Friday, March 30, 2018

Fullbore Friday

We always remember Pearl Harbor - but that second week of DEC 1941 war was breaking out all over the Pacific. Something different for Pearl Harbor. Capt. Colin Kelly Jr., early leadership example.

The war exploded all over the Pacific that day, and in the focus on Hawaii, the other stories often get forgotten. Let's look at some events in Skippy's favorite Old School liberty area - The Philippines.

On the morning of Dec. 10, 1941, six B-17Cs of the 14th Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group, sat in the rain at a rough landing strip near San Marcelino on the Philippine island of Luzon. The crews had spent the night without food, sleeping in or under their planes. Of the war situation they knew little except that Japan had attacked Clark Field and other installations near Manila on Dec. 8--Pearl Harbor on the 7th--and some 400 Japanese aircraft had destroyed most of the US B-17s and pursuit planes.

Squadron Commander Maj. Emmett "Rosy" O'Donnell Jr., had flown to Clark before daylight to get orders for his squadron. He radioed his pilots to proceed to Clark at daybreak. Only three of the B-17s were allowed to land. They were flown by Capt. Colin P. Kelly Jr., and Lts. George E. Schaetzel and G. R. Montgomery. Captain Kelly, a 1937 graduate of the US Military Academy and a former B-17 instructor, was one of the most experienced and respected pilots of the 19th Bomb Group.

An imminent air attack sent the three bombers off to their respective targets before refueling and bomb loading were completed. Captain Kelly had only three 600-pound bombs aboard and orders to attack airfields on Formosa (Taiwan), some 500 miles north of Clark. The mission would earn Colin Kelly a place in American history and legend.

In the confusion of the early days of the Pacific war, Kelly was credited with sinking a Japanese battleship and with award of the Medal of Honor. Overnight he became a national hero. It later was determined that Kelly and his crew did not sink a battleship, nor was he awarded the Medal of Honor, although some still believe both. In fact, Colin Kelly was recommended for the Medal of Honor by Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, commander of the US Far East Air Forces. The award he received was the Distinguished Service Cross, on the orders of Gen. Douglas MacArthur's headquarters.

This is what actually happened, as told in mission debriefings by members of Kelly's crew and in an official report of the mission prepared in February 1942.

For Captain Kelly and his crew, it was a solo mission deep into territory where the Japanese held absolute air superiority. They had no fighter escort. By Dec. 10, there were only 22 flyable P-40s and a few obsolete P-35s left. As they flew north toward Formosa, Kelly and his crew passed over a large Japanese landing in progress at Aparri on the north coast of Luzon. The presence of an enemy carrier in the vicinity had also been reported.

Kelly radioed Clark Field for permission to attack the landing force, which was supported by several destroyers and a large warship, thought to be a battleship, bombarding the coast from several miles offshore. After two calls to Clark that brought only a response to stand by, Kelly told the crew they were going ahead on his decision to attack the battleship--actually a cruiser. Kelly made two dry runs at 20,000 feet, giving bombardier Sgt. Meyer Levin time to set up for an accurate drop.

On the third run, he told Levin to release the bombs in train. As best the crew could tell, two of the three bombs bracketed the ship with one direct hit. Smoke prevented more accurate assessment. The B-17 then headed for Clark Field, its bomb bay empty.

As it approached Clark, the bomber was hit by enemy fighters.

The first attack killed TSgt. William Delehanty, wounded Pfc. Robert Altman, and destroyed the instrument panel. A second attack set the left wing ablaze. The fire spread rapidly into the fuselage, filling the flight deck with smoke.

Captain Kelly ordered the crew to bail out while he still had control of the doomed bomber. Fire began to engulf the flight deck. SSgt. James Halkyard, Pfc. Willard Money, and Private Altman went out the rear. Navigator 2d Lt. Joe Bean and Sergeant Levin, after a time-consuming struggle, pried open a stuck escape hatch and took to their chutes.

The nose of the aircraft was now an inferno. Colin Kelly remained at the controls as copilot 2d Lt. Donald Robins moved to the upper escape hatch. At that moment, the bomber exploded, hurling a badly burned Robins clear of the aircraft.

The B-17 crashed about five miles from Clark Field. Colin Kelly's body was found at the site. The early report of his heroism, which inspired a nation in shock, is in no way diminished by the actual events of that December day in 1941. Alone and far from friendly territory, he attacked and damaged a heavily armed ship, then sacrificed his own life to save his crew.
As is not too uncommon, in the rush to make a legend, good people with good intentions try to make an already great story of heroism and honor even better - and ruin it.

NB: when in doubt, ignore emotions than tell the truth. History will find it out later. You can dig around the refs and links to see what I am talking about, but here is the truth and the two big lessons we should take away from Capt. Kelly. Oh, remember....this was less than 72 hours after the start of the war with a early mod of the B-17.

BTW, one of the men attacking Kelly's bomber that day was Saburo Sakai. He was a great man, great pilot, and a hero to anyone who takes the time to try to know what he did with his life.

First posted DEC07

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Turn of the Wheel in Syria

A great update from Michael Goodyear over as Small Wars Journal;
...with the sharp decline in power of the Islamic State following the fall of its de facto capital, Raqqa, Turkey has redirected its focus onto Kurdish forces in Syria. The capture of Afrin creates another power shift in Syria in favor of both Turkey and the Assad government, as well as possibly the Islamic State, at the expense of the Kurds but also the rebels.
...the Turkish campaign against the Syrian Kurds, has put the Kurds in full-scale retreat. The capture of Afrin has far-ranging consequences for each of the four factions.
The author gives a succinct summary of the state of play for the Kurds, Rebels, Assad, and the Islamic State. Good read.

