Monday, May 20, 2019

OK SECNAV, Show us the Money

Will May 2019 be seen in hindsight as the month that the very real crisis in our merchant marine - decades in the making - finally broke above the background noise?

If you have not already, listen to yesterday's Midrats with gCaptain's John Konrad, read his recent editorial and ... it appears ... read the recently published CSBA report on maritime logistics.

In the fight for money we have, at the moment, the weather gage;
The Navy’s current and planned maritime logistical force “is inadequate” to support the new National Defense Strategy and major military operations against China or Russia, and failure to correct that deficiency “could cause the United States to lose a war,” an in-depth study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment warned May 16.

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer praised the CSBA study and declare: “We really have to get after it.”
OK SECNAV, let's make sure we carefully and exactly define who "we" are, and trace that back to a funding line, because ...
... “decades of downsizing and consolidation” have left the maritime logistics forces “brittle” and contributed to the decline of the U.S. shipbuilding industry and the Merchant Marine,” which is expected to carry the bulk of military material and equipment for an overseas contingency.

“Failing to remedy this situation, when adversaries have U.S. logistics networks in their crosshairs could cause the United States to lose a war and fail its allies and partners in their hour of need. An unsupported force may quickly become a defeated one,” the report warned.
We need more than reports. We need more than holding-action words from senior leaders in suits - we need advocacy from those in uniform and have those words followed up with funding lines from Congress.

Everyone has to be dancing the same waltz; 
Spencer noted that the weakness of the Navy’s maritime logistics was brought up by members of Congress during a visit to Capitol Hill the day before. He said a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee who was particularly strong on the issue told him the Navy was not funding what was needed. “And I said, ‘you’re exactly right, and we have to get after this’.”

He promised that the audience was going to hear him and the new chief of naval operations “talking about the battle. And it’s not steaming to the battle. Our first battle is getting off the pier. And we have to start addressing this in earnest.”
Having trouble finding the money right now? OK, here's some seed money. Mothball two of the three ZUMWALT DDG and take that money to start cutting steel.

Talk is cheap. We need action.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

US Merchant Marine - Not Ready for War, with gCaptain's John Konrad - on Midrats

What if they gave a war in WESTPAC and we couldn't come?

It is easy to talk tactics, weapons, and warship numbers - but on balance, that is not what ensures victory in any major war.

For a maritime nation, nothing can last very long without a large, sustained, scalable, and resilient merchant marine.

When you look at our numbers, we are not ready.

Our guest for the full hour Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be John Konrad, using his recent editorial at gCaptain, Admiral, I'm not Ready for War, as a starting point for our talk.

Captain John Konrad is the founder and CEO of gCaptain and author of the book Fire On The Horizon. John is a USCG licensed Master of Unlimited Tonnage, has sailed a variety of ships from ports around the world and is a distinguished alumnus of SUNY Maritime College.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at Spreaker

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.


Friday, May 17, 2019

Fullbore Friday

This man helped influence untold numbers of men and women towards service in our Navy, and through informed fiction, generations to partially understand such a pivotal era of our nation's history.

Such a long, full and influential life. Herman Wouk - BZ and thank you.
Herman Wouk, the prolific and immensely popular writer who explored the moral fallout of World War II in the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Caine Mutiny” and other widely read books that gave Americans a raw look at the horrors and consequences of war, has died at his Palm Springs home, where he wrote many of his acclaimed novels.

Wouk, who was honored by the Library of Congress in September 2008 with its first lifetime achievement award for fiction writing, died in his sleep Friday at the age of 103, his literary agent Amy Rennert told the Associated Press. Wouk was working on a book at the time of his death, Rennert said.

As a writer, Wouk considered his most “vaultingly ambitious” work the twin novels “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance,” about “the great catastrophe of our time,” World War II. Critics, however, considered “The Caine Mutiny” to be his finest work.
The books are always better than the movies, but here are some highlights;







H/t Scoobs

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Diversity Thursday

OK folks, I want you to take a deep breath and ponder how much admin-overhead this costs the Navy every year.

Every.

Year.

Most of these awards are of the worst kind of a patronizing, sectarian and racialist mindset. There is no reason a fair, equal, and bias free organization should have anything to do with these organizations or their self-licking ice cream cone awards.

Our Sailors deserve better from their leaders than to tell them their value is based on things they have no control of, such as their ethnic background. We are better than this. Our Navy is better than this.
From: [redacted]
Date: [redacted], May [redacted], 2019 [redacted]
Subject: Inclusion & Diversity Awards[redacted]
To: [redacted]

Good afternoon,

The Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity (OIDEO) is requesting nominations for the following awards:

American Indian Science and Engineering Society - Due to Organization 24 May 2019
For information go here

National Blacks in Government (BIG) Military Meritorious Service Award - Due to OIDEO 20 May 2019
For information go here

Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation (HENAC) - Due to OIDEO 29 May 2019
Nomination award brochure attached

National Image, Inc. Military Uniformed Services and Civilian Meritorious Service Awards - Due to Organization TBD June 2019

LATINA Style Distinguished Military/Civilian Service Award - Due to OIDEO 10 July 2019
Last year's award template attached - use for now

[redacted]

Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) Grateful Nation Award - Due to OIDEO 22 August 2019
2019 award template attached

I'll do my best to assist you throughout the process. Thank you in advance for taking the time out of your busy schedule to nominate those that deserve any one of the awards listed above!

For an all-inclusive list of awards that the DON supports visit [redacted]. I will update pertinent information like when nomination packages are due as specific due dates become available from each of the respective organizations that sponsor the various awards. Awards are broken down by many categories and are usually open to both military and civilians. If you have any questions please feel free to contact either me or [redacted].

