Monday, July 30, 2018

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part LXXVI

China is in Africa to stay. It is something we need to get used to.

A picture they say is worth a thousand words.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has opened its first overseas base at Djibouti in the strategically located Horn of Africa. China began negotiations with Djibouti in early 2015 that culminated into a 50-year lease for what is being termed as a logistical support base.

The work on the 200-acre facility started in March 2016, along with the construction of Doraleh Multipurpose Port by China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and is still continuing at a very fast pace.
The fortress that is still under construction has at least 10 storage barracks, ammunition point, storage, office complex and a heliport. The base also has a huge underground air conditioning plant, which may possibly include a water filtration (reverse osmosis) and ice-making plants.
Four layers of security fences have been constructed. The inner two and
outermost are solid fences. Two roads have been constructed for patrolling
in between the fences.
The width of those fences? 9 and 11 meters.

The Chinese aren't playing around with force protection.

They will eventually need a larger airfield somewhere inland. I don't know where or when, but watch for it.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Changing Landscape for the Military Journalist with Sam LaGrone - on Midrats

Especially in the last two years, those reporting on defense issues in the United States have seen a significant change in access to people and information compared to the relatively open environment of a decade and a half ago.

How have things changed and how does this not only impact how military journalists do their job, but more importantly, how does it impact the ability for the American citizen to keep an eye on what is being done in their name with their money.

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and related issues with be Sam LaGrone.

Sam is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian 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, July 27, 2018

Fullbore Friday

Mike brought me to task in that in all these years - I have yet to give enough love to one of our greatest tactical leaders; Vice Admiral Lawson P. "Red" Ramage.

Attention to citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Parche in a predawn attack on a Japanese convoy, 31 July 1944. Boldly penetrating the screen of a heavily escorted convoy, CDR Ramage launched a perilous surface attack by delivering a crippling stern shot into a freighter and quickly following up with a series of bow and stern torpedoes to sink the leading tanker and damage the second one. Exposed by the light of bursting flares and bravely defiant of terrific shellfire passing close overhead, he struck again, sinking a transport by two forward reloads. In the mounting fury of fire from the damaged and sinking tanker, he calmly ordered his men below, remaining on the bridge to fight it out with an enemy now disorganized and confused. Swift to act as a fast transport closed in to ram, CDR Ramage daringly swung the stern of the speeding Parche as she crossed the bow of the onrushing ship, clearing by less than 50 feet but placing his submarine in a deadly crossfire from escorts on all sides and with the transport dead ahead. Undaunted, he sent 3 smashing "down the throat" bow shots to stop the target, then scored a killing hit as a climax to 46 minutes of violent action with the Parche and her valiant fighting company retiring victorious and unscathed.
THAT is in the finest traditions of the naval service.

First posted JAN2014.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Diversity Thursday

So, are you a post-Command O-6 who is a member in good standing of the Salamander Underground, has the heart of a punk, and would like to go out in a blaze of glory?

Have I got a job for you!
POSITION TITLE: CNP Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) Officer; CNP Special Assistant

SUPPORTED COMMAND/LOCATION: Chief of Navy Personnel (OPNAV N1) / Arlington, VA

DATES: 01OCT18-30SEP19*


GRADE/DESIGNATOR: O-6/1XXX (Post Command preferred)



POINTS OF CONTACT: OPNAV N1D; LCDR Rich [redacted]. richard.[redacted], (703) 604-[redacted]

Incumbent POCs: CDR Thavee [redacted]. thavee.[redacted] (703) 604-[redacted]

UNIFORM: NWU, Khakis, and Navy PT. Dress uniforms may be required for command functions.

POSITION DESCRIPTION: Develop, integrate and implement USN I&D strategy, governance and assessment mechanisms. Shape strategy, policy and program execution. Lead CNO's High Leverage Outcome to Mitigate Negative Effects of Bias efforts.


-O6, Unrestricted Line Officer (Post Command preferred)

-Recognized leader with upward mobility potential

-Strategic and critical thinker

-Integrator, force-multiplier

-Able to influence at all levels

-Inquisitive, possesses natural curiosity

-Passion for making things right

-Change management skills

-Project management skills

-This position does not require a “diversity professional”, it requires an outstanding leader who can drive strategic change, deliver results, and operate outside one’s typical comfort zone!

ADDITIONAL REMARKS: CNP is looking for a senior O-6 who is mature, articulate, and comfortable researching and presenting data-informed topics to large and sometimes senior groups.

*Position has the option to extend to three years, based on needs of the command and applicant.

Interested personnel should email the following questionnaire and requested documents to LCDR [redacted] NLT 01 August 2018 and should include the following:


Current Employer:

FY18 IA/Cyber-Awareness training certificate PHA Expiration Date:

2017 PRT Participation (Y/N):

Valid Security Clearance with Expiration Date (Y/N):

Full resume

Last 3 FITREPs

Recent Officer Photo

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Deep Strike or Distant Standoff?

A few months ago, our friend Robert "Barney" Rubel put out an article in The National Interest questioning the focus on "deep strike."

I encourage you to read it all, but I would like to break with him a bit; the real argument for extended range for our carrier strike aircraft isn't so much so they can reach deep, but so that the carrier can stand off further and as a result, complicate enemy targeting.

That being said, here's a money-quote for you;
If the Navy wants increased range, the first place to look is longer-range air-to-air missiles. Russian-made variants outrange our best right now. If a new tactical aircraft is needed, it should be a modern air-superiority machine a bit like the old F-14 Tomcat, which was long range and carried many missiles, or perhaps an unmanned version. Such a fighter would not require the intense and expensive level of all-aspect stealth that a penetrating bomber would need, and thus would likely cost far less.

The advent of artificial intelligence and long-range missiles has altered the logic of strike warfare. There is a very simple logical syllogism that should govern Navy investments in aviation and strike warfare going forward: do not do with aircraft what missiles can do; do not do with manned aircraft what unmanned aircraft can do; only use manned aircraft when the first two options are not suitable. The application of this logic will save lives and money, and actually serve to enhance the lethality and staying power of the fleet.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Priorities, Money & ... Good Googly Moogly I Need a Drink

The vastness of the manpower pool and resulting intellectual capital available for our national defense is hard to grasp - the size of the budget even more so.

