Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Class Act for a Good Friend

This is a small but in my opinion, incredibly important act on not just a national level - but more importantly - a human level.

It is a very humble act of friendship that brings honor to both sides to a degree that is difficult to really put in to words.

This isn't about a battle-flag; so pull that historical benchmark out of the way.

Read it all - not just the pull quote below -, look at the picture, and then read it again.
In a gesture of friendship and goodwill, Rear Adm. James F. Caldwell, commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, returned a Japanese good luck flag belonging to a World War II Imperial Japanese soldier, July 26.

Caldwell returned the flag to Consul General of Japan, Toyoei Shigeeda, at the Consulate-General of Japan at Honolulu. The flag was previously in the possession of Caldwell's great uncle, Capt. (ret.) Jay V. Chase, a World War II U.S. naval officer.
"This flag didn't rightfully belong to me, it belongs to the town or the family," Caldwell said. "It's meaningful to Japan, it's meaningful to the town, and it's meaningful to the family of the soldier to who it belonged."
This is how it should be between friends whose past was not what it should have been, but for decades has become what it always should have always been.

Here is to many more decades with our friends the Japanese, and I hope in some way this helps the Japanese family on the other end.

BZ to RADM Caldwell.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When Skippy Wakes Up in a Full Sweat ...

It is because he was dreaming of being in the middle of this:

Female soldiers play games during a psychological test at the Zhurihe training base in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, July 18, 2013. The first female special forces unit established by the Chinese People's Liberation Army received intensive training as the Army Day is coming. The youngest soldier of the unit is 18 years old while the oldest one is 26. All of the female soldiers have college degrees or above and have been trained to master special combat skills. (Xinhua/Wang Jianmin)
I think one of them could be cast in the film of Black Star Rising.

So, anyone consult an infantryman on this?

Someone please tell me there is more to this than what it looks like;
The Army’s Picatinny Arsenal is working on a “green” version of the M80A1 7.62 mm bullet, which troops are supposed to start being issued in 2014, according to an Army press release.

The Army has been looking to “green” small caliber ammo for some time now. In 2010, the Army switched to the greener 5.56 mm M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round.
“The EPR replaces the lead slug with a copper slug,” said Lt. Col. Phil Clark, product manager for small caliber ammunition in the Program Executive Officer Ammunition. “This makes the projectile environmentally-friendly, while still giving soldiers the performance capabilities they need on the battlefield. So far we have eliminated 1,994 metric tons of lead from 5.56 ammunition production.”

“Thirty-two grains of lead are eliminated per M855A1 projectile, and 114.5 grains of lead will be eliminated per M80A1 projectile,” according to the Army.
Oh no, no, no. We already know that the 5.56mm is iffy as an infantry round. It is already limited in what it can do, especially in the ranges we have been fighting as of late. There is a reason the M-14 was brought back. There is a reason - until the burocrats killed it - last decade a move was under foot to more to something between 6.5-6.8mm.

Could this be as bad as it seems? Could it make the Big Green Navy push seem sane?

In times of woe, as all good Sailors do, I turn to the USMC. Three years ago they decided that the Marines in the field were more important that the PPT on the Potomac, it seems;
Special Operations Command and now the Marine Corps are fielding a deadlier 5.56mm round, but the Army says soldiers can't have it. Instead, the service is holding on to its dream of environmentally friendly ammunition.

Army ammunition officials are on their third attempt at redesigning the Cold War-era M855 5.56mm round by adding a better-performing, lead-free bullet. The service had to halt the M855A1 Lead-Free Slug program in July when the new bullet failed to perform under high temperatures. The setback delayed fielding by nearly a year.

The newest version of the green round is in the live-fire test phase, and Army officials said they are confident it will be ready for combat use by June.

The Marine Corps, however, doesn't share this confidence. The Corps has dropped its plans to field the Army's M855A1 and approved the new SOST round for Marines to use in Afghanistan. SOST, short for Special Operations Science and Technology, is SOCom's enhanced 5.56mm round. It isn't green, but it is deadlier than the current M855 round and it's available now, Marine officials say.
I see nothing that shows me the Marines have changed their mind either.

A few more things come to mind - first of all cost. Copper is a lot more expensive than lead. For 29JUL the London cash price for copper is $6,860 a ton. Lead is $2,504 per ton. I'll let you do the rest of the math.

So, let us try to find a neutral party to look at the "green" bullet designed to make the battlefield friendly enough to turn humans in to pink mist.

Guns & Ammo, over to you;
... the reason it shoots flatter is because they’ve juiced the round up so that it will fly at 3,100 fps. This would be a great achievement except for the fact that they did it by increasing the chamber pressure from 55,000 psi to 63,000 psi. That’s a number closely approaching proof-load pressures. So are new M4s being constructed using stronger materials to handle this hot round? No, of course not. The M4 is being manufactured to the same Technical Data Package (TDP) that they have always been. This means that not only are parts going to wear out at a much higher rate (which is already is an issue with the M4), but if, God forbid, there is any bullet set-back, the number of M4s reportedly going “high order” (i.e., blowing up) should increase exponentially.

While on the subject of the effect of the M855A1 on service weapons, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the new round cuts barrel life by almost 50 percent (information sourced by Individual Carbine contenders recently supplied 10,080 rounds of the M855A1 EPR so that they could tune their submission for this new load).

