Friday, July 29, 2016

Fullbore Friday

HMS Nelson. One of the more curious, no, the most curious Battleship classes (2) ever built. The first thing that comes to mind is "Shipmate, where is your stern?" If it looks like a ship built by committee, well that is because it is. A product of The Washington Treaty, "compromises" were made. Though it was the only RN ship with 16" guns, the ship herself was a tad slow, and once the war was done - like the rest of the RN Battleships - off to the breakers she went. Best pictures here. Other sites here and here.

Orig. posted 16JUN06.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Want a Constitutional Crisis? It's Just a Touch Screen Away

Outside of snarky comments on twitter, unlike most other election seasons, I have mostly kept politics out of the Front Porch here as an above-the-fold topic. It isn’t so much that I am trying to avoid politics, it is just a byproduct of what the American public has decided it wants to have as our choices. I stood athwart the tracks and yelled, “Stop!” – but it didn’t. I’m not going to get run over by the train, I’m not going to hop on the train, I am just going to step to the side of the tracks and wait for the wreck.

All that being said, I love our republic, its Constitution and the flawed perfection of our experiment in self-government – or what is left of it at least.

Central to this is confidence in and accuracy of our ballot box. There are powerful people in both parties who don’t care about that. They are only interested in winning. I have seen nations with no history of representative government who fully understand voter fraud and take steps to prevent it – down to dye on finger tips and close accounting of each and every ballot and box. We, as a whole, don’t.

We assume a lot in our nation – and refuse to see that we have a history of voter fraud and people who actively support it. No serious historian in 2016 denies that the 1960 election was not won by voter fraud – specifically in Illinois – that threw the election to JFK. Likewise, it is clear that in many urban centers where one candidate gets over 100% of the vote, we have a problem. Ballots by mail are another problem area, among others.

In our drive to make voting “easy” we have made voter fraud “easy.” It is an unattractive blight on our nation’s honor. Our reliance on simple computer systems seems “modern” but is actually just an enabler to old school corruption.

People who oppose common sense voter ID requirements are only supporters or useful idiots of those who commit voter fraud. They don’t care about representative government – they are only concerned with gaining and using power.

Along those lines I draw your attention to what I consider the most important domestic topic this year; Glenn Reynolds make the call that everyone from a Bernie supporter to a Huckabee supporter needs to listen to;
As disruptive as the DNC email release has been, there’s room for something much worse: A foreign government could hack voting machines, shut down election computers, or delete or alter voter registration information, turning Election Day into a snarled mess and calling the results into question regardless of who wins.

Worse yet, hackers are already working on this.

Voting systems rely on trust. Voters have to trust that their own vote is recorded and counted accurately; they also have to trust that the overall count is accurate, and that only eligible voters are allowed to vote. (When an ineligible voter casts a vote, it cancels out the vote of a legitimate voter every bit as much as if his or her ballot had simply been shredded.)

The problem is that electronic systems — much less the Internet-based systems that some people are talking about moving to — can’t possibly provide that degree of reliability. They’re too easy to hack, and alterations are too easy to conceal. If the powers-that-be can’t protect confidential emails, or government employees’ security information, then they can’t guarantee the sanctity of voting systems.

Paper ballots may seem old-fashioned, but an emphasis on computers just for technology’s sake reminds me of stories about housewives in the 1950s who preferred canned vegetables to fresh ones because canned food seemed more modern. Just because a technology is newer doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better.

Voting machines, of course, generate lucrative government contracts for equipment and support that can be awarded to favored companies, while paper ballots only require a printing press. But if we’re really worried about foreign interference in American elections — and the evidence suggests that we ought to be — then we should be willing to make this change.

Worried about foreign hacking? Then you should support paper ballots, an idea whose time has come again. And it’s only three months until November.

Do you want a constitutional crisis? You want millions marching in the streets? Have an election thrown in to doubt because of hacking? Go ahead, ignore Glenn’s warning.

Hat tip Peggy Noonan.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Knowing and Glowing

So, nuclear weapon and nuclear power. 

Need another pick-me-up topic?

I'm discussing a little dystopia over at USNIBlog. 

Come on by and bring your own flop sweat.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

By All Means, Let's Talk About Your Networked Force

Hindsight is a funny thing; it can make a genius look like an idiot, the masses blind, conventional wisdom ossified, a minor character a kingmaker, and obscure players in a side game look like the only ones that knew what was to come.

Hindsight’s handmaiden History is kind for those who pay her enough attention, and their courtier the Future is not as coy as she seems at first glance. She gives hints, sly glances, a little bite of the lip or a flick of the tongue to let you know where she’d like to go. You just need to look for the tells and signs. They are all there. The Future is not opaque or unknown; she is just very good at her game.

If you’d read one article or book, you’ve read a thousand; celestial networks, offsets, leaping technology generations, total domain awareness, unmanned systems – you know the money sponge phylum.

