Friday, November 30, 2012

USN's Corporate Welfare Sludges On ...


All you really need to know about the Great Green Fleet is summarized in the following from Reuters;
The Senate voted 62-37 to remove language in the National Defense Authorization Act that would have barred the military from buying the controversial alternative fuels if they cost more than petroleum. …
“This would have been a terrible signal to private investors if there had been a pullback from this program because what we all want is for these advanced biofuels to become commercialized and therefore cost competitive,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Clean Energy Program at the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has set a goal of using biofuels to supply about half the Navy’s non-nuclear fuel needs by 2020, about 8 million barrels a year.
Need TAD funds to send Sailors to training? Naw ... we're out of funds.

Need some more funds for shipyard repair for our amphibs who are being rode hard and left up wet? No, not really. We have our little hobbies.

I am all about experimentation and test projects. This has gone way beyond that. This is a personal agenda and a desire to play industrial planner with the Navy's dime ... because they can - and because it fits a theory that some love, but in the real world is already OBE ... but inertia and ego have their place.

The USA has just started an oil boom. We are not in a fuel crisis - but we are in a budgetary squeeze - and we are doing this via Wired;  

Some Congressmen were ticked off by the $15 per-gallon price — four times the going rate for old-school fuel...
Feel good foolishnes, and you're paying for it - and your Sailors are losing funds because of it.
Hat tip HotAir.

Fullbore Friday

Admit it, we all would want to see the video, if it existed:
"This is June 1942 and the real dark days of war for the French and this was to demonstrate that the Germans weren't invincible."

Wg Cdr Gatward was chosen for the sortie as he had demonstrated a skill for accurate flying during low-level attacks on enemy positions after Dunkirk.

The British had been informed the Germans held daily parades down the Champs-Elysees and he was asked to strafe the parade.

He and his navigator, Flight Sergeant George Fern, took off from Thorny Island, near Portsmouth, on June 12.

After reaching Paris, he flew at just 30ft before Ft Sgt released the flag down the flare shute and over the Arc de Triomphe.

Mr Grinter said: "It is an amazing story - one of those that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

"He flew down the Champs-Elysees at second floor window height. It was an incredible act of bravery and a real audacious attack.

"He attacked the Gestapo HQ and SS troops were seen to run for their lives. As he turned for home the Germans came out and shook their fists at him.

The mission report was, in a word, sublime:
After returning unscathed to Britain, Wg Cdr Gatward wrote in his logbook: "Paris - no cover - 0ft. Drop tricolours on Arc Triomphe & Ministrie Marine. Shoot up German HQ.

Little flak - no E.A. Bird in STBD oil radiator.

"Returned Northolt and on to command 61 photos. Heavy rain over England. France fair to light."

The bird in question was a French crow that clattered into Wg Cdr Gatward's Beaufighter plane as he approached Paris.

Upon his return to England, he removed the dead bird and laid it to rest at RAF Northolt.

Wg Cdr Gatward was awarded a second DFC in September 1944 for taking part in an aeriel attack on a German convoy in Norwegian waters.

He spent 30 years in the RAF before retiring. He lived in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, with wife Pamela and died in 1998 aged 84.
 Here is the sad part, well, I think it is sad.
Wg Cdr Gatward's medal set, that includes his DFC with bar and a Distinguished Service Order, have now been put up for auction after the recent death of his widow.

Being sold with it are the pilot's log books and the wooden commemorative Champagne case inscribed with the words 'In Remembrance of Your Flight Over Paris'.

A souvenir booklet featuring a sketch of the moment Wg Cdr Gatward and his observer dropped the Tricolor over the Arc de Triomphe with German army trucks on the ground is also being sold.

His medals and other items are expected to sell for £8,000 at the auction on Friday. 
I guess he has no family left to keep and honor his service, and that instead it will be sold off.

Well, from the front porch Wing Commander Gatward; for you service, well played and fullbore.

Hat tip JK.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

So, about those Japan orders ...

We have gone from tragedy to farce
The U.S. Navy cracked down Monday on late-night drinking in Japan following a spate of alleged crimes involving U.S. servicemembers that occurred despite a month-old curfew.
In addition to the 11 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew for all American servicemembers in the country, active-duty sailors are prohibited from drinking alcohol from 10 p.m.- 8 a.m., even in their homes, regardless of leave or liberty status, according to U.S. Naval Forces Japan spokesman Cmdr. Kenneth Marshall.
Yep, you read that correctly.  You just got back from a few months at sea, but there is still a lot to do. You show up for work at 0515 and work until 1945. With commute you get home about 2030. The youngest kids are already in bed, but the middle schooler is still up. You change clothes and get your dinner out of the microwave. Play dad until 2115. Have to catch up with the mail, personal email, and a honeydo or two. 

By 2130 you are looking at the clock doing the math in your head what you need to get done in order to get at least 5 hrs of sleep before heading back.  Your lovely spouse comes over and sits next to you to try to carry on a conversation as you finish the last of your personal emails back home. You finish that up at 2155 when she walks over to the table with a couple of glasses of wine and a smile.

She hasn't seen you for months in a country that is as foreign as can be. You work off the hook hours and almost never see the young kids during the week. What few hours she has you during the day, you spend trying to get things done around the house before you hit the rack to get up at an off the hook hour. She is trying to maximize what little time she has with you, and as she tries that extra bit to pretend she is in a normal marriage with the man she loves, you look to her and say, "Sorry honey, VADM Smith says I cannot drink anymore after 2200. Finish your glass, I'm going to go upstairs and brush my teeth.  Got to get to leave the house by 0430 dontchaknow!"

