Saturday, June 30, 2012

What is Going on with the AG again?

If you have not been keeping up with the Fast & Furious fiasco - this interview by Glenn Renolds with Katie Pavlich, author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up is a good primer.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fullbore Friday

I'm moody and a bit grumpy today. I need a pick-me-up and some perspective ... wait ... here we go.

An encore FbF from 2008:

Take a look at these men and then their old, humble 4-stack DD-219, the USS EDSALL, the official Navy page does not do them justice, this one is better, go there for her epic start of the war, but for now - lets just look how she went out, in the end Commanded by Lieutenant (or LCDR depending on the source) J.J. Nix of Memphis TN, in one of the most untold stories of heroism in US Navy history. From the USS HOUSTON (CA-30) site,
Three days earlier, on February 25, Admiral Nagumo’s Carrier Strike Force (carriers Soryu and Akagi) sortied from Staring Bay at Kendari, Celebes, and entered the Indian Ocean with the mission “to cut off any escape of the Allied Forces.”

Nagumo’s Support Force consisted of the Third Battleship Division (battleship Hiei and Kirishima) and the Eighth Cruiser Division (heavy cruisers Tone and Chikuma). As fate would have it, destroyer Edsall had the misfortune to meet this formidable force on the afternoon of March 1, 1942.

At a position about 250 miles south southeast of Christmas Island the cruiser Tone was the first to spot Edsall at a distance of 15 miles to the northwest. Twelve minutes later Chikuma sighted Edsall too, turned, and opened fire with her 8-inch guns at 1730. The range was extremely long at 21,000 meters (11 nautical miles) and all shots missed. Immediately, Edsall’s skipper, Lieutenant Joshua Nix of Memphis, Tennessee, laid down a smokescreen and began a series of evasive maneuvers that were to frustrate the Japanese for the next hour and a half.

At 1747 battleships Hiei and Kirishima opened fire with their main batteries of 14-inch guns and ordered all units to attack the American destroyer. They began firing at a range of 27,000 meters (14-1/2 nautical miles) and their shots also missed the target. At 1756 Lieutenant Nix courageously turned his ship directly toward Chikuma and closed the range so as to fire his 4- inch guns, but his shots fell short.

Chikuma stopped firing at 1800 when she entered a rain squall and Edsall laid down smoke. However, the intensive fire from all four Japanese ships resumed when the hapless American ship became visible again. Because they were shooting at such long ranges, Lieutenant Nix was able to observe the flash of the guns and turn his ship in time to avoid being hit. He did so approximately every minute. He also abruptly varied his speed from 30 knots to full stop and back again, while making turns as wide as 360- degrees. Since Edsall had suffered damage earlier off Java when one of her depth charges exploded too close astern, her performance had been reduced and there was no hope for her to outrun the enemy and try to escape. She could only stay on station and avoid destruction as long as possible.

Japanese naval gunnery was relatively poor during the early stages of the war, often wasteful and ineffective. The attack on Edsall was a prime example. The official history of Japan’s navy states that some 1400 rounds were fired in the engagement but, until near the end of the battle, only one round found its mark. However, the action reports of Tone and Chikuma show that two direct hits (meichu) were made on Edsall, one by Hiei at 1824 and another by Tone at 1835. Still, this is an extremely bad percentage and much of it is to the credit of Lieutenant Nix’s superb ship handling under the worst possible circumstances.

So frustrated were the Japanese commanders after an hour had passed that an order went out to the nearby Carrier Strike Force for the assistance of aircraft. Nine dive-bombers from Soryu and eight from Akagi attacked Edsall from 1827 to 1850, even while she made smoke for the fourth time. The planes scored a number of hits with eight 550-pound bombs and nine 1100-pound bombs, setting Edsall on fire in what he Japanese called a raging conflagration (kasai). Whether because the destroyer was now out of control or Lieutenant Nix made a final courageous gesture of defiance, Edsall now turned directly toward her pursers and came dead in the water.

The battleships and cruisers pounded her relentlessly with their secondary batteries until she went down at 1900 in position 13-45S 106-45E, 430 miles south of Java. Cruiser Chikuma picked up an undetermined number of survivors, possibly as many as five.

Under interrogation they revealed the name of their ship, which appears in Chikuma’s log as “Edosooru.”

The Edsall survivors were taken to a POW camp on Celebes and nothing further was ever heard from them. After the war, the Army Graves Registration Service identified the remains of five sailors from the ship: F1 Sidney Amory, MM1 Horace Andrus, MM2 J.R. Cameron, MM3 Larry Vandiver, and F1 Donald Watters.

Lieutenant Nix and his crew never received any official recognition for their heroic stand, which was in the finest tradition of the United States Navy.
Captain Nix; you and your Sailors were Fullbore to the core. BZ.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Well, shame it is then ....

As outlined first and foremost by B.G. Burkett's book, Stolen Valor - we all know that the fakes and poseurs out there are not just harmless braggarts. They are harmful frauds that smear those who actually served, and through their false statements, absorb funds and benefits from those who deserve them.

The Supreme Court - being without benefit of having served - just doesn't get it. They killed the Stolen Valor Act and there is nothing more to be done.

What we can do is continue to do what we have done for years and the internet makes possible. Find the poseurs and publicly shame them. Partner with local news organizations to get the word out.

If we no longer have the law - at least we will have fear and shame.

I wonder what they would think if a bunch of people went around claiming to be a Judge?

Diversity Thursday

Earlier this year I had a reader give me a POSTEX report from one of the varied Diversity Industry Self-Justification exercises he attended. One thing that struck home was how many members of the management and leadership team were there ... and how bored they looked.