It all rides on just a few brittle but exquisite assumptions; the electromagnetic spectrum can be owned, our satellites are there and have infinite low error rate bandwidth, we cannot be spoofed – we are the smartest player in the room.

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. As the British learned the hard way when they moved from decades of fighting colonial wars against primitives barely out of the bronze age in the 19th Century to modern opponents – you can get complacent with your dominance. They had plenty of warnings and started to figure things out with their taste of the change in the Boer War.

We haven’t had our Boer War, yet – but History is trying to nudge us a bit to look at what Future may hold.
China has released footage of its first interception test of a mid-air ballistic missile, destroying a target miles above Earth .

Video shows the land-based rocket blast off into the sky in a blinding white light, before hurtling towards what looks like a small white dot above the planet's atmosphere.

Upon impact, the missile explodes into a huge fireball .

Footage of the experiment, which took place in 2010, has never been made public until now.
The video is over a six years old. What, if anything, have they advanced from then? Who knows, but there is not much of a reach from an ABM system to an ASAT system - if you want to take that step.

Usual Chinese caveats apply: better than even odds that most of this was faked and standard issue propaganda – indeed much of the video is post-production – but intentions are important. We also have our tricks, but you cannot ignore messages and aspirations of a growing power.

On a not totally unrelated note at the end of the article there was this;
In May, China announced it would send submarines armed with nuclear missiles into the Atlantic Ocean, arguing it had little choice if America continued to advance its weapons systems.
Snort. Readiness points for ALL my friends!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Russian Long Range Strike: Payloads Over Platforms

Range and speed; range and speed.

The "payloads over platforms" push by the previous CNO was just a rebranding of a military concept as old as the slingshot; it doesn't really matter the speed and mobility of a weapons carrier, what really matters is how far he can reach, and how deadly the weapon he carries is.

From the Pope trying to keep the crossbow out of the hands of roughly trained peasants standing against nobility, to the more recent "Two thousand pounds of education: Drops to a ten-rupee jezail." - it is a constant.

With modern weapons being made more deadly as technology, materials, computers and miniaturization advance, David Majumdar over at WarIsBoring outlines the Russian challenge of her big birds. If this is something that had you thinking in the last year as these heavy and medium bombers of Cold War fame put on an extended live fire exercise, then you'll want to read-it-all.
Russia has 16 remaining original model Tu-160 airframes left, of those perhaps 11 are used for operational missions with about half of those available for operational missions. The remainder of the Russian strategic bomber force is based around 63 surviving Tu-95MS Bear bombers of which perhaps 55 are operational.
Though the quad-turboprop Tu-95 is an elderly design, the aircraft has been upgraded many times and carries modern long-range conventional and nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The Russian bomber force showed off its capabilities over Syria — launching long-range Kh-101 cruise missiles while supporting out of area operations.
“It’s really the missiles,” Kofman said. “The Tu-95 is old, but it works, just like the B-52.”
Unlike the U.S. Air Force’s Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit or forthcoming B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber, the Russian bombers are not designed to penetrate enemy airspace to any great extent. The bombers are designed to move into position to launch cruise missiles from stand-off distances.
Even Ole Sal's favorite Russian aircraft, the SU-34 Fulback, makes a cameo;
while a new Tu-160 will likely replace the current Blackjack and Bear fleets, it’s somewhat of a mystery as to what will take the place of the Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire medium bomber force. 
Though the Su-34 Fullback strike version of the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker airframe is often thought of as replacement for the Su-24 Fencer strike aircraft, Kofman said the Fullback is a much more capable aircraft with performance rivaling a medium bomber. 
Indeed, the Su-34 — which has performed extremely well over Syria — might ultimately serve as a replacement for both the Su-24 and the Tu-22M3, Kofman said. There is simply no logical reason to develop a dedicated replacement for the Backfire when the Fullback could fill the role and be much more versatile at the same time.
Remember wargaming defense agains Backfire Regiments at sea? Well ...
...there is no reason a weapon such as the P-800 Oniks supersonic sea-skimmer couldn’t be carried by the Fullback.

He noted that the Indian Su-30MKI will carry the Brahmos variant of the P-800 — which is essentially a slightly less capable version of the same weapon.

The addition of a P-800 would give the Su-34 a long-range anti-ship punch that is arguably more formidable than Kh-22 — granted the Fullback could only carry one Oniks missile at a time.
The next decade will show how successful the Russians are with post-Soviet designs, but the last decade of the Soviet Union did produce some solid aircraft that are lending themselves well to modernization.

We'll see what the Russians can do with a soft economy head wind, but watch closely - the Russians are never as weak or as strong as they seem.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Turkey ,Erdoğan & its Miltary - with Ryan Evans on Midrats

The events of the last week in Turkey brought that critically important nation in to focus, and we are going to do the same thing for this week's episode of Midrats.

