Monday, May 31, 2010

When non-lethal goes lethal ..

There is a downside to any operation. Even with all the planning you do; going in is often like stepping through an open door into a dark room.

Courageous Restraint? Well, that brings along with it a much higher level of Operational Risk. Case in point.

In the Long War, as I still call it, no one has been engaged with the enemy longer than Israel. If faced with their situation, Israel shows restraint few other nations would. They voluntarily gave up land - their strategic depth - in order to get peace; peace that they do not yet have.

They have to abide by rules that their enemy does not. Their enemy's INFO OPS and PSYOPS are very good and assisted by a willing international community and still broad anti-Jewish bias in Europe - especially in the media and academia.

The Israelis have to deal with a cultural difference as well. They, as we, wish to live and prosper. Their enemy has no problem with death and martyrdom.

I won't beat up too much on the Israeli tactical situation. They were given a tough set of ROE from the looks of it; stop the ship but don't hurt anyone. Impossible, but they tried. In hindsight - using toys, paintball guns (yes, they were using paintball guns) against weapons, iron clubs and slingshots - when outnumbered and on the offensive against an aware and awaiting enemy - is foolish .... but that is in hindsight.

As it went down,
Officials estimated that passengers will show slight resistance, and possibly minor violence; for that reason, the operation’s commander decided to bring the helicopter directly above the top deck. The first rope that soldiers used in order to descend down to the ship was wrested away by activists, most of them Turks, and tied to an antenna with the hopes of bringing the chopper down. However, Flotilla 13 fighters decided to carry on.
Read the whole thing for the details.

You have to give it to the Turks and their fellow Palestinian supports - they got exactly what they wanted; blood soaked shirts and video of Israelis attacking followers of the Religion of Peace.

There is a side issue here as well. Turkey used to be one Israel's best friends in the Muslim world. They used to do exercises together on a regular basis - Israel gave Turkey's F-4 fleet a new lease on life, etc.

Slowly but surely, as Turkey has slid toward the Islamists - that connection has faded. It will only get worse with time as the modern, urban, European minded Turks whose world view is largely Western and Secular as ours is, are being out-bred and out-voted by the retrograde, rural, and Islamist Ottomans.

You can sense a turn here, and not for the better. Watch close. More will come.
UPDATE: Via Allah - more video. The last one will give you the context.

Naming ships right

Remember last week's Fullbore Friday?

Well, we all know the narcisistic politicization nightmare of ship naming we have seen over the last few decades, from STENNIS to MURTHA - how would this be for a palate cleanser?

What would you think about the USS FINN?
To: U.S. Congress

Whereas that Lt John William Finn proudly gave 21 years of distinguished service in the United States Navy.

Whereas that Lt John William Finn was the last living recipient from the attack on Pearl Harbor to receive a Medal of Honor.

The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to FINN, JOHN WILLIAM

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy. Place and date: Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. Entered service at: California. Born: 24 July 1909, Los Angeles, Calif.

For extraordinary heroism distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machinegun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machinegun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Whereas that Lt. John William Finn was the only Aviation Ordnanceman to receive the Medal of Honor in the history of the Navy.

Whereas Lt. John William Finn was an inspiration to the sailors in the Aviation Ordnance field; sailors whose jobs, while significant to projecting air power, is decidedly unglamorous.

Be It Resolved:
That the next naval vessel should bear the name USS John William Finn in recognition and honor of his selfless devotion to duty and the preservation of freedom.

We The Undersigned:
Call upon the Congress of the United States to draft a resolution supporting the naming of a United States Navy Ship the USS John William Finn.

Call upon the Secretary of the Navy to support this petition of the tax-paying people of these United States of America and name the next naval vessel to be constructed the USS John William Finn.

The Undersigned
If you want to add your name to the list, click here.

Being that I cannot find another USS FINN out there - I would think that would be the better name - short and to the point - than the full name. We can argue about he color of the kitchen counter later, let's get that house built first.

What do you do with sexual predators?

Especially those who abuse their authority? Take your blood pressure meds Shipmate - here we go.

Well, in the Navy it looks like we give them about
7 days. Via Eric Slavin at Stars & Stripes,
A Navy doctor pleaded guilty to two counts of wrongful sexual contact and two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer in exchange for having 29 other counts of criminal allegations dropped at a Yokosuka Naval Base court-martial Wednesday.

Under the terms of a pretrial plea agreement, Lt. Cmdr. Anthony L. Velasquez, 48, will not serve more than seven days of confinement at the Yokosuka Naval Base brig.

Military judge Cmdr. David Berger sentenced Velasquez to two years in prison, a $28,000 fine and forfeiture of all pay and allowances, but the convening authority suspended the punishment in accordance with a pretrial agreement.

Velasquez will not serve any additional time or pay the fines and forfeitures unless he violates the plea agreement by committing another crime within the next year. Berger also ordered Velasquez dismissed from the Navy.
The prosecution had as many as 23 purported victims it would have called to testify against Velasquez had the trial gone forward, according to court documents.
Sometimes, the law is an a55.

How many people has this person damaged? For the rest of their lives they will carry this memory.
A former enlisted sailor testified she once looked forward to climbing the Navy’s ranks. However, she said the episode and how she was treated after reporting the Jan. 13, 2008, incident convinced her instead to leave the military.

“I wasn’t taken seriously … when I reported this; nothing happened,” said the former sailor. “I couldn’t do anything. I had no power.”

The enlisted sailor filed a report with Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents at Atsugi shortly after the incident. Three more of Velasquez’s patients made allegations against him soon afterward.

The sailor and the three others were then told nothing about the results until finding out more than a year later that no action had been taken against Velasquez by U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, which oversees the Atsugi branch clinic.

According to testimony, the hospital discounted the sailor’s story, failed to reach a second complainant and ignored the other two — despite NCIS providing the complaints to the hospital.

Cmdr. Lorraine Nadkarni, a doctor and the hospital’s peer reviewer, reviewed 371 of Velasquez’s patients’ medical records beginning in March 2008, and spoke with 40 other women but received no complaints from them, she testified.

