Thursday, July 30, 2020

The PRC is Testing the Americas

There is a test of international law and regional solidarity going on in the Southeast Pacific.

Hundreds of Chinese fishing vessels are waiting right outside the territorial limits of Ecuador's Galapagos Islands.

More over at USNIBlog where I ponder the implications, and pull a possible solution from an unlikely source.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Seapower Advocacy: Time to Get Serious

Regulars here and at Midrats know the discussions we have had through the years on the scourge of navalists; seablindness, the Navy's retreat from the press, and the growing bunker mentality as we stumble from crisis to crisis. 

The last decade showed a series of events blend in to a general disconnect from the national conversation at a time when the challenge from China demanded a greater discussion of how our Navy brings value to the national security challenges we face. We were not driving the conversation and often were not even part of it. Others actors with other priorities drove the agenda and steered it in the direction they wanted. 

We need a sustained navalist message, but our present institutions are not able to do it - nor inclined to change to do it. 

Today's guest post comes from a navalists who has been looking at the challenge in a deep and broad context, Bryan McGrath.

Bryan, over to you.

Folks, I am worried. I am worried that as a nation, we are unserious. We are unserious about what a security environment pitting two global powers against us means, and we are unserious about leveraging the great advantages we enjoy in that contest. I am speaking of course, about seapower, and I think the time has come to honestly assess the various means through which American Seapower is explained and advocated for in the public square. In this piece, I argue for the creation of an organization focused on the advancement of American Seapower through direct participation in the democratic process. This organization would be unconstrained in its ability to disagree with a particular administration, Department of Defense, or even Department of the Navy should political considerations or bureaucratic infighting reveal those organizations to be unduly timid (or statutorily limited) in the pursuit and maintenance of dominant seapower. Some reading this may be asking, “Isn’t that what the Navy League is for?” or “Isn’t that what the Naval Institute is for?”, and these are good questions I hope I’ll answer by the time I’m finished.

The Problem

The problem, simply stated, is that at the very moment that the need for American Seapower advocacy is most critical, it is nowhere to be found. Ok. That is probably an overstatement. There is advocacy. It is, however, insufficient, ineffective, untargeted, uncoordinated, poorly resourced, diluted, and inadequately championed.

In a perfect world, the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations would serve as the spiritual and intellectual lead clergy of such advocacy, and the two of them—in addition to various four-stars and other subalterns—would devise and preach the Gospel of American Seapower. There would of course, be civilian organizations that would join the choir (see Navy League of the United States, United States Naval Institute), but the vicar and the curate of this congregation would be the senior civilian and senior uniform in the Navy.

But we do not live in a perfect world, we live in the National Security Act of 1947 world and more importantly, the Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986 world. These two pieces of bedrock national security legislation of accomplished many things, some of them positive. These laws also—in the period of time where both have been the active law of the land—have dramatically reduced the level of coherent advocacy for American Seapower, as doing so within the current rules of bureaucratic conduct is seen at best as a threat to “Jointness”, and at worst, a political threat to the unassailable power of the Secretary of Defense. This reality is not likely to change appreciably, and so hoping for a CNO or a SECNAV who is an unconstrained American Seapower advocate (they generally do the best they can within the rules of the game they play) is not a path to success. And so, across the past four decades, a vacuum of formal advocacy has developed, as the uniformed and civilian leadership of the Navy fell into line with the realities of bureaucratic life in the Pentagon. Outside organizations could have stepped into this void, but they have not. Let us start with the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI).

The mission of USNI is to be “…the independent forum for those who dare to read, think, speak, and write in order to advance the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to global security.” As such it serves as a professional organization inwardly focused on the needs and desires of its membership. Key to this mission are two additional statements on the USNI mission page: the first, is that USNI will remain “independent”, defined further as “a non-profit member association, with no government support, that does not lobby for special interests.” Second, that it will remain “non-partisan”, as “an independent, professional military association with a mission, goals, and objectives that transcend political affiliations.” Put another way, USNI serves a valued purpose in the constellation of organizations that consider American Seapower, but its MAIN purpose is to its members. It assiduously avoids lobbying, and it avoids the rough and tumble of American politics, as in this case, “non-partisan” and “apolitical” are difficult to discern. Under the leadership of VADM Pete Daly, USNI has become more visible across a number of fronts (public events and new media chief among them), but it has—as has been its historical practice—continued to stay out of active advocacy roles, which is as its membership desires.

Moving on then to the second logical outside organization to look to for aggressive advocacy and political activity—The Navy League of the United States (NLUS)—it is more difficult to see any real conflict between the organization’s mission and these pursuits. “The Navy League of the United States, founded in 1902 with the support of President Theodore Roosevelt, is a nonprofit civilian, educational and advocacy organization that supports America’s sea services: the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and U.S.-flag Merchant Marine. As part of its mission focus, the Navy League of the United States:
  • Enhances the morale of sea service personnel and their families through national and council level programs.
  • Provides a powerful voice to educate the public and Congress on the importance of our sea services to our nation’s defense, well-being, and economic prosperity.
  • Supports youth through programs, such as the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, Junior ROTC and Young Marines, that expose young people to the values of our sea services.”

Clearly this mission statement contains the seeds for the kind of muscular, political advocacy required. And were the second of the three bullets above to be the primary focus of the organization, there would be little need for this post. But forceful, Washington DC-based advocacy and a relentless dedication to American Seapower policy formulation is not what NLUS either concentrates on or is successful in doing. And the deficit between what the organization says it is dedicated to, and what it does is not so much a function of desire, but organization. The real emphasis of NLUS is in the first and third bullets of its mission statement, in no small part because that is where the power and energy is within the Navy League by design.

By way of an anecdote, several years ago, I was contacted by a group of people who wished to see a more forceful and effective approach to American Seapower advocacy. There was at the time (and to be honest, it continues) a bit of envy when we looked at our ideological analogues in the air power and land power realms. The Air Force Association (AFA) and the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) both seemed to be more effective in influencing the debates on Capitol Hill than NLUS, and I set out to discover why. I had a meeting or two with the DC-based NLUS leadership team, and I came away with a few impressions that remain to this day.

