Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Echo of DRUMBEAT

Of course, it never really left - it has always been there.

For a little over a quarter century it drifted below the ambient noise, off our vernier perhaps, as we basked in the Cold War victory and then distracted by the Long War ... but it was always there.

It stood still for a bit, but it watched, matured, and grew.

For those who tried to keep it in their scan, it popped up now and then. If you got your bandwidth/binwidth right and you knew where to look, you could track it.

It's becoming easier to track now. Even the French are hearing it.
France launched May 2 an upgrade of systems and weapons on three La Fayette frigates, notably adding an anti-submarine capability to the stealthy warship, the arms procurement office said.

The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) announced the award to DCNS for the modernization of three of the five La Fayette class frigates in service with the French Navy. Work will start in 2020 and will be done in Toulon, southern France, when the frigates go into dock for scheduled overhaul, the procurement office said. A first upgraded frigate will be delivered in 2021.

The anti-submarine capability will be fitted with a hull-mounted sonar and anti-torpedo countermeasures, the DGA said. A spokesman declined to comment on the value of the contract.
This class of frigate was commissioned between '92 & '99. These are not young ships.

Smart people here are hearing it as well.

In the sad but unlikely case you missed it in the the Russia-Russia-Russia broadband noise in the last few weeks, along with his co-author Julianne Smith, our friend Jerry Hendrix published earlier this month the must read, Forgotten Waters: Minding the GIUK Gap.

Read it all, but here's a few meaty bits; Russian submarines have become more capable, while Allied anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities have atrophied over time. Defense experts now caution that the “GIUK Gap”—a line stretching between Greenland and Iceland to the United Kingdom—is a potential flashpoint between NATO and Russia, whose Murmansk-based Northern Fleet must transit the Gap to reach the Atlantic.1 So that Russia’s maritime assets might project force and support its interests, Putin revamped Russia’s national security strategy in 2016 to stress unfettered maritime access to the Atlantic. This partially explains why the GIUK Gap has seen more submarine traffic and higher tensions in recent years. Although Russia recently announced cuts to its defense spending, the authors believe that it will continue to devote resources to advanced nuclear submarines and other platforms that promise asymmetric advantages.3 Russian submarine patrols in the area hit recently a post–Cold War high; low-level, high-speed Russian aircraft flybys of U.S. naval warships have increased. As a result, focus on Allied maritime capabilities that could deter these actions has heightened.
Much of our ASW equipment is far from state of the art. Even the "advanced" tools are decades old - better than most out there with some nifty stuff hidden here and there - but more or less treading water since I was a LT. That is just on the Search/Location/Track side of the house. You don't even want to talk about the weaponeering end of the chain.
Neither the individual member states, nor the alliance as a whole, presently possess the ability to conduct a comprehensive and coordinated anti-submarine warfare campaign under either peacetime or wartime conditions. The Atlantic-facing members of NATO now possess far fewer frigates—the premier class of surface vessels designated to conduct ASW operations—than they did 20 years ago. Where they collectively had around 100 frigates in 1995, that number hovers at 51 today. Similarly, these nations had, in 1995, 145 attack submarines—those dedicated to anti-shipping and anti-submarine warfare missions—but that number has plummeted to a present low of 84. Moreover, most of the 52 U.S. attack submarines are presently being “pivoted” to the rising threat in the Asian Pacific region.6 In addition, the United States has placed its large underwater Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) in a standby condition, where data remains available but is unmonitored, while the U.S. Navy’s Surveillance Towed-Array Sensor System (SURTASS) fleet is being cut from nine to five ships. As a result, NATO’s ability to monitor and track threats in the underwater environment has been badly degraded, just as a revanchist Russia is re-emerging to challenge NATO interests in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Today, in addition, key economic infrastructure are undersea, including communications cables and energy wellheads and pipelines. Ninety-nine percent of all transoceanic communications flow through undersea cables; nearly one third of all oil global and natural gas production is drawn from undersea wells.12 These are persistently under threat. Forgotten Waters revealed both how crucial these investments are to the daily lives of alliance members and the paucity of thought that has been devoted to their defense. Assumptions that care and maintenance of undersea assets are the responsibility of the commercial sector break down during wartime conditions, when the presence of enemy combatants can prevent commercial ships from making the repairs necessary to maintain communications and energy flows. In a global economy that is increasingly dependent upon access to the undersea environment, the NATO alliance must adapt rapidly to these new conditions.
You need to read it all.

As a datapoint about what a few submarines can do, most people know about "OPERATION DRUMBEAT" - the Happy-Time for German U-boats off the East Coast of the USA right after Germany declared war on the USA. How many are aware of how few U-boats were actually involved?

Thanks to the incredible people over at, we have a nice summary;
Dönitz wanted to strike with 12 type IX boats, the only boats capable of cruising that far. But he was forced to reduce that number to 6 boats due to other engagements of Hitler's preferences of the Gibraltar area. One of the 6 boats marked for this operation, U-128 was in need of urgent repairs and could not make it in time. Thus only 5 boats sailed.
That is right; 5.