Turkey has a history of military coups as a byproduct of an ongoing drive to be a modern secular nation against the current of a deeply Islamic people. This week we are going to look at how Turkey found itself at another coup attempt, the response, and the possible impact for Turkey and its relationship with NATO, Russia, Europe, and its neighbors.

Our guest to discuss this and more for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Ryan Evans, the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the web magazine, War on the Rocks.

Ryan Evans is a widely published commentator and recovering academic. He deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan from 2010 – 2011 as a Social Scientist on a U.S. Army Human Terrain Team that was OPCON/TACON to the British-led Task Force Helmand. He has worked as assistant director at the Center for the National Interest, a research fellow at the Center for National Policy, and for the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence in London. He is a Fellow of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society and received his MA from the King's College London War Studies Department.

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 or Stitcher

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.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fullbore Friday

Great lessons from both sides - but the most important is the results of two naval mindsets; the defensive mindset vs. that offensive mindset.

History shows which usually wins.

New, fast and modern forces with a defensive mindset against old, slower - but aggressive.

The results? OPERATION JUDGEMENT; The Raid on Toranto.

Going to war in your SDBs, what's not to like? What were they looking at?
A last line of early warning was offered by 13 sound-detection devices placed at strategic points around the harbour. These were capable of detecting aircraft out to 25 nautical miles (29 miles or 46km). This was sufficient to bring to alert the searchlight and gun crews, though not enough for an effective air-defence scramble.

Then there were the 22 searchlights strung out around both harbours in the hope of catching attacking ships and aircraft in their beams to provide easier sighting for the array of defending guns.

Defending the base was 21 gun batteries of dual-purpose – though World War I vintage - 4in guns. On the shore were 13 mounts, while the remaining eight were installed on immobile barges anchored along the boundary of the Mar Grande.

Close-range protection was offered 84 20mm Breda anti-aircraft guns and 109 13.2mm Breda machine guns. These were in a mix of single and twin mounts.

Finally, there were the guns and searchlights aboard the warships themselves.
Read the whole thing over at ArmouredCarriers. Just superb.

If you are lazy, wedge out most of an hour for the below videos.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Thinking Turkey

Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

I'm discussing over at USNIBlog. Come visit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ode to a Frigate

The USS THACH (FFG 43) represented the PERRY Class frigate well. OHP's proved it actually combat conditions with Sammy-B and STARK that they could take a hit. 

Even alone, without her Sailors to help her - at the RIMPAC SINKEX the THACH showed what the class was made of.

Well done.

Monday, July 18, 2016

SECNAV, When You've Lost ViceNews ....

This sad little vanity project is well known to the folks here on the Front Porch, but it appears that the smell could not be contained.

As reported by Justin Rohrlich at Vice;
In an October 2009 speech at the Naval Energy Forum, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who had taken over the post six months before, unveiled five energy targets he wanted the Navy to hit over the course of the following decade.

"Energy reform is a strategic imperative," he said.

One of the targets involved the deployment, by 2016, of what he called the Great Green Fleet, a carrier strike group "composed of nuclear ships, surface combatants equipped with hybrid electric alternative power systems running biofuel, and aircraft flying only [on] biofuels."

Three years later, following a vicious battle with Republican legislators over the initiative, a 50/50 blend of chicken fat and conventional petroleum successfully powered two destroyers and a cruiser for two days during a month-long warfare exercise in Hawaii. The feat required 450,000 gallons of biofuel at a cost of $12 million;
We should all give credit to Rep. Duncan Hunter The Younger (R-CA) for his clarity on this topic;
For 2016, the Navy has purchased just under 80 million gallons of the 10/90 biofuel blend, about 6 percent of the 1.3 billion gallons of fuel the Navy uses annually. The Navy paid $2.05 per gallon, which is roughly in line with the cost of regular marine diesel thanks to robust biofuel subsidies from the US government, though that hasn't satisfied the program's detractors.

"There's more important shit to spend money on in the military, period," says US Representative Duncan Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran and Republican congressman from San Diego, principal homeport of the Navy's Pacific Fleet.

He describes the decision-makers behind the Great Green Fleet as "all the smartest guys that went to the John F. Kennedy School of Smart People," and calls their interest in biofuels "just stupid."
This adds no value to our Navy and actually is counter-productive;
A recent analysis by Transport & Environment, a European conservation group, found that biodiesel made from palm oil leads to three times the overall CO2 emissions of regular petroleum-based diesel. Therefore the biofuel the Navy took on in the Mediterranean earlier this year arguably enlarged its carbon footprint.

"The Department of Energy is investing a lot of money into algae-based fuels, which are promising, but often the greenest fuels are also the most expensive ones," says Emily Cassidy, a research analyst at the Washington, DC-based Environmental Working Group.

