Tuesday, March 20, 2018

You had me at ASWOC Kathlene ... You had me at ASWOC

Kathlene Hicks and Andrew Metrick The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) have a report out you should put on your reading list, Contested Seas: Maritime Domain Awareness in Northern Europe.

They cover a broad spectrum of the challenges a rising Russia, but this is what got my attention;
A key implication of the heightened maritime threat environment is the need to improve the integration of and attention to undersea aspects of MDA. Antisubmarine warfare (ASW), a traditional strength of Western naval intelligence and operations, has atrophied since the end of the Cold War. Today, Russian submarines with conventional long-range missiles pose a threat to NATO. ASW must be integrated with MDA to address these concerns. Comprehensive understanding of the undersea realm should extend beyond ASW. Russia’s amphibious special forces and combat swimmers threaten more than just military targets, including civilian vessels and undersea cables, which are an integral part of MDA. ASW technology can be useful in countering these and other threats.

In the Norwegian Sea, the biggest challenge for NATO is detecting advanced ultra-quiet submarines. This issue is sharpened by dramatically depleted stockpiles of sonobuoys, a constant need for increasingly advanced sonobuoy technology, and an American unwillingness to share highly classified information about the undersea domain. NATO would benefit from an apparatus like the ASW Operations Centers (ASWOC), used most prominently during the Cold War to streamline ASW operations.
Read it all.

It builds off Jerry Hendrix's work on the GIUK Gap last year. There is a reason a lot of smart people are banging this gong ... pay attention.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The USAF Already Shifted to a Drone Future?

In an interesting article about the differences between Navy and USAF fighter pilots in Business Insider, I came across this nugget;
It must also be noted that starting a few years ago, the Air Force has made more drone pilots than fighter pilots annually - something those with long-term career aspirations should keep in mind.
Wait, what?

Well, did a little digging and it looks like the singularity took place last year;
The U.S. Air Force now has more jobs for MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones than any other type of pilot position, the head of Air Education and Training Command said last week.
MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper family of remotely piloted aircraft are slated to have more than 1,000 pilot operators, according to fiscal 2017 statistics provided to Military.com on Tuesday. By comparison, the highest numbers in any other aircraft are 889 airmen piloting the C-17 Globemaster III and 803 flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon, said Lt. Col. Tracy Bunko, spokeswoman for AETC.

Not sure where to take this datapoint from here - but I don't see this trend moving anytime soon.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Battleflags, Korean Battles, and the Joys of Unexpected Archeology - on Midrats

Put yourself in the shoes of a museum curator. You have the funds to conduct some much needed preservation on battleflags captured by the US Navy from the War of 1812. To do that, you have to remove them from their home for almost a century.

What happens when you all of a sudden find they are not alone? They are covering something else?

No, this isn't another "National Treasure" sequel, but things that actually unfolded last year at the US Naval Academy. For naval history buffs, this was an exciting time and an opportunity to explore some relatively unknown chapters from our history.

For almost all Americans, when you mention American forces coming ashore to do battle on the Korean peninsula, they think of Inchon and 1950.

Well, we came ashore earlier and fought another battle, in 1871.

When you hear about the American navy vs. pirates, you think about the waters off the Horn of Africa in this century. What about off China in the 1850s?

Join us Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss the history and the battleflags of pirates and forgotten kingdoms with returning guests, BJ Armstrong, CDR USN and Claude Berube, LCDR USNR.

BJ Armstrong, PhD is an Assistant Professor of War Studies and Naval History with the History Department of the U.S. Naval Academy. He holds a PhD in War Studies from King's College, London.

Claude Berube is the director of the Naval Academy Museum and recently completed his doctoral dissertation through the University of Leeds on Andrew Jackson’s Navy.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio or Stitcher

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, March 16, 2018

Fullbore Friday


No one likes piracy.

Like the pirates off Africa helped encourage the Chinese to flex their maritime muscles, throughout history this threat to trade has moved fleets ... and brought war;
In the early 1650s the damage caused by French and Barbary Coast pirates to Dutch Levant trade forced the Republic of Seven United Provinces to send an expedition commanded by Admiral Johan van Galen to the Mediterranean. With the start of the First Anglo-Dutch War the Dutch squadron had to face yet another enemy – the English ships under Captain Henry Appleton and Captain Richard Badiley.
A series of actions resulted in a capture of an English frigate Phoenix by the Dutch.
In March 1653 the Dutch have finally succeeded in trapping Captain Appleton and his 6 ships in the port of Livorno (Leghorn) in Italy. Livorno was a neutral territory under the Grand Duke of Tuscany. On one night the English undertook a successful sortie and recaptured the Phoenix.
This action meant a violation of the port’s neutrality by the English. Van Galen issued a demand for the English ships to leave. By this point an English squadron commanded by Richard Badiley has arrived to join forces with the trapped ships. The Dutch sailed out to face the new threat on a favorable wind. The blockaded squadron attempted to use the chance to escape and left the port. The Dutch however abandoned their previous target and instead attacked the escaping ships. All but one of Appleton's ships were either destroyed or captured and only Mary could outrun the Dutch and rejoin Badiley. The wind prevented the latter from coming to Appleton's rescue. At the end Badiley found himself outnumbered (8 + Mary vs. 16 Dutch) and was forced to retreat. Admiral Van Galen was mortally wounded in the action and died on March 23.
The Dutch are scrappy. They lost the First Anglo-Dutch war ... but at least here, they gave better than they got.