Very Respectfully,

[redacted]
[redacted]
[redacted]
--
[redacted] Office of Inclusion, Diversity & Equal Opportunity (OIDEO)
[redacted]
[redacted]
[redacted]
[redacted]

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Gibbeting Mike Mullen's Almost Dead Theory

Though we think the "1,000 Ship Navy" is dead, it isn't. People still think, here and with our allies, that you can rely on allies as if they are your own.

You can't. They aren't.

I have more details over at USNIBlog.

Come on by!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tomorrow's Airwing Needs to be my Father's Airwing

This will do well as a companion piece to Bryan's guest-post yesterday. Take some time and read all of David Larter's Page-1 story in the May 6th Defense News, What's Killing the US Navy's Air Wing.

First, look at these glorious flight decks full of tools for all sorts of jobs - just 14-years apart from 1967 to 1981;




Now, today's deck full of lawn-darts and auxiliaries;



... and then ponder this pull-quote;
The carrier air wing of the future will also need to be able to hunt submarines (serving as a replacement for the S-3 Viking aircraft), provide surveillance and targeting, and destroy ships and land targets with standoff weapons, all while fighting at nearly double the range of today’s air wing, according to the study, which was led by retired submarine officer and analyst Bryan Clark.

If the Navy wants to counter China’s anti-ship cruise missiles and increasing naval capabilities, it must resurrect the Cold War-era “outer-air battle” concept, which focused on longer-range aircraft to counter Russia’s bombers. However, instead of fighting at 200-plus nautical miles, the air wing will have to fight at 1,000 nautical miles, the study found.

“The air wing of the future is going to have to be focused less on attacking terrorist training camps and huts in Syria, and more focused on killing ships and submarines at sea — dealing with naval capabilities and island-based littoral capabilities,” Clark said in a telephone interview. “Those are the challenges: Range and the mission set is changing.”
You don't know what you once had until you lose it, eh? We did it by choice.

It has always been about range, something we discussed here for well over a decade - but that lost the argument for ... still trying to figure that out, though I have ideas.

We have wasted so much time with people who have other priories ... still trying to figure out what they are, though I have ideas ... than investing decision making power with those focused on making sure we can project power ashore without being inshore.

Some smart initial steps are looking right;
In other words, the entire air wing, both the range at which it can fight and the missions it is set up to execute, must be completely overhauled. That’s a big ask that can’t be answered overnight. It starts with committing to the MQ-25 Stingray, Clark said, referring to the unmanned tanker aircraft under development by Boeing following an $805 million contract award last year for the first four aircraft.
Build it. Get it to the fleet. Let our Navy work with it ... they'll help you find out how to make it better ... but let's get it to the fleet and start. Would be nice to ditch the "MQ" and get some answers on the "AQ" and "RQ" once we get the KQ working correctly.

We've also addressed over the years the much delayed F/A-XX and how important it needs to be. Range needs to be top of the spectrum. In my alternative universe we would have two programs going - one on the "F" side and one on the "A" side - other generations have done it - but we don't seem to have that luxury. At least the arc is bending my way;
“So now the focus should be on the F/A-XX. If you really want range, that has to be the platform you are shooting for,” Work said. “Because with the Navy buying the F-35Cs, and the Marine [Corps] buying the F-35Bs, and the Navy buying the Block III Super Hornet, you are not going to be able to afford two or three programs. So the F/A-XX is the one you need to focus on. And if the analysis shows you need range, that points to unmanned.”
The next statement of the obvious is most welcome. When the peer battle comes, we will not own the EW spectrum. We won't have unchallenged access to satellite or terrestrial bandwidth. We will need to be in the fight anyway;
But the study also called for retaining a manned fighter for command-and-control capabilities in environments where communications are jammed or nonexistent, Clark said.

“There is still going to be a need for manned fighters to do close-air support, but mostly to do command and control of other platforms that are perhaps unmanned inside a comms-denied environment,” Clark said. “So you send some loitering missiles or you send UCAVs up forward, you would expect them to be managed by someone who is able to maintain comms with them. That would be a human in a fighter that is able to remain close enough to them to stay in comms.”
...and here is where things go off the rails a bit;
For that, Clark points to a retooled F-35 fighter jet, one that switches out internal payload space for fuel.

“The F-35 folks, when you talk to them about what it would take to make it a longer-range command-and-control aircraft, they’re pretty optimistic because most of the challenge in doing these kinds of changes is in the software,” Clark said. “And the software isn’t dramatically different because it’s really just changing how it manages the fuel, not any of the other functions.”
The F-35 is a single seat aircraft. To do the above you need at least a 2-seater - the human mind can only do so much and fly at the same time. We need to look hard at F/A-XX's scalability.
“The near-term fix is to get more tankers,” he added. “The mid-term fix is to start investing in a longer-range aircraft. Because the idea of having to have 12 or so tankers just so your fighters can get to 1,000 miles means you have to have a lot of your deck and hanger space being taken up by tankers and not strike aircraft. This way you can use the tankers you’ve developed for other missions — either strike or [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] on their own — or free up that deck space for other aircraft.”
Welcome to the party everyone. 

Heavy fighters, they're a thing. We are a couple of decades from needing our own SU-34-like capability. 

Get to work.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Three Cheers for Forward Presence and Aircraft Carriers

We will start out this week with a guest post from our friend Bryan McGrath - focused on what could arguably be the marquee mission our nation asks of its Navy.

Bryan, over to you.

So last week, we were told that the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) (and other Joint forces) was being re-routed from its activities in the Mediterranean Sea to proceed to the North Arabian Sea in response to “…heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations.” I have no insight into what that heightened readiness amounts to, but presumably, senior national security decision-makers at the White House, the Department of Defense, and the Central Command determined that there would be utility in moving the carrier and its air wing several thousand miles closer to Iran. In so doing, two virtues of American Seapower much under scrutiny these days are placed front and center for renewed appreciation—forward presence and the large, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Let us begin with forward presence.

