Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sal, what was Halloween like when you were a kid?

Funny you should ask ... about nine years old methinks ... 

No cable. 4 Channels. No VCR. You took what you were fed.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fullbore Friday

Before OCT is out, let's bring back a good reading FbF from six years ago.

The war is only 10 months old and two months after the defeat at the Battle of Savo Island.

The night action of 10-11 OCT, sometimes know as the Second Battle of Savo Island - but usually as The Battle of Cape Esperance, is an excellent example of the critical importance of training, flexibility, initiative, and aggression - combined with a measure of luck. Luck is always essential, as even the most simple plans become complicated once the battle begins.

First background.
DIVISION 6 of the Imperial Japanese Navy was pretty pleased with itself following its engagement with the Americans off Savo the night of August 8-9, and perhaps with reason. The Japanese felt that they had won a victory, greater than their usual "victories," and although the loss of the KAKO outside the harbor of Kavieng following the battle had cut into their forces by a quarter, they felt themselves to be the backbone of Japan in the Solomons.

But the Americans still clung tenaciously to their ground in the Guadalcanal and Florida islands despite air raids and night bombardments from the "Tokyo Express. " And although their position was precarious, it wasn't enough so for the Jap.

If the Japanese headquarters on Rabaul was busy with plans for marshaling their strength for a knockdown battle for the Solomons, so were the Americans at Espiritu Santo. Something had to be done to stop the Japanese from reinforcing their troops, and from storming Marine positions from the sea, and obviously one way to do it was to reinforce our own land forces at Guadalcanal. For this, a large convoy with Army reinforcements for Guadalcanal was soon to depart from Noumea, in French New Caledonia, halfway between Fiji and Australia. By October 1 1 it would be about 250 miles west of Espiritu Santo, protected by two task forces: one built around the carrier HORNET, the other around the new battleship WASHINGTON.

In Espiritu was a newly organized task force. Its ships had engaged only in target practice together but they were good ships. It would do well, as protection for the left flank of the Army convoy approaching Guadalcanal, to station this task force off the southern shore of that island to intercept any enemy units moving in from the west.

Remember, this is still the "go to war with the Navy you have" part of the war, as the entire Solomon Islands Campaign was.

The post Midway march to Tokyo was on, but this was only the beginning of the beginning.

Let's look at the lineup.

TF 64

Rear-Admiral Norman C. Scott

Bombardment Group

Rear-Admiral Goto

And so, off they went.
Departing New Caledonia on October 8, ships carrying the US 164th Infantry moved north towards Guadalcanal. To screen this convoy, Vice Admiral Robert Ghormley assigned Task Force 64 ... to operate near the island. ... Initially taking station off Rennell Island, Hall moved north on the 11th after receiving reports that Japanese ships had been sited in The Slot.
MicroWorks calls this "Stumbling into Victory." That is one way to look at it.

Me? I call it a lesson on the need for trusting your Commanding Officers with short, direct orders. As an editorial note for brevity, there are two IJN groups NW of Guadalcanal, Goto's Bombardment Group and RADM Jojima's landing force with 4,500 troops.

As he moved north, Hall, aware that the Americans had faired badly in previous night battles with the Japanese, crafted a simple battle plan. Ordering his ships to form a column with destroyers at the head and rear, he instructed them to illuminate any targets with their searchlights so that the cruisers could fire accurately. Hall also informed his captains that they were open fire when the enemy was sited rather than waiting for orders.
Approaching Cape Hunter on the northwest corner of Guadalcanal, Hall, flying his flag from San Francisco, ordered his cruisers to launch their float planes at 10:00 PM. An hour later, San Francisco's float plane sighted Jojima's force off of Guadalcanal. Expecting more Japanese ships to be sighted, Hall maintained his course northeast, passing to the west of Savo Island. Reversing course at 11:30, some confusion led to the three lead destroyers (Farenholt, Duncan, and Laffey) being out of position. About this time, Goto's ships began appearing on the American radars.

Initially believing these contacts to be the out of position destroyers, Hall took no action. As Farenholt and Laffey accelerated to reassume their proper positions, Duncan moved to attack the approaching Japanese ships.
But ahhhh, one man's brevity code is another's order.
A mere 5000 yards distant Goto's ships were moving directly into the center of the American line, which Goto, deeply feeling that no American was present, considered to be Joshima's reinforcement group. It was up to Helena to teach him otherwise. Captain Hoover was certain he had the enemy before him and queried Scott to open fire. Scott replied, "Roger", which he intended as a confirmation of receipt, but if unqualified it meant open fire as well, and Hoover interpreted it as such. He switched on his searchlights, aiming them on Hatsuyuki, the left-wing destroyer, and opened fire with his fifteen 155mm guns at 2346.

