Monday, October 31, 2016

The Wee and Deadly Hedgehog; A Nation of Riflemen

If you are a small and distinct ethnic group that happens to have its own nation in 2016, you only got there by having a certain personality and rich understanding of your own history. For that and many and many other reasons, I have always liked the Estonians.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, they more than any other Baltic republic seemed to have a realist view of their Russian neighbors, and their own very real ties to the West.

The Estonians fought with us relatively caveat free in Afghanistan, and always invested in their defense stronger than their neighbors as a percentage of GDP. As Russia has grown in strength and belligerence, Estonia is showing the only proper response.

Taking a idea the Swiss have mastered - though without the geographic gift the Swiss have - the Estonians are doing all they can to make themselves a tough target, one that really would not look like it would be worth the trouble it would take to subdue.
Already, she and her three teammates had put out a fire, ridden a horse, identified medicinal herbs from the forest and played hide-and-seek with gun-wielding “enemies” in the woods at night.

By comparison, this would be easy. She knelt in the crinkling, frost-covered grass of a forest clearing and grabbed at the rifle parts in a flurry of clicks and snaps, soon handing the assembled weapon to a referee.

“We just have to stay alive,” Ms. Barnabas said of the main idea behind the Jarva District Patrol Competition, a 24-hour test of the skills useful for partisans, or insurgents, to fight an occupying army, and an improbably popular form of what is called “military sport” in Estonia.
The competitions, held nearly every weekend, are called war games, but are not intended as fun. The Estonian Defense League, which organizes the events, requires its 25,400 volunteers to turn out occasionally for weekend training sessions that have taken on a serious hue since Russia’s incursions in Ukraine two years ago raised fears of a similar thrust by Moscow into the Baltic States.

Estonia, a NATO member with a population of 1.3 million people and a standing army of about 6,000, would not stand a chance in a conventional war with Russia. But two armies fighting on an open field is not Estonia’s plan, and was not even before Donald J. Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, said European members of NATO should not count on American support unless they pay more alliance costs.

Since the Ukraine war, Estonia has stepped up training for members of the Estonian Defense League, teaching them how to become insurgents, right down to the making of improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.s, the weapons that plagued the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another response to tensions with Russia is the expansion of a program encouraging Estonians to keep firearms in their homes.
Her neighbors should look at what Estonia is doing. It is a tough neighborhood; be a tough target.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

It's a Midrats Fall Free For All Spooktacular!

Midrats is back live! With a week left to go till the election, I am sure you are about done with all the political talk, so join us at 5pm Eastern this Sunday, October 30th as we cover the the globe on the breaking national security and maritime issues that have come up over the last month.

From FORD to KUZNETSOV; from DC to Yemen we'll have it covered.

As always with our Free For Alls; it is open mic an open mind. 

Call in with your issues and questions, or join us in the chat room.

Join us live if you can, 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, October 28, 2016

Fullbore Friday

First, let's look at the latest "setting the bar low" cultural move.

Perhaps you thought it was a bit much to move the age to have a beer to 21 from the legal adult age of 18. Perhaps you thought it was insane to allow young adults to stay on their parent's insurance until age 26, an age many people have two kids of their own.

Chew on this from Dana Goldstein at The New Republic;
...some advocates and policymakers are citing research to argue 18 is still too young, and that people up to the age of 25 remain less than fully grown up.
Researchers are using the term “post-adolescence” or “extended adolescence” to describe this period of development in one’s twenties and early thirties. Social change is as important as biological change in understanding why some people in this age group are drawn to crime. Individuals who are “disconnected”—neither working nor in school—are more likely to get in trouble with the law. While fewer young women are disconnected today than in previous decades, the opposite is true for young men.
You can read the rest.

This isn't just about criminal justice either;
Adolescence no longer ends when people hit 18, according to updated guidelines being given to child psychologists.

The new directive is designed to extend the age range that child psychologists can work with from 18 years old up to 25.

It is hoped the initiative will stop children being 'rushed' through their childhood and feeling pressured to achieve key milestones quickly, reports the BBC.
In the name of all that is holy, we know this. My brain didn't make the flip until age 23 - but it didn't mean I was in "late adolescence" and should be treated like a child. If we are going to go down this route then fine; no one can vote until 25.

Actually, I might support that ... but let's get back on centerline.

OK, here is a thought; perhaps the problem with our young men (which you will find in the linked article) today is that we do not challenge them enough. We do not demand enough of them.

Anyone who has served in the military knows that young men and women can do incredible things. You can give them the highest responsibilities. Properly led and given clear guidance, there is no limit. Every day, you put your life in the hands of 18 and 19 year old people.

The concept is rather simple. Set an expectation; provide training and guidance. Provide fair and just consequences for their response to it, good or bad. Good things happen.

In a previous age where people developed later, had poorer education and health; what did we expect from them? How did they perform?

Let's look at James Lucas Yeo, born 1782;
...he joined the Royal Navy in March 1793 as a boy volunteer. ... as a midshipman at the age of 10.

In 1797, he was promoted lieutenant, and assigned to the HMS La Loire... He first saw action as a lieutenant aboard a brig in the Adriatic Sea. 
Look at your calendar. He was promoted to lieutenant at age 15 and was already in combat.
He distinguished himself during the siege of Cesenatico in 1800.
At age 18. This was not a one-off performance. Remember, he was leading men more than twice his age in ship's company, most likely.
While off the Spanish coast, he was sent to capture the Spanish vessels in the port of El Muros. Storming the fort, he succeeded in bringing out of the port every vessel, armed and unarmed. For this achievement, he was made commander, and given the HMS Confiance, one of the vessels he had taken.
When did he do this? 1805. Age 22.
Yeo participated in several sea battles during the Napoleonic Wars so successfully that he was made a captain on December 19, 1807, by which time he had already been recognized as an intrepid practitioner of unconventional sea warfare.
Age? 24.
In 1809, he captured Cayenne, in conjunction with the Portuguese, and was in consequence made post-captain.
Age 26.

