or the high-tax, high-spend ethos of a bankrupt California.

The reaction to the economic panic was sort of analogous to the call to 'charge it!' after 9/11 (cf. Ike's fights about the surtax to pay for Korea), or to the Iraq 2006 upsurge in violence, when suddenly our leaders declared the war lost, blamed the nebulous "they" for tricking them into voting for the war, and calling for immediate withdrawals and retreats. Ditto the Stalag-Gulag Guantanamo that, by January 19, had ruined the Constitution, shredded the Bill of Rights, and forever tarnished our reputation. Yet, on the 20th, it was suddenly complex and problematic, and required a "task force" to do a year-long inquiry into the bad and worse choices confronting us. At some point in all this serial hysteria, we are beginning to see the problem is not in the stars of the economy or of the war, but in ourselves—a weird generation that, when it finally came of age, proved to be just about what we could expect of it from what we saw in its youth.

No Purple Heart for PTSD? Good.

Before anyone feels a need to call me names or otherwise emote; I ask them to think a bit after they read the section about PTSD in Stolen Valor and note that my position has been consistent since before 2005.

No question, PTSD is real, but it isn't everywhere or everything. Like ADD, it is over diagnosed and over used in a therapy soaked (nothing personal T1) culture that in many areas is only comfortable with those in uniform when the servicemember is seen as a victim.

Tyler E. Boudreau, who as per his book Packing Inferno: The Unmaking of a Marine is not an objective source when it comes to PTSD, in the NYT last week makes some good and not so good points.
I felt that in a way they subverted the obvious intent of the Purple Heart — honoring soldiers who have been seriously hurt. But where to draw the line? Perhaps it should be awarded only to those who required admittance into a combat support hospital. “The Purple Heart deserves at least one night out of action,” I argued at the time. But my own commander stood fast by the rules, affirming: “A combat wound is a combat wound, no matter how small. So they get the medal.”
I agree; we need to define better and define consistently. We need to be careful to avoid being both stingy to the deserving and "everyone gets a trophy." As someone who due to some funky medical stuff post-DESERT STORM has been told since the early '90s that I have Gulf War Syndrome (I don't), and if I was honest in the forms I fill out, have PTSD (I don't, not even close) - I understand too well that we are over diagnosing both GWS and PTSD out of a well meaning desire not to let anyone slip through the cracks.

In that light, here is the bad idea. The last thing we need is another medal.
But there may be another solution — perhaps a new decoration, a new medal, could be established specifically for those suffering from post-traumatic stress. It would be awarded to those whose minds and souls have been sundered by war.

I urge General Eric Shinseki, the new head of Veterans Affairs and former Army Chief of Staff, to work hand in hand with the Defense Department to bring about some form of official recognition for these wounded veterans. The currentstigma of post-traumatic stres s would likely prevent many soldiers from wearing the medal initially, but its mere existence would help crystallize in the American — and the American military — consciousness one of the more obscure human costs of war.

I suggest we call this medal the Black Heart. Certainly the hearts of these soldiers are black, with the terrible things they saw and did on the battlefield. Certainly the country should see these Black Hearts pinned on their chests.
No, no, no, no.

Anti-swarm defense ...

Watch the below and then think.

Think along the lines of something the size of the old ASROC boxes as a bolt-on as needed, or inside a MK-41 VLS if doable from a hardware and software perspective. We'll need a booster of sorts - again think of the old ASROC system.

Now think about the challenge of defeating small boat swarm tactics. Problem; will a few adjustments meet a possible solution? Meet the SFW, not Safe For Work - but Sensor Fused Weapon.

Just a little out-of-the-box thinking - the kind that got us the C-RAM - perhaps.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thank goodness ....

Just trying to get in tune with the zeitgeist and all.....

Which type of Lesbian are you?


Congratulations! You are the most common lesbian stereotype. You tend to be insenstive and unemotional. When taken to extremes, some might call you a "Stone Butch." Not that you care.

Personality Test Results

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The robotic future?

Yes, another uncomfortable confession - I listen to NPR, Fresh Air nonetheless. This time it was well worth it as JPD's girlfriend Terry Gross interviewed P.W. Singer (audio here) about his new book, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.