Why go? Is it true measure of support, or is there something more there?
-----Original Message-----
From: All Hands Messages
Sent: Tuesday, June [redacted], 2012 [redacted]
To: [redacted]
Subject: Register for NAVAIR Diversity Day - 26 June


Fellow NAWC WD Teammates,

An important component of achieving our vision "to be the leader providing innovative, integrated and dominant warfighting effects..." is building, nurturing, retaining, and leveraging the strengths of a highly qualified and diverse workforce. With this in mind, and as Naval Air Warfare Center's 'Diversity' Goal champions, Tom Dowd and I want to strongly encourage you, and ask that you encourage others around you, to sign up to participate in the NAVAIR-wide "Diversity Day" event announced by our NAVAIR Commander, VADM David Architzel, and now scheduled 26 June 2012.

NAVAIR is truly doing some great work in this area and the "Diversity Day" event on 26 June will be an opportunity to showcase that work.

The event will be held from 1000 to 1500 ET (0700 to 1200 PST) at the River's Edge Center in Patuxent River, MD, with VTC connections to all sites:
China Lake (two locations):
NAWS Conference Center, Sierra Room
Bldg 11130 CLPL Conference Room

Point Mugu:
Bldg 3015, Room 335

We hope to see a great turnout and participation from all levels at NAWC WD....r/Ron Smiley, WD Diversity Goal Champion & Tom Dowd, Co-Champion

* * * Registration instructions * * *

If you are attending at Point Mugu or China via VTC: Please submit your registration requests for the specific VTC location you plan to attend via an email to the Training Customer Service Desk (chlk_edd_help_desk ).

For further information, please contact Veronica Vasquez, SEP Manager at Veronica.[redacted] or 351-[redacted].

If you need reasonable accommodation, contact Rosa [redacted], IWDP Manager at rosa.[redacted] or at 351-[redacted]

* * * Annual EEO Training credit information

Annual EEO Training credit will be awarded to supervisors and managers who attend this presentation based on the following conditions. One training credit will be awarded to supervisors and managers for each session they attend. Supervisors and managers MUST sign-in at each session to obtain credit. The training will be presented in two sessions. There will be an overlap of one hour between the sessions which will cover a special presentation by Mr. Frans Johansson, author of "The Medici Effect":

- Session 1 will be from 0700 -1000
- Session 2 will be from 0900 - 1200
(Keynote speaker will be from 0900 - 1000)
Did you catch that?
Annual EEO Training credit will be awarded to supervisors and managers who attend this presentation based on the following conditions. One training credit will be awarded to supervisors and managers for each session they attend. Supervisors and managers MUST sign-in at each session to obtain credit.
There you go. What is the old phrase, "You get what you inspect." or "You get what you measure." ? Either way - that explains it.

Just like lawyers have required continuing education credits they must take - so there is EEO credit one must accrue. If X number of people are required to gather Y number of EEO credits - that equals Z full-time positions for ... wait for it ... Diversity Professionals.

There. Always about the paycheck.

Glad we have all that extra time and money.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dilute the Fleet’s Combat Power

Another exceptionally solid bit of work by our friend Jim Holmes at TheDiplomat.

Read it all, as it is full of wholesome goodness;
... last month, Secretary Panetta announced that the Navy will take delivery of forty new warships in the coming years. That sounds impressive. But what kinds of hulls comprise that forty? The single-mission Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), for example, aren’t descendants of the multi-mission Oliver Hazard Perry frigates they replace. The Perrys were built to perform picket duty with the battle fleet, fending off aerial, surface, and subsurface threats. The lightly armed LCS has important diplomatic and maritime-security uses. It is no frigate.

This uneven shipbuilding program will dilute the fleet’s aggregate combat power at a time when the threat environment has grown increasingly stressful – witness the proliferation of air-independent diesel submarines, stealthy missile craft, antiship cruise and ballistic missiles, and other hardware useful for disputing U.S. access to “contested zones” around the world. Secretary Work’s boast that the low-end LCS will “kick [the] asses” of foes it encounters may be true. But it misleads. It’s one thing to apply a boot to the posterior of a pirate in a skiff, quite another to enter the lists against the likes of China’s People’s Liberation Army. The LCS is eminently qualified to do the former, but ill-suited to the latter.


History is unkind to sea powers that invent fudge factors – golly-gee technology, tactical mastery, indomitable élan – to explain away numerical shortfalls. The interwar Imperial Japanese Navy had boundless faith in Japanese seafarers’ resolve and tactical virtuosity. Commanders talked themselves into believing that these intangibles would negate superior U.S. Navy numbers. Their navy now litters the bottom of the Pacific – in large part because Rosie the Riveter and her comrades turned out warships and merchantmen like sausages during World War II, overwhelming Japan with insurmountable numbers. Quantity does matter. Let’s not succumb to the sort of thinking that beguiled Tokyo in those fateful years.

The Camo Wars

I only link to this because it is such an "I told you so" moment, I just can't help my narcissistic self.

Now, who was it that called for this camo pattern over half a decade ago? Via a great Beltway slam-down @ SOFREP,
The Crye Developed “Multicam” pattern. I estimate that this was developed for under $500k and it is one of the best camouflage patterns this Century has seen. There’s a reason combat units from all branches (including Special Operations) use it on deployment—it f[redacted] works.
Wait, there's a lame, dead horse. Let me beat it with SOFREP's stick.
The Navy’s “Aquaflage” pattern. I don’t know of one person I’ve asked who likes this silly uniform. Apparently it makes you vanish if you fall overboard, not a good quality if you ask me.
More good stuff at TheDaily on the topic.

Hat tip Lucien on FB.

We used to do things like this ...


For most adults on the planet - the "wrong spirit" is seen as the "right spirit." When I was an Ensign, we did similar things at official functions. Sure, everything has its time and place, and I can see where good people can say such things do not belong, but ... Was it all that bad?

Different planet.

Alcohol and knives when you graduate from a service school. At least the Russians can kick back now and then.

I bet they have urinals too.

A navy officer drinks champagne from a huge wine glass containing his dirk presented to navy graduates as he celebrates graduation from a Navy Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, June 23, 2012. Graduation ceremonies are held all over Russia now as students of elementary and high schools and military academies finish their education. (Dmitry Lovetsky, AP)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Code Monkey Notice

It is 15:50 EST. I am in the process of killing JS-Kit comments (they die in OCT anyway, so why not get it out of the way now) and will be moving over to Disqus.