That action caught Scott off-guard, but he did not prevent the rest of his line from opening fire on the enemy. Duncan, now only a few hundred yards from Kinugasa, joined in, but was quickly disabled.
Another account describes this classic thus;
At 11:45, Goto's ships were visible to the American lookouts and Helena radioed asking permission to open fire using the general procedure request, "Interrogatory Roger" (meaning "are we clear to act"). Hall responded in the affirmative, and his surprise the entire American line opened fire. Aboard his flagship, Aoba, Goto was taken by complete surprise.
Let's talk about VADM Goto for a second. In a battle that lasted only 30 minutes, the first few were an all-American show. Why? Well, confusion and an inability to realize that your plan was no longer going to happen and that all you were told was wrong. The enemy always gets a vote.
Gotō's force was taken almost completely by surprise. At 23:43 Aoba's lookouts sighted Scott's force, but Gotō assumed that they were Jojima's ships. Two minutes later, Aoba's lookouts identified the ships as American, but Gotō remained skeptical and directed his ships to flash identification signals. As Aoba's crew executed Gotō's order, the first American salvo smashed into Aoba's superstructure. Aoba was quickly hit by up to 40 shells from Helena, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Farenholt, and Laffey. The shell hits heavily damaged Aoba's communications systems and demolished two of her main gun turrets as well as her main gun director. Several large-caliber projectiles passed through Aoba's flag bridge without exploding, but the force of their passage killed many men and mortally wounded Gotō.
CAPT Kijuma, VADM Goto's Chief of Staff stated,
"At first we thought the fire was from our own supply ships. It was a surprise attack. All ships but the KINUGASA immediately reversed course to the right. Due to the shellfire and the congestion, the KINUGASA turned left. As a result of
this turn the KINUGASA only received minor damage from three hits. The AOBA was hit about forty times and was badly damaged. The FURUTAKA and FUBUKI were sunk. The FUBUKI sank before it completed the turn, although it only received four hits. Due to the smoke from the AOBA, the MURAKUMO was not hit. The KINUGASA did most of the fighting for our force.

"Soon after the action started Admiral Goto was mortally wounded. While he was dying, I told him that he could die with easy mind because we had sunk two of your heavy cruisers.

"Following this action we retired to the northwest. The MURAKUMO turned back and rescued about four hundred survivors. When your forces reappeared it departed the area trying to make you chase it within range of our aircraft."
Chaos, on both sides.
Over the next few minutes, Aoba was hit more than 40 times by Helena, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Farenholt, and Laffey. Burning, with many of its guns out of action and Goto dead, Aoba turned to disengage. At 11:47, concerned that he was firing on his own ships, Hall ordered a ceasefire and asked his destroyers to confirm their positions. This done, the American ships resumed firing at 11:51 and pummeled the cruiser Furutaka. Burning from a hit to its torpedo tubes, Furutaka lost power after taking a torpedo from Buchanan. While the cruiser was burning, the Americans shifted their fire to the destroyer Fubuki sinking it.
Two minutes of firing - four minutes of "where and the h311 is everyone" and then firing again. That 4 minutes must have seemed like an hour.
As the battle raged, the cruiser Kinugasa and destoryer Hatsuyuki turned away and missed the brunt of the American attack. Pursuing the fleeing Japanese ships, Boise was nearly hit by torpedoes from Kinugasa at 12:06 AM. Turning on their search lights to illuminate the Japanese cruiser, Boise and Salt Lake City immediately took fire, with the former taking a hit to its magazine. At 12:20, with the Japanese retreating and his ships disorganized, Hall broke off the action.

Later that night, Furutaka sank as result of battle damage, and Duncan was lost to raging fires. Learning of the bombardment force's crisis, Jojima detached four destroyers to its aid after disembarking his troops. The next day, two of these, Murakumo and Shirayuki, were sunk by aircraft from Henderson Field.
The end result of the battle was a complete smacking. Losses:

  • 1 destroyer sunk,
  • 1 cruiser,
  • 1 destroyer heavily damaged,
  • 163 killed
  • 1 cruiser,
  • 3 destroyers sunk,
  • 1 cruiser heavily damaged,
  • 341–454 killed,
  • 111 captured
This was unquestionably a great tactical victory for the USN, but an operational failure as Jojima was still able to get his troops ashore. It also did not supply the right lessons to take forward as we continued not to appreciate the true night fighting capabilities of the IJN and the exceptional danger posed by the Long Lance torpedo.

This battle was the happy middle between two sobering hammers - The Battle of Savo Island for one, and two months later
Tassafaronga. In the end, I think this best catches the results,
A junior officer on Helena later wrote, "Cape Esperance was a three-sided battle in which chance was the major winner."
A great take-away would be this quote that could be heard after any sea battle for the last 2,500 years, I bet.
In the words of one petty officer who was overheard talking with another on the way back to Espiritu Santo, "I'll never complain of another drill, and I'll deck the man who does."
BTW, that quote and a few others come from Battle Report: Pacific War: Middle Phase by CDR Walter Purdon, USN and CAPT Eric Karig, USN which you can get for free online here, or get the 1947 hardback original here.

This will be crossposted at USNIBlog as part of the SJS led Solomon Islands Campaign thread.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Diversity Thursday

What is that smell? Is it the false bravado? The arrogance?

Oh, I know, it is the cheesy smell of sectarianism, small minded bigotry, and self-preening that populates the Diversity Industry.

You want to degrade the seriousness of any institution? This is how you do it.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David [redacted] LCDR NAVWARCOL
Date: Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at [redacted]
Subject: Opportunity for Legacy: Those Happy With The Status-Quo May Skip This Email
To: _NWC All <[redacted]>

Good Rainy Morning Naval War College,

Today marks the last day of the application period for the Mentor Program Lead and Diversity Officer collateral duties. I have reattached the duty descriptions for your reference.

As the subject line alludes to, this is a rare opportunity to make a significant and lasting impact at the NWC.

This will be the FIRST Diversity Officer in the College's history. Creation and expansion of this new program is an opportunity to place the Naval War College on par with the Naval Post-Graduate School and the Naval Academy in the field of Diversity and Inclusion. It has oft been said that racial, gender, socioeconomic, experience-based, behavioral, and perspective-based diversity at the NWC could be improved upon. This is your chance to influence a cultural shift towards expansion of the intellectual aperture of the staff, faculty, and students.

The Mentor Program Lead is also placed to improve the human relations environment at the Naval War College through revitalization of established on-boarding, career progression, and personal development organizational processes. The lack of an effective, institutionalized, and informal (non-compliance based) mentoring program was cited as one of the most important issues on the command climate survey. If you were one of the many who commented about the lack of this program, perhaps you would be willing to step forward and be responsible for enriching the personal and professional lives of all those who are waiting to be a part of it.

