Friday, January 31, 2014

Fullbore Friday

This FbF is a little of a tease ... and something to keep you humble.

So, you think you have had an eventful career? Benchmark these bookends;
So upon his graduation from boot camp, it was off to Chicago for AMM “A” School. Herb excelled there, graduating 14th out of a class of 250, and was given his choice of duty stations.
Because he liked San Diego, he picked North Island, but as soon as he arrived he was told that the PBY squadron he was assigned to was already in Hawaii. Young Herb was put on a troop transport ship, USS Henderson, with a battalion of U.S. Marines and sent off to Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii.
Ship, Herb and Marines arrived at Pearl on Dec.1, 1941, and Herb was quickly dispatched to his new duty station at Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, which was across Oahu from Pearl Harbor on the east coast of the island.
During those ensuing six days, Herb was hard at work and didn’t have a clue that the Japanese were about to change his life and the lives of all other Americans.
In fact, on the day of the attack he was up early in order to get his liberty card for a little fun in Honolulu. He had not been granted any liberty since arriving and was looking forward to going to Hotel Street with another sailor he had made friends with. After enough action to last a lifetime, he still chose to stay in the Navy after the war. He says he was never bored for lack of excitement or a challenge, and he would retire as a chief petty officer in 1972.
You need to go to the link to hear the rest of the Chief Herb Swader, USN (Ret.) story.

Herb is still with us - spry young 92-years or so. Fullbore Chief.

Hat tip Dave.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

They're Looking for Other People's Dragons Again

I really have a hard time understanding some of the neo-interventionists. At least the old-school interventionists could some way justify their actions that put their nations blood and treasure on the line by saying that they could connect their actions in some way to economic or security gains for their nation.

The neo-interventionist? No, the less it has to do with American interests, the more effort they seem to want to make.

Heck, even a converted neo-realists like myself can give the benefit of the doubt to a few hundred trainers and enablers to go after the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda ... but this? Your decimal place is in the wrong spot.
The U.S. should send a 5,000-strong security assistance brigade to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help stabilize a country ravaged by more than a decade of war, a prominent U.S. military analyst recommends.

In a “memorandum” to President Barack Obama, Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution also urges the White House to send several hundred military advisers to Libya to help train that country’s fledgling armed forces.

“The United States should, with a focused effort and in partnership with other states, make a significant push to improve security in Africa,” O’Hanlon wrote in his Jan. 23 memo, which was posted on the Brookings website. “No massive deployments of U.S. troops would be needed, and in fact no role for American main combat units is required. But we should step up our game from the current very modest training efforts coordinated through Africa Command (AFRICOM).”

The recommendation comes at a time of increased concern about instability in certain parts of Africa. The list of hotspots is long: Mali, Somalia and across ungoverned spaces in the Sahel region of western and north-central Africa, where extremists have taken root, armed in large part with weapons looted from Libyan armories during NATO’s air assault on Moammer Gadhafi’s regime in 2011.
In the case of lawless eastern Congo, where thousands of people have been killed in the past decade, despite the presence of U.N. peacekeepers, there are no clear national security risks at stake for the U.S. While the U.S. has provided some military training to support DRC troops in the past, sending a 5,000-strong brigade would be an unprecedented move in the region.
O’Hanlon also recommended that the U.S. send several hundred troops to Libya to train that country’s military. Since Gaddafi’S fall, Libya has been in a state of virtual anarchy. The U.S. and European partners are drawing up plans to train government forces, but that will likely occur outside of the country.

O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, acknowledges that increasing the U.S. military’s profile in Africa could be a hard sell.

“At a time of national war fatigue and fiscal austerity, it may be counterintuitive to propose increasing American involvement, particularly if it involves military commitment, abroad. But, for a modest investment, the United States and other countries may be able to make major strides towards improving the prospects for peace and stability on the continent.”
Voice of reason? Ahh ... here it is.
Thierry Vircoulon, the International Crisis Group’s director for Central Africa, was skeptical that the U.S. military is capable of helping to bring stability to the Congo.

“I believe that, unfortunately, the problems of Congo are not the type of problems that can be addressed by the U.S. Army,” Vircoulon said.