Either that, or you decide not to get divorced again and think to yourself, "The h311 with Smith and the funsponge he rode in on. I'll have a glass of wine in my own house with my wife if I want to."

... and there you have another habit of forcing people to willfully disobey an order. A stupid order, a CYA order. Once you do that once, you do it again .... and then we wonder how people get in the habit of blowing off orders and regulations?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

China: A Nation of Shooters

While many here have spent a fair bit of time poo-poo'n the Chinese's first baby steps in to carrier aviation, I think the engineer-heavy USN mind has largely missed the point - there is a lot more going on here.

It looks like the Chinese get it. They get the symbology, the images, the significance of the milestone.  They know there is a lot more to do - but they are not focused on the right-now.

While we have spent a lot of time and money diminishing our national capital - from "Global Force For Good" to appologizing for our power, to begging for a 1,000-ship volunteer international navy to do our bidding (har, har, snark), to intentionally keeping our CVN away from Libya so our allies could play top-dog while they empied their shallow bunkers - the Chinese continue to build, and message.

The Chinese people get it. Think about it. Here's what I mean.

Via The Atlantic - guess what this guy is doing besides post-modern cat-blogging?

Yep, he is a P-3 guy on a disassociated sea tour ... no wait ... no ... he is just the cheeky part of what has become an organic Chinese meme.  A meme of  ...

They get it. Good for China, and I am glad to see that they are enjoying something that they should be proud of.

Anyone have any NIMITZ memes we can counter this with?

Hat tip PK.

Good Adivce, if They Will Take It

From a national security POV, we could smell that there was something not quite right with the Romney campaign by summer.  The strange 600-ship pander-navy articles from a parallel fiscal universe; the complete lack of mention of AFG in Tampa, and the strange tone-deaf neo-con retreads giving advice and writing speeches the American people have grown tired of ... in 2007.

That was just part of a larger dysfunction.

Pat Caddell puts out in better detail what I said late election night - people need to get fired.
The Romney campaign, Caddell said, was driven be establishment consultants and was a failure of mechanics and message.

“But most of all, it was a failure of imagination,” Caddell said. ““It was the single worst campaign in modern history of a challenger who had a chance to win ... and that’s the truth and nothing can take away from that.”

He then brutally told donors in the audience that the Republican consultant-lobbyist-establishment complex took millions of dollars from them to only enrich themselves without having any meaningful impact on the election. 

“You donors and others were played for marks by groups like [Karl Rove’s American] Crossroads,” Caddell said, noting that establishment super PACs cared more about “preserving arrangements in the media.”

Too often, Caddell said the Republican consultant-lobbyist-establishment complex ignores anything that could be effective if it does not allow them to profit.

Caddell said those in the Republican consultant-lobbyist-establishment complex “do not want to hear any views from outsiders" because it threatens their racket. Caddell said this mentality will just result in more Republican losses unless this Republican consultant-lobbyist-establishment complex is eviscerated. 

“As long as the establishment wants to preserve the establishment and their special deals, you will lose,” Caddell said. 
 The Republicans have a good bench to work on, but the neo-cons need to go. No more Bushes of any type of any generation. No more Newt. Anyone who ran in 2012 needs to be shunned. Anyone over 50 should hope for VP and nothing more. 

The losers are sucking the oxygen out of the room. Most of all; stop doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. 

Benchmark Bill Whittle as well. 

Interesting note, you can't blame conservative bloggers; they have been polling them for the last few cycles, and who did they want the least?
In 2008, the least wanted candidates for bloggers were…John McCain and Ron Paul.

In 2012, the least wanted candidates for bloggers were…Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.
Given that track record, who do you think they like the least in 2016?
3) If the list were narrowed down to the following 10 candidates, then which one would you **** LEAST LIKE **** to see as our 2016 nominee?
1) Chris Christie (NJ Governor) 32.5% (25 votes)
2) Jeb Bush (Former Fl Governor) 26% (20 votes)
3) Rand Paul (KY Senator) 14.3% (11 votes)
4) Scott Walker (WI Governor) 11.7% (9 votes)
5) Paul Ryan (WI Congressman. VP candidate) 5.2% (4 votes)
6) Susana Martinez (NM Governor) 3.9% (3 votes)
7) Brian Sandoval (NV Governor) 2.6% (2 votes)
8) Bob McDonnell (VA Governor) 1.3% (1 votes)
8) Marco Rubio (FL Senator) 1.3% (1 votes)
8) Bobby Jindal (LA Gov) 1.3% (1 votes)
There you go - Christie-Bush 2016 for the loss!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

So long, fair Sea Control Ship

The rumors from this summer have come true, the quasi-sexy SPS Príncipe de Asturias (R-11) will be decommissioned.
El portaaviones 'Príncipe de Asturias' de la Armada será desguazado el próximo año en los astilleros de Ferrol, dado que las restricciones presupuestarias han impedido alargar su vida útil, tras 24 años de servicio en las Fuerzas Armadas, han informado fuentes militares.
For you Anglos out there - in summary the broke Spanish government cannot afford to upgrade and next maintenance cycle of €100 million, and at 24-yrs service is going bye-bye. 

Economic downfall has its consequences, but they will have the less sexy but functional LHD, SPS Juan Carlos I (L61) for use as a flagship instead.

Though not what one would consider a successful design, I always liked the PdA and her sister ship HTMS Chakri Naruebet - and for that matter the entire Sea Control Ship concept. An underexplored capability, but such that it is. Their soul-mates, "L type" ships such as JCI and our own Amphib "Small Deck Carriers" are still out there though, and are still trying to prove MIDN Salamander right.