What were just 5 boats in the first wave able to do?
U-125 (Folkers) was the first to sail on 18 Dec, 1941, followed by U-123 (Hardegen) on the 23rd and U-66 (Zapp) on the 24th, finally the last two of the Paukenschlag boats, U-130 (Kals) and U-109 (Bleichrodt) sailed together on the 27th. It would take then just over 2 weeks to reach US waters. They were under strict orders not to attack anything on the outbound cruise unless a especially attractive target was located (this meant a big warship like a cruiser, carrier or a battleship, but like Dönitz said "We never let a 10,000 tonner pass us by").
The Drumbeat boats ended operations of the coast of America on Feb 6 and headed home. They sank 25 ships for a total of 156,939 tons. Hardegen (U-123) sank 9 ships for a total of 53,173 tons.
That is what 5 German U-boats were able to do in just a few short weeks. They sunk all that with no losses.

Before WWII, I am sure many would have claimed it would be impossible for such an audacious operation to be conducted right under the lights of the East Coast, but it did.

In a short, sharp war - how would we do with (I know, everyone wants a short & sharp but never gets one) just a few Russian Northern Fleet SSN off our coast, say a couple each Sierra and Akula along with - for old time's sake - their last Victor III as well? Throw in the Severodvinsk off Norfolk for fun?

Once the Russians break in to the open Atlantic, things get sporty. A lot has changed since the German U-boats broke in to the Atlantic, but the danger of the submarine has not.

We've enjoyed a bit of a holiday. We've become a bit complacent, supine, and slothy. Heck, the nation that used to be the best at ASW, the UK, can't even defend their coastal waters anymore.

History is a jealous, needy lover, and she is parked down the street with her lights off waiting for you to wake up.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Fullbore Friday

A great story via our friends at ThinkDefence about an exceptional side-show to The Falkland Island war.
Pebble Island lies to the north of West Falkland and in 1982, its 25 inhabitants were mainly involved with tending 25,000 sheep. Its small airstrip was subject to a daring raid by the SAS.

It did have an airstrip, though, or more accurately, four, three of grass, and the other on the beach. On the 24th of April, Naval Air Station Calderon (as it was called) was established there.
HMS Hermes was detached along with HMS Glamorgan and HMS Broadsword. The SAS and personnel from 148 (Meiktila) Commando Forward Observation Battery made for a raiding force totalling 45 and were loaded aboard four 846 NAS Sea Kings for the flight into the assembly point at Phillips Cove.

HMS Glamorgan fired on the western edge of the runway to provide a diversion and draw in Argentine forces. Shortly after, the main attack commenced;
Then our own mortar opened up, lighting the whole place up like it was a bright daylight. The mortar man was having a lot of trouble. Every time he fired the bloody thing, the whack kicking the base plate further into the ground. There was virtually no enemy fire on us, so the boys got stuck into the planes. They split into seven two-man teams. It was a bloody big trip and they had a lot of ground to cover. It’s not as if the planes were all parked in a neat row. They were all over the strip. And all the time the boys were running against the clock. Five planes were destroyed using the explosive charges that they had with them. The Pucara was the tallest of the aircraft. As they approached each plane, one bloke would give the other a leg up on to the wing. Once up, he then leaned down and hauled the other one up to join him. The Skyvan was not a problem. The Mentors were very small, and with one great leap, the guys got themselves on the wings. (Ramsey, SAS: The Soldier’s Story)
Aircraft had cables ripped out and fuel tanks punctured with small arms fire and grenades. It was all over by 03:35 and the SAS teams withdrew to their waiting helicopters, the job well done.

Six Pucara, four T-34C and one Skyvan were damaged or destroyed.
That, my friends, is a nice, efficient OP.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hatchets well burried

USA, Japan, and Vietnam.

Once old enemies, now new friends.

A good.

I'm discussing in more detail over at USNIBlog.

Come on by!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

OK Rep. Palmer (R-AL), You Want to Talk Dogs? Let’s Talk Dogs

Let's shift fire from the UK's child sacrifice for a bit.

I’m going to show a little IRL passion ankle here, but I don’t care, there is an overlap of passions here and I cannot help myself.

There was this little bit about the dogs we use as a critical part of our national security infrastructure in the House Homeland Security Committee that I simply have to blog about.
Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., provided the only contentious moments of the hearing when he questioned Harvey on TSA's dog procurement practices. Palmer noted that he himself had recently been at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and saw very few canine teams.

Palmer, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, pressed Harvey on the procurement issue, citing Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" executive order. Harvey assured Palmer that the TSA has “an interagency agreement with DoD. We use the same vendors that they use . . . We also have a couple of agreements with domestic vendors from which we also get dogs.”

Still, Palmer complained that TSA dogs were being “foreign sourced.”

“The administration has an emphasis on 'Buy American' and it seems to me it would make sense that you would prefer American dogs and American-trained dogs over foreign-sourced dogs,” Palmer said. “Particularly, the vendors that train them from puppies. Why do you have a preference in any context for foreign-sourced dogs?”

Harvey explained that TSA doesn’t prefer foreign dogs over domestic ones, but that vendors aren't always able to supply the dogs TSA needs. “We have a large requirement for our large number of dogs,” Harvey said. She added that TSA is working closely to ramp up procurement of dogs from domestic vendors.
Here is the executive summary Congressman; we foreign source our dogs because on balance American breeders in general, and the AKC specifically, are the worst thing to happen to dogs since the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.

Our problem is twofold, vanity and greed.

Let me give you an example. The worse national election of the last year was not Clinton-v-Trump, it was the German Shepard Dog winning the Westminster Kennel Club following the equally horrid disgrace at Crufts last year where the Mother Country picked up our bad ideas. The American GSD is the poster child for systemic animal abuse in the guise of “love” of a breed.