The DRC’s problem, Vircoulon said, is “bad governance, bad governance, bad governance.”
To be short; sending that many forces to Congo is a fool's errand.

5,000 isn't enough to effect change on this scale - but big enough to risk entanglement and being seen as one of the belligerents. Non-Africans have spent centuries trying to "fix" the place. Why don't we do something shocking and let them fix it themselves? 

Diversity Thursday

I don't know who owns the twitter account over at Commander Naval Installations Command, but they owe the VCNO an apology.

Concerning what was an overtly political, and obviously uncomfortable invite that you really can't refuse, details here, this is what was exuded from CNIC's twitter account yesterday.

Everyone has done Vice Admiral Howard a disservice here. FLOTUS by giving her an offer she couldn't refuse and then CNIC. Due to her rather unusual path to the VCNO's chair and the fact that everyone who has worn the Navy uniform for the last few decades has attended "the brief" received "the phone call" and understands how it works - it all just feeds in to her critics points.

As a result, anything that even gives a hint of "that" in the decision matrix undermines her and more importantly, her position as VCNO. It doesn't really matter at this point how she got there - the position is of critical importance to our Navy and she has the chair. The focus on the wrong things by CNIC and others is an unforced error that shows no signs of stopping, and it needs to have stopped a few years ago. It is feeding a cancer growing at the heart of our Navy and the confidence in the chain of command.

The worst thing that her fans can do - including VCNO Howard herself - it to talk about her gender, her DNA, or how she may or may not have anything to do with Big Navy's socio-political Cultural Marxist pet projects. Too much of that has been done already.

Performance; nothing else matters and no one should really care about anything else. The more Big Navy focus on DNA - the smaller she becomes. If one side brings it up - over and over and over - then they should not be shocked when it is brought up in another context as well. It becomes a ligit topic of discussion. Do we really want to go there? Just no good can come from it, so just stop CNIC and the rest; just stop. Either that, or pull on your big unisex panties and take the 2nd and 3rd order effect of the conversation of your own creation. Well, usually that conversation is stifled in public, but it happens anyway.

#Diversity. Hash? No; pound. Pound it, indeed.

Oh and yes - someone owes Chuck an apology.
UPDATE: I am aware of the problem with comments and are working with the provider to get it fixed. Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Israel vs. Kerry: Point Israel

SECSTATE Kerry has given up looking for the US military medals he threw hither and yon decades ago, and is looking to replace them with a Norwegian one.

In case you have missed this fevered idea, via DefenseNews;
After months of shuttle diplomacy by Kerry and thousands of hours of strategic dialogue led by retired US Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, Israeli leaders are as resistant as ever to trading this more than 80 kilometer-long, up to 7 kilometer-deep stretch of territory for technology, US security assurances and joint force patrols.

Experts here insist Kerry and Allen have not yet submitted a final version of the US security plan, but that earlier proposals prescribing a long-term, technology-enabled, joint force presence fall short of Israel’s fundamental right to defensible borders.
Kerry said the eventual US security plan would be “state of the art” and would ensure “that the border on the Jordan River will be as strong as any in the world, so that there will be no question about the security of the citizens — Israelis and Palestinians — living to the west.”
Ah yes; once again someone asking Israel to do something that other nations would never do.

An Israeli with a near perfect first name and others have a rather air-tight response;
“There’s no way to provide security by way of foreign forces or any combination of advanced technology. If there is a crisis, history has shown us that foreign forces are the first to vanish. ... Satellites, drones and all the other goodies cannot compensate for IDF [Israel Defence Forces] control of the ground and airspace of this vital sector,” said retired Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan, a former national security adviser who commanded the theater that includes the Jordan Valley.
“Sensors and drones are no substitute for the physical presence of Israel Defense Forces soldiers. The Jordan Valley is vital to the security of Israel, and we cannot assent to third parties being there in our stead,” the former IDF chief of staff said Jan. 16 in Jerusalem.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Watch the money .... and your back

It is funny how clear a person's priorities can be seen - or what is or is not important displayed - by what they decide to spend their political or monetary capital on.

Under budgetary stress and need to save some money? Well, of course; we need to cut back on retirement pay of the military. That way, the government can help control per-employee costs. The Commander in Chief is willing to call on his military to lead in that sacrifice as an example to help lead other government employees to make sacrifices too. Right?