However, Nadkarni said, she had never been notified by her hospital about two of the complainants to NCIS, nor of another woman who later gave her statement to prosecutor Lt. Emily Dewey.

Nadkarni recommended that the hospital defer judgment on Velasquez until after the NCIS investigation ended. Instead, the hospital cleared Velasquez of wrongdoing by April 14, 2008, while the investigation was ongoing, according to documents obtained by Stars and Stripes.

Nadkarni also recommended to the hospital that Velasquez only be allowed to treat male patients, she testified.

Instead, the hospital then sent Velasquez as an individual augmentee to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, without telling officials about Nadkarni’s recommendation, according to testimony from multiple witnesses.
Wow. 7 days? Do any of these people have wives and daughters? Wives and daughters who - especially overseas - have no choice but to use the doctors the Navy tells them to? Not to mention our female Shipmates. Outrage.
Had they acted in 2008, they might have stopped three of the crimes Velasquez pleaded guilty to from ever happening, according to evidence presented in the case.

The military allows servicemembers to have opposite-sex stand-ins during medical evaluations. The stand-ins are generally hospital corpsmen or medics who rank well below the doctors and nurses.

One soldier testified that there were two “stand-ins” in the examination room when Velasquez penetrated her vagina with an ungloved hand, but that they were not paying attention.

“I don’t trust anybody in the Navy now,” the soldier testified via video feed.

During his unsworn statement to the judge, a tearful Velasquez apologized to his patients and his family for his “despicable” acts.

“The hardest thing is looking into my wife’s eyes and my children’s eyes, knowing someday I’ll have to explain this to my kids,” he said.

Velasquez will have to register as a sex offender upon return to the United States, ...
OK, let's trace that back. Looks like the focus on this is the convening authority that signed off on the pretrial agreement. One word; why?

Once again, I keep coming back to the question; does he have a wife, daughters, and/or girlfriend? Does he know any female who has been a victim of a sexual predator? Does he comprehend the second and third order effect of a Doctor who uses his position to feed his sexual disfunction? Can the convening authority look himself in the mirror in the AM and tell himself; 7 days is justice?

I know. Positions of authority can be lonely places where you have to pick the best of bad decisions, etc, etc, etc ... but that is what you get the extra money and parking space for though.

Still; 7 days.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Memorial Midrats

Memorial Day Weekend,
EagleOne and I thought we would revisit some of our best guests.

It will be going taped but live tomorrow, Sunday at 5pm EST. Click here to listen to it live.

If you want to have your own "Best of," then click here for the archive, here for the podcast on iTunes, or play around with the widget below to revisit previous episodes.

We'll be back with our live show next week.
UPDATE: We had a few - no a lot - of technical problems yesterday. Links are fixed and the show is up. Thanks for your patience.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

William Jefferson Sestak

There is truth. Pretty much stands by itself.

There are two subsets of truth; whole truth and partial truth. That is why the oath in Court asks you to tell the "whole truth."

For example:
- Whole Truth.
In my drive from CA to FL I drove through other states including New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Louisanna, Mississippi, and Alabama.
- Partial Truth:
I drove through Arizona.
In the bizarro world of spin dumping on the Sestak Affair yesterday, that is the only way I can outline it in a short post.

Whole Truth:
“Were you ever offered a job to get out of this race? (The contest against Arlen Specter).

Sestak didn’t flinch.

“Yes,” he answered.

“Was it Navy Secretary?”, I asked

“No comment.”

He proceeded to talk about staying in the race but added that “he was called many times” to pull out.

Later, I asked, “So you were offered a job by someone in the White House?”

He said, “Yes.”

When the taping stopped, Joe Sestak looked surprised .

“You are the first person who ever asked me that question.”
- Partial Truth:
"Last summer, I received a phone call from President Clinton. During the course of the conversation, he expressed concern over my prospects if I were to enter the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and the value of having me stay in the House of Representatives because of my military background. He said that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had spoken with him about my being on a Presidential Board while remaining in the House of Representatives. I said no. I told President Clinton that my only consideration in getting into the Senate race or not was whether it was the right thing to do for Pennsylvania working families and not any offer. The former President said he knew I'd say that, and the conversation moved on to other subjects.

"There are many important challenges facing Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. I intend to remain focused on those issues and continue my fight on behalf of working families."
Daniel Foster outlines where we are well,
Let's look back at what Rep. Sestak told local TV host Larry Kane in February.

KANE: "Were you ever offered a federal job to get out of this race?"

SESTAK: "Yes."

KANE: "Was it secretary of the Navy?"

SESTAK: "No comment"

Later Kane asks again, "Was there a job offered to you by the White House?" to which Sestak nods and replies "yes, someone offered it."

Kane asks "It was big right?" Sestak replies, "Let me "no comment" on it."

"Was it high-ranking?" Kane asked. Sestak said yes.

That was February. Since then, Sestak has mostly "no commented." But as recently as last Sunday, he confirmed: "I was offered a job, and I answered that."

Contrast that with the White House memo, which says that Sestak was considered only for non-compensated "advisory positions" and that he had no direct contact with White House officials.

But Sestak confirms to Kane that the White House offered him a job, or at least he fails to disabuse Kane of that notion in his affirmative answer. And note Sestak assents that he was offered a high-ranking federal job. Each word here is important.

There are more than 60 boards, commissions and committees that at one time or another have advised the president. Most are not considered "high-ranking" administration positions, nor upgrades from a House seat, let alone a seat in the Senate. Besides, though vague on details, both the White House memo and Sestak use the words "Advisory Board," of which there are only two currently active: The Economic Recovery Board and the Intelligence Advisory Board. Sestak is no economist, so the most logical conclusion to draw from the White House memo — that "By virtue of his career in public service, including distinguished military service, Congressman Sestak was viewed to be highly qualified to hold a range of advisory positions. . .while holding his House seat" — is that Sestak was being considered for the Intelligence Advisory Board. The only problem with that option, as the NYT reported, is that Sestak could not have retained his House seat while serving.

