Saturday, March 30, 2019

Who Will Run the Navy of the 2020s? - on Midrats

The generation that will lead Sailors forward over what is shaping up to be the most challenging environment at sea for the USN since the 1980s is just now rolling in to their first shore duty or out of it.

What culture and experiences marked their formative junior officer years? How will they change the fluid culture of our navy? Will their habits in writing, discussing, and experimenting differ than previous generations of officers, or just blend in with long running trends?

Do their view of priorities differ from the mid-level and senior level leadership.

Our guest for the full hour Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to address these topics and whatever else pops out of the rabbit hole will be Jimmy Drennan.

When he's not masquerading as The Salty Millennial, Jimmy Drennan is a Surface Warfare Officer assigned to U.S. Central Command, and is President of the Center for International Maritime Security.

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, March 29, 2019

Fullbore Friday: Andrew W. Marshall

Today's FbF is about not just a giant of a man, but a rare giant. I could not do him justice, only knowing him 2nd and 3rd hand an by reputation. I asked our friend Jerry Hendrix, who knew this great American personally, to provide us a guest post.

Jerry, over to you.

Andrew W. Marshall, known to his friends and numerous mentees as “Andy” entered government service in 1969 as a consultant and advisor to Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council staff. Prior to that he had worked over 20 years as an analyst at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA.

When he came east to assist the Nixon administration, he rented a small apartment and the furniture to go with it and never sold his home in Santa Monica, always expecting to return there. In 1973, when James Schlesinger, who had once worked for Marshall as a research assistant at RAND, moved from the White House to the Pentagon as Secretary of Defense, the decision was made to stand up an Office of Net Assessments within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Nixon appointed Marshall as its first director. He was reappointed by the next seven successive presidents through Barack Obama and served 42 years as the Director of Net Assessment.

Marshall developed the multi-disciplinary practice of net assessment over the two decades he spent at RAND. A mixture of economics, business management, history, organizational behavior studies, anthropology, and strategy, net assessments attempted to look at competitions between nations or alliances from a competitive strategy perspective, attempting always to match American advantages against its competitor’s weaknesses.

The practice of net assessment as established by Marshall was long and arduous, first looking at the competition in an overall manner and then isolating areas for focused analysis, and then writing a final product. Marshall was quiet, but he was also brilliant and meticulous. As legend has it, one report went through 35 drafts before he took the one final copy to the Secretary. As such, despite being appointed during the Nixon administration, no net assessments were completed during either Nixon or Ford’s time in office.

The office was to be kept open by Jimmy Carter’s SecDef, Dr. Harold Brown, only long enough to deliver the first five net assessments covering various areas of the US-USSR competition that had been in development, for his consideration. The implications and insights of those assessments were so powerful that Brown made his initial “Second Offset” decisions to act upon their diagnosis by investing heavily in stealth, space based systems, and precision strike technologies as well as by asking Marshall to remain on as the Director of the Office of Net Assessment.

Over the four decades he served, Marshall made a number of strategic projections, always 20-30 years out, regarding key trends in global competitions. He correctly saw the path to winning the Cold War against the Soviet Union, the need for a revolution in military affairs, and the rise of China as a great power and peer competitor decades ahead of other analysts. Other insights generated by the office remain highly classified and will remain so for some time to come.

Beyond the office’s actual “net assessments” Marshall also acquired a small budget with which he funded external studies through various think tanks, universities and consultancies. Via this method he both encouraged the exploration of key areas of analysis and technology trends. Studies commissioned by the office were rarely made public and the best were briefed directly to the Secretary of Defense.

Similarly, beginning in the 1970s, Marshall and the Office of Net Assessment began to be a conduit for the Secretary of Defense to explore certain ideas and strategies via wargames conducted in various formats and methods. Marshall was also well known for his annual “summer studies,” which were often conducted at the Naval War College in Newport, RI or at the United States Military Academy at West Point, wherein a group of senior decision-makers gathered to deeply explore strategic concepts in a seminar setting.

Without a doubt, Andrew Marshall’s greatest legacy can be found in his recruiting, education and continued mentoring of several generations of military officers who served in his office. At any given time, one officer of each service served as a military assistant within the Office of Net Assessment wherein they conducted primary research and consideration of strategic topics of interest to Marshall and the Secretary of Defense.

Some outside of the office began to refer to Marshall as “Yoda” in reference to the Star Wars character, due to his age, wisdom and habit in speaking in questions and some of these same people referred to his officer-assistants as “Jedi Knights.” Both Marshall and his military assistants forcefully rejected these labels, preferring instead “Andy” and the collective designation as members of “St. Andrew’s Prep School” (we have school ties). Regardless, many former Net Assessors went on to distinguished careers as senior government officials and strategic leaders.

Such was the bond between the schoolmaster and his students that as his time grew near at the age of 97, his former assistants flocked from around the country to take their turns quietly sitting at his bedside. At his remarkably peaceful passing, he was surrounded by warriors, scholars, and administrators, some long gone gray, all weeping.

Dr. Jerry Hendrix, CAPT USN (Ret.) is a retired Navy officer with experience in strategy, force structure planning, and carrier strike group operations who presently serves as Vice President of the Telemus Group.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Diversity Thursday

We've come along way from, "Stay out of my bedroom!" 

We are unquestionably far from my, "Don't ask, don't tell, don't care."

Yes, that's the GAO. Your guv'munt dollars at work.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Well, that is one plan to get to 355

Have you looked at the 2020 Shipbuilding Plan yet?

I'm pondering some of the wavetops over at USNIBlog.

Come by and ponder with me.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Ballistic Missile Calculus Changes

Technology does not stand still.

Capabilities do not remain constant.

