Tuesday, June 27, 2017

As the "Ship" is "Spaceship" Should Make Clear; Space Has a Navy

As the USAF was picking its collective navel over a, "Space Corps" last week, a fair bit of grumbling could be heard from the Navy/SciFi fandom world.

The SciFi canon & just plain common sense tells anyone that from ranks to culture to structure, that any force in space will have a nautical heritage.

Our friend Matt Hipple over The National Interest makes the case;
Sustained operations in space resemble operations at sea. Diversely specialized sailors crew forward deployed ships, conducting voyage planning and contact management familiar to naval personnel. There are orbital buoys to maintain, infrastructure to protect, and eventually boarding inspections to conduct.
...
The orbital equivalent of afloat forward staging bases will shuttle supplies and rotational crews to vessels that remain in theater, years after launch. In achieving orbit and stationing, maritime professionals will recognize the similarities to anchorage and underway replenishments. To those who point to the challenges of maneuvering a vessel in three dimensions – the Navy already has submariners and naval aviators.

Even if the majority these operations remain automated – manned support craft and control stations will be necessary. Terrestrial, orbital, or onboard watch standers will seek adversary threats and navigation hazards in the vast domain of our congested orbit, to the moon, and eventually mars. The controlling teams will need to combine the naval mentalities associated with surface, subsurface, mine, and air warfare.
It is a fun read, with some history and serious points,

Give it a full read.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Unholy Wholeness

Over at Proceedings online, our friend Jerry Hendrix is keeping up the pressure to 355+ as other efforts are flagging or distracted.

To build our Navy to where it needs to be it takes constant pressure, political support, and invigorating debate on how to get there.

Along those lines, to build your personal toolbox of ideas in advocating for Seapower (one word, capitalized), make sure and read the whole thing – but for now, here are the major points.

First, one must deconstruct institutional smoke screens;
When pressed during questioning by several legislators, to include Armed Services Committee chairman and retired Navy captain Senator John McCain, on whether the additional funding provided within the FY 2018 budget should have been spent on acquiring more ships, the Navy’s leadership team replied that the best use of additional funds, at this point in time, is on fully funding readiness and maintenance accounts. There is, however, a hole in the logic of this argument.
You then need to rebuild the argument;
…“wholeness” to the force in the form of repaired and well-maintained ships can be reestablished through only one of three methods.

First, the nation could stop asking the Navy to do the same number of deployments with a smaller fleet. …
A second option is to base more U.S. ships in overseas ports.

A third, better alternative is to build a large enough fleet so that 100 deployed ships would once again represents 25 percent of the total Navy.
I agree with Jerry that until the pro-BRAC Orcs are beaten back to Mordor, Option-2 will have to be kept in ordinary.

There are your wholeness options, but what about building?
Extend Service Life, Reactivate Ghosts Ships, and Build More Ships
To get those details, you need to read it all.

Oh, and the high-low mix … it is a thing. It worked once, it can work again.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Midrats Summer Solstice Free For All

Grab a few slices of white bread, bologna, mayo and a glass of bug-juice, it's time for Midrats this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern.

The days are too long and hot to spend all your Sunday outside, so spend an our with EagleOne and myself live as we cover the maritime and national security breaking news from the USS FITZGERALD to Syria to any other topic that catches our fancy in a mostly random walk plan. This is the time to ask us a question you’d like us to address, or even roll one of your questions our way directly by giving us a call.

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, June 23, 2017

Fullbore Friday

I missed that at age 98, Ben Steele passed away last September.

In his honor, let's replay a FbF we did from 2009.


Just another old man walking around in his garage, eh?
These days he’s long retired, living with his wife, Shirley, in a trim split-level below a wall of rimrocks near the college where he used to teach. Every day he tramps out to the studio behind his house to paint and draw.
You ever wonder what they have seen? Maybe, just maybe --- you don't want to know.
He is 91 years old now, among the handful of last men surviving from America’s worst military defeat, the fall of the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines during that desperate winter and early spring of 1942.
American Heritage magazine has a must read article that personalizes what is often forgotten --- and rarely read in detail like this.
He tried to stay aloof. So many were dropping to the road, he thought, it was better not to get close to anyone. But north of Layac Junction, about 50 miles into the march, he lost his resolve and befriended a march mate. They had talked a bit while walking: about where they’d been, where they might be headed, what might happen when they got there. Talking made the walking easier, the heat a little less intense. Next afternoon on the road, he noticed his new friend beginning to wobble, and a mile or two later the man gave out and went down, grabbing for Steele’s leg.

“Come on, Ben—help me!”

He and another man hauled the dropout to his feet. They hadn’t gone far before a guard rushed up and shouted at them to let go. His helper obeyed, but for reasons beyond all understanding, Steele hung on, and the next thing he knew, his buttocks were on fire. He thought the guard’s blade had penetrated to his pelvis. Blood was beginning to course down his leg, and flies were starting to swarm the wound. He looked at the man he was holding, hoped he’d understand, then let him sink slowly to the road at the guard’s feet.

“No!” the man said. “No. Please.”
Ben Steele; well done on a long, good life. Read it all.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Navy Needs its XXX

Now, now, now ... I'm talking about FFG-(X), DDG-(X), and CG-(X) over at USNIBlog.