What next? Well, life if complicated. We have a few thousand Americans on Syrian soil. The Turks have even more. We've fought alongside the Kurds for years - the same Kurds our NATO allies the Turks are fighting now.
The United States now must face the decision it has long refused to make: whether to support Turkey or the Kurds. There is no way around negotiating with Turkey during the remainder of the war and once a winner has finally emerged in the civil war.
The various stakeholders, both inside and outside Syria, must recognize this paradigm shift in local Syrian power and foreign influence when strategizing what to do next.
Tough nut. Turkey, as is its wont, has made it tougher.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Oh, your Air Force Chief of Staff Caught Lying to your Defense Chief?

Relatively unreported here, I've been thinking over the weekend what the USA version of this would look like;
At least three Belgian generals, including the chief of the air force, and several senior officers were suspended yesterday by Belgian Chief of Defense Marc Compernol as the F-16 scandal continues to widen, to the point it is now referred to in the media as the “F-16-gate.”

The officers are suspected of having hidden from Compernol and Defense Minister Steven Vandeput studies carried out by Lockheed Martin and which concluded that the Belgian air force’s F-16s could remain in service for at least six years longer that their planned 2023 retirement date.
Compernol did not name the suspended officers, but media reports have identified them as Air Force Commander Gen. Frederik Vansina; Gen. Luc Roelants, head of the public procurement section of the defense ministry’s Material Resources agency; and Col Peter Letten, “manager” of the F-16 fleet. Col Harold van Pee, head of Air force procurement, and of the Air Combat Capability Program (ACCaP) which is managing the fighter competition, confirmed to Belga news agency that he had also been suspended.
I know a few Belgian officers that I've served with. They are a frustrated lot. Their politicians are thoroughly contemptible. Their military is small and starved, even for a nation of ~10 million people. As we covered last week, they are the premier "welfare queen" in the alliance.

You can see how, in a desperate attempt to try to get the best path forward, some would be tempted to nudge and fudge - but you can't do that. You can never do that. Those in uniform cannot adopt the habits of the politicians they work with. Sure, there are some of their techniques and habits you can adopt to survive at the highest levels when you are in the same tank as they are - but there are lines.

A lesson here for everyone. You can be in Brussels, but don't be of Brussels. You can be in DC, but don't be of DC.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Making Sense of Natsec's Madness with Phil Ewing

If you've lost lock during the news-cycle Imbroglio on what is important in the national security arena, then you need to take an hour out and spend an hour with us for a few from the eye of the storm.

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Phil Ewing.

Phil is NPR's national security editor. He helps direct coverage of the military, the intelligence community, counterterrorism, veterans and other topics for the radio and online. Ewing joined the network in 2015 from Politico, where he was a Pentagon correspondent and defense editor. Previously he served as managing editor of and before that he covered the U.S. Navy for the Military Times newspapers.

From the budget battles on the Hill, the Navy's fight for its future fleet, to Russia's freezing of the cherry blossoms (hey, it could happen) - we'll cover it.

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, March 23, 2018

Fullbore Friday

One of the enduring characteristics of WWI was the amount of blood that was shed over and over and over for such small bits of land.

So it was again in March of 2015;
French Commander-in-Chief General Joffre considered it vital that the Allied forces should take every advantage of their growing numbers and strength on the Western Front, both to relieve German pressure on Russia and if possible break through in France. British commander Sir John French agreed and pressed the BEF to adopt an offensive posture after the months of defence in sodden trenches. Joffre planned to reduce the great bulge into France punched by the German advance in 1914, by attacking at the extreme points in Artois and the Champagne. In particular, if the lateral railways in the plain of Douai could be recaptured, the Germans would be forced to evacuate large areas of the ground they had gained. This belief formed the plan that created most of the 1915 actions in the British sector. The attack at Neuve Chapelle was an entirely British affair – the French saying that until extra British divisions could relieve them at Ypres, they had insufficient troops in the area to either extend of support the action.
It is one thing to see the map of a battle as you see in the upper right hand part of the page - but here is a bird's eye view of the battlefield today. Driving through this now, it is an incredibly beautiful part of Europe - not the hellscape it was.

Neuve Chapelle village lies on the road between Bethune, Fleurbaix and Armentieres, near its junction with the Estaires – La Bassee road. The front lines ran parallel with the Bethune-Armentieres road, a little way to the east of the village. Behind the German line is the Bois de Biez. The ground here is flat and cut by many small drainage ditches. A mile ahead of the British was a long ridge – Aubers Ridge – barely 20 feet higher than the surrounding area but giving an observation advantage.
The attack was undertaken by Sir Douglas Haig’s First Army, with Rawlinson’s IV Corps on the left and Willcock’s Indian Corps on the right, squeezing out a German salient that included the village itself. The battle opened with a 35 minute bombardment of the front line, then 30 minutes on the village and reserve positions. The bombardment, for weight of shell fired per yard of enemy front, was the heaviest that would be fired until 1917.
Three infantry brigades were ordered to advance quickly as soon as the barrage lifted from the front line at 8.05am. The Gharwal Brigade of the Indian Corps advanced successfully, with the exception of the 1/39th Gharwal Rifles on the extreme right that went astray and plunged into defences untouched by the bombardment, suffering large losses. The 25th and 23rd Brigades of the 8th Division made good progress against the village. There were delays in sending further orders and reinforcements forward, but by nightfall the village had been captured, and the advanced units were in places as far forward as the Layes brook.
As was often the case in WWI - this 1915 battle was an experiment that hopefully informed future tactics. The price for this little wedge of land?

The British losses in the four attacking Divisions were 544 officers and 11108 other ranks killed, wounded and missing. German losses are estimated at a similar figure of 12000, which included 1687 prisoners.
...and the lessons?
It demonstrated that it was quite possible to break into the enemy positions – but also showed that this kind of success was not easily turned into breaking through them. The main lessons of Neuve Chapelle were that the artillery bombardment was too light to suppress the enemy defences; there were too few good artillery observation points; the reserves were too few to follow up success quickly; command communications took too long and the means of communicating were too vulnerable. One important lesson was perhaps not fully understood: the sheer weight of bombardment was a telling factor. Similar efforts in 1915 and 1916 would fall far short of its destructive power.

