Monday, November 30, 2015

Perhaps Equal Parts Spainish Civil War, 30-Years War, and Westeros

Not a new observation, but Ross Douthat over at NYT takes another swing of trying to understand what is going on in Syria, in part, by looking at the Spanish Civil War;
As with Spain, so now with Syria. Once again we have a divided country bled by an ideological proxy war — this time between the Salafism of the Gulf states and the Twelver Shi’ism of the Iranian regime, with other regional and global powers hovering in the background. Once again we have the escalating atrocities — chemical warfare, massacres and religious persecutions, the return of beheadings, slavery and crucifixion. Once again we have ideologically motivated volunteers rushing in from far and wide; once again we have liberal powers seemingly helpless to bring the conflict to an end. 
One reason Spain’s civil war ended quickly was the sheer effectiveness of the military aid the Axis powers sent to the nationalist cause. Spain proved (or seemed to prove) the effectiveness of total war as a tool of ideologically-motivated statecraft: The left was crushed, Franco’s regime established, and looking from afar Adolf Hitler could draw an obvious lesson for his own terrible ambitions.

In Syria, the lessons are very different. The war is endless, the factions barely competent, and neither of the main ideological forces invested in the conflict seem capable of actually winning it. The Iranian mullahs have helped President Bashar al-Assad survive, but not to prosper. The Gulf states have lost control over their own Sunni proxies, and now face an Islamic State that threatens them as well.
In line with the human cost of the Syrian Civil War, the economic infrastructure and  civilization are going backwards. You know that picture of N. Korea vs. S. Korea from space? Via The Economist at the link, they have a Syria before and after that describes another layer to the story.
The latest UN figures obtained by this newspaper (as yet unpublished) show that Syria’s population has shrunk to just 16.6m, down from a pre-war level of around 22m. With 4m UN-registered refugees abroad, at least 1m more unregistered and 7m internally displaced people, more than half the country’s population has been forced to move. UN officials think the number could be significantly higher than that, since estimates of the pre-war population vary widely. One indicator of this is satellite images of night-time electric-light intensity (evidence of human activity) which has fallen over 80% since the start of the war. Up to 250,000 people have died over the same period.
Though a useful reference point for further pondering, the Spanish Civil War is a limited benchmark. What is going on in Syria has become its own particular idiom.

There are no "good guys," there are just those who are either a threat to others, or not. The best thing for Syria is to contain the violence so the metastasized portion, ISIS, can be weakened and killed - and done in such a way that the violence does not spread. The difficult part of that is that if there is too much success against ISIS in Syria that is not matched by strength in Iraq, then the problem heads down river to Baghdad. That COA is another post for another day.

The only people worthy of our support are the Kurds, but that creates problems with Turkey, which ... well ... there you go. Foreign Entanglements and all that jazz.

If the Spanish Civil War does not quite inform sufficiently about Syria, what might add additional perspective? Let's look at another religious and ethnic war as a reference point. The 30-years War;
The Thirty Years War, a multifaceted and multinational political and military conflict that raged over central Europe between 1618 and 1648 has often been considered, at least in the scope of misery and destruction it brought to those experiencing it, as a disaster comparable to, if not greater than, the two world wars and the Black Death. The suffering and heroism of both the combatants and the hapless victims of the fighting has burned itself into the national literatures and historical consciousness of that age and those ages that follow. While information on the extent of the material losses is sketchy, recent scholarship estimates human casualties to be in excess of millions, or about 15 to 20 percent of the prewar population of the region.
Let's take the lower end of that number, 15%. A lot of that was assumed to be disease, something that we have not seen in Syria yet. Let's round that down a bit more to compensate for that, but give account for the fact that modern weapons are a bit more destructive. We'll make it 10%.

To get to the 30 Years War level in Syria, we need about 2.2 million dead. Between 9 to 10 times more death than we have had so far.

Yes, it can get worse. Smart money is that it will.

The model of complexity we are working with? Well ... review your Westeros.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fullbore Friday

A rerun of a traditional FbF for a post-traditional holiday ponder.

Though we covered her back in '06 very briefly, Sid's link to her damage report from the Third Battle of Savo Island during a previous FbF made me think she needs another look.

Review this FbF and then come back here and let' s look at things from the perspective of the USS SOUTH DAKOTA (BB-57).

Just one chapter;
On 11 November, South Dakota, as part of TF 16, sortied from Noumea for Guadalcanal. On 13 November, she joined battleship Washington (BB-56) and destroyers Preston (DD-379), Walke (DD-418), Benham (DD-397), and Gwin (DD-433) to form TF 64 under command of Rear Admiral W. A. Lee. The next evening at 2330, the force was operating 50 miles southwest of Guadalcanal when Lee learned that an enemy convoy was coming through the passage off Savo sometime between 0030 and 0230. This was Admiral Kondo's bombardment group consisting of battleship Kirishima; heavy cruisers Takao and Atago; and a destroyer screen.
Admiral Kondo's forces were divided into three sections: the bombardment group; a close screen of cruiser Nagara and six destroyers; and a distant screen of cruiser Sendai and three destroyers in the van of the other forces. A quarter moon assured good visibility. Three ships were visually sighted from the bridge of South Dakota, range 18,100 yards. Washington fired on the leading ship, thought to be a battleship or heavy cruiser; and, a minute later, South Dakota's main battery opened on the ship nearest to her. Both initial salvos started fires on the targets. South Dakota then fired on another target and continued firing until it disappeared from her radar screen. Turret No. 3-firing over her stern and demolishing her own planes in the process-opened on another target and continued firing until the target was thought to sink. Her secondary batteries were firing at eight destroyers close to the shore of Savo Island.

