Monday, May 17, 2021

Army: Climate, Politics, and Pork


No, it is not.
Today, no nation can find lasting security without addressing the climate crisis. We face all kinds of threats in our line of work, but few of them truly deserve to be called existential. The climate crisis does…climate change is making the world more unsafe, and we need to act.
- Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, at the Leaders Summit on Climate, April 22, 2021
As a species, humans have thrived under drastically higher and lower sea levels; colder and warmer climates. The slow changes we are seeing now are not existential. Not even close. It is a challenge - maybe in some areas a mounting crisis, but not existential. It is something that, even if a mounting crisis, does not have a military solution.

From the top, all of this is simply because the military is following the orders of the CINC. That is how it works. As this is a fun topic this week; yes, this is political and the military is involved in it.
In line with the President and the Secretary of Defense’s direction, the Army is prioritizing climate change considerations in its threat picture, strategic plans, operations and installations. 
If your orders are legal, you carry them out. As such, 90% of this is about exactly what I would submit as a staff officer if so tasked by my boss. I don’t fault anyone involved with this per se … as there are a few subversive Easter Eggs here.

That won’t stop me … as … well … in the milbogg’n ecosystem, I have a job to do. Let’s get to it.

The whole issue around global cooling/warming/climate change and whatever new iteration will be used later when these become stale long ago left the realm of science for politics.

Long ago.

I’m just old enough to remember the 1970s global cooling scare. It made good copy to sell magazines and keep people panicked after “silent spring” petered out (after the Green Revolution took out the Malthusian panic). 

Everyone coasted along for about a decade when the usual suspects invested time in SANE/FREEZE or other large paper mâché doll consuming activities to buck up the tottering Soviet Union in its final days, but when the Cold War ended, it took awhile for them to find the latest hook. They knew they had the right topic when the patron saint Al Gore took up the global warming crisis and helped smooth a new path in a pursuit of power, government control, full-time paychecks, and most importantly for rent-seeking grifters – government contracts.

A crisis, real or created, is a great excuse to grab power by those who lust after it. If you can scare the masses and then tell them you are there to save them, the herd will give you that power. You can enjoy the power for power’s sake, and to gain allies to extend your high, use it to enable others that will back you to pursue other agendas you couldn’t pursue otherwise. To keep progress progressive, as it were, also reward your friends and punish your enemies.

“Climate” is the perfect kind of crisis. We have a lot of great scary movies about it, and is for many it is a secular religion. The zealots to use as enforces are legion.

“Climate change” is always happening. Mammoth bones in the North Sea, archaeologists exploring underwater caves off Central America and the Gulf of Mexico for evidence of Ice Age human settlements, and beach sand a few hours inland prove that. No one can deny climate change as it has been going on for billions of years before our ancestors decided to leave the trees for the plains.

The great unknown is how much of today’s change is related to human activity. Is it low single digit %, or in the middle double digits? If we knew that, then based on reason we could discuss cost/benefit analysis of what if anything we could do to address it and how to mitigate its effects. We’d have a better understanding of timelines we are facing in geologic times. Sadly, the rub is that last bit. 

According to all the earlier warnings, we should all be dead right now, NYC would be flooded, and we would be a decade past the 10-yr-until-it-is-too-late point. I’m still here. Water levels are the same at my house and the Obama’s. 

A few decades after we all should have drowned or starved to death, we still suffer from powerful people ruled by emotion being pushed by people motivated by more base drivers; lust for power and greed.

That is how you should read the latest from the US Army.  Make no mistake, this is all politics and money driving well meaning people’s emotionally based fear.

Read it all, but here we go.

First, remember how we are all told by reliable sources that climate is not weather, and likewise?

Well, fail out of the gate (or Easter Egg?)
The Army has a lot to be proud of, yet there is a lot of work to continue to operate efficiently across extreme weather and climate conditions.
Next, tell me how any of this helps the Army win the upcoming fight west of Wake?
  • Strategizing and planning to mitigate climate threats, with emphasis on Soldier resilience, energy reform, and capability enhancement and procurement.
  • Advancing development and use of renewable energy, energy and water efficiency and consumption, and other environmental initiatives that steward the land, air and water to enable Army operations and maximize readiness.
  • Poised to lead the way in technology development for tactical vehicles that balances increased capability with decreased climate impacts.

In the above, all the bolded items are simply taking the Army budget to Solyndraize a few companies. 