History tells us that we will again see larger-scale, heavy-casualty, nation-exhausting wars again. We are actually overdue for one. Like the decades of relative peace that followed Napoleon, so we too have enjoyed a long peace after the Cold War.

Human nature and habits are unchanged. This will come again, but when? Next week, next year, next decade? Where?

No one really knows, but what we can know is that it will most likely be a surprise. It will not be a short war. It will not be an easy war, and the world that comes after will be a foreign world than that existed before some nation's best and brightest thought they could control events.

Oh, and speaking of lessons, LongLongTrail forgot this one that History got. We'll see this again too;
The slowness and inaccuracy of communication between the front lines and the corps headquarters—the army had no wireless technology, and telephone lines at the front were usually cut or destroyed by enemy fire during battle—caused Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Rawlinson, the corps commander, to order a fresh advance when support troops were unprepared. In the confusion, some artillery even opened fire on friendly infantry. By the late afternoon, forward units were attacking without adequate artillery support or effective coordination, in failing light, against a hardening German defense.
... it (was) incredibly difficult for commanders on both sides to know where and when to effectively deploy their reserve troops. General John Charteris, director of military intelligence under British commander Alexander Haig, took another sobering lesson from the battle, writing that “England will have to accustom herself to far greater losses than those of Neuve Chapelle before we finally crush the German army.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Penny Wise? Pound Sand.

Yes, you want ALL the hospital ships ... and if you're smart, you want more.

Come on over to USNIBlog and read up.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

You had me at ASWOC Kathlene ... You had me at ASWOC

Kathlene Hicks and Andrew Metrick The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) have a report out you should put on your reading list, Contested Seas: Maritime Domain Awareness in Northern Europe.

They cover a broad spectrum of the challenges a rising Russia, but this is what got my attention;
A key implication of the heightened maritime threat environment is the need to improve the integration of and attention to undersea aspects of MDA. Antisubmarine warfare (ASW), a traditional strength of Western naval intelligence and operations, has atrophied since the end of the Cold War. Today, Russian submarines with conventional long-range missiles pose a threat to NATO. ASW must be integrated with MDA to address these concerns. Comprehensive understanding of the undersea realm should extend beyond ASW. Russia’s amphibious special forces and combat swimmers threaten more than just military targets, including civilian vessels and undersea cables, which are an integral part of MDA. ASW technology can be useful in countering these and other threats.

In the Norwegian Sea, the biggest challenge for NATO is detecting advanced ultra-quiet submarines. This issue is sharpened by dramatically depleted stockpiles of sonobuoys, a constant need for increasingly advanced sonobuoy technology, and an American unwillingness to share highly classified information about the undersea domain. NATO would benefit from an apparatus like the ASW Operations Centers (ASWOC), used most prominently during the Cold War to streamline ASW operations.
Read it all.

It builds off Jerry Hendrix's work on the GIUK Gap last year. There is a reason a lot of smart people are banging this gong ... pay attention.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The USAF Already Shifted to a Drone Future?

In an interesting article about the differences between Navy and USAF fighter pilots in Business Insider, I came across this nugget;
It must also be noted that starting a few years ago, the Air Force has made more drone pilots than fighter pilots annually - something those with long-term career aspirations should keep in mind.
Wait, what?

Well, did a little digging and it looks like the singularity took place last year;
The U.S. Air Force now has more jobs for MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones than any other type of pilot position, the head of Air Education and Training Command said last week.
MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper family of remotely piloted aircraft are slated to have more than 1,000 pilot operators, according to fiscal 2017 statistics provided to on Tuesday. By comparison, the highest numbers in any other aircraft are 889 airmen piloting the C-17 Globemaster III and 803 flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon, said Lt. Col. Tracy Bunko, spokeswoman for AETC.

Not sure where to take this datapoint from here - but I don't see this trend moving anytime soon.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Battleflags, Korean Battles, and the Joys of Unexpected Archeology - on Midrats

Put yourself in the shoes of a museum curator. You have the funds to conduct some much needed preservation on battleflags captured by the US Navy from the War of 1812. To do that, you have to remove them from their home for almost a century.

What happens when you all of a sudden find they are not alone? They are covering something else?

No, this isn't another "National Treasure" sequel, but things that actually unfolded last year at the US Naval Academy. For naval history buffs, this was an exciting time and an opportunity to explore some relatively unknown chapters from our history.

For almost all Americans, when you mention American forces coming ashore to do battle on the Korean peninsula, they think of Inchon and 1950.

Well, we came ashore earlier and fought another battle, in 1871.

When you hear about the American navy vs. pirates, you think about the waters off the Horn of Africa in this century. What about off China in the 1850s?

Join us Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss the history and the battleflags of pirates and forgotten kingdoms with returning guests, BJ Armstrong, CDR USN and Claude Berube, LCDR USNR.

BJ Armstrong, PhD is an Assistant Professor of War Studies and Naval History with the History Department of the U.S. Naval Academy. He holds a PhD in War Studies from King's College, London.

Claude Berube is the director of the Naval Academy Museum and recently completed his doctoral dissertation through the University of Leeds on Andrew Jackson’s Navy.

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, March 16, 2018

Fullbore Friday


No one likes piracy.

