Friday, February 15, 2019

Fullbore Friday

If you were in the Palm Springs area the first week of this February 2015, you might have seen what looks like a gathering of exceptionally old people at the local American Legion hall.

Not an unusual sight in Palm Springs, but you may notice something a bit different about this group. Maybe more baseball hats than usual, or a smattering of brown leather, what look like flight jackets.

That group of people were going to the mini-reunion of the 100th Bomb Group. Their main reunion will be in New Orleans in SEP15. When you see this group of people, or others like them in shrinking numbers throughout this nation, carefully move from their car to the place where they are going to spend some time with some friends, take a moment to take a deep breath and close your eyes - and remember that these were once young men. Young men given incredible responsibility and thrown in to a level of combat and stress on a day to day basis our generation of combat veterans rarely came close to matching. They did some incredible things;
Following breakfast and briefing at the base, home to members of the 100th Bomb Group from June 1943 to December 1945, Rojohn and Leek learned that their target would be Hamburg, a port city with numerous oil refineries and submarine pens. Second Lieutenant Robert Washington, the ship's navigator, recalled the start of that, his 27th, mission: 'Takeoff on the morning of December 31, 1944, was delayed because of fog, and when we assembled the group and departed the coast of England, we learned that the fighter escort had been delayed due to the weather.'

It took 'almost as much time to rendezvous to go on a mission as it did to complete a mission,' Rojohn recalled, 'because the weather in England was always bad, and we had to circle around and around until we broke out above the overcast. Our squadrons [Rojohn flew in C Squadron] then formed, and we met other groups until we got into a long line of traffic heading toward Germany. This particular day we flew over the North Sea to a point south of Denmark and then turned southwest down the Elbe River to Hamburg. We were somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000 feet [altitude]. At that time I don't think much was known about the jet stream, but we had a tail wind of about 200 nautical miles an hour. We got into the target pretty quick. Over the target, we had just about everything but the kitchen sink thrown at us.'

Leek's recollections of the Hamburg mission were equally vivid: 'The target and the sky over it were black from miles away. The flak was brutal. We flew through flak clouds and aircraft parts for what seemed like an hour.'

While Rojohn does not like to criticize his commanding officers, he thinks a mistake was made that day. 'Instead of hitting the target and angling out over Germany still on a southwesterly direction and then out over Belgium, they turned us at 180 degrees back toward the North Sea,' Rojohn said. 'So an 80-knot tailwind became an 80-knot headwind. We were probably making about 50 or 60 mph on the ground.'

'When we finally got clear of the coastal flak batteries,' recalled Washington, 'we turned west and skirted the flak area by flying between Heligoland and Wilhelmshaven. The flak was heavy as we crossed the coastline. I'm not certain whether we headed northwest between Bremerhaven and Kuxhaven, or due west over the little town of Aurich and across the coastline near Norden.'

Over the North Sea, Rojohn remembered, they were flying at 22,000 feet when they 'encountered wave after wave of German fighters. We just barely got out over the North Sea, and the sky was rumbling around us with exploding flak and German [Messerschmitt] Me-109 fighter planes so close I could see the faces of the young German pilots as they went by. They were just having a field day with our formation. We lost plane after plane.'

According to an account written by Tech. Sgt. Orville E. Elkin, Rojohn's top turret gunner and engineer: 'The fighters came from every direction, 12 o'clock, 6 o'clock, from the bottom and from the top. Your body becomes cold and numb from fright as you realize that only one-sixteenth of an inch of aluminum stands between you and this battery of firepower.' Ten planes were quickly lost.

Leek had been at the controls when the crew came off the bomb run. He and Rojohn alternated the controls each half hour. 'On this mission,' Leek recalled, 'the lead plane was off Glenn's wing, so he flew the bomb run. I should have kept the controls for at least my half-hour, but once the attack began, our formation tightened up and we started bouncing up and down. Our lead plane kept going out of sight for me. I may have been overcorrecting, but the planes all seemed to bounce at different times. I asked Glenn to take it, and he did.'

Rojohn maneuvered to take a position to fill the void created when a B-17 (No. 43-338436) piloted by 2nd Lt. Charles C. Webster went down in flames and exploded on the ground. 'I was going into that void when we had a tremendous impact,' Rojohn recalled. Feeling the bomber shudder, the men immediately thought their plane had collided with another aircraft. It had, but in a way that may never have happened before or since.

Another B-17 (No. 43-338457), piloted by 1st Lt. William G. MacNab and 2nd Lt. Nelson B. Vaughn, had risen upward. The top turret guns on MacNab's plane had pierced through the aluminum skin on the bottom of Rojohn's plane, binding the two huge planes together, as Leek said, like 'breeding dragonflies.' The two planes had become one.

Whether MacNab and Vaughn lost control of their plane because they were seriously injured or the planes collided because both Rojohn and MacNab were moving in to close the open space in the formation is uncertain. Both MacNab and Vaughn were fatally injured that day and were never able to tell their own story.

Staff Sergeant Edward L. Woodall, Jr., MacNab's ball-turret gunner, remembered that when a crew check was called just prior to the midair collision, everyone had reported in. 'At the time of the impact,' Woodall said, 'we lost all power and intercom on our aircraft. I knew we were in trouble from the violent shaking of the aircraft, no power to operate the turret, loss of intercom, and seeing falling pieces of metal. My turret was stalled with the guns up at about 9 o'clock. This is where countless time drills covering emergency escape procedures from the turret paid off, as I automatically reached for the hand crank, disengaged the clutch and proceeded to crank the turret and guns to the down position so I could open the door and climb into the waist of the airplane. I could see that another aircraft was locked onto our aircraft and his ball turret jammed down inside our aircraft.'

In the 1946 book The Story of the Century, John R. Nilsson reported that E.A. Porter, a pilot from Payton, Miss., who witnessed the midair collision, had sounded the warning over the radio: "F for Fox, F for Fox, get it down!' — however MacNab, whose radio was dead, did not hear. Not to see the collision which seemed inevitable, Porter turned his head, while two of his gunners, Don Houk of Appleton City, Missouri, and Clarence Griffin of Harrisburg, Illinois, watched aghast, as MacNab and Rojohn settled together 'as if they were lifted in place by a huge crane,' and many of the 100th's anguished fliers saw the two Fortresses cling — Rojohn's, on top, riding pick-a-back on MacNab's, how held together being a mystery. A fire started on MacNab's ship, on which three propellers still whirled, and the two bombers squirmed, wheeled in the air, trying to break the death-lock.'