A short lull followed after which radar plot showed four enemy ships, just clear of the left tangent of Savo, approaching from the starboard bow; range 5,800 yards. Searchlights from the second ship in the enemy column illuminated South Dakota. Washington opened with her main battery on the leading, and largest, Japanese ship. South Dakota's secondary batteries put out the lights; and she shifted all batteries to bear on the third ship, believed to be a cruiser, which soon gushed smoke. South Dakota, which had
been under fire from at least three of the ships, had taken 42 hits which caused considerable damage. Her radio communications failed; radar plot was demolished; three fire control radars were damaged; there was a fire in her foremast; and she had lost track of Washington. As she was no longer receiving enemy fire and there were no remaining targets, she withdrew; met Washington at a prearranged rendezvous; and proceeded to Noumea. Of the American destroyers, only Gwin returned to port. The other three had been severely damaged early in the engagement. Walke and Preston were sunk. Benham had part of her bow blown off by a torpedo and, while en route to Noumea with the damaged Gwin as her escort, had to be abandoned. Gwin then sank her by gunfire. On the enemy side, hits had been scored on Takao and Atago; Kirishima and destroyer Ayanami, severely damaged by gunfire, were abandoned and scuttled.

UPDATE: Via Kevin, a nice link to the SD memorial in SD on GoogleEarth.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Return to Reason for Our Navy

I am pondering a shift in the conversation about the future of our fighting navy over the last year. 

I posted it over at USNI. Give it a read and let me know what you think?

The 1970s Navy ...

How much do you know about the Hairy Navy from the Vietnam War drawdown to the Iranian rescue attempt?

Make sure and listen to this week's Warrior Writers Podcast where we discuss the developments in our Navy and Marine Corps in the 1970s.

Joining me as always will be Naval Academy History Professor Emeritus and noted naval historian Dr. Craig Symonds, and Naval Academy Museum Director Claude Berube.

This episode is just one part of a 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.

The podcast coincides with the Naval Academy Museum exhibit: "Warrior Writers: The U.S. Naval Institute" open from September 10, 2015 through January 31, 2016.

You can listen to the episode below, get the full archive over at BTR, or better yet, subscribe to the show oniTunes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Russia vs. Turkey - this is where it gets stupid

As you may have gathered from my post 10-weeks ago, the greatest concern haunting the back of my mind with the goings on in Syria is the close proximity of Turkish and Russian forces.

There are centuries of "issues" between these two people, and neither one is known for assuming the best of those who may have made a mistake.

Well, this is what I will be watching all day;
The Turkish military said it shot down a likely Russian jet fighter that crossed into Turkish air space. Russia said that one of its jets had been downed in the region, but said that it had only flown over Syria.

The Turkish military said two of its F-16s shot down the jet fighter after it crossed into Turkish airspace and ignored 10 warnings in five minutes to return to Syrian airspace.

Turkish authorities didn’t give the nationality of the jet, but Russia separately said one of its jets had been downed, likely by shelling from the ground. Television footage showed a jet catching fire and crashing into the mountains along the Turkey-Syria border.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed its fighter was downed, adding that Moscow knew the aircraft was “certainly” in Syrian airspace, Interfax reported.

“It is a very serious incident,” he told journalists. He also said it was too early to predict what impact the downing of the plane could have on Russian-Turkish relations, which have been warm in recent years despite differences over their policies towards Syria.

The plane crashed on a part of the border where Russian and Syrian planes have been targeting Turkmen fighters, a group that has been seeking more support from Ankara in their fight against the Syrian regime.
That plane is a two person SU-24. It went down almost vertically in Syrian airspace. Here is the video of the shootdown;

The Turks have screwed up.

A few things before I head off to the paying gig;
1. Turkey initiated action against the Russians. They will run to NATO. How that will work out? Probably not in a way the Turks will like.
2. Reports differ if the Turkomen rebels have one or both Russian aviators from the SU-24. Regardless, watch how they are treated. If they are smart, they will turn them over, but being that Russia has been pounding them from the air, unlikely.
3. Russia will not leave this encounter as the "weak horse."

Interesting times.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Boeing Should Send Russia a Gift Basket

Remember the quaint little exercise we saw the mother country go through over the last few months?
In just a few weeks’ time, the government’s strategic defence and security review is expected to put the requirement for maritime patrol aircraft to protect the UK’s nuclear deterrent back on the list of spending priorities. With Russian submarines last year suspected of patrolling close to Faslane — the Scottish base for Britain’s Vanguard submarines carrying Trident nuclear missiles — the time has come to close the gap.
But the world’s defence industry is increasingly concerned that even before the government works out what the aircraft should do, the competition over who should build it has already been won.
Boeing, with its P-8 Poseidon aircraft operated by the US Navy and based on a 737 airliner, “would be considered the favourite”, said one Ministry of Defence source.
Royal Air Force crews are currently serving on US Poseidons, a decision taken after Nimrod was cancelled to maintain British expertise in maritime patrol. That, and the fact the P8 could be delivered quickly, has given Boeing a strong edge.

The global defence industry is resisting a Boeing shoo-in, however. Some of the world’s biggest defence companies last week called on Britain to pledge an open, transparent competition for a contract that could be worth £2bn.

“We need an objective capability assessment as to what the UK truly needs,” said Nicholas “Flash” Gordon, director international programmes for L-3, which is offering a variant of Bombardier’s Q400 regional turboprop aircraft against the P-8. “Is it protection of the deterrent, long range search and rescue, counter terrorism or all of these?”

