Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Launch the ready Command Defibrillator ...

So, there you are Skipper, up to your ears with a challenging ship in challenging times.

You miss the great things of Command at times like this - the basic things - like being underway; the comfortable daily rhythm of a ship at sea. The simple pleasures of a re-enlistment even.

As your mind tries to focus on a dozen different things though your daydream - someone, CMDCM, XO ... you can't quite recall right away, is mumbling something at you that your mind just doesn't process quite right as you re-read something that that same entity just put in front of you ---- then everything becomes sharp and clear; you can hear every breath of every person, every lap of water against the hull ..... and the words in front of you are as direct as the carvings on a memorial.

You understand the fill-in the blank form,
Reenlisting Officer. Date. Location. Refreshments.
The simple banality of the mundane writ large. It is the fill-in that clears all.
"Admiral Harvey. 30NOV10. USS WISCONSIN. Cookies."
To get the rest of the story of fun and games involving a few members of the front porch - you need to click here.

A good day for a trip to the Navy Yard

There are opportunities that come along now and then when an organization gets to put down a marker on accountability and what is acceptable behavior or not.

I think this is one of those times.
A cruiser skipper who was fired for cruelty and mistreatment of her crew will go before a Navy board of inquiry Tuesday that will recommend whether she can continue her Navy service.

Capt. Holly Graf was relieved as commanding officer of the Yokosuka, Japan-based cruiser Cowpens on Jan. 13 after an inspector general’s investigation found problems with her “temperament and demeanor.”

The board will convene at the Washington Navy Yard at 9 a.m. Tuesday under the authority of Naval District Washington. The board is likely to last until Thursday, said Navy spokesman Lt. Justin Cole. The board’s recommendation will be forwarded up through Navy Personnel Command and must be approved by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
We'll see.

Susan has a Top 10 for review;
#10. Abandoning a VBSS team while on mission to answer a S/V distress call
#9. Grabbing a Royal Navy LT by the neck and dragging him to a bridge wing. Screaming at him "did you run my F-ing ship aground"
#8. Calling the XO the stupidest MFer she has ever seen.
#7. RHIB at the rail followed by a 30 degree turn (that was fun)
#6. RHIB on the hook in heavy seas, and refusing to raise or release.
#5. Throwing hand held radios at officers and crew.
#4. Getting hammered at softball games, then driving.
#3. Ordering 25kts in the basin coming out of Italy
#2. Fixing the deck log in Italy
#1. After a hurricane sortie, DESRON telling her, NO YOU ARE to return your ship to port immediately
BONUS** Receiving a bronze star for all of her hard work during deployment and not even thanking her crew, the ones who got it for her.
You had me at #9.

Hat tip Grumpy & Mike.

The clarity of Wikileaks

I am not going to comment on the substance or subject matter of what the whole Wikileads project has put out there. No, that is done and others will comment and clean up - what is important to me is the next step.

This isn't complicated, and the path remains the same as I have outlined before. We need to understand the basics and respond in an effective manner - simply, boldly, and without hesitation.

First of all, the soldier as the source should be given to the military to take care of. The Army needs its best prosecution team on him and should punish him as much as possible in a very public way. Make an example of him. He is and will be drenched in blood. No quarter or mercy should be given to him. Whatever the max is; make is so.

What to do to the
Wikileaks IT infrastructure, US and foreign individuals involved - well - the Justice Department will have to figure it out. They all have blood on their hands - but what we can do inside the rule of law is a fuzzy area. Better to go hard and lose on appeal than to go weak and encourage others to leak as well - but that is just me.

What does the military do next? Well, we need to be honest with ourselves. NIPRNET, SIPRNET, and TS-SCI systems and higher are only as good as the people who are sitting in front of them. Most thumb drives and CD-R/RW abilities have been disabled, but that only stops amateurs and are easy to get turned back on - ask any Flag Aide. Information compartmentalization and file use monitoring software are hopefully steps already taken long ago, along with a thorough IT forensics of what that guy did and who allowed such slack procedures that enabled him.

