Monday, February 27, 2023

One Year in the Russo-Ukrainian War: the Big Pixels

Last Friday we looked at the seven points we discussed a year earlier the day the Russo-Ukrainian War broke out. As promised, today we look at seven points a year in everyone needs to hoist onboard.

Though I nibble on the edges a bit, these are not detailed, tactical “lessons learned.” Land combat details simply are not my bag. No, these a big pixel items. Mostly land centric like the war, but are directly transferrable to the maritime and other domains.

1. Short-War Snake Oil Salesmen are Worthy of Little but Scorn: a bit more muted than a year ago, even in winter of 2023, American short-war salesmen continue to push the WESTPAC 72-hour victory concept. In the run up to the start of the war in the winter of 2022, Russia’s leadership was sold a quick victory in Ukraine. As we’ve discussed in prior posts, their decision making process was a classic case of multi-layered optimism filtering. Political leaders like shortcuts. They like hearing things that confirm their priors - and like flies around a barnyard, yes-men (and women) surround such personalities. Smart leaders ensure they are not surrounded by yes-men. Unwise leaders create organizations where only the obsequious rise. 

Short wars are seductive and brief well. They are easy to wargame. Unless you are off Zanzibar or Grenada, they never really work out. They are products of the delusional, corrupt, or criminally incompetent - uniformed and civilian. 

If you desire a short war, you have to be positioned to fight a long war. You need to clearly plan, train, man, and equip your military to wage a long war against an adversary and win. The extra added benefit to this posture is that if done right, such a war may never come. Then in peace, you can safely argue with the peaceniks why we don’t have war, just a bloated military, as opposed to burying our children and waiting in lines with ration cards. If it does come, it ends quickly. Plan for a short war and you will probably get a long war with better than average odds you’ll lose it.

Since WWII, what are the larger wars and imperial policing actions we’ve been involved it? Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and the aggregated Iraq campaigns. That is, what, two losses (Vietnam & Afghanistan) and two draws (Korea and Iraq)? OK, if you squint you can say Iraq is a “little w” – but that is an arguable point.

2. You Must Have a Sovereign Military-Industrial Complex: forget efficient in peace, you need to be effective at war and there is no long ramp-up if you get surprised. You go to war with what you have. At peace, wise policy makers must fight a hard battle against the green eye-shade accountants who spent too much time in MBA school and not enough studying the profession of arms. If a nation cannot produce the weapons its forces need, it must rely on the grace and mercy of other nations. If you are the USA, there are no other nations who have the capacity – even if they have the will and political ability to support us – to supply more than a fraction of what we would need if we found ourselves at war west of Wake. Ukraine could look to the USA and some of her allies for significant help against a larger opponent. For the USA, we’re it.

3. Deep Magazines, Running Production Lines, and Distributed Risk: If you wonder if prior and present leadership were serious in their responsibility to prepare the nation to fight and win a war against a top-tier competitor, look at the depth of your magazines and robustness of your stockpiles. Have your planning staff examine what it would take to win against the conventional “Red Most Dangerous Course of Action.” Have them include how many months, weeks, or even days of supply there are for your most important weapons systems for that fight. Where are these magazines located? What percentage are located in each area? How long can you fight if you lose the inventory of 10%, 30%, or 60% of your magazines through enemy action?

For your highest demand weapons, is there an active production line open? Is it scalable for larger production numbers? Can you produce in a year more than what you expect to expend? 

The Ukrainian experience underlines a requirement I've yet to see get traction; if the USA expects a WESTPAC conflict in the next 10-years, there is one bold-faced requirement; under no circumstances should any production line of weapons systems be allowed to go cold until its replacement achieves initial operational capability. Once those lines – and its equipment and craftsmen – are lost, they are almost impossible to get back. 

4. Range Matters: If your opponent has land-based, mobile anti-ship weapons, and the ISR to support them, you will be kept at distance from shore until that threat is eliminated. If not, be prepared to lose your capital ships in number. 

Your sea-based weapons systems must have the range to enter the fight outside that threat distance plus the additional distance to get to target. If not, be prepared to lose your capital ships in number.

Your land-based weapons systems that are inside the range of the enemy – especially in small, isolated and difficult to defend locations, cannot be considered more than a D+0 capability. To expect to use them for any length of time under the enemy’s multiple vector extended fires is a waste of personnel and resources. From 1941’s Wake Island to 2022’s Snake Island, this is a known reality the new generation need to be reminded of. Only when you own the air and water around them are they of use.  EABO call your office.

5. Cutting Edge is a Mirage: Technology (tools) are always evolving, but they are not magic beans. For every Manhattan Project there is a ME-262. The USA and her allies would have defeated Imperial Japan without the nuclear bomb – slower and with a larger butcher’s bill, but Japan's defeat was inevitable. Nazi Germany would have lost WWII even with triple the number of ME-262 – though they would have lasted a little longer and the Red Army would have penetrated much further in to Germany as a result.

Yes, the video of 2023 quad-copters dropping grenades on hapless Russian conscripts in WWI-era trenches is exciting for those raised on video games, but they are a marginal supporting system, not supported. This war will be won or lost because of artillery, armor, infantry, logistics, and intelligence. War is as it was. There are no short cuts. There is no offset. There are no easy answers. Mass, power, will.

6. Diversity Matters: …in weapons systems, that is. At peace, “one stop shopping” briefs well - where one weapon system or system of systems will be your war winning platform – but that is only true if the salesman, and that is what these people are, can see the future and have perfect knowledge of the enemy, geography, terrain, weather and even psychology. They don’t; no one does.

To succeed in war, you need to make sure that you have the correct weapons mix that gives you flexibility. You don’t need only a multitool – though these are nice to have – you need a diverse box of tools at your side. 

Let's just look at one area of Western supplied equipment for example: HIMARS is not the answer to all your indirect fire problems. The 105mm towed artillery is much better in some areas. 155mm towed and self-propelled are the better tool for others. 120mm mortars and 40mm grenade launchers are the only thing that will work for another set. Could you try to fight with HIMARS alone? Sure. Will you win? No.

Messy, inefficient, logistically complicated as they are, an effective military force – land, air, and at sea – must have a diverse set of weapons systems. No one can predict what will work best across the spectrum of possible conflict. Diversity in weaponeering options is the only way to hedge against technology, industrial, and future risk – not to mention it gives local commanders better options on how to address challenges as they present themselves on the battlefield – challenges those in a briefing room thousands of nautical miles away cannot even comprehend. 