Keith Muir, business development manager of Lockheed Martin, said: “We would very much like to see that it is a fair competition.”

Lockheed argues its proposal would be significantly cheaper, as it is based on converting the Hercules C-130 transporter already operated by the RAF.

Airbus, Finmeccanica, Saab and even Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries are all hoping for a chance to compete with widely differing proposals. Northrop Grumman is lobbying hard for its unmanned version, in use by the US Navy.
Economics, foodtroughism, or military requirements; which would win the day?
But there may be even more pressing political imperatives. Boeing’s rivals point out that the P-8, with barely 5 per cent of its content by value sourced in the UK, hardly fits with the government’s prosperity agenda.

Mr Fallon was clear last week: “The government’s priority is to boost our export successes in what is an increasingly competitive [defence] marketplace.”

Lockheed claims its converted Hercules C-130 would have as much as 80 per cent UK content by value. It would also enhance the UK’s defence sovereignty by using mission systems developed in Britain for the Merlin anti-submarine helicopter, argued Mr Muir.

“Ours allows the customer more freedom through life for upgrading, without referring back to the US,” he said. “We will be able to turn that round into UK exports.”

L-3 says that up to 40 per cent of the value of its maritime patrol offer would be UK sourced, if servicing were included, and Airbus puts its British content at 50 per cent.

People familiar with Boeing’s proposal acknowledge that this is a concern for the P-8. The group is believed to be considering the addition of certain UK sourced sonar sensors to increase the proportion of British content. It could also promise to maintain and service in the UK Poseidons sold to other European countries, providing work to British technicians.

That recognition, more than any cries of foul play from defence rivals, suggests that the political mood could be shifting.

“Will jobs, growth and UK exports be one of the major drivers of the programme?”
Well, in come the Russians to supply some clarity.
A feather of disturbed water was all it took to reveal the presence of a Russian submarine off the west coast of Scotland.

Betrayed by its high-powered periscope, the vessel then disappeared, triggering a fruitless search that sent all manner of unwelcome messages to the Westminster Government.

Firstly, it is a reminder that the UK's armed forces lack a suitable maritime patrol aircraft after scrapping the Nimrod equivalent in 2011 and, secondly, the uncompromising message that Russia has the capacity to mount aggressive Cold War-style reconnaissance missions unhindered against Nato countries will have been noted in London.

The first issue was resolved by Nato allies sending their aircraft to Scotland to join the hunt. They included two US navy P-3 Orions, a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora and a Dassault Atlantique 2 of the French navy - but the problem of Russian aggression will be less easily resolved. Ever since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in 2012 he has made it his business to keep Nato on its toes by using his armed forces to further Russian interests across the world.
The UK made the right call.
The Prime Minister will announce a £178 billion investment in defence equipment and support over the next decade when he unveils the government’s 5 year National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security review in the House of Commons later today.

The £12 billion uplift in funding will be focused on investments that will help to ensure the UK can respond to diverse threats in an increasingly dangerous and uncertain world. These will include:

Nine new Boeing P8 maritime patrol aircraft for maritime surveillance, anti-submarine and anti-surface ship warfare will increase further the protection of our nuclear deterrent and our new aircraft carriers. These roles require an aircraft that can carry torpedoes, as well as being fitted with a broad range of sensors, including radar and sonobuoys, which are operated from the rear of the cabin by a team of specialists. These aircraft will also provide maritime search and rescue and surveillance capabilities over land.
They need capability now as they are reminded that they are the “UK” in the GI-UK gap.

They have the crews to start things moving, now they just need the aircraft.
P-8A 431 might be a U.S. Navy airplane, but on the April 7 flight, the crew was from elsewhere.

Two Royal Air Force officers sat at the controls, and their British crew of six warfare operators — four airmen and two officers — worked the stations in the back, dropping sonobuoys and listening for the churning of a submarine.

The April 7 flight wasn’t their first attempt to take part in the competition. A flight the day before ended abruptly when smoke was smelled in the cockpit.

“It was quite frustrating to have to just turn around and land,” said Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Mark Faulds, one of the pilots.

Their luck turned 180 degrees the next day, when they spotted the periscope and tracked the submerged sub for a couple of hours, launching four simulated attacks.

“We really felt like we nailed it,” said Faulds, whose crew serves as instructors at Patrol Squadron 30. “We don’t get to operate as a crew much these days, so it’s nice to get out there and actually do the mission we’re here teaching others to do — nice to know we’ve still got it.”
Though stationed at the Jacksonville-based VP-30 and spending most of their time teaching new U.S. P-8 crews how to fly and fight, the reason Faulds and his compatriots are stationed here is to help the Royal Air Force maintain its maritime patrol tactics.

The RAF has maritime patrol crews but no maritime patrol aircraft to fly. Their last patrol platform — the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod — left service in 2010.

Since then, they’ve farmed out many of their crews overseas, to the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“We’re being called ‘seed corn,’ ” said Sgt. Steve Dixon, one of the crew’s enlisted warfare operators and a 24-year RAF veteran. “It’s wonderful that our leadership sees the value in retaining our skills, because it’s the kind of thing that’s very perishable.”

None of the crew could say what kind of aircraft the RAF might buy — or when.

American patrol pilots and operators train up and progress in their careers as individuals. But in the RAF, these crews train and stay together for much longer periods of time — a model that may have borne out in the results.

“It’s really a fantastic honor for us to even compete in the competition, let alone win,” said Faulds, whose rank is equivalent to a U.S. Navy O-4, after his crew received top honors. “It’s not like we ran away with it — from what I understand, the scoring was very close.”

