Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Kowtowing Kiwi

Watching our great Anglosphere partner New Zealand continue to debase herself in the face of the communist Chinese government should be as frustrating and disappointing to all free, liberty minded people as it is to me.

Sophie Richardson puts the New Zealand government on report

New Zealand has signed on to a number of key initiatives led by other countries criticising the Chinese government’s ... Yet these remarks tend to be in the passive voice, sending a mixed message of wanting to criticise without irking Beijing. That squeamishness is reflected in other recent policies and remarks, including Labour’s peculiar position in the parliamentary debate over whether to use the term genocide to refer to Beijing’s policies towards Uyghurs, ...

The government’s decision not to join a January 10 statement with Five Eyes allies on arrests of democracy activists in Hong Kong, saying it had communicated its concerns bilaterally to Beijing, raised eyebrows when a few weeks later Wellington and Beijing agreed to upgrade a free trade agreement. Ardern has had to publicly defend her government against allegations that New Zealand was giving Beijing a free pass on its human rights record.


No New Zealand government has thoroughly confronted Chinese state and Chinese Communist Party influence in New Zealand. Former politicians, parties, universities, and companies across the country have been shown to have problematic ties to Beijing, yet there is little movement towards a broad, thorough public examination of these relationships.

In 2018, the Chinese embassy in Wellington hosted a reception for the People’s Liberation Army – a force deployed to crush peaceful speech from Tibet to Tiananmen Square – not at its own premises but at Te Papa, a public institution devoted to multiculturalism.

Human institutions often reflect, and are motivated, by the same things as the humans who run them.

Though a generalization, human actions are generally driven by the desire for four things deeply rooted in the brainstem; money, status, sex (aka social clout/influence), and resentment.

The order can change from person to person, but scratch the surface of any problem, and one of these will be right there under the surface, usually supported by the other three.

These drivers can be seasoned by other aspects of human nature, virtue and sin. 

When you look at a policy being pursued that seems good from your perspective or bad, look at the four motivations. What seems to be driving it? If you are having trouble, look at the flavorings that shape the four motivators for good or bad.

Though I’m not Catholic, I’ve always held their theological work in the highest regard – especially the easily grasped portions. Let’s use those for our flavorings.

You have the Seven Heavenly Virtues, first four from classic scholarship, the last three of a more theological underpinnings; prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope, and charity.

Then you have the Seven Deadly Sins; pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth.

How does this help us understand New Zealand’s actions?

My take is this is mostly driven by money (economic) not so much flavored by sin, but by a lack of virtue – specifically courage. If they had more courage, it would decrease the primary desire for money, and would bring status to the front. A status bolstered by justice, hope, and charity (for the oppressed).

Poor leadership is always the result of a lack of virtue. Poor leaders are not necessarily driven by sins – though that is more common than not – but by a weakness of virtue. That “weak” in “weak leadership” is just that – leaders weak in virtue.

New Zealand’s problems are a reflection of weak leadership. 

New Zealand took an opposite fork in the road from its close brother Australia when it comes to China. Will the New Zealand people catch up to the Australian view

In their isolation and leadership, hard to say … but this has to soak in at some point. The character of the New Zealand people will be reflected in how much they accept this kind of leadership.

They need to be more like Australia and Palau and less like some backwater Duhu Fu

Monday, June 21, 2021

Will the Franco-German Project Beat NGAD?

Well, at least they have a full scale static display;

The German defense ministry has forwarded a request to lawmakers seeking approval for almost 4,5 billion euros, or $5.3 billion, that would pay for the country’s contributions to the next stage of the Future Combat Air System.

Lawmakers on the Bundestag’s Budget and Defense committees are scheduled to consider the request next week. It covers a collection of research and technology-development activities, collectively dubbed phases 1B and 2, between 2021 and 2027. During that time, officials want to begin regular test flights with a demonstrator, constructed under the auspices of France’s Dassault Aviation.

I am a fan of the German thinking here;

German officials also want to offset nationally what they consider insufficient attention to the fields of electronic warfare, mission planning, weapons interfaces, and the secure distribution of sensor data, according to the document.

How fast could they move the timeline to the left if they had more money? Hard to say ... but 2027 is closer than it seems.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Fullbore Friday

Were there milbloggers, gadflies, and other agitators before their time? You bet there were.

Before “CDR Salamander” emerged from the head of Neptune, there were many examples that nudged “me” in to being. They are sprinkled throughout our history, some like Sims are well known – others have faded a bit in to the mists of time.

Today I want to bring someone out in to the light that is worth remembering. He saw well in to the future what realistic technological capabilities were emerging  that would more effectively and efficiently deliver what makes or breaks war at sea; delivering ordnance to target.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate a great naval officer, Admiral Sir Percy Moreton Scott, Royal Navy, 1st Baronet, KCB, KCVO.

To honor him I want to pull a few quotes from his 1919 book, Fifty Years in the Royal Navy. You can get a hard copy at the previous link, or via books.google, a free PDF is available.

Heck, I'll embed it below too.

Remember, this is right after World War One ended.

As I could not convince the Admiralty that the sub marine was anything more than a toy, I considered it my duty to communicate with the Press. On the 15th December, 1913, I wrote a letter but withheld it on representations by a member of Parliament that the Little Navyites, then very powerful in the country, might use it as a weapon to cut down the Navy Estimates, and that I should better serve the country by waiting until the estimates were passed, and Mr. Winston Churchill had got the money. He could then, if he agreed with me, easily strike off some battleships from the building programme, and spend the money voted for their construction on submarines, aircraft, and anti-submarine measures.

