Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Global Posture Review: Strategic Vapor Lock

The new administration told you that their team was tan, rested, and ready and the Global Posture Review was going to set a firm new direction in line with the natsec SuperFriends bringing new eyes, new outlooks, and bold actions to address the challenge of the third decade of the 21st Century.


If you were hoping that the much vaunted “the adults are in charge” brigade would give you some hope, take a seat.  If you bought the hype that we were adjusting with some urgency facing the gaping maw of The Terrible 20s, the flexing power of China, and the general disjunction of people, resources, and policy in the fractured, COVID-infused underpinnings of our national security intelligencia, well … you are not going to have a good week. 

You forgot who we were dealing with. The Vogons of the Beltway are here to deliver.

With the joy and enthusiasm usually found going 15-MPH on I95 between Charleston and Savannah on a holiday weekend, Monday DoD extruded a notification that “DoD Concluded 2021 Global Posture Review.” 

 In the name of all that is holy, we need new elites. Let’s dive in.

Following several months of analysis and close coordination across the U.S. government, the Department of Defense released the results of the Global Posture Review (GPR) today.
”Released ?” Really … even that phrase oversells what deposited.
The conclusion of the review comes at a key inflection point following the end of operations in Afghanistan
9-months? So, what did previous generations do in 9-months? Well, from December 1941, if you went forward 9-months from Pearl Harbor Day you’d find: 
  • Singapore fell 
  • Battle of Java Sea 
  • Philippines Lost 
  • Doolittle Raid 
  • Battle of Coral Sea 
  • Battle of Midway 
  • Marines land at Guadalcanal 
  • Battle of Savo Island 
  • …and finally in September of 1942 the Australians stopped the Japanese at Port Moresby in New Guinea, underlining the Japanese high-water mark at the Battle of Midway and the beginning of the end of the Japanese Empire. 
Yes, that’s right. In 9-months, we went from Pearl Harbor to forcing the Japanese to begin their years-long retreat. 

That is what an infinitesimally smaller cohort of national security professionals who operated with slide rules, not supercomputers; chalk boards, not PPT; telegraphs not VTCs, were able to accomplish. What are our highly credentialed, well funded, speed of light legions of civilian and military thought-leaders able to deliver to address the challenge of this century?
In the Indo-Pacific, the review directs additional cooperation with allies and partners to advance initiatives that contribute to regional stability and deter potential Chinese military aggression and threats from North Korea.  These initiatives include seeking greater regional access for military partnership activities; enhancing infrastructure in Australia and the Pacific Islands; and planning rotational aircraft deployments in Australia, as announced in September.  The GPR also informed Secretary Austin’s approval of the permanent stationing of a previously-rotational attack helicopter squadron and artillery division headquarters in the Republic of Korea, announced earlier this year.
Change five words and this could have been written almost a decade ago when the whole “Pacific Pivot” started. 

Nothing. They’ve got nothing. 

The Flaccid Horde of Northern Virginia, gorging for decades on the largess of the American taxpayers and donor money in agencies, think tanks, panels, manels, and academia have produced nothing, progressed nowhere but the next line on their resume - intellectually vapor locked and strategically their ideas as stuck in aspic. 

If you are not done with this self-serving gaggle of grifting rent seekers, how much longer are you willing to wait for them to produce something of use to the nation? 

We're not just talking about the suit-wearing side of the house either. The inadequacy of our uniformed leadership - pretending the national humiliation at Kabul was an orderly Noncombatant Evacuation Operation and not a negotiated retreat, obsessed with racial essentialism and white guilt as opposed to why they were a less effective than the Soviet Army a few years before that empire collapsed - wants nothing more than a better parking space and for no one to ask exactly what they do here.

From the usual CENTCOM AOR stomping grounds, to the next opening on a board of directors after retirement, they just want to chug along fat, dumb, and happy. Don't look at their shore staff manning documents. Don't fiddle with their approved career path. Don't ask about the institutional incentives and disincentives for promotion and advancement.

Oh, heavens no. We should just thank everyone for the great job everyone did the last couple of decades and to double down on the same thing. This time we will get better results. Sure of it.

This spent force is largely the cause of why we have continued to underperform for decades. The only significant action this bi-partisan civ-mil strategically static force has been able to accomplish in the decade since the Pacific Pivot was announced is to position themselves for the next career move after the next election where the Gold Crew will relieve the Blue Crew for the strategic fast-cruise that never seems to translate in to getting underway - make sure and thank them for their service while you are at it. 


Show something but the bi-partisan natsec consensus that performance, vision, and action should take a second seat to careerism, inertia, and not hurting feelings.

Their inability to recognize their shortcomings only brings the audacity of their self-interest in to stark relief. They are bringing to our nation the same level of national service last seen from the Ottoman Bureaucracy and the army of Chinese Imperial Eunuchs to their empires - with similar trends. 

OK, perhaps I’m reading too much in to that one little paddy of an announcement? I mean, good, smart people in hard jobs doing their best. Right? 

Personally in most cases yes, but in objective metrics for the mass of them? No, not really. 

I’m not even going to quote from the rest of the announcement as it is clear that the drafter was just desperately trying to make a minimum word count. You’d get more from reading the ingredients label on an old Swanson’s TV dinner