For starters, the de-centralized, bureaucratic structure of NLUS governance militated against the kind of nimble advocacy and policy formulation that an effective Washington DC-based organization requires. The more I studied the by-laws then in place, the more I realized that the DC presence was not where the action is within the Navy League. The geographically differentiated councils dispersed power and authority broadly across the country, and the DC based Executive Director had insufficient authority to direct the efforts of the organization.

This became obvious when I brought up the possibility of the Navy League creating a “Seapower Think-tank”, analogous with the then rising-in-prominence “Mitchell Institute” of the Air Force Association. From around the table at NLUS headquarters in Arlington, VA, I got nods of agreement and bright-eyed enthusiasm for what sounded like an unobjectionable good idea. When we got to the discussion of how to make it happen, the bright eyes dimmed, and heads began to droop. There was in the room, a sense of powerlessness to make something like this happen for a few reasons. First, because there was within NLUS an inherent skepticism of central direction and execution, and this rendered the DC/Arlington presence relatively disadvantaged when trying to make decisions and move with alacrity. Second, such an effort would take funding, and while NLUS prized its relationships with industry sponsors, there was not an appetite for providing the seed money such an undertaking would demand or asking their donors to step up more aggressively in support of it.

Next, I came away from the meeting with the Arlington/DC-based executive staff with a sense of complacency, that all that was really being asked of them from a centralized execution perspective was to produce their (valuable, readable) “Seapower” magazine, and broadly support whatever budget the Navy, the Maritime Administration, or the Coast Guard put forward. Knowing what we already know about how the national security resourcing process works and the virtue of “Jointness” above all other virtues, the “advocacy” provided in supporting an administration budget submission is of little additional value to that which can be safely given by the administration representatives submitting it. Put another way, lobbying Congress to pass the submitted budget is not a great lift, and the degree to which Navy League lobbying efforts in any way deviate from the least-common denominator solutions put forward by federal agencies with skin in the seapower game is questionable.

I am told that the Navy League’s governance structure has changed in the six years since I last studied it, that there are fewer than the (if memory serves) scores of Directors that had a hand in making policy then. I did a bit of poking to find the current by-laws online but was unsuccessful. I have spoken recently with three persons who have in-depth knowledge of the current structure, and each indicates that the League’s priorities remain focused on the geographically distributed councils, rather than on federal influence.

What to Do?

The United States needs an organization dedicated to the development of sound policy in support of American Seapower and the advocacy required to bring that policy about. The center of mass of this organization must be the seat of the federal government in Washington DC, and its main audience is the Pentagon, the White House, and the Congress. It must simultaneously be a catalyst for policy development and education, and a powerful agent of American Seapower advocacy. While its efforts and emphases are primarily aimed at the federal government, this organization MUST have an effective outreach program utilizing all appropriate forms of media to inform and educate an American public grown distant from and uninterested in the degree to which their security and prosperity derive from seapower.

It would be correct to view the paragraph above as firmly within the Navy League’s current remit. It would be incorrect to assume that the Navy League either performs these functions or can perform them as currently organized. My preference would be for the Navy League to fundamentally reform itself and centralize authority (read: authority to determine where can money be spent) in Washington DC. I have little hope that this can or will occur.

And so I find myself believing that a new organization should be formed, and that this organization would have four broad lines of operation: research into the nexus between national strength and seapower, the development of seapower related policy, active advocacy for seapower in both the Executive Branch and the Congress, and dedicated outreach to civic minded Americans through targeted media and events.

This organization would occasionally disagree with the government agencies it advocates for and would look at budget submissions with skepticism rather than as marching orders. It would issue reports under its marque written by in-house scholars and free-lance researchers. It would provide for a stable of competent experts who would become the “go-to” voices on matters of seapower-related strategy, policy, and operations from a world-class, on-site media center and from the home-offices of the experts involved. It would populate and curate a website of seapower related thinking from around the world. It would host events either independently or with other organizations that raise and debate important seapower issues. It would fearlessly advocate for American Seapower without the level of suspicion under which traditional think tanks work because anyone (individual or corporate) who donated money to fund this organization would EXPECT policy advocacy. The quality of the work created would be the return on investment, and if the work were analytically rigorous and contributed to the advancement of American Seapower, the organization would be doing its job.

What I am suggesting is—for lack of more suitable comparison—the creation of a “Planned Parenthood” or a “National Rifle Association” for American Seapower: an organization that believes in the constitutional basis for its advocacy and connects the general population to its advancement. This organization cannot be apolitical; it would by nature be very political because the advancement of American Seapower is, a political process. It must, however, be non-partisan, and it must cultivate friends of seapower wherever they may be.

These are my thoughts. Most of the people who read this who might be interested in helping such a venture get off the ground, know how to find me. The time is now.

Bryan McGrath is the Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group LLC defense consultancy. Neither his private clients nor his Navy clients were consulted on this essay, and his words and thoughts are his own.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

We May Need an Intervention for Our Navy-USMC Team

No, no, no ... let's not.

This tweet from The Krulak Center makes me break out in a cold, Bullsh1t Bingo sweat;

Just look at it!

Mosaic? Child please.

h/t Jack.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Iran's Performative Art

In the words of the great philosophers, "But why?"

This just continues to be strange.
Iran has moved a mock-up U.S. aircraft carrier to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, satellite images show, suggesting it will use the look-alike vessel for target practice in war games in a Gulf shipping channel...“We cannot speak to what Iran hopes to gain by building this mock-up, or what tactical value they would hope to gain by using such a mock-up in a training or offensive exercise scenario,” said Commander Rebecca Rebarich, the spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet.
While the strangeness of this does not change and one wants to just mock it and move on, you also need to examine the Red Most Dangerous COA.

Iran is not a rich nation. It has a lot of challenges. What are they doing that makes this worth the investment? It can't just be for the performative art of it all, can it? 

What is the worst reasonably expected use of such a mock up? I hope we have some smart, imaginative, and skeptical eyes on this and what they are using it for.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Military Power & Intellectual Property, with Robert M. Farley - on Midrats

How do different standards related to intellectual property influence the spread and adoption of emerging military technology?

How does the respect for law, process, and customs impact what shows up on the battlefield in the hands of both friend and foe?

In a return visit to Midrats this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern, we are going to explore this topic with Robert Farley. As a starting point to our discussion we will look at the issues he raised in the new book he co-authored with Davida H. Isaacs “Patents for Power: Intellectual Property and the Diffusion of Military Technology.”