That is a start. Oh, as you may have noticed, I didn't use any names here. The reason is simple; these people are not doing this for some grand reason, no - they are narcissists. They want to hear their name and have it heard. They crave some feeling of power and attention. Nuff said.
Howdy Morning Defense readers!

We are a Republic, Senator

The one thing I would change to our Constitution if I had one chance would be one simple thing; term limits for all three branches of government as opposed to the single one we have on the Executive Branch.

As a republican with a small "r" and a democrat with a small "d" you will find fewer people with greater belief in one-man-one-vote (girls and others too) than your rarely humble blogg'r.

That being said, we also have to mitigate the human pattern of going with the same person they have in office, the financial corruption of seniority with fund raising, and the simple fact that the longer someone spends inside the beltway, the less they understand the nation they represent.

Though there was a lot of success this last election getting rid of long-term incumbents - that was the exception and not the rule. For those who keep electing the pork producers, their ability to vote for who they want starts to interfere with everyone's need for good governance. Your local hero becomes my parasite.

The Senate is the worst. Many Senators have a sense of entitlement that mere mortals have trouble understanding. They like their club - and many fail to understand that they are there via the good graces of the great unwashed.

I have no beef against Sen. Lugar (DR-IN) - but he is a public servant, not some hereditary Lord. How does this attitude of a former Senator towards a sitting Senator mesh with the foundation of a Representative Republic?
Even after the midterm rout that will remove many long-serving members from Congress, the idea that Mr. Lugar would be vulnerable to a primary challenge is a chilling notion to many Republicans, a symbol of symbolism gone too far.

“If Dick Lugar,” said John C. Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri, “having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”
Who died and made him King, Duke, Earl, or Baron? You can't even challenge him? What?

I don't think I need to say more to demonstrate the disconnect from the basics of representative government.

Let him be challenged - we are all improved by competition. If he is good and his ideas sound, then those who are empowered will continue to let him serve. If their party chooses poorly, then they will be punished. Gee wizz .... it is messy. Good. Freedom is messy and inefficient. Good.

You know, "of the people, by the people, for the people" and stuff.

Monday, November 29, 2010

LPD-17: How much to change out a diesel again?

A little something "we" have been sharing around email the last few days I wanted to share with you. Something for the front porch's collective pondering.

The SAN ANTONIO Class is the gift that keeps on giving. Some of this can be explained away because of Katrina ... but ponder the numbers below.

For manufacturing in general - and shipbuilding in particular - the theory goes that with lessons learned during each production run, you get faster, show better quality production, and enjoy lower per unit costs.

If you don't have any of those, then you have one of a few things going on; outright incompetence on initial concept, design, and management of the product development phase only discovered when concept became 3D; fraud of the same; an institution unable to function and perform even the most fundamental aspects of their profession.

In all cases of the above - or combinations of cases - what results in a sane world is that there are a series of wholesale firings of senior management and/or criminal investigations. When that doesn't happen, then usually you have a much larger systemic malfunction going on.

Well, that is the theory - now ponder the macro issue as outlined below.




Keel Laying



KL to L (months)

L to D (months)

KL to D (months)


San Antonio









New Orleans









Mesa Verde









Green Bay









New York









San Diego




















John P. Murtha




If you need a kick-start, Tim Colton provides a very good overview.
NGSB's announcement of the launch of LPD 24 said that she is 77% complete, which the LPD Program Manager apparently thinks is good, although it isn't. And if it took them 30 months to do 77% of the work, it's going to take them well over a year to finish her, maybe close to two years. ... It would only take ten months on a straight-line expenditure curve, of course, but they don't happen in shipbuilding: in shipbuilding, it's an S-curve and the last 5% takes for ever.
Why aren't we getting better and faster with time? Moving away from the macro theory I put out at the opening, the other micro reasons are legion and include things we have discussed here and on Midrats to include; inadequate priorities and manning at SUPSHIPS and NAVSEA (there are very good people there, look up the chain and manning document changes for the problem); loss of discipline in program management; and a loss of credibility in Congress towards our Flag Officers. That is on the military side. On the civilian side we have management, tort, and union malpractice that has warped what was once a first class shipbuilding industry.