There is more; read it all.

Young men and women do not need excuses. They don't need years of medication to make up for a lifetime of weak parenting. They don't need low standards they are encouraged to meet.

Our nation and our civilization cannot prosper if we allow people to spend the balance of their most productive years - when they have the best window to think, explore, and test their physical and intellectual boundaries - to be told they are not yet adults and are not capable of agency. No, just the opposite.

I've got news for those who think they can start their life like this, by age 26, if you are only now thinking you are ready to be an adult, you are already running behind. As Mr. Waters says; "Ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run. You missed the starting gun."

Your peers have a half decade+ head start on you.

Wonder why so many people (Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Cobain, Hank Williams) kill themselves between the ages of 27 and 30? It is because they all of a sudden look around and realize that they have gone nowhere in their 20s but in circles. Others have moved on with their lives, and yet they can't seem to drink and drug themselves out of a rut they hit at 22. They all of a sudden realize that they need to be an adult, and they can't do it. They were drifting in the Land of the Lotus Eaters by other people who gained from having them get stuck in a rut for half a decade. When they age out of the profit zone, they are thrown in to a reality of the late-20s to early 30s that they simply cannot adjust to.

No one ever is going to be Fullbore by claiming, "I'm just not mentally mature." Sorry, regardless what your doctor may tell you, the world doesn't care.

By 16 you should be prepared to be 18, an adult. 

By 25, you should be helping those 16 to 18 to be an adult - by your example.

If you find yourself at 25 trying to map it out, you're lost. It isn't the fault of biology. Not your parents. Not society.

It is all on you.

Hat tip BJ.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Carrier Mafia's Own Goal

Perhaps not fair, but they decided to lay down with the Transformationalists. They're waking up will all sorts of issues now.

I'm discussing over at USNIBlog. 

Come by and give it a read.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Hillary Campaign Meets Bloom County

James Watt could not be reached for comment. What more can you say?

Re: You Dropped But
Date: 2015-02-16 01:00
Subject: Re: You Dropped But

If you are awake call me at 202-244-5673
On Feb 15, 2015 9:52 PM, "Cheryl Mills" < > wrote:

Here is Robby's List of the top 10 or so positions:

Exec Chair - Podesta

States Director - Marshall

Political Director - Hispanic Woman

Finance Director - Dennis Cheng

National spokesperson - Karen Finney

Manager - Mook

Digital and Technology Director - Teddy

Data/Analytics - Elan

Communications/Research - Jen


Policy - Jake

Strategist - Joel Beneson [thought Jim and Mandy also count]

*12 positions*:

4 POC (2 Black; 1 Asian; 1 Hispanic)

4 Women (assuming COO is a white woman)

6 White Men

33% diverse

33% women

50% white men


A Pre-Thanksgiving Turkey Problem

Hopefully everyone is keeping at least a glancing eye on the developments around Mosul, especially the fact that Turkey has an outpost there. She isn't helping all that much, she rarely does, but she is there.
A dispute between Iraq and Turkey has emerged as a dramatic geopolitical sideshow to the complicated military campaign to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, from the Islamic State.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has insisted on a role in the battle for Mosul, trying to ramp up an involvement in Iraq that has already alarmed the Iraqi government.

“We have a historical responsibility in the region,” Mr. Erdogan said in a recent speech, drawing on his country’s history of empire and defeat, from Ottoman rule of the Middle East to its loss in World War I. “If we want to be both at the table and in the field, there is a reason.”

In response, the normally mild-mannered Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, warned last week of a military confrontation between Turkey and Iraq. If Turkish forces intervene in Mosul, he said, they will not “be in a picnic.”
Turkey has already angered the Iraqi government by keeping a unit of troops at a base in Bashiqa, an area of northern Iraq near Mosul and surrounded by Islamic State territory. For more than a year, the Turks have also been training Kurdish pesh merga forces and Sunni Arab fighters in Iraq, including a militia led by a former governor of Mosul, Atheel al-Nujaifi.

The Turkish military deployment, even just to train local forces, has been bitterly opposed by the Iraqi government, and Mr. Abadi has demanded that the troops leave.

Now that the battle for Mosul has started, Mr. Erdogan has given a number of incendiary speeches in which he has seemed to suggest that he is itching for the Turkish military to become directly involved in the fighting.
I want to show you two maps. First, the Turkish Republic as we know it;

There is another map that I've seen in a few places over the summer and fall. At first, I did a raised eyebrow eye-roll, but as I saw it more, just pursed my lips at seeing it. Even when one version or another showed up in newspapers, I dismissed it as standard issue populist chest thumping. Here, take a look;

Greece, Iraq, Syria (whoever you are), Armenia - call your office.

Now I want you to watch the video below. I'm not eye-rolling anymore, I'm watching a bit closer.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Ratings fiasco isn't a leadership or a Navy problem; it is a Mabus problem

Though I think they are on the right path in macro terms, in the details I have to non-concur with the NavyTimes editorial of 23 Oct;Navy's personnel policy fiasco is an important lesson for leaders;
The Navy’s recent decision to strip job titles from every sailor is a misstep of epic proportions – one that should serve as a stark lesson for leaders across all the services.

This fall, the Navy revealed it was suddenly removing all 91 of its enlisted ratings. This so-called “modernization” effort has been billed as a way to broaden training and career opportunities for sailors. It also satisfies the Navy’s desire to strip “man” from its titles, i.e. fire controlman, corpsman and seaman.

This move, thrust on the service by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus with the endorsement of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and his former top enlisted adviser, was poorly conceived, researched and communicated to the fleet.

It’s been a total morale crusher, with thousands of sailors lobbying for an immediate reversal.

Unlike the other services, sailors have been identified by their job title and not just their rank. As one sailor noted, ratings have been part of Navy tradition since 1775. For sailors, it’s part of their identity – a badge of honor and a source of pride.