Like the pirates off Africa helped encourage the Chinese to flex their maritime muscles, throughout history this threat to trade has moved fleets ... and brought war;
In the early 1650s the damage caused by French and Barbary Coast pirates to Dutch Levant trade forced the Republic of Seven United Provinces to send an expedition commanded by Admiral Johan van Galen to the Mediterranean. With the start of the First Anglo-Dutch War the Dutch squadron had to face yet another enemy – the English ships under Captain Henry Appleton and Captain Richard Badiley.
A series of actions resulted in a capture of an English frigate Phoenix by the Dutch.
In March 1653 the Dutch have finally succeeded in trapping Captain Appleton and his 6 ships in the port of Livorno (Leghorn) in Italy. Livorno was a neutral territory under the Grand Duke of Tuscany. On one night the English undertook a successful sortie and recaptured the Phoenix.
This action meant a violation of the port’s neutrality by the English. Van Galen issued a demand for the English ships to leave. By this point an English squadron commanded by Richard Badiley has arrived to join forces with the trapped ships. The Dutch sailed out to face the new threat on a favorable wind. The blockaded squadron attempted to use the chance to escape and left the port. The Dutch however abandoned their previous target and instead attacked the escaping ships. All but one of Appleton's ships were either destroyed or captured and only Mary could outrun the Dutch and rejoin Badiley. The wind prevented the latter from coming to Appleton's rescue. At the end Badiley found himself outnumbered (8 + Mary vs. 16 Dutch) and was forced to retreat. Admiral Van Galen was mortally wounded in the action and died on March 23.
The Dutch are scrappy. They lost the First Anglo-Dutch war ... but at least here, they gave better than they got.

As a side note, the paintings of the battle in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are awesome in person.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Continental NATO: the Welfare Mentality

Remember, our NATO allies in Europe have a greater population than we do. They also have a GDP about the same as ours. And yet, they will not make a full effort to defend themselves.

As if it was last century, they still think that the USA has to do the primary lifting. Heck, we keep having the same instinct.
The United States needs more forces in Europe, Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Curis Scaparrotti said during a hearing at the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

"In terms of rotational versus permanent, I do believe we need more forces in Europe, I don’t think we are at the posture that I believe appropriate or required yet," Scaparrotti said. "And because of that, I think that there are some permanent forces that I would like to have."
No, that is not the answer.

The rest of NATO has to continue to strive to get better. Especially when most economies are strong and the Russians are expanding capabilities, there is no excuse. 

There is a lot on this topic NATO's Secretary General report for 2017.

First, to be fair - things are getting better on the margins - but faster please.
Allies have made significant progress in meeting these goals. After years of defence cuts, the trend over the last three years has been one of increased defence spending.

In 2017, the trend continued, with European Allies and Canada increasing their defence expenditure by almost 5%. Many Allies have put in place national plans to reach 2% by 2024 and are making progress towards that goal. In real terms, defence spending among European Allies and Canada increased by 4.87% from 2016 to 2017, with an additional cumulative spending increase of USD 46 billion for the period from 2015 to 2017, above the 2014 level.

In 2017, the United States accounted for 51.1% of the Allies’ combined GDP and 71.7% of combined defence expenditure. At the same time, European Allies and Canada increased their spending, helping to redress the balance.

In this report is another metric that brings you a level deeper. For old NATO hands, another of the problems is with how our allies spend their money. For some nations, their military is little more than a parade and garrison force. Sure, they have some numbers, but they have little to no functioning kit.

We saw this in spades in AFG where planes of allied forces would arrive, but would go hat in hand for equipment.

I like this chart a lot.

Look at it close, it tells a great tale. The further you get from the center, the more you fit the following assumptions;

If you are in the top-right grid - you are doing your share or more, and have something to fight with.

If you are in the upper-left - you have something to bring to the fight, but you are not spending your fair share.

If you are in the lower-right, you are spending a lot, but it is mostly on bodies.

If you are in the lower-left, not only are you a welfare queen, you are sitting in a hammock wearing nothing but shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops while your neighbors are working to keep the wolf at bay.

The American tax payer does not need to spend money borrowed from its grandchildren to subsidize Europe's defense more than it already is. Keep spending until you reach 2% or more, then you can afford your own maneuver forces. No need to send more American brigades over there.

If you need us for a fight, we'll be there - but you need to do your fair share now - in peace. Do that, and we probably won't have to come over by the hundreds of thousands ... again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Should Midshipmen Actively Become Political? student politics when the wolf is at your institutional throat?

Hell yes, and take the Air Force with you for support.

Story over at USNIBlog.

There will be hippies, commies, and paleo-soyboys crying, so come for the fun.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

USCG's Quiet Upgrade

While the Navy is grumping a lot over upgrading its force, something has happened over on the USCG side of the house. Digging around for change in the sofa, picking up a few items their neighbors left on the curb, dropping a few things off at the neighborhood mechanic & body shop, and a little good luck - the USCG has some nice new kit, especially in the air.

It is a good time to be a USCG aviator;

Craig Collins has a nice summary.
Much public attention has been paid to the Coast Guard’s new generation of surface assets – the Legend-class national security cutters (NSCs), the Sentinel-class fast response cutters (FRCs), and the Heritage-class offshore patrol cutters (OPCs) – but perhaps less so their counterparts in the air.
The new generation of the Coast Guard’s long-range surveillance and transport aircraft, for example, the HC-130J Super Hercules, is a nose-to-tail overhaul of the previous generation of HC-130Hs, with new Rolls-Royce turboprop engines, composite scimitar propellers, and digital avionics. These upgrades have increased the range of the aircraft by 40 percent and its top speed by 15 percent, while decreasing its takeoff distance by 15 percent. But the aircraft’s most important enhancement may be its suite of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) components, which combine radio and digital transmission of voice and data.
Over the past decade, the Coast Guard has been phasing out its older HU-25 Guardian, a high-speed medium-range aircraft that was finally retired from service in 2014. Its replacement, the HC-144 Ocean Sentry, was phased in at Coast Guard air stations beginning in 2009. The Ocean Sentry was a marked improvement, offering the Coast Guard the ability to remain on scene and track targets for longer periods of time – up to 10 hours – with improved sensor capability and room for more passengers. ...
The Coast Guard fleet of 102 Dolphin helicopters, meanwhile, is in the final segment of a similar incremental upgrade, a transformation into MH-65E short-range recovery helicopters. The -E series features new radar, EO/IR sensors, and a CAAS cockpit similar to the Jayhawk’s.By 2014, the service had acquired 18 Ocean Sentries, and the HC-144 was logging more flight hours annually than any other Coast Guard aircraft.

