Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Dark Side of "Beat Army"

What cost football at USNA? 

We are looking at that question again from another angle over at USNIBlog. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Handmaiden to Your Rivals

How do you capture such a cascade of foreign policy failure in one, quick little post?

We have three main rivals in this world, all three represent in their own way the boot stamping on a human face forever; Russia, Iran, and China.

It is one thing when your rivals make progress on their own in the face of steady pressure - but to be the catalyst of your own relative decline and their advance? 

In just three short years, it is breathtaking.

Just three years ago, President Obama mocked anyone who tried to warn of Russia's negative potential. China was rarely seen west of Burma (I refuse to call it Myanmar), and Iran was kept under the stress of being isolated by sanctions.

Though there was no one bad decision on the USA's part to help them, one can point to the final push that gave them all a quick rush forward.

Working against the will of the American people, the Obama Administration handed Iran a huge victory in sanctions release. We lost face and they gained access to billions. With those billions of dollars, they are about to go on a buying spree of Russian weapons - effectively transferring that capital to Russia.

The Chinese have used the opening to secure access to more affordable oil and to cement a foothold in the region that will play out in ways we do not know.

Iran and Russia's influence in Iraq has grown. Even Israel is working closer with the Russians now.

Already encouraged by American weakness and fecklessness, the Russians moved in to Syria in force.

I do not subscribe to the Obama Administration malice, I simply acknowledge its incompetence.

We elected a community organizer with contempt for the nation he leads. His foreign policy shop is a horror show of bad ideas from R2P to the present SECSTATE - a man who in a time of war, executed a blood libel against his own Shipmates.

Joe Biden in the CINC's ears the last 7 yrs or so? As former SECDEF Bob Gates said;
I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,”
From leader of the free world, to leading from behind, to sucking our collective thumb on the sidelines.

There is a fundamental transformation for you. Bask in it America, you voted for it twice. Own it, as we will be living with the consequences for decades.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part LXVI

Nothing is written.

There is a certain train of thought that war between the USA and China is only a matter of time. Some believe that history is quite clear about this. That is a misreading of history, as history is suggests patterns, but does not provide a formula. Like the difference between a James Brown Funky Drummer and any Sousa march.

In both prose and picture, Graham Allison over at The Atlantic puts the Thucydides Trap in perspective;
The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’s Trap. The Greek historian’s metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power—as Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did Britain a century ago. Most such contests have ended badly, often for both nations, a team of mine at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has concluded after analyzing the historical record. In 12 of 16 cases over the past 500 years, the result was war. When the parties avoided war, it required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part not just of the challenger but also the challenged.
Based on the current trajectory, war between the United States and China in the decades ahead is not just possible, but much more likely than recognized at the moment. Indeed, judging by the historical record, war is more likely than not. Moreover, current underestimations and misapprehensions of the hazards inherent in the U.S.-China relationship contribute greatly to those hazards. A risk associated with Thucydides’s Trap is that business as usual—not just an unexpected, extraordinary event—can trigger large-scale conflict. When a rising power is threatening to displace a ruling power, standard crises that would otherwise be contained, like the assassination of an archduke in 1914, can initiate a cascade of reactions that, in turn, produce outcomes none of the parties would otherwise have chosen.

War, however, is not inevitable. Four of the 16 cases in our review did not end in bloodshed. Those successes, as well as the failures, offer pertinent lessons for today’s world leaders. Escaping the Trap requires tremendous effort. As Xi Jinping himself said during a visit to Seattle on Tuesday, “There is no such thing as the so-called Thucydides Trap in the world. But should major countries time and again make the mistakes of strategic miscalculation, they might create such traps for themselves.”
Read it all. Good stuff for Monday pondering.

As you look at the graphic, you should also catch this; since we have had nuclear weapons - hot heads have been forced to think harder about the wisdom of war. That has a lot to do with it.

What happens when unreasonable people get nukes? Well ... that changes things - rising power or not.

But let's look at the challenge at hand.

At this point, the established script for discussion of policy challenges calls for a pivot to a new strategy (or at least slogan), with a short to-do list that promises peaceful and prosperous relations with China. Shoehorning this challenge into that template would demonstrate only one thing: a failure to understand the central point I’m trying to make. What strategists need most at the moment is not a new strategy, but a long pause for reflection. If the tectonic shift caused by China’s rise poses a challenge of genuinely Thucydidean proportions, declarations about “rebalancing,” or revitalizing “engage and hedge,” or presidential hopefuls’ calls for more “muscular” or “robust” variants of the same, amount to little more than aspirin treating cancer. Future historians will compare such assertions to the reveries of British, German, and Russian leaders as they sleepwalked into 1914.

The rise of a 5,000-year-old civilization with 1.3 billion people is not a problem to be fixed. It is a condition—a chronic condition that will have to be managed over a generation. Success will require not just a new slogan, more frequent summits of presidents, and additional meetings of departmental working groups. Managing this relationship without war will demand sustained attention, week by week, at the highest level in both countries. It will entail a depth of mutual understanding not seen since the Henry Kissinger-Zhou Enlai conversations in the 1970s. Most significantly, it will mean more radical changes in attitudes and actions, by leaders and publics alike, than anyone has yet imagined.
I don't think it is as hard as the author says - but it will take new leaders with a long view, and open mind ... and less in need of a buzzword to make their point.
(For summaries of these 16 cases and the methodology for selecting them, and for a forum to register additions, subtractions, revisions, and disagreements with the cases, please visit the Harvard Belfer Center’s Thucydides Trap Case File. For this first phase of the project, we at the Belfer Center identified “ruling” and “rising” powers by following the judgments of leading historical accounts, resisting the temptation to offer original or idiosyncratic interpretations of events. These histories use “rise” and “rule” according to their conventional definitions, generally emphasizing rapid shifts in relative GDP and military strength. Most of the cases in this initial round of analysis come from post-Westphalian Europe.)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fullbore Friday

History shows that every warship must be able to defend itself. It must be able to fight hurt. It must be able to have sufficient people for damage control. There is no "safe area" at sea. You can make a mistake - and so can the enemy. There is not time out. There is no do over. 