“Our sailors don’t understand it,” an E-9 told Navy Times about the change. “We don’t understand why this could not have been a two- to-three year, very gradual process that examined all of the effects from advancement to recruiting.”
This isn't a leadership failure, this is a leadership agenda. The SECNAV wanted this to happen, and happen this year, and it is. Part of leadership is following orders. In the USN chain of command, that goes to the SECNAV.

He gave a lawful order, one based on the most silly foundations of the 3rd Wave Feminism of today with a bit from the 1970s where he cut his intellectual teeth, as I covered on my previous post on the topic at USNIBlog.

This is all socio-political agenda in action. Nothing more than someone having power and using it for their own purposes. There is nothing modernizing in this move, but it does fit an agenda, the SECNAV's agenda.

I encourage you to go read the entire editorial and then come back. Better yet, read it twice. You can almost see where they wanted to pen a much stronger editorial, but backed off.
Future military leaders should use this as a case study. Avoid such fiascos at all costs. Challenge your superiors when they propose harebrained ideas. Make sure that sweeping change is done with careful forethought and proper execution.
How do they know that didn't happen? As a matter of fact, from what I have heard that is what happened ... but only to an extent. Warnings were giving, objections provided, but there is this simple fact; when the SECNAV gives you a lawful order, you have one of two options; you can execute that order as best as you can, or you can resign your position.

No one in a senior position decided this was worth resigning for.

SECNAV decided that he would do what he wanted to do based in the advice from others and for reasons best known to him. There was not desire for this from the Fleet. There was no initiative from the uniformed leadership. He created this out of whole cloth which whatever gender-issues advisors he listens to. He wanted it done before he left, and it hoping that institutional inertia and a guard of PC Commissars he put in place will stop it from being overturned when he leaves.
It’s a shame that Mabus took away these time-honored titles so abruptly, marring what is expected to be his last months of service. He’s created a mess and handed it off to the next service secretary to deal with.
That isn't the only mess, but this is one that will stick out early for whoever replaces him.
The remedy to this fiasco is to reinstate these titles immediately and wait for the results of the career flexibility review, when officials will finally be able to answer the questions on sailors’ minds.
That isn't going to happen as long as Mabus has a hand on the lever of power. Get used to it.

This is all so sad and unnecessary. For a SECNAV who I once thought had so much promise to bring us to this sad, fevered spot with full uniformed leadership support is useful in this respect - it shows that there is a full-submissive compliance to civilian leadership. That is a great tradition this nation has, shame it is being abused for such a petty, personal, political reason.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite sayings. When you continue to decided that this issue or the other one is not a "hill worth dying on," eventually you find yourself surrounded, in a ravine, with your opponent owning all the high ground. 

That isn't a great place to start to fight, so why would anyone expect one? The only options is surrender or death.

Political death does not get one seats on Board of Directors, appointed to Commissions or Panels, or appointed to positions of influence in the civilian sector.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fullbore Friday

I had to sit there nice and polite the other day as a colleague pontificated about the "new" threats of asymmetric warfare at sea ... etc ... etc.

It wasn't the place or time to go all Salamander on him, so I let it slide but a few things came right to mind.

Most think of asymmetric as being like the strike on the USS COLE (DDG-67), but that isn't what should keep you up at night. What should keep your mind sharp is the use of conventional weapons in an asymmetrical manner - what I define as providing the "Oh, yea?" to the "That won't happen ... they can't do that ... that can't be done ... we will have warning of such an attack ..." mindless statements towards threats. Perfect examples can be found just a couple of years ago with Israel vs. Hezbollah, but you know me ----- I like to dig a little further .....

You have a little 761-ton boat. You are only a LCDR.
Prien cursed at his mistake. But still the panic was not over, as the distance between the keel and the sandy surface of the sea bed began to drastically decrease. 2 metres... 1 metre... 0.50 metres... until there was the sound of the keel scraping against the bottom. Prien was undaunted, for there was no turning back now. He gave the order for both engines to be powered to full speed ahead. For a brief moment Prien feared the engines packing up, but Wessels had indeed done a fine job. The diesel motors roared loudly as the little boat pulled itself forward. After what seemed like an eternity, Maschinen-Hauptgefreiter Erwin Hölzer in the control room could finally report that there was clear water under the keel. Prien scanned the area once more and there were the three expected blockships. They were at the mouth of the Kirk Sound.
Did you just get relieved of command for running aground? No - you are heading into the enemy's most protected harbor, alone - to sink one of their 29,150-ton Battleships - because your enemy thinks it can't be done.

You are Lieutenant Commander Günther Prien, Commanding Officer of U-47 - and you are heading into Scapa Flow.

So Shipmate, where is our Scapa Flow? Conventional or unconventional to asymmetric. Oh, you know where it is. Its real easy to find - real easy.

This FbF first posted in 2008.
UPDATE: Hey, in this dramatization of the attack, I think you might recognize someone.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hoss's Ending That Was Not to Be

If you have not kept up with the tragedy that is the story of General Cartwright, USMC (Ret.), head on over to USNIBlog and give my thoughts a ponder.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Japan; the Silent Big Man

Sticking for another day on WESTPAC, Kyle Mizokami over at TheNationalInterest has a good reminder that, small % of GDP on defense, Constitutional barriers, economic structural weaknesses, and demographic collapse do not stand in the way of a simple fact; Japan packs more punch per capita than anyone else in WESTPAC;
The best navy in Asia has a total of 114 warships and 45,800 volunteer personnel. It has a large fleet of fast, powerful destroyers, thoroughly modern diesel-electric attack submarines, and amphibious ships that can haul tanks and other ground forces. It can hunt submarines, square off against invasion fleets, and shoot down enemy ballistic missiles.
The main component of the MSDF are its fleet of forty-six destroyers and frigates—more than that those fielded by the United Kingdom and France combined.
The most powerful of Japan’s surface combatants are the Kongo class of guided-missile destroyers. The four ships—Kongo, Kirishima, Myoko and Chokai—are all named after battleships and cruisers of the Imperial Japanese Navy, a practice once generally avoided but becoming more popular as the memory of World War II fades.
It also provides a national ballistic-missile defense system for all of Japan—just two Kongos can protect most of the country.
Another formidable Japanese ship is the JS Izumo. At twenty-seven thousand tons fully loaded and more than eight hundred feet long, Izumo has a full-length flight deck, an island for controlling flight operations, aircraft elevators and a hangar that spans the length of the ship.