He is a Senior Fellow at the Center-Left Brookings Institution and was Defense Coordinator for then Presidential candidate Obama's Defense Policy Task Force. He is an important head to try to get inside of - as he is inside the head of the CINC. This is well worth the 38 minutes to listen to - and the book may go on my list.

One of the more interesting parts he discusses are the disconnect between those fighting the war on the ground and those comfortably fighting the war in CONUS. That and the growing view of autonomous operation should give you plenty to chew on. Yes, I'm thinking about Terminator too.

Gen Y goes to war

Full story here.

Navy milblogg'n: a VADM's constructive criticism ...

Though it leaves him a bit cold, VADM Harvey has decided to take a dip in the pool with the Navy milblogg'n unwashed masses, and does a d@mn fine job.

One of the first things a blog should be about is starting a conversation. We can all blame SJS, for though VADM H has commented a little bit here and there - in response to SJS's post at USNIBlog, VADM H weighs in with some comments on the subject at hand and also Navy milblogg'n.

Like the CDI article I brought up on Monday, you don't have to fully agree with something to find a nugget or two worth chewing on. As someone that fully believes that you can only improve things by looking at the merits of outside criticism, that is what I would like to focus on.

Galrahn has some thoughts worth reading, as does Lex and Jules.
With respect to your comment concerning participation in the blogosphere and the upcoming milbloggers conference, let me speak pretty plainly - most of the blogs I’ve dropped in on and read on a regular basis leave me pretty cold. Too many seem to be interested in scoring cheap, and anonymous, hits vice engaging in meaningful and professional exchanges. There is also a general lack of reverence for facts and an excess of emotion that, for me, really reduces the value of the blog. Incorrect/inaccurate data and lots of hype may be entertaining for some, but just doesn’t work for me.

My best example of a truly worthwhile blog, worthy of our time and intellectual engagement, is the Small Wars Journal. The tone is always professional, the subject matter is compelling and the benefit from participating is significant.
All that said, here I am - I recognize the reality of the blogosphere and the potential that exists for worthwhile exchanges that enhance our professional knowledge and overall awareness. My intent is to continue to participate when I can and where I see I can make a contribution to a professional exchange, but my view today is that the bloggers generally see their activity as far more meaningful than I do right now. I do, however, remain hopeful.
Is that criticism, or observation from someone trying to figure it all out? I read it as the later. I'll take the hit for being anon - but my reasons are well known to regular readers and parallel those that Lex brings up at the link above and CAPT Toti brought out in his excellent DEC08 Proceedings article. The old phrase “Kill one and terrorize the rest" applies. As for blogs - there are different ones out there that fill different niches in the blogg'n ecosystem. In a response a few comments after his, I tried to outline it this way,
What blogs have filled is a gap that exists in our professional conversation. For the sake of discussion, let’s put SmallWarsJournal and LongWarJjournal on one side of the equation (almost exclusively policy/programs/strategy/reportage in a quasi-traditional format) and - just because he has his hand up (with fingers crossed) to start would would be a very funny and biting Personnel Policy Blog - Skippy-san on the other end (PPSR/social/political/humor/commentary/Agent Provocateur - nontraditional/conversational). In between you would have moving from one side to the other MichaelYon, InformationDissemination, MudvilleGazette, EagleSpeak, TheStupidWillBePunished, NeptunusLex, TheCastleArgghhh!!!!, SteelJawScribe, CDRSalamander and many others somewhere on the Journal-to-RantFest line.
Anyway, drop by and give the whole thread a read. Interesting stuff.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pat calls out the Dutch ...

Stand for your culture, or it will fall.

Hat tip Howie at Jawa.

A strange alignment ...

During the Cold War, I could not stand the Center for Defense Information because it had 180 degree lockoff on, well, everything. They are still mostly wrong from my POV - but on balance those who work there are fine patriots who just have a different opinion, and that is fine.

As a result, I find myself looking in the mirror for indications of stroke because - brace yourselves - I am about to recommend something from them. You can download for free all 271 pages of their new book America's Defense Meltdown here, or read it as embedded below. The Navy specific portion was written by William S. Lind, for those who know his work.