But no amount of tuning is going to alter the fact that the EPR has a 5.5 MOA accuracy standard. 5.5 MOA? Seriously? The Mk 318 SOST round that the USMC has fielded in Afghanistan is held to a 2 MOA standard, but the latest and greatest round that it’s being replaced by is held to a 5.5 MOA standard? Additionally, the Mk 318 has better terminal ballistics against soft targets, holds together better through intermediate barriers and costs half what the M855A1 costs.
Read the whole thing if you must ... but do we need to do any more?

Someone, anyone, please tell me where this is a better solution for our infantry. Where does this better do the job of killing the enemy before he kills you?

Is this just another case of a desire to look "green" we are willing to sacrifice our young men and women and put our battlefield success at risk? 

Where is everyone from the USMC to G&A wrong? Why are the rank and file Army types silent?

I was having a little trouble thinking that this much stupid could stay for this long, so I bounced this off and Army type who gave me his six ohbytheways about this mess. The stupid is real. Only 1 of the 6 isn't a red mark. #6 is what will get us killed more than any other.
1. While both are in the inventory, you'll need two zeros. Because they'll fly different.
2. You get to die knowing the bullet that hit you won't pollute the environment.
3. Sure, it's better for ranges, until you look at the megatons of lead we've already shot there (not to mention the DU... An issue anywhere the davy crocket was fired, including the spotting round).
4. Copper is harder, meaning more penetration, at low velocity. At high velocity, if it hits hard stuff, it shatters.
5. Barrel/chamber/parts wear doesn't hunt, most rifles never live to see their wear-out date before being replaced.
6. Greater cost per round=less shooting or less $ for training.

Monday, July 29, 2013

HAYLER and the Never-was-has-beens

Here is a change I would really like to see in how we train our senior leadership; they need to act more like a customer of the defense industry - not sound like a paid defender of it.

Part of it is training, part of it is practiced art, but we had another example of it this weekend. The CNO's Public Affairs office rolled this quote out and it is a perfect example of a lot of what is wrong with the discussion about LCS.
Greenert spoke about the GAO report that was leaked days in advance during a Pentagon press brief held July 19 to discuss the status of the Navy with the Pentagon Press Corps. In his comments Greenert compared the LCS with debuts of previous first- in-class ships and said there was initial skepticism with those platforms too.

"My view is, what we are finding is not that significantly different from the Perry class of the ʻ60s and ʻ70s, the Spruance class of the ʻ70s, nor even the Arleigh Burke class when it comes to the size and the impact on it," Greenert said defending the initial hiccups of the LCS.

Not one for excuses and understanding of our nation's budget constraints Greenert added, "But we need to be vigilant, we need to follow up, and we have work to do."
Where to start?

1. No, no, no, no; you cannot have your cake and eat it too. You cannot take a ship like LCS that was sold as "transformational" and "unlike any other warship" and then when things go sideways say, "Well, it is just like all our other programs." That is both self-contradictory on its face, and also in this case, not in line with the facts.

2. The facts. LCS-1 was commissioned in NOV08. Almost 5 years ago, and we have 4 LCS commissioned; two of each sub-class of LCS. The USS SPRUANCE (DD-963) was commissioned in SEP75. Five years later, in 1980, we had just commissioned hull 30, USS FLETCHER (DD-992). That left one ship in the class left, the USS HAYLER (DD-993) that we'll get to in a minute. So, ummmm, no. Admiral Greenert, the experience we have having with LCS is quite significantly different than our experience with the SPRUANCE class. Shall we go on to OHP next? Let's not and say we did; I want to stick with the Spru-cans.

There were two sub-classes of the SPRUANCE; the TICO Cruisers (yes, I called it a sub-class), and MIDN Salamander's favorite ship, the KIDD class DDG (BTW, LT Salamander's favorite of that class for special reasons was USS SCOTT (DDG-995).)

No, the LCS is nowhere near the experience of any the classes mentioned. First in class always has growing pains, always has always will - but here is the biggest ball of gall that we are being asked to swallow by the CNO with that statement. Five years after its commission and LCS-1 cannot engage anything more challenging than a Boghammar, 1-on-1. Half dozen Boghhammar at sea-state ___ coming from between ___deg and ___deg relative at ___F and ___% humidity, well .... nuff said on that.

LCS isn't even really PMC in ASUW. She can only conduct ASW as a flaming datum for others. She can conduct MIW one mine at a time, once.

Almost out of the box, and unquestionably at the 5-yr mark when the class was almost complete, SPRUANCE could do her primary mission, ASW with style and verve with both sensors and LWT coming at the target from over the side and from on top via ASROC and helo. Heck, back in the day - she could even nuke the frack out of you. With Harpoon and two 5"-54 she could more than hold her own in ASUW if needed. Point defense AAW with Sea Sparrow, nice to have and effective for her day.

Room to grow? Yes, as designed and without affecting her primary reason for being; ASW. With LCS you can grow, but only if you want to give up her reason for being; speed. Once the SPRUANCE came in to being with the MK-41 VLS ... well there you go.

With proven technology mixed in with some new but tested improvements - SPRUANCE was a classic case of evolutionary success, not the transformationalist revolutionary dog's breakfast that is LCS.

The last of the straight-stick SPRUANCE was the HAYLER. Yep, that's her in the upper-right hand corner. Commissioned in MAR83, decommissioned in AUG03. Yep, do the math; 20-years of service; sunk as a target in NOV04.

Here is a fun fact about HAYLER, when she was funded in 1978, she was supposed to be DDH-997; yep, a helicopter destroyer.

This is about to get fun.