While that sounds like a traditional aircraft carrier, Japan insists the ship is actually a “helicopter destroyer.” Izumo can’t carry fixed-wing fighter jets but it can carry up to fourteen helicopters. These helicopters and their missions can vary, from antisubmarine warfare to minesweeping to helicopter airmobile assault. This makes the Izumo a flexible platform capable of taking on a variety of tasks. A second ship of the class, Kaga, is currently under construction.
Recognize that name? Of course you do;
Kaga (加賀?) was an aircraft carrier built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and was named after the former Kaga Province in present-day Ishikawa Prefecture.
...After bombarding American forces on Midway Atoll, Kaga and three other IJN carriers were attacked by American aircraft from Midway and the carriers Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown. Dive bombers from Enterprise severely damaged Kaga; when it became obvious she could not be saved, she was scuttled by Japanese destroyers to prevent her from falling into enemy hands.
Spin and PR is one thing, but operational performance is another. Anyone who has worked with the Japanese military or been stationed in Japan know they are a serious naval power. For those that don't have first hand experience, I like this datapoint;
One final reason why Japan’s navy is the best in Asia? On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of northern Japan. Vice Admiral Hiromi Takashima, commandant of the Yokosuka Naval District, immediately assumed temporary command of the entire MSDF and ordered all available ships north to the earthquake zone. The first ship left just forty-five minutes after the earthquake. Another seventeen ships packed with relief supplies departed within eighteen hours, some with only partially recalled crews. This ability to rapidly sortie the fleet with virtually no notice was perhaps the true test of the MSDF’s professionalism and efficiency.

Monday, October 17, 2016

In the Philippines, Money Won't Buy You Love

What is Philippine President Duterte's motivation in his anti-Americanism and his drift towards China? I don't think it is economic or a reward for past behavior by the Chinese.

Via Trefor Moss at the WSJ;
Mr. Duterte’s gambit is strategically risky, Western diplomats in Manila and analysts said, as he puts his country’s alliance with the U.S. on the line to pursue an untested relationship with a government that Manila saw until very recently as its chief security threat.

“It’s a strange negotiating tactic,” said Gregory Poling of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank. Mr. Duterte is “unilaterally abandoning the only leverage he has over Beijing—the U.S. security umbrella.”

An official at the U.S. Embassy in Manila said: “We will continue to honor our alliance commitments and treaty obligations and expect the Philippines to do the same.”

Zhang Baohui, a professor at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, said that for Beijing, “the strategic payoffs will be huge” if Manila pulls away from Washington, noting that Mr. Duterte is being honored with a full state visit.
There is a school of foreign aid thought that promises that if nothing else, our money buys us good will. As the chart shows, notsomuch in The Philippines.
The economic rationale behind Mr. Duterte’s Chinese strategy is understandable: He wants Chinese funding and technical expertise to build desperately needed infrastructure. Mr. Duterte has said he wants Beijing to build new railways on Luzon and Mindanao islands. He also said Beijing has offered him a 25-year loan on easy terms to fund arms purchases, although he gave no details and China hasn’t commented.

China has largely spurned the Philippines over the past few years, even as it pledged investments of tens of billions of dollars for other Asian countries as part of its “Belt and Road” regional infrastructure program.
Is he trying to play both sides? Perhaps.

Has he made the decision to try to get in the good graces with the dragon near by, as opposed to the fickle friend across the big water? Perhaps.

Having watched this guy for awhile, I'm not so sure that we need foreign policy hands to try to understand why - perhaps we need a forensic psychologist.

They guy has issues.
Mr. Duterte was elected on an anticrime platform, promising to extend nationwide the bloody campaign he waged against drug gangs as mayor of Davao City. For weeks he has lashed out with profanities at U.S. and other Western critics of his bloody campaign against suspected drug dealers, while also berating Washington for its supposed failures as an ally.

In Manila, diplomats privately expressed dismay and outrage at Mr. Duterte’s claim that billions in American and European aid amounted to mere “crumbs” that insulted the Filipino people, even as he heaped praise on China for its generosity in helping to build a single drug-rehabilitation center north of the capital.

While in Beijing, Mr. Duterte plans to visit “activities related to anti-drugs,” amid talks on bilateral cooperation in drug-control efforts, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Western officials noted that unlike Washington, Beijing won’t criticize Mr. Duterte’s human-rights record.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fullbore Friday

So, don't think you can do what you are not trained for? Think a beat up old ship can't be put in harm's way? Can you really think "out of the box?" Can a ship run aground, over and over, and still get an award? How about a Presidential Unit Citation? How about a destroyer that captures an airfield?

USS Dallas (DD-199), tell us all about it.

On 25 October she cleared Norfolk to rendezvous with TP 34 bound for the invasion landings on North Africa. Dallas was to carry a U.S. Army Raider battalion, and land them up the narrow, shallow, obstructed river to take a strategic airport near Port Lyautey, French Morocco. On 10 November she began her run up the Oued Sebou under the masterful guidance of Rene Malavergne, a civilian pilot who was to be the first foreign civilian to receive the Navy Cross. Under fire by cannon and small arms during the entire run, she plowed her way through mud and shallow water, narrowly missing the many sunken ships and other obstructions, and sliced through a cable crossing the river, to land her troops safely just off the airport. Her brilliant success in completing this mission with its many unexpected complications won her the Presidential Unit Citation.
That is the airfield on the right. Oh, and they fought the French the whole way.
On the night of 9-10 November a tactical innovation involving the Navy raised American spirits. On the Sebou River the destroyer-transport Dallas pushed aside a barricade and sneaked upstream with a raider detachment to spearhead the assault on the airfield. As the night wore on, some colonial units gave up the fight, but Foreign Legion units continued to resist. Several companies of the 1st and 3d Battalion Landing Teams made progress, though slow, toward the airfield.

