Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Funnies

BTW - if you like Ramirez's work - the Investor's Business Daily Pulitzer Prize-Winning Editorial Cartoonist has a great book out, Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Oh, that ocean

Our Russian friends remind us why warships need to be more "robust" than "exquisite."

Friday, July 29, 2011

How we got here

Over at NRO's The Corner, Arthur Herman succinctly describes exactly how we got here; lies.
On a chilly morning in March 1788, Louis XVI’s finance minister sat down and drew up what was the first entirely truthful budget of the French monarchy — which almost turned out to be its last. It revealed that some 500 millions of revenue were offset by 629 millions in expenses, of which more than 50 percent went for service on the royal debt — a debt largely racked up, ironically enough, by Louis’s support for the American war for independence. For the first time, it was apparent that the system created to rule France since the days of Louis XIV could no longer continue. It was on that day, not the fall of the Bastille more than a year later, that the ancien régime ended.

Something similar is happening with the current debt-limit imbroglio. Some people compare our current political turn, including the growth of the Tea Party, to the American Revolution. A far better comparison is with the French Revolution. Our ancien régime is tax-and-spend Washington, which Franklin D Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and a host of lesser Sun Kings built and which the current dauphin Barack Obama wants to sustain. A corrupt bloated French monarchy sustained itself on the lie of divine right of kings, which made the king’s will law. Our Versailles sustains itself on a lie called baseline budgeting.
... and where did that lie start? Simple - with the worst Congress of the last 100 years that we have discussed here and Midrats - the 93rd Congress.
Created in 1974 by the same Democratic congressional majority that handed over South Vietnam to the Communists and gave us the CAFE standards that ruined the American auto industry, baseline budgeting forced the Office of Management Budget for the first time to consider growing government as the fiscal norm, and reduced spending as an aberration. Even reducing the rate of spending was redefined as subtracting money, not adding money by a slightly lower amount. This has created a system which today’s Congressional Budget Office would score a freeze on all government spending as a $9 trillion cut, even though there’s no reduction in spending at all.

The root of the dilemma we face is not political or fiscal, but moral. Until Congress overturns an accounting system that deliberately distorts empirical reality, we will never escape the corruption it entails — or the catastrophe that’s coming.
There is nothing we can do about it with the Senate and President we have. Lean in hard - and vote in 2012. Put this at the top of the list of things to fix.

Fire Scout vs. DASH

Separated at birth?

Fire Scout.


At this time, Gyrodyne was producing and delivering over 100 QH-50C drones per year.

Fullbore Friday

Of course,
A Marine who braved enemy fire alone to retrieve the bodies of his fallen comrades will be awarded the Medal of Honor, Marine Corps Times reports.

Dakota Meyer, who now lives in Austin, Texas, will be the first living Marine to receive the nation's highest military honor since the Vietnam War.
on September 8, 2009, in Ganjgal, a remote Afghan village near the border with Pakistan. As his unit of 13 U.S. service members came under attack by a force of 50 heavily-armed insurgents, Meyer, a corporal at the time, repeatedly ran through enemy fire to recover the bodies of fellow American troops.

Killed in Ganjgal were Marine 1st Lt. Michael Johnson, Gunnery Sgts. Edwin Johnson and Aaron Kenefick and Navy Hospitalman 3rd Class James Layton, according to the Marine Corps Times. An Army soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook, later died of wounds sustained during the battle.

"Whatever award comes out of it, it's for those guys (who were killed) not for me," Meyer said in an interview with Military Times.
A humble and modest man; of course.


Folks, I am about to drop in to places with limited IP connectivity until the middle of next week. I may be able to pop in and out of comments here and there - but I won't be able to post on late breaking news.

Don't worry though - I have pre-loaded posts for each day, so keep coming back. There are all sorts of goodies waiting for you. We're also having a Midrats best-of on Russia this Sunday at 5pm - so don't miss that either.

Set the troll watch and I'll see you next week.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another Ft. Hood attack thwarted

Nothing more to say, really, I guess. Via ABC,
A U.S. serviceman is in custody after he allegedly admitted he was planning an attack on the U.S. Army base at Fort Hood, Texas, the same base where 13 people were killed in a 2009 terror attack.

U.S. officials told ABC News an AWOL serviceman, identified by the FBI as a Private First Class Naser Jason Abdo, was arrested Wednesday after making a purchase at Guns Galore in Killeen, Texas, the same ammunition store where Maj. Nidal Hasan purchased the weapons he allegedly used to gun down 13 people and wound 30 others on Nov. 5, 2009.

Abdo, 21, allegedly told law enforcement he was targeting the base to "get even," according to law enforcement documents obtained by ABC News. The soldier had gone AWOL from Fort Campbell's 101st Airborne Division over the July 4 weekend, according to a senior military officer.

Diversity Thursday

Operationalizing Diversity; one drip of racialist discrimination at a time. Funny what is the top priority; funny.
Subject: Active Duty Status & EDO Diversity Policy Accountability survey
Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2011 08:42:26 -0400
From: [redacted]


I know that each of you are busy with your active duty assignments and we do not want to burden you with extra reserve administrivia, but I have a couple of requests:

(1) CDR and CDR(S) please participate in the EDO Diversity Policy Accountability survey - and the password is "edo". The suspense on this task is 08JUL2011, but we are trying to wrap up this week. This is literally a 5 minute survey.

Please advise me when you have completed it. If you have already done this and reported that information to the NAVSEA Reserve Program Regional CO thanks.

(2) We would like pictures and stories. At your convenience send me a picture of you and a short paragraph on what your assignment entails. I have also requested the same of the IA. All told we have had ~40+ RC ED on active duty for the last two years. We want to make sure the word is getting out on how we are supporting the AC ED community and the bigger Navy. Strong publicity is likely to lead to follow-on assignments and keep the active duty tempo at the same rate.

