Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Libraries, Full of Keys. Where's Your Lock?

Take a moment to head over to Joe Byerly's blog and read his latest call to action in the defense of reading and knowing your history; 
Look to the Past for Lessons.

What I like about his contribution is that he pushes the importance of reading and knowing where you came from down the chain of command. Knowledge of the past isn't just for those leading armies, writing strategy, putting plans together, or wearing stars - no - it is for all leaders.

The tools may change, but the essence of the profession of arms has not changed in thousands of years. Joe gets it - and he wants other to get it too.

Just a sample;
...how can we improve our leadership abilities? By looking to the past. History is a landscape full of commanders who led soldiers through extreme conditions and faced great fear and uncertainty yet accomplished amazing feats. Their leadership made the difference, and we can improve ourselves by studying their successes as well as their failures.
think about the type of leader we want to be ahead of time. Nothing helps drive introspection better than studying past leaders.

Additionally, we can come loaded with vicarious experiences that will greatly improve our decisionmaking abilities. British Field Marshal Sir William Slim can help us think through the value of calm and cool-headed leadership when we are up against insurmountable problems. Gen. George S. Patton Jr. can teach how aggression on the battlefield affects enemy decisionmaking. Finally, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant can prepare us to effectively exercise Mission Command when one of our subordinates is a Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman and the other is a Maj. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren.
I’ve also learned much from the horrible bosses of history as well as rising stars who fell from grace. Maj. Gen. Charles Lee, who was permanently dismissed from the Continental Army, is a great example of what happens when we fail to follow others and let our personal flaws go unchecked as we are given more responsibility. The careers of Gens. George McClellan and Douglas MacArthur should help us reflect on ego so we may keep ours from clouding professional judgment. British Gen. Sir Redvers Buller, from the Boer War, exemplifies what happens when we fail to develop our intuition through self-study.
When we study the leaders who came before us, we begin to reflect on the leadership traits we want to develop in ourselves. We become better prepared to respond when the need arises, and we more clearly understand what is required of us to win in battle.

The choice is ours. We can either be shaped and influenced by our narrow experiences, or we can allow leaders from over 5,000 years of combat to mold us into the great leaders our subordinates deserve.
Read it all.

Hat tip BJ.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Tom Hudner and David Sears: a Korean War Best of

Join us this Sunday from 5-6pm for one of our favorite shows from our first year with guests; holder of the Medal of Honor from the Korean War Captain Thomas J. Hudner, Jr., USN (Ret), and the author of Such Men as These: The Story of the Navy Pilots Who Flew the Deadly Skies over Korea, David Sears as they talk about the role of Naval Aviation in the Korean War.

Stuck between the Greatest Generation's high-water mark of World War II and the Baby Boomer's Vietnam War - the Korean War often gets lost in the shuffle despite its critical role is setting the foundation for the Cold War and our ultimate victory with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

When the average person thinks of the role of Navy Air in the Korean War, they think of James Mitchner's novel and movie The Bridges of Toki-Ri. As usual, the real story is better than fiction. We will talk to CAPT Hudner about his and his shipmates experiences - and will finish up with David Sears exploring what he discovered in researching his book on what happened in the skies over Korea in the early 1950's.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, 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, May 27, 2016

Fullbore Friday

Your leaders can deny you, because they value your mission.

Your press can ignore you, because they are lazy and politically compromised.

Your politicians ignore you because what you need to do embarrasses them, though they order you to do it.

In the end, it does not matter. You do your job, you do it well, and you do it for the guys to the left and right of you. The fact that you might get to work with one of those Kurdish all female battalions? Just a bonus.

To our Shipmates and fellow Americans doing what they do best - Fullbore to you today. If you can get one of those patches to me, I'll trade it for a bottle of the Catoctin Creek product of your choosing.
Ever since U.S. President Barack Obama decided to send 250 more Special Forces to the Syrian battlefield against the so-called Islamic State, they’ve been easy to spot on the front lines in Hasakah, Tisreen Dam, and near Raqqa, the capital of the “caliphate” that’s also called ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh.

In a base close to the town of Ayn al-Issa, U.S. soldiers are not only advising, they are also assisting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) very closely in targeting ISIS positions with mortars and laser guided air strikes.

Now photographs have surfaced of some of the American soldiers wearing the bright red, yellow, and green patches of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that have proved some of the most committed and effective fighters on the ground against ISIS.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Even Laz Wouldn't do This For LCS

Sorry Laz, just playing ... I think. The news on the Diversity Front is so depressing I think I will take a break. If you knew what NAVAIR was doing for .02% of the population, it would just ruin the entire Memorial Day Weekend vibe.

Oh, and sorry to the front porch for the visual about Laz in context of the below story (he would not look good with a wig) - but this is so perfect; I've got nothing for what Brock Vergakis is feeding us this AM.
The executive assistant at shipbuilder Austal USA planned to meet Navy Capt. Jeff Riedel at a hotel east of Mobile, Ala., the evening of Jan. 24, 2012. From there, she was going to hop into his rental car to go to an out-of-the-way restaurant 45 minutes away in Gulf Shores, where prying eyes wouldn’t spot them together.