In bypassing a French machine-gun position, three companies of the 1st Team became disoriented and unintentionally provided some comic relief to a difficult night. At 0430 the companies reached a building they thought housed the airfield garrison. Intent on maintaining surprise, the troops crept up to doors and windows, weapons at the ready. Bursting in, the embarrassed Americans discovered they had captured a French cafe. Some 75 patrons put down wine glasses and surrendered. Patrols rounded up about 100 more prisoners in the area.

At daylight on 10 November the 1st Team mounted a new drive, this time with tanks, and by 1045 reached the west side of the airfield. On the river the Dallas passed a gauntlet of artillery fire and debarked the raiders on the east side of the airfield. American troops now occupied three sides of their objective.

Serious opposition still came from the Mehdia fortress. Although naval gunfire had silenced the larger batteries earlier, machine-gun and rifle fire continued. Navy dive bombers were called in, and after only one bombing run the garrison quit. After claiming the fort and gathering prisoners, the 2d Battalion Landing Team moved on to close the ring around the airport. By nightfall the American victory was assured' and the local French commander requested a parlay with General Truscott. At 0400 on 11 November a cease-fire went into effect, the terms of which brought all GOALPOST objectives under American control.
Yes Virginia, we had to fight against the French before we would fight with them in WWII. One other thing, when looking up the Dallas, I noticed one of her then Junior Officers on that day who is buried at Arlington, Randall T. Boyd, Jr., CDR USN. Just for reference - what a career and life he had.
Commander Boyd saw combat as a naval artillery officer during World War II and as a pilot during the Korean War. He was awarded a Silver Star for his exploits during World War II and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his activities during the Korean War.

Born in Hingham, Massachusetts, and raised in Weymouth, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1941. He also earned a master's degree in aeronautical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

On November 10, 1942, he was artillery officer aboard the destroyer Dallas when it made a treacherous 10-mile run up the Sebou River to land an Army Ranger detachment to capture Port Lyautey Airport during the assault and occupation of French Morocco.

According to the citation for the Silver Star he was awarded for the engagement, he displayed "remarkable courage under heavy hostile fire during the perilous journey" and "played a large part in providing protective gunfire for our Army Ranger troops and controlled and directed the fire of the ship so efficiently that hostile shore batteries were silenced before they were able to inflict any damage on the Dallas."

After World War II, he trained as a pilot in Pensacola, Florida, then served in the Korean War.

The first citation for his Flying Cross described him as "a skilled airman and cool leader in the face of hostile opposition."

According to the citation, he was flying a mission over Korea on October 12, 1950, "when enemy shore batteries attacked US mine sweepers with intense fire.

"Commander Boyd spotted hostile targets, took them under fire and held them down while the vessels escaped from the area. Braving heavy fire sent up from the ground, he controlled naval gunfire and vectored carrier-based aircraft to the enemy positions."

After the Korean War, he was commanding officer of Naval Patrol Squadron 34, and later was second in command at the Naval Base in Rota, Spain.

After retiring from the Navy, he was an engineer at MIT's Draper Laboratory, where he worked on the Gemini and Apollo space programs, and a senior engineer at Brown and Root Inc. in Houston, where he oversaw shipbuilding projects.
Ship and man. Benchmark both.

UPDATE: BTW - here is a modern day pic of the river they took that DD up at night. Ballsy? Yep.

This FbF first posted in 2007.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Diversity Thursday

The USAF has a problem.

Of course, you say, Sal must be talking about;

The Air Force’s growing shortage of fighter pilots is a “quiet crisis that will almost certainly get worse before it gets better,” the service’s new chief and its top civilian leader said in an opinion piece published Thursday. But how bad is it? According to data obtained by The Washington Post, the number of fighter pilots in the service has fallen five years straight, and plummeted in the last two despite increasing need.
Well, yes - a serious organization focused on mission and having an ear towards accountability to the taxpayer and the very serious mandate to promote national security would be focused on this - but this is the American military's Air Force, so...

Don't be such a militarist.

The adoption of the worst parts of 1970s racial theory, self-loathing, rent seeking political calculus, and just plain intellectual cowardice has combined along with the tens of millions of dollars of diversity slush money to meet its logical conclusion in the USAF.

Our friend John Q. Public got the first sniffs of it about a year ago;
Earlier this year, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James introduced a series of new personnel initiatives geared toward enhancing diversity, inclusiveness, and equality across the force.

At the time, I offered criticism that her ideas appeared more politically expedient than substantive, and that some of what she wanted to do would require contending with various legal obstacles and regulatory challenges. I also worried aloud at the time that implementation of her initiatives, if done clumsily, could prove divisive, and that this might trigger new backlash and disharmony across a force already exhausted from a solid decade of human resource malpractice.

Others came right out and predicted that these policies would lead inevitably to race and gender quotas, creating unintended consequences that should be carefully considered before implementation.

“It’s quotas,” said retired Col. Terry Stevens at the time. Stevens spent 35 years in the Air Force and held a high-level post at the personnel center for 8 of those years. Stevens added:
“They won’t say that, but … [it’s] quotas. If you’re going to do that instead of picking the best qualified of any applicant, then you’re actually downgrading the quality of the force. A lot of people are not going to agree with that, but it’s true.”
What is the uniformed head of the USAF saying?
The officials said they are working on a plan for an increased retention bonus to get pilots to stay longer. Currently, they offer $25,000 a year to stay up to nine years.
"We've got to make sure that we remain competitive," Goldfein said.

