Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Music Stop

Since I left the world of Agnosticism tinged with Deism in early 2002, there was one hymn that quickly became my favorite.

I don't think it has ever been done better than this version by Vince Gill and Carrie Underwood.

It literally gave me chills.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Building leaders - on Midrats

Start arranging your weekend schedule Shipmates - this Sunday, 01 May from 5-6pm EST you won't want to miss Midrats. EagleOne and I are serving up top-shelf guests, so take a break from twirling around the Maypole or marching down Red Square to spend an hour with us.

How do you intellectually prepare combat leaders? If you are given a young man or woman at 18, how do you best educate that person so they have the cultural, ethical, technical, and historical knowledge to make the right decisions for the right reasons, and lead others to do the same?

What are unchanged, timeless fundamentals, and what new things are coming over the horizon that today's Ensigns and Second Lieutenants need to have inculcated in to their intelect so they have the best foundation to become this nation's Admirals and Generals for the mid-21st Century?

We've lined up just the right two guests to discuss this critically important subject.

Their guest for the first half of the hour will be
Vice Admiral Michael H. Miller, USN, the 61st Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy.

For the second half of the hour we will have Dr.
Victor Davis Hanson, PhD, author, professor, nationally syndicated columnist, and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Do not miss this opportunity.

Join us live if you can and join in with the usual suspects in the chat room where you can contribute your thoughts and observation - and suggest to us questions for our guests.

If you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio - but the best way to get the show and download the archive to your audio player is to get a free account and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Fullbore Friday

E40 had a special request - how could I say no?{oops, wrong post, here is the right one}

Training. Drills. PMS. PQS. Attention to detail.

Do you do just the minimum, or do you ask for extra time to get it better and better? Do you train and inspect hard? How many times have you gone through different scenarios with your crew?

Do all your watch standers know how critical their position and responsibility is? From the OOD to the YN3 on the 50cal.; do they appreciate that they are as important as the Commanding Officer?

Discipline. Discipline and obedience in the time of stress, strain, and unimaginable threat to life an honor. Have you and your crew's training been built to refine and demonstrate those qualities? How do you address shortcomings? Are your Chiefs and First Class focused, demanding, masters of their team and
As the Sydney approached the starboard beam of the larger Kormoran, the cruiser used a daytime searchlight to flash the signal “NNJ,” the maritime code ordering the merchant ship to identify herself. After a delay, the Kormoran ran up the signal flags of the Dutch vessel Straat Malaaka, although their location ahead of the freighter’s single large funnel purposefully made it difficult for the Sydney’s spotters to read. The warship requested the freighter to re-position the flags, and as German crew slowly complied, the distance between the two ships, still sailing due west, shrank to a mile.

“Where bound” came the second signal flashed by the Sydney. “Batavia” was the reply from the Kormoran, indicating the capital of the Dutch colony of Java lying over a thousand miles to the north.

Aboard the German raider, Detmers and the bridge staff watched the exchange of signals anxiously and urged the enemy cruiser to sail away and leave them alone. Their fear rose when they saw the Sydney’s crew prepare to launch the spotter plane from the amidships catapult. The plane, once airborne, would easily spot the hundreds of naval mines strewn about the Kormoran’s high deck, giving away its identity as a raider. But the launch crew apparently received new orders and returned the plane to its storage position.

According to the recollections of Heinz Messerschmidt, a 26-year-old lieutenant commander aboard the Kormoran at the time, Detmers turned to his officers and reassured them again, “Ah, it's tea time on board. They'll probably just ask us where we are going and what cargo and then let us go on.”

By luck and guile the Kormoran had survived for almost a year by preying on isolated Allied merchant ships. But this was its first encounter with a warship brandishing guns of equal firepower. Still playing on its disguise as a helpless merchantman, the Kormoran’s radio operator began broadcasting the alert signal “QQQQ” meaning “suspicious ship sighted.” The anxious signal likely confused the Sydney, whose radio operator would have received the transmission, as did a wireless station 150-miles away in the Australian coastal town of Geraldton.

As the parley continued, the distance between the two ships shrank to less than a mile. Lookouts on the Sydney scanned the freighter for suspicious markings or signs of weapons.

But carefully concealed behind special screens and tarps on the Kormoran’s decks was an arsenal of naval guns, torpedo tubes, and anti-tank guns, all manned, loaded, and trained on the unaware cruiser. Later investigations would attempt to determine why Captain Burnett approached so closely to the Kormoran, or if he was lured into false sense of security.