Rob Farley teaches national security courses at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky, where he tolerates the Wildcats, although his heart remains committed to the Oregon Ducks. His interests lie in maritime history, airpower theory, and the politics of national defense.

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, July 24, 2020

Fullbore Friday

That part of the bookshelf caught my eye again this AM and I remembered the passing last decade of Admiral Woodward, RN.

I figured it was time to bring back my post from 2013 on him. Wish I had a chance to meet him before he passed, but life is fast and short.

When I heard the news this week, I went over to a corner of The Salamander Library and pulled out three books from my Falkland Islands War corner; Admiral Sandy Woodward's One Hundred Days: The Memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander, Commander Sharkey Ward's Sea Harrier over the Falklands, and Michael Clapp's Amphibious Assault Falklands: The Battle of San Carlos Water - and gave the lot a quick once over during cocktail hour.

No need to go in to a lot of background here; hopefully everyone here has read at least one of these books. If not, shame on you - that war is still the template to think about the next naval war.

But again, no. Today, let's just take a moment to reflect of the kind of leader at sea we should all aspire to;
Admiral Sir John ('Sandy') Woodward, who has died aged 81, commanded the carrier battle group Task Force 317.8 during the Falklands conflict.
A life well lived. Served to the end as best he could. Bravo Zulu, Admiral.

As a final note - you have to like his leadership style;
On the passage south Woodward visited as many ships as he could, though his message to the various ships’ companies of the destroyers and frigates was uncompromising: “You’ve taken the Queen’s shilling. Now you’re going to have to bloody earn it. And your best way of getting back alive is to do your absolute utmost. So go and do it.”

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Diversity Thursday

So, knowing all the work hours our Sailors are expending and all the challenges we have in our navy, what do you think a 4-star staff's Chief of Staff would want his staff to read?

I really don't need to say anymore.
*From:* Mohler, Hallock N JR CAPT USN SECOND FLEET (USA)

*Sent:* Friday, July 17, 2020 1:13 PM *To:*

*Subject:* COS WEEKLY FOR 17 JULY 2020

1. *JFCNF/C2F BOOK CLUB*. We are starting a new all volunteer professional reading and discussion program for All Hands at Second Fleet and JFC Norfolk. It is designed to further our personal and professional development, enhance our mission readiness, and build our critical thinking and engagement skills. Every month, we will have a new book and topic area. All Hands will be invited to read that month's book. For those that are not avid book readers, we will also include other material, such as YouTube videos of discussions with the book author, so that everyone can participate with minimal time and effort. In addition to the book, we will have small group discussions of C2F/JFC-N personnel to share the book insights. We will have sign-up sheets for these groups. Our first book will be: *White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson.*
That book is one of most divisive and racist books in circulation today being used as a grift by a corporate consultant..

Shame on everyone who would promote this book.

I'll let Matt Taibbi take the critique from here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

By 2030 Who Will Have the Largest Amphibious Force in the Pacific?

If you haven't been tracking the Chinese Navy's growing amphibious capability, now is the time to start doing so.

I'm pondering a nice article over at USNIBlog.

Come on by and give it a read.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

If you speak, you can be heard

I guess this is electronic warfare week at CDRSalamander ... and why not.

Our Navy has a problem; it has gone so long without a serious competitor at sea that we have convinced ourselves that some temporary assumptions we gained after the fall of the Soviet Union have become permanent. We are designing entire systems around assumptions that are fragile and based on peacetime operations and permanent naval supremacy.

At war against any global or regional peer, we need to look carefully at all our assumptions. Most fragile of all are our assumptions that we will have full access to the electromagnetic spectrum, satellite vox and data bandwidth, and the deep sea will be our sanctuary.

The irreplaceable David Larter rolled a little ball of truth a few days ago that would be funny if it were not so serious;
The Navy’s investment in SPY-6 is not without some controversy. Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said while the Navy needs a radar like SPY-6 for ballistic missile defense, the service still must figure out how to perform passive detection to avoid giving away its location to adversaries that will be able to electronically sniff out a big, powerful radar.

Kremer said he wasn’t comfortable discussing concepts of operations surrounding the issue of keeping electronically quiet with SPY-6. But he reiterated that during active electronic attack, the radar would perform.

“You have to be able [to] operate around electronic attack, and on the active side we have a lot of capability to do that,” he said. “But when you get into that other stuff, you’re really starting to talk about concepts of operations, and I don’t think it’s appropriate for a contractor to talk about CONOPS.”
The enemy gets a vote, and they have capabilities too.

We used to practice fighting in EMCON. Hopefully we have some tricks under our sleeves that will let us. No reason to discuss them on this net, but let's hope.

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Secrets We Forgot to Tell Ourselves

Is 48-yrs long enough to consider something unclassified?

Well, why not. I personally don't care if this is exactly how it happened or not, this is a great story.

It reminds me that most people who served have a lot of events that to us were just an interesting day. We don't think all that much about it, but to others it is exciting.

This in one of those days. Via the OkieBoat website ... let's go back to 1972 and the Harry Navy at war;
In January 1972 the Oklahoma City steamed to the Gulf of Tonkin to do some "radar hunting." We were waiting for the chance to use the new RGM-8H missiles in the Ready Service Magazine. We were looking for another BAR LOCK radar in the vicinity of the Mu Gia Pass, although few people aboard knew this. We maintained a position about 30 miles off the coast of North Vietnam near Vinh (18° 43.6' N 106° 15.8' E) for most of the period from 28 January to 4 February, holding position within 2000 yards from a reference buoy, waiting to shoot. During this period we operated at Condition II AAW with the Talos missile battery and the 5"/38 guns manned, and with either the USS Decatur DDG-31 or the USS Mahan DLG-11 "riding shotgun" with their short range Tartar and Terrier missiles.
I was on-watch that night in the EW shack and was on the receiver and picked up the BAR LOCK ATC radar that the Vietnamese were using. I remember the incident pretty vividly... how long we'd trained to be able to pick up those threat emitters, determine the key characteristics so we could pass on just the kind of info that was used to program the TALOS that night. Some of the measurement gear was NOT part of a standard electronics package. A few OW-div buddies and I collaborated to put together a couple pieces of outboard 'off-the-shelf' test equipment (an audio signal generator and XY scope so we could accurately determine PRR frequencies of incoming signals). It was this set up that allowed us to pass on not one...but three of the frequencies that BAR LOCK was using that night (since it was a Frequency Scanning...FRESCAN...radar to allow it to determine bearing/range AND approximate altitude).