7. Your Military May be Lying to You: In every military there is the temptation to not send bad news up the chain. Bad leaders let it be known that they want a green circle or up arrow - and don't care how they get it. No yellow - and unquestionably no red. They don't want to hear that your equipment is broke because there are no spare parts. Say you are fine. They don't want to hear that your personnel are not properly trained because there wasn't time or money to do it. Do the job anyway. They don't want to hear that things were not in proper condition when issued. You were issued what you were supposed to be issued. They want to know you are ready to go. That is how you got the FITZGERALD and MCCAIN in the summer of  2017, and that is how you got the Russian invasion a year ago.

When war comes, it won't care that you didn't CASREP your broken ESM gear. It won't care that you haven't tested your air search radar properly in months because the previous CO didn't think it would work properly and didn't want to have to ask for support. It won't care that you have no functioning ASW weapons unless your PMC helo carries one. It does not care that half your watch team does not know how to properly run their equipment and none are cross trained. It does not care that you are headed in to a heavy air threat environment with most of your VLS tubes filled with TLAM because there was no place to change the load out when the mission changed.

War does not care that the command got by with minimal manning, questionable maintenance, and thin supplies. It only knows that it will find where you have failed to do your job, and will kill you and everyone around you for that error ... as that is the nature of war.

Photo Credit: RadoJavor

Friday, February 24, 2023

The Russo-Ukrainian War D+365 Quicklook

The three day war Russia thought it started a year ago is still going strong.

There are a lot of "One Year" think-pieces out there that are long and detailed. I want to keep things short. 

On the day the war started I made 7-points. Let's review them and see how I did back on 24 FEB 22.

1. The remaining delusions about the post-Cold War security arrangements in Europe should be firmly buried. History is back and she has her Festivus pole front and center. She has some issues with us, and we’re going to hear about it.

This continues to get firmer and displayed in stark relief. All the "offsets" and "transformations" and "war is new" snake oil sold the last few decades really should not be allowed to have any public space besides to say, "I was wrong." Rest assured, that won't stop them - but the issues we raised over the almost 18-yrs of this blog and 14-yrs of the Midrats Podcast remain true. From the shallow magazines to the fact you never have enough large caliber guns to no war is short ... we - and a lot of other people tut-tut'd for years - were correct.

2. NATO has a German problem. While all the “right people” will not shut up about how wonderful former Chancellor Angela Merkle was, people need to be very clear eyed about what a complete disaster she and the German political class have been over the last two decades. They have starved what should be continental European NATO’s most potent military into irrelevance. Her disastrous feel-good, ethno-masochistic immigration policy weakened European cohesion and fed the worst parts of European political subcultures. Yes, she made a lot of well meaning Germans feel good about themselves, but it was a sugar-high that rotted the teeth and poisoned the national metabolism. While willing to defend Europe to the last Pole and Germany to the last American, she decided to preen in her neo-pagan EuroGreen superiority onomastic politics by ditching clean nuclear power and through the complete corruption of her elite, shacked herself to Russian energy oligarchs and thus the Kremlin. Germany needs to fix herself, and NATO needs to work around her and punish her until she starts to behave like a constructive 21st Century security partner.

Germany has made great progress, but is being dragged kicking and screaming in to the 21st Century. 

3. As our friend Jerry Hendrix pointed out yesterday, the moral leaders in NATO right now are the Baltic Republics and I would add Visegrad nations. You can throw Romania in there too. France will go hot and cold as she fights her desire to do the right thing for European security while at the same time nurse her 1,000 year old drive to be the premier leader of Western Europe. Serious but weaker nations will lean on a reluctant USA and limited United Kingdom … simply because - to be frank - much of the rest of the alliance is not that capable.

I think this graph tells that story well;

The front-line nations are putting their money where their existential threat is.

4. In line with #1 above, it is time for Finland at least, and probably Sweden, to join NATO. They both have a long and bloody history with the Russians and should see clearly what time it is.

Another check.

5. Ukraine waited too long to rearm. Weakened and distracted by a corrupt elite, the good parts of her nation could not get ready fast enough. After the first Russo-Ukraine war of 2014 she should have modeled the armed neutrality of Switzerland with a civilian populace trained and armed to the teeth. As we’ve discussed here before with the former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact nations, every village needs a few ATGM militia teams trained to slow any advance through their patch of land. If Ukraine can, in whole or part, survive without vassalhood, perhaps they could get there. They can only get there if they build a nation people are willing to fight and die for.

Everyone is rediscovering the utility of a good military-industrial complex that can quickly grow to scale. Amazing what the green-eye-shade accounts forced those who actually are supposed to study war to believe.

6. Remember, the Russians hold the Presidency of the UN Security Council. The UN is a joke. OSCE is a joke. The EU is little more than a nest of rent-seeking, clock-watching grift-fest. NATO is, well, dysfunctional but better than nothing. Nations must take ownership of their own security. Yes, Taiwan and Japan I am talking to you. Study history. Be ready.

Well, this was kind of a lame point. The UN is, well, lame.  However the end of the point is solid. We'll call it a draw.

7. Is everyone clear what Russia is now? She has a small GDP and apocalyptic demographics, but she is taking what she has and is invading her neighbors, killing people, and taking land. If your nation, company, or neighbor is buying anything from them – they are paying for this military adventurism. If the press wants to do its job, start pulling that string.

Not enough thread pulling on the economic support for Russia around the globe. Make no mistake, a lot of the worst people are making money doing business with Russia. That money buys influence and silence.

Where is this reporting?

So, what are the lessons a year later? We'll discuss that Monday.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Diversity Thursday

Yes, progress towards a color blind society where individuals are seen as - individuals - who should be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin (or other immutable characteristics) can be found here and there, but we have a long way to go.

It appears that things will have to get worse - much worse - before they get better.

Elections have consequences, and when one side conducts a full court press when they are in power, and then cow the other party to only stand still when they get their turn in power, you get what you get. 

Though it is happening on his watch and with his Executive Orders, this cannot be put squarely on the shoulders of President Biden. No, this is a bi-partisan problem. 

I saw the advance all the way back to the 1980s and all the (R) and (D) administrations since. The Boomer and older generations just have to fade from power before things can really be fixed. Too many of them and their followers are stuck in 1973.