Washington opened the escape hatch and'saw the B-17 hanging there with three engines churning and one feathered. Rojohn and Leek banked to the left and headed south toward land.'

'Glenn's outboard prop bent into the nacelle of the lower plane's engine,' recalled Leek. 'Glenn gunned our engines two or three times to try to fly us off. It didn't work, but it was a good try. The outboard left engine was burning on the plane below. We feathered our propellers to keep down the fire and rang the bail-out bell.'

'Our engines were still running and so were three on the bottom ship,' Rojohn said. When he realized he could not detach his plane, Rojohn turned his engines off to try to avoid an explosion. He told Elkin and Tech. Sgt. Edward G. Neuhaus, the radio operator, to bail out of the tail, the only escape route left because all other hatches were blocked.

'The two planes would drop into a dive unless we pulled back on the controls all the time,' wrote Leek. 'Glenn pointed left and we turned the mess toward land. I felt Elkin touch my shoulder and waved him back through the bomb bay. We got over land and [bombardier Sergeant James R.] Shirley came up from below. I signalled to him to follow Elkin. Finally Bob Washington came up from the nose. He was just hanging on between our seats. Glenn waved him back with the others. We were dropping fast.'

As he crawled up into the pilot's compartment before bailing out, Washington remembered, 'I saw the two of them [Rojohn and Leek] holding the wheels against their stomachs and their feet propped against the instrument panel. They feathered our engines to avoid fire, I think. [Shirley] and I went on through the bomb bay and out the waist door, careful to drop straight down in order to miss the tail section of the other plane which was a little to the right of our tail.' Because of Rojohn's and Leek's physical effort, Shirley, Elkin, Washington, Staff Sgt. Roy H. Little (the waist gunner), Staff Sgt. Francis R. Chase (the replacement tail gunner), and Neuhaus were able to reach the rear of the plane and bail out. 'I could hear Russo [Staff Sgt. Joseph Russo, Rojohn's ball-turret gunner] saying his Hail Marys over the intercom,' Leek said. 'I could not help him, and I felt that I was somehow invading his right to be alone. I pulled off my helmet and noticed that we were at 15,000 feet. This was the hardest part of the ride for me.'

Before they jumped, Little, Neuhaus and Elkin took the hand crank for the ball turret and tried to crank it up to free Russo. 'It would not move,' Elkin wrote. 'There was no means of escape for this brave man.'

'Awhile later,' recalled Leek, 'we were shot at by guns that made a round white puff like big dandelion seeds ready to be blown away. By now the fire was pouring over our left wing, and I wondered just what those German gunners thought we were up to and where we were going! Before long, .50-caliber shells began to blow at random in the plane below. I don't know if the last flak had started more or if the fire had spread, but it was hot down there!' As senior officer, Rojohn ordered Leek to join the crew members and jump, but his co-pilot refused. Leek knew Rojohn would not be able to maintain physical control of the two planes by himself and was certain the planes would be thrown into a death spiral before Rojohn could make it to the rear of the plane and escape. 'I knew one man left in the wreck could not have survived, so I stayed to go along for the ride,' Leek said.

And what a ride it was. 'The only control we actually had was to keep [the planes] level,' said Rojohn. 'We were falling like a rock.' The ground seemed to be reaching up to meet them.

Washington recalled that, from his vantage point while parachuting, 'I watched the two planes fly on into the ground, probably two or three miles away, and saw no more chutes. Shirley was coming down behind me. When the planes hit, I saw them burst into flames and the black smoke erupting.'

At one point, Leek said, he tried to beat his way out through the window with a Very pistol: 'Just panic, I guess. The ground came up faster and faster. Praying was allowed. We gave it one last effort and slammed into the ground.' As they crashed in Germany at Tettens, near Wilhelmshaven, shortly before 1 p.m., Rojohn's plane slid off the bottom plane, which immediately exploded. Alternately lifting up and slamming back into the ground, the remaining B-17 careened ahead, finally coming to rest only after the left wing sliced through a wooden headquarters building, as Rojohn recalled, 'blowing that building to smithereens.' Russo is believed to have been killed when the planes landed.

'When my adrenalin began to lower, I looked around,' Leek said. 'Glenn was OK and I was OK, and a convenient hole was available for a fast exit. It was a break just behind the cockpit. I crawled out onto the left wing to wait for Glenn. I pulled out a cigarette and was about to light it when a young German soldier with a rifle came slowly up to the wing, making me keep my hands up. He grabbed the cigarette out of my mouth and pointed down. The wing was covered with gasoline.'

Rojohn and Leek sustained only slight injuries from the crash, which shocked even the two pilots when they took a look at the wreckage of their B-17. 'All that was left of the Flying Fortress was the nose, the cockpit, and the seats we were sitting on,' Rojohn later recalled.
That's a fairly large pull quote, but there is much more there. Read the whole thing.

First posted DEC2014.

Hat tip Larry.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Education for Seapower: Sound Diagnosis; Unsound Prescription

As the education of naval leaders has been a regular topic here and on Midrats through the years, I’ve been looking forward for the Final Report from the Education for Seapower (E4S) Study.

Here are links for the Study and the MEMO for Distribution from the Under Secretary of the Navy Modly that kicked it off.

It is a beast to digest, but you really only to chew through 65 or so pages.

Unfortunately, after slogging through, I have to say this is a failed opportunity. I got about 5-pages in to the 65 when it dawned on me that we were going to double-down on old, tired, and broken habits to try to move the ball on providing opportunities to grow the intellectual capital of our Navy and Marine Corps. As delivered, I have little confidence this will accomplish that goal.

Back in April 2018, the Under’s kick-off memo said a couple of things that gave me hope;
To shape this more lethal force, we must begin by thinking anew about how those strategies and capabilities are developed in the first place - with our most critical resource - human creativity and talent.

I will consider every viewpoint tendered before making my final recommendations to the Secretary, and the report will be made widely available to all.
This is good, true, and commendable.