First, let us dispense with the notion that the re-deployment of the Abraham Lincoln is an example of “Dynamic Fleet Employment”, unless we wish for this important new concept to come to mean “the way we’ve always done it”. Dynamic Fleet Employment—perhaps the biggest and most useful idea to come out of the 2018 National Defense Strategy—suggests innovative and unpredictable force employment, such as was on display last autumn when the Harry S. Truman came back to Norfolk in mid-deployment (or at least what was the predictable deployment pattern) and then re-deployed (without notice) to proceed to the North Atlantic and operate where U.S. naval forces had not routinely sailed in decades.


The redeployment of Abraham Lincoln from the Mediterranean to the North Arabian Sea is neither innovative nor unpredictable. That so many have dipped into the “where are the carriers?” meme in response to these events is proof enough that what we are seeing is not only predictable, but routine. And what is it that has caused this question to be asked and answered over time with such repetition? Is it Dynamic Fleet Employment? No. It is forward presence.


Forward presence means that irrespective of where this country’s national security interests lie, a powerful, integrated, naval response is close at hand. Are there elements of American military power that can arrive on scene more quickly? Absolutely. Are there elements of American military power that can arrive on scene in short order and conduct persistent, combat operations from existing logistics networks? Other than American Seapower, no, there aren’t.


Forward presence provides this country with a repeatable, predictable posture upon which both routine diplomacy and crisis response can rely. The very nature of this predictability contributes to both assurance of allies and deterrence of adversaries. This is not an argument against Dynamic Fleet Employment. Quite the contrary. It is, however, an argument against de-weighting routine forward presence while we chase a shinier operational penny hoping to offset insufficient resources applied to American Seapower. At some point, the virtue of already being there, or much of the way there, cannot be overstated. Can and should we make that presence more effective? Absolutely. But if this nation hopes to achieve the much talked about shift (in the National Security Strategy) from a conventional deterrence posture of punishment to one of denial, it is going to ride on the back of lethal, forward postured naval forces.


As for the large, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, I find myself imagining its critics shaking their fists at the heavens over the newsworthiness of the (once again, routine) redeployment of CVN-72 from one theater to another. After all, if Presidents and Defense Secretaries and National Security Advisers keep reaching for this tool, the Valhalla of “cheaper and more numerous” (funded of course, from savings reaped from killing the CVN) remains outside our grasp. If only the President did not have the capability of a large, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and its air wing to call upon, he or she would have to choose from a menu of other capabilities to signal his intent. Assuredly, these alternative measures would suffice.


Or would they? By way of comparison, let’s start with the other elements of the Joint Force that are currently being applied to this problem, forward basing an Army air defense battery and an Air Force bomber task force. Presumably in the absence of a carrier, these tools would be considered. Which of them falls in on an existing logistics network? Which of them is not subject to host-nation veto? Which of them can redeploy to a new location 800 miles away in 24 hours, every day if need be? You know the answers, of course.


Now, let’s move onto future naval capabilities that carrier critics claim are stymied by the Navy’s Neolithic clinging to the obviously past-its-prime and oh-so-vulnerable carrier. Mostly, we hear about longer range and more energetic missiles, many of which advocates wish to employ from our submarine force. Putting aside the inconvenient point that in the ISR environment of the future, EVERYTHING is vulnerable, there is the whole notion of conventional deterrence to answer to. A potential ne’er-do-well, when considering an act of aggression, attempts to determine U.S. capability AND WILL prior to its act. If it believes its aggression would be successful and the reward would be worth whatever response it faces, it may move forward.


How would the Navy contribute to the demonstration of will, if the methods of doing so rely on either the most difficult to detect platforms in the nation’s military arsenal (submarines) or platforms so small that they cannot self-deploy into the theater? If any part of the answer to the second part involves land basing, then the whole question of vulnerability rises again. And if we wish to submerge our conventional deterrent (to go along with our strategic), we will have to deal with the consequences of injecting uncertainty into the mind of the adversary and the loss of certainty. Not that injecting uncertainty (in the form of not knowing where the deterrent is or whether it is in range to accomplish its mission) is in and of itself, a bad thing. It becomes a bad thing when the cost is the greater sense of certainty that being there with visible power provides. An effective conventional deterrent combines both.


If our Navy’s only role were combat operations, and all we wished for it to do was to punish aggressors, a Navy of 150 attack submarines and long-range energetic missiles lobbed from sanctuary would be a reasonable option. But that’s not what navies do, and it is certainly not what the U.S. Navy should do. We must be able to walk and chew gum, and that means that we understand that when the shooting starts, low-signature platforms and high energy missiles will be of great importance. We must further understand that when the shooting starts, the aircraft carrier will likely be the primary method of delivering tactical aviation for such pursuits as strike, ISR, and sea control, and if we believe these missions to be important in future warfare, we need to recognize that doing them from land will be problematic.


Finally, we must realize that unlike any other aspect of American military power, Seapower plays an outsized role in both peace and war, and both forward naval presence and the large, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier are essential to this role. Walking away from either in the unwise pursuit of capability or capacity that only is brought to bear after the shooting starts is a sure-fire path to the start of shooting.



Bryan McGrath is the Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group LLC and the Deputy Director of the Hudson Institute Center for American Seapower.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Fullbore Friday

A reminder that, especially in Africa, the French are at the front - and will remind you that more often than not, they more than earn the title,"Our oldest ally."
An American citizen is among a group of four hostages who have been freed in western Africa following a French special forces military operation that resulted in the deaths of two of their own soldiers, the Elysee announced Friday.

France said the hostages were rescued Thursday night following a battle in Burkina Faso.
...
They were identified as petty officers Cédric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello. A Facebook post by the French Navy added that both men received numerous awards and recognitions throughout their military careers, such as the Gold Level of the National Defense Medal.
As we've discussed here on a regular basis, the bleeding edges of Islam is a growing issue in Africa.
Islamic extremists have become increasingly active in Burkina Faso, raising worries the militants could be infiltrating northern Benin and neighboring Togo as well. While it is not yet clear who abducted the group and why, neighboring Burkina Faso – once considered a beacon of calm in the otherwise terror-teeming region – has been a growing hotbed for some time.
...
The U.S. State Department, in a travel advisory issued in early April, warned Americans to "reconsider travel" to Burkina Faso as "terrorist groups continue plotting attacks and kidnappings... and may conduct attacks anywhere."