Errr ...
President Obama will announce in the State of the Union address Tuesday that he will use his executive power to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for workers on new government contracts, fulfilling a top demand by liberal lawmakers and groups, according to a White House document.
“Hardworking Americans — including janitors and construction workers — working on new federal contracts will benefit from the Executive Order (EO),” the White House said in a statement. “Some examples of the hardworking people who would benefit from an EO include military base workers who wash dishes, serve food and do laundry.”
Yes, the sincerity. I can just feel its warm embrace.

Building the balanced brain

For those who have been following the ongoing discussions about the balance - or lack of it - in the undergraduate education of our officers, our friend Jim Holmes over at TheDiplomat has a good summary of the argument with lots of links to get you up to speed.
To produce a well-rounded officer corps, why not let students pick whatever majors they want while expanding the list of core courses to fill the needs of the navy? If the fleet needs more nuclear-trained officers to steam its plants, then figure out the basic coursework a Nuclear Power School entrant needs and demand it of all officer candidates. If studying classical Greece or Rome, or Shakespeare, is useful for junior officers — and it is — then let’s require that as well.

And so forth. That would make for an intellectually, ahem, diverse education for all. And should the core curriculum consume most of students’ college years, well, my eyes will remain dry of crocodile tears.
Verily. When you look at the number of non-STEM graduates that finish at or near the top of their class in nuclear power school, and the number of engineers that write some solid opinion work - I think the push back against the Navy's STEM fetish is well grounded.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hide your women and free-range chickens!

Ahhh .... from the mouths of babes ...
... there is an enormous hulking beast of a warship docked in Eureka right now.
Our breathless 99%'rs head on out to get a breathless photograph of the Imperial Racist Heteronormative Eurocentric Battlecruiser of Income Inequality;
Ryan Burns swung by the Schneider Dock on his way down to Cream City and acquired the photos above and below. I say “acquired,” because the entire zone is security’d up to the max and Burns was not allowed to get close enough to snap. Says Burns:
Those were taken by as security dude in a golf cart. He wouldn’t let me get that close, but he drove off with my phone and brought these back.
The proletariat sticks together!

What, pray tell, was this tool of capitalist usurpers?

Yes ... it is LCS-2. If Hank only knew ....

As a side-note, you need to follow the link and read it all, including the comments - they are a hilarious gumbo of cluelessness and paranoia - and they vote. My favorite;
Assuming there are no nukes on it, correct?
Hat tip Damon.

The Power of Small Nations

One of the worst parts about trying to have a logical discourse with people on how our government can and should do things is when the other side says, "But in Denmark they do ...." (NB: the following applies to any small European country, I will just use Denmark as an example as it is often the one used.)

I usually take a deep breath and ask them at this point, "Have you ever been to Denmark? Do you know who big it is in size and population?"

At that point, I usually just get hubidahubiduh and a few blinks. No, most of the time they haven't, and if they have, they still have no idea how small it is or that fact it has a population of only 5.5 million. I don't think you have to actually been to a nation to discuss what goes on there, but you at least have to know the basic demographic, historical, and geographical fundamentals.

The think is, not everything a nation does is scalable. You can do things in a small country that simply cannot be replicated in a nation as large as ours at ~315 million.

As a matter of fact, more and more evidence piles up that if you discount the military advantages of being large, that their are huge advantages to being a citizen of a smaller nation (as long as it is "free") that you simply cannot gain in a larger one. There is greater accountability up, and better service going now.

A case in point, an absolutely outstanding boutique people and nation - Estonia (population 1.3 million).

You need to read the whole thing - but if we would move away from the huge central government toward more power to the States (as a Federal Republic we were designed) we could take advantage of some of the plusses of being part of a smaller nation. More Estonia, less Russia - so to speak.
The first building block of e-government is telling citizens apart. This sounds blatantly obvious, but alternating between referring to a person by his social security number, taxpayer number, and other identifiers doesn’t cut it. Estonia uses a simple, unique ID methodology across all systems, from paper passports to bank records to government offices and hospitals. A citizen with the personal ID code 37501011234 is a male born in the 20th century (3) in year ’75 on January 1 as the 123rd baby of that day. The number ends with a computational checksum to easily detect typos.

