Thursday, December 30, 2021

Army Fails Geography

This week, navalists everywhere are having fun with the comments by Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth at Center for Strategic and International Studies back on December 1st

First of all ... let's go to the map room.

What? Not clear enough? Let me help.

Over on twitter, I promised a thorough fisking of her comments ... so here we go.

"A more powerful Chinese military helps to underwrite Beijing's strategy to achieve the 'great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation' by 2049 — to include development of the PLA [People's Liberation Army] into a 'world class military' by midcentury," 

"China's focus on modernizing its military capabilities will strengthen its ability to coerce Taiwan and rival claimants in territorial disputes, project power globally, and counter interventions along the PRC's [People's Republic of China] periphery," she said.

First of all, besides those forces trained and equipped for amphibious operations, the People's Liberation Army is mostly a concern of the Indians and Russians ... with the Vietnamese a close third. We have no concerns with China on the Asian landmass as long as they keep their forces out of the Korean peninsular. 

Right now, the Chinese military is manned with about two million service members — 975,000 of them in army combat units. It also has the most ships of any navy in the world, Wormuth said. And within the Indo-Pacific region, the Chinese military also has the largest air force.

Huh. That sounds to me like we should allocate more funds to address <checks notes> naval forces to counter their expanded capabilities at sea.

China now has the ability to attack U.S. sensors and communication links in space and also has missiles that can sink U.S. ships and take down aircraft, Wormuth said.

"They have missiles that can reach U.S. bases in Japan and Guam, exposing our planes and runways to attack," she said. "Not only does China have advanced precision weapons, it has them in large and growing quantities. And just recently, China conducted a missile test that sent a missile around the world, dropping off a hypersonic vehicle that glided all the way back to China where it then struck a test target."

So, what you're saying is that static, land based assets are a bad idea due to their vulnerability? Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to perhaps allocate more funds for mobile, sea-based solutions? Yes? Solid thinking Madam Secretary.

Considering the advancements made by the Chinese military and the challenges it poses to the U.S., Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has identified China as a "pacing challenge" for the Defense Department.

In the name of all that is holy, there is nothing "pacing" about the challenge from China. Anyone who uses this word calls their credibility in to question. If anything they are accelerating, passing, or lapping us.

"In my view, the Army will have at least five core tasks if a conflict breaks out, and these are tasks the Army can usefully perform without presuming substantial expansion of Army permanent presence in the region in the near term future," Wormuth said.

Five, as in the numbers of fingers on a hand? Nice. We can hold track on that.

First, she said, the Army will serve as the 'linchpin" service within the joint fight.

Oh no, not "linchpin." As in the thing that needs to be removed in order to make a grenade useful in combat? 

This isn't going to go well, is it?

"The Army will establish, build up, secure and protect staging areas and joint operating bases for air and naval forces in theater," Wormuth said. "We will be prepared to provide integrated air and missile defense, both for fixed sites and using mobile elements. We will provide area security and quick reaction forces where needed."

So, should we disregard previous comments about the vulnerability of static, shore based infrastructure, or no? Is this just a way to give PLA rocket forces more targets in the hope we'll confuse them?  Also ... about those bases, you may want to review 10 U.S. Code § 8063 - United States Marine Corps: composition; functions. It states;

The Marine Corps shall be organized, trained, and equipped to provide fleet marine forces of combined arms, together with supporting air components, for service with the fleet in the seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and for the conduct of such land operations as may be essential to the prosecution of a naval campaign. 

Not your job Army.

The Army will also use its vast logistics capacity to sustain joint force partners across the Indo-Pacific region, she said.

With what resources will you go from island to island, exactly? Remember, this is WESTPAC, not EUCOM. No choo-choos.

"The Army, for example, will provide much of the secure communication network background. We will generate intra-theater distribution networks to keep the joint force supplied from dispersed locations, and we will maintain munition stockpiles and forward arming and refueling points," she said.

How many times has the Army done this with multiple maritime formations at sea or for that matter integrated long distance air campaigns? With the Army having the lead in AFG and IRQ recently, do they instill confidence they are ready for this as the supported service? Really?

The Army can also provide command and control capability at multiple levels to ensure coordination and synchronization across the joint force.
"The Army, with its substantial planning and operations capacity at the division and corps level, is uniquely well placed to provide command and control for the joint force," Wormuth said.

As mentioned earlier ... this is a maritime and aerospace fight. The Army is not well placed at all.

Beyond just mission support, Wormuth also said the Army brings substantial combat capability to the joint force. For instance, she said the Army will provide ground-based, long-range fires to enhance the joint force’s strike capability.

They will? Please, bring me the map with your range rings.

"Using our long-range hypersonic weapons, mid-range capability and precision strike missiles — all of which we will begin fielding in fiscal year 2023 — we will be able to interdict fires across sea lines of communication, suppress enemy air defenses and provide counter fires against mobile targets."

IOC in 2023? Is that in combat effective numbers? By then end of FY25, how many warshots will be in theater? Those will serve how many targets? What is the monthly production capacity for replacement rounds?

Finally, she said, the Army can provide counter-attack capability using its maneuver forces. Infantry stryker elements or combat aviation brigades, for instance, can be used to restore territorial integrity of allies and partners.

Wait ... bring those maps back. Where outside Korea on the Asian landmass are you planning to insert those mechanized forces? 

While Wormuth said the Army is currently capable of providing such capabilities to the joint force without changes in its existing permanent presence in Indo-Pacom, some changes would be useful. Right now, the U.S. military footprint in Asia is oriented towards the northeast, in places like Japan and Korea, for instance.

Like ... now? Really? "Currently" is doing a lot in this paragraph. Should we wargame JUN2022 or no?