Loving said her orders were clear: She needed risque photographs with Riedel so the company president could use them as leverage over the officer who oversaw acquisition for the troubled littoral combat ship program, which Austal had been awarded a $3.5 billion contract to build in 2010.

The ship was under intense scrutiny in Washington because of mounting costs, design and construction problems, concerns over the vessel’s survivability in combat and its ability to perform its missions effectively. The speedy ships, designed to operate in shallow water, are a major component of the Navy’s future, especially in Asia.

Riedel was in Alabama to help review the program.

But instead of resolving the problems, Riedel saw his 26-year military career quickly unravel. Riedel and Loving spent that night in his hotel room, although they said nothing happened. Both lost their jobs within days. Austal USA President Joe Rella resigned a few months later.
Important note besides the obligatory, "This explains a lot." At least this Sailor learned by his sophomore year in college that the, "Really, I spent the night in a hotel room with a young attractive woman who was trying to seduce me and nothing happened ... " didn't work around adults drunk or sober.

Speaking of sophomoric behavior between the sexes;
“If you get me drunk, I am like a wild lady, and I had made sure I was drunk. ...If I’m going to do this I’m not going to do this (expletive) sober,” Loving said.”I tried to sit on his lap. I stood up and leaned between his chair. He’d asked me to sit down. I kept drinking more and more and more and more. I was way drunk, way fun, way hanging off of him. And then we went back and I informed him I couldn’t drive.”

Riedel said he had one beer. Back at the hotel, there were no available rooms for the intoxicated Loving, and neither had cash for a cab. Riedel offered one of his room’s two beds, “a huge error in judgment,” he said later.
I just need to stop. People really need to get out more when they are young.

I'll take Riedel and Loving at their word that they are the only grown man and woman who would get themselves in this mess, but both need to get their life-PQS books confiscated and dropped back a class.

See that guy? Don't be that guy.

That is all.

Hat tip C.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bad Sulu Moves to Pakistan

There may be an asterisk in that "Thousand Ship Navy."

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog. 

Come on by!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

From Those to Whom Much is Given

Wrongs can be put right. In a free society, it can just take time - but more often than not - you get there.

In one of the more shameful events of a shameful time in our nation's history, it a fit of self-serving narcissistic pique, those who were receiving the greatest advantage in life from the greatest nation on our little planet decided that the hard work of ensuring liberty was for the little people;
As a young chemistry professor at Yale University in 1969, Gary Haller voted to boot the U.S. military's Reserve Officers' Training Corps program off the Ivy League school's Connecticut campus.

Like many American schools at the time it was gripped by protests against the Vietnam War. Yale's faculty considered the presence of ROTC, which trains future officers and provides college scholarships, to be tacit support for an unpopular war.

"People were just so outraged," Haller said.
The actual reasons and motivations were a bit more nuanced than that, but we should let the past be the past. Let them comfort themselves with their little fairy tales - they and we know their reasons.

Regardless, that has changed - and for the better for us all;
Four decades on, however, he views the ROTC through a different lens. “We want to produce students who are leaders in every segment of our society," said Haller, now an emeritus professor who led a faculty committee that helped pave the way for the ROTC's return to Yale. "Whether you like the military or not, it is a big segment of our society.”

On Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited his alma mater for the first commissioning since the Vietnam era of cadets and midshipmen who participated in the program for all four years of college.

The ceremony is the latest evidence of a sea change in the attitude of elite universities, which shunned the military for four decades in part because of its controversial "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy for gay personnel. Now they have come to realize that their graduates should have as much influence on a major instrument of American power as they do in the halls of the White House or the trading desks of Wall Street.

The return of ROTC to Ivy League campuses is a return to the norm that prevailed for more than 200 years, when graduates routinely marched, flew and sailed from campus to combat.

"I really do believe deeply that ROTC needs to be back on campuses like ours so that our students can have a truly hands-on, active role in shaping the next military," said Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, whose father served in the Air Force.

John Lewis Gaddis, a prominent Yale historian who supported ROTC's return, said he was always struck by how few students had ever met anybody in the military.

Carter referenced that in his speech on Monday, noting that the ROTC graduates had "helped bridge a divide that has persisted for too long." "For some of your classmates, you're the first member of the military they've ever gotten to know."
For the record, the DADT excuse was just a holding action from the last holdout red diaper brigade, which we all knew at the time.

A small but correct gesture is to get ROTC back, even in small numbers. For those who wrongly like to badmouth this generation of young men and women, they are showing by their actions how they feel about serving their nation compared to those who came before. Keep that note handy.

Having more people from Yale and other top-tier schools serve will help bring the full perspective to citizenship to the Ivy League that needs to be there. For better or worse, those schools produce a high percentage of our nation's leaders, this will help everyone.

As a Southerner, my worldview towards service was skewed by the Old South and Tidewater sub-cultures I was raised in; military service in the upper-middle and even upper classes was not that unusual. In many families, it is almost mandatory. Once in the Fleet, it became apparent to me that other parts of the nation did not share the same feeling of obligation or interest in serving.

