Thursday, October 31, 2019

When Allies Have Carriers, Everyone Wins

It would be great if France would build another carrier or two. Italy, Spain, and in a perfect world even Germany ... it would be good for them all to either add one or start one ... but the budgets aren't there.

If they did, we could see more of this in the future ... and the world would be a safer place.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is still on track to deploy to the Far East in 2021 – although whether it will actually sail through the South China Sea is yet to be explicitly confirmed – with escorting warships from the US and the Netherlands, according to reports.

The UK Defence Journal recently reported that Big Lizzie will rehearse for live deployments by practising with "two Type 45 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, a nuclear submarine, a Tide-class tanker and RFA Fort Victoria".

On her maiden operational deployment, the carrier will take around 24 F-35B fighter jets plus helicopters.
The Dutch Navy will definitely join the deployment, most likely with a De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate – replacing one of the British Type 23 frigates in the mooted carrier battle group. Similarly, UKDJ reckons that an American destroyer will join the 2021 deployment (named Carrier Strike Group 21), freeing up a British Type 45 destroyer.
Good stuff.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Terrible 20s' 12 Step Program

Just a few months before we enter the 2020s ... it looks like we're at Step-1.

1. We admitted we were powerless over efficiency—that our warfighting ability had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that decades of best practices was greater than Transformationalism and could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of Wayne E. Meyer as we understood Him. 
4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of our readiness. 
5. Admitted to Congress, to ourselves, and to another human tax payer the exact nature of our wrongs. 
6. Were entirely ready to have a restored General Board remove all these defects of character. 
7. Humbly asked Congress to remove our shortcomings. 
8. Made a list of all persons and programs we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 
9. Made direct amends to such people and programs wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 
10. Continued to take institutional inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 
11. Sought through CBO Reports and meditation to improve our conscious contact with O'Rourke, as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of OMB's will for us and the power to carry that out 
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to the fleet, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Details over at USNIBlog.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

ASW Readiness Points for All my Friends

Man oh man oh man ... to be in the Atlantic fleet in 2019 ... I love no other warfare area more than ASW, and the Russians are coming out to play.

Via the Barents Observer;
On Saturday, the Barents Observer reported about two of the Sierra-class submarines of the Northern Fleet sailing towards the Norwegian Sea for deep-sea dive tests and weapon tests. The two submarines are the «Pskov» and «Nizhny Novgorod», both built with a titanium-hull.

- Eight of the ten submarines now at sea are nuclear-powered, the intelligence service says to NRK.

- The intelligence service claim to have «a decent control» over where the submarines are in the sea.

- Two nuclear submarines are west of the Bear Island, between Svalbard and Finnmark, the northernmost part of mainland Norway.

Two submarines are south and east of the Bear Island, guarding the entrance to the eastern part of the Barents Sea.

Two Sierra-class nuclear submarines are training in the northern part of the Norwegian Sea.
Excellent troll by the Norwegians.

Also, my dear Mother Russia ... only two west of Bear Island?

Come on Ivan, don't be such a cuck. Come west ... come south ... come out to play.

You can't buy training like this.

Send the COD ... MTH & I will slip on a pair of coveralls and are ready to get back to work.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Bye Baghdadi

Some people just need a good killing.

High up on that list is the late Caliph Baghdadi who it appears had his last moment on earth staring at the approaching teeth of an American military working dog … probably a Belgian Malinois. (NB: we still don’t have all the details we need, but it appears this canine hero will recover from its wounds).

Forget those who are trying to diminish the importance of killing this medieval genocidal maniac, sit down; this is nothing but good news. First and primary; that this was an act of justice. No other nation has the ability or force of will to kill this guy – so as with OBL, it is up to us to do these things. We should do them gladly and without apology.

Our wheels of justice may grind slow, but when given the green light – they grind fine.

This will impact the Islamic State significantly. This was their Adolf Hitler. With him gone, so is much of the cult of personality. IS will get a new leader, but he will only be a fraction of the founder. In time, we will find and kill him too, and they will get a new leader.

We will mow the grass like that for years, because when it comes to fighting IS, we can only significantly address the tactical and operational level. Those Centers of Gravity we can undermine – but the strategic Center of Gravity? No. We can only be a supporting vice supported entity.

The strategic Center of Gravity of IS is the religious justification for their existence. Only the Muslim world can undermine that. IS will be with us in one form or another for a long time, just like AQ. At their core, they are a religious order. Once established, they are the hardest to eliminate.

So, celebrate and be thankful that the only concern Americans have right now is a wounded pooch.

A final point. The last two days have been very instructive and a good filtering mechanism for your natsec sources. There are good people in the natsec world from both left and right, but there are also a lot of bad players. Especially in an election year, they can soak up a lot of airtime and print space preventing the public from getting good info.

When listening to commentary about Baghdadi’s killing, keep a weather eye out. There is good commentary on both sides, but they are the wheat in a blizzard of chaff.

You can break the chaff in to four main breeds who you should tag for future use when evaluating the value of their input:

Grifters: true “pay for play” they will take whatever position that they feel will get them airtime, or for a few, make their sponsors and underwriters write more checks. Pro or anti-Trump … they are objects of scorn, not pity.

True Believers: sad little creatures, they really think that anything we do involving the military – especially aggressive killing kind of things – just are not “who we are” or create more problems. Well-meaning people, but just wrong.