"I think there is very much a desire to be able to expand our access and basing arrangements more into Southeast Asia; because, if we were able to do that, we would have ... a more dispersed posture that would give us much more flexibility," she said. "I think it is very much in our interest, and in the interest of our allies and partners, to explore how we can shift that posture over time."

What are we talking about here, Vietnam? Malaysia? Indonesia? Thailand? Who is willing to let the US Army put a flagpole down?

Nevertheless, considering where the U.S. operates now in Asia, she said it's important to maintain realistic assumptions about where the U.S. will be operating from, at least in the near future.

"Realistic." Indeed. May want to review previous comments.

"The Indo-Pacific ... is a region of great opportunity for the United States, but also real challenges," she said. "The Army is stepping up to that challenge, both in terms of how we contribute to the country’s ability to compete with China and our ability to deter coercion and aggression in the region."

Yes, the Army has a role, and important role, in any fight west of Wake, but not as the lead. They are no more the lead for the Pacific than the US Navy would be in Ukraine. They are the supporting, not the supported service.

Unless you are planning to restart a drive up the Korean peninsular or reinforce India on her border with China, the Army should not be even pondering the lead. 

Geography, history, national comparative advantage all tell us this is a maritime and aerospace battle. Any plan that includes engaging our Army in any significant force level on the Asian mainland is to invite national ruin.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

There is a Presence Mission ...and there is a Presence Mission

If you are going to call something a presence mission, then it needs to actually be present where it matters.

If we are trying to make a point about Ukraine ... is the Ionian Sea really where we need to be?

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Holiday in Guantanamo

Think of thing in the Navy that, well, just don't make it to the recruiting advertisements.

Deploying over the holiday season.

Finding out your "liberty port" is Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Throw in the post COVID-19 experience, and, well ... so sorry Shipmates.

USS Milwaukee (LCS 5), a Freedom variant littoral combat ship, remains in port as some Sailors test positive for COVID-19. The crew is 100% immunized and all COVID-19 positive Sailors are isolated on board and away from other crew members. A portion of those infected have exhibited mild symptoms. The vaccine continues to demonstrate effectiveness against serious illness.

I've spent a bit of time in GTMO. Besides swimming with the iguanas, I'm not sure they are missing all that much.

Knowing how Omicron is burning through everywhere ... is this going to be our standard response from here on out?

We'll see.

Well, besides working on PQS and catching up on PMS ... I wonder what else they can do?

Do they have a ships band? If so, GenX has an idea for them.

If you modify the lyrics (suggestions below) ... they the 80s may have something for them to work with.

This should be the USS Milwaukee's breakaway song: (apologies to the Dead Kennedys);

Watch the above but with these lyrics in your head ... I think it works. 

So, you've been on sea duty for a year or two

And you know you've seen it all

In COVID's Navy, thinking you'll go far

In the Caribbean your type don't crawl

Playing counter-drug to parade your aluminum

On your 3-jab vax

Braggin' that you know, how the Coasties feel warm

And sea duty is sea duty

It's time to test what you most fear

Cloth masks will not help you here

Test yourself, my dear

Test yourself, my dear

It's a holiday in Guantanamo 

It's tough, kid, but it's life

It's a holiday in Guantanamo

Don't forget your deployment wife

You've lost your taste, your smell

You want everyone to quarantine

Do PQS while you bitch, per diem will make you rich

But your CO gets more PMS from you

Well, COVID gets you more time in your rack

For a slider a day

Asymptomatic no one cares

Then your test is pos anyway

Now you can go nowhere

Now you are welded to the pier

What you need, my son...

What you need, my girl...

Is a holiday in Guantanamo

Where MA's won't let you leave the pier

A holiday in Guantanamo

Where you'll still get sea duty credit anyway







LCS, LCS, LCS, ...

And it's a holiday in Guantanamo 

Where you're called a plague ship

A holiday in Guantanamo

Where the banana rat makes fun of you



photo credit Anne Ney 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas!

May the Christmas spirit find you where ever you may may be. 

The US Navy wishes you peace on this day, but if you don't want peace ... well ... in the finest traditions back to George Washington, we can handle that too.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Today's Front Line in Ukraine in the First Person

Simply a superb almost 8-minutes from The Guardian of all places.

Take some time to listen to the people who are living - and fighting - in eastern Ukraine.

I find the part of the interview with Senior Lieutenant Misha Novitskyi starting at the 05:56 point especially to the point.

Ukraine wants to be part of the 21st Century. Russia wants to drag her back to the 20th.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

What Kind of War Does Russia Want to Fight?

I guess to answer this post's title question, we could start by listing to what they are telling us.

It really could be that simple.

If things went sideways in Ukraine, what have the Russians been working on?

They've told us and in places, showed us.

Are we ready?

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog.

Come by and see what the General of the Army has to say.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Germany's Coming Cold, Expensive, and Dangerous Experiment

Desire and will are powerful things. With luck, hard work, and good timing ... really wanting something enough can be the key to making things you desire come to pass.

Little warning though ... wanting something by itself is not enough. It has to match with reality.

Few things are more real than being cold, being able to produce products at market prices, and to be in control of the energy you need to be a modern nation.

Germany is about to see if desire - to be a "green superpower" fully dedicated to the carbon-neutral pagan god - is enough.

Germany is set to close almost half of its nuclear power capacity before the end of the year, putting further strain on European grids already coping with one of the worst energy crunches in the region’s history.

The shutdowns of Grohnde, Gundremmingen C and Brokdorf -- part of the country’s nuclear phaseout -- will leave just three atomic plants, which will be taken offline by the end of 2022. Beyond the squeeze on supply, the closures remove a key source of low-carbon power in a nation where emissions are on the rise.

Don't laugh, this is a serious matter. This is our largest NATO partner in Continental Europe. What happens to her economy ... and her strategic vulnerabilities ... impacts the USA directly.