As they have with so many breeds, the “Bench” conformation crowd created a crippled, unhealthy, and generally useless line of GSD that come from the USA. See that sloping back? You do not see that deformity in German, Dutch, and Belgian lines of those dogs. Untold hundreds of puppies are born each year in conformation kennels who spend their lives in pain and misery just to get that look from a few.

As all they are concerned with is superficial conformity to an artificial standard created by people with no care for what the dogs actually are designed to do, nothing else matters. Hips, EIC, cancer, allergies, intelligence, drive, instinct – non of these things matter to the Bench people in the USA - and increasingly elsewhere as our bad habits spread.

The poor puppers have had their purpose bred out of them. Herding dogs can’t herd, retrievers cannot retrieve, pointers can’t point, guards can’t guard, terriers can’t terrorize, and hounds are scared of their own shadows.

Let’s look at what we Americans have done to some breeds. I could go through dozens, but I’ll just grab the few top-of-mind outside the GSD;

English Setter: Bench breed setters are huge, lumbering beasts who would not last 10 minutes in the field actually hunting, even if they had the nose, were trainable, and residual instincts to know what to do. Look at field bred lines or even the Llewellyn variant to see what it takes.

Labrador Retrievers: In the name of all that is holy, this breed is now actually devolved in to three major breeds and a few minor ones. The Bench Labs are fat, tumored, wheezing creatures who by age of 6 can barely bark at the mailman without becoming breathless and wincing in pain from arthritis. Because the American Field and Hunt tests have become something only an East German swimming coach would want to be involved in, top Field bred American labs are taunt, hyper animals that if not exercised two hours a day cannot live in a house without destroying it and putting half the kids and elderly in the hospital from knocking them over. In the USA it has gotten so bad that those wanting a Lab to be a reliable hunting dog look to get Labs from British lines. No American Field bred Lab could even start a British hunt test as they simply could not sit still long enough. A British champion hunting Lab wouldn’t get a callback at a US Field Trial due to lack of drive. Maddening.

Golden Retrievers: Just like the Lab, they were ruined by the puppy mills and conformation people. There are now distinct field lines that almost don’t look like Goldens if your standard is what you see in dog shows. Even with veterinary care better now days than most human health care, longevity is decreasing. Don’t even get me started on the average temperament of bench Goldens. Just a crime – especially if you’ve known a great Field Golden.

There, I could go on for days, so let’s get back to the topic at hand.

German Shepherd Dogs, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds – there are very few American breeders who can produce the quality of dogs needed for proper work in any quantity.

Personality, ability, and drive have a high genetic component in dogs. You have to have generation after generation of dedicated breeding to keep a dog genetically predisposed to do its proper job. 

The post-WWII era in the USA driven by the Bench Mafia (and to a lesser extent the Lab Field Trial Mafia) have ruined many lines of dogs to do anything but look pretty running in circles, running like a drug addled speed-demon, or ranges so far that it requires a person on a horse to keep up with them.

European dog breed clubs for guarding, herding, and gun dogs, especially the German ones, require dogs to prove their ability to do their job – and increasingly to pass hip and DNA screenings – before you can even breed them. Ability first, looks second.

(in the USA look at the English Cocker you'll find on quail plantations on the FL-GA border to see another example of the split)

You get what you prioritize, breed, and pay for – and in America we screwed up our priorities when it comes to dogs, especially working dogs.

As long as there is an AKC led as it is now, and the American public continues to subsidize American vanity breeders, we will need to go overseas to get dogs that still have the physical and mental ability to do their job.

Even in the hunting world, people go to Europe to bring home what we call German Shorthairs, Wirehairs, Clumber Spaniels, Weimaraners, Dachshunds (yes, Dachshunds. A German bred hunting-line Dachshund in the field would blow your mind on rabbit, tracking deer, or even pheasants) and many lessor known breeds. Why? Because the real world people you saw in the great cinematic masterpiece, Best in Show, have destroyed breed after breed for their own vanity and profit from an equally vain American public.

I am in full alignment with the Congressman here; we need more dogs in homeland & military service, not less. We always learn this lesson over and over.
“I think we can train [canine teams] to do even more,” Correa said. “I think we gotta go in that direction to defend our country to protect our citizenry and to make sure that you do the best job you can to protect our country.”
They’re good dogs, America. They love what they do … and some even volunteer to do it.

Rant over.

I don’t know about you, but I feel better.

As a side note, if you are thinking about getting a dog, I do breed consultation on the side pro bono. Send me an email with what you want a dog for and your lifestyle and I’d be happy to give you a few ideas. From lap to field, I’ll yap your ear off.

IRL, I would rather talk about dogs than anything else.

We owe our civilization to two animals, horses and dogs - we should show them the respect they deserve.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Child Sacrifice in Manchester

By any modern measure, the Roman Empire was a barbaric, brutal, and ruthless society built and maintained by slavery and slaughter. Yet, even to the Romans, the Carthaginians were considered nightmarishly brutal mostly due to one thing; child sacrifice to their god Ba’al Hammon.
We must also say something about her disasters and domestic misfortunes, just as Pompeius Trogus and Justin relate them. The Carthaginians have always had domestic and internal misfortunes. Because of this source of discord and its unhappy faculty of causing disturbance they have never yet enjoyed prosperity abroad, or peace at home. When they were suffering from plagues in addition to their other misfortunes, they resorted to homicides instead of to medicines; indeed they sacrificed human beings as victims and offered young children at their altars. In this way they aroused even the pity of the enemy.