Thank you Shipmates.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Diversity Thursday

Now and then I draft up a post I am simply not happy with. I just don't think I quite answered the bell for what is needed. If I am lucky, I find someone who did capture it right. When I'm real lucky, they will let me use it.

For those who get USNI's Proceedings, which should be all of you, you may be familiar with the below.

With permission of the author, I'm posting the response by C. Randolph Whipps, LCDR, USN in the Comments & Discussion section of the May issue responding to Sharif Calfee, CAPT USN's April article, Implicit Bias Affects Military Justice.

Do yourself a favor and read Calfee's article and then come back.

Enough from me, over to you Chris.

Setting aside the controversial science behind “implicit bias,” Captain Calfee’s entire argument rests on warrantless assertions adopted from the “Protect Our Defenders” (POD) report. As he puts it, “Given that it recruits its own high-quality force, the military should produce racially/ethnically balanced military justice statistics.” The flawed assumptions underpinning this statement merit destruction in detail.

First, disparate outcomes of military justice exist when analyzing variables other than race. For example—just as in the civilian criminal justice system—women are far less likely to be incarcerated than men, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. A 2013 Naval Postgraduate School thesis by Oleksiy Kryvonos found: “Females have lower chances of being dishonorably discharged than men.” Rather than alleging implicit bias against men, he recommended considering recruiting more women.

Second, disparate outcomes do not equate to unjust outcomes. A study in the November 2016 edition of Military Medicine used multivariable analysis of Marine Corps recruits, finding African American males had an odds ratio—“OR”— (what Captain Calfee referred to as a “disparity index”) of 2.12 for drug-related discharges as compared to whites. Hispanics and what the study classifies as “other” races had ORs of 0.99 and 0.81, respectively. Given the mandatory Marine Corps separation processing policy for drug abuse that limits commander discretion (and presumably, implicit bias), this is a particularly valuable data point. Would Captain Calfee argue that urinalysis laboratories have implicit bias?

Third, outcomes of courts-martial in fact hinge more on weight of evidence than the skin color of the defendant. While Captain Calfee writes, “African American sailors were significantly more likely to have military justice and disciplinary cases . . . adjudicated against them than their white counterparts,” he has selectively cited from the POD report with respect to the 2014–2015 statistics from the Navy specifically. The report actually says:

Notably, the disparity between black and white sailors nearly disappeared when examining how the military justice system treated the accused after the case has already been referred. In 2014, 68% of white sailors with a case referral were diverted from special or general court-martial, compared to 67% of black sailors. There was also little difference between the rates for 2015 (74% of white sailors and 75% of black sailors). The proportions of black and white sailors convicted at special or general court-martial were highly similar as well.

Finally, it is worth noting that the Manual for Courts Martial explicitly identifies race as an inappropriate factor that should not be considered when deciding to initiate or decline UCMJ action. Captain Calfee’s recommendations, which fixate on demographic statistics, seem to diverge from this guidance, likely at the expense of the 14 factors convening authorities should consider in all cases.

If Navy leaders would have taxpayer money and warfighter time spent on such tangential activities such as implicit bias training, it should be fully transparent with all the data that prompted such a decision—including a fulsome analysis of confounding factors. Then again, I have an explicit bias in favor of preparing for prompt and sustained combat operations at sea.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Get how many and how much where when?

An important article is out that quickly and directly points out the problems we have with our merchant fleet and those we think will man them

Head on over to USNIBlog for a sobering read.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Africa in Three Charts and a Graph

Your regular reminder that you may not be interested in Africa, but Africa is very interested in you.

She is a poor, violent, and desperate continent. Structurally, that will not improve any time soon; probably just the opposite.

I will end my extended commentary there. I will let your higher brain functions and pictures do the rest.

In red, you have the ungoverned spaces;


Next you have religious distribution:



And finally, from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project;



The future belongs to, and will be influenced by, those who show up.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Name This Administration and Conflict

I am going to redact identifying names and locations for the below pull quotes, but the links will be embedded.

No cheating. No looking ahead.

Once you read the quotes, come back and click, "Here's Your Conflict." Once you watch that, then come back and click the links for the background.
...favored cutbacks in the size of the military, including U.S. troops in Europe.
...
Although ____ and his aides defended the continued involvement of U.S. forces in the ____ mission, they ruefully acknowledged that during ____ they had allowed the operation to drift ...
...
“how are we going to establish a funding mechanism so that the American taxpayer is not stuck with the bill or not stuck with the whole bill?”
...
... leading Republicans argued that ... goals in ____ were unattainable in the near future ...
...
But the ... response was marred by civilian deaths. 

... the episode as proof that outside military intervention could not significantly improve the country's chaotic situation. “I don't see an end to it,” said ____. “What will the condition of the country be when we leave ...?”

...Now we are killing women and children because they are combatants,” said Sen. ____, R-____.

But many senators from both sides of the aisle seemed ambivalent. “No one wants to leave that country in shambles. No one wants to set up a situation where they go right back into the same kind of despair they had before,” said Armed Services Chairman ____. “But neither do we want to set up a situation where the United States has committed its military to a mission that is very broad and basically has no end point and really no definition.”

Virtually all members agreed on two points: that congressional debate on the issue was long overdue and that the president needed to better explain what the United States hoped to achieve by staying in ____.
...
Clearly defined goals are essential to any mission, argued ____, R-____.: “When our interests are clear, thousands of casualties may not be too high a price to pay, but when our goals are uncertain, one death is too many.” ...