Come by and ... well ... give it a look.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Time for Rev. 1 to SYR PLAN SALAMANDER Dated 15-SEP-2015

A few basics to start with:
- We are years past any easy solution to Syria, if there ever was one.
- The territorial integrity of what on you map is called Syria is not worth the bones on one American.
- The Islamic State as a land holding & governing entity must be destroyed.
- Soldiers of the Islamic State are better killed in place than having them scatter back to their home countries to re-create terror there. 
- In Syria, Russia is not our enemy, and we should not make her one.
- In Syria, Turkey is not our friend, and we should not pretend she is.

As the remnants of the Islamic State are rolled up and out of Iraq and the last holdouts in Mosul are dealt with, attention is turning to the ongoing investment of their capital in Syria, Raqqa.

When it comes to the Islamic State, there is no political solution. Its complete destruction is the only thing in our national interest we should be acting on in Syria.

Let's look back at what I proposed, offhand, 21-months ago;
Let the Iranians and Russians kill Sunni Arab Islamists in the west of Syria while we kill them in the east. How about this: we'll kill them east of the Euphrates and south of road from Nassib in the southwest, through Damascus to Deir ez-Zur on the Euphrates. The Russians, Syrians, and Iranian proxies can kill them in the rest. Once they are done in the north and west, we can just do CAS for the Kurds on the front lines of their frontier as we all push IS forces in to the Iraqi desert.

There, I've deconflicted the airspace for everyone. End game? TBD.
Well, SECDEF Mattis recently gave us the end game.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said Sunday the U.S. has switched to "annihilation tactics" against the Islamic State and is focused on completely surrounding the militants, instead of forcing them to move from place to place.

"Our strategy right now is to accelerate the campaign against ISIS. It is a threat to all civilized nations. And the bottom line is we are going to move in an accelerated and reinforced manner, throw them on their back foot," Mattis said in a televised interview on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

He said the goal was to take out the militants before they could flee to neighboring countries.

"Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We're not going to allow them to do so. We're going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate," Mattis said.
Very well.

We can work with that. 

Now for modifications, as needed in red-bold-italic, but first let's look at a map via Shawn Snow.


That line is about right.

Only a few modifications, here is the D&G for Rev. 1 to PLAN SALAMANDER, bulletized this time for ease of reading.

1. Let the Iranians and Russians kill Sunni Arab Islamists in the west of Syria while we kill them in the east. (no change)

2. We'll kill them east of the Euphrates to include those portions west of the Euphrates in the Raqqa Governorateand south of road from Nassib in the southwest, through Damascus to Deir ez-Zur on the Euphrates.

3. The Russians, Syrians, and Iranian proxies can kill them in the rest. (no change)

4. We will continue to support Kurdish and allied forces inside the area defined in #2 using airpower and advisory liaison forces as needed. Once they are done in the north and west, we can just do CAS for the Kurds on the front lines of their frontier as we all push IS forces in to the Iraqi desert.

There is no reason, I hope, to concern oneself with a vision of tens of thousands or more Americans trying to occupy Syria. The President's inclination is not to do so, and our leadership in the military from the SECDEF on down knows the last 16-yrs well ... and both know the American people have zero support for such.

Our light footprint on the ground with support from the air is about right for this phase. We should let the locals take, hold, and then bicker over the dirt, as long as they keep taking ground from ISIS.

We need to be content with good enough, and avoid the neocon trap of wanting to make people what they are not in a part of the world where there is no place for the enlightenment to take root.

To wind things up - none of this last part is new. I often say that if you want to understand Syria, then watch Game of Thrones

In honor of the show I leave this with you; it is known. This works for both Arab and Kurd in Syria; always remember the great T.E. Lawrence's Art.15;
Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them. Actually, also, under the very odd conditions of Arabia, your practical work will not be as good as, perhaps, you think it is.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The FITZGERALD Incident

This Fathers Day Weekend brought to us a reminder of the nature of the sea even in times of peace. She is unforgiving, thoughtless, and can bring out the best and the worst in men. She is huge and vast, until she isn't. She can make you feel all alone in the world on one day, and then crowded, surrounded, and with no place to turn the next.

There is no such thing as a normal watch. At any moment, through acts of commission, omission or simply the pure randomness of fate, the laws of time, motion and physics can bring tragedy, death, and sorrow.

There is a lot of speculation going on with regard to the collision between the USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62) (length 154m; displacement 9,000 tons) and the merchant ship ACX Crystal (length 222.6m, gross tonnage; 29,060 tons), and I think on balance in events such as this, it is unhealthy to speculate much on specifics. Generalities, sure ... but wait for facts. 

Make no mistake, the damage is worse than it looks in the pictures seen of the outside. Inside and below the waterline it is most likely far worse. There will be many lessons to come from this incident - and for me the most interesting will be the story of how the crew, with their CO out of action, were able to fight to keep their ship afloat.