Just look at the numbers; 2018 Defense Budget (~$700 billion). DOD employees; 1.3 million on active duty and another 742,000 civilians. That doesn't even tap in to the reserves and National Guard.

To justify such a mass of capability, you would assume that the fundamentals would be sound, understood, and fully connected to all we do and invest capital in.

If so, then ask yourself why Rand's David Ochmanek would need to call out to...
... the secretary and deputy secretary of defense should engage personally in a thorough review of the major war-fighting challenges facing U.S. forces and options for reshaping the defense program. Over the next 12 months, they should implement a five-step process:
What are these five things that, apparently, "we" are not doing sufficiently well or at all - in spite of the largess provided to the American defense establishment?
1. Glean. First, empower someone within the Department of Defense to gather, review and synthesize existing assessments of the war-fighting scenarios encompassing the state adversaries in the DoD’s “four plus one" problem set: China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. The “gleaner” should create four presentations that, collectively, would constitute a baseline assessment of the programmed joint force’s ability to achieve war-fighting objectives against each of these state adversaries.

2. Engage. Next, the secretary should sponsor a series of meetings of the Senior Leadership Council or other senior groups to review each of the four assessment briefings. These meetings would ensure that all senior stakeholders share a common picture of the state of affairs.

3. Focus. Next, there should be a fifth meeting to discuss a (short) list of priority challenges facing U.S. forces. The challenges should be cast at the operational level of warfare. The secretary could table the draft list at the meeting and invite comment, putting out the final list shortly after the meeting. Once approved and promulgated, the list could be used to focus concept and capability development efforts, with an eye toward filling the most serious gaps and shortfalls in capabilities, as revealed by the assessments. Getting there will require new hardware, but also new operational concepts and enhanced regional force and base postures.

4. Incentivize. Once the list is finalized, the secretary and deputy could announce that, beginning in six months, they will begin to review proposals that address each of the priority operational challenges and start to allocate money to develop and evaluate the most promising concepts. This is critical: If the “prize” for coming forward with the best new concept for, say, defeating advanced integrated air defenses is to have an unfunded mandate added to one’s program of record, the leadership is unlikely to spur much innovation. Rather, the leadership must declare and then demonstrate that money will flow to organizations that bring forward winning concepts.

5. Share. When the secretary is satisfied that the department has satisfactory briefings that present the DoD’s assessments of the adequacy of programmed U.S. forces vis-a-vis their adversaries, he or his representative should brief congressional committee members and staff.
OK, I'll ask the question for you,"You mean we're not doing this now?"

But wait. Let's boil this down a bit so we're all sure what we're talking about here.

Step 1: Assign an action officer to create four PPT presentations because no one else seems to have done their job?

Step 2: Let's get a bunch of 4-Stars and SES together to watch a bunch of PPT presentations created in Step 1. This is a radical departure from normal DC workflows, I know - but why not?

Step 3: We need a 5th meeting so leaders at the POLMIL level can step down to the Operational Level they are more comfortable at - as it appears they have no confidence that their existing 2, 3, and 4-Star junior GOFO have communicated the right priorities over the last few years? You know, the people now doing the job the people in Step 1 & 2 had a few years ago. Yes, those people, the ones who now will ask why the pogue two PCS cycles ago (themselves) did such a shitty job that put us where we are today. Yes, someone needs to diagram this human centipede of bureaucratic fail, but I'm not going to.

Step 4: After however long it takes to suffer through the five PPT presentations and meetings, let's chew on it for another six months and then - as no one seems to want to do a good job because that is their damn job, let's tickle the base of the brain stem and find some way to use the taxpayer's money (and that we borrowed from their grandchildren yet born), to bribe people to ... well ... do their damn job.

Step 5: After we have socialized the hell out of this Ottomanesque process for two or three POM cycles, let's trot up to The Hill and brief a mostly empty committee room, a gaggle of 20-something staffers who are nursing a hangover, a clutch of bitter press types, and a few hundred people on C-SPAN about our briefs and meetings.

Good googly moogly ... David, you're a smart guy and I love you like a brother ... but this needs to be nuked from orbit.

It's the only way to be sure.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

July Maritime Natsec Melee

NATO, Russia, the Chinese Navy, Australia's pocket fleet of the future and a potpourri of other issues that come across the transom - it's Midrats Melee!

Open topic, open phones and we'll be trolling the chat room for ideas this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern.

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, July 20, 2018

Fullbore Friday

Yes, he was THAT Brit officer holding the tanks in A Bridge Too Far.
Even if the 25-year-old Captain in the Grenadier Guards had wanted to say a prayer, his voice would have been drowned out by the throbbing of the five Chrysler engines that powered his 40-ton Sherman tank.

The young officer would have had good reason to call on the Almighty, because his troop of Shermans was about to cross the most dangerous bridge in Europe.

There was a strong likelihood he would either be killed by rifle or machine-gun fire, annihilated by an anti-tank gun, or be sent plummeting with his crew into the river below, after the bridge had been blown up by its Nazi defenders.

The young captain’s name was Peter Carington — and he survived his ordeal. But only after displaying leadership and courage of such distinction that it won him the Military Cross.

Peter Carington — perhaps better known today as Lord Carrington — went on to become one of our most impressive post-war politicians, holding office in the governments of six successive Conservative Prime Ministers, starting with Winston Churchill.

His death this week, at the age of 99, is a reminder of how Britain’s political class has changed. For in stark contrast to so many of today’s self-centred politicians, Peter Carington’s behaviour was ruled by duty, both to his fellow man and to his country.
One thing I dearly miss and have brought up now in then here since 2004 is that not enough of those of my class to whom much have given, give back as Peter Carington (Lord Carrington it seems, with two "t's" did. What service.
His extraordinary courage in war was matched by an integrity in public life that has all but disappeared today. His resignation as Foreign Secretary under Margaret Thatcher three days after Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982 is still regarded, nearly 40 years on, as the last honourable political resignation.