Defending the deployment, ___ said, “If it was important enough to go into ____ — and I think all of us agree that it was — then it is important enough to make a reasonable effort to see to it that when we leave ____ it does not immediately relapse into the same chaos and the same anarchy that created the starvation.”

Other members argued that pulling American troops out of ____ would undermine U.S. credibility.

____, senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said, “If we pull out prematurely, chased out by ____, I believe that U.S. leadership, prestige, credibility and national self-respect will be significantly harmed.”
...
Promising to apply painful lessons learned in ____ to other potential peacekeeping interventions, ____ told reporters, “I think that, everyone involved in ____ is perhaps more sensitive than was the case in the beginning of the ____ operation about the dangers of it, and the need to have a strict sense of limitations and conditions before the involvement occurs.”

The deadly ____ battle in ____ between U.S. troops and ____ caused outrage in Congress and pushed ____ to make good on his newfound conviction that ____ efforts needed an end-date as well as clearly defined goals. On ____, ____ announced that the United States would increase the U.S. forces in ____ to provide a more muscular presence, but he also pledged that “all American troops will be out of ____ no later than ____, except for a few hundred support personnel in non-combat roles.”

This became a legislative as well as a military line of defense, as Democratic leaders in Congress defeated counterproposals and won approval of legislation setting a ____ cutoff for most U.S. funding of the ____ operation.
...
____ and Secretary of State ____ were dispatched to Capitol Hill on ____ to provide a closed-door briefing with the underlying objective of buying the administration more time to develop a new approach.

Members described it as “an unmitigated disaster.” The basement briefing room at the Capitol was packed with more than 200 members demanding answers, but ____ and ____+ appeared more interested in soliciting the views of the assembled lawmakers. Liberals and conservatives were unsparing in their criticism. Rep. ____, D-____, described the session as the ____ team's version of the “Five O'Clock Follies” — the rosy news briefings by U.S. military officials during the dark days of the Vietnam War.

With the policy in danger of unraveling, congressional leaders from both parties sought to cool the overheated atmosphere.

Senate leaders provided breathing space for the administration by delaying consideration of the defense appropriations bill. ____... weighed in to help the president at a critical moment by calming the frenzy for immediate withdrawal. “We expect our troops in ____ to remain calm and collected under fire,” he told the Senate on ____, “and we owe them nothing less than equal composure back here in Washington as we decide what to do next in ____.”
...
Facing calls from Capitol Hill for an immediate with drawal from ____, ____ pledged in a nationally televised address ____ that most U.S. forces would be pulled out by ____. “Our mission from this day forward,” ____ said, “is to increase our strength, do our job, bring our soldiers out and bring them home.”
...
Nonetheless, some key senators, including Democrat ____ of ____ and Republican ____ of ____, rejected _____ retooled policy. “President ____ has provided a deadline for withdrawal without providing a clear reason for staying in ____,” ____ said after the Oval Office speech. “If our goal is to pressure and defeat the ____, the new approach does not provide enough troops. If our goal is establishment of a government and political stability, the new approach does not provide enough time.”

Yet the opposition to ____ policy, while broad and bipartisan, was also divided. There was no consensus as to whether the United States should pull out instantly or within months.
...
Before voting on the ____ amendment, the Senate voted by a seemingly solid margin of 61–38 to table (kill) an amendment by ____ that would have repudiated ____ ____ plan and instead required a “prompt” withdrawal of U.S. forces. “The mission which the American people supported … has been accomplished,” ____ said in arguing for his amendment. “We didn't say we would ____ those people forever.” (Vote 313, p. 41-S)

____ said he was “gratified by the margin” of a victory that crossed lines of party and ideology. But the results belied the unresolved tensions over U.S. participation in ____ interventions. The debate reflected unease — bordering on contempt — toward the administration's performance in ____.

Even among senators who backed the successful amendment, there was derisive criticism of the ____ team's handling of ____. “This is not a policy. It is gibberish,” ____, R-____, said of a 33-page report summarizing U.S. aims and plans that the administration submitted to Congress on ____. But Danforth said he backed the amendment “because our troops are in place, and [____] is our commander in chief, and we're headed out [of ____].”
...
“Let's face it,” ____ said, “the U.S. mission in ____ has changed from saving lives to saving face… . I am prepared to state with total conviction that it is not worth one American life to help the authors of a failed policy save face.”

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Taiwan and the Challenge of Modern Strategic Defensive Posture with Grant Newsome, on Midrats



What is a good strategy and posture for Taiwan to take for her defense? Are there things she can learn from Japan?

What is Taiwan’s posture today towards mainland China, and where are trends taking her?

To discuss these and related questions this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be our guest, Grant Newsham.

We will use his recent article in the Global Taiwan Institute, Rethinking Taiwan’s Defense: Looking at the Japanese Experience, as the starting point for our talk.

Grant Newsham is a retired US Marine Corps Officer and a Senior Fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies. He served as Marine Attaché in Tokyo and was later the first USMC liaison officer to the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF), and was instrumental in developing Japan’s new amphibious force. For 2019, he will live in Taiwan as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Taiwan Fellowship Scholar.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at Spreaker

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Fullbore Friday

When the times comes, what will you do?

When it comes to fight or flight, and moments matter to the lives of untold number, do you step up, or step away?

Are you ready?

We saw at the end of April, many are. Via USAToday;
When Jonathan Morales and Oscar Stewart heard the gunshots, they ran toward them.

The off-duty Border Patrol agent and an Iraq War Army veteran helped stop a suspected gunman who had opened fire at Chabad of Poway on Saturday in what authorities praised as an "act of courage."

One person died and three more were injured in the hate-fueled attack during Passover services.

Stewart, 51, was in the back of the room when the shots rang out, he told reporters. The veteran said his military training kicked in.

"I ran to fire. That's what I did. I didn't plan it. I didn't think about it. It's just what I did," he said.