Your nation has been at war for only a few months. You are part of a hobbled together, but powerful battlegroup set to blunt the spear of the enemy who has been marching forward without rest.

You have prepared yourself and your ship for this from day one. There is a problem however; your ship has engineering reliability issues.

Everything is ready for war ... but in the heart of your ship, going back to when she was built, your boiler tubes are iffy. Repaired, yet problems remain. The commander of the fleet as it prepares for battle is a detail man. Detail to the point of micro-managing each ships fuel load resulting in a non-stop UNREP cycle.

He knows your ship has problems. On the eve of battle, the Admiral decides he needs to move his non-fighting High Value Unit (HVU) out of harm's way. Over to a quiet part of the sea, so after the battle, his ships can UNREP again.

That ship, the USS NEOSHO (AO-23), will need an escort. No Admiral wants a snake-bit ship to break down in the middle of a battle, so your ship, the USS SIMS (DD-409) will steam off with the oiler to ride out the battle in peace.

As all the other ships ready for battle, you do as ordered - head off over the horizon to hide with pride.

Fate has her own plans, however. The crew of the SIMS and NEOSHO were about to face a trial that if it were not true, would be considered a fevered fantasy fiction. War is like that. It has its own reason.

I just finished a great book, The Ship That Wouldn't Die: The Saga of the USS Neosho- A World War II Story of Courage and Survival at Sea. Inspired by that book, this Friday is Part-1 of a 2-part FbF about this part of the Battle of the Coral Sea; the trial of SIMS and NEOSHO. We will start with the lead ship of her class, the SIMS.

One persons failure to properly recognize what they see. One bad report. Read it all ... but "it won't happen" happened;
One hour after dawn, Neosho and Sims were precisely where they were supposed to be – at 16°S, 158°E. At dawn, also Admiral Takagi had a suggestion from Admiral Hara, the carrier division commander. Let Hara send Zuikaku's planes out to search one area behind the carrier force, and Shokaku's planes to search another -- just to make sure that the Americans had not circled around and come up in the rear of the Japanese covering force. Takagi approved. The Zeros and the medium bombers revved up and took off from the Japanese carriers, circled and set out at 0600. 

At 0736 the Japanese searchers in the eastern section of the zone spotted ships on the water. The observers radioed back to the carriers that they had come upon the American carrier force. Below, said the Japanese observer, were a carrier and a cruiser. Admiral Hara directed the bombers to the location and the Japanese began to close in. But the ships on which they were moving were not the American carriers, but destroyer Sims and oiler Neosho. 
Just after eight o'clock that morning, lookouts on the Neosho spotted two planes, but assumed they were American planes checking on the safety of the oiler and her escort. Shortly after nine o'clock in the morning, Chief Petty Officer Robert James Dicken of the USS Sims was sitting in the chiefs' quarters, when he heard a loud explosion. From Neosho's bridge, Captain John S. Phillips could see that a single plane moving over Sims dropped that bomb, which exploded about a hundred yards off the starboard quarter of the destroyer. 
From the bridge of the Sims, Lieutenant Commander Willford Milton Hyman, the captain of the little one-pipe destroyer, passed the order: General Quarters. The ship was under attack. At the moment, some aboard the destroyer thought it was all a dreadful mistake, that one of their own planes had failed to identify the ship and bombed them by mistake. Frantically, chief Signalman Dicken on the bridge began blinking his light, sending recognition signals. There was no response. The single medium bomber disappeared off to the north. 
Captain Hyman ordered full speed. The ship's guns opened up on the retreating bomber, but the plane quickly disappeared into the clouds. Neosho changed course to starboard, and Sims, the little bulldog, kept out ahead of her, Neosho traveling at 18 knots, and Sims racing back and forth in front, from port to starboard, the sea swirling in her excited wake. 

Fifteen minutes went by, and then twenty. The ships moved on, the lookouts craning around the horizon, squinting into the sun and waiting, sure now that it was no mistake and that there would be more bombs to come. On the bridge Captain Hyman's orders were quiet and terse; it was an eerie time, the whine of the engines driving the propellers, the swish of the sea alongside the ship, the clang of metal on metal -- and still it seemed very, very quiet. Sun and sky and sea had never been more peaceful.

The Attack Continues
Then, about half an hour after the first attack, little specks, ten of them, appeared in the sky in the north, before the noises of their engines could be heard. The lookouts on Sims saw them coming. Captain Hyman called up Captain Phillips to warn Neosho; the lookouts of the oiler had not seen the planes. The ships changed course, swung around in a wide arc to throw off the approaching enemy, for now every man on the destroyer and the oiler knew what he must face.

The Japanese pilots saw, and with no effort at all, it seemed, adjusted and came moving in. Still they were very high, paralleling the course of the American ships on their port side. The bombers were so high that although Sims began firing rapidly, they were hopelessly out of range.
Go back - and read it all.

I cannot do this justice without going to the complete report by DESTROYERS PACIFIC FLEET. Read it all and be humbled.
U.S.S. Sims - Description of Bombing Attack and Narrative of Events Following Attack by Japanese Bombers on May 7, 1942.

During the forenoon of May 7, 1942, while acting as anti-submarine escort for, and patrolling station ahead of the U.S.S. Neosho (AO-23), the U.S.S. Sims was attacked and sunk by Japanese bombers in the Coral Sea. The weather was clear, with alto-cumulus clouds at about 15,000 feet altitude; the sea was smooth, with a slight swell; wind was about three knots.

The ship had steam on all boilers and one 5-inch gun, as well as all four 20 mm. anti-aircraft guns, was manned. The SC radar was manned, and was searching; no FD radar had been installed.