As a side note, the paintings of the battle in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are awesome in person.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Continental NATO: the Welfare Mentality

Remember, our NATO allies in Europe have a greater population than we do. They also have a GDP about the same as ours. And yet, they will not make a full effort to defend themselves.

As if it was last century, they still think that the USA has to do the primary lifting. Heck, we keep having the same instinct.
The United States needs more forces in Europe, Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Curis Scaparrotti said during a hearing at the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

"In terms of rotational versus permanent, I do believe we need more forces in Europe, I don’t think we are at the posture that I believe appropriate or required yet," Scaparrotti said. "And because of that, I think that there are some permanent forces that I would like to have."
No, that is not the answer.

The rest of NATO has to continue to strive to get better. Especially when most economies are strong and the Russians are expanding capabilities, there is no excuse. 

There is a lot on this topic NATO's Secretary General report for 2017.

First, to be fair - things are getting better on the margins - but faster please.
Allies have made significant progress in meeting these goals. After years of defence cuts, the trend over the last three years has been one of increased defence spending.

In 2017, the trend continued, with European Allies and Canada increasing their defence expenditure by almost 5%. Many Allies have put in place national plans to reach 2% by 2024 and are making progress towards that goal. In real terms, defence spending among European Allies and Canada increased by 4.87% from 2016 to 2017, with an additional cumulative spending increase of USD 46 billion for the period from 2015 to 2017, above the 2014 level.

In 2017, the United States accounted for 51.1% of the Allies’ combined GDP and 71.7% of combined defence expenditure. At the same time, European Allies and Canada increased their spending, helping to redress the balance.

In this report is another metric that brings you a level deeper. For old NATO hands, another of the problems is with how our allies spend their money. For some nations, their military is little more than a parade and garrison force. Sure, they have some numbers, but they have little to no functioning kit.

We saw this in spades in AFG where planes of allied forces would arrive, but would go hat in hand for equipment.

I like this chart a lot.

Look at it close, it tells a great tale. The further you get from the center, the more you fit the following assumptions;

If you are in the top-right grid - you are doing your share or more, and have something to fight with.

If you are in the upper-left - you have something to bring to the fight, but you are not spending your fair share.

If you are in the lower-right, you are spending a lot, but it is mostly on bodies.

If you are in the lower-left, not only are you a welfare queen, you are sitting in a hammock wearing nothing but shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops while your neighbors are working to keep the wolf at bay.

The American tax payer does not need to spend money borrowed from its grandchildren to subsidize Europe's defense more than it already is. Keep spending until you reach 2% or more, then you can afford your own maneuver forces. No need to send more American brigades over there.

If you need us for a fight, we'll be there - but you need to do your fair share now - in peace. Do that, and we probably won't have to come over by the hundreds of thousands ... again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Should Midshipmen Actively Become Political?

...in student politics when the wolf is at your institutional throat?

Hell yes, and take the Air Force with you for support.

Story over at USNIBlog.

There will be hippies, commies, and paleo-soyboys crying, so come for the fun.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

USCG's Quiet Upgrade

While the Navy is grumping a lot over upgrading its force, something has happened over on the USCG side of the house. Digging around for change in the sofa, picking up a few items their neighbors left on the curb, dropping a few things off at the neighborhood mechanic & body shop, and a little good luck - the USCG has some nice new kit, especially in the air.

It is a good time to be a USCG aviator;

Craig Collins has a nice summary.
Much public attention has been paid to the Coast Guard’s new generation of surface assets – the Legend-class national security cutters (NSCs), the Sentinel-class fast response cutters (FRCs), and the Heritage-class offshore patrol cutters (OPCs) – but perhaps less so their counterparts in the air.
The new generation of the Coast Guard’s long-range surveillance and transport aircraft, for example, the HC-130J Super Hercules, is a nose-to-tail overhaul of the previous generation of HC-130Hs, with new Rolls-Royce turboprop engines, composite scimitar propellers, and digital avionics. These upgrades have increased the range of the aircraft by 40 percent and its top speed by 15 percent, while decreasing its takeoff distance by 15 percent. But the aircraft’s most important enhancement may be its suite of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) components, which combine radio and digital transmission of voice and data.
Over the past decade, the Coast Guard has been phasing out its older HU-25 Guardian, a high-speed medium-range aircraft that was finally retired from service in 2014. Its replacement, the HC-144 Ocean Sentry, was phased in at Coast Guard air stations beginning in 2009. The Ocean Sentry was a marked improvement, offering the Coast Guard the ability to remain on scene and track targets for longer periods of time – up to 10 hours – with improved sensor capability and room for more passengers. ...
The Coast Guard fleet of 102 Dolphin helicopters, meanwhile, is in the final segment of a similar incremental upgrade, a transformation into MH-65E short-range recovery helicopters. The -E series features new radar, EO/IR sensors, and a CAAS cockpit similar to the Jayhawk’s.By 2014, the service had acquired 18 Ocean Sentries, and the HC-144 was logging more flight hours annually than any other Coast Guard aircraft.

The Coast Guard’s original plan called for a fleet of 36 Ocean Sentries – but this plan was altered when Congress, in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, directed the service to cease its HC-144 program and instead acquire and missionize 14 C-27J Spartan aircraft, to be transferred from the U.S. Air Force. The Ocean Sentry and the Spartan are twin-engine turboprops, similar in configuration – according to Kimball, the Spartan is faster, with greater range, endurance, and lift capability – and will play similar roles in medium-range surveillance.
...beginning in 2007, the Coast Guard began an overhaul of its 42 Jayhawk helicopters, converting them from HH-60Js into multimission MH-60Ts. This upgrade, which was completed in 2014, ...