However, there were also indications that this might be doomed from the start.
With this mandate firmly in mind, I am forming an independent subject matter expert team to conduct a comprehensive study of learning throughout the Department of the Navy. The Department of the Navy (DON) Education for Seapower (E4S) study team will seek input from experts and proven national-level leaders from government, academia, and private industry. They will use this information to develop a series of observations and recommendations for knowledge-based continuous learning throughout the naval services. In order to be effective, the results of this study must be just as consequential and pervasive as the challenges to our national security, as expressed in the 2018 National Defense Strategy.
I don’t have to tell you the history of anything in DC that is sold as “comprehensive” and “pervasive.” As it their nature, regardless of their individual talents and accomplishments, if your study is populated by those seeped in DC culture, you will get something excessively bureaucratic, birthing ersatz self-justifying empires that quickly diverge from their stated charter towards self-preservation and job security.

Yes, I am fully aware of my biases, but I came in to this with hope and an open mind. The lost opportunity to leverage the intellect we have in house has been a frustration of mine for 30 years. Too much effort was spread too thin over a preconceived structure.

First let me start with what is very good in the report.

In a way, this is the tale of two reports and it becomes clear in the above referenced first 5-pages. I’ll get back to the “Scope of the Study and Approach” plus the “Executive Summary” portions next – as they are on the naughty-list – but let go to the Introduction.

This is just solid stuff, very clearly identifying some of the challenges.
Education has long been the key strength of the American naval profession and a force multiplier for our Sea Services. For generations, the question of how to educate naval leaders has been subject to review and reform. From the founding of the U.S. Naval Academy in the 1840s and the U.S. Naval War College in the 1880s, through the Cold War and creation of Marine Corps University, naval education has adapted to changes in the character of war and the United States’ role in the world. However, the education of leaders goes beyond the war colleges and schoolhouses of the Navy and Marine Corps. In 1818, a young David Farragut spent nine months with the American Consul in Tunisia studying mathematics and languages, where he was introduced to the Islamic religion and North African culture. Lieutenant Chester A. Nimitz spent a year on what today the Navy would call a corporate fellowship, learning about the production of new diesel engines in pre-World War I Germany. The Navy sent Lieutenant Arleigh Burke to the University of Michigan for two years to receive his graduate degree in Chemical Engineering in 1931. Non-traditional personal study and career intermissions, learning from the corporate and civilian sector, attendance at leading civilian graduate schools, and Fellowships at leading public policy research institutions, all have an important contribution to the creation of a dynamic, adaptable, and innovative Navy and Marine Corps.

The United States finds itself at the crossroads of several significant changes in our modern world. We are seeing the return of great power struggle, and the rise of nation state competition, on the world’s oceans and ashore. Simultaneously, society and technology are experiencing a revolution in computing and data science, with the development or artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. These changes are progressing with a concurrent shift in the tactical and operational level of naval power, from the development of hypersonic weapons and cyber military capabilities, to the growth of asymmetric conflict in the form of maritime militias and irregular forces operating short of declared war.

The current and future leaders of the United States Navy and Marine Corps will have to deal with these challenges, and will have to be prepared for the challenges that lay just beyond the horizon as well. In the Cognitive Age, where leaders have to deal not only with incomplete data but also with analysis and decision making in a world that involves overwhelming data, the ability to evaluate information, reason strategically and ethically, and act decisively, will be essential elements of future success. These are skills that can be taught. These are talents that can be developed. The challenges and multi-disciplinary issues of our contemporary world can and should be specifically examined through our naval education programs.
This outlines the issues exceptionally well. The next bit points me to my major critique of the report;
The Department of the Navy is an extremely complex organization. We must ensure the Department understands changes in its external environment and adapts strategy, plans, technology, tactics, and operational concepts accordingly.
Bingo. Exactly true. Outside engineering though, the most complex problems are best addressed with simple solutions. That does not seem to be the direction we are going in this case.
It is highly unlikely that the greatest naval strategists and leaders of our past, such as Mahan, Ellis, and Krulak would be successful in today’s bureaucratic environment.
Fix that statement in your mind. If we have an excessively bureaucratic environment, do we fix it by … growing the bureaucracy?
When examining long-term global trends, the United States Intelligence Community expressed its concern with America’s K-12 education system, noting that other nations are surpassing the performance of our once cherished institutions. The rest of the world has taken notice of the intrinsic value of education, and has taken action. Revanchist powers and our allies both recognize the importance of military education and they are in the process of retooling their programs (see Appendix B). Maintaining a cognitive advantage over potential adversaries is of vital importance, as is keeping pace with our partners and friends; preserving the status quo state of lethargy would be a strategic blunder – one that no naval leader should be willing to make. As we face this vital inflection point, now is the time for change.
Can you feel the impending overreach? Here is comes;
Vigorous and transformative connections amongst education, research, science and technology, simulation and war-gaming, operational testing and Fleet exercises have never been more important. This requires a comprehensive approach and an effort that is coordinated and collaborative rather than stove-piped and individual to each educational institution. It is not only our charge to protect these precious instruments that help us understand and prepare for future conflict – it is our duty to challenge the assumptions of the manner in which we organize, resource, oversee, and network those instruments for maximum agility in anticipating that future despite an uncertain strategic environment.
The "T" word. Say "hi" to Admiral Mullin.

If you read this from the start, you have already seen the following, but here is what they want to do.

Remember the bureaucrat's first instinct; control. With control comes power. With power comes money. With money comes growth. With growth comes more control. Cycle.

Early on in the ES, we were warned.
Necessary teachings of advanced technology in strategic education curricula are haphazard and randomly pursued, made more difficult by the Department’s decentralized approach to education…
…and we’re off and running.
… we propose a major reorganization by creating a Naval University that enables a new alignment and orchestration of efforts amongst the various institutions of naval education: the United States Naval Academy, Naval War College, Marine Corps University, Naval Postgraduate School, Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, Officer Candidate School, Federal Executive Fellowships, and all Flag/General Officer education. Our proposed structure retains the special characteristics and strengths of each educational institution, while aligning policy, budget, and acquisition authority in order to provide increased agility and accountability...
Take a moment before we move forward to ask yourself which already fully employed person who has found themselves “dual-hatted” was able to do the first job just as well, and the second job as it should be done?

Right. None.
Naval University, headed by a three-star naval officer President, dual-hatted as President, Naval War College with a five-year term, rotated between the Navy and Marine Corps, located in Newport, Rhode Island,

Chief Learning Officer, a senior civilian with educational leadership experience headquartered in the Pentagon, with a small supporting staff transferred from extant Navy and Marine education management billets, responsible to the President, Naval University...