Terminal Trump Derangement Syndrome: you know these types; anything associated with Trump that might make him look good must be attacked or if nothing else, ignored. The “that photo is fake” push early on was a classic tell. Some of these are cross-pollinated with the Grifter and True Believer types. I’m no Trump guy … but these TDS extremists make me defend him way more than I am comfortable doing.

Partisans First: these are simply party people. Those with an (R) next to their name will look you in the face and tell you that short hair on a (R) is great but on a (D) is bad. Those with a (D) next to their name will say just the opposite. I don’t think even they know what they really believe anymore – they just get high off their own fumes.

In the end, a very bad guy is dead. For now, that should be enough.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Fullbore Friday

War wages all around you, and yet, you have your modest ship.
The motor vessel Ondina was a modern Dutch tanker of the Petroleum Company La Corona and had been delivered by the Dutch Dry Dock Company in Amsterdam [Amsterdamse Droogdok Maatschappij ADM]. The tanker had an overall length of 130 meters and a standard displacement of 6,341 ton and was equipped with a 6 cylinder Werkspoor diesel engine with a modest power supply of 2,800 shp. The maximum speed of the Ondina therefor was only 12 knots.
Each day brings harder news, yet you have a mission. 

The enemy is all around, and escorts are few. Who will protect you from the enemy?
...the new Bathurst-class corvette HMIS Bengal, which was destined for the British Indian Navy. During the Second World War 60 of these ships were constructed after an Australian design. Four of these corvettes, often called minesweepers as they were equipped with minesweeping equipment, had been built in the framework of the ’Commonwealth’s Shipbuilding Programme’ for the Indian Navy. British India at that time was still a British colony and therefore automatically a member of the Commonwealth. The four ships built for India were HMIS Madras, HMIS Punjab, HMIS Bombay and HMIS Bengal. This last ship was taken into service on 8 August, 1942, by Lieutenant Commander W.J. Wilson of the Royal Navy Reserve (RNR).

The corvettes of the Bathurst-class originally had a standard displacement of 650 ton but during the war the vessels were loaded with masses of extra equipment, ammunition and depth charges; so fully equipped they had a displacement of over 1,000 ton. The ships were provided with a triple expansion steam engine which supplied 2,000 shp. The max speed of the corvettes was designed to be 15 knots, but because of the larger displacement most of them did not go faster than 13 knots. On HMIS Bengal a 7.6cm gun (twelve pounder) had been installed as the foreseen 10.2cm guns were no longer in stock. The secondary armament of the ship consisted of a 40mm Bofors and two 20mm Oerlikon machine guns as anti-aircraft weapons. For the anti-submarine warfare the multi-purpose vessel was equipped with a type 38 Asdic (fore runner of the sonar) and 40 depth charges.

As the Bengal had only a capacity of 186 tons of heavy liquid fuel oil she could not reach India in one go from the Australian mainland. But sailing together, the ships would serve each other: the Ondina received an escort for part of the trip and HMIS Bengal could obtain fuel from the Dutch tank ship. It was scheduled that the Ondina and the Bengal would split up at Diego Garcia on the Chagos Archipellago south of the Maldives. On 5 November, 1942, the two allied ships departed from Fremantle. With an average speed of 10 knots it promised to be a long and dull crossing.
Dull? No. That was not to be.
In the morning of 11 November, 1942, HMIS Bengal and the Ondina sailed in line ahead, heading west-north-west. It was a nice and sunny day with a flat sea and excellent visibility. Around 11:30 a lookout of the Ondina saw two ships appear over the horizon at 90 degrees over port at a distance of approximately 12,000 meters. A little bit later the ships were also sighted from the Bengal. Because of the high deckhouses the strange ships for a moment were taken to be aircraft carriers. Because there had been no mentioning at all about allied ships being in the neighborhood, both Ondina and Bengal sounded the alarm and both ships turned 90 degrees to starboard, away from the suspected enemy ships. Around 11:50 Bengal signaled to Ondina to maintain her heading. The Bengal herself turned into the opposite direction in order to catch up head on with the enemy ships and to create time for Ondina to escape.

The enemy ships were recognized to be Japanese auxiliary cruisers and the Bengal steamed straight forward towards the one in front. First they thought that they were facing Hokoku Maru and the smaller Kunikawa Maru. Captain Horsman understood that he would never be able to pick up sufficient speed with his slow tanker to escape from the faster Japanese vessels and decided to face the battle and to support the Bengal with his 10.2cm gun. Just before 12:00 Hokoku Maru opened fire at HMIS Bengal and at 11:58 the corvette send an SOS signal to Fremantle with the message that they and the Ondina were under fire of two Japanese raiders in the position of 19.38 degrees southern latitude and 93.5 degrees eastern longitude, about half way Fremantle and the Chagos Archipellago. HMIS Bengal answered the fire of the Hokoku Maru with her twelve pounder. Second mate Bakker of the Ondina, who was the artillery commander of the tanker and was standing on the poop deck next to the gun, asked permission from captain Horsman to open fire. Steaming away from the approaching Japanese auxiliary cruisers, the captain of the Ondina granted permission. The artillery crew consisted of merchant seaman Visser, Able Seaman B.A. Hammond of the Royal Australian Navy and the Acting Able Bodied Seamen R.H. Bayliss, H.C. Boyce and H.A. Brooklyn of the Royal Navy. The Ondina opened fire when the Hokoku Maru had approached till about 8.000 meters, around 12:05. While the Dutch tanker received her first 14cm hit, which splintered the mast, the first 10.2cm shell of the Ondina went wide and the second hit just in front of the bow of the Japanese auxiliary cruiser. Therewith Second Mate Bakker could adjust his fire and the third grenade hit the deckhouse of the enemy ship. This was an extra ordinary achievement as the Ondina was not equipped with distance measuring equipment nor with fire-guidance. Bakker now diverted his fire to the stern of the Hokoku Maru. Whilst both HMIS Bengal as the Hokoku Maru continued to shoot at each other the fifth or sixth shot of the Ondina caused an enormous explosion on the Japanese auxiliary cruiser. A giant yellowish flame erupted and soon thereafter part of the stern broke off while the wrecked float planes shattered into the sea. The broken part of the rear of the ship sank and wild fires broke out in various places onboard the ship. Thereafter the ship listed heavily to starboard which caused ammunition to roll over and even more explosions erupted.