(3) Please send me a copy of your orders and advise me of your PRD. Given the shift in the DON budgets, future follow-on recalls or extensions are unlikely unless you want to do a high priority fill such as Afghan Pakistan Hands (APH). Please let me know of your desires so we can plan. ADSW are easier to arrange if your command has the right color of money. CDR [redacted] is the POC for NAVSEA ADSW.

Thanks for your service.


CDR [redacted]
NAVSEA RC ED Community Manager
SEA [redacted].2, (202) 781-[redacted]
DSN 326-[redacted]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'll take that LCS Plan B ...

They are involved with the next Canadian and Australian warships and others. Probably derived from their International Frigate concept from mid-decade. Leveraging some things from DDG-51 Class as well ... and ...
The nation’s leading independent naval architectural firm has been quietly seeing whether senior Navy officials are interested in a new class of frigate that would be smaller and lighter than the aging ships now being phased out of service.

The new 3,500-ton "light frigates" would be more heavily armed than previous models and be capable of carrying out a variety of missions over a wide area of the world’s oceans.

Gibbs & Cox of Arlington, Va., says it has produced concept drawings for a roughly 400-foot steel-hull, twin-propellor, diesel-powered light frigate that would be capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles as well as Standard III’s, missiles that can be used for ballistic missile defense. The ship also would feature sophisticated phased-radar.
So - you have "issues" with my license built EuroFrigates concept? Fine. Build this.

Hey - and you don't have to ask your enemy you want a training timeout so you can change out modules.

The last professional

One of the great quandaries of the last 100 years has been Germany. One could argue that they are the most educated, professional, and successful cultures in Europe (yes, Europeans are not one culture: CNO call your office).

They took one wrong fork after another in the 30s and wound up becoming a monster and now have such self-loathing that they are not even reproducing enough to keep themselves going. What a shame; I love modern Germany and Germans in general - I spent so much time there and really have nothing but great memories (though they are rude in the ski-lift lines).

It was often said that in most nations, the nation has a military. In the case of Prussia - the seed of the modern German state - a military had a nation. From the time when the Romans filled their Legions with Germans and on - the German martial tradition was strong and reached its peak with the Prussians. The post-Franco-Prussian War Germany took that Prussian professionalism with them. To this day, those who have worked with the rump-German military can speak of their professionalism - though they are firmly under their nation now days.

In their mid-century descent in to madness, there was one branch of the German military that held its honor the longest - some would say they never lost it; that was the German Navy.

The fact they had the last Jewish officers is one point, they were also the service that held out the longest with the traditional military salute, though with time that faded as more and more officers saw the personal-professional gain by "joining the club" with the fascist salute. Many stuck with it throughout.

There are all sorts of pictures out there where some are saluting normal, and others the fascist salute. I have always wondered about the background story of those who held out the longest. I have read Doenitz, Werner, Cremer, and others trying to get an idea - but nothing really sticks. Perhaps it is better addressed in German literature, but not all that well in English literature.

I feel like I am missing a great story; it is all kind of hazy.

Knowing I am a history geek, LT B send along a collection of color photographs of pre-WWII Germany from Life magazine. This picture was second from the last.

In it you see one officer, rank and name unknown, who is the last holdout - surrounded my madness. Just a German officer trying to serve Germany - trying to remain beyond politics as those around him folded.

What did the war hold for this man? What were his thoughts when this picture was taken - and if he survived the war; what were his thoughts afterwords?

I don't know about you, but when I see that picture all I can think of is sadness. Sadness for the last professional before his nation descended in to suicidal madness.

... and yes, the Pocket Battleships were one of the most beautiful ships ever made - never reached their potential.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

If I could only talk to my Senator ...

Well, here is your chance Virginians.
-----Original Message-----

Subject: U. S. Senator Mark Warner Town Hall Meeting
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2011 18:13:02 -0400

Forwarded on behalf of U. S. Senator Mark Warner; contact information below.

Please join U. S. Senator Mark Warner for a Veterans Town Hall Meeting
Friday, July 29th at 3:00 pm hosted by USO and Geico at the Virginia Beach Geico Office

1345 Perimeter Parkway
Virginia Beach VA 23454

All veterans are invited to attend to discuss important issues affecting veterans today.  
RSVP to 757-441-3079 or by Tuesday, July 26th at 6:00 pm.
Why he is hanging out with reptiles, I don't know.

Hat tip T.

Spying is for me .... not for thee

Actually, there is a big difference between spying and surveillance, but this should be expected.
Two Chinese fighter jets crossed an unofficial dividing line in the Taiwan Strait late last month in pursuit of a US spy aircraft, according to defence sources in Taipei and Beijing.

The incident marked the first time in more than a decade that Chinese military aircraft have entered Taiwan’s side of the 180km-wide strait. According to Taiwan’s defence ministry, two Chinese Su-27 fighter jets briefly crossed the so-called “middle line” on June 29.
China feels it loses face every time we exercise our unique capabilities. They push too hard sometimes - but we aren't going to stop.
Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, told reporters in Washington that the US would "not be deterred from flying in international airspace". He said: "The Chinese would see us move out of there. We're not going to do that, from my perspective. These reconnaissance flights are important".
We like to watch and ponder. That is good.

One final side-bar; once again you have to go to the British press to get anything good on this. Our major media on such topics, in a word; blows.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just move along ....

Look at your COTS - and look at all that "exquisite" technology that makes your Drone Military workable. Ponder, they are.
China's military is developing electromagnetic pulse weapons that Beijing plans to use against U.S. aircraft carriers in any future conflict over Taiwan, according to an intelligence report made public on Thursday.

Portions of a National Ground Intelligence Centerstudy on the lethal effects of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and high-powered microwave (HPM) weapons revealed that the arms are part of China’s so-called “assassin’s mace” arsenal - weapons that allow a technologically inferior China to defeat U.S. military forces.


The declassified intelligence report, obtained by the private National Security Archive, provides details on China’s EMP weapons and plans for their use. Annual Pentagon reports on China's military in the past made only passing references to the arms.
Admiral Adama is still grumpy with us.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mid-Summer Free For All, on Midrats?