What was the great, unassailable threat today, may just be mitigated in to nuisance tomorrow.

In war - especially in long periods of peace - you need to be humble about the abilities of your weapons and your ability to see the future clearly. You also need to be careful not to make your enemy 10-feet tall or a petty threat to be dismissed.

Watch for developments that change the odds and calculus of threats and capabilities.

As we continue to think about the returning threat of ballistic missiles targeted to either land or sea, this development is significant.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency ... conducted a successful test today against an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) class target. This test was the first salvo engagement of a threat-representative ICBM target by two Ground Based Interceptors (GBI), which were designated GBI-Lead, and GBI-Trail for the test. The GBI-Lead destroyed the reentry vehicle, as it was designed to do. The GBI-Trail then looked at the resulting debris and remaining objects, and, not finding any other reentry vehicles, selected the next ‘most lethal object’ it could identify, and struck that, precisely as it was designed to do.
“This was the first GBI salvo intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target, and it was a critical milestone,” said MDA Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel A. Greaves. “The system worked exactly as it was designed to do, and the results of this test provide evidence of the practicable use of the salvo doctrine within missile defense. The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat.”

The GMD element of the ballistic missile defense system provides combatant commanders the capability to engage and destroy intermediate and long-range ballistic missile threats
Step by step. Increment by increment - a significant capability is emerging.

H/t MV.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Physical Condition is a Primary Indicator

Not to be a nudge, but the American taxpayer can see the "what" - and it deserves to hear the "why" of what is reported by Chris Cavas below;

With the largest defense budget in decades, a ship going on deployment from CONUS simply has no excuse.

Of course, our Navy has turned to the Soviet model in its relationship to the press and the people - so we are supposed to be good comrades and go forward to carry out the 5-year Plan, but I'm sorry; no.

We are constantly told when these pics come up that it is simply "this ship has been on deployment XXX months, and bla bla bla."

We are about half a worldwar time frame from the events of WESTPAC, and yet we still have a primary indicator - rusting at the pier - telling the observer that we have problems.

BZ, I guess, for delaying the ship - but there is a story here. The taxpayer is not being well served. I hate to do this to my Navy, but as it shuts up, Congress needs to step up its oversight.

Just look. This was the condition of a warship set for deployment in the world's strongest Navy. That last part is not the message we're sending.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Fullbore Friday

It's been about nine years since I finished Xenophon's
Anabasis on audio and it still sticks with me.

Almost 2,400 years old and its lessons on leadership are timeless. There is really nothing new under the sun.

This book is a perfect example of the critical importance of a classical education. We wouldn't have to learn the hard way if we realized the truth that has been there from the dawn of history ... not to mention the lessons of 20 years ago ... move the decimal place two spots over.

Here is just one bit.

Rely upon this then, all you who are here assembled, now is your great opportunity. The soldiers outside have their eyes fixed upon you; if they think that you are faint-hearted, they will turn cowards; but if you show them that you are making your own preparations to attack the enemy, and setting an example to the rest--follow you, be assured, they will: imitate you they will. May be, it is but right and fair that you should somewhat excel them, for you are generals, you are commanders of brigades or regiments; and if, while it was peace, you had the advantage in wealth and position, so now, when it is war, you are expected to rise superior to the common herd--to think for them, to toil for them, whenever there be need.

"At this very moment you would confer a great boon on the army, if you made it your business to appoint generals and officers to fill the places of those that are lost. For without leaders nothing good or noble, to put it concisely, was ever wrought anywhere; and in military matters this is absolutely true; for if discipline is held to be of saving virtue, the want of it has been the ruin of many ere now.
Well, then! when you have appointed all the commanders necessary, it would only be opportune, I take it, if you were to summon the rest of the soldiers and speak some words of encouragement. Even now, I daresay you noticed yourselves the crestfallen air with which they came into camp, the despondency with which they fell to picket duty, so that, unless there is a change for the better, I do not know for what service they will be fit; whether by night, if need were, or even by day.
The thing is to get them to turn their thoughts to what they mean to do, instead of to what they are likely to suffer. Do that, and their spirits will soon revive wonderfully. You know, I need hardly remind you, it is not numbers or strength that gives victory in war; but, heaven helping them, to one or other of two combatants it is 42 given to dash with stouter hearts to meet the foe, and such onset, in nine cases out of ten, those others refuse to meet.
This observation, also, I have laid to heart, that they, who in matters of war seek in all ways to save their lives, are just they who, as a rule, die dishonorably; whereas they who, recognizing that death is the common lot and destiny of all men, strive hard to die nobly: these more frequently, as I observe, do after all attain to old age, or, at any rate, while life lasts, they spend their days more happily.
This lesson let all lay to heart this day, for we are just at such a crisis of our fate. Now is the season to be brave ourselves, and to stimulate the rest by our example."
The March of the 10,000, or if you wish - Anabasis: The March Up Country. Nothing but hardcore. If you don't know the story - buy the book or read it online here.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Russian Navy: When Inertia Runs Out

There is a lot of ruin in a nation, and a once great and powerful Soviet Navy still lurks here and there ... as a slowly decreasing part of the Russian Navy.

Regionally powerful with a few dangerous submarines - but will the Russian Navy be a global power or sustainable at distance?


Nice summary by Kyle;
After years of coasting on the largesse of the Cold War, Russia’s navy is set to tumble in size and relevance over the next two decades. Older ships and equipment produced for the once-mighty Soviet Navy are wearing out and the country can’t afford to replace them.
AToday, 28 years after the end of the Soviet Union, Russia still relies mostly on Soviet-era ships. The country’s sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, has suffered from repeated mechanical problems and should be, but probably won’t be, retired immediately. Russia has built no cruisers since 1991, relying on the five impressive-but-aging Kirov and Slava-class cruisers to act as the country’s major surface combatants. Russia has built only one destroyer since the Cold War, the Admiral Chabanenko. Chabanenko was laid down in 1989 and commissioned into service in 1999.