Concerning this form of sacred rite—nay, rather of sacrilege—I am perplexed as to what I should discuss in preference to all else. For if some demons have dared to order rites of this character, requiring as they did that the death of men should be propitiated by human slaughter, it must be understood that these demons acted as partners and promoters of the plague and that they themselves killed those whom the plague had not seized; for it was customary to offer healthy and undefiled sacrificial victims. In doing this they not only failed to allay, but rather anticipated, the pestilences.
And so, in the modern context, we see another case in the United Kingdom, England usually, where once again the British people are more than willing to keep sacrificing their children to the post-modern god of national self-loathing begat in their own image.

This morning, how many families are in blind shock as they try to identify the seeping mass of scattered flesh in bags who were once their beautiful, happy, precocious teenage girls? How many mothers and fathers are pacing halls of hospitals wondering if their girls will survive? Will they walk again? Will they be able to see, hear - will they ever find a plastic surgeon good enough to make them pretty again?

How many girls too young to drive are standing in the shower in horrified tears, though they were untouched, yet they watch at their feet the dried blood of untold people rehydrate and fill the floor in a swirling soup of blood around the drain? How many with shaking hands do their best to pull the gore of shredded flesh, brains, bone and skin that overnight dried and knotted in their hair?

And for what? This did not happen by accident; this happened as a result of government policy over decades that enabled a huge mass of water for a fetid mass of Islamic terrorism to swim in.

Manchester is at the very heart of the UK, and just down the road, a little over 40 miles, from another of their scenes of child sacrifice, Rotherham. Yes, Rotherham, where those with the charter to serve and protect decided that it was best to look the other way as thousands of young girls were groomed as sex slaves by gangs of South Asian men. They looked the other way because they were afraid of the Orwellian PC culture that infests their Metropolitan Police and judicial leadership to the point that basic things such as free speech and protecting girls from pedophiles are of secondary importance not being called bad names, and as such – serve the career interests of police leadership and protect their jobs.

We know now, as fully expected, that the 20-something attacker whose name I will not use here, was “known” to authorities.

They did nothing.

There is a broad range of things that can be done, and yet still respect the rights of honest British subjects of all backgrounds – and yet they do nothing.
Last year, the Government admitted just 14 of nearly 400 returnee fighters have been jailed, raising fears the rest are living off the radar and may be vulnerable to radicalisation.
Until that figure is 386/400, the British are still not serious. People who fight for ISIS are no different than someone who was a member of an SS Einsatzgruppen, and should be treated as such ... like a returning British citizen in 1944 would have been treated who was a member of one in 1941 would be.

That is just one example. The no-go zones, speech laws, and hate-spewing Imams are just a few others.

As I have said over the years, the European failure to control their borders, defend their culture, and demand assimilation by those who come will, in time, force them to become something they don’t want to be.

Responsible, mainstream politicians need to take action before the people eventually turn to irresponsible, fringe politicians who promise to take action.

Some think the slaughter of the Manchester innocents might be a moment of change, but I don’t know if there has been a full ripening yet.

Let’s review, shall we?

- April 7th, 2017: 4 run down in Stockholm.
- March 22nd, 2017: 4 run down in London.
- December 19th, 2016: 12 run down in Berlin.
- July 14th, 2016: 86 run down in Nice.
- March 22nd, 2016: 32 blown up in Brussels.

That is just in Europe in the last year. Do I need to go further? Of course I do;

- November 13th, 2015: 130 shot and killed, blown up and run down in Paris.
- February 14th, 2015: 2 shot and killed in Copenhagen.
- January 7-9th, 2015: 17 shot and killed in Paris.
- May 24th, 2014: 4 shot and killed in Brussels.
- May 22nd, 2014: Lee Rigbey hacked to death in London.

OK. Enough. Perhaps I made my point, but perhaps not.

That does not include the hundreds, perhaps in all over a 1,000 now with major, life changing physical injuries they will carry the rest of their lives. Then you have the untold scores of thousands who are immediate family members and loved ones whose lives will never be the same … and so on.

And yet, the people are supine and the leaders accepting.

There will be more attacks. I actually think we in the West have been lucky. Many of the vignettes we have known as low hanging fruit for years, as simple and effective as the one in Manchester, have yet to take place – but they will.

“Rivers of blood.” Well, yes – you have that Britain, in a fashion.

You welcomed it with eyes wide open.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Defense vs. Foreign Aid: The German Fight to 2%

Especially for the American ear, this sounds very reasonable;
Both defense and crisis prevention require greater German contributions. Right now, Germany spends barely 1.6 percent of its more than 3 billion euros annual economic output on diplomacy, defense, and development altogether. That is not good enough. The Bundeswehr needs more ships, transport aircraft, helicopters, medics, reconnaissance, and much more, and most of it is equally necessary for peace operations as well as for common defense through EU and NATO. It is not just about military capabilities, however. We also need to get better at helping Iraqis in the liberated areas to rebuild their lives, to restart their economy, and to reform their political order in such a way that Iraq will not be such easy prey for the next gang of militant demagogues that will follow the demise of the Islamic State. We also need to be able to invest in real conflict prevention, particularly through smart development and diplomacy, where the next big refugee crisis is most likely in the making: in the Sahel.