The Navy has paid as much as $424 a gallon for algae-based biofuel in the past…

Biofuels need to be created from something, and according to a report released last year by the nonpartisan World Resources Institute, a Washington, DC-based research group, meeting 20 percent of global energy demand using plant-based biofuels by 2050 "would require humanity to at least double the world's annual harvest of plant material in all its forms.... Therefore, the quest for bioenergy at a meaningful scale is both unrealistic and unsustainable."
In the end, this isn’t just a wasteful vanity project by the SECNAV, but embarrassing for all the good people whose professional lives are impacted by supporting it.
Somerville says that "the Navy is essentially doing, well, I don't really know what they're doing. I suppose they're making a statement that they want renewables."

Hunter's take is that a "green [Navy] sounds great to a large part of the population that votes a specific way."

And Heinberg says it's due to nothing short of an existential crisis.

"[Navy officials] see the future of oil as bleak, and without oil, how do they stay in business? There is no real answer," he says. "They've got to grasp at some straw or another, and this is the one that's nearest.... But just because people need something doesn't mean it exists."
What a boondoggle.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Russia in 2016 with Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg - on Midrats

From the sacking of the Baltic Fleet leadership, fighting in Syria, to developments from Central Asia to the Pacific - Russia in 2016 is on the move.

To discuss the who, what, where, and why of Russia in 2016, our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg, Senior Analyst, CNA Strategic Studies, an Associate at Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, an author, and host of the Russian Military Reform blog.

Dr. Gorenburg focuses his research on security issues in the former Soviet Union, Russian military reform, Russian foreign policy, ethnic politics and identity, and Russian regional politics. He is also the editor of the journals Problems of Post-Communism and Russian Politics and Law and a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project. From 2005 through 2010, he was the Executive Director of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies.

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 or Stitcher

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.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Scarborough Shoals - the Musical

Would it be possible to commission this work by the USNA Men's Glee Club?

Anyway - just because. As sung to the tune, "Scarborough Fair" by Simon & Garfunkel;
Are you going to Scarborough Shoals?
Sand, militia, lawfare & drones
Remember they were once pristine coral reefs
Well below mean highwater lines

Tell her to make me a barong shirt

Sand, militia, lawfare & drones
(Making a bunker of crushed coral sand)
Without no SAPR nor observance months
(Diesel and youtube a fish of 9-dashed lines)
Then she’ll be a territory of mine
(Anchors unaware of the changing tide)
Tell her to find me another small reef

Sand, militia, lawfare & drones
(Plow the oceans with so many lies)
Between the salt water and the sea strand
(A soldier cleans and polished a gun)
Then she’ll be a territory of mine

Tell her to reap it in a sickle of bamboo

Sand, militia, lawfare & drones
(Admirals order their Sailors to kill)
And to gather it all in a bunch of dredges
(And to fight for a cause they’ve just now invented)
Then she’ll be a territory of mine

Are you going to Scarborough Shoals?
Sand, militia, lawfare & drones
Remember they were once pristine coral reefs
Then she’ll be a territory of mine

Hat tip Tom Ricks.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fullbore Friday

A minor ship in a minor action - but for every Sailor lost at sea in combat, all are equal.

Loss of USS Magpie, 1 October 1950

Brief narrative report of loss of USS Magpie while on Minesweeping duty off Chusan Po, Korea. Ship’s forward portion exploded and after section settled by the head when Magpie struck a mine. 12 survivors.
10 October 1950
USS Dixie (AD 14)
From: CARPENTER, Vail P., BMC, 393 08 57 US Navy
To: Secretary of the Navy
(1) Commander Mine Division Fifty-two
(2) Commander United Nations Blockading and Escort Force, Far East
(3) Commander Naval Forces, Far East
(4) Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet
(5) Chief of Naval Operations
Subject: Loss of the USS MAGPIE (AMS25)
Reference: US Navy Regulations 1948, Article 0778
1. As senior survivor of the USS MAGPIE (AMS25), my version of the MAGPIE loss is as follows: At about 1700, minus 9 zone time, 1 October 1950, I was on watch on the fantail, during mine-sweeping operations. The starboard sweep gear and magnetic tail were streamed. Three hundred fathoms of sweep wire was in use. We were in approximate position latitude 36-30 N., longitude 129-30 E., off Chusan Po, Korea, and on a southerly course. Steaming at ten knots. The USS MERGANSER (AMS26) was stationed about five hundred yards astern and to starboard of the MAGPIE. At about this time there was a tremendous explosion forward and the entire forward portion of the ship, forward of the stack, appeared to explode. The remainder of the ship immediately started to settle by the head. During this period I took shelter under the towing winch but could see forward. After the debris stopped falling I assisted in launching the port after ten-man life raft. After that I proceeded as far forward as I could to the break abreast of the stack, on both port and starboard sides, with the view of assisting any survivors or saving the ship. I encountered no one. After this inspection I abandoned ship, port side, to assist BENNETT, 365 32 49, EMFN, USN, who was in the water and shouting for help. BENNETT was injured and unable to adjust and inflate his life jacket. I assisted BENNETT to the raft and both of us boarded the raft. After being in the water and on the raft for a period of about thirty minutes, the USS MERGANSER (AMS26) Wherry towed us to the MERGANSER.
2. There were twelve survivors: CARLOCK, Dale T., 344 79 03, FN, USN; CARPENTER, Vail P., 393 08 57, BMC, USN; DOBBS, Thomas D., 325 16 58, ETSN, USN; ESPINOZA, Leo L., 369 20 83, SN, USN; KEPFORD, James W., 345 02 15, FN, USN; McCLAIN, James H., 569 02 59, FN, USN; HARRISON, William E., 234 41 27, GM3, USN; BENNETT, Alex W., 365 32 49, EMFN, USN; BENSON, Richard B., 325 74 34, SN, USN; BLASSINGAME, Henry A., 581 07 35, CSSA, USN; KASTENS, Howard L., 344 82 35, USN; SANDERS, Howard W., 570 94 48, QM3, USN. The first seven survivors are now quartered on board USS DIXIE (AD14). The last five were transferred by USS MERGANSER to USS REPOSE (AH15) at Pusan, Korea for treatment. I do not know what disposition was later made of them.
3. To the best of my knowledge all records and logs were lost, except pay accounts which were on board the USS DIXIE (AD14). Pay account of HARRISON, W.E., 234 41 27, USN, were lost with the USS MAGPIE.
4. It is understood that Commander United Nations Blockading and Escort Force, Far East, had ordered an investigation to inquire into the circumstances resulting in the sinking of the USS MAGPIE and the injury or loss of the members of her crew. – (signed) VAIL P. CARPENTER