I think I will be able to import all the years of comments ... if not they will be lost.

If you have comments ... hold off until we have a successful transfer. Watch this space for the execute command.
UPDATE: It appears to be up and running. Old comments should flow in during the next 24 hrs ... so we'll see. Until then - get started with Disqus and we'll see how it goes.

Rajiv & Exum on AFG: Partial Credit

I was not a big fan of Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book on Iraq, as I think he was a bit blinkered and his view lacked nuance, and I think he may make the same mistake in his upcoming book on AFG, Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan.

He is getting only part of the story - and letting a bit of an agenda float in what could otherwise be a solid job - just like his previous book.

In an exert in WaPo, he starts on something I actually have first hand knowledge of;
The problem was partly rooted in a 2005 decision by President George W. Bush to reduce American forces in Afghanistan and deploy them in Iraq. As the Taliban was gathering strength and violence was flaring across southern Afghanistan, his administration asked NATO to take up the task of stabilizing that region. The Canadians got Kandahar, and Helmand fell to the British.

By 2009, the British had 9,000 troops in Helmand because London kept adding more to confront expanding Taliban ranks. Although Kandahar was home to far more people, Canada had deployed only 2,830 soldiers to the province. Most of them were assigned to headquarters and support roles; fewer than 600 went on patrol.

When Exum returned to Kabul, he asked U.S. Maj. Gen. Michael Tucker, the soon-to-depart director of operations for all NATO troops, why more Canadians had not been sent into the city. Tucker said he did not want to dictate to the Canadians where to place their forces. “It is wrong,” he said, “to tell a commander, from this level, to put troops in Kandahar city.”

Exum was sitting next to Tucker. When he did not want others to see what he was recording in the Moleskine notebook he took everywhere, he scribbled in Greek. “This guy is a jackass,” he wrote. “Kandahar — not Helmand — is the single point of failure in Afghanistan.”

The decision to send the Marines to Helmand instead of Kandahar had been made by McKiernan, but he had been urged to do so by his subordinates in Kandahar, including a then-one-star U.S. Army general, John “Mick” Nicholson. When Nicholson met with Exum and his teammates to explain his reasoning, he emphasized that the Kandahar mission was Canada’s largest overseas deployment since the Korean War. Military leaders in Ottawa were reluctant to ask for more help — some were convinced that security in Kandahar was improving, others didn’t want to risk the embarrassment — and McKiernan didn’t want to upset the Canadians by forcing them to cede additional territory. To Exum and others on the team, however, it seemed that U.S. commanders thought that managing the NATO alliance was more important than winning the war.
Not everything is Bush's fault and that Beltway tic is getting very old. Only someone looking for a cheap and easy mark would make that statement about where we are in AFG right now. Let me take you back to the middle part of the last decade.

NATO's ISAF expanded their control out of Regional Command Capital from 2003-2006, after getting the nod from the United Nations to take Operational Control. In a strange fashion that only makes sense from Brussels, a German 4-star in The Netherlands technically runs the Operational Level Headquarters between the "In theater Operational Commander" COMISAF in Kabul, under a US General, and another American 4-Star as Strategic Level commander in Mons, Belgium in the person of SACEUR.

If you want to understand what happened between the middle of the decade and the surge where the US started to take the keys back in 2008 - that is where you start.

Back in late last decade, we went through it in detail (see Afghanistan and/or NATO tag if needed) - but let me remind everyone with an executive summary.

As any survivor of the 2004 election will remind you, "our allies" "international partners" and all that jazz was the big push. As AFG was relatively benign and we had such confidence in our soft-power and soft-covers ideas, the fevered concepts of the Bonn Conference have yet to implode, and people still believed that the Germans/EU could train ANP, Italy could fix the judiciary, Japan could disarm illegally armed groups, etc, etc. - of we went thinking war and COIN was new.

The whole operational plan by NATO was to go soft as possible, and they couldn't even do that. After a couple of cycles, it was evident that they couldn't even fill the very small Combined Joint Statement of Requirements. NATO wouldn't involve itself in Counter Terrorist activities, saddled its forces with caveats, and as usual over-promised and under-delivered based on best-case scenarios and .... hope.

There were really two wars being run - the American war in the East with Counter Terrorist forces here and there throughout the country - and NATO's war everywhere else. German traing teams wouldn't leave the North with the AFG Kandaks they trained, and Italian and Spanish forces would rarely leave their cantonments - much less the road. That only changed in late '08 and through '09 as the surge started to change the ground with more American caveat-free forces - even as CAN, NLD, and other forces ran for the door.

The final card in NATO's hand came out when NATO failed in the summer of 2007 to fill the aviation bridging force, and again in early 2008 requiring the usual response; Uncle Sam would do it. It became clear even to the last hold-outs that the USA needed to take back the keys and that NATO's plan would not work.

At that time, the USA had almost all its forces in the East. The Brits, Canadians, Dutch, Australians and a few others were in the South. The Germans and Nordic countries in the North. The Italians and Spaniards in the West. NATO was as tribal as the AFG.

We could not, would not, and should not have bully-boy'd our way in to the South any faster than we did.

AFG was not, especially in 2007-2009, and American fight in the South. Even if we wanted to - it would have been madness to have played the role of ugly American and have hip-checked our allies out of Command in the South in a rash manner. That is not how an alliance at war works.

The Canadians are not impressed either;
Canada's military effort in Kandahar has been heavily criticized and seriously misrepresented in a new book by a reporter and associate editor from the Washington Post ... Chandrasekaran reveals a misunderstanding of the history of the Canadian and American deployments in Kandahar and is apparently unaware of the many attempts that the overmatched Canadian task force there and political leaders in Ottawa made to get the U.S. and other NATO allies to join them in the fight.
The story of NATO's internal tribalism, our excessive hope in internationalism, and the international pettiness of IO/GO/NGO is really the subject for a book yet written, and it doesn't look like Rajiv's book will be it.