Spend some years in the military and you see that wardrooms are not balanced. Those of us who came from well to do families were almost all from Old South, Tidewater, and a higher than expected percentage of upper-Midwest families. Most were from land grant university type schools, with a few Washington & Lee, VMI, Citadel, William & Mary, Sewanee etc types thrown in for flavor. Part of that is culture, part of that is opportunity. When you included the not insignificant percentage of, "the military is a family business" officers - an upper-class Ivy League Yankee was along the lines of a unicorn sighting. 

We now have one less excuse for the part of society to whom much is given, to do what is expected. This in a small measure will produce a more well-rounded military, and a better perspective of military service among what, sadly, we can call the ruling class.

Back in July 2004 (yes, I have been blogg'n that long), I summarized this issue in a more personal way;
...a big advantage to getting more of the elite to VOLUNTEER to serve their country for a few years so I will have more people at work that understand Lacrosse and field hockey.
A little confession here; sorry Shipmates, I faked interest in NASCAR when the topic came up. One has to do what one must do to survive.

Enough of me. Bravo Zulu to the new Ensigns and Second Lieutenants.  You, your country, and your peers will all be better for your service.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Ukraine and the Defenestration of Names

Ukraine is trying so hard to move to the West. There is a lot that needs to be done still to build their civil society and to untangle a habit of corruption, but in so many ways they are doing what they can to make themselves more part of Europe than that of just a vassal of Russia.

That is the hard work, but simple but critical work needs to be done as well. 

As we move through the stone, brass and iron stage of pulling down statues, sandblasting symbols, and ripping off plaques in a de-Sovietization not unlike what German did with Nazi symbols after WWII - though still more de-Sovietization needs to be done - we are now to the town names stage.

This is good. This sends the right message. That, and it torques off the Russians, so extra special bonus.

Keep at it Ukraine ... and keep working on your civil society; that is where the real change will be.

About three hundred Ukrainian cities, towns and villages are officially renamed as part of the country's de-communization drive. This comes after an overwhelming number of MP's in Kyiv supported the initiative.

The main ones include Ukraine's third largest city of Dnipropetrovsk, which is being renamed to Dnipro, Dniprodzerzhynsk which became Kamianske, Artemivsk which has already returned to to its historical name Bakhmut and Illichivsk – a key port in Odesa region now known as Chornomorsk.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Battle of Jutland & the Time of the Battleship with Rob Farley - on Midrats

We are coming up on the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of Jutland. Stop for a moment, close your eyes, and then tell me what image comes to mind.

If your image is of a huge mass of steel coming at you out from the mist at 25-knots belching out sun-blocking clouds of coal-smoke and burned black powder and searing fingers of flame pushing tons of armor-piercing explosives, then this is the show for you.

For the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern we will have as our guest a great friend of the show, Robert Farley. We will not only be discussing the Battle of Jutland, but battleships in general in the context of his most recent book titled for clarity, The Battleship Book.

Rob teaches defense and security courses at the Patterson School of Diplomacy at the University of Kentucky. He blogs at InformationDissemination and LawyersGunsAndMoney. In addition to The Battleship Book, he is also the author of, Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, 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, May 20, 2016

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 - 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

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Danes Cut a Blood Eagle on LCS

We've mentioned the superior performance of the Danes and Dutch, among others, in executing significant parts of the idea behind LCS that the USA made such a dog's breakfast of. Well, James Hasik over at TheNationalInterest has pulled much of that argument together in an article I wish I wrote.

They did it well. They did it right. They did it the way I wish we had. We are a huge nation with huge resources and yet a nation of less than six million - 2% our size - just takes us to school. Read the whole thing for the full smackdown, but here is the long quote that matters;
...it’s possible to get modularity right, because the Royal Danish Navy has been getting it right since the early 1990s. Way back in 1985, Danyard laid down the Flyvefisken (Flying Fish), the first of a class of 14 patrol vessels. The ships were intended to fight the Warsaw Pact on the Baltic—a sea littoral throughout, with an average depth of 180 feet, and a width nowhere greater than 120 miles. Any navy on its waters might find itself fighting surface ships, diesel submarines, rapidly ingressing aircraft, and sea mines in close order. On the budget of a country of fewer than six million people, the Danes figured that they should maximize the utility of any given ship. That meant standardizing a system of modules for flexible mission assignment. The result was the Stanflex modular payload system.

At 450 tons full load, a Flyvefisken is much smaller than a Freedom (3900 tons) or an Independence (3100 tons). Her complement is much smaller too: 19 to 29, depending on the role. At not more than 15 tons, the Stanflex modules are also smaller than the particular system designed anew for the LCSs. But a Flyvefisken came with four such slots (one forward, three aft), and a range of modules surprisingly broad:

- a twin launcher for 8 Boeing RGM-84 Harpoon missiles, for killing surface ships
- a vertical launcher for 36 RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, for destroying aircraft and inbound missiles
- an Otobreda 76 mm gun, for close-quarters battle with ships, aircraft, or missiles
- a Thales TSM 2640 Salmon variable-depth active/passive sonar, for finding submarines
- a launcher for MU90 Impact torpedoes, for killing them
- a command-and-control system for underwater drones, for destroying mines
- an hydraulic crane for launching and recovering boats, or deploying mines

Swapping modules pier-side requires a few hours and a 15-ton crane. Truing the gun module takes some hours longer. Retraining the crew is another matter, but modular specialists can be swapped too. The concept has had some staying power. The Flyvefiskens served Denmark as recently as 2010. In a commercial vote of confidence, the Lithuanian Navy bought three secondhand, and the Portuguese Navy four (as well as a fifth for spare parts). Over time, the Royal Danish Navy has provided Stanflex slots and modules to all its subsequent ships: the former Niels Juel-class corvettes, the Thetis-class frigates, the Knud Rasmussen-class patrol ships, the well-regarded Absalon-class command-and-support ships, and the new Ivar Huitfeldt-class frigates.

