Friday, May 28, 2021

In Memory of Neighbors Unknown

Every few years I repost this little bit from 2005. It is time again. I'll add the commentary I put with it in 2013 and have slightly modified some personal items to keep it up to date.

In a culture where more often than not, all your neighbors are really just transients - they move in an out every few years, chasing whatever they are chasing.  Their families are scattered hither and yon; few really related to anyone.

I've wondered for awhile what impact the reality of the rolling, self-imposed Internally Displaced Persons has had on our nation - perhaps causing us to miss something. Is it a net-gain, or a net-loss? 

Well, perhaps I am projecting; I have always thought I was missing something.

Sure, post-military I returned to my hometown, the place I was born - and that is nice. I now have a smattering of relatives and people I grew up with who are still here - so I feel like I have what I have always wanted; a real sense of community.

Mrs. Salamander is a very rare creature in our boom-town; a third generation native, with another three to four generations going even further back a couple of hours down the road.

Even though this was where I was born, it never really felt like "home" - as community was a different concept for me based on my cultural reference.

My mother was the first of her generation to move from our small town in Mississippi since our family helped found the county and the city in the first decade of the 1800s - she still calls it "home" in spite of the fact she left it six decades ago. 

We would go "home" a lot when I was growing up. I always got a kick out of everyone more or less knowing each other; heck - related to each other. Names had meaning, relationships had meaning - and perhaps a post for a different day; race had a huge meaning in a way in my sheltered color-free upbringing I had no concept of.

A few years ago when we traveled back to Mississippi to lay my father's remains to rest in the cemetery that has my relatives'  remains are going back two centuries, my oldest niece walked in to the local drug store that also has a barber shop and a coffee house in it. She had with her her youngest son and my sister. They just wanted to have a cup of coffee. The server brought it to them and then, not recognizing them, asked how they were and what brought them to town. Well, within 5-minutes, there were 3-4 people around the table telling stories about my mom in High School, and how they remembered my her children, now all grown, when we visited during the summers.

In that small Mississippi town, history isn't abstract, it walks with you. Events of a century ago were still there, still waiting for you around every corner, if you look for it and have the right person with you to tell you about it. What your family did or did not do decades or a century ago still matter; still have an impact on the present.

I miss that, and think that we as a nation have lost a bit of something by not having it. In the faster parts of the nation, the hole brought by that missing is even greater.

Winding down a couple of decades of war and thinking about the above as we move in to Memorial Day weekend - I though about community in the context of a post I did the first year I was blogging.

I lived in Norfolk back in 2005, and I jogged by a hunk of granite all the time. It took me a couple of years until I decided to just stop and read.  I'm going to post in full that bit from 2005 and the follow-on and ask you to ponder your neighborhood; the few blocks to the left and right of where you live. How many of your neighbors have been lost in this war? As many as this small Norfolk neighborhood? Regardless of the number, would anyone have a connection strong enough to lead them to make a memorial for those lost?

Maybe yes, maybe no ... but a good thing to ask yourself today. I am.

Neighborhood Memorials; May 2005:

I have gone past by this monument countless times. As of late, it started to bother me more and more. What is it?

Being that this is an older neighborhood, and the eagle is hard to miss, I realized that this had to be a monument of some kind.

We have all been to the grand monuments. The large monuments. The understated monuments. The sublime monuments. The controversial monuments. The insulting monuments.

What could be more personal than a neighborhood monument that simply states, "These were our neighbors that fought and died for us."

How common are these little neighborhood monuments? I did a quick search for these names on the Internet. Inside a day I found out that in 1935, Robert L. Settle was an Eagle Scout, but that was about it.

I found out more about Sadron C. Lampert Jr. through has close relatives in the area that I managed to find. In a quick email exchange I found out some detail that, when you think about it, every name on every monument has. When you look at these men, struck down in the prime of life, you have to think about the lost potential. For you economists out there, the opportunity costs for a society of those lost in conflict is huge. Earn it we should. With his permission, the grandson of Sadron C. Lampert sent a quick background.

While I obviously never had the honor of meeting him, his father (Sadron Sr.) was alive until I was about nine. Sadron Jr. was killed when my father was just one or two.