For those not familiar with the Executive Order signed by President Biden on 16 FEB 2023, I encourage you to read it in full. It is a long one, and it is much worse than it looks.

No one tried to slow the regular growth of the nomenklatura populated by the otherwise unemployable cadre of the diversity industry in government. Everyone is afraid of being called names. 

This cadre managed to set the foundation for this month's actions almost two years ago with one of the first EOs of the Biden Presidency, and now they are going for the full effort.

Remember - regardless of how they try to define "equity" in the EO, we know how it is operationalized in light of the direction and guidance - and already established practice - in the EO.

Good news, this is only an Executive Order. It isn't law. It may not even be legal. The only remedy is either through legislative action or legal review. The former is unlikely and the later takes years.

No, to reverse this EO it will take a different Chief Executive who will repeal it. That takes winning elections. Such a person won't appear until the winter of 2025 at the earliest. As such, what is in the EO is what we will have to live with. 

While the goal is "equity" - a concept that has nothing to do with equality. The real driving force, as you will see, is the growth in number and more importantly - power - of the diversity bullies in the nomenklatura.

You have to admire the hustle.
Achieving racial equity and support for underserved communities is not a one-time project.  It must be a multi-generational commitment, and it must remain the responsibility of agencies across the Federal Government.  It therefore continues to be the policy of my Administration to advance an ambitious, whole-of-government approach to racial equity and support for underserved communities and to continuously embed equity into all aspects of Federal decision-making. ... advance equity in health ... equitable procurement practices ... educational equity ... equity in science ...

As most of you reading here are familiar with the Department of Defense - the most easily manipulated and quick to action in government - I want you to think about how DOD under the Biden Administration - and our Navy who is led by an admirer of Ibram X. Kendi - will execute the CINC's guidance. 

Everything will have to be tracked by self-identified (and the subsequent fraud that comes with it) immutable characteristics. 

... the Secretary of Defense ... shall, within 30 days of the date of this order, ensure that they have in place an Agency Equity Team within their respective agencies to coordinate the implementation of equity initiatives and ensure that their respective agencies are delivering equitable outcomes ... Each Agency Equity Team shall be led by a designated senior official (senior designee) charged with implementing my Administration’s equity initiatives, and shall include senior officials from the office of the agency head and the agency’s program, policy, civil rights, regulatory, science, technology, service delivery, financial assistance and grants, data, budget, procurement, public engagement, legal, and evaluation offices, as well as the agency’s Chief Diversity Officer, to the extent applicable. 

Administrative burden much? Just imagine the money it will not just take to pay for all these make work billets - but the opportunity cost of all the lost productivity, distraction, and bloat. 
 The senior designee at each agency shall be responsible for delivering equitable outcomes, ... Each Agency Equity Team shall support continued equity training and equity leadership development for staff across all levels of the agency’s workforce. 

    (iv)   Each agency’s senior designee shall ... ensure that the Agency Equity Team has sufficient resources, including staffing and data collection capacity, to advance the agency’s equity goals.  Agency heads shall ensure that their respective Agency Equity Teams serve in an advisory and coordination role on priority agency actions. 
Money and power. Power and money.
Each agency head shall support ongoing implementation of a comprehensive equity strategy that uses the agency’s policy, budgetary, programmatic, service-delivery, procurement, data-collection processes, grantmaking, public engagement, research and evaluation, and regulatory functions to enable the agency’s mission and service delivery to yield equitable outcomes ...  The Government-wide goal for Federal procurement dollars awarded to small business concerns owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SDBs) shall be 15 percent in Fiscal Year 2025.  
If you can't smell the fraud from here, you've never seen how these things work under today's rules ... this brings it the incentives to a whole other level.

Here's the empire building;
Agencies shall consider opportunities to: 
    (a)  further elevate their respective civil rights offices, including by directing that their most senior civil rights officer report to the agency head; 
    (b)  ensure that their respective civil rights offices are consulted on decisions regarding the design, development, acquisition, and use of artificial intelligence and automated systems; 
Woe be to the agency who does not. Also, when you get a chance, like in (b) above, search the document for its reference to "artificial intelligence" - it is mentioned a lot. There is something deep going on about controlling the code. As you'll soon see - the equity agenda seems to have an issue with math.
    (f)  prevent and remedy discrimination, including by protecting the public from algorithmic discrimination.    

What about differential equation discrimination? It sure hated me.

Let's discuss definitions, specifically "equity." We've discussed it often here for well over a decade

How does the National Association of Colleges and Employers define the word?

The term “equity” refers to fairness and justice and is distinguished from equality: Whereas equality means providing the same to all, equity means recognizing that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to imbalances. The process is ongoing, requiring us to identify and overcome intentional and unintentional barriers arising from bias or systemic structures.

Of course, they also provide a nice link to visuals for the reading challenged that represent the most patronizing collection of the usual diagrams. 

Merriam-Webster tries to give the historical background of the word;

Equity usually appears in courts of law as a term related to justice or proportional fairness, or in financial offices to property or one's share of a company. The derivative root of the noun, which gained stability in the English language during the 1300s, is Latin aequus, meaning "even," "fair," or "equal"; however, to be fair, it was introduced to English by the French, whose adaptation of the Latin was equité. The French word has clear legal connotations; it means "justice" or "rightness," and those meanings, plus a splash of "fairness," carried over to the English word equity.

In the modern context, I think The United Way of the National Capital Area gives the best operational definition;


Equity, in its simplest terms as it relates to racial and social justice, means meeting communities where they are and allocating resources and opportunities as needed to create equal outcomes for all community members.


Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources and opportunities, regardless of their circumstances. In social and racial justice movements, equality can actually increase inequities in communities as not every group of people needs the same resources or opportunities allocated to them in order to thrive.

Note how fair and balanced I am - all the above are leftist organizations. 

Speaking of which, how does the EO define the word?

The term “equity” means the consistent and systematic treatment of all individuals in a fair, just, and impartial manner, including individuals who belong to communities that often have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander persons and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; women and girls; LGBTQI+ persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; persons who live in United States Territories; persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality; and individuals who belong to multiple such communities.  

You can read the EO and know how the already existing diversity commissariat operates to understand that is not what will be operationalized in the zero-sum game that is job placement, promotion, and contract awarding.

Also, can you figure out who is left out? 