Aboard the Ondina they could not believe their ears and eyes The artillery crew danced for joy in spite of the fact that some enemy shells hit which damaged the radio antenna and one of the starboard life boats. The Chinese crew members who were not on duty, had sought a safe refuge below deck and AB Seaman Henry did his utmost to keep them composed. The Aikoku Maru now took aim on both ships and placed several hits on both ships that caused little damage though. When the Bengal ran out of ammunition the corvette put up a smoke screen and turned away from the battle around 12:40. One minute later the Bengal was hit again; this time in the rear which caused a fire to start. The crew of the corvette however succeeded to control the fire. The last they saw of the Ondina aboard the Bengal was that the tanker received a hit on the bridge at 13:08 and desperately tried to prevent further hits by changing course all the time a little bit. The corvette after having seen this, sent a coded message with the information that one of the auxiliary cruisers as well as the tanker had been sunk.

Aboard the Hokoku Maru the crew could not control the heavy fires and Commander Hiroshi could do nothing else but to issue the order to abandon ship. In the meantime on board all electrical power had failed and the engine rooms were ablaze. Because the Hokoku Maru was a converted merchant ship she did not have many watertight compartments; consequently the vessel made quickly a lot of water and after another heavy explosion the auxiliary cruiser foundered at 13:12. Of the 354 crew 76 lost their lives amongst whom Captain Hiroshi. 
In the meantime Ondina had fired her last 10.2cm shells whilst the Aikoku Maru had closed in on the tanker up to approximately 3.500 meters. Captain Horsman ordered white flags to be hoisted and ordered to abandon ship. The engines had stopped and the crew disembarked the ship in three life boats and two life rafts. The hit that struck the Ondina at 13:08 on her bridge, the last to be seen by the Bengal, killed captain Horsman. The remaining Japanese raider approached the Ondina up till 400 yards and launched two torpedoes towards the abandoned ship that both hit. Large holes were blasted in the starboard side of tanks number 1 and 2. This caused the Ondina to list to about thirty degrees, but remained floating on the other tanks. Thereafter the auxiliary cruiser maneuvered along the bow of the tanker, of which the Japanese thought that its fate had been sealed and started to machine gun the life boats and rafts. This war crime was probably committed out of frustration about the sinking of the Hokoku Maru and the escape of the Bengal. By this machine gunning three Chinese stokers were killed and the chief engineer J.J. Niekerk and ABS Henry were severely wounded. Chief engineer Niekerk died an hour afterwards from his wounds.

At 15:00 the Aikoku Maru had picked up the survivors of her sister ship and returned to the Dutch tanker. The Japanese fired another torpedo but missed. Convinced that the tanker had been lost, the Japanese auxiliary cruiser left the battle scene and sailed away in northerly direction without any further concern about the drowning crew of the Ondina.

Salvage of the Ondina
After the first mate Rehwinkel had provided a seaman’s grave to the chief engineer, he wanted to return to the Ondina. Of the crewmembers that were with him in the life boat only sailor Visser was prepared to accompany him. The others, Chinese crew members refused to come along as they feared that the Ondina would sink as yet. Second mate Bakker in the meantime, with the motor launch in which he was commander, had returned to the tanker. Together with third engineer Leys, the Australian gunner Hammond and the British artillerist Ryan he boarded the ship which was still on fire in several places. Bakker and the gunners started to pump water into several of the port tanks which slowly righted the Ondina. Leys inspected the engine room and established that the diesel engine was still in working condition. The motor launch was sent to collect the other life boats and rafts and Leys and Bakker went to the bridge where a fire was still burning. The fire was extinguished by both men after which they carried the body of the captain to his cabin. The tanker had in the meantime been righted and the outboard valves could be closed. Around 19:00 all life boats were alongside the tanker and the crews from the rafts had been taken aboard the life boats. The life boats were hoisted on board as good and as bad as this was possible and secured. The stokers and engineers went to work and a few hours later first officer Rehwinkel could give the order ”slow ahead”. And somewhat later even “full ahead”. The heavily damaged tanker set her heading for Fremantle while the crew extinguished the last fires in the forecastle.