In short, 25 years ago the Danes figured out how a single ship could hunt and kill mines, submarines and surface ships. A small ship can't do all those things well at once, but that’s a choice in fleet architecture. Whatever we think of the LCS program, we shouldn’t draw the wrong lessons from it. Why is this important? Modularity is economical, as the Danes have long known. Critically, modularity also lends flexibility in recovering from wartime surprise, in that platforms can be readily provided new payloads without starting from scratch. Because on December the 8th, when you need a face-punched plan, you’d rather be building new boxes than new whole new ships.
It isn't the actual ship and modules that matter - it is the process, leadership, and culture that made the difference. That is where we need to improve.

Diversity Thursday

As you will recall, one of the Master Messages of DivThu is that all the tens of millions of dollars DOD is spending to support its branch of the Diversity Industry and the Diversity Bullies that infest it, are just going to be used to promote division, strife, and to break people in to conflicting groups.

It is not in the financial, philosophical, or political interest for the Diversity and Inclusion Commissariate to promote unity and good order and discipline. That does not support their job security.

Along those lines, Jonathan Haidt and Lee Jussim over at WSJ outline exactly what is going on in this cancerous self-licking ice cream cone in the academic world. That does matter, because as we have seen, those people are hired and bring their bad ideas to DOD;
We are social psychologists who study the psychology of morality (Haidt) and the causes and consequences of prejudice and stereotypes (Jussim). As far as we can tell, the existing research literature suggests that such reforms will fail to achieve their stated aims of reducing discrimination and inequality. In fact, we think that they are likely to damage race relations and to make campus life more uncomfortable for everyone, particularly black students.

A basic principle of psychology is that people pay more attention to information that predicts important outcomes in their lives. A key social factor that we human beings track is who is “us” and who is “them.” In classic studies, researchers divided people into groups based on arbitrary factors such as a coin toss. They found that, even with such trivial distinctions, people discriminated in favor of their in-group members.

None of this means that we are doomed to discriminate by race. A 2001 study by Robert Kurzban of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that race was much less prominent in how people categorized each other when individuals also shared some other prominent social characteristic, like membership on a team. If you set things up so that race conveys less important information than some other salient factor, then people pay less attention to race.

A second principle of psychology is the power of cooperation. When groups face a common threat or challenge, it tends to dissolve enmity and create a mind-set of “one for all, all for one.” Conversely, when groups are put into competition with each other, people readily shift into zero-sum thinking and hostility.

With these principles in mind, it is hard to see how the programs now being adopted by many universities will serve to create campuses where students of color feel more welcome and less marginalized.
Interracial contact can yield many benefits. In a review of more than 500 studies, published in 2006 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Thomas Pettigrew and Linda Tropp concluded that when people of different races and ethnicities mix together and get to know each other, the effect is generally to reduce prejudice on all sides. This is a good justification for increasing diversity.

But the researchers also found that these benefits depend in large measure on certain conditions, like having common goals, a sense of cooperation and equal status. The benefits disappear when there is anxiety about cross-group interactions.
The Navy and DOD's Diversity Industry does just the opposite. It promotes division of recognition and celebration. It constantly wants metrics and statistics. It is constantly forcing mixed race servicemembers to choose which part of their DNA they want to be used to put them in a box. We are doing just the opposite of what needs to be done in order to create a culture where everyone regardless of race, creed, color or national origin it treated the same and considers themselves the same as everyone else. 

This promotion of division is being done by people stuck in an early 1970s mindset that they long ago realized is a tool for their own economic well being and access to power. 

The US military used to be ahead of the curve on equality and the promotion of unity and color blindness. We have, sadly, become regressive and have adopted many of the worst parts of the problem outlined in the article that is found in academia. You really need to read it all.

I also want to remind everyone; the push to fussbucket over microaggressions and safe spaces is already rooted at USNA and in some UIC in the Fleet.

Push back. Push hard. Call out the bigotry and division being pushed by the Diversity Commissariate. When you don't have the cover to act in the open, then slow roll, ignore, appoint the worst people to the jobs and starve them of funds. It is worth the fight.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Future Belongs to Who Shows Up

Are your assumptions about China, India, and sub-Saharan Africa based on the right assumptions?

I'm putting a few things out there over at USNIBlog. Stop by and ponder with me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Warships of 1812

A great treasure for our nation and its Navy is the US Naval Academy Museum in Annapolis, MD.

Find an excuse to carve out at least an hour next time you are there, if for no other reason than to see its world class and unique collection of model ships.

They have done a great job educating on the War of 1812 that took place in their backyard.

Navalists should relish both.

