Friday, May 31, 2019

Fullbore Friday

Do you know the story of Gunnery Sergeant Tate Jolly, USMC?

You should.

Read it all here, but in summary;

In total, six 81-millimeter mortars assaulted the annex within a minute and 13 seconds, a congressional report on the attack states. Doherty and Tyrone Woods, another former SEAL with the GRS, didn't survive.

Dave Ubben, a State Department security agent, and Mark "Oz" Geist, another GRS member, were badly hurt. The men were defending the compound from the rooftop, determined to make it look like they had a lot more firepower than they actually did.

"There was a lot of shooting, a lot of indirect fire and explosions," the source with knowledge of the response said. "It was just guys being really aggressive and doing a good job at making it seem like their element was bigger than it was, like they were less hurt than they were."

Ubben -- who'd testified before a federal court in 2017 that he took shrapnel to his head, nearly lost his leg, and had a grapefruit-sized piece of his arm taken off -- was losing blood fast. Geist also had a serious arm injury that needed immediate attention.

Jolly and Halbruner were determined to save them. Amid the fight, they were tying tourniquets to the men's bodies.

Ubben is alive because Jolly helped move him from the rooftop to a building where diplomatic personnel were hunkered down. Gregory Hicks, who became the acting chief of mission after Stevens died, later described how the gunny did it during a congressional hearing.

"One guy ... full of combat gear climbed up [to the roof], strapped David Ubben, who is a large man, to his back and carried him down the ladder, saved him," Hicks said.

Jolly and Halbruner also went back out to the rooftop to recover the bodies of the fallen.

"They didn't know whether any more mortars were going to come in. The accuracy was terribly precise," Hicks said. "... They climbed up on the roof, and they carried Glen's body and Tyrone's body down."

It was for Jolly's "valorous actions, dedication to duty and willingness to place himself in harm's way" to save numerous unarmed Americans' lives that he earned the Navy Cross, according to his citation.

Bracing for the Worst
That attack was traumatic for many of the civilians trapped inside one of the buildings, according to the person with knowledge of the operation. They'd lost their ambassador and another colleague, and they had no experience being caught in a life-and-death combat situation.

Once Jolly and Halbruner brought the injured men in from off the rooftop, the diplomatic staff helped treat their wounds, according to the source familiar with the situation. It gave them a mission as the onslaught continued outside.

As the sun came up, the remaining team members worried that terrorists would overtake the facility. First believed to be the work of the Benghazi-based Ansar al-Sharia group, the attack was coordinated by several networks in the region, including al-Qaida affiliates.

Throughout the night, the Americans had the advantage of night vision, the person familiar with the mission said. In the daylight, it could quickly become an even playing field.

Surprisingly though, it got quieter. They gathered inside one of the buildings and formed an evacuation plan to move the diplomatic staff to the airport and eventually out of Benghazi.

"[They had to talk about] things like, 'What happens if they came under attack on the way out? Do you know where to go if you are separated from the group or are being shot at?'" according to the person familiar with the plans.

They prepared for the worst: that as the convoy left the compound, they'd be ambushed, everyone would panic, and the terrorists would take hostages. But they made it to the airport without issue and, by 7:31 a.m., the first plane with survivors took off for Tripoli.

"Who would've thought seven people could go into Benghazi and get more than 25 people out? Especially without traditional military support?" the person familiar with the mission said. "... But you can do a lot if you're determined and have no other choice."

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Diversity Thursday

Building off of last week's DivThu, let's keep going through the slide deck to see what the Commissariat's approved discussion topics are on female retention, or in this case - females in the Surface Force.

I know;

You've been sufficiently warned. If you want to maintain plausible deniability, just walk away. No one is making you read this. You don't have to come here.

Sorry Captain Ray.

The Executive Summary of the last 43 years is this: as both a percentage and numbers, with few exceptions more females are being brought in while in actual numbers and percentages, fewer men are.

That's your "what," now let's get in to some "so what."

So retention. 

First of all, this graph has all sorts of things wrong with it before we can consider it very helpful. In both style, substance and motivation, the modern Navy started with YG01. YG00 and earlier data is only injecting sub-optimal data into your analysis. 