I'm sorry - but PdA (like the many Soviet ships like the UDALOY) just had sexy lines compared to some of the ugly boxes like JC1, the French Mistral (L9013), Royal Navy's topsy HMS OCEAN (L12), and the slightly better but warty Italian CVH Cavour (550).  There is something to be said for a warship having a certain panache (one thing LCS-2 has going for it, BTW).

Maybe the Indians will want to buy PdA. Perhaps Brazil?

Sigh. Maybe I'm just grumpy that PdA was commissioned in 1988 around the same time as ... wait .... harumph.

Hat tip FrontPorch.

So, is this a down?

Monday, November 26, 2012

How to Pi55 off an LDO


Install one of these in the wardroom. 

Feeling Upbeat Today?

Well, I have a cure for you over at USNIBlog.  Come visit.

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part XLIV

First of all ... be calm. It isn't like they have domestic CV in serial production and 11 CVW in their Sino-POM.

One thing they are doing right here ... as the PLAN does on a regular basis - they keep things clean and orderly. 

Something is very clean here .... way too clean.

Head on over to see the spread at and look for yourself. 

Congrats to the People's Liberation Army Navy. They played this game very well from buying a derelict Soviet incompleted CV, and by hook, crook, audacity, and a great portion of hard work are now doing launch and recovery. Well done, and the Salamander nods his head to you.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Best of Junior NCO Leadership, on Midrats

Catch a great best of today, Sunday 25 Nov from 5-6pm EST.

Today's show is a best of, going back to 2010. We all know about the ground services "Strategic Corporal (E4)," but in the sea services - what is the role of the Junior NCO (1st, 2nd, and 3rd Class Petty Officers, E4-6)? Join us with our guests Yeoman Second Class Lucien Gauthier, USN - Aviation Electronics Technician First Class Charles H. Berlemann Jr, USN - and Machinery Technician First Class Tony Turner, USCG.  

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

Sunday Funnies

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Call me what you wish .....

... but I will not apologize. I am looking forward to it - and will be dragging the family along.
... and don't tell me you don't like musicals. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fullbore Friday

It was a little chilly this AM ... and when I think of cold, just a few things come to mind. This is one of them.

The simplicity of the impossible.  Fox Company, 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division at Chosin.
The 1st Marine Division—which included the 1st, 5th and 7th Regiments– more than 20,000 strong—was ordered by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, NATO’s supreme commander in Korea, to march to the Yalu River and back. The distance from Hugnam, along the Sea of Japan, to Chosin was 76 miles. The general’s idea:  Run the Communist troops out of Korea and unify the entire country as a democracy.

Before the march was over, the 1st Marine Division would be confronted by 21 enemy divisions, more than 200,000 soldiers. They would kill and wound 37,000 of the enemy. An additional 30,000 Chinese soldiers suffered frostbite. The Marines would lose 6,000 killed and wounded, and 6,000 more sustained frostbite.
It must have been around 1:30 a.m. I was zipped up in my sleeping bag lying out on the frozen ground behind some rocks and pine trees we’d cut and put up as a wind break. My buddy, Kenny Benson, was next to me in his sleeping bag. We heard some rifle fire and a machine gun open up. I realized this was for real,” said Cafferata, who now lives in Venice, Fla.

“I unzipped my bag and grabbed my M-1 rifle. There were Chinese all around us. I shot five or six right in front of me immediately.

“I said to Benson, ‘What are you doing?”

“’Putting on my boots,’ he replied.

“’Forget the boots. Start shooting,’ I said.”

When Fox Company occupied Toktong Pass on November 27, Captain Barber decided to “circle the wagons,” keeping the company together as a single unit by placing all platoons in a perimeter defense on Fox Hill. He positioned 2d Platoon on the west side of Fox Hill, 3d Platoon on the north, and 1st Platoon on the east. Barber placed Weapons Platoon in the center of the hill to provide all-around mortar fire support and put Headquarters and Service Platoon near the road on the perimeter’s south side. Machine guns anchored positions where the platoons’ boundaries met.

At 2:07 a.m. on November 28, in bitterly cold, 20 degrees below zero weather, waves of Chinese troops, supported by mortars and heavy machine guns, attacked Fox Company’s entire perimeter, beginning an ordeal that lasted until midday on December 1. During daylight hours, Barber directed U.S. Marine and Australian airstrikes on PVA positions. At night, when most Chinese attacks occurred, 11th Marines at Hagaru-ri provided artillery fire support that helped Barber’s company kill perhaps 1,000 enemy troops.
By the time a relief force from 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, arrived on December 1, only 82 of Barber’s original 220 Marines were fit to walk off Fox Hill – 26 were killed, three were missing in action, and the remainder, including Barber, were wounded. Fox Company’s survivors joined 1st Marine Division’s epic “attack in another direction” along highway NK72, arriving at Hungnam on December 11 for evacuation by sea. One awestruck observer, watching the battered Marines march past, called them those “magnificent bastards.”
There is a fairly well-received book out on the topic if you are interested in it in detail: The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What to give thanks for ....

... that you are not responsible for the CASREP update on the NIMITZ

The Navy said Wednesday it will temporarily shrink its aircraft carrier presence in the Persian Gulf area from two to one because of a mechanical problem with the USS Nimitz, a nuclear carrier based in Everett.