The next day captain Horsman received a dignified seaman’s burial. The wounded were cause for serious worry. Especially ABS Henry was in serious condition. He had a crushed leg and had lost a lot of blood and was in urgent need of professional care. After two days the crew of the Ondina was of the opinion to be safe enough to send a radio message and to ask for medical assistance. This message was sent in clear language as, after the order to abandon ship, all secret documents and also the code book had been thrown overboard. The surprising and unexpected message was being received by the allied authorities in Colombo on Ceylon and in Fremantle with disbelieve and mistrust. As the Bengal had indeed reported the Ondina to be sunk and a trap, created by the Japanese in order to lure a ship towards them, was suspected. From Fremantle a signal was sent to inquire about her position. Rehwinkel did not dare to provide this because his clear language message could also be read by the enemy. Therefore medical assistance remained lacking for the time being.

It was not until 17 November before the damaged tanker was reconnoitered by an Australian Catalina flying boat, over 220 nm north-west of Fremantle. Onboard the Ondina shortly before, a ship had been spotted and with signal lamp the Catalina was asked to contact that ship and to ask for the presence of a doctor. The relevant ship turned out to be the Australian hospital ship HMAS Wanganella and it was directed quickly towards the Ondina. By quick handling of the doctors the life of ABS Henry could be saved. The next day the Dutch tanker entered the port of Fremantle after a trip that had not proceeded according to expectations and which had cost the lives of five crew. The day before HMIS Bengal had safely made the harbor of Diego Garcia. The last days the corvette had to sail at slow speed to safe fuel, but there had been no further problems.
Note, both ships ran out of ammo.

You never have enough ammo.

The accountants and supply people are always wrong. Take what they say you need, and add at least 30% more.


Also, when the next war comes, and it will - what are our plans to give our auxiliaries teeth? They will need it - regardless what the peacetime theorists say.

They always have during every war with a maritime component. From the dawn of time. It won't be different next time either.

Nice video here a year later of the Bengal.

H/t MR.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

So, Need a Cold Bucket of Water?

Most of the regulars here probably remember my post from almost exactly four years ago, "Why do some become quiet?"

Another author seems to be feeling the same subtle vibration in the undercarriage; David Samuels over at The Tablet.
Another thing that residents of the broad North American expanse between Canada and Mexico have noticed is that the programs and remedies that this class has promoted, both at home and abroad, have greatly enriched and empowered a small number of people, namely themselves—while the broader American population continues to decline in wealth, health, and education. Meanwhile, the American Empire that the ruling elite administers is collapsing. The popularity of such observations on both the left and the right is what accounts for the rise of Donald Trump, on one hand, and of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the other hand, among an electorate that has not been historically distinguished by its embrace of radicalism. Add those voter bases together, and perhaps 75% of Americans would seem to agree that their country, however you think of it, is in big trouble, and that the fault lies with the country’s self-infatuated and apparently not-so-brilliant elite.

Every student of history has their own theory about how and why empires fall. My theory is this: The wealth of any empire flows disproportionately to the capital, where it nourishes the growth, wealth, and power of the ruling elite. As the elite grows richer and more powerful, the gulf between the rulers and the ruled widens, until the beliefs and manners of the elite bear little connection to those of their countrymen, whom they increasingly think of as their clients or subjects. That distance creates resentment and friction, in response to which the elite takes measures to protect itself. The more wealth and power the elite controls, the more insulation it must purchase. Disastrous mistakes are hailed as victories or are made to appear to have no consequences at all, in order to protect the aura of collective infallibility that protects ruling class power and privilege.

What happens next is pretty much inevitable in every time and place—Spain, France, Great Britain, Moghul India, you name it: Freed from the laws of gravity, the elite turns from the hard work of correct strategizing and wise policymaking to the much less time-consuming and much more pleasant work of perpetuating its own privileges forever, in the course of which endeavor the ruling elite is revealed to be a bunch of idiots and perverts who spend their time prancing around half naked while setting the territories they rule on fire. The few remaining decent and competent people flee this revolting spectacle, while the elite compounds its mistakes in an orgy of failure. The empire then collapses.
H/t Chap.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Is the USAF Leading the Way ... Again?

The USAF is radically changing how it promotes its officers - at least that is what it looks like in the cheap seats.

As we approach the third decade of the 21st Century ... is it time for us to do the same?

Details over at USNIBlog.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Welcome Cleaning at the JAG Shack

This is long overdue and welcome.
Twin probes by the Navy and Marine Corps into the state of their legal communities continue, with approximately 35 experts picked to review their reports when they’re completed, the Pentagon announced on Friday.

Lt. Cmdr. Beth Teach, the spokeswoman for Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke, told Navy Times that the blue ribbon panel includes both uniformed and civilian legal experts but she said they must remain anonymous for now so that they can complete their work.

Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Gary Thomas is spearheading his service’s investigation.

Both surveys are designed to review leadership and performance of their uniformed legal communities — both the Judge Advocates Corps and the Staff Judge Advocates — to ensure that they’re properly organized, staffed, trained and equipped to perform their missions.
For the 30 people on the panel, if you need a JAG or two to talk to about views from the inside, drop me an email. I'll check with them, and if they're game we'll Skype.

Now, when will we review the IG?

Monday, October 21, 2019

Merkel Goes Salamander

How many times and in so many ways did she and her fellow travelers sneer, call names, and attempt to marginalize those both inside and outsider her country who tried to warn her?

Her multiculti policies are most responsible for the rise of the irresponsible right in Germany.

...and yet ...
Merkel said allowing people of different cultural backgrounds to live side by side without integrating had not worked in a country that is home to some four million Muslims.

“This (multicultural) approach has failed, utterly failed,” Merkel told the meeting in Potsdam, south of Berlin.
I guess I should say, "Welcome to the party..." but that would be like calling Italy one of the allied powers in WWII. You could say it kind-of, and perhaps defend it at the end of the war ... but not when you take the full view of the war's timeline.