Combine the two together and you have a gordian knot that is going to require our own Alexander to fix. It can be fixed though, and the easiest part to the fix is on the military side. We have to be ready to fix it. Judging from some attitudes though, I don't know if we are there yet.

We need to - as until we do - we will have problems like this that keep coming up.

Let me paraphrase something sent to me from a friend from the technical side of the challenge that tells a great story - this time the latest with the
LPD-17's diesels.
When looking over the JAG investigation into the diesels, it comes down this: it doesn't appear that the diesels were ever flushed.
While doing a diesel job, in the work item (that spells out the step by step things you must do) there is a line item and a check point to conduct a flush of the lube oil system. The work item specifically calls out the size micron bag you must use and the amount of debris you are allowed (and it ain't much). It doesn't appear that there was ever a flush done on these diesels, even though there was clearly a large amount of contamination already present.
A technical expert states that the only way to get those diesels down is to literally tear them down to parade rest and flush then and clean the individual parts, to the point of even disassembling the block. He said that you still might not get everything out of it. More to the point, those diesels are always going to be a problem, especially if the Sailors can't even understand what the high temp readings mean on the bearings (and those diesels are all wired to a computer).
Bottom line, unless they do a complete diesel change out, those ships are going to be tied to the pier a lot.

It doesn't appear that NG had proper cleanliness protocols when the diesels were being installed and tested. When issues started happening, it appears that NAVSEA didn't follow or enforce their own procedures.

The Navy must get it's house in order. We're simply too far into the program to kill the LPD-17 Class. The real problem as I see it, is will the Navy come forward and admit that their own procedures weren't followed or enforced, since that's the cause of this whole mess? The second problem is that the engines are eating up main bearings and this need not ever happened. These diesels are wired up for telemetry to tell the operators whats going on inside of them.
For instance, there's a paragraph in the JAG findings where it clearly states that the Sailor on watch ignored high temp alarms on a main bearing telling him that there was a problem with oil flow.
To correctly lubricate these engines, it's not simply enough to have oil on the bearings; it must have a flow of cooled oil going around the bearings in order to protect the bearing. This situation could have been caught before damage occured had only the Sailor known what he was looking at.
How to correct the problem with the diesels? The only sure way to do it is to tear the diesels completely apart, down to taking the block apart and cleaning every orifice, cooling line inside the block, the cylinders, heads everything. Then put it together and do flushes until there is no contamination. That's going to cost a pretty penny, but what is the alternative?
On the Navy side, two problems: first, NAVSEA does not oversee the new construction end not nearly enough; second, the Navy is not training it's people correctly.
That is one person's report based on what they have seen, and it largely matches with other reports that have come my way.

What else would Sal like to see? I think the inspection reports as
outlined in para 4.3 would be nice.

In the end - if you think LPD-17 and her sisters are expensive enough - imagine the cost of ripping out the diesels and replacing them - but it can't be any worse than when we changed out our BB from coal to oil (
like we did with my grandfather's BB, USS ARKANSAS (BB-33) ). I don't think we need to go there though .... do we? Can we?

No, we just need some experienced engineers with solid top-cover leadership to be given the mission to fix it. They will - if we let them. Part of that fix it an open, transparent, and brutally honest appraisal of how we got here and who let it happen.

Required viewing tonight 9pm

On the National Geographic Channel; RESTREPO is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, "Restrepo," named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. This is an entirely experiential film: the cameras never leave the soldiers; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90-minute deployment. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Taste it a third time for Thanksgiving, on Midrats

For our new listeners and for those who just need to hear the goodness all over again, here is a repeat of our Memorial Day Weekend Best Of - with a Thanksgiving Day Weekend Best Of.

For the first half hour prolific author, historian, and military strategist Dr. Norman Friedman. Not to miss Midrats.

The second half will be the first visit by regular commenter in the Navy Blogosphere our "Yeoman in the 'Stan" AKA "Battle Yeoman" calling in from Bagram, Afghanistan.