Are there some topics you wish we covered? Have some questions you want EagleOne and me to ruminate on?

We have plenty of topics we want to discuss, but this week we'll take yours first.

Well, now is your chance. This Sunday from 5-6pm EST. Join the show chat, or dial in and ask your questions in person.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fullbore Friday

Remember the FbF from last year about the Battle of Westerplatte? Well - here's a reason to ponder again.
Aleksy Kowalik, one of the three surviving heroes of Poland's first World War II battle has died. He was 96.

Kowalik's daughter Jadwiga Bucz told Polish news agency PAP that her father died on Sunday in the southern city of Blachownia, where the family has lived for over 60 years.

Kowalik was among the 205 Polish troops guarding the navy's arsenal on Westerplatte peninsula, on the Baltic coast, who on Sept. 1, 1939 put up an uneven fight against German warship Schleswig-Holstein. Kowalik operated an anti-tank gun and was wounded.

Cut away from munitions and food supplies, they resisted for seven days in what was Poland's first battle of the five-year war. When they eventually surrendered, their clout prompted the German troops to salute them, when taking them prisoner.

As a POW, Kowalik worked on German farms.

He returned to Poland in 1947, got married and settled in Blachownia. He had four daughters.

Bucz said Monday that Kowalik will be buried in Blachownia on Tuesday.

Rest well Mr. Kowalik. Rest well.

Hat tip Stuart.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Well, you we could be Belgium ...

It's always fun to watch a German fuss'n at grumpy Dutchmen and lazy Frenchmen ... oh I'm sorry - the Belgian King scolding his Flemish and Walloon "countrymen."
The Belgian head of state used his traditional eve of national day address to demand an end to disputes that have left Belgium without an elected government for 14 months.

"On this national day, I would have liked to enjoy with you the swearing in of a new government. Alas, we are not there yet, and I deplore this," he said.

Banging the table during Wednesday's broadcast from his castle just outside Brussels, the king castigated "ignorant" voters and painted a pessimistic picture of the divisions between Dutch and French speaking communities.

"Our current situation is a cause for concern among our partners and could damage our position in Europe, and even the momentum towards European integration which has already been undermined by populism and Euroscepticism," he said.
There you go King - those pesky peasants wanting to run their own affairs with their own community. How gauche.

Putting your trust in Waloon Socialists - the ones who are responsible for Flemish separatism.

Stuck on stupid.

Diversity Thursday

In a way, I feel sorry for him. Like we saw with the trainwreck PPT of a few DivThu ago - the inherent illogic, unfairness, and just plain dishonesty of the Diversity Cult makes even the best minds muddled.

Meet Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), Juan M. Garcia III. Not Thurston Howell, but Juan M. Garcia the 3rd.

BTW, Asst. Sec Garcia - nothing personal here, you seem like a good guy - our paths (a moment of silence for the Connie) even crossed for awhile I believe - a couple of times. As such, this is going to bother me more than it will bother you.

If I were advising you, I would tell you that under no circumstances should you let yourself be put in the Diversity box - but you did .... so .... fair game. You want to play in that fetid sewer, its your choice.
He seems like a nice guy with some good advice at the bottom of the interview ... but ... what about this?
- Hold managers accountable for diversity success.
As we've covered this over and over - we know what that means; metrics, AKA goals, AKA quotas. If you don't meet your metrics, your UIC gets a yellow or red light. That is bad - so behavior is modified to give preferential treatment to certain groups that the Navy has decided it prefers over others; active discrimination in order to move to a green light. That means, more often than not, preferential treatment to self-identified, but not necessarily Hispanics and Blacks. Mr Garcia considers himself a Hispanic I assume - but does he or his children deserve any type of special treatment?
A Harvard Law School graduate and former Texas state representative, Garcia is a veteran of the Navy himself. He served as a Navy aviator, having gone through the Navy Officer Candidates School. He joked that his first naval commission was skippering the submarine ride at Disneyland while working his way through UCLA.
Of course not - but he does and he will, all based on what he checks in the block.
When I sit in a meeting with senior officers and senior government civilians on a daily basis, I value their perspectives but I can also look around the table and look around the room and I can see that some perspectives are absent, and I know that because of that absence good ideas are going unheard as a result.
There you have Admiral Roughead, the Chief of Naval Operations admitting that he practices the most primitive and base of human behavior - judging someone simply on looks; in this case initial impression of racial and ethnic background. Yea, wow. Not to be undone;
... I walked in with an all-white male staff and tried to tell – and there were many young junior officers there, as well. And one of the pieces of feedback I got from that visit was: You know, nice try. You know, what about your staff? A big message.

And so, two years later, when I – and I think Les has heard this story. But two years later I was having a farewell party for my personal staff – for four or five of them. And we had this party at the quarters. And there were probably, I don’t know, 20 of us or so in the quarters. And I looked around. And as a – going back to that visit to New Orleans, that somebody called me on. And, literally, you know, from that moment forward, my staff diversified greatly, in terms of women and minorities – because of, obviously, just the message itself that that sent in terms of priority.
There you have Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a disgustingly generational narcissistic speech on race where he too admits in not only judging race and ethnicity on a blunt facial recognition basis - but has also actively discriminated against one race - in this case Caucasians - in order to positively discriminate in favor of another in his Staff selection.

That is Asst. Sec Garcia's pic there on the upper right. Good googly moogly, who is he really - Thor Hammerstrom of Andalusia? I look more "Hispanic" than he does.

If he was sitting across the table from Roughead or Mullen and didn't have a name tag on - what do you think he would be classified?

If he came in as a prospective post CDR-Command Staff member to interview with the name, I don't know, Greenert as opposed to Garcia - would he be treated the same?
A Harvard guy with the last name Garcia. What do they call that on 30 Rock, a Twofer?

I think we know the answer - Roughead and especially Mullen already answered it.