The Coast Guard’s original plan called for a fleet of 36 Ocean Sentries – but this plan was altered when Congress, in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, directed the service to cease its HC-144 program and instead acquire and missionize 14 C-27J Spartan aircraft, to be transferred from the U.S. Air Force. The Ocean Sentry and the Spartan are twin-engine turboprops, similar in configuration – according to Kimball, the Spartan is faster, with greater range, endurance, and lift capability – and will play similar roles in medium-range surveillance.
...beginning in 2007, the Coast Guard began an overhaul of its 42 Jayhawk helicopters, converting them from HH-60Js into multimission MH-60Ts. This upgrade, which was completed in 2014, ...

Monday, March 12, 2018

Slovene Psychoanalytic Philosophy vs. the Chinese Porcupine's Quills


In training, equipping and manning your Navy for the next war, the further you get from the last time you fought the kind of war you will fight next, the more uncertainty there is on how it will be fought.

You can guess, you can surmise, you can do your best to wargame and benchmark similar wars – or vignettes of war – to help guide you on the path towards making sure the young men and women you will call on in the future to perform violence on your behalf will be given what they need to win.

War is always a dark room. Regardless of how much you prepare, you will quickly find that you have things you don’t need, things you have some but not enough of, other things you need now that you had no idea would be that important, or the most infuriatingly those things you need but foolishly (in hindsight) left behind.

For the entirety of human history, this has been true. The only thing that is certain at the outbreak of war is uncertainty.

That is why in peace you need an open and aggressive exchange of ideas. You need brutal honesty. You need rigorous testing with an eye to victory at war. When you become focused on other things, you only amplify the error differential that grows each year between what you think you will need and what you will really need.

As a natural part of this process, in peace you are always looking for that bit you don’t know you need – that “known unknown.”

That search puts some people over their skis when it comes to technology. DDG-1000 and LCS along with other legacies of the Age of Transformationalism that peaked 15-yrs ago are perfect examples of this.

Sadly, the recognition of this excessive dismissal of technology risk seems to have spawned a few unnecessary reactions, reactions that are encouraged by some who see such reaction as a benefit towards the defense of the empires they have built to protect their legacy ricebowls.

This dynamic is best seen in the very clunky progress – or lack of it – in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) area.

UAS are not new; they date back well over half a century. Advances in materials, communications, computing, and the promise of AI in the last decade have been an accelerant enabling UAS to perform missions not previously realistic UAS mission sets.

There is a broad spectrum of opinion of UAS, from the “must have a man in the loop at all times” school to the “let loose the AI gods of war” school.

At least today, I am somewhere in the middle. Using the template of UAS in the strike role as a reusable TLAM, I think we should be aggressively moving towards strike options. UAS as a tanker? A good first step so we can work out the kinks of having these in the airwing.

Over the last six months I’ve detected a drift. If anything, a bit of a retreat. If nothing, we seem to be intentionally backing away from experimentation – forward leaning but clear-eyed experimentation that can help us mitigate that error that comes from the “known unknowns.”

Now that we’ve wandered in to Rumsfeldland with knowns and unknowns, I’d like to bring up a follow-on to that famous press conference from a decade and a half ago – the concept of “unknown knowns.”

From Errol Morris’s 2014 documentary, “The Unknown Knowns

Confused? It’s ok, - most people are. Here are Rumsfeld’s two definitions not quite in alignment with each other - but they work;
“Things that you possibly may know, that you don’t know you know.”

“Things that you think you know, that it turns out that you did not.”

-Donald Rumsfeld
Either way, the whole concept is illuminating. Here’s another take on it from Slovenian Psychoanalytic philosopher Slavoj Žižek;
…the things we don't know that we know-which is precisely, the Freudian unconscious, the "knowledge which doesn't know itself," as Lacan used to say.
There is a lot more than engineering, science, money, and politics in getting UAS right. No one has the right answer. There are some – usually on the extremes – who have the wrong answer, but the right answer is out there.

The only way to get to the right answer is that creative friction that comes from open, direct, and aggressive discussion about needs, wants, strengths, and weaknesses. Priorities and prejudices. Motivations and desires.

When it comes to UAS, Jerry Hendrix stepped up to the plate today in National Review to bring this discussion back above the natsec ambient noise.

In a surprise visit towards the end of yesterday’s Midrats, Jerry gave us a heads up about the article coming out, and I’ve been pondering it through the day and decided to push out the post I was going to do today to the right and instead fold it in to some broader broodings I was having over the weekend outlined above.

Jerry goes a bit further and faster than my preferences with UAS, but his points are solid and well deserve a full reading and considerations.

Here’s a few pull quotes for you to ponder; fight and win within the emerging great-power competition. This new environment, at last recognized in President Trump’s National Security Strategy and the Secretary of Defense’s National Defense Strategy, requires the Navy to strike enemy capitals and other vital centers of gravity from range, but the Navy’s decision to bypass a carrier-based strike asset, and now even to push off its acquisition of an unmanned mission tanker, suggest that it is not taking A2AD great-power competition seriously. Its decisions place the future relevance of the entire maritime service, at least as it is presently composed, at risk.
Green eye-shade decisions drift from complacency spiced up with a lot of arrogance and an environment where professional excellence was seen as victory over "competing" community platforms are the primary cause of our retreat from not just defense in depth, but attack from a distance.