Here is the big danger for Germany to self-correct before they become something they don't want to become; Germany's center-right parties, the CDU and CSU, are in the American context - especially the CDU - run by what we call "Chamber of Commerce Republicans." They will sell their country in to a cesspit of 3rd World internecine conflict if it means they can continue to access below-market labor.

You can just smell the self-loathing wrapped in greed ... using the same tired argument used post-WWII to import hundreds of thousands of Turks who still are not assimilated writ large and were the nose of the camel for all that followed.
In a weekend newspaper interview, her Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) raised the possibility of lowering barriers to entry for some foreign workers in order to fight the lack of skilled workers in Europe’s largest economy.

“For a few years, more people have been leaving our country than entering it,” she told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. “Wherever it is possible, we must lower the entry hurdles for those who bring the country forward.”

The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) says Germany lacks about 400,000 skilled workers.
So, your educated, high skilled workers are leaving Germany to get away from the chaos you imported, so you can replace them with uneducated, unskilled workers who won't assimilate and create more chaos. Nice plan.

Germany's leaders remember everything, but learn nothing.

I guess it is up to the Bavarians to stand in the breach.
Yet Horst Seehofer, chairman of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the CDU’s sister party, has rejected any relaxation of immigration laws and said last week there was no room in Germany for more people from “alien cultures.”
UPDATE: Find the Easter Egg.

Hat tip Gray Connolly.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Baltic Security with Dr. Sebastian Bruns - on Midrats

From Finland to Denmark, Sweden to Poland - from small Latvia to the Continental power of Germany - the return of Russia has brought a renewed focus the last half decade to the Baltic.

Not just a SLOC, there are important economic and cultural ties that predate written history that continue to be important today.

Our guest for the full hour in a wide ranging discussion will be Dr. Sebastian Bruns.

Sebastian heads the Center for Maritime Strategy & Security (CMSS) at the Institute for Security Policy, University of Kiel (ISPK). He is the author/editor of six books, including "Routledge Handbook of Naval Strategy and Security" (edited with Joachim Krause, London 2016), and his latest, "US Naval Strategy and National Security. The Evolution of American Maritime Power" (London, 2018).

You can listen to the show at this link or below, but remember, if you don't already, subscribe to the podcast at Spreaker or any of the other podcast aggregators.

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.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Ford and the Wages of Transformationalism

If you've been mostly the "close your eyes and breath and hope for the best" when it comes to the FORD, our friend Chris Cavas has a cold bucket of water to throw in your (our) face.

The ship is a long way from being ready to take to the seas in defense of the nation. While construction began in 2005 and the Ford was delivered to the Navy and commissioned in 2017, it’s been back in the shipyard since July 2018 undergoing a series of fixes known as a post-shakedown availability, a planned event all US Navy ships go through but that is more difficult with this first-of-class ship full of new and hitherto untried technologies. It’s hard work for all involved and it will not be nearly finished when the ship comes out of the yard as expected later this month to renew testing and development of its systems whether or not they’re fully functional.

Four major systems in the ship will continue to need work: the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), the eleven Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWEs) and the Dual-Band Radar (DBR). Issues with those developmental, new-technology systems have been widely reported on for years, ever since Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld under the banner of transformation ordered them installed on the first ship in the new class despite deep Navy reservations and recommendations against doing so.

We continue to be saddled with the wages of Transformationalism.

Yes, yes ... first in class has all sorts of issues ... but with time, this is starting to look like it might be a bit more than that.
Less talked about are the ship’s electrical and propulsion systems. The Ford’s more-than-100-megawatt electrical system is far more powerful than the 30 MW systems installed in the ten ships of the previous Nimitz-class carriers, and all that power is crucial to the operation of the four major developmental systems.
One issue that was reported involved the failure of main thrust bearings, fixtures that bear the weight of rotating propeller shafts. Twice, in April 2017 and again in January 2018, the Ford suffered main thrust bearing failures while at sea and was required to head back to port. The Navy did not publicize these problems, which were unknown to the public until Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio reported them in May 2018.

Hope is not a plan, as the phrase goes ... but let's hope we are all pleasantly surprised, and soon, by all the hard work and pallet-loads of cash we seem to be burning to make it happen.

Some of this may come from the unfortunate retreat that started a half-decade ago from persistent public engagement with media and influencers about FORD specifically, and the Navy in general. The Royal Navy, by comparison, has done an exceptional job with the QUEEN ELIZABETH Class development.

As a side note, more background on how we got here can be found in a Midrats from a few years ago we did with Tal Manvel. 

It's embedded below.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

No, you can't get enough Salamander, really.

The kiddies over at The Salty Herald invited me over to play last night for a bit over an hour.

Great conversation for over an hour ... and I had the chance to throw a little love over to you folks on the Front Porch who make this whole blogg'n thing worthwhile.

It's a good listen, I hope.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Syria: a Festival of Bad Options

Time to quote myself from 2013 with regards to the Syrian Civil War;
However one comes to, "Syria; not our fight" - I frankly don't care. Besides a little culling of the herd, punitive expedition, and trying to mitigate the nasty-bits of the Syrian government's arsenal moving around - we have no reason to do anything more militarily directly in that nation.