In addition to a pay boost, Goldfein, a former fighter pilot, added that it was necessary to improve the "quality of service," which he said involved making sure pilots can remain engaged when not flying combat operations.

"The reality is, pilots who don't fly, maintainers who don't maintain, controllers who don't control are not going to stay with the company because we're not allowing them to be the very best they can be," he said.
Well, that was November. In less then 10 months, then this happened.
The first new initiative mandates that at least one diverse candidate will have to be in the running for important developmental positions like aide-de camp, senior enlisted advisor and executive officer, among other roles.

A second proposal, however, declares that Development Teams (DTs) and Command Selection Boards (CSBs), both intimately involved in the selection process, must have a certain number of diverse candidates sitting on them.

More dramatically, the CSB or DT president must “assess the diversity of both the selectees and those not selected for command following the board’s decision.” In other words, the heads of these boards will have to provide clear justification if they decide to make decisions that run-up against diversity goals.
Let's take a moment to clearly define this for you. "Goals" are quotas. If you don't meet them, you will be reported to the Star Chamber. It really is that simple.
To head-off immediate criticisms of the far-reaching proposals, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein recently insisted to Air Force Times in an interview: “This is not about social engineering. This is about maintaining a competitive advantage.”

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James put down her foot and said she wants to make the demographics of the service match more closely with the changing demographics of America.
Sorry General Goldfein, no one believes you, and I would bet a tank of gas that you don't believe that either. It simply is not supported by the evidence.

If you define "competitive advantage" getting budgetary brownie points inside the Administration and in Congress, then sure. If you mean anything to do with combat effectiveness - which is color blind - then no. If you believe that race, creed, color or national origin has a competitive advantage, then you must believe in eugenics and genetic difference in races. If so, what do you believe, and how do they apply to races.

Please, tell us more about the racialist theories you support.
But even as diversity increases, there are still numerous key positions that don’t seem to attract diverse candidates, namely pilots, cyber operations, intelligence operations and space and missile operations, which is very upsetting to Air Force officials.

So in careers where there isn’t a lot of diversity, commanders will have to come up with plans explaining why airmen in those positions are mostly white, male heterosexuals and how commanders can work towards changing that representation.
So, the USAF is going to start asking Airmen about their sexual proclivities? That is a metric now as well? What if you are gender-fluid and your desires change one FY to another? How do you update that? What if one area has too many homosexuals, do we ... what - give preference to heterosexuals?

Yes friends, the USAF is well outside the, "best qualified for the job" circle of excellence.
Although the Air Force already has unconscious bias training, the service wants to change the dates of the training to take place just before officials make key career decisions.

“To the fullest extent possible, unconscious bias training will be given immediately prior to promotion boards, prior to DT meetings on school assignments, prior to civilian hiring panels, and prior to annual performance evaluations,” the fact sheet notes.
I warned you years ago that "unconscious bias" was going to get mainstreamed. You see, regardless of what you do, you are a bigot.

All this does is ensure employment for an otherwise unemployable cadre of Diversity Bullies.
“Diversity and inclusion are national security imperatives,” Air Force Director of Diversity and Inclusion Chevalier Cleaves said in 2015. “So we must succeed. There is no second place for us. In order to do that, we need to make sure that we leverage the talent of all Americans, not just some.”
No its not. What is a national security imperative is national unity and fair treatment to all. You can't have that when you promote sectarianism, race based preferences, and a science-free and merit blind system of promotion.

The military is a serious business. If you do not have the best and brightest, your people get killed and your nation is put under strategic risk.

Let's take a moment and play their game.

Here are the national demographics (2012);
White 77.4%
Black Americans 13.2%
Asian Americans 5.3%
Multiracial Americans 2.6%
Hispanics/Latinos (of any race) 17.8%

What are the USAF Demographics?
White 72.0%
Black Americans 14.0%
Asian Americans 3.6%
Multiracial Americans 3.8%
Hispanics/Latinos (of any race) 13.6%
Declined to respond 4.4%

OK. Tell me what you see. Look harder.

No. There isn't a problem. This is completely manufactured. The impressive thing is that we are doing so well.

Especially for Black and to a much lesser extent "Hispanic" Americans, all you need to do is look at the education and crime statistics - both of which are sure show stoppers to joining - and you see that even in a perfect world, you are going to have exceptional problems getting the same objective criteria results by racial and ethnic cohort - all subjective areas such as tradition and free will aside.

If you look at the new racialist guidelines the USAF is going to saddle itself with, you see that it isn't the aggregate numbers they are focused on. When you dig deeper in to the numbers, which we have done often in previous DivThu and won't repeat here today, there can be significant differences in racial representation as a percentage. Especially in what the Army calls, "Combat Arms" where your senior leaders, rightfully, mostly come from.

If they really cared about that discrepancy, they would work on those educational and societal factors that impact the pipeline before a recruiter even talks to someone. That is outside the USAF's control, so why punish the institution and its personnel for it through acts of commission and omission based on such divisive criteria as race, creed, color or national origin?

Let's go back to that smear on the honor of all good people and our nation, the lie of unconscious bias. Brendan Kirby over at Lifezette has a great review of what African immigrants are doing when given the opportunity this nation provides anyone who wants to work hard.
Black immigrants, on average, earn more money and use less welfare than blacks born in the United States, raising doubts about the reach and impact of systemic racism.

The income data, which comes from the Census Bureau, is not new.
The median household income for black immigrants, $48,232, is more than $14,000 higher than the median income for blacks born in the United States. Whites, Hispanics, and Asians born in the United States all out-earn their racial or ethnic counterparts who have immigrated to the United States. American-born blacks also are more likely than black immigrants to be enrolled at least one government-assistance program and more likely to be living in poverty. Those two categories also are the reverse of other racial and ethnic groups.