An official report absolved him of all responsibility, yet he refused to blame anyone else — not diplomats, intelligence agencies or underlings.

As he wrote in his memoirs: ‘The nation feels there has been a disgrace. The disgrace must be purged. The person to purge it should be the minister in charge.’
Every nation should be served by such men.
Despite his youth when crossing that bridge in his tank, Peter Carington had been a peer for six years since the death of his father, Rupert, the 5th Baron Carrington, who had also served in the Grenadier Guards.

His father’s service to King and country had been in World War I, during which he had fought with distinction and was wounded twice.
Let's get back to that scene from A Bridge Too Far (played my a much older actor).

A little more context on what the man's combat record was like. There are a lot of people out there who will throw shade at Carington, I won't. 
The date was September 20, 1944, and Carington and his tanks were a key component of the bold Operation Market Garden, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s audacious plan to seize nine strategically vital bridges that led to the Rhine, culminating in the bridge at Arnhem.

If the plan succeeded, the war — in that now notoriously over-optimistic phrase — could be over by Christmas.

The bridge at Nijmegen was just ten miles from Arnhem, where British paratroopers had been holding out for days. If the British and the Americans could cross the Waal and link up with them, then Operation Market Garden might be a triumph.

If not, then it would be seen as a total failure. The stakes, Captain Carington well knew, could not have been higher. The pressure was visible to those who saw him that day. ‘I can still see Peter Carington’s face as he looked down from the turret of his tank before going over,’ recalled Lieutenant Tony Jones of the Royal Engineers. ‘He looked thoughtful, to say the least of it.’

At around four o’clock, the tanks moved forward. The lead tank was commanded by Sergeant Peter Robinson, and as soon as he started crossing the 700-yard bridge, he came under attack from an 88mm anti-tank gun positioned on the far, northern bank.

Even though he had been warned the bridge may also have been mined, Robinson pushed forward along with Carington and the rest of the troop.

‘It was pretty spectacular,’ recalled one onlooking colonel. ‘The tank and the 88 exchanged about six rounds apiece, with the tank spitting .30 tracers all the while. Quite a show in the gathering dusk.’

What the observing officer did not know was that Carington’s small column was being fired on by another 88, as well as by anti-tank rockets and small arms. The Grenadiers were literally charging into a hail of lead.

‘I followed him over,’ Carington would later laconically recall. ‘And I thought they were going to blow the bridge up at any moment.’

Thankfully, he was not to die that day. In fact, he was to enjoy another 74 years of life.
A life of service well lived.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Diversity Thursday

This DivThu, I will let the Ambassador from France speak for me and all other right-minded people against those who try to divide the people in such cancerous means.

The French are better, so should we all be.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Japan know we know they know we know

If you were Japan, would you set a short path to nuc'n up if needed?

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog.

Come on by and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Bye, Bye Bastion

Though this is old news and the video is a year old, this is was still something to see.

Camp Bastion. The place I had the full English b-fast that I burped up for a week.

The place I had one of my more interesting, "Watch Sal as he sticks his thumb out as he tries to get back to Kabul" stories of my time in AFG.

Camp Bastion, the symbol of our closest ally doing what she could to back our play.

Give it a watch and take away from it what you can.

Monday, July 16, 2018

PEO Ships Goes Quasi-Salamander

Now and then you read something that makes you pause, take a deep breath, and realize that the long intellectual battle you and other like-minded people fought is close to being considered a victory.

In the face of the self-righteousness, professional bullying, preening self-importance, and entitled arrogance that characterized many in the Transformationalist movement of the end of the last century and first decade of this century, the Anti-transformationalists continued forward knowing that our history was sound. We were bolstered by a confidence that our understanding of compound risk was sound, our realistic understanding of manpower and engineering truths were sound, and more importantly - we knew that a system designed by people whose power was defined by self-rightousness, professional bullying, preening self-importance, and entitled arrogance was sure to fail.

The last few years, more and more standards are crossing the field. All are welcome.

Over to Sydney Freedberg at BreakingDefense;
“It’s going to be more of an evolutionary approach as we migrate from the DDG-51 Flight IIIs to the Large Surface Combatant,” said Galinis, the Navy’s Program Executive Officer for Ships. (LSC evolved from the Future Surface Combatant concept and will serve along a new frigate and unmanned surface vessels). “(We) start with a DDG-51 flight III combat system and we build off of that, probably bringing in a new HME (Hull, Mechanical, & Engineering) infrastructure, a new power architecture, to support that system as it then evolves going forward.”
Evolution, Not Revolution

This evolutionary approach is similar to how the current Aegis combat system entered service on the CG-47 Ticonderoga cruisers in 1983 but came into its own on the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyers.
On the Flight III, even with the hull modifications, “you kind of get to the naval architectural limits of the DDG-51 hullform,” Galinis told a Navy League breakfast this morning. “That’s going to bring a lot of incredible capabilities to the fleet but there’s also a fair amount of technical risk.”
The Navy is laboring mightily to reduce that risk on Flight III with simulations and land-based testing, including a full prototype of the new power plant being built in Philadelphia.
As they note, they have a ship-in-a-gibbet as motivation;
...DDG-1000 is a dead end, too large and expensive for the Navy to afford in quantity. The Navy truncated the class to just three ships and restarted Arleigh Burke production, which it had halted on the assumption the Zumwalts would be built in bulk.