For all that, the German government needs more effective instruments of crisis prevention, stabilization, and peacebuilding. It all starts with foreign policy. As long as we cannot afford more than a single political officer in our embassies’ political “departments” in many potential crisis countries, a lack of strategy should not surprise us. Similarly, development cooperation has barely started to adapt to the specific challenges of violence and conflict. There are not enough police officers, judges, and prosecutors for even small numbers to deploy to training missions in foreign countries. What we really need, then, is not just a cash injection for the Bundeswehr but a strategic buildup of diplomacy, development, and defense as a whole – in the service of an overarching peace and security strategy within a common European framework.
In the USA we have parallel discussions - or at least used to until the left side of the natsec community lost their collective minds earlier this year in a spiraling case of Trump Derangement Syndrome and have difficulty talking about anything else - but we have to remember two things. 

As Philipp Rotmann over at GPPI reminds us, the Germans have an election, and they ... well ... are Germans;
The 2017 election season has barely begun, but foreign policy is already caught up in politics. It all started with President Trump’s demands for higher military spending and a rhetorical gaffe by Jens Spahn, a deputy minister of finance from Angela Merkel’s CDU party, who said the country should invest in arms instead of social services. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel responded during his SPD party’s recent conference by railing against a “spiral” of military buildup. The fans cheered. Double the defense budget more than 65 billion euros per year? Not a chance, Gabriel said, whatever declarations of intent NATO may have collectively issued. For his social-democratic audience, Gabriel played the 2-percent goal for defense spending against the equally unattained 0.7-percent goal for aid. “The other way around, I’d get it,” he roared. His party delegates celebrated. A touch of then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s successful mobilization against the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 was in the air.

Both Gabriel and the SPD know full well that Germany’s armed forces, the Bundeswehr, urgently need to modernize. Already in 2014, responding to Putin’s aggression, conservatives and social-democrats agreed to reverse the longstanding downward trend in German defense budgets. Since 2015, that trend has been reversed, and the military now has more money than it can spend. Trump’s bluster makes it look as if German political leaders wimpishly followed orders from the worst-liked US president in remembered history. Trump wants to cut billions from diplomacy and development to build up the military, and Germany follows like a poodle?

That image will not work for any party in German elections, but just opposing the 2-percent goal is not good enough. We lack a modern vision for a European strategy for peace and security, one that spells out what Germany can do to help Europe become a strategic, preventative foreign policy actor. This would be a debate worth having during this electoral season. We will not get there if some ask for huge increases in military spending while others ritualistically counter with demands for more aid.

A quick look at the numbers: There are basically three “international” budgets – those of diplomacy, defense, and development. In 2017, a good 70 percent (37 billion euros) of those budgets are earmarked for the Bundeswehr. Were the CDU to prevail with its demand to meet the goal of 2 percent of GDP by 2024, the relative weight of the military would rise to almost 85 percent of Germany’s combined international budgets. The others would barely rise at all, according to the government’s mid-term financial planning, which CDU (and its sister party, CSU) and SPD jointly approved. In relative terms, the weight of foreign policy would decline from 10 to 6 percent, the weight of development aid from 16 to 10 percent. The relative significance of diplomacy, defense, and development would massively change, and the resulting message would be stark: Germany wants to be a military power again.
I hope the CDU can make the point, rightfully, that they started increasing defense spending before Trump became CINC. Reading their press and "thought leaders" quickly lets you know that any association with Trump is toxic - and that is becoming a headwind to Germany doing the right thing in the face of emerging security requirements.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Springtime for Russia? Useful Russian Talk on Midrats

To say that the profile of Russia since the American elections last fall has increased in the minds of Americans would be an understatement.

Outside the 24-hr news cycle, there have been significant developments in Russia internally and externally. From the Baltics, to nuclear weapons, to her growing influence in the Middle East following her involvement in the Syrian conflict.

What should people be focused on with regards to Russia on the global stage this year?

Returning as our resident Russian expert for the full hour the Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and more will be Dr. Dmirty Gorenburg, Senior Research Scientist at CNA, a non-profit think tank, and writer at the Russian Military Reform Blog.

Dr. Gorenburg conducts 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 journal Problems of Post-Communism 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, and from 2009 to 2016, the editor of the journal Russian Politics and Law.

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, May 19, 2017

Fullbore Friday

Ordinary men doing extraordinary deeds? I don't know.

Not much ordinary about Master Sergeant Ross, USA (Ret.) who recently passed at age 94.

WaPo did a nice obit;
On Oct. 30, 1944, Sgt. Ross’s company took heavy casualties from German forces, losing 55 of its 88 men. About 11:30 a.m., Sgt. Ross moved to a forward position, 10 yards beyond his company’s riflemen, and set up his light machine gun.

He was an open target for German marksmen and artillery fire, yet he held steady for five hours, carrying on what was virtually a one-man battle.

“His position seemed to be on fire,” a U.S. officer who witnessed the battle said afterward, “because of the explosions all around him.”

Wave after wave of German soldiers attacked Sgt. Ross’s position, yet he managed to repel successive counterattacks with well-aimed machine-gun fire.

At one point, he grabbed a rifle from a wounded soldier nearby and aimed it toward approaching enemy troops. The rifle was struck by a German bullet, rendering the gun useless, but Sgt. Ross was not hurt.

“I throwed that thing down,” Sgt. Ross told the website in 2013, “and I had that machine gun pouring.”

When his machine gun temporarily ran out of ammunition, Sgt. Ross refused to abandon his post.