"We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work."
- Thomas A. Edison

Please email me by the end of the day with your qualifications if interested in either of these collateral duties. You must have your supervisor's approval prior to applying.

Thank you and stay dry!

Very Respectfully,

LCDR David [redacted], PMP
War Gaming Dept
(401) 841-[redacted]
EO/EEO Intranet Site 
[hypertext link disabled]
Contact Me Anonymously [hypertext link disabled]
As you know, there are no tracking metrics for, "socioeconomic, experience-based, behavioral, and perspective-based diversity". As a result, as is always the case, they will focus on what is left, "... racial, gender ... diversity".

Wait ... it gets better. Included in the email were these two gems. I know you want to know all this mission related goodness.
Diversity Officer Collateral Duty Description 
The Diversity Officer serves as the President’s and Provost’s principal adviser and action officer for diversity management. Diversity management consists of policies and practices (DOD, DON, and NWC) to effectively manage diversity, and foster inclusion among organizational stakeholders where all individuals are valued, engaged, treated fairly and respectfully, and have equitable access to opportunities and resources. The Diversity Officer provides active support of programs designed to attract, retain, and promote a diverse work force. He or she provides active oversight and support of Navy and Naval War College programs and policies as they relate to Diversity and Inclusion.  
Duties would include:
- Attend senior leadership battle rhythm events and meetings when appropriate,
- Researching current diversity and inclusion best practices (DoD and Industry),
- Supporting the development and implementation of an NWC Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan to further workforce diversity, workplace inclusion, and sustainability,
- Supporting the continual evaluation of the effectiveness of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan through systematic appraisal of performance measures,
- Chairing the quarterly Inclusion Analysis Team, and
- Conducting annual barrier analysis self-assessments.
In case you had any doubt yet about official "mentoring" in the Navy, it is all political in the most vile and divisive way. It is sectarian based. It is founded in racism and sexism and knowingly or not, smears the honor of all who participate in it.
Mentor Program Lead Collateral Duty Description 
The Mentor Program Lead serves as the action officer for developing and implementing an informal, voluntary, and volunteer-based mentor program that serves the Naval War College and that can be used as a model for other Navy organizations to emulate. The Mentor Program Lead will coordinate with College and department leadership to tailor the program to the unique personal and professional needs of each department. 
Duties would include:
- Researching industry best practices for mentoring and leadership development to include both DoD and commercial organizations,
- Researching mentoring and leadership development related publications,
- Exploring relationships with mentor training and leadership development,
- Designing and developing a NWC mentoring and leadership development program, and
- Regularly assessing the efficacy of the mentoring and leadership program and making improvements where and when warranted.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

So, 36 LCS or 24 of These?

Sure, you can wiggle the math all over the place - but I like round numbers.

What am I talking about? Head on over to USNIBlog to find out.

Well ... Lookie Here ... the Salamander Airwing is Here, in a Fashion

Remember this post from half a decade ago?
Sure, there are plenty of foreign examples out there from the Super Tucano to the AT-6 - but what would I find the most interesting ... well ... what do you think about the Air Tractor® AT-802U? "What?", you say - you think it looks like a crop duster? Well, because it is. But ponder this.

» Real-time eye in the sky for ground troop support» Integrated fire control system» Training-focused force support» Small logistics footprint
Proven - I've got your proven hang'n.

In part, this is because of the robust mechanics of turboprops and in part because Air Tractor’s fuel tanks have rubber membranes which close around bullet holes to slow leaks. Add extra fuel tanks, which let the plane stay aloft for ten hours, six 225kg precision-guided bombs and more than 2,000kg of missiles, rockets and ammunition for two 50-calibre machineguns, and you have the AT-802U, a formidable yet reasonably cheap (at $5m) warplane.
The Air Tractor® AT-802U is an economical single engine turboprop aircraft designed for surveillance, precision strike, and rugged dirt strip utility missions. The AT-802U combines an 8,000-lb. (3,629 kg) payload and 10-hour ISR mission capability with the flexibility and responsiveness of a manned weapon system – for a fraction of the cost of unmanned aerial vehicle systems.
(when the unarmed version has been conducting counter drug missions) Despite the planes’ having been hit by more than 200 rounds, though, neither an aircraft nor a pilot has been lost.
... and now ... I tell you; never to miss a single post at CDRS!
They may look like your average crop dusters, but four U.S. planes being sent to Jordan are outfitted with state-of-the-art surveillance gear and laser weapons that will allow the Middle Eastern ally to patrol its lawless eastern border with Iraq, where the ISIS threat looms large.

The spy planes, retrofitted 36-foot AT-802 two-seaters, were initially destined for Yemen, where the U.S. had been trying to help the president hold off an Iranian-backed siege. But with American forces pulled out of that Gulf nation, and Jordan in need of help in the fight against ISIS, the new planes could be the first installment of a bigger armament package diverted from Yemen. The Air Force ordered accelerated delivery of the planes, which Amman requested to help it seek and destroy terror threats on both sides of the border, and documents seemed to indicate that personnel could be on the way, too.
Excellent! I will still take a few squadrons for USAFR/USANG/USNR ... but for now, this will do.

I hope they prove useful.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Black Swan Tuesday: The Bones of a Pomeranian Grenadier

The Europeans are inwardly focused on the hundreds of thousands of military age Muslim men on the march throughout the European Union and pressing on its borders.

The United States is in an election year and continues to blink at any real threat.

Russia is renewed.