The Nimitz was scheduled to deploy in January to relieve the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, but that will be put off until summer in order to complete repairs to its propulsion system. The problem was found while the ship was doing pre-deployment maneuvers.

As a result, the Navy made the unusual decision to bring the Eisenhower home to Norfolk, Va., in December and resurface its flight deck so it can go back to the Gulf area in February and remain for four months. That means that in December and January the USS John C. Stennis will be the only carrier in that area, although there are other naval forces there, including Marines aboard a three-ship contingent led by the USS Peleliu.
Hat tip HC.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

GOP Could Do a Lot Worse ...

Actually ... he was already on my short list.
Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky says he is interested in running for president in 2016.

"I'm not going to deny that I'm interested," Paul told ABC's Jonathan Karl in a segment called "Spinners and Winners."

Paul, who was first elected to the Senate in 2010 and has been frequently mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, said he hasn't made a final decision yet on whether to run in 2016.

"I think it's a little too early," he said. "We'll see what happens."

Sen. Paul (R-KY), Sen. Rubio (R-FL), & Gov. Jindal (R-LA) - not necessarily in that order .... that is a good entering argument, though let's give it a rest for about three years.

The Strategic Shift You Have Yet to Feel

There is a reason why the Middle East has received so much attention in the last century - the free flow of oil at market prices. More importantly - the reliance of our nation and our allies on that part of the world for our oil.

Well ... nothing is constant but change, and we are well inside a turn that will have profound implications on everything from why we deploy, how much we deploy, and where the bar is to decide if USA blood and treasure is needed.

Via Julian Borger and Larry Elliot at The Guardian;
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of China and the Arab spring, American energy independence looks likely to trigger the next great geopolitical shift in the modern world.
US reliance on the Gulf for its oil – and its consequent need to maintain a dominant presence in the Middle East to keep the oil flowing – has been one of the constants of the post-1945 status quo. That could be turned on its head.
It's been dubbed "the homecoming". After decades in which the hollowing out of American manufacturing has been chronicled in Bruce Springsteen's blue-collar laments, cheap energy is being seen as the dawn of a new golden age for the world's biggest economy.
The reason is simple. The US is the home to vast shale oil and gas deposits made commercially viable by improvements to a 200-year-old technique called fracking and by the relentlessly high cost of crude.
Exploitation of fields in Appalachian states such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania, and further west in North Dakota, have transformed the US's energy outlook pretty much overnight. Professor Dieter Helm, an energy expert at Oxford University, said: "In the US, shale gas didn't exist in 2004. Now it represents 30% of the market."
Most of the movement will be via second and third order effects. There is a lot of inertia on our side, so we won't decamp anytime soon. Our support for Israel will keep us well engaged - and in a global economic system - regardless of who gets the oil, if it is disrupts the global economy - it will get us too.

No, as prices fall - some of the worst players in the global system will suffer, specifically Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. As a result, those who they support will suffer too.

As the USA uses less oil from that part of the world, watch as Indian and Chinese interests work to secure the best and most secure access, and grow as a percentage-customer. The Europeans will need to watch closely as well. With petro dollars propping up the already hopeless economics of many of those nations; the existing demographic wave combined with clunky economics will increase the pressure to migrate --- and those migrants that have already made it to Europe so far aren't setting a great example.

Yes, interesting times .... and good reason not to bet the farm on "... long range predictions are XXXX as long as present conditions persist ..... "

Modern Mentoring Gone Bad

I used to be a big fan of "Mentorism" about a decade ago (probably because I saw it as a net good for me, hey, I'm human too), but over time my position has evolved a bit with distance, and observation and has led me to see that the actual practice of Mentorism is much different than the theory.

A midpoint in my thoughts on the subject was put out about ~1.5 years ago over at USNIBlog,
Good people can argue yes or no if Mentorism is best left as an encouraged, but natural and informal process where junior personnel seek advice and example from more senior personnel who can help them understand what is needed to succeed.  Many think that something so good as having a Mentor provides such a benefit that it should be mandatory. I happen to believe it works best when allowed to happen naturally – but support for formal Mentoring is a easily defended opinion. Either way – Mentorism is a net good for all involved, including the Navy.
In the few cases where I saw real SeaDaddyism, conflict soon followed.
Good advice comes naturally and in small doses - that is where Mentorism works best. Formal mentor systems are a waste of time - and too much Mentorism is a cancer in any organization that claims to be a meritocracy.

Going a bit further, Michael Moynihan over at the DailyBeast makes some additional points worth considering - especially in the SeaDaddyism gone amok with Petraeus-Broadwell;
Despite this rather impressive résumé, Broadwell decided she needed career guidance from the man tasked with executing the troop surge in Iraq and commanding American forces in Afghanistan. Here is Broadwell speaking at the University of Denver, discussing time she spent with Petraeus before he took control of the CIA: “I had access to everything. It was my responsibility not to leak it, not to violate my mentor, if you will, I was writing about a very close mentor.” On another occasion, she described Petraeus as an “academic mentor of mine, if you will.”
Well no, I won’t.
It’s unclear what the word “mentor” means in this context, beyond hero worship, reckless infidelity, and the purloining of classified material. Washington’s political culture is a thicket of euphemism, and it seems that being “mentored” has become synonymous with aggressive social climbing. And here I was, assuming that the average mentor is an idealistic, bearded Oberlin graduate intervening on behalf of a disadvantaged teenager. Apparently, everyone has a mentor these days.
One National Public Radio host declared herself “annoyed” that the Petraeus scandal might cast a pall over all male-female mentor relationships. But allow me to suggest a potential upside: there is a vanishingly small chance that the Broadwell-Petraeus affair might do irreparable damage to the mentor industry, which is about as useful as the holistic medicine industry.
I hadn’t previously noticed, but bookstore shelves heave with guides to mentoring both the wayward and ambitious: Mentoring Leaders: Wisdom for Developing Character, Calling, and Competency; A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring; Monday Morning Leadership: 8 Mentoring Sessions You Can’t Afford to Miss. The American Psychological Association (APA) website offers a number of self-evident “tips for mentors” (though it’s not entirely clear why).
“You may want to reflect back on your school experience,” says the APA sagely, “and identify information that would have proven useful to you back then.” A writer at Forbes provides three tips towards being a great mentor, including this bombshell revelation: “Go into your conversation with some ideas you’d like to discuss, but don’t be afraid to stray off course.” Inc. magazine has its own three tips, including the admonitions “listen well” and “focus on action.”