These were all deliberate decisions. Professionals who should know better gleefully danced on the grave of the VA community and then the F-14 community. There is a lot of Beltway squid ink to explain why, but the best explanations are best explained by marriage counselors, psychologists, and high school Vice Principals.

The short picked-on kid wound up on top of a mountain made on the bodies of those who used to tease him - and others who were easy pickings. We went from the slightly insecure, "No slack in light attack," to "All we have is light attack because we killed and ate the rest."

And so, on our Hornet and Super Hornet filled, monoculture airwings, we have this;
The average unrefueled range of the aircraft embarked on super carriers during the 1950s was over 1,200 miles, allowing those aircraft to conduct missions deep into the Soviet Union, but somehow in the post–Cold War generation the Navy forgot the lessons of World War II and, by retiring long-range aircraft such as the F-14 Tomcat, A-6 Intruder, and A-3 Skywarrior without analogous replacements, allowed the average strike range of the aircraft embarked on the super carriers to decline to less than 500 miles, pulling the super carriers back into the threat range of those who would make themselves enemies of the United States.
Like the decision to abandon the heavy fighter/strike "Super Tomcat" and organic tanking, we once again find ourselves willfully blinding ourselves to our weakness.

We are setting ourselves up to repeat the fears during the Guadalcanal campaign of the safety of our only viable carrier in the area, USS Saratoga (CV-3). We will save her by making her combat ineffective, damaged, or exhausted for much of the early campaign - letting the battle be fought by the rest of the fleet at a freighting cost in men and ships.
For some reason, despite the obvious statement of importance assigned to great-power competition and balancing capabilities and capacity in the face of A2AD challenges in recent strategic documents, the Navy has assigned little priority to the development and production of the MQ-25 aircraft, which is placed at the far end of the current five-year budget and not expected to reach initi,al operational capability until 2026. Perhaps this is because the original impetus for the mission-tanker program, the need to relieve pressure on the Super Hornet inventory, has been relieved by congressional decisions to restart the FA-18E/F production line. In fact, the Navy seems so comfortable with its fighter-attack-aircraft inventory that it has made the decision to retire or “strike” 140 older aircraft ahead of schedule to avoid the higher costs associated with maintaining them. Perhaps the Navy is unsure of whether it needs an unmanned tanker at all, or perhaps it wishes to forestall its final commitment to the program until it has come to a better understanding of its future requirements.
Carriers are what they have always been - your most effective offensive platform and your hardest platform to defend. Time-distance can amplify what is good or bad depending on what you put on that carrier.
The real strategic challenge facing the Navy is a requirement for penetrating deep strike from the carrier deck. The Navy needs a new aircraft to perform this mission. Given the mission profile, a range of 1,000 to 1,500 miles out and then back, the density of A2AD surface-to-air defenses, and the ten-hour-plus flight duration, the aircraft should probably be unmanned. The Navy should not forget the lessons of World War II that Admirals Mitscher and McCain wrote down after they lost multiple carriers while operating well inside Japan’s then-advanced A2AD environment. At $12.9 billion apiece, our modern carriers are too dear to the force fiscally and strategically to risk against the current threat.

The Navy would be well served if it were directed to return and review the requirements associated with the UCAS-D program ten years ago and refocus its efforts on creating a new unmanned, all-aspect stealth aircraft that is capable of operating from the carrier deck and hitting targets deep inside enemy territory. If the Navy does not take these steps, it will risk allowing its carrier force and, in fact, its entire accompanying surface fleet, to lapse into strategic irrelevance.
"...ten years ago."

To use a measurement of time I coined three years ago, what is that, something like 2.5 worldwars ago?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Midrats March Madness ... well, mostly Navy talk

Now that we're near the end of 2QFY18, it's time for another Midrats Free-For-All!

This Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern join us as we cover the latest developments on the maritime and national security front.

If you have topics you would like us to address, send them to us on twitter at @cdrsalamder or @lawofsea, join the chatroom while the show is live ... or even call in.

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.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Saturday Movie Stop: Operation Red Sea

Chris Cavas mentioned this to us last Midrats.

I think it pretty much speaks for itself.

This in not your father's China ... as we've been warning people here for years.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Fullbore Friday

Remember: nothing is routine. No watch is standard. Combat will not wait for you to be ready.