Although both ships possessed guns of similar caliber, the Sydney’s fire control system and experienced turret crews only would be an advantage at longer ranges. Whether by inexperience or trickery, the Sydney’s vulnerable position would soon turn perilous. Over an hour after the cruiser first sighted the freighter on the horizon and gave chase, Burnett ordered the Sydney to flash the signal “1K”–one half of the secret Allied call sign for the Straat Maalaka—across the short gap between the ships. The actual Dutch freighter of that name had a codebook with the corresponding two-letter response. The Kormoran did not. Detmers realized that the time for hiding was over. He ordered the Dutch flag taken down and the German naval ensign run up the mast as the camouflage screens fell away to reveal the line of gun barrels trained on the Sydney. The Kormoran’s 5.9-inch guns fired first, while the rapid-fire anti-tank and machine guns opened up on the officers visible on the cruiser’s bridge. It was shortly after half past five in the afternoon.

The first two 5.9-inch salvos from the Kormoran missed the Sydney, according to reports from the German gunners. But the third volley crashed into the bridge and gun director tower, crippling the cruiser’s ability to return accurate fire just seconds into the battle.

Meanwhile, the raider’s anti-tank and machine guns raked the Sydney’s bridge, presumably killing or wounding many of the officers standing there. Other guns sprayed the exposed portside 4-inch gun mounts and torpedo tubes, preventing their crews from manning them. According to German witnesses, the gap between the two ships was between 1,000 and 1,500 yards—a distance more appropriate for the muzzle-loading cannons of Trafalgar than the rapid-fire guns and high explosive shells of the Second World War.

The Sydney’s first response was a salvo of 6-inch rounds that passed over the now exposed raider. However, the next shells from the Kormoran smashed into the cruiser’s forward “A” and “B” turrets and put them out of action. Another German shell exploded the spotter plane amidships, spilling burning aviation fuel over the decks and black smoke billowing into the sky. Sydney’s “X” and “Y” turrets located in the rear of the ship continued to fire under local control for a few more minutes, but only the crew of “X” achieved hits, sending three rounds into the high-sided freighter. One shell struck amidships, and another punched into the engine room. But the third shell tore through the raider’s funnel, severing the oil warming lines and sending burning fluids cascading down into the motor room to ignite a major fire.

At about this time the Kormoran reportedly launched two torpedoes; at least one struck the Sydney between the mangled “A” and “B” turrets tearing a huge gash in the bow and igniting even more fires. Locked together like two wavering boxers, the warships exchanged constant blows that crippled them both within a few minutes. A storm of shells swept across the water as impacting rounds blossomed into fireballs and pillars of smoke from burning fuel climbed into the evening sky.

Fifteen minutes after firing began, the stricken Sydney made a sudden turn to port, passing close behind the Kormoran and allowing the raider’s rear guns to engage the previously sheltered starboard side of the cruiser. But the Sydney’s turn also permitted her crew to launch a spread of four torpedoes at the raider, all of which missed.

By this time the fires in the Kormoran’s engine room had spread to destroy the machinery, causing the freighter to stop in the water. The Sydney limped slowly away to the south still under fire, down severely at the bow and burning ferociously. Around six o’clock the now immobile Kormoran loosed a final torpedo from an underwater tube at the fleeing Sydney that apparently missed. The 5.9-inch guns on the raider continued to engage the cruiser for another half hour as the range increased and darkness fell. The Germans’ last view of the Sydney came a few hours after sunset—a burning glow on the distant southern horizon that slowly flickered and faded away.

Detmers soon realized that the Kormoran’s uncontrollable fires threatened the hundreds of volatile mines stored on the deck. He ordered his crew to set scuttling charges and abandon ship. Without panicking, the German crew launched lifeboats and watched as the charges detonated along the ship’s keel shortly after midnight, sinking the Kormoran on her 352nd continuous day at sea.

Of the raiders crew of 397 officers and men, 317 survivors reached the Australian coast over the next few days. And in an outcome that has fueled controversy ever since, neither the Sydney, nor her crew of 645 officers and men, were ever seen again.
That is why we have standards. That is why we have qualifications. That is why we should demand excellence and discipline. Are your standards and expectation focused for the same reasons as Fregattenkapitän (Commander) Theodor Detmers? An epic story.

BZ to ewok40k for pointing out that KORMORAN has been found, and as Matt tells us, the SYDNEY has been found as well.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

If Admiral Harvey could ask, "WTF, over!" ...

... I'm sure he would. He can't/shouldn't - so I am going to join with Lex in asking; something is wrong. What is it?