Likewise, most of Russia’s submarine fleet still consists of Soviet-era submarines, including Delta-class ballistic missile submarines, Oscar-class cruise missile submarines, and Akula, Sierra, Victor, and Kilo-class attack submarines, which have been in service for so long they are still referred to by the code names they were given in Soviet service.t the end of the Cold War, Russia, the largest of the ex-Soviet republics, inherited the lion’s share of the USSR’s military equipment. Among naval forces this included several Kiev and Riga-class aircraft carriers, Kirov-class nuclear powered battlecruisers, destroyers, frigates, and more than two hundred submarines—including the enormous Akula-class ballistic missile submarines. Russia, struggling to switch from a planned to market economy, could not afford to maintain such a truly massive force and scrapped much of it, preserving only the newest equipment.
ussia is concentrating its naval resources on mission number three, protecting its submarine-based nuclear deterrent. Moscow’s submarine-launched nuclear weapons are the country’s ultimate deterrent against nuclear attack, and arms control experts believe that as of 2018 the Russian Navy has 810 nuclear weapons under its control. Russia has spent a considerable amount of money keeping its submarine-based deterrent viable, developing the Bulava nuclear missile and the new Borei-class ballistic missile submarines. Even still, the aging out of ex-Soviet submarines means by 2030 Russia is expected to field only half the number of missile submarines it does now.

Russia’s spending on surface ships has been limited to small but heavily-armed frigates, corvettes and patrol boats designed for coastal missions.
Those ships showed their quality in the Syrian Civil War ... but the makings of a blue water fleet they are not. Really, Russia does not need a blue water fleet - and I think they know it.

Nazi Germany wasted precious resources in a vanity big-ship fleet that did very little. A proper analysis of the best use of naval forces for a continental power would have kept them focused on regional punch. The Soviets had different ambitions than the Russians do ... so maybe the modern Russians appreciate that fact.

That doesn't make them any less dangerous should we move in to what they consider their waters.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

I don't miss rains or anything else in Africa ... but I'm watching it

If you aren't already, make sure in your scan are two to three sites that can keep you up to date with national security issues in Africa.

I've been following once recently I recommend with some examples why.

Head on over to USNIBlog for the brief.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Germany Won't Lead Anything

You know my frustration with Germany. They do business deals with the Russians, chronically under-spend on their own defense, and then have us be their security guarantee against ... the Russians.

Now and then they talk big about a German led pan-European army. That is just another way for them to have others pay for their own defense. They should be a bulwark of strength in NATO, but they can't even do the bare minimum.

Maybe that is for the best ... Germany being Germany ... but I wouldn't put too much worry in them dominating any European defense arrangements.

Translated from the German on Spiegel, this is just pathetic;
SPIEGEL information, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has decided that the defense budget should rise much more moderately in the coming year than demanded by the minister.

Instead of the registered 47.2, the SPD minister wants his CDU colleague only 44.7 billion euros. In 2019, the Leyens budget comprised 43.2 billion - instead of a desired plus of four billion euros, it only gets 1.5.
As one of the main arguments in favor of their demands, von der Leyen always states that this is the only way to maintain Germany's commitment to NATO to spend about 1.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on the Bundeswehr by 2024. The US in particular, but also many EU partners are harassing Berlin massively.

The promise seems completely unrealistic. The funds provided by Scholz are only sufficient to stabilize the share next year at 1.35 percent of GDP.
That is what you get for partnering with the modern SDP.

What a shame. I loved working with the German military. Great professionals, great people.

But ... well ... at least they still look good marching.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Build a Few Unmanned Surface Vehicles, Test a Little, Learn a Lot

As our friend Dave Larter reported late last week, the Navy seems to be moving forward in a smart way to see how much of the theory of operating large surface ships in an unmanned manner can actually be operationalized.

I have questions, a lot of questions, but this seems like a good start. 

Let's see what happens.
The Navy raised eyebrows in its budget rollout Tuesday when it requested $400 million for two large unmanned surface vessels to be purchased in 2020, with 10 total to be purchased across the five-year projection known as the future year defense program. But it was not immediately clear what exactly the Navy was buying two of, since no program of record exists for a large unmanned surface vessel (or LUSV).
In total, the service has programmed $2.7 billion across the FYDP. And on Wednesday evening, the Navy dropped a request for information from industry seeking to “determine if sources exist that are capable of satisfying the Navy’s anticipated program requirement for Large Unmanned Surface Vessels (LUSV).”
According the 2017 draft plan, Overlord is seeking a ship that can do virtually everything a larger manned vessel can do – obey the international rules of the road for navigation, plan a route for a mission, communicate with other ships (manned or otherwise) in a task force – and do it with very little interaction with sailors once it gets underway.

“The Overlord program will develop core autonomy, communications, and C2 components and field prototype USVs capable of being seamlessly operable with the fleet,” the draft says. "The Overlord program will have built in redundancy in all critical hardware and software systems. The program will involve integration and test of payloads for [electronic warfare], [anit-surface warfare], and [strike warfare].”

The program, in keeping with SCO’s modus operandi, places an emphasis on using and adapting existing vehicles and technologies, the draft says, and “will take advantage of commercial technologies, integrate existing vehicle designs, and mature existing autonomy capabilities to accomplish its goals.”