I know not everyone finds themselves driving around Maryland, so for them - get a fresh cup of coffee, put the phone to voicemail and enjoy;
Grant Walker of the Naval Academy Museum explains the history and architecture of ships using the museum's original British dockyard model collection. This lecture was part of the museum's "War of 1812 & the Chesapeake: A School House at Sea."

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Insults and Inefficiencies of Low Expectations

Last week I had another dead end "conversation" with someone about the complete joke of having a sub-100 Sailor ship commanded by a CDR. Of course, I'm talking about the Little Crappy Ship (BTW, never forget that description was coined here over a decade ago, H/T Byron and/or Sid).

I know the one mission LCS is best for is increasing the pool of post-CDR Command SWO for the CAPT board, yea team, but if we want excellence at sea for our DDG, CG, etc - then at every opportunity we need to give leaders a chance for LT and LCDR command - the Millington Diktat be d@mned.

Over the years we have turned civilian or decommissioned many former LT and LCDR commands. We still have a precious few.

The worst argument for LCS being CDR command is that it is such an important ship that it must have CDR commanding them; hogwash. 10-years after commissioning hull-1, and it is still only PMC in ASUW. Even if all the modules were working, it is still clearly a LCDR command. But, I hear people say, LCDR don't have the experience! They don't have the judgment! They don't have ... a CAPT board coming up!


A LCDR is a man or woman well in to their 30s. If we have had someone in our leadership pipeline over a dozen years and they are not ready to lead a LCS, then we have lost the bubble. The problems is not the LCDR cadre, the problem is us.

This generation is no better or worse than those who came before. Today, on the anniversary of 617 Squadron's finest hour, let's put out just one datapoint. The "it was wartime" excuse does not hold water - so don't even try that in comments.
A new squadron was formed at Scampton on 21st March 1943, initially known as “X” Squadron and latterly as 617 Squadron, and the 24 year old Wing Commander Guy Gibson was personally selected to lead it by none other than Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, the Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command. Gibson had flown 71 bomber sorties and an entire tour of 99 sorties on night fighters and was already the holder of four gallantry awards - the Distinguished Service Order and bar and the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar.
24. And we continue to find reasons to treat officers in the 30s as if they are a 16yr boy asking to borrow the keys to the Mercedes. 

Our DDG are really CLGs and in the BMD role have the lives of millions of civilians in their hands. Is that really a ship you want almost everyone to have their first command on? Really?

Do you think a former LCS CO can compete for major command at sea with someone who was a DDG CO? Is that even fair? Head to head with all things being equal, I know at best one is a 75 and one is a 100.  Next. Should they? 

The arguments are legion and really get you nowhere, but as with many things in the LCS program that are akimbo, they need to be pointed out every now and then if for no reason than to help with your humble blogg'r's blood pressure.

If you are a 617 Squadron fan, I did a FbF on one of the crewmembers last year here.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

August Cole, Author of Ghost Fleet: An Novel of the Next World War - on Midrats

Note: Show link updated.
  The best fiction doesn't just entertain, it informs and causes the reader to think.

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern is August Cole, the co-author with P.W. Singer of one of the best received military fiction novels on the last year, Ghost Fleet: An Novel of the Next World War.

August is an author and analyst specializing in national security issues.

He is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council where he directs The Art of the Future Project, which explores narrative fiction and visual media for insight into the future of conflict. He is a non-resident fellow at the Modern War Institute at the United States Military Academy (West Point). He is also writer-in-residence at Avascent, an independent strategy and management consulting firm focused on government-oriented industries.

He also edited the Atlantic Council science fiction collection, War Stories From the Future, published in November 2015. The anthology featured his short story ANTFARM about the intersection of swarm-warfare, additive manufacturing and crowd-sourced intelligence.

He is a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal in Washington and an editor and a reporter for MarketWatch.com.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, 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, May 13, 2016

Fullbore Friday

When it comes to WWII submarine warfare, most of you are well aware of the German U-boat story - heck I even have a signed print from one - and just as many the exploits of our Pacific submarine forces.

There are other stories out there that are sublime in the story untold by just calendar dates. Almost impossible to imagine, almost. One of those submarines and its leader would be the Royal Navy's HMS Turbulent and its Skipper, Commander John Linton, VC Royal Navy;
...in May 1941 and brought into service a new T-class submarine, Turbulent. He became her first, and only, commanding officer. From February 1942, Commander John Linton took Turbulent on ten war patrols without rest.

Turbulent destroyed around 100,000 tonnes of shipping including one cruiser, one destroyer, one U-boat - and three trains! In September 1942, Linton received the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) for four Mediterranean patrols in Turbulent, and by 1943, he was the oldest and most experienced submarine commander in the Navy.

Turbulent set out on her last patrol before a refit on 24 February 1943. It was Linton's 21st wartime patrol and he was about to go home on leave for a well-earned rest.

The submarine never returned.

Turbulent was last seen around 12 March 1943. It is thought that the vessel hit a mine while on reconnaissance near Sardinia. In early May, Linton and his crew were posted missing, presumed killed. The submarine has never been found.
Linton had spent 254 days of his last year at sea, submerged for nearly half the time. During this time Turbulent was hunted 13 times, with 250 depth charges aimed at her.