In short, it appears that there is no "advisory position" in existence that Sestak would 1) be qualified for and 2) consider preferable to a Senate run and 3) allow him to retain his House seat. Which brings us to the word "job." Sestak uses it himself, not "position" or "role" or "advisory capacity" or anything else. Federal jobs pay (just ask Derb). Jobs bring clout. Jobs open up, in the language of the White House memo, "alternative paths to service" (read: power) that could give a man second thoughts about a Senate run. Could this just be sloppy language from Sestak? Maybe, maybe not.

There is more unquestionably here - something big enough for Joe Sestak sell his integrity. Admit it, this answer is lame in the extreme and opens more questions than it answers. Heck, it doesn't even answer the first question. Even Jay would have to admit that. If nothing else, they sandbagged the eventual accounting by putting this out until Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. The full truth will be known though.

As for Rep. Sestak (D-PA). Wow. You have picked up a lot of fleas. I would recommend finding a good version of Antigone.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fullbore Friday

This week, simple and to the point.
Longtime San Diegan Lt. John Finn, who was the first man to receive a Medal of Honor in World War II, has died.
Finn passed away before 6 a.m. Thursday in San Diego, where he'd been living for more than 50 years.
"We lost a national treasure and a national hero today," said Capt. David Lepard with the U.S. Navy. "It's really touching his death occurred on Memorial Day Weekend and he'll never be forgotten."
Finn was not only the first but also for many years the oldest Medal of Honor recipient from WWII.
Finn will be buried on the Campo Indian Reservation, where his wife is buried, with full military honors. Funeral plans will likely be released sometime next week.
His citation,
For extraordinary heroism, distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kanoehe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lieutenant Finn promptly secured and manned a 50-caliber machine gun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machine-gun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first-aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Diversity Thursday

How may awards have we received for excellence in manufacturing oversight? Production efficiency? Just asking.
The Navy's Task Force Life/Work (TFLW) initiatives will be recognized May 18 by the Alliance for Work Life Progress (AWLP) through the organization's Work-Life Innovative Excellence Award.

Capt. Ken Barrett, director of the Navy Diversity Directorate and TFLW, will accept the award at the 2010 Total Rewards Conference, sponsored by WorldatWork, AWLP's parent company, in Dallas.

As the highest honor offered by AWLP, the Work-Life innovative Excellence Award was created in 1996 to showcase programs and policies that demonstrate excellence in enhancing and promoting work-life effectiveness while achieving organizational goals. Past recipients include Pepsi Bottling Group, Ernst & Young, Verizon Wireless and IBM. Competitors for the award are evaluated on their program's responsiveness to employees' needs, innovation in overcoming barriers to implementation, and measurable benefits to the well-being of employees.

The Navy's TFLW program began in 2007 to address the professional and personal development needs of Sailors and to enhance healthy life/work balance. Since its inception, several TFLW initiatives have been launched, including greatly expanded telework programs, flexible work schedules, paternity and adoptive leave, and one year deferment of sea duty for new mothers. The Navy's TFLW and quality of life programs have previously been awarded by both the Families and Work Institute and the Telework Exchange.
I think they just outed themselves on which fetid pool TFLW came from.

And remember - someone has to go to sea. If you don't - someone else will.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

All wonks to the NOC

Your reading assignment for the day. 112 pages - get to work. You feedback welcome in comments - I'll do another post soon on my specific thoughts.

UPDATE: An epic Navy NCO win! As per ender in comments - on page 31 you see the Sailor as he is. Photo on right. I've saved the original PDF in case they change it. I advise that you do the same.
UPDATE II - Electric Boogaloo: Via our buddy Phil's TheScoopDeck, if you want your own "NOC Patch" - click here.

Do you want to help save the USS Olympia?

Well, there is something you can do.

There is a group in Philadelphia that just formed several months ago and received a non profit status. Their only concern is preserving and keeping Olympia safe from becoming an artificial reef.

They are
The Friends of The cruiser Olympia. Pay them a visit and if you wish, join them in serving a historic and one of a kind ship.

Just a few facts from their site;
  • World’s oldest floating steel warship.
  • Sole surviving naval ship of Spanish-American War and revived American Steel Navy.
  • Dewey’s flagship at Battle of Manila Bay, marking U.S. emergence as world power.
  • National Historic Landmark and one-of-a-kind, as no sister ships were built.
  • Carried body of the Unknown Soldier from France to U.S. in 1921.
  • Awarded “Official Project” status of Save America’s Treasures program.
  • National Historic Engineering Landmark, due to her triple-expansion steam engines, the first installed in a U.S. Navy ship.

A new Supe - perhaps new focus ....

Don't worry - we won't have a post a day on the USNA ... but there was a lot out there today. This should, hopefully, be it for awhile.

When we left Rempt behind and moved to Fowler as Superintendent of the Naval Academy; ya'll know I had great hopes and my first few posts on him were very positive. He is/was a great professional with a superb record of service to his nation. Since that first promising start, well ... it seemed like at about the six month mark someone put a pod under his bed or sump'n.

I still hold firm that VADM Fowler is/was a great professional and public servant. I just happen to believe that when he was brought to a fork in the road - athletics vs. academics; integrity vs. diversity - that for reasons best known to himself he took the easier (and in my opinion) wrong path. Good people can make wrong decisions. Good people can make mistakes. I could be wrong here - but if the United States Naval Academy truly wishes academically to be an elite institution and a meritocracy based on objective criteria, fairness, and leadership building - then it needs to act like it in word and deed.

As VADM Fowler leaves the campus, he also leaves evidence as to why so much remains to be done to make Annapolis the institution that it can be. Look at
the transcript from his 12 MAY 2010 press conference and weep. Look at the priorities he left.

There are some nice things in the speech - but you need to look deeper to see what is there and what is not there. You can also see how definitions have become lost in a fuzz of bad advice. Just look at paragraphs 30-32 to see what is given top billing as defined as "... wide range of speakers and leaders ...," sadly lost.