I remember passing parameters on to the fire control folks continuously as the missile was being prepared for launch (BAR LOCK radars were notorious for changing frequencies during operation). I remember feeling/hearing the launch... I continued to monitor the signal as the missile was in-flight. After a minute or so (I didn't have a stopwatch on it) I remember hearing a weird screeching... then the signal went silent. Apparently that was the precise moment of the impact/explosion that "killed" the radar.

RD2 Doug Rasor, OK City 1968-72
Everyone has their own view of an engagement;
On the night of the ARM engagement, I recall leaving Weapons Control immediately after launch of the missile and running up to the Fire Control Workshop above Weapons Control, where the AN/SKQ-1 Telemetry set had been installed and was receiving data [TLM] from the missile in flight. Having set the pre-launch parameters into the missile, after discussion with CDR Mel Foreman [Weapons Department head], I knew what to look for in the telemetry as regards the general flow of the missile flight regime. FYI, the AN/SKQ-1 data was projected onto light sensitive paper for subsequent development and analysis.

I saw the missile acquire the Bar Lock radar, and wing movements generating the lateral accelerations as the missile acquired and began homing on the target. Angle Rate Gate Enable had been transmitted to the missile prior to launch, so the missile had been fired to a point in space roughly 8 Kyds beyond the radar site, which caused the missile to reject possible “spoofing” targets beyond/to the side of the actual target. So the missile nosed over and dove on the target approaching from directly overhead and thereby maximizing the fuse/warhead effectiveness against the target. TLM was lost just prior to the predicted intercept so warhead fusing was not visible on TLM. However, all of the available TLM data suggested that the missile had homed on (and probably destroyed) the target.

WO1 Greg Dilick, OK City 1970-73.
I don't know about you, but I love a story with a happy ending;
However, at the moment we didn't know if we had hit the target. The Electronics Warfare people in CIC told us the radar signal had disappeared about the same time the missile arrived, but you can bet the BAR LOCK operators would have noticed if we had missed and shut down their radar! The next day our Weapons Department head CDR Foreman showed me aerial recon photos. The radar antennas were scattered all over Southeast Asia, and what remained of the trailer was lying on its side at the edge of a 30 foot diameter crater.

This was all classified Secret at the time, and our missile crews were told to keep quiet. Of course everyone aboard knew something was going on (missile shots were very noisy). I overheard one sailor say we had fired a nuclear warhead and he had seen the explosion! Such is scuttlebutt!

The next morning at 0004 (four minutes after midnight) the Oklahoma City left the operating area for Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin to rendezvous with the USS Coral Sea CVA-43 for personnel transfers. At 1339 (1:39 PM) we left the area and went to Subic Bay in the Philippines for R&R. The Chicago was in port when we arrived. Imagine our surprise when we learned that the bar girls knew about the shot before we got there! One of our first class POs told me that as they walked into a bar one of the girls saw the ship's name patch on his sleeve and started asking about the missile shot! So much for secrecy!
So you Vietnam Era Shipmates ... about those Subic bars ...

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Future of Australian National Security with Peter Dean, on Midrats

How does Australia best position itself in today's security climate? How does her history shape how she sees her place relative to new and possible future alliances?

Our guest this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and more will be Dr. Peter Dean.

Peter is a Professor & Chair, Defence Studies Director, at the University of Western Australia’s Defence and Security Program, and their Public Policy Institute.

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.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Diversity Thursday

Self-improvement and self-reflection are a daily requirement and a good thing.

Institutional self-loathing is never a good look and it is both self-destructive and counter-productive.

It appears that our leadership has decided to throw away one of our crown jewels, race relations. 

In the face of the howling mob attacking someone else, it appears that instead of standing up and telling the nation the focused efforts our Navy has made over the last 50+ years to work toward a fair and equal opportunity organization for all – an imperfect but solid sustained effort – we are instead going to accept the false and worst accusations put against us and so invite some of the mob to climb inside our lifelines too.
The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Gilday, has said, "We cannot tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind."

On Monday, the branch held a virtual first meeting of Task Force One. Its goal: to address the issues of racism, sexism, and other destructive biases and their impact on naval readiness.
Since day-1 I was a MIDN a quarter century ago, the message "We cannot tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind." was clear as can be. With the crooked timber that is the human condition, we have striven to do the best we can for an inclusive force. Something anyone can quibble with here and there in its execution - but still - those doing the quibbling all agree it is something to be proud of and much better than anything going on in the civilian arena.

What is the CNO saying, we have done nothing?

It appears he's found officers that agree and pushed them to the front. 
"I think we should assume there are barriers everywhere for minorities," said LT Destini Henderson, who is African American, and a Naval Flight Officer. "That was definitely the case for me throughout my career, or even getting into the Naval Academy."
No Lieutenant, we should not make that assumption. If there are barriers, you need to point them out and we can continue the conversation from there. No one wants barriers - tell us where they are. I can identify 336,978 active duty personnel, 279,471 civilian employees and 101,583 ready reserve personnel standing by. 99.9% will help you pull those barriers apart, and the 0.01% are in TPU.

So, who is leading this?
Rear Adm. Holsey will be supported by Fleet Commanders and leadership from a number of organizations such as the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, Chief of Chaplains, Surgeon General of the Navy, Chief of Legislative Affairs, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Russell Smith and many others.

The task force will seek to promptly address the full spectrum of systemic racism, advocate for the needs of underserved communities, work to dismantle barriers and equalize professional development frameworks and opportunities within the Navy.

“We are at a critical inflection point for our Nation and our Navy and I want to ensure that we are fully responding to this moment as we work to facilitate enduring change,” said Nowell. “We must use the momentum created by these events as a catalyst for positive change. We need to have a deeper inclusion and diversity conversation in our Navy and amongst our own teams.”
First, there is no “systemic racism” inside the Navy if you are using the term as plain English would define it. Are there individuals who hold racist views and may act on them? Sure, the Navy reflects the nation it serves. Are those people properly dealt with once discovered? In my experience, yes.

That is a hell of a charge. You need to define each one of those items you define as systemic racism, and then specifically explain why they have remained in place and who allowed them to stay there.