The Balkan wars have not ended - they will not end - there is work to do. If one were to make trouble;
Nov. 21 marks the 20th anniversary of the Dayton peace agreement, which ended three-and-a-half years of brutal war between Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks. In Dayton, Ohio, U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke achieved a major diplomatic victory that ended the conflict and established the foundations of a viable state. The Dayton agreement also created an internationally backed overseer called the high representative to implement the peace accords. To this day, Bosnia is a rare success story in post-conflict state-building. The anniversary should be a time for celebration.

Unfortunately, it may not turn out that way. The Dayton agreement created two highly autonomous entities inside Bosnia: the Bosniak-Croat majority federation and the Serb majority Republika Srpska. Milorad Dodik, president of Republika Srpska, plans to rain on the Dayton anniversary parade by openly violating the agreement on Nov. 15 in a move that many see as a thinly veiled independence referendum.

The scheduled plebiscite has only one question: “Do you support the unconstitutional and unauthorized imposition of laws by the High Representative of the International Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly the imposed laws on the Court and Prosecutor’s Office of [Bosnia-Herzegovina] and the implementation of their decisions on the territory of Republika Srpska?” Such a biased and leading question offers only one right answer. The referendum will give Dodik political and legal cover to order Republika Srpska institutions — from government administrators to tax collectors — to stop obeying state court orders, verdicts, and rulings, and to obstruct the work of the prosecutor’s office. This would undo 20 years of progress and commence the destruction of Bosnia’s legal order. While the referendum only addresses the judiciary, its destructive intentions make it a de facto declaration of independence. Lest anyone doubt Dodik’s intentions, in April he announced that Republika Srpska will hold an independence referendum in 2018.
Is NATO ready to go to war again to prevent a greater Serbia?

Is the USA ready to enforce the Dayton Accords?

Is Russia going to sit passively by again as the Serbs are knocked around.

Timing. Everything is timing.

Monday, October 26, 2015

In the 1980s, we called this "Monday"

There are things we should not talk all that much about, but we should take notice of.
Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.

The issue goes beyond old worries during the Cold War that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent.
First of all, if anyone in government service in the national security arena is surprised or shocked by this, please go work somewhere else.

If those who are responsible for maintaining connectivity have not been refining our branch plans to respond to this eventuality, will someone please fire them?

I do not think the interest here is "cutting" them - but finding, fixing the most accessible locations, and ... well ... yea.

Hey, from high waisted jeans to frustrating Russians, many of the things from the '80s are back. They actually never went away, it just wasn't their time for awhile.

Well, they're back.
Just last month, the Russian spy ship Yantar, equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, cruised slowly off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba — where one major cable lands near the American naval station at Guantánamo Bay. It was monitored constantly by American spy satellites, ships and planes. Navy officials said the Yantar and the submersible vehicles it can drop off its decks have the capability to cut cables miles down in the sea.

“The level of activity,” a senior European diplomat said, “is comparable to what we saw in the Cold War.”
Adm. James Stavridis, formerly NATO’s top military commander and now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, said in an email last week that “this is yet another example of a highly assertive and aggressive regime seemingly reaching backwards for the tools of the Cold War, albeit with a high degree of technical improvement.”
This time we have an Information Dominance warfare pin, so I am sure all is well.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

China, the Pivot, and the WESTPAC Challenge - Midrats With James Kraska

As 2015 starts its final act, where is China heading?

From her Great Wall of Sand in the South China Sea, to economic stress, and her increasingly nervous neighbors, where does the USA and her allies need to adjust to China’s expanding footprint globally, and where do they need to stand firm?

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and more will be James Kraska.

Dr. James Kraska is Professor in the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law, where he previously served as Howard S. Levie Chair in International Law from 2008-13. During 2013-14, he was a Mary Derrickson McCurdy Visiting Scholar at Duke University, where he taught international law of the sea. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for Oceans Law and Policy at the University of Virginia School of Law, Guest Investigator at the Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and a Senior Associate at the Naval War College's Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups.

He developed the first course on maritime security law at the Naval War College, which he also taught at The Hague Academy of International Law and University of Maine School of Law. Commander Kraska served as legal adviser to joint and naval task force commanders in the Asia-Pacific, two tours in Japan and in four Pentagon major staff assignments, including as oceans law and policy adviser as well as chief of international treaty negotiations, both on the Joint Staff.

Kraska earned a J.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington, Maurer School of Law and J.S.D. and LL.M. from University of Virginia School of Law; he also completed a master’s degree at the School of Politics and Economics, Claremont Graduate School. In 2010, Kraska was selected for the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement by the Navy League of the United States.

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, October 23, 2015

Fullbore Friday

Just one man who will represent thousands.

Null out the background buzz that you hear from DC where our leaders seem to want to talk of those who serve as racists, sexists, criminals, and somehow culturally divided from the nation they serve, etc. Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Now and then we are reminded every day that there are people who have made the decision to serve. They trust their leaders to not sell their mortality lightly. They trust that the person to the left and the right of them are what they hope to be - the best their nation has to offer. There to serve, and to serve with.

That trust is key, as in a moment they will go anywhere and execute any mission they are ordered to do. They will do it as it is their job. Their job will, in the end, support the core values they hold and of the nation they serve. They will, and do, accept that the cost for that service may be their life - a cost they hope buys something of greater value.

At our best, as a nation we will do what other cannot. We will help our friends do what they cannot. At home, that may be something as simple as helping your neighbor move a fallen tree off their driveway. On a larger scale it may be helping rescue the innocents from slaughter.

One man who steps forward. One man who represents many. One man who did this for you. For others. For an ideal.

Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler, USA; fullbore.
he Pentagon identified the U.S. Army soldier who died as part of a rescue mission in Northern Iraq earlier this week as Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler of Roland.