Second, for the dates of most interest, the averages mean nothing. I don't care for the use of linear trend lines, preferring log, but we'll stick with it.

Third, if YG12 and junior are still in the contract window, their data is garbage for what is needed with the question at hand. That data needs to be cut out too. 

Hey ... let me see what I can do about our bandwidth to binwidth ratio;

There, that is much better.

The YG01-YG11 data is telling you what you need to know:
1. Retention for males is collapsing at a much greater rate, with a much larger population than the smaller increase in retention from females in a smaller group with significantly lower retention rates. Aviators might call that a death spiral.

2. If you have a problem with overall number regardless of sex, you are never going to fix it by focusing on increasing female numbers or retention at the expense of males. It simply can't be done.

3. Female retention is about to plateau. Male is aggressively decreasing. That is your problem.

I give full credit to Captain Ray; this cascade of hard facts is about as direct as one can get on the topic.

With the historical male retention at 40%, you are never going to get to 54.63% anytime soon. With drastic efforts and breaking the wheel of sacred cows, you might get to 50%.

That means that the 4-yr DH tour by FY25 is going to happen. If so, I don't see where in the career path you are going to find a place to do the education the Under is talking about, much less career pauses etc ... at least for the Surface Force.

Retention can't do it on its own.

We need to break the wheel. Shatter the Millington Diktat. I know that, you know that, they know that ... but where is the leadership to make it happen? Can they make it happen?

A different topic for a different day, let's refocus and carry on with the topic of the day.

Here is the hard truth that is on that slide but isn't mentioned; the only way to get the numbers the fleet needs to be ready to fight and win at sea is to stop trying to force-mode more females than we already have. We don't just need more people, we need more males.

That being said, we need to start with two steps:
1. Look at barriers to greater overall retention common to both males and females. Those will be the easiest and quickest to remove or mitigate.
2. Accept that males and females, on average, have different career and life goals. That should be fine. We need to understand that female and male retention rates will never be the same, and that is fine. Individuals in a republic of a free people have agency.

We also need to understand that only a few things translate well from the civilian world. That is why the next slide is problematic.

- We don't "hire for key jobs" - we grow them from the seed corn. With the delta between males and females, there will always be fewer female senior leaders as the pool shrinks faster than the male pool.

- Harassment training is well past saturation. Not much more to gain here. As a matter of fact, seeing how strident some of the SAPR training is getting, more may negatively impact male retention.

- Work-life balance? Sure, on the edges, but we've been working on that a long time. A simply fact remains; Sailors belong on ships, ships belong at sea.

- Female mentors: touchy subject. I have had more than one female officer tell me to the effect, "I want to be married and grow a family and have a Navy career. The senior female leaders I keep having put in front of me are either never married, have no or just one child, or are divorced. I don't want any of what they have."

There are no easy solutions here. We have to ensure we are first focused on making mission, but at the same time do so in line with our nation's values of fairness, inclusivity, and an understanding work environment to the maximum extent possible for all. 

Part of this is accepting that females are different than males, and that is OK. To pretend otherwise is intellectually dishonest and shows contempt to everyone. If a female served her nation for most of her 20s and then wanted out to be a full time mom to raise the next generation of Sailors, then that should be welcomed, honored and respected. As an institution, we should accept and plan for that.

Most of us have a few Shipmates in our lives like the female leader I've known for the last 18 years, since she was a wee JO and I was a LCDR. Recently, she retired shortly after her CDR Command tour. Why? She spent much of her children's life away from them. She has a great husband and extended family who has helped out, but she looked at what was needed "next" and decided it was not worth it. She gave enough time to the Navy - and now it was time for her kids.

Big Navy put a very unwelcome hard sell on her - even trying the guilt trip angle - but she made her call. A good call. The right call.

That should be good enough for her nation and her Navy.

So, we might as well bring up another touchy subject: as we have determined that we need to shore up collapsing male retention and then grow it - let's look at an easy way to start to do that - let our male officers know that we want them. 

How many items and programs have we seen in the last few years specifically targeting female retention, accession, and concerns - or heck, just recognizing them?