He skipped two grades in high school and went to Yale, where he played football and graduated PhiBetaKappa. He went to work for a firm in New York, where he met my grandmother (boss's daughter, if I'm not mistaken).

Sadron Jr. was drafted into the Army in late 1943. He served as a communications officer in Europe. He, like all the Sadrons, had pretty poor eyesight and was constantly breaking his glasses. This may have contributed to the circumstances of his passing. He died in September, 1944 near Empoli, Italy. He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart.
By going to the outstanding National Archival Research Catalog, I found out that Robert W. Jones was a 2nd LT in either the Army or Army Air Corps when he was KIA. Charles H. Ware and Carl T. Wood; in the digital age they are hidden.

The irony is, the Winona Garden Club no longer exists, but as you can tell, someone in the neighborhood is keeping the monument up. Somewhere, on microfiche I'm sure, is the story. The questions are still there though; did they know each other before they left overseas? Did their families know each other? Did the families stay after their death? Did they serve together?

I've been to the WWII monument in D.C. and this little neighborhood monument had much more of an affect on me. Perhaps it is the personal nature of it, or the depth that Sadron Lampert, Jr.'s grandson provided. Next time I see something like this hidden in a corner, I'm going to walk over and see. After all, that is what they were put there for. The former members of the Winona Garden Club succeeded. Decades later, people are still giving tribute to their neighbors.

Winona Memorial II: November 2005:

With Veterans Day, it is a good time to focus again on something I ran into this summer; something everyone has, I hope; a local personal memorial to those who died in service to their country. In this case it is a small little memorial in Norfolk, VA in an neighborhood called Winona Park.

As a byproduct of my original posting, the family of one of the men on the memorial, Sadron Lampert Jr., has been kind enough to send along some more details on Sadron Lampert Jr. that adds depth to the name. I'll quote from some of their emails below, taking out the names. A reminder that these were real people, with real families, real futures, real desires, real hopes. Everyone that leaves early, sacrifices a lifetime.

Nothing dramatic here, but next time you hear or see a name, remember each one has some kind of connection - some history - some grieving family. War is an expensive undertaking - and money isn't the currency.

Dear CDR Salamander:

I happened to Google Sadron Lampert and found your article on the WWII memorial in Winona. My name is XXXX. I live in Norfolk, and my father, XXXX, is Sadron's brother. I would like to add to and clarify some of your information regarding the five young men from Winona who gave their lives serving their country.

The only person among the five that my father did not know was Robert W. Jones. Three of the families literally lived next door to each other: the Lamperts, Settles, and Woods. In fact, my grandmother, XXXX Lampert, was next door consoling Mrs. Settle on the death of her son, not knowing that her own beloved Sadron had already been killed.

By the way, my grandparents had already lost a little girl, Doris, when Sadron died, and my father, who was five years younger than Sadron, had gone into the Army before Sadron and was in New Mexico training to go overseas when he heard of his dear brother's death. My father--my hero--went on to fly more than his share of missions over Japan, flying out of Tinian. The siblings had another brother, Ralph, who died at age 56 of a massive heart attack.

To clarify Sadron IV's e-mail, Sadron III was two when his father was killed. Sadron III, of course, is my first cousin.

Sadron, Jr. entered Yale at age 16. He graduated at age 20. He was on a special football team--the 150 lb. varsity team--because of his slender stature.

Sadron, Jr., .... met his wife, Edith, (while she) was working at Farmer's, Inc., my grandfather's company, as a secretary when Sadron, Jr. met her. She was from South Norfolk. ...... After Sadron and Edith married, they moved to New York, where Sadron was the manager of marine and war risk insurance at Johnson and Higgins on Wall Street.

Sadron and Edith were married at Rosemont Christian Church in South Norfolk. The church was on Bainbridge Blvd., the same street where Edith's family lived. Her maiden name was Edith Herbert. Again, Sadron and Edith were a lovely couple. My mother and father can still picture them attending their church, First Methodist, Edith dressed to the nines and Sadron perfectly outfitted in a gorgeous white summer suit.