Place yourself on watch on the HMS Glowworm. You still are not happy going on liberty with "Glowworm" on your cover, but your nation is at war - and you suck it up. You have been detached from the main formation to look for a man overboard that in this water you know must be dead by now. After longer than you should, you give up the search and turn to return to your Task Force. You just received your second cup of tea for this watch....
...the Glowworm sighted a destroyer who when challenged, identified itself as Swedish. It was in fact the German von Röder class destroyer, Bernd Von Arnim, which very quickly opened fire, to which Glowworm responded. Unfortunately another German destroyer, the Paul Jakobi soon appeared. However, the Von Arnim was packed with invasion troops and soon both it and the Paul Jakobi turned and fled into a rainsquall. Lt Cdr Roope gave chase despite guessing that they were trying lead him onto their main force in an attempt to discover there whereabouts and inform the Admiralty.
Hiding in the showers, eh? Well, good Skipper, you head in as well - not to let Jerry get away from a proper battle. Then...
As the Glowworm emerged from the squall she came face-to-face with 14,000 ton the German Heavy Cruiser, Admiral Von Hipper armed with eight 8 inch and twelve 4 inch guns. The Glowworm laid smoke and conducted torpedo attacks from the cover of the smoke screen but failed to hit the Hipper. Glowworm had sustained substantial damage by this time and Lt Cdr Roope gave the order 'Stand by to ram'. The Hipper, realizing what was happening tried to turn and ram the Glowworm but was too slow. The Glowworm tore into the starboard side of the Hipper amidships and tore 100 feet of armour plating away, damaged her starboard torpedo tubes and punctured two fresh water tanks. After ramming the Hipper, Glowworm drew clear, but received another close range salvo from the Hipper to which the single gun, commanded by Petty Officer Walter Scott responded. Glowworm by this time had sustained massive damaged and started to sink and Lt Cdr Roope gave the order to abandon ship. He went down to open the sea cocks himself and the ship started to sink, forcing men into the freezing water or onto her bow.
In the very Navy way the Germans fought at sea in WWII for the most part,
The Captain of the Hipper, Helmuth Heye, gallantly stayed for over an hour picking up survivors. He positioned Hipper so that the tidal currents would carry the survivors too them. All the personnel on deck helped with hauling survivors aboard but many were too exhausted to make the final effort of climbing up the ropes and ladders and slipped away, including Lt Cdr Roope who helped many of his men to get life jackets on and to get to ladders. Out of a crew of 149, only 31 survived, the only officer being Lt Robert Ramsey. The prisoners were treated well by the Germans who congratulated them on a good fight, and Captain Heye told the men that their Captain was a brave man.
You want class? Need 'professionalism' defined? I present to you two men, LCDR Roope and CAPT Heye (later VADM).
Later, Heye sent a message through the International Red Cross recommending Lt Cdr Roope for the Victoria Cross, the only time in British history that a VC has been recommended by the enemy. The survivors spent the rest of the war as PoWs and afterwards, Lt Ramsey was able to return home and tell the whole story. The story was published on the 10th July 1945, in the Fourth Supplement to the London Gazette for Friday, 6th July 1945. As a result, Lt Cdr Roope was awarded the Victoria Cross, Lt Ramsey the Distinguished Service Order and three other ratings received the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.


Encore edition from 29DEC06.

UPDATE: This painting is better - and here and here are actual pictures taken from the HIPPER during the attack.

First posted DEC10.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Oh, it's International Women's Day?

In the name of all that his holy, instead of focusing on the brave women in Iran or the huge advancements in a little under a century since giving women the vote, I find myself surrounded by comments banal, virtue signaling, posturing, or just a dog's breakfast of transparent silliness that one usually finds on these patronizing "days." 

I've been left a bit cold.

So, in honor of the 20th anniversary of one of the greatest achievements in cinema, I give you a good representation of me watching International Women's Day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

History May Not Be Bending the Way You Want it to

If this is the century of China's resurrection, I'm not sure fans of liberty are going to like the direction it is heading in.

Plot lines that start this way do no usually end well;
News reports indicate that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) stands poised to amend China’s constitution to cancel term limits for the presidency. Presumably the related custom that the CCP general secretary must surrender power at a given age will give way as well. If so, abrogating term limits will let Xi Jinping remain the party supremo and China’s president so long as he deems fit. “Essentially,” contends Professor Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Xi has “become emperor for life.”
This next move is just bizarre;
The China Digital Times, a California-based site covering China, reports a list of terms excised from Chinese websites by government censors includes the letter 'N', Orwell's novels Animal Farm and 1984, and the phrase 'Xi Zedong'.

The latter is a combination of President Xi and former chairman Mao Zedong's names.
The letter "N?" How do you ban a letter?

It gets worse;
Search terms blocked on Sino Weibo, a microblogging site which is China’s equivalent of Twitter, include “disagree”, “personality cult”, “lifelong”, “immortality”, “emigrate”, and “shameless”.

It was not immediately obvious why the ostensibly harmless letter ‘N’ had been banned, but some speculated it may either be being used or interpreted as a sign of dissent. ...,
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have long been blocked in the country and even Winnie the Pooh recently found himself subject to China’s latest internet crackdown.

In July, references to the cartoon bear on Sina Weibo were removed after his image was compared to President Xi.
Well, I guess we need to start using that letter a lot more.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Even NYT's Can't Ignore Europe's Suicide

The results from the Italian election are in, and the results should not be a surprise;
A right-wing alliance led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia took the lead in Italy's general election, according to preliminary results published Monday morning, but the country now faces a hung parliament and a struggle for power.

Forza Italia, the far-right Northern League and Brothers of Italy together took about 37 percent of the vote, followed by the euroskeptic 5-Star Movement (M5S) with about 32 percent.
Immigration, again, is the driving force of elections. The temperature is continuing to rise, and as the political establishment in Europe refuses to act, expect more "fringe" parties to move to the front.

Italy is just the latest example, more will follow. Until the source of this instability is addressed, this will continue to be the driving force pulling Europe and Europeans apart.

That is what is happening in southern Europe, what about in the north? Well, let's pick another country whose problems are starting to get play in traditional media.

Regular readers know that from the start if this blog, one of the regular beats here was the growing problem caused by the masses of unassimilated immigrants from majority Muslim nations in to Europe's boutique ethnostates. 

These small nations have neither the size, temperament, nor political capital to assimilate the numbers coming in - especially when many have no desire to assimilate. These nations do not have the abilities of a large "nation of immigrants" like the USA to make such things work - they are small almost tribal states who have a history of going to war with other neighboring ethnic groups. They can take small numbers of closely related people (i.e. ethnic Danes in Sweden) but do not do well with huge cohorts of people with little in common ethnically, culturally, or religious.

Of course, this is a topic that is fraught with political fire - but they have to be addressed in a calm, fact based manner or they will get worse. The latest waves of settled migrants were invited by well meaning but historically inept liberals, but then weaponized by leftists as a political tool.

When the great center became worried about the resulting crime, social cohesion, and other related issues, the response was to insult them, and then outlaw their speech. When more and more people from the center could not find reasonable political parties to address their concerns, they turned to fringe parties. Those parties grow, the leftists apply more pressure. The fringe becomes mainstream ... and these nations begin to morph in to something they never wanted to be. All to satisfy the virtue signaling needs of liberals, and the metastasized self-loathing of leftists - these nations are becoming a warped opposite of what they were just a generation ago.