In contrast, what message have we been sending to males about how we value them, how we see them? What we think of them? People don't mind being used per se, what they do resent is being taken for granted, disrespected, or considered disposable. Males are no different. 

Males can count faces on pictures too. They actually watch SAPR secondary messages. They see what happens in IGs. 

They are getting your message.

Worth a ponder if you haven't before.

On a whole, a rising tide raises all boats. We can't change biology, but we can change a lot of things. While ensuring a climate of equality and inclusion for all, let's focus on quality of life and quality of work. Retention for all kinds of Sailors will respond accordingly.

If you really want to geek out, do a deep regression analysis on which variables result in more retention. Demographic, education, and even personality type. 

Are we focusing on that data as much as the socio-political variables that make interesting metrics, but don't necessarily give you more Surface DH?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

LCS's Nasty Backwash Gets Poured Down the FFG(X) Drain

Well, the only better news would be if ALL LCS derived contenders for FFG(X) died ... but I'll take what I can get.

More details over at USNIBlog.

Come by and roll in it with me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Ships that Sailed you, Switched from Steam, to EMALS, ... Back to Steam?

I expect the following concerning the new FORD Class CVN and its EMALS catapult from President Trump to get some attention from navalists this week;

As with the LCS and DDG-1000, but perhaps not as bad to a degree, the FORD Class is one of the children of the Transformationalists. As such, it has "challenges" that it shouldn't.

If you want to get a handle of the why and how, there are few better places to get educated on the topic than the interview we did on Midrats with Tal Manvel.

Take some time and give it a listen again.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

When a Sailor falls in combat at sea, tradition has it that there is a burial at sea.

If fate calls your name, I would think that a benchmark of respect has to go to how Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class Loyce Edward Deen, USN's Shipmates honored him.
Deen was just 23 years old when he died on that fateful mission. The operation he was participating in at the time of his death was the Battle Of Manila. It was two hours into a sortie when his Avenger, which belonged to Torpedo Squadron 15 (VT-15) based aboard the USS Essex (CV-9), was hit by anti-aircraft artillery, killing him instantly.

Before the Battle of Manila, Deen and his Avenger crew flew in many battles, oftentimes returning to the carrier with their aircraft badly damaged. He was wounded on one such mission during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Instead of going and recovering on a hospital ship or land base, he elected to stay with his Avenger aircrew on the carrier so that he could return to flight as soon as possible.
This is him on the right;

Tyler tells the full story over at The Drive, give it a read;
In the clip, we see the Avenger, which was hit hard by flak, limping back to the carrier. Once it lands, the rear turret gunner's cockpit is covered up and the aircraft is ceremoniously rolled off the fantail of the ship in a unique burial at sea. You see, Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class Loyce Edward Deen's body was so badly mangled from the anti-aircraft shell that took his life that it couldn't be removed from the torpedo bomber's rear cockpit.
The video offers a unique view of a moment of tragedy, tradition, and war;

Friday, May 24, 2019

Fullbore Friday

Your ship may have been designed to fight one type of battle, but as history shows, you will be asked to fight the battle at hand.

Your enemy will do things you will not expect. Luck will be a fickle lady; favoring you at one moment, spitefully coming after you the next.

When it comes to face the enemy, the economies of peace time will haunt you. As is true in the modern era, those who will never fight on your ship will not give you enough weapons to defend yourself or engage the enemy. You will improvise and pray that you have enough redundant systems to at least give you and your crew a fighting chance.

Your people will do extraordinary things and fight in ways and situations you would not have contemplated months before - but now faced with the battle at hand, see clearly how important they are.

We reference the experience of modern combat at sea, and how it will repeat lessons of centuries of naval warfare, of the Royal Navy and Argentinians in The Falkland Islands War. It is time to take a snapshot of one unit, then then 9-yr old Type-21 Frigate, HMS ARDENT (F184).

First a pull quote from Admiral Woodward's 100 Days;
By now another formation of Skyhawks, this time navy aircraft, had made a big swing around the Sound, swept over the land and, having cleared the Port Howard area, were heading, at sea-level, straight towards ARDENT. They were positioned right on Commander West’s six o’clock (stern) away from the arc of his 4.5” gun, as the British frigate made its way up to the North-West Islands to join YARMOUTH. Three of them made the attack together. ARDENT could bring her Seacat to bear, but the launcher refused to fire. That left just his 20mm Oerlikon guns and two other machine guns to open fire.