For his part, Faulds credited their success to the state-of-the-art systems on the P-8. He and his team will be in the U.S. until 2016. They plan to be back next year to defend their title.
Just to be petty; if the UK is going to buy some P-8, can we contract build a dozen Type-26 frigates? OK, we'll build 8 if you want to be cheap.

Oh and Boeing ... you need to up your game. No pics of a P-8 in RAF colors? I have to deal with a model builder for my pic? Harumph.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Procurement, strategy, and the choices we make, with Robert Farley - on Midrats

This Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern we are going to look at the big pixels that supports the entire national security infrastructure above it.

Using his recent article in The National Interest, The Real Threat to America's Military (And It's Not China, Russia or Iran), we will tackle the greatest challenge of a world power - those things it has no one else to blame for.

Procurement, strategy, and the choices we make. The run of the last 30 years of weapons development and strategic foresight has not been a very good one. Why?

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, November 20, 2015

Fullbore Friday

In a moment, character is demonstrated. What more is there to say about men like Ludo Boumbas? His actions speak all we need to know.
A woman who survived the Paris massacre thanks to the hero of La Belle Equipe café who turned himself into a human shield and took a bullet for her is in hospital so traumatised she keeps repeating her saviour’s name.

Chloe Clement was inside the café celebrating a friend's 35th birthday when it was struck by a hail of bullets during Friday night's carnage.

The happy occasion became a nightmare when two gunmen opened fire and her friends and colleagues began falling dead around her.

As Chloe stood frozen in the middle of the slaughter, her friend Ludo Boumbas threw himself in between her and the gunman.

Ludo sacrificed himself, but Chloe survived the deadly assault with a bullet wound to the arm.
She now lies in a hospital bed, remembering her many friends and colleagues who died during the birthday celebrations.

'She was on morphine and was in shock. She would barely speak,' said the manager of Café des Anges, 27-year-old Virgile Grunberg, who went to visit Chloe in hospital.
'She felt guilty because Ludovic died for her. She just kept repeating his name again and again.' 

Ludo's family have hailed his selfless bravery and called him 'a hero'.
An unnamed friend told MailOnline: 'Ludo threw himself forward to protect a girl and took the bullet. 
'She was also shot, but she survived and is in hospital. 
'He loved travelling the world and above all he loved people. He was just one of life's good, good people. He didn't stand a chance.' 

Ludo, who worked in systems solutions for FedEX, was also at the birthday party of waitress Houda Saadi when gunmen dressed in bullet proof vests moved in.
The majority of the 19 victims at the café were from the birthday celebrations.
Five members of staff from a cafe called the 'Café of Angels', were wiped out in the tragedy together with six of their friends.
Read the full article and ponder the evil we are facing. To avoid looking at it, many are enjoying the petty political rabbit holes they are jumping down - showing more anger at those of the other political party than at those who want nothing more than destory even the simple pleaseures of Western Civilization.

Ponder, but then think again of Ludo and men like him. They are all around us, and we are lucky to have them. 

When our times comes to be measured by our actions, may we at least have a shadow of the character he displayed.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

So, you want to troll Pakistan?

This is how you troll Pakistan.
According to a report in a leading Indian daily, Afghanistan has asked India to step up supplies of lethal equipment for its military. The request seems to have been made by Afghanistan’s national security advisor, Hanif Atmar, who visited New Delhi this week.

Atmar asked India for training equipment, air and ground mobility assets, engineering infrastructure and light infantry, sources said.
That will do it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Unsettled by the gathering quiet

Feel that those who should be telling our story, should be informing the public, should be raising our profile ... aren't?

Do you feel that those who do speak are speaking about the wrong things? Are going places first that should be 5th or 6th? That things are being not so much taken for granted, but held in slightly embarrassed disdain? 

In a mildly nicer way, I'm discussing over at USNIBlog. Please stop by and comment with your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

In Germany, a flag re-appears

Perhaps just a historian's itch, but I am always trying to see what is going on in Germany under the surface. In spite of having spent years of my life soaking in their culture, I could never get their language, their food always left me sluggish, and their culture ... well ... just German. The only thing I got from them that stuck was a distinct dislike of bad beer.

In spite of my shortcomings, I have still been trying to keep at least a bit of my time trying to track the German response to the Paris attacks. As others have observed, there is a good chance that real civil unrest against the invasion of military aged men from Syria will break out in the open in Germany first.

With the toxic cocktail that the Merkel led government has created, not a bad bet.

In any event, what I thought was just a bad color exposure on the Norwegian flag for some reason flying in German marches early on in the year, in this article from the DailyMailUK ostensibly about France's Le Pen, they cover a bit about the latest marches in Dresden from the growing German protest party PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident), in German (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes).

Nordic cross in German colors ... wait ... I know that flag ... and then it hit me.

That is the flag of two of my heroes; Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Colonel Claus Philipp Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg.

That is the Josef Wirmer flag. The flag of the German resistance in 1944.

I guess that this is progress for marches of the "far-right" in Germany. No more crypto-nazi or Imperial German flags. No, the flag of the only real German resistance to Hitler in WWII. Led by the only people who resisted him, the old established elite families and the non-Communist/Socialist/SDP center-left like Wirmer.

Meaning? Not sure, but as PEGIDA has in a way adopted it, makes one want to keep a closer eye.