At about 0910 a bomb landed in the water at some distance to port, abreast of the forward guns. One man at Number Two Mount was injured by a fragment, but no material damage was incurred. Gober states, however, that the hearing of all hands at Numbers One and Two Mounts was impaired by the explosion and that normal hearing did not return for about one hour. After the bomb had landed, a lone twin motored reconnaissance plane was sighted at about 15,000 yards range, flying high and crossing above the ship. General Quarters was sounded immediately; the 20 mm. guns began firing; and the 5 inch gun which was manned began firing in director control. The first three projectiles failed to burst, while the following shots appeared to be well off in deflection. Savage says that the plane apparently changed course every time he noted a flash of the gun. This plane then flew out of gun range and continued to shadow the Sims and Neosho. An enemy contact report was sent out by the Sims after this attack.

The Sims had numerous radar contacts following this first attack and about 0930 sixteen high level bombers in two groups attacked the Sims and Neosho. They dropped bombs which missed wide, causing no damage to either ship. Sims survivors stated that the bombers were apparently disturbed by the fire from the 5-inch guns, all of which were firing in director control. No information was obtained as to whether any of the planes were shot down. A total of 328 rounds of 5-inch ammunition was expended in these first two phases of the attack.

The horizontal bombers disappeared from sight but the Sims continued to pick up planes on her SC radar. None were sighted, however, until twenty-four dive bombers appeared at about 1130. As soon as these planes appeared, The Sims went to flank speed and turned left to take position on the port quarter of the tanker; fire was opened by the 5-inch battery in director control when the planes came within range. The attacks were directed primarily at the tanker and came in from various bearings astern in three waves. The planes approached at about 15,000 feet and dove close to the ship in shallow dives of about 30°. Bombs were released quite close aboard, because survivors state that some bombers were destroyed by the blast of their own bombs. The Sims made a direct hit on one bomber with a 5-inch shell and the plane was seen to explode in the air. The 20 mm. guns fired continuously at the dive bombers as they passed overhead and tracers were seen to pass through the planes, but the projectiles failed to burst and destroy the aircraft. One of the forward 20 mm. guns jammed early in the action and was not cleared during the remainder of the engagement.

Four planes broke off from one wave of Neosho attackers and directed their attack at the Sims, diving on her in succession from astern. All of these planes were single motored, had fixed landing gear, and had a silhouette similar to that of Japanese dive bombers. The first released a bomb which landed in the water about amidships to port; the second released a bomb which landed on Number Two Torpedo Mount and exploded in the forward engine room; the third released a bomb which apparently hit the after upper deck house and went down through diagonally forward, exploding in the after engine room; the fourth plane is believed to have made a direct hit on Number Four Gun, but this cannot be definitely established. Numbers Three and Four Mounts and the after 20 mm. guns were put out of commission by the bomb hits, but the forward mounts in local control and one 20 mm. gun continued firing at the planes until all of them were out of gun range. The total number of rounds fired by the Sims cannot be ascertained, but one survivor states that over 200 rounds were fired from Number Two Mount alone. During this last attack, the paint on the barrel of Number One Mount blistered and caught fire; the crew, however, continued to fire with the complete length of the barrel in flames. Several planes were brought down by gun fire during this attack. Neosho survivors told Sims survivors that the planes which attacked the Sims were never seen to emerge from the blast of their bomb explosions. It is believed that the bombs dropped were about 500 pound size.

Though there are only thirteen known survivors of the Sims, these men are from widely separated battle stations and it is possible to reconstruct a fairly accurate account of the damage.

As previously stated, the first bomb released at the Sims during the dive bombing attack was a near miss to port. There appears to have been no material or personnel casualties as the result of this hit. The fireroom survivors say that missiles were heard hitting the shell of the ship but none penetrated.

Because the three direct hits on the Sims came in fairly close succession, it is not possible for the survivors to recall accurately the events connected with each hit. Therefore, the damage can probably be best described by recounting the stories of each individual survivor interviewed.

The immediate effect of the first hit was a complete loss of power. The ship stopped dead in the water and all lights went out. The auxiliary diesel generator started and picked up the electrical load on those units whose power supply cables had not been damaged. When this bomb exploded, flames shot about 150 feet in the air, the forward section of the ship vibrated violently, knocking people down, a lookout stationed on top of the director shield was blown overboard, and Savage, who was stationed at the director, was knocked down by the blast. The radar antennae fell from the mast and landed in the port motor whaleboat; all signal halyards dropped from the yard but the mast stays did not part. Dicken reports that the pilot house "was a shambles"; the chart desk in the chart house was torn loose from its fastenings and the quick acting doors leading from the inside passage to the deck below were jammed shut, leaving the vertical ladder at the after end the only access to and from the bridge. The general alarm sounded with a continuous hum, which is the customary signal for gas attack. This gave several men the impression that they were being subjected to such an attack. This sounding of the alarm, however, was remedied quickly by pulling the switch on the circuit.

No real material damage was noted in the plotting room. The first bomb explosion caused several instrument glasses to break, but all equipment appeared to continue functioning until all power was lost after the second bomb hit, at which time the diesel generator stopped. Ernst then attempted to get onto the main deck by going up through the main deck hatch and out through the galley passageway but he found all quick acting doors in this area jammed shut. He went back down and forward along the first platform deck through C.P.O. quarters and finally succeeded in getting out onto the forecastle deck through the scuttles in the hatches leading to the C.P.O. mess room.

Reilly states that the first bomb caused no damage other than the breaking of gage glasses in the forward fireroom. All lights went out immediately and by the time Reilly was able to light a battle lantern to look at the steam pressure on the boilers it had already dropped to 200 pounds per square inch and was falling rapidly. On feeling a second shock, which was probably the second bomb hit, he secured the boilers, closed the master oil valve and all of the crew left the fireroom. No steam or feed lines in the fireroom carried away as a result of these two explosions.