What would I 100% support the Army doing because it is a real, actionable series of activities that would address real issues, has reliable metrics to track progress and creates sustainable stewardship examples future generations can enjoy? I’ve underlined them.

Not all of this is bad … but the politics and grift is transparent.

This sad little document ends with one of the secular religion’s chant. It really should be in Latin, or perhaps Esperanto. 
Climate change leads to competition for scarce resources and can increase the spread of infectious diseases. To secure the American people and their interests in the homeland and abroad, the Army must continue to address the challenges a changing climate poses to the people, territories, capabilities, and other resources upon which U.S. security depends.
You know what right now and for the next 5, 10, and 15 years we know is and will be driving, 
“…humanitarian disasters, undermine weak governments and contribute to long-term social and economic disruptions.”?
Mass migration, high birth rates, environmental pollution. That's what.

We have real metrics that that are statistically sound and objectively observable. If we must expend Army funds in this area … then do it here. This will see results … but to be quite honest, they are more the responsibility of USAID and other governmental organizations. The Army can support them … but it really isn’t their job – and it shouldn’t be.

Feeding the Vaal that is the “climate emergency?” All that does is line pockets, fill campaign coffers, and tickle fetishes … which is mostly the point.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Fullbore Friday


USS Helena (CL-50). Nothing "Light" about the Helena. Tough, hard fighter she was - with a lot to fire with.
Armament :
5 - Triple 6"/47 main battery

4 - Dual 5"/38 DP secondary

8 - .50 caliber AA

4 - Curtiss SOC-2 Seagulls (Aircraft) on 2 Aft catapults.
Yes kiddies - that is 15 6" guns and 8 5" guns. The Japanese (who if nothing else in WWII had no problem honoring a good fighter) said she had "6-inch machine guns."

Read all about her here - but let's look at her final battle, the Battle of Kula Gulf.
Background

On 5 July, Task Group 36.1, commanded by Rear Admiral Walden L. Ainsworth, and consisting of light cruisers USS Helena, USS Honolulu, and USS St. Louis, plus four destroyers, had received word of another Tokyo Express run down "the Slot", and proceeded northwest past New Georgia.

The Allies were in the process of launching their next offensive in the Solomon Islands, having just landed troops on the island of Rendova as a preliminary step in seizing the major Japanese airstrip at Munda on New Georgia. In support of this landing, which was to set up an initial beachhead for moving U.S. troops across Blanche Channel to New Georgia, Ainsworth had the night before conducted a cruiser bombardment of Vila on Kolombangara and Bairoko on New Georgia and, short on fuel and ammunition, was in the process of retiring to the Coral Sea to replenish. A Marine landing was scheduled on the north shore of New Georgia on 10 July and would require further support.

Battle

At 01:06 off Kolombangara, the task group came into contact with a Japanese reinforcement group commanded by Admiral Teruo Akiyama which consisted of ten destroyers loaded with 2,600 combat troops, bound for Vila, which they used as a staging point for movement into Munda. The Japanese were divided into two forces, and a formation of three escorts trailing the main column first came under attack.

The U.S. ships opened fire at 01:57 and quickly sank the destroyer Niizuki and killed Admiral Akiyama. However the Helena had expended all its flashless powder the night before and was forced to use smokeless, illuminating itself to the Japanese ships with every salvo. Two of the Japanese destroyers launched their Long Lance torpedoes and sank Helena. The main Japanese force, which had countermarched away from Vila with the first contact, broke away having landed only 850 of the 2,600 troops. Nagatsuki ran aground, while Hatsuyuki was damaged.

Both forces began to withdraw from the area, but one Japanese and two U.S. destroyers remained in the area to rescue survivors and, at about 05:00, Japanese destroyer Amagiri and USS Nicholas exchanged torpedoes and gunfire. Amagiri was hit and retired. The beached Nagatsuki, abandoned by her crew in the morning, was bombed and sunk by U.S. planes.

Aftermath

USS Radford and Nicholas both stayed behind to rescue survivors from Helena. While rescuing over 750 men, Radford and Nicholas had to reengage the enemy three times and were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their rescue. Amagiri escaped and later was the ship that cut PT-109 in half in Blackett Strait southwest of Kolombangara.
Catch that last bit? For the want of one well place 5" round .....

As a side-bar for you GRAF SPEE fans, here and here you can see where HELENA's crew had a chance to photograph the hulk during her visit to the River Platte during her shakedown cruise.