About 70 hostages facing “imminent mass execution” were rescued in the operation at an ISIS-controlled prison that killed Wheeler, 39, according to a Pentagon statement.

Wheeler, who was was part of the Army’s Delta Force and assigned to Headquarters of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., is the first American to die in combat in Iraq since November 2011.

The hostages he was helping to rescue included more than 20 members of the Iraqi Security Forces, local residents and several ISIS fighters accused of spying. They were liberated Thursday after a helicopter assault that involved U.S. special operations troops as well as Kurdish and Iraqi forces, U.S. officials said.

“There was not a lot of time,” one U.S. official told CNN on condition of anonymity. “The threat of execution was imminent.”

Mass graves dug inside the compound were spotted during surveillance, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of details of the raid told CNN. After the rescue, hostages said they had been told they would be executed after morning prayers.
For a few, for a small moment, the world is a slightly less vile and nasty place. Master Sgt. Wheeler paid for this moment. I hope those who are benefiting from it - earn it.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Diversity Thursday

Those fully in the thralls of the Cult of Diversity will sacrifice any principal and tear down the integrity of any process in order to force their sociopolitical world view on those around them.

They especially show their contempt for free and open processes when they get access to the levers of power. Sometimes they use those levers in the open, sometimes they work through weak willed or compromised subordinates to do it for them.

Either way, once brought out in the light and exposed to fresh air, the intellectually stale and fetid nature of it all becomes clear to everyone around them

Thing about those Diversity Bullies, they spend so much time in a self-selecting social and intellectual bubble that they do not understand why people object to actions they see as only doing the right thing for the right reasons. They have no ability to see that their definition of what is "right" means just the opposite of what it should in a free republic.

The Cult of Diversity sometimes gets access to big levers of power, sometimes smaller ones. The mindset and process is the same.

Let's look at one of the small ones;
On Oct. 6, Everett Middle School welcomed a special visitor. As students cheered and clapped, Chelsea Clinton walked across the San Francisco academy’s wooden stage and hugged Everett’s mascot, a humongous brown and white owl.

Clinton was at Everett to promote a book, but when she learned that the public school was about to hold its first student council election in several years, the former first daughter couldn’t help but chime in with words of encouragement.

“I don’t think anyone should ever rule out politics as a way to make a difference,” she said, according to ABC 7.

If students were inspired, however, it didn’t last long.
The controversy began as soon as the Oct. 9 election results rolled in. Everett’s 36-year-old principal, Lena Van Haren, was disturbed by the lack of diversity among the winners,
When Everett held its election three days later, its principal promptly refused to release the results, saying she was concerned that the winners were not diverse enough.
Students weren’t exactly expecting real-time streaming results, but they were surprised not to learn who had won when they showed up to school the following Monday. By Wednesday, the situation was getting weird.

On Thursday, nearly a week after the election, Van Haren sent out an e-mail to parents explaining her decision to withhold the election results.

“This is complex, but as a parent and a principal, I truly believe it behooves us to be thoughtful about our next steps here so that we can have a diverse student council that is truly representative of all voices at Everett,” she wrote,
“I wanted to get more involved and change some things,” Kaplan, the seventh-grader running for class representative, told KRON 4, practically quoting Chelsea Clinton verbatim. “I feel like it is disrespectful to all the people who were running,” he said of the strange silence over election results.
“Well, the children’s voices were heard. They just seemed to be less obsessed with race than some administrators are,” wrote UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, in his blog Volokh Conspiracy hosted by The Washington Post.
Read the whole thing, as this is a good example about what happens when good people stand up. There is also a lot of humor here as the Principal does a not do a very convincing job of excuse making and back peddling. She still seems to not know what hit her.

If their worldview was not so hate filled, sectarian, and bigoted, I would almost feel sorry for the members of the Diversity Cult. The second decade of the 21st Century has largely left their early-1970s theories behind. Though their tree is bearing fruit, it is hollow inside and has shallow roots.

They can never defend what they do in an open forum. They cannot intellectually understand the nature of a multi-racial society as it exists and as a result, see people as the KKK and the Nazi party with their one drop rule do - and enable rent-seeking fraudsters and extortionists.

That is not a good place to be for your mental health. Sure, feel sorry for them but give them no quarter when in your life you run in to them.

Do not accept, do not be cowed. They only succeed when good people remain silent, and really, that is what they want. Silence and acceptance. As they show over and over, all it takes is to demonstrate what they are doing - and their power turns to farce.

Oh, and the kids? They get it;
“The whole school voted for those people, so it is not like people rigged the game,” seventh-grader Sebastian Kaplan told KRON 4, who had run for class representative yet had no clue a week later if he won. “But in a way, now it is kinda being rigged.”
Yes Sebastian, it is. Now, what are you and your parents going to do about it from here? You won a tactical victory, but ...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

So, Aboot Canada

What has the results of Canadian elections and a few CF-18 have to do with planning the USN fleet?

Quite a bit actually. I'm discussing over at USNIBlog.

The Intentional Tainting of the Board Process

Though flawed as any human institution is, the board process for selection to the next higher rank or for command is actually a fair process. Good people have invested a lot of time to try to pull out personal bias, or the appearance of personal bias, out of the system. 

The higher the confidence people have in the integrity of the system, the greater they will respect and accept the results. They will accept the results, and will have greater confidence at the start with those who have been selected to lead that they are the very best we have.

So much that we do when it comes to personal career progression is based on trust; trust in your reporting senior and trust in the system in general. Like others, I have first hand knowledge of occurrences where personal agenda directly interfered with the process - but those were specific instances - nothing with an official taint.

The most corrosive idea that can be injected in to this process is an appearance that one person outside the board can change the results on personal whim or under political pressure - making individual changes in a subjective, opaque manner.