“There are some things about black immigrants that would make them do better,” said Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies.
Black immigration, like immigration generally, is quickly rising. Since 1980, the number of foreign-born blacks in the United States more than quadrupled. Blacks currently make up nearly 10 percent of all immigrants, up from 3.1 percent in 1980.

“Many black migrants perceive things are better overall in the U.S. than where they are coming from,” said Carl Lipscombe, who is on the senior leadership team at the left-leaning Black Alliance for Just Immigration. “I think many of them don’t realize or don’t expect to face discrimination based on race.”

But some black immigrants said dark-skinned immigrants from Africa and Caribbean perceive better opportunities in America because there are better opportunities.

Rick Nugent, president of the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations, said he originally came on a student visa in 1967 because there were few opportunities in his homeland. At the time, Jamaica had a single university, he said.

“Once you get adjusted to the lifestyle and the opportunities, you don’t go back,” he said. “There are jobs for people who want to work. Same with education.”
I was hoping they would get to the Caribbean immigrants of African extraction. That is what I grew up seeing first hand.

The difference is cultural. It isn't racial. That isn't a comfortable thing to say, but it is what it is. That doesn't mean we should ignore it - it is a very American problem that American of all backgrounds need to work on - but it also isn't an Air Force problem to solve.

Right now the USAF needs to focus why it can't keep its core competency capital - its pilots - inside its lifelines, regardless of their background.

Perhaps the solution is in Congress. As we covered six years ago, at the end of the Democrat control of Congress, they did the following;
Buried in the annual Coast Guard authorization act passed this week by Congress is wording that would strike from the U.S. Code the statement that all appointments to the Coast Guard Academy "shall be made without regard to the sex, race, color or religious beliefs of an applicant."
Yep. Until 2010, the USCG was one of the last places where they were prevented from discriminating on the basis of sex, race, color, or religious belief. In order to open the door to the Diversity Bullies - which they have done with great vigor - they had to be allowed to do that.

A great disgrace to the Republican Party, they have done nothing to get rid of this red in tooth and claw discriminatory change.

So, those of us who desire a military that does not care what your DNA says, just that you do your job well, have a setback. No reason to give up, we have made so much progress, but we just have to care more than the race obsessed bigots who care about nothing else.

If you'd like to review the "Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives fact sheet, here you go.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bonfire of the ratings

Now that the dust has settled a bit and more information is available, I decided to post on the slaughter of the ratings.

I've posted my thoughts over at USNIBlog. 

Head on over and share your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

I see your Ken Bone, and Raise You a Michael Cecire

Remember, history is a trickster. She makes you think she was, when the whole time she simply is.

She likes to let you think you know her. She will leave little hints for you to find here and there that lead you to think you know what she is up to - if you even bother to look.

She prefers that you don't look, she much prefers you to live in the now. The real and false clues she leaves around in case you are looking? They are so good, they make so much sense, they connect perfectly if you just tilt your head right - as she likes it. You see, she lays these very real clues, hints, and tracks for one reason only - to hide what she is actually going to do next.

Yes, she will try to keep you in the now with the flirty twirl of her hair, a furtive glance, the flash of beautiful jewelry, the perfume that causes you to close your eyes and think of better times - but the trails and hints are there just in case you figured the game out, you don't sample the lotus, that your desire to know is greater than your desire to feel.

Her obvious tricks catch the arrogant ones the easiest; you know the type. At each head fake she throws, there is a clear "End of History," an "End of the World as We Know It," a "game changer," because ... see how nice everything is when all is transforming in to the new?

But the buzz-kills and worry-worts try to escape her glance, go deaf to her lies, cover their noses and look at the sea of trails she laid around. The arrogant ones always pick the obvious decoys, so you look for other threads. You know that many of theme will lead nowhere, will circle back, will simply mutate with no progress, but some lead where she is actually going.

Almost all the "thought leaders" and "top men" were wrong in 1913, 1938, 1990, 1991, 2000, 2002, 2010, 2013 - they were all wrong. Almost all.

There were some who saw the real thread history laid out. If you read obscure sources enough, read the back up slides, step outside your comfortable echo chamber, you would have seen them. You would have also read a bunch of junk - but that is part of her game. You have to test out and examine her decoys, false leads, jackassery and trolling in order to have a chance to find out what she actually plans to do.

Last week at TheNationalInterest, you could find Michael Cecire examining a thread that leads to a dark, divisive, and dangerous place - but a familiar one. Not quite fully formed yet, but it is almost one of those things that, with a few more cards coming out of the deck, would be bold, clear, and distinct as a fist rising to your face;
NATO is slouching towards crisis. Beneath a facade of solidarity in the face of Russian revanchism, the Atlantic alliance is facing potentially its stiffest existential test since the end of the Cold War as questions emerge over the kind of organization it claims to be—versus what it does in practice.
no amount of reform can overcome the reality that NATO membership depends on a unanimous political consensus between its twenty-eight members. Corralling twenty-eight variations in national interest, risk perception, and vision for the alliance is difficult during the best of times. Today, it appears virtually impossible with Russian armies bearing down on Europe’s doorstep.