From what I am reading so far - this is all focused on the Obama Drama part of the AFG war, and perhaps that is my frustration. I find the years before the Obama more interesting - the grand illusion of NATO's AFG - much more fertile - but that probably wouldn't sell that many books in an election year.

The staff squabbles in the Obama Administration about what was the best way to lose the war after they were given a path to non-defeat just doesn't interest me all that much. The argument that we lost a chance to win (or not lose) in AFG because we did not negotiate with the Taliban is a non starter. Holbrookeism and Bidenism was never a path to anything but failure. The Taliban do not negotiate in the Western sense. They negotiate in the Muslim sense, and if I have to explain this to you then I can't help you. Read up on what Mohammed had to say about negotiating with your enemies and then come back.

The simple fact is that AFG was lost - or at least prevented from having a good chance for a "non-loss" - when President Obama made his announcement of his calendar based retreat/withdraw in the West Point speech in 2009. Full stop. That is the story of the Obama war effort.

Rajiv is looking at AFG from a too American centric point of view and it shows. That will be the critical failing of his book.

It is also worth noting that the author mentioned in the book, Sarah Chayes, whose book I recommended back in 2008, was not magically discovered by Andrew Exum and General McChrystal's group. She had been known to US & NATOs planners since the middle of the '00s.

I wonder if they will make a totally disconnected movie out of this too.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Well ... if we we're still trying to find a good nickname for the USS GERALD FORD (CVN-78), as reported by MilitaryTimes, we have it now.

URR - for your blood pressure, you may want to stop reading right now.

Yes kiddies, in order to have a more gender neutral ship - there will be no urinals - listen to the MilTimes link about if you don't believe it.

It is hard to think of a less sanitary idea to come along in this century's list of naval developments. The amount of spray around, on and to the side on a ship with over 5,000 personnel - the vast majority men - is just a nasty thought. Ask any mother who has a house full of boys what the clean-up is going to be like. Can you imagine what it will smell like when the SUPPO over-ordered asparagus mid-deployment?

As you can tell from the 2:25 point on, this is not a non-issue with the German Navy (don't think after a couple of very nasty deployments, someone won't think about having you sign a Page-13 agreeing to be a sitzpinkler). Heck - in Europe this has been an issue for awhile - well mired in gender politics.

As someone who has always been a supporter of women serving, I am sad to say that this too has everything to do with gender politics, and nothing to do with sanitation, water conservation (have you seen how much water is saved by waterless urinals?), or berthing flexibility. No, this has everything to do with a bunch of cowed men, sitzpinklers, who are afraid of saying "no" to a stupid idea.

Please, tell me I'm wrong about this. Heck - I've been wrong before. More cr@p like this and I will start to think I was wrong about women serving on warships.

As for the operational details, I'll let this young lady, who if I had a son I would want him to date, explain it to you.

Add to "schadenfreude" another German word we now can use with vigor.

Hat tip DODBuzz.

... and so, it begins again

We've seen this movie before - and to be frank; I don't know if things are better or worse, but I do know this. Some of the best mid-grade officers who are the most frustrated want to be operational, but are stuck in meaningless staff jobs where they just are not contributing. They don't feel that their skills are being best utilized. They are just being put where a busy-work hole needs a Mk1 Mod0 body. Once they get there, they just see themselves in a job that that the UIC absolutely needs, but the substance of that position to the larger mission is opaque even to their bosses.

Another group of your best mid-grade leaders look at those above them - and especially if they get a close look as a staff weenie; and they want nothing to do with "it."

From SWJ - this may be USAF, but it has wider flexibility.
... why should I put service before self when my Chief is systematically dismantling my service? To use a perhaps appropriately joint analogy, I’m a strong swimmer – so why stay aboard a ship whose captain is running it aground?
I know that senior leadership matters, and what my leadership is showing me is that nothing I do matters or ever will.
What happened to our core values? Instead, we’re changing the scenario to fit the tactics! Drop the requirements to meet force structure realities which are dropping to meet budget bogies. So much for a strategy-driven force structure, or even any strategy at all. Next we’ll probably drop experience definitions to meet our aging rate and PCS cycle. Avoiding a “Hollow Force” is a nice talking point; but at least in the 1970s we got the F-15, F-16, and A-10, while simultaneously developing the B-1 and F-117. My Chief is out of airspeed with full aft stick and a boot-full of rudder in an unrecoverable spin [See Note 3].

So you can keep your Bonus Take Rate and whatever other variables go into your Rated Distribution and Training Management models. Money isn’t going to keep me here. I didn’t become a fighter pilot because I wanted to get rich. I became a fighter pilot because I believed. And after everything I’ve seen, my trust and faith in the Air Force is so broken I don’t know why I’m doing this anymore. This flight path marker is buried in the dirt. I’m punching out.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Funnies

In a just world ...

Extra internets for those who can identify all the faces. Extra-extra, mo-bett'ah internets if you can identify all the bodies as well.

Hat tip Tom.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Army Quality Circle Award Winner

Everyone made it back ok ... but what a testimony to the Chinook and its crew.

Good, robust aircraft and training ... along with a bit of luck.

Wait for it ... and see if you can guess what I wanted at the end.

Hat tip DMartyr@jawa.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fullbore Friday

I first ran in to this story back in the 1990s when Mrs. Salamander insisted that we go to the naval museum in Venice (yes, I married THAT kind of well).

It still gets to me to think about these men. All that training for what they knew was a one way trip ... but not suicide trips like the Japanese; a very civilized way of professionals.

The story combined from two sources;
The evening of 17 December at 18.40, Italian submarine Scire' was at about a mile from west entrance of Alexandria port. At 20.47 three S.L.C. (slow running torpedo), the "maiali" (Italian word for "pigs") were put into the water, everyone rode by two commandos of X flotilla MAS, who went to, underwater, towards the harbor entrance. Luckily three English destroyers were returning, so the nets at the entrance were opened to let the ships pass, saving Italian commandos the long and hard work to break open them. The three pigs followed English destroyers and entered in enemy base, directing toward their assigned objectives.
Two of the crews attached their charges to the hulls of the battleships Valiant and Queen Elizabeth—Admiral Andrew Cunningham’s flagship.