Admiral Harvey outlines where we are,
Here's a summary of the ten Commanding Officer reliefs that occurred in 2010 and 2011 in U.S. Fleet Forces.
  • USS THE SULLIVANS- Multiple operational incidents culminating with a buoy collision that damaged the port screw while deployed.
  • USS JOHN L HALL - Collision with a pier while deployed
  • USS TRUXTUN - Inappropriate relationship with a junior member of the wardroom.
  • NCTS Bahrain - Inappropriate relationships with several members of the command.
  • USS GUNSTON HALL - Sexual harassment, maltreatment of subordinates, assault, drunk and disorderly conduct. Command Master Chief (CMC) also relieved for failure to take appropriate action for inappropriate/unprofessional behavior.
  • USS MEMPHIS - Cheating ring involving exams.
  • NMCB 21 - Failure to address inappropriate/unprofessional behavior by subordinates. CMC also relieved for failure to take appropriate action for fraternization and unduly familiar relationships.
  • USS ENTERPRISE - Exceptional lack of judgment while XO of ENTERPRISE.
  • USS STOUT - Failure to take action to deter unprofessional behavior in overseas ports, hostile command climate. CMC also relieved for failure to correct a pervasive pattern of unprofessional behavior by the ship's crew.
  • USS PONCE - Dereliction of duty, unprofessional conduct, favoritism, hostile command climate. Executive Officer (XO also relieved for being complicit by action and inaction in creating a hostile, unprofessional and unsafe environment onboard PONCE.
He also offers some very good advice for those in or want to be in the Command pipeline. Read it all.

Lex's ponderings, I am sure, echo many others' thoughts as they look at what is going on.
Something has changed, and I don’t believe its intolerance for buffoonery from flag officers – the standards are pretty darn clear. Instead, it must be something in the culture. We’re either raising people to positions of leadership that they’re not qualified for, or people have come to believe that wearing that command pin makes them somehow eight feet tall and bulletproof. Or maybe some combination of the two.

I bet there’s some fascinating analysis circulating within the flag ranks, but as for me, I’m mystified.
Like I commented over at Lex's place, there is something very wrong going on here. It's not ignorance - heck this stuff is pounded in your head. We know from the Baghram P-3 off the runway to a couple of ship groundings, there are significant issues with people having enough flight hours/underway time prior to Command - but the personal behavior stuff? You've got me.

Has the Navy changed, people changed - or a little of both? Something is out of balance.

I think we could use a more open discussion of the causes and punishment. We don't need to gibbet people from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge - but we do need to do more than we are now. Fear and shame can work wonders for some personality types. Quite and cuddly ain't doing the trick anymore.

Bing West on Admiral Mullen

As usual, Bing tells you exactly how he feels with a remarkable efficient use of the English language.
Admiral Mullen, the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was out of his depth in advising about the Af-Pak war, and the advice on how to handle Libya has not proved prescient.
CJCS is a very challenging job, but .... it is hard to argue those two points by Bing West. Very hard. Combine that with his record as CNO ... and ... well ... your opinion is welcome.

If you want to hear more from Bing West, listen to Midrats two week ago where we interviewed him with former SECDEF Rumsfeld.

We'll call it a unforced error ...

... or a terrorist victory, either one works.

This isn't my father's America, and I feel ashamed that it is considered the norm in mine. This isn't necessary to put free citizens through. My attitude towards the TSA's policies come from the same cup as my attitude towards "Serve & Protect" police departments playing army dress-up to knock down doors like some modern day Einsatzgruppen looking for Jews in some Polish village.

So - land of the free and the home of the brave. How do we treat a former Miss America?

Just in case ya'll don't check Drudge now and then; ask Miss America USA title in 2003, Susie Castillo.

Can we get
her to run for Congress or sump'n? I think she just had a road to Damascus moment. For the record, I do the same thing at airports. I game the lines to avoid The Pornographic Irradiator.

Think about it a bit. In a free nation - aren't there better ways to do this, something Ben Franklin might understand?
UPDATE: She has started a twitter petition. Come join us.

Diversity Thursday

OK all you N1/Admin weenie types. Do a little mental math for me. The deckplate view of some of the warfighter's administrative burden.

Look at the below list. Ponder all the time taken in selection boards from the CDR-Command level on up. Multiply that by the number of commands that will process this. Add it up.

Then ask yourself - when have you ever known this to positively impact any warfighter's career? No, it strengthens only those who give the awards. It justifies their sectarianism and race-focused world view.

People in the USA have a right to be as bigoted in their views as they want. That doesn't mean we should invest thousands of man-hours and travel funds to make them feel good about their racialist hobby.

Shame on us.


FEW Federally Employed Women (Any rank male or female) (significant contributions during 1 Jan 2009 - 1 Jan 2010)

SECNAV Energy Conservations Award

SECNAVINST 4101.2 / CNO MSG 071438Z MAR 11

Black Data Processors Association Epsilon Award (BDPA) (Civilian and Militray

SAIGE Society of American Indian Government Employees (military and/or civilian male or female) (performance June 2009 through May 2011

National Women of Color in Technology Award (NWOC) (STEM) (Group 1) (Civilian and Military)

2011 BDPA Epsilon Awards (5 Different Categories)

LULAC League of United Latin American Citizens (military and/or civilian male or female) (performance Jul 2009 trhough Jun 2011)

American Legion Spirit of Service Award


National Women of Color in Technology Award (NWOC) (STEM) (Group 2) (Civilian and Military)

NAACP National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award (military and/or civilian male or female) (performance Jul 2009 though Jun 2011)

American Indian Science and Engineering Society Award (Civilian and Military)

Hispanic Engineer National Achievements Awards Corporation (HENAAC)

BIG - Blacks In Government Civilian Meritorious Service Award (Civilian and Military) (performance Aug 2009 through Jun 2011)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sniping goes Salamander

You know me, I'm a simple man. Vince Lombardi is king and you can never bring too large of a gun to a fight.