Everyone who could help did. Lieutenant-Commander John Sephton, the Lynx helicopter pilot and his observer Brian Murphy, were up above the flight deck, Sephton with a Sterling sub-machine gun and his assistant with a Bren gun, both blasting away at the Skyhawks. But the situation was hopeless. The Argentinians dropped nine bombs, three of them hitting ARDENT, two exploding in the hangar, the third failing to explode after smashing its way into the after auxiliary machinery room. The bomb that hit the hangar wreaked havoc, blowing the Seacat launcher, which was positioned on top of the hangar, into the air, only to crash down on to the flight deck killing Commander West’s cheerful supply officer, Richard Banfield. The blast also killed Lieutenant-Commander Sephton and Brian Murphy and one other crew member.
Commander West would a few decades later be Lord West. Let's go back to a 2007 article for another view.
In the operations room, Gough checked to see what weapons were still functioning. The news was not good. The main 4.5 inch gun was not responding, the Sea Cat missiles were gone and all that was left were the machine guns on the upper decks. He went down to the stern to assess the damage.

"It was very bad," he said. "There were fires in the hangar, there were people on the flight deck injured, and people trying to fight the fires." Gough returned to report the damage to West.

With the ship already listing, a second wave of Argentine aircraft attacked. Again, the stern of the ship bore the brunt of the attack. Enticknap heard the "brace" warning over the Tannoy and looked frantically for somewhere dry to lie down.

"I put my hands over my head and there was another thumping big bang and I don't remember anything after that. I must have come to some minutes after and the whole of the place was filled with black, acrid smoke. Clearly we had taken a big hit. I tried to get up and couldn't."

Enticknap, who was later awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal, was pinned down by a piece of debris and his left hand was shattered. "There was lots of noise around me. People were crying out; you wouldn't think that some people would call for their mum, but they do."

He was saved by Able Seaman John Dillon, who won the George Medal for his efforts. Dillon dragged the debris off Enticknap's back and the pair made their way through the smoke towards a narrow gap in the side of the ship, crawled through, put on their life jackets and jumped into the water. They were picked up later by a helicopter.

In the most detailed account he has ever given of the sinking of the Ardent, Admiral West described how his ship was torn apart. "Between decks, when you get hit by a bomb it's an absolute shambles," he said. "The noise is huge. It feels like a great fist grabbing the ship by the stern and bashing it onto the water.

"And the areas where the bomb actually goes off, fires are raging, water is pouring in, people get very disoriented. It was really very unpleasant and it went on for quite a long time."

Twenty minutes after the second attack, a third wave of Argentine aircraft delivered the coup de grâce. By the time the attack ended, the ship had been struck by at least 14 bombs, though not all exploded. The ship was listing heavily to starboard, the steering was gone and the bulkheads were in danger of giving way.

"You get to the stage where you have to make a decision," West said. "Do you go on if you are going to lose more people? And is the ship actually going to keep going or not? I made the decision that the ship was going to sink - and that was a very hard decision. I was very loath to make it." He gave the order to abandon ship.

But he made sure he was the last to leave. "People started getting off and I didn't really want to leave but I was dragged down to our bows and I was dragged off and I said: 'No, you two have got to go first' and I stepped off as the last one, which was really very, very hard. I was heartbroken."

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Diversity Thursday

We are about to start a long-ish running series of DivThu, breaking in to bits some of the most cancerous parts of a briefing by the Strategic Workforce Council on 20 March 2019.

This week, a simple scene setter and we'll dive deeper later in following Thu this summer.

So a few things off the bat; as we noted when it was done right before the 2016 election, the previous administration left little parting gifts all over the place.

EO 13583 and Presidential Memorandum of 05 OCT 2016 are perfect examples. They were put in place and were never rescinded by the present administration - to its great discredit.