We've been covering this over a dozen years. For those new here and for review for the rest, let's look at some of the quotes from this blog over the years concerning one of the nations who let weaponized leftist self-loathing warp what was once one of the most highly civilized civic cultures in the world; Sweden.

It is as if they hated themselves for their own good, hard work in building a successful state on the fringes of the Arctic. Leftists have so much self-loathing that they cannot contain it internally - they have to force it on their host nation.

I'll just pick three of my posts in order to keep it simple.

First, February 2006;
Sweden is shutting down websites.
The Swedish government has moved to shut down the website of a far-right political party's newspaper over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

The site's host, Levonline, pulled the plug on the website of the Swedish Democrats' SD-Kuriren newspaper after consulting with the government.

It is believed to be the first time a Western government has intervened to block a publication in the growing row.
His website briefly posted a picture showing Muhammad from the rear, looking into a mirror, with his eyes blacked out - an image he said was about self-censorship.
Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds described Kuriren's move as "a provocation" by "a small group of extremists".

"I will defend freedom of the press no matter what the circumstances, but I strongly condemn the provocation by SD-Kuriren. It displays a complete lack of respect," she said in a statement.
Don't worry Laila, they will cut off you head last. Just try to find their site.

Europe has a long history of giving in to aggressive, angry cultures and armies. They also have a history of the people being sold out by their rulers. This time, though, something tells me that the people won't let them. I hope so. America can only absorb so many refugees, you know.
Yes, I know - the SD. In 2010 they entered the Swedish Parliament for the first time with 5.7% of the vote. The last election?  12.9%. The #1 party 31%, the #2 23%. SD is a fringe party no longer. Since the last election, they have even polled on top.

Their popularity is growing in the run-up to the September 2018 election. They should not be the #3 party in Sweden, but they are because the people feel they have no other place to go.

September 2007;
3.3 mil. Iraqi settle in the US - more on the way...and imagine that most of them want to settle in Washington D.C. and LA. Chew on that for awhile - because proportionally, that is where Sweden is right now.
Sweden has a huge problem on its hands - and it has no one to blame but themselves.
That was written well before the latest wave of migrants brought in to Europe by the irresponsible Chancellor of Germany.

May 2010:
It is a war where we must have the courage to stand up for the basics of freedom. That is where the cancer of Diversity and PC thought hurts so much. It promotes self-doubt and self-loathing. Self-doubt and self-loathing is where cultural bullies with a political mindset - Fascists and Communists are/were best at this kind of stuff - flourish.

What happened to Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks is a perfect example.
If the West's weak-willed, self-loathing Left and Center-Left does not start standing up - the Islamists will push harder and harder. Over time, more of the indigenous center of the countries under pressure will look for other places to defend their freedom. They will start to make our buddy Outlaw Mike look like a Social Democrat.

The West's options are simple. Defend yourself now and those like Lars Vilks and the late Theo Van Gogh, submit to Sharia, or wait for open social conflict where blood will blow and bodies will lie rotting in the open.
The left continues to try to squelch free speech not just in Europe anymore, but here as well. This will only strengthen the fringe. Where do you think Trump came from?

So, we come to 2018 ... and it seems that at last things are so bad that even the NYT has to cover what we have been discussing here for a dozen years; Sweden invited in the destruction of its own culture.

The NYT isn't totally onboard, so don't get too excited. They use the tragic story of an immigrant from Chile who was killed by a hand grenade and left behind his fellow-immigrant wife from Thailand.

They don't really address the rape epidemic running in parallel to the rise in murder - and avoid all together the source nations where this problem is coming from - but this is a step towards truth.
Sweden’s gang violence, long contained within low-income suburbs, has begun to spill out. In large cities, hospitals report armed confrontations in emergency rooms, and school administrators say threats and weapons have become commonplace. Last week two men from Uppsala, both in their 20s, were arrested on charges of throwing grenades at the home of a bank employee who investigates fraud cases.

An earlier jolt came with the death of Mr. Zuniga, who on Jan. 7 picked up the grenade, which the police believe had been thrown by members of a local gang targeting a rival gang or police officers.
Like many of his neighbors in Varby Gard, Mr. Borisho had sought asylum in Sweden to escape a war. He knew what a grenade sounded like. As a commando in a Lebanese militia, he had handled grenades, and remembered the strict protocols he complied with, locking up the weapons for safe keeping the minute he returned to camp.

That a grenade should be found on the sidewalk outside a kebab shop, a few steps from an elementary school, was difficult for him to take in.

“Now, when I think of the future, I am afraid,” he said. “I am afraid for Europe.”
The police are struggling to gather information in immigrant neighborhoods, and clearance rates for gun homicide cases have fallen steadily since the 1990s.

“We have lost the trust from the people who lived and worked in this area,” said Gunnar Appelgren, a police superintendent and specialist in gang violence.

Sweden’s far right-wing party blames the government’s liberal immigration policy for the rising crime, and will thrust the issue to the fore in the fall campaign.

Last year, Peter Springare, 61, a veteran police officer in Orebro, published a furious Facebook post saying violent crimes he was investigating were committed by immigrants from “Iraq, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Somalia, Syria again, Somalia, unknown country, unknown country, Sweden.” It was shared more than 20,000 times; Mr. Springare has since been investigated twice by state prosecutors, once for inciting racial hatred, though neither resulted in charges.
That is significant for NYT.

Read the whole thing. Zuniga - the secular leftist from Chile - lost so much faith in Sweden, that he wanted his wife to return to Thailand upon his death.

The truth is uncomfortable, but it is right there. Sweden and much of Europe have made a huge mistake that generations will have to deal with. What they cannot do is continue to ignore the problem. 

This story is not going anywhere. It will be interesting to see how much deeper NYT will go in looking at it.

If they need a few hints, they are free to get in touch with me.