The draft lays out a two-phase plan that starts with a 12-month phase I, which asks industry to demonstrate a vehicle that could meet the requirements laid out in the draft, including a range of 4,500 nautical miles, “capable of operating in at least Sea State 5, with at least 80,000 lbs. of payload capacity and 75 kW of 450V, 60 Hz, three-phase AC power reserved for payloads."
I am encouraged by this in that the usual suspects will overhype this for their own uses, institutional Navy is not. This is testing and evaluating as it appears it should be done.

Quite encouraging.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Fullbore Friday

Last week we reached back in the archives for an Austrian FbF ... so let's go back almost a decade and do that again.

The date of 11 SEP is one pregnant with history. So is the 12th (though some say the event in question was 11 SEP - I bet al Qaeda does) - and one we should take a moment to recognize a great man who the West owes to no small measure its freedom to.

As the song goes; Istanbul was once Constantinople. What stopped Vienna being something else?
The battle started before all units were fully deployed. Early in the morning, at 4 AM, the Turks attacked, seeking to interfere with the deployment of the Holy League troops. Charles of Lorraine moved forward with the Austrian army on the left and the German forces in the center.

Mustafa Pasha launched a counter-attack, with most of his force, but held back some of the elite Janissary and Sipahi units for a simultaneous assault on the city. The Turkish commanders had intended to take Vienna before Sobieski arrived, but time ran out. Their sappers had prepared another large and final detonation under the Löbelbastei,[4] to breach the walls. While the Turks hastily finished their work and sealed the tunnel to make the explosion more effective, the Austrian "moles" detected the tunnel in the afternoon. One of them entered and defused the load just in time.

At that time, above the "subterranean battlefield", a large battle was going on, as the Polish infantry launched a massive assault upon the Turkish right flank. Instead of focusing on the battle with the relief army, the Turks tried to force their way into the city, carrying their crescent flag.

After twelve hours of fighting, the Poles held the high ground on the right. The Holy League cavalry waited on the hills, and watched the infantry battle for the whole day. Then at about 5 PM, the cavalry attacked in four groups. One group was Austrian-German, and the other three were Polish. Over 20,000 men, charged down the hills (one of the largest cavalry charges in history). The charge was led by Sobieski at the head of 3,000 Polish heavy lancers, the famed "Winged Hussars". The Lipka Tatars who fought on the Polish side wore a sprig of straw in their helmets to distinguish themselves from the Tatars fighting on the Turkish side. The charge broke the lines of the Ottomans, who were tired from the long fight on two sides. In the confusion, the cavalry headed straight for the Ottoman camps, while the remaining Vienna garrison sallied out of its defenses and joined in the assault.

The Ottoman troops were tired and dispirited following the failure of both the sapping attempt and the brute force assault on the city. The arrival of the cavalry turned the tide of battle against them, sending them into retreat to the south and east. In less than three hours after the cavalry attack, the Christian forces had won the battle and saved Vienna.

After the battle, Sobieski paraphrased Julius Caesar's famous quote by saying "Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vicit" - "We came, We saw, God conquered".
Though most give, rightly, much of the credit to the Polish King Sobieski - there is another man who the West owes great thanks to. It is that man on the upper right; St. Marco D'Aviano.
An impassioned preacher, Marco d'Aviano played an important role in maintaining unity among the 'Holy League' armies of Austria, Poland, Venice, and the Papal States under the leadership of the Polish king Jan III Sobieski. In the decisive Battle of Vienna (1683), the 'Holy League' armies succeeded in repulsing the invading Ottoman Turks. There is, however, no basis in fact for the legend that, during the fighting, Marco d'Aviano brandished a crucifix at the Turks, shouting, 'Behold the Cross of the Lord: Flee, enemy bands!' He spent the time of the battle praying in a chapel. From 1683 to 1689 he participated in the military campaigns in the role of promoting good relations within the Imperial army and to help the soldiers spiritually. His assistance helped to bring about the liberation of Buda in 1686 and Belgrade in 1688. In 2003, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II.
Awww....I'll give him the legend.

A man who to this day gets spat on for it, the Islamists can't stand the guy. Perhaps he should be the Patron Saint for the USA (Catholic folks - is there one already?), I think we can feel his pain. Just a bit more about him here, here, here, here, and here. Think of him today - last year a Good German did.

As Navy folks, we should especially like the guy and give thanks to him every morning. You see, he was of the Capuchin Order, .... kind of sounds like Cappuccino, doesn't it?
In the early morning of September 12, 1683 the Christian army, having participated in the Holy Mass, and responding to the Friar’s preaching and encouragement attacked the Ottoman’s camp. The Christian army, under the command of John Sobieski, King of Poland, and led by Marco d’Aviano were able to use the element of surprise to defeat the enemy’s much stronger army.

In retreat the Turks – in addition to leaving behind the important harem belonging to commander Kara Mustafa – abandoned 500 bags of coffee beans, a daily beverage for the Turks, but still unknown in the West.

A certain Brother Diodat, considered by many as the one who introduced coffee to Europe, captured many of those bags and sold some of them in Vienna. But the Viennese did not like the bitter beverage, so they added honey, milk and cream, typical local products. The resulting beverage had great success among the soldiers and the population.

That’s how Cappuccino, the innovative beverage, colored white and brown like the Capuchin Friar’s frock-coat, was born and was named after the religious order.
PS: The picture (besides the paintings) is mine from last time I was in Vienna. Life ain't all that bad.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Diversity Thursday

This just ties in some of the many glorious threads we have covered over the DivThu through the years, along with another.

We all know how much higher education costs have gone through the roof. Google it if you are not up to speed.

We know a lot of this has to do with the bloat of administrative staff.

That is one thread, now let's tie it in to a common thread of DivThu; the Diversity Industry.