LT. (jg) Warren R. Person, USN, Pacific Grove, CA
LT. (jg) Donald V. Wanee, USN, Gardena, CA
ENS. Robert E. Wainwright, USN, North Andover, MA
ENS. Robert W. Langwell, USN, Indianapolis, IN
Robert A. Beck, BMC, USN, Richmond, CA
Richard D. Scott, BM1, USN, Peru, IN
Seth D. Durkee, QM1, USN, Cashmere, WA
George G. Cloud, EN1, USN, Oakland, CA
Lloyd E. Hughes, CS1, USN, Ottawa, KS
Roy A. Davis, HM1, USN, Russellville, KY
Cleveland G. Rogers, SO2, USN, Foxworth, MS
Richard A. Coleman, YBN3, USN, Lewistown, MT
Vincente Q. Ferjaran, SD3, USN, Asan, Guam
Charles R. Bash, RDSN, USN, Dixon Valley, PA
Theodore A. Cook, QMSN, USN, Sacramento, CA
Stanley L. Calhoun, EMFN, USN, Pembroke, KY
James C. Dowell, EMFN, USN, Stockton, CA
Harry E. Ferrell, ENFN, USN, Cleveland, OH
Charles T. Horton, CSSN, USN, Columbiana, AL
Eugene P. Krouskoupf, SN, USN, Zanesville, OH
Most Sailors who are lost at sea are never found. Their families have no body to honor or lay to rest.

Well, ENS Langwell;
welcome home.
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
U.S. Navy Ensign Robert W. Langwell, of Columbus, Ind., will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on July 12. On Oct. 1, 1950, Langwell was serving on the minesweeper USS Magpie when it sank after striking an enemy mine off the coast of Chuksan-ri, South Korea. Twelve crewmen were rescued, but Langwell was one of 20 men lost at sea.
In June 2008, personnel from the Republic of South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense Agency for Killed in Action Recovery and Identification (MAKRI) canvassed towns in South Korea in an effort to gather information regarding South Korean soldiers unaccounted-for from the Korean War. An elderly fisherman, interviewed in the village of Chuksan-ri, reported that he and other villagers had buried an American serviceman in 1950 when his body was caught in the man’s fishing net.

The MAKRI located the burial site on April 28, 2009, where they excavated human remains and military artifacts. The burial site was approximately three miles west of where the USS Magpie sank in 1950. The team turned the remains and artifacts over to U.S. Forces Korea, which sent them to Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command for analysis.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, JPAC scientists used dental comparisons in the identification of Langwell’s remains.

With Langwell’s accounting, 8,025 service members still remain missing from the Korean War.

This FbF first posted July 2010.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Year After the Terrorist Attacks in Chattanooga

...and at last we come to what we called for here, and others as well.

Via Dave Larter at NavyTimes;
The Navy is moving to place armed watch standards at recruiting stations nationwide, a move that comes a year after shootings at a recruiting station and a reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, claimed the lives of four Marines and a sailor.
...“We are in the final stages of preparations for implementation” of the policy, said Cmdr. Dave Aliberti, policy branch head for Fleet Forces Command’s anti-terrorism, force protection directorate. “It is going to be a system put in place to arm personnel that are there for deterrent value and to provide protection.”