Next to CNP, VADM Nowell’s comment. Do we read you right here?
“We must use the momentum created by these events as a catalyst for positive change. We need to have a deeper inclusion and diversity conversation in our Navy and amongst our own teams.”
By “events” do you mean the wide spread riots by mostly Marxist led, race-baiting, American-hating mobs taking advantage of real concerns Americans have with the killing of an African American man by a bad cop? How exactly are you going to take advantage of a killing and lawlessness unconnected to our Navy … and it that a moral thing for a Flag Officer to be excited to do?

Are you really looking for a conversation, or are you looking at giving speeches inside a wafer-thin Overton Window?

From the CNO to CNP and down – every Flag Officer needs to be directly asked, “Do you lead an organization that is structurally racist?” Yes or no. 

No one should have to wait for an official report to tell them the answer. If yes, then ask them what they have done in their career to eliminate structural racism that they so clearly see? Did they willingly participate in it? If so, does that make them racist or, being that they clearly benefited from these racist policies, why do they continue to enjoy the fruits of that poisoned tree?

Of course, we all know the answer. The Navy is not racist and has not been that way for the length of anyone serving’s career.

Does our Navy “look like America?” In some ways yes, some ways not. Depending on designator or rating, we can be wildly one way or another. The reasons have to do with the fact that we are a huge nation with a great diversity of people, regions, sub-cultures, and traditions.

Our intake is our nation's outtake. We will see the differences in education, crime, and desire to serve as reflected in our diverse nation when people reach 18-years of age.

Unless “Task Force One” becomes something I don’t think it will, we will once again miss a great opportunity to look closely at who we are to make sure we are doing things right -never a bad idea as the nation you serve is being rendered- but we have an opportunity to show the nation what unity actually looks like. The Navy has a lot to be proud of with regards to our record on race relations. Way ahead of the country in so many ways, yet we seem to be hoisting on board the absolute worst and wrong take. It isn’t just divisive; it is bearing false witness against ourselves.

We didn’t set this self-loathing up overnight; the conditions were set for a long time. Never pushed back against those who smear from the Diversity Industry, never wanting to stand up for ourselves in our imperfect but very real desire to make sure everyone has an even chance regardless of race, creed, color or national origin, and now it looks like we’ve surrendered control to people who don’t want to do that. They want to accuse and shame our Navy by saying it is “structurally racist” and thus needs to be changed.

Changed how? Back to an earlier pull quote;
..equalize professional development frameworks and opportunities within the Navy.
Assign rates, designators, jobs, ranking and promotions by race, creed, color, and national origin? Go towards some kind of Woke Jim Crow where the most important thing first of all is the most useless identified – your DNA?

Is that where we are going? This is real “structural racism.”

If there will be a spoils system, who will police it? Can we self-identify our own race, creed, color, national origin … or even sex?

If we are to set up an apartheid like spoils system, will the Navy share what is the most advantageous? If a retired Navy CDR’s father is from Nigeria, mother from South Dakota German stock, his wife’s father was from Ecuador of mixed Italian/Amerindian heritage, and her mother Peruvian Japanese … if his daughter wants to get in to the Naval Academy … how exactly should she identify herself for the most advantage? As a daughter of a Navy CDR, and all the privilege that comes with it, should she be given any advantage over the son of Bosnian immigrants? If so, why?

In the zero-sum game that is promotions and assignments, if race and ethnicity become a factor for selection, will that drive division and resentment in our navy?

Does any of this do anything to win an urban insurgency in some poor nation, or win the battle of the first salvo against a rising power on the other side of the Pacific?

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The Navy is MIA

Whoever decided that we needed a small public affairs footprint and minimal press engagement while one of our capital ships burns for days in the middle of San Diego, they are wrong.

I have thoughts over at USNIBlog.

Come on by and give it a read!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Our Long National Uniform Faux Pas is Over (kind of)

It has taken almost two decades, but the "everyday casual" meets COSPLAY meets to damn lazy to look professional uniform trend birthed by the Boomers post 911 seems to be retreating.

Excellent news;
In recent messages to their respective forces, the services announced that, effective July 6, Marines and sailors must exchange their comfortable camouflage utilities for crisper service uniforms, at least when they're in the Pentagon and in certain locations around Washington, D.C.
Sadly, it was not a fully victory. Some people who just COSPLAY too hard went in to high-warble for an exception;
It notes that sailors who are on duty in the National Military Command Center, Navy Operations Center and DiLorenzo Tricare Health Clinic within the Pentagon reservation are permitted to wear camouflage utilities and flight suits.
I will take the "W" and carry out the plan of the day.
The standard uniform of the day for sailors in the National Capital Region is now service khaki for officers and chief petty officers, and the Navy Service Uniform for enlisted sailors in ranks E-1 to E-6, Ed Zeigler, a spokesman for Naval District Washington, told

A corresponding All-Marine message released June 30 dictates that the uniform of the day for Marines within the Pentagon reservation is the seasonal Service "B" or "C," a uniform with olive-green trousers or skirt and a long-sleeved or short-sleeved khaki shirt, depending on season.

"We aligned the Navy-Marine Corps uniform policies in the National Capital Region and the Pentagon Reservation to demonstrate a unified, professional image of our integrated Naval Force," Zeigler said, adding that the decision was made by Naval District Washington "in coordination with Navy and Marine Corps leadership."

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Burning of the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6)

The pic on the right is from 0700 local time in San Diego via Denis Bondarenko, a civmar across the pier. Over the last 24-hrs, she has burned bow to stern, and overnight fire made it up the island to the bridge, the aft mast collapsed and more. That is only what we can see from the outside, you can imagine the damage internally.

BHR spent the last two years in a yard period. The 22-yr old big-deck amphib was being modernized and made ready for F-35B and to be a critical part of our fleet through this decade. Last night when I realized that after the ship was abandoned, we now had firefighting crews back on board, I was uncharacteristically optimistic, but with the morning not anymore.

I’ll go ahead and make this bet; the ship is a total loss. The big battle now is to make sure the ship does not sink pierside.

There is a lot we do not know, and even though almost everyone who served has their pet theories about fires in a yard, it is best to see what is discovered during the upcoming investigation. With this much damage, finding the cause might be difficult, but we have the world’s best at this, so I’m willing to wait.