Bless his heart, Andrew Eversden over at Breaking Defense managed an almost impossible feat of scrounging up enough to fill in the Waimea Canyon sized gaps in information. A pro he is.
But rather than a large shift in resources and plans, the review, which looked at US troop locations and capabilities across the globe, ultimately concluded that no major strategic changes are needed, aside from “operational level adjustments we have already announced and a couple of other changes that are still being developed,” a senior defense official told reporters during a Monday briefing. What findings backed up those conclusions, however, is not clear, as the department declined to make a version of the review public.
If the last 9-months news on China, Ukraine, global supply chain bottlenecks, all the permutations of 2nd and 3rd order COVID effects, and the expanding power of Islamist terrorism across the bleeding edge from the Sahel to Mozambique … wait, you can, again, add the negotiated defeat at the hands of the Taliban in Afghanistan in to the stew - if that doesn’t move the needle for your natsec nomenklatura …
“[The Indo-Pacific] is the priority theater. China is the pacing challenge for the department,” the senior defense official said. 
If anyone uses “pacing” to describe what China is doing, they are fools. They don’t know the meaning of the words they use any more than a 13-yr old boy understands the complexity of human sexuality.
“I think you’ll see a strong commitment in the forthcoming NDS [National Defense Strategy] as well that will guide further posture enhancements.”
So … wait while we prepare to prepare to get ready to address something we said we were going to prepare to prepare for back in 2012? Fine. What choice do we have? These are the same people using the same playbook. 
Mara Karlin, assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities, told reporters at a second, on-the-record Pentagon press briefing Monday that the department will send new fighter and bomber aircraft to Australia. She added that across the Pacific, the US military would invest in logistics facilities, fuel storage, munition storage and airfield upgrades in Guam, Australia and the Northern Mariana Islands.
That’s good I guess … right out of 2012 when it was late anyways. Bold of an idea as going to Cracker Barrel for breakfast, but good.
“There are a number of initiatives that we have currently underway that we are fleshing out real time with our allies and partners and you’ll see those manifest over the next two to three years or so,” the senior official said at the first briefing.
That means three years. Add to it the year we already lost … and we are after the 2024 elections already. The mid-20s, the beginning of the time of greatest danger … if not the center mass of it.
The official highlighted an October exercise with two US carrier strike groups and ships from the UK, Japan and other allies as an example of how the US now views the Pacific.
They have so little to say they are just saying things that are new that we have literally been doing my entire human existence.
Becca Wasser, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told Breaking Defense that the GPR was “never going to produce major changes” to global posture because of the challenges with changing fixed posture, as well as the fact that the review preceded both the National Defense Strategy and National Security Strategy. “What it does is provide a framework to message longer-term, gradual posture changes to allies and partners,” Wasser said. “If you want to change posture–whether that is expanding or consolidating bases, or deploying a new capability–you need access. Access is something only allies and partners can provide and changes to access usually require a lengthy consultation process.”
Again, “Pacific Pivot” is roughly a decade old. What has our natsec nomenklatura been doing? I fully understand patience and small moves ... but at this pace ... I mean ... just look at the timeline. 

I’m sorry, but these great, wonderful and highly intelligent people are simply underperforming or … are working for institutions and people who will not let them perform. We need new people, new institution, new structures, new processes, all of these or a combination of these because what we have right now is not working.
The review also didn’t examine space, cyber or nuclear weapons because those capabilities are distinct from the US forces international footprint, the official said. The department has numerous other ongoing initiatives related to some of those categories, including its Nuclear Posture Review, Missile Defense Review and its broader National Defense Strategy. Karlin stressed that the review is a starting point.
I’m not sure what the natsec version of Model UN is, but this emanates the essence of that mindset. The process is the product. If you are missing the fact that cyber and space are critical parts of the "US forces international footprint" - you need better briefers or need to pay closer attention.
“There are other posture initiatives that we’re working real time with allies and partners to further strengthen that combat credible deterrent vis-a-vis Russia,” the official said, once again declining to provide specifics.
Aspic. Everything is frozen in aspic. 

Are we as a nation going to let this lack of progress and action continue? Academic exercises that were repeated every semester until the crack of doom are fun and in places useful - but as the rest of the world’s serious nations improve their positions and strength - what our self-appointed best and brightest are doing is no way to run an empire. 

As China's strength gains as ours treads water, in the third decade of the 21st Century we simply do not have time for such vanity and posturing. We need serious people of action - working inside a system that enables and rewards it - who can see power shifting around the world and can move our levers of power to counter it and move it towards our advantage. 

No more lost decades.

Monday, November 29, 2021

We Need Maps at all Confirmation Hearings

As I snarkly said over on twitter, if the adults are back in charge, would they please act like it. 

First of all, just look at the Marshall Islands located east of Guam, west of Hawaii, and south of Wake Island. 

During WWII, Americans lost 611 men, suffered 2,341 wounded, and 260 missing and killed over over 11,000 Japanese while capturing 358 to secure these islands. An independent nation with some unique security and immigration agreements with the United States, one shouldn’t have to over-emphasize the strategic importance. However …

For decades, the tiny Marshall Islands has been a stalwart American ally … But that loyalty is being tested amid a dispute with Washington over the terms of its “Compact of Free Association” agreement, which expires soon. The U.S. is refusing to engage the Marshallese on claims for environmental and health damage caused by dozens of nuclear tests it carried out in the 1940s and ’50s, including a huge thermonuclear blast on Bikini Atoll.
There are, rightfully, bi-partisan concerns that we are in the middle of an own-goal;
But this month, 10 Democratic and Republican members of the House of Representatives wrote to President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, about the U.S. compact talks
Of course the Chinese are taking advantage of the strategic myopia and bureaucratic pigheadedness of it all. Can’t blame them;
China’s Foreign Ministry said the U.S. should face up to its responsibility to restore the environmental damage it caused with its nuclear tests. It said China was willing to engage with the Marshall Islands and other Pacific island nations on the basis of mutual respect and cooperation under the “One China Principle,” in which Taiwan is viewed as part of China.
This should not be that hard;
The frustrations of the Marshallese were apparent in a letter sent last month by Foreign Minister Casten Nemra to Rep. Katie Porter, a California Democrat who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee’s oversight and investigations panel. “The State and Interior Department officials involved have been unwilling to discuss an agenda for the talks and tried to confine the discussion to their own limited proposals,” Nemra wrote. “The nuclear issue clearly was one reason. All issues raised by the Marshall Islands were met with assertions that they did not have authority to discuss the matters without any indication that they would seek it.” Sen. Paul said the American approach needs to change. “I believe the U.S. has the legal and moral obligation to make sure they clean up this debris,” Paul said. “We want to make sure we get a better deal this time around. As they say, the third time is a charm.”
We cannot counter the Chinese back-actor plays across their Belt-and-Road if we can’t do the right thing in our own back yard.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Fullbore Friday

Not one of our Primary Mission Areas. We will never be asked to do that. If we did that, it would take away from the job that we think in most important. There are more important things we will have to do. That is a distraction. Our platform isn't optimized for that. We think other platforms can do that better. My boss won't let us talk about that.
You hear lots of that sometimes. Nonetheless, warfare asks a lot of people and machines. You often have to do the mission that is most needed, not the one that you like doing, the one your peacetime theorizing told you would be important - or the one that you are told you are supposed to push.