Program Executive Office, Naval Learning Systems (PEO – L), established by dual-hatting the current Commander, Naval Air Warfare Center – Training Systems Division in Orlando, Florida,

Naval Community College, under the leadership of the President, Naval University, to facilitate education and certifications for enlisted Sailors and Marines that are relevant to the Naval Services.
That takes in to account a immodest respect towards leadership risk.

There is something to be said for not having everyone under one structure. Not all stovepipes are the same. The Kulaks did produce more grain than the collective farms, dontchaknow.

Does this look like an effective organization to you?
Institute a single Naval Education Governing Board for the Naval University, chaired by the Secretary of the Navy, with the Chief of Naval Operations and Commandant of the Marine Corps as co-chairs. This board will also include on a rotating basis one of the Navy’s four-star fleet commanders and Commanding General Fleet Marine Force Atlantic or Pacific. Other senior commanders should be appointed to bring specific skills such as cyber, space or intelligence.

- Create a Board of Advisors of distinguished persons to include as ex officio members the chairs of the Naval Academy and Marine Corps University Boards of Visitors. This board will have the primary duty of providing oversight for the Secretary of the Navy and for providing support, guidance and advice for the entire educational enterprise including its components. The President of the Board of Advisors should be a retired four-star military or naval officer, or civilian equivalent with national stature with a renewable four-year term.
Yes, you do need a 5’x10’ white board with 5 different colored pens to understand this C2 structure.

You really should read it all, as I could go on for another 10 pages of pull quotes, but let me do one more to let you see the incredibly large bite this report is choking on.

Just read it – it looks as easy to make happen as California’s high-speed rail connection from LA to San Francisco;
- Require Reporting Seniors of each Service to comment upon learning achievements as a separate category in officer fitness reports and enlisted evaluations, and make continuous learning achievements an essential part of promotion precepts signed by the Secretary of the Navy. The newly-created selection boards for in-residence graduate education by the Navy, and as established earlier by the Marine Corps, support this objective and are recommended for permanence.
- Require in-residence, strategically-focused graduate degrees of all future unrestricted line Flag and General Officers, with waiver authority solely invested in the Secretary of the Navy.
- Develop a naval education enterprise digital network for continuous learning by all Sailors and Marines, from E-1 to O-10, that shares the educational assets and learning opportunities of the entire Naval University, as well as those of the American university system and private sector.
- Institute naval war-gaming and competitive team learning as a necessary part of a continuum of learning at the junior, middle, and senior stages of a naval officer and enlisted person’s career path, as well as “just-in-time” education as new conditions arise.
- Begin the process of developing a differentiated talent management system that uses education, among other tools, to reveal, groom, and develop a deep bench of leadership in the services and the civilian workforce, acting as a retention and permeability tool in concert with the Blended Retirement System and new officer promotion flexibilities granted in the 2019 John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act.
- Pursue changes in the Joint Professional Military Education system that meet the unique, sea-centric, forward operational requirements of the Navy-Marine Corps team, and provide essential Joint operational doctrine training earlier in the careers of its personnel.
- Activate an organizational learning continuum as part of the Naval Education Enterprise, with accountability and ownership in the person of the President, Naval University, reporting to the Commander, Fleet Forces Command, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Commander Naval Forces Europe and the Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration, creating positive accountability and resources for institutional advancement.
- Implement new curriculum reviews for all educational institutions, with overarching strategic guidance and expectations to be issued by the Secretary of the Navy that are informed by a continually-adapting strategic estimate of the global situation created by the President, Naval University.
- Create a more flexible education model based on “stackable” certifications and courses that have the potential to be aggregated for graduate degrees along the course of a sea-centric naval career, in addition to greater in-residence opportunities, both officers and enlisted personnel, administered by the Naval University
Simple is better; direct is clearer; flexible is achievable – this is none of that.

The problem, especially in opening white space for advanced education and rewarding same, is real. The other issues spot-welded on to this in the report are real as well – but trying to do it all at once is folly.

The problem was identified in a fine manner, the history outline superb; but the offered solution is a horror-show of things we have not shown in recent history we are capable of doing; a micromanaging comprehensive systems of systems bureaucracy.

Perhaps it is a byproduct of those who produced it. This is all they know. Great Americans all, but given their mandate and background, this isn’t a surprise.

OK, there’s the critique, what would I do?

First of all, I would keep the problem identification and historical perspective part of the recommendation and disregard the rest. This is stillborn. 

Given recent history, there should be zero expectation that creating new bureaucracies and dual hatting already overworked senior leaders is going to result in a better end product. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I do not see any net efficiency here, much less effectiveness. Even if it did work perfectly, how long to see an impact? Simple solutions move faster. Complicated solutions take a long time, and often die of their own internal contradictions. 

Do we want to make things better intellectually in our Navy? There is a simple solution; focus on a single word; simple. Prioritize and simplify.

Disaggregate our problems set.
1. NWC should focus on the “W.” With rare exceptions, there is no need for anyone to go there before O5-Command. Full stop.
2. NPS should focus on advanced degrees that the USN needs that are not readily replicated by civilian institutions.
3. As I’ve mentioned before in different context, take a hammer and tongs to the shore billet infrastructure. Clear out and make available more space for people to get Masters & PhD in their first shore duty at civilian institutions with resident, full-time programs. If your first response is “...to be competitive..” then fix our selection board processes. I’ve been arguing this point since I was that LT being told that I “couldn’t” go because bla bla bla. We control it. The fact it is still a problem as we approach the 3rd decade of the 21st Century tells me we still are not serious. (NB: this can be done w/o creating huge new bureaucracies and collateral duties)
4. Other issues should be addressed on their own merits. If they cannot, then fire people until you hire someone who can.

Couple of final notes:
A: The Navy is not a business. Stop using “enterprise.” It is inaccurate and intellectually dishonest.
B: Stop trying to sound like you’re prepping for at TEDx talk by using “Cognitive Age “ like you have a special enlightenment. I found that constantly appearing in the text a bit off.

That's about all I have to say about this. A lost opportunity.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Russian Akula SSN - Monster of My Youth, Still Out There

Yes, yes, yes; this is Russian propaganda - but just watch the glory of it all.