Sadron, Jr. was actually drafted in early 1944. He was drafted as part of Roosevelt's Limited Service Act because of his nearsightedness. Instead of the Army using his vast intelligence and putting Sadron where he could have made a weighty difference, the Army sent him straight to North Africa and then to Italy. .... He died on September 14, 1944, three days before my father's 21st birthday, because he and a boy from Wisconsin caught a mortar in their foxhole at Futa Pass, Italy, which killed both of them instantly.

Although Sadron Lampert was at Futa Pass at Highway 65 in Northern Italy on September 14, 1944, several WWII websites list incorrect information. For example, one lists him as "Lambert" and another lists his date of death as Sept. 29, 1944. Both are incorrect. Sadron Lampert died on Sept. 14, 1944.

I know that the fighting between Sept. 2 and Sept. 25, 1944, along highway 65 through Futa Pass--known as the Gothic Line--was intense. Between Sept. 10 and Oct. 26, four U.S. divisions suffered over 15,000 casualties. Some sites even suggest that the Futa Pass activity in September 1944 was a diversionary sacrifice to draw enemy fire away from other strategic points.

Sadron was dashing and extremely intelligent; everyone admired him. My mother also grew up in Winona and remembers seeing Sadron and Edith together and thinking what a perfectly beautiful couple they were. They had the aura of movie stars. My grandparents continued to live on Morris Crescent until their deaths. My grandfather, Sadron, Sr., died in 1983. I was lucky enough to know him well into my adulthood. My mother's parents lived on Huntington Crescent until their deaths (with my grandmother living almost to age 97). My uncle and my brother and his family still live in Winona, so my attachment to the neighborhood is quite strong.

Charles H. Ware went by Hal. He and my dad were the same age and were on the high school football team together. My dad believes that he was in the Army Air Corps.

Carl Wood was drafted rather late in life. He was 6 or 8 years older than Sadron. He was the first husband of another long-time Winona resident, Winnie (Mrs. William) Scullion, who died several years ago. Her sons (by her second husband) are still in the area.

Robert Settle was an Annapolis grad. He took Naval Flight Training and was killed in a crash stateside.
Just last year, the Lafayette/Winona Civic League held a special Memorial Day service and dedicated the memorial site with new lights. My mother has photographs of the original dedication service, held in the early 1950s, complete with shots of Sadron, Sr.; his wife, Elizabeth; and their grandson, Sadron III.

To the family of S.L. Jr., thanks again for the email and putting the person behind the name.

Every name has a story like S.L. Jr. Every memorial is huge, even if smallish and in a small park; like the one that should be remembered on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th Month. Armistice Day.

UPDATE: Ninme has a nice tribute to Colonel Bolling from WWI.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Diversity Thursday

As most of you have noticed, we could do a DivThu twice a day every day for the last nine months or so ... but this is supposed to be a side-show and not a primary subject of cdrsalamander. 

As the Front Porch knows, when we started this almost a decade and a half ago, we were pretty much it in going after the diversity bullies, their commissariat and constellation of grievance driven rent seekers.  We are no longer alone.

The issue broke out above the ambient noise a few years ago, and now has some top-shelf advocates such as Christopher Rufo going at it full time. 

It is great to have company, but we still need to keep the drum beat going. I've decided to do the best I can to only bring in things that I think are either being overlooked or I know would be of specific interest to the Front Porch.

I have that this week. 

Last summer saw the triumph of a decades-long effort by the diversity industry to get their players in place throughout DOD in both dedicated billets - GS and uniformed. With them in place they had the opportunity to harvest dividends at the right time.

You have to respect the effort. As anyone can tell you who has been in the game, senior leadership is absolutely terrified of their permanent company civilian HR and DEI staff. They won't stand up to them. They won't say no to their suggestions.

In position and the field of play set, they just needed to wait for the moment to be ripe and they could make their move to get as much gain as possible. 

The great failure of the Trump administration in this area was its failure to appoint people who knew was was in play. As a result, nothing was done to dismantle the cancerous infrastructure fueled by racial animus, division, and sectarianism. 