No, in the end - everything you do is, and should be, focused on the most important warfighter in any war. The man with his foot, sandal, or boot is on the ground with a weapons saying "this is ours."

Our friends in the VP Navy found themselves in this very spot in 1951 - and in every other war since - even though they don't like it.

Welcome to Lamp Lighter.
Patrol squadrons (VP) were among the first from the Naval Air Reserve to deploy overseas. Recalled to active duty on 20 July 1950, VP-892 reported to NAS San Diego the following month, and on 18 December logged its first mission, the first by a reserve squadron during the Korean War. Eventually, seven recalled patrol squadrons served during the conflict, flying PBM-5 Mariners, PB4Y/P4Y-2 Privateers and P2V-2/3 Neptunes. The crews flew a variety of missions, including long-range antisubmarine warfare and reconnaissance flights in the Sea of Japan and along the coasts of China and North Korea. This could get dangerous, as evidenced by the experiences of a VP-731 crew operating over the Yellow Sea off the west coast of Korea. On 31 July 1952, two Chinese MiG-15 jets attacked a squadron PBM-5S2, killing two crewmen and wounding two others. The plane's pilot, Lieutenant E. E. Bartlett, Jr., descended to low altitude, weaving in an effort to avoid further attack, and limped to Paengyong, South Korea, where he made an emergency landing. Two squadrons, VPs 772 and 871, harkened back to the days of the famous "Black Cat" patrol squadrons by operating at night over Korea, dropping flares to support night interdiction and close air support missions by Marine Corps aircraft. 
Privateers from VP-28, VP-772, and VP-871 flew flare missions in support of Marine Corps F7F Tigercat and F4U-5N Corsair night fighters. They carried up to 250 high-intensity parachute flares, enough to provide target illumination for several teams of attack aircraft during a single night sortie.
In 1951 VP squadrons were pressed into another role, this time over land, dropping illumination flares in support of air strikes. Known as Firefly missions, they helped deny the night to enemy supply movements. Admiral Arthur W. Radford suggested the use of P4Y-2 Privateers as flare ships to replace the more vulnerable R4D Skytrains in illuminating targets for Marine Corps F4U-5N Corsair and F7F-3N Tigercat night hecklers. One P4Y from VP-772 was modified For the mission and proved highly successful, and three more P4Ys from VP-772 and VP-28 were assigned as "Lamp Lighters" (later operated by successive squadrons). During a typical mission, the P4Y would rendezvous with four attack aircraft, search for truck convoys and illuminate the targets for the attack aircraft.
Although United Nations forces were successful in maintaining air superiority over most of the Korean peninsula, lumbering patrol aircraft had a few encounters with enemy aircraft. A VP-42 Mariner was damaged on 11 May 1952 by a MiG-15 fighter over the Yellow Sea, and on 31 July 1952 a VP-731 PBM was seriously damaged by gunfire from a MiG-15, which killed two crewmen and injured two others.
Low level. At night. Large, slow plane. Not trained for it. Do it anyway. 2/3 initially done by Reserve Squadrons. Great success. Almost forgotten. Enemy killed. Americans saved.

D@mn Reservists. Fullbore.

First posted in 2007 and every 5-yrs or so since.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving

As I like to do on Thanksgiving, I would like to thank one specific blessing; the US Navy's Culinary Specialists, Mess Cranks, and everyone who makes the extra effort to put together such an important feast for our Sailors on such an important national holiday.

We love you guys ... and maybe we don't say it enough - but even if we do, we'll say it again today. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Ice Won't Break Itself

After yesterday's post, you might thing this is ice week ... and maybe it is.

Have you pondered lately the state of Russian, American, and ... yes ... Chinese icebreakers?

Of course you have ... so you'll want to run over to USNIBlog and ponder what bubbled up in the last month.

'Tis the season, dontchaknow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Are our Intellectual Actions Aligned with our Security Challenges?

That is, of course, a subject question. However, there are objective facts that stand independent of that subjectivity.

Where you are in time and place is important. In the area of national security, disconnects and discontinuities in time and place caused by a desire for reality to be what we want it to be consume the finite resources of time, money, and focus from actions to address what reality actual is. 

Denial fed by delusional distractions, as it were.

Take a moment to back up a bit and think about the top national security concerns of 2021. What do they signal to you as the most important parts of the United States’ national security infrastructure needs to invest their time, money and reputation on?

Well meaning people can differ in how they rack and stack things, but let me grab the Top-3 from my seat the provinces:

1. Strategic impact of the national humiliation following our defeat and negotiated surrender in Afghanistan.

2. Expanded Chinese aggression in the Western Pacific and expanded global influence.

3. Growing Russian hostility in Eastern Europe and her near abroad.

Honorable mentions could include sectarian and religious based conflicts in Africa, domestic logistics and manufacturing short comings, and other actionable national security adjacent challenges could be put in the top-3.

So, let’s say you find yourself just inside a month after the national humiliation in Afghanistan in late August and you have an opportunity for the US Navy’s top four institutions of higher learning; Naval War College, Naval Post Graduate School, Marine Corps University, and the Naval Academy to come together – not a common occurrence - to have a “Combined Naval Address” on a topic of great concern. What would you want them to invest their professional capital in?


By all means, I invite you to watch it – you paid for it. 

Just fair warning – this isn’t what it is billed to be. You have an intro by a PMP CDR followed by the reading of a prepared statement by the President of the U.S. Naval War College, then they hand it over to serial Australian TED entrepreneur Saul Griffith whose major skill seems to be able to sell hyped companies that get people excited enough to buy them, only to realize once the ayahuasca trip wears off that … well … perhaps big-ass kites as wind turbines might actually not be all that great of an idea.

That’s it. Funded by the Naval War College - I assume the speaker is paid for. I do wonder how much. 

Even better we find that the Barrows Fellows from the Marine Corps University will spend all year studying <checks notes, this is the year we were defeated in Afghanistan by the Taliban> ... climate change. 