Well ... thing are out in the open now, and people rightfully should question the final results from the latest Aviation Major Command Screen Board (AMCSB) until the slight of hand changes are fully explained.

We are officers in the military serving a representative republic of a free people, not some political military of a banana republic. 

If you believe in the integrity of our system of selection boards, the most important post you will read this month (at least) is over at Skipper's place.

Read it all - but here are the parts that need to get your attention. First of all, I'm gong to quote in full the email he managed to dig up;
Subject: Change to the release process for AMCSB results

Aviation Leadership,

As a part of CNP’s expanded efforts to manage our officer talent, each TYCOM will now have a larger role in the approval process of our Admin selection board results. We will continue to ensure that we have the highest caliber officers, with the right skillsets, in critical command positions. The new process will begin with this month’s Aviation Major Command Board.

How our boards select officers for Command and Major Command will be largely unchanged. We historically do a very good job of selecting Aviation’s most talented officers, to the “best and fully qualified” standard. Our board membership is comprised of sitting or recently sitting Operational Commanders, who know first-hand the demands placed on our O-5 and O-6 commanders, and I trust their judgment implicitly. Going forward, the intent is to preserve that trust and the experience of those selecting tomorrow’s leaders.

There will be a change in how board results are approved/released. After the board adjourns, I will receive the list of all selects and the category for which they were recommended (CVW, Deep Draft, Major Shore, etc.). After I review and approve the board results, [CNPC] will release the results as he has in the past. The published results will list each officer alphabetically by selected command category without reference to IZ or AZ (first or second look). As before, the Flag/SES web site will publish the select list, and you will then have an advanced opportunity to contact those selected officers you may have mentored over the years. The two time non-selects will still be called by board members immediately after the board adjourns.

During my review of the results, I will have the authority, if I so chose, to adjust the category for which an officer was selected. As I stated earlier, my intent is to closely follow the board’s recommendations, and only shift selected officers between categories to better manage Naval Aviation’s talent, or to address a future need/requirement or officer preference. I will not have the authority to elevate non-selected officers to selected status.

Occasionally during the post results slating process, an officer cannot fulfill their selected position. Our process in the past has been to remove that officer from the Command select list. This new authority will allow me to shift this officer to another category during the slating process (better “fit”). I will use this new authority judiciously, preserving the sanctity of our well-established selection processes, and only if I believe an adjustment to the slate is in Naval Aviation’s best interests. Other than providing me with board results and the preferences of those officers selected, PERS-43 has no other involvement/influence in these new procedures.

As mentioned, next week’s AMCSB will be the first time we’ve used this new process, so I ask for your patience as we are all accustomed to receiving the results the day the board adjourns. This added step may take a little time, but we will do our best to expedite and minimize the time between adjournment and results release.

Standing by to provide clarification or answer any questions. PERS-43 will share this note with aviation O-6 leadership.


There is a lot of inside baseball going on here that for many readers will go over their head. However, for those who know the system - the problem stands right out at you.
During my review of the results, I will have the authority, if I so chose, to adjust the category for which an officer was selected. As I stated earlier, my intent is to closely follow the board’s recommendations, and only shift selected officers between categories to better manage Naval Aviation’s talent, or to address a future need/requirement or officer preference. I will not have the authority to elevate non-selected officers to selected status.
Yes, you've read that correctly. One man will have the ability to move someone on the slate from command of a shore facility, special mission or other - while distinguished in their own right - are admittedly 2nd tier commands - up to command of an airwing or an aircraft carrier.

Someone help CNAF out ... as I am not sure he is aware the shadow he is putting over himself personally. One must assume it is innocent and full of good intentions - but it does no good to his record or the integrity of the Navy I know he loves.

First problem; using the AMCSB as an example, there is a huge delta between CAG/Nuke selected guys and Major Shore on making Flag. This is not a no-harm issue; this is a zero sum game. 

Important to note, this is only starting with this AMCSB, but the intention is to have it apply to aviation CDR Command screen boards as well.

Coming out of the board, what are the criteria for one person, COMNAVAIRFOR, to make the shift? What are his criteria? Who is he discussing this with?

Secondly; of perhaps even greater concern than that to the individuals impacted, does COMNAVAIRFOR have any idea the impact this will have on the confidence in the integrity of the board? Either he is oblivious to the impact, does not care about the impact, or is under marching orders of importance enough to be worth the blowback. Neither of those three are acceptable.

That is like saying, "All doctors are the same. I am going to take a few who could only get in to a dermatology program at land grant medical school and swap them out with a few who were accepted in to Harvard Medical School's cardiology program and John Hopkins neurosurgeon pipeline."

Like that concept?

I there a way to stop this? No. This isn't theory - Skipper has the evidence of where this has already taken place. Again, read it all over at Skipper's place, this stinks like the scupper trout that it is.

His final point is spot on as well;
None of this occurred in a vacuum, of course. Last year’s slate was held up for over two months. You can’t interrupt a process that prominent without anyone noticing. Dozens of very senior officers, to include Flag Officers, either knew this violation of the board’s results was happening or participated in it to some extent. That’s not to say they endorsed it, but they weren’t oblivious.

In light of this very troubling revelation, the e-mail I embedded above no longer looks like a solution in search of a problem. It makes complete sense, does it not? It serves two purposes. It provides sufficient cover for last year’s antics, and it paves the way for similar antics in the future. After all, why would anyone now accept unfavorable board results of any kind? Didn’t make O-4? Didn’t screen for O-5 command? Didn’t select for that Olmsted Scholarship? Just get it changed. You could be forgiven for not knowing that was an option.
He also has found the source of this intentional perversion of the selection process;
And the guy squirting you in the eye with a fake flower on his lapel was (and is) the Navy’s highest ranking civilian.
This all smacks of 3rd world crony-militarism and not worth of our Navy or the nation is serves.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reinforcing the Bleeding Edge

While everyone, rightly, has been looking at Ukraine, Syria, and China's sand islands in WESTPAC, there is something going on in Africa.