It is a common joke, here at least; ok "doctor" - you have a PhD in Gender Studies ... what are you going to do with that?

As the Diversity Commissariat are the storm troopers of the totalitarian left, leftist administrators and those looking to have their diversity metrics look right to their friends, they love to find jobs for diversity experts. As you know, as young men and women naturally show up at college being tolerant and welcoming to everyone, we can't have that kind of atmosphere. How can we signal virtue if we don't have someone to explain how people are really being oppressed - even if they don't know it yet.

Who is going to help us pick the right pictures for our Potemkin brochures? 

Everyone needs a job, right?

Well, let's take a look at a cute little private Catholic liberal arts college in Minnesota called the University of St. Thomas where mom and dad will send at least $43,000 a year to (it went up 4% last year, BTW).

Over to the excellent Rod Dreher;

In accordance with our University of St. Thomas mission of advancing the common good and convictions of dignity and diversity, the university seeks to create and sustain a diverse, equitable and inclusive community. Reporting directly to the President, the Associate Vice President for (AVP) for Inclusive Excellence will lead the development and implementation of a proactive diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, which will support St. Thomas’s mission and strategic priorities.

Collaborating with university partners, lead the development and oversee implementation of a vision and related strategy and action plan that advances university priorities and champions the importance and value of a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. Comprehensively assess university culture and make recommendations about campus climate, student diversity, equity and success; and employee outcomes related to diversity and equity.
That means creating PPT slides and inviting speakers no one wants to see, and making sure the "wrong" kind of speakers don't get a chance to speak.

Read the whole word salad.

You know what kind of cheese that is? $135,000 to $146,000 a year. They have almost 9,878 students as of 2017, undergrad and graduate. ~$14.78 per student per year.

Not a bad gig. Get your money's worth.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Crow is a dish best served cold

I'm serving up a dish or two over at USNIBlog that I'm hoping a few people might take a bite of.

...with kindness and goodwill, of course.

Come on over and take a look.

So, how was your deployment?

... good liberty?
A US warship has essentially been quarantined at sea for over two months and has been unable to make a port call due to an outbreak of a viral infection similar to mumps.

Twenty-five sailors and Marines aboard the USS Fort McHenry amphibious warship have been diagnosed with parotitis, which causes symptoms similar to mumps, according to US military officials.

Until CNN asked about the incident, the US military had not disclosed it. The illness first broke out in December, with the most recent case being reported on March 9.
...I guess there is enough time for preservation work now?

What, too soon?

H/t Bob.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Venezuela is not our war

I am sure I’m not alone in taking a pause to this announcement;
The United States announced late Monday that it is pulling the remaining staff from its embassy in Venezuela, citing the deteriorating situation in the South American nation.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the decision as Venezuela struggles to restore electricity following four days of blackouts around the country and a deepening political crisis.

The U.S. has led an international effort to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro and replace him with opposition leader Juan Guaido, who vows to hold a new presidential election. Guaido is backed by some 50 countries, while Maduro maintains support from countries such as China, Russia and Cuba.
Most CDRSalamander readers know their history enough to remember that removing embassy staff can be a prelude to military action. It isn’t a sure thing, but has a track record.

Especially when there are a lot of people who should know better talking about why we should go in to Venezuela – it would be a crime of omission for those who make a habit of commenting in the natsec arena not to put their markers down, again.

I’ve stated this a few times on twitter, so I’ll do it here too; there is zero reason anyone should expect a net positive outcome from US military intervention in Venezuela. I don’t care about the Cubans. I don’t care about the Russians. I don’t care about the Chinese.

We have a history in the Caribbean, Central & South America with direct military intervention. It isn’t a track record of success, and it is not in the long term appreciated by the people who live there. We do have a better record of non-direct intervention and assistance and that is the model we should continue to use.

Yes, the condition of the 32 million citizens of Venezuela is a tragedy, but it is a tragedy of their own creation.

They once had the greatest per-capita GDP in Latin America. They once had many freedoms, but they threw it away for the promises of a leftist populist and his socialist snake oil. They voted for it over and over and over. They allowed themselves to be disarmed. They allowed their military to become a corrupt tool of the government. They taunted and threatened much of their citizens who had the education, capital, and connections to lead a resistance – so those people are now in the USA and other Latin American nations getting on with their lives.

32 million Venezuelans. That is roughly the same population of The Netherlands and Belgium combined. It is rife with crime and corruption. They have a history of anti-Americanism. Sure, some expats are calling for the USA to intervene militarily – but we’ve played that fool before. Not again.

We don’t need their oil. We don’t need their affection. We cannot afford the military adventure looking for another dragon to slay.

If a single military boot needs to go on the ground, then let it be Brazil (population 209 million) in conjunction with Colombia (population 49 million) to do the wet work.

The best solution is for the Venezuelans to solve this problem on Venezuelan terms. Peaceful as they are doing now, or if that is not tolerable, then by armed rebellion. Once they do that with some success, perhaps they will get some international help.

Of course, having disarmed their citizens a few years ago, by design, it will be difficult to extract cities and areas from the control of government forces - but it can be done.

What should not be done is to have US military forces have anything to do with overthrowing the government of Venezuela – regardless of how unpleasant it seems.

We are not a missionary nation. We are not a global empire. Every time we forget that, we fail.

The Venezuelans marched behind banners stating, “Socialismo o Muerte” – well, they are going to have both.

Let them be an example for others so tragedy such as this wont’ be repeated again soon.

If you think we should intervene militarily, then feel free to lead a MP company in one of the myriad slums run by drug lords.

Monday, March 11, 2019

No, the next war won't be livestreamed

Looks like the NYT discovered and wants everyone to know that "the cloud" and all the internet that binds our world together is not floating around us, but is under us and the great blue sea. 