I have some concerns about PEGIDA, but what are the Germans who love their nation and its culture to do? The SDP won't help them, they see all these new people dependent on government handouts as potential voters like all Socialist parties in the West do - including the American Democrat Party. The CDU won't do anything as long as Merkel is in power, and the CSU is in Bavaria. The Greens are as worthless as those musty ex-Communists in Die Linke. Other right to center-right parties? ALFA I don't know much about. AfD is ineffectual, and the party I would have been a member of most of my life if I were German, the FDP - well, it has kind of imploded over the last decade on par with the Walker run for President of the USA.

Germany. Always watch Germany.

Monday, November 16, 2015

... and then there was Paris

No thinking person on either side of the Atlantic should have been surprised by the attack in Paris. There were simply another in a line of smaller attacks on France this year. This one just was better manned, trained, and equipped than the others.

For decades, despite evidence and experience, Europe in general and France in particular has allowed the continued immigration of a people who do not, as a body, assimilate and are hostile to their host culture. They do not wish to become part of it; they first want to feed off it it, then destroy then replace it.

There are individual exceptions to that general fact, but the exception does not disprove the larger reality. Just wander the streets in Malmo, Rotterdam, Brussels, and on the edges of Paris, London, Frankfurt ... I could go on and on. It is all there for those who are brave enough to see it.

The violence that is coming with this mindless openness to invasion is just a natural byproduct of the source nations’ culture. It is compounded by the fact that we are in a waxing phase of Islam that is characterized by radicalism and violence - as have other waxing phases Islam through history. Their religion calls for it, and when the moment is right, the call is answered by millions. Always has been, always will be.

There will be more attacks, and deadlier attacks. Most will be in Europe because they have more "water" that the terrorist "fish" can swim in. They will attack again here as well. Never be shocked, but ask - will the politicians take serious action this time, or will they simply make their decisions based on what those self-preening leftists who live behind gated communities and secure walls will write about them, and hopefully will invite them to all the right parties and conferences.

I will repeat this often; nations and cultures are not required to commit suicide – no to allow leaders to drive them in that direction.

As for France's response to this attack, we should give them time. Though initial reactions are strong, history tells us not to expect much follow through.

The attacks on Madrid in 2004 only resulted in Spain doing exactly what the terrorists wanted - they withdrew from being a surprisingly strong leader in the war against Islamic radicalism. They voted Socialist and that produced the expected result, as always.

The London attacks of 2007 resulted in little more than a horrible eye sore of a memorial in Hyde Park that generations that follow will despise their ancestors from putting up.

France has the lead on how they want to respond, and we should do all we should to support and encourage them - but there are some structural items that should dampen anyone who is hoping for a vigorous response from the West.

1. France is led by the Socialist Party. Faster than any other party, after the initial cohesion, Socialist parties will soon fracture as their anti-war and petty internal politics start to disaggregate a united front. Hollande may try to rally his party to the flag, but it won't have much sticking power.

2. The USA is led by Barak Obama. His presence and leadership in such matters are a powerful as soaking wet Wonder Bread. France has limited ability to do much expeditionary by itself in Syria without USA standing shoulder to shoulder. France's only other option is Russia. That would be if France's Socialist government wants to do anything but a month of posturing and lobbing a dozen bombs every other day for a week or so. One would hope we would act shoulder to shoulder with France, but hope is not a plan and Obama’s Biden-spun track record is clear.

3. It will need to get worse until it gets better. Europe still has not come to terms with the army of hundreds of thousands of military aged young men from the radicalized Islamic world who are already inside her borders - with thousands of more coming every day. This is what you need to watch. Until they start taking measures to stop and reverse the flow - and sharply reduce incentives for more to come - then they can do all they want in Syria, the terrorist threat will only grow.

The primary responsibility of government is to protect its citizens. Especially in densely populated Europe with already high structural unemployment, the role of government is not to let hundreds of thousands of non-citizen, undereducated, unemployable, radicalized, young men of military age from a violent, misogynist rape culture soak in their cities to live off of public welfare. Governments that intentionally tax their citizens, and create a less safe environment for their citizens will not last.

In the political elite's desire to have all the usual leftist media, arts, and organizations say nice things about them, they are creating the conditions for strife, violence, and civic disharmony. For years, the European people have been looking for establishment politicians to listen and act on their concerns. That cry is getting louder. If it continues to be unanswered, the people will turn to anti-establishment politicians. Those will be outside the center-right and center-left consensus that has ruled Europe since WWII. Since the self-loathing voter-importing left actually has been the driving force in supporting the policies that created the situation they find themselves in, that means the people cannot find their answers in the left. If the center right will not provide it, then the people will continue to search the radical fringe.

Maybe the French Socialist government will prove me wrong, but I'm willing to bet not. One thing I do know, there will be more and deadlier attacks, and more people will wonder - when will the governments react to protect their people?

What must be done? Simple, really. Two things must be done in parallel;

- First, help the Arab world and the Muslim world host their own refugees. 
- Next, stop all refugee migration and return those who have already arrived. 

Europe will have their hands full the rest of this century with native born radicals, there is no reason to make it worse by importing more.

For the USA? Learn from Europe. Act accordingly.

UPDATE: No comment needed.

Warrior Writers: 1960s

Make sure and listen to this week's Warrior Writers Podcast where we discuss the developments in our Navy and Marine Corps in the 1960s.

Joining me as always will be Naval Academy History Professor Emeritus and noted naval historian Dr. Craig Symonds, and Naval Academy Museum Director Claude Berube.

This episode is just one part of a 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.

The podcast coincides with the Naval Academy Museum exhibit: "Warrior Writers: The U.S. Naval Institute" open from September 10, 2015 through January 31, 2016.