For the record, by their own definition

The General Robert H. Barrow Fellowship seeks to explore and understand different aspects of security and strategy as it relates to great power competition. 

Great. Wonderful. Timely. 

For those who don’t have the time to watch the whole thing, Griffith, looking like he just got off a ayahuasca trip himself, spends a few minutes telling everyone - shocking - that DOD's largest energy use is jet fuel.

We know.

He then spends most of the next 3/4 of an hour reading repackaged slides my kids were shown after the Al Gore movie in middle school weaved in with a recant of standard issue neo-pagan climate grift that has nothing to do with anything impacting any maritime service - much less "great power competition."  No, this is mostly about turning residential civilian America electric - not a military concern.

As sure as the sun and moon rises and sets, the climate changes. It always has and always will. I own property 2-hrs drive inland from here half of which is beach sand - as it used to be a beach.

My state used to be twice the size it is today during the ice age when the shore was far to the east of where it is now.

The question that is unknown is the extent of human cause. Without knowing that, can't do a cost benefit analysis of what needs to be done on what timeline that really make a difference - and the models are simply garbage. The ones from 20-yrs ago are no better than the ones we have now.

All the above paragraph can be argued, sure, but what you cannot argue is that this - in the fall of 2021 - is this something that is deserving of this kind of effort by the US Navy. Somewhere? Sure. All four of our major higher education institutions?

Do you even know what a military is?

It would be comical if not so farcical. 

We are a nation with serious challenges this decade. We and our Navy needs to act as serious as they are.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Some Damn Fool Thing in Ukraine

Over the weekend, I hope this slide got your attention. 

As an old Operational Planner who just can’t quit the game, it got mine.

The U.S. has shared intelligence including maps with European allies that shows a buildup of Russian troops and artillery to prepare for a rapid, large-scale push into Ukraine from multiple locations if President Vladimir Putin decided to invade, according to people familiar with the conversations.

That intelligence has been conveyed to some NATO members over the past week to back up U.S. concerns about Putin’s possible intentions and an increasingly frantic diplomatic effort to deter him from any incursion, with European leaders engaging directly with the Russian president. The diplomacy is informed by an American assessment that Putin could be weighing an invasion early next year as his troops again mass near the border.

The information lays out a scenario where troops would cross into Ukraine from Crimea, the Russian border and via Belarus, with about 100 battalion tactical groups -- potentially around 100,000 soldiers -- deployed for what the people described as an operation in rough terrain and freezing conditions, covering extensive territory and prepared for a potentially prolonged occupation. 

It is best to ignore the two camps on either side of this issue; one camp “nothing to worry about” and the other is “war at any moment.” No, not quite.

Remember, Russia is not a rich or powerful nation anymore – but she is not weak. She has a stronger and better military than she did 10-yrs ago. One should never over-estimate or under-estimate Russia – nor try to look at her as you would a Western nation. She is Russia – a distinct people and culture with her own motivations.

She’s positioned 100,000 military personnel along a traditional invasion front for a reason. 


Math is math. Long-dwell deployments like this are not cheap either in money or readiness. They are not done on a whim for such long periods with this many people. 

If you’re asking for a quick-look (as in I have 30-min to pound this out and get back to the paying gig) to start a further investigation, here is how I open the discussion: this is not an exercise, this is something more. It is clear that there is a Higher Direction and Guidance (D&G) to the military to “prepare for the possibility of …” and the “…” could be a variety of different events. Let’s start with Sal’s “Red Most Likely” and “Red Most Dangerous” Courses of Action (COA). “We” in the below is the Russian Federation. 

As always, I need to establish the first five Planning Assumptions: 

Planning Assumption 1: NATO will not credibly oppose any actions we may take along the spectrum of conflict as long as our actions are limited to the territory of Ukraine.

Planning Assumption 2: EU will not credibly oppose any actions we may take along the spectrum of conflict as long as our actions are limited to the territory of Ukraine.

Planning Assumption 3: UN will not credibly oppose any actions we may take along the spectrum of conflict as long as our actions are limited to the territory of Ukraine.

Planning Assumption 4: USA, alone or with a small group of allied nations, will not credibly oppose any actions we may take along the spectrum of conflict as long as our actions are limited to the territory of Ukraine.

Planning Assumption 5: No other medium sized power, or combination of medium sized powers, will credibly oppose any actions we may take along the spectrum of conflict as long as our actions are limited to the territory of Ukraine.

(NB: I only have 30-min here, so I am skipping A LOT of steps, but hey – I’m just one guy)

Red Most Likely COA: Create a credible invasion force to pressure and destabilize the Ukrainian government to create a series desired effects – outlined in a more in-depth planning briefing – that leads to negotiations to finalize the status of Crimea and Donbass to the benefit of the Russian Federation.

Red Most Dangerous COA: Full invasion and military occupation of Donbas leading to negotiations with the Ukrainian government to finalize the status of Crimea and Donbas to the benefit of the Russian Federation. If negotiations are not agreed to in an adequately short period of time after forces occupy Donbas, execute approved Sequel Plan A to invade and occupy all of Ukrainian territory and dictate terms unconditionally on the Ukrainian government.

A few points to remember; 

- We don’t know what Putin’s Higher Direction and Guidance is – at least in open source. What we do know is that Putin is 69. If he wants to be the man of Russian history that he seems to want to be, and enjoy it, he does not have all that much time left to do it.

- The USA is distracted and after the Afghanistan humiliation on its heels, suffering under its weakest leadership since the late 1970s.

- Germany is supine, is run by a fragile and passivist coalition, and is increasingly reliant on the Russian Federation for her future energy requirements.

- France and the UK are too far away, weak, and distracted elsewhere.

- Turkey is distracted elsewhere and unable.

- The People’s Republic of China is not concerned with any action the Russians may take in Eastern Europe.

Russians are not shy about winter offensives.

What times we live in … what times we live in.

Pray for peace.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Fat Leonard Podcast with Tom Wright - on Midrats

If you are even remotely connected to the US Navy, you have directly or indirectly been impacted by the "Fat Leonard" scandal. 

A husbanding agent who used every tool in a very old book - greed, sex, power, influence, and envy - managed to have have naval officers and high ranking law enforcement officers become party to his drive for wealth and influence.