The article is behind the paywall, so I won't make you go there, but let's touch on the topic.

Oceanic cables might seem like a 19th Century wonder, and they are, but that was just the first time our world was stitched together.

At war, it is not a new thing to consider data part of commerce and a nation's C2 infrastructure. Ever more so, the Information Age or Cognitive Age or whatever you want to call where we are now, it is all driven by fiber optic cables. Along those cables run everything from free pr0n to, as we discussed on Midrats yesterday, the command signals to our drones we use to fight our foreverwar.

Day to day lives in this age without access to internet? Look south;
Internet Collapses in Venezuela with 80% Offline; Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud Blocked
That is just entertainment in a 3rd rate nation. Now consider what would happen to a global mercantile power engaged in military action. Not just a "soft kill" that has to do with electricity and software ... but a hard kill?

No, this isn't a new threat. It is old. Go back a bit over 120-years;
To isolate Cuba from Spain and other countries of the world was the problem which, upon the breaking out of war between the United States and Spain, immediately engaged the attention of our fleet at Key West. The blockade became virtually effective along the entire coast-line of Cuba, preventing the landing of food-supplies and munitions of war, as well as cutting off communication by mail between the island and the outside world. This, however, was not enough. General Blanco at Havana was still in direct communication by ocean telegraph-cables with many of the islands of the West Indies, and thence with the home government at Madrid. To cut these cables and thus destroy the Spanish telegraphic lines of communication, preventing the authorities at Madrid and at Havana, and the ships of Admiral Cervera's fleet, from sending or receiving information, was of the utmost strategic importance.

No ocean cables are landed on the north coast of Cuba except those leading directly from Havana to Key West. The United States, holding the terminal at Key West, controlled these lines. On the south coast the telegraph-cables are looped along the shore from Batabano, a port about thirty miles nearly due south of Havana and connected with that city by railroad and overland telegraph, to the eastward as far as Guantanamo Bay; the northern loops of the cables touching at San Luis, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, and a point on the shore of Guantanamo Bay.
The naval force operating on the south coast of Cuba in the early part of May, at the time of the cutting of the cables at Cienfuegos, was composed of the cruiser Marblehead, the gunboat Nashville, the converted yacht Eagle, the revenue cutter Windom, and the collier Saturn, at that time forming the fourth division of the fleet, under the immediate command of Commander B. H. McCalla, U. S. N., who flew the senior officer's pennant on board the Marblehead.

Cienfuegos is situated about six miles from the sea, and the bay or harbor is entered by a channel three miles in length. On the east of the entrance is Punta de la Colorados, where a lighthouse is situated. Overlooking this low strip of land and extending some miles to the eastward is a ridge or plateau, from two to three hundred feet in height, steeply sloping to the shoreline. Trees and the dense chaparral of Cuba cover the rocky and irregular surface of this hillside, the wild confusion of nature forming better rifle-pits here than the efforts of man could produce.
Shortly before sundown on May 10, signal was made directing the commanding officer of the Nashville and me to repair on board the Marblehead. On our arrival on board that vessel, we were informed by Commander McCalla that he intended to make an attempt at daylight the following morning to cut the ocean telegraph-cables; that an expedition of boats under my command would be sent in to endeavor to find and cut the cables landing near Colorados lighthouse, that the expedition would be opposed by a force of the enemy, and that the Marblehead and the Nashville would shell the country and attempt to dislodge the enemy or silence his fire. I was told that I could have the steam-cutter and the sailing-launch of the Marblehead and the steam-cutter and the sailing-launch of the Nashville, and that Lieutenant E. A. Anderson of the Marblehead would accompany the expedition as second in command. I had no further orders as regards the fitting out of the expedition, the details being left entirely to my own judgment.
The crew of each steam-cutter consisted of a cockswain, two seamen, a fireman, and a coal-passer. In addition to the crew, a sergeant of marines and half a dozen privates were to go as sharp-shooters. They were to be armed with rifles. In the Marblehead's steam-cutter a one-pounder Hotchkiss cannon was to be mounted on the forecastle. The Nashville's steam-cutter was to have two Colt machine-guns, one forward and the other aft. All boats were to be supplied with life-preservers. The tools for cutting the cables, to be carried in each sailing launch, consisted of cold-chisels, blacksmiths' hammers, a heavy maul, a block of hard wood with iron plate for its upper surface, an ax, wire-cutting pliers, and a hacksaw. Coils of stout rope and grapnels of different sizes were to be used in grappling the cables and bringing them to the surface.
My own individual orders were very brief. I was simply to cut the cables as directed above, and under no circumstances to land. The orders were quite sufficient, and I was glad to escape being hampered by more explicit instructions.
All should be nodding their heads here. Short clear orders.

Now days, things won't be so dramatic. Submarines and drones can do it ... but the impact will be the same and more dramatic as it will impact everywhere from teenagers' bedrooms to The Pentagon.

Silence. How the world would change in the blink of an eye.

So, what is the backup plan?

Head on over and read the whole thing by the guy who did the mission, LCDR Cameron Winslow, USN.

H/t Claude & Sid.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

John Jackson: One Nation Under Drones - on Midrats

How are unmanned systems and the increasing use of robots from the kitchen to the battlefield impacting how our personal, professional, and national lives are being run?

What are the obvious and not so obvious places they are already a dominate presence today, and where are trends leading us?

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss the issues he raises in his book, "One Nation Under Drones" will be John E. Jackson, CAPT, USN (Ret.).