“He merely shook his head,” William T. Wardell, a lieutenant in the unit, said in 1945.

With the few surviving U.S. riflemen reduced to fixing their bayonets for hand-to-hand combat, German troops crawled as close as four yards to Sgt. Ross’s machine-gun nest.

They were to toss grenades into his emplacement when he received a fresh supply of ammunition.

“He opened up as they swarmed him, firing short bursts,” Wardell said. “In less than a minute I saw 50 Germans fall dead or wounded around his machine gun. When the enemy turned and ran, corpses were piled high around the gun.”

Sgt. Ross “broke the assault single-handedly, and forced the Germans to withdraw,” according to his citation for the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award for valor.

He killed or wounded at least 58 German soldiers and “saved the remnants of his company from destruction.”

He stayed by his gun through the night and next day, prepared for a possible return by enemy forces. After 36 hours, it was clear that the Germans had abandoned the field.

Sgt. Ross emerged from the battle unscathed.
Not the end of the story.
After the war, he worked for the Kentucky highway authority for a year or two before reenlisting in the Army. In 1950, after only nine days on the battlefield in the Korean War, Sgt. Ross was severely wounded in his legs by machine-gun fire. He remained in the Army until 1964.

He settled in DuPont, Wash., where he worked in a pickle factory and drove a van for a veterans hospital. He often attended veterans events and was one of 12 Medal of Honor recipients featured on postage stamps released in 2013.

His wife of more than 60 years, the former Monica Belford, died in 2011. They had six children. Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.

Sgt. Ross had few trappings of his wartime heroism, except for a commemorative Medal of Honor license plate that other motorists occasionally noticed in traffic.

“Sometimes people salute me,” he said.
That, my friends, is a man in full with a life well lived.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Diversity Thursday

You've heard me use the term, "Diversity Bullies" quite a few times over the decade or so we've been doing DivThu. That term is actually a nice term for these people because at their core they are totalitarians.

They hate and they destroy because they cannot defend their diktat in open discussion.

They are dangerous because they have so many in power cowering in a corner wetting themselves in fear that they might be denounced like some poor kulak in a Stalinist of Maoist show trail.

Here is a nice crisp example.

What does it take to force the resignation of a world renowned scholar from a top-shelf institution? Read it all of Jonathan Turley's article for the full background, but here is the email;
Sent: Monday, February 06, 2017 4:26 PM
To: Anathea Portier-Young
Cc: Divinity Regular Rank Faculty; Divinity Visiting Other Faculty
Subject: Re: Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training–March 4-5

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

I’m responding to Thea’s exhortation that we should attend the Racial Equity Institute Phase 1 Training scheduled for 4-5 March. In her message she made her ideological commitments clear. I’ll do the same, in the interests of free exchange.

I exhort you not to attend this training. Don’t lay waste your time by doing so. It’ll be, I predict with confidence, intellectually flaccid: there’ll be bromides, clichés, and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty. When (if) it gets beyond that, its illiberal roots and totalitarian tendencies will show. Events of this sort are definitively anti-intellectual. (Re)trainings of intellectuals by bureaucrats and apparatchiks have a long and ignoble history; I hope you’ll keep that history in mind as you think about this instance.

We here at Duke Divinity have a mission. Such things as this training are at best a distraction from it and at worst inimical to it. Our mission is to thnk, read, write, and teach about the triune Lord of Christian confession. This is a hard thing. Each of us should be tense with the effort of it, thrumming like a tautly triple-woven steel thread with the work of it, consumed by the fire of it, ever eager for more of it. We have neither time nor resources to waste. This training is a waste. Please, ignore it. Keep your eyes on the prize.


Paul J. Griffiths
Warren Chair of Catholic Theology
Duke Divinity School
Some day people will look back at this era as a dark ages in academia, where institutions of higher learning were led by sniveling cowards willing to surrender all aspects of post-Enlightenment liberty just so they will be denounced last.

As for Professor Griffiths, he's a giant among ants.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part LXX

So, how do you like the sound of a 500 ship navy by 2030?

US Navy? No you silly goose ... the Chinese Navy. 

You'll find all the details over at USNIBlog.

Read that, and then take a moment to play around with a nice side-by-side comparison of the evolutionary developments seen in the 2nd Chinese CV. Good stuff here.

A final note; I remember the 90s, and I remember when the Chinese shell company towed away that rusting hulk that was the Varyag. LT Salamander and his gaggle mumbled at the time it was just plain stupid that we didn't buy it first to keep it out of Chinese hands ... but remember, that was the Clinton Administration. They were selling MIRV technology to the Chinese for goodness sake.

What did we know, right?


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Europe's Empty Crib

Clichés exist for a reason - there is a bit of truth to it.

One thing throughout history that is a positive force for most is trying to leave a better world to their children than the one left to them.

Having children, natural born or adopted - or even nephews and nieces - triggers an instinct to look beyond your own "now." In a very basic, lower brain stem drive to keep your DNA going, people make sacrifices. They expend efforts now that may not show positive results until after leave their mortal coil.

There are childless people who do sacrifice for the long-term good but they are part of a mix of people, and in that mix are some that do have some posterity in the game. It is a healthy mix of motivations.

Like any mix, you need to be sure that you don't have an imbalance. When you look at the leadership in Europe, there is something not quite right, and it has to do with their perspective. 

James McPherson makes a good point;
Emmanuel Macron founded a new party, and his election as France's president is said to herald the "revival of Europe." Interestingly, Macron has no children.