For these identified citizens to transact with each other, Estonia passed the Digital Signatures Act in 2000. The state standardized a national Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), which binds citizen identities to their cryptographic keys, and now doesn’t care if any Tiit and Toivo (to use common Estonian names) sign a contract in electronic form with certificates or plain ink on paper. A signature is a signature in the eyes of the law.
A prime example is the income-tax declarations Estonians “fill” out. Quote marks are appropriate here, because when an average Estonian opens the submission form once a year, it usually looks more like a review wizard: “next -> next -> next -> submit.” This is because data has been moving throughout the year. When employers report employment taxes every month, their data entries are linked to people’s tax records too. Charitable donations reported by non-profits are recorded as deductions for the giver in the same fashion. Tax deductions on mortgages are registered from data interchange with commercial banks. And so forth. Not only is the income-tax rate in the country a flat 21 percent, but Estonians get tax overpayments put back on their bank accounts (digitally transferred, of course) within two days of submitting their forms.

This liquid movement of data between systems relies on a fundamental principle to protect people’s privacy: Without question, it is always the citizen who owns his or her data and retains the right to control access to that data. For example, in the case of fully digital health records and prescriptions, people can granularly assign access rights to the general practitioners and specialized doctors of their choosing. And in scenarios where they can’t legally block the state from seeing their information, as with Estonian e-policemen using real-time terminals, they at least get a record of who accessed their data and when. If an honest citizen learns that an official has been snooping on them without a valid reason, the person can file an inquiry and get the official fired.
That is what you can do in a small nation that simply is not executable in a larger one ... at least that efficiently. 

A final note - can DOD get rid of the SSN and use the Estonian number process? Just an idea. All the problems using the SSN when a "service number" would be better for everyone ... but a different topic for another day, perhaps.

If you ever get a chance to go to Estonia ... go. If noting else, just to marvel at their exceptionally cool burial habits, well - cool if you like woods and a lingering pagan ethos. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

NATO in Afghanistan, on Midrats

Lost to many whose news sources in the USA consists of the major newspapers and the standard networks, for most of the last dozen+ years, the conflict in Afghanistan has not been a USA-Centric battle; it has been a NATO run operation.

When the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force has been an American 4-star, the visuals can be misleading.

For most of the last decade, American forces were dominate in only one region of Afghanistan, the east. Other NATO nations from Italy/Spain in the west, Germany in the North, and Commonwealth nations and the Dutch in the south.

More important than the actual numbers involved, it was the Rules of Engagement, caveats, and the fickle nature of national politics that drove what effects those forces had on the ground.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of modern coalition warfare was all in view for all in Afghanistan, but outside small circles, has yet to be fully discussed.

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Stephen Saideman author of NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone.

Stephen holds the Paterson Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. He has written The Ties That Divide: Ethnic Politics, Foreign Policy and International Conflict and For Kin or Country: Xenophobia, Nationalism and War (with R. William Ayres) and NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone (with David Auerswald), and other work on nationalism, ethnic conflict, civil war, and civil-military relations. Prof. Saideman spent 2001-02 on the U.S. Joint Staff working in the Strategic Planning and Policy Directorate as part of a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship. He writes online at, Political Violence at a Glance, Duck of Minerva and his own site ( He also tweets too much at @smsaideman.

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.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fullbore Friday

Paul Vitello has a nicely done obit in NYT of a quiet hero from the Vietnam War.
Mr. McGinty, who joined the service in 1958 directly after high school, was a drill instructor at the Marine boot camp in Parris Island, S.C., and a brig officer at the Norfolk, Va., naval base before volunteering for duty in Vietnam in 1966.

“I didn’t want to be earning my pay guarding a bunch of AWOL sailors,” he told Edwin F. Murphy, author of the 1987 book “Vietnam Medal of Honor Heroes.”

Mr. McGinty led one of four platoons in Company K of the Third Battalion, Third Marine Division, during a major sortie in July 1966 known as Operation Hastings. The mission was to block North Vietnamese troops from infiltrating the demilitarized zone between the Communist-led North and the American-backed South.