As regulars know, I was and will always be a fan of the Sea Control Ship (all praise the late great SPS PdA), so you know where I am going.

As the pogues at DOD-GAO still have the 1978 observations on the concept classified, we'll just free-form with what we have.
Litton-Ingalls completed sketch design work for DDH-997, which moved the helicopter deck aft, stretching the length of the hangar and displacing the Sea Sparrow launcher to the top of the hangar. The design would have accommodated two SH-3 Sea Kings or four smaller SH-60 Seahawk or SH-2 Seasprite helicopters.
From a very interesting 1991 USNI Press imprint, The Hybrid Warship: The Amalgamation of Big Guns and Aircraft, we have an outline of what Congress authorized.

From the same book, I am led to believe the DDH concept spawned quite a few ideas. My favorite - that yes I would gladly take 1 of for 2 SPRU - was from the 1977 Proceedings article by CDR Ronald J. Ghiradella, USN.
Length Over All (LOA): 606 feet
Beam (hull and sponsor): 66 feet

Overall beam (width) with the ducted uptakes and angled fight deck: 87 feet

Fight deck length: 470 feet and can support simultaneous takeoff of 5 medium-sized helicopters

Weapons: 1- 5 inch/54 dual purpose gun
4-30 mm General Electric GAU 8 (a) guns
1 Harpoon launcher (An ASROC could be substitute)
1 Basic point defense missile system

Elevator measures: 62 x 26 feet

Embarked aircraft: 12 medium-sized helicopters or 8 medium-sized helicopters and 4 Harrier-type aircraft

Let that soak in a bit and ponder this with me. HAYLER was commissioned in 1983, so let's assume that this ship was a go either as Congress said or CDR Goodchocolate's mod - and let's make a run of 4; add a couple of years for the mods and say HAYLER commissioned in 1985 with follow-on ships every two years after that. 85, 87, 89, 91. The oldest ship would be 28, the youngest 22.

Think about what we have actually used our Fleet for since 1980. Not what people wished it would be used for, not what they planned it to be used for - but actually no-kidding used for.

Because of our unique position and responsibilities on the world's oceans, our ships need as a baseline capability flexibility and capacity. The DDH has that in spades. The latest realization of this tradition that traces its line back to when we built big frigates well over 200 years ago, is the CNO's "payloads over platforms."

If you could have kept DDH and her sisters out of the Amphib Navy ghetto, the clear utility of that platform over the last few decades is clear. The original ASW mission is straight forward - but think of its utility in the decade+ Northern Arabian Gulf embargo ops. Disaster relief in places such as Haiti. Anti-piracy. Even a temporary home for the HMM when needed. 

The clearest utility to me though is support to Special Operations. Even has its own organic NSFS. The little mini-KIEV would have been nice to have around. I think our friend CAPT Hendrix would find a home for it in one of his Influence Squadrons.

A great addition to the toolbox.

Oh wait, here comes the buzzkill guy from OPNAV shaking his finger and saying in that high pitched whine that drives men nuts, "OK, fine Sal. What in the 1980s would you not fund in order to pay for this?"

My response as always, "Dude, that is your job. Give me a menu of options to choose from and I'll let you know."

Of course, the DDH was a never-was-has-been, but let's come full circle back to the CNO.
... what we are finding is not that significantly different from ... the SPRUANCE class of the ʻ70s, ...
If you change the time frame from the beginning of the program to the program in general - then yes, you may have something. Like the SPRUANCE, what can we do with the platform that we have in order to best make it most useful to the Fleet? What from a financial and engineering point of view, makes the most sense?

The LCS simply does not have the "wiggle room" that SPRUANCE had - so there aren't that many options. I am encouraged that there is a much more open mind in the Navy towards the clear short comings of LCS, and that is good, as only through a clear view can we find the best way to make this work.

SPRUANCE; don't insult her memory by throwing her in with LCS - she has been insulted enough in the last decade.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Best of The Korean War, on Midrats

Building off of Friday's FbF theme - if there can be only one Midrats this Sunday.

We ran this as a best of back in December, but with yesterday being the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, there is no question this is the right episode.

Also, with the last year's announcement of the naming of DDG-116 after Medal of Honor recipient CAPT Thomas Hudner, USN (Ret) - it is an easy decision on today's show.

Today at 5pm Eastern will be our Navy Air Korean War episode with CAPT Hudner in the first half hour, and then author David Sears to discuss his book Men Such as These: The Story of the Navy Pilots Who Flew the Deadly Skys Over Korea.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room, even though it is a best-of, I'll bring it up for the regulars if you are so inclined. Also, if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Sunday Funnies

Plan B for LCS-1 to return from deployment.

Hat tip B2

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Eating with SWOs

Yea ... SWOs notsomuch with the sharing thing ... and I bet URR is with them on this.

Smithy ... you are now an honorary Shoe.

Ref the BBC's Gavin & Stacey.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fullbore Friday

With tomorrow being the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, let's reach back six year in the FbF archive for a little something almost no one knows about.

Forgotten war? Not here, not on FbF.

Not one of our Primary Mission Areas. We will never be asked to do that. If we did that, it would take away from the job that we think in most important. There are more important things we will have to do. That is a distraction. Our platform isn't optimised for that. We think other platforms can do that better. My boss won't let us talk about that.
You hear lots of that sometimes. Nonetheless, warfare asks a lot of people and machines. You often have to do the mission that is most needed, not the one that you like doing, the one your peacetime theorizing told you would be important - or the one that you are told you are supposed to push.