On Sunday in USA Today, Bryan McGrath and Jerry Hendrix outlined about as much as we need to know right now until more information is released;
“This is big news because it happens so rarely,” said Bryan McGrath, a retired Navy commander whose last command was the USS Bulkeley, a destroyer similar to the Fitzgerald. “It happens rarely not because ship movements are so simple and straightforward — but because a high degree of professionalism is demanded from both military and commercial operators."
...
“A U.S. ship is damaged in a collision to my knowledge, only every couple of years,” said McGrath, who is now managing director The FerryBridge Group, a national security consulting firm. “Loss of life, as we’ve had in this instance, is even rarer.”

Ships have nautical rules of the road established by the International Maritime Organization. Ships have technology such as radar and crew members to lookout for other vessels.

“It is far too early to speculate as to the cause of this particular accident. We just don’t have the evidence in yet,” said Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain who was director of naval history. “In the past, these circumstances generally are attributed to some error in navigation on the part of one bridge crew or the other.”

McGrath warned that electronic systems don’t always conform to what crew members see, “especially at night.”

“What I can say is that because ships are large and somewhat lumbering, it takes time to turn or change speed,” McGrath said.
...
“Whatever mistakes were made by either ship, those things will be collected, they will be synthesized, and then they will be taught to future generations of navigators and mariners so that we can learn from them and not repeat the mistakes of the past,”...
McGrath provides a very good "how can this happen?" primer over at WOTR that helps get everyone on the right page as more information is released.

Until then, let's do what is appropriate at this time. Let's give a nod to the crew of the FITZ who kept the ship afloat, and recognize our Shipmates who lost their lives while at sea;
- Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia

- Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California

- Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut

- Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas

- Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California

- Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland

- Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio
When it comes to keeping your ship together, if you have not seen the USNA Museum's Naval History Panel from August 22, 2014 with panelist CAPT Paul Rinn, USN (Ret) and CDR Kirk Lippold, USN (Ret) on leadership and damage control, here's the video.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Fullbore Friday

Stuff like that just happens to other people.

Just another trip.

Just another day.

I wonder when I can get another cup of coffee.

Then there is the sound of the guns, and the training kicks in.

There can only be one FbF today; two public servants who saved this nation from what could have been a massacre of political violence unseen in this nation's history.

No more words from me are needed. Their actions speak.

Capitol Police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey are special agents on Rep. Steve Scalise’s security detail. Scalise was standing near second base in an Alexandria, Virginia park when the bullets began flying from behind the third base dugout, striking Scalise. While Scalise dragged himself to safety, Griner and Bailey lept into action. In an extended firefight, the two agents took down shooter James Hodgkinson while battling through injuries of their own. Both were taken to the hospital after the gunfight, and are recovering from their injuries, officials say.
Fullbore.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Testifies at Senate Hearing on Violent Extremism.

A giant of our age in so many way, and a hero to your humble author, is Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Please take time today to hear her testimony at yesterday. Go to the 12:30 point.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

If you like your carrier ... well ... you probably won't be able to keep your carrier

What if I told you that you should expect that half our CVN will be sunk in the first year of the next war ... and that should be OK?

I'm discussing over at USNIBlog ... come by and see.

There will be math.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

So, we get Stav and Mattis in a room ....

So, SECDEF Mattis (no, I don't get tired of saying this) put it right out there;
"We are not winning in Afghanistan right now. And we will correct this as soon as possible," Mattis said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Mattis acknowledged that he believed the Taliban were "surging" at the moment, something he said he intended to address.

From last month, Jim Stavridis outlined 5 reasons we need more forces in AFG

First, it is a tactical necessity. Over the past two years, the Taliban have been steadily encroaching on Afghan government control of territory, and by some estimates they are now in a position to influence the population in 40% of the country. While Afghan Security forces number over 300,000 and have shown real mettle in many places, they are taking significant casualties and still require effective mentoring down to at least the Battalion level. That means an increase in our overall troop strength is necessary.

Second, the emergence of an Islamic State element in Afghanistan is very concerning. While they have largely been unable to galvanize either the population or create cooperation with the Taliban, they have conducted a series of disruptive terror attacks and add further chaos to an unstable system. A larger NATO force can blunt their impact.

A third key reason is to create political capital that can be very helpful when some portion of the Taliban (who are not a holistic organization to say the least) eventually come to the negotiating table. We will never “win” militarily in Afghanistan, nor can we kill our way to success. Sooner or later we will need to bargain, and a stronger NATO force on the ground will give us better leverage.

Fourth, the additional forces send a signal to the Pakistanis, who are still somewhat playing a “double game” of overtly cooperating with NATO, but in reality supporting some elements of the insurgency. This commitment will tell Pakistan we intend to continue to work for a successful outcome in Afghanistan, and will hopefully encourage them to force the Taliban into negotiations.

Which brings us to another key point: what does success look like? Afghanistan is not going to resemble Singapore anytime soon; but it can have a functioning democratic government, general control over much of its borders, the ability to minimize impact from the insurgency, armed forces with high public approval, and a reduction in both corruption and narcotics — the latter two issues posing a longer term threat to the nation than even the Taliban. Getting to that point of success will require security and thus the additional forces.
I've been writing about AFG from the start of the blog, click the AFG tag below if you're new here and want to catch up.

Both Mattis and Stavridis are spot on. Since Obama's DEC09 West Point speech, we turned over all momentum to the enemies of modernity. 