After three days of fighting and severe casualties, American commanders ordered a withdrawal. The four platoons of Company K, led by Capt. Robert J. Modrzejewski, were assigned to provide cover for the pullback.
Attention to Citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 2d Lt. McGinty's platoon, which was providing rear security to protect the withdrawal of the battalion from a position which had been under attack for 3 days, came under heavy small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire from an estimated enemy regiment. With each successive human wave which assaulted his 32-man platoon during the 4-hour battle, 2d Lt. McGinty rallied his men to beat off the enemy. In 1 bitter assault, 2 of the squads became separated from the remainder of the platoon. With complete disregard for his safety, 2d Lt. McGinty charged through intense automatic weapons and mortar fire to their position. Finding 20 men wounded and the medical corpsman killed, he quickly reloaded ammunition magazines and weapons for the wounded men and directed their fire upon the enemy. Although he was painfully wounded as he moved to care for the disabled men, he continued to shout encouragement to his troops and to direct their fire so effectively that the attacking hordes were beaten off. When the enemy tried to out-flank his position, he killed 5 of them at point-blank range with his pistol. When they again seemed on the verge of overrunning the small force, he skillfully adjusted artillery and air strikes within 50 yards of his position. This destructive firepower routed the enemy, who left an estimated 500 bodies on the battlefield. 2d Lt. McGinty's personal heroism, indomitable leadership, selfless devotion to duty, and bold fighting spirit inspired his men to resist the repeated attacks by a fanatical enemy, reflected great credit upon himself, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.
Well done Captain ... well done.

... and yes; any citation that has "attacking hordes" in it is well worthy of FbF.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Admiral Mullen, you need to take a vacation

I am kind of disappointed with myself that I have not beaten up on Admiral Mullen for putting his name to the Benghazi report.

Well, I just did - I'll let you and history sort that out as the record is getting clearer and clearer every day.

Anyway, at a breakfast hosted by Concerned Veterans for America and The Weekly Standard, Admiral Mullen has put a few thing out there that are a strange mix of being off the track and making a good point.
"When you get to these wars, I worry that America has paid us very well, the compensation's good, [so the culture says] 'please go off and fight our dirty little wars and let us get on with our lives,'" he said. "We need to figure a way to get America to buy into those, into them."

The problem is worse in the Northeast than other regions. "The people in the Northeast don't know us anymore, for example," Mullen said, given that the Base Realignment and Closure process has led to the closure of so many military installations in the region.

He proposed some sort of universal national service program (although not a draft), perhaps two years of service for all people between the age of 18 and 24, to bridge the gap between the military and the civilian communities.

"The military becoming more and more isolated from the American people is a disaster for America," Mullen said.
Where was he on these topics when he was CJCS? When he had a chance to make a stand, why didn't he? Sure, he was happy to make a stand on political issues - but he's not supposed to be a politician. 

These issues you bring up are military issues Mike - where were you?

You are supposed to run ... what is that again?

Here is where he is wrong:
1. No one serves their nation so their service can be used as an excuse for force indentured servitude on their fellow citizens.
2. "Dirty Little War?" OK, I'll bite - which of our wars while he served was "dirty?" Wait - wars I served under his orders were considered by him dirty? He thought something was dirty, but he ordered me and others to execute it anyway? Really?
3. Who the frack has he been hanging out with? Wait ... I have my ideas - but; he needs to get away from the DC-to-Boston corridor a bit more. Maybe certain parts of that subculture - along with part of the LA-to-San Fran corridor too - may have that world view, but not the rest of the USA.
4. A nation forcing national service outside existential threat? No - if he wants that, he needs to be in a different nation.

This is what he got right.
1. BRAC? Did he support Admiral Harvey when he stuck his neck out about strategic homeporting of our CVN, or otherwise speak out about the dangers of Fleet concentration?
2. The military has historically been mostly Southern and to certain extent Mid-Western. The Northeast has not relatively put much in the field since the War Between the States. We are a nation of regional sub-cultures. The most martial regional sub-culture is in the South. The fact that BRAC kicked out the military from the Northeast and leftist Bay Area just made the problem worse.