Their Lordships were so annoyed with me for venturing to put their heads straight as regards submarines that at the end of the year they took away the pay that I had been receiving for helping them with director firing. Their letter was remarkable for the statement that the installation was practically completed in several ships and that the manufacture of the gear was in a very advanced stage. As a matter of fact, it was only completed in two ships and was not even designed for the various classes of ships in which it was to be installed. In this letter, dated the 30th December, 1913, the Admiralty bade me farewell, expressing " their high appreciation " of my services in connection with “ this sighting gear ” and referring to its marked success."


In due course the Navy Estimates for 1914-1915 were published, and as the substance of them revealed that the Admiralty had realised neither the menace that submarines were to this island country not the necessity of providing measures against them, I sent a letter to the Times on the 4th June, 1914, the gist of which was as follows : 

“ That as we had sufficient battleships, but not sufficient submarines and aircraft, we should stop building battleships and spend the money voted for their construction on the submarines and the aircraft that we urgently needed.

“ That submarines and aircraft had entirely revolutionised naval warfare.

“ That if we were at war with a country within striking distance of submarines, battleships on the high seas would be in great danger ; that even in harbour they would not be immune from attack unless the harbour was quite a safe one.

“ That probably if we went to war, we should at once lock our battleships up in a safe harbour, and that the enemy would do the same. “ That all naval strategy was upset, as no fleet could hide from the eye of the aeroplane.

“ That submarines could deliver a deadly attack in broad daylight.

“ That battleships could not bombard an enemy if his ports were adequately protected by submarines.

" That the enemy's submarines would come to our coasts and destroy everything they could see."

What is the future Navy to be ? Some officers say that the battleship is more alive than ever; others declare that the battleship is dead. I regarded the surface battleship as dead before the War, and I think her more dead now, if that is possible.

The battleship of today costs roughly £ 8,000,000; she carries about 1000 shells containing about 100,000 lbs. of high explosives ; her effective range is, say, 15 miles, she is vulnerable to aircraft with bombs and aerial torpedoes, and to submarines, the latter possibly carrying a 15-in. or 18-in. gun; and the ordinary automobile torpedo is still in process of development, and may, in the future, carry a ton of high explosives, which would probably sink any battleship.

For £8,000,000 we could build many aeroplane-carrying ships, equipped with aeroplanes carrying over 100, 000 lbs. of high explosives. If these aeroplanes carried fuel sufficient for five hours, their range would be about 150 miles out and 150 miles home.

In the battleship we put all our eggs into one basket.

In peace-time the aeroplane - carrying ships could be used as passenger ships, and the aeroplanes for carrying passengers instead of bombs.

As to relative cost of upkeep, the single battleship would require in peacetime about:

- 40 officers ... £8,000 

- 800 men ... £60,000

- Provisions and stores ... £30,000

- Coal ...  £10,000

- (total) ... £108,000

Say £120,000 a year. 

The aeroplane-carrying ships and the aeroplanes would cost nothing ; they would be earning money. The officers and men to form the crews of the ships would belong to the Merchant Navy. Aeroplane pilots will be as numerous as taxi drivers and get about the same pay. The battleship waddles along at twenty miles an hour, and cannot waddle very far, and in comparison with an aeroplane has a very low rate of speed.

The object in war is to introduce high explosive materials into your enemy's ships or country ; transmitting this high explosive by guns is expensive as the container of the high explosive has to be very strong, and consequently very heavy, to withstand the shock of discharge.

It takes a battleship weighing 30,000 tons to carry 100, 000 lbs. of this explosive. Ten aeroplanes weighing about three tons each would carry the same amount, so the relative weights of the carriers is as 30 tons to 30,000 tons.

When the battleship nears the end of her coal or am munition, she must waddle home at about the same speed as a South Eastern Railway train ( I am told that this is the slowest line on earth ), and it takes her several hours to fill up even if she uses oil fuel. The aeroplane does not waddle home, but comes back at 100 miles an hour, and it takes three minutes to fill her up with fuel and am munition. 

The future is with the aeroplane, which is going to develop rapidly in the next few years. Probably we shall also have submersible battleships of 10,000 tons. What chance will the surface battleship, presenting a huge target, have against such a vessel?

Be a gadfly. Take the slings and arrows. You serve your navy and your nation, not a bunch of imperfect people conflicted by personal ambition and the bias of the now. 

Always demand that those in charge of your navy are doing all they can and investing their money wisely so when your nation orders your Sailors in to harm's way, they have better and more capable tools to do their job than your nation’s opponents.

Admiral Scott, fullbore.

As a final note ... I'll just leave this here for the Front Porch;

Financial independence allowed Scott to indulge his intellectual arrogance and judgemental nature, which, when combined with his flair for self-publicity, formed the basis of his fractious relationship with Navy authorities. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Diversity Thursday

Today we return to the subject of the addition to the CNO's reading list of a book that openly calls for the most sectarian view of race. Worse, it calls for the official application of racism in to official policy.

For those who have not read his book, let me pull out how Ibram X. Kendi defines things in his book, "How to be an Antiracist," the book in question. 

Words mean things, and when people redefine words, you need to pay special attention;


Now operationalize that concept in your mind every time in our Navy you hear, "equity." From Flight Surgeons to Nuke Power School - operationalize the above concept and how, once people read this CNO recommended book, they move to reflect that in how we do business.

Outside our Navy, by that example everything is racist from medical school, to the NBA, cattle ranching, and the music world.

To accept that definition is to either encourage unending sectarian conflict and activated "one drop rule" discrimination based on race, creed, color, national origin, etc ... which naturally, will lead to sectarian conflict.

To inject Kendi's world view is to invite conflict. Indeed, that is exactly where it wants to go. Chaos and conflict are opportunities for those who desire power and control.