For now though, let's focus on the academics for a bit and look what he thinks the focus of an institution that desires to be "World Class" should be .... and weep. It's easy. Just a word count:
Times Supe mentioned "diversity or diverse": 4
Times Supe mentioned "football": 3
Times Supe mentioned "classroom": 0
Times Supe mentioned "learning": 0
Times Supe mentioned "teaching": 0
We should all give the new Superintendent, RADM Michael H. Miller, USN, a good solid chance to reflect and focus. We should hope that in the end - what was once such promise does not end in self-parody.

I would offer, if I had five minutes, that he needs to focus on fundamentals. What do you need to best intellectually build tomorrow's leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps? Outside the classroom, what tools does a leader need? How do you refine character? How to you reinforce the importance of honor? Equally important - how do you rebuild the credibility of the uniformed leadership and the institution it serves?

All else is vanity.

Common ground on DADT with URR

I think we can agree that post-DADT there will be problems with:Sad - but it will happen. It won't be the fault of the professionals - but the narcissistic, unprofessional agenda types - and when it happens we will call them on it, just like we do with the Diversity Bullies.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sestak's integrity questioned by White House

Well Shipmate - I think they just called you out. Say goodbye to the Navy - say hello to Chicago politics. Via Capt'n Ed at Hotair,
The White House attempted to push back against allegations that Barack Obama or his staff attempted to bribe Joe Sestak into withdrawing from the Democratic Senate primary by offering him a job, but they may be creating bigger headaches with their defense. Axelrod tells CNN’s John King that there is “no evidence” that the bribe attempt ever happened, even while he acknowledges that it would have been “a serious breach of the law.” In order to believe that there is “no evidence,” though, one has to discount the repeated direct testimony of Sestak himself (via The Daily Caller):
Witness testimony does qualify as evidence, however, and Sestak has insisted on multiple occasions that the bribe attempt happened. Either Sestak is lying, or Sestak is telling the truth. If it’s the latter, then someone in the Obama administration committed a felony, and perhaps more than one, by Axelrod’s own admission. If it didn’t happen, then Joe Sestak is lying. In order to defend itself, the White House has been put in the position of having to call its party’s nominee for the US Senate a liar.
It's a big, lonely ocean out there. Your call.

The gifts Greeks bear

They can give you warnings ... if you want to listen.
America’s public-debt-to-GDP ratio is already higher than it has been since the 1950s. Writing in National Affairs, economist Donald Marron, who served as acting CBO director and a White House economic adviser under Pres. George W. Bush, says the most immediate objective of U.S. fiscal policy should be to stop that ratio from rising. He stresses that this would not require balancing the federal budget; indeed, it would be possible to run moderate deficits while simultaneously trimming the debt-to-GDP ratio, provided the economy was expanding at a fast enough pace.

Think of it this way: To maintain a constant debt-to-GDP ratio, we would have to maintain an identical deficit-to-growth ratio. For example, writes Marron, if we had a debt-to-GDP ratio of 60 percent and a deficit equal to 3 percent of GDP, then nominal GDP growth (that is, real growth plus inflation) would have to reach 5 percent in order to keep the ratio from increasing. The fact that such a humble aim — holding the debt-to-GDP ratio steady — seems so quixotic in the short run indicates the severity of America’s fiscal plight. Marron, who is now director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, believes a practical, attainable medium-term goal should be to reduce the ratio to 60 percent by 2020. But over the long haul, he adds, even 60 percent would be unacceptably steep. From the mid–20th century through the early 2000s — until the Wall Street panic — the average ratio was roughly 40 percent.

Given the magnitude of our budget problems, it is unrealistic to think that tax hikes alone, or spending cuts alone, or economic growth alone, would be sufficient to fix them. Let’s say that real annual GDP growth averaged 3.8 percent over ten years. That hasn’t happened since the 1960s and 1970s, Marron reminds us, and it is very unlikely to happen in the decade ahead — but even with that level of growth, the federal government would still see only modest deficit reduction without serious fiscal reforms.

Marlinspike leadership

Yes, read it two times if you need to. Unfortunately, I know exactly what he means - but I was a recidivist Staff Weenie.

Sad thing is - this is the world we created.


By June 30, commanders are instructed to revise Fleet Forces missions, functions and tasks (MFTs) to eliminate the term "type command" and revise or draft Warfare Center of Excellence MFTs to create de-conflicted administrative control and command relationships.

The admiral also requires revisions to the Fleet Forces' processes for supporting Navy areas of responsibility to show that Warfare Enterprise leads and the Fleet Readiness Enterprise have no administrative control responsibilities or authorities, ensure that support of Echelon 1 requirements follow proper administrative control guidelines and establish Fleet Forces' deputy chief of staff for resources and integration as the sole flag officer responsible to the commander for coordination of Navy Component Commander requirements.

Fleet Forces' deputy chief of staff for global force management and joint operations is required to change doctrine and identify investments that will optimize relationships between Mission Operations Centers and with MOCs and Service Operations Centers to improve the flow of information to combatant commanders by Nov. 26.

Harvey's memo stresses the importance of feedback in establishing effective control by allowing commanders to monitor events, adapt to changing circumstances and change direction if necessary. In order to establish a feedback loop in Fleet Forces Command, Harvey's memo requires Fleet Forces N4/7 directorate to coordinate with Type Command and the 2nd Fleet to brief the admiral monthly on unit readiness, including material health and operational health. The briefs were scheduled to begin in March.

The document postulates that such steps are necessary for setting up an environment that allows effective command and control in response to confusion over hierarchy and unified command that have arisen in past years.
Here is the good news. To untie a knot, you have to understand the knot. You cannot fight the knot at the beginning - you cannot lose your cool. You have to work it, ease it, know how one part affects the other.