Today, the Zumwalt‘s very mission is in doubt. The ship was designed around a 155 mm gun with revolutionary rocket-boosted shells, but ammunition technology hasn’t reached the ranges the Navy wanted for the original mission of bombarding targets ashore. With the resurgence of the Russian fleet and the rise of China’s, the Navy now wants to turn the DDG-1000s into ship-killers, which requires even longer ranges because modern naval battle is a duel of missiles.
In this article, there is a note of caution. The Anti-transformationalist victory is not fully complete. Our Big Navy still suffers from a bit of a problem of believing its own vignettes and PPT-thick futurism. Case in point here;
The gun’s place in ship-to-ship combat is “probably not a significant role, at least not at the ranges we’re interested in,” Galinis told reporters. While the Navy could invest in long-range cannon ammunition, he said, it’s paused work on several potential shells it test-fired last summer, awaiting the final mission review. If the Zumwalts do move to the anti-ship mission, which Galinis said they would be well suited for with minor modifications, their guns will be less relevant than their 80 Advanced VLS missile tubes or future weapons such as railguns drawing on their prodigious electric power.
What missiles that you have right now? Not that you'd like to have - but what you can get underway in 2018-20 in any quantity to make a difference in a fleet engagement in WESTPAC?

What happens when you quickly go Winchester w/those few you have? What if, like we're working on, an enemy finds a highly effective counter to ASCM that causes us to shoot 10 to get 1 hit? Then what weapon do you use?

Also, in every real-world conflict in our history and that of our most similar allies, warships have been called in to conduct NSFS. Look at just the last few decades, from The Falkland Islands War, to the invasion of Iraq, to the Libyan operations - the naval gun has been used much more than anyone thought at the start. In The Falkland Islands War, they shot the liners off some of their 4.5" guns.

Railguns might ... might ... be a weapon of the 2040/50s, but what will we have to fight in 2025? 2030? We lost an entire generation of shipbuilding because the Transformationalist were looking so far ahead, they tripped over the reality in front of them. As a result, our Navy and the nation it serves is flat-footed in 2018.

No, we have not purged all the Transformationalist foolishness yet.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

How Small Ships Can Make a Big Navy Better, on Midrats

Building off our discussions from last week's Midrats, our guest this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Lieutenant Joshua M. Roaf, USN to discuss part of the solution to improving the professional performance of our Surface Warfare Officers in what should be the core of their skillset; seamanship.

Using many of the issues he raised in a recent article co-authored with LT Adam Biggs, USN, Bring Back the Patrol Craft, we will explore the various advantages of returning balance to the fleet with an expansion of truly small surface combatants.

A native of Bennington, Vermont, LT Roaf graduated from Ithaca College, Ithaca NY in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and earned his commission from Officer Candidate School in 2010.

Afloat, Lieutenant Roaf completed his division officer tours aboard USS REUBEN JAMES (FFG57) where he served as the Main Propulsion Officer and Electrical Officer and then aboard USS ANZIO (CG-68) as the Navigator and Executive Department Head. During his sea tours, he participated in numerous Multi-National exercises (RIMPAC 2011/12, CANADIAN TGEX, BOLD ALLIGATOR, JOINT WARRIOR) and completed two Western Pacific deployments.

Ashore, Lieutenant Roaf taught navigation, naval operations and leadership development through the North Carolina Piedmont Region Consortium (NCPR) Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (UNC). Additionally, he earned his Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in Toxicology degree from the UNC. In support of this degree, Lieutenant Roaf completed a joint internship at the Wright Paterson Air Force base in Dayton Ohio working with the Navy Medical Research Unit.

He is currently stationed at Surface Warfare Officer School in Newport RI, training to become a Department Head afloat.

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, July 13, 2018

Fullbore Friday

Sometimes Fullbore is a battle, a campaign, a concept. Sometimes it is a moment in time - sometimes it accrues over decades.

Fullbore can be found everywhere - could be just down the table from you at the DFAC.
In 1969, Eugene Krueger left his young wife, Sharon, and headed off to Vietnam, where the 20-year-old's heroism as an Army pilot would be recognized with two Distinguished Flying Crosses and a Bronze Star.

Krueger returned home, raised four daughters and embarked on a civilian career with Northwest Airlines while serving with the Washington National Guard.

But Krueger was not through with war.

As part of a marathon military career that ended this week with his retirement, he returned to the front lines as a pilot in Afghanistan. There he spent four months in 2006 flying missions out of Bagram Air Field.
I served with a few in AFG who retired in the late 80s and were called back from the Army. Mostly Special Forces guys who had a very good Civil Affairs background. A very untold story - I'm glad I've had a chance to share one here.

One little note: notice how the Army can still tap into its pool of talent decades back in the Reserves and National Guard - as a result it can do something the Navy can't - tap in to institutional memory.
He also chafed at inefficiencies he found in an Army that had become much more bureaucratic.

During the Vietnam era, for example, cargo could be quickly loaded into slings and then hauled by Chinooks to and from combat outposts. But during his Afghanistan tour, cargo was loaded inside the helicopter, a more time-consuming task that forced the helicopter to idle on the ground for hours with engines running so that pilots could escape quickly if the aircraft came under attack.

Krueger suggested that the unit consider slings, but to no avail.

"My argument is we could do the mission in half the time, thus saving half the fuel, half the crew time, half the maintenance, half the $$$," Krueger wrote in a journal entry. "This should be a no-brainer."
Chief Krueger; Fullbore.

Hat tip KP. First posted JUL2011.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hey ... about the German "Navy" ...

What happens when you just don't give a damn about your own defense and your alliance's defense?

Well, let's see what the last few years have done to the German Navy.
Germany's parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces has urged the navy to stop deploying frigates to NATO, EU and UN missions. Hans-Peter Bartels says the military simply doesn't have enough ships.
Didn't Admiral Mullen and others say that if we need extra ships, especially frigates, we can always get our allies to pitch in? About that "1,000 Ship Navy" ... 
In an interview published in the Sunday tabloid Bild am Sonntag, Bartels blamed bureaucracy and mismanagement for a lack of available frigates.

"The navy will soon run out of operational ships," the Social Democrat (SPD) politician told the paper.
Yes, I know, that hits a bit close to home, but ...
"There are too many administrative responsibilities, a lack of staff, and sometimes [ship repair] companies like to cling as long as possible to a given order," he warned.
Maybe they picked up some of our bad habits. I call this the SPRUANCE-PERRY Syndrome.
Bartels said the "retirement" of old German navy frigates was going according to plan, but was being hampered by delays in rolling out their replacements.