You can listen to the episode below, get the full archive over at BTR, or better yet, subscribe to the show on iTunes.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Claude Berube and his new novel, Syren's Song, this Sunday on Midrats

This Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern for the full hour our guest will be author Claude Berube to discuss his second Connor Stark novel, Syren's Song. From the Amazon page;
"Syren's Song is the second novel featuring Connor Stark, and it promises to be just as engaging asThe Aden Effect. This geopolitical thriller begins when the Sri Lankan navy is unexpectedly attacked by a resurgent and separatist Tamil Tiger organization. The government issues a letter of marque to former U.S. Navy officer Connor Stark, now the head of the private security company Highland Maritime Defense. Stark and his eclectic compatriots accept the challenge only to learn that the Sea Tigers who crippled the Sri Lankan navy are no ordinary terrorists."
We will also discuss the craft of writing, how emerging real world events can influence the writing of fiction, and as we usually do with Claude, perhaps some other interestiing topics that crop up in the course of our conversation.

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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday Music Stop

I'm still pondering the attacks in Paris. I've done a little on twitter, and less of FB.

I think I want to bring something here from FB, as I used to do a music bit most Saturdays.

As if we need any more reason to hate terrorists, maybe this will help some understand the mindest of evil.

Most people have heard that the largest death toll in Paris was in a concert hall where and American band was playing. It was the band, "Eagles of Death Metal." The people who were slaughtered were the types who would go see a band like this. My people.

The civilian types who just want to live their lives and listen to their eclectic bands. You know, they type we wear/wore the uniform to defend. In a way, when the enemy kills them, we have failed in our job.

It won't let me embedd it, but if you click here, you can see them from 2011 live with Leno. The next video is of some of their more recent work.

Slaughtered by religious fanatics just because you wanted to see a quirky American band. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fullbore Friday

Training? Instinct?

No. Character.

Groberg's mission on Aug. 8, 2012, seemed clear cut: escort then-Col. James Mingus, who is now a brigadier general, as well as some high ranking Afghanistan leaders to attend a Kunar province security meeting with an Afghan provincial governor.

He'd done these kinds of escort missions before, usually without a hitch.

But that day was different. Things felt "eerie" and "odd".

He and Sgt. 1st Class Brian Brink, who was also part of the escort mission, shared that sense of foreboding.

Their hunch proved right when several motorcycles whipped around a corner. The riders approached in the direction of the unit then got off the bikes and seemed to leave.

Then Groberg saw a man on his left walking backwards toward them. When the man turned around, Groberg noticed he was wearing a vest.

Groberg quickly assessed the situation and realized "he's the threat." He couldn't shoot the man because he didn't know the full scope of the situation, plus the man was armed.

"So I hit him," Groberg said adding that he pushed the man further away and grabbed the man by the vest. He and Sgt. Andrew Mahoney tackled him as well in an attempt to get him away from the rest of the detail.

Sometime during this skirmish, the man's vest detonated. Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray and Ragaei Abdelfattah, a U.S. Agency for International Development foreign service officer, were all killed in the blast.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Diversity Thursday

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you have been watching this week nothing that should be a surprise to those who regularily suffer through Thursdays with me each week.

The Diversity Industry, Social Justice Warriors and their ilk live to feed their own insecutities and hate by. They have jobs and PhD dissertations to justify. They have power to grab - but more than anything else, they want to take out their own self-loathing on others ... and keep a paycheck.

On campuses, a captive an easily manipulated student body are the perfect cannon fodder for their campaign of self-promotion.

The more our society in general becomes a more inclusive place, the harder they drive to split people apart, to keep hate alive. They lie, they create their alternative universe of perception and promote their Potemkin villages.

They must be continually exposed. They need to be opposed. You can not placate them. They will continue to expand and dominate institutions. They will not be sated. When you give them space, they only want more. One thing they cannot survive however, is light and fresh air.

They have wrapped themselves in the words and titles of once honorable struggles, but they have morphed them in to totalitarian movements focused on power.

They will do all they can do destroy that which gets in their way.

As we have documented through the years, our Navy budget feeds this industry of sectarianism and division.

If you think people like Melissa Click and her toxic world view are only peddling their socio-political worldview at civilian institutions - you could not be more wrong.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Karyn Sproles
Date: Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at [redacted]
Subject: Safe Spaces Workshop Dec 11
To: [redacted]

The Center for Teaching & Learning will hold the next Safe Spaces Workshop on Dec 11, 2015 from 0900 to 1200 in Nimitz 122
The Safe Spaces Program is a visual network of support for the GLB community. Its primary mission is to create a safe, more inclusive environment on campus and encourage networking among faculty, staff, and students. The workshop provides an opportunity to examine assumptions about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and allied people and explore the impact of heterosexism and homophobia. All interested faculty, staff and midshipmen are invited to attend.

Places are limited and reservations are required. Reserve your space at:

Karyn Z. Sproles, PhD
Director, Center for Teaching and Learning
US Naval Academy
Annapolis, MD 21402

What great academic background does Karyn bring to USNA? Well, she has a book out, Desiring Women: The Partnership of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, you can google the rest.

So, we are going to create a Gay, Lesbian, and bisexual networking group for faculty, staff, and students. As social structure based around sexual desire that includes faculty, staff, and students? By all means, let's further encourage division and cliques. What could go wrong?

Those poor Midshipmen. They are having to deal with this after a visit by, well ... bask in it;
Biden visited the U.S. Naval Academy Monday as his first stop on a tour to promote the "It's on us" public awareness campaign, a White House task force initiative urging students to get more involved in sexual assault prevention. This week, he will also visit Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, and Morehouse College in Atlanta.