There are a few of his recommendations that I think are wrong - but you know me - I don't look for perfect agreement but for creative friction. Anyway, I don't want to focus on those areas I think are fuzzy-headed, I'm not even going to ping on them. He does hit on one thing that I am in perfect alignment with him and have been since the first month of this blog back in '04; it is that which I am going to focus on: the sourcing and education of our officers.
The principal personnel problem of the U.S. Navy is that its officer corps is dominated by technicians. This is in large part the legacy of Admiral Rickover, who ensured that the nuclear power community was made up entirely of engineers and that engineering was the main focus of the Navy’s officer education, especially at the Naval Academy. All skippers of U.S. Navy submarines, our capital ships, must be nuclear engineers. This is in strong contrast to Britain’s Royal Navy, whose submarine commanders have nuclear engineers working for them where they belong, in the engine room. The other influential community in the U.S. Navy’s officer corps, the aviators, are also primarily technicians, people whose main skill is flying high-performance aircraft.

The reason this is problematical is that the technical-engineering way of thinking and the military-tactical-strategic way of thinking are opposites. War is not an engineering problem. The opponent is men, not machines, and as Colonel Boyd said, they use their minds. If they are clever, their minds lead them away from a direct trial of strength, which may be roughly calculable, to asymmetric strategies and tactics, which put a premium on indirectness, imagination, creativity and surprise. Most engineers, which is to say most U.S. Navy officers, cannot deal well with challenges of a type they do not expect and that do not lend themselves to quantitative calculation. While those officers usually do a superb job of navigating and operating their ships under peacetime conditions, fighting them effectively may require qualities few engineers possess.

The domination of the U.S. Navy by engineers reinforces the service’s Second (or perhaps First) Generation War institutional culture. Like the other U.S. armed forces, the Navy’s culture is inward-focused, risk-averse and centralized, preferring obedience to initiative and relying on top-down control rather than self-discipline.
To back up his point - guess what the USNA Marshall Scholarship winners from Annapolis are going to study?
  • MIDN Kyle Checci, first in his class, and majoring in chemistry will pursue a Master of Science in international health policy at the London School of Economics.
  • MIDN Kelly Zahalka, majoring in history with a minor in Chinese and currently an exchange student at Beijing Capitol Norman University, will pursue a Master of Arts in Chinese studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
  • MIDN Henry Donaghy, a double-major in physics and mechanical engineering, will pursue a Master of Science in sustainable energy futures at Imperial College in London.
  • MIDN Benjamin Zintac, also an engineering undergrad, will pursue a Master of Science in autonomous vehicle dynamic and control at Cranfield University.
One out of four non-technical, is that balance? Another data point. BTW, BZ to all four and Annapolis. Outstanding performance and a life-changing reward for all your hard work. Leverage it.

Feel free to joke that you get what you pay for for the book from CDI - but there is a lot here to ponder from ground, air, sea and acquisition with their tome. Ponder - and let me know what you think ... snicker ... especially about the aircraft carrier ideas SJS ..... CLEARING DATUM.....

Americas Defense Meltdown Full Text

Hat tip Philip Ewing at NavyTimes.

Indications and Warnings

Remember, in economics - the reaction is delayed. That is why there are economic crisis. Greed and fear work on a different time scale than economics. What you are looking at is the nation's "adjusted monetary base," a measure of the money supply, from the end of the First World War to the present from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

This will come back to haunt us. Ever wanted to live in Argentina? Well, you may very well get their economy. Remember, the core of this started when the Diversity Bullies went after the mortgage market.

To keep in context, this isn't happening in a vacuum. As discussed here and here by fellow moneterists Peter Robinson, the Fed is responding to an equally unprecidented fall in velocity.

Payback is a b1tch - nobody rides for free. The Financial Ninja tells it better than I can - read it all.

Hat tip Powerline.

Why the WaPo pi55e5 me off ...

Just check out the pic they put with the article about clingers.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The power of the food trough

I was about to have another chance to praise my new President - but alas - it seems that the Food Trough's power is too great.

What was I about to praise him about?
Executive Order -- Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and sections 3301 and 7301 of title 5, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Ethics Pledge. Every appointee in every executive agency appointed on or after January 20, 2009, shall sign, and upon signing shall be contractually committed to, the following pledge upon becoming an appointee:

"As a condition, and in consideration, of my employment in the United States Government in a position invested with the public trust, I commit myself to the following obligations, which I understand are binding on me and are enforceable under law:

"1. Lobbyist Gift Ban. I will not accept gifts from registered lobbyists or lobbying organizations for the duration of my service as an appointee.