Now to yesterday's hearing. 

You can watch the full hearing here or here, but below is a cut specifically to the 01:08 point where the CNO is asked about the disgraceful addition of the divisive and sectarian Ibram X. Kendi to his reading list.

It is one thing to see the obviously flustered CNO try to maneuver around his own minefield, but I think it is much more revealing to read the transcript;
Congressman Lamborn (R-CO): "Admiral Gilday, I have to ask you about something first, that I'm concerned about and a lot of people in the civilian world. I sent you a letter with two dozen people on it concerned that you recently added several books to the Navy's professional reading list promoting Critical Race Theory and one of these books is Ibram X. Kendi's "How to be an Antiracist" and it argues that the entire American system is corrupted from top to bottom by racial prejudices which account for all differences in outcomes in out society and one sentence out of that book says that, "The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination." Now, I understand that this is a voluntary reading list, but how does exposing to our Sailors to the idea that they are either oppressors or the oppressed, and that we must actively discriminate to make up for past discrimination improves our Navy's readiness and lethality for great power competition?"

CNO Gilday: "Sir, initially you mentioned Critical Race Theory. I am not a theorist, I'm the Chief of Naval Operations, but I can tell you is factually on a substantial enough of time talking to Sailors there's racism in the Navy just like racism in our country and the way we're going to get after it is to be honest about it and that's what we're doing and that's one of the reasons that book is on the list doesn't mean I have any expectation that anybody believe or support everything that Mr. Kendi states in his book. I don't support everything that Kendi says, but the key point here is the Sailors in our Navy, we have to be able  to think critically. They have to be able to look outwardly at China and Russia and they have to understand what these societies, why those societies who are potential dangers to the United States inwardly. We have to understand ourselves and we have to understand critically that we value diversity, and I thought okay..."

Lamborn: "Admiral, I agree that we should have a robust and a great discussion and any racism uprooted and taken away. I absolutely agree and I endorse that, but should we have future discrimination? Do you, don't you disagree that particular statement, do you?" 

Gilday: "Sir, I have to look at the context of it. I'm not trying to be evasive, but I don't, as I mentioned, I don't support everything Kendi asserts, I don't believe everything that I read. I think that I hope, I think that everyone has to be in a position to weigh facts from fiction. Even our Sailors, they're bombarded every day from misinformation, much of it comes from China and Russia on this issue that's getting in our national psyche. I'm trying to get after it in the Navy."

Lamborn: "OK, well I hope that's one statement you don't endorse and maybe we can follow up on that."
There is so much to unpack here, and so much that is revealing. I can't cover it in one post, and if you've watched the clip and read the transcript, the problems with the CNO's response and understanding are self-evident.

Let me pick my top issues.

Theory: I'm sorry, but the CNO specifically and Flag Officers in general damn sure better be theorists. That is their job.

You have to understand and execute the practical application of theory; just war theory; deterrence theory; recruitment theory; etc. The oft mentioned, "Project Overmatch" is a theory. Alliances are based on theory. Most of what the late great Wayne Hughes taught us was theory.

Sorry, that dog don't hunt CNO.

Kendi: OK Admiral, now let's get to why of all authors you have Kendi on your list. If you don't support all of what Kendi asserts, what do you support that he asserts such that you would put it on your reading list? If you want Sailors to think critically, where are the books out there that provide a different view than Kendi on the topic of how to address racism so our Sailors can critically weigh his ideas against others? If that is your desire, then you've failed. If that isn't your desire, then it is clear what you are doing - endorsing political sectarianism - intentionally or unintentionally.

Misinformation: What specific examples of misinformation that our Sailors see daily on racism is coming from China and Russia that you think Kendi's work is helpful with? Are people entitled to state that the ideas, examples, and opinions about the USA - its people and institutions - in Kendi's book are themselves "misinformation?" 

This very revealing exchange - there have been more and I hope there will be more - clearly tells us we have one of two things, or both: 

1) Either the CNO is fully engaged in Kendi's view of our nation and it's people, or... 
2) ...he has decided to let the Navy's branch of the diversity industry bully him in to including his and similar works so they will not raise trouble and call him nasty names.

Either answer to the above is unacceptable.

Yes it matters. The United States of American is an experiment in self-governance by a gloriously polyglot people. The only way this will work is if the people see themselves as Americans first, and believe that their government will treat them as individuals; equal to all other citizens. We've spent the entire history of our republic striving to get better at this ideal and have been more successful in this regard than any other nation in the history of the world. 

As we approach the middle of the 21st Century, if we turn from the concept of judging people by the content of their character instead of their race, creed, color, national origin, or other sectarian divisions, and turning back towards lower-brainstem sectarianism, we are heading to a very dark place. No society that encouraged sectarianism amongst its people has ever survived. It always leads to division, and usually rivers of blood.

To inject that view in to a nation's military, as opposed to suppressing it, is the height of foolishness and greases the path towards self-destruction.

UPDATE: Later on in the hearing, Rep. Banks (R-IN) also weighed in to the topic. 

The CNO comes off even worse.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Tomorrowland is Going to Get us Killed

We think we know the future, we don't.

We thought our leadership would learn from killing 17 Sailors in the summer of 2017, but it didn't.

We thought our Navy would be ready for war sometime this decade, but we've decided to taunt fate and push two decades down the road.

Pray for peace.

Details over at USNIBlog.

UPDATE: Link fixed. Sorry, my bust.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

A Graduate Level Class on Efficiently Grilling the CNO

No, this isn't Rep. Luria (D-VA) week on CDR Salamander, though it is playing out as such ... but my post that was going up today is going on the back burner so we can bring up this jewel ... dare I say a Salamanderesque episode as uploaded by our friend Herb Carmen from today's HASC hearing.