The third was destined for the absent aircraft carrier Eagle, so a large tanker, Sagona was targeted instead. ...
Their work was slow, laborious but succeeded; at 06.00 a 8000 ton. tanker exploded, followed at 06.15 by an explosion that heavily damaged battleship Valiant, and the worst had to come: a few minutes after, at 06.19 battleship Queen Elizabeth, Cunningham's flagship, leap on the water, shaking for a large explosion. ... The two battleships were severely damaged, Queen Elizabeth settling on the bottom of the shallow harbor. The explosion under the tanker also damaged the destroyer Jervis.
The Alexandria raid was fully successful: six Navy commandos (Durand De La Penne, Emilio Bianchi, Antonio Marceglia, Spartaco Schergat, Vincenzo Martellotta and Mario Marino) succeeded to inflict on English ships a great defeat: two powerful battleships were out for a long time. The six commandos were captured and put into detention.
Here is one nice twist to the story.
Durand De La Penne, mission commander, returned in Italy after the armistice of 8 September 1943 and was decorated for valour, for Alexandria raid, in March 1945. At the ceremony was present also English admiral Charles Morgan, BB Valiant commander, who pinned up the gold medal on Italian commando breast.
I also have to say that that visit, and the story of these men, still inform my thoughts about our Fleet vulnerability - specifically in Norfolk.

Thanks for the reminder, E40.
UPDATE: CB reminded me on FB that USNI has a book on Italy's finest. Sea Devils: Italian Naval Commandos in World War II.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

All Male Children Must be Named Nigel!!!

Diversity Thursday

I really don't know what is worst about this whole, hot mess.

Wait, that is easy - it is the core retrograde racialist mindset of it all - that was easy. It is the rest of the list that is hard to prioritize.

Let me see what I can do.

Well; sectarian, divisive, patronizing, insulting, bigoted, and wasteful. There' a start. Read the whole thing, then we'll chat about some of the gems.
R 151804Z JUN 12
A. CAPT JOEL PARKER AT (301) 400-[redacted] OR VIA E-MAIL AT [redacted](AT)NNOA.ORG OR [redacted](AT)MED.NAVY.MIL.
B. LCDR BEULAH HENDERSON (RET) AT (703) 231-[redacted] OR VIA E-MAIL AT [redacted](AT)NNOA.ORG

Here we go.
That really tells you all you need to know. This is an organization that at its core is exclusionary, bigoted, racialist, and views people the same way as the KKK - by the color of someone's skin.

Whatever good intentions and use this organization may have once had - it is nothing but a negative well in to the second half of the 21st Century.

Harsh? Perhaps - but I have no use for anyone in the US military, regardless of their DNA - who either defines themselves or others by something as useless as self-identified race. Nothing good will every come of it.

And the Navy supports it. Nice. Then again - judging from their website, they have no pretense than to be anything but sectarian.
Well, we can at least try to stop that. Anyone hear anything yet?
That does not include air fare, hotel fare, or per diem.

This is a 5-day conference. Two travel days for seven total. An entire work week lost. Tally that opportunity cost yourself.

Do I need to mention that this hotel - which I know very well - is off Canal St. one block diagonally from the intersection of Bourbon St. & the French Quarter? There is no major DoN presence any more in New Orleans. You can easily bookend two weekends in New Orleans if your liver can take it.
UPDATE: Want to go to San Diego in August? Decide to join Richard Nixon's administration's invented group.
UPDATE II - Electric Boogaloo: I'd love to take credit, but let's just say the timing of this email is just superb.

Oh what the heck;
-----Original Message-----
From: All Hands Messages
Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2012 15:57
To: [redacted]
Subject: Hold in Place on ALL Conference Attendance

Based on recent guidance, there is a hold in place on all conference attendance and sponsoring unless funds were obligated (e.g., travel authorizations were approved in DTS) prior to 03 June 2012. We are expecting further guidance on the matter and will send notification when the hold is lifted.

Jennifer [redacted], Esq.
Ethics Counselor, [redacted]
11.0, Code [redacted]
[redacted], DSN [redacted]
Fax: [redacted]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Honor of "No"

Integrity is a habit, and in life we all come to moments where we have to pause and make sure we are well grounded in our decisions.

Years of hard work and superior performance can often balance on what seems at the moment as a trifle. A small thing. Something fudge-able.

The right thing is usually, in the short run, harder to do the easy thing. Like telling the truth, it can seem at the moment to be the more difficult, the more time consuming, the more painful thing to do - but in the long run and when you look at that person in the mirror every AM - doing the right thing, truth, and honor are always the right decision.

Life is busy though. As fallen creatures, we are lazy by nature. We always have a little voice in our head pointing us to the easy way out. Reminding us that there may be a line there - but that's OK - who says it can't be just a little more "that way."

We're smart, we're experienced, we have the best intentions. We "get it." We know how to make it happen. It is just an arbitrary thing anyway - no one will know.


We've all been there - I doubt few have been perfect.

In that light, we should all take a moment not to throw rocks and mud - but to see and learn. By the mistakes of others - keep your path clear.
The ex-commander of a Maryland squadron that flies Navy leaders in corporate-style jets was fired after she acknowledged she lied on records that said an evaluator was on hand during flight simulator training, an investigative report obtained by The Associated Press shows.
Parker wrote that she was under pressure to get a certification done before picking up passengers from Hawaii following a Pearl Harbor 70th anniversary commemoration.
“The swirl of events surrounding (redacted’s) trip to Hawaii, the need to induct (redacted) into depot maintenance in order to keep it on track for (redacted’s) upcoming trips, and my own impending mission two days later made it seem unnecessary to upend schedules and use more resources to conduct an event I had essentially already completed,” she wrote. “I realize now that that decision was wrong, and I take full responsibility.”
That is the correct response. This is not;
“I know what I did was wrong, but I take issue with any suggestion that safety was compromised during or after this sequence of events. We performed all of the maneuvers safely and we followed all of the proper checklists and procedures for all of the trainers we flew,” she wrote. “I have flown subsequent missions with no issues whatsoever.”
No. You have evaluators for a reason - you need an objective eye on what you are doing, no matter how much faith you have in your perfection. You don't see yourself as others do. The ground is covered with greasy spots who thought the same. Don't make excuses or try to explain away what you did. You did it - you got caught. You're embarrassed. I understand. Net 2 below in headwork for that excuse.