In the after fireroom no extensive damage resulted from the first hit. The after bulkhead of the fireroom appeared to hold and no water entered the space. The fireroom gratings were knocked out of place, lights went out, and the steam pressure dropped to zero. Apparently, Canole and Vessia left the fireroom after the first bomb hit, because the latter states that on coming up onto deck he met the Chief Engineer who ordered him to go back down to insure that the boilers had been secured. (One other survivor states that immediately following the first hit he saw the Chief Engineer, Lieut. W. Silverstein, USN, who was in charge of the Repair Party stationed in the machine shop, lying on deck unconscious. He apparently recovered quickly and directed damage control work in a commendable manner, as will be brought out later in this report). Vessia went down again into the fireroom and secured the boiler. While he was doing this work, the second explosion occurred. The blast from this bomb split the deck open overhead and forced the after fireroom bulkhead forward almost to the boiler casing. The fuel oil heater, which was mounted on the bulkhead, dropped down into the bilges. There was no immediate flooding, nor was any steam or feed water released, because Vessia states that he was directly under the lines and would most certainly have been burned had this been the case. Other survivors state that the lathe in the machine shop was knocked loose and was hanging suspended down through the hole in the main deck, and that a small fire, which was easily extinguished, was burning in the machine shop. It is believed that all hands were killed at their battle stations in the engine rooms.

Only one man stationed in the after section of the ship during the attack was rescued. This man, E.F. Munch, MM2c, was stationed in the steering engine room. He states that the two other men at this station with him survived the explosions but were probably lost in the water later. When the first bomb hit the ship, Munch states that all power was lost and all communication except with the I.C. Room was severed. Power was restored when the diesel generator started and was maintained for about two minutes. In the berthing compartment immediately forward of the steering engine room all bunks dropped onto the deck and some water entered. Flooding did not appear to progress, however. After the second hit, Munch and the other men stationed in the steering engine room went up to the main deck. What became of the other two men is not known, but Dicken states that Munch remained on the fantail as the ship was sinking and secured a loose depth charge which was rolling about. Munch was later picked up out of the water by Dicken after the Sims had sunk.

An accurate description of the damage to the after end of the ship cannot be pieced together. It appears that the first bomb hit the after torpedo mount and exploded in the engine room below. The torpedo mount was blown overboard and some of the warheads, which must have been sheared off, were seen on deck. The forward torpedo mount was canted upward and the spoons were driven into the stack. The second bomb hit apparently wrecked the after upper deck house, setting it on fire, and probably exploded in the after engine room. Six of the eight life rafts aboard the ship were in the vicinity of these explosions and they were blown to bits. Number Four Gun had apparently received a direct hit, because every one in the gun crew had been killed and the gun was wrecked. A gaping hole was blown in the main deck above the engine rooms. Dicken states that the deck was ruptured from starboard to port. He further states that, from the bridge, the damage did not appear as extensive as it really was, and that the Commanding Officer had every intention of saving the ship and directed his every effort to do so until the last.

After the attack was over the Commanding Officer ordered everyone off the bridge except himself and the Chief Quartermaster. He ordered all hands to assist the repair party in charge of the Chief Engineer in jettisoning topside weights. All loose material was thrown overboard; Lieutenant Silverstein, with several machinist's mates, attempted to free the forward torpedo mount to permit firing the torpedoes. The port boat was lowered over the side and it sank immediately. The two remaining life rafts, located at about frame 76, were launched and the starboard motor whaleboat was lowered. Although this boat had been holed by a large splinter, it was kept afloat by stuffing life jackets in the hole and by continuous bailing; the motor operated satisfactorily. Gober, Cannole, Chmielewski, Scott, Reilly, and Vessia manned this boat. The Commanding Officer then ordered Dicken to take charge of the boat and to go aft in it to put out the fire in the after upper deck house and to flood the after magazines. Dicken had to swim out to the boat from the ship and he noted that there was no oil on the water at this time. On taking charge of the boat Dicken proceeded around the bow to the lee side of the ship aft. As the motor whaleboat approached, the ship seemed to break amidships and start to sink slowly. The stern went under first and appeared to draw the bow aft, pulling it down stern first. All hands began abandoning ship in life jackets, swimming for the rafts. Just as the water level reached the top of the stack and began running down into it, a terrific explosion occurred. What remained of the ship was lifted ten to fifteen feet out of the water, and the surface of the water around the ship was covered with oil. This great explosion was followed by another smaller one, which survivors definitely identified as a depth charge explosion. The remaining forward section then settled slowly, sinking in about five minutes. One man who couldn't swim was seen hanging onto the anchor until the stem disappeared into the water. Survivors estimate that the ship sank in about fifteen to twenty minutes after receiving the first direct hit. Under conditions of stress such as existed at the time, minutes would seem like hours and it is quite possible that the ship sank much more rapidly than these men estimate.

The survivors are of the opinion that the terrific explosion was a boiler explosion. This seems hardly plausible, though, because both fireroom survivors state that the steam pressure had dropped to zero. A depth charge or warhead explosion appears to be more likely. No survivor knows definitely whether or not the depth charges were set on "SAFE", but Dicken states that the usual practice on the Sims was to keep them set on "SAFE" until a submarine contact was made.

Following this explosion, Dicken, in the whaleboat, proceeded to pick up all men in the water whom he could find, and who appeared to be still alive. He succeeded in saving a total of fifteen men, including himself, and then began looking for the life rafts in order to take them in tow. His search was fruitless, so he headed toward the U.S.S. Neosho, which was dead in the water, listed about 25° and burning. He approached to within 250 yards and awaited instructions. After about thirty minutes he was called alongside and several of the Neosho wounded were put in the boat. During the night of May 7th Dicken and the survivors of the Sims, along with the several Neosho men, stayed in the boat, keeping in the vicinity of the Neosho. On May 8th they again went alongside and transferred the wounded back aboard, where mattresses had been laid out on deck. The Sims crew attempted to patch the hole in their boat and succeeded in stopping it somewhat, but continuous bailing was still necessary. They tried to repair the engine, which had stopped, but could not start it again. On the evening of May 8th the captain of the Neosho gave all hands the choice of remaining aboard through the night or taking to the boats. Dicken and his men (one had died during the night), along with ten from the Neosho, spent the night of May 8th in the boat. The sea was quite rough that night and the Sims whaleboat drifted about three miles away from the Neosho. Dicken realized that the best course was to stay near the Neosho, but without a motor he had no way of getting back. He ingeniously rigged a sail, using blankets and boat staffs, and sailed back to the tanker on May 9th. Meanwhile, the men who had stayed aboard the Neosho had succeeded in launching a 40-foot motor launch and had rigged hoisting gear by which they were able to lift the Sims whaleboat clear of the water to permit patching of the hole. The punctured buoyancy tanks were replaced with 5-gallon cans, a sail rigged, and the boat was stocked with provisions and water. However, since it appeared that the Neosho hulk would remain afloat, all hands remained aboard until they were rescued by the U.S.S. Henley (DD-391) on May 11th.
Of 237 men on board the morning of the attack, only 15 made it in to a whaleboat that made it to the NEOSHO. Of those, only 13 survived the attack.