I'll let Rep. Luria take it from here.  If we could have another dozen or so like this on The Hill, that would be great. Thanks.

Now, dig deep in to the point she's making here. Our Navy got in the pickle it is right now from overpromising and underdelivering; by acting like a salesman for the defense industry, vice a customer of same.

More of this is needed ... and on THU we'll have an earlier exchange with a different member of Congress that we'll cover.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Where is Our Admiral William Small? Rep. Luria Would Like to Talk to Him.

The Front Porch got some nice top-cover to start the week off. This is good.

As we covered here and on Midrats, sadly, the US Navy’s uniformed and civilian leadership over the last decade left a record of a serial inability to plan for the future of our Navy and worse, clearly define its importance to the security of our republic. 

Compounding the errors at the dawn of this century in the Age of Transformationalism, in the middle of the last decade it became clear to me in stark relief that the key to avoid further compounded errors lies in Congressional action.

We need to identify and support Representatives and Senators of all parties (remember, there are (I) in the Senate), who show the right focus and understanding to lead the required change through legislative change. DOD/DON is incapable of reforming itself, but it will follow the law and the holder of the purse. 

Ultimately, legislative change will need to replace Goldwater-Nichols, the COCOM structures, and accretion bound and ossified procurement system. Until then, we can do other things in parallel that can help shape the future – and must shape our fleet now. 

One such action is strategy.

During to the last Navy strategic effort of heft back in 2007, I dug out my hard copy of the 1986 Maritime Strategy I received as a Midshipman. As this is 2021, let us take a moment to contextualize those timelines.

Here we are in 2021 referencing 2007, 14 years ago, and 1986, 35 years ago. 14 years is the length of time from the end of WWII and the commissioning of our first ballistic missile submarine, the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (SSBN-598). 35 years is the same length of time from the end of WWI to the de facto end of the Korean War.

Yes, we are thinking at the speed of smell.

What about today? What can we do when our uniformed and civilian leadership seem hobbled by socio-political distractions or intellectually frozen in aspic? Again, we need to look to Congress.

One of the congressional leaders navalists should keep in their scan is Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA). Consistently solid on naval matters, as one would expect from a fellow member of the exalted order of retired Navy Commanders, her article out today at WOTR is worth your time to review.

In it she states one of the most important concepts people in 2021 need to understand about the urgency of the needed change in the direction of our Navy;

As the Navy focuses almost exclusively on future capabilities, it risks overlooking the immediate threats posed by that competition today. A Battle Force 2045 plan does little to ensure a ready battle force in 2025. Today, no longer in uniform, but as the vice chair of the House Armed Services Committee, I believe the constitutional role of Congress “to provide and maintain a navy” should be based on something more than future hopes in technology and budget expectations. We need to be prepared now for any contingencies that may occur on our collective watch.


U.S. maritime leaders need to answer the question: How would the U.S. Navy deter or defeat Chinese naval aggression, which may perhaps be compounded and complicated by other states such as Russia, Iran, or North Korea acting opportunistically while U.S. Navy forces are engaged elsewhere?


...the U.S. Navy has lost a generation of shipbuilding to failed programs. For example, the DD-21 program office (which resulted in the Zumwalt-class destroyer) was established in 1998. Originally scheduled for a 32-ship production line, but pared down to just three, the Zumwalt and her two sister ships have not deployed. ... Similarly, the CVN-21 program executive office, which was set up to produce what became the Gerald Ford-class aircraft carrier, was established in 1996. The USS Ford has not yet deployed.


 Multiple challenges with the Littoral Combat Ship program have resulted in some of those ships being slated for decommissioning only a few years into their intended lifespan. The Constellation-class frigates, intended to provide a more capable alternative to the lightly armed littoral combat ship, will not be present in the fleet in significant numbers for a decade or more.

Hard truth, and glad to hear it from Congress. 

Time is of the essence, and we are late.

Today, U.S. Navy leadership should heed the words of Lehman: “First strategy, then requirements, then the POM, then budget.” The global situation and America’s competitors and adversaries may have evolved, but the process by which the U.S. Navy designs and builds the fleet should take a valuable lesson from the 1980s. If the United States is to remain a global power, it needs a Navy fit for the purpose and the United States, as a nation, needs to make the commitment to prioritize national defense and make this investment.


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Small Islands in Great Power Competition, with Alexander Gray - on Midrats

China is interested in a lot more than just the first or second island chain. In the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean, the islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia are critical to the sea lines of communication for the economic powerhouses on both sides. 

From the Age of Discovery to today, their importance rises to the top of any power who wished to influence the area.

To look at this area of returning importance with us for the full hour from 5-6pm Eastern this Sunday will be Alexander B. Gray. 

The starting point for our conversation will be the issues he raised in two recent articles; How the US Can Protect the Sovereignty of the Smallest Pacific Islands in The Diplomat, and Why a Crisis in the Pacific islands Matters for Washington and Beijing in The Hill.

Alex is a Senior Fellow in National Security Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council, served as Director for Oceania & Indo-Pacific Security at the White House National Security Council from 2018-2019.

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, June 11, 2021

Fullbore Friday

Our Navy needs a 4th USS Aaron Ward.

Read all of this and tell me this isn't a name that needs to be active in our fleet.

We also need a ship named after her CO, Adam Sanders.