We had a good, long range plan by 2008, but that was all thrown away. There is a lot to do.

Though we are as a nation tired, and on some days I think we should just all just look for the airhead version of the Friendship Bridge and cover what we leave behind in thermite ... but that isn't how this works.

Mattis was the first General Officer to set foot in AFG as a 1-Star, and Stavridis had to do what he could with the Political Level D&G he received from Obama as SACEUR.

A smart person would defer to their recommendations, or at least give them a fair hearing.

If those two gentlemen are standing up and pointing in a certain direction, I'm lacing up my boots and forming up behind them.

$.02.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Type-26

Let's start the week looking at what the Home Country is up to in what little shipbuilding capability she has going for her right now.

Let's look at the upcoming Type-26.

The go-to place for your information is with our friends over at ThinkDefence.

If nothing else, given out experience with DDG-1000 & LCS, this should catch your eyes;
The most sensible part of the whole programme is its attitude to technology risk. Whether this is wholly intentional, or merely a happy by-product of Type 23 obsolescence and timing issues is for others to argue, but the fact remains, Type 26 has a relatively low level of technology risk.

Most of the major systems have been, or will be, de-risked on Type 23, with perhaps a few on the QE Carriers. There are no major sensors or weapons being developed to form part of the design, and the power/propulsion design is well proven.
It is a large frigate that should really be called a destroyer, coming in at 6,900 to 8,000 tons

If you can, take some time for BAE's sales video to Australia below at least, but better yet, dig in to ThinkDefence's very thorough overview linked above.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

On Tactics, with B.A. Friedman ... on Midrats


In the Western concept of the military art, there is a food chain. The Political feeds Strategic; Strategic the Operational; Operational the Tactical.

Among the military chatting classes, there is a lot of pondering and pontificating about strategy and operational concepts – but what about tactics?

If the Tactical level requires, ultimately, a Strategy to help define its purpose – besides logistics, shouldn’t the professional also talk tactics?

On this week’s show, Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern, we’re going to explore that space with returning guest B.A. Friedman, Capt. USMCR, whose latest book from Naval Institute Press, On Tactics, examines the question in great detail.

Simply because of its location in the hierarchy, tactics are not a simple thing. As the author states,
“While the sinews of war may be infinite funds, the sinew of tactical prowess is a common outlook, one that contextualizes and unifies doctrine, history, and experience across a military force.”

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, June 09, 2017

Fullbore Friday

It is a great thing when a FbF pretty much writes itself - especially as I still have the writer's block that kept my THU post from going (I'll get it going maybe early next week).

There is a great story out of the latest London attacks that unquestionably makes the FbF cut in both style, forthrightness and example. We also got the official English Football Club ... Millwall, natch;
Now out of the intensive care ward of St Thomas’ Hospital, where he was treated for knife wounds all over his body including his neck, the father-of-one has told The Sun how he reacted when the killers burst into the restaurant shouting “Islam, Islam” and “This is for Allah”.

“Like an idiot,” he told the newspaper, “I shouted back at them. I thought, ‘I need to take the p*** out of these b******s’.”

“I took a few steps towards them and said, ‘F*** you, I’m Millwall’. So they started attacking me.”

Mr Larner added: “I stood in front of them trying to fight them off. Everyone else ran to the back.

“I was on my own against all three of them, that’s why I got hurt so much.

“It was just me, trying to grab them with my bare hands and hold on. I was swinging.

“I got stabbed and sliced eight times. They got me in my head, chest and both hands. There was blood everywhere.

“They were saying, ‘Islam, Islam!’. I said again, ‘F*** you, I’m Millwall!’

“It was the worst thing I could have done as they carried on attacking me.
...
Mr Larner’s actions have won him a huge following on social media, where he has been called “The Lion of London Bridge”, a reference to Millwall Football Club’s nickname the Lions.

Fans of the south London club have long prided themselves on their refusal to duck a fight, celebrating their intimidating reputation with the chant: “No-one likes us, we don’t care.”
He sounds like he has a good mom and good friends,
Phyllis Larner, 78, told The Sun: “He’s fearless, my son. He’ll give as good as he gets.

“He’s quite nippy and lippy and wouldn’t back down from a fight.

“He wouldn’t care who it was or if they had a knife or gun.”

Mr Larner, from Peckham, south-east London, said the attackers eventually “ran out of the pub and legged it”.

Despite his injuries, he said he followed them outside.

“It wasn’t until I was in a police car,” said Mr Larner, “That I realised I was in a bad way. I’d been sliced up all over.”

“I didn’t think of my safety at the time,” he added. “I’d had four or five pints — nothing major.

“I can handle myself. But I was out with an old person and it was out of order.”

As he recovers in hospital, Mr Larner’s friends have brought him a running magazine. The front cover headline reads: “Learn to run.”
Millwall's fight song is, "No one likes us. We don't care."

Unquestionably Salamander approved.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Eeyore Looks at 350 Ships

A lot of good stuff was written this spring on the challenges in getting to Trump's promised 350-ship fleet.

I'm reviewing a few over at USNIBlog.

Come by and give it a read.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Failure is Always an Option

There are so many stories about D-Day, there really is no reason not to have a stand-alone post on one bit or another each year.