"Six out of 15 old frigates have been retired from service, but none of the new F125 frigates has been released to the navy," he said.
Good news is that if Germany does inject money in to its defense as a result of this week's NATO summit, then they hopefully will push much of that in to parts and maintenance to get their availability rates up, then build additional units.

We'll see ... but what a mess.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Alliances are Partnerships, not Quasi-Imperial Legions with Auxiliaries

Over on twitter, my timeline yesterday was filled with people collectively hugging each other over Claire Berlinski's Ode to Empire over at DailyBeast.

I encourage everyone to read it then come back.

OK, if your hot-take is, "yes, oh, yes, she is so right," take a deep breath. Walk around a bit. Take another deep breath, then come back. If you raised an eyebrow a few times or rolled your eyes, you're OK.

Now that everyone is back, let's jump in to it.

At first read, I found myself sympathizing with the emotion that Claire brought to her article, but then I started to see a few things that caused my head to tilt a bit and made a note to read it a second time. I'm a NATO guy - I have a great affection for what it has done and hopefully will do. But like anything else you love, you have to love it enough to point out and help it fix its shortcomings.

The second time through the soft-light filter drifted away and the gaps in many of her points broke out in sharp contrast. Here are the ones that had me saying under my breath, "Oh, come on Claire, aren't you being a little overwrought?"

I'm tempted to give the article a full-Fisking, but the paying gig calls and I like Claire too much to do that.
Modern Europe—liberal, democratic Europe—is a creation of the United States.
This global order is in many respects an empire—a Pax Americana—but it is far more humane (in Europe, at least) than the European empires that preceded it.
Wait ... Pax Americana outside Europe may not be as humane as the European empires in the New World, Africa, and Asia? Come on, that is a moral-relativistic cheap shot if I've ever seen one, and Eurocentric to a selfish degree at that.
Power is the only coin that matters.
Of course, but let's go back to POLMIL101. The levers of national power are Diplomatic, Informational, Military, and Economic. We are talking about a military alliance, so it is good to focus on the "M" - but American global power and influence is a lot more than military. Having those on our side, our allies, increase their contribution to "M" does not diminish our power at all. If they do that, then we have more leverage in "D," "I," and "E." If they refuse to pull their fair share of "M" - then the support of the American people will further erode when it comes to us filling in the gap they created. When we shrug that burden off, then all D.I.M.E. will collapse for everyone.

The solution isn't for America to shut up and take it like a soyboi, but for people to do their fair share, as good friends and neighbors do.

The mindset is not all that different than the 25-yr old man still living at home because it is cheaper, easier, and lets him spend his money on wine, women, and song as opposed to being a responsible adult and fully contributing member of society.
The collapse of liberal democracy in Europe would represent the failure of our own ideals. The collapse of European security would mean the end of liberal democracy.
If the only thing holding together liberal democracy in Europe are an occupying American Army forever, then frankly the Europeans don't deserve it. If they lack agency of their own to the point they are content to be vassal states of the USA, then fine - they can send their gold reserves and 10% of all their tax revenue to:

COL Patrick N. Kaune, USA
c/o U.S. Army Garrison Fort Knox
125 Sixth Avenue
Bldg. 1110B room 226
Fort Knox, Kentucky 40121

Pat will make sure it is stored appropriately.

If not, then act like a full partner.
Today, neither Europe nor the United States are wealthy or powerful enough, alone, to sustain and expand liberal democracy in a world increasingly dominated by China, Russia, and anarchy. No European country alone, nor any of the American states alone, can maintain the liberal global order. A United Europe, however, and the United States, are together strong enough to sustain and expand the liberal tradition and democratic values. This is precisely why the enemies of liberal democracy are determined to drive a stake through our alliance.
This is correct and good. We are an alliance, kind of a Defenders of The Enlightenment Superfriends. As friends, who are super, one thing we should understand as a baseline requirement; everyone will carry their fair share of the burden. We will all, inside our national ways and means, contribute as individuals and collectively, to support the advancement of civilization though Diplomatic, Informational, Military and Economic means. As good friends do, if someone is not doing their fair share, then others should point that out and motivate that friend to lean in. If that friend refuses, then the rest of the Superfriends are well within their rights to ask if that friend is a friend after all.

The next bit was just sad to read. In addition to being wildly Eurocentric in its understanding of the human record of conflict (Mongolians, Persians, Chinese, Arabs, assorted Inca and Aztec descendants, not to mention modern era Rwandans, Japanese and Cambodians are looking at each other in amazement), it is just dripping with European self-loathing that helps no one.
The wars that broke out in 1939 and 1914 were iterations of the wars fought by Bismarck, Napoleon and Louis XIV—Sedan, 1870; Leipzig, 1813; Jena, 1806; Austerlitz, 1805; Valmy, 1792; Turckheim, 1675. The 20th centuries’ wars were bloodier for only one reason: a massive improvement in killing capability. What would the next iteration of this war look like considering the technology we’ve got now?

Postwar, Europe ceased to be the world’s leading exporter of violence because it was stripped of full sovereignty and subordinated to outside hegemons—first the U.S. and the USSR, then the U.S. alone.
Yes, all true ... but the world cannot and should not be set in aspic and stuck in the 'fridge.

This next bit is a bit over the top;
The benefits of this—to the U.S., Europe, and the world—are not just economic, although those benefits are immense. The benefits are in wars not fought, lives not squandered.

European free-riding isn’t an anomaly or a trick, as many Americans now seem to believe—it’s the central feature of our postwar security strategy. How is it, then, that suddenly, we’ve become consumed with rage that Europe is “taking advantage” of us? How have we forgotten that this is the point of the system? We designed it this way, and did so for overwhelmingly obvious historic reasons learned at incalculable cost.
Just no. At the height of the Cold War, Belgium spent ~3.25% GDP on defense, but was last over the 2% mark in 1992. She is now under 1%. In the same time period, the USA went from 6.3% to 3.1%.