13 of 237. 94.5% killed in the attack.

A note about the SIMS Class of destroyers.  Of her Class, 12 were commissioned between 1938 and 1940. By the end of the war, five were sunk in action against the enemy. 42%.

Beautiful ships in peace.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Diversity Thursday

Well, of course.

How shall we patronize President Nixon's divisively invented non-ethnicity (yes, I have to do this again, as the hate mail of ignorance is stong on this point; try to tell a Cuban he is the same as a Mexican, or someone from Chile he is the same as someone from Venezeula ... I dare you)?
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2015 12:09 PM
Subject: Hispanic Heritage Month event, 6 Oct

All hands,

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at a special national program, "Hispanic-Americans: Energizing our Nation's Diversity," on 6 October 2015, live at the Patuxent River Center Stage Theater and via video teleconference to all NAVAIR sites.

This event features keynote speaker Ms. Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, an Army veteran, author, motivational speaker and educator. Ms. Kickbusch is a renowned charismatic, passionate and influential speaker who carries her powerful message of what it takes to be an effective leader in today's global marketplace to hundreds of schools, colleges, universities, corporations and government institutions, both in the U.S. and abroad. For the last 10 years, Ms. Kickbsuch (sic) has dedicated her life to empowering a new generation of Hispanic leaders and has worked with more than 1 million children and their parents across the U.S. through Educational Achievement Services Inc., a company she founded in 1994.

Date: Tuesday, 6 October 2015
Time: 1200-1300 EST (Hispanic cuisine tasting); 1300-1430 EST / 1000-1130 PST (keynote speaker)
Location: Patuxent River Center Stage Theater with video teleconference to all NAVAIR sites
Event flyer:

--Visit NAVAIR University at
--Click on the classes tab on the top menu bar.
--Enter "CISL-EVT-0109" in the search field, and click the blue search button.
--Click on register in the register column for the session you wish to attend.
--Click the yes button to enroll in the event.

Thank you,
Total Force Strategy & Management Department
Also, "Hispanic cuisine." LOL. Said by the same people who couldn't tell a Colombian menu from a Peruvian one, and think that Taco Bell is Mexican.

Now for the non-snarky bits ... well a little non-snarky. How much is this costing you? Yes, you. You're paying for it.
Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch
Army Veteran and Author

Why Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch?
- You want a dynamic female Hispanic Army veteran who will discuss servant leadership and why legacy builders outrank empire builders.
- Your audience longs for a new call to duty, where integrity, ethics, compassion, service and faith lead others to greater fulfillment.
- She inspires many to live their legacy, personally and professionally.
Let me do everyone a favor. I don't begrudge anyone a living, but ... here's what you're paying for.

Born and raised along the border in a small barrio in Laredo, Texas, Consuelo Kickbusch overcame poverty, discrimination, and illiteracy to become the successful community leader she is today. Although she grew up without material wealth, Kickbusch was taught by her immigrant parents that she was rich in culture, tradition, values, and faith.

The values Kickbusch learned during childhood were reinforced throughout her career in the United States military. After graduating from Hardin Simmons University, she entered the US Army as an officer and served for two decades. While in the military, she broke barriers and set records to become the highest ranking Hispanic woman in the Combat Support Field of the US Army. In 1996, she was selected out of 26,000 candidates to assume a command post, which would put her on track for the rank of general officer. She respectfully declined the honor and retired as a 22-year veteran of the US Army to fulfill her mother's dying wish – for her to return to her roots and become a community leader. In realizing her dream, she founded Educational Achievement Services, Inc. with a mission to prepare tomorrow's leaders.

Kickbusch currently shares her story with people of all ages and creeds. She is doing exactly what she preaches – living a legacy. She maintains a strong dedication to saving the youth of America by mentoring students and parents across the United States.

In addition to her work with American youth, Kickbusch reaches audiences in the corporate, professional, nonprofit, and multi-cultural markets, speaking on such topics as workforce issues like diversity, leadership, and team building, as well as women's issues.
O5 Command at the 22-yr mark? Hmmm, Army does things a bit funky I guess. OK. That must make the O6 board a bear.
When the opportunity arose to assume a command post, Consuelo shocked the military by deciding to retire.
Well, OK.
UPDATE: No, seriously, you're paying for it.
Fee Range:($10,001 - $20,000)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The "Don't Care" Caucus Would Like to Make a Statement

After being in ordinary for a few years after the DADT wars, the Executive Steering Committee of the Don't Care Caucus would like to issue a statement via it Spokesman Plenipotentiary, Scott Faith;
We don’t care if the SecArmy is a man or woman, gay or straight, black or white or anything else. The Army hasn’t cared about people being gay for at least ten years, at least not at the operational level. Many of us, including me, never cared about that at all.

But what we do care about is effectiveness. What is Mr. Fanning’s experience? Was he ever in the Army himself? Does he bring a depth of expertise in budgets, or personnel management? Has he run a large corporation? Does he have solid political connections that will make his job easier, and his tenure as Secretary more effective? Do any of those things matter, or should we just care about the fact that he is gay?