The quote sounds the way it does because of what it is, an honest attempt to fix a problem. To untangle a fonctionair's creation - you must think and speak like a fonctionair. This is good. Via
Inside Defense, here is the background.
The head of Fleet Forces Command is instructing subordinates to move back to basic principles of command and control, including an unambiguous hierarchy and lines of authority and accountability, in an effort to straighten out confusion the admiral says has arisen since the Navy's standup of initiatives like Sea Power 21, which aimed to unify domains into a single entity.

Adm. John Harvey says that the decentralized nature of naval operations has led the service to push decisions to the lowest level possible, but argues that dispersed command does not leave behind the foundational principles of command and control.

"I strongly believe in our decentralized command and control system not only because it is fundamentally sound and has withstood the test of time, but also because it has allowed the Navy to develop independent thinkers willing to act to the limits of their authority to accomplish their assigned mission to the benefit of the Navy and the nation," Harvey writes in the Feb. 10 serial message posted on the command's website.
Another BZ to ADM Harvey.

To save the Naval Academy ...

So, if you love something or someone - what is your normal response to the following?

If you find them doing something self-destructive to themselves, injuring the innocent, and degrading everything around them all at the same time - do you;
  1. Help them continue and expand the intensity of their bad behavior.
  2. Tell them that, "What you are doing is wonderful!", and then walk away while hoping that they will fix the problem themselves.
  3. Keep yourself busy, ignore all that is going on, and hope that everything works our best in the end.
  4. Speak up. Call them on it. Challenge them to do better. Offer suggestions to bring them back on the right track?
Well - I would hope that #4 is your answer. Our friend Professor Fleming from USNA had a bit in the NYT last FRI; once again showing that he loves the idea of the institution he serves - you may or may not agree with him, but you have to grant him that.
... the Naval Academy, where I have been a professor for 23 years, has lost its way. The same is true of the other service academies. They are a net loss to the taxpayers who finance them, as well as a huge disappointment to their students, who come expecting reality to match reputation. They need to be fixed or abolished.
Some in the administration have justified the admissions policies on the ground that it “takes all kinds” to be officers. But that’s not really what the academies recruit. They don’t give preference to accomplished cellists or people from religious minorities or cerebral Zen types.

We’ve even given less-qualified students a backdoor into Annapolis — the Naval Academy Preparatory School, our remedial institution in Newport, R.I., for admitted students who are not prepared to enter the academy itself. And if students struggle academically when they get to the academy, our goal is to get them to graduate at whatever cost. Thus we now offer plenty of low-track and remedial courses, and students who fail can often just retake classes until they pass: we have control over their summers and their schedules, and can simply drag them through with tutoring.

I’ve taught low-track English classes; the pace is slower and the papers shorter than in my usual seminars, but the students who complete them get the same credit. When I’ve complained about this, some administrators and midshipmen have argued that academics are irrelevant to being an officer, anyway. Really? Thinking and articulating are irrelevant to being an officer?

The picture I have drawn of the academy is not what most Americans imagine when they come to a parade and see all those clean-cut young men and women standing in nice rows with their chests out (as they will at next week’s graduation ceremony). Some may argue that our abandonment of merit as a criterion for officer status is simply the direction the military overall has taken — the stress of fighting two wars has lowered the bar for enlistment, and R.O.T.C. standards have also declined. But I’d like to think we could do better.

We have two choices. One is to shut down Annapolis, West Point and the other academies, and to rely on R.O.T.C. to provide officers. Or we can embrace the level of excellence we once had and have largely abandoned. This means a single set of high standards for all students in admissions, discipline and academics. If that means downgrading our football team to Division III, so be it.

We also need a renaissance in our culture. We need to get our students on board with the program by explaining our goals and asking for feedback from cadets, graduates and the armed forces at large. Now, we’re just frustrating the students and misleading taxpayers.

Change won’t happen from within. The short-term academy administrations want to keep the hype flowing, and tend to lack the big-picture thinking necessary to seeing the institution objectively. Rather, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and other civilians need to mount a full re-conception of the academies: deciding what do we do that’s wrong, what’s irrelevant and what deserves to be saved. Otherwise, my most promising students will continue to tell me, “Sir, this place shows you what not to do.”
I would argue that we should keep NAPS for what it was designed for - to help prior-Enlisted personnel with a iffy academic background get up on step and not a place to put Redshirt Freshmen - but that is about my only quibble with part of the article. On balance though - hard to argue the other side of his points, isn't it? Give it a shot if you can.

If you don't want - that is OK. Over the weekend, Rajiv Srinivasan - a West Point grad - gave it a shot. Head on over there and give it a read, you will also find Professor Fleming's response. The blogosphere at its best.
UPDATE: Ungh. All around, a bad day for the Navy-Marine Corps team, USNA, and football. From Thomas E. Ricks,
The Marine Corps Times reports that the Marine Corps is ousting 13 new officers who were caught cheating on a land navigation test. Two of them apparently were former Naval Academy football players who lost their moral compasses. I wonder if what they saw at the Academy made them think this is OK.
This is a teachable moment if we want it to be. Navy Aviation has a great tradition of openly talking about and picking apart mishaps and the different factors that contributed to them. Might be a good place to use that template.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Boomerism triumphs at Herndon ...

Personally, I don't have a lot invested in the Herndon ceremony - I'm a NROTC guy - but a lot of my readers do.

Well, tradition was good while it lasted.
As they have for 70 years, students at the U.S. Naval Academy are celebrating the end of their grueling first year by scaling a 21-foot obelisk. But this year, without lard coating the monument, they did it a lot faster than usual.

For years, the Herndon Monument was slathered in lard to make it harder to climb. It often took hours for a group of first-year students, or "plebes," to hoist a peer on their shoulders to place an officer's hat atop the obelisk.

On Monday, to make the tradition safer, the obelisk wasn't greased and plebes scaled it in two minutes and five seconds flat.