Yep'r. If you are a suburban or urban "white," male, Christian heterosexual then ... sucks to be you.

Back to math;

The term “algorithmic discrimination” refers to instances when automated systems contribute to unjustified different treatment or impacts disfavoring people based on their actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, sex (including based on pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions; gender identity; intersex status; and sexual orientation), religion, age, national origin, limited English proficiency, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or any other classification protected by law.

Perhaps we can blame Europe for this, but in summary what this means is - even if race etc is not a variable - if an algorithm/AI spits out results that don't - what do the cool kids say - "look like America" then clearly the math is racist ... or something.

Yes, this is begging for force-moding and "making the metrics fit."  Basically, inject bias so you can say there is no bias. Get the results you want, not what the results are. A fancy way of saying, "We're lying."

I'll let you ponder the second and third order effects of this EO. You may want to read a report from Fox and The Hill on this too. (see, more balance).

Never forget, there has never been a society who survived or prospered by establishing a spoils system of rewards and punishments based on race, creed, color, or other immutable characteristics. It created strife, discord and bloodshed. 

This EO gives the nomenklatura of the diversity industry the "Ref. A" they need to further their sectarianism and discrimination - and you'll pay for it.

Will Congress do anything? Can we get through the years it will take to get through the courts?

Will we have a new President in 2025 who will roll this back?

We'll see ... but rest assured, I think DivThu will have plenty of material going forward. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Vietnam: the Great Strategic Opportunity

All the usual caveats apply; yes she is officially a communist country. On Freedom House's Freedom Index she scores a 19, right there with Russia and the Democratic Republic of Congo ... but one point better than Egypt's 18.

Egypt. You know, the nation that is #4 in foreign aid from the USA, right between Jordan and Iraq. The nation that has everything from M-1 tanks to Apache helicopters and we conduct exercises with on a regular basis? Yes, that Egypt.  

So, yes with the caveats ... but that clearly is not a barrier to good partnerships. Sometimes - within reason - you take the world as it is.

Of course, we fought a long and devastating (especially for the Vietnamese North and South) war that ended almost half a century ago, but we fought two wars with out closest ally, the United Kingdom, so time fixes that too.

Urban Lehner over at Asia Times has a real encouraging article for those who want a refresher on where we stand with one of the stronger nations willing to stand up to the People's Republic of China - Vietnam;

Today Vietnam is one of the largest markets for US ag exports, ranking seventh, eighth or ninth in recent years.

It’s not that the war is completely forgotten. Remains of Americans missing in action in Vietnam continue to be found and returned. The US continues to clean up residues of the Agent Orange herbicide our military used to defoliate jungles and expose enemy hiding places.

If you’ve been to Vietnam since the war, you know that the Vietnamese hold surprisingly few grudges. I spent some time in the country during the 1990s. I never met anyone who showed any sign of hating Americans.

This lack of animosity may be because the Vietnamese won the war. It’s always easier for victors to turn the page. Distance may also make Vietnamese hearts grow fonder. Some are more concerned about the behemoth on their border, China, with which they fought an inconclusive border war in 1979, than they are about the US.

“You’re not our enemy,” a senior Vietnamese official told me in Hanoi on the day the US and Vietnam normalized their diplomatic relations in 1995. “China is.”

Unlike a lot of places in this troubled world, the trends are mostly going in the right direction;

...the lack of negativity towards the US on the part of the Vietnamese people is noteworthy considering the history. There’s even public-opinion polling suggesting many Vietnamese are pro-American.

In a 2017 Pew Research Center survey, Vietnam topped the international list, with 84% of those polled expressing a favorable view of the US. Some 71% agreed that “It’s good that American ideas and customs are spreading here,” again leading the world list.

In a 2015 Pew poll, 76% of Vietnamese had a favorable view of the US and 95% thought most people are better off in a free-market economy.

The economic benefits Vietnam garners from trading with the US may explain some of the positivity. According to the US Department of Commerce, the US imported $101 billion worth of goods from Vietnam in 2021.

To put $101 billion in perspective, Vietnam’s exports to the US equal a quarter of its gross domestic product. They’re growing rapidly; as recently as 2018 the US only imported $49 billion in goods from Vietnam.

Moreover, Vietnam runs a huge trade surplus with the US. America’s 2021 exports to Vietnam totaled only $11 billion. More than a quarter of them were agricultural.

...and from "the future belongs to those who show up" department, you also have to look at Vietnam's demographics. 

While the PRC, Japan, and Korea are at the starts of a demographic collapse not seen in the modern era - or any era for that matter - Vietnam is actually quite healthy;

They also are right above replacement rate with 2.11 children per woman. That is huge.

Demographics matter. In the next few decades they will soon equal, and eventually pass Japan in population.

While relatively small - all things considered - their GDP growth combined with their population trends, looks solid.

All this is being done in a quasi-communist generally autocratic-lite political and economic structure. Imagine a possible Taiwanization of that economy.

This is the partner (note I did not call them an ally - I don't think they want that) of the future we need.

We will need to meet Vietnam where she is on her terms - don't expect basing rights etc - but her people and her government are sending all the right friendly signals. We should nurture that. We should honor that.

We should gently leverage that in order to complicate any PRC plans for the future.

Monday, February 20, 2023

A View from Tallinn

In the second half of the first decade of this century, I had the chance to work with two Estonian Officers, one a Major and the other a Colonel. The Major was a talkative and entertaining man who had some great stories about being a conscript at the end of the Soviet Union. The Colonel started his career as a Soviet Junior Officer - and a very serious man. His Russian was better than his English, and though he was a nice man and great professional, he was not a chatty person about anything prior to 1991. 

In Afghanistan, I kept an eye on the exceptional work the Estonians did in RC(S), and before I moved back to the USA at the end of the decade I had a chance to visit Tallinn ... and that set the hook for me. Well, that and their tax policy.

In any event, the more I learned about Estonia and their history, the more they became one of my go-to countries. When I saw their MOD earlier this month published Russia's War in Ukraine: Myths and Lessons, I knew it had to be good.

Few have a better national understanding of Russia than the Estonians, and it shows;

Most of Russia’s attention is currently focused on its ruthless war in Ukraine, but Putin has not lost sight of the bigger objectives. In fact, in Russia’s view, success in Ukraine serves as a major stepping stone for reaching further goals.