Thanksgiving is a great time for leftovers - and there is no turkey here!

Join us live if you can, I'll have the chat room open for those who want to opine. If you miss the show or want to catch up on the shows you missed - you can always reach the archives at blogtalkradio - or set yourself to get the podcast on iTunes.

EagleOne and I will be back live next weekend.

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Now, I don't know if I would call a German Socialist a Fascist .... but that is simply because I have enough of a problem being redundant in my writing.

This has been all around ... and I felt the need to share simply because it does three things for me:

1. Shows the EU Parliament as it is.
2. Shows the best political insults come from Brits.
3. Lets me share with you the, ahem, beautiful Dutch language and entertaining hand gestures.

Mr. Bloom; take it away.

Some think he went too far - maybe, but I would think that he did a great cry for freedom. I owe him beer.

Now - who is calling who a Fascist?

Vote PVV early - vote PVV often; at least for the lady.
Oh ... I almost forgot Nigel. Never forget Nigel.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fullbore Friday

Lessons - yep there are lessons.

When you go to war - you step in to a dark room. You hopefully have prepared yourself with the best equipment, training, operational concepts possible. The wise commander steps in to that dark room knowing that he will not know what will happen when he enters. At first, he won't see what works and does not - but he looks for it.

He adjusts, he modifies - he tries to find advantage.

Remember the FbF the other day about the Australian Light Horse and the
assault on Beersheba? The Germans then did not think that mounted infantry would fight as cavalry - though the Commonwealth leadership saw the need to improvise, adapt, and overcome. Victory came to the less myopic leader.

Now the other side of the coin. You have cavalry. Always go back to one question: what is the mission.

General de Witte, Belgian Army knew what to do.
On the morning of August 12, the German cavalry arrived at Haelen and prepared to cross the bridge there.
Units of the Belgian cavalry (the 4th and 5th Lansiers, plus a company of cyclists and another of pioneer engineers) under General de Witte ambushed the advanced squadrons of the German cavalry, in what was almost certainly the last fight between mounted cavalrymen, wearing the breastplates and helmets of a different era.
(at the bridge, the Germans) encountered a prepared Belgian cavalry, fighting under General de Witte. The two cavalry fought throughout the day. The significant difference between the two cavalry was that the Belgian cavalry dismounted and fought as infantrymen.

The Germans launched numerous and repeated attacks against the Belgian forces but their sabers and lances could not hold against the unexpected Belgian rifle fire. The Germans fought until 6pm that evening having begun the attack around 8am. Frustrated Marwitz and the German cavalry were forced to withdraw from the bridge at Haelen that evening.

In all the Germans suffered nearly 1000 casualties that August day in 1914; 200 – 300 were taken prisoner by the Belgians, 150 were killed and 600 Germans were wounded. Belgian forces suffered approximately half that number in casualties.
Von Marwitz withdrew, advancing days later with great caution. This battle grew in Belgian folklore as the 'Battle of the Silver Helmets'.
The Battle of Haelen was a tremendous victory for the Allied Forces. Although the Belgians held the bridge at Haelen, the remainder of the German army won the Battle of Liege on August 16 and the German army continued their advance through and takeover of neutral Belgium.
Fight with what you have. Fight for every hour - as those behind you need every one.

Unlike WWII - not all of Belgium was taken by the Germans, and the plucky actions of the Belgian King and his people kept a tiny corner of Belgium free through the war. Their holding action along with the British Expeditionary Force and the spotty help of the French was essential in stopping the Germans from taking Paris.

Without Generals like de Witte, we would live in a very different world. Important to remember - especially for Americans.

In WWI, the Belgians lost 14,000 men in a population of 7.5 million.

For the USA's population of ~307 million today - that equates to 573,066 dead.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Diversity Thursday

Via email and comments you said you wanted me to cover it - so let's cover it.
“I stand before you today, the person you talk about in writing,” Rear Adm. Julius Caesar told Fleming before a few dozen alumni during the question-and-answer period that followed Fleming’s remarks. “I’m so glad that you didn’t sit on my admissions board.”