Energy vulnerability for ourselves and our cornerstone allies is a national security problem.

“From a pure emissions perspective, it was always a questionable idea to shut down German nuclear before the plants have reached the end of their lifetime,” said Hanns Koenig, head of commissioned projects at Aurora Energy Research. “It was always clear that the nuclear phaseout would need coal and gas plants to run more and therefore cause substantial extra emissions.”

They let their least critical thinkers make their policy ... and everyone in the West is in greater danger because of it. Transnational green-leftism is a pox on us all.

...and that gas will be coming from where? Russia? 

Atomic plants are designed to generate power around the clock, providing valuable backup when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. While the shutdowns have been known about for years and are unlikely to cause a spike in prices, the removal of 4 gigawatts of baseload output highlights a dwindling reserve of buffer capacity in Germany. It’s one reason why prices are higher next year: electricity for delivery in 2022 has jumped more than fivefold this year.

This is one hell of a graph.

It is helpful to note that the whole project to get Germany hooked on Russian gas - in its final form as Nord Stream 2 - was led by the previous SPD Chancellor of Germany and this friend the former East German Stasi spy. If you don't know that, look it up.

Germany intends to take all coal-fired generation offline by 2038, with the lignite power-plant fleet reduced almost 16% by 2024. By that year, high carbon prices and an expansion of renewable power will have cut Germany’s coal production “strongly,” according to the International Energy Agency.

"Renewables." Anyone who has been to Germany knows they will never be a solar powerhouse and wind is iffy. Without nuclear & coal to fill in on quiet, cloudy days - absent a technological breakthrough unknown today - the only option is natural gas.

Russian gas.

Almost by design? Anyone familiar with the Cold War history of the Greens and large segments of the SDP can connect the dots from there. 

Feel good fools ... but the gods of the copybook headings will work their magic when Germany can no longer get by on the excess capital accrued by prior, more responsible German leadership.

There is still time for the German people to do something else, but elections have consequences - and they just voted for this.

They are going to get it good and hard. 

Bundle up my German friends ... and save your Euros.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Here’s Your Worrisome Military Culture

To start out with, as this is the topic of the WaPo opinion bit I’m about to snipe at, if you did not read my thoughts about the events of January 6th, 2021 – you can read my thoughts I wrote that very day. I stand by them and they are fairly self-explanatory. 

Now on to the opinion bit in question by;

Paul D. Eaton is a retired U.S. Army major general and a senior adviser to VoteVets. Antonio M. Taguba is a retired Army major general, with 34 years of active duty service. Steven M. Anderson is a retired brigadier general who served in the U.S. Army for 31 years.

Executive summary: these three men – all Army I might add (not historically insignificant) – are one of two things:

1. Gobsmackingly delusionally isolated leftists with totalitarian tendencies.

2. Incredibly bad actors in the political sphere who ham-fistedly desire to ingratiate themselves with a certain sub-set of equally bad actors.

Perhaps a combination of the two, or a third, but one thing is clear; they do not have an understanding of the nation or people they once served.

Let’s get to some pull quotes where they seem to propose actions that will do nothing but create the conditions they state they are worried about: 

 …the potential for lethal chaos inside our military…

In short: We are chilled to our bones at the thought of a coup succeeding next time.

One point of order that should be unnecessary, these are in theory professional military senior leaders. Especially given the history of army generals in other nations leading coups, they should know what a coup actually is. The events of January 6th were many things … but a coup it was not. Not even close.

… the potential for a military breakdown mirroring societal or political breakdown is very real… The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines — from the top of the chain to squad level — is significant should another insurrection occur. The idea of rogue units organizing among themselves to support the “rightful” commander in chief cannot be dismissed. 

If you have begun to wonder if these men don’t understand their nation, you can also see they don’t understand the people in the US military that well either. They need to get out more.

Their premise is paranoid fantasy at best, intentional alarmism at worst. The overwhelming percentage of the US population has little direct contact with people in their military. Well-meaning people on the left who are predisposed to this narrative in the opinion piece are being intentionally misled. This is beyond irresponsible. 

All service members take an oath to protect the U.S. Constitution. But in a contested election, with loyalties split, some might follow orders from the rightful commander in chief, while others might follow the Trumpian loser. Arms might not be secured depending on who was overseeing them. Under such a scenario, it is not outlandish to say a military breakdown could lead to civil war. 

No. Not really. The authors don’t seem to understand we have Judicial Branch who, after the 2000 election, stepped in and did their duty. Everyone but a few minor intellects accepted it and moved on.

It is hard to decide what the authors are more ignorant of, The Constitution, the American people, or US military members.

For those readers who still have an open mind, perhaps you are wondering, “Hey, it could happen, but the conditions would need to be set for this to take place. We aren’t even close to that yet … but you are being too dismissive Sal.”

I’m open to that critique, but why do the authors propose actions that would produce the desired conditions to move towards such a military breakdown?

There’s a template out there. It doesn’t come from the American military tradition – just like the opinion of these three retired General Officers – but the template exists;

But the military cannot wait for elected officials to act. The Pentagon should immediately order a civics review for all members — uniformed and civilian — on the Constitution and electoral integrity. There must also be a review of the laws of war and how to identify and deal with illegal orders. And it must reinforce “unity of command” to make perfectly clear to every member of the Defense Department whom they answer to. No service member should say they didn’t understand whom to take orders from during a worst-case scenario.

The Commander in Chief is who exactly? 

So, the President as CINC of the military of our representative republic should order what exactly? “The Pentagon” is run by civilians, political appointments made by the CINC. The Pentagon’s military side does not do anything without an order from the CINC via his appointees. It is also populated by officers; Company, Field, and Flag/General who know how this works too … or are the authors here expecting the uniformed military senior leadership to … what do the cool kids say … go rogue and do this on their own? 