Russia’s long-term strategic aims remain unchanged: to dissolve the rules-based world order. Putin has written and talked about this for the past 15 years, and Russia’s actions have brutally proved it. Re-establishing spheres of influence in Eastern Europe and recreating buffer zones are the key steps in turning the current international order around for Russia. This is the most important reason why Russian tanks rolled over the Ukrainian border on February 24, 2022, and why similar scenarios have unfolded


Putin and his policies enjoy widespread support in Russia, which has only strengthened during the war in Ukraine. 


Should Russia manage to gain any territory as a result of this war – either de iure at a negotiationtab le or de facto by freezing the situation in its current state, keeping the occupied areas under its authority for a longer time – it will have essentially moved closer to its goal. The Kremlin will have demonstrated that altering national borders with military force is feasible and the West and its rules-based world order can be weakened. 

Hence, as long as the territorial integrity of Ukraine has not been fully restored, it is the rules-based order of the West that is facing a strategic failure. It may have come at a higher cost than expected, but Russia is still on track towards its strategic aims. Historically, political concessions are only a fast track to another “special military operation”, possibly against Allied countries. 

If it works, why stop?

If you are new here, you can go back to 2014 to see that I have been pro-Ukraine for a long time. I don't hide that. You can go just as far back to see that I am not a Russia-hater either

I also have no illusions about what a precarious time we are in and the dangers that are very real with the conflict in Ukraine. I also suffer no false belief that you can choose your time or preferred history. We are right to help give the Ukrainians what they need to fight for their independence and territorial integrity. We would not have achieved ours without outside assistance either. 

Is Ukraine a perfect republic? No. It is a republic at war. Our republic was not perfect either as it fought to stand on its own.

Anyway, there is no positive gain for the USA or its European allies - or anyone really - if Russia continues to gain territory through military means. She is in the middle of demographic collapse in any event. The odds of her maintaining her borders over the next 50-yrs are small. There simply will not be enough "Russians" to defend Russia.

There will be more war over land - best to have it contained in a smaller mass of the rump Russian Empire with fewer ethnic groups clawing for their place.

Read the Estonian report in full if you have a chance. Well worth it.

Could it all go south and get worse? Sure can.

Will it all go south and get worse if the West were to leave Ukraine to its fate? 


Regardless of what cards come out of the deck, it is better for Ukrainians to fight for Ukrainian independence east of the Dnieper, than for an American-Polish force to try to hold the line at the Vistula long enough for a German-British-Franco led force to set a second line at the Oder.

Averting your eyes from what Russia decided to do west of the Azov since 2014 will not make it go away - however inconvenient it is to anyone's pet theory.

Keep in mind, that is from the guy who over a dozen years ago wanted almost everyone to come home from Europe.

I still want that - but facts on the ground changed. We will have to wait awhile longer.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Fullbore Friday

"Lost at sea."

Sailors always get a little bit of the feels when they hear that phrase. The oceans are a large, beautiful, and terrifying place.

People and ships can, and do, just disappear without a trace, especially at war.

In time, some are found - and there is peace in that discovery.

They found the USS Albacore (SS-218)

NHHC’s Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) used information and imagery provided by Dr. Tamaki Ura, from the University of Tokyo, to confirm the identity of Albacore, which was lost at sea Nov. 7, 1944.

“As the final resting place for Sailors who gave their life in defense of our nation, we sincerely thank and congratulate Dr. Ura and his team for their efforts in locating the wreck of Albacore,” said NHHC Director Samuel J. Cox, U.S. Navy rear admiral (retired). “It is through their hard work and continued collaboration that we could confirm Albacore’s identity after being lost at sea for over 70 years.”

Japanese records originating from the Japan Center for Asian Historical Records (JACAR) covering the loss of an American submarine on Nov. 7, 1944, guided Dr. Ura’s missions. The location mentioned in the records matched a separate ongoing effort by UAB volunteers to establish the location of the shipwreck.

Dr. Ura’s team collected data using a Remotely Operated Vehicle to confirm the historical data. Strong currents, marine growth, and poor visibility on site made it challenging to fully document the wreck or obtain comprehensive images. However, several key features of a late 1944 Gato-class submarine were identified in the video.

Indications of documented modifications made to Albacore prior to her final patrol such as the presence of an SJ Radar dish and mast, a row of vent holes along the top of the superstructure, and the absence of steel plates along the upper edge of the fairwater allowed UAB to confirm the wreck site finding as Albacore.

The wreck of Albacore is a U.S. sunken military craft protected by U.S. law and under the jurisdiction of NHHC. While non-intrusive activities, such as remote sensing documentation, on U.S. Navy sunken military craft is allowed, any intrusive or potentially intrusive activities must be coordinated with NHHC and if appropriate, authorized through a relevant permitting program. Most importantly, the wreck represents the final resting place of Sailors that gave their life in defense of the nation and should be respected by all parties as a war grave.

Albacore was constructed by the Electric Boat Company in Groton, CT and commissioned on June 1, 1942. Before being lost in 1944, she conducted 11 war patrols and is credited with 10 confirmed enemy vessel sinkings, with possibly another three not yet confirmed. Albacore earned nine battle stars and four Presidential Unit Citations during her career. Six of the ten enemy sinkings were enemy combatant ships, ranking her as one of the most successful submarines against enemy combatants during World War II.

Less than two years of commissioned service, but what a record. Great summary of her war record at

Our now friends in Japan will respect her final resting place. Not true for many warships lost in WWII. Now the families of the lost will know the place.

h/t MR.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Diversity Thursday

I almost passed on this story because it is all derived from digging into someone's twitter history.

This has a spotty track record, as most of it is when people intentionally take things out of context, have no sense of humor, or just plain assign motives and meanings to things that only had the malfunction of being less than 240 characters.

However, after reading it a few times and letting the draft post sit for a few days I decided that, no, this is pretty straight forward.

If at least two members of Congress are willing to call it out, the least thing we can do it bring it out here ... because it is about made to order on the type of people we've been discussing here for the better part of two decades - and worse - these are people injecting their venom in to the veins of the children of servicemembers.

On occasion, the diversity industry provides a moment of clarity where they simply and directly validate their critics.

As we've outlined on Thursdays for almost a couple of decades, though you will on occasion find a well-meaning true believer, they are the exception. Most of the time you find the otherwise unemployable people in the diversity nomenklatura willingly seeking out opportunities to externalize their internal sectarianism, grievance, and brainstem desire to "other" some group of people they have decided to blame for their own inadequacies - and get paid for it.

A story as old as our species - and you know it when you see it.

Though they will usually couch their sectarianism in nice words or cute posters - or even in the often laughably Potemkin Village like photo spreads - because they live and exist in an isolated, self-affirming intellectual terrarium - the less clever of their cohort will often say the quite part out loud and then look for top cover from their fellow travelers and the cowed administrators who live in fear of their own creation.

We have a perfect case today, but before we get to the details I'd like you to remember a few things. This isn't just your money paying for this, this is your nation's military paying for this. This is the kind of person they want forming policies that directly impact the children of servicemembers who have no choice but to send their kids to a DOD school. 

More than 67,000 students attend 159 schools operated by DoDEA worldwide.

This individual was chosen not by accident, but my intention. Higher leadership appointing mid-level leadership.

Not all bigots hide in the shadows.

The Pentagon official who oversees diversity, equity and inclusion for the Defense Department’s schools is at the center of an inquiry from lawmakers who said she made “racially disparaging” comments.

Now, Kelisa Wing, who has led diversity efforts for the Department of Defense Education Activity since December 2021, is pushing back against those claims in an exclusive interview with Military Times. She emphasized that she is speaking only as a private citizen and educator, and not on behalf of DoDEA.


Would anyone in a leadership in DOD be given a pass for saying these things out of uniform ... pick any racial or ethnic group.

I'm not as focused so much on the error, I am a bit permissive to people making mistakes, owning them, and moving on ... humans can have weak moments - but she defends her comments. She sees nothing wrong with them. For her, they are just a normal part of her "personal life." I will give her credit for owning them - but there is little room for nuance here.

Does she get a personal carve out here between her work and non-work statements? Is this a grey area open to interpretation? Are other people on the opposite political side of her - and make no mistake this is political - get the same carve out? Would she give them the grace she is asking for here?

“No, I did not make disparaging comments against white people. I would never categorize an entire group of people to disparage them. I’m speaking now as a private individual, about my private free speech from July of 2020,” she said.

Ponder the above as you read this;

I’m so exhausted at these white folx in these PD [professional development] sessions this lady actually had the CAUdaacity to say that black people can be racist too … I had to stop the session and give Karen the BUSINESS … we are not the majority, we don’t have power.

It appears that she specifically has a problem with caucasian females and uses "Karen" as a general descriptor. 

The lawmakers also cited press reports stating that Wing tweeted she was “exhausted by 99% of the white men in education and 95% of the white women.”

Those reports are wrong, Wing said. Fox News correctly reported in September that the tweet was made by another Twitter user, she said. Fox reported that she responded to the tweet, saying “If another Karen tells me about her feelings … I might lose it …”

Perhaps she should submit a statement on what she defines as a "Karen." That would be fun.

Again, twitter is a horrible place where it is easy to have things come off not quite the way you might want it to. You can reply to people or retweet someone who you don't know who is actually quite odious if you dug around a bit, so we should all give some room for twitter's clunkyness, but this is not such a case. 

You would think that Wing must know that if the races were reversed here, she would not have a job. I'm not sure she is self-aware enough to understand this.

In another tweet from 2017, Wing described herself as a “woke administrator.”

Wing told Military Times that, for her, “woke” means “being conscious, being aware, being aware of my surroundings, being aware of everything … that’s what it means to me and what it’s always meant to me.”

In their letters to Austin, the House representatives also referred to comments in books associated with Wing, saying she “reportedly disseminated her woke invectives.” The books are part of a series of children’s books on racial justice in America, with titles including “What Does It Mean to Defund Police,” “What is White Privilege?” and “What is Anti-Racism?”

The front covers of the books list each author and “with Kelisa Wing.” However, Wing said, “I want to go on record that I’m not the author of those books.” She describes her role as a “content adviser,” helping lay out what the general themes and purposes of the chapters should be.

A review of all the DoDEA school libraries by the group Open The Books, a nonprofit government watchdog, found that 11 of the schools collectively carried 45 copies of these racial justice series books.

Wing said she doesn’t promote these books through her DoDEA work, and she doesn’t receive royalties from the sale of those books.

Wing is the author of four books: “Conversations” (2006); “Weeds & Seeds: How to Stay Positive in the Midst of life’s Storms” (2017); “Promises and Possibilities: Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline” (2018); and “If I Could: Lessons for Navigating an Unjust World” (2020). She was a also contributing author of “Becoming a Globally Competent Teacher” (2019)

In one professional development video from 2021, she mentioned to her DoDEA audience that she is proud of her book “Promises and Possibilities: Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline,” and held it up, saying “shameless plug.”

To be fair, in time and place that she was pushing her books, the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gilday was pushing even worse books.

The very highest levels of leadership are the problem, really, Wing is just a symptom.

“Kelisa Wing is exactly the right person to lead our efforts in building on the foundational work done to support meaningful change in our organization,” said DoDEA Director Tom Brady in the 2021 announcement. “This new position will take a holistic approach to identifying and improving how we integrate the practice of diversity, equity and inclusion in every aspect of DoDEA, from curriculum and assessment to hiring and professional development.”

You get what you hire.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

We Should be Brave Enough to Say Hard Things

For a proud people who make their living off their credentials, their "expertise," or their position in an hierarchy - one of the hardest things to do is to say, "I was wrong."

Almost as difficult are those who are friends, co-workers, or potential employees of those people who say to them, "You were wrong."

Sure, there are good reasons to be wrong. Smart, well-meaning people can simply be wrong. No one can see the future, and when weighing this variable or that, someone can just have the wrong theory of how things progress. You most often see this in the "optimism bias" where someone wants the future to be an easier, safer, more controllable place. They have so much confidence in their intelligence and "transformative" technology that they can find a way to get around the hard, messy, and expensive requirements that challenged previous - less blessed - generations.

The above, of course, is just me being nice - giving people the benefit of the doubt. There are some well meaning - but wrong - people that the above applies to. Those people we can pat on the shoulder and wish well when they repent...but there are others that must be dealt with.

The rest? No. I don't think we need to give them anything less than scorn. 

There are bad reasons to be wrong. The worst pushed theories simply because they were paid to push them - hired guns - followed by those who pushed false theories for needs best explained by a psychiatrists. There is a special circle of hell for those who were wrong because they wanted to keep people from the truth for reasons best explained by a team of counter intelligence experts.