Boomers with the slathering layers of self-hate. They cannot retire fast enough. Garcia is a early-Gen X like me, he should feel embarrassed to be part of this whole charade, he knows better. For shame.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Skipper, come sign your Page 13

Like I mentioned WRT the sexual assault post over at USNIBlog, I am a believer that the simpler the system, the more efficient and effective. Treat adults like adults, and more often than not you'll get what you expect.

When you make things too bureaucratic and "exquisite" - they are more prone to failure from external shocks or changes in environment that require judgment vice diktat.

On the enlisted side of the house, I think that there are few problems that cannot be solved with a CMDCM backed up by a solid Chiefs Mess. For officers, your word and a short face-to-face with your ISIC should be all it takes. No paperwork required per se ... but that isn't the Navy we have in many cases.

For our problem children, no, you need a very thick counseling/training jacket. You need the "Ref. A through NN" as it isn't the word of a CMDCM or Commanding Officer that is important, you see, it is the paper.

For over two decades, I rolled my eyes at a "Page 13." The older I got, the more important I knew they were - but that didn't mean I liked the whole undercurrent that came with them.

For those who don't know, a "Page 13" is an "Administrative Remarks" entry (really a no kidding page) in to a service record. It is usually done to have someone sign after reading saying they understand what they have been told, i.e. "Don't Drink & Drive - Show Up on Time - Don't Beat Your Spouse" - in many respects it is used as a legalism so people can't say "No one told me that, I didn't know that was required ... " etc. Essential for a system that has moved from honor towards legalism. Any JAG can explain how critical they are. What ever.

More often than not, they are either patronizing and insulting to the professional. In matters of behavior such as this, it is an implicit understanding that neither side's word is of value, that we don't trust each other, so everything must be in writing.

In that light - I'm not getting that warm fuzzy about this.










Admiral Roughead's letter in a nice summary and full of good advice - but having them SIGN IT? Really? Admiral "let's classify everything that might make me look bad" Greenert, who sent out the message above, will be the next CNO. Consider this I&W.

This action, basically, treats a Commanding Officer who has the better part of two decades of commissioned service behind him, the lives of hundreds of Sailor as his responsibility, and billions of dollars of material at his disposal - like a 19-yr old E-2 that needs to be told that he needs to obey liberty restrictions when ashore in Japan and is responsible for the content of his seabag.

Subordinates often respect their superiors as a reflection of the respect and confidence those leaders receive from their superiors. This isn't exactly a rousing voice of respect and confidence, so, there you go.

Based on the fact that we just fired our 14th CO this year - well - I guess some can defend this. But ... this is just more of the same. Continuing to do more of the same and expecting a different result is ....

The CO pipeline is long, detailed, and expected behavior is covered in detail multiple times anyway. Why people can reach their late 30s to early 40s and not handle their alcohol in public and/or behave themselves .... and still be promoted to such high levels remains a mystery to me. Well, no - it doesn't. We are all imperfect human beings.

Whatever the cause, having COs sign what is really a Page 13 isn't going to do anything but make people up the chain of command feel that they are doing something about it. Potemkin posturing, in a fashion.

A pathetic response to the real problem we have with COs being fired. Only a fonctionaire thinks that a bit of paper can substitute for solid leadership and a culture of honor and integrity - but that is the decision that has been made.

My answer? Look to root causes. More paper is just that - more paper.

Hat tip Squidly.

Suisun Bay will make you sober

After yesterday's post - I started thinking of what in living memory we thought of when someone said "mothballs."

Some think, still, that if history takes a turn - well - we can always do what our father's, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers did; pull from the reserves, rehab the mothball fleet, and get the shipyards pop'n.

We know the status of our shipyards in the second decade of the 21st Century. What spare capacity we once had is gone; the ability to flex has been lost in a sea of regulation, bureaucracy and a loss of technical expertise inside a desert that was once a robust industrial infrastructure.

The crime that is the treatment of the Navy Reserve is a topic we have covered before. I'm unmediated, so I don't want to go down that rabbit hole again.

Look hard at the pic to the right - then I want you to click the links below.

Prior to WWII, Korea, and even Vietnam, there were viable ships waiting to fill the gap as new ships were built or developed - ready for the reserve Sailors and trained Seamen to fill the void and man the units paid for by an nation who had the ability to take on bundles of debt that war requires, because in peace they kept spending in check.

This data-point from this slideshow got me pondering;
The fleet once numbered over 400 but in the last decade the count has been around 75 ships
Funny thing is - I'm trying to find some light in this hole we dug for ourselves, and I'll find one to post about soon, I hope.

For now though, let us ponder the reality we have - not the one we wish we had. The next Navy war when it comes - and it will - we will fight with the Fleet we have, and no more. That will be it. No reserve fleet to activate. No allies to flesh us out. No, just us. That will be it.
Under the Obama administration, the US Maritime Administration has stepped up efforts to dispose of these ships. By 2017, they will all be removed and scrapped.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Doesn't help with the credibility issue ...

From an economic point of view, I fully understand the concept of sunk cost - but this still makes me shake my head.
They are the two ships no one wanted, almost constantly embroiled in one dispute or another for the past 25 years. The two Navy behemoths have never gone on a mission, were never even completed, yet they cost taxpayers at least $300 million.

Now the vessels, the Benjamin Isherwood and the Henry Eckford, are destined to leave Virginia waters for good and be scrapped at a Texas salvage yard, with no money coming back to the U.S. Treasury.
The Isherwood and Eckford were part of an 18-ship class known as the Henry J. Kaiser fleet of replenishment oilers, titans that carry oil for Navy vessels around the globe.

They were the only two that went unfinished, and were part of a 1985 budget request from the Navy for three oilers for a combined $567 million, according to records.

The two were built at the Pennsylvania Shipbuilding Co. in Philadelphia, which defaulted on its Navy contract in 1989. The ships were then sent to Florida to be finished. But disputes over costs and materials in Tampa led to the termination of that contract in 1993, according to records.

The Navy thought about turning the Isherwood and Eckford into ammunition ships, but that proved too expensive. In 1997, three years after the ships had been mothballed in the James River ghost fleet, the Navy cut its ownership ties.