We've seen the results in our Navy with the horrible Task Force One Navy, and the CNO including supporter of racist policies and programs Ibrim X. Kendi and others in to his reading list.

You get what you appoint. You will see what you recommend. The bitter harvest from this field will come to our table for years, but right now we have something to deal with. 

Biden's ahistorical Red Guard have their chisels, cranes, and paint cans ready to come after our Navy. These Americans, including retired Flag Officers, are demonstrating a kinship with the Afghanistan Taliban unworthy of anyone who expects to be consider a person of reason.

The Pentagon’s Confederate renaming commission is taking a look outside places and things named after individual Confederates, its chair told reporters Friday, to include anything named to honor the Confederacy.

Fort Belvoir and the guided missile destroyer Antietam have not before come up in the Confederate renaming discussion, but retired Adm. Michelle Howard said that the commission is taking a broad look.

Belvoir, originally the name of a plantation on which the post now sits, was dubbed Fort A.A. Humphreys when it became an Army installation in 1917. In 1935, it went back to Belvoir, at the request of a Virginia congressman who wanted to recognize the historical Belvoir plantation.

“We want to get to Fort Belvoir and dig more deeply into the historical context,” Howard said.
They are not looking for context, they are looking for pretext. Pretext to destroy.

They are not so much rewriting history, as ignoring it.
Similarly, the cruiser Chancellorsville, named after what is considered Gen. Robert E. Lee’s greatest victory, is already on the list, as is the oceanographic survey ship Maury, named for a Confederate sailor.
Previous generations who saw that after the massive slaughter that was our civil war, that we needed to come together and see this as one history, one nation.

That is unpopular now with the Red Guards wandering through the streets, but there it is.

How bad can it get? Until there is pushback, they will keep expanding. Just look at where the bleeding edge of the school system is:
The documents, obtained from Montgomery County Public Schools, detail the district’s “Anti-racist system audit” and critical race theory classes. They reveal that students who attended Thomas Pyle Middle School’s social justice class were taught that phrases such as “Make America Great Again” are “covert white supremacy.”

The phrases are ranked on a pyramid, with “Make American Great Again” ranking only slightly below “The N-Word,” the “KKK,” “lynching,” and “Neo-Nazis.”
If commissions in DOD are thinking about changing ship names, you don't think another commission on extremism won't benchmark where academia is?

Really? Why wouldn't they?

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Bab al-Mandab and the Persistence of Geography

Are we giving China an opening in one of the last places we would want them to be?

Maybe ... but if not, at least someone just decided to put down a marker on an important bit of forgotten real estate.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part XC

Are you numb when it comes to news of the maritime power growing on the other side of the Pacific?

I hope not, but if you are the numbers are such that it should burn through to what few nerves you have left.

We have been at this here for what; Long Game is this ... #90 (and that isn't even the number of China posts we've done over the years) a decade and a half or so?

Well, no rest folks. We are well inside the quickening.

Don't avert your eyes from the numbers. Let them soak in. Hoist them aboard. Ponder. Plan. Prepare.

I'll let our friend The Other Sal warm things up for you; 
China’s new shipbuilding orders up 182.1% in first four months

"China’s newly received shipbuilding order volume for the period of January-April was 27.87m dwt, a 182.1% surge year-on-year."

This is more tonnage than the US built in 1942 & 43, combined.

They are flooding the seas with numbers. Numbers matter. 

They are running all over the field while we sit in the coach's conference room watching best-of reels from last season's playoffs.

As at end of April, China’s shipbuilding output, newly received orders and orders on hand accounted for 41.1%, 53.3% and 46.8% respectively of the global shipbuilding market share.

The game is afoot people. 

Our passive, pampered, and entitled elites make their excuses, deposit their divided checks, reinforce their gated estates, and continue to lead the nation towards a reckoning with a serious power west of Wake. 

We need a new elite with different priorities, or the planet will have a new superpower.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Some Damn Foolish Thing in Belarus

WaPo is using the exactly correct phrase, "State Sponsored Hijacking;"

Earlier Sunday, Ryanair Flight 4978 from Greece to Lithuania was over Belarusian airspace, when it was contacted by local air traffic control. The controllers claimed that there might be a bomb on board and ordered the plane to land in Minsk, Belarus’s capital city.