As it turns out, Mr. Fanning is, in fact, highly qualified for this position. He never served in the military or ran a Fortune 500 company, but he has extensive experience in policy, planning, and budget dating back to at least the 1990s. He is a trusted Beltway insider, who ran the transition team for the current SecDef, Ashton Carter and was deeply involved in the daily workings of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Mr. Fanning also personally served as Under Secretary of the Air Force and as acting Secretary of the Air Force.

Those are some pretty serious creds, but in most news stories about him (and even on his Wikipedia page) those accomplishments and qualifications are buried under the fact that he gay. Mr. Fanning’s sexuality should be a footnote, if it’s mentioned at all. It shouldn’t be the lede. Appointing a gay service secretary should be a non-issue; “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed years ago, and in any case, civilian employees weren’t subject to the ban in the first place. So why is this even news?

By focusing on his sexual orientation rather than his accomplishments, the administration and the media is doing Mr. Fanning a great disservice. By trumpeting the fact that he is gay, and ONLY the fact that he is gay, media outlets are going to help foster the demonstrably false sense that he isn’t qualified for the job, and that his appointment as Secretary of the Army is simply another sacrifice laid at the altar of political correctness and identity politics. There is no way that is helpful… at least not to the actual business of running the Army.
We’re with you, Secretary-to-be Fanning. We don’t care that you’re gay. Please don’t let that aspect of you be the thing that defines you as our Secretary. In this period of low morale, uncertainty, divisiveness, and perpetual warfare, we need someone who can unite us. We need strong, effective leadership, and an advocate for the issues that affect ALL of us; we don’t need the distraction of more identity politics. Are you up to that challenge?
Though I am only the Chair of the Caucus's Social Committee, I would like to add my own couple of points.

The last week since the announcement has brought out the worst of both sides, dominated by the extremes. Those who lost the DADT argument have reverted to the Lost Cause arguments that were spotty at best, and puts their efforts on par with those who desire a revival of the Mexican monarchy.

Even worse are many of those in my former camp during the DADT wars who have turned an honorable movement in to just another crass sociopolitical cudgel. Not content with victory, they prowl the forests for imagined dissenters and splitters, and ransack people's personal belongings looking for anything not in line with Party doctrine - behaving intellectually in line with Khmer Rouge commissars.

Everyone sit down and let Mr. Fanning get to work.

Monday, September 21, 2015

So, a Re-Animated Stalin and Catherine the Great Walk in to the Briefing room ...

After a brief delay as Stalin demonstrates the "on-off" switch to Catherine en route to the front row, and the POLAD managed to get Stalin to stop making shadow puppets on the wall in front of the beamer, the Russian General Staff J3 was able to get going.
Russian combat operations on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are likely to begin “soon,”
Russian military forces in tanks alongside Syrian forces in the Lattakia region, ... Since last Friday, Moscow has sent two dozen additional fighter jets to Syria, bringing the total number in the country to 28.
The Tsarina, after quickly reviewing her previous notes about these "tanks" and "jets" (she thinks of them as Cuirassiers and Artillery with a bit more to them), interrupts with a quick, "What are the Turks doing?"
Nothing. Our ships and aircraft are passing through the Dardanelles without a problem and there are no Turkish forces moving to the border.
Stalin just lit his pipe and thought of some off-color jokes they told as kids in Georgia about Turks. The J3 continued;
... many seemed to welcome a Russian intervention if it alleviated the burden on the U.S. for fighting ISIS, even if that meant diminished American influence over how the war ends. Intervening on behalf of an ally bring its own challenges, they note.

The Russians “are going to inherit Assad’s mess,” a second defense official said. “I don’t know if they have looked at it from all possible angles.”

"Watching the Russians take the initiative is the most clear example yet of the complete abdication of U.S. leadership and responsibility in the region,” Christopher Harmer, a naval analyst at the Washington D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War, told The Daily Beast.
"Wait!" Stalin broke in. "Where are the American and British navies? Where are the French? Do they still have forces in the area? The British bases in Cyprus? What about the Allied forces in Germany? What are they doing?"

It was at that point that the rather elderly, portly man sitting next to the POLAD, earlier identified as one of the "Senior Mentors," started a big, yellow-toothed grin with a slight chuckle.

"Comrade Stalin, you will like this very much I believe - and Tsarina, I think the British and German information you will especially like. May I recommend that we interrupt this part of the Commander's Update Brief and go straight to the J2's portion. Specifically the location and numbers of forces in the area, and the allied forces' readiness levels in Western Europe."

At the end of it all, the Tsarina simply got up, asked for a map of map of Asia Minor, waived her hand at the nearest table for it to be cleared and just stated - "We need some of those big, fat, black pens, markers, whatever you call them. And turn off that picture projector - it gives us a headache."

Comrade Stalin stood up to join her, slapping the Senior Mentor on the back, had a good guffaw, and started rubbing his hands together.

In a booming voice he barked, "We have tanks and aircraft in Syria. Our Spetsnaz have been openly in the fight for weeks. Iran is our ally. The British are focused on who knows what, the French are confused, the Germans have become Belgians, and the Americans won't stop tripping over themselves and have cut off their own balls. Hurry up! I want to hear what the Tsarina is thinking!"

Prelude to Empire: Warrior Writers, the 1880s

Episode II today for our Warrior Writers Podcast with a focus on the 1880s.

Our series will run next 14 weeks, to coincide with the Naval Academy Museum exhibit; "Warrior Writers: The U.S. Naval Institute" open from September 10, 2015 through January 31, 2016.

Our focus will be a decade by decade look, discussing the significant naval events and developments that helped shape the US Navy.

Our guest for each episode will be Naval Academy History Professor Emeritus and noted naval historian Dr. Craig Symonds, and Naval Academy Museum Director Claude Berube.

Please join us today at 8am, or get the archive at BTR or iTunes.