This year what kept coming to mind was one of the more sublime examples of leadership from the invasion, Ike’s draft message if the invasion failed.

For the unit leader or the Supreme Commander – this concept is essential; self-doubt. A sister of humility, though you have to be careful not to let them paralyze you in to inaction, you need to think in the back of your mind, “What if I am wrong? What if I’ve listened to the wrong advice? What if the enemy has luck on her side … or all I have is bad?”

One should at a minimum think about what steps to take should things go south – so to preserve what force remains – but it isn’t often that someone will go through the efforts to build an actual Branch Plan in that case, or draft a letter such as this.

Here’s the text if you have not read it before. Even if you have, read it again;
"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."
My favorite detail? He accidentally dated it July 5th vice June 5th. A great man like Ike shared one of my problems; I get my “J” months messed up all the time. Same with the “M” months.

If I could ever be a 10th the man Ike was, I would have led a good life. Nice to see he’s mortal, so I have a chance.

Monday, June 05, 2017

A Monster Soon to Awake from Slumber; the Battlecruiser Admiral Nakhimov



The Russian Battlecruiser Admiral Nakhimov is the 3rd of 4 Kirov Class Battlecruisers built in the waning days of the Soviet Union. She has been in refit for the last 11 years, and should be underway next year, 30-years after her commissioning.

The refit has been so long as they kept changing their mind what they wanted he to be, and from the looks of it, they’ve done almost a complete rebuild.

Here’s the executive summary:
improvements are expected to include new vertical launch missile tubes that can accommodate Onix anti-ship missiles and Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles and a separate navalized version of the S-400 surface-to-air missile.
That isn’t what I’d like you to focus on. If your Russian isn’t up to speed, that’s OK, listen anyway.

Watch the below video, but keep your eyes in the background. Details, details, details…



Once she re-joins the fleet, one should expect that she will come with these toys as well;
In April, 2017, Russia’s new hypersonic anti-ship Zircon missile has reached eight times the speed of sound (about 6100 mph) during the test, a source with Russia’s defense sector told TASS.

The source noted that Zircon missiles can be launched from universal launching platforms 3C14 which are also used for the Onyx and Caliber missiles.

It is expected that the new missiles will be installed at the heave (sic) nuclear-powered cruisers Peter the Great and Admiral Nakhimov.

The expected range with a new type of fuel is about 1000 km (600 miles) at Mach 5-6. The export version will be limited to 400 kilometers range. Launching platform is the 3S14 Agat, also used to launch the SS-N-26 Strobile and SS-N-27 «Sizzler» missiles.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Chinese Navy at 2030, with Patrick Cronin on Midrats


2030 is as close to us today as 2004, only 13 years.

As we look at various ways to maintain a Navy at t level at which we have become accustomed, the People’s Liberation Army Navy of China is building step by step as their economic power and global influence grows.

The world will see a dramatically different PLAN in 2030 relative to now, and as the present global naval superpower, our assumptions and plans need to be ready for it.

Our guest this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and more will be Dr. Patrick Cronin, Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Previously, he was the Senior Director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at the National Defense University, where he simultaneously oversaw the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs.

As a starting point for the discussion, we will review the major points of CNAS recent publication, Beyond the San Hai:The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water 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, June 02, 2017

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

Thursday, June 01, 2017

... and the Gipper Did Grin, and the People Did Feast ...

Over the weekend it seemed that decades of hard work once again broke out in to the open,
The US military said Tuesday it had intercepted a mock-up of an intercontinental ballistic missile in a first-of-its-kind test that comes amid concerns over North Korea's weapons program.

A ground-based interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California "successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile target" fired from the Reagan Test Site in the Marshall Islands, the military said in a statement.

The test saw a rocket from the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system blast into space and then deploy its "exo-atmospheric kill vehicle," which smashed into the dummy ICBM, destroying it in a direct collision.

"This system is vitally important to the defense of our homeland, and this test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat," Vice Admiral Jim Syring, director of the US Missile Defense Agency, was quoted as saying.

The exercise marked a significant step for the GMD system, which has had a checkered record in previous tests.
An important thing to remember about the emerging reality of an effective and layered ballistic missile defense is that it did not happen overnight. It happened because for decades - often neglected, ignored, shunned and usually underfunded - some of America and her allies’ best engineers and scientists toiled away making steady progress. In some places they failed, in others underperformed, but they kept working on what worked. They left behind what didn’t, improved what could be improved, and embraced new tools as they became available.

Patriot modernization, Iron Dome, evolution of Aegis with/to SM-2ER Block IVA and now SM-3, THAAD, and the Ground Based Interceptor are the better known functioning parts of this system.

There are still those who oppose BMD, but they are drifting in to the past as the more nuanced and complicated security environment of the 21st Century is replacing the previous century’s hold-overs.

Watch the launch, and like the first infantryman’s view of the tank coming in support through the trenchline, smile a bit and know the future will be just a little bit brighter.



Also, know where this all started. 





Speaking of started, you have to love that the test ICBM that was shot down was launched from the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kwajalein.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Echo of DRUMBEAT

Of course, it never really left - it has always been there.