But perhaps the Mentor Industrial Complex isn’t all bad. The wonderfully named David Clutterbuck, a British writer who has written a number books on the subject, offers the following sensible advice on inter-gender mentoring: “Sexual tensions between the two can inhibit the relationship and make it less rewarding than mentoring between two of the same sex.”
Indeed. And next time, Mr. Clutterbuck might want to advise against providing your mentee—of either gender—access to classified documents. But like most of the tips given to potential mentors, that one, too, seems self-evident.
Maybe we can coin (no pun intended) a new word. When a Mentorship moves to SeaDaddyims and on to bump'n uglies - we can call it a Clutterbuck, as in - "I might as well call my detailer and get transferred now. No way I'm going to do as well as I thought at the next FITREP cycle. It is clear as day that OPS is ear-deep in a Clutterbuck with the CO. I don't have a chance."

Want to know how much damage this can do?  Very big frag pattern. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Max Pushes Back

It  is good for people to try to find lessons in what happened to General Petraeus by his own hand - it dishonors the mistakes of others to not learn by them. We should discuss ... and there is no shame is having a giggle or eye-roll or two - always with a nod to the true suffering the families involved are under.

Sadly - some are using this as a chance to settle scores or to try to make points by going personal. The impeccably named Max Boot is having none of it;
The most unseemly aspect of the scandal surrounding David Petraeus is the gleeful Schadenfreude being exhibited by so many who are eager to kick a great man when he is temporarily down. One of the most egregious and nauseating examples is this New York Times op-ed by Lucian Truscott IV entitled “A Phony Hero for a Phony War.” It is insulting not only to Petraeus but to all those men and women who have served valiantly and at great risk in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Truscott is a West Point graduate with a famous name–his grandfather, Lucian Truscott Jr., was a notable general in World War II. Truscott IV, to judge by his preening description of himself, has rather less achievements to his name; he did not last long in the army and has made a career as a freelance writer and screenwriter, often sniping at the military establishment. He is apparently so in thrall to his grandfather and his contemporaries that he seems to think that no modern general can possibly measure up. “Iraq wasn’t a real war at all,” he sneers, which will come as news to the thousands of Americans killed there and the tens of thousands injured.
I search in vain for a serious point here. There is none. Rather this is sheer animus against Petraeus animated by runaway nostalgia for the Greatest Generation, which ignores the fact that most wars before and since World War II could not be ended by marching on the enemy’s capital to demand unconditional surrender. Where, after all, is the capital of the Taliban or al-Qaeda in Iraq? Petraeus and the troops under his command did extremely well in dealing with in dealing with a more diffuse enemy that could not simply be pounded into submission with massive firepower because he did not wear a uniform or control a well-defined territory.

“Guerrilla war is more intellectual than a bayonet charge,” T.E. Lawrence said. Petraeus was smart enough, dedicated enough, and capable enough to rise to the challenge of understanding and fighting that type of war. In the annals of counterinsurgency he is one of the all-time greats. Now, as payback for a lifetime of service, he gets insulted by sideline spitballers like Lucian Truscott IV.

It's a Jacksonian thing Euroweenie, you wouldn't understand

Over at The American Interest, Walter Russell Mead has a great article that goes a long way in explaining why the USA seems slightly off message from the rest of the world when it comes to Israel. That is good, as the global message on Israel is wrong.
Commentators around the world grasp at straws in seeking to explain what’s going on. Islamophobia and racism, say some. Americans just don’t care about Arab deaths and they are so blinded by their fear of Islam that they can’t see the simple realities of the conflict on the ground. Others allege that a sinister Jewish lobby controls the media and the political system through vast power of Jewish money; the poor ignorant Americans are the helpless pawns of clever Jews. Still others suggest that it is fanatical fundamentalists with their carry on flight bags packed for the Rapture who are behind American blindness to Israel’s crimes.

America is a big country with a lot of things going on, but the real force driving American support for Israeli actions in Gaza isn’t Islamophobia, Jewish conspiracies or foam-flecked religious nuts. It’s something much simpler: many though not all Americans look at war through a distinctive cultural lens. Readers of Special Providence know that I’ve written about four schools of American thinking about world affairs; from the perspective of the most widespread of them, the Jacksonians, what Israel is doing in Gaza makes perfect sense.

Not only are many Jacksonians completely untroubled by Israel’s response to the rocket attacks in Gaza, many genuinely don’t understand why the rest of the world is so steamed about Israel—and so angry with the United States.