The guards will be trained, uniformed sailors, ...
We have a serious problem in our Navy that it took a year to get here.

A. Year.

As the attacks today in Nice, France have shown us - the enemy is inside our lifelines and will strike when and where they want to. Even the middle of the US is not safe.

Let's look at what I wrote a year ago just a few days after the attack;
We have Duty Officers, Petty Officer of the Watch, etc etc. You can also keep people at Condition 4 if you really want to be safe, but I'll tell you what - I will take a negligent discharge once a month over the slaughter we saw last week - and so will 98% of those in uniform.
As I mentioned Friday - I spent months - as have hundreds of thousands of other sevicemembers, many who can say "years" not "months" - carrying a weapon around in Condition 3 - and only going to Condition 1 only when outside the gate. Condition 3 or Condition 4 should be more than fine for recruiting duty ... and no chance for "accidental discharge" as there is no round in the chamber at all. But again, even if there were - look at the string of attacks where those in uniform were ordered to be defenseless. Worth a accidental discharge or two? My clearing barrel says, "Yes."

For now, we have a paralysis at the Federal level.
What these leaders know is that the enemy has seen that the attack in Chattanooga was a successful attack, and there are thousands of other targets that are just as easy to get to - and are just as legitimate of a target in war.

To not understand the threat as it is, is not to be worthy of someone in a position of authority and leadership in 2015.

Having servicemembers to die unarmed in the face of a determined enemy for your own vanity, and petty career comfort behind your reserved parking space, duty driver, six-figure retirement income, and security detail? Ponder that.
We need to do better.

Right call - wrong timeline.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

All Your Social Media Are Belong To Us

So, have confidence that DOD understands social media, individual liberty, and how people in the second decade of the 21st Century communicate in their off time with friends and family?

Well ... sorry. The rather sad tale is over at USNIBlog. Give it a read.

Oh, and you're all on report.

Service Academies Corruption by Football Lust is Almost Complete

The old Department of Defense Pro Sports Policy reads:
"Officers appointed from cadet or midshipman status will not be voluntarily released from active duty principally to pursue a professional sports activity with the potential of public affairs or recruiting benefit to the DoD during the initial 2 years of active commissioned service. A waiver to release a cadet or midshipman prior to the completion of 2 years of active service must be approved by the ASD. Exceptional personnel with unique talents and abilities may be authorized excess leave or be released from active duty and transferred to the Selective Reserve after completing 2 years of active commissioned service when there is a strong expectation their professional sports activity will provide the DoD with significant favorable media exposure likely to enhance national recruiting or public affairs."
That essentially meant a service academy graduate would not be eligible to be placed on reserve status for the purpose of pursing pro sports until serving 24 months on active duty. But the policy, which was changed in May, now reads:
"A service member can request to be tendered an appointment in the reserve upon graduation and satisfy their commissioned service obligation in the Ready Reserve."
And so it goes. Wave at it.

This has the tinge of fraud against the taxpayer, a clear waste of a spot at a Service Academy by someone who is actually primarily motivated to serve, and unquestionably an abuse of the integrity of the role Service Academies have in building leaders for our military.

This compromise is for one reason; so alumni can live vicariously through a young man’s game. If they wanted that “college” experience, then they should have gone NROTC.

If you are a football-uber-alles type, this may make you happy – but if you love what the Service Academies are supposed to be, then this should give you pause to think; what price football?

What else will USNA and the other Service Academies sell to feed their alumni's addiction? They sold the soul of NAPS long ago – now it is the service obligation. All for a game. This is not the action of a mission focused military institution.
Out of all 170 professional athletes produced by federal service academies, all of them but two have not fulfilled their two-year active duty commitments: Reynolds and Garrett Griffin.

Griffin is currently in limbo, as he already has his orders for the two-year active duty commitment.

Even Navy's Roger Staubach and David Robinson and Air Force's Chad Hennings served at least two years before turning pro.

"[Service academies] exist to instill young men and women with a mindset of selfless service to the country," retired Army Lt. Tom Slear wrote in a recent Post editorial. "There is no other justification for the significant public expense that supports them.

"Professional football, on the other hand, is about service to oneself. It has its place, but not for academy graduates who haven't fulfilled their obligations to their fellow citizens. Each time one of them leaves early, the ethos diminishes a bit, and the taxpayers are cheated."

The approximate price tag on a service academy education is $400,000.
Does anyone really believe the soul-sucking, sea lawyeresque, slimy spin below?
"My view is we recruit cadets to come to the academy to develop over four years as leaders of character and then go out and serve our nation in the Air Force," Knowlton said. "There are many different ways that cadets can serve our nation."
If so, I feel sorry for you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Presence, Place, and Propriety

In the ongoing INFO OPS and PSYOPS campaign against Russia and in the global court of weak horse and strong horse, sometimes it is just hard.