Since then, the two star-crossed ships have sat idle in the middle of the James - until this week.

The most important chart in the world

Want to see the next bubble? Over at FT, they have it for you - if you want to see it (click image for larger).

According to the report, between 1990 and 2006 — the year in which issuance of Asset-Backed Securities (ABS) peaked — assets with the highest credit rating rose from a little over 20 per cent of total rated fixed-income issues to almost 55 per cent. Think about it. More than half of the world’s debt securities were, for all intents and purposes, considered risk-free. In 2006, that was nearly $5,000bn of assets.

The financial crisis had a lot to do with triple-A ratings being slapped on to subprime securities which didn’t warrant them, we know that. The report says between 1990 and 2006 ABS accounted for 64 per cent of the total growth in the amount of AAA-rated fixed income, compared with 27 per cent attributable to the growth in public debt, 2 per cent to corporate and 8 per cent to other products.

But watch what starts happening from 2008 and 2009.

The AAA bubble re-inflates and suddenly sovereign debt becomes the major force driving the world’s triple-A supply. The turmoil of 2008 shunted some investors from ABS into safer sovereign debt, it’s true. But you also had a plethora of incoming bank regulation to purposefully herd investors towards holding more government bonds, plus a glut of central bank liquidity facilities accepting government IOUs as collateral. Where ABS dissipated, sovereign debt stood in to fill the gap. And more.

It’s one reason why the sovereign crisis is well and truly painful.

It’s a global repricing of risk, again, but one that has the potential for a much larger pop, so to speak.

Once again - the issue isn't govt revenue - it is spending. Anyone who thinks we are going to have a steady state shipbuilding budget through 2030 is, in a word; high.

Monday, July 18, 2011

T.E. Ricks joins Salamander on JFK

I am very open with ya'll about my biases. I am aware that, as with all life-long biases, often times you may not see things as clear as you should, and biases once set are hard to change.

As some of you know, I have had a life-long bias against JFK specifically, and the Kennedy clan in general. It isn't a "hate" bias - just innate dislike of their policies, methods, and as a small "r" republican, their quasi-monarchical habits and sense of entitlement. Iconography makes me a tad itchy too.

The only thing good I have to say about Kennedy's policies are concerning his economic and tax policy (something it took me into my late 30s to grudgingly give him the credit he deserved for it) and his advocacy for Special Forces. As for everything else - just put me down as having a Cuban-exile-familyesque view of Kennedy and leave it at that.

Thomas E. Ricks put together in a short post about 85% of the Executive Summary why when it comes to JFK, people should take the gauze off their lens and think, not feel.
As I studied the Vietnam war over the last 14 months, I began to think that John F. Kennedy probably was the worst American president of the previous century.

In retrospect, he spent his 35 months in the White House stumbling from crisis to fiasco. He came into office and okayed the Bay of Pigs invasion ... Vienna summit conference and got his clock cleaned by Khrushchev ... the Cuban missile crisis and a whiff of nuclear apocalypse ... American descent into Vietnam. The assassination of Vietnam's President Diem ... decision to wage a war of attrition ... another coup that JFK supported earlier in 1963: the Baathist one in Iraq ... Anyway, I think his track record kind of makes even old Herbert Hoover look good.
Ummmm, yea. That is a good start.

No President is perfect - but on the foreign policy plane, few started more worse plays in such a short time than Kennedy.

One thing that makes Ricks's comments worth a nod is that he too has some cultural context to work around,
Tom Ricks, was born in Massachusetts and is the grandson and great-grandson of Democratic politicians there.
Good. I think in the second decade of the 21st Century we can, at last, talk about JFK as adults.

Those worthless OHP Frigates ....

Last decade, we castrated our FFG-7 Class frigates and then complained they had nothing to contribute to the fight. We let them rot - then sold the best and sink the rest.

So many contrary opinions poo-poo'd away, and spin sold as truth. Well facts speak for themselves.

We've covered what the Australians did with their OHP's before - and here is another chance.
Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Port Hueneme in Port Hueneme, Calif., announced July 14, it has successfully designed and integrated a fire control system upgrade aboard Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Sydney.

The system upgrade completes a four-year effort by the Royal Australian Navy to launch standard missiles from Adelaide-class ships.

NSWC Port Hueneme personnel were responsible for the design, development, integration and test of the software upgrade to the weapons control processor of the Mk 92 Fire Control System, which is a key element in the system that provides the new capability to launch SM-2 missiles from a Royal Australian Navy frigate Mk 13 launcher.
What makes the US Navy look worse - a SM-2 on a fully functional and maintainable MK-13, or the VLS cluster forward?

Too late now - but still worth reminding "them" that is was a moment of failure not to join the Australians, and probably other OHP users that would have joined a US move, in giving a solid ship a new lease on life.

Oh, and before someone chirps about cost - review economies of scale and then sit down and ponder. Yes, the program had some problems - but they worked out just fine as the evolutionary usually does.

Let's say in an alternative universe that we decided to join the Australian effort back in the late-90s. HMAS SYDNEY was commissioned in 1983. Even though we just transferred the MCINERNEY (commissioned in 1979) to Pakistan - let us assume that somewhere in the past decade, sanity compromised with the Transformationalists and agreed to buy time by joining in our version of the FFG Upgrade.

Just so no one can claim we're messing with "unrealistic numbers," let's say we decided to convert all OHP Class frigates built after 1984 to the FFG Upgrade standard.

What would that gain us? My quick counting would give us ~18 Frigates able to launch SM-2 and Harpoon through the MK-13. ESSM through the MK-41 VLS 8-pack and other updated systems as well.

Assume a 30-yr average life - that would keep that superior warfighting capability in the fleet from 2014-2019. By then perhaps someone with enough pixie dust would have found a way to make LCS useful. Maybe. Instead - we have what we have now.

No, you can't change bad decisions of the past, but you can use the example of those mistakes to inform future decisions.