Stewart said he started yelling expletives at the gunmen, who stopped shooting when he heard Stewart's voice.
Most cowards wilt in the face of strength. Most, but not all;
“Get down!” and “I’m going to kill you,” Stewart said he yelled.

According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, the suspected gunman fled the synagogue to a nearby vehicle. Stewart was in close pursuit.

"Stewart caught up to the vehicle as the suspect was about to drive away," the department said in a statement.

Stewart said he began punching the shooter's window when Morales told him to get out of the way.

He yelled, 'Clear back, I have a gun,'" Stewart said. Then, Morales began firing.

More: Funeral for 'hero' synagogue shooting victim today; emotional rabbi lauds congregation's bravery

The off-duty agent hit the car, but the gunman drove away, police said. Authorities later arrested...
We don't mention cowards like those who shoot up innocent men and women at prayer.

There were others;
Rabbi Goldstein was walking into the banquet hall at the synagogue when he heard a noise - what he thought initially was a table falling over or a congregation member collapsing.

"As soon as he saw me, he started to shoot toward me and that is when I put my hands up," Rabbi Goldstein said on NBC's Sunday Today programme. "I cannot erase that face from my mind."

He held up his hands to shield himself but his fingers "got blown away".

Lori Kaye, who helped found the synagogue with Rabbi Goldstein, was shot dead in the attack.

"Everyone in the community knew her," he said. "I'm just so heartbroken and saddened by the senseless killing."
Rabbi Goldstein is man of G-d in my mind, but I'll let you see for yourself;

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Diversity Thursday

They will come after everyone.

When no hill is worth dying on, eventually your enemy has all the high ground and you are surrounded.

You can turn your head to the diversity industry and pretend you are not interested in them ... but make no mistake ... that just makes them more interested in you.

They will come after everyone ... and everything;
Ella Tennant, from Keele University’s Language Centre, said referring to ships as “she” is an example of how language shapes the way we see the world. There is “power and authority” in labelling, she says, and once that label is attached, “we have our own assumptions and preconceptions of what it is when we see that object”.

From a feminist language perspective, she adds, labelling ships, countries, and other inanimate things as female could be interpreted as “perpetuating the patriarchal view”, and as “slightly derogatory and patronising”.
...
David Mann, director of the Scottish Maritime Museum, said the decision to drop “she” for “it” was taken after two signs were vandalised. “The debate around gender and ships is wide-ranging, pitting tradition against the modern world. But I think that we have to move with the times,” he said.

Lloyds List, the 285-year-old daily maritime bible, abandoned “she” for “it” almost 20 years ago. Richard Meade, its editor, said the decision was made to bring the paper “in line with most other reputable international business titles and referring to ships as she seemed anachronistic”.
The battle is already well afoot.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

2030 is Now

I've been doing the "Long Game" series since when, 2004?

What will it take for people to wake up?

Some are ... but not enough.

I'm pondering some more over at USNIBlog. Take a shot and then come give it a read.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Venezuela Goes Hot

Will the people of Venezuela fight for their freedom?

We will find out soon; the opposition has crossed the Rubicon;
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó took to the streets with activist Leopoldo Lopez and a small contingent of heavily armed troops early Tuesday in a bold and risky call for the military to rise up and oust socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.

“I want to tell the Venezuelan people: This is the moment to take to the streets and accompany these patriotic soldiers,” said Lopez, who had been detained since 2014 for leading anti-government protests. “Everyone should come to the streets, in peace.”

Lopez said he has been freed from house arrest by members of the security forces responding to an order by Guaidó, whom the U.S. and dozens of other governments recognize as Venezuela’s rightful leader.
The next 24-hrs will be telling.

Without strong support from the military, urban uprisings have a spotty track record. Maduro over the last decade has listened to the wise advice of Roman emperors; he made sure the army got paid.

Guaidó is taking the only logical step - but I'm not sure his timing is optimal. I'm not sure if the fruit for rebellion is ever ripe, but facts can push your decisions and he's closer to the fight - so I'll have to defer to him.

I am not even cautiously optimistic about their success though. Here are some structural issues in his way.

1. The officer corp of most of the Venezuelan army is bought and paid for. Highly corrupt. With very few exceptions, he cannot trust anyone above Major.

2. The critical mass - intellectually, financially, and personality - of the people needed to lead and populate an urban uprising have already left the country. Millions who could not live under Maduro's boot have left. They can't join the rebellion in the streets, they are in Orlando, Miami, Colombia, and Brazil.

3. Passive neighbors. Hopefully, there is a lot of covert support from Colombia and Brazil for Guaidó. There is a lot to gain for those nations if Venezuela gets to a more stable place. If their military will not move, hopefully their security services will.

4. Yankee is staying home. There is no positive long-term result if USA forces have any role in removing Maduro from power. This is a South American problem that will require South American solutions. We should support the opposition morally, with humanitarianism, and financially indirectly where needed, but that is about it.

Yes, yes, yes ... I know China and Russia have thrown in with Maduro. That is good. If Guaidó, who is a man of the left BTW, gains power - he will have a bone to pick with those two actors and their Cuban auxiliaries. There are plenty of lamp posts in the country to deal with those once the pivot point it reached.

Keep watching this important evolving event.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Orion's Long Farewell

I think history will show that there is a certain class of aircraft whose design, maintenance, fit-for-purpose and operational success make them exceptional.

On the American side post-WWII, you have to put the C-130, F-4, A-4, F-16 & F-15 in that exalted group. A strong argument can be made that the P-3 Orion belongs there as well.

She's left for her last deployment in American livery, but as so many other nations fly her, she'll be with us for a few more years yet. 

Not bad for a converted 1950s era airliner.
The last of the U.S. Navy’s active duty P-3C Orion patrol planes are on their final overseas deployments, split between bases in Bahrain and Japan. The six-month rotations in the Middle East and Pacific regions come as the service prepares to retire all of its Orions in active duty units and replace them completely with the new P-8A Poseidon.