Return each Monday for the next decade, and if you're in Annapolis, pay the museum a visit.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Warrior Writers and the Growth of Our Navy, on Midrats

Last week, the Naval Academy Museum opened a new exhibit “Warrior Writers: The U.S. Naval Institute" that will run through Jan. 31, 2016.

The exhibit features literary work primarily from junior officers during their active duty service since the 1870’s. The majority of the literature focuses on controversies, issues, and trends of the time and is accompanied by over 100 artifacts including writings, weapons and tools from the authors. The artifacts are from the combined collections of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum and the U.S. Naval Institute as well as some on loan from recent authors.

Our guest This Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss the exhibit and what it has to offer will be the LCDR Claude Berube, USNR – author, regular Midrats guest, and more importantly in this context, the director of the museum.

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

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fullbore Friday

What legacy do you leave behind?

Wayne Hughes. Intellectual fullbore. Creates more ideas than can be consumed locally.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The USN Should Never Have a Low-T Moment

When our friends Jerry Hendrix and Bryan McGrath team up ... you know you have required reading. They do not disappoint.

They bring out an absolutely critical component of the Long Game with China: messaging.

Read it all - but every single USN CAPT "in the bucket" for Flag needs to look to RADM Jeff Harley, USN and say to themselves, "Oh, that guy. I'm not going to be that guy."

Sorry Shipmate ... but Jerry and Bryan over at DefenseOne are spot on;
...from Central Europe, where Russian aggression has illegally occupied the Crimea and other regions of Ukraine, to the Middle East where ISIS seeks to destroy every aspect of stable order, to the western Pacific where China is attempting to bully other nations into accepting its historically unfounded claims of sovereignty over international waters, that system of governance is under constant attack. Hence it was a disappointment to read that Rear Adm. Jeff Harley said this about the South China Sea: “There is room in the maritime realm for multiple powers, really all powers”, even as a Chinese admiral on the same stage said, “The South China Sea, as the name indicates, is a sea area that belongs to China.” The contrast between the two voices could not have been more stark — or ominous.
From the Middle East to Europe and Asia to Africa, the reputation of the United States and the global system of governance based upon the rule of law, individual liberty, and free trade is under challenge. Authoritarian regimes such as Putin’s Russia, Castro’s Cuba, and Xi’s China have taken advantage of the current era of passivity and accommodation to gain and hold territorial acquisitions, a military phenomenon that many thought extinct in the modern era of statecraft. The complicity of military leaders in this approach is unfortunate.
Having a two-star admiral say “we can all get along” while standing on the stage in London with a Chinese three-star admiral who says “we can get along if you totally agree with me” is foolish and arrogant at once. It suggests an ignorance of the current security climate, as well as the assumption that our advantages are so great we can appease the enemy without fearing the consequences. These statements also reveal a growing willingness by some in the military to acquiesce to the wishes of political leaders. This is troubling when considered alongside recent news that the Pentagon Inspector General is investigating allegations by intelligence analysts at U.S. Central Command that their estimates had been altered by senior civilian and military officials to better support administration policies and desired political outcomes. Let us be clear: military officers, especially flag and general officers, are not political appointees. Their oath and duty is to the Constitution and the people whose sovereignty it embodies. The rising unwillingness to provide realistic assessments and strategies to protect American national interests is truly disturbing.

I also feel the need to put one more pull quote out of the article as this is a concept that is at the center of what we do in service to our nation.

This is serious stuff ... and these words mean things.
What is expected and required are dispassionate statements of U.S. resolve to uphold concepts such as free navigation of the commons, the right of nations to be free from outside bullying and intimidation, and the rule of law backed by mutual agreements on defense. It is these ideas that have served as the bulwarks of the international system that emerged out of the Enlightenment and liberated millions of individuals from the weight of authoritarian tyranny. These people, most of whom are not American citizens, look to the United States to defend the principles it has upheld.

UPDATE: The authors have revised and extended their remarks after a 1-on-1 with RADM Harley. Bryan has the details over at ID.

Hat tip Raymond.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) Calls for SECDEF to ask for SECNAV's Resignation

As a follow-on to my post over at USNIBlog, you need to read what was sent today from Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to SECDEF Carter.


Much, Many & Few

We interrupt our usual THU fare for Spitfires, Hurricanes, and a few others.

While our major contribution to the war was transporting British gold reserves across the Atlantic - one free nation stood for Western Civilization. 

The British Empire. One day made the difference, one finest hour.

75 yrs on, let's at least take some time to watch. The German soundtrack is a little off ... but ... oh well.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What Does a Dishonored Marine Do?

That is my question. It is fairly clear that the SECNAV just did that to a few hundred Marines from Sgt to CMC.

I'm discussing over at USNIBlog.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Russian Syria Game?

What has Russia learned in the last couple of years?

Well, for one, it knows that the Russian people will always take nationalism over economic self interest. Putin, who seems to have a drive to make Russia great again, has found in Crimea and eastern Ukraine - and earlier Georgia - that he can slowly, bit by bit, get what he wants by force of arms. If he is modest in his moves and patient in his timeline, no one will oppose him.

It is clear that the only Russian client state in the Mediterranean for now is Syria. With the wind at their backs, there is no reason the Russians should let that government and the access it allows Russia, to fall. The time has long past for the West to do anything about Syria's Assad government. 

In a calculus best known to Russia, it appears that it is time for them to move aggressively to shore up Assad. How far will the Russians take it? Odds are, just enough to get what they want. With a newly enriched and emboldened post-nuke deal Iran also helping Assad with her proxies in tow - Russia does not have to do it all; just enough.

Over at FP, Jeffery Lewis is having some fun with a little under the table OSINT;
The satellite image shows far more than prefabricated housing and an air traffic control station. It shows extensive construction of what appears to be a military canton at Bassel al-Assad International Airport (named for Bashar’s elder brother, who died in a car accident in 1994). This canton appears designed to support Russian combat air operations from the base and may serve as a logistical hub for Russian combat forces.