How instructive. To take a tangent - this is a perfect example of the Boomer's soft bigotry of low expectations when it comes to younger generations. From the same Boomer mentality that gave us "Everyone gets a trophy," "We don't keep score, we just let them play" and my favorite "Dodge ball is bad for self-esteem and Red-Rover is too dangerous ... so is PE. We have cancelled them all" - we now have a dry monument.

comments, a MIDN pegged it at 1.5 minutes. 1.5, 2.5. What is the difference? At this point, why bother at all. It is all kind of lame ... about as lame as the injury reason.

If there is so much concern about injury - then by all means we should stop all football - NOW. On top of that, women's b-ball has a high injury rate too. CANX that ... and so on ... and so on ...

Being that climbing an hunk of dry granite is about as unique as throwing a hat in the air - do something else. From the outside, a dry Herndon is almost like watching an young, healthy adult on 3-wheel bicycle.

I would recommend instead that the MIDN save up some money and some leave time. Get on a plane. Rent an apartment in Paris, Berlin, or Amsterdam (if you get enough people together - it is very affordable) for a week. The drinking age is 16 there. No one will care what you do or don't do. Everyone will treat you like an adult and will treat you with respect due an emancipated adult. Do a battlefield tour so you don't feel guilty (if you want a recommendation or two - I will be glad to help for either the tour or apartment locations). Return to the USA when you have to. Counsel next year's MIDN to do the same.

My $.02. Your school, your call.
UPDATE: A regular reader sent a link to the pic above. She is the official Salamander MIDN of the Month. Well done! (Sorry, no parking space goes with it)
UPDAT II - Electric Boogaloo: A member of the extended Salamander network sends along what is unquestionably the best quote to the day from a Firstie;
"No grease? It's a lot less gay nowadays. That's bad!"

Sinking of the USS Olympia

People may get in a snit over the "tradition" of Herndon - but that is just a distraction. Forget about a possible new Navy Museum in DC. Let's talk about something real; something unique; something once gone you will hate yourself for being so myopic.

When it comes to our Navy and our Nation's history - it is time to
put up or shut up.
The old warship has been part of Philadelphia's waterfront for 50 years and left lasting impressions on thousands of visitors who heard gripping stories of its role in the Spanish-American War.

Now the Olympia - the last surviving vessel from that 1898 conflict - could face an ignoble end as an artificial reef off Cape May if a new benefactor cannot be found.

The Independence Seaport Museum and the Navy have already checked with officials of New Jersey's Artificial Reef Program on the possibility of sinking the ship, once a source of national pride.

"Another option would be scrapping Olympia," said James McLane, interim president of the museum, which owns the ship and is adjacent to it at Penn's Landing. "But the Navy has told us that 'reefing' is better because it would allow divers to go down on it and would preserve Olympia."

The museum can no longer afford the ship's upkeep, McLane said.
Where is the CNO? Where is the SECNAV? Where is the Navy League? Where is Rep. Sestak (D-PA)? Where is Sen. McCain (R-AZ)?

Where; indeed.

Say it ain't so Joe!

Who is Rep. Sestak (D-PA) protecting .... and if this crime (which it is) is alleged - where is the investigation?

Via RedState;
In the wake of Tuesday’s Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, a top House GOP legislator is renewing his call for an ethics probe into allegations the White House offered Rep. Joe Sestak an administration post in exchange for foregoing his primary bid against Beltway-endorsed Sen. Arlen Specter.

California Rep. Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican member of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, said Sestak, who on Tuesday bested Specter by nearly 8 points, must identify the job he was allegedly offered and who in the administration proposed it. Issa has been a one-man firing squad on the point since February, when then-dark horse Sestak claimed in a radio interview an Obama aide had offered him a “high-ranking” federal gig at the onset of his Senate bid.

“Was Joe Sestak embellishing what really happened, or does he have first-hand knowledge of the White House breaking the law,” asked a statement from Issa’s office. “If what he said is the truth, Joe Sestak has a moral imperative to come forward and expose who within the Obama administration tried to bribe him.”

Yes, I will say this .... if this was the Bush Whitehouse ... say it ain't so Joe.

Bad COs? Look here ...

Expanding on a post from last week, there is an interesting little thought piece over at StrategyPage worth your time.
But with all this screening and winnowing, why are more unqualified officers getting to command ships, and then getting relieved because they can't hack it? Some point to the growing popularity of "mentoring" by senior officers (that smaller percentage that makes it to admiral.) While the navy uses a board of officers to decide which officers get ship commands, the enthusiastic recommendation of one or more admirals does count. Perhaps it counts too much. While the navy is still quick to relieve any ship commander that screws up (one naval "tradition" that should never be tampered with), up until that point, it is prudent not to offend any admirals by implying that their judgment of "up and coming talent" is faulty. In the aftermath of these reliefs, it often becomes known that the relieved captain had a long record of problems. But because he was "blessed" by one or more admirals, these infractions were overlooked. The golden boys tend to be very personable and, well, look good. The navy promotion system is organized to rise above such superficial characteristics, but apparently the power, and misuse, of mentoring, has increasingly corrupted the process.
Bingo. Today we call it a Mentor. Back when I was and ENS it was called a Sea-Daddy. There is an even worse manifestation of it today as well - sectarian Mentors. They, clearly on if not over the ethical line, shop lists to potential board members of officers whose sole criteria for being on their list is that their ethnicity - in some cases exclusively the same ethnicity of the Flag Officer in question. Ponder if you will what those Flag Officers are not focused on if ethinity is their #1 priority WRT Mentorees. Then again - if the CNO has sectarianism as his #1 priority, who should be shocked.

There is also this jewel - one that is a much larger problem. We have forgotten that the primary puporse of Field and Company Grade Officers is to lead at the Tactical level - that is on a ship, submarine, or airplane. Full stop.
Another problem is that officers don't spend as much time at sea, or in command, as in the past. A lot of time is spent going to school, and away from the chiefs and sailors. For example, while the navy had more ships in the 1930s, than it does today, there were fewer people in the navy. That's because, back then, 80 percent of navy personnel were assigned to a ship, and had plenty of time to learn how to keep it clean and operational.
Hat tip HP.