If a 5" won't work, sniff, then get an
8". If the 9mm is lame, man up and admit you are wrong and go back to the .45. If you are tired of more Americans dying because the 5.56mm is a varmint round and not a warfighting round - then send the Loggies packing and get your 6.8mm round in production or go back to the 7.62mm.

The M2 is the standard; when in doubt, whip it out. .50cal is nice,
.338 is sexy. If your 7.62mm isn't quite what it should be but the .338 and .50 is too much to take with you ... what is a red-blooded American to do?

Simple, go with a very American solution with a very American name - upgun to a .300 Winchester Magnum.

Little Bird's worthy replacement

Nice. Note the stats. Keep the acquisition fonctionnaires away from it and let Sikorsky's engineers deliver what they promise.

Please let the Navy buy a couple of squadrons. Be radical; call them HAL squadrons ....

Hat tip Stuart.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Yes Tavis, it will be

.... but not like you think.

First watch Tavis Smiley, and then come back.

Sad that anyone who opposes President Obama is a racist in his eyes, but we've seen that meme before. I had to giggle about his swipe about people coming to protests with guns being racist on MSNBC of all places. He must be referring to this guy. What patronizing prattle.

You can disagree with someone without going the cheap route of avoiding issues and instead pulling the "one size fits all" race card, but as long as they get away with it - they will.

Speaking of issues; I frankly don't care all that much about the President's Easter messaging hair mussling.

No, at least he went to Easter services .... but .... the choice is interesting. I was a little worried when our post-racial President chose as one of first stops of his 2012 campaign a visit to Al Shapton - but I thought I would give him a pass, again.

Well - on Easter of all times (ponder the message of Easter) he made a choice. He chose to visit the church of Wallace Charles Smith. The Reverend Smith had an interesting message. His church - his ideas.

Is this really the man a person who wants to be President to all Americans should want to visit?

We don't have the video from Easter services - but this might do.

Would it be rude to mention that President Obama has no, zip, nada stake in African-American's history of slavery? His father and namesake was from a African Muslim tribe that was engaged in the slave trade for goodness sake, and the other half of his DNA is European. No one in his family line was a slave. He is as disconnected from the African-American post-slavery legacy as I am from the American-Indian legacy.

Well, there is one good thing from the above video. Smith knows that time is not on his side. Today's young generation does not have a use for his grievance wallowing. We as a nation have gotten past that. Sadly, we have a President who has made the decision that he wants to pick at the healing wounds of racism to enrage people to the ballot box. He wants to keep pull American back, not encourage us forward in race relations.

That is sad. Even though I didn't vote for him, I had hope that President Obama would take the chance to leave sectarianism behind. That was the high road, I guess we won't see that - at least not with this President at this time.

So yes Tavis - we will see a very racist filled 2012 election - but at this point the only place I see it being driven that way is by our President.

That is sad - but I shouldn't be surprised, I guess. I also guess that I am a racist for pointing this out. It is, I guess, racist to ask why someone is supporting another with a racist mindset. It is, I guess, racist to ask that people not act in a racist manner. It is, I guess, racist to want to live in a world where people interact with people based on the content of their character and not the color of their skin. It is, I guess, racist to deal in facts and not emotion.

I guess.

Misurata in the raw

21st Century Civil War looks a lot like 20th Century Civil War.

Want to know what an army without officers and NCOs looks like?

BTW - I think some of Byron's cousins hunt deer from trucks like that down on the bayou.

A picture brings a question

Here is something that I like to bring up every now and then.

110315-N-3185H-405 PACIFIC OCEAN (March 15, 2011) The Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Pecos (T-AO 197) pulls alongside the U.S. 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) to conduct a replenishment at sea. Blue Ridge is en route to Japan to support earthquake and tsunami relief efforts as part of Operation Tomodachi. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cale Hatch/Released)
The BLUE RIDGE is 41 years old as she provided exceptional service after the Japanese nuclear incident. Her sister ship, the 6th Fleet Flag Ship USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC-20) is 40 and is proving her worth in the Libyan operations.

Those who like the concept of "Sea Basing" understand the function and need of Command Ships. Those who understand the difficulty and danger of land-based Operational HQs in most scenarios understand. Those who can look at a map understand the utility.