In addition, all military branches must undertake more intensive intelligence work at all installations. The goal should be to identify, isolate and remove potential mutineers; guard against efforts by propagandists who use misinformation to subvert the chain of command; and understand how that and other misinformation spreads across the ranks after it is introduced by propagandists.

Who exactly will do this “more intensive intelligence work” as described? Anyone done the troops-to-task analysis to determine how many bodies this will take? What kind of training? Who defines criteria for investigation? Also, who will define who is or is not a “propagandist?”

Like I said earlier, there is a template for this. It isn’t in the American tradition, but it exists. 

Finally, the Defense Department should war-game the next potential post-election insurrection or coup attempt to identify weak spots. It must then conduct a top-down debrief of its findings and begin putting in place safeguards to prevent breakdowns not just in the military, but also in any agency that works hand in hand with the military. 

Let’s try to flesh this little paragraph out a bit. Are the authors proposing that the US military march in to … where? Department of State? Treasury? Education? Homeland Security? …and do what exactly? At the end of a barrel of a gun have an infantry Captain order the Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen to follow … what exactly … the directives from General Milley, USA as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? 

OK Shipmate, if you want to create the conditions for a civil war … then sure … have some fool agree to your proposal and you’ll have it.

Of course “civil war” would be about step 438 and we’re on about step 3 – same step we’ve been on for over two decades – so I wouldn’t lose any sleep over this.

As we get closer to January 6th, expect more delusional crap like this irresponsible article from people who should know better.

If they want, perhaps they can take up writing fiction. In the world of fiction anyone, including me, can create any series of events that can lead to civil war – even in 2024 … but it won’t be realistic … and I sure as hell wouldn’t try to tell anyone to expect it to be any more predictive of the future then “Damnation Ally”.

It bears repeating that all three of these authors are retired Army Generals who are known left-wing types. That is not shocking, as the authors state, 

...our military…draws from our diverse population.

…and that is OK. There are great Americans and patriots left of center. Some of them I count as my friends. They are well-meaning, good-faith actors in our political system. We may disagree with this or that – and agree on other things – as one does in a healthy society. They get the important things we hold in common right.

These three – at least in this case – are not that.

On top of it all, let’s say they got exactly what they wanted. What do they propose to do when we move – at some point – from a (D) Executive Branch to an (R) Executive Branch. Would they want a conservative (R) to have the powers over their military as they propose the Biden-Harris Administration have? 


Well, if nothing else, these gentlemen have provided just another reason in peace that we do not want a large standing Army. The vast majority of our land forces should be in the National Guard if for no other reason than to make the nation more secure from Army officers who look at this big military of theirs and are itching to do something with it.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Fullbore Friday

More than a few times the last month I have found myself referring to the Sailors of the FITZGERALD and McCain.

I've dug in to the archives from the summer of 2017 to look again at some of the things I wrote while things were fresh.

This week, let's look back to AUG 2017 when I first wrote this.

There can be only one FbF today, nothing else comes close.

The supplemental preliminary inquiry into the collision involving the USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62) and the ACX CRYSTAL from 17 JUN of this year is out.

The report is dated 11 AUG 17. You can get it from the SECNAV's site here, or read the whole thing posted below.

I wanted to pull one extended quote from it for your review. It really got hold of me, as it drove something home about the sea that Sailors know, but others don't; there is no normal day at sea. You are always one moment away from water, fire, steam, or flying shards of metal.

It also shows that on every ship, on every watch, there are Sailors who will be capable of exceptional bravery and sacrifice - the opportunity to demonstrate that character just hasn't come up yet. 

Even at sleep, the sea waits for her time.
Evacuating Berthing 2

21. Of the 42 Sailors assigned to Berthing 2, at the time of collision, five were on watch and two were not aboard. Of the 35 remaining Sailors in Berthing 2, 28 escaped the flooding. Seven Sailors perished.

22. Some of the Sailors who survived the flooding in Berthing 2 described a loud noise at the time of impact. Other Berthing 2 Sailors felt an unusual movement of the ship or were thrown from their racks. Still other Berthing 2 Sailors did not realize what had happened and remained in their racks. Some of them remained asleep. Some Sailors reported hearing alarms after the collision, while others remember hearing nothing at all.

23. Seconds after impact, Sailors in Berthing 2 started yelling “Water on deck!” and “Get out!” One Sailor saw another knocked out of his rack by water. Others began waking up shipmates who had slept through the initial impact. At least one Sailor had to be pulled from his rack and into the water before he woke up. Senior Sailors checked for others that might still be in their racks.

24. The occupants of Berthing 2 described a rapidly flooding space, estimating later that the space was nearly flooded within a span of 30 to 60 seconds. By the time the third Sailor to leave arrived at the ladder, the water was already waist deep. Debris, including mattresses, furniture, an exercise bicycle, and wall lockers, floated into the aisles between racks in Berthing 2, impeding Sailors’ ability to get down from their racks and their ability to exit the space. The ship’s 5 to 7 degree list to starboard increased the difficulty for Sailors crossing the space fromthe starboard side to the port side. Many of the Sailors recall that the battle lanterns were illuminated. Battle lanterns turn on when power to an electrical circuit is out or when turned on manually. The yellow boxes hanging from the ceiling in Figure 14 are battle lanterns.

25. Sailors recall that after the initial shock, occupants lined up in a relatively calm and orderly manner to climb the port side ladder and exit through the port side watertight scuttle. Figure 14 provides an example of the route Sailors would have taken from their racks to the port side watertight scuttle on a ship of the same class as FITZGERALD. They moved along the blue floor and turned left at the end to access the ladder. Figure 14 provides an example and sense of scale. Even though the Sailors were up to their necks in water by that point, they moved forward slowly and assisted each other. One Sailor reported that FC1 Rehm pushed him out from under a falling locker. Two of the Sailors who already escaped from the main part of Berthing 2 stayed at the bottom of the ladder well (see Figure 8) in order to help their shipmates out of the berthing area.