One of the best places to find the details of the scandal and to hear from Leonard Glenn Frances himself, is in "The Fat Leonard Podcast."

Our guest today will be the podcast's creator, Tom Wright, the coauthor of Billion Dollar Whale and the cofounder of Project Brazen, a journalism-focused production studio. 

Tom worked for the Wall Street Journal for over twenty years. He’s a Pulitzer finalist and has won numerous journalism awards, including the Gerald Loeb award for international reporting. In 2020, Stanford University honored Tom with its Shorenstein award in recognition of his services to journalism in Asia.

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, November 19, 2021

Fullbore Friday

 So, how was your command tour? Think you accomplished a lot?

Benchmarks? Yes, we have benchmarks.
Made a commander on November 1, he was the commanding officer of USS Laffey during the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. The ship was struck by an 8-inch shell, which did not explode. 
Laffey broke up an attack by German E-boats on June 12 and bombarded Cherbourg on June 25. Becton was awarded a second Silver Star for his actions in June. 
Transferred back to the Pacific Theater, he received his third Silver Star for his handling of Laffey in support of the landing of the 77th Division at Ormoc Bay, Leyte, the Philippines, on December 7, 1944. 
His fourth was for entering the "restricted waters of Lingayen Gulf during the initial bombardment and assault at Luzon" in January 1945. In February, Laffey escorted aircraft carriers in airstrikes against Tokyo.

On April 16, 1945, Laffey came under attack from 22 or 30 Japanese kamikaze and bomber aircraft while on radar picket duty off Okinawa. 
In a battle lasting 79 minutes, the ship was struck by five, six or eight kamikazes and two bombs, but Becton refused to abandon his ship. For his "unremitting tenacity of purpose, courageous leadership and heroic devotion to duty under fire", he was awarded the Navy Cross. 
The ship had to be towed to Seattle.
Rear Admiral Frederick Becton, USN - mensch.

Will someone please tell me why we do not have a DDG-51 named after this man? 

OK, if not the man - then can we at least have another LAFFEY, the book Becton wrote a loving tribute to in The Ship That Would Not Die?

You would think, after the above, that she would have never steamed under her own power again. Well, you'd be wrong. She was decommissioned in '47, but was brought back for the Korean War.

The lady could not stay out of trouble;
Although frequently subjected to hostile fire in Wonsan Harbor while embarked in his flagship, the U.S.S. LAFFEY, Captain Whiteside conducted a series of daring counterbattery duels with the enemy and was greatly instrumental in the success achieved by his ship.
She continued to serve until 1975.

Next time you see her when driving around Charleston, give her a nod.

First posted April 2015.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Diversity Thursday

1. Make the metrics.

2. Adjust the metrics.

3. Make the metrics look good.

Those who have served on staffs in large bureaucracies know these three steps. To get there, on any subject, you first have to get good data sets – otherwise garbage in, garbage out.

Looking desperately to avoid investing time and resources to investigate their epic failure as a primary player in our national humiliation in Afghanistan, the State Department seems to want to update their data.

The State Department, as part of an agency-wide modernization effort, is focused on using its vast inventory to further its diplomatic mission.

The State Department’s Enterprise Data Strategy, released in September, outlines the central role data plays in emerging technology, and how it’s needed to remain competitive against global threats.

The strategy calls for greater access to data across the department, increased data fluency across the workforce, and better governance to ensure data security.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted the data strategy last month while announcing the launch of a new bureau for cyberspace and digital policy and a new special envoy for critical and emerging technology.

Blinken said the data strategy and the agency-wide modernization plan will help the agency go further in using “data to solve foreign policy challenges.”

Seems, fine and good – right?

Priorities. What is really driving this?

Well, it takes a while of reading through the article … and if your spidey-senses were not tingling already … well … you haven’t been reading DivThu enough.

Just look where they begin?

The rollout of the strategy, he said, began with a management theme of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, as well as a mission theme of strategic competition, “which highlights the importance of using data as an instrument of diplomacy to engage competitor countries.” 

…and there it is. You know where this leads, right?

Graviss said the Enterprise Data Council is working with Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Amb. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley to make workforce demographic data more widely available, while upholding the privacy and security of individual employees.

“Specifically, we are building out data visualization tools that give decision-makers a snapshot of their workforce.  Based on this data, we are also asking them to think about topics that merit further analysis. And the end goal here is to make sure the Department is really a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible place where people want to come work—and where people want to stay,” Graviss said. 

One must have PPT slides with numbers and charts to tell the story. That way, you can move on to … you know what’s coming … you know you do. 

Graviss said making workforce diversity data available will help managers and supervisors better understand DEIA roadblocks, especially when it comes to deciding who to promote to the Senior Executive and Senior Foreign Services.

“For those who manage actions in their bureaus and offices — like hiring, retention, training, awards — this data will help them identify and overcome any potential biases in those processes,” Graviss said. 

There you go. They won’t use the word so I will; quota.

They are refining a system so they can put in a system where jobs, promotions and rewards are distributed based in a sectarian racial spoils program. 

In the zero-sum games that are job offers, promotions, and promotions – for some to gain others must lose. To do this on a sectarian basis as a variable?

That is discrimination – red in tooth and claw. History shows what this does to organizations and nations. It creates strife, conflict, and division. Every time. Never fails.

It is being done by your government, in your name, with your money. If your representative in Congress doesn’t do anything about it – then they support it.

If they support it, and you vote for them, then congrats – you support it.

If you have any questions, I am sure a struggle session can be scheduled.

The last thing of importance with anyone is their race, sex, creed, color, national origin or sexual orientation. It appears that is a radical position now days. 

It isn’t. It shouldn’t. 

If it is, then be a radical.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

McMaster to Everyone: We Lack Basic Competence

People who have both friends and enemies on the political left and the political right are, for me at least, some of the most interesting in the public arena.

They are either doing something very right, or doing a lot very wrong - maybe both. What they usually are not are hyper-political random partisan talking point generators.

One of those people is LTG H.R. McMaster, USA (Ret.). At the end of September, he showed up at a conference with a blow torch in one hand and a pair of pliers in the other.

I have a few pull quotes and links to the full video from the 4th Great Power Competition Conference over at USNIBlog.