Navy leadership and their shipbuilding plan? Nosomuch. How can we put "Transformational" on something that is big, slow, and has people in funny looking uniforms running about? Even making it "Joint" can't jazz it up .... no shock, as everything is "Joint" now.

Few ships are more unsexy than Command Ships - so of course their replacement continues to be ignored. Thought about
now and then - or strangled in the crib.

I don't care if you are a hard-power, soft-power - forward presence or home-based-global-reach proponent. Having good, survivable and robust Command Ships should be on your short list.

Yet - we are waiting until the last minute, if at all. Unsexy and critical - but sadly forgotten in the battle for money.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A national suicide

I am more of a "don't bet against America" person than a "We Are Doomed" person, but I know my thoughts are based on past performance and not necessarily future returns.

Drudge has "IMF: AGE OF AMERICA NEARS END" blazing from the title-bar this AM, but the "end" is something that can come in many flavors; relative and real.

The relative decline has to do with the fact that the rest of the world continues to recover from war, Communism, and hard Socialism. Their economies grow and as a percentage of the world GDP, ours shrinks as a percentage. That isn't all that bad.

China's population is over 4-times ours - so it only makes sense that as they abandon Communism they will return to their historical place in the world's GDP and Asian power structure.

The relative is beyond our control and on balance is a positive. The real decline is another thing.

Economically, the USA has lost its way through sloth, laziness, and a political system that had both sides lying to its public not unlike other Western European welfare states that we tried so hard to copy. From Britain to Greece, they are just 5-10 years ahead of our coming economic train wreck. If we were smart, we would see and modify our behavior in time. 2010 election was a start, but I don't know if we will have the follow-through to fix it when the pain is small vice later when the pain will be almost unbearable.

The problems are huge. Too few people pay Federal taxes. The Federal tax system we have is little more than a CPA and Tax Lawyer full employment system. We have some of the most anti-business tax policies in the Western World. We are quickly dividing into a class system; those who live off tax dollars and those who provide tax dollars. The public servants are starting to feel they are the public's overlords.

Enough of my prattle - here are some pull quotes from Brett Arends at MarketWatch.
The International Monetary Fund has just dropped a bombshell, and nobody noticed.

For the first time, the international organization has set a date for the moment when the “Age of America” will end and the U.S. economy will be overtaken by that of China.

And it’s a lot closer than you may think.

According to the latest IMF official forecasts, China’s economy will surpass that of America in real terms in 2016 — just five years from now.

Put that in your calendar.
We have lived in a world dominated by the U.S. for so long that there is no longer anyone alive who remembers anything else. America overtook Great Britain as the world’s leading economic power in the 1890s and never looked back.

And both those countries live under very similar rules of constitutional government, respect for civil liberties and the rights of property. China has none of those. The Age of China will feel very different.

Victor Cha, senior advisor on Asian affairs at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, told me China’s neighbors in Asia are already waking up to the dangers. “The region is overwhelmingly looking to the U.S. in a way that it hasn’t done in the past,” he said. “They see the U.S. as a counterweight to China. They also see American hegemony over the last half century as fairly benign. In China they see the rise of an economic power that is not benevolent, that can be predatory. They don’t see it as a benign hegemony.”
What the rise of China means for defense, and international affairs, has barely been touched on. The U.S. is now spending gigantic sums — from a beleaguered economy — to try to maintain its place in the sun. Pentagon spending is budget blind spot .

It’s a lesson we could learn more cheaply from the sad story of the British, Spanish and other empires. It doesn’t work. You can’t stay on top if your economy doesn’t.
The U.S. Treasury market continues to operate on the assumption that it will always remain the global benchmark of money. Business schools still teach students, for example, that the interest rate on the 10 Year Treasury bond is the “risk-free rate” on money. And so it has been for more than a century. But that’s all based on the Age of America.

No wonder so many have been buying gold. If the U.S. dollar ceases to be the world’s sole reserve currency, what will be? The euro would be fine if it acts like the old deutschemark. If it’s just the Greek drachma in drag ... not so much.

The last time the world’s dominant hegemon lost its ability to run things single-handed was early in the past century. That’s when the U.S. and Germany surpassed Great Britain. It didn’t turn out well.
Read it all and get sober. We are doing this to ourselves and most of the problem derives from our greed and desire for other people's money.

Though I had a falling out with her a couple of years ago, in this area I agree with Peggy Noonan. You know my call for years for us to withdraw almost all our maneuver forces from garrisons around the world starting with Germany, Korea and Japan. Re-center our military to a "US based with global reach" posture. There are many reasons for this. Peggy hits on one of them,
We have work to do at home, on our culture and in our country.
In any event - as Libya is showing us, we no longer have leaders who want to lead on a global scale - and allies who want us to do all their heavy lifting for them when they can afford to do it themselves.