Hat tip Mike.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Funnies

Byron, let's see your poofy-pooches do this in the basin.....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Unbroken & Unforgotten, on Midrats

This nation has been served by those who come home, and those who never make it back.

Some have had their stories preserved and celebrated within living memory, some are almost unknown.

This Sunday, July 17th from 5-6pm EST, EagleOne and I will cover both sides of our military experience.

For the first half hour our guest will be best selling author Laura Hillenbrand to talk about her latest book Unbroken; an incredible story of survival of Louie Zamperini - olympic athlete, B-24 Liberator bombardier, survivor of being adrift at sea for months and the as a POW under the Japanese.

Unbroken is presently #9 on Amazon in general, and #2 in Military History. Laura's previous works include Seabiscuit.

Our guest for the second half of the hour will Michael R. Caputo of The Intrepid Project - people doing all they can to bring some shipmates home. He is here to talk about 12 Sailors who have been abandoned in a mass grave in a mass grave in Libya.

After dying at sea after a failed mission, when their bodies washed up on the shores of Tripoli on 04 SEP 1804, the bashaw had dogs to devour them as other American prisoners of war looked on. These 13 heroes are buried in two mass graves in Libya. One of those graves is unmarked and underfoot on the Tripoli plaza where Gadaffi has held anti-America rallies for decades. They want to bring them home.

Before the present operations to oust him - there were discussions with the Gadaffi family. If we succeed in Libya, perhaps there will be enough good will by the transitional government to let us bring them home. Pressure will have to come from the outside and Congress to bring out Shipmates home - the Navy won't.

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.

Friday, July 15, 2011

SIMA Returns

VADM McCoy - I again tip my hat to you.
The Navy’s Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC) formally re-established its Intermediate Maintenance Activity (IMA) at Naval Station Mayport, June 28, providing the fleet with a renewed capability to train Mayport-based surface ship crews to perform shipboard maintenance and repairs.

In the past, IMAs served as a critical component of the training pipeline for fleet Sailors. In recent years, however, funding cuts led to the downsizing of these facilities. Re-establishing the intermediate maintenance activity in Mayport reflects the Navy’s commitment to a “back-to-basics” approach to shipboard material readiness.

“This is not just about a ceremony, but rather we are embarking on an important mission that recognizes the significant revolution that has happened in how the Navy views surface ship maintenance,” said Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, commander, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). “In a budget-constrained environment, the fleet has supported adding a total of 50 additional skilled personnel to this activity. By 2012, we will add another 85 military and civilian. We are expanding and bringing back the needed facilities to properly support the needs of the fleet.”
I almost titled this another "XXX goes Salamander" - as things that we have been talking about for years - and being told to shut up about because we "didn't get it" - are now coming to pass.

Read it all - but this from NAMTS News sounds like vindication.
While the changes were well-intended and the immediate results of the reorganization of the maintenance infrastructure and hands-on in-rate training created a short term cost savings for the Navy, the unintended consequences of not training Sailors to maintain or repair their shipboard equipment created a noticeable void in material readiness that degraded with time.

The commanders of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, concerned over this decline in readiness, commissioned a Fleet Review Panel in 2009 to look into how Surface Force readiness had changed and to make recommendations for improvements. The Panel report concluded there was no single specific cause or issue driving down Surface Forces readiness, but rather it was the result of many changes in policy and practices over time. The report served as a catalyst to focus senior Navy leadership's attention on the readiness issue and spawned a number of corrective actions.
Ya'll's can put the beer you owe us next to Mr. T's Haircut's seat for when he returns.

I know this resonated with a lot of folks on the front porch active duty, civilian, retired and otherwise as many of you sent this to me.

Let's bask on another data point on the way back to sanity and recovery.

BTW - one reason I am not crowing is that this burden from the fever-addled minds of the Transformationalists was born by - and will be fixed on - the backs of Sailors. They suffered for the theories of lesser men - and they will rebuild and repair the damage done. They will, given time, get us back to square one. From there we can start to improve and make it better.

BZ to those who made it happen. Time to get to work, we have a mess to clean up.

If you need more shore BA/NMP to build it up - just give me the manning documents from OPNAV and CNP - I'll find you the BSC in about 45 minutes as long as you let me re-code as I wish. I'll leave the paygrades - I just want free access to the BSC. Yea, I'll find you the bodies. Heck - I'll even give you 20% for savings.

Fullbore Friday

Of course.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm married and north of, ahem, 40 - right?

D@mn. I can't dance or sing either. Sigh, I guess I'm out of the running.

Justin - if you don't jump on this, you're a fool.

And by "this" I mean the offer. Just look at her fellow Marines behind her; I'd behave yourself if I were you. That and she is the only Marine female serving at the Martial Arts Center for Excellence at Marine Corps Base Quantico - so .... let her lead on the dance floor.

As a side-note; I've always had a weakness for female Marines. They are tough as nails, yet notice (as only the father of daughters would), that no matter who they are - deep down they are all woman and someone's princess. Note Sgt Moore's hand movements from the 9-11 second point. Yep, there you go.

American women - melt you heart and/or break your neck. Whichever option they choose at a given moment of time. If they could only tie a scarf as well as French women then they would be perfect.

VADM Burke & McCoy, thank you

Thank you for helping to move this issues out of the blogosphere and media and in to Congress. This conversation is of critical importance and we need to have it in the open where creative friction can help move us to a place we need to be.