For a little over a quarter century it drifted below the ambient noise, off our vernier perhaps, as we basked in the Cold War victory and then distracted by the Long War ... but it was always there.

It stood still for a bit, but it watched, matured, and grew.

For those who tried to keep it in their scan, it popped up now and then. If you got your bandwidth/binwidth right and you knew where to look, you could track it.

It's becoming easier to track now. Even the French are hearing it.
France launched May 2 an upgrade of systems and weapons on three La Fayette frigates, notably adding an anti-submarine capability to the stealthy warship, the arms procurement office said.

The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) announced the award to DCNS for the modernization of three of the five La Fayette class frigates in service with the French Navy. Work will start in 2020 and will be done in Toulon, southern France, when the frigates go into dock for scheduled overhaul, the procurement office said. A first upgraded frigate will be delivered in 2021.

The anti-submarine capability will be fitted with a hull-mounted sonar and anti-torpedo countermeasures, the DGA said. A spokesman declined to comment on the value of the contract.
This class of frigate was commissioned between '92 & '99. These are not young ships.

Smart people here are hearing it as well.

In the sad but unlikely case you missed it in the the Russia-Russia-Russia broadband noise in the last few weeks, along with his co-author Julianne Smith, our friend Jerry Hendrix published earlier this month the must read, Forgotten Waters: Minding the GIUK Gap.

Read it all, but here's a few meaty bits;
...as Russian submarines have become more capable, while Allied anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities have atrophied over time. Defense experts now caution that the “GIUK Gap”—a line stretching between Greenland and Iceland to the United Kingdom—is a potential flashpoint between NATO and Russia, whose Murmansk-based Northern Fleet must transit the Gap to reach the Atlantic.1 So that Russia’s maritime assets might project force and support its interests, Putin revamped Russia’s national security strategy in 2016 to stress unfettered maritime access to the Atlantic. This partially explains why the GIUK Gap has seen more submarine traffic and higher tensions in recent years. Although Russia recently announced cuts to its defense spending, the authors believe that it will continue to devote resources to advanced nuclear submarines and other platforms that promise asymmetric advantages.3 Russian submarine patrols in the area hit recently a post–Cold War high; low-level, high-speed Russian aircraft flybys of U.S. naval warships have increased. As a result, focus on Allied maritime capabilities that could deter these actions has heightened.
Much of our ASW equipment is far from state of the art. Even the "advanced" tools are decades old - better than most out there with some nifty stuff hidden here and there - but more or less treading water since I was a LT. That is just on the Search/Location/Track side of the house. You don't even want to talk about the weaponeering end of the chain.
Neither the individual member states, nor the alliance as a whole, presently possess the ability to conduct a comprehensive and coordinated anti-submarine warfare campaign under either peacetime or wartime conditions. The Atlantic-facing members of NATO now possess far fewer frigates—the premier class of surface vessels designated to conduct ASW operations—than they did 20 years ago. Where they collectively had around 100 frigates in 1995, that number hovers at 51 today. Similarly, these nations had, in 1995, 145 attack submarines—those dedicated to anti-shipping and anti-submarine warfare missions—but that number has plummeted to a present low of 84. Moreover, most of the 52 U.S. attack submarines are presently being “pivoted” to the rising threat in the Asian Pacific region.6 In addition, the United States has placed its large underwater Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) in a standby condition, where data remains available but is unmonitored, while the U.S. Navy’s Surveillance Towed-Array Sensor System (SURTASS) fleet is being cut from nine to five ships. As a result, NATO’s ability to monitor and track threats in the underwater environment has been badly degraded, just as a revanchist Russia is re-emerging to challenge NATO interests in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
...
Today, in addition, key economic infrastructure are undersea, including communications cables and energy wellheads and pipelines. Ninety-nine percent of all transoceanic communications flow through undersea cables; nearly one third of all oil global and natural gas production is drawn from undersea wells.12 These are persistently under threat. Forgotten Waters revealed both how crucial these investments are to the daily lives of alliance members and the paucity of thought that has been devoted to their defense. Assumptions that care and maintenance of undersea assets are the responsibility of the commercial sector break down during wartime conditions, when the presence of enemy combatants can prevent commercial ships from making the repairs necessary to maintain communications and energy flows. In a global economy that is increasingly dependent upon access to the undersea environment, the NATO alliance must adapt rapidly to these new conditions.
You need to read it all.

As a datapoint about what a few submarines can do, most people know about "OPERATION DRUMBEAT" - the Happy-Time for German U-boats off the East Coast of the USA right after Germany declared war on the USA. How many are aware of how few U-boats were actually involved?

Thanks to the incredible people over at U-boat.net, we have a nice summary;
Dönitz wanted to strike with 12 type IX boats, the only boats capable of cruising that far. But he was forced to reduce that number to 6 boats due to other engagements of Hitler's preferences of the Gibraltar area. One of the 6 boats marked for this operation, U-128 was in need of urgent repairs and could not make it in time. Thus only 5 boats sailed.
That is right; 5.