Enough in pictures, I don't need to say more.

China Loses The South China Sea Arbitration

Not completely unexpected, but in the Republic of the Philippines vs. the People's Republic of China, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague has issued its ruling in favor of The Philippines.

You can find the English, French and Chinese press releases at the website of our guest last Sunday on Midrats, Dr. Andrew S. Erickson, but I've included the Award below for you to review in full.

From page 471-2, here is a pull quote;
The South China Sea Arbitration Award of 12 July 2016, pg 471-2

A. In relation to its jurisdiction, the Tribunal:
(1) FINDS that China’s claims in the South China Sea do not include a claim to ‘historic title’, within the meaning of Article 298(1)(a)(i) of the Convention, over the waters of the South China Sea and that the Tribunal, therefore, has jurisdiction to consider the Philippines’ Submissions No. 1 and 2;
(2) FINDS, with respect to the Philippines’ Submission No. 5: a. that no maritime feature claimed by China within 200 nautical miles of Mischief Reef or Second Thomas Shoal constitutes a fully entitled island for the purposes of Article 121 of the Convention and therefore that no maritime feature claimed by China within 200 nautical miles of Mischief Reef or Second Thomas Shoal has the capacity to generate an entitlement to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf;

B. In relation to the merits of the Parties’ disputes, the Tribunal:
(1) DECLARES that, as between the Philippines and China, the Convention defines the scope of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, which may not extend beyond the limits imposed therein;
(2) DECLARES that, as between the Philippines and China, China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention; and further DECLARES that the Convention superseded any historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, in excess of the limits imposed therein;
The Straits Times has a good liveblog on the ruling.

The Chinese reaction? Well, about what you would expect.
China Foreign Minister Wang Yi says South China Sea arbitration is a political farce made under pretext of law.

UPDATE: If you're a map geek, and you know you are, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative has some great tools. Check it out.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Take a Moment to Savor the Victory

Let's start this week on an upbeat note. There is actually a lot to be proud of. There are actually some things on the national security front that make 2016 a safer and more predictable year than most in our recent history.

Through all my formative years, college, and my early JO years, the world was always 30 minutes away from global nuclear war. The soul crushing political cult of Communism was seen as inevitable and the fact it could implode with little blood and turmoil like it did in the early 90s was not even thought a possibility in "polite" society.

No one predicted what would happen would happen. From the fellow travelers and useful idiots on the Left like those who wrote for The Nation who were positioning and signaling so they would have a power role when the USA fell, to old Cold Warriors like George Bush the Elder who - even to the end with the "Chicken Kiev" speech - couldn't see what was going on; no one saw it.

What a glorious victory for The West and the fruits of The Enlightenment. Not a full victory, and we have different challenges now - as humans always will - but this was a great victory we should all remember and look at now and then. I'll take today's challenges on a global scale than those of my youth.

Enough words, let's just savor the picture. Two periods of time. One room in Warsaw, Poland.

The founding of the Warsaw Pact in 1955.

A 2016 meeting of NATO leaders.

Hat tip @englishrussia1.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

China's Maritime Militia - on Midrats with Andrew Erickson

As China continues to slowly use a variety of tools to claim portions of her maritime near-abroad in the South China Sea and elsewhere, part of their effort includes what can almost be considered naval irregular forces - a Maritime Militia.

What is China doing with these assets, why are they being used, and what could we expect going forward as she taps in to a variety of assets to attempt to establish her authority?

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and more will be Dr. Andrew S. Erickson.

Dr. Erickson is Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC)’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI). Since 2008 he has been an Associate in Research at Harvard University’s John King Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, and is an expert contributor to the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report, for which he has authored or coauthored thirty-seven articles.

He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in international relations and comparative politics from Princeton University and graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College with a B.A. in history and political science. He has studied Mandarin in the Princeton in Beijing program at Beijing Normal University’s College of Chinese Language and Culture; and Japanese language, politics, and economics in the year-long Associated Kyoto Program at Doshisha University. Erickson previously worked for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) as a Chinese translator and technical analyst. He gained early experience working briefly at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, the U.S. Senate, and the White House. Proficient in Mandarin Chinese and conversant in Japanese, he has traveled extensively in Asia and has lived in China, Japan, and Korea.

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 or Stitcher

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.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Fullbore Friday

It is a beautiful place today when you drive by it, but then you notice a curious red dragon facing a wood.
The Welsh soldiers were just seven months out of training when they entered into combat at Mametz Wood. Many had never fired a round in combat, and used broomsticks rather than rifles at drill practice.

In sharp contrast they faced the elite Lehr Regiment of Prussian Guards - highly-trained professional soldiers who were deeply entrenched in the dense woods.