I'll just stick with the citations:

The Presidential Unit Citation for Aaron Ward reads as follows:

For extraordinary heroism in action as a Picket Ship on Radar Picket Station during a coordinated attack by approximately 25 Japanese aircraft near Okinawa on 3 May 1945. Shooting down two kamikazes which approached in determined suicide dives, the USS AARON WARD was struck by a bomb from a third plane as she fought to destroy this attacker before it crashed into the superstructure and sprayed the entire area with flaming gasoline. Instantly flooded in her after engine room and fireroom, she battled against flames and exploding ammunition on deck, and, maneuvering in tight circles because of damage to her steering gear, countered another suicide attack and destroyed three kamikazes in rapid succession. Still smoking heavily and maneuvering radically, she lost all power when her forward fireroom flooded after a seventh suicide plane which dropped a bomb close aboard and dived in flames into the main deck. Unable to recover from this blow before an eighth bomber crashed into her superstructure bulkhead only seconds later, she attempted to shoot down a ninth kamikaze diving toward her at high speed and, despite the destruction of nearly all her gun mounts aft when this plane struck her, took under fire the tenth bomb-laden plane, which penetrated the dense smoke to crash on board with a devastating explosion. With fires raging uncontrolled, ammunition exploding and all engine spaces except the forward engine room flooded as she settled in the water and listed to port, she began a night-long battle to remain afloat and, with the assistance of a towing vessel, finally reached port the following day. By her superb fighting spirit and the courage and determination of her entire company, the AARON WARD upheld the finest traditions of the Unites States Naval Service.

For the President,

James Forrestal

Secretary of the Navy

The Navy Cross citation for Commander Sanders reads:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Commander William Henry Sanders, Jr., United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the Destroyer USS AARON WARD (DM-34), in action against enemy aircraft on 3 May 1945, while deployed off Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands. With his radar picket station the target for a coordinated attack by approximately twenty-five Japanese suicide planes, Captain Sanders gallantly fought his ship against the attackers and, although several bomb-laden planes crashed on board, skillfully directed his vessel in destroying five kamikazes, heavily damaging four others and routing the remainder. Determined to save his ship despite severe damage and the complete loss of power during this action, he then rallied his men and renewed the fight against raging fires, exploding ammunition, and the flooding of all engineering spaces until, after a night-long battle to keep the ship afloat, he succeeded in bringing her into port. By his inspiring leadership and courage in the face of overwhelming odds, Captain Sanders upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

Like I said, read it all ... and be humbled at man's ability to persevere.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Diversity Thursday

Want to know an organization's priorities? Follow the money.

The skunk at the navalist picnic last week, in an already tough year, was the unexpected - by almost everyone - rather clunky MEMORANDUM of June 4, 2021 put our by the Acting Secretary of the Navy.

You can read it in full here or below, but it outlines some significant cuts in to the Navy's teeth, 

- The Navy cannot afford to simultaneously develop the next generation of air, surface and subsurface platforms...prioritize of of the following (sic) capabilities and re-phase the the other two after an assessment of operational, financial, and technical risk.


- The Navy cannot afford to own, operate, and maintain its current infrastructure ... the CNO is directed ... to achieve a 1 percent facility footprint reduction measured in square feet per year over 10 years.


- Defund Sea-Launched Cruise Missile - Nuclear development efforts.

Just when it needs the ability to get ready for the oft-touted "high end fight" we are cutting what will fight that war.

What is getting money? Well besides the SSBN replacement that we outlined as the main driver of The Terrible 20s over a decade ago, we want to invest in telework, Naval Community College, various flavors of suicide prevention, sexual assault, and sexual harassment programs, & mental health. 

Oh, and of course;

- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are critical to readiness of our Navy and Marine Corps team, and ultimately to our mission success. As part of the POM 23 process, the DON shall provide funding and manpower necessary to establish and appropriately staff and resource an office of primary responsibility to comply with the Department of Defense andDON DEI policies, guidance, and activities. Funding priorities for programs will be directed towards enhancing or sustaining recruitment, career development, retention, and training programs that reduct.eliminate barriers to service or advancement and deliver resources and benefits equitable to all.

As we've documented since the start of this blog, the Navy branch of the diversity industry is already a large and well populated commissariat. This grows it even more ... and it will foster more division, more inequality, more strife.

Watch how they operationalize the last sentence. 

Warfighting? Meh. 

Culture wars? Hell yeah.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

LCS: We Can't Decom Them Fast Enough

What if at the same time Apollo 17 was taking off, the last manned landing on the moon, we had NASA appointing an administrator to see what could be done to improved the performance of the Mercury space capsule that put the first American in space a dozen of years later?

Ponder your reaction, the press, and Congress.

...then click over to USNIBlog and behold the latest spasm involving LCS.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

How Far will South Africa be Pulled in to Mozambique?

As we first pointed out here last August, Mozambique needs to be in your scan.

Though we may be pulling back from engaging with global Islamic extremism, it is not pulling back from the world. 

Especially on the African front of the bleeding edge of Dar al-Islam, they are pressing wherever opportunities reveal themselves.

The problem in Mozambique is reaching the point that the regional power, South Africa, may get involved.
South Africa will press for urgent military action by regional body SADC to quell an Islamist insurgency in Mozambique threatening to destabilize neighbouring countries, the foreign minister said on Friday.

It will make this call at a summit of the Southern African Development Community's 16 member states next week, Naledi Pandor told Reuters in a telephone interview.

SADC leaders have been discussing how to tackle the insurgency by Islamic State-linked militants, with an option for force, but this is the first time South Africa has explicitly thrown its weight behind the idea of a military intervention.

Since 2008, SADC has had provision for a standby brigade, part of a regional defence pact that allows military intervention to prevent the spread of conflict.
That was from last month. After the meeting, as reported at the end of last week, things seem closer;
President Cyril Ramaphosa says Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries are prepared to assist Mozambique to fight the insurgency that has destabilised the north of that country. He says leaders of the region are dealing with the situation because if they don’t, the conflict could spill over into their own countries.