What were just 5 boats in the first wave able to do?
U-125 (Folkers) was the first to sail on 18 Dec, 1941, followed by U-123 (Hardegen) on the 23rd and U-66 (Zapp) on the 24th, finally the last two of the Paukenschlag boats, U-130 (Kals) and U-109 (Bleichrodt) sailed together on the 27th. It would take then just over 2 weeks to reach US waters. They were under strict orders not to attack anything on the outbound cruise unless a especially attractive target was located (this meant a big warship like a cruiser, carrier or a battleship, but like Dönitz said "We never let a 10,000 tonner pass us by").
...
The Drumbeat boats ended operations of the coast of America on Feb 6 and headed home. They sank 25 ships for a total of 156,939 tons. Hardegen (U-123) sank 9 ships for a total of 53,173 tons.
That is what 5 German U-boats were able to do in just a few short weeks. They sunk all that with no losses.

Before WWII, I am sure many would have claimed it would be impossible for such an audacious operation to be conducted right under the lights of the East Coast, but it did.

In a short, sharp war - how would we do with (I know, everyone wants a short & sharp but never gets one) just a few Russian Northern Fleet SSN off our coast, say a couple each Sierra and Akula along with - for old time's sake - their last Victor III as well? Throw in the Severodvinsk off Norfolk for fun?

Once the Russians break in to the open Atlantic, things get sporty. A lot has changed since the German U-boats broke in to the Atlantic, but the danger of the submarine has not.

We've enjoyed a bit of a holiday. We've become a bit complacent, supine, and slothy. Heck, the nation that used to be the best at ASW, the UK, can't even defend their coastal waters anymore.

History is a jealous, needy lover, and she is parked down the street with her lights off waiting for you to wake up.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Fullbore Friday

A great story via our friends at ThinkDefence about an exceptional side-show to The Falkland Island war.
Pebble Island lies to the north of West Falkland and in 1982, its 25 inhabitants were mainly involved with tending 25,000 sheep. Its small airstrip was subject to a daring raid by the SAS.

It did have an airstrip, though, or more accurately, four, three of grass, and the other on the beach. On the 24th of April, Naval Air Station Calderon (as it was called) was established there.
...
HMS Hermes was detached along with HMS Glamorgan and HMS Broadsword. The SAS and personnel from 148 (Meiktila) Commando Forward Observation Battery made for a raiding force totalling 45 and were loaded aboard four 846 NAS Sea Kings for the flight into the assembly point at Phillips Cove.

HMS Glamorgan fired on the western edge of the runway to provide a diversion and draw in Argentine forces. Shortly after, the main attack commenced;
Then our own mortar opened up, lighting the whole place up like it was a bright daylight. The mortar man was having a lot of trouble. Every time he fired the bloody thing, the whack kicking the base plate further into the ground. There was virtually no enemy fire on us, so the boys got stuck into the planes. They split into seven two-man teams. It was a bloody big trip and they had a lot of ground to cover. It’s not as if the planes were all parked in a neat row. They were all over the strip. And all the time the boys were running against the clock. Five planes were destroyed using the explosive charges that they had with them. The Pucara was the tallest of the aircraft. As they approached each plane, one bloke would give the other a leg up on to the wing. Once up, he then leaned down and hauled the other one up to join him. The Skyvan was not a problem. The Mentors were very small, and with one great leap, the guys got themselves on the wings. (Ramsey, SAS: The Soldier’s Story)
Aircraft had cables ripped out and fuel tanks punctured with small arms fire and grenades. It was all over by 03:35 and the SAS teams withdrew to their waiting helicopters, the job well done.

Six Pucara, four T-34C and one Skyvan were damaged or destroyed.
That, my friends, is a nice, efficient OP.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hatchets well burried

USA, Japan, and Vietnam.

Once old enemies, now new friends.

A good.

I'm discussing in more detail over at USNIBlog.

Come on by!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

OK Rep. Palmer (R-AL), You Want to Talk Dogs? Let’s Talk Dogs

Let's shift fire from the UK's child sacrifice for a bit.

I’m going to show a little IRL passion ankle here, but I don’t care, there is an overlap of passions here and I cannot help myself.

There was this little bit about the dogs we use as a critical part of our national security infrastructure in the House Homeland Security Committee that I simply have to blog about.
Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., provided the only contentious moments of the hearing when he questioned Harvey on TSA's dog procurement practices. Palmer noted that he himself had recently been at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and saw very few canine teams.

Palmer, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, pressed Harvey on the procurement issue, citing Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" executive order. Harvey assured Palmer that the TSA has “an interagency agreement with DoD. We use the same vendors that they use . . . We also have a couple of agreements with domestic vendors from which we also get dogs.”

Still, Palmer complained that TSA dogs were being “foreign sourced.”

“The administration has an emphasis on 'Buy American' and it seems to me it would make sense that you would prefer American dogs and American-trained dogs over foreign-sourced dogs,” Palmer said. “Particularly, the vendors that train them from puppies. Why do you have a preference in any context for foreign-sourced dogs?”

Harvey explained that TSA doesn’t prefer foreign dogs over domestic ones, but that vendors aren't always able to supply the dogs TSA needs. “We have a large requirement for our large number of dogs,” Harvey said. She added that TSA is working closely to ramp up procurement of dogs from domestic vendors.
Here is the executive summary Congressman; we foreign source our dogs because on balance American breeders in general, and the AKC specifically, are the worst thing to happen to dogs since the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.