If any nation should invade and occupy Syria, it should be Turkey. If Turkey did, should we support them? Of course - but in about the way we supported the Europeans in Libya. No more, perhaps less. Throw a few drones and TLAM as needed? Sure. Fine with me. Any more? Foolish.

If Syria isn't worth an Anatolian shepherd's son - it sure isn't worth John Smith from Des Moines, Iowa.

There is a cost from backing away from being the World Policeman ... and I'm OK with that.
Then, the Islamic State took root in the chaos of the Syrian Civil War and our less than ideal early withdraw from Iraq during the Obama Administration.

While the Obama Administration was wise to keep out of Syria's civil war, they did not appreciate the threat that ISIS would become.

What was one of their hopes to counter ISIS?


As our former chief diplomat in Syria Robert Ford outlined in 2015 when the Islamic State was large and growing:
“It is time for President Assad [and] the Assad regime to put their people first and to think about the consequences of their actions, which are attracting more and more terrorists to Syria,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Jan. 14.

If the administration has a diplomatic strategy, it centers on cajoling countries that have influence in Syria — Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — to join in a combined effort to end the conflict. The premise is that those countries fear Islamic State and other jihadists enough to put aside their otherwise deep divisions. But that's a long way from happening too.

Until then, the U.S. strategy boils down to attacking Islamic State from the air, hoping a war of attrition somehow weakens Assad's grip on power, and asking Turkey (and perhaps others) to act on the ground where the United States has been unwilling.

“Our problem is that we don't have much leverage,” Ford noted. “We have put very little skin in the game. The Russians and Iranians have put a lot of skin in the game.”

And that offers little ground for optimism. The lesson of our misadventure in Syria may be this: A risk-averse foreign policy can keep you out of ground wars — but it can also keep other goals out of reach too.
Turkey was not so interested in fighting the Islamic State per se ... but they are interested in what they see as a real threat to their national security - Kurds. Turkey is all about Turkey. Everyone knows that. We seem to misread that on a regular basis, but there it is.

OK, we've reviewed the history here. What about today?

The Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from the northern part of Syria was announced and executed in an exceptionally clunky method. Plenty of blame there for both the civilian and military sides of the house – but it is defendable for a host of reasons.

First of all, if you don’t understand the connection between the Marxist YPG and PKK, then sit down and be quiet.

Second, if you don’t know the difference between Syrian and Iraqi Kurds or the geography of the area, sit down and be quiet longer.

Third, if you are real excited – the YPG has international brigades. Grab your passport and good luck.

For the adults in the room, you have to look at options.

We have choices, none of which are ideal but guess what? Nothing has been ideal in that part of the world since recorded time.

Look at why we put boots on the ground in Syria to start with. Do you remember what ISIS was doing in their caliphate? Catch up here if you need to.

We needed to remove them from Iraq and chase them down to their last sanctuaries in Syria. We smartly decided to use the method that works well in that area, find the enemy of your enemy and make them your friend. We did that, and together we accomplished the end state we both wanted.

The Islamic State’s Operational Center of Gravity has been defeated; their holding of large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq. Their Strategic Center of Gravity, their religious justification for existing, can only be defeated by the Islamic world. We are, at best, a supporting entity there.

Of course ISIS is also a terrorist organization and in that mode it can continue for decades. A different challenge.

Of course there are prisons full of ISIS detainees in Syria who are either stateless or their nations of origin, like Germany, will not take them back. In that part of the world in similar conflicts, that was not a problem … and you know why. Tertiary issue.

So, what are our options? None are good, but we have options.

1. Garrison N. Syria until the crack of doom and hope that nothing stupid will take place that will lead to a wider conflict with the resident population or worse, Turkey, Russia, or Iran over a part of the world we have no ethnic, economic, historical, or religious reason to have any concern over.

2. Have a small garrison deep in the sovereign territory of a nation whose permission we don’t have to be there until the locals come to an arrangement on their own that we are not a part of, and overnight everyone has become an antibody to our foreign presence forcing a humiliating withdraw through … where exactly? Has no one this century read Xenophon?

3. Make a decision that with the major threat gone, the Islamic State’s Caliphate, that we should go home on our terms and our timetable before we get caught up in some long simmering local conflict that is using the umbrella of our protection to renew traditional grievances.

4. We propose an international peace conference in Geneva where we have the USA, FRA, SRY, RUS, IRN, IRQ and the major Kurdish factions get together to agree to post-conflict terms.

We are doing a version of 3. I don’t think 1 or 2 are smart options. I think option 4 only sounds good in faculty lounges, the permanent FP nomenklatura who see wonderful rent seeking job security here, or on Earth 2 where this might actually work.

Our partners of convenience (YPG) is a partner with a terrorist organization (PKK) that threatens a treaty ally on whose nation we have thousands of military personnel and family members, aircraft, and nuclear weapons stationed on. With the major threat gone, it is only natural that Turkey will adjust their tolerance of a threat to their security – a comparable one we would not suffer long on the Mexican or Canadian border. If you don’t like that calculus, then first you need to get our nukes out of Turkey, then our military personnel, and then Turkey out of NATO. If you do that, then I will entertain arguments why our military should stand against the military of Turkey over a bit of territory that was, for centuries until 100 years ago, Turkish. No promises I will agree with you, but I will entertain arguments.

As a final note, if you wonder about my thoughts across administrations on Syria, please click the tag below. It’s all there. Facts changed over time that make some comments OBE, but I stand by it all.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

A Half-Baked Navy with Jimmy Drennan and Blake Herzinger - on Midrats

Everyone has half-baked ideas ... some quarter-baked and some three-quarters-baked ... that in a just world of their making would have a funding line.