26. The door to the Berthing 2 head (bathrooms and showers) was open and the flooding water dragged at least one person into this area. Exiting from the head during this flood of water was difficult and required climbing over debris.

27. As the last group of Sailors to escape through the port side watertight scuttle arrived at the bottom of the ladder, the water was up to their necks. The two Sailors who had been helping people from the bottom of the ladder were eventually forced to climb the ladder as water reached the very top of the Berthing 2 compartment. They continued to assist their shipmates as they climbed, but were eventually forced by the rising water to leave Berthing 2 through the watertight scuttle themselves. Before climbing the ladder, they looked through the water and did not see any other Sailors. Once through the watertight scuttle and completely out of the Berthing 2 space (on the landing outside Berthing 1) they continued to search, reaching into the dark water to try to find anyone they could. From the top of the ladder, these two Sailors were able to pull two other Sailors from the flooded compartment. Both of the rescued Sailors were completely underwater when they were pulled to safety.

28. The last Sailor to be pulled from Berthing 2 was in the bathroom at the time of the collision and a flood of water knocked him to the deck (floor). Lockers were floating past him and he scrambled across them towards the main berthing area. At one point he was pinned between the lockers and the ceiling of Berthing 2, but was able to reach for a pipe in the ceiling to pull himself free. He made his way to the only light he could see, which was coming from the port side watertight scuttle. He was swimming towards the watertight scuttle when he was pulled from the water, red-faced and with bloodshot eyes. He reported that when taking his final breath before being saved, he was already submerged and breathed in water.

29. After the last Sailor was pulled from Berthing 2, the two Sailors helping at the top of the port side watertight scuttle noticed water coming into the landing from Berthing 1. They remained in case any other Sailors came to the ladder. Again, one of the Sailors stuck his arms through the watertight scuttle and into the flooded space to try and find any other Sailors, even as the area around him on the landing outside of Berthing 1 flooded. Berthing 1, with no watertight door between it and the landing, began to flood.

30. Another Sailor returned with a dogging wrench, a tool used to tighten the bolts, on the hatch to stave off flooding from the sides of the hatch. The three Sailors at the top of the ladder yelled into the water-filled space below in an attempt to determine if there was anyone still within Berthing 2. No shadows were seen moving and no response was given.

31. Water began shooting up and out of the watertight scuttle into the landing. Finding no other Sailors, they tried to close the watertight scuttle to stop the flood of water. The force of the water through the hatch prevented closing the watertight scuttle between Berthing 2 and Berthing 1. The scuttle was left partially open. They then climbed the ladder to the Main deck (one level up from the Berthing 1 landing), and secured the hatch and scuttle between Berthing 1 and the Main deck. In total, 27 Sailors escaped Berthing 2 from the port side ladder.

32. One Sailor escaped via the starboard side of Berthing 2. After the collision, this Sailor tried to leave his rack, the top rack in the row nearest to the starboard access trunk, but inadvertently kicked someone, so he crawled back into his rack and waited until he thought everyone else would be out of the Berthing 2. When he jumped out of his rack a few seconds later, the water nearly reached his top bunk, already chest high and rising.

33. After leaving his rack, the Sailor struggled to reach the starboard egress point through the lounge area.

34. He moved through the lounge furniture and against the incoming sea. Someone said “go, go, go, it’s blocked,” but he was already underwater. He was losing his breath under the water but found a small pocket of air. After a few breaths in the small air pocket, he eventually took one final breath and swam. He lost consciousness at this time and does not remember how he escaped from Berthing 2, but he ultimately emerged from the flooding into Berthing 1, where he could stand to his feet and breathe. He climbed Berthing 1’s egress ladder, through Berthing 1’s open watertight scuttle and collapsed on the Main Deck. He was the only Sailor to escape through the starboard egress point.

35. The flooding of Berthing 2 resulted in the deaths of seven FITZGERALD Sailors. The racks of these seven Sailors were located in Rows 3 and 4, the area closest to the starboard access trunk and egress point and directly in the path of the onrushing water, as depicted in Figure 15.

36. After escaping Berthing 2, Sailors went to various locations. Some assembled on the mess decks to treat any injuries and pass out food and water. Others went to their General Quarters (GQ) stations to assist with damage control efforts. Another Sailor went to the bridge to help with medical assistance. One Sailor later took the helm and stood a 15-hour watch in aft steering after power was lost forward.
As a side note, BZ to the main author of this report. Through their exceptional writing and narrative style, they have brought great honor to those Sailors on the FITZGERALD who died, lived, saved others, and fought to keep their ship afloat that night and following days.

"In the finest traditions of the naval service" is almost a cliche, but these men and women proved it that day. Fullbore.

I believe it does great credit to our Navy and its culture that we make these reports open to the public. I hope we are able to learn and incorporate as many damage control lessons as possible from this unfortunate incident so that in the future, other lives and ships may be saved.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Diversity Thursday

Before you watch the below clip, light a candle for poor Admiral Christopher Grady, USN. Here he is, a very serious man up for a very serious job, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – and yet here is a Senator who decides to invest her time with the Admiral – headed to the #2 position in our military as we face the greatest military challenge since the fall of the Soviet Union three decades ago, and  … well …


I don't think that there is any good answer to this kind of question.  While on first watch I gave him a B-, and I’ve instead decide to grade on PASS/FAIL and he gets a PASS.

This is a good moment to bring up a similar topic that we discussed last Thursday; the huge industry that is everything in the Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity racket. 