Come by and give it a read and listen

Monday, November 15, 2021

LCS: History's Judgement Looms

The historical reckoning of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) that members of the Front Porch knew was coming since we started ringing the bell in 2004 is finally being written. 

New scholarship continues to come forward with a fresh look in investigating the causes of and lessons from the LCS program. 

There are firm lessons not just on how to run or not run a program, but also how perverse incentives hard wired in to our politics, acquisitions programs, and … yes … culture enabled abuse and wholesale institutional failure. 

Over at War on the Rocks, Emma Salisbury is doing exactly that. For those new to the LCS story – and there are many – Emma’s article is a great starting point;

Uncharitably dubbed the “little crappy ship” by its detractors, the program has faced cost overruns, delays, mechanical failures, and questions over the platforms’ survivability in high-intensity combat. Each of the 23 commissioned littoral combat ships cost around $500 million to build, with astronomical operating costs adding to the program’s hefty price tag. While the ships themselves are currently facing the prospect of decommissioning and replacement, and many will not be sad to see them go, the program has one saving grace — it offers some important lessons about the American defense industrial base.
Bingo. That is why we continue to bring LCS up. It must be an ongoing lesson for present and future program managers – and those who will design future acquisition laws/procedures – as to what not to do. 

(NB: the Front Porch of CDRSalamander claims 50.1% of the credit for popularizing “Little Crappy Ship.” Though it was first used in a post in early 2006, it was in use inside a few bespoke lifelines as early as FEB 2004 as evidenced by Bob Works CSBA article at the time.)
While close working relationships between the services, policymakers, and contractors can be beneficial, blunders like the littoral combat ship can undermine U.S. military capabilities while wasting resources that could be better used elsewhere.
Opportunity cost piled on top of opportunity cost. We lost almost two generations of naval development all because of the mindset that enabled this waste of taxpayer money interwoven with lost professional and institutional capital.
Network-centric warfare gave prominence to the idea of small, light, and fast “nodes” that connected together in conflict scenarios, and this meant that the U.S. Navy needed to move away from its traditional platforms — huge, complex, and multipurpose ships. Furthermore, network-centric warfare focused more on projecting power ashore, meaning that ships that could operate in coastal waters were required.
The seductive arrogance of NCW under its various names – so attractive as it would enable precise use of the 3,000NM screwdriver that has 4-stars second-guessing unit-level activity as opposed to doing their actual job – is a fragile pillar of whisper-thin alabaster that can barely be sustained in a benign peace. At war in a contested EW and space environment, its utility will be measured in hours and any system or CONOPS that requires its interface rendered useless.
…Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made clear that the U.S. military needed to improve its ability to tackle anti-access/area denial threats and project power in contested theaters. His office quietly informed U.S. Navy leaders that they needed to include a small surface combatant in any plans they put forward. The new chief of naval operations, Adm. Vern Clark, did just that.
Rumsfeld and Clark are the initiating force for all that followed with LCS. Accomplished men in some areas, here they were a toxic failure. Others who followed, most notably CNO’s Mullen and Roughead, just compounded this initial error of thought and execution.
A littoral combat ship would nominally have a core crew of 40 plus 15 to 20 extra for a given module, compared to a crew of around 200 for a similar-sized frigate, providing a much cheaper option when it came to crewing costs. Clark declared the littoral combat ship his top priority, and Rumsfeld approved the request’s inclusion in the Department of Defense’s budget submission for Fiscal Year 2003.
At the time, we and others warned that both the mission module and manning CONOPS would fail. There were zero successful examples – indeed real world experience was the opposite – that they would work as promised. It was all hope spot welded to pixie dust and leavened with unicorn farts.
In the summer of 2004, the House Armed Services Committee attempted to remove funding for the littoral combat ship from the FY2005 defense budget, citing a number of substantive concerns about the program: The committee continues to have concerns about the lack of a rigorous analysis of alternative concepts for performance of the LCS mission, the justification for the force structure sought by the Navy, and whether the program’s acquisition strategy is necessary to meet an urgent operational need. … [T]he committee is concerned about the Navy’s ability to resolve these issues before committing to the design for the LCS and beginning construction of the first ship.
There were smart people on The Hill who knew what was going on, but like the Front Parch, their argument at the time did not win the day.
…(in an effort) to tilt the downselect decision in their favor and to rally Congressional support for the littoral combat ship program as a whole. The company ran advertisements in newspapers and defense magazines touting their expertise and track record — including taglines like “Don’t just look at what we say. Look at what we do.” — and blanketed the metro stations serving Capitol Hill and the Pentagon with posters pushing for the littoral combat ship as a program, with slogans like “Littoral Dominance Assured.” Lockheed Martin also planned a trade-show style display in the Capitol, including scale mock-ups of the ship and its modules. The House’s threat caused a small showdown in Congress, as the Senate had voted to keep the littoral combat ship program fully funded. In the end, the congressional authorization conference committee report simply “note[d] the concerns” that Bartlett had expressed. The final spending authorization bill ended up fully funding the construction of the two littoral combat ship prototypes at a higher level than had been proposed by the U.S. Navy, the House, or the Senate in the original authorizations.
Marketing and spin works – even those laughable posters in the Metro. It all worked fine until, as we warned, these exquisite bastards born of vanity and hope started to displace water and try to deploy. By then however, retirements were complete, post-retirement gigs retained, political contributions gathered … and others were left to try to make something out of the mess.
…problems arise when the influence of the primes over policymakers leads to the acquisition of platforms that are unnecessary or simply do not work. This not only wastes money that could be better spent on other capabilities, but also impacts upon whether the United States can credibly face threats around the world. An expensive ship that cannot perform its mission does not bode well for the U.S. naval balance with China, or for America’s ability to project power and defend its interests in far-off and contested theaters.
Ignored and wished away. Compounded technology risk can and will result in a nation’s strategic risk.
Whether one believes the littoral combat ship to be an unmitigated failure or not, its beginnings exemplify the danger in placing too much emphasis on fears about the survival of the defense industrial base. While a lot has changed since 2001, it is easy to imagine the U.S. military making similar mistakes in future programs, and policymakers should beware of the ship’s example. The military-contract treadmill is still running.
Money. Ego. Status. When things go wrong, pull those threads. 