This is not that notable in itself. After all, George Washington had no biological children. But across the continent Macron wants to bind closer together, there's a stark pattern:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also has no children. British prime minister Theresa May has no children. Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni has no children. Holland's Mark Rutte has no children. Sweden's Stefan Loumlfven has no biological children. Luxembourg's Xavier Bettel has no children. Scotland's Nicola Sturgeon has no children. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has no children.

This is too remarkable to ignore. While Macron is young—39 years old—the rest of Europe is being governed by childless Baby Boomers.
Demographics is destiny. The future belongs to those who show up. The children are our future, etc, etc, etc.

Imagine being at a table with nine of your professional "peers" - and none of you have any children at all. Would that strike you as odd? How would that shape your decisions?

Heck, I just did a quick survey of 9 of my peers off of the top of my head and came up with 19 children. 

Mix that in with what Tom Wolfe had to say about Baby Boomers;
Most people, historically, have not lived their lives as if thinking, "I have only one life to live." Instead they have lived as if they are living their ancestors' lives and their offspring's lives and perhaps their neighbors' lives as well. They have seen themselves as inseparable from the great tide of chromosomes of which they are created and which they pass on. The mere fact that you were only going to be here a short time and would be dead soon enough did not give you the license to try to climb out of the stream and change the natural order of things.
McPherson goes in to more detail that is well worth your time.

Monday, May 15, 2017

How Often Do Regrets Bring Action?

We all know a few givens in our Navy that we accept as part of the landscape. One is that the military justice system, as any human institution, is imperfect. It is only as fair and impartial as the people who hold the levers of power.

As we all wear the uniform - judge, jury, & defendant - we hope that in the end the right thing will be done for the right reasons.

Along the lines of the saying, "Ship, Shipmate, Self" we know that often we have to put ourselves, or others in the service, second to the mission. This mindset, by accident or intention, can and is abused. It should apply to the operational side of the house. Going to sea to do the nations bidding, etc. Like the abuse of "personal loyalty to the commander" it can be used at inappropriate times by the wrong people for the wrong reasons. It is rare, but it happens and you have to keep an eye out for such possible instances.  

When it comes to putting the "ship" and mission first, who decides what the "mission" is? Was it a necessary sacrifice, and when does it become a waste of human life or a career for base or selfish reasons that have questionable operational gains?

When do we tilt towards our Sailors vs. the service? What is motivating our decisions? The mission, justice, or something else?

It is a gift when answers are clear in black and white. More often than not, you are somewhere in between.

Nowhere is this quandary so acute than for those in command. I know of no one who has had significant positions of responsibility who does not, in one way or another, live under a shadow of regret for one decision or another. It is just one of the things that comes with the job.

Different people deal with regret in different ways. Those on the far end of the sociopathic scale have no regrets, others on the far end of the empathetic scale are haunted day and night by regret and the ghosts it brings with it.

Most just live with it. What you don't see as often is the exceptional act of moral courage to try to take action on a regret while there is still some time to do something about it and make amends in some way.

It is easy if that act goes along with the flow of the zeitgeist or popular opinion at the now - but what if your actions to address your regret go in the face of all currents? If it goes against your own self interest?

All weekend I have been thinking about Rowan Scarborough's article that came out Friday. I'd like to know more, but right now we should be of two minds; one of admiration to RADM Patrick J. Lorge, USN (Ret.) for taking action on a regret, and second an unsettled rage at the apparent politicization of our criminal justice system.

Any criminal record is a life changing event - but being convicted of sexual assault marks you more than anything but murder or rape.

You better get it right.

I'll let you read the full article for the details, but ... wow ...
A retired admiral is accusing the highest levels of the Navy legal corps at the Pentagon of improperly interfering in the case of a decorated Navy SEAL convicted of sexual assault. 
Retired Rear Adm. Patrick J. Lorge charges in a May 5 signed affidavit that the then-judge advocate general of the Navy and her deputy tried to persuade him not to exonerate the sailor because it would be bad public relations for the Navy and hurt Mr. Lorge’s career. 
The extraordinary charges from Mr. Lorge go to the very top of the Navy legal system and throw into question whether a sailor can get a fair trial in the politically charged atmosphere of military sex assault cases.
Mr. Lorge’s May 5 affidavit says he served as convening authority overseeing Chief Barry’s court-marital. A military judge — Capt. Bethany L. Payton-O’Brien — convicted Chief Barry in October 2014 of a sexual assault charge and sentenced him to a dishonorable discharge and three years in prison. Mr. Lorge reviewed the verdict in 2015 during the clemency phase.

Mr. Lorge said he came to believe that there was insufficient evidence to convict and wanted to overturn the verdict. His staff judge advocate advisers tried to talk him out of it. Failing, they then brought in the Navy’s powerhouse admirals to talk him out of it.

Vice Adm. Nanette DeRenzi, then judge advocate general of the Navy, talked to him in his office.

“She conveyed the importance that the convening authorities held and how tenuous the ability of an operational commander to act as a covering authority had become, especially in findings or sentences in sexual assault cases due to the intense pressure on the military at the time,” Mr. Lorge recalls. “She mentioned that every three or four months military commanders were making court-martial decisions that got questioned by Congress and other political and military leaders, including the president. This conversation reinforced my perception of the political pressures the Navy faced at the time.”

He then spoke by telephone with Vice Adm. James Crawford III, then Adm. DeRenzi’s deputy and the current judge advocate general of the Navy.