If you think in academia and some corporate positions are out of control in both number and cost – then you would pop a circuit breaker if you saw the tens, and DOD wide, possibly hundreds of millions of dollars spent on dedicated military and civilian positions, not to mention the infrastructure to support entire UIC dedicated to the subject, their staffs, travel, trainers, speakers, and assorted ancillary support to various “affinity” groups that base their membership, mission, and efforts specifically based on race, creed, color, or national origin … and sex … and gender … and whatever other approved group pops up that threatens to call people nasty names if they don’t endorse their agenda and … more importantly, billets and funding lines. 

Some of these positions are written in law, some were created out of existing billet structure. They are all expensive in both real cost and opportunity cost. They grow every year because so far no group of leadership has been willing to say, “This is 2022, not 1972 … hold on here.” When I say leadership, I’m not fully referring to uniformed leadership. No. I’m mostly referring to civilian leadership appointed from both political parties.

Some day, and that day may not come for quite a while, we will have a chance to trim the commissariat down to a more manageable size. We will have to start with the portion of the nomenklatura who exist at will, so their billets can be recoded into something that is more useful, or better yet, taken as savings.

Once that is done, it will take people on House and Senate staffs who will look at what billets were forced on the services at one time or another and to give them a fresh re-look to make sure they are as a group right sized to the needs of the mission. That is a harder battle, but one that must be fought, as these billets are way too many for the requirements of the challenge. They add no value and there is no incentive for them to solve any problem – only to continue them or create new ones. Otherwise, why do they have their job? 

Yes, the people who try to come after that rice bowl will be called nasty names – but by now, do those names really mean anything? 

Should we have some Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity positions? Well, if we trained our officers correctly, that would be everyone’s job. Perhaps we need a few – properly defined and scoped – but we do not need the legion of these “advisors” soaking up parking spaces and six figure incomes by the Acela train-full.

The waste of uniformed personnel in such make-work billets is  bad enough, but the larger concern is the legion of otherwise unemployable civilian diversity bullies infesting all echelons of command.

They remind me a bit of an observation from General Curtis LeMay, USAF (Ret.) 1968 book, “America is in Danger” in his chapter on civilian control of the military;  

At the turn of the century the War Department was filled with military homesteaders who spent their entire careers in Washington. These officers became superb bureaucrats. Each branch chief of the Army had his own little self-perpetuating sinecure, completely out of touch with field conditions and operating in a sort of detached dream world.

Then came the rude awakening of the Spanish American War. Although  not a very big war, it was snarled up beyond belief by the War Department. Without staff coordination, troops went without food, proper clothing, sanitation, and ammunition. When it was over, Elihu Root was appointed to find out what went wrong. It did not take him long to see that the headquarters homesteaders had lost touch with the Army. The remedy was simple. Washington tours of duty were curtailed. A four-year limit was established, then transfer to the field became mandatory. This “Manchu Law” remains in effect today. It was wise a military decision and a sensible solution to a serious organizational problem. Military headquarters in Washington have since been representative of true conditions in the filed simply because senior staff officers have recently served there.

However, now we have come full cycle. By civilianizing out military headquarters we have backed into the same condition which Elihu Root found in 1900. Civilians not only are not required to rotate to the field, they have meager, if any, military backgrounds in the first place. Thus they have a built-in detachment from the military establishment. They operate from an unrealistic ivory tower. 

There is still another danger in the civilian hierarchy. This new bureaucracy, like an y other, develops internal loyalties and group objectives which may sometimes take on more significance than the remoter military needs. Also, its members are a good deal more vulnerable to political pressures than people in uniform. Civil positions frequently have political overtones, as do many of the decisions made by the incumbents.

That is why you have to understand the sea in DC people like Admiral Grady have to swim in when it comes to this area. They are awash in unaccountable bureaucrats who they cannot fire, reassign, or even discipline or direct. In a way, they have to work around them and in fear of them. They don’t care about and General or Flag Officer. They were there before they arrived and will be there after they leave. The commissariat have a higher calling.  

At some point change will come … but until then, even ‘ole Sal understands the strong will do their will, and the weak must suffer what they must. 

Trust me, there are some areas even full Admirals are very weak indeed. Just watch the video. You can almost see the life force being drained out of him.

h/t MT.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

What does anti-laser flash gear actually look like

Bit by bit, you can start to see the role of lasers in naval warfare. 

While much of the conversation is about how we can use them, over at USNIBlog while pondering the  latest tests, I'm starting to wonder ... how much thought are we putting in to how to counter and protect ourselves from incoming fire?

Come by and ponder with me a bit.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

The Terrible 20s With a British Accent

A little over a decade ago, we coined "The Terrible 20s" to describe what we saw as the challenge we are experiencing now. A point I made then still applies; if you want a preview of the USN in a decade, look at the Royal Navy today;

Look at what the Royal Navy is dealing with today, and it isn't a stretch to see similar challenges for ourselves. Look and learn - and perhaps we can mitigate the pain.

Have you seen the absolute state of what the Royal Navy is looking at towards the end of this decade? From the summary report of the recent report out of the House of Commons, We’re going to need a bigger Navy;”

Towards the end of the decade in 2027–28 the Navy will begin transitioning multiple classes of vessel simultaneously. Crucially these plans must be delivered on schedule in order for the Navy to exit the period of risk that budgetary restrictions have placed it in. However, they face many structural and project-specific risks, and the Ministry of Defence’s track record on delivery is far from good.

Whenever we have investigated a failure, we have heard the customary mantra that “lessons have been learned”. Not only do we seriously doubt that this is the case, these projects are too important to the Navy’s credibility and the UK’s security to be treated as a learning opportunity. These projects therefore need greater scrutiny from Parliament and external stakeholders, and this requires the Government to be honest about its intentions and publish shipbuilding delivery plans.

In short, over the next five years or so, at least until the new classes of surface escorts come on stream, the Royal Navy will be asked to do even more with even less. This is a clear risk, which those beyond these shores can calculate just as readily as we can.