As an unapologetic Europhile, I knew where to draw the line. When in Europe, under no circumstances discuss politics - and especially for a Zionist like myself - don't bring up or engage in discussions about Israel.
I love France and the French in general especially - but notsomuch when they wander into politics. Ditto Germans and most Continentals. It isn't that they are just ignorant (like the size of a hurricane relative to their nation if they were hit, or the fact that it is very usual for Americans to own over a dozen guns and thousands of rounds of ammo) about the USA - it isn't what they don't know that is the issue, it is what they think they know is true that is actually just wrong. Kind of like a person who voted for Obama a second time ... but I digress.

In my years in Europe, I knew early on to change the subject when Israel came up, as I tend to go nuclear early. This was a few years ago when I was still trying to go native, but I was the token American at a social gathering when my very erudite Belgian colleague decided that he wanted to talk about domestic American politics. As all he really knew was what he read in the International Herald Tribune ... you can figure out his world view. In any event, he was not happy that Americans didn't have at least one political party that would pressure Israel to give up more land for peace faster.

Especially surprising for me at that early stage (though no longer shocking after a few years) for a Continental European, he "went there." He roughly said that many European nations are better able address their concerns with the Israeli government because unlike the USA, they did not have big pro-Israeli organizations pressuring politicians and contributing money to politicians. Well, after sitting there listening to his babbl'n about Israel for 15-min or so, that was it for me - subtle Sal came off the top-rope and said after finishing off his 330ml beer, "Sure, we have a strong Israeli lobby in the USA. Unlike other nations, we didn't kill off our Jews."

I took a look around the table: across from me was a very wide eyed Canadian, a German who was avoiding eye contact, my Belgian friend sitting there with his pie-hole open, a Dutchman looking down at the table, and a small gaggle of assorted Scandinavian types looking bemused. One of which, a Swede I believe, was shaking trying to hold in a laugh. I got up to get another beer, not too happy with myself ... but in a way ... glad I "went there" too. By the time I came back, the topic of discussion changed and I tried to keep my mouth shut for the rest of the night.

We just see things differently - which is good.
Thus when television cameras show the bodies of children killed in an Israeli air raid, Jacksonian Americans are sorry about the loss of life, but it inspires them to hate and loathe Hamas more, rather than to be mad at Israel. They blame the irresponsible dolts who started the war for all the consequences of the war and they admire Israel’s strength and its resolve for dealing with the appalling blood lust of the unhinged loons who start a war they can’t win, and then cower behind the corpses of the children their foolishness has killed. The whole situation strengthens the widespread American belief that Palestinian hate rather than Israeli intransigence is the fundamental reason for the Middle East impasse, and the television pictures that drive much of the world away from Israel often have the effect of strengthening the bonds between Americans and the Jewish state.

This automatic Jacksonian response to the Middle East situation overlooks some important complexities in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in the past America’s Jacksonian instincts have gotten us into trouble. But anyone trying to analyze the politics of the Middle East struggle as they unfold in American debates needs to be aware of the power of these ideas about war in American life.

In any case, when Israel brings the big guns and fast planes against Gaza’s popguns and low tech missiles, a great many Americans see nothing but common sense at work. These Americans aren’t mad about ‘disproportionate’ Israeli violence in Gaza because they don’t really accept the concept of proportionality in war. They think that if you have jus ad bellum, and rocket strikes from Gaza are definitely that, you get something close to a blank check when it comes to jus in bello.

If anything, rather than weakening American sympathy for Israel, Israel’s response in Gaza (and the global criticism that surrounds it) is likely to strengthen the bonds of respect and esteem that many Americans feel for Israelis. Far from seeing Israel’s use of overwhelming force against limited provocation as harsh or immoral, many Americans see it as courageous and wise. It strengthens the sense that in a wacky world where a lot of foreigners are hard to understand, the Israelis are honest, competent and reliable friends — good people to have on your side in a tight spot.
Not all Americans are Jacksonian ... but enough are to make the difference.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wayne Hughes on Policy, Fleet Size, and the Navy Next - on Midrats

"If we cannot have the navy estimates of our policy, then let's have the policy of our navy estimates." ---- Lieutenant Ambroise Baudry, French Navy

As our guest this week noted in his book Fleet Tactics: Theory and Practice, "These are the watchwords for the twenty-first-century American navy."

As we leave our land wars in Asia and look forward to the future maritime challenges of our nation, what size and kind of Fleet should the US Navy have?

How will budgets impact the size and nature of our Fleet, and how will that impact the ability of the Navy to meet what it will be asked to do?

What are the major schools of thought on what should drive our Fleet design, and what does history have to tell us about where we should head, and what we should be cautious of?

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday, 18 November from 5-6pm EST to discuss this and a lot more will be Wayne P. Hughes, Jr., Captain, USN (Ret) Professor, Department of Operations Research at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.

He is author of the books; Fleet Tactics: Theory and Practice, its major revision Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat, Military Modeling for Decision Making, and is co-author of A Concise Theory of Combat

He wrote the article on naval tactics in the current Encyclopedia Britannica, four articles in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History, and two articles on naval logistics in the International Military and Defense Encyclopedia. With Professor John Hattendorf, Hughes co-edited the Naval Institute’s Classics of Sea Power series. He has two awards in the Naval Institute prize essay contest and is one of its distinguished authors. His publication, “Naval Maneuver Warfare,” received recognition as the best article in the Naval War College Review for 1997. His most recent Review essays are “A Bimodal Force for the National Maritime Strategy” (2007) and “Implementing the Seapower Strategy” (2008). He is a member of the NWC Press Advisory Board. 