The evidence suggests they were concerned with a very different threat — to the regime of Belarus’s longtime autocratic ruler, Alexander Lukashenko. One of the passengers on the plane was an opposition journalist, Roman Protasevich, whom Belarusian authorities wanted to take into custody. According to reported eyewitnesses: “One guy was very distressed [when we were diverted to Minsk]. Later we were taken out of the plane in groups of 4. He told us who he was and added ‘I am facing a death penalty here.’ He was accompanied by military all the time.”
As you can tell from this solid video review, they were almost out of Belarus airspace:

Let's do some back of the bar napkin math: they were no more than 10 nm from the Lithuanian border ... NATO airspace, before they turned. Ryan Air flies 737-700 that has a cruise speed of Mach 0.785 (450 knots). That is about 1.5 minutes of flight time. Almost ... but 90-seconds is a long time when faced with a MiG-29 armed to the teeth.

Things could have gone horrible wrong.

His name is Roman Protasevich ... a co-founder and a former editor of the NEXTA channel on the social media platform Telegram, which has become a popular conduit for Mr. Lukashenko’s foes to share information and organize demonstrations against the government.

He fled the country in 2019, fearing arrest. But he has continued to roil Mr. Lukashenko’s regime while living in exile in Lithuania, so much so that he was charged in November with inciting public disorder and social hatred.

As a teenager, Mr. Protasevich became a dissident, first drawing scrutiny from law enforcement. He was expelled from a prestigious school for participating in a protest rally in 2011 and later was expelled from the journalism program of the Minsk State University.
He is a video blogger and an opinion journalist.

Totalitarian nations and people cannot stand free discussion, criticism, or being held accountable. They will do all they can - from getting them kicked off media platforms on the low end, through getting them fired at their day job, to kicked out of university, to putting them in jail or killing them on the high end. 

They are so vexed by the concept of a free mind, they will do the most reckless of things to destroy it.

What was done here? Reckless is an understatement. 

This is one hell of a precedent. The international community must respond in a clear, firm, and punishing manner. Belarus is not China or the USA. No friendly economy will collapse from isolating it. Hard to see how it could be driven closer to Russia in any event. 

At a minimum, action at the ICAO, UN, EU, and national level by all nations should be firm, clear, and impactful. So far, only Lithuania seems to be taking this seriously. The EU is beclowning itself, as normal.

Big issues from small countries have a habit to growing out of proportion, so caution is also in order ... but we haven't pulled even one click on the ratchet yet. 

Roman Protasevich needs to be trending everywhere in the West.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Modernization Crunch with Hallie Coyne - on Midrats


After two decades of a low boil, but highly demanding series of conflicts in Asia required an extensive focus on the now - in both funding and leadership time. America finds herself facing the 2020s with a rested, increasingly well equipped and confident People's Republic of China on the other side of the Pacific stretching herself on a global scale.

Advances of the last few decades that were made were focused on the fight at hand, but they may not be the right equipment for the expected fight to come. What does the USA need to start investing in now to ensure we are better positioned at the end of this decade than we were entering it?

This Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern, join my guest co-host Mark Vandroff and me to discuss these and related issues with Hallie Coyne, a research associate at the American Enterprise Institute. We will use as a starting point for our conversation the recent report she co-authored with Mackenzie Eaglen, The 2020s Tri-Service Modernization Crunch.

Hallie supports work on defense budget analysis, defense reform and acquisition, and US military strategy. She has published on trends related to military construction funding and the national security implications of data protection regulations. Before joining AEI, Coyne worked at the multinational technology company Oracle as a business development consultant, with previous experience at the US Embassy Ottawa and the International Trade Administration in the US Department of Commerce. She holds a BA with honors from the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, with majors in international relations and history. She has also completed academic work at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) and the Department of War Studies at King’s College London.  

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. You can find us on almost all your most popular podcast aggregators as well.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Fullbore Friday


People think they know the story of General Pinochet. 95% don't. In many respects, all you have to do is look at the political and economic stability he left Chile and compare it to the leftist dictators' legacy in Latin America. It speaks for itself. My long time readers know my views; no reason to go over them again.