It is important to remember that our best naval partner is and will be the Royal Navy. Her problems are our problems, and likewise for her.

Both our nations suffer from the same problem; for decades our military and political elites have mismanaged their nation's requirement for sea power.

We no longer have the luxury of sub-optimalized incompetence of just getting by on not-that-bad.

We have to return to excellence to meet the challenge that China is bringing at sea. 

New leaders need to come to the front with a new attitude and a firm understanding of why they are here.

Four years after the 2010 post linked to above, I also made this point

Solutions? Sure, there are some - but no one is talking about them as they require sharp elbows, flexible intellect, and the ability to not be invited to the right parties - or post retirement gigs of fortune.

Those who have a clear-eyed view of the cornerstone to our nations' freedom is its sea power, we have to fight, argue, and make enemies amongst the rent seekers, bureaucrats, and the permanent natsec nomenklatura who got us here - starting with the land component fetishists.

H/t SW. 

Monday, December 13, 2021

A Lithuanian Test Case for NATO

Lithuania has a tough history, but they are a resilient people. Only 2.8 million souls in a bit of cold, flat, damp land on the Baltic roughly the size of West Virginia, but they exist as other peoples have vanished.

They know tyranny, and they know the importance of letting small nations know that they don't stand alone. 

How much support will brave little Lithuania get from her NATO allies?

China has told multinationals to sever ties with Lithuania or face being shut out of the Chinese market, a senior government official and an industry body told Reuters, dragging companies into a dispute between the Baltic state and Beijing.

China downgraded its diplomatic ties with Lithuania last month, after the opening of a representative office by Taiwan in Vilnius. Lithuania's ruling coalition had agreed in November last year to support what it described as "those fighting for freedom" in Taiwan, putting its relations with China at risk.

China is a bully. Like all bullies, she is encouraged by weakness and attracted to the vulnerable. 

BZ to Lithuania. Now let's see what NATO and the rest of the West will do.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Making the Case for Maritime Power with ADM Jamie Foggo, USN (Ret.) - on Midrats

Just a cursory glance at any map will tell you the United States of America is a maritime nation whose economic power and national security is intimately linked to the sea.

This simple reality is not as well understood as one would expect. Command of the sea and access to the world’s oceans has never been easy or an entitlement for any nation. It is something that each generation must understand, resource, and be a steward of for the next.

With domestic distractions and competing priorities combined with the accelerating challenge by the People’s Republic of China, bringing the topic of maritime power above the natsec ambient noise has never been more important.

This fall a new voice joined the conversation, the Navy League of the United States’ Center for Maritime Strategy.

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss the message it will bring to the conversation will be its inaugural Dean, Admiral Jamie Foggo, USN (Ret.).

Admiral Foggo  is a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He is also an Olmsted Scholar and Moreau Scholar, earning a Master of Public Administration at Harvard University and a Diplome d’Etudes Approfondies in defense and strategic studies from the University of Strasbourg, France.

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, December 10, 2021

Fullbore Friday

I first ran this FbF right after a great man passed in 2016 and I feel bad it took so long for me to cover Mugs. 

Read the whole thing, but here is a lead in to the video below;
Former Navy Capt. Ronald E. "Mugs" McKeown, a decorated fighter pilot who was the first commanding officer of the elite Top Gun academy, died Nov. 21 in a Hillcrest care facility. The cause was complications associated with Parkinson’s disease. He was 76.

Mr. McKeown, whose boxing prowess earned him the nickname "Mugs," was chosen to command the newly commissioned Navy Fighter Weapons School, popularly known as Top Gun, in 1972. The training school began informally just two years earlier in a converted trailer at the former Naval Air Station Miramar to teach Vietnam War pilots air-to-air combat tactics necessary to defeat MIG attacks. He was one of the program’s first instructors.

Taking command of the program allowed him to teach jet pilots the tactics he had been honing for years.

He took part in the first air strikes against North Vietnam in 1964, flying F-8U Crusader and F-4B Phantom aircraft. While on deployment, he was chosen for test pilot and astronaut training and went on to serve as chief test pilot and tactics manager of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Four. There, he was in charge of engineering changes to the radar-homing Sparrow missile, developed tactical maneuvers for the F-4 Phantom, and gained invaluable cockpit knowledge flying Soviet-built MIG fighter planes.

Go to 23:58 to see the interview with a great Naval Officer.

Hat tip Brenden

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Diversity Thursday

For the last decade and a half or so of DivThu we've often discussed the "Diversity Industry" and tried to describe to those who have yet to encounter it, just how large of an industry it is.

Instead of working towards a society that looks past the useless characteristics of race, creed, sex, color or national origin - they work towards division, promote segregation and unequal treatment ... on your dime.

Sadly, the commissariat has only gotten larger as they have refined their business model of insertion and growth through threats, etho-masochism, well-meaning useful idiocy, leveraging institutional cowardice, and naked careerism to expand their empire.

Few can or will say no to them, as their track record on cancelling and dissociating those who they consider heretics from their religion and gravy train is impressive.

Thanks to Professor Mark Perry, we have a little snapshot of just one little tributary to their empire - The Ohio State University.

Enjoy it Ohio taxpayers, Ohio State alumni, parents, and students - you're paying for it.

Here is the full list ... and while you are looking through it, think about what your university, your government, your military service - what is their bill for this communal folly of investing in sectarianism and division? An entire cadre of otherwise unemployable people who have no metric for success but efforts they make to justify their paycheck and open up additional avenues for paid positions and tribute to the main arms of this multi-billion dollar industry.

Think of the opportunity cost. How many tutors and half-ride scholarships for low income students would $13.4 million dollars cover. Well, we know that is 1,120 full ride scholarships ... imagine 2,000 half-ride and 220 full time tutors in math and science to help those from low performing high schools excel in the fields that our 21st Century economy needs.