Captain Hughes received an MS in Operations Research from NPS in 1964, and returned in 1979 and continued as a civilian instructor for thirty-two years, including 5 years as Dean of the Graduate School of Operational and Information Sciences, he is a Distinguished Alumnus of NPS.

On active duty he commanded a minesweeper, a destroyer, and directed a large training command.  Ashore, he was Deputy Director of the CNO’s Systems Analysis (OP-96), and Aide to Under Secretary of the Navy R. James Woolsey.  

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio - 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.
Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Another Union Victory

When these quasi-mafia-like organizations are run by people who have no clue what it takes to keep a business in the black - but only know how to maintain their own power, well ... here you go.
Hostess, the makers of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, is going out of business after striking workers failed to heed a Thursday deadline to return to work, the company said.

“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” Hostess CEO Gregory F. Rayburn said in announcing that the firm had filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to shutter its business. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”

Hostess Brands Inc. had warned employees that it would file to unwind its business and sell off assets if plant operations didn't return to normal levels by 5 p.m. Thursday. In announcing its decision, Hostess said its wind down would mean the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores in the United States.
Soon, perhaps, we should talk some more about the public sector unions and what they are doing to the republic.

Fullbore Friday

Via USAToday ... do I really need to write anything else?
In 2010, his unit headed to Afghanistan, the vanguard of a new strategy ordered by President Obama that bolstered forces in Taliban-controlled parts of the country. By then a corporal, Wooldridge was assigned to Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines.

The Marines were sent to Helmand province, an insurgent stronghold and poppy-growing region in southern Afghanistan where coalition forces controlled only a few key towns. At the time, the Taliban moved freely through large swaths of the region.

Soon after arriving the unit was sent to Musa Qala, where the Marines were arrayed against Taliban fighters that wanted to hold the region at any cost. In June, Weapons Company was given the mission to clear a valley that held a large settlement in the Helmand River Valley.

They expected to confront the enemy but were taken aback by what they encountered.

"We ran into a hornet's nest," Calvin says.

The initial plan was to meet with villagers who lived in settlements strung along the valley, or wadi, to get a sense of the enemy situation.

"That all went out the window the moment we got into the wadi," Calvin says.

The Taliban tried to ambush the Marines at every turn. The roughly 125 Marines were facing between 150 and 250 hardened Taliban fighters who had established a sophisticated network of bunkers and trenches laced into hills in the high ground overlooking the wadi. The area had been seeded with roadside bombs.

Anticipating a clash, villagers fled the town. Families with all of their belongings, including sheep, cows and goats, streamed past the Marines. Insurgents from nearby towns flooded the area, determined to blunt the Marine offensive and hold on to the poppy-growing region that was critical to the Taliban. ... Within five minutes of leaving the secure perimeter, Wooldridge's vehicle struck a roadside bomb. No one was seriously injured, but the vehicle was wrecked. Wooldridge and his team got into another vehicle. They had barely moved before they hit another bomb and had to get into a third vehicle.

By this time in the offensive, the Marines had decided to alter tactics to get closer to an enemy that would typically fire at them from a distance and then melt away.

"Nobody had seen them," Madden says of the Taliban.

They would probe farther into the valley than ever before, drawing insurgents out and then sending teams on foot to cut off the Taliban fighters before they could melt away.

It wasn't long before the four-vehicle patrol was getting fired at from trees on the western side of the valley. (The account of his actions is based on interviews with Wooldridge and other Marines and the official citation.)

The turret gunners in the vehicles wheeled around and began firing in the direction of the gunshots. The Marines split up in an effort to cut off the Taliban militants. One team went south and another north.

Wooldridge bounded across a freshly harvested field toward the firing as a couple of his fellow Marines got down and fired at targets ahead of him. Wooldridge burst into the treeline and saw a militant emerge from a ditch and start to run.

"I shot and saw him fall," Wooldridge says.

Wooldridge's two teammates caught up with him. They moved quickly through the trees and stopped short when they came to the edge of a farming village with mud homes and walls. Looking down from a small hill, they saw 15 armed insurgents at the center of the village.

The startled insurgents saw the Marines and turned and raised their weapons. It was too late. The Americans opened fire. Most fell, but a handful escaped.

Marines watched as an insurgent carrying a rocket-propelled grenade emerged from a narrow alleyway in the village and stepped over the bodies of his fallen comrades. The Marines shot him.

This is what the Marines had been hoping for. They had flushed out the enemy and forced the Taliban into a close-quarters fight.

Wooldridge moved his team to another spot for a different view on the Taliban compound.

Just then he heard voices that sounded like men arguing behind a nearby wall. He peeked around the corner and was face to face with four insurgents armed with machine guns, assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Wooldridge shot two of them before they could react. He killed a third as the man was trying to escape. Out of ammunition, he tried to bluff the last insurgent by gesturing at him to drop his weapon.

The insurgent raised his gun and pointing it at Wooldridge, who was 10 feet away. Wooldridge ducked behind the mud wall to reload. Before he could put a fresh drum in his light machine gun, a barrel poked around the corner of the wall.

Wooldridge dropped his own weapon and grabbed the barrel of the machine gun. He slammed the insurgent against a wall and both men fell to the ground. Wooldridge rolled on top of the insurgent and began pummeling him.

The insurgent reached for a grenade attached to the Marine's protective vest. If he pulled the pin, both men would die.

Wooldridge broke away and got to his feet, grabbing the insurgent's machine gun at the same time. He aimed it at the insurgent and squeezed the trigger. It didn't work.

With the stock of the weapon, he beat the Taliban fighter to death.