No, in the end - everything you do is, and should be, focused on the most important warfighter in any war. The man with his foot, sandal, or boot is on the ground with a weapons saying "this is ours."

Our friends in the VP Navy found themselves in this very spot in 1951 - and in every other war since - even though they don't like it.

Welcome to Lamp Lighter.
Patrol squadrons (VP) were among the first from the Naval Air Reserve to deploy overseas. Recalled to active duty on 20 July 1950, VP-892 reported to NAS San Diego the following month, and on 18 December logged its first mission, the first by a reserve squadron during the Korean War. Eventually, seven recalled patrol squadrons served during the conflict, flying PBM-5 Mariners, PB4Y/P4Y-2 Privateers and P2V-2/3 Neptunes. The crews flew a variety of missions, including long-range antisubmarine warfare and reconnaissance flights in the Sea of Japan and along the coasts of China and North Korea. This could get dangerous, as evidenced by the experiences of a VP-731 crew operating over the Yellow Sea off the west coast of Korea. On 31 July 1952, two Chinese MiG-15 jets attacked a squadron PBM-5S2, killing two crewmen and wounding two others. The plane's pilot, Lieutenant E. E. Bartlett, Jr., descended to low altitude, weaving in an effort to avoid further attack, and limped to Paengyong, South Korea, where he made an emergency landing. Two squadrons, VPs 772 and 871, harkened back to the days of the famous "Black Cat" patrol squadrons by operating at night over Korea, dropping flares to support night interdiction and close air support missions by Marine Corps aircraft.

Privateers from VP-28, VP-772, and VP-871 flew flare missions in support of Marine Corps F7F Tigercat and F4U-5N Corsair night fighters. They carried up to 250 high-intensity parachute flares, enough to provide target illumination for several teams of attack aircraft during a single night sortie.

In 1951 VP squadrons were pressed into another role, this time over land, dropping illumination flares in support of air strikes. Known as Firefly missions, they helped deny the night to enemy supply movements. Admiral Arthur W. Radford suggested the use of P4Y-2 Privateers as flare ships to replace the more vulnerable R4D Skytrains in illuminating targets for Marine Corps F4U-5N Corsair and F7F-3N Tigercat night hecklers. One P4Y from VP-772 was modified For the mission and proved highly successful, and three more P4Ys from VP-772 and VP-28 were assigned as "Lamp Lighters" (later operated by successive squadrons). During a typical mission, the P4Y would rendezvous with four attack aircraft, search for truck convoys and illuminate the targets for the attack aircraft.
Although United Nations forces were successful in maintaining air superiority over most of the Korean peninsula, lumbering patrol aircraft had a few encounters with enemy aircraft. A VP-42 Mariner was damaged on 11 May 1952 by a MiG-15 fighter over the Yellow Sea, and on 31 July 1952 a VP-731 PBM was seriously damaged by gunfire from a MiG-15, which killed two crewmen and injured two others.
Low level. At night. Large, slow plane. Not trained for it. Do it anyway. 2/3 initially done by Reserve Squadrons. Great success. Almost forgotten. Enemy killed. Americans saved.

D@mn Reservists. Fullbore.

As a side-note, if you didn't catch the 2010 interview with holder of the Medal of Honor from the Korean War CAPT Thomas J. Hudner, Jr., and author of SUCH MEN AS THESE, David Sears on Midrats - click here.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Draft July GAO LCS Report on the Streets

Via USNINews, you can read it all below.

Interesting in that a lot of it parallels what we have voiced concerns about the program, along with others, for over 3/4 of a decade. Case in point;
The Navy continues to buy LCS seaframes and modules even as significant questions remain about the program and its underlying business case. Elements of the LCS business case, including its cost, the time needed to develop and field the system, and its anticipated capabilities have degraded over time. There are also significant unknowns related to key LCS operations and support concepts and the relative advantages and disadvantages of the two seaframe variants.The potential effect of these unknowns on the program is compounded by the Navy’s aggressive acquisition strategy. By the time key tests of integrated LCS capability are completed in several years, the Navy will have procured or putunder contract more than half of the planned number of seaframes. Almost half of the planned seaframes are already under contract, and the Navy plans to award further contracts in 2016, before the Department of Defense (DOD) makes a decision about full rate production of the ships. The Navy will not be able to demonstrate that it can meet the minimum performance requirements for mission modules integrated with the seaframes until operational testing for both variants(Freedom and Independence) is completed, currently planned for 2019.
Will be interesting how much traction the tale of woe will get this time.

My advice to the pro-LCS gaggle; SERPENTINE!

Jumping the SAPR Shark

With each passing week there is less doubt to provide benefit thereto.

This is quickly turning in to a fully-engulfed FLAILEX-Alpha as the normal dampening system in any crisis provided by sound, clear, fact-based, and precise leadership continues to be absent.

First; let's quote from the excerpt from BJ's book 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era that came out earlier this week at;
Trust. In principle it sounds great, but in practice it appears to be a frightening concept to some leaders. Sometimes it even appears ineffective. Over a century ago the naval officer and strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan thought and wrote about the vital importance of trust and its critical place in effective leadership. A founding member of the faculty at the U.S. Navy’s War College, Mahan believed that teaching leadership and command was as important as strategy.
Mahan’s best example of the positive results of trust came from his study of Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson, the most celebrated Royal Navy officer in history and a renowned combat leader. ... In his studies of Nelson, Mahan wrote that the British Admiral combined the attributes of conviction, confidence, and most of all: “the natural, inborn power of trust.”