With expansion on indefinite hold and NATO’s increased focus on territorial defense and retrenchment, the practical outcome is a Europe rent between the “haves,” blessed by geography, the NATO umbrella, or both, and the “have-nots”—who have neither. In effect, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, despite European aspirations and some impressive reforms (particularly in Georgia), have been stranded on the wrong side of fortress NATO, condemned to subsist in Russia’s shadow because of the scars Russia itself inflicted: Crimea, Donbas, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria.
NATO’s current posture of retrenchment, at least in the way that it undermined expansion, is arguably a kind of withdrawal from the Alliance’s founding raison d’etre. And as a result, NATO’s expansion impasse has contributed to a widely perceived suspension, if not outright slow death, of Euro-Atlantic conditionality, a largely successful policy linking liberal reforms with integration.
Russian power, not to mention the wider spectrum of threats, menaces well beyond the Suwalki Gap; among plausible (if unlikely), potentially catastrophic scenarios, the threat to the Baltics is only one of many. More practically, NATO has neither the manpower nor resources to exhaustively fortify every region under potential threat, and any Alliance response to a large-scale contingency should be organized and launched not from the chaos of the front lines, but from regions benefiting from stable supply lines and strategic depth. This is the only (conventional, large-scale) means by which NATO would ever be successfully defended, and also the only way any future NATO members should expect the NATO cavalry to arrive. Alliance membership is not a substitute for national security, and any aspiring member should have no expectation that it can count on Western (read: U.S.) military bases in the event of accession.
NATO’s relevance in the twenty-first century won’t be found by erecting walls against Putin’s Russia, but in continuing to protect and extend the borders of a liberal European space. And while hard power is a pillar of that mission, it was always only intended as an instrument, and not as an end in itself.

Outside the wire, the likes of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia should not sit by and wait for the Alliance to fix itself—or collapse. Fairly or not, hard power is now the coin of the realm, and “defensibility” is a key prism through which their Euro-Atlantic aspirations will ultimately be judged.
As NATO approaches three years since Russian forces occupied and annexed Crimea, it is becoming increasingly clear that Moscow’s belligerent posture is a long-term issue. However, Moscow’s saber rattling should not trap the Euro-Atlantic West into an indefinite era of insecurity, and compel its members to abandon the values that have long underwritten Europe’s unprecedented period of peace and prosperity. NATO is in the midst of a crisis of purpose and identity at odds with its founding spirit, and only by reversing that trend can the Alliance and the broader Euro-Atlantic project be successful.
Has the alliance that stood down the Soviet Union morphed and twisted itself to the point its internal contradictions prevent it from standing up to a rump Russia?

Will the second half of this decade show that Romney in 2012 had it right? What is the correct response to the bear of today?

The logic of an approach to an angry bear all depends on if it is bluffing or not - and your perception of it.

The bear will always threaten when cornered, the key is to know if its response is for show or not. If the bear is just bluffing; if you stand there firm and calm, he will eventually relax and move away. If he is just bluffing and you run away in a panic, you will probably trigger a reflex attack. If the bear is bluffing and you move towards it aggressively, he might run away, but if you are not convincing, you will most likely cause a defensive attack.

If the bear is not bluffing, but you stand there firm and calm - but are not ready or able to respond to the eventual charge, you will get mauled. If the bear is not bluffing and you run away in a panic, you only delay the mauling by a few seconds. If the bear is not bluffing and you move towards it aggressively, you won't know what hit you. If the bear is not bluffing but you stand as tall and as firm as he does, show no fear and are obviously ready, the bear might move to a show-n-bluff and figure you are not worth the risk. The bear might charge anyway, but in that case you are ready for him and should give as well as you get - and have a chance to survive.

Looking over Cecire's overview of NATO's challenge, I guess the question is if Russia is bluffing or not. Either way, what posture are we showing?

What does the bear smell? Does it smell fear? Indecision? Lack of resolve? A desire to retreat to roll up in a ball?

Does out behavior encourage aggression?

On 06 OCT, we move this direction;
“I want to be clear to those that wish to do us harm.

"I want be clear to those around the world who want to destroy our way of life and those of our friends and allies.

"The US military, despite all our challenges, will stop you, and we will beat you harder than you have ever been beaten before.

“We will destroy any enemy, anywhere, any time.”
Then, a few days later, they play their card;
Russia has moved nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles into the Kaliningrad enclave bordering Poland and Lithuania, the Defence Ministry said on Saturday, adding it was part of routine drills.

"These missile units have been deployed more than once (in the Kaliningrad region) ... and will be deployed as part of military training of the Russian armed forces," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

A U.S. intelligence official said on Friday that Russia had started moving the Iskander-Ms into the enclave on the Baltic in what he said could be a gesture to express displeasure with NATO.

Konashenkov said one of the missiles had been deliberately exposed to a U.S. spy satellite. "We did not have to wait for too long - our American partners confirmed it themselves in their revelatory endeavor," he said.

Lithuania, neighboring Kaliningrad and a member of NATO, said it would protest to Moscow.

"The deployment not only increases tensions in the region, but also possibly violates international treaties which limit deployment of ballistic missiles of range of over 500 kilometers," Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told a news briefing in Vilnius.

"There will be a NATO-Russia Council meeting, and this is shaping up as one of issues on the agenda," he added.

"We will use all channels available to not only raise this question, but to demand that international agreements are adhered to."

Some modifications of the Iskander can hit targets 700 km (450 miles) away, putting the German capital Berlin in range of Kaliningrad, Linkevicius said.

"This is a usual Russian tactic: escalate tensions, create a discord and then expect concessions elsewhere. I would like to hope that this will not work this time," he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday suspended a treaty with Washington on cleaning up weapons-grade plutonium, saying it was a response to unfriendly acts by Washington.
What is history doing here?

I have no idea, but I don't trust her and she is up to no good in 2016.

Russia? Russia will be Russia and she has her own mind.

Monday, October 10, 2016

So, you want to play varsity football?

Last week, the varsity team took the field;
Three U.S. warships are operating off the coast Yemen following a guided missile attack against a UAE operated ship by Houthi rebels, two U.S. defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Tuesday.

The ships – guided-missile destroyers USS Nitze (DDG-94), USS Mason (DDG-87) and the afloat forward staging base USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) – are on station off Yemen near the Bab Al Mandeb strait that links the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.
Reports as of late Sunday tell us the locals decided to scrimmage.
"USS Mason detected two inbound missiles over a 60-minute period while in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen. Both missiles impacted the water before reaching the ship," Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said.

"There were no injuries to our sailors and no damage to the ship," he said.
So far, well done all.