There is a lesser known story that all should know, and fleshed out the debt Britain owes the General.

The following is from a man I wish we could have as our Secretary of the Treasury or Federal reserve; the great maJosé Piñera.
General Pinochet and the Falklands War.
In the first days of April 1982, shortly after the Argentinean invasion of the Falkland Islands, the Head of Intelligence of the Chilean Air Force relayed to me that a Wing Commander of the Royal Air Force had arrived in Chile with a personal message from the Chief of the Air Staff of the RAF, and requested an urgent interview. I received him immediately. 
It was Wing Commander Sidney Edwards, who at once presented his credentials and asked me if I would be inclined to help the British at this hour. The help they were requesting was mainly in matters of intelligence- As they had never considered Argentina a potential enemy, they had not bothered to gather adequate intelligence on them. He also told me that he was empowered to negotiate directly any urgent requests in aeroplanes, spares or other equipment that the Chilean Air Force needed, in order to strengthen our own defences in view of the Argentine menace. He further pointed out that we should bypass diplomatic channels. 
That neither the British Ambassador in Chile, nor the British Defence Attaché had any knowledge of him. I told him that before promising anything, I had of course to discuss this with General Pinochet, and get his blessing on the whole idea. I saw General Pinochet, who was not at all surprised at the British request. We carefully analysed the request and its possible consequences. He authorised the operation on the condition that under no circumstances could Chilean territory be used by the British mount any operation against Argentina. General Pinochet also instructed me to keep our own Ministry of Foreign Affairs out of the picture. I would like to point out that there was no other person present at this meeting. 
Wing Commander Edwards was given a complete briefing on the Argentinean Air Force by our own intelligence team. He was then given free access to our air operation centre in Punta Arenas, where we monitored all Argentinean air force operations through our long-range radar and our ground-based communications equipment. 
Wing Commander Edwards carried a portable radio with a direct satellite link to the staff of the British Task Force. During April 1982 we worked hand in hand with the British. An RAF Nimrod was flown to Chile to perform an electronic and communications mission for mutual benefit. As it flew strictly over Chilean territory, I considered that we were not violating the land rules laid down by General Pinochet. 
The Royal Air Force also shipped six disassembled Hawker Hunter planes to Chile on board a C-130 transport airplane. Other C-130s brought a long range military radar, which we installed following British wishes opposite Comodoro Rivadavia. I would like to mention that the C-130s came via Tahiti and Easter Island, because at the time no other South American country would allow overflight of British military airplanes. We must not forget that Chile was the only Latin American Country that did NOT back Argentina in this war against Britain, and that the President of Chile at the time was General Augusto Pinochet. 
So, when the British Task Force arrived in Southern waters, everything was working smoothly. When the British attacked on May 1st, we were able to provide the Task Force Commander with minute to minute information on the Argentinean reaction. We were able to pick up the Argentinean airplanes as they were taking off, and monitored their flight and communications, as they were transmitting in clear voice. 
We followed their route as far as 50 miles out to sea. The British Task Force had thus a timely warning of the coming attacks, and was able to prepare its defences and scramble its fighters to intercept. I was also informed immediately of all the ongoing operations, and was able to follow them in my office. Every important piece of information, I passed on to General Pinochet. He constantly reviewed what we were doing, and was highly interested in what was happening. 
The only snag we ever had was when a British helicopter carrying commandos force-landed on Chilean territory a few miles west of Punta Arenas. We had no knowledge of this operation, and as this violated one of the principles we had laid out, we had a very strong argument with Wing Commander Edwards, who promised it would never happen again. As the wreck of the helicopter burned, everybody in Punta Arenas, and later in Argentina, got wind of the mysterious helicopter. I informed General Pinochet immediately. He then gave the pertinent instructions to deny all Chilean knowledge of this to our own Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and I was given a free hand to help the crew out of Chile. 
The crew was ordered through their own radio links to give themselves up at a clearly specified Chilean Air Force facility. We then put them on regular airline flights to the United Kingdom. At the end, I would like to mention another event of great consequences. 
At the very end of the Falklands War, on June 8th, two British attack transports, "Sir Gallahad" and "Sir Tristam", were attacked and destroyed by Argentinean fighter bombers with considerable loss of life. That day, after several months of continuous operation, our long-range radar had to be switched off for long-overdue maintenance. The Argentinean forces were then able to achieve a complete surprise attack. One can only speculate how the British Task Force would have fared, without the half-hour warnings on Argentinean air strikes provided by Chilean intelligence. 
As a final word, I would like to say that this co-operation has never been mentioned before, and it would have never been mentioned had it not been for the very unjust situation in which General Pinochet finds himself today in Britain. A country he helped in a time of need, and when no other Latin American county was willing to do anything in favour of the United Kingdom.
Fernando Matthei Aubel Former General and Commander in Chief of the Chilean Air Force
Did you note that the Brits sent an O5 (Wing Commander)? Just a CDR/LtCol type ..... 