The Akula SSN was the monster at the end of the Cold War. In 2019, they are a little long in the tooth, but still all that. Here we have a few who are still active. The youngest active is about 27-yrs old.

We start part-1 of a 2-part series on was I assume is one of their SUBRONs ... the Beast Division, with in K-317, Pantera, Commissioned in 1990.

As you watch this, I have a recommendation; ignore the people speaking, look in the background. Look at details. Do you own visual zone inspection. That is where the good stuff is. (NB: the P-8A RECCE quiz prep-page framed at the 2:46 mark, and the big talk about our VIRGINIA Class at 3:20).

If shipyards and drydocks are your thing, 15:50 mark is your place.



You need to keep going to Part-2 because, be honest with yourself, you want to see Russian underwear (3:00).



Nice note, at the 5:22 point; alcohol makes your body more resistant to radiation. I'm not sure how much more Russian you can get.

More maintenance at 13:20, but a guy I'd love to have a few drinks with Yury Farafontov was chief designer from 1996-2016 for the AKULA Class. He tells a nice sea story at 21 minute mark.

Like I said a the start - propaganda. A bit clunky in places ... but worth the watch.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Expected Pullback from 355

If this surprises you any, you simply have not been paying attention;
The U.S. Navy is re-evaluating its goal of a 355-ship fleet as the Pentagon shifts to meet increased competition with Russia and China, the service’s top officer said Friday.

“In light of the new National Defense Strategy and changes in the security environment since that was put out, we’re doing a new force structure assessment,” Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, told reporters at the Pentagon. “We’ll see where that goes.”
This begs the question; was there ever a window to make a real effort for a 355-ship Navy?

In a word, yes - but it is now closed and we need to be thinking about what to do instead.

The window opened on election night on November 2016. When the NYT prediction needle went from 95% Clinton to 49% Clinton, I put out a private message to a small group of people I knew, to the effect, "Hey, didn't Trump run on 350 ships?!?"

...and off we went.

It took me a couple of days after the election to make even a sideways comment about the results as I was like everyone else - I did not know what to think.

The next Sunday we touched on the topic with our friend Bryan McGrath on Midrats.

It took a week after the election for me to hone in on what was then 350. Jerry Hendrix led the argument the first Monday after the election;
President Elect Donald Trump, correctly understanding the current strategic environment, is committed to building a 350 ship Navy. This will set aside thirty years of steady declines in the size of the Navy and put those who would make themselves the United States’ enemy on notice that the “irreplaceable nation” has picked up the mantle of leadership that it so recently cast off in an attempt to become more “normal” and less “dangerous.” However, while 350 ships may seem huge in comparison to the battle force of 272 ships we have today; it actually represents the bare minimum that is actually required to maintain presence in the 18 maritime regions where the United States has critical national interests.

The last time the US Navy had 350 ships in its inventory was in early 1998, at which time it had twelve carriers, 30 cruisers, 53 destroyers, 40 frigates and 70 fast attack submarines. Five years later the Navy crashed through the 300 ship mark on its way to the 272 ships it has today...
You can count that first week as when the window opened. Need a hard date for when it closed? That's simple; last week's SOTU. There was no mention of growing our Navy. The CINC isn't going to invest political capital in it.

355 is now outside the maritime Overton Window.

But again, this should not be a surprise to anyone. None of the political appointees have been dedicated navalists with a charter to fight for 350/55 ships. I have not heard it, have you? (NB: "we'll be there is 50-yrs" does not count)

Our uniformed leadership were not strong advocates either. Between Fat Leonard, 2017 in WESTPAC, and more importantly lack of D&G to make the case, they let it linger as they focused on  ... well ... whatever they were focusing on.

Some of those out of power with only a voice tried - from this humble blogg'r, to Bryan, Jerry, and on to radio host Hugh Hewitt. It never got traction or focus by those with hands on the levers of money and power.

The final nail in the coffin was the Democrats taking the House last fall. There is no account of political capital there to draw on for a larger Navy. It just isn't there.

So, here we are in the middle of 1QCY19 and we need to accept a new reality;

1. We will not have an appreciably larger Navy. We will be lucky to nudge above 300.
2. The numbers are weaker than they appear. We have three Zumwalt DDG who are of little tactical use. A large portion of our fleet will be LCS and their derivatives. We are a decade after commissioning of Hull-1 and they are still of no use. They may do come counter-narcotics work over the next year, but that's about it. Even if you allow for the most optimistic updates to both variants, they will be less capable than any other comparably sized warship designed in the last 30-yrs. 
3. We are entering the Terrible-20s. Budgetary, political, and economic challenges will create an incredible counter-force to any significant growth in the shipbuilding budget as we recapitalize our SSBN force.
4. There is no serious effort to replace the Cold War era Goldwater-Nichols structure that binds our military. As such, there is little that can be done to move towards changing force structure percentages. Our comparative advantage is in the maritime and aerospace domains, yet we have a huge standing land army doing ... well ... standing land army things. You will not find money there to move to a larger Navy.
5. Our Navy has greater challenges than hull numbers.

#5 is where we might have an opportunity as opposed to a problem. If we accept that we are not going to have more ships, what if instead we made efforts to make the ones we have more effective, more capable, more professional?

Throw away the foolish sweet little lies spawned by the unholy union of green eye-shade efficiency cultists and arrogant Transformationalists. Throw away their despised and discredited theories, and properly man our ships with enough Sailors. Invest in refurbished shipyards, depot level maintenance, and trade a few LCS for better auxiliaries, ice breakers, command ships, and for the love of Neptune - tenders.

Bring back a mindset of readiness and surge, as opposed to a "time to make the donuts" deployment cycle that makes the calendar look interesting, but burns out Sailors and their ships.

In line with the above, take hammer and tongs to the shore manning documents and bureaucracy. Go sea heavy and don't apologize for it. People don't burn out on sea duty if, when at peace, you don't ... burn them out.

When we run out of more money, perhaps that opens the window to be smarter.

OK, fine; we aren't going to get to 355. I don't like it either, but, fine. What if instead we have every bit of a properly manned, trained and equipped half-a-Lehman, 300?

UPDATE: In all fairness, over the last year or so, the Under has mentioned 355. Examples here, here, and here.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

The US Navy's Face Mission; Naval Presence - History & Present Use - on Midrats

From showing the flag in the Mediterranean in the first decades of our republic's history, through Teddy's Great White Fleet, to FONOPS in today's South China Sea - "being there" is a little understood strategic mission.