I am tired of being the world's sucker. We are threadbare, shopworn, and hopefully understanding more the wisdom of our Founders when it comes to global entanglements. WWII was good. The Cold War was good. Proactive defense and score settling after 9/11 is good.

Enough. Let others fight their wars and pay for their defense; help but don't enable dependence. Let those who don't want freedom wallow in squalor until they decide to fix themselves. When non-state actors threaten us - kill them and destroy their property where ever it may be, and do it without apology, excuses or permission from international organs who have no standing in US law or moral position to preach to anyone. Pay off our debts so our children won't. Welcome China's rise and greet them on the global marketplace as we rebuild our strength.

This will take many years and many election cycles. Our politicians represent us - don't forget that.

Elections have consequences. One election won't fix this. Our yard has gone to seed as we focused our advice and time on our neighbors' yards. Time to look very hard at ourselves. We've fixed ourselves in the past - we can do it again - but it won't happen without work.

A real carrier takes shape ...

If she can survive the budget cuts ... but the lessons of the last two months might just save her when it is all said and done.

I found the difference between the CV and the F-35 jobs interesting.
Around 10,000 workers across Britain are employed on the £5bn project with up to 25,000 engaged in building components for the Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft.

The carrier will have between 12 and 40 F-35s, or Joint Strike Fighters, costing around £65m each.

Hat tip Lee.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Best of Command - on Midrats

I hope all are having a great Easter weekend. We are having a best of this Sunday from 5-6pm EST with a repeat of the wide ranging discussion last June with three present or former Navy and Coast Guard Commanding Officers on the nature of Command.

Our guests will be; CDR E. A. Westfall, CDR, USCG, Commanding Officer of the USCGC ESCANABA (WMEC 907). CDR James H. Ware, Commanding Officer, VAQ-135. CDR Michael Junge, USN, former Commanding Officer of the USS WHIDBEY ISLAND (LSD 41).

Even though this is a pre-recorded show, join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio - but the best way to get the show and download the archive to your audio player is to get a free account and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Sunday Funnies

Friday, April 22, 2011

Days & Questions on Libya

I'm doing a little review and updating on Libya over at USNIBlog. Come join us with McCain, Gadaffi, Mullen and UAS.

Fullbore Friday

One of my favorite FbF from the archive. Enjoy it again.
The war is about to begin. You are in command of your Navy's newest ship and are leading the attack on another nation's capital. Decades before others thought they had discovered such concepts as "Shock and Awe" and "Decaptitation Strikes" - you are on the tip of the spear of an attack that will seize the Head of State of the target nation before they even have a chance to resist.

Your opposition? A weak nation with a weak military - a nation you hold in contempt as the arrogance of their self-declared neutrality has lulled them into thinking they were beyond the reach of the most feared warriors the world has ever known.
They are so weak that you are sailing right into their nation's capitol. The only thing they oppose you with are obsolete, static defenses that even your Grandfather would dismiss. It is a great day for Victory.
Will your nation be able to stay out of this war? Which side will try to seize your capital? Will they keep to themselves? Your nation just wants to be left out of everyone else's wars. We have no claim on anyone's land or treasure. We insult no one. We just want to be left alone.

You are old - well past you life expectancy. When you started your service, most ships were just getting steel warships, there were no cars, trains were a rare treat - and the only things that flew flapped their wings.

Your command is over a hundred years old, your weapons are older than the fathers of the raw recruits you have running around your battlements. Your main guns are 50 years old.

This is your Command though - your young sailors make up for their lack of experience by the bravery that comes from bravado and ignorance. That will be good enough.
You have one trick though. One thing the enemy, whoever they are, do not know about. Thing is, your "secret weapon" is 40 years old. You feel old; but heck your secret weapons once belonged to an Empire that no longer exists - but that's OK - your people are known for keeping their equipment in good shape. You are worried. Even though the officer in charge of your secret weapon is out sick, you had a small boat pick up a retired Commander who, 31 years ago, once worked with them. He showed up last night. He will have to do - even though he looks like a museum ship in his old, ill-fitting uniform.

Sigh, you go to war with what you have - not what you wish you had.
You have no orders.

The approaching naval force already had forced their way past the outer forts and had received both warning shots and live rounds. As the vessels continue towards the capital, you make a decision; you consider them enemy warships and will engage them as such. Knowing your job, you turn to your men and state;
"Either we will become heroes or we will be court-martialled. Let's just do our duty for our country."
And so, it starts.
The total German naval attack comprised 1 heavy, 1 armoured and 1 light cruiser, 14 destroyers, 14 torpedo boats and miners and 41 freighters and tankers.

Hitler's planned to take the Norwegians by surprise and forcing them to surrender within hours (like he did in Denmark). But the first surprise he encountered was when the pride of his Navy, the brand new heavy cruiser "Blücher" - that was to spearhead the surprise attack on the nation's capital - at 4 AM, at full speed, no lights.