"2. Revolving Door Ban All Appointees Entering Government. I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.

"3. Revolving Door Ban Lobbyists Entering Government. If I was a registered lobbyist within the 2 years before the date of my appointment, in addition to abiding by the limitations of paragraph 2, I will not for a period of 2 years after the date of my appointment:

(a) participate in any particular matter on which I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment;

(b) participate in the specific issue area in which that particular matter falls; or

(c) seek or accept employment with any executive agency that I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment.
Now that is something to cheer about ... but what is one thing that is the cancer that can destroy all great men beside arrogance?

Via Tapper, I'll let you describe it.
President Barack Obama today waived those rules for his nominee for Deputy Secretary of Defense, William Lynn.

Until last fall, Lynn was a registered lobbyist for the defense contractor Raytheon.

“After consultation with counsel to the president," said Director of the Office of Management of Budget Peter Orszag in a statement, "I hereby waive the requirements of Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Ethics Pledge of Mr. William Lynn. I have determined that it is in the public interest to grant the waiver given Mr. Lynn's qualifications for his position and the current national security situation. I understand that Mr. Lynn will otherwise comply with the remainder of the pledge and with all preexisting government ethics rules.”
Almost as bad, almost, as nominating a 4-year tax cheat as a Secretary of the Treasury.


Troops to Teachers Program ....

So, do you wonder what it would be like to have Phibian as your High School English teacher after he is bonged ashore one last time? Ahhhh, the mind boggles.....

Why might that never happen? Troops to Teachers is a great program that may one day lead to a Heinleinian School Experience, but - well - perhaps it is best for someone else with a different, ahem, skill set.

Why? BEHOLD! The Random Adolescent Poetry Generator!

To be honest, most are better than that junk from the Inauguration.

Hat tip Derb.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fullbore Friday

What ship is this?
It fought every day of the war, escorting convoys in the Atlantic, then in the most furious battles in the Pacific, yet wartime secrecy kept most Americans from knowing much about it or its pivotal role in a famous battle that put the nation on the road to victory.

Left unsung was its most famous exploit, on Nov. 14, 1942, when with desperation in the air and history in the balance, the U.S. battleship fought a hellish night battle, sending a 14-ship Japanese fleet into retreat. For five uncertain weeks early in the war, it was the only undamaged capital ship facing the Japanese fleet.
It earned 13 battle stars in such places as Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima, steamed 289,000 miles, fought off 53 air attacks and sank more combat tonnage than any other U.S. ship.

And it did it without taking a hit or losing a man to the enemy.
Did you say USS Washington (BB-56)? Well, if so you are a rare bird. Thanks to this bit from 2007, I do now.

Read it all to find how tight lips can sink ships - until that, just look at her beautiful self. Can't believe they scrapped her.

There is one specific battle I want to point out - at the 3rd Battle of Savo Island there was another first and only - WASHINGTON was the only American fast battleship to defeat another capital ship.

Here's the Action Report, at the bottom is a map of the battle for reference.


On the night of November 14-15 WASHINGTON was flagship of Commander Task Force 64 (ComBatDiv 6). In column, with four destroyers ahead and SOUTH DAKOTA astern, she stood north between Russell and Guadalcanal, then east and southeast, passing north of Savo. Standing west from this point, first radar contact was made at 0001 with enemy ships east of Savo. From 0016 to 0019 fired 42 rounds 16", opening at 18,500 yards, at large cruiser or battleship which it is believed was sunk. From 0016 to 0017 fired 100 rounds 5" at ranges 12 to 13,000 yards at enemy cruiser or large destroyer which was also engaged by SOUTH DAKOTA and was left burning. Standing on north-westerly courses fired 133 rounds 5" from 0025 to 0034 at ranges about 10,000 yards at light craft close to south-east shore of Savo which were engaging our destroyers; all were silenced and one was left burning. From 0100 to 0107 fired 75 rounds 16'' and 107 rounds 5" at ranges from 8,400 to 12,650 yards, at battleship northwest of Savo which was firing at SOUTH DAKOTA. This battleship was silenced and was subsequently tracked by radar through a 500-degree turn. From 0100 to 0107, fired 120 rounds 5", at ranges from 7,400 to 9,500 yards, in succession at three enemy cruisers illuminating and engaging SOUTH DAKOTA.