Even today, EST, GRC, and by some measures GBR are all over 2%. Many other nations will be soon. Again, this is not too much to expect for an alliance that shares not just security guarantees, but also responsibilities. To have one, you must shoulder your fair share of the other. No one is asking anyone to spend 3.1%. Just 2/3 of that at a minimum.
The United States underwrites European security through forward engagement and guarantees based on deterrence. In return, its allies accept the United States’ dominant role in the international system. They contribute—significantly, in both money and blood—toward meeting common challenges. Until now, our statesmen have had the good sense to allow all concerned to save face and to describe our relationship as a partnership, with each contributing according to ability. Unfortunately, it seems everyone who understood what this actually meant—European subordination to U.S. hegemony—is dead.
This is an insult to the Europeans. Just by size, we're the big kid in the alliance, but no one is forcing anyone in to this alliance. A demand for fairness is not killing the alliance, it is only asking for a respectful relationship to strengthen the alliance.

Also, I know Trump derangement syndrome is blinding people, but Trump did not invent this concern. I've been on this for two decades, but I'm just a gnat on the natsec rump, listen to General Craddock in 2009, and SECDEF Gates in 2011.

This is not new - we just have a President who is willing to lead with it in the open.

If our slacking NATO partners will simply do the minimum - which isn't too much - then our alliance will be better, stronger, and better able to promote liberal democracy. 

Claire is 180 degrees out from what is going on.
They were wrong. We’re now cheerfully pissing away the greatest achievement of American history, the work of generations, achieved at incalculable cost in life and treasure: a free, united, secure, and prosperous Western world. The 20th century has been forgotten. No one learned a thing from it.
The present state of events is not good for NATO, The West, or any of its alliance partners.

Regular readers here know I get a kick out of the Norwegian series Occupied because it took the warning I gave to my NATO colleagues the first decade of this century, "We are one election away from the USA seriously looking at leaving NATO if you guys don't start spending more on your own defense." and made a series out of it. They refused to understand that there is a strong tradition in the American culture that started with the first English speaking colonies in North America, "He who does not work, does not eat." We will only take slackers for so long - especially entitled slackers.

The nation that needs to get itself in order first is Germany. Regardless of some people's view of Germany, this is 2018. She is a critical and important leader in the family of liberal democracies. Her economy is a powerhouse and her under-investment in her defense undermines deterrence and the ability of NATO to decisively act.

If you care for Germany and NATO, then you need to be as clear and direct as a Dutchman about it. Case in point, Rich Lowry over at NR;
Germany’s defense spending, or lack thereof, is a disgrace. One would think the country would have been embarrassed into following a different trajectory after German troops — Panzergrenadierbataillon 371, to be exact — had to use broomsticks instead of guns in a NATO exercise in 2014. But Germany evidently doesn’t embarrass easily.

NATO countries, after a long vacation from history after the end of the Cold War, agreed at a summit in Wales in 2014 to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense annually within ten years.

The Baltic states, and anyone in the direct line of fire of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, are scared and spending, although no one will mistake these countries for behemoths. England is above 2 percent, at least in theory (one think tank says that it’s actually 1.6 percent). France is steadily increasing toward the 2 percent target.

It is the biggest economy in Europe and fourth-largest in the world that is the serious laggard. Germany spends all of 1.2 percent of GDP on defense. As Elisabeth Braw points out in Foreign Policy magazine, its military is short on tents and winter clothes. Its aircraft suffer from missing spare parts, and most of its tanks aren’t battle-ready. It has a shortfall of about 20,000 officers and noncommissioned officers. It is promising to get to 1.5 percent GDP . . . by 2025 ...
It’s not clear how seriously Germany takes the Russian threat (although it sent some troops to Lithuania last year). Germany has been supportive of the proposed Russian pipeline, Nord Stream 2, that would make Europe more dependent on Russian natural gas and bypass Ukraine. It’s Trump, the alleged tool of Putin, who has been complaining bitterly about the project.

With Putin looming to the East, NATO remains a vital tool of Western power. It’s not an imposition to ask that Germany act like it.
Germany needs to get its act together. It is long overdue.

All is not lost. There is good news about NATO when you want to find it. If you push Germany to the side, you can see that many in the alliance get it.

Today NATO issued its latest report of defense spending. Read it all, but these two graphs tell much of the story about who wants to be an adult, and who is content to live in mom's basement.

Note the nations who are just as the cusp of reaching the 2% mark. BZ to them all. Also note the cluster of shame in the bottom left-hand corner. Those are your free-riders - with Germany right in the center of them. Such lost potential.

As you can see, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Romania all are making the stretch. They get it. Other nations showing merit, Bulgaria, Canada, Slovakia, and The Netherlands. More work to do, but they are heading in the right direction.

UK, France, Croatia, Albania, and Belgium.  My dudes. Are you reading any of your intel reports?

Name 'em and shame 'em. A few decades of begging isn't helping - and liberal democracy isn't quite flourishing to the East.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part LXXV

We have been doing the "Long Game" series for what, a dozen years?

Well, we are pretty damn close to the event horizon where this is becoming a short game.

It is still gobsmacking that we have yet to design a surface combatant of any utility since the passage of Goldwater-Nichols at the height of the Cold War.

It is a clear case of systemic institutional failure that we blew up CG(X) because we had zero ability to control our worst tendencies, and that we seem happy to slug along with our glorious but crotchety stretch-SPRUANCE CG's as the guardians of our CVNs.

DDG(X) is still vapor ware. If FFG(X) winds up just being a stretched LCS, then we just need to fire everyone and nuke the accretion-saddled acquisition system from orbit. Just have the Australians design our fleet architecture for a decade until we can train up a new generation. They seem to get it.

Besides our friends Down Under, you want to see a serious surface force who is serious about building a fleet and getting ready to go to war at sea?

Three Type-52C (a very adequate 7,000 ton displacement DDG) and two Type-55 CG (it ain't a DDG at a displacement of 12,500 and 112 VLS on FLT-I). All right off the production line. I can smell the fresh paint from here.

Look at that picture in detail. The Chinese are dead serious about dominating their half of the Pacific and as much of the Indian Ocean as they can.