The heavy cruiser Blücher now moved slowly with darkened lanterns towards the old fortress built in 1847, obviously believing they could just sneak past. Erichsen stood at the main battery with his men to demonstrate that he as the boss was in the front line. As the German ships appeared from the darkness and morning fog, the loomed like giants ahead. A nervous, newly graduated lieutenant fiddled with the range finder and reported, "Distance 3,000 meter". "Nonsense!", Erichsen grumbled and shouted, "Distance 1,200 meter - Gun no. 1, Fire!" He never calculated to get off more than two shots with the museum-aged guns and his untrained men (some of them were the cooks!), so he had to get a hit!

By sheer luck, the first 28-cm shell hit the Blücher's forward gunnery control station, effectively disabling the ship's forward guns. The second main battery round hit the aircraft hangar, destroying the ship's Arado Ar 196 reconnaissance seaplanes and igniting aviation fuel and infantry munitions stored on deck. There was only time for the main battery to fire these two rounds, due to their slow reload time. After losing its fire control system the Blücher was rendered unable to effectively respond to the fortress' bombardment. Blucher's main 20,3 cm guns never opened fire.

While fire was raging aboard the Blücher, the secondary Norwegian coastal batteries pelted her with guns ranging in calibre from the two small 57 millimetre pieces at Husvik, designed to protect the fortress' missing naval mine barrier, to the three 15-cm guns of the Kopås battery on the eastern side of the fjord. The larger guns wrought havoc on board the cruiser while the 57-mm guns were successful in suppressing the fire from her light artillery as the Blücher slowly slid past the fortress. All in all thirteen 15-cm rounds and about thirty 57-mm shells hit the German cruiser as it passed the guns of the fortress' secondary batteries.

After passing the line of fire of the fortress' gun batteries the cruiser was burning and severely damaged, but its captain still had hope of being able to save his ship. At this point, however, the Blücher entered the sights of Kommandørkaptein Anderssen and two of his three torpedo tubes at a range of only 500 meters. The torpedoes the retired officer was aiming at the pride of the Kriegsmarine were 40-year-old Whitehead weapons of Austro-Hungarian manufacture. These torpedoes had been practice-launched well over 200 times before being fired in anger, and no-one was certain if they would function or not. As Kommandørkaptein Anderssen pushed the firing mechanism the weapons showed themselves to work perfectly, first one and then another torpedo raced out of their tube at three meters below the surface towards the ghastly-looking burning warship. The first torpedo hit near the Blücher's forward (Anton) turret, and the second in the engine room, leaving her drifting out of control in the narrow fjord. The third torpedo tube was left loaded in case more ships were to follow close behind Blücher. After firing the two other tubes were reloaded and readied for the next target.

With all engines knocked out by the second torpedo hit, the cruiser anchored near the Askholmene islets to try and fight the ferocious fires raging throughout the vessel. The Blücher's torpedoes were also fired against land to avoid them being brought to explosion by the uncontrolled fires aboard. The crew's struggle would still prove hopeless when the fires reached the midship ammunition hold for the 15-cm guns and a huge gap appeared in the ship's side.

At 06:22 a.m. the Blücher sank bow first into the depths of the Oslofjord, taking hundreds with it below. After the ship had disappeared from the surface large quantities of oil floated up and covered the close to two thousand sailors and soldiers fighting for their lives in the freezing water. This oil rapidly caught fire, killing further hundreds of Germans.

All in all, some 800–1000 Germans died, going down with the ship or burning or freezing to death in the fjord.
That is it. You have done what you could. But there is still work to do.
While the Blücher had been sunk the remaining naval force destined for Oslo had long since turned around and retreated back down the fjord. Not knowing of the torpedo battery, the commander of the Lützow assumed the flagship had hit mines and at 04:40 decided to turn back and land the invasion forces out of range of Oscarsborg.