Via our buddy Phil Ewing at DODBuzz, seems like Salamanderesque verbiage is breaking out all over the place.
A pair of top Navy officials admitted Tuesday that its endemic readiness problems are basically unresolved — and may keep getting worse — before the service’s plans to fix its surface fleet finally take effect. Vice Adm. Bill Burke, the Navy’s top maintenance officer; and Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, head of Naval Sea Systems Command, told a House Armed Services Committee panel that it took so many years, and so many interconnected decisions, to put the surface Navy in its current state that it would take a lot of time and effort to get it right again.
Over the past five years and beyond, Navy inspections have found that a growing number of the Navy’s surface warships aren’t ready to fight: The ships are in bad physical shape, carry broken equipment, insufficient spare parts, and can’t even rely upon their advanced weapons and sensors. But despite years of embarrassing reports in the press and harangues from Congress and top DoD officials, the fleet has been slow to recover, given the wide range of causes for its woes. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the “running government like a business” craze swept the Pentagon, top leaders rewarded commanders who could get the job done for less money, which then sparked a flurry of inter-related decisions that had the net effect of reducing the readiness of the surface Navy: The Navy fielded smaller crews, making fewer hands available for regular maintenance; it cut human-led, hands-on instruction, preferring to teach sailors their jobs using “computer-based instruction,” which meant they weren’t qualified to do their jobs at sea. And simple budget cuts meant ships didn’t get the regular maintenance or spare parts they needed.
has taken years to get the top brass to acknowledge the failures of initiatives such as “top 6 roll-down,” “lean manning,” and the “fleet response plan.”
McCoy and Burke said that about 70 percent of the Navy’s hoped-for fleet of 313 ships is in service today, but the service can only get to that goal if all its destroyers and cruisers, for example, actually serve for their full 40 or 35 years.

But Congress has heard Navy leaders give this explanation many times before, Forbes said. He pointed to statistics that showed an ever-growing number of Navy warships were being found unready each year — from 12 percent in 2009 to 24 percent last year, and 22 percent already this year. What is the Navy’s target for that number? Forbes asked. McCoy and Burke said the service is in the process of formulating one, but it’s a complicated situation. Forbes complained that defense witnesses always come before Congress with a plan for how they’ll get better, but they seldom appear to be able to act on it; as when DoD was unable to even conduct the basic audits of itself that officials promised they would.

Congressman, they get away with it because there is no accountability. You are actually promoting those who fail to tell you the truth.

Admitting the problem - one we have been talking about here for years - is the first step. Now we need to be very specific about what those bad decision were, who made them, and how we correct them.

Thanks also goes to Rep. Forbes (R-VA) for getting these VADM on the carpet to bring the conversation to the next level. More, much more. Keep pushing, keep asking. Next step is for you to find a way to FORCE the Navy to reverse its CYA act of classifying INSURV - reports that were unclassified for decades. There was no reason to do that, even less reason now.

Ask the incoming CNO about that, I am sure he will love the question.

Hat tip LT B.

Fire Scout Early Fielding Report

The Salamander underground comes through. The report to Congress on Fire Scout referenced earlier this week can be found here.

You have to skip the first 11 pages of letters to Congressmen and Senators to get to the meat. Head to the link above, give it a read and then come back.

Let's discuss. Here are my Top-3.

Since Milestone C, the program has conducted extensive flight testing collecting 1,500 MQ-8B flight hours between March 2007 and March 2011. Contractor developmental test pilots executing developmental test plans flew 1,250 of those hours. These developmental tests were not operationally realistic, and yielded little insight into the operational effectiveness of the system. The tests were conducted in a controlled environment with no opposing forces and at whatever pace was needed to collect required engineering data. No tests were conducted in adverse weather or with any form of electronic combat. Navy operators flew the remaining 250 hours in a littoral environment, taking advantage of shipping that happened into the field of observation and with no ground truth (time, space, position information) available.
There are limited data from which to assess the reliability, maintainability, and availability of the system. The contractor does not use standard Navy maintenance procedures, tools, and tracking and reporting software while maintaining the systems used during developmental test. While the aviation detachment aboard the USS Halyburton does follow standard Navy maintenance practices, the detachment includes additional personnel and contractor technical representatives that will not be present once the Navy fields the system.
The ground control station user interface software generates actions unrelated to operator actions or intent. As an example, during flight, if an operator deletes a target from the target list, it results in a lost link that requires execution of the emergency procedure to regain control of the air vehicle. In one recently discovered anomaly, the space bar on the keyboard acts like an “Enter” key for the currently selected window. Inadvertently hitting the space bar activates the selection in that window. Operators aboard the USS Halyburton discovered this anomaly when the air vehicle operator’s headset cord inadvertently hit the space bar and activated the self destruct countdown timer.
... and we deployed it to Libya.

What are your Top-3?

Diversity Thursday

Mapping bigotry.

Let us see - who do we NOT want to recruit?
2011 Summer Recruiting Events Schedule

* 2nd Annual Asian American Pacific Leadership (APAL) Career Fair
Washington, DC, July 8
* National Contract Management Association (NCMA) World Congress 2011
* Denver, CO, July 10
* Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) International User Conference
San Diego, CA, July 11-15
* 2011 National Conference of La Raza (NCLR) Diversity Career Fair
Washington, DC, July 25
* 2011 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Convention Diversity Career Fair
Los Angeles, CA, July 26-27
Various Locations, July 27-28
Don't you love the fact that they are supporting one of the most racist organization out there, "La Raza?" For those who don't know Spanish, let me translate for you, "The Race."

Shall we review the Queen's English again?
   /dɪˌskrɪməˈneɪʃən/ [dih-skrim-uh-ney-shuhn]
1. an act or instance of discriminating.
2. treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination.
3. the power of making fine distinctions; discriminating judgment: She chose the colors with great discrimination.
Remember - to actively deny something to one group that you intentionally provide to other is discrimination. Full Stop.

The cancer of division and sectarianism spreads.

Your tax dollars at work Serfs.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fire Scout Fail: some of the background

While I still, ahem, wait for the full text - little birdies tell me some of the gritty details that led to the Fire Scout problems outlined in the post from earlier this week.

Yep, this will do it.
- Fragile data link that results in lost communication and constant launch delays. Is that what caused the Libya debacle?

- Operators can't establish data link with ground control station (GCS) before flight without "excessive troubleshooting" and "procedural workarounds," and the data link often dropped out during flight. See the National Capital Region airspace violation. That's what happened.

- Because reestablishing that data link with the air vehicle is time-consuming, it's not suitable for time-sensitive operations.