Meanwhile, we are still struggling to figure out how to train our officers in basic seamanship.

If this does not make you angry and motivated, then for the sake of our Navy and the nation is serves, go away. Retire. Go home. Find a hobby. Let others step in to the breach who actually give a damn.

H/t TS.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

The Slow March to FITZGERALD & MCCAIN, with J. C. Harvey Jr., on Midrats

The conditions that brought us to the series of events in WESTPAC in 2017 did not happen over night. They did not happen in one PCS cycle, or under one command climate. Layer by layer from many sources, it took time to get to where we found it.

Our guest for the full hour Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern
to discuss his views of the latent causes of what is now generally accepted as a systemic failure of a "new normal" will be J.C. Harvey, Jr., Admiral USN (Ret.).

Admiral Harvey retired from the Navy in November, 2012 after serving as the Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, in Norfolk, Virginia.

In his 39 year Navy career, he specialized in naval nuclear propulsion, surface ship & Carrier strike-group operations & Navy-wide manpower management/personnel policy development. He served in a variety of operational command positions at sea, as the Navy’s Chief of Naval Personnel (the senior uniformed human resources official in the Navy) & as the Director, Navy Staff immediately prior to commanding U.S. Fleet Forces.

Since his retirement, Admiral Harvey has joined the Board of Directors of the Navy Memorial Foundation, where he currently serves as Chairman of the Board, & serves as an Outside Director of AT Kearney, PSDS.

On 12 January, 2014, he was sworn in as a member of Governor McAuliffe’s cabinet where he served as the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Veteran & Defense Affairs until 31 August, 2017.

A few months later, he joined the Institute of Defense Analyses as the Director, Strategy, Forces & Resources Division.

Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Admiral Harvey is a graduate of the Phillips Exeter Academy, the US Naval Academy & the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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, July 06, 2018

Fullbore Friday

As we celebrate a bit of our own martial flintyness this week, it is a good time to remember the history of other independent minded folk. 

If you so wish, do a little reading up on the history of the Zaporozhian Cossacks of Ukraine; but let's keep this FbF clean and to the point.

As everyone is hip to "cultural sensitivity" let's try to get some insight in to the cultural foundation and references of the Ukrainian people (and the Russians too). This took place, roughly, in 1676. 100 years before our Declaration of Independence, and the same year we first recognized by proclamation the very American holiday of Thanksgiving. So, yea ... it works.

First of all, we have a letter from the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud IV.
Sultan Mahmud IV to the Zaporozhian Cossacks:

As the Sultan; son of Muhammad; brother of the sun and moon; grandson and viceroy of God; ruler of the kingdoms of Macedonia, Babylon, Jerusalem, Upper and Lower Egypt; emperor of emperors; sovereign of sovereigns; extraordinary knight, never defeated; steadfast guardian of the tomb of Jesus Christ; trustee chosen by God Himself; the hope and comfort of Muslims; confounder and great defender of Christians -- I command you, the Zaporogian Cossacks, to submit to me voluntarily and without any resistance, and to desist from troubling me with your attacks.

--Turkish Sultan Mahmud IV
... and the Ukrainians pondered a response ...

... and then you have a bit of poetry (potty-mouth warning);
Zaporozhian Cossacks to the Turkish Sultan! 
O sultan, Turkish devil and damned devil's kith and kin, secretary to Lucifer himself. What the devil kind of knight are you, that can't slay a hedgehog with your naked arse? The devil excretes, and your army eats. You will not, you son of a bitch, make subjects of Christian sons; we've no fear of your army, by land and by sea we will battle with thee, fuck your mother. 
You Babylonian scullion, Macedonian wheelwright, brewer of Jerusalem, goat-fucker of Alexandria, swineherd of Greater and Lesser Egypt, pig of Armenia, Podolian thief, catamite of Tartary, hangman of Kamyanets, and fool of all the world and underworld, an idiot before God, grandson of the Serpent, and the crick in our dick. Pig's snout, mare's arse, slaughterhouse cur, unchristened brow, screw your own mother!

So the Zaporozhians declare, you lowlife. You won't even be herding pigs for the Christians. Now we'll conclude, for we don't know the date and don't own a calendar; the moon's in the sky, the year with the Lord, the day's the same over here as it is over there; for this kiss our arse!
Fullbore. An American would have simply said, "Nuts" - but we are a simple folk.

First posted March 2014.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

So, how did we find ourselves in this pickle?

How is that record from the defense industry been over the last quarter century when it comes to delivering product?

Well, one way or another, it started with a dinner.

Come on over to USNIBlog and give it a read.

...and a Good 4th to You

Remember, we are a republic of idea - ideas put together in a unique way that has lasted longer than any other existing republic.

Remember that, honor that - and ponder the words that got the whole thing moving forward.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

They Syrian End Game

And so, we reach the last couple of chapters in the bloody Syrian Civil War - that place where Game of Thrones intersects on the ground with a Monty Python sketch on the diplomatic scene.

The more interesting, and potentially most deadly, part of this chapter is in the tri-border region where Israel, Jordan, and Syria come together. Not to diminish the impacted sh1t-show the Turks created in the northwest or the throbbing presence of the Kurdish held east ... but you have the hammer of the Syrian coalition against the Israeli anvil and the weak spot at the Jordanian border.

A bit more than a year ago, I issued the D&G for Rev. 1 to PLAN SALAMANDER, and so far it appears the commanders on the ground are successfully executing the plan. Once again, here it is bulletized for ease of reading.
1. Let the Iranians and Russians kill Sunni Arab Islamists in the west of Syria while we kill them in the east. (no change)

2. We'll kill them east of the Euphrates to include those portions west of the Euphrates in the Raqqa Governorate. and south of road from Nassib in the southwest, through Damascus to Deir ez-Zur on the Euphrates.

3. The Russians, Syrians, and Iranian proxies can kill them in the rest. (no change)

4. We will continue to support Kurdish and allied forces inside the area defined in #2 using airpower and advisory liaison forces as needed. Once they are done in the north and west, we can just do CAS for the Kurds on the front lines of their frontier as we all push IS forces in to the Iraqi desert.
As always, SyriaCivilWarMap gives you much of what you need to know.