There is a habit of thinking that just because you are in Command - the rules of physics and decades of mishap data don't apply to you. How many times in Naval aviation do we need reminders? Anywhere for that matter?

VPU off the runway in AFG? CO "too busy to maintain minimum qualifications."

From the same community. Time for your annual flight check ride? You're a Commodore - not for you, right?

You're a Marine General at war? Rules are for others, right?

Here is the ground truth that works in the air, on the sea, and under the sea as well. There is little margin of error in this line of work even in peacetime. You expect your junior personnel to demonstrate professionalism? Do it yourself. If you don't, they won't. If you cheat, they'll cheat. When they do that, standards fall. People die. It is that simple.

Any leader who thinks they can be sneaky and skirt rules that they force everyone else to follow is a fool. Everyone is watching everything you do. You may think no one knows, or no one will tell - but if you do you are a fool.

If you are a leader who creates a command climate that pushes otherwise good leaders to places where they think you want them to make bad judgements - then you are worse than they are.

Sometimes being a leader means being able to say, "no" - and to accept "no" from those who work for you.

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part XL

Over at gCaptain, there is an interesting discussion about what at first glace looks like a Chinese version of Coast Guard operations. Is there more going on?

As we look at the growth of China at sea, are we a bit too focused on the "hard power" of a Fleet of warships, and not the "soft power" of just being there?

There is something to be said for a persistent presence & the precedent it sets.
It has been over three years since China made the drastic, but failed, attempt of ordering the U.S. Navy ocean surveillance ship, USNS Impeccable, to leave the South China sea. The order ratcheted tensions between the US and China but resulted in little more than political volleys being thrown between the two countries. China has not given up however on claiming almost the entire body of water as their own, demarcating their claims within what is known as the nine-dotted line. A line which overlaps the borders of virtually every other country in the region.

Worries extend not only over the larger nation’s diplomatic claims over the region – claims in which China argues span centuries of maritime history – but in China’s increasing military strength in the region. At the heart of the problem is the aggressive newbuild strategy of the China Marine Surveillance (CMS) agency, a paramilitary maritime law enforcement agency created on 19 October 1998 under the auspices of China’s State Oceanic Administration and responsible for law enforcement within the territorial waters, exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and shores of the People’s Republic Of China.
The CMS fleet has the proven audacity and speed to harass vessels of sizes ranging from small fishing boats to the 281 foot (85.78 m) USNS Impeccable, but unarmed fixed structures may be the primary target. Agency vessels are keeping a close eye on offshore oil and gas structures in the region and, in March of this year, CMS issued a press release citing the successful surveillance of “illegal exploration of oil and gas fields” in the South China Sea. The fields in question are located off the coast of the Senkaku Islands (known as the Diaoyu Islands in China), a group of uninhabited islands Japan claimed following a 1969 UN survey which reported likely oil and gas reserves in their adjacent waters.
The question on the minds of mariners transiting the region is “What’s next”. Only time will provide the answer but it is clear that China has definate plans for the future. According to the British newspaper The Telegraph, CMS is currently planing to have 16 aircraft and 350 vessels by the end of 2015, and more than 15,000 personnel by 2020 the possibility, the fleet will have the capability to conduct close surveillance missions throughout the South China Sea. The telegraph also claims the maritime surveillance forces logged the transit of 1,303 foreign ships and 214 planes in 2010, up from a total of 110 vessels tracked in 2007. “The logical next step is actively monitoring those 1,300 vessels” said on US Navy expert who did not want to be named. ” With 350 vessels, a number approaching the entire US Navy operational fleet, they will have the capability to both track and escort a majority of ships transiting the region.”

UPDATE: Regular Midrats guest James Holmes over at TheDiplomat is smelling something as well. Well worth the read.

Retro Wednesday

I would have made the drive.

Nobody tells me things until its too late. I'm going to have a good pout.

Hat tip Darryl.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Systemic Strangling of Socialism

What a great turn of a phrase. I will have to use this more:
"... We fear a systematic strangling,” Ms Parisot said.

The worries are that action by the new government will compound an economic outlook already rendered seriously bleak by the eurozone crisis. Ms Parisot’s warning coincided with latest data from Insee, the state statistics institute, showing business confidence falling to its lowest level since late 2009.

“Everywhere we see the same information growing,” she said. “Collapsing margins, plunging order books, new extreme pressures on treasuries, uncertainties that put big projects on standby, employment plans frozen and investment projects at best suspended but often completely scrapped.”
The French have a front row seat to the Western Welfare State's writhing death throws and last election they reverted to norm: they retreated. This won't end well for France or the rest of Europe.

In the face of the collapse, like the junkie taking a bigger fix to distract himself from the decay of his body in front of him - the French are raising taxes on the productive and lowering the retirement age for the unproductive.

The period of the Welfare State is over. From Bismark to Barak - it is passing. What lies next? Hard to say - but it can be a difficult change, or a catastrophic change - it all depends if we act early, or act late. One thing for sure, the world of our children will be nothing like ours from an economic security POV.

Remember, history does not always head in one direction. Just ask the Argentines who, just a century ago, had a higher per-capita GDP than the USA.

Not a CVN, but good enough

Well done by SECNAV Mabus. Smart, right, and proper.
There will be more ships at Mayport Naval Station by 2020 than there are now. That was what Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told a gathering of sailors Friday.