Nelson’s trust in his subordinates, as Mahan wrote, “took form in an avowed scheme of life and action, which rested, consciously or unconsciously, upon the presumption in others of that same devotion to duty, that same zeal to perform it…which he found himself.” He entered any decision, or any argument, with the assumption that his officers and men were going to do the right thing or try their hardest. When asked by the head of the Royal Navy to select his own subordinates for a command Nelson responded, “Choose them yourself. You cannot go amiss. The same spirit actuates the whole profession; you cannot choose wrong.”
Let that soak in a bit ... and ... behold para 3.e of NAVADMIN 181/13;
e. Designate a Flag Officer, reporting to you, as the SAPR program leader for each Navy installation/Fleet Concentration Area and associated local commands. This designated Flag Officer will establish routine coordination meetings with appropriate installation/local command representatives, and local community and civic leaders to review SAPR program efforts. This designated Flag Officer will also ensure that community outreach and engagement--including base and region commander cooperation, coordination and consultation with local law enforcement, hospitals and hotels--is part of each area's prevention and response measures. Operational Flag Officers assigned to command positions, but not designated as lead for an oversight group, will participate to the maximum extent practicable. Local Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) representatives, Region Legal Service Offices, and installation SARCs will be included in these coordination meetings whenever possible.
Read that again. Well ... I would enjoy seeing a Nimitz or Halsey being the SAPR Program Leader.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Who the Frack Swims in Dodge?

I shudder remembering the HUGE tiger sharks you could see swimming in the bay from the bulkhead behind the Seaman's Club (or was it the Brit Club?)

When it come so fish of all kinds - the waters around Diego Garcia are paleolithic. Swimming 25-ft from shore? Awwww h311 no.
Swimming and other water activities were suspended at Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia after a U.S. Navy contractor was killed July 14 in a shark attack.
The attack occurred about 25 feet from shore in a designated swimming area one mile from the downtown area of the base, ... The man was bitten by a large dark shark that was allegedly between six and 10 feet long. Several co-workers witnessed the attack and entered the water to bring the man to shore. He was transported to the base’s Branch Health Clinic where he was pronounced dead after medical personnel spent 25 minutes trying to save him.
I feel sorry for his family, but ... wow.

I grew up on the water and even I wouldn't go more than knee deep and 5 yards from shore in Dodge. Take a helo flight around the place at dawn or dusk ... that is all you need to keep yourself out of the water.

Greenert v. Mattis

You want a good Navy Relief fund raiser? Heck, I'd buy a half-dozen tickets and fly in for it. 

I get first dibs on Mary as a date though; Mrs. Salamander will give me special dispensation ... I think.

In the blue corner, Admiral Greenert, USN;
The Navy currently has 95 of its 286 ships deployed, along with 3,700 aircraft, but “I’ll tell you, since sequestration sort of set in with the impact of a continuing resolution, we’re down about 10 ships from, say, about a year ago or actually several months ago, forward deployed. So there is an impact,” Greenert said.

Normally, the Navy would have three carriers in reserve stateside to act as a surge force in case of a crisis, but because of sequester the reserve has been reduced to one carrier, Greenert said.
In the gold corner, General Mattis, USMC (Ret.);
Mattis also warned that Admirals and Generals need to "stop sucking their thumbs and whining about sequestration, telling the world we're weak" because it sends a signal to nations such as Iran and North Korea, and they may start to believe it.
I miss smokers.

Who has the odds and is feeling lucky? I've got money in my pocket to burn.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Let me start off with an apology ...

But with all the witch hunts being led by leftist politicians against our Navy, I cannot help myself.

Sexual Assault: The Uncomfortable Reality

Well, if the gaggle of well-pampered and positioned men who lead the military won't defend our culture, then I guess we'll have to outsource to those who seem to have a .... spine; women.

Back in May, I posted about the excellent broadside against the smear-machine by Major Lindsey L. Rodman, USMC.

So, after another six weeks of official thumb sucking by the XY leadership - another woman has stepped to the front to speak truth, acknowledge math - and to also offer some suggestions.

I highly recommend that you read in full Rosa Brooks's article from 10 JUL in Foreign Policy; Is Sexual Assault Really an 'Epidemic'?

Though not a servicemember, I think her CV gives her quite a bit of heft;
Rosa Brooks is a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation and a law professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. From April 2009 to July 2011, she served as Counselor to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy at the U.S. Department of Defense.
Brooks received her A.B. from Harvard, followed by a master's degree from Oxford and a law degree from Yale.
Brooks has two children and a dog. She divides her time between Alexandria, Virginia and Colorado Springs, Colorado, where her husband is a battalion commander in the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division.
Again, you need to read it all, but here are my pull quotes to ponder by;
Sexual assault in the military is a genuine and serious problem, but the frantic rhetoric may be doing more harm than good. It conceals the progress the military has made in developing effective sexual assault prevention and response programs, and it distracts us from the even higher rates of sexual violence in comparable civilian populations.
There's no question that the military needs to do more to address the problem of sexual assault. Nevertheless, when you look more closely at the statistics, there's much less reason than commonly assumed to condemn the military. Although the New York Times editorial board insists that the military has an "entrenched culture of sexual violence," rates of sexual assault in the military in fact appear to be substantially lower than rates of sexual assault in comparable civilian populations. And although underreporting remains a serious problem, military personnel are substantially more likely than civilians to report sexual assaults to the authorities.
Relative to the size of the military population, 26,000 sexual assaults means that 6.1 percent of female servicemembers (and 1.2 percent of male servicemembers) experienced unwanted sexual contact during 2012. If you favor your glass half full, you might prefer to note that 93.9 percent of female servicemembers and 98.8 percent of male servicemembers had no unwanted sexual contact.
Thank you Rosa for doing something rather unusual in this conversation - using facts.