This is what you need to watch; many of the non-ISIS rebels may be able to negotiate their way in to some kind of end. ISIS though, no. No chance. They will either be killed in place or will have to find a way to drift in to Jordan. Are the Jordanians ready to keep them out? Can they keep them out?

This is all very interesting to watch. 

Once that pocket it taken care of, forces can move to get rid of that pocket in on the Iraqi border. After that, Iblid next. 

The Kurds will continue to nibble away at the other ISIS remnants. 

Here is when things will get fuzzy. How will the Syrians deal with the Kurds? What about the Turkish enclave west of Manbij?

With all these known-unknowns, there we have American and Russian forces, keeping an eye on each other when they're not giving the Turks side-eye and the finger to the Iranians.

So much that must be done right, so many places for things to go wrong.

Monday, July 02, 2018

A Fleet in a Parallel Universe

The fleet a nation builds is not predestined; it develops over time based on the perceived security needs of a nation, its economic carrying capacity, combined with the will and vision of its leaders.

After those basic ingredients are set, then you have to have the right people with the right ideas to implement it. The fleet that results is not the result of a simple 1+1+1=3. Like three different chefs can come up with three very different dishes from the same basic ingredients, so too can different leaders build very different fleets to meet what they perceived best meets a nation’s requirements.

If you had different leaders at a point in time, you would have a very different fleet.

We have the fleet we have because of those in positions of power, uniformed and civilian, at important decision points.

There were alternatives to today’s present. There are alternative futures. The “what if” matrix is as complex as the personalities and philosophies that chose one path over another; one platform over another.

Navalists know most of the more recent decision points that led to the fleet we have today. We know those who led one school of thought or another – who won the argument, and who did not. Who got 80% of what they saw the future needed, who got 20%.

When you look at people with alternative designs from what we have today, one of the first people who comes to mind is Wayne Hughes, CAPT USN (Ret.). In June’s issue of Proceedings, he has an article, “Build a Green Water Fleet” that again raises the issue of what fleet we need as an alternative to the one we continue to build.

The article builds off the concepts I wrote about in JAN 2010 embedded in the decade old “New Navy Fighting Machine". It may be a decade old, but it is still fresh.

In my 2010 post, Reforming the Confederate Navy, I outlined the issue as I saw it,
The Confederate Navy … she threw her lot in with transformationalism. VIRGINIA and HUNLEY were wonderful ground breaking designs and concepts - built against tremendous odds - but in the end they were like the nation they served - beautiful losers destroyed by their own fatal conceits.

What was their conceit? They thought that a few high technological breakthroughs thrown into a few hulls and applied with a bit of tactical verve could triumph over the many primarily pushing sound fundamentals.
Yep, the South did win - it won the post Goldwater-Nichols Navy.

Let’s get back to Hughes’s latest;
The New Navy Fighting Machine Study described an affordable yet more numerous and complete U. S. fleet for the 21st century. By distinguishing smaller, single-purpose, green-water (coastal and littoral) combatants from the large, multipurpose, expensive, heavily manned blue-water (open-ocean) fleet, the study was able to restore a Navy of more than 600 vessels that could be sustained with an annual Ship Construction New (SCN) budget of $15 billion. [3] The fleet’s composition was tested by war games and studies conducted by faculty and students. Their efforts explored the value and limitations of the NNFM force against two first-class enemies, irregular warfare opponents, and for peacetime engagement with friendly states.
What kind of fleet for Green Water ops would he like?
The Navy needs small, lethal, fast, green-water ships and submarines to take the fight to the enemy in the littorals. The Mark VI patrol boat (top) and this HOSS X-1 concept submarine (designed by and copyright J. Scott Shipman of B.B. Hoss, Inc.) are examples of vessels recommended by the New Navy Fighting Machine Study.
…“Minuteman” class of missile combatants to comply with surface navy specifications that included eight antiship cruise missiles, a gun, a combat crew of 12, bunks for 30, and a cruising radius of 3,000 nm.
To get it, he is willing to trade some Blue Water capital;
… the existing 280-ship fleet its 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs) took 46 percent of sea-going billets. By reducing the number of CVNs to six or seven and distributing the sea-based air capability more widely, the NNFM freed enough people to operate the new fighting fleet.
There are some who are questioning the math here, but even if you adjust 25%, the argument should not be dismissed out of hand.
…a light aircraft carrier (CVL), displacing 28,000 tons, that could carry 20 F-35B aircraft plus assorted helicopters and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) for scouting and auxiliary functions. Weisser showed that in most scenarios two or three CVLs working together, or one operating in concert with a CVN, would be more adaptable and could deliver firepower more efficiently than sea-based air power operating from CVNs alone.
…16 non-nuclear submarines because littoral waters are where they will be most effective.
Of course, this does not fully address the Blue Water changes, but as the author mentioned, that can be addressed SEPCOR.

One final note from me, for any meaningful change to take place, we need to pull up Goldwater-Nichols root and branch and replace with a new construct. We need a wholesale, highly disruptive change in the bureaucratic structure and the accretions build up around it in the last 3+ decades. Better now in peace by choice, than at war when the decks are slick with blood and we are grasping for something more effective.

It is not a coincidence that we have not been able to field a successful surface combatant since Goldwater-Nichols. Remember, the money to cut steel on DDG-51 Hull-1 was in 1985, a year prior to Goldwater-Nichols.

Since then, we have put forward LCS & DDG-1000, aborted CG(X), cannot stop picking our belly button with DDG(X), and have a fairly good chance of having FFG(X) just be a reconfigured (spit) LCS.

When will the last Arleigh Burke DDG be commissioned, 2030? 2035? Heck, 2040? There is a pretty good chance that a DDG envisioned and first built at the height of the Cold War will almost see service in to the 22nd Century. 2085 at a minimum.

100 years. Almost like we were about to decommission the last of our TENNESSEE Class BB, designed and built after and during WWI.