- Fire Scout completed only 54 percent of assigned missions aboard the HALYBURTON this year, and failed to complete a single mission during a pre-deployment dress rehearsal at Webster Field.
I note that all the above is in an almost sterile electronic environment.

The report does note that Fire Scout's payload does provide valuable ISR, it's just hampered by the fact that the system itself has such operational problems.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Navy and Sexual Assault

We're pondering strange things going on over at the Navy Facebook page over at USNIBlog. Make sure and review the comments.

Fire Scout; and Plan B is ...

The rolling wreck of fail that is LCS and all its exquisite theory continues - as it was foretold.

We know that the ASW MOD is on Plan C (or is it D, hard to tell), and the ASUW MOD is in an existential crisis of some kind TBD.

Back in May though - at least for the Brave New World of DASH ... errr ... I mean Fire Scout, we had this from the CNO.
We also achieved the early operational deployment of the MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle,
... and then she was shot down.

I know - things happen in "overseas contingency operations that are not conflict but are a kinetic thingyabob" - especially to those things that can't evade hostile fire even if they can see it.

Well - amazing what can happen in six weeks.
The Pentagon's top weapons tester criticized the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter drone as unreliable in combat situations and only good for collecting non-time-sensitive data, according to a June 24 report submitted to the congressional defense committees.
BTW - if anyone can find the testimony as a whole - please send it to me. There has to be more "there there" from the DOT&E bubbas.

Of course, we saw through the hype years ago - but we knew that eventually they couldn't hide behind the PPT forever.

More free beer for the front porch - just take it over to the far corner - the cooler between LT B and Sid looks about empty. Byron was supposed to fill it up, but he wandered off a bit ago mumbl'n about needing to take his Poofy dogs to the groomer or some such.

Hat tip IndustrySpy.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Obamanomics Update

In pictures via Calculated Risk. You voted for it; bask in it.

How about a medal for finishing PQS early!

This is so wrong in so many ways, I don't even want to blog about it. Just read and cry the beloved Navy.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Reading the Board's Entrails ... and Then Eating Them

Chap rolled a question Joel and my way about Dan Drezner's article about being denied tenure, asking what we thought about it WRT command screening or promotion boards.

I read Dan's (who BTW I am a big fan of - you can see his works here) article first, then Joel's take.

Joel makes some solid observations about "up & out" - as for me, I was struck more about the emotional side of things. This should ring true to any officer who decides to make a full run at it; except for the very few who make 4-stars and wind up as CNO or CJCS; everyone eventually receives an "F" - or makes the decision to punch out.
I've been asked the same questions repeatedly over the past half-decade: What happened? If I could go into the wayback machine, what would I do differently? Do I still think about it? What lessons would I impart to others? Am I still bitter?
Tenure denials come with a multiplicity of stresses. The emotional pain of rejection is married to the material anxiety of trying to find gainful employment elsewhere, the anxiety of reassuring friends and family, and the existential anxiety of questioning if academe is the right career. In my case, however, only the emotional pain was an issue.

So what have I learned? The most important thing is that I now know that many of the mysteries that come with tenure denial will never be satisfactorily solved. I was inundated with "What happened?" questions the moment my news went public. In retrospect, the very fact of my denial suggested that my sources of information were not reliable. Even though I was at the center of the storm, my understanding was partial at best. People who earn tenure tend to have strong allies who lobby fiercely on their behalf. I didn't have any of those. I received the formal description from my department chair, and a few colleagues who were inside my academic star chamber told me their versions of events. Each of those people told me what they believed to be true—but their interpretations were incomplete. The result was a true Rashomon-style set of narratives.

Some of my friends started spinning fantastical explanations, including my political views and simple jealousy. Indulging in "What happened?" musings is inevitable—indeed, most social scientists are trained to search for underlying causes. But a good social scientist must also be wary of overdetermined outcomes. There is always the element of chance to any outcome.
Having to talk about it at every conference I attended for the next few years meant reliving the experience in a Groundhog Day manner. As interconnected as academics might be online, news of this kind spreads slowly. Even if colleagues know, some of them will play dumb in a face-to-face encounter, in the hope that my account will reveal some insidery detail.

With each successive explanation, everything becomes more rote. I soon had my humorous but reasonably forthcoming script at the ready, and it made these interactions increasingly anodyne. The only time I went off-script was when I was approached by a friend or acquaintance who had just been denied tenure—this happened on a surprisingly frequent basis. Over the next few years, junior international-relations professors sought me out to tell their tales and ask for advice and support. I had unwittingly become a patron saint of tenure denial.

In retrospect, these conversations were the most rewarding part of the entire experience. Academics are not a terribly empathetic lot, and those who have never been denied tenure lack the tacit knowledge necessary to understand the stages of grief that one endures after an outright rejection. Talking to my fellow rejectees permitted a candor that was not possible in other professional conversations. Discussing the many emotional roadblocks with those in a similar predicament allowed me to get a better handle on my own journey.

When does that journey end? I have mixed news to report: The pain of rejection is like a scar that never completely heals. Those who aspire to join the academy have spent their lives doing really, really well at school—and being denied tenure is about the loudest F one can earn. The sense of failure never goes away.

On the other hand, experiencing the ultimate rejection made the prospect of failure in other ventures less scary. I've taken greater risks in my research in the past half-decade than I ever did before—and the rewards have been very good. I've published four books, written or co-written 10 peer-reviewed articles and about 30 book chapters, essays, and book reviews. One of those books was about international relations and ... zombies. I'm a full professor at the oldest school of international affairs in the country.
There are many people who go into a selection board with everyone two echelons above them telling them how great they are - how much a "sure thing" it is - talking to them about what the next step is for them - but in the 10 seconds it takes to read the results - they go from Superstar to never-was-has-been.

Some take it very hard, some take it with a shrug. One thing that is true though, it all works out for the better in the end. Only for those who fall into bitterness is there no recovery.

Dan, like most, wind up in a very good place in the end - perhaps with a little more character for the experience.

Finally, if you want the background on Dan's tenure loss, I posted on it in the update to this post in 2005.