If nothing, you have to respect the hustle. 


Monday, December 06, 2021

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part XCI

I found two things curious about the response to this news over the weekend;

China is looking to create its first permanent military presence on the Atlantic Ocean, on the coast of the small African nation Equatorial Guinea, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal based on classified U.S. intelligence.

Though officials did not describe China's plans in detail, they said China's presence on Africa's Atlantic coast would enhance the possible threat to the U.S., as it would give Chinese warships a place to rearm and refit opposite the East Coast, the Journal reported.

Gen. Stephen Townsend, who serves as commander of U.S. Africa Command, told the Senate in April that China's “most significant threat” would be “a militarily useful naval facility on the Atlantic coast of Africa.” 

First of all, I am surprised that it has taken this long for China to militarize her Belt and Road. If you take in to consideration not just her navy but her naval auxiliary and merchant fleet, China can be argued to be the premier naval power in the world right now. 

She does not have the combat reach and capability that the USA has via its carrier and submarine force, but she is getting there.

Her economic requirements, if nothing else, absolutely require her to have naval bases along her sea lines of communication.

Second, some people are getting the vapors over it. Calm down people.

Is this a great threat to the US and her interests? Well, it isn’t helpful, but it isn’t a crisis. Like the various German naval facilities scattered over the Pacific and Africa prior to WWI, in any global war, a little base in Africa will have an operational utility measure in weeks at best.

It is important and we should not brush it off. We should take note of this Decisive Point in her Line of Operation to maintain a global naval presence. China is a rising power and with each year, our relative strength against her weakens. It weakens for two reasons; 

1. China is investing in and building a world class navy.

2. The United States is willingly underinvesting and allowing its world class navy to progressively degrade.

At some point, if you simply look at military power, those lines will cross. If you include all the parts of a maritime power like I did at the start of the post, one could argue that those lines have already crossed – we just haven’t accepted that yet.

Good news, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can, and should, sober up and see the world for what is it in the 3rd decade of the 21st Century and invest accordingly.

We are by nature, geography and requirements, a maritime and aerospace power. We need leaders who will start to speak, act, and invest accordingly. 

If that moment won’t happen now, perhaps it will happen when the Chinese get their first base in the Western Hemisphere.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Presence & Command of the Sea, with Robert “Barney” Rubel - on Midrats


Both history and common practice show that the most fundamental role of a major power’s naval forces is to “show the flag.” The world’s premier naval power has additional responsibilities if it wishes to remain the premier power; command of the seas.

From material condition of our ships to failures of basic seamanship, the last few years have signaled that whatever we are doing, it isn’t being done in the best service of the nation or its Navy.

As we face an accelerating challenge from the People’s Republic of China at sea, do we need a fundamental re-look at how we run our Navy?

Our guest this Sunday from 4-5pm Eastern to discuss this and related topics he raises in the article, “Think Differently about Naval Presence” in the December 2021 Naval Institute Proceedings, will be Robert C. “Barney” Rubel, CAPT, USN, Ret.). 

Captain Rubel served 30 years on active duty from 1971-1991 as light attack/strike fighter aviator.  He commanded VFA-131 1990-91 and ashore served three tours at Naval War College teaching planning and decision making.  After retirements, he was brought on as a civilian analyst in wargaming 2001 and was Director of Wargaming 2003-2006, Dean of the Center for Naval Warfare Studies 2006-2014, and Advisor to CNO 2015-2021.

He directed the 2006/7 NWC research effort that supported development of CS21 and is the author of over 30 journal articles, book chapters, and more.

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, December 03, 2021

Fullbore Friday

Back in 2014 we took a day to give a nod to MA2 Mayo, USN. A year later friends at USNI News posted the final report.

Make sure and read the VCNO's endorsement below. Lots to ponder there, and in honor of Perry Officer Mayo, you should give it a read.

In port.

Just another watch on the pier.

Tic. Toc. Yawn. It's 23:20. Watch is almost over.

Thing is, there is no such thing as a normal watch. You never know when the call comes. You don't even have to be at sea. You don't even have to be overseas. You can just be at the largest naval base in the world in your own nation.

When in a moment things can turn from boredom to the point where character, instinct and training take over. The first, is the most important - the rest only support it.

MA2 Mark Mayo, USN. Fullbore Shipmate; fullbore.
(the shooter) parked his tractor-trailer cab near Pier 1, was able to walk onto the pier and began heading up a ramp toward the USS Mahan when he was confronted by Navy security, said Mario Palomino, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agent in charge of the Norfolk field office.

The man then got into an altercation with a female petty officer and disarmed her, Navy officials said. Palomino said Mayo stepped over the disarmed officer and fired his weapon at the assailant. He was serving on watch for the installation that night and came to help once he saw the civilian board the ship.

Multiple pistol rounds were fired between the gunman and Navy security forces responding to the scene, Palomino said. The Navy has said previously that the truck driver fired the shot that killed Mayo.

The base's commanding officer, Capt. Robert Clark, said Mayo's actions to protect the disarmed officer (sic) were extraordinary.

""He basically gave his life for hers," said Clark said during a news conference.
Ship, shipmate, self? Yep; it means exactly what it says.
MA2 Mayo enlisted in the U.S. Navy in October 2007 and began working in Norfolk in May 2011.

“Petty Officer Mayo’s actions on Monday evening were nothing less than heroic. He selflessly gave his own life to ensure the safety of the Sailors on board USS Mahan (DDG 72),” said Capt. Robert E. Clark, Jr., commanding officer, Naval Station Norfolk.
There is more background at the above links and here about the shooter that I really don't want to cover here. There is plenty of time later for that and what lessons we can take away from it.

I have my opinions, but not here, not today. 

Petty Officer Mayo, well done.