LCS had more to do with these, sadly, than it did building and maintaining the world’s greatest navy.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Time for a Maritime Department? Next up, Jimmy Drennan on Midrats


All you need to do is look at a map to tell that we are a maritime nation. A strong Navy is only part of being a maritime power. As everyone is starting to appreciate as they look at empty shelves, rising prices, and fleets of merchant ships waiting for their turn off overburdened ports - the other side of a maritime power can impact everyone's quality of life overnight.

If most Americans knew the relative weakness - and in areas complete absence - of America in the maritime trade that keeps up employed, fed, and secure, they would probably have a mild panic attack.

Is part of the problem simply that we lack a national focus? Could a solution be to establish a cabinet-level Maritime Department with a mission of integrating applications of national power to ensure maritime security and prosperity?

Making a return to visit, our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Lieutenant Commander Jimmy Drennan, U.S. Navy, and we'll use his recent article, "Beyond Defense: America's Past and Future Interests at Sea" as a starting point for a broad ranging discussion.

Jimmy is a surface warfare officer and the soon to be outgoing president of the Center for International Maritime Security - a topic we may discuss as well.

Join us live if you can, but it not, you can get the show later by subscribing to the podcast. 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, November 12, 2021

Fullbore Friday

Allow me a little self indulgence (again) this Friday. USNI triggered me this AM:

It made me grin a bit because my paternal grandfather was a Sailor on the USS ARKANSAS (BB-33) with the 6th Battle Squadron that day.

The Germans never made their last thunder run in 1918 as that horrible and useless war ground to a halt, so they never saw action - which for my grandfather and much of his shipmates I am sure was quite fine.

I could only imagine him looking at his Royal Navy neighbors that day thinking things along the lines his grandson would think.

Anyway, to the Sailors in 1918 of what would become an old warhorse USS ARKANSAS (BB-33) - when she and you were young and the war done; fullbore.


Thursday, November 11, 2021

11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month

I've always wished we stayed aligned with our Commonwealth allies and stuck with 11 November as Remembrance Day. Yes, we have Memorial Day, but I always thought the vibe - which if you have served with our Anglosphere friends you can feel - of Remembrance Day was more powerful and useful.

I didn't really know what to put up today until I ran across a picture of one of our greatest Americans, President Eisenhower, in a speech he gave to veterans the year he was elected to the Presidency.

After the events around the national humiliation at the end of August that closed the door for us on the Afghanistan conflict - regulars here know we've invested time here and over on Midrats to work through thoughts about what we did individually and collectively. Still stuck in that mode, this Veterans Day I find myself thinking of those I served with in Afghanistan and those who served there before and after.

I think of the risk they took just doing what was required in our profession. I think of their families who let them go and come back. I think of those who did not come back, or came back in some way physically and mentally - different or in part.

For those who came back, perhaps we should take a moment to think of each other. What we saw, hoped, thought, and wished for while we were there. What we sold ourselves, or let others sell to us, to justify our deployments. Think of those we served with from allied nations who, like us, willingly did what their profession required. Even more, those Afghans we served with, tried to help, saw day to day, waved at, and trusted us.

The conflict in Afghanistan was not, historically, a "great" war in size or deaths. It was a long war though. According to the Washington Post, 800,000 Americans alone served through the years 2001-2021 in Afghanistan.

Everyone's experience was different. Everyone tries understand what they did in their own way. Everyone remembers differently - even those who say they don't.

Everyone does reflect - and so - this November 11th I'm going to reflect a bit - and think of those who are reflecting as well.

Most will enjoy a discount, take a day off, or more likely than not, just carry on like any other day. That is good, that is fine - that is healthy. Others will - perhaps most - take a least a moment to ponder. Maybe a second, maybe longer - that is healthy too.

That is what I see in this picture of Eisenhower. A strong, stoic man who - even him - can be buffeted by a wave of remembrance of what he and others did and survived in recent memory.

If it is OK for Ike, it is OK for everyone.

h/t Michael Beschloss

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

What Has not Been Sold to China?

I'm not sure what percentage you can assign to greed, what to wishful thinking, and what to outright corruption, but the last four decades the West has not just sold companies, manufacturing, and economic leverage to the Chinese Communist Authorities - but at critical nodes through the world's critical choke points we've sold and leased to them unique land and resources they now control.

How can smart nations try to recover from such a strategic mistake?

Well, Australia is trying to figure that out.

Details over at USNIBlog.

Monday, November 08, 2021

We Know What China Wants to do

The only logical question for us is, "What are we going to do about it?"

On Sunday, H.I. Sutton and Sam LaGrone over at USNINews brought a few visuals that should grab your attention;

The Chinese military has built targets in the shape of an American aircraft carrier and other U.S. warships in the Taklamakan desert as part of a new target range complex, according to photos provided to USNI News by satellite imagery company Maxar.

The full-scale outline of a U.S. carrier and at least two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are part of the target range that has been built in the Ruoqiang region in central China. The site is near a former target range China used to test early versions of its so-called carrier killer DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles, according to press reports in 2013.

This new range shows that China continues to focus on anti-carrier capabilities, with an emphasis on U.S. Navy warships. Unlike the Iranian Navy’s aircraft carrier-shaped target in the Persian Gulf, the new facility shows signs of a sophisticated instrumented target range.

There is no reason to get all that excited about this. China realists should welcome this as it may help get the attention of those who have not fully realized the most likely Chinese Course of Action.

They know that the greatest threat to their plans for their end of the Pacific is the US Navy.

Don't get distracted by talk of grand Chinese breakthroughs in space, electronic warfare, or cyber - though they are real and a threat - because they are supporting and not supported efforts.

The Chinese main plan - their supported effort - is to lure in and then destroy as much of the US Navy and its supporting infrastructure west of Wake as it can as early as possible in the Pacific war that we all expect to come. They are confident enough of their capability to effectively strike static targets that they are moving on to refining hitting moving targets.

No use to ignore the threat, or retreat from the fact that in order to properly defend and support our allies, we not only have to go west of Wake, but west of Guam and well inside the first island chain.

Acknowledge the challenge. Accept the challenge. Welcome the challenge.