"'No' means 'No,' whether in the street or in your bed," Biden said to midshipmen before leading a roundtable discussion with a few select students, faculty and staff. "Proceed from there. It is a crime, it is rape or assault, period."

The Naval Academy had 23 reports of sexual assault during the 2013-2014 school year, the most since the Department of Defense began reporting on sexual misconduct at military academies nearly a decade ago. Meanwhile, an anonymous survey found fewer midshipmen on the Yard experienced unwanted sexual contact and harassment. Academy officials have interpreted the increase in reports, coupled with the survey findings, as a positive shift: Students may be feeling more comfortable speaking out about sexual misconduct when it occurs.
saying it was a "matter of honor" not to tolerate sexual harassment and assaults within the military.

In his remarks Monday, the vice president elaborated on that point, pressing midshipmen to stand up for others and choose to intervene rather than be a bystander. Biden reminded the students that without consent, sexual contact is a crime.

Often the abuse, he said, is not about sex but power. Midshipmen who will one day serve as military officers must recognize they have a responsibility to protect the men and women with whom they serve, Biden said, including against sex crimes that may occur within the ranks.
"Sexual violence is the only equal opportunity employer," Biden said. "It occurs in the wealthiest communities and the poorest communities. It occurs on campuses with the highest SAT scores as well as the lowest SAT scores. It occurs in campuses where you do not wear a uniform and where a uniform is worn."
Hmmmm. Something in this article gave me pause.
"Midshipman 2nd Class Shaquil Keels sits on a national student board for the "It's on us" campaign. Keels said he decided to engage in the issue for personal reasons. During his junior year in high school, he said, a close friend told him a teacher had sexually assaulted her."
Wait ... that that was what, no more than five years ago? No, less than that. Based on this article, it would have been three years ago in 2012.

There is a story of action that needs to be told as a benchmark in how to hold abusers accountable. When did he go to the police? I would love to hear the details about how the school system responded to such an assault and that lessons can be brough in from that.

If not, ummm, is this teacher still at Randolph Techical High School? Was this ever reported to the school? Would the Philly police like to know about a pedophile in the teaching profession? I don't think the statute of limitations is up. 

Oh for the love of Pete. The Salamander underground is in a tizzy. Some day I am going to have to introduce all ya'll to each other.

As I am typing this out, this gets slipped under the door. Well, Biden was at USNA on Monday, eh? That was the 9th. Well, lookie what the USNA PAO put out on the 6th.

As for the timing - we all know how long it takes to put something like this together.

Just ponder that.

Keep it up. Keep letting this socio-political cadre grow.  Let them continue to justify their paychecks by smearing the reputation of your MIDN and encouraging those prone to persecution complexes. We know where that leads.

The farce at Mizzou and Yale? It will come to Annapolis. Annapolis is better than that, and our Midshipmen and their Navy deserve better.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Responsibility of Power

For senior leaders, what responsibility do they have for the truth? Where is the line between supporting your senior civilian leaders, avoiding political entanglements, and also being able to maintain your credibility by telling the truth?

Two recent examples, one that was required and runs right up to the line, and the other somewhere in the middle.

First, over to the UK;
Jeremy Corbyn has accused the chief of the defence staff of political bias after he criticised the Labour leader's anti-nuclear stance.

Gen Sir Nicholas Houghton told the BBC's Andrew Marr that refusing to launch nuclear weapons would "seriously undermine" Britain's "deterrent".

And he said he would be worried if such a view "translated into power".

Mr Corbyn called on the defence secretary to "take action" against Sir Nicholas over his comments.
Watch the full video, and judge for yourself.

General Houghton only spoke truth. He was clear and direct, and knew he was close to the line - but when it comes to the truth in such serious areas, that is a hill worth dying on.

You can also see an example, this time of an American Admiral who, with easier questions and a bit more hedging, does what a senior leader in the military of a representative republic does - answers a question in a relatively honest way that passes the smell test.

I think he went a bit to far and a bit outside his lane by affirming the nuclear deal, (he could have left that out) but I'll give him a pass as the line is fuzzy, and he made the call as he saw fit;
"We're still concerned about Iran's behavior overall. Positive about the nuclear agreement, but concerned ... about some of their malign behavior related to other things unrelated to the nuclear issue," he said.

Aside from the nuclear negotiations, "I don't know that we've seen a change in behavior," he added, speaking aboard a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol plane on display at the biennial show.
"The behavior we've seen is about what we've come to expect," he said. "They'll like to intercept our ships, especially the combatants, as they're going through the straits or in other places in the Gulf. They like to show that they can shoot weapons when they're in proximity."

In the heavily trafficked Strait of Hormuz, Iranian vessels have occasionally approached commercial ships passing through and told them they must fly an Iranian flag to ensure their safe passage, Donegan added.
About the same as the last Strait passage I did in '99. Routine. Anyone who expected Iran to act differently post-agreement, is a fool.

We need General and Flag officers who are willing to engage on the topics that involve our national defense, even if it does upset one political party or another. General Shinseki, USA (Ret) set another honorable example prior to the invasion of Iraq.

Responsibility of power is not just for the civilian leaders who lead our nations. It also applies to people with 3 or 4-stars who might find themselves in a place where they can sell their soul a bit, or just put out the truth in a respectful way and let history judge.

Monday, November 09, 2015

The Scots-Irish and the Battle for the Mind of the Army

As James Webb put it well, the Scots-Irish were "Born Fighting." In the American context, if ultimately Ulsterman or not, if you have a "Mc" - culturally you are probably part of the gaggle even if you don't want to be.