There are a few observations that have been top of mind over the last day.

1. We were not ready for the inevitable: I don’t care if it were a Sunday, the Navy was MIA from the information flow as one of our nation’s premier cities was blanketed with smoke from a capital ship burning in the heart of the city. We almost seemed paralyzed and waiting for everything to be fully smooth and approved while the city and nation wondered what was going on. In San Diego especially, there is a special bond between the city and its Navy. We let them down by not showing in a very public way who was the face and voice of the Navy during this crisis.

2. We are not as good at safety as we think we are: Fires during maintenance availability are not uncommon for any navy. How and why was this fire allowed to spready so fast and so far? There are rumors, but I won’t repeat them here as they are just speculation, but this should be known far and wide once the investigation is done. The people of San Diego and the nation need to know. No overclassification issues here. Don’t even try.

3. Can you get underway?: The USS FITZGERALD was right across the pier from BHR and was the first, under a blinding cloud of smoke, to get underway and out of the way. BZ to her crew. From the cheap seats though, that took way too long and not enough ships joined her. That story, along with the other ships close to BHR, sitting there soaking in all those toxic fumes, is another story I want told. That doesn’t even begin to discuss what would have happened if the fuel stores on BHR went.

4. We got lucky: we got lucky the ship was not full of Sailors and so far there have been no deaths. We are lucky that there were no weapons onboard. We are lucky this was not a nuclear powered ship. We are lucky, at least as of 11am Eastern, BHR has not sunk.

PACFLT has had a bad run the last three years, this is just another black eye. More to follow.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

What a Navy is For with Sam Tangredi - on Midrats

Do policy makers and those who design our grand national strategy really understand what a Navy is? How does the planet's premier naval power seem to have trouble explaining why it needs a navy, what a navy does, and how to get it ready for war?

How do navalists set the table when it is time to define, invest, and assign roles, responsibilities, missions and who get what percentage of the DOD pie?

Our returning guest this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and related topics will be Sam Tangredi, and we will use his recent article, Does the Pentagon Understand What a Navy Is For?, as a starting point for our conversation.

Professor Tangredi was appointed as the Leidos Chair of Future Warfare Studies in March 2019 and since May 2017, has served as the director of the Institute for Future Warfare Studies. He initially joined the Naval War College as a professor of national, naval and maritime strategy in the Strategic and Operational Research Department, Center for Naval Warfare Studies in October 2016. He has published five books, over 150 journal articles and book chapters, and numerous reports for government and academic organizations. He is a retired Navy captain and surface warfare officer specializing in naval strategy. He held command at sea and directed several strategic planning organizations.

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.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Fullbore Friday

How in one FbF can you do justice to a ship with 20 Battle Stars like the USS O'BANNON (DD-450)? 17 in WWII (second only to USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) ), and three in Korea.

We aren't the only US Navy that has trouble getting its Sailors armed with the right weapons and enough weapons ... and we aren't the only US Navy with resourceful Sailors.

From the Destroyer History Foundation and Ernest A. Herr - BEHOLD!
On 5 April 1943, DesRon 21 was returning from a night of shelling Japanese shore installations deep in the New Georgia area of the Solomon Islands. Our destroyer, the O’Bannon, as part of this force, picked up a radar contact that turned out to be a large Japanese submarine cruising on the surface and apparently unaware of our presence. The Japanese lookouts undoubtedly were fast asleep.

We approached rapidly and were preparing to ram the sub. Our captain and other officers on the bridge were trying to identify the type of sub and decided, at the last minute, that it could be a mine layer. Not wanting to blow up ourselves along with the sub, the decision was made that ramming was not a wise move. At the last moment, the rudder was swung hard to avoid a collision and we found ourselves in a rather embarrassing situation as we sailed along side of the Japanese submarine.

On board the sub, Japanese sailors, wearing dark shorts and dinky blue hats, were sleeping out on deck. In what could be considered a rude awaking, they sat up to see an American destroyer sailing along side. Our ship however, was far too close to permit our guns lowered enough to fire and since no one on deck carried a gun, not a shot was heard. Ditto on the Japanese sub, no one there had a gun either. In this situation, no one seemed sure of the proper course of action and it probably would not have been covered in the manual anyway. Therefore everyone just stared more or less spellbound.

The submarine was equipped with a 3-inch deck gun and the sub’s captain finally decided that now was probably a good time to make use of it. As the Japanese sailors ran toward their gun, our deck parties reached into storage bins that were located nearby, picked out some potatoes and threw them at the sailors on the deck of the sub. A potato battle ensued. Apparently the Japanese sailors thought the potatoes were hand grenades. This kept them very busy as they try to get rid of them by throwing them back at the O’Bannon or over the side of the sub. Thus occupied, they were too busy to man their deck gun which gave us sufficient time to put a little distance between our ship and the sub.

Finally we were far enough away to bring our guns to bear and firing commenced. One of our shells managed to hit the sub’s conning tower but the sub managed to submerge anyway. At that time our ship was able to pass directly over the sub for a depth charge attack. Later information showed that the sub did sink. When the Association of Potato Growers of Maine heard of this strange episode, they sent a plaque to commemorate the event. The plaque was mounted in an appropriate place near the crews mess hall for the crew to see. Well, it was the crew’s battle.
BTW - as any WESTPAC guy will tell you, even today the Japanese have no idea what to do with a spud.

First posted in DEC 2011.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

We Keep Shooting Piano Players, but the Orchestra Doesn't Get Better

Notice how we keep firing program managers who were JOs when the errors they are being fired for were started?

Is everyone who should be held to account being held to account?

Is this part of a larger trend though our government and international organizations?

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog.

Come on by and give it a read and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

How do you Say, "Relax Francis" in Chinese?

The CCP must think that no one has access to a history book or the internet,
The US military is deploying "unprecedented" numbers to the Asia-Pacific region, raising the risk of an incident with China's navy, a senior Chinese official said Tuesday.

Tensions between the two superpowers have soared on multiple fronts since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, with both countries flexing their diplomatic and military muscle.

The United States' regular "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea -- where China and neighbouring countries have competing claims -- angers Beijing, and China's navy usually warns off the US ships.

For its part, Beijing has infuriated other nations by building artificial islands with military installations in parts of the sea.

"The US military deployment in the Asia-Pacific region is unprecedented," said Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute of South China Sea Studies, a government think tank.