By the time our 5" fire on light craft close to southeast shore of Savo had ceased, one of our destroyers was sunk, one was hopelessly afire (she exploded and sank a few minutes later) and the other two were put out of action (they retired southward). Subsequently, and before we opened fire on ships northwest of Savo, the SOUTH DAKOTA was seen to the eastward between this ship and Savo on a course to northward of WASHINGTON course. What appeared to be the SOUTH DAKOTA was seen at about 0121 at a considerable distance to the southeastward between this ship and Guadalcanal on a southerly course.

From radar tracking and visual observation of enemy ships, there were:

(1) Fired upon by this ship and apparently sunk:

  • 1 large cruiser or BB (WASHINGTON only.)
  • 2 large cruisers (WASH 5".)
  • 1 destroyer (our DD's plus WASH 5".)

(2) Fired upon by this ship and apparently damaged:

  • 1 14" BB silenced and out of control (WASH. only.)
  • 1 DD burning (WASH. 5".)
  • 5-9 light craft silenced (our DD's plus WASH. 5" plus S.D.)
  • There was no melee. This ship was undamaged.


The following comments are submitted:

  • Our radar is effective for accurate gunfire at long ranges at night. Japanese radar aboard ships present, if any, is not effective for surface targets.
  • Japanese are sufficiently familiar with radar and aware of our use of it to make full use of land cover both between them and ourselves and closely backing them up.
  • Our optical vision is superior to Japanese.
  • Our fire control and the effectiveness of our projectiles meet or exceed our expectations.


  • We should seek rather than avoid night action, opening at ranges as great as satisfactory solutions can be obtained.


This ship was fired on only sporadically. She was not illuminated. No hits were sustained and the nearest miss noted was the splash, apparently of a major-caliber shell about 200 yards on the port quarter. Observers who witnessed other ships of our force under concentrated fire reported the Japanese gunnery to be accurate. Enemy ships close to Savo fired automatic weapons accurately at our destroyers. The Japanese ships were, apparently, not equipped with radar. Their searchlights provided excellent illumination of SOUTH DAKOTA, but attracted our fire and provided a point of aim.


This ship's gunnery appeared highly effective. Fire was opened with a gun range of 18,500 yards initially by this vessel using radar ranges and optical train and hits were definitely obtained by the third salvo. It is believed target was stopped and sinking after third salvo rounds were fired.

In the second phase target had been tracked by radar ranges and bearing and later by optical train. Fire was opened at 8,400 yards and a hit was probably obtained on first Salvo and certainly on the second. Fire was rapid, on one turret ready light, for about 2 minutes 39 seconds, firing about 39 rounds. It was interrupted for 1 1/2 minutes due to an erroneous report that target was sunk, and resumed for 2 minutes and 45 seconds, during which time 36 rounds were fired. A total of 75 rounds was fired on this target which was believed to be the KIRISHIMA. Star shell illumination was used on this phase after about the second salvo, 62 rounds being fired.

According to the best data available, overall SPGPM was 1.30 and 5 guns had 1.8 average. Fire discipline was excellent.

The normal fire control set-up of this vessel was used throughout, namely:

  • Collective fire, Director I (Forward main-battery director) controlling in train. Group I controlling in Plot.
  • Director IV (Stable Vertical I located in plotting room) controlling in continuous level and cross level.
  • Director IV controlling firing circuit (Plot.)
  • Radar ranges by indicating and voice.

Turret pointers were matched during phases in which the director was being trained on the visual target. During the time when the visual target was obscured, whether training by radar or generated by using previously observed relative motion of firing ship and target, a turret spread in deflection was fired.

The selected train firing key was used in plot to insure that the firing pointer could see the light that indicates when the director train is on target. It has been standard practice for this vessel to use that key at night when visual or radar train indications are accurate, shifting to generated bearing only in case of poor train indication or obscured target.