In recent days, using aircraft tracking sites, a number of analysts have begun to document the near-daily arrival of Russian transport planes to the base. The Russians are also sending ships to Syria, though the ships often declare for a nearby non-Syrian port, like Port Said in Egypt, and then take a wrong turn at Albuquerque, so to speak.
What Russia has done, however, is make it clear that it will not let Assad fall. He can’t win, but Russia won’t let him lose. That dooms Syria to what looks like endless war, as Assad fights to the last man. There are those who see Syria as a quagmire for Putin, a kind of matched pair to our own folly in Iraq; just as Washington collectively saw Afghanistan as payback for Vietnam. I am not so sanguine.

So this column does not have a neat and tidy ending. And that is because I am not sure that it is now possible to save Syria. There is no path to resurrect a state that is failing, not so long as Putin has decided to do whatever it takes to preserve Assad’s awful regime and condemn Syria to endless conflict.
To play Devil's/Putin's advocate for a bit here; what is the realistic option besides Assad for Syria? Is there a place where in a cold view of the reality on the ground, that Assad is the best bad option not just for Russia and Iran, but for Western Europe and the USA too?

First of all, the Kurds are for the Kurds, and that is fine. They are more important than Sykes–Picot, and there is no reason for them to do anything against Assad as their front lines are against the Islamic State. Once they solidify historically Kurdish areas, they will stop.

The Sunni Syrians have thrown away any right for moral high ground by throwing in with the Islamic State. The only Sunni formations effectively fighting IS are other radical Islamists. The only forces left in Syria besides the Kurds that respects religious plurality, minority rights, and secularism are ... Assad's forces. If Assad falls, it will look like the fall of Cambodia with Shia, Christian, Druze and others flooding the sand with blood. Even worse than that slaughter will be an expanded and further emboldened Islamic State.

We threw away any chance for a viable and defensible opposition to Assad that didn't have a beard when we joked about JV teams and 16-months ago when President Obama glibly stated;
Twice in the past month, President Obama has referred to the Syrian opposition in what some have taken as disparaging terms: “farmers or teachers or pharmacists” or “farmers or dentists or maybe some radio reporters.” He made these references in the context of trying to explain why military assistance from the United States has not been effective in molding a strong force of fighters.
He forgot, or doesn't care, that the American Revolution was led by farmers, lawyers, doctors, and printers.

Anyway, this is not an option anymore. Those people are now dead, in some rail car outside Vienna, or wearing a beard and burning people in cages.

So, Russia looks to be joining the war against the Islamic State ... or at least those who threaten Assad including Jabhat Al Nusra and other Islamists rebels.

Check out the lastest from the ISW for the details, but the ground game is clear. It wouldn't take too much to clean up the lines in the western part of Syria and then start to push east. If the Western part remains stable, that may relax refugee pressures on Europe unless, of course, they become mostly Sunni refugees that cannot find a home in the rest of Sunni Arabia.

The Syrian civil war has been so nasty from the medieval Islamic State's actions, I'm not sure how the rest of Syria will be able to co-exist with the Sunni Arabs when it is all done should Assad survive. We all know what will happen to Shia, Christians, Druze and others if the Islamic State wins.

Pick a side.

OK. Maybe we should just get out of their way. Let the Iranians and Russians kill Sunni Arab Islamists in the west of Syria while we kill them in the east. How about this: we'll kill them east of the Euphrates and south of road from Nassib in the southwest, through Damascus to Deir ez-Zur on the Euphrates. The Russians, Syrians, and Iranian proxies can kill them in the rest. Once they are done in the north and west, we can just do CAS for the Kurds on the front lines of their frontier as we all push IS forces in to the Iraqi desert.

There, I've deconflicted the airspace for everyone. End game? TBD.

Until then, happy hunting.

As I said over a year ago; if you want to understand what the dynamic is in Syria, you are better off watching Game of Thrones.

A final note, Lewis can't help himself with a little political Tourette syndrome that otherwise sullies some solid pondering in his article;
And there is surely more we can do to shelter the millions of refugees now fleeing the conflict. Having helped create this mess with the invasion of Iraq and subsequent failure to stop the bloodshed in Syria, the United States and its European allies have an obligation to assist these people. This is especially true of those countries that were the loudest supporters of the invasion of Iraq. Coalition of the Still Willing, right? That includes you, Hungary.
Why? We helped create this no more than the Soviet Union, Ba'ath Party, the Nassarites, the Ottoman Empire, the Arab armies of Mohammed, the Persian Empire, the Roman Empire, the ancient Egyptians or any of the gaggle from the Old Testament.

Who is responsible? The Arabs, that is who. Who has the primary obligation to take refugees? The Arabs. Similar culture, religion, and "civil" society.

Lewis, still suffering BDS after all these years. Sad, rots what otherwise seems a solid mind.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Warrior Writers Podcast

Something new this week for you history focused folks.

For the next 14 weeks, I am hosting a weekly podcast to coincide with the Naval Academy Museum exhibit; "Warrior Writers: The U.S. Naval Institute" open from September 10, 2015 through January 31, 2016.

The 14-part series will take you decade by decade, starting with the 1870s, discussing the significant naval events and developments that helped shape the US Navy.

Our guest for each episode will be Naval Academy History Professor Emeritus and noted naval historian Dr. Craig Symonds, and Naval Academy Museum Director Claude Berube.

This Monday we kicked it off with a will focus on the 1870s. Check it out.

Return each Monday for the next decade, and if you're in Annapolis, pay the museum a visit.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Outlaw Ocean with Ian Urbina, on Midrats

Stowaways, poaching, piracy, smuggling, and murder - the global commons of the open ocean is as wild of a place as it is vast.

Using as a baseline his series on lawlessness on the high seas in the New York Times, The Outlaw Ocean, our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss the anarchy of crime and violence on the high seas in the 21st Century will be Ian Ubina.

Ian is a reporter for The New York Times, based in the paper’s Washington bureau. He has degrees in history from Georgetown University and the University of Chicago, and his writings, which range from domestic and foreign policy to commentary on everyday life, have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Harper’s, and elsewhere.

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

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio