Wednesday, May 05, 2021

How Will Your Division Replace its Equipment?

How many ships can a US Army division afford to lose when crossing the Pacific? You know, the ships that will carry their equipment and munitions? 

Have we thought this through?

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog. 

Come on over and give it a read.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Bad Program Management Costs More Than Money

One little nugget I’ve said too much that last week or so is that to many in the national security nomenklatura – especially in DC – the process is the product. The measure of effectiveness isn’t the ultimate delivery of useful kit to the fleet, but adherence to the process.

Billions upon billions of dollars can be made for years and POM-cycles on end getting ready to think about possible things that might be of some use … maybe.

We wind up with dead end programs that produce nothing. No one really is held to account. At the end of the day you have to do one of two things:

1. Like with the fail to transition that was ZUMWALT, you have to restart the legacy ARLEIGH BURKE line in order to keep a steady state or so of battleforce ships.

2. Shrug your shoulders with a, “I failed” like we did with CG(X), and then stare in to the abyss with the worn out equipment it was supposed to replace, in this case the TICO. You hope something will show up before you are deploying with museum pieces.

As a nation, it isn’t just the Navy who failed to perform, to do its job, to at least match the performance of previous generations of program managers – the other services too.

This doesn’t just cost money or put the nation at strategic risk – it can cost lives.

The amphibious assault vehicle mishap that killed eight Marines and a sailor in July 2020 has spurred many “lessons learned” that leaders say will prevent anything so “tragic” from happening again.
When the 13 vehicles were delivered to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in April 2020, 12 were not operational. But they were deemed ready for landborne operations after months of repairs by 15th MEU mechanics, and by July, the AAVs had achieved “what we thought” was waterborne capabilities, Olson said. 

However, the vehicles did not meet the standards required for waterborne operations, as became clear after the accident. More than 54 percent of the AAVs in the fleet did not meet watertight integrity standards, an investigation revealed. 

“What we found in our subsequent inspections after a safety of use message came up on the 31st of July was that we had a problem across the fleet with our watertight integrity,” Olson said. 
Only now finding that out? Really?


Make no mistake – those who failed to produce a viable replacement for the AAV share a lot of this blame. An institutional mindset that will take unnecessary risks with lives in order to not embarrass the Chain of Command who failed to properly equip it – they too share a lot of the blame.

Who will hold them to account?

We’ll see.

Monday, May 03, 2021

The Perfidy of Pakistan

One aspect of the Afghanistan conflict that I think will stick in time's craw the hardest is what we allowed Pakistan to do. I was lucky enough to be at the table at C5F when this all kicked off - one of the many quiet O4s in the back of the room watching and listening as the big guys got us ready for what was to come. 

From almost day-1, a regular refrain - besides looking for sidearms and chem gear for all the terrorists with mustard gas mortar shells that intel told us could show up any day from Iraq ... ahem ... - was how we could not let Pakistan be for Afghanistan what Cambodia and Laos was for the North Vietnamese. 

"No safe havens!" we told ourselves literally over and over as Task Force K-Bar was put together ... but then the folks in DC and Tampa had different ideas, and almost immediately Pakistan was allowed to be a safe haven. 

There were all sorts of reasons, but we did what we did - ground convoys and airspace don't become permissive on their own dontchaknow. Of course we had to go in a decade ago down the street from Pakistan's West Point to kill Osama. 

Of course.
Pakistan has played on both sides of the field in Afghanistan, contributing to the Taliban's success, a senior US senator has reminded his colleagues, a day after Washington announced plans to withdraw all troops from the war-torn Asian country by September 11.
Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Jack Reed, on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon, said "a crucial factor contributing immensely to the Taliban's success" has been the inability of the US to "eliminate the "eliminate the sanctuary the Taliban was granted in Pakistan." 
Referring to a recent study, Reed said the Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan and state support from organisations, like Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have been essential to their war effort and the US' failure to undermine this safe haven may be Washington's most significant mistake of the war.
Senator Reed (D-RI) was and is one of the good guys. I know he's seen the same intel I've seen ... and a lot more.

With time, the larger American public will find out more that game Pakistan played. We should not be forgiving. We should not forget. 

Sunday, May 02, 2021

May Day Midrats Melee!

OK, it is the day after May Day ... but that's close enough for government work.

As the entire maritime world this week decided to pick up on some Midrats favorites - poaching the Army's budget and making the Taiwanese porcupine a bit more imposing - could there be a better time for another Sal & Eagle One green range?

Open topic, open chat room, open phones. 

We'll cover the waterfront and invite you to come on board for a broad ranging discussion of national and maritime security issues.

Join us live if you can and roll in with your preferred topic in the chat room or call the switchboard number right here on the showpage.

This Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern come join us for a Midrats free for all.

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.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Fullbore Friday

The rest of your fleet has left you behind.

The enemy is everywhere.

You have little defensive or offensive weapons - and you are painfully slow - but you have your ship and your Sailors and your mission, which at this point, is simply to survive.

What do you do?

Well ... never underestimate a Dutchman;
The ship was based at Surabaya in the Netherlands East Indies when Japan invaded in 1941. Following the Allied defeats at the Battles of the Java Sea and Sunda Strait in late March 1942, all Allied ships were ordered to withdraw to Australia. Abraham Crijnssen was meant to sail with three other warships, but found herself proceeding alone.

To escape detection by Japanese aircraft (which the minesweeper did not have the armament to defend effectively against), the ship was heavily camouflaged with jungle foliage, giving the impression of a small island. Personnel cut down trees and branches from nearby islands, and arranged the cuttings to form a jungle canopy covering as much of the ship as possible. Any hull still exposed was painted to resemble rocks and cliffs. To further the illusion, the ship would remain close to shore, anchored and immobile during daylight, and only sail at night. She headed for Fremantle, Western Australia, where she arrived on 20 March 1942; Abraham Crijnssen was the last vessel to successfully escape Java, and the only ship of her class in the region to survive.
She served her nation a long time, and you can still see her;
The ship was removed from the Navy List in 1960. After leaving service, Abraham Crijnssen was donated to the Sea Cadet Corps (Zeekadetkorps Nederland) for training purposes. She was docked at The Hague from 1962 to 1972, after which she was moved to Rotterdam. The ship was also used as a storage hulk during this time.

In 1995, Abraham Crijnssen was marked for preservation by the Dutch Navy Museum at Den Helder. She was retrofitted to her wartime configuration.
In war, for glory one does not necessarily have to earn a bridge wing full of battle stars or sink and shoot down scores of an enemy to be fullbore.

Sometimes you just need attitude.

Hat tip PS. First posted JUN17.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

When You Fool Yourself, You are One

The GAO has a report out on LCS maintenance

A long running concern here has been the intentional, and borderline criminal, neglect of maintenance Navy-wide in general.

The LCS program, from the manning CONOPS to maintenance has been one long example of bad ideas made flesh by an entire generation of pigheadedness.

In 2021, we have good people in hard jobs doing the best they can with the dog's breakfast of a class of ships they were given - and yet we can't seem to build anything straight connected to this crooked timber.

We should have stopped building them long ago - but we will have to make do with what we have.

If you want to, rage read the whole thing ... but I want to remind everyone - the first LCS was commissioned in 2008, over a dozen years ago.

We also found significant unplanned work in maintenance contracts we reviewed—often because the Navy didn't understand ship condition before planning repairs. One effect of unplanned maintenance is schedule delays that limit fleet readiness.


GAO found in the 18 LCS maintenance delivery orders it reviewed that the Navy had to contract for more repair work than originally planned, increasing the risk to completing LCS maintenance on schedule. A majority of this unplanned work occurred because the Navy did not fully understand the ship's condition before starting maintenance. The Navy has begun taking steps to systematically collect and analyze maintenance data to determine the causes of unplanned work, which could help it more accurately plan for maintenance. 

Amazing. Simply amazing. It is as if we didn't have a few centuries of experience maintaining warships.

The toxic culture of yes-men and happy-talk that begat the LCS program to begin with seems to be impacting maintenance as well.

Being that no one was held accountable for the former, I guess we should not be surprised about the later. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

What if we Had Full Control of Our #1 National Security Threat

In a way, we do. 

Not only is it our top threat, is also is the one we have full control of to fix.

Details and ponderables over at USNIBlog.

Come by and soak it it.