Are there some ideas so far "out of the box" that they really should be "in the box?"

Find yourself saying, "If I were CNO/emperor/Chairman of the HASC for a day, I would..."?

Have some ideas that you are convinced our Navy needs to win, but everyone else thinks is impossible/stupid/insane?

Well, that is the Navy we're going to ponder today.

With our guests Blake Herzinger and His Exalted Saltiness Jimmy Drennan, EagleOne and I the Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will talk about our pet "half-baked ideas" that ... in all seriousness ... we'd like someone to at leave give a serious thought to for a few seconds.

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, October 11, 2019

Fullbore Friday

So, like WWII submarines?

This fits for a very good find from reader Steve - it's all so Fullbore, I can't pick just one.

All the submarine reports Historic Naval Ship Association from S-11 to USS Diablo.
At the end of each war patrol of WW II, submarine commanders created a report on the patrol. These reports were used as the raw material to inform intelligence, improve tactics, evaluate commanders, etc. During WW II, over 1,550 patrol reports containing approximately 63,000 pages were generated. During the 1970s these were photographed and reproduced on microfilm to make them more easly accessible and easily reproduced (approx. 250 rolls). During 2008 a copy of this microfilm was scanned into digital format (110 GB), and in 2009 it was made available online here (14 GB).

These war patrol reports were written during a deadly, bitterly fought war. Please note that there may be some references to enemy forces that may be offensive in today's context.
Treat yourself here. Oh, and if you find any of those terrible Politically Incorrect comments, please report them in comments. Sadly, I couldn't find any.

First posted, March 2009.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Diversity Thursday

Of course.

It was only a matter of time.

The below is ligit, it seems.

Even as an unchurched Evangelical, I firmly believe that certain Catholic priestly vocations are in the best position to discuss how Satan and his teaching would best serve ship, Shipmate and self at the Naval Academy and the fleet.

There are some additional details on the - dare I say - devilish goings on with this little treat over at TAC that I would recommend you give a read.

It is all rather farcical, just a step over from "Lean-in-Circles," but serious as well. These are not neo-pagans doing what neo-pagans do with very harmless whatever they do with ... whatever. Regardless of what they say otherwise; Satanism is a different kettle of fish. Satan has a little track record. Again, I'll let the Catholics take it from here.

The good news? It also appears that the good folks at Annapolis still have a sense of humor.

UPDATE: For those so interested, here's the response from USNA;
An internal email was sent to the Brigade of Midshipmen Oct. 8 announcing that “satanic services” would start this week. This email was sent without the review and approval of the Naval Academy’s Command Chaplain, as required by command policy; it did not represent the U.S. Naval Academy’s Command Religious Program.

Recently, a group of Midshipmen with beliefs aligned with those practiced by The Satanic Temple (a nontheistic religious and politically active movement based in the U.S., recognized as a church by the Internal Revenue Service), requested a space where they could assemble to discuss and share their common beliefs. The request was for a "study group" space, not for holding “satanic services," as stated in the email.

The USNA Command Religious Program provides for the exercise of diverse beliefs. Arrangements were being made to provide the Midshipmen with a designated place to assemble as chaplains facilitate for the beliefs of all service members, a responsibility outlined by Navy instructions (SECNAVINST 1730.7E and BUPERSINST 1730.11 CH-1).

Americans embrace a wide array of beliefs, life philosophies, and opinions, and our Constitution guarantees to all the right to hold those beliefs and to freely exercise such beliefs (modified by unique requirements accompanying military life). The Command Religious Program at the Naval Academy facilitates the opportunity for the free expression of diverse beliefs, but without endorsing any particular belief.

Midshipmen have the right to assemble to discuss their beliefs as they choose, but, to be clear, in accordance with Department of Defense Policy, military members will not engage in partisan political activities, and will avoid the inference that their activities may appear to imply DoD approval or endorsement of a political cause.
This does beg a few questions.

As described above, "...The Satanic Temple (a nontheistic religious and politically active movement..." - let's unpack via

Let's have some word fun.

First, "nontheistic" derives from:
theism[ thee-iz-uh m ]
1. the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation (distinguished from deism).
2. belief in the existence of a god or gods (opposed to atheism).
So, nontheistic is just "atheist" using a less well known and loaded word.
Nontheist is equivalent to the broader definition of atheist (anyone who lacks a belief in gods.). The term "nontheist" isn't popular though. All atheists fall under this definition, no matter their stance on the claim of the nonexistence of any or all gods.
So, we are just dealing with atheism.

Next, "religious."
religious[ ri-lij-uhs ]
1. of, relating to, or concerned with religion:
a religious holiday.
2. imbued with or exhibiting religion; pious; devout; godly:
a religious man.
3. scrupulously faithful; conscientious:
religious care.
4. pertaining to or connected with a monastic or religious order.
Sure, you can stretch definitions more, but contradiction here is clear. You cannot have a "nontheistic" organization based on a spiritual being, "Satan." Satan only exists in various different confessions of the Abrahamic religions ... and a few others by different names. This specific concept of "Satan" comes from the Christian branch. If Satan has ideas and concepts worth having a "temple" for, then "Satan" must exist. If Satan exists, then G-d must exist. OK, fine, then you have a religion. We can discuss that.