First posted April 2009.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Claude Berube: Teaching, Legacy, Mentorship, and Opening a New Chapter

Known to all on and considered to be part of the Front Part is friend to the blog, Midrats, and me personally, is Dr. Claude Berube; reserve Naval Officer, author, professor, and all-around good guy.

After a long record of service teaching political science and history at the United States Naval Academy and director of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Claude is moving on to start a new chapter.

In a highly enjoyable retrospective of his time in Annapolis, Claude becomes a guest on the podcast he started, Preble Hall, as interviews by Dr. Marcus Faulkner. 

Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

LCS ... the Maintenance Edition


Yes, we will continue to discuss LCS because we don't seem to have quiet fully realized the many lessons ... hard, expensive lessons ... of the program.

Thanks to the GAO, we have some great info on the maintenance nightmare ... and a kind admission from the CNO that, yes, the anti-transformationalist were correct.

Details over at USNIBlog.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Answer to DarkSide is Well Known


Non-state or quasi-non-state actors preying on commerce for profit. They steal, hold hostages, and some times engage in extortion where if you don’t pay them off, they will break your stuff.

The news of the last 48-hrs about DarkSide and the pipeline held hostage is just another chapter in a long story;

The ransomware group linked to the extortion attempt that has snared fuel deliveries across the U.S. East Coast may be new, but that doesn’t mean its hackers are amateurs.

Who precisely is behind the disruptive intrusion into Colonial Pipeline hasn’t been made officially known and digital attribution can be tricky, especially early on in an investigation. A former U.S. official and two industry sources have told Reuters that the group DarkSide is among the suspects.

You should recognize this for exactly what it is; piracy. The cyber domain, a global common in a fashion, is not that different from another global common, the high seas. Human society has a template thousands of years old of this kind of crime. We also know how to solve it.

Piracy is like any other business, if there is a profit to be made, more people will try to make it.

Piracy usually starts with small victims with small costs. Governments and corporations, both often dangerously short sighted, accept it as the cost of doing business and not worth the trouble. They ignore it as it grows, but eventually it gets too big and too powerful, and hopefully that trigger point is small enough to be quickly managed. If you wait too long, the threat to commerce becomes a national security threat.

For decades, criminals, nee pirates, in the cyber domain have been holding small companies, local governments, and even individuals hostage, blackmailed, or even vandalized. The government, in the responsible law enforcement entity of FBI and DOJ, have not been engaged to the level they need to be  going after this international criminal conspiracy. They have been doing other things while this threat has grown. It is so effective that the non-state and quasi-non-state actors have been joined by governments in this enterprise for fun and profit.

Enough.

Nation states cannot let piracy stand. It is best to crush them when a small threat, but when large, the need is even greater.

As I asked over on twitter;

We need to raise the Blood Flag.

Of course, in our overly civilized times, we cannot gibbet cyber criminals from the lampposts in front of DOJ or 10th Fleet HQ (however …) but there are other things we can do.

In conjunction with the CIA – as many of these threats are overseas – we need to make this business no longer profitable. 

Destroy their systems. Take their property or render it useless. Seize their assets. Find the embarrassing information about their principals and make it public. Seize the individuals when possible and give them to SDNY's most dyspeptic attorneys.

What we cannot do is have our government state that this is a “private sector problem” anymore than we would tell shipping companies that piracy on the high seas is a private sector problem.

Raise the Blood Flag and get our geeks to work. 

We already have patches.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Why Kiribati and Kanton Matter

Last week, you may have noticed this little jewel come across your scan; 

China is working with the tiny Pacific island state of Kiribati to explore the feasibility of improving an airstrip on one of its remote islands, China’s foreign ministry said late Friday.

Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing Kiribati lawmakers, that China has drawn up plans to upgrade an airstrip and bridge on the tiny island of Kanton (also spelled Canton), a coral atoll strategically located midway between Asia and the Americas.

This is just part of a pattern of China using a combination of economic promise to the poor, a little graft to grease the skids, and you have all sorts of access from the small Pacific Islands, long suffering African republics, European mercantilists, and DC thinktanks.

Why should we worry about one more?

Kanton Island. No accident.

Always ... and I mean ALWAYS ... get ye to a chart ... better yet, a globe.

You WWII history geeks will remember this was one of the staging areas for our progress through the Gilbert Islands (Tarawa etc). The US was nice enough to build an airbase there. You can see it clearly.