Ramaphosa says the SADC Troika has sent technical experts to the troubled Cabo Delgado province to assess Mozambique’s needs in the area.

Ramaphosa, however, would not say what steps are going to be taken.

“You don’t want to be involved in a war situation and tell your adversary that we are coming, get ready for us. You don’t want to do that. I know that the media is interested. When are you going to send boots on the ground? When are you flying over? I am afraid you just have to bear with us. That’s the type of sensitive information that we’ll have to keep quiet about.”
There is a lot of ruin in a nation, and RSA is still consuming a lot of the wealth and civic structures from the apartheid era. The ANC is not as bad as it was thought it would be in government, but it is not good. It isn't in much of a position to do a lot in Mozambique ... but something must be done. 

Another basket case like Zimbabwe on its border will do no good for South Africa - already having ethnic strife from economic refugees. Delicate is a nice way of putting things.

Keep Mozambique in your scan.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Three Card NGAD

When something you know is mundane, ordinary, and clearly unclassified is all of a sudden stamped with a classification, your first reaction should be, “What are they hiding?”, not, "What neat things are they doing!

Know your history.

I have spent a week waiting for someone to tell me the latest on NGAD isn’t exactly what I think it is, and no one even tries to explain it away.  They know.

Via Mallory Shelbourne at USNINews;

The Navy is keeping classified the amount of Fiscal Year 2022 money it wants to develop the next-generation fighter aircraft set to replace the fleet of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, according to service budget documents.

The Navy’s FY 2022 budget justification documents withhold the amount of dollars the service is putting toward the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program. This is the second consecutive budget cycle in which the Navy has classified information about its investment into the service’s sixth-generation fighter.

It was over a dozen years ago that we saw what I consider the most egregious cover-up of our Navy’s fundamental failure to properly understand its responsibility for stewardship of the professional capital the taxpayers bought for them - the classification of INSURV. The previous link has my comments at the time.

An entire generation of leaders now have grown up - and been promoted - in this climate of cover-up in our Navy. That is what it is, no reason to sugar coat it.

After eight years of classified INSURV and the problems they hid, Rep. Whitman (R-VA) clearly identified what it was;

…he (Whittman) noted that Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) reports used to be unclassified and but have been classified for almost a decade. 

“During peacetime INSURVs should be declassified, and that makes sure there’s transparency there that we know what’s going on,” Wittman said. 

“That creates, again, that direction, that focus to make sure that maintenance is being done, maintenance availabilities aren’t being missed, material readiness is being maintained. All those things are critical.” 

“All of us have to look at this as an opportunity to really do some groundbreaking things in how the surface navy operates,” Wittman said. 

“It doesn’t hurt for us to get to points where we feel a little uncomfortable – in fact, I would argue we have to get to a point where we feel uncomfortable to make sure we are exploring all the different avenues that we have to explore.”

Yes, we commented on INSURV back in the day, but that was part of the process. Fear and shame are great motivators, and there is nothing classified about poor maintenance practices…unless you are doing such a horrible job that your warships are almost helpless … but that just tells we need more transparency, not less.

I remain convinced that you can draw a straight line from the horrible events of the summer of 2017 to not just the direct second and third order effects of hiding INSURV, but to the cultural mindset it enabled. 

Making uncomfortable facts classified is just a way to protect the powerful from being accountable - nothing more. We still have not addressed all the maintenance and material condition issues we “learned” from the summer of 2017's waste of 17 Sailors drowned in their racks, heck … we are still playing hide the ball on the manning issues.

We cannot afford to screw up NGAD, and I was hoping against experience that we would not. The fact we are on year two where we won’t even say what we’re spending on what is supposed to be a replacement for the Super Hornet only drags me in to further concern;

Look at this timeline;

The Navy finished its analysis of alternatives (AOA) for NGAD in July 2019 and as of August 2020, it had already started convening industry days for the program, USNI News reported last year.

The Navy has been seeking a replacement for the Super Hornet fleet for nearly a decade. The service put out its first request for information for the F/A-XX program in 2012

Nine years ago.

As we’ve stated over and over - next to reforming Goldwater-Nichols and the COCOM structure, we have to rip up root and branch our hide-bound and accretions hobbled acquisition system. 

It isn’t just inefficient and ineffective, it is a threat to national security. Just look at what it has done to our surface fleet the last quarter century. 

The aviation side of the house doesn’t have all that much better of a record. We’ve forgotten and thrown away range right when it became even more important. The light attack mafia won their tribalistic battles, but have left a flight deck that can't refuel a strike package, find and kill a submarine, or reach far enough without endangering mother. 

We’ve convinced ourselves that there was no way smaller aircraft carriers could park decks full of large footprint A-3, RA-5, F-14, EA-6B next to smaller aircraft - so we shrink our airwing in not just capability, but size, to the point of making its utility questionable. But hey ... the VFA guys got rid of all those VA & VF bubbas that teased them so much. They got rid of those goofy S-3s that kept taking up space ... so ... yea team.

Fewer aircraft with shorter legs is not how you win west of Wake.

With NGAD, it appears we have listened to industry oversell the promise of AI and unmanned systems, just assuming away very real issues such as bandwidth, reach back, ROE, engineering, and loss rates - all on the promise that technology risk is for losers and other people’s PCS cycle. 

This is what is driving what looks like a NGAD cock-up; the LCS of CG(X)s.