Against the first main battery target, 18,500 yards, radar range was used in conjunction with visual train. The target became obscured after the second salvo. The target was lost by all radar's after this salvo. As a result the last salvos went out in what amounted to generated. That is, the present range was let ride and the director being in automatic remained on the generated train. On the second main battery target the tracking was done entirely by radar for at least five minutes. When the target finally came into view optically, checks given by the pointer indicated that the radar was exactly on. In this connection it is noted that a considerable period of time is taken to adapt the trainer's eyes to the telescope at either night or day after looking at the radar scope (train indicator.) The reverse is also true. As a result of this difficulty, main battery Director II found it desirable to let the trainer keep track by radar and the pointer observe by telescope. Such a system is made possible by the fact that the director is trained automatically by generated bearing. Therefore small corrections only are necessary and such corrections can be made by coaching from a pointer's station.

Radar spots were used against the first target while the target echo was present. It is of interest to note that against the second target (BB) "overs" as well as "shorts" could be seen optically. Salvos were walked back and forth across the target.

The fire control switchboards on this ship provide for a secondary battery director to furnish target bearing to a main battery range keeper. Thus it can also be used to designate to a main battery director. At the time of first contact both main battery directors lost the target and the shift was made for designation, but the secondary battery director had not yet settled down and its designation was not used. In the meantime main-battery Director I had again picked up the target and target bearing was shifted back to it.


Secondary battery fire control used radar ranges throughout. During Phase 1 radar train was used. In Phases 1A and 2 optical train was used. Level for the basis of gun elevation order was obtained from the Stable Element with dip-range being set on the synchronized elevation knob in accordance with advance range. Firing circuits were controlled by director pointers. Group 1 used rapid continuous fire. On the other hand, Group III soon shifted to Salvo fire, 4 second interval, to facilitate spotting.

In the first phase effectiveness of the Secondary Battery was undetermined. Group I and Group III each controlled two mounts in firing at surface targets at ranges between 13,000 and 15,000 yards. The control of the groups was by radar, range and training. Group III used 400-yard rocking ladder in 200-yard steps. No radar spots were obtained and there was no observation of the fall of shot.

Phase 1A consisted of shooting at what at first appeared to be shore batteries on Savo Island but later identified as surface craft. Initially both groups opened fire on these targets. In view of the fact that Group I appeared to be shooting "over," Mounts 1 and 3 were switched over to Director III which continued the fire. Group III opened fire initially at the target near the right tangent of the island, aiming at the gun flashes, using a 200-yard rocking ladder based on the closest radar range with target speed set on zero. The first target was set on fire, many observers reporting that a stream of 5" tracers poured into the target which immediately burst into flames. A range of 10,200 yards on the burning ship from the main battery coincidence range finder was within 100 yards of the range set on the computer. Fire was shifted successively to the left using gunfire flashes as points of aim, and was continued against gunfire flashes until each gun ceased firing. Apparently another target on bearing near the center of Savo Island was set on fire. These targets may have been destroyers or large MTB's.

In Phase 2 (the third secondary battery phase) the secondary battery again opened with divided fire. Group I fired on main battery target and Group III on target whose searchlights were illuminating SOUTH DAKOTA. Twice during the firing Group I was hitting, apparently starting fires in the upper works. When searchlights on another ship were seen to be turned on, secondary battery Director III used them as a point of aim. On this target, which was apparently a heavy cruiser, also engaged by the SOUTH DAKOTA's 5", Group III fired with a 200-yard rocking ladder. The first salvo landed short and was spotted "up 400." Fires were started. At about the 4th Salvo the searchlights went out. Director III continued with about eight or ten more Salvos, at which time another group of searchlights was seen to come on. The point of aim was shifted to these searchlights and fire continued until they went out. Another set of searchlights came on and fire was again shifted to them. The last searchlights were turned off about the time of cease firing. No hits were definitely observed on the last two targets.

The tactical situation was greatly affected by the presence of islands and the necessity of fighting in comparatively restricted waters. As noted previously the radar screens had many land echoes. For a surface engagement under reduced visibility, and especially in restricted waters, a navigational plot should be maintained in radar plot for fully effective use of the radar. If this vessel were to keep such a plot more space would be required. An expansion of radar plot appears justified.

The picture presented by the SG radar is not a true plan view. Radar operators must be given concentrated training in areas surrounded by land in distinguishing between land and ships. During a previous sweep by this vessel around Russell Island at night, numerous false reports of surface targets were received from the fire control radar's that turned out to be land more than 100,000 yards away. During the night of the engagement only one such report was received.