What is its history and utility in the 21st Century?

Our guest fo the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Dr. James Holmes, returning to Midrats to discuss this and related issues.

Dr. Holmes is a professor of strategy and holds the J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College. A former U.S. Navy surface-warfare officer and combat veteran of the first Gulf War, he served as a weapons and engineering officer in the battleship Wisconsin, engineering and firefighting instructor at the Surface Warfare Officers School Command, and military professor of strategy at the Naval War College. He was the last gunnery officer to fire a battleship’s big guns in anger.

The book he co-authored with Toshi Yoshihara, Red Star over the Pacific, now in its second edition.

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, February 08, 2019

Fullbore Friday

Now for Part 2 of 2 from last week's FbF. If you have not read it yet, head back, give it a read, and come back. We'll wait.

Let's pick up the story of the Krait (renamed from Kofuku Maru).
Lyon located a replacement engine for the Krait in Hobart, Tasmania, and had it shipped to Townsville and installed. For simplicity’s sake and to save space, he scrapped the part of his plan to destroy harbor installations in Singapore and concentrated on shipping. Even so, when the 70-foot-by-11-foot Krait sailed to Cairns and was fitted out with supplies and stores for six months. With diesel fuel, kerosene, canoes, weapons, explosives, equipment, spare parts, and radio gear, there was only enough space left for the team to sleep a few at a time in hammocks slung in any vacant spot.

Lyon’s team included Donald Davidson, second-in-command, British Royal Navy, a tough, resourceful Englishman who had spent years in Australia’s outback and the jungles of Southeast Asia and had been commissioned in the Navy in Singapore with no previous naval experience; Lieutenant Bob Page, Australian Army, former third-year medical student who had swapped university studies for special operations; Lieutenant Ted Carse, Australian Navy, navigator, who had sworn off alcohol for this operation; Stoker Paddy McDowell, British Royal Navy, ship’s engineer and World War I veteran; Corporal Taffy Morris, a British Army medic who had escaped from Sumatra with Lyon; Corporal Andrew Crilley, an Australian Army engineer who had volunteered to be cook to get selected for the team; Telegraphist Horrie Young, Australian Navy; and six young Australian Navy seamen who had not yet been to sea—Wally Falls, Freddie Marsh, Cobber Cain, Andrew Huston, Arthur Jones, and Mostyn Berryman. All were volunteers from the Z Special Unit, usually called Z Force.
Studs.
On August 9, 1943, they left Cairns on a 2,400-mile voyage around the north of Australia to Exmouth Gulf in Western Australia. There the crew of the American submarine repair ship Chanticleer did some excellent repair work on the Krait while refusing to believe that the “crate” had made it all the way from Cairns. They prepared her with 150 pounds of plastic explosives so that she could easily be blown up if captured.
I had to add that because, well, you know my feelings about the incredible force multiplier tenders are. Before I get on another "where are my damn tenders today" rant, let's push on to the attack. Remember to read it all ... but let's get to the pointy end;
On September 8, the raiders were more than 700 miles north of Australia and within sight of Gunung Agung, the 10,000-foot sacred mountain of Bali, and the equally sacred 12,000-foot Gunung Rinjani on the nearby island of Lombok. That night they steered between the two islands into the 25-mile-long Lombok Strait, hoping their fishing boat flying the Japanese flag would not be challenged and to make it through by dawn.
...
On the night of September 16, the raiders anchored off a beach on the island of Pompong, and Davidson, Cain, and Jones went ashore and buried cans of water and emergency supplies. During the night they listened to the growl of engines as Japanese seaplanes were warmed up at the base on nearby Chempa Island and watched searchlight beams in the sky.
...
The gear was taken ashore—canoes, limpet mines, food and water, arms and ammunition, clothing, medical kits, and a bag of Dutch gold guilders. The Japanese patrol boat, whose engine they had heard earlier, again passed very close.

Lyon called a meeting of the team. It was decided that this island, Pandjang, 30 miles from Singapore, was too close as a pickup point after the raid, that 12 days should be allowed for the raid, and that the attack team should be picked up at Pompong Island—50 miles from Singapore—where they had buried the emergency rations. Pickup would be at midnight on October 1. If the attack team was not there, the Krait would return 48 hours later.
...
At 4 am, the attack team—Major Lyon, Lieutenants Davidson and Page, and Seamen Falls, Jones and Huston—shook hands with the others and were rowed ashore.
...
The canoes were 17 feet long and, loaded with two men, limpet mines, arms, equipment, food and water, weighed almost a third of a ton. They got them into the sea and waited, each man dressed in a black Japara silk suit and black exercise shoes, faces and hands blackened, pistols and knives strapped on, compasses and first aid kits in zippered pockets, each with a cyanide tablet within easy reach in case of need. When the regular Japanese patrol boat passed, they climbed into the canoes and began paddling toward Singapore, Lyon and Huston in one, Davidson and Falls in another, and Page and Jones in the third.
...
They paddled until midnight, covering 11 miles, and then, tired and sore from the unaccustomed labor, pulled in at the small, uninhabited island of Bulat. They unloaded the canoes and carried their gear to a grove of palms in the scrub and lay down and slept until daylight.

Waking, they looked out to sea to find a motorized sampan flying a Japanese flag moving slowly toward the beach, and on the beach there was still some of their gear. Two of the canoes were only partly hidden. Pistols ready, cursing themselves for their carelessness, they watched the sampan anchor just off the beach. During the next hour they held their breath as Japanese sailors moved around on the deck of the sampan, but none of them noticed the gear on the beach. When the sampan left, they quickly got the gear and canoes under cover.
Life is often the luck of another persons ill-attention, or lack of it. The mission continues;
After dark, still stiff and sore from the previous night’s paddling in the cramped canoes, they set off for the Bulan Strait. The strait was only a mile wide, and the rip tides and whirls among the islands made paddling the heavily laden canoes extremely difficult. They had traveled less than nine miles when they dragged the canoes among the mangroves of Bulan Island just before dawn. When dawn broke, they heard voices calling and could see people moving about in a village only a short distance away on the next island. Looking around, they saw more villages dotting other small islands, and sailboats and canoes began using a channel only yards away from them.