If you read the below and don’t get the sickening feeling that the same mindset and system that begat the clown show that was CG(X) isn’t slowly enveloping NGAD, then you’re not paying attention;

“As we look at it right now, the Next-Gen Air Dominance is a family of systems, which has as its centerpiece the F/A-XX – which may or may not be manned – platform. It’s the fixed-wing portion of the Next-Gen Air Dominance family of systems,” Harris said during a Navy League breakfast event at the end of March.

“But we truly see NGAD as more than just a single aircraft. We believe that as manned-unmanned teaming comes online, we will integrate those aspects of manned and unmanned teaming into that,” he added. “Whether that – we euphemistically refer to it as our little buddy – is an adjunct air-to-air platform, an adjunct [electronic warfare] platform, discussion of could it be an adjunct advanced early warning platform. We’ll have to replace the E-2D [Advanced Hawkeye] at some point in the future, so as we look to what replaces that.”

Harris at the time said the Navy divided its work on the NGAD program into two increments – increment one will evaluate a successor for the Super Hornet fleet and increment two will determine a replacement for the EA-18G Growler. The Navy has used F/A-XX to refer to the F/A-18 E/F replacement, while NGAD refers to the whole family of systems.

Someone get hold of NGAD while there is still time.

Not much time, but there is still time.

Have we learned nothing from the F-35 program? Did we not learn anything at all about “one stop shopping?”

They are over thinking NGAD. What we need now is an aircraft with legs that can deliver a tactically significant number of strike missiles that can hold an enemy's fleet, ports, and economic infrastructure at risk from distance. Design for 2-seats. Think of a 21st Century version of the SU-34. Go heavy now, that is the requirement.

If we feel we need an "air dominance" fighter for the fleet, then design one that does that with a lesser included secondary strike capability. We can have more than one aircraft under design and production at at time. If we are still trying to make the cult of efficiency happy by designing Swiss Army knives, then we are fools.

Are we compromising the good now for the future perfect that will never come?  If so, those in charge are steering us right in to a huge crisis at 2030 where the surface community finds itself today.

We don’t have time for that. Congress has no patience with the Navy for that. 

Remember, this is the team that brought us the FORD Class CVN that cannot even launch and recover the F-35C. A ship whose elevators and electrical systems seem designed to aviation tolerances and office park sensitivities that may not make it through shock trials, and if not, be able to deploy by mid-decade.

I, and others it seems, were giving them the benefit of the doubt. We were wrong. 

Congress needs to demand transparency. We cannot end up in 2030 with nothing to replace the Super Hornet. Its replacement should already be at IOC, but we playing three-card-monte with budget numbers.

If we screw this up - then why should the US Navy ever get more money in the budget? Any more responsibility? Any amount of respect and benefit of the doubt on Capitol Hill?

The Terrible 20s are fleshing out roughly as we saw a decade ago, and we appear to be compounding the problem through wholesale institutional incompetence.

Declassify now - not because it is in our self-interest (which it is) - but because we are a republic of a free people. The people and their representatives are not subjects.

Overclassification is a symptom of a larger problem. As outlined at CSIS’s Defense360 article from DEC09 by Patrick G. Eddington, Christopher A. Preble, and Seamus P. Daniels;

The overclassification of information poses a serious problem for national security. Restricting access to information prevents timely analysis and impedes decision-making by limiting debate on key policy issues to small groups of people within the government, and it inhibits public scrutiny of classified information and the decisions made from it. While it is critical to protect sensitive sources and methods, much of the information gleaned from these sources can still be made available in declassified formats. Still other information is already, and should properly be kept, in the public domain. Secrecy is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of transparency and democratic accountability, and the perception that government officials are using it to hide their own malfeasance contributes to widespread public disillusionment.

I am not sure what Congress is waiting for. 

Take the bad news and discomfort for a few retirement eligible Flag Officers now than the trainwreck to our Navy and the national security it underwrites that will come at the end of the decade if NGAD just becomes CG(X) with flight pay.

Saturday, June 05, 2021

More Patrol Craft, Not Fewer with LCDR Jordan Bradford, USN - on Midrats

In a sharp departure from the ideas that brought them to the fleet, the Navy, "...appears poised to sunset the MK VI and Cyclone-class patrol craft programs in rapid succession, with no replacements on the horizon."

Why are these small craft in our Navy today, what missions are they doing, and what risk are we accepting if we let this capability go? What follow on craft could even do the job better?

To discuss these and related issues this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be LCDR Jordan Bradford, USN.

The starting point for our conversation will be his article from the May 2021 Proceedings, "The MK-VI id Dead - Long Live the MK VII."

Lieutenant Commander Bradford is the commanding officer of USS Typhoon (PC-5). He is a 2009 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and has formerly served as strike officer on board the USS Vicksburg (CG-69), navigator on board the De Wert (FFG-45), and combat systems and operations officer on board the Detroit (LCS-7). His opinions are his own and do not reflect any endorsement by the Navy, the Department of Defense, or the United States government.

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, June 04, 2021

Fullbore Friday

This FbF I'd like to take a moment to recognize someone who is, in my mind at least, fullbore.

He did not do anything exceptional in war or other usual benchmarks to make FbF ... but he did something more.

He brought to life to a huge audience the great deeds of others in the naval service. He did it in a way that made people think about the example set and the lessons that could be useful for today and the future.

Brain cancer took him this week, too soon, but he left behind a legacy generations will benefit from.

Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, Neptune's Inferno, Ship of Ghosts, A Fleet at Flood Tide and more. Regulars here know these books and their author, James D. Hornfischer.

He was always a gentlemen and always responded to DMs and emails. I am mad I never tried harder to have him on Midrats more than just once. I looked at the emails I exchanged with him in 2016 for A Fleet at Flood Tide and we just couldn't get the schedule right. It's my fault, really.