Just weeks after John Linton was posted missing, he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Unusually, it was not for any one act, but for sustained bravery during nearly four years of wartime command and 21 submarine patrols. This is why Linton's VC does not carry a specific date.
As a side-note, I found the above story at the Imperial War Museum's Load Ashcroft Gallery of Extraordinary Heroes. Well worth the effort to poke around some.

If you ever find yourself in Newport, Wales, make sure and visit the pub named after him. He'd approve.

Hat tip Steam.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Women's Uniforms: Yeah, I went there ...

... and I went there over at USNIBlog. 

After I wrote it, I'm not sure exactly why I did it. One way or another, I think I'll piss off everyone.

Head on over and give it a read.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

An EU Army? Destined for the Failure of the Lowest Common Denominator

Someone needs to review the history of the Army of the Confederate States of America about a lack of central control of forces.

How can anyone with an understanding of recent history WRT national caveats and ROE can think this is a good idea?

In case you have not heard enough hyperbole this election season, the political leadership in the Mother Country is generating a bit of her own that does indirectly impact the USA.
David Cameron says Brexit could lead to continental war. Former Nato secretaries general suggest the EU is a “key partner” for the defence organisation.
That is the worst of the scare mongering, and just hogwash. Colonel Richard Kemp, British Army, is spot on;
But in the future, the opposite will be true, for this simple reason. A vote to Remain would embolden Brussels in the goal of ever-closer union. This will include a European army, enshrined in the EU project through the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties. And an EU army would undermine deterrence and cripple Nato, weakening European defences when we face increasing threats from Russia, the Middle East and radical Islam.

An EU command structure, fraught with divergent and opposing policy agendas, will turn paralysis into rigor mortis
That is airtight, as anyone who served with European militaries for any length of time will tell you. I’ve shared with you my experience through the years, but I was just a staff weenie, Col. Kemp was the former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan – take his word if you need to.

NATO has its own challenges, but having worked with the shambolic EU military fonctionnaires both operationally and in exercise, they make NATO look like Eisenhower’s staff.
A German defence white paper, leaked last week but supposed to be kept under wraps until after the referendum, leaves no doubt of Germany’s intention to drive through the merger of Europe’s armed forces “and embark on permanent cooperation under common structures”. Germany has begun to combine substantial elements of the Dutch forces with their own.

A centralised army is an indispensable component of the superstate to which the EU is openly committed. It would also provide an excuse for struggling economies to slash defence budgets. Few nations take defence seriously enough to spend even the 2 per cent of GDP required by Nato, a shortcoming criticised by President Obama in Germany last month. An EU army will see these nations cut back even further, cynically pretending that defences are strengthened even as forces and capabilities are merged and downsized.

Funds will be diverted from Nato combat forces as the EU army lavishes cash on costly new command structures, including a surfeit of generals with expensive headquarters. Indeed, reducing the influence of Nato and the US is the aim for several EU members, especially France and Germany. And if we undercut Nato, that aim will succeed, leading to US retrenchment.

If and EU army is going to be the next move, even more of a reason to support Brexit. It is in the interest of the United Kingdom, NATO, The Commonwealth, and the USA.
It is increasingly clear that the leaders of all main parties believe staying inside the EU is the only way for Britain to prosper. If the benefits of economic, political and legal union are so great, then it must follow, to politicians who argue that Britain can never again fight alone, that military union has the same advantages.

It will be denied that our forces will be handed over to the Brussels high command. But remember it was never explained to the British people that our Parliament would be subordinated to a union that today hands down over half our laws, regulates our day-to-day activities, and can override the highest courts in the land.
In case the EU gets all grumpy, if they would like, the UK should drop Canada, USA and Mexico a line about NAFTA. We’d love to have them onboard.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Your LCS Sad of the Day

So, they recently christened a LCS named after a Premier League team, the USS MANCHESTER (LCS-14). 

The PR work here and most of the quotes - well the whole sad ceremony - seems as if it were staged by an LCS critic, ahem, to outline some of the major points that are wrong with the entire program and what it has done to the public capital of our service.

I really don't know where to start. We'll go with quotes from the article first;
Making their support loud and clear, Shaheen along with Congressman Bradley Byrne pledged to fight for a full order of 52 ships and two suppliers. 

"I am going to watch over the Manchester and the entire LCS Program and do everything I can to protect it," said Shaheen. 
"We are going to continue to build these ships with the pace to get to 52," said Byrne, (R-Alabama).
Right off the bat, what is the one concern? Not the Sailors. Not the Navy. Not combat capability - but pork and politics. Of course, we have known this about LCS for years that combat capability was no longer a primary concern, simply numbers on a chart and obsequious cult of personality program support - but it is nice for such a tone-deafness, out in the open without shame clarity from those on The Hill. Makes the LCS critics job easier.
"It really gives you a different perspective of this ship. Being able to walk under it and see just how large these ships really are. Pictures don't do it justice and quiet frankly video doesn't either. So we are really happy to do it, and we hope we can do it like this going forward," said Craig Perciavalle, Pres. Austal USA.
Why yes, they are large. They are not small combatants. They are not stealthy. At 418', they are about 32' longer than a WWII FLETCHER Class destroyer. A ship, BTW, that no Fleet LCS in 2016, eight years after commissioning of Hull-1 can defeat in combat. Yes, 1942 defeats 2016 in a walk. Maybe a few 57mm holes before the 5'/38 finished her work, but to a 1942 FLETCHER DC team, that would just be training. Thank you again.
"It's very important ship because of it's ability to do many different missions and because of its flexibility," said Shaheen.
MANCHESTER is an INDEPENDENCE Class LCS. Hull-1 was christened in 2008 and commissioned in 2010. It is 2016. Name one mission, Senator, that this Class has conducted or has the ability to conduct? No, "presence" is not a mission. Liberty may be for some, but notsumuch. PMA please. Also, name one deployment this Class of ship has done with the ability to be even PMC in more than one PMA?