The Whidbey News-Times was the first to report that P-3Cs from Patrol Squadron Four Zero (VP-40), the “Fighting Marlins,” left their main base at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island in Washington state at the end of March 2019 for their sundown deployments to Sheik Isa Air Base in Bahrain and Kadena Air Base in Japan. These Orions replaced their counterparts from Patrol Squadron Four Six (VP-46), the “Grey Knights,” at those locations. VP-46’s planes returned to Whidbey Island earlier in April 2019.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Waiting on a National Strategy with Dr. David Gioe - on Midrats

Do we have the means, capabilities, national will - and more important - the support of the American people to meet the demands from the global entanglements we are obligated by?

What is the grand strategy?

To discuss these and related questions this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Dr. David Gioe. We will use his recent article in The National Interest, Make America Strategic Again, as the starting point for our talk.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at Spreaker

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.


Dr. David Gioe is Assistant Professor of History at the US Military Academy at West Point, where he also serves as History Fellow for the Army Cyber Institute. He earned a BA in History and Social Science from Wheaton College, an MA from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and a PhD in Politics and International Studies from the University of Cambridge.

He retains his commission as a senior officer in the Navy Reserve and is assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Defense Attaché Service.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Fullbore Friday

Every few years I re-post this. It is time again. In honor of a friend that I served with who was on this crew ... a encore FbF from four years ago.


An under-told story from an under-studied (at least in the last decade) war.

The story of Vulcan 607.
"We're short of fuel, but we've come this far," he told them. "I'm not turning back now." At 290 miles away from the target, 607 began a shallow descent towards Port Stanley.

Even now they could not be certain where they were. The inflight navigation system gave two different compass readings.

The Radar Officer, Bob Wright, and the Navigator, Gordon Graham, had split the difference. If they were on course, the computer would respond with the information needed for Wright to get the bombs on target but only when the radar was switched on again - seconds before the planned drop.

Simon Baldwin in Waddington had worked out that the bomber should approach low to minimise its 'footprint' and then climb upwards to 8000 or 10,000 feet to try to stay clear of the "kill zone" of the Argentinian defences before unleashing its weaponry.

As Vulcan 607 streaked towards her target, Graham called the mileage before the rapid climb, and Hugh Prior, the electronics officer, made sure that the chaff and decoy flares, which would be fired to draw enemy fire, and the American Dash 10 detection jammer were operational.

A radar contact appeared: 607 was dead on target. It was 4.30 in the morning, local time, when the Vulcan roared upwards, straight into view of the Argentine search radars. But the young radar operators were unperturbed. The bomber could only be one of theirs - this had not been a shooting war so far.

During the few minutes it took the Argentinians to wake up to the fact that this was in fact an enemy aircraft, the Vulcan had soared to its 10,000ft altitude and levelled off for the bomb run.

Its speed was 400 mph. From this moment the aircraft could not deviate, even if enemy radar was locked on them. At this height the runway would have been the size of a scratch of a fingernail on the map and the bomb run had to be precise to a few yards.

Two miles from the runway the first of the thousand-pounders fell away from the Vulcan's cavernous belly. When all 21 were away, Withers turned the Vulcan in a steep curve, in time for the crew to see a blossom of fire as the first bomb bored deep into the centre of the runway and detonated. Other blasts hit the airfield, gouging out massive chunks of its surface.

Vulcan 607 did, in fact, have enough fuel to make the rendezvous. It returned to Ascension Island and a heroes' welcome. The most ambitious sortie since World War II, had by the skin of its teeth been successful.

The damage destroyed any remaining hopes Argentine forces had of using the runway for their fast jets. Their entire Mirage fighter force had to be moved promptly back to the north of Argentina, and any jet cover during the coming British invasion would have to come from the mainland.

It shook Argentine morale to the core and provoked Galtieri's decision to order a naval offensive against the British Task Force, which had disastrous consequences for the Argentine Navy.

The V-bomber had been designed decades before to reach into the snowy wastes of Soviet Russia, but had never been used in anger. Their last outing, to a part of the world no one had dreamed they would visit, had finally justified these beautiful aircraft.

The Falklands War lasted just 74 days. Though taken by surprise, Britain launched a task force to retake the islands and after conflict costing 255 British and 649 Argentinian deaths, the Union Jack was hoisted in Port Stanley on June 14.
Mission.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Russia Smartly Lets the Soviets Go

As we discussed here often, some of the new Russian frigates and corvettes bring a lot of bang for the buck. Not a global fleet, but strong regional naval potential.

Some of the former Soviet Navy units they still have are not just dated, but expensive to repair and tactically out of date. 

The Russians had a few fever dreams of throwing a lot of money in to upgrading some of the former large surface combatants that, on paper at least, look incredibly impressive.

If you think about what it would take to bring them in to modern fighting shape ... not to mention deferred maintenance ... the numbers do not look all that smart. Those limited resources probably best invested in modern kit.

Well, it looks like smarter minds prevailed.
The Russian Navy with state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom decided canceling planned service-life extensions and modernization on its two legendary nuclear-powered Kirov-class battlecruisers or heavy missile cruisers, according to Izvestiya newspaper.

According to media reports in recent weeks, the Russian Navy has decided to recycled two heavy nuclear battlecruisers of Kirov-class – the Admiral Ushakov and the Admiral Lazarev owing to funding shortfalls.

In 2021, it is planned to scrap of the heavy missile cruisers Admiral Ushakov (factory number 800) of the project 1144 and Admiral Lazarev (factory number 801) of the project 11442 for a long time already withdrawn from the Russian Navy.
In their prime, they were beautiful, dangerous, and inspiring.

Their time has passed.

Let's take a moment to look back.


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

We Have to Sell a Larger Navy

No one is going to magically grant us a larger Navy.