At first blush, you might think, "Well, it isn't even close to any US military facility, so what?" 

That is true.


That isn't why it is such an important spot. Here's the terminal end of the great circle route from San Diego to Australia.


Where does that great circle routs go by Kanton?


Yep. 28 nautical miles. 28.

You cannot classify geography or math. That is why the Chinese are interested in it. I can't blame them. If I were Chinese, I'd do the same exact thing. 

They know the USA can't rush to the aid of anyone from Taiwan to the South China Sea if they have to clean up what used to be their backyard first.

Time and distraction. Defense in depth. None of this can be classified. They are open to all.

The fun follow on question: what would they do with it?

Friday, May 07, 2021

Fullbore Friday

 
A beloved retired coach passed last month;

...Greenup County resident Ernie West, has died.

...

West was a football coach at Wurtland (KY) for some time

From the, "you never know what that old man has seen" school ....

Attention to citation:

Pfc. West distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. He voluntarily accompanied a contingent to locate and destroy a reported enemy outpost. Nearing the objective, the patrol was ambushed and suffered numerous casualties. Observing his wounded leader lying in an exposed position, Pfc. West ordered the troops to withdraw, then braved intense fire to reach and assist him. While attempting evacuation, he was attacked by 3 hostile soldiers employing grenades and small-arms fire. Quickly shifting his body to shelter the officer, he killed the assailants with his rifle, then carried the helpless man to safety. He was critically wounded and lost an eye in this action but courageously returned through withering fire and bursting shells to assist the wounded. While evacuating 2 comrades, he closed with and killed 3 more of the foe. Pfc. West's indomitable spirit, consummate valor, and intrepid actions inspired all who observed him, reflect the highest credit on himself, and uphold the honored traditions of the military service.


West stands with two other Medal of Honor recipients shortly after receiving their medals from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. From left: Edward R. Schowalter, Jr., West, Eisenhower, and William R. Charette

He was the last of this group of heroes. 

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Diversity Thursday

Just a quick post to put down a marker about something that has been around our Navy a long time, and that we've covered here for over a decade; affinity groups.

They seem harmless, and just pop up now and then. Here's a typical example from 2019;


Unless you've been to one of their meetings, read their literature, or subjected your admin department to processing their flood of self-serving awards, you may not have insight in to where they are in the diversity industry ecosystem and what role they play in keeping people divided along sectarian lines.

They know what they are and what their mission is - heck look them up yourself - but only now and then to they let the mask slip. Lucky for you, the affinity group advocates in the educational branch of government in Sacramento decided to do that for us;

... in Racial Affinity Groups, white people can discover together their group identity. They can cultivate racial solidarity and compassion and support each other in sitting with the discomfort, confusion, and numbness that often accompany white racial awakening. They can also discern white privilege and its impact without the aid of or dependence on People of Color (POC). White people who have formed Racial Affinity Groups report that they recognized their collective commonality and shared history, as well as the impact that their privilege has had on other races and on each Racial Affinity Group member. 

While many POC may not need an affinity group to help them relate to their racial group membership, they may need to explore the diversity that exists among POC and across POC without having the distraction of having to educate white people on whiteness and its harm. A habitual focus on white people can distract POC from knowing themselves as a diverse body. Exploring this tender territory in a Racial Affinity Group can be a wholesome alternative to expecting white people at large, who often are not aware of being racial beings, to relieve the intense distress experienced by POC. 

Of course, this is all around building an "anti-racist classroom." Fun note, go their main page where they lead with a quote from Lenin Peace Prize winner Angela Davis. You can't make this stuff up.

Anti-racist? Of course that rings a bell - that is the racist world view of the guy who the CNO Gilday wants everyone to read, Ibram X. Kendi.

As you hear more and more about "anti-racist" and "affinity groups" in your schools, companies, and your Navy - know you are not hearing about a collective good, harmless people trying to do the right thing.

No. Not at all.


Wednesday, May 05, 2021

How Will Your Division Replace its Equipment?


How many ships can a US Army division afford to lose when crossing the Pacific? You know, the ships that will carry their equipment and munitions? 

Have we thought this through?

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog. 

Come on over and give it a read.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Bad Program Management Costs More Than Money


One little nugget I’ve said too much that last week or so is that to many in the national security nomenklatura – especially in DC – the process is the product. The measure of effectiveness isn’t the ultimate delivery of useful kit to the fleet, but adherence to the process.