It is 2016

The answer is zero.
"Her shallow depth which enables her to go into most of the world's shores, so we can be present in a better capacity than any other ship in the United States Navy," said Commander Emily Bassett, USN and Prospective Commanding Officer, Manchester (LCS 14).
How many times does this need debunking?

Name one MIW mission of the last half century that LCS can conduct due to its draft? One ASW mission? Once ASUW mission?

The answer is zero. That is also the same number of the number of missions the LCS can conduct - the entire fleet of them now commissioned.

Finally, watch to the end of the video. It is so sad. We have reached the point that our Commanding Officers are coached to parrot industry talking points that never survive the first follow-on question.

FOX10 News | WALA

From the inside, it may look like everyone followed the talking points and kept to message etc - but here is where this is horribly damaging to our Navy. We have a uniformed Field Grade officer who is sounding exactly like a politician or an industry flack. We have them saying things that cannot survive the follow-on questions and if not on its face in a gray area near falsehood, are at best spin and fudge. As such, it degrades the officer saying it, and erodes the professional capital of the entire body of the officers. This is self-destructive behavior on a service wide scale. Not CDR Bassett's fault, but she is the one paying the price. It is as painful to watch as if we asked someone to read their last FITREP at open-mic, spoken word poetry reading.

Until we as a Navy get to the point we start acting like a customer of the military industrial complex as opposed to industry flacks, we will continue to get sub-optimal platforms like the Little Crappy Ship.

In the end, this is our fault. We ask our leaders in the Field to sell their word so cheap.

A final note. Here we are eight years since LCS was first commissioned. FLETCHER Hull-1 was commissioned in 1942. In the same period of time ... well ... you look what had happened, been developed, been done, etc.




Something is broken. It is not a budget problem. It is not a technology problem. 

This is a people and a process problem, in that order.

Hat tip MTH.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Fullbore Friday

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

Hat tip Sean.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Diversity Thursday

This Thursday, let's just look at the garden variety of diversity SPAM that the Fleet is subjected to.

Of course, I want you to think about the BA/NMP, $$$, opportunity cost, and lost productivity going to these fried-air events created by overactive diversity cadre at places like NAVAIR. More than that, today I want to to read critically the patronozing, soft-bigotry that is a core principal of this socio-political movement the US Navy endorses.
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2016 1:00 PM
Subject: Asian-American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month event: 17 May

All hands,

Join us for NAVAIR's national celebration of Asian-American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, co-sponsored by the AAPI diversity advisory team and NAVAIR's Equal Employment Opportunity & Diversity Division.

The event, with a theme of "Walk Together, Embrace Differences, Build Legacies," features keynote speaker and Rutgers philosophy professor Dr. Ruth Chang. Dr. Chang's TED talk on the topic of making hard choices in your personal and professional life has had more than three million views. At this event, you'll gain insight on becoming a better leader, better teammate and better individual through an examination of how you make hard choices.

-- Date: Tuesday, 17 May
-- Time: 1300-1500 EST
-- Location: River's Edge Catering & Conference Center, Patuxent River, and via national video teleconference
-- More information: https://mynavair.navair.navy.mil/portal/server.pt/community/navair_diversity___equal_employment_opportunity/

Visit NAVAIR University at https://navairu.navair.navy.mil. Search for course number CISL-EVT-0119.

Thank you,
Total Force Strategy & Management Department
Look at that and ponder.

1. The whole concept of "Asian & Pacific Islander" as a single ethnic group is almost as stupid as calling "white" an ethnic group while at the same time carving out the Iberian Peninsular as its own ethnic group. Those of Spanish and Portuguese extraction have more in common with those of Scandinavian extraction than someone from the Philippines has with someone from Japan; Guam from Korea; China from Java. It is so self-evident as to be silly. However, there are jobs to justify, insecurities to reinforce, egos to boost.

2. This is where it gets fun. From her wiki entry - please tell me about her rich understanding of the Asian-American experience.
Chang graduated from Dartmouth College in 1985 with a B.A. in philosophy.[2] In 1988, she graduated from Harvard Law School with a J.D.[2] In 1991, she was appointed a Junior Research Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford, where she completed her D. Phil. in 1997 after two year-long visiting appointments at UCLA and the University of Chicago Law School.[2] She also lectured at several of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in this time period.
her research has been the subject of radio, newspaper, and magazine articles in the United States, Brazil, Taiwan, Austria, Australia, Canada, Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
OK. She has a little connection to Taiwan and Australia. Well give 1.5 points to Hufflepuff.