Professor Jackson has served at the Naval War College for more than 20 years, teaching in the areas of national security decision-making, logistics, and unmanned and robotic systems. He holds the E.A. Sperry Chair of Unmanned and Robotic Systems and lectures frequently. His latest book “One Nation, Under Drones" was published by the U.S. Naval Institute in December 2018. He is the program manager for the Chief of Naval Operation's professional reading program. Additionally, he serves on the President's Action Group and as chairman of the 9-11 Memorial Committee. A retired Navy Captain, he served in supply and logistics assignments both afloat and ashore retiring in 1998 after 27 years of active service.

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, March 08, 2019

Fullbore Friday

Every half-decade or so it is fun to go back to a 2007 FbF ... take us away!

The Imperial Austrian triple-decker wooden battleship Kaiser. Yes the AUSTRIAN Navy, again. Why her for Fullbore? 

Well, the year was 1866 and this wooden warship held her own in the first major naval battle of ships of iron and steam against the Italian Navy at the Battle of Lissa.  

Sure, she was outdated and the Fleet Admiral Wilhelm Freiherr von Tegetthoff was only 39, but was a glorious effort for a Navy that had only a little more than a half a century left.
Encountering the Italian fleet early on the morning of 19 July 1866, Tegetthoff sailed straight for the center of the Italian fleet, hoping to ram the ships to make up for his own fleet's lack of firepower. The smoke from the Italian ships made visibility very poor, however, and the Austrians missed the Italian fleet completely. Swinging around, Tegetthoff again charged, this time setting two Italian armored ships on fire and damaging several more.

After Tegetthoff's flagship, the Erzherzog Ferdinand Max, rammed and sank the armored Italian frigate Re d'Italia, the Italian fleet retreated the next day. Tegetthoff returned in triumph to his base at Pola (Pula). Nevertheless, his victory did not materially affect the outcome of the war, as Italy emerged victorious.
Seeing things going badly, Persano found the courage to throw himself into battle, deciding to ram the unarmoured screw battleship Kaiser rather than one of the armoured ships engaged with the Italian 2nd Division much nearer him. However, Kaiser managed to dodge Affondatore. Taking heart from his admiral, the captain of Re di Portogallo decided to hurl his ship at Kaiser, maintaining a heavy fire with her rifled guns as he did so. At the last moment, von Petz turned the tables on her and turned into the ram, in effect conducting a counter ram. The impact tore off Kaiser’s stem and bowsprit, leaving her figurehead embedded in Re di Portogallo. The Italian used the opportunity to rake Kaiser with fire, putting her mainmast and smokestack into the sea. The smoke was so great that as they backed off for another ram they lost sight of each other and ended the duel.
It's all here. Using 2,000 yr old tactics to win. Making the best of the Fleet you have. Aggressive action. Leaders who lead and win without waiting for specific direction to do so. More on the Kaiser, she survived the battle, here and here.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Diversity Thursday

We have not done a DivThu for awhile, but that is bad on me. I hate the topic, but now and then it needs to be brought up.

The fight is not over. Those who desire to judge people not on the content of their character, but on brainstem tribalism, will not stop.

There are some who feel more than they think. Hope more than they investigate. They think the Diversity Commissariat will only come for "those" with badthink.

No, they are coming for everyone. In nations that do not have all the protections we have - which are almost all - they are using every lever of power in the State to force others to the Party's will.

Just a few pull quotes from a critically important bit by Canadian Murray Klippenstein with Bruce Pardy at Quillette.

Eventually everyone will have to take a stand.

Will you?
Seven years ago, the Law Society of Ontario (which then was still called the Law Society of Upper Canada) created a working group to address “challenges faced by racialized licensees” in Ontario’s legal profession. The working group reported in 2016 that it had discovered “systemic racism” in the profession. While no one will dispute that elements of racism can be found in parts of Canadian society, the collected survey data did not support the conclusion that racism in my profession is widespread and serious. Nevertheless, in December, 2016, Convocation (the legislative body that governs the Law Society) adopted a set of 13 recommendations on the topic. Times being what they are, no one felt comfortable putting the brakes on this process, despite misgivings. The idea that racism was rampant, and that heavy-handed measures were required to address it, took on a life of its own.

One of the listed recommendations was that the Law Society should “require every licensee to adopt and to abide by a statement of principles acknowledging their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion generally, and in their behaviour towards colleagues, employees, clients and the public.” When the Law Society announced this new requirement the following September, its advisory also stated that we Ontario lawyers should “demonstrate a personal valuing” of these principles.

Despite the fact that I always have been a strong advocate for “equality,” this development left me flabbergasted: Our regulator was demanding that lawyers and paralegals draft and then obey a set of specific political ideas—both in their personal and professional lives—as a condition of their license.

Failure to prepare a personal statement of principles in keeping with the Law Society’s directive would likely result (after a short reprieve for re-education) in sanctions, such as an administrative suspension. (The Law Society has not formally announced what the penalty will be, except to say that “progressive measures” would be applied.) Lawyers who are suspended are not permitted to practice law. Their refusal to embrace these values would put their livelihood in peril. The Law Society was prescribing, effectively with the force of law, what to say and what to think. I never imagined that I would ever see such a thing in Canada.
No one is safe. My friends who are liberals have made a devil's bargain with the left. Leftist popular fronts always turn on the weaker partners. 

When it comes to essential liberties, liberals should partner with the traditional conservatives. 