Sure, we don't have the senior leadership pimping parody-proof farces such as "Lean In Circles" in the present administration - but the beachhead of the Diversity Industry continues to expand. It is doing nothing to dismantle the deep veins of division injected in to our Navy over the last few decades.

Otherwise unemployable in the general economy, the diversity commissariat has no interest in promoting anything but division ... and the oxygen that feeds their perpetual motion machine of grievance is metrics.

Note the "more diverse" above. That is their code for "less white." There is only a problem if self-identified whites are overrepresented ... or males. 

Using their own metrics, if they really wanted the Navy to "look like America" they would be promoting the increased recruitment of white individuals for the enlisted force. They aren't asking for that though, are they?

Ask yourself, "why?"

That is the first lie they ask you to join them in. They gain their feeling of well being by the rewards they gain from those who wrap their entire life around race - and for many - that isn't about ensuring an open and just equality for all. No. As you will see , it is ugly, regressive and treats you and our Navy with nothing but contempt.

This has nothing to do with a stronger Navy. Not a more ready Navy. Not a more "lethal" Navy. No, it was never about that. 

First it is all about maintaining the diversity bureaucracy and the jobs it supports. Second, it is about getting power and using it against ethnic groups you don't like, and promoting those you do. Lastly it is about making sure you wrap #1 and #2 with another sugar and sparkle to make it look acceptable to the public.

...and it is a racialist mindset; red in tooth and claw - and will destroy anyone who, if they don't parrot the correct talking points - at least sits in supine silence.

More next Thu.

UPDATE: Can't believe I left out this part that is, really, one of the anchors to DivThu - those metrics. They are mostly garbage to begin with. Why? Note the blue part, that 5%. That's me. The last decade on active duty, I refused to respond to all race questions and always chose "other" - or "mixed race" because that is what I am. Scandinavian is as a unique culture and DNA as Iberian ... so if "Hispanic" counts, then so does that. I'm also a low single digits Iberian, so I'm "Hispanic" too, I guess. It is all self-identified garbage, as is the 8% "two or more races" section. That is a fraction of reality ... but if these are the numbers the commissariat want to use, then we'll use them. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

China Shows a Little Leg

What does China think of the future it desires? 

What does it think of the USA and the West?

Little hints here and there - I discuss one of them over at USNIBlog.

Come on by and give it a read.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Story of the Afghanistan Graphs

Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) continues to be one of my go-to spots for good data, specifically on Afghanistan.

A little over a decade ago when I was finishing up my last tour supporting operations in AFG, in our talks in HQ ISAF and around the country, we didn't expect this is where we would be half-way through 2019 - but we knew we could be here.

I have to give the Taliban credit where credit is due. As I have outlined here for the last ~9.5 years, since we sent a clear signal at Obama's West Point speech in DEC 2009 that we did not have the will for what needed to be done, the Taliban knew they could do this on AFG time with AFG methods; husband your forces to get ready for the post USA/ISAF presence civil war to come. Keep the attacks going, and just enough to make sure you can say you kicked them out the door. Time is on our side, Allah is on our side, the West is weak and corrupt. Like the infidel Soviets before them, they will leave frustrated and defeated. We will take back what was always ours.

Just look at the graph and the notes to the side. The story is all there for you to see.

It didn't have to be this way, but perhaps it was destined to be.

Read it all.

Monday, May 20, 2019

OK SECNAV, Show us the Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk is cheap. We need action.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 17, 2019

Fullbore Friday

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

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

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

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

H/t Scoobs

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Diversity Thursday

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



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

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

Good afternoon,

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Very Respectfully,

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Gibbeting Mike Mullen's Almost Dead Theory

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

You can't. They aren't.

I have more details over at USNIBlog.

Come on by!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get to work.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Three Cheers for Forward Presence and Aircraft Carriers

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

Bryan, over to you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 10, 2019

Fullbore Friday

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

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

Thank you Shipmates.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Diversity Thursday

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

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

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

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

Enough from me, over to you Chris.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Get how many and how much where when?

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

Head on over to USNIBlog for a sobering read.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Africa in Three Charts and a Graph

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

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

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

In red, you have the ungoverned spaces;

Next you have religious distribution:

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

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