Their trenches were dug into chalk and thick wire stretched through the battleground, while the wood was heavily fortified with machine guns.
As part of the Battle of the Somme was the Battle of Mametz Wood;
Mametz Wood was the objective of the 38th (Welsh) Division during the First Battle of the Somme. The attack was made in a northerly direction over a ridge, focussing on the German positions in the wood, between 7 July and 12 July 1916 . On 7 July the men formed the first wave, intended to take the wood in a matter of hours.
The British system was exceptionally hard on the homefront. Like the regiment my ancestors fought in during the American Civil War, the guy to the left and right of you was your neighbor, your brother, your cousin, your co-worker, your classmate, your friend.
Lord Thomas of Gresford recently highlighted the role of the Division in the House of Lords, describing the loss of men in the battle as a "huge tragedy for the whole of Wales".

He said 1,000 men from the Rhondda Regiment went in to battle that day, but only 135 men answered the roll call the following day. ... 3,993 killed or injured there.
In the first day, over 400 men were killed just trying to get from that red dragon to the treeline.
The poet Robert Graves fought in the battle and, having gone back into the wood once the battle was finally over, wrote:

"It was full of dead Prussian Guards, big men, and dead Royal Welch Fusiliers and South Wales Borderers, little men. Not a single tree in the wood remained unbroken."
Take some time to follow the links above and read up on this little snapshot of the sacrifice from WWI years before the USA threw its hat in the ring - especially this one about what a walk in the woods is like today.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Empiricists and Rationalists - Programmatics and Philosophy

I've joined forces with our buddy Lucien to connect life, the universe, and everything from the multiverse to LCS to why we may keep just digging through our problems.

Caution; your noodle may hurt a bit at the end. 

Head on over to USNIBlog and give it a read.

Another LCS Test, Another LCS Money Run

Good news; LCS didn't sink. Bad news, it is going to cost you hundreds of millions of dollars to get that warm glow of "success."
On July 4, following last month’s shock trials for the Independence-class littoral combat ships, Austal announced that costs for modifying the vessels to meet Navy shock standards would average roughly $10 million per hull.

"Design modifications and significant re-work of construction already undertaken..."The military shock standard and US Naval Vessel Rules has driven a significantly higher level of modifications to the ship design and cost than previously estimated." (Austal)
I'm not sure what the number is this week, but let's run with a low even number; 40. Throw another $400 million minimum on the transformation pile.
The trial vessel, the USS Jackson, has completed two of three shock blasts and Austal says that she is performing as expected. Austal has recently been awarded an additional $11 million contract modification to cover the cost of repairs following each shock trial.
It's OK to laugh, as you may have a few more chances to get paid ... wait ... feel smug ... wait ... find out more about our exquisite little Tiffany jewel;
The next and final blast in the series will be progressively closer to the vessel, increasing the severity of shock to the hull.

A separate set of shock trials for a ship representing the second LCS series, the Lockheed-built Freedom class, is scheduled for August and September.
Remember, LCS-1 was commissioned eight years ago. Over two WorldWars ago. Shouldn't we expect better?

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

A Tangled Web of EuroTreaties

In the flutter of breathless articles post Brexit, if you've tried over the week to get your head around who is connected to whom via a scrap of parchment over in Europe, via WaPo, we have a nice outline in a pic.

As usual, Europe is as it has always been - a bit of a bother and mess.

The Executive Summary: it is a lot more complicated than an American thinks.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Fullbore Friday

100 years since the Battle of the Somme.

As our friend Derb reminded us a decade ago;
When the barrage lifts

... , July 1, is the ... anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. They took 60,000 casualties, of whom nearly twenty thousand were killed.

The Tommies were to get out of their trenches and advance across No Man's Land towards the enemy trenches. This maneuver was to be preceded by an artillery barrage on the enemy lines.
The following is from Paul Fussell's 1975 classic The Great War and Modern Memory:
Every day still the Times and the Telegraph print the little "In Memoriam" notices — "Sadly missed," "Always in our thoughts," "Never forgotten," "We do miss you so, Bunny" — the military ones dignified by separation from the civilian. There are more on July 1 than on other days, and on that date there is always a traditional one:
9th AND 10th BNS., K.O.Y.L.I. — To the undying memory of the Officers and Men of the above Battalions who fell in the attack on Fricourt (Somme) on July 1, 1916. "Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts."
B.H. Liddell Hart, who was in the 9th Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, explains. Just before the Somme attack, "the officers assembled in the headquarters mess, in a typical Picardy farmhouse. Recent strain between the commanding officer and some of the others led to an embarrassing pause when the senior company commander was called on to propose a toast to the C.O. On a sudden inspiration, he raised his glass and gave the toast with the words: 'Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts'."

The battalion attacked with some 800 men. Twenty-four hours later its strength was 80 men and four officers.
To understand the British military from Churchill to today - you need to know the Somme. As Churchill said, was at Somme, the hinge of popular opinion on the nature of war changed and forever altered our perceptions of war.
A great video summary from the BBC.