It is very low key - and I think by design. It is part of the long war and so far is being played smart; low risk, low profile, high importance.

Words are one thing - maps are the other. Watch what is done.

Someone in AFRICOM gets it. They understand demographics, economics, and politics.

Meet the Hippo Trench.
... behind closed doors, US military officials are already starting to see Africa as the new battleground for fighting extremism, and have begun to roll out a flurry of logistical infrastructure and personnel from West to East – colloquially called the “ new spice route” – and roughly tracing the belt of volatility on the southern fringes of the Sahara Desert; the deployment to Cameroon is just the latest of many.

These support all the activities that American troops are currently involved in Africa: airstrikes targeting suspected militants, night raids aimed at seizing terror suspects, airlifts of French and African troops onto the battlefields, and evacuation operations in conflict zones.

Officially, the US has only one permanent base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, headquarters of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). Concrete figures on the number of troops stationed there are sketchy, but various reports put it anything between 3,500 and 4,500 soldiers.

In May 2014, the US reached an agreement— called an “implementing arrangement”—with the government of Djibouti “that secures [its] presence” in that country “through 2044,” meaning the US plans to be there for at least 30 more years.

Apart from Djibouti, the staging areas, mini-bases, and airfields that have popped up across the continent now mean there’s a contiguous US presence in the nations of Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Seychelles.

It’s like digging a trench across the continent, to halt the advance of jihadist groups south – like the trenches people build at the shores of lakes to keep hippos away from their homes. [Hippos are deadly, killing more people in Africa than any other wild animal, but they have one weakness – they can’t jump.]

The rail bonus

Meanwhile, in June, Ethiopia and Djibouti oversaw the completion of a railway linking their two capitals Addis Ababa and Djibouti. The thinking is that the railway could eventually extend west, reaching all the way to Cameroon, connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Guinea.

A trans-Africa railway is feasible “in seven or eight years,” said Abubaker Hadi, chairman of Djibouti Port Authority, as long as conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic Republic (CAR) come to an end.

If AFRICOM succeeds in clearing the brush, Djibouti and Ethiopia just might become the regional hegemons they dream of; all they may have to do is follow the “hippo trench” all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

And the “belt” the US military is building, would only be the trench against the advance of extremist violent organisations southward, but also the guard line for what could Africa’s longest-running pan-African transport corridor.
Economically, one hopes at least the USA will get more from this than the Chinese, but that is really a sideshow.

This is a Long War action. You see, as Samuel P. Huntington says;
Islam has bloody borders.

Over the last year or so, EagleOne and I have done some good shows on Africa on Midrats. Check out a few if you want some more depth on an important area that does not get the coverage it deserves.

H/t Joshua Treveño.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Why do some become quiet?

Coming from the city and through a sparse, wooded river valley near the village of Echternach in Luxembourg, there is a ruin of a Roman Villa. It was dramatic in its scale and beauty at the height of the Empire, but then lost for almost 1,500 years.

When I first drove by the ruins, I wondered what the owners of that villa were thinking about 400AD (if I am allowed to use that term) of all the goings on in Rome. How often did they discuss what was going on in the Imperial capital with their neighbors who owned the villas in Borg, Bollendorf and others in their little corner on the edge of the Empire - and what, if anything, they should do.

Perhaps they heard of rumors of the Legions leaving Briton, but doubted that would happen and perhaps comforted themselves that, if they did leave, the legions would simply be reassigned to reinforce Gallia Belgica.

From across the Rhenus, they heard rumors of some restiveness on the part of the Franks - but they are good trading partners and really have no reason to challenge Rome again.

I am sure that, as time went by - they became exhausted keeping track with the drama in Rome as bad Emperors replaced worse Emperors selected from the same families or just the General of the Month Club. Each new Provincial Governor that cycled in and out only asked for more taxes and asked fewer questions on what was needed by the people.

Instead of regular correspondence with their neighbors on the topic of Roman politics and the dysfunctional Empire, they just invested more time riding their property, improving their orchards, talking with their shepherds about the upcoming lambing season and probably, after each harvest or return from market, took a few gold coins to hide away in their little hoard over the crest of the hill to the west ... well ... just in case.

On good days, they would take a deep breath and look around at their blessings as they have that day, with an edge of unease in the quiet. They would kiss their children on the top of their head and wonder, how much longer will this hold on? What more could they do than they are already doing? But mostly, their circle of concern pulls towards the center, the topics they worry about narrow, and the Glory of Rome starts to seem like something they were taught as a little kid and, the old legionnaire thought, perhaps something he was trying to be a part of in his decades long service.

Was it ever really there, or was it just a little fable for children that was sold and retold among mutually foolish young men?

Who knows. All he knows this morning is that they still have not found those five oxen that went missing three days ago. That is his mission today, and that is good enough.

And in the evening, as has been more frequent as of late, there is no messenger to bring news - and from the villa, no news or inquiry that needs to go out.

Just the quiet of the evening and only a hint of distant drums, mostly drowned out by the babbling brook behind the garden where he takes his evening drink, and the constant ringing in his ears - besides his villa, the most lasting vestige of his years of service to the Empire.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fullbore Friday

This has been, as they say, one of those weeks - as you may have noticed by the rather light CDRSalamander postings.

As Friday quickly came upon us, I was a bit of a loss as to what to post as my mind is way too focused on family and paying gig things.