He did not recall the specifics, but a defense attorney who was apparently present said Adm. Crawford told Mr. Lorge that overturning the conviction would end Mr. Lorge’s career.

Mr. Lorge retired later that year, as scheduled.
This is powerful action on regret.
“Upon my review of the record of trial from this case, I did not find that the government proved the allegation against Senior Chief Barry beyond a reasonable doubt,” Mr. Lorge wrote. “Absent the pressures described above, I would have disapproved the findings in this case.”

In a direct message to the appellate judges, Mr. Lorge said: “On a personal note, I would ask you to forgive my failure in leadership and right the wrong that I committed in this case against Senior Chief Barry; ensure justice prevails and when doubt exists, allow a man to remain innocent.”
Again, read it all.

You may also recognize the name DeRenzi. We've seen her here before.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fullbore Friday

I found a FbF from about eight years ago that I think is still timely today for many out there.

What is guaranteed? What is given? What is honor? What is gained and lost? In the end, what matters?

Consider this war record.
In 1894, [he] followed his father's career into the Austro-Hungarian Navy, entering the naval academy at Rijeka (Fiume). He graduated four years later and completed two years of follow-on training voyages including a trip to Australia. In 1900 he was assigned to the armored cruiser Kaiserin und Königin Maria Theresia and was decorated for his performance during the Boxer Rebellion. In 1902 he passed the officer's examination.
[He] was fascinated by submarines, and in 1908 he seized the opportunity to be transferred to the newly-formed U-boot-Waffe. In 1910 he was given command of the newly-constructed U-6, which was christened by Agathe Whitehead, granddaughter of the Englishman Robert Whitehead, inventor of the torpedo.[2] He commanded U-6 until 1913. 
On April 22, 1915, [he] took command of U-5 and conducted nine combat patrols. While in command of the U-5 he sank:
  • The French armored cruiser Léon Gambetta at 39.30N, 18.15E on April 21, 1915, 15 miles south of Cape Santa Maria di Leuca
He captured:
  • The Greek steamer Cefalonia off Durazzo on August 29, 1915
... June 8, 1916 [he] was transferred to the U-14.
On October 14, 1915 he was transferred to the captured French submarine Curie, which the Austrian Navy redesignated U-14. While in command of the U-14, he sank:
  • The British tanker Teakwood at 36.39N, 21.10E on April 28, 1917
  • The Italian steamer Antonio Sciesa at 36.39N, 21.15E on May 3, 1917
  • The Greek steamer Marionga Goulandris at 35.38N, 22.36E on July 5, 1917
  • The French steamer Constance at 36.51N, 17.25E on August 23, 1917
  • The British steamer Kilwinning at 35.26N, 16.30E on August 24, 1917
  • The British steamer Titian at 34.20N, 17.30E on August 26, 1917
  • The British steamer Nairn at 34.05N, 19.20E on August 28, 1917
  • The Italian steamer Milazzo 34.44N, 19.16E at on August 29, 1917
  • The British steamer Good Hope at 35.53N, 17.05E on October 18, 1917
  • The British steamer Elsiston at 35.40N, 17.28E on October 18, 1917
  • The Italian steamer Capo Di Monte at 34.53N, 19.50E on October 23, 1917
He conducted ten more war patrols, until, in May 1918, he was promoted to Korvettenkapitän (equal to Lieutenant Commander) and given command of the submarine base in the Gulf of Kotor.
At the end of World War I, [his] wartime record stood at 19 war patrols, 11 cargo vessels totaling 45,669 tons sunk, 1 cargo vessel captured, the French armored cruiser Léon Gambetta (12,600 tons) and the Italian submarine Nereide (225 tons). Among other honors, he received the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa.
What a great movie that career would make. Of course, you all know who he is don't you?
Georg Ludwig Ritter von Trapp was born in Zadar, Dalmatia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now in Croatia. His father, Fregattenkapitän August Trapp, was a naval officer who had been elevated to the Austrian nobility in 1876 which entitled him and his descendants to the style of Ritter von in the case of male and von in the case of female offspring. August Ritter von Trapp died in 1884, when Georg Ludwig was four. His mother was Hedwig Wepler von Trapp's older sister was the Austrian artist Hede von Trapp. He also had a brother, Werner von Trapp, who died in World War I in 1915.

Korvettenkapitän Georg Ludwig Ritter von Trapp (April 4, 1880 – May 30, 1947) headed the Austrian singing family portrayed in the heavily-fictionalized musical The Sound of Music. His exploits at sea in World War I earned him numerous decorations, including the prestigious Military Order of Maria Theresa.
Too bad we only have this movie instead.

There are many lessons you can take from the good LCDR, but running from hopeless political problems isn't one of them. We don't have a George Ludwig von Trapp option.

Mark Steyn
is right - this is where you make your stand. You have nowhere else to go.

Thursday, May 11, 2017


Over on twitter, I asked a rhetorical question,
In war, would you want 3 FREMM, or 5 LCS/FF(G)?
Well, reader Thomas Shugart (@tshugart3) took time to answer to my question via a simulation of 3 FREMM (IT GP ver) vs 5 LCS/FF (SPY-1F, 16 NSM, SLQ-32).

Otomat range & Aster SAMs seem to win. 2 FREMM survive.

There you go.

LOX for all my friends

Remember last month's "IP's Revolt?"

Well ... it worked.

Check out the details over at USNIBlog.