In a civil tone, Caesar, who is black, took issue with Fleming’s sole focus on admissions metrics — what Fleming called “predictors” — and criticized him for not examining whether the academy was producing better officers.

“Some of those kids, who didn’t have predictors, did make it,” Caesar said. By his own account, he had been one of them.

Caesar, a ’77 grad, grew up in what he called the “inner city” of Cleveland and lacked stellar test scores and grades. He attended the year-long Naval Academy Preparatory School and played football for Navy. Caesar is a vice director at Joint Forces Command.

“When you talk, I want you to look around at some of those folks who have made it,” he told Fleming. “There are people out there — and there are a lot of them — that have gone on to command ships, that went on and [have] done things in business and everything as well, and I’ll just caution you to think about those.”
He made a point, but not the one he thinks.

First of all - let's go back to Leadership 101; sir, it isn't about you.

Our friend Professor Bruce Fleming responded as he did - but as I have the time to research and ponder, from this seat I would have handled the issue differently. I would have turned the discussion back at RADM Caesar, USNR. He wants to be the subject - then OK; he's the subject.

When it comes to race, he is a perfect example of Generational Dissonance. He can't shift his racial mindset out of the 1970s.

The incoming MIDN this year more often than not were born nine years after Caesar left active duty. Nine years. 15 years after he was a Plebe.

What does his experience a decade and a half before they were born have to do with any of these young men and women? Does he really think our nation has remained static in his thinking - or has he remained static?

As a secondary and more personal point - let's go back to this comment Caesar made.
“Some of those kids, who didn’t have predictors, did make it,” Caesar said. By his own account, he had been one of them.
If his concern is predictors - then where is his support for bringing in the Scot-Irish from Appalachia? Why the urban-only focus?

But again - let's focus on what the Navy got for its sacrifice (in a zero-sum game, they turned down a better objectively qualified person) to bring Caesar on board.

First of all - we should thank him Caesar his service; one way or another - he served his nation in the manner that was asked of him more than most of his countrymen. However, before he places himself up as the best example to follow; let us review his bio in full.
Rear Admiral Julius S. Caesar is a 1977 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He earned a Masters of Business Administration from the Executive MBA Program at the College of William & Mary. He is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Seminar XXI Fellow in Foreign Politics, International Relations, and the National Interest.

During his period of initial active service, his sea duty assignments included USS Dale (CG 19) where he qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer and USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67). He served in the engineering, weapons, and operations departments during these assignments.

Caesar transitioned to the Reserve Component in 1983. He has held a variety of assignments including Battle Watch director in Commander, 2nd Fleet, Area Air Defense commander, Atlantic and deputy commander, Navy Reserve Readiness Command, Mid-Atlantic. He has commanded four reserve units including: Personnel Mobilization Team 3106, Surface Warfare Development Group, OPNAV Surface Warfare N86, and Naval Inspector General Detachment 106.

Active duty assignments include: Commander, Navy Installations Command, Commander, 2nd Fleet, Joint Task Force Exercises, Battle Group In-Port Exercises; Naval War College, OPNAV N86, Fleet ASW Training Center, Atlantic and NATO exercises in Europe and the Pacific.

Caesar has been assigned as vice director, Joint Concept Development and Experimentation, J9, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Suffolk, Va.

Caesar previously served as Reserve deputy commander, Navy Installations Command, Washington DC.

His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Navy Commendation Medal (three awards), and Navy Achievement Medal. Caesar was awarded the Blacks in Government Meritorious Service Award. He is a member of the Secretary of Defense Reserve Forces Policy Board.
6 years on Active Duty, the rest in the Reserves. I'm assuming that he is still USNR - again hard to tell - but his bio says he transitioned to the reserve component in 1983 ... and the active duty assignments may have been short recalls - or just his Reserve Billet assignment. Hard to tell - again. All service is good .... but ...

We have been a Navy at war for over nine years. I see no record of any combat experience or service. Read his bio, look at his salad bar - no wartime service at all
since 1977. None. I think of all the USNR types I served with since 2001. It boggles the mind.