A voice from the Annapolis Underground ...

A note from a member of the USNA Class of 2010 ... speaking here things that cannot be spoken openly. The rest of the post belongs the author. I can't confirm the numbers ... but if they are incorrect, let me know. I'm running with 'em though. It's a blog for goodness sakes .....
With one week left, the Naval Academy class of 2010 braces for one of the most exciting points of their lives. For four years they have been privy to one of the most celebrated and respected educations in the world. That being said, I am confused why with a week until graduation and thus the largest pay promotion of their careers they skimp of giving back. The Naval Academy Alumni Foundation set up the 'First Gift Program' two years ago to get newly commissioned classes contributing to the Foundation. The class of 2008 had nearly 60% participation and the class of 2009 had the increased participation of 70%. As of 10 days before graduation, the class of 2010 has the participation of 27%. 'Its discouraging', said our Class President, reflecting on the poor participation.

The recession seems a likely culprit, but what about the class of '09 then? It seems like the today's Firsties have just seen too much go wrong at the Naval Academy. It appears that the degradation of the founding principles, which may seem commonplace to younger classes, actually struck at home. 'Why would I want to contribute to this place?', said one Firstie. 'My values, and those of this institution no longer agree', said another. Perhaps the Marcus Curry exceptions, World Series Color Guard exclusions, and countless other instances were not just 'waved off' as Washington politics or bad leadership but rather defining character statements of the Naval Academy. Midshipmen used to believe in 'US' verse 'THE MAN'. It was a point of pride to fight 'THE MAN', because Midshipmen knew what the Naval Academy should be. Midshipmen knew what the Naval Academy meant!

With the class of 2010, cynicism has subsided to a feeling of disgust for what has happened. They no longer fight 'THE MAN', because it seems like there is little to fight for! They sit behind closed doors voicing their complaints to close friends, justifiably scared of retaliation if the wrong set of ears were to hear. Occasionally a Plebe is invited into the circle of trust. Much like their Firsties did to them, the soon to be graduates share their thoughts on today's policies and their recollection of how it used to be.

The Firsties have never known a Honor system that didn't favor an athlete, a minority or a privileged child. The Firsties have never even known conduct or separation policies that didn't do the same. They have spent four years watching good men and women, whom honorably faulted in grades and conduct be separated. For four years they understood that that decision was not their's to make or even scrutinize, because of the nature of their future duties as officers. Then, with frighteningly increasing frequency they have watched the un-honorable, unqualified and un-dedicated be retained for reasons of athletic and statistical contribution.

Twenty-seven percent reflects the number of 2010 graduates contributing to the Alumni Foundation fund. It reflects those who want to give back to Alumni Foundation sponsored programs, but also those who want nothing more than to build a fountain in 20 years. If money talks, which might explain why Football has such a big ear to the Superintendent, than the Alumni Foundation should be singing hymns soon. It will only be a matter of time before Alumnus choose to spend their money is a wiser place, because good football has begun to cost a hefty price.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sal, what is it like in the dark?

Oh, when it gets dark in my nogg'n on stormy nights into a third scotch ... it gets dark.

Study too much economics and history ... and you start to think like Derb.
So what am I anticipating, with all this gloomery? a reader wants to know. Another1973? Another 1929? Another A.D. 410?

Hey, I’m not an expert. I just try to
keep up with the experts — the gloomy ones, of course. (No offense, Larry.)

From what I read and am told, as best I can understand it, the developed world will be much poorer, grubbier, and meaner four or five years from now, its
currencies ravaged by competitive inflation, its government services greatly reduced, entitlements meager.

The rest — what will follow; what the consequences for social order will be; what the consequences for
international order will be; and what the path from here to there will actually look like — is guesswork. My guesses:

● What will follow? A long period of stagnation, life depressing & uncomfortable for most of us in the West (and made more so by nostalgia for the carefree, prosperous years), but not down at Dark Age standards.

● Social order? I foresee a great boost in popularity for the Second Amendment. (Because among the things government will no longer be able to afford will be law enforcement.) Multiculturalism, on the other hand, will lose market share, and ethnic disaggregation will accelerate. (Because
social capital varies inversely with diversity, and with less government we shall need more social capital.) Representative government will probably survive, but there may be secessions from the U.S.A. Religion, or at least spirituality, will get a boost, following the Chinese maxim: “In normal times you don’t burn joss; when times are hard you hug Buddha’s foot.”

● International order? May actually improve. Hungry,
angry people working two jobs for a handful (or wheelbarrowful) of inflated-away dollars won’t be in a mood to fuss much about the human rights of detained terrorists, or of people in unfriendly nations, or of migrants violating our borders. Nor will they bother much about global warming or spotted owls (yummy!) Smiting one’s enemies hip and thigh may even come back into fashion — a jolly good thing in my opinion.

● The path from here to there? Paved with good intentions, of course!
...and when I feel like I need a pick-me-up, of course I turn to Mark Steyn.
They were not an “anti-government” mob, but a government mob, a mob comprised largely of civil servants. That they are highly uncivil and disinclined to serve should come as no surprise: they’re paid more and they retire earlier, and that’s how they want to keep it. So they’re objecting to austerity measures that would end, for example, the tradition of 14 monthly paycheques per annum. You read that right: the Greek public sector cannot be bound by anything so humdrum as temporal reality. So, when it was mooted that the “workers” might henceforth receive a mere 12 monthly paycheques per annum, they rioted. Their hapless victims—a man and two women—were a trio of clerks trapped in a bank when the mob set it alight and then obstructed emergency crews attempting to rescue them.

... the Greek rioters are the logical end point of the advanced social democratic state: not an oppressed underclass, but a pampered overclass, rioting in defence of its privileges and insisting on more subsidy, more benefits, more featherbedding, more government.

In my
“alarmist” book I put it this way:

“Projected public pensions liabilities are expected to rise by 2040 to about 6.8 per cent of GDP in the U.S. In Greece, the figure is 25 per cent—i.e., total societal collapse.”