They laced mangrove branches as camouflage, ate some of their rations, and lay down in the stinking mangrove mud to sleep, their calm broken by calls coming from the villages, dog fights, and the shouts of boatmen passing so close that the sails of their boats blotted out the sun. It was a miserable day. Sandflies attacked them in swarms, and crabs nipped them as they lay baking in the sun, but in the late afternoon it rained heavily and, refreshed somewhat by it, they left in their canoes as soon as it was dark.

They were out of the Bulan Strait by midnight and by 2 am could see the lights of Singapore in the sky—they were too low in the water to see them directly. They landed on Dongas Island and hid their canoes and gear. They were eight miles from their target and 2,000 miles from their base at Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia.
In canoes.
The next morning they checked the island and found it uninhabited. From a high point, using a telescope, they spent hours looking through the haze into the harbor. For Huston, Falls, and Jones, Singapore was just another island, an island to be attacked, but for the other three there were emotional links. Bob Page’s father was a prisoner in Singapore as were Donald Davidson’s brothers, and for Ivan Lyon it was his wife and young son. They had escaped Singapore before its fall and reached Ceylon. Sailing to Australia to join Lyon, their ship was sunk in the Indian Ocean and they were taken as prisoners to Singapore. Lyon knew that much but did not know they had been moved to a prison camp in Japan. They survived in the camp until freed by American troops when Japan surrendered....
The attack team rested on Dongas Island for much of the next two days and watched the courses steered by a variety of ships for evidence of minefields.
...
On the second afternoon, a convoy of 13 ships moved into the Roads, preparatory to leaving the harbor. It was too good a target to miss, and after dark the team carried their canoes to the beach and launched them.

At midnight they were still two miles from the Roads, fighting a crosstide, when a searchlight snapped on. Motionless, they floated for half a minute in the glare, expecting an alarm to sound, and then the light went out. They closed up and decided that, because of the crosstide, they would have to give up for the night. They also decided they would find another island from which to launch their attack.

They left Dongas Island the next night and, fighting the tides between islands, they reached Subar Island, seven miles west of Dongas, just before dawn.
Patience. Luck. Training. Endurance.
Subar was a rocky island, the rocks too hot to touch, and so hot it was impossible to sleep during the day. The men lay on blankets on a cliff top where they could look down on the sea 60 feet below and watch the passing parade of junks and ketches, proas and sampans. The heat haze lifted in mid-afternoon, and through the telescope they examined the harbor, transferring what they saw to their chart and planning their attack that night.

Under a moonless sky they paddled for the lights of Singapore. In the harbor they twice lay forward and motionless in their canoes while searchlights played over them, but no alarm was raised. Then they separated, looking for targets.
It was time;
Along Bukum wharves where the sea glowed with reflected light, Bob Page and Arthur Jones passed a 5,000-ton freighter, then a small coastal ship and a big, well-lit tanker on which welders were working. Page decided on the freighter. They had to cross a large patch of full light before they came into the shadow of the freighter, and when their eyes adjusted they moved along its hull attaching limpet mines below the waterline, timed to explode at 5 am.

They hung on the anchor chain, resting and eating chocolate bars and listening to the chatter of the welders and other workmen on the tanker until, warned by instinct, they looked up to see a uniformed Japanese guard on the deck above them. Unmoving, they watched him for several minutes until he spat into the sea beside them and moved on. They paddled away.

Their second target was a large, modern ship low in the water with cargo. The glow of its lights on the water around it and the red dots of cigarettes being smoked by the crew on deck made it a dangerous target, but they took the risk and attached limpets. Leaving this ship, they were caught in a rip current that, before they realized what was happening, bumped the canoe against the rudder of a heavily laden tramp steamer. They attached their remaining limpets to it and, bathed in sweat and desperately tired, they began paddling for Dongas Island where they would meet the others.

Ivan Lyon and Andrew Huston paddled into Examination Anchorage where, in contrast to the lights that had plagued Page and Jones, there was almost complete darkness. Low in the water, it was almost impossible for them to spot ships against the blackness of the anchorage and the shoreline hills. They paddled for two hours unable to find a ship and then saw a red light and the silhouette of a tanker. They circled her, noting how low she was in the water and, knowing that it was difficult to sink a tanker with limpets, they decided to put all they had on her.

As they could hear voices on deck, they worked slowly and cautiously. They placed three limpets over her engine room, another three around her propeller, and moved along her starboard side. With two more limpets attached and the last one ready to go on, Lyon looked up to see, 10 feet above him, a man’s head out of a porthole, his face pale against the black hull. The man sniffed and cleared his throat, and Lyon, the limpet in his hands, wondered if he would have time to attach it. So he set a one-minute fuse to detonate it if they were challenged. The head disappeared, a light appeared in the porthole, and they waited for the man to return with a flashlight to shine on them. He did not. Lyon attached the limpet, and they paddled away.

Donald Davidson and Wally Falls paddled into Keppel Harbor, where they were almost run down by a steam ferry. Passing the yacht club, they could hear Japanese voices raised in song and other sounds of party revelry. In Empire Dock, where there were ships, it was so highly floodlit and there was so much activity going on they kept moving, following an ocean-going tug into the Roads off the business heart of Singapore. Here there were plenty of ships and a lot of light.

They drifted in beside a heavily laden freighter and attached three limpets, then moved on and did the same to a second freighter and a third. The Victoria Hall clock chimed 1 am. It was getting late. They decided not to return to Dongas Island but to make straight for the rendezvous on Pompong Island.

Lyon, Huston, Page, and Jones reached Dongas just before daylight, and after nine hours in the canoes they were so exhausted and sore they had great difficulty unloading and hiding the canoes. But they scrambled up the hill and waited expectantly in the growing daylight. At 5:15 they heard a dull explosion—and six minutes later a second one. They could hear the sound of sirens. In the next 20 minutes they heard five more explosions. “A good night’s work,” Jones said.
If you have not already, head over for the rest of the story at WarfareHistoryNetwork.

Not heard of this before? Well, there are reasons. Some was how well it was hidden ... the other the secondary cost;
Although the loss of Japanese shipping in the operation, 37,000 tons, was very small in comparison with, say, Japanese ships sunk by American submarines, the sheer daring of the operation would have given a boost to Allied morale if it had been publicized and would probably have created panic in every Japanese occupied port in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. But the operation was classified top secret as knowledge of it by the Japanese could jeopardize any future similar operations. The story of operation Jaywick was buried in the files until long after the war.