Our problem is twofold, vanity and greed.

Let me give you an example. The worse national election of the last year was not Clinton-v-Trump, it was the German Shepard Dog winning the Westminster Kennel Club following the equally horrid disgrace at Crufts last year where the Mother Country picked up our bad ideas. The American GSD is the poster child for systemic animal abuse in the guise of “love” of a breed.

As they have with so many breeds, the “Bench” conformation crowd created a crippled, unhealthy, and generally useless line of GSD that come from the USA. See that sloping back? You do not see that deformity in German, Dutch, and Belgian lines of those dogs. Untold hundreds of puppies are born each year in conformation kennels who spend their lives in pain and misery just to get that look from a few.

As all they are concerned with is superficial conformity to an artificial standard created by people with no care for what the dogs actually are designed to do, nothing else matters. Hips, EIC, cancer, allergies, intelligence, drive, instinct – non of these things matter to the Bench people in the USA - and increasingly elsewhere as our bad habits spread.

The poor puppers have had their purpose bred out of them. Herding dogs can’t herd, retrievers cannot retrieve, pointers can’t point, guards can’t guard, terriers can’t terrorize, and hounds are scared of their own shadows.

Let’s look at what we Americans have done to some breeds. I could go through dozens, but I’ll just grab the few top-of-mind outside the GSD;

English Setter: Bench breed setters are huge, lumbering beasts who would not last 10 minutes in the field actually hunting, even if they had the nose, were trainable, and residual instincts to know what to do. Look at field bred lines or even the Llewellyn variant to see what it takes.

Labrador Retrievers: In the name of all that is holy, this breed is now actually devolved in to three major breeds and a few minor ones. The Bench Labs are fat, tumored, wheezing creatures who by age of 6 can barely bark at the mailman without becoming breathless and wincing in pain from arthritis. Because the American Field and Hunt tests have become something only an East German swimming coach would want to be involved in, top Field bred American labs are taunt, hyper animals that if not exercised two hours a day cannot live in a house without destroying it and putting half the kids and elderly in the hospital from knocking them over. In the USA it has gotten so bad that those wanting a Lab to be a reliable hunting dog look to get Labs from British lines. No American Field bred Lab could even start a British hunt test as they simply could not sit still long enough. A British champion hunting Lab wouldn’t get a callback at a US Field Trial due to lack of drive. Maddening.

Golden Retrievers: Just like the Lab, they were ruined by the puppy mills and conformation people. There are now distinct field lines that almost don’t look like Goldens if your standard is what you see in dog shows. Even with veterinary care better now days than most human health care, longevity is decreasing. Don’t even get me started on the average temperament of bench Goldens. Just a crime – especially if you’ve known a great Field Golden.

There, I could go on for days, so let’s get back to the topic at hand.

German Shepherd Dogs, Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds – there are very few American breeders who can produce the quality of dogs needed for proper work in any quantity.

Personality, ability, and drive have a high genetic component in dogs. You have to have generation after generation of dedicated breeding to keep a dog genetically predisposed to do its proper job. 

The post-WWII era in the USA driven by the Bench Mafia (and to a lesser extent the Lab Field Trial Mafia) have ruined many lines of dogs to do anything but look pretty running in circles, running like a drug addled speed-demon, or ranges so far that it requires a person on a horse to keep up with them.

European dog breed clubs for guarding, herding, and gun dogs, especially the German ones, require dogs to prove their ability to do their job – and increasingly to pass hip and DNA screenings – before you can even breed them. Ability first, looks second.

(in the USA look at the English Cocker you'll find on quail plantations on the FL-GA border to see another example of the split)

You get what you prioritize, breed, and pay for – and in America we screwed up our priorities when it comes to dogs, especially working dogs.

As long as there is an AKC led as it is now, and the American public continues to subsidize American vanity breeders, we will need to go overseas to get dogs that still have the physical and mental ability to do their job.

Even in the hunting world, people go to Europe to bring home what we call German Shorthairs, Wirehairs, Clumber Spaniels, Weimaraners, Dachshunds (yes, Dachshunds. A German bred hunting-line Dachshund in the field would blow your mind on rabbit, tracking deer, or even pheasants) and many lessor known breeds. Why? Because the real world people you saw in the great cinematic masterpiece, Best in Show, have destroyed breed after breed for their own vanity and profit from an equally vain American public.

I am in full alignment with the Congressman here; we need more dogs in homeland & military service, not less. We always learn this lesson over and over.
“I think we can train [canine teams] to do even more,” Correa said. “I think we gotta go in that direction to defend our country to protect our citizenry and to make sure that you do the best job you can to protect our country.”
They’re good dogs, America. They love what they do … and some even volunteer to do it.

Rant over.

I don’t know about you, but I feel better.

As a side note, if you are thinking about getting a dog, I do breed consultation on the side pro bono. Send me an email with what you want a dog for and your lifestyle and I’d be happy to give you a few ideas. From lap to field, I’ll yap your ear off.

IRL, I would rather talk about dogs than anything else.

We owe our civilization to two animals, horses and dogs - we should show them the respect they deserve.