Besides her last name and DNA, what ... ahhh, yes - see - I almost fell in to their trap.

You see, from the diversity industry's point of view, there is nothing of significance to Dr. Change from the diversity industry's point of view. All that matters is that she is used to remind people to divided and made different by race, creed, color, or national origin everyone regardless of accomplishment. 

All that matters is that people remain in their little groups. Every day, even if they are modern people who don't care, we must remind them and everyone else that they are "the other." Avoid at all possible costs any movement to unity. Any movement towards anything but the most base concerns of tribalism.

That is the diversity industry, and the Navy's little fetid corner of it.

The banality of evil. Yes, I use the term "evil" as throughout history nothing good has ever come from making people constantly aware of their ethnic group - to either exclude them or to include them. Evil uses that to pit us against each other so we are easier to manipulate. 

If you desire to have a society where we want to bring people together, to look at people for good or bad as individuals without regard to race, creed, color, or national origin - then you do have to scorn - scorn those who have any connection to the diversity industry and their efforts. They are agents of discord, disorder, and just plain ugly brain-stem level bigotry.

Dr. Chang is better than that. I would much rather have the money being spent to have her speak at such a disgraceful sectarian event spent to have her speak to a gathering of Midshipmen at Annapolis. Have her speak there because she is a highly accomplished professional who has some tools to help professionals be better. Her experience of being a 1st generation American is not unique to one race or ethnic group. That is a story for all Americans. 

That is what makes her impressive, not her last name and her superficial DNA. 

Shame on the Navy for insulting her and everyone else.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

NATO - the Non-Eurocentric View

Worth your time to consider Vijay Prashad's latest from India's The Citizen, How and Why Nato Has Become the Most Destructive Force on the Planet.

Always worth considering what things look like from the outside in - even if you think they're off a bit on their points;
Is NATO as essential to world security as Obama claims? NATO’s recent adventures—in Afghanistan, Eastern Europe and Libya—have created insecurity rather than order.

Afghanistan: When NATO entered the Afghan theatre in 2001, a decisive victory seemed imminent. Al-Qaeda fled the country and the Taliban fighters threw off their guns and went amongst the population. Elections followed and all seemed over. As the winter snows receded in 2002, the Taliban returned. Each spring they have come back, stronger and more determined to defeat their adversaries. This year has been no exception. The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jean-Nicholas Marti, says that 2016 has already shown the highest number of civilian casualties—thirty per cent higher than last year. Opium cultivation has grown, and Afghanistan now ranks as the second highest refugee exporter to Europe. A UN report on education and healthcare in Afghanistan shows that the condition is dire and getting worse. “In 2015 children increasingly struggled to access health and education services due to insecurity and conflict-related violence, further exacerbated by high levels of chronic poverty,” says UNICEF chief Akhil Iyer. NATO has begun to gradually withdraw from Afghanistan, which is fated to return—in some manner—to Taliban rule.

Eastern Europe: Perhaps NATO’s most striking disaster has been its confident march eastwards. One of the deals conducts by the West and the Soviets that bears consideration is around the unification of Germany. The Soviets agreed to the unification if NATO promised to remain at the German border. NATO was not to threaten Soviet security. That agreement was broken sharply. NATO began to absorb eastern European states and to pledge economic benefits for integration into the military alliance. A weak Russia in the 1990s did little to complain. It watched as NATO bombed the Balkans in 1999—in a war that was public relations coup for Europe, which suppressed its own role in stoking Croatian and Slovenian secessionism to dissolve Yugoslavia (as the European Union’s Badinter Commission had promised in 1991). Missile Defense shields and membership to the Baltic States poked Moscow’s eye. The Ukraine conflict is a direct product of NATO’s expansion eastwards. Now American F-22 raptors fly to Romania, while the USS Donald Cook slips into the Baltic Sea towards Russian waters. At a NATO meeting, the Russian ambassador Alexander Grushko described the Western provocations as “attempts to exercise military pressure on Russia.” Then, most chillingly, he said, “We will take all necessary measures, precautions, to compensate for these attempts to use military force.” Rather than secure Eurasia from conflict, NATO has been an instrument for discord. Moscow’s interests in its neighborhood are maligned in the Western press as the habits of empire, while Western requirements for NATO’s intervention are seen in this media as acceptable.

Libya: NATO dashed into the Libyan conflict with the imprimatur of a United Nations resolution (1973). It far exceeded its mandate – to protect civilians—by going for regime change. It later refused to allow any international investigation—even by the UN—of its bombing in Libya. NATO was happy to bomb on a UN mandate, but would not permit any UN oversight. Libya’s state was destroyed by the bombing run, creating mayhem across North Africa. Al-Qaeda’s growth in Algeria, Libya, Mali and Tunisia can be directly attributable to the NATO regime change operation and the promiscuity of Western and Gulf Arab intelligence, which allowed Libyan fighters to go and fight in Syria. Many of these fighters also returned as the core of Libya’s branch of ISIS. What did NATO bring to Libya? Destruction and chaos.
NATO needs a few in the "W" column.

Maybe back to the core mission - but encouraging Germany now.