The Jaywick team returned to Z Force, not knowing that in Singapore the Japanese had blamed local saboteurs for the sinking of their ships and begun an investigation that led to the imprisonment, torture and execution of hundreds of Chinese and Malays, and some of the Europeans interned on the island.
That last bit is on the Japanese.

Anyway, for the men, remember, no matter what you do in life, you'll never be this cool.



Thursday, February 07, 2019

There will always be smugglers - there will always be war

There is a lot here to consider - and also a lot to be careful of;
For a long time, being out at sea meant being out of sight and out of reach.

And all kinds of shenanigans went on as a result - countries secretly selling oil and other goods to countries they're not supposed to under international sanctions rules, for example, not to mention piracy and kidnapping.

The problem is that captains can easily switch off the current way of tracking ships, called the Automatic Identification System (AIS), hiding their location.

But now thousands of surveillance satellites have been launched into space, and artificial intelligence (AI) is being applied to the images they take.

There's no longer anywhere for such ships to hide.
In peace, we are on the cusp - with AI, big data, and the processing power to fuse multi-spectral data streams - of being able to get a very real comprehensive maritime plot.

There are also a lot of things to ponder beyond just the visual range - but not on this net or this side of the SCIF.

A note of caution - how much do we rely on them? How secure - both physically and access via the electromagnetic spectrum - are these satellites? If we lash our war plans to them - what do we do if they are not there?

Sure, get excited, but also be careful.

It is a dangerous world out there for the complacent, arrogant, and lazy.


Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Behold the fruit of thy priorities

If you have not read the latest on the FITZGERALD collision brought to us by ProPublica, head on over to my post at USNIBlog for the details.

Sad, yet predictable.

Short manning. Hide INSURV results. Get rid of training and readiness requirements. Strangle depot level maintenance.

What can go wrong?

UPDATE: Make sure and read their follow on article; Years of Warnings, Deaths, and Disaster

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Your Motivational Picture of the Month

Don't be this CO.

Don't be this OOD.

Don't let this be your ship.


Monday, February 04, 2019

The Stalingrad Schoolhouse

Just by random bouncing around YouTube, this weekend I came across something put out by the Army University Press, an arm of the Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate, that is - in a word - exceptional.

As anyone who has been paying attention can attest to, "urban combat" is one of "the new things" we've seen a lot of intellectual effort put towards the last year.

Three are few better examples than WWII's Battle of Stalingrad. What they do in this series is, mostly from the German Army perspective, go through one part of the campaign integrating the tactical actions of the Wehrmacht in this campaign and use them to describe present US Army doctrine.

The graphics and story telling is exceptionally good. They also hit on something regulars at CDRSalamander know well; yes, the tools and details may change, but in the main; essentials of combat remain unchanged.

I cannot describe enough how incredibly impressed I am by this - for a variety of reasons. Take some time today to watch all three videos.

What is the USN intelligentsia similar to this?



A final note that needs to be mentioned;
The Soviets recovered 250,000 German and Romanian corpses in and around Stalingrad, and total Axis casualties (Germans, Romanians, Italians, and Hungarians) are believed to have been more than 800,000 dead, wounded, missing, or captured. Of the 91,000 men who surrendered, only some 5,000–6,000 ever returned to their homelands (the last of them a full decade after the end of the war in 1945); the rest died in Soviet prison and labour camps. On the Soviet side, official Russian military historians estimate that there were 1,100,000 Red Army dead, wounded, missing, or captured in the campaign to defend the city. An estimated 40,000 civilians died as well.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Fullbore Friday

This week we have Part I of a two part FbF. No cheating and reading ahead though. This really is worth two FbF, each deserving their own time.

One of the themes of FbF is an introspective one; "What would you do?"

No one knows their fate; no one knows the future. We may all live decades more, or our time may come at any moment.

We may lead the rest of our days with picayune problems, dithering hobbies, vacuous conversation, and puppy tummies - or fate may call us in a different direction.

Young, old, or somewhere in the middle; the call may come. When it is your time, will you rise to the standard of Bill Reynolds?

Via the WarHistorynetwork;
Bill Reynolds was an Australian who had served aboard destroyers in World War I and had lived in Burma, Malaya, and the Dutch East Indies for the past 20 years. Nearly 50 years old, he volunteered his services at British naval headquarters...
He knew his duty. Also remember, 50 then was much older than 50 now, but it did not matter, duty knows no age.
...in Singapore and was given command of the Kofuku Maru, a narrow-gutted 70-foot-long Japanese fishing boat seized by the British when the war began. He found half a dozen Chinese willing to crew her and began picking up refugees—British, Chinese, Malays and others—from the islands around Singapore where they had been stranded when the ships in which they had been attempting to escape had been bombed and strafed by Japanese aircraft.

He crammed 50 or more into the Kofuku Maru and, sometimes towing disabled craft filled with refugees, ferried them to Sumatra.
Any command is command - even a clapped out old fishing boat with a pick-up crew. What could you do with that?
...operating the Kofuku Maru around Singapore for two weeks during which he had rescued some 1500 people...
With the fall of Singapore, Bill and his Japanese fishing boat not unlike others in Asian waters,
... had sailed the Kofuku Maru all the way to India and was now in Bombay.
There was still work to do.
Bill Reynolds tried twice to sail the Krait (renamed Kofuku Maru) to Australia, but each time her old engine broke down and she was finally shipped to Sydney as deck cargo on a freighter. After numerous breakdowns the Krait was towed to Townsville, south of Cairns, her engine completely useless. There Bill Reynolds left her.
That is far from the end of Bill's story;
A 51-year-old civilian, he went to Melbourne, Victoria, where he joined the clandestine civilian Bureau of Economic Warfare. Fluent in Malay and with a good grasp of Chinese, he was landed by the American submarine Tuna in the Straits of Macassar to pick up information from Chinese secret agents but was betrayed to the Japanese by local people. After months in the notorious Surabaya prison on Java he was sentenced to be executed. The tall, lanky Reynolds refused to kneel for beheading by the executioner’s sword and the small, perplexed executioner had to call on some soldiers to form a firing squad.
And that is then end of Bill's chapter - but his impact on the war? It had more to play out.

Join us next week for Part II ... and no cheating by reading ahead!