On the other side of the equation, we are forcing warfighters to go through theater that is as painful to watch as it is injurious to our ethos.

Bask in over 2-hrs of washing the same plate over and over. At SERE School they need to have this thing on a loop.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Norman, Ben - sure, let's pound the dead horse some more. I'm in!

Sydney Freedberg over at BreakingDefence hit the Rolodex for a review of why LCS was, is, and seems to always be what is it; a sub-optimal Little Crappy Ship.

OK front porch, how long have we been tilting against LCS? Eight+ years? How much of the things we raised at the beginning from NLOS to manning to technology risk have we been spot on about? Did it make a difference? No.

Well, we don't need to rehash it all - if people need to review they can always click the LCS tag below. Back to the topic at hand though, what did Sydney hear from the Rolodex? A couple of the heavy guns on our side of the LCS argument who are still on line with us, dented and battered - but lances still ready for the next run - a good team to be on.
Talk about timing. As Congress gears up to grill Navy officials on the much-criticized Littoral Combat Ship program, the fleet’s first LCS suffered yet another power outage that “briefly” shut down its engines near Singapore, where the USS Freedom recently deployed for its first foreign tour. [Click here for the Navy's detailed official explanation]. Freedom had three prior electrical outages in March.

“Sydney, this is ludicrous,” fumed naval historian and LCS critic Norman Polmar. “It’s a relatively simple ship and we can’t get it right. There’s something wrong with the whole approach, the whole program, and it needs to be reviewed at a much higher level,” he said, preferably by a blue-ribbon panel of experts from outside the Navy Department: “It can’t be left in the hands of the people running the program, Navy and civilian.”

“I hate to tell you ‘we told you so’,” said Ben Freeman, who led the charge against LCS at the Project On Government Oversight, POGO. (Freeman is now the national security advisor at Third Way, a centrist Democratic thinktank). “We were talking about these problems two years ago, and we were told at the time …. all this has been dealt with, from the equipment failures to the cracking.”
Naval traditionalists, like Polmar, say that even if you can get the ship to work, the basic design is a bad idea, a vulnerable and undergunned warship that provides far less combat power per dollar than foreign designs in the same weight class. The Navy, for its part, argues that it has turned LCS’s early problems around and that the ships’ unusual designs will open bold new possibilities for naval warfare.
LCS-1 should have not deployed to WESTPAC. Good Sailor are doing the best they can with what they have been given; but she was not ready for prime-time. 

Yes, I know - if every ship was hit in the press because of a SSTG issue ... but it is more to it than that. Normen and Ben know it, I know it - and so do you.

She should be in 3rd Fleet being a test bed close to home where she can help so follow-on ships will be better and not stumble like this in front of the whole world, again. They will deploy - they will be in harm's way. Enough dog and pony shows - focus.

I continue to wait to be proven wrong about LCS so I can apologize, but I have a feeling that time will not come. LCS continues to perform as expected; as Norman, Ben, myself and other have expected.

What a waste of time, money, professional reputation, resources and talented careers. Not since the Edsel, not since the Edsel.

Who needs the Mahan treatment?

As you know, I'm a big fan of the format of LCDR BJ Armstrong, USN book 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era.

Over the weekend, I was thinking of other great naval and military thinkers who I think need to be looked at in the same manner - using primary sources to see what they have to inform us about the challenges we face now.

Sure, I have my list, but I am more interested in what other people think. How many have people have the same thinkers that I have, and what names do a lot of people think of that totally slipped my mind?

If you have a few that you would like to hear given the same treatment, head on over to USNIBlog where I'm trying a little "crowd sourcing" idea-scrum in comments.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Getting "Next" Right - on Midrats

So, which is it? Do we forget our history and are therefor doomed to repeat it, or are we always preparing to fight the next war?

As we finish up the final chapter of our participation in Afghanistan after well over a decade, and reflect on the changes in the arch of the Muslim world from the Atlas mountains to Mindanao - what do we need to intellectually retain for what is coming "next?"

With one eye on historical patterns and another on developing economic, demographic, and political trends - what do we need to do to man, train, and equip the armed forces best positioned to address what we think we will face, but will be flexible enough to flex to what we don't know?

Join us this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern with guest for the full hour, John Nagl, Lt Col USA (Ret.), PhD, presently the Minerva Research Professor at the US Naval Academy, and prior to that the President of CNAS.

Dr. Nagl was a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Military Academy Class of 1988 who served as an armor officer in the U.S. Army for 20 years. His last military assignment was as commander of the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor. He led a tank platoon in Operation Desert Storm and served as the operations officer of a tank battalion task force in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nagl taught national security studies at West Point and Georgetown University and served as a Military Assistant to two Deputy Secretaries of Defense.

He earned his Master of the Military Arts and Sciences Degree from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and his doctorate from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

He is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam and was on the writing team that produced the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. His writings have also been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, among others.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fullbore Friday

So Shipmate, think you've had an interesting career? Think you come from a non-insignificant family? Think you survived the depredations years of service did to your body?