Radar has forced the Captain or OTIC to base a greater part of his actions in a night engagement on what he is told, rather than what he can see. This ship was not hit but examination of SOUTH DAKOTA revealed completeness with which bridge structure may be riddled by shells and splinters which penetrate 1" ST S bulkheads. The enemy may be counted upon to hit foremast superstructure.

The captain and navigator should be in Conn. An experienced officer, other than the navigator, should be FOOD and should filter for the Captain the tremendously numerous reports received at the conning station over the various telephone circuits.


This action demonstrated the tremendous value of radar in a night action. Battleships obtained excellent fire control results using radar range and radar spots, combined with optical instruments.

Strong signals from enemy ships permitted quick and accurate solution and spots.

First phase opening ranges 16,000 - 18,000 yards, illumination by setting moon. Hit with second Salvo. Second phase opening range 6,000 - 9,000 yards; illumination by star shells, did not add to accuracy of fire.

No indication that enemy used radar. Enemy apparently ranged on gun flashes, but inaccurately. SOUTH DAKOTA hit after enemy searchlight illuminated her.

Own gunfire superior to Japs, particularly as range increased.

SG radar invaluable in locating surface targets and coaching fire control radar's on.

Samuel Eliot Morison,


The battleship action of November 14-15 was vastly better fought by the United States Navy than the unorganized brawl of two nights earlier. Admiral Lee had a positive doctrine that he maintained, despite the absence of his entire destroyer screen. An able and original scientist as well as a flag officer, he appreciated the value of radar, used it to keep himself informed of enemy movements and tactics, and made quick, accurate analyses from the information on the screens. Yet some mistakes of earlier night battles were repeated. Lee's task force was a scratch team, destroyer and battleships captains alike being unfamiliar with each other and with their commander. Apparently the recurring urgencies in the South Pacific imposed a haphazard composition for every task force thrown together to meet the enemy. Again, and not for the last time, the Japanese taught the American a lesson in the use of torpedoes. SOUTH DAKOTA was lucky to escape alive. WASHINGTON, conned by Captain Glenn Davis and directed by Admiral Lee with a skill and imperturbability worthy of her eponym, saved the day for the United States.

Amazing how many of those Lessons Learned still, in a fashion, apply today. Ahem.

The bold face summary of the action, and the first and only (editorial note: depending on how you define things, this can be argued, but...), is here.
In this decisive action WASHINGTON and SOUTH DAKOTA engaged a Japanese force termed around the battleship KIRISHIMA. SOUTH DAKOTA suffered extensive topside damage, but WASHINGTON's accurate fire mortally injured KIRISHIMA. Set aflame and racked by explosions, KIRISHIMA was scuttled by her crew. The last major Japanese naval thrust at Guadalcanal had been turned back, and WASHINGTON had done what she had been designed to do -- sink one of her own kind in a gunnery action. WASHINGTON was the only American fast battleship to defeat another capital ship.
You can also read the spotty Japanese account of the battle from the excellent WASHINGTON web site here.

No Spanish translator required ... really

Oh goodness - just oh goodness - I think a Diversity Bully just popped a circuit breaker.

Actually no biggie if you understand their culture, things are different down South of the Border - but not recommended for us Gringos.

Still funny.

Hat tip JoyVictory.
UPDATE:For those who don't get it - this is what Americans should get upset about.


Ahhh, yes. Mofro.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Diversity Thursday II: Electric Boogaloo

Ahhhh, the wonderful world of bigotry. This time from one-time Clinton Cabinet member Robert Reich --- and now an economic advisor for President Obama.
I am concerned, as I’m sure many of you are, that these jobs not simply go to high-skilled people who are already professionals or to white male construction workers. … I have nothing against white male construction workers. I’m just saying that there are a lot of other people who have needs as well. … Criteria can be set so that the money does go to others, the long term unemployed minorities, women, people who are not necessarily construction workers or high-skilled professionals.
Yes; some Americans are more equal than others, you see.

Don't say you weren't warned - it's all about the content of your character; right?.

Hat tip Cap'n Ed.
UPDATE: Michelle and Neil have a few words on the subject.