Then I did my quick review of the latest news. In the ongoing cavalcade of national humiliation that is becoming the trademark of the last few years of the Obama Presidency, as a reward to normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba for a farthing, they seem to be joining Russia in Syria. Why not? They owe Russia and there is no downside to spitting on the USA as we beg to be humiliated in our self-imposed gimp-box.
The source, speaking under the condition of anonymity, confirmed intelligence reports claiming two Russian planes landed at the Damascus airport and unloaded Cuban troops. Additionally, the reports state that Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frias — the head of Cuba’s Armed Forces — and his personal detail recently visited and counseled his forces on how to combat with U.S. backed rebels.
Trying to feel a little better, there is this news from one nation in the EU who is at least trying to do something to preserve their unique culture;
Hungary's fence on its border with Croatia is finished and the army and police are capable of sealing off the border once a decision to do so is made, a top government official said on Thursday.

Hungary has seen more than 378,000 migrants pass through its territory so far this year, Janos Lazar, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, told journalists. He said by the end of the year the number of migrants reaching Hungary's borders could reach 600,000 to 700,000.

There are no technical obstacles to sealing the border with Croatia and it depends on the Brussels meetings and talks in next few days what decision Hungary will make, Lazar said.
I'm not a big fan of Orban, but on this point he is spot on.

Hungary. Yes ... I know; let's do what FbF is designed to do - and let's dig in to the archives back to a 2009 FbF, slightly modified.

Six years ago, we lost a lion of the Cold War. 

It is amazing, especially in NYC, who could be just around the corner. Sadly, we often find ou too late.

Of all the things I spent my time on when visiting that place, wouldn't it have been great to have audited a class of his, or at least asked him if I could buy him a cup of coffee?

Major General Béla Király, PhD - Hungarian Army and Member of the Hungarian Parliament.

Well done on a life well lived. From the NYT's Obit;
Gen. Bela K. Kiraly, the commander in chief of the revolutionary forces in the Hungarian uprising of 1956, who for more than half a century was considered a folk hero in Hungary, and who returned there in 1989 to serve in its post-Communist government, died Saturday in Budapest. He was 97.

At his death, General Kiraly was emeritus professor of history at Brooklyn College, where he taught from 1964 to 1982. Before returning to Hungary, he lived for many years in Highland Lakes, N.J.

A former major general in the Hungarian Army, General Kiraly was the senior military leader of Hungary’s short-lived revolt against Soviet forces in the autumn of 1956. As commander in chief of the Hungarian National Guard and the leader of the Budapest garrison, he commanded a force of 26,000 insurgents and 30,000 Hungarian Army troops who had joined them.

When the uprising began on Oct. 23, General Kiraly was weak, ill and exhausted; he had just been released after spending five years in prison, four of them on death row, on manufactured charges of espionage. After the uprising was put down violently by the Soviets less than two weeks later, he fled to the United States.
Bela Kalman Kiraly was born on April 14, 1912, in Kaposvar, in southwest Hungary. After graduating from the state military academy in Budapest, he served as an army officer in World War II. In later years, General Kiraly said in interviews that he had tried to join the Russian side in the war rather than serve with Hungary’s fascist forces, but was unable to do so.

During the war, Mr. Kiraly commanded a battalion of 400 Jewish slave laborers at the Ukrainian front. Disobeying orders from his superiors, as The Jerusalem Post wrote in 1993, he “put the 400 men under his command into Hungarian uniforms and treated them humanely.” For his actions, he was honored in 1993 as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial authority in Jerusalem.

Captured by the Russians in 1944, Mr. Kiraly was sent to Siberia. He and two dozen of his men managed to escape from the train carrying them there and walked over the Carpathian Mountains back to Hungary. Mr. Kiraly was made a general in 1950 and appointed leader of the military academy in Budapest.

In 1951,
General Kiraly was arrested on charges of subversion, sedition and spying for the United States. (The charges are now widely believed to have been concocted by Hungary’s Stalinist leaders.) He was given a death sentence, later commuted to life at hard labor. In October 1956, General Kiraly was among the prisoners paroled by the Hungarian government in a futile effort to appease mounting popular unrest.

When the uprising started, General Kiraly was in a Budapest hospital. “I was skin and bones coming out of five years of imprisonment,” Agence France-Presse quoted him as saying in 2006. “I was far from being healed, so I had to slip out of the hospital because the doctors would not let me go.”

At the request of Imre Nagy, a liberal Communist who was Hungary’s prime minister from 1953 to 1955 — and who was returned to office at the start of the uprising — General Kiraly organized the loose confederation of students, workers and other insurgents into a well-oiled fighting force.

“In 24 hours, I created a professional military staff,” the general said in the Agence France-Presse interview.

But it was no match for the hundreds of Soviet tanks that rolled into Budapest on Nov. 4. Pursued by two tank divisions, General Kiraly and a small band of resistance fighters headed for Austria. As they approached the border, the general ordered his men to blow up a nearby ammunition dump. With the Soviet tanks enveloped in the resulting cloud of smoke, General Kiraly and his men slipped through the border fence.

General Kiraly made his way to the United States, where he remained for the next 33 years. In 1958, Mr. Nagy and other leaders of the uprising were executed by Hungary’s post-revolutionary government. Had General Kiraly returned, he would most likely have met the same fate.
There is a lot more, please read it all.

It is men like this that make you ask; "What have I really done with the life that I have been given?"

I used to be a regular at a small restaurant that was owned by a husband and wife team. He was an officer in the Hungarian Air Force and escaped after the fall. He told me almost all of the other officers in his unit were executed immediately after capture; he kept running, made it to Austria then the USA. He still proudly kept a picture of himself in uniform with him.

A proud people. As I said, I hope this century is better to the Hungarians than the last. 

At least they are trying.