Well, they don't - and so here they find themselves.
As an egalitarian and progressive, I always have been favourably inclined toward “diversity and inclusion.” But I thought those ideas meant a spirit of open-mindedness and respect toward others regardless of their personal characteristics. In fact, that is the opposite of what the Law Society means and intends. In this context, “diversity and inclusion” is code for identity politics—by which we are all slotted into factions defined by appearance, ethnicity and gender (usually through “self-identification”), supposed antagonists in an altogether imaginary and endless zero-sum game of dominance and oppression.
When it became clear that the diversity faction had captured my profession’s regulators, I felt I had no choice. My first step was to tell the Law Society to, in effect, go to hell. I did so in a long letter, to which I have not yet received a reply. The second step was to refuse to comply with the new requirement. (The Law Society announced that there would be penalties for such failure, though not during the first year—so, thus far, I still have my license.) The third was to wind down my law firm, because I no longer feel that my legal practice is viable in this climate. The fourth was to join in a court challenge to the compulsory Statement of Principles, which is ongoing. Finally, I have joined a group of other lawyers and paralegals who oppose the Statement of Principles and who are organizing a campaign in the upcoming Law Society elections in April. In a surprising development, I will be running for “Bencher” (the somewhat quaint term used to describe the Law Society’s directors), with the goal of changing the Law Society from the inside.

I realized that all of these steps would have reputational consequences for my firm. My opposition to the new rules would create serious internal conflict with my younger associates, who might either agree with the new policy or seek to avoid the notoriety associated with opposing it. My conflict with the Law Society also would become known to my clients, my professional contacts, potential recruits who are still in law school, and my wider circle of progressive friends and supporters. I feared that the principled nature of my stance would be lost on many of these people, who would simply see my efforts as being aimed at undermining the goals of “equality, diversity and inclusion.” Given all this, I believed that I had no choice but to wind down the firm.

Had I tried to keep the firm going, I would face years of increasingly bewildering and dubious claims based on race, sex and other forms of “identity,” all of which could be based on nothing more than “self-identification,” and all of which would now have the official imprimatur of the Law Society. As noted, the required Statement of Principles is just one of 13 measures adopted by the Law Society designed to force identity politics on law firms. Instead of being encouraged to promote an ethos of high professional competence, hard work and teamwork, I would be called on to play the role of full-time equity officer, conscripted to implement an ideology and a system I considered to be intellectually and morally wrong, not to mention, in some ways, simply ridiculous.

I have now largely completed the wind-down of my firm. My associates have formally transferred to other firms, and my firm now consists only of me. I have had a good run, and I can, with sacrifice and deep regret, say goodbye to both the business I built and the vision I had for the remainder of my career. Unlike me, unfortunately, most younger lawyers and paralegals have no realistic option for resisting the Law Society’s authoritarianism. As the new rules make plain, they will increasingly be judged more on the basis of ideology, skin colour and sex chromosomes than by their competence, skills, effort and professional contributions. That is not a career that I would wish upon anyone—including those individuals who are nominally considered as potential beneficiaries of these new rules.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Then is now. Don't just do something, think

Two new concepts for you to ponder; neophilia and presentism.

Now, ponder them with a British accent of your choosing.

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog.

Come on by and give it a read.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Take off the EUCOM hat and put on the SACEUR hat

There is a thing called NATO.

If you take the USA out of NATO, NATO has a population greater and GDP on par with the USA. It towers over Russia.

With the exception of our buddy Canada, the rest of NATO is right in Russia's backyard.

And yet ... for some reason ... the first answer is the already taxed US Navy? Via CNN;
Scaparrotti, the commander of European Command and the NATO Supreme Allied Commander-Europe, specifically requested two addition naval destroyers to join the four already stationed in Rota, Spain, to help counter Russia. 
"I've asked for two more destroyers for EUCOM," Scaparrotti told the committee, adding, "we do need greater capacity particularly given the modernization and growth of the fleets -- Russian fleets in Europe."
No. It is time for Europe to build more warships to counter ... what again? I'll let Kyle Mizokami cover it for me;
The Russian Navy is in trouble. After years of coasting on the largesse of the Cold War, Russia’s navy is set to tumble in size and relevance over the next two decades. Older ships and equipment produced for the once-mighty Soviet Navy are wearing out and the country can’t afford to replace them.
Today, 28 years after the end of the Soviet Union, Russia still relies mostly on Soviet-era ships. The country’s sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, has suffered from repeated mechanical problems and should be, but probably won’t be, retired immediately. Russia has built no cruisers since 1991, relying on the five impressive-but-aging Kirov and Slava-class cruisers to act as the country’s major surface combatants. Russia has built only one destroyer since the Cold War, the Admiral Chabanenko. Chabanenko was laid down in 1989 and commissioned into service in 1999.

Likewise, most of Russia’s submarine fleet still consists of Soviet-era submarines, including Delta-class ballistic missile submarines, Oscar-class cruise missile submarines, and Akula, Sierra, Victor, and Kilo-class attack submarines, which have been in service for so long they are still referred to by the code names they were given in Soviet service.
Russia’s spending on surface ships has been limited to small but heavily-armed frigates, corvettes and patrol boats designed for coastal missions. Russia has made repeated claims it will build an impressive number of new warships, chief among which are the Project 23000E “Storm” nuclear-powered supercarrier and Lider-class nuclear-powered guided missile destroyers. Both are allegedly in the design and development stage, but it’s difficult to see how, without a huge boost in military spending (and the know-how to build its own ship turbines), Russia could build a meaningful number of these ships.
Russia is building new ships, but minus their submarines, they are at best retrograding to a regional naval power - more within the ability of our NATO allies to cover without us stationing even more DDG over there.

Hey, in theory I would enjoy stationing a LCS squadron in the Med once we fix them, if we can, but that is about it. No reason to in the third decade of the 21st Century.

Look at the GDP and population difference between European NATO and Russia.

Let European NATO cover that new requirement, if it is one.

On a not unrelated note - we need something to replace the COCOM structure as it now is.

This is embarrassing.