Really? As a benchmark I give you Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO, British Army (b: 5 May 1880 – d: 5 June 1963),
Born in 1880 to a wealthy Belgian family (editorial note; he is thought to be the illigitimate son of Leopold II, King of the Belgians), he studied law at Oxford but in 1899 quit university and went to South Africa.

Giving a false name and age, he enlisted in the British Army and fought in the Second Boer War.

He was wounded in the stomach and groin and invalided home. In 1901, he became an officer in the 4th Royal Dragoon Guards. In the First World War he fought with the Army’s ‘Camel Corps’ in British Somaliland, in east Africa, tackling an uprising by supporters of Mohammed bin Abdullah, dubbed the ‘Mad Mullah’.

In an attack on an enemy fort he was shot in the face and lost his left eye – forcing him to wear a black patch for the rest of his life. His gallantry earned him the DSO.

He then went to the bloody trenches of the Western Front to command infantry battalions. In 1915 he lost his left hand after being hit by shrapnel – but not before he tore off some damaged fingers by himself.

In the Battle of the Somme he was shot in the skull and ankle, but won the VC, the country’s most acclaimed military honour.
The citation describes how, commanding the 8th Battalion the Gloucestershire Regiment at La Boiselle, he displayed ‘dauntless courage’ in a ‘fire barrage of the most intense nature’. In total he was wounded in battle eight times and was mentioned in dispatches on six occasions.

In his autobiography Happy Odyssey, he wrote of the 1914-18 conflict: ‘Frankly, I enjoyed the war; it had given me many bad moments, lots of good ones, plenty of excitement and with everything found for us.’

Between the wars, he served on the British Military Mission in Poland, returning home after the Nazi invasion in 1939.

In 1940, aged 60, he led an operation to take the Norwegian city of Trondheim to halt the German advance but the mission failed when supply lines collapsed.

In 1941, on his way to lead the British Military Mission in Yugoslavia, his plane crashed into the sea a mile off the coast of Libya, an Italian colony. He swam ashore but was captured and sent to a PoW camp in Italy.

He made five escape attempts, once eluding capture for eight days even though he was conspicuous with an eyepatch and did not speak Italian. Released in 1943, Winston Churchill sent him as his special representative to China. He retired in 1947 and died in 1963, aged 83.
Slacker, only a few rows of ribbons.

More here.

Hat tip SL.

UPDATE: I am not one to enjoy gossip concerning one's parentage - yea, right - but I couldn't help but pull the thread on what his contemporaries thought of his paternal line. I would like for you to look at his profile here, and then Leopold II's profile here. Look at the nose.

I am willing to bet one of Skippy's travel claims that the rumors are right; that is one distinctive nose.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Diversity Thursday

Among the variety of fun insults I like to throw the direction of the fetid consanguineous spawn of Cultural Marxism and Critical Theory that is the cult of (D)iversity, I think the most accurate one is "intellectual cancer."

Like all cancers, it grows and spreads to other areas unrelated to its source - carrying away and corrupting all that it gains a hold on.

It makes otherwise smart, insightful, and intellectually sound professionals wander down darkened halls to the degraded performance booth at the (D)iversity glory-hole video production house.

Well, it seems to have infected another.

Of course, since last last Sunday I know everyone either caught live or downloaded the archive of the interview we did with LCDR BJ Armstrong, USN about his book, 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era. If not, well shame on you; get 'ye to the Midrats' archive and give it a listen - then buy the book.

So, you can imagine my excitement when I found out that someone who I am not unfamiliar with, CDR Youssef Aboul-Enein, USN, reviewed the book. Youssef has written a few books himself, so I figured I was in for a good review from someone who might have a different insight than I had in reading it.

Oops; my bad. Having read the review a few times, I have come to the conclusion that it sounds like from what he focused on Youssef at best read the first 1/2 of the intro and the table of contents, if that.

Worse ... for some reason he seemed to feel the need to bring in this. Youssef blew any credibility he had with anyone who actually read the book with this line,
"I believe it is fair to highlight the bankrupt ideology of racial social Darwinism that was prevalent among Mahan and his peers."
Where the frack did that come from?

I'm sorry Youssef, nothing personal - but that cannot stand. Let me do something radical and actually quote from the book.

Go to page 116 in the section "Training of Officers and Sailors,"
I do not myself attach importance to the nationality of the lad, excepting in so far as the national termperament is or is not adapted to a naval life. Other things being equal, I would reject an Irish or French lad in favor of an English, or one of the Scandinavian race; but an objection to a foreigner as such seems to me misplaced in a country so many of whose citizens are foreigners; the more so as a seaman will commonly lose sight of home ties and attach himself to the flag under which he sails.
Yep, that sure is "bankrupt ideology of racial social Darwinism" there Youssef. Good googly moogly man - go read Bannister if you insist on playing this game. Love you like a brother Shipmate - but I'm going to have to slap you around a little more. It's DivThu and you've wandered in to my swamp.

Let's back up a bit to the larger issue and let Youssef catch his breath; his comment has nothing to do with the book or what Mahan was even remotely about.

What is does say is a lot about Youssef's academic background and how it has impacted his world view. There is a certain academic theory - one that I banged my head against constantly back in the 80s and I know it has gotten worse in most places since - that everything must in some way reference racism, sexism, and Western Imperialism. If you can throw homophobia in, even better. They usually throw them at you in a group anyway.