The first of those new ships — the USS New York, an amphibious transport dock currently deployed in the Middle East — will arrive at Mayport next year. The following year two more ships will arrive: the USS Iwo Jima, an amphibious assault ship, and the USS Fort McHenry, a dock landing ship.

The three ships make up an amphibious ready group, or ARG, now based in Norfolk, Va.

Mabus said in February that the group would arrive no later than 2015. On Friday, though, he announced that the date had been moved up.

Mayport will also see the arrival of eight littoral combat ships by the end of 2019, Mabus said. The first LCS will arrive in 2016. Each of those ships — new Navy combat ships designed to go fast and operate in shallow, near-coastline waters — have about 40 full-time crew members.
Spread the Fleet around - I just wish we had more places to put them. Cuts Strategic risk, increases the Navy's presence around the nation, and as a result - increases the quality of life for our Sailors and the communities they live in.

Still would like a CVN - but this will do.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Conspiracy of Compliance

Do we demonstrate organizational discipline, or show an organization that aggressively disincentives dissent?

Are we so convinced that our ideas are correct that it is natural that all right-thinking individuals believe in them, or do good people smile and nod while trying to do good while surviving in a culture dominated by the intellectually insecure who will not tolerate open disagreement by those who they control?

Do we have a culture based on the creative friction and intellectual vibrancy of a free republic, or a culture based on fear?

Is there a point where supporting the boss comes at the cost of the organization and country everyone serves?

It there a power imbalance that manifests itself in Soviet like lockstep?

Over at USNIBlog, our Galrahn has seen behind the curtain - blinked his eyes hard - and lets what comes in to focus sink in.
... I took the opportunity to solicit opinions from several students regarding this years Current Strategy Forum, and everyone tended to focus on one specific panel of General and Flag officers that was moderated by Undersecretary of the Navy Bob Work. The single most noted characteristic of this particular panel was how one could not slide even a piece of paper between the opinions and positions of the uniformed officers; they all spoke from the same piece of paper.
We are seeing a wider variety of different opinions publicly in print today from the Peoples Liberation Army Navy even under existing Chinese censorship laws than we are from leaders of the United States Navy in a land of free speech ...

There is no defense for solidarity of mind among leaders for any organization intrusted with so much responsibility. Under no theory of order has solidarity of opinion been a strength in a free thinking society, and in the highest funded government agency where national security and means of arms is stated as purpose, that kind of oligarchy is dangerous to any free society.
What we are looking at is the simple result of a toxic command climate that stresses loyalty to individuals over loyalty to institutions. It has taken the wartime and/or intra-staff dictum to "argue behind doors and come out in agreement" as a universal.

It is the result of a culture where it is all about not having you or your boss getting "the phone call."

It cannot deal with open negative information and will twist itself into self-parody in order to avoid it - either by making INSURV classified, or by sitting on a panel where all they do is agree how perfect their agreed policy is.

Most of us have noticed "The Craddock Effect." On the path to promotion and positions of more authority, most leaders avoid public and even private friction with others with a goal to get to a point they can do something with their position of power.

They never have enough, of course, and right before they lose it all they finally throw off some sparks before they get the gold watch.

Young leaders see the habits of those who are promoted - and for better or worse benchmark that behavior. They also see what happens to those who speak up - and keep quite to avoid those consequences.

In a way then, this conspiracy of compliance is based on fear. How do you fix it? Simple - it has to take place at the top - as in people wearing civilian gear.

Having contrary opinions has to be rewarded. Give a demand signal for melee - and you'll get one. Give a signal for North Korean like concurrence, and you'll get it.

What Galrahn saw is a signal that we all do agree that everything we are doing is actually the best thing in the world and of course we all agree. We are all equally perfect as our plans, policies, and programs. After all, if we disagreed, then someone would have to be wrong, or at least less correct than someone else.

We can't have that. Much better to get out our little notebooks.

I don't know about you - but when I look at the record of the last 20 years when it comes to how we are running our Navy and its programs - I think we could use a little creative friction. I think we could use a bit more respectful discourse. I think, well I hope, that we have leaders with the intellectual security and ego to take a little challenge in public - if for no other reason than to let people know that we too believe in the marketplace of ideas - to let the power of our ideas win the day, not the power of fear.

CS-21: The Brief

Who wouldn't want to sit in on maritime strategy brief at Annapolis to the Naval War College Fleet Seminar group there which are mostly USNA faculty?

What if the brief was by friend of the blog and Midrats guest John T. Kuehn, Ph.D., CDR USN (Ret.), Associate Professor of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College? What if the brief referenced familiar names such as CAPT Henry J. Hendrix, Jr. and Frank Hoffman?

Well - get a cup of coffee, put the phone to voice mail and dig in. Very good stuff.

NB: Yes, the below looks small - click the full screen icon.

CS-21 for NWC Fleet Seminar

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Return of The General Board - on Midrats

Of course it is returning ... in the form of a Best of Midrats for this Father's Day Weekend.

Going back to Episode 79, let's ponder.

If you look to the performance of the US Navy in World War II - those ships came in the shipbuilding programs of the 1920s and 1930s. At a time with no computers or modern communication equipment - and working through the naval treaty limitations as well as the Great Depression - we saw incredible innovation and steadily improving ship designs. Why?

A lot of the credit is given to something the Navy had then, but does not have now; The General Board.

What was The General Board, what did it do, and is the Navy today suffering for the lack of one?

Our guest is John T. Kuehn, PhD. Dr Kuehn, a former naval aviator who has completed cruises aboard four different aircraft carriers. He flew reconnaissance missions during the last decade of the Cold War, the First Gulf War and the Balkans.

CDR Kuehn has served on the faculty of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College since July 2000, retiring from the naval service in 2004. He earned a Ph.D. in History from Kansas State University in 2007. He is the author of the Agents of Innovation: The General Board and the Design of the Fleet that Defeated the Japanese Navy (Blue Jacket Bks) and Eyewitness Pacific Theater with Dennis Giangreco.