If, however, you state that G-d doesn't exist, then Satan does not exist. If Satan does not exist, then you are just making things up - or you might as well have a temple based on a fictional character out of a Hemingway novel. You have something, but it isn't religious and should not fall under any Command Religious Program. If followers of Ayn Rand have an Objectivist Club, do they fall under the Command Religious Program? Heck, at least Objectivists believe Rand existed.

If it isn't religious, then you have to look at the other side of their definition, "political." A Command Religious Program should have nothing to do with a political organization.

If Satanists want to sit in a circle to discuss how great the ideas of the fictional character of Satan are - whatever - but don't put that anywhere under a Command Religious Program where for almost all the different branches where Christian, Muslim, Jewish, & even Buddhist Chaplains have a very real belief in "Satan." That is simply institutional trolling ... which is pretty much what Satanists have been doing since I first ran in to that sad little bunch in the late-80s.

Put them wherever the Dungeons & Dragons Club is. 

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

China is in an INFO war - if you know it or not

If you don't appreciate that the Chinese are lapping us in the Information domain, you're not paying attention.

More over at USNIBlog.

Come visit and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

A Small Measure in Support of China's Uighurs

Is this a lot? No.

That being said, the international silence on the persecution of China's Uighurs has been a blot on everyone.

This is welcome;
The U.S. is imposing visa restrictions on Chinese officials linked to the abuse of Muslim minority groups in China’s Xinjiang region, where as many as a million people are detained in camps.

The visa restrictions—which will limit the ability of affected Chinese officials to travel to the U.S.—come a day after the U.S. imposed export restrictions against more than two dozen Chinese firms for having a role in government policies toward minorities.

Both moves come as U.S.-China trade talks are slated to resume Thursday in Washington.

The State Department said the visa restrictions will apply to designated Chinese government and Communist Party officials, along with their families. China has engaged in a crackdown on what it sees as a long-simmering separatist movement led by the region’s Muslim Uighur population.

Western scholars estimate more than one million Turkic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been arbitrarily detained in China’s Xinjiang region over the past few years.

Monday, October 07, 2019

We've met our End State; let the locals work it out in N. Syria

I can argue both sides, but if the option is to garrison N. Syria until the crack of doom, or let Turks, Persians, Babylonians, Israelis, Kurds, and Arabs do with each other what they have been doing since the dawn of civilization in that area without our help, I'll go with the later.

Here is the statement from the White House Sunday night.

Syria has never been in the USA's sphere of influence. The Kurds cannot hide behind the USA forever and we cannot house and feed the European based captured ISIS fighters forever.

Unless you support our forces there indefinitely, then accept that there will never be a good time to leave. If there is never a good time, then the best time is now.

We met our End State. Go home.  

I know empire is a habit, time to start breaking it.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Larger Navy? How About Better USCG Instead - on Midrats

As the USN continues its slow goodbye to 355 ships, what are some other measures it can use to expand maritime power, presence and influence?

Would better and expanded integration, support, and interoperability with the USCG be part of the answer?

Our guest this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern for the full hour to discuss this and all thing USCG will be Chuck Hill, and we’ll used his recent post, Navy, this is Coast Guard, we need to talk as a starting off point for our discussion.

Chuck graduated from the USCG Academy in 1969, and retired in 1991, Assignments included four ships, Rescue Coordination Center New Orleans, CG HQ, Four years in HQ in the Military Readiness branch, Fleet Training Group San Diego, Naval War College (Command and Staff Course), and Pacific Area/Maritime Defense Zone Pacific Ops/Readiness/Plans/Exercises.

Afloat, he served on the McCulloch (a 311′ WAVP/WHEC), Confidence when it was homeported in Kodiak, Duane (a 327′ WPG/WHEC and my avatar in its WWII form), and Midgett (the WHEC).

He is one of the premier USCG bloggers for the last decade and can be found at,

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, October 04, 2019

Fullbore Friday

The 70th Anniversary of one of the best uses of lawfare to respond to a direct and deadly threat passed last week; the Berlin Airlift ended 70 years as of September 30th.

Mark Felton always does a nice job. I'll let him tell the story.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

The Navy Defines Professionalism Down

I can hear Mama Salamander right now;
If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you?
This is wrong in so many ways.
Starting Monday, Navy personnel will walk the Pentagon’s corridors dressed in green as the service falls in line with the other military branches who years ago authorized wearing utility uniforms throughout much of official Washington.

On Oct. 1, the green camouflage Navy Working Uniform (NWU) Type III officially supplanted the Type I, popularly known as the “Blueberries.” In doing so, the Navy worldwide joined the other service branches in donning a camouflage pattern composed of mostly a green décor.

However, by authorizing Navy personnel in the Pentagon, on the Navy Yard and at several other facilities in and around Naval District Washington (NDW) to hang up their khakis and wear the Type III Saturday through Thursday each week, the Navy is bucking a long-standing policy of using a more formal working attire in the nation’s capital.
I didn't like it after 911 when other services did it. The fact we are following their mistake is beyond understanding.

Why no?
1. I see the people in the Metro. They are sloppy looking, unkempt, and seem out of place.
2. In a republic of a free people, its military should not be wearing a combat uniform in the nations capital as daily wear. It sends the wrong message.

Mostly, it is just an unprofessional look.

Are our leaders so ashamed to be Sailors that they are content to let everyone be mistaken for being a Soldier or Marine?

Just a poor, patronizing, and wrong headed call.