"The possibility of a military incident or an accidental shot fired is rising," Wu said.
Oh wait; CCP citizens don't have unfettered access to the internet or history - and that is why I think much of this is for internal use.

It is silly, but that's the big leagues.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Monday Moody? Don't Read This Post.

If you think The Long Game and Terrible 20s series are a bit of a downer, well, you can always pick up Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr.,USN (Ret.) in the July Proceedings for some light reading;
Today we live in a deteriorating security environment. The global operating system that kept the United States and its allies secure and prosperous in the wake of the world wars is gradually unraveling. Meanwhile, over­attention to the distractions of extremism and self-alienated nations has masked persistent decay in the U.S. military’s capability and capacity relative to ambitious major competitors.

This erosion may hasten the end of the most recent in a series of long-wave geopolitical cycles, which usually culminate in a war the belligerents did not expect. A major test of U.S. power, which some would contend is already under way, could signal the end of the current cycle.
If this sounds familiar, it should.

This fits in perfectly with something we've discussed here many times; it is just a matter of "when" China decides that it needs to challenge us at sea to kick us back to "our" side of the international date line.

Read it all.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Fullbore Friday

Back in 2013, the late, great Wayne Hughes gave me permission to publish the full text of a speech he gave that year.

To keep you company this July 4th weekend, I'll repost it here in full.

Captain Hughes; over to you.