Marines arrived to find Wooldridge covered in blood, leaning over the dead insurgent.
Of course, there's more. Read it all.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Yingling Revisited

Wondering what is going wrong with out General & Flag Officers is not a new thing. Our buddy Lolita Baldor over at AP reminds us of Paul Yingling's article over a half-decade ago in her good article on the 5 GOFO that have had problems as of late.

Nice pull quote at the end of her article parallels some of the core causes I touched on yesterday at USNIBlog.
"You're not describing a general officer corps, you're describing a human condition," said Anthony Cordesman, a national security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Whenever people are in hierarchical structures they develop a sense of entitlement, and they do, on occasion, abuse it."
Some parts of our culture try to make those at the highest ranks of the military to be demigods of some kind, but they aren't. They are just humans - but all the glory and weakness that comes with that.

Sequestration: 2nd & 3rd Order Effects Brief

Via DLA Piper; get your sequestration bona fides.
Sequestration Brief

You can also download it here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Petraeus's Latest Lesson to the Leader

I have a post running on USNIBlog about the complete dog's breakfast that General Petraeus has brought unto the national security arena.

Come visit and let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How bad is your blogg'n?

Shipmate - it can't be any worse than this.
As you can see, the Ohio Replacement program is truly a team effort. We enjoy strong, unwavering support throughout the Department of Defense and Congress. We recognize this support comes with the expectation that we will continue to be good stewards of our Nation’s resources as we deliver our Nation’s most survivable strategic deterrent on time and at the most responsible cost.
I will never get those few minutes of my life back. Launch the ready NewMedia pogue with the CluebatOfRighteousness pronto.

Hat tip HLG.

If They Clicked off a Nuke ....

Perhaps it is because I spent a lot of time as a JO playing around with the how, when, and to what degree we would nuke someone that nuclear weapons can sometimes be a cold subject.

Especially at the tactical nuke level - it isn't the end of the world. Indeed, we trained to fight and win in a nuclear environment not that long ago.

Along those lines, I think more people should get comfortable with Alex Wellerstein's NUKEMAP.

From Davie Crocket to the Tsar Bomb - play dial-a-yield all you want.

Want to know what a probably terrorist nuke of NYC would look like?  Without pondering fallout .... build your own ... even your hometown if you wish.

Monday, November 12, 2012

How old is that Ensign?

Posted without additional comment. None is really needed. Welcome aboard.
Vice President Joe Biden will have another military son to worry about as he helps chart America's course around the world.
Youngest son Hunter is joining the Navy. The attorney and former lobbyist applied for a commission into the Navy Reserve as a public affairs officer and was selected, the Navy said Friday.
Because Hunter Biden is 42, he needed a special waiver to be accepted, but that is not uncommon. He is one of seven candidates recommended for a direct commission for public affairs.
Hat tip S.

Do you feel that?

Those who have been to sea or have a few thousand hours in an aircraft know what I mean.

Everything seems OK. All the instrumentation looks right - nothing drastic seems to be going wrong ... but you can feel that something is off.

If you are standing, it comes up your feet; is sitting your spine. Somewhere, something is going wrong; there is a subtle change in the feel. A bearing going ... something leaking .... something shearing .... you don't know right away as there are no primary or secondary indications quite yet ... but you know it is there; and you know it isn't good.

Economists have similar things. Over at ZeroHedge, Tyler is wonk'n on the divergence of Crude Oil from the Baltic Dry Index.

Read, ponder, and add it to your mix. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sal's Rule 438 About Women

Never fiddle with anyone who has better bicep definition than you do. As you listen to this ... try to control your irony alarm. Mine went off about ever 45-seconds and Mrs. Salamander became quickly annoyed. 

As a side-note - am I being a putz for slightly feeling sorry for her? I know, she snaked a married man and uses "I" and "me" too much ... but .... sorry. 

What a train wreck.

UPDATE: As you can see, the original full video has been yanked ... but someone else has posted a smaller part of it. Here you go.


The 11th is a Sunday. Good. This Veterans Day I thought I would put out a reminder that in the strangest places, you can see that some people remember. Six years ago I posted this - and I think that it is time to share it again. This really had an impact on me when I ran in to it - still does. I seemed to have not edited the original post, so I will now.
As the Commonwealth Nations call it, today is Remembrance Day. I have always like that. More well rounded than Armistice Day or the Hallmarkish Veterans Day. On my travels one year through Europe, I came up on this non-PC memorial put up by the Belgians in a small town near the Dutch-German border. It is dedicated to the American troops that liberated that town, twice, once during WWI and again WWII. I was there on an ordinary day, yet it was very well kept and cared for. Sometimes it is hard to get through the background noise in Brussels to realize that your standard issue Belgian remembers...and understands. Maybe not their government, and probably not every citizen - but enough.
Here too as well.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Marines and the Long War ... on Midrats

This Sunday from 5-6pm EST, let's revisit a show from JAN 2011. 

Much of the conversation about the USMC over the last decade has been about its "Second Land Army" status .... well .... Marines are still second to none at their core skill set. In case someone forgot that - our next guest and his Marines reminded everyone of not just that - but the power of the Navy-Marine Corp team. 

Over a 48 hour period , the 15th MEU/PELARG team conducted offensive air operations in Afghanistan resulting in the deaths of 5 confirmed enemy fighters, provided disaster relief in Pakistan to 120 victims who had been without aid since July, and seized a pirated vessel, rescuing a crew of 11 hostages and detaining 9 suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia. 

Our guest will be Captain Alexander Martin, USMC - the leader of the team that took back The Magellan Star. 

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio - 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.