A lesson for me here. I'm sorry I didn't try harder Jim. Your books deserved it. My bust.

James D. Hornfischer; author, historian, navalist, and an all around great guy. Thanks for the gifts you've given us all.


Thursday, June 03, 2021

Diversity Thursday

So, as Russian hackers go after our supply chains, the Chinese fleet expands across the globe, hard drugs flood our cities via the sea, as piracy and Islamic inspired terrorism expands around the African littorals, what do you want the Office of Naval Intelligence to focus their finite attention on?

The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) has established an “Artwork Working Group” to develop more inclusive artwork for Naval offices. 

Internal communications obtained by The Daily Wire show that ONI created a “diversity and inclusion artwork working group” to “address the issue” of inclusion in artwork within the naval offices. According to emails, the group began after a virtual diversity town hall in 2020 wherein an ONI employee “raised a concern about how the artwork on display throughout the [National Maritime Intelligence Center] did not represent the diversity of people serving in the Navy.” 


In an email from the ONI Chief of Staff, officers were encouraged to submit any suggestions that might “make everyone at ONI feel valued and welcome through displays and/or artwork.”

I think we covered the photo games first in DivThu well over a decade ago. Excitable and immature people walking hallways county jelly beans is the most basic, blunt, and laughable tactic of the diversity bullies ... but it works in the face of weak leaders terrified of their own shadow. 

As we have seen at universities and corporations, so too we are seeing here. The imbalanced fetishes of an active and aggressive small group ... or just an individual ... are hijacking organizations to distraction.

Why? Simple; they have intellectually cowardly leadership who are terrified of being called names.

Everyone involved here needs to be reassigned. Publicly. Openly. They fear the wrong people.  

The COS at ONI has a Political Science degree from the US Naval Academy. He knows exactly what he is part of here.

These are unserious leaders in a serious job. Sorry, but it has to be said. 

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

To win the 72-Month or 72-Week, and not the 72-Hour War...

 ...we have better start planning to fight the marathon.

Now that we are contested at sea, we are setting ourselves up to be unable to return ships to the fight.

Details from the GAO's latest over at USNIBlog.

Give it a read and wake up.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

I Have Not Come to Bury DTS, but to Yell at it

Since I left active duty I really have not had all that much time to yell at DTS. I mostly just laugh at it from a distance as it was no longer my problem ... at least not directly.

DTS has been horrible from day one. I know it. You know it. Worse, those who promoted and enforced it know as well. But, they didn't really care enough to do anything about it ... until it was a teenager. 

I am just old enough to remember how an efficient system worked. LT Salamander went to Admin and told a PN3/YNSN or whoever had the billet, “I need to travel to Norfolk with OPS for this conference (hands hard copy of message and travel request form). We need to leave next Monday AM. The conference runs through late WED, so if we can get home that night, great, if not the next AM. If possible, we should be able to stay at the hotel there, as per the message. If not, closer the better. We’ll need a rental car too. Thanks.”

Within 24-hrs, all was set up. You went. When you came back, you put your travel claim in the PN3/YNSN’s in basket. If you screwed things up, you’d get a call or more likely, they would just fix it for you.

I also remember the time before the scam that was/is government travel cards. You got an advance, if needed, but more often than not used your own personal card and then filed receipts for things that could be reimbursed.

Government travel cards ... talk about an administrative burden ... but a different topic for a different day, perhaps. 

But no, the system that worked would not do. That wasn’t … well, you know the buzzwords. We sure couldn’t use COTS either. Oh, no.

You can see a few of my historical references to DTS via the DTS tag here, but let’s go back to the start and see how we’ve progressed since my post in January 2006 (yes, over a decade and a half ago), I wrote this.

I know a guy who is going on TDY to New Zealand. He wants to take his wife. SATO using DTS quotes the round trip of $4,000. Well, he wants wifey to come along, and using their own research on her ticket they knew that tickets on that flight were about $1900. He told the SATO folks and she said she was glad to find out. It seems that DTS doesn't look for the best price, though the flight info was from Travelocity as clear as day, but DTS doesn't have that same info.

Classic example. Gov'munt contract for something that already exists in industry. Can't outsource because the GS unions wouldn't have that ..... don't be shocked. Just more taxpayer money thrown away. If you think I am babbling, or you want to get upset - click here and here.

You don't want to know my story. Trust me - it is so bad - I really don't want to go over it.

What is the latest DTS update? 

Via the ever-wonderful Doctrine Man

So, when it was announced recently that the Pentagon is preparing to sole-source the contract to replace the Defense Travel System (a process that began three years ago), you might expect a rousing roar of approval from the masses. Masses, worth noting, that have been subjected to three decades of a system so convoluted and capricious that it was euphemistically known to many as the “Don’t Travel System.” But most of us who spent those decades with the Defense Travel System also understand that any replacement—even Defense Travel Modernization—is still going to be subject to the same arcane travel regulations and the same human error. That translates to a fairly high likelihood that even though the system itself might be a significant improvement over its Quasimodo-like predecessor, many of the frustrations common to official travel will remain.

Everyone knew DTS was bad from almost the start … but here we are over a decade and a half later for a resolution … and it won’t resolve the core of the problem.

That tells you a lot about the dysfunction in DC. Tells you a lot about why we seem frozen in aspic when it comes to bringing the fleet what it needs to win ... or hell, just travel to Norfolk and back without expending half a work-day setting up and resolving the travel for a 3-day trip. 

Our ossified and accretion burdened bureaucracy has lost the bubble on why it exists in the first place. 

Quod erat demonstrandum.

Let us hope we learned our lesson with DTS and bring the fleet something that saves time, money, and headaches. I am a closet optimist. We’ll see.