I'd ask you to think back to at least the fall of the Soviet Union and think about all the theories - clever sounding theories - that claimed their adherents had some special vision at that place in time that no one else had - and that even if it went contrary to experience of previous generations, history's lessons - by their foundation in the past - were suspect. Suspect because The Now could never claim ownership of The Past. As such, one could not build a reputation or business on it. 

Both crass civilian leaders and careerist minded uniformed leaders who knew better either kept quiet or joined in the big lie because they decided to accept the future-risk with the hope that it would either give them money to spend elsewhere for votes and clout, or for flashier things that lead to book sales, cool gigs, political appointments, or just a shorter path to that lake house they always wanted. 

Sure, they may be directly responsible for creating a military of empty shells unable to fight more than a few weeks - but the numbers they put on the slide displaced water and made shadows on the ramp and made people happy who in a few years would make a job offer or place them on a board for good behavior. Should the future-risk run out of luck - well, that would be someone else's problem;

NATO recently completed a large survey of its ammunition stockpiles and found supplies have been considerably depleted by the war in Ukraine, according to a new report.

Many NATO countries were said to have already had weapons stockpiles that did not meet the bloc's targets prior to Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine nearly a year ago

... the alliance found in a survey that those stockpile numbers have since dwindled even further as NATO continues to arm Ukraine at a rate that doesn't match weapons production.

Reuters also quoted an unnamed European diplomat who said: "If Europe were to fight Russia, some countries would run out of ammunition in days."

According to Reuters, many officials from NATO countries had "considered wars of attrition with large-scale artillery battles a thing of the past." Therefore, multiple NATO countries had let their stockpiles decrease even before Russia launched its prolonged conflict.

None of this is new. None of it. We pointed to it in 2018, 2014 and even earlier. Heck, NATO barely made it through the Libya operation in 2011. Hell, after Desert Fox we knew we had a precision weapons numbers problem.

Gates, Craddock, and others all tried - in polite ways - to warn the present what they were risking - but even they only did it out the door when it had the least impact. 

You see, there is recommended protocol. We can't upset people. They might call people who will write nasty articles about you that your neighbors will read. "Work inside the system" - that is they way...but really, it never is. It only perpetuates inadequacy.

Little was done. The future is now ... and it isn't some transformed tomorrow-land. The gods of the natsec copybook heading were right. They're right here - standing on our toes and breathing in our face.

What excuse for lack of action now?

The USA is in better shape than our allies ... and even some of our opponents as well - but you don't prevent, much less win wars, by just being marginally better. You must have overwhelming power.

If you desire a quick war, you must be armed and prepared for a long war. If you are not ready for a long war but only a quick war - then you will get the former and regret the day your predecessors bought off on the later.

Photo credit KCStar.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

We Have a Lot of Things to Relearn

Thinking of the American military's readiness for the next large war, there is rightfully a lot of concern that after a couple of decades of imperial policing wars in Central and Southwest Asia, that not only are we ill-equipped for a major peer conflict ashore, but that we've forgotten much of what is considered fundamental aspects of significant force-on-force combat.

The Russo-Ukrainian War has offered some good reminders, from the utility of armor, artillery, and logistics that clever peace time theorists were wishing away, but on the land side of the equation, what are some other critical capabilities that we have had the luxury of generations to forget about?

Over at the Modern War Institute, they have a reminder of something I think most of us have not given much thought to recently; the operational level fighting retreat.

New from MWI comes a 450 page book in PDF on the very subject; Armies in Retreat: Chaos, Cohesion, and Consequences;

Battlefields are dynamic. In large-scale combat operations, opposing forces seek to gain control of terrain, to outmaneuver one another, and to employ combined arms to gain positional advantage. The objective, much more often than not, is to advance. When one side is successful, that means retreat, withdrawal, or evacuation is likely for the other. Studying those armies who suffer the ignominy of retreat, then, is crucial to understanding war and command.

The word retreat, however, is almost taboo in US Army literature. The new Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations only uses the word five times, four of which are describing the near-destruction of the North Korean People’s Army in September 1950. ... Instead of using the word retreat, FM 3-0 uses the term retrograde—and the manual only dedicates one paragraph to retrograde operations.

For the Marine Corps, the apparent reversion to discussing retreat is similar. Marine Corps Doctrine Publication 1, Warfighting, the US Marine Corps’ capstone doctrinal document, uses neither retreat nor retrograde. Instead, it talks about “rapid, flexible, and opportunistic maneuver.” Maneuver warfare, the Marine Corps’ warfighting doctrine, focuses combat power against enemy cohesion, seeking to create “panic and paralysis, an enemy who has lost the will to resist.”

But what happens when your force is the one close to losing the will to resist? How does a commander keep an army together? The United States military has a long history of retreating, from the early days of the American Revolution to the evacuation of Afghanistan in 2021. Some retreats bought time or space. Others allowed commanders to regroup or reposition for follow-on operations. Others reflected strategic defeat.

Armies in Retreat: Chaos, Cohesion, and Consequences seeks to balance the historical and practical narrative, giving readers a better understanding of why, how, and when armies retreat. 


Ignoring the concept of retreat by omission or sophistry in doctrine won’t make it go away. Russian forces entering Ukraine a year ago likely did not think a retreat was in their future but a year of combat operations have revealed otherwise. The first Soviet forces into Afghanistan likely did not think they would watch a retreat across the Hairatan Bridge a decade later, nor did most of the many American forces who fought in Afghanistan over nearly two decades envision the exit from the country that took place in August 2021.

So instead of ignoring the lessons of history, we should study them to be better equipped for the future. Armies in Retreat is our effort to facilitate that study. 

Think a bit about the maritime side of the house. What topic would you like to see get this treatment as we organizationally try to focus on the war to come?

As for me, I'd like something on forward maintenance and arming centered on the Western Pacific Campaign of WWII. I also would like a similar focus in combat logistics of the same. Perhaps fighting in the face of significant unit loss like we had in the Guadalcanal Campaign.

That's my Top-3.

BZ to MWI. 

Monday, February 13, 2023

Sticks, Lasers, and Balloons

While it can be frustrating when "our friends" can be a tad difficult, but in adult friendships when people have independence you have to expect friends to have disagreements with you now and then, have other priorities, or are just one of those "challenging friends" that is a pain in the tail but when important things come up that count, they are there more often than not.