A Navy at war promoted him to O-8. Rear Admiral - the 2-star version. Noted.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

Moving on.

If still USNR, he is a civilian - really. A good and honorable, yet lower-tier for a Navy at war Reservist. His full-time gig now days is at SAIC from what I can find out online. When you do a google search for "
Julius Caesar SAIC" to see what his greatest or most well known civilian achievement while there is .... ungh .... you get this.
Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) announced today that Julius “JC” Caesar, senior vice president for product development in the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) Group has been given the prestigious Blacks in Government (BIG) Meritorious Service Award for personal achievement.

The BIG Meritorious Service Award recognizes outstanding military service members and civilians who have distinguished themselves through significant contribution to their service in the global war on terrorism, the advancement of African-Americans, and the promotion of diversity and equal employment opportunity in the Department of Defense.
I tried to find more about him over at SAIC's site - but he's not there on the highly diverse leadership team, and on their site-search 2 out of 3 articles are about his BIG award with the third being when he was hired. As a matter of fact - his trail at SAIC seems to go cold at about 2006. Is his gig at JFCOM a full time job now, as in pulled back on active duty for a stint? Bnet says he is still at SAIC. Hard to tell one way or another ... and doesn't really matter.

Oh, the the BIG award ... ummm? Was it in his status as Vice Director of J9 at a command deemed by SECDEF as the low-hanging-fruit of redundancy what got him that award? Really? No.

Oh, wait; my bad - he got that in
2006, - when he was working for a civilian company doing business with DOD.....OK.
Reserve Deputy Commander for Commander, Navy Installations Command, Rear Adm. Julius Caesar was awarded the 2006 Blacks in Government (BIG) Meritorious Service Award Aug. 25 in New York.

The BIG Meritorious Service Award is presented to a military member who has significantly contributed to the global war on terrorism while creating opportunities that support and contribute to the mentorship or development, and advancement or retention of African Americans in government service consistent with merit principles.

Nominated by Chief of Navy Reserve/Commander, Navy Reserve Force, Vice Adm. John G. Cotton, Caesar was recognized for his dedication to the superlative values of honor, courage and commitment. A board of his peers endorsed Caesar’s nomination because of his extensive mentoring of minority Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and Naval Academy Midshipmen. His personal mentoring of minority and underprivileged youths has promoted diversity in the naval service and enriched lives in the surrounding communities.

Caesar was also chosen for his outstanding support of the Individual Augmentation of personnel mobilized in support of the global war on terrorism.

“His leadership and unwavering support of African Americans in the Navy resulted in a better understanding of the cultural differences,” said Cotton.
If you say so. I always thought that in the history of nations, having Flag Officers and General Officers who promoted sectarianism never led to any good. Oops.

Caesar is a smart guy with an exceptional professional record. Before going to SAIC, he was a sector vice president of professional and engineering services at EDO Corporation, an engineer for TRW, Inc., and at Booz Allen Hamilton he worked primarily in strategic integrated underwater surveillance systems.

It is a shame that in the end of everything, when you try to do a simple search for the man's accomplishments, it seems that he is someone who wishes more than anything else to be defined by the color of his skin, and not the content of his character. After 33 years Active and Reserve Duty - that is it above the fold. If he looks at himself like that - how does he view others?

I do think though, that before he starts pointing a race focused finger at Fleming, he may want to do a little more self reflection. This isn't about him or his generation - this is about young men and women born in the Clinton Administration. Two Presidential Administrations after he left active duty and three after he graduated from Annapolis.

He should know that he cannot apply his individual experience in the 1970s towards the general experience of others in the second decade of the 21st Century; but there you go - he is.

On this Thanksgiving, what am I thankful for? After the many blessings of God's grace, my family, and the sacrifices of others that allowed my children to grow up in this nation - that and other important things - on another level I am thankful that I do not have to convince non-African-American Sailors competing with African-American Sailors who RADM Caesar in any way controls their rankings, that they are being evaluated on merit alone.

Even with the assumption that Caesar is the most fair and color-blind person in uniform - that is a tough sell.

Don't blame me; he wanted to be the focus.