If you have a problem with that, we can take it outside once I finish my drink.

If you really wanted to do something interesting in the study of race and ethnicity beyond the anti-intellectual exercise of 1970s theory as practiced by the DOD diversity industry, you would pull the thread on an ethnic group just as distinct as Nixon's "hispanics" (Webb has mostly done it, but more can be done) - just doesn't have its own paternalistic recognition month. That OK, they are used to being looked at as peasants anyway, and generally thinking, they wouldn't take kindly of being treated as a special snowflake anyway. That is an weak-livered English concept. 

There is a reason that the Commander of ISAF/US Forces in AFG was McNeil, then McKiernan, then McChyrstal ... but let's get back to the topic at hand.

I was reminded of this when reading Mark Perry's bit over at Politico, Inside the Pentagon’s fight over Russia. It is full of Scots-Irish posturing at each other, throwing barbs, and generally looking for a fight. In this case; Macgregor, McMaster, and McCain.

It has to do with what army that we need, not particularly what we may want - and the ideas and views that are shaping the argument;
For those villagers eagerly snapping pictures on the side of a road in the Czech Republic in late September, the appearance of the line of U.S. “Stryker” armored fighting vehicles must have seemed more like a parade than a large-scale military operation. The movement of some 500-plus soldiers of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment from Vilsack in Bavaria to a Hungarian military base was intended to strengthen U.S. ties with the Czech, Slovak and Hungarian militaries and put Russia’s Vladimir Putin on notice.
But not everyone is convinced. “This Stryker parade won’t fool anyone in Moscow,” says retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor. “The Russians don’t do many things well, but they have been subverting, destabilizing, invading and conquering their neighbors since Peter the Great. And what’s our response: a small unit of light armored trucks.”
... an intense debate inside the Pentagon over the appropriate response to the Kremlin’s new, not-so-friendly global profile — and over the future of the U.S. Army. And now the debate has spread to Capitol Hill: later this week the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing addressing the same issue.

Ironically, this Washington war of ideas has pitted against each other two brainy career Army officers who fought together in one of the most famous battles of modern times.

On one side is Macgregor, an outspoken and controversial advocate for reform of the Army — whose weapons he describes as “obsolescent,” its senior leaders as “self-interested,” and its spending as “wasteful.” Viewed by many of his colleagues as one of the most innovative Army officers of his generation, Macgregor, a West Point graduate with a Ph.D. in international relations (“he can be pretty gruff,” a fellow West Point graduate says, “but he’s brilliant”), led the 2nd Cav’s “Cougar Squadron” in the best-known battle of Operation Desert Storm in February 1991. In 23 minutes, Macgregor’s force destroyed an entire Iraqi Armored Brigade (including nearly 70 Iraqi armored vehicles), while suffering a single American casualty.
In the wake of the battle, however, Macgregor calculated that if his unit had fought a highly trained and better armed enemy, like the Russians, the outcome would have been different. So, four years later, he published a book called Breaking The Phalanx, recommending that his service “restructure itself into modularly organized, highly mobile, self-contained combined arms teams.” The advice received the endorsement of then-Army Chief of Staff Dennis Reimer, who ordered that copies of Macgregor’s book be provided to every Army general.
... the crux of Macgregor’s argument: Today the U.S. Army is comprised of BCTs rather than Reconnaissance Strike Groups, or RSGs, which is Macgregor’s innovation. Macgregor’s RSG shears away what he describes as “the top-heavy Army command structure” that would come with any deployment in favor of units that generate more combat power. “Every time we deploy a division we deploy a division headquarters of 1,000 soldiers and officers,” Macgregor explains. “What a waste; those guys will be dead within 72 hours.” Macgregor’s RSG, what he calls “an alternative force design,” does away with this Army command echelon, reporting to a joint force commander — who might or might not be an Army officer. An RSG, Macgregor says, does not need the long supply tail that is required of Brigade Combat Teams — it can be sustained with what it carries from ten days to two weeks without having to be resupplied.

Macgregor’s views line him up against Lt. General H.R. McMaster, an officer widely thought of as one of the Army’s best thinkers. McMaster fought under Macgregor at “73 Easting,” where he commanded Eagle Troop in Macgregor’s Cougar Squadron. McMaster, however, had more success in the Army than Macgregor, is a celebrated author (of Dereliction of Duty, a classic in military history), and is credited with seeding the Anbar Awakening during the Iraq War.
The military is taking Macgregor’s challenge seriously, in part because the retired colonel has spurred interest in his reform ideas from one of the most important players in the defense community, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain. McCain was said to be impressed after Macgregor and Admiral Mark Fitzgerald briefed him on the new force design last January 17, telling his staff to set up briefings for Macgregor with other senators. Then, in September, after Macgregor’s simulations were completed, he briefed senior Senate Armed Services staffers, arguing that replacing BCTs with RSGs would make Army formations more lethal and eliminate the budget redundancies in the current system, with potential savings of tens of billions of dollars.
That is just a taste. Read it all.

It does have me wondering about who in our Navy is engaging in these deep, structural discussions about needs, wants, and the requirements the world presents us. The closest we have in the open, for now, is the Hendrix-McGrath ongoing creative friction on the role of the big-deck carrier.

Hey, McGrath ... a good Scot-Irish name, or just Irish. Matters not. This Hendrix guy? Hmmm ... sound like a gene pool with a prediction for wooden shoes, bad food, good cheese, and legal vices ... almost English ... but we'll take him.

If you are so interested, we interviewed Douglas Macgregor on Midrats back in 2010. He has been at this awhile.