Before the force made its escape the fortress had managed to damage the Lützow,the 15-cm guns of the Kopås battery scoring three hits and knocking out the ship's forward ("Anton") 28-cm gun turret. After pulling out of range of the fortress guns the Lützow employed her remaining "Bruno" turret to bombard the defenders from a range of 9-10 kilometers down the fjord. The fortress was also subjected to heavy Luftwaffe bombing later on the same day, to which the fortress could only reply with two 40-mm AA guns, but again without Norwegian casualties. One of the anti-aircraft guns became unserviceable after only 22 rounds; the other gun kept up its fire until 1200 hrs, but to little effect. After a break in the attacks the Luftwaffe bombers returned at 1330 hrs and soon strafed the remaining Norwegian AA gun, forcing the crew to seek shelter in the nearby forrest at around 1400 hrs. In all, the fortress was subjected to around nine hours of air attack.
But you know that it is far from over. Your nation is small and weak - there is much more coming.
Although the naval attack on Oslo had been thwarted by the actions of Oscarsborg, the city was seized by forces that was airlifted in to Fornebu Airport. In light of the capture of the capital, and with news of German landings at the village of Son south of Drøbak, Colonel Eriksen decided that further fighting without adequate infantry support was in vain. The fortress was surrendered intact on the morning of April 10.
So old man; what did you and your old equipment buy for all your efforts? How will history judge you?
The effect of halting the German fleet was huge. On board Blücher were troops specially designated to capture the King, the Norwegian government, the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) and the national gold reserve. The delay made it possible for all these to escape from Oslo. If the King and government had been captured, it is most likely that Norway would have capitulated fairly soon to reach a deal with the German similar to that gained by the Danes. Instead, the Storting was able to convene at Elverum and give the government a wide authorization to continue until a Storting could again assemble. In fact, the Norwegian government was able to continue the defense of Norway until it had to go into exile in London.
Never assume the "old" can be dismissed. Do not discount old officers and inexperienced men who are fighting in their home waters. Do not assume away challenges with fairy dust and hopes.

The Norwegians during the Battle of Drøbak sound.


Let me break your heart ...

So, take a deep breath. LT B - you may not want to look at all. Especially at all 44 pictures.

Hat tip John of Argghhh!!!!.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tiffany begets fragile

Quotes like this make me set me teeth. From Bloomberg,
The Pentagon’s comprehensive review, which will include the U.S. Navy’s vessel procurement budget, must consider the “fragile” status of the nation’s shipbuilding industrial base, according to the chief of naval operations.

“The industrial base is really a strategic asset,” Admiral Gary Roughead told Bloomberg TV. The Pentagon is reviewing its future spending after President Barack Obama last week announced his plan to reduce the national debt.

“That has to be part of our calculus as we make decisions,” he said. “The industrial base today, particularly as it applies to shipbuilding, is probably as fragile as it has ever been.”
Why is it fragile? Simple; too little work. Why too little work? Simple; too few ships. Why too few ships; because we decided to build a Tiffany Navy of LPD-17s, DDG-1000, LCS, etc. Why did we decide to do that? Simple; ask those responsible over the last decade + for our shipbuilding priorities.

Do we learn? No, let's keep deluding ourselves a little longer.
The Navy’s current 2011-2016 shipbuilding budget plan calls for spending $74.7 billion to buy 55 vessels, including $14 billion in fiscal 2012, increasing to almost $17 billion in 2015.
Really? We expect with the macro pressures of a budgetary nightmare and decreasing budgets that we will get a 21.4% increase in the shipbuilding budget? Really? Who's taking bets on that?

Maybe I am wrong, I'm open to that. However .... I really want someone to start an adult conversation on this. Right now, I simple cannot take that seriously.

Diversity Thursday

Hey! Ladies night in San Diego! In a perfect world there would be the "Miss Thong Bikini Colombia" contest going on in town that was having a marketing/network meet and greet - but oh well.

I guess there is a second place organization worthy of a low pass.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Just a reminder - EVERYONE is welcome at our NEW (Network of EDO Women) socials, and the next one in San Diego is THIS THURSDAY, starting at 1630, at the Neighborhood, 777 G Street, Downtown San Diego.

We hope to see you there!
EVERYONE means everyone. So, all you fans of female EDO types, grab your DifyQ notebooks, brush up on your Twilight trivia, get your D&D terminology up to date, and plunge right in.

POSTEX reports required. Tell 'em Sal said hi!
NB: This is a real event - and this is post is done with a smile. After all the sack-cloth and ashes the last few weeks, I thought it would be nice to have a little lighthearted fun with the Diversity's goofy side-shows. All with luv and affection ladies. Be nice to your fans.

The great motivators

Often lost in the huggly-snuggly shore-duty fonctionnaires who seem to dominate some areas of discussions about leadership - fear and shame are great motivators.

In that light - I have a great news story for you - and bully to NAVSEA.
The Navy has suspended the oversight authority of the local command responsible for supervising ship repairs done by private contractors.

The command, called Norfolk Ship Support Activity, has headquarters at Norfolk Naval Station. Staffed by both sailors and civilians, it oversees all maintenance work done by private companies on Navy surface ships in the mid-Atlantic region.

By suspending the command's oversight authority - formally known as its "technical warrant" - the Navy essentially is saying it no longer trusts Norfolk Ship Support Activity to make sure work by contractors is being done properly.
That NEVER looks good on a FITREP.

With some other things going on in the background - take this as good news. Next thing you know we'll be doing REFTRA in Gitmo old-school.

OK. Maybe not - but perhaps they will make INSURV UNCLAS again so we can all share and learn. Maybe next FY. Maybe.