Billions upon billions of dollars can be made for years and POM-cycles on end getting ready to think about possible things that might be of some use … maybe.

We wind up with dead end programs that produce nothing. No one really is held to account. At the end of the day you have to do one of two things:

1. Like with the fail to transition that was ZUMWALT, you have to restart the legacy ARLEIGH BURKE line in order to keep a steady state or so of battleforce ships.

2. Shrug your shoulders with a, “I failed” like we did with CG(X), and then stare in to the abyss with the worn out equipment it was supposed to replace, in this case the TICO. You hope something will show up before you are deploying with museum pieces.

As a nation, it isn’t just the Navy who failed to perform, to do its job, to at least match the performance of previous generations of program managers – the other services too.

This doesn’t just cost money or put the nation at strategic risk – it can cost lives.

The amphibious assault vehicle mishap that killed eight Marines and a sailor in July 2020 has spurred many “lessons learned” that leaders say will prevent anything so “tragic” from happening again.
...
When the 13 vehicles were delivered to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in April 2020, 12 were not operational. But they were deemed ready for landborne operations after months of repairs by 15th MEU mechanics, and by July, the AAVs had achieved “what we thought” was waterborne capabilities, Olson said. 

However, the vehicles did not meet the standards required for waterborne operations, as became clear after the accident. More than 54 percent of the AAVs in the fleet did not meet watertight integrity standards, an investigation revealed. 

“What we found in our subsequent inspections after a safety of use message came up on the 31st of July was that we had a problem across the fleet with our watertight integrity,” Olson said. 
Only now finding that out? Really?

Why?

Make no mistake – those who failed to produce a viable replacement for the AAV share a lot of this blame. An institutional mindset that will take unnecessary risks with lives in order to not embarrass the Chain of Command who failed to properly equip it – they too share a lot of the blame.

Who will hold them to account?

We’ll see.

Monday, May 03, 2021

The Perfidy of Pakistan


One aspect of the Afghanistan conflict that I think will stick in time's craw the hardest is what we allowed Pakistan to do. I was lucky enough to be at the table at C5F when this all kicked off - one of the many quiet O4s in the back of the room watching and listening as the big guys got us ready for what was to come. 

From almost day-1, a regular refrain - besides looking for sidearms and chem gear for all the terrorists with mustard gas mortar shells that intel told us could show up any day from Iraq ... ahem ... - was how we could not let Pakistan be for Afghanistan what Cambodia and Laos was for the North Vietnamese. 

"No safe havens!" we told ourselves literally over and over as Task Force K-Bar was put together ... but then the folks in DC and Tampa had different ideas, and almost immediately Pakistan was allowed to be a safe haven. 

There were all sorts of reasons, but we did what we did - ground convoys and airspace don't become permissive on their own dontchaknow. Of course we had to go in a decade ago down the street from Pakistan's West Point to kill Osama. 

Of course.
Pakistan has played on both sides of the field in Afghanistan, contributing to the Taliban's success, a senior US senator has reminded his colleagues, a day after Washington announced plans to withdraw all troops from the war-torn Asian country by September 11.
Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Jack Reed, on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon, said "a crucial factor contributing immensely to the Taliban's success" has been the inability of the US to "eliminate the "eliminate the sanctuary the Taliban was granted in Pakistan." 
Referring to a recent study, Reed said the Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan and state support from organisations, like Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have been essential to their war effort and the US' failure to undermine this safe haven may be Washington's most significant mistake of the war.
Senator Reed (D-RI) was and is one of the good guys. I know he's seen the same intel I've seen ... and a lot more.

With time, the larger American public will find out more that game Pakistan played. We should not be forgiving. We should not forget. 

Sunday, May 02, 2021

May Day Midrats Melee!

OK, it is the day after May Day ... but that's close enough for government work.

As the entire maritime world this week decided to pick up on some Midrats favorites - poaching the Army's budget and making the Taiwanese porcupine a bit more imposing - could there be a better time for another Sal & Eagle One green range?

Open topic, open chat room, open phones. 

We'll cover the waterfront and invite you to come on board for a broad ranging discussion of national and maritime security issues.

Join us live if you can and roll in with your preferred topic in the chat room or call the switchboard number right here on the showpage.

This Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern come join us for a Midrats free for all.

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.