Captain Wayne Hughes, Jr.
Naval Postgraduate School
11 April 2013

Seventy-one years ago LIFE MAGAZINE told the story of Ensign George Gay, the only survivor of Torpedo Squadron EIGHT’s attack on the Japanese striking force at the Battle of Midway. His squadron’s heroism had a lifelong effect on this twelve year old boy growing up in the cornfields of Illinois.
I didn’t know the whole story then—how Gay’s commanding officer, LCDR John Waldron, broke away from rest of the Hornet air group and the deep significance his squadron’s sacrifice in making our victory possible. Personal courage was one of six critical factors—and probably the best known one—that made victory possible in the Battle of Midway on the 4th of June 1942.
Years later, in the early 1970s at Pensacola during the filming of the movie “Midway” our training carrier served as a surrogate Enterprise. At a filming of the carrier getting underway my wife, Joan, and others went down to the pier to volunteer as extras. The movie, by the way, is quite faithful to history.
Also movingly done was Herman Wouk’s vivid description of the battle in the air in War and Remembrance. Wouk’s imaginary hero, Captain “Pug” Henry, had a son, Warren, who was a dive bomber pilot who struck the Japanese carriers.
Best of all is John Lunstrom’s recently published Black Shoe Carrier Admiral. Among the many, many histories and personal accounts of the battle, Lunstrom’s stands out as the best researched, most detailed, and fairest appraisal of top-to-bottom performance on both sides.
Not long ago I wrote about Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance, including his role at Midway. His presence there added to the momentum that would make him our premier fleet commander in the Pacific. Spruance was criticized later for one thing and another, but Lundstrom framed him best: “Every time when Spruance faced the Japanese, they lost.” Here is a quotation from my own appraisal of Spruance at Midway in Nineteen-Gun Salute, a recent book covering nineteen of our greatest navy leaders:
Imagine Spruance as he walks into Nimitz’s office on 26 May 1942, only to be told that Halsey is hospitalized and Task Force 16 is his. Within minutes Spruance learns that in 48 hours he will sail to fight, with 100 percent certainty, the first naval battle of his life, outnumbered 80 ships to 26, against an enemy who has not lost a battle since 7 December 1941. Nimitz says his mission will be to take calculated risks to attack and punish the Japanese, yet without losing his own force. Spruance learns that if Yorktown’s damages at the Battle of the Coral Sea can be patched up, Fletcher will join on the very eve of battle and assume tactical command. It is a mission demanding exquisite responsibility and adaptability. “Elated,” says one historian of Spruance’s reaction to the news. If you think like Spruance, “sobered” is a better term.
But let’s cut to the chase. I will talk briefly about six things all of which were necessary for an American victory—an “incredible victory,” as Walter Lord called it. I’ve mentioned two. In covering all of them, I’ll be defending Yamamoto and Nagumo and the Japanese air wing commanders. This is just in passing, but it offends me when historians have to find feet of clay in a battle’s losers. The Japanese weren’t perfect—no battle is planned and fought error free—but all of the six things I’m going to talk about had to coalesce for us, or else the Japanese would have won and maintained their unblemished record. Midway marks the turning point of the Pacific war.
The American torpedo planes were not the only ones who exhibited great courage on 4 June. One data point says more than a dozen individual stories could do. Of 233 aircraft in our three carriers, we lost 108, almost half of them. Many brave airmen also fought and survived, including Chicagoan “Butch” O’Hare, Jimmy Thach, and our own Lieutenant Dick Best who has spoken at NPS forums in the past. Human performance, including fighting to the death, is the very essence of what we glibly call command and control—not the technology of a system but the actions of men against fire.
I have boundless admiration for Raymond Spruance. He earned his reputation over the rest of the Pacific War, commanding at Tarawa, the Marshalls, the Marianas, the Battle of the Philippine Sea—a near-perfectly fought battle underappreciated at the time—then at Iwo Jima, and finally at the bitter, culminating Okinawa campaign in the spring of 1945. The adulation Spruance received after Midway largely came from his timely decision to launch his two air wings at the right moment to attack the Japanese carriers before they detected and struck us. It was vital that he not waffle or hesitate, but for this Monday morning quarterback who is neither caught up in the heat of the battle nor under orders to fight boldly without risking my carriers, attacking as soon as possible was a no brainer. Spruance’s greater wisdom at Midway was something he was condemned for at the time. The night after the battle he turned east away from the Japanese force he had just destroyed. Spruance was afraid Yamamoto would try to redeem the battle by sending battleships and cruisers east to catch him coming west. As it turned out that is exactly what Admiral Yamamoto did. What was a great victory could have turned into the debacle Nimitz at all costs wanted to avoid.
But the real hero of the battle is Admiral Chester Nimitz himself. He understood that only he could gather all the threads in his hands ashore at Pearl Harbor and communicate the vital information in one-way transmissions to Fletcher, Spruance, and his commander on Midway Island, and synthesize incoming messages from an assortment of submarines and sea planes on reconnaissance. Moreover, up to the moment when the Japanese carriers were located and the attacks began, Nimitz was his own tactical commander. He put Task Forces 16 and 17 where they needed to be. He gave each task force its own distinctive role. And in everything important he outwitted his very capable Japanese counterpart, Admiral Yamamoto.
Finally I want to add Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher to my honor roll. His Yorktown air wing was the best handled in the battle and who did not hesitate to turn over command to Spruance when he lost communications in his damaged carrier. Fletcher was one of the unrecognized heroes in everything that had gone before. The CNO, Admiral King, tried to get Nimitz to fire Fletcher. Nimitz resisted as long as he dared, because he saw that the Japanese navy was a seasoned fighting force in 1942, while Fletcher’s forces were green and still learning.
Napoleon said he wanted “lucky generals” and Branch Rickey said of baseball “luck is just the residue of good design.” We can say that Lieutenant Dick Best was a “lucky general” because he saw at the critical moment that McClusky was leading all the dive bombers against the Kaga. He broke off and with two wingmen dropped just three bombs on the Akagi to achieve two near misses and one fatal hit. Lucky? Sure. But perceptive and heroic, too. However, I’m not talking about making your luck, but about just plain chance. There is no other explanation for the fact that the critical Japanese search plane assigned to search where our forces lay silent and undetected was the only one that was delayed. If the cruiser Tone’s scout had found our ships on time then the two air fleets would have struck each other almost simultaneously and our outnumbered forces would have lost the battle.
Nor is there any explanation other than sheer luck that Wade McClusky’s and Max Leslie’s forty dive bombers, coming from different directions and different carriers, arrived over the Japanese carriers at the exact same time and fatally damaged three carriers in five minutes, at 1025 on 4 June 1942. It was not just for their courage that we remember Waldron, Lindsey, and Massey’s torpedo bombers. They had to arrive, all three squadrons, just minutes ahead of the dive bombers to draw away 41 Japanese fighters and the attention of the entire Japanese striking force and let the dive bombers attack literally unhindered. It took courage and bold leadership, but the culminating event by which we won the battle has to be one of the most fortuitous events in all naval history.
Many people know now that we had broken the Japanese code. But in crypt-analysis nothing is certain and our success was part science, part art, and part Nimitz’ faith in his cryptographer team at Pearl led by Ed Layton and Joe Rochefort. As a result, Nimitz brought the Enterprise and Yorktown back from the South Pacific and patched up the damaged Yorktown just in time to play a key role in the battle. Instead of one carrier we had three. By some clever deception, the code breakers confirmed the target was Midway Island, which we promptly loaded with over one hundred aircraft—more than on any carrier—all unbeknownst to Yamamoto. Best of all, we knew to within a day or so when and where to search, find, and attack his fleet.
In June 1942 we had air search radar and the Japanese did not. Therefore they had no warning of the approaching dive bombers. That made all the difference. The defending Japanese fighters in the air were all too low to intercept our dive bombers because they had no air search radar to warn them. With radar the carrier decks would not have been caught with aircraft loaded with fuel, bombs, and ammunition. Radar itself is merely a technology. It takes wise command to appreciate its value—which we did not have at Pearl Harbor on 7 December. But by the following June we were proficient in using it to control our aircraft.
The sixth necessary factor I have never seen specified is the role of Midway Atoll itself. Midway served as a fourth aircraft carrier on our side, and since its location was known and it could not move, Midway Island drew a lot of attention. It is not a big place but on the fatal day it was packed with Navy, Marine and Army aircraft, including B-17 bombers. Of the approximately 115 aircraft on the island we lost almost 60% of them. They did no damage whatsoever, but by making a series of badly coordinated attacks they preoccupied Nagumo and affected his decisions. Without the distraction of Midway Island we could never have attacked his striking force successfully. The irony of Midway is this. Yamamoto didn’t care as much about taking the island as he did about drawing out and destroying the remnants of our fleet. But Nagamo became distracted, and what was intended to be the seduction of our fleet—Midway Island—ended by seducing the seducer.
Need I say that the six things, courage, leadership, luck, cryptanalysis, radar, and the island of Midway itself were all intertwined in a single fabric? Herman Wouk pays special tribute to the valor, leadership, radar, and luck of the aviators by having Captain Henry’s son die on the third day of the battle while diving, one last time, on a crippled Japanese cruiser. He memorializes all the aviators in the three torpedo squadrons from Hornet, Enterprise, and Yorktown by naming the pilots and crewmen, both the 68 who died and 14 who lived. Ian Toll in Pacific Crucible likens our torpedo bombers to the charge of the light brigade, but that’s the image of a foolish, useless sacrifice. Lundstrom, by comparison, give the torpedo planes a heroes’ credit for opening the door for the dive bombers’ success.
What is the command and control connection? A big technology change is embodied in our unmanned aerial vehicles. There is currently a debate about the ethics of attacking with unmanned aircraft. I think if you had asked John Waldron, Gene Lindsey, Lance Massey and their torpedo squadron mates, to a man they’d have said bring on the UAVs: it is better to sacrifice enemy lives with robotic attacks than to sacrifice American aviators.
The Battle of Midway was a special turning point in the war, but it in terms of fighting it is typical of all the great naval battles of the Pacific War. Aircraft carriers were vulnerable. By the end of 1942 both sides were reduced to one operating carrier, so that both sides had to rebuild their carrier fleets in 1943. As to aircraft losses, in the five big Pacific air battles, one-third of our aircraft were lost per battle, and two-thirds were lost per battle on the Japanese side.
The US Navy hasn’t fought a sea battle since 1945. Midway was fast, furious, and decisive. Has anything changed since then? I don’t think so. In the Falklands War a big deal was made in Time and Newsweek about the ships the Royal Navy was losing in 1982. This bugged me so much I took to the lecture circuit to put the record straight. That half-dozen or so British ships were sunk was not unusual, and at the same time the defenders destroyed the cream of the Argentine air force. Argentina lost so many aircraft, more than 40% of them, they had to change their strategy. Missile battles between ships have also been just as fast and furious in modern combat as in the past.
The Battle of Midway was not an anomaly in terms of destructiveness. The anomaly was that a badly outnumbered force won a great victory against a very skillful opponent, and it took all six critical things for us to win.