At major public institutions, students and scholars have it thrown in their face in the History, English, and "soft science" areas especially. Even in the business schools and economics seminars. It can drive you nuts, "Ungh, I don't want 1/3 of my final Federal Reserve Policy exam to be about South African Apartheid, are there other options?"

Directly and indirectly; intentionally or by cant habit, they use that angle and its fellow traveler, the intellectually narcissistic and lazy habit of judging people in one period of time by modern standards. This is done to marginalize the past and therefore dismiss what it has to say. As a result one only has to use thinkers of this generation and what was experienced in their own lifetime. "All is new" - sound familiar?

Very disappointed with Youssef. With the modern academic critical theory that Youssef's comments seems to be coming from, he is putting BJ on report, suggesting that BJ committed a huge sin of not in some way denouncing Mahan as a racist, sexist, homophobic imperialist. That isn't just insulting - it is anti-intellectual in the extreme.

It completely nullifies what was otherwise a positive review - but one that goes off the rail by accusing a non-political author for not being properly political. In a clear "dog-whistle" for a reader of the review familiar with critical theory, Youssef is also calling BJ out as condoning and accepting racism by the omission of a denunciation of Mahan being a racist, sexist, homophobic imperialists somewhere in the book.

Is BJ now supposed to make a tearful apology on youtube blaming it on his blindness due to white skin privilege, and vowing to join Paula Dean in crawling through the path of the Underground Railroad in a hairshirt?

Better yet - let's look at Youssef's formulation again;
"I believe it is fair to highlight the bankrupt ideology of racial social Darwinism that was prevalent among Mahan and his peers."
When he comes up to a reference somewhere to Moses, will he say;
"I believe it is fair to highlight the support of abortion rights as outlined in Numbers 5:12-28 that was prevalent among Moses and his peers."
Sun Tsu at the NDU? Heavens to Betsy, no - not unless ...
"I believe it is fair to highlight the sexism, trafficking in persons, violation of human and legal rights, insubordination, militarism and general authoritarianism that was prevalent among Sun Tsu and his peers."
President Lincoln's ideas on the civilian control of the military? Interesting idea ... but ...
"I believe it is fair to highlight the racism that was prevalent among Lincoln and his peers."
... and finally - yes - I will go there. Will he ever mention this when the topic of the Arab conquests of the 7th Century come up - or Islam in general?
"I believe it is fair to highlight the p3doph1li@ that was prevalent among the Prophet Mohammed and his peers."
No, no, and no to all of the above - he shouldn't and neither should anyone else in this context; it is silly.

Sigh. Such are the wages of the popular culture not standing up to the (D)iversity cult and the rest of the Cultural Marxist offspring - it does this to bright minds.

Do yourself a favor - get 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era yourself and then write a review. The bottom as been set by a smart guy nonetheless - nowhere to go but up.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Flabby tops, pie wedges, and sticky rice

No, no, no - this isn't one of Skippy's liberty stories from 1989 ... 

SECDEF is making an effort to free up some prime parking spaces, while some national security thinkers are pushing harder to adjust how we cut up our shrinking pie.  

They're connected, in a fashion.

Join me with a ponder over at USNIBlog.

Don't tell Campbell ....

... but here is a great website for pics airships past, present, and proposed.

Well worth your time.

Retro Wednesday

Well ... some things don't change that much ... and I think that bratty kid at the end is Skippy.

Hat tip MD.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

SECNAV and USPS: Fonctionnaire Follies at its Worst

So, what is para 2 actually saying to grandma - ruck up and make it snappy?

The internet is forever ... and so more often than not are those addresses that at the start of a deployment or tour are either online with address books, or like grandma - offline with dead-tree address books, yellow-stickies on the wall next to the desk, or just the return address on the note that Seaman Timmy sent her about where to send those cookies while he is gone.

From the people who brought you DFAS and DTS ... BEHOLD!

R 121811Z JUL 13
ALNAV 047/13


RMKS/1. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is resizing military mail processing operations from two coastal locations to one location in Chicago, IL to gain efficiencies in military mail delivery. As part of this effort, new procedures affecting configuration of mobile Fleet Post Office (FPO) addresses have been implemented to completely leverage automated mail sorting equipment and reduce manual sorting workload.

2. Each Navy mobile unit (i.e., ships, squadrons, and detachments)has a unique, nine-digit (ZIP+4) FPO ZIP code. Per reference (a), and effective immediately, the sender must include the full, correct, nine-digit ZIP code on all classes of mail, or USPS will return mail to sender marked undeliverable as addressed.

3. Service members must ensure all correspondents, personal and professional, are aware of and use the full, correct, nine-digit ZIP code. Navy mobile units should promulgate this policy change, with their nine-digit ZIP code, via plan of the day notes, site TV announcements, family-grams, and/or any other media means available.

4. Released by Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy.//


Even though the SECNAV's signature is on this message, odds are he never saw it - or at least I hope so. In that case, this is just an example of horrible staff work. Has anyone in the chop chain here or at USPS ever been deployed? Do they know, even in the era of email and Skype - the power of the note and the package .... and the heartbreak of those who poured their love in to that letter or package, only a week or more later to have it returned as "undeliverable as addressed."

Al Qaeda couldn't think of a greater subliminal PSYOPS campaign against the home-front than this.

This is fixable - let's hope the better hearts and minds in DC get this fixed before we have a bunch of confused, frustrated, teary-eyed and probably angry family members who just want Seaman Timmy to get grandma's cookies before they get moldy.

Hat tip JB.