He is currently an associate professor of military history at the US Army command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Join us live if you can, today, 17 June from 5-6pm EST.

If you miss the show or want to catch up on the shows you missed - you can always reach the archives at blogtalkradio - or set yourself to get the podcast on iTunes.

Listen to Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Somewhere in the crowd you can see 'ole Sal ...

Maybe - and I think there is Chap in there too. Ahhh ... the formative years - from upscale Poseurs to the places I simply don't remember the names - just being there.

"Salad Days: The HarDCore Punk Revolution" is coming out in 2013 ... it can't get here soon enough.

Time again to bring up a band that someone (not me), ahem, that many of you know was in .... and helped make my '80s a bit more more interesting. Funny - music makes for a very small world a couple decades or so later.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fullbore Friday

Time for an encore FbF from '07.
There was one US ship that sunk a German warship in WWII. One.

What was her main armament? One 4" deck gun. One.

The SS Stephen Hopkins. Not USS; SS. A liberty ship.
The raider Stier, formerly the merchant ship Cairo, was built by Krupp in 1936, at 434 feet long, 56.5 feet broad, with a top speed of 14 knots. The Allied code name for her was "Raider J." She began operation as a raider in May 1942 under the command of Horst Gerlach, with a crew of 324 well-trained Navy men.

Her first three victims were: Gemstone (British), Stanvac Calcutta (Panama-flag U.S.-owned), and Dalhousie (British).

On the morning of September 27, 1942, the Stier was taking on supplies from the blockade runner Tannenfels off the coast of South Africa when she spotted a ship coming out of the mist not far away. It was the Liberty ship SS Stephen Hopkins, operated by the Luckenbach Steamship Co. out of San Francisco. Built by Kaiser Richmond No. 2, she was on her maiden voyage - San Francisco - Bora Bora - Auckland, New Zealand - Melbourne - Port Lincoln, Australia, Durban - Capetown - and bound in ballast for Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana.
First voyage, in the middle of nowhere away from the war, or so she thought.

As is usually the case; the battle started without warning.
At 9:30 AM that Sunday morning Captain Paul Buck, Chief Mate Richard Moczkowski, and George Papas, A.B., were on the bridge. Kenneth Vaughn, 3rd Assistant Engineer, Michael Fitzpatrick, fireman, and Andrew Tsignonis, wiper, were on watch in the engine room. Ford Stilson, the 32-year-old Chief Steward, heard a shot pierce the superstructure, then the general alarm. He grabbed his lifejacket and went to his battle station. He would set up a makeshift hospital in the officers’ mess.

The Armed Guard gunners and mariners assigned as loaders raced to their guns. Off the starboard bow, they saw a ship about the same size as the Hopkins firing at them. A larger ship was behind her. Explosions rocked the ship and machine gun fire was raking the decks. One of the first shells killed two mariners as they stepped on deck.

Moczkowski gave orders to steer so the stern of the ship - with its 4 inch gun - would continue to point at the enemy ship and at the same time present the smallest target.

Kenneth Willett, commander of the Armed Guard, was severely wounded in the abdomen by shrapnel, but he continued directing the men. Seaman Barker, in charge of the 4 inch gun, trained it directly at the waterline of the German raider, getting a shot off about every 45 seconds. They made every shot count, hitting the raider’s rudder and then damaging the raider’s forward guns.

In the forward tub, Wallace Breck, two other Armed Guard men, and Second Mate Joseph E. Layman, fired round after round at the smaller ship. All the guns aboard the Hopkins were firing as fast as they could be loaded and discharged. Hit after hit was scored on both enemy ships.

An enemy shell pierced the Hopkins' half inch steel hull, hitting directly in the engine room. Those above heard the explosion, then the roar of steam, as the black gang died at their posts.

A large caliber shell hit the forward gun tub just about the time the abandon ship signal was blown. Seaman Second Class Breck was the only survivor. He jumped overboard and climbed into a lifeboat, just as a shell hit the lifeboat, blowing it out of the water. Breck was the only survivor again.

The Stier was still putting shell after shell into the upper works of the Stephen Hopkins.The Tannenfels kept machine gunning the Hopkins. The Armed Guard fired their machine guns right back.

Cadet O’Hara saw the 4-inch gun deserted and dead men on the deck around it. O’Hara loaded and fired all 5 shells left in the ready box, scoring hits with all five. A few moments later he was killed by a shell which exploded nearby.
After the battle - that wasn't the end of it for the crew.
The battle lasted about half an hour. A total of 35 shells hit the Stier and she was in as much of a shambles as the Hopkins. Both ships were on fire and sinking.

Commander Horst Gerlach ordered his crew to set detonating charges to scuttle the Stier, and then to abandon ship. Saedie Ben Hassan, a severely wounded crewman from the Stanvac Calcutta, was among those transferred to the Tannenfels.

After an hour or so, the Stephen Hopkins also sank. The 19 survivors gathered in one lifeboat, which had little food and water, and began a 2,200-mile 31-day journey to Brazil. Fifteen men survived.
The Skipper of the SMS Stier paid her a great compliment.
In his battle report, which he turned in upon the Tannenfels' arrival in Nazi territory, Captain Gerlach reported he fought a "heavily armed cruiser."
She sure fought like one. This really could be a great movie.

Here are a couple of thoughts to leave you with; how is your cross training doing? How many people can crew your weapons if the primary and secondary go down or cannot get to their station? Are you ready to sail a distance equal to a drive from Jacksonville, FL to Bremerton, WA in an open boat? With 5 minutes warning? When was the last time you were trained to survive at sea with little or no water and food? Have you actually "gone over the side?"

If I took you by the arm and walked you over to the stern, could you load and fire just a simple M2 .50 cal? If I walked into the CIC and told everyone "you are all dead," and then I walked up to the bridge and told you that everyone on the bridge was dead but the helmsman and that the last thing he heard was the Skipper saying before he bled out mumbled something non-standard like, "CIWS to auto and open flank speed to the south." - what would your ship do?


Hat tip Cap'n George.