Nations can be like people.

While some nations are easy friends, there are nations who no one really likes. Sure, nations will do business with them and do their best  to go along to get along. Even jerks have money and resources, so you do what you need to do, but as they seem more interested in taking your business than working with your business, you keep them at a respectful distance; keep one hand on your wallet while you shake hands with them using the other ... you know the type.

They are a lot like the insecure middle school bully. They have some people who hang out with them, but they are usually equally odious individuals or are just hoping that if they help the bully, the bully will leave them alone. They aren't real friends.

I've always looked at the People's Republic of China in that light, and I don't think they are mellowing with age.

It isn't that they seem to be spoiling for a fight - perhaps they are - but this just seems like they don't know any other way to interact with nations that don't immediately align themselves with Beijing - or worse, are seen as a competitor.

Yes, the USA and Canada had our Balloons of February, but in the last year or so, what has China been doing to seem like a pleasant alternative to the United States to the rest of the world?

Her largest neighbor? They get sticks:

The root cause is an ill-defined, 3,440km (2,100-mile)-long disputed border.

Rivers, lakes and snowcaps along the frontier mean the line can shift, bringing soldiers face to face at many points, sparking a confrontation.

The two nations are also competing to build infrastructure along the border, which is also known as the Line of Actual Control. India's construction of a new road to a high-altitude air base is seen as one of the main triggers for a deadly 2020 clash with Chinese troops.

How bad is the situation?

Despite military-level talks, tensions continue. In December 2022 troops clashed for the first time in more than a year.

It happened near the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh state, the eastern tip of India. Some soldiers suffered minor injuries.

De-escalation work has taken place since a major clash in June 2020. The Galwan Valley battle - fought with sticks and clubs, not guns - was the first fatal confrontation between the two sides since 1975.

At least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers died.

Another face-off in January 2021 left troops on both sides injured. It took place near India's Sikkim state, between Bhutan and Nepal. 

The "I" and "C" in the B.R.I.C. are not going to be close friends, ever - one of the reasons I roll my eyes at those who propose the BRIC nations as some kind of power block - something only slightly sillier than the Cold War "Non Aligned Movement."

With the "B" being the basket case Brazil (always the nation of the future, and always will be), and the "R" being Russia, I mean, child please.

Another nation that if the PRC was just slightly more subtle and less arrogant they might have a chance to make things more difficult for the USA-Japan-Australia defense concerns is The Philippines. They had a window in the last couple of decades, but ... if they're doing this;

The PRC Wolf Warrior Lack of Charm Campaign perhaps may play well internally - and that may be all they care about - but there was a window not long ago that the PRC was playing smart on the world stage - making significant impact in Australia and having the USA happy to let them set up Confucius Institutes at our major universities, etc ... but the last decade or so they somehow decided to play a different game.

Bad move for them from my point of view if they wanted to leverage soft power - but a good move from the point of view of those who desire to keep the PRC contained until they age-out in the next decade.

So, PRC ... keep doing what you're doing.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Fullbore Friday


War is funny sometimes ... many times (the present war does not count) - the person who you are trying to kill, or is trying to kill you can, in the blink of an eye - can become a good friend.

You will put your life in his hands. Among civilized armed forces - that is the rule not the exception and has been for a long time.

To prove that often forgotten fact - I give you Constantin Cantacuzino and James Gunn III.

As reported by John L. Frisbee in Air Force Magazine;
On Aug. 23, 1944, King Michael of Romania, whose country had joined Germany in 1940, surrendered to Soviet forces that had advanced into the country. In the next few days, one of the most unusual adventures of World War II took place.
As news of the surrender spread, Romanian prison guards vanished, leaving the gates open. Gunn's first task was to keep the POWs from vanishing into the city and surrounding countryside until arrangements for their repatriation could be made. It was some time before he could find anyone with authority. The retreating Germans had begun reprisal bombing of Bucharest, which added to the general terror at the prospect of Soviet occupation.

Colonel Gunn finally located several senior Romanian officials who agreed to move the POWs to a safer location and to fly him to Italy (there were no functioning radio or wire facilities in Romania) so he could contact Fifteenth Air Force about evacuating the POWs. In return, Gunn agreed to arrange for Fifteenth Air Force to attack the fields from which the Germans were bombing the city and to convey a request that Romania be occupied by either the British or the Americans.

True to their word, the Romanians arranged a flight to Italy in an ancient twin-engine aircraft. Twenty minutes out, the Romanian pilot turned back, claiming engine trouble. On landing, Gunn was approached by Capt. Constantine Cantacuzino, who offered to fly him to Italy in the belly of a Bf-109. Captain Cantacuzino was commander of a Romanian fighter group that had been flying for the Luftwaffe. He also was Romania's leading ace and a member of the royal family. The risk of this venture was not slight. If they were downed by German or American fighters or by flak, or had engine failure, it would be curtains for Gunn, locked in the aft fuselage of the Bf-109.

There were no maps of Italy available, so Gunn drew from memory a map of the southeast coast of the country and an approach chart for his home base at San Giovanni Airfield. He wanted Captain Cantacuzino to fly on the deck to avoid German radar, but the Romanian, who did not have complete confidence in his engine, held out for 19,000 feet, which would test Gunn's tolerance to cold and lack of oxygen.

As an added precaution, they had a large American flag painted on both sides of the fuselage. While that was being done, Cantacuzino drew Gunn aside and told him their plan to take off early the next morning had become widely known and might be compromised. As soon as the painting was finished, Cantacuzino produced heavy flying gear for Gunn, stuffed him through an 18-inch-square access door into the fuselage (from which the radio had been removed), locked the door, and took off at 5:20 p.m. on Aug. 27. The two-hour flight was completed without incident, though the Bf-109's engine began to run rough over the Adriatic.

The two men were immediately driven to Fifteenth Air Force headquarters at Bari. Planning began that night for strikes on the German airfield near Bucharest and for evacuation of the POWs in quickly modified B-17s. The plan was designated Operation Gunn. By Sept. 3, 1,161 Allied prisoners of war had been flown out of Romania. Colonel Gunn had gambled his life and won--as had the POWs. Sadly, Romania was to remain under brutal Soviet control for the next 45 years.
Hat tip Front Porch. 
First posted May 2012