Let the Chinese do what they will - we cannot stop them while at peace - but we can do what we need to.

First, we need to counter the threat with an ability to degrade and as much as possible destroy their ability to effectively locate and track our forces.

How is our anti-satellite capability?

How is our offensive cyber ability?

How is our crypto breaking?

How is our offensive EW?

How is our dirty tricks/spoofing cadre?

How "quiet" can we operate along the electromagnetic spectrum?

Those are just a few of the top "soft" capabilities we need.

How is our ship based anti-ballistic missile/hypersonic capability? How many do we need to carry? How many in magazines? How many can industry produce per month?

How effective is our long range conventional strike capability?  How many in magazines? How many can industry produce per month?

How are we on ensuring that our ship based cruise missiles have the range they need? How many do we need to carry? How many in magazines? How many can industry produce per month?

(NB: if in your head you don't have a matrix of VLS cells per ship and are marking off real estate, you're doing it wrong.)

What are we doing to extend the range of our airwing and the weapons they carry? 

I am not interested in your PPT-thick vaporware that might show up by 2040. No, I need to know what you will have ready to deploy in number by 2025. Save Futurewar for another brief, later, on someone else's schedule.

Have we effectively modeled what we need for damage control when faced by near misses or glancing blows by ballistic missiles and hypersonics? No, you can't assume every hit is a direct hit or cracks the ship in half. That will happen, but a few thousand years of warfare tells us that won't happen every time.

Have we effectively modeled how we will repair ships to get them back in the fight as soon as practical? Do we have what we need to do that?

Have we effectively modeled how we are going to conduct reloads of VLS cells forward? Do we have what we need to do that? 

Regulars here know the answer to much of the above.

I think we can all agree there is much work to do.

Now, who is doing it?

A final note, for those who would like a quick and fascinating read on the Taklamakan desert that the Ruoqiang is part of, I can not recommend more highly Peter Hopkirk's Foreign Devils on the Silk Road.

Since I discovered the history of it in the 1990s, I've always been interested in news coming out about the Taklamakan. The place is just a brutal part of the world. If you wonder what "Taklamakan" might mean, I've read this in a few places, including Hopkirk;

The name is probably an Uyghur borrowing of Arabic tark, "to leave alone/out/behind, relinquish, abandon" + makan, "place". Another plausible explanation is that it is derived from Turki taqlar makan, which means "the place of ruins". Popular accounts claim that Takla Makan means "go in and you will never come out". It may also mean "The point of no return" or "The Desert of Death"..

Saturday, November 06, 2021

The NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan - Hopes & Lessons - on Midrats


In what history will show was a failed effort, for almost two decades, the most advanced military and police forces in the West tried to build a security force for the people of Afghanistan, an effort that took off with great urgency towards the end of the first decade of the conflict. A cornerstone of that effort was NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A). 

Our guests Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this effort and what lessons it holds for the future will be Dr. Martin Loicano and Dr. Craig C. “C. C.” Felker. Using extensive research and two combined years in Afghanistan, they've documented the 2009-2010 effort in their book, No Moment of Victory: the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan from 2009-2011.

Dr. Loicano served as chief historian, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). In that capacity, he advised the SHAPE commander and also was part of the SHAPE Strategic Planning Group. Previously, he was an associate professor in the Department of Strategy at the Air War College (AWC). Prior to joining the AWC faculty, Dr. Loicano served with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012. He holds a PhD in history from Cornell University, specializing in Cold War conflicts, Southeast Asia, and China.

Dr. Felker is a retired Navy captain and author of Testing American Sea Power: U.S. Navy Strategic Exercises, 1923–1940. He received his PhD from Duke University in 2004 and afterward served as a permanent military professor in the History Department of the United States Naval Academy, chairing the department from 2014 to 2016. He is currently the executive director of the Society for Military History.

Join us live if you can, but it not, you can get the show later by subscribing to the podcast. 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, November 05, 2021

Fullbore Friday

There is no such thing as a "normal watch," especially on Nov. 22, 1975 onboard the USS BELKNAP (CG-26);
We were on plane guard. They put us on a plane guard because their TACAN was down. We had been making this same maneuver to port eight or nine times a day – from the start of the turn to completion was 3600 yards. This time we made a turn to starboard. I’ve read the investigation report, so even though I was down in the fire room, I’ve since come to know what happened up on the bridge. With the lights of the carrier looking the same, there was confusion, and miscommunication, and we made a right-hand turn this time, and the arc was half of what it had been for the last 15 or 20 times. We were going to stop, let them go past us, come across the wake, and get back in position, but we couldn’t determine what their position was. So, I’m in the phone booth, and the next thing I know, we’re getting all these bells. I said, “Okay, everybody, be alert.” Usually on this shift there is nothing going on—no exercises or drills, and the off-watch crew is watching the movie. I was actually writing a letter to my wife and I put it down in the phone booth. The engineering spaces are very noisy, and the phone booth is a place where you could talk. I saw the shaft stop, and I said, “What the hell’s going on?” So I told the guys, “Everybody pay attention. Something’s going on.” And then they called “Captain to the bridge! Captain to the bridge!” on the 1MC general announcing system. I knew they would normally pass the word, “Commanding Officer, your presence is requested on the bridge,” and only if they couldn’t reach him on the phone, or send the messenger to find him in time. But I knew from when I was on Blandy, going to Viet Nam, that “If you hear this terminology, you know there’s a serious problem.” So, I said, “Okay, everybody, get up. Get up. Get ready. Something’s gonna happen.” And then all of a sudden the ship started to shudder, and I thought, “What’s going on?” And I looked over to the stack periscope. With the periscope, you can look out to see whether you’re smoking or not. And usually, if you were smoking it gets black at the bottom and it goes up to the top. What we didn’t know down in the fire room at that time was that when we hit, JP-5 fuel lines were cut up on the carrier, and fuel poured down onto our ship, and into the air supply for ventilating the engineering spaces. We had combination stacks and masts, called macks. All that fuel came down into the after mack. The forward mack never got any oil on it. All that fuel came down MY mack, and they estimated like 18 hundred gallons.
Required reading of an interview with a great Sailor, BT1 Andrew Gallagher.

Hat tip Sean. First posted May 2016.