Four years on, thanks to Obama in Washington and business as usual in Athens, the situation has worsened. Yet in a sense the comparison is academic: whereas America still has a choice, Greece isn’t going to have a 2040. The mob is rioting for the right to continue suspending reality until they’re all dead. After that, who cares?

Greece has run out of Greeks to stick it to. So it’s turned to Germany. But Germany too is in net population decline. The Chinese and other buyers of Western debt know that. If you’re an investor and you don’t, more fool you. Tracking GDP versus median age in the world’s major economies is the easiest way to figure out where this story’s heading.
Greece’s 2010 budget deficit is 12.2 per cent of GDP; Ireland’s is 14.7. Greece’s debt is 125 per cent of GDP; Italy’s is 117 per cent. Greece’s 65-plus population will increase from 18 per cent in 2005 to 25 per cent in 2030; Spain’s will increase from 17 per cent to 25 per cent. As lazy, feckless, squalid, corrupt and violent as Greece undoubtedly is, it’s not that untypical. It’s where the rest of Europe’s headed, and Japan and North America shortly thereafter. About half the global economy is living beyond not only its means but its diminished number of children’s means.

Instead of addressing that basic fact, countries with government debt of 125 per cent of GDP are being “rescued” by countries with government debt of 80 per cent of GDP. Good luck with that. Alas, the world has deemed Greece “too big to fail,” even though in (what’s the word?) reality it’s too big not to fail. And the rest of us are too big not to follow in its path:
Greece, wrote Theodore Dalrymple, is “a cradle not only of democracy but of democratic corruption”—of electorates who give their votes to leaders who bribe them with baubles purchased by borrowing against a future that can never pay it off. The future is now here, and the riots will spread.
I am an optimist - mostly. I have faith in our system. But some days I can't help but think, as Derb is wont to say ... We Are Doomed. I'm debt free, got food, land, guns and a lot of stuff from .... I feel sorry for the rest of you. All I need is some foil to make a beanie and I'm ready for anything.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Just to be clear ...

Context is critical.

You are a member of the Legislative Branch of the United States of America, representing citizens of the USA; a nation made up of 50 sovereign States.

You are sitting in your House.

The leader of a foreign nation is speaking to you in your House. He directly attacks one of the constituent States of your Union - and by proxy - the Nation you serve and its citizens.

You give him a standing ovation.

Mmmmmm. Interesting view you have of your Nation and your feelings for her.

Fullbore Friday

Of course, you know who is today's FbF. Who else? It is EagleOne and my guest on Midrats this Sunday at 5pm EST - CAPT Thomas J. Hudner Jr., USN (Ret). I'm going to steal this from my bud Stephen at AcePilots ... but I don't think he will mind.
Flying one thousand feet above the icy Korean mountains, the Corsair's engine cut out. At such a low altitude, the pilot, US Navy Ensign Jesse Brown, couldn't bail out or clear the mountain. He spotted an opening that looked more or less flat, and in any case, it was his only choice. A wheels up, dead stick landing. The Navy's first African American aviator probably thought that he had been through worse than this, being hazed and harassed throughout his pioneering Naval career.

The F4U went down heavily and smashed into the rough terrain, folding up at the cockpit. Sliding through the deep snow, the big fighter started smoking immediately.

Lt. (Jg) Thomas Hudner and the other VF-32 pilots studied the situation on the ground as they circled overhead. This close to the
Chosin Reservoir, Chinese Communist soldiers would be along soon. The crashed and burning aircraft was a hopeless wreck. At first the Navy fliers thought that Ensign Brown was dead. Then his wingman and roommate, Lt. William H. Koenig, noticed Brown waving to them through the open canopy of his Corsair (Bureau # 97231). A rugged, prop-driven, big-nosed WWII design, the Chance Vought F4U normally could take a lot of damage. On this day, 4 December 1950, Brown had been tragically unlucky; some North Korean flak gunner had hit the plane in a vulnerable spot.

Flight Leader Richard L. Cevoli radioed "Mayday" and called for helicopter rescue. A Sikorsky HO3S helicopter was dispatched, but would take at least 15 minutes to reach the stricken flier. Lt. Hudner looked down at his friend and flying mate. He promptly decided to go down and try to pull Brown out the smoldering aircraft. Hopefully, both pilots could then escape on the chopper.

Hudner made one more tree-top pass and dumped his remaining fuel and ordnance. He dropped flaps and tailhook, and thumped the Corsair onto the ground. He hit a lot harder than he had expected. At 6,000 feet above sea level, the Corsairs' air speed indicator had understated the actual speed. Hudner began to wonder if this had been such a good idea.

"I knew what I had to do," said Hudner in an interview by Frank Geary, for Jax Air News, the Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., base newspaper. "I was not going to leave him down there for the Chinese. Besides, it was 30 degrees below zero on that slope, and he was a fellow aviator. My association with the Marines had rubbed off on me. They don't leave wounded Marines behind."
Hudner tightened his harness and, with his wheels up, set his Corsair down onto the snow and rocks some 100 yards from Brown's smoking aircraft. "He was alive, but barely, when I got onto his wing and tried to lift him out of the cockpit. But his right leg was crushed and entangled in metal and instruments. I hurried back and requested a rescue helo, making sure it would bring an ax and a fire extinguisher. When I got back to Brown, I began packing snow around the smoking cowling.
"When a two-man Marine helicopter arrived with only its pilot, the ax he carried proved useless in our efforts to hack away the metal entrapping Brown's leg. He was going in and out of consciousness and losing blood. "The helo pilot and I, in our emotion and panic, and with the light of day fading, discussed using a knife to cut off Jesse's entrapped leg. Neither of us really could have done it, and it was obvious Jesse was dying. He was beyond help at that point. The helo pilot said we had to leave. Darkness was setting in and we'd never get out after dark," said Hudner. "We had no choice but to leave him. I was devastated emotionally. In those seconds of our indecision, Jesse died."
'Nuff said. More over at AcePilots.