Our Goldwater-Nichols hobbled Potomac Flotilla has very little pixie dust.

Are we really telling our story?

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog.

Come by and ponder with me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

More Breakers, Now, & Keep Them Coming

Years late, but this is simply well needed news from our friend Sam LaGrone at USNINews;
VT Halter Marine Inc. has been awarded a $745M detailed design and construction contract for the Coast Guard’s next-generation heavy icebreaker, according to a Tuesday Pentagon contract announcement.

According to the announcement, the first-in-class ship will be built at the company’s Pascagoula, Miss. shipyard and is scheduled to deliver in 2024.

“The initial award is valued at $745.9 million and supports non-recurring engineering and detail design of the PSC class as well as procurement of long lead-time materials and construction of the first ship,” read a statement from the Coast Guard and Naval Sea Systems Command. “The contract also includes options for the construction of two additional PSCs. If all options are exercised, the total contract value is $1.9 billion.”
We need a couple more as well.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The Hope in Ukraine

Over a period of time 600 to 400 years ago, Jews throughout Central Europe fled east escaping wave after wave of expulsions and persecutions. In what was then mostly the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, they settled from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Even there they faced wave after wave of pogroms and persecutions at various times from the resident populations.

A significant cohort of American Jews emigrated to the USA in the late 19th Century from “Russia” in what today are are the Baltic Republics, Poland, Ukraine, Belorussian and Russia proper. They escaped everything from Cossack raiders to simple government persecution. Their families still hold those stories, generations later.

In the 20th Century the persecutions continued, from Stalin’s quasi-traditional Russian persecutions, to the genocide led by Nazi Germany and assisted by local Poles, Ukrainians and others.

After WWII, more waves of emigration followed, mostly to Israel and the USA.

In such a soil with centuries of hate, hostility and division against Jews – what in our century do we find in Ukraine?
With nearly all the votes counted in Ukraine, TV star Volodymyr Zelenskiy is projected to win the country’s presidential runoff vote in a landslide.

The Central Election Commission says Monday that Zelenskiy has won 73% of the vote while the incumbent President Petro Poroshenko got just 24% support with more than 96% of the ballots counted.

Unlike in most of the elections in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history, Zelenskiy appears to have won both in Ukraine’s west and east, areas that have been traditionally polarized. One of the campaign slogans of the popular television comedian who has no previous political experience was to unify Ukraine, which has been torn by bitter debates over its identity as well as the separatist conflict in the east that is fueled by neighboring Russia.
There is a certain detail about Zelenskiy,
Following the victory of Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine’s presidential elections, the country will become the only one in the world besides Israel whose president and prime minister are both Jewish.

When Zelensky is sworn in as president, his prime minister — at least for a while and possibly until the parliamentary elections scheduled to take place sometime later this year — will be Volodymyr Groysman, a Jewish politician who was the mayor of the city of Vinnytsia.
Let’s stop a bit and ponder that.

When Ukraine threw off its Russian puppet government, there was a lot of talk about “fascists in the street.” Since then, there has been a steady drumbeat about “fascists” influencing Ukrainian governmental structures. Part of this is from, to be blunt, a few people who are of the far-right and who used WWII Nazi and Ukrainian Waffen SS symbols. They were visible, but the numbers of true believers are small and their influence less. I'll give them a pass because I understand the complicated history of those units and their place in the minds of many Ukrainian people. For many patriotic Ukrainians who are of a strong anti-Russian bent, that was the easiest reference point they could reach towards in living memory to standing up to the Russians.

There were some who took those on the fringe and tried to use their presence to taint patriotic Ukrainian efforts to find their way outside of Russian influence, and that was a shame. Most who recoiled in disgust meant well, and those I know well (and had some nasty exchanges in twitter years ago on the topic) are in that group who simply could not get past the visuals of a small minority. Others were drawn in by Russian agiprop, and that is unfortunate.

Ukraine has such great potential, but geography and history are not her friends. Yes, she has corruption problems. Yes, she has festering low-intensity conflicts in the east and frozen territorial conflicts. Yes, she is poor and has a slippery grip on the rule of law … but these things take time.

As a nation, Ukraine is striving. She falls back a step now and then … but then pushes herself forward two.

What Ukrainian people as a whole are not are fascists, Nazis, or any of the smears coming from Russia. Fascists or neo-Nazi leaning nations do not elect someone,
“… a pure-blooded Jew with the appearance of a Sholom Aleichem protagonist wins by a landslide in a country where the glorification of Nazi criminals is enacted into law,” wrote Avigdor Eskin, a Russian-Israeli columnist, in an analysis published earlier this month by the Regnum news agency.


The French-Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy also referenced Ukrainian Jew’s bloody history in an interview with Zelensky, the 41-year-old son of scientists who lived near major Soviet army bases in Ukraine, that he published earlier this month in the Le Point weekly.

“His Judaism. It’s extraordinary that the possible future president of the country of the Shoah by Bullets and Babi Yar is a self-affirmed Jew from a family of survivors from Kryvy Rih near Dnipro – the land of pogrom if ever there was one,” Levy wrote. “This postmodern kid, is he new proof that the virus of anti-Semitism has been contained” after the revolution, Levy added.

Not denying his Jewish ancestry, Zelensky declined to explore it at length in the interview, Levy wrote. On this subject, he replied with typical self-deprecating humor, telling Levy: “The fact that I am Jewish barely makes 20 in my long list of faults.”
It appears that it barely make the top-20 by the Ukrainian people either.

Of course, he will face echoes of the well-ingrained Jew hatred in Eastern Europe. Heck, Jews in the USA face it here as well … but it is comes in a small group of marginal individuals – not institutional and widespread.

Everyone should take this moment – while it is here – and reflect on how things can change in just a few generations. There is no guarantee that history will always advance the human condition – many times it goes backwards – but in this case it has, and it has in what would at first glance would be the most unlikely of places.