Hat tip John O. First posted APR 2012.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Worst Leadership Idea Since TQL

I know that seems like a rather high bar to meet, but after a quarter century, TQL may have met its match.

Details, if you can believe them, are over at USNIBlog.

Come by and behold the madness

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The French View of the Pacific

Many of our NATO allies have their own concerns in the Pacific independent of the USA's, with significant territorial possessions and economic interests from the African Indian Ocean coast to the Eastern Pacific. When they do good and responsible activities there, we get a nice secondary security benefit.

France always seems to want to have an outsized presence on the international scene, and they are making a new play for more influence in the Indo-Pacific theater. We should welcome that.

Via The Diplomat:

Largely by virtue of its considerable strategic real estate in the mega-region, in the Pacific as well as the Indian Ocean, Paris is increasingly becoming the partner of choice for many other regional powers who have sought to diversify their partnerships in that strategic theater in face of Chinese intransigence as well as U.S. policy uncertainty in the past.

Did you catch that? This is smart positioning. There are many nations that are "Western adjacent" who have no desire to be in the Chinese orbit but for a variety of reasons do not want to get all that close to the USA. France would be a good option, with a positive secondary effect on USA goals.

...and France intends to assume strongly its international responsibilities. In a strategic context focused on the growing competition between the U.S. and China, France could be a credible alternative for many countries in Southeast Asia thanks to its status as permanent member of the United-Nation Security Council (UNSC) and its forces of [military] presence and sovereign territory, permanently based in Indo-Pacific and reinforced by regular deployments of metropolitan [mainland] resources.

Knowing there are powerful friends who do not have a territorial claim, political schemes, or tricks for economic servitude as China does can be a way to strengthen the spine of Indo-Pacific nations. France is doing good work here for everyone.

To face those various threats together, France is fully engaged in cooperation about Maritime Domain Awareness. In order to achieve the best possible knowledge of activities at sea in Asia-Pacific, France’s ambition is to promote bilateral and multilateral partnerships such as Information Fusion Centers (IFC) in Singapore, India, or Madagascar, with French liaison officers present there since their respective creation. This knowledge is also reinforced by the French maritime and diplomatic community, as well as warships and aircraft operating in the area. France had, in particular, created in 2016 the MICA (Maritime Information Cooperation & Awareness) center, with aims to share permanently maritime information and analysis all over the world through an international maritime network.

We know the UK is making a renewed effort to see and be seen in the Indo-Pacific, and even Germany. More nations who share a desire for a stable international environment free of an authoritarian Chinese hegemon should too. 

It is true that [many other] European countries have recently showed a growing interest in the Indo-Pacific area. And from a French perspective it is very good news. The recent publication of German and Dutch strategies underlines the strategic interest of the Indo-Pacific for Europe. German and British deployment projects are, from my point of view, an excellent opportunity to promote a multilateral approach in the area.

There is good news and efforts out there if you look for them. I just hope that we have smart people in DON and DOS who are working to leverage and connect to these independent efforts ... and deconflict for the greater good.

UPDATE: Well, lookie here, right on topic:

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.

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.


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.


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. 


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.


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?


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.