UPDATE: Ungh ... I forgot the most important problem with his speech. Look who he is speaking to. By the tone and choice words and topics, he is encouraging a feeling of entitlement from veterans, and even worse - is encouraging a feeling by those who wore the uniform of superiority to and contempt of the civilians they serve. That is not an attitude of the military of a republic - but that of a mercenary army. He has things all cattywompus.

As the heir to General Washington - that underlying attitude is way off centerline.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part XLX

Elbridge Colby & Ely Ratner over at ForeignPolicy is doing some smart thinking on China. This may not make him happy in TheChinaShop - but they are doing better thinking than a lot of the stuff coming out of there;
History has demonstrated the perils of focusing too much on stability at the expense of deterrence. The Cuban missile crisis, the modern world's closest brush with the apocalypse, was precipitated by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's perception that the United States, especially President John F. Kennedy, was overly concerned about stability and cooling tensions between the superpowers. Khrushchev's sense that America could be pushed was formed by Kennedy's cautious reactions to assertive Soviet moves toward Berlin, as well as Khrushchev's measure of Kennedy at the 1961 Vienna superpower summit as "weak" and accommodating.
Taking a cue from history, the United States needs to inject a healthy degree of risk into Beijing's calculus, even as it searches for ways to cooperate with China. This does not mean abandoning engagement or trying to contain China, let alone fomenting conflict. But it does mean communicating that Beijing has less ability to control escalation than it seems to think. China must understand that attempts to roil the waters could result in precisely the kinds of costs and conflicts it seeks to avoid.
To make this work, the United States should pursue policies that actually elevate the risks -- political, economic, or otherwise -- to Beijing of acting assertively. On the high seas, the focal point for the region's territorial disputes, China has bullied its neighbors by relying on non-military vessels. China is using its rapidly expanding coast guard to assert its expansive sovereignty claims by harassing non-Chinese fishermen, oil companies, and military vessels that pass through contested waters in the East and South China seas. This has the benefit of exploiting China's dominant numerical advantage while keeping the U.S. Navy on the sidelines. 
Washington should blur the false distinction between non-military and military ships by stating that it will respond to physical coercion and the use of force as deemed appropriate -- regardless of whether the perpetrator is a white- or gray-hulled ship. Exercises that practice U.S. naval operations against aggressive non-military vessels would be a good place to start.

Max, you're a bit early

I usually agree with Max Boot, but I think he missed the boat with his recent bit at the WeeklyStandard on War Weariness.

The experience since 911 has just reinforced what we learned in Somalia back in the early '90s - you can occupy and offer a path to the Western concept of freedom all you want - but if the local culture does not want it - then it isn't worth the effort.

Sometimes you have to make the effort - but the tipping point for that requirement has changed significantly and is going to be stubborn to move for quite a long time. An external event may change it ... but everyone needs to be conscience that the American people just will not support us getting involved at significant levels in other people's conflicts. In majority Muslim nations? Double no.

The American people are going to be in this phase for awhile, I think Max's timeline needs to shift more to the right;
... the noninterventionist cycle is far advanced. And, like the interventionist phase that preceded, it has gone too far, setting the stage for a backlash that could augur a new era of more activist foreign policy. This is not a prediction that U.S. foreign policy will change overnight (it will probably take another presidential election to effect major change), but it is increasingly obvious to observers of all political hues that the costs of American nonintervention have been high.

Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt—indeed the entire Middle East—are in a worse state than ever. Al Qaeda fighters are parading through Fallujah, car bombs are going off in Beirut, barrel bombs are being dropped on Aleppo.

Iran and its proxies in Hezbollah are stronger than ever, having gone all-in to preserve Assad in power while the United States has dithered on the sidelines. Iran has 19,000 centrifuges spinning and is closer than ever to acquiring nuclear weapons, free of any effective threat of American military action. Tehran’s nuclear ambitions may be slowed but are unlikely to be abandoned by a deal with the United States, which ratifies its supposed “right” to enrich. Even while negotiating with Washington, Iran is supplying Hezbollah with long-range rockets and the Bahraini opposition with arms.
You need to read the whole thing, but here is the ground truth. As I am want to repeat; the USA is a nation with a military - not a military with a nation.

We are not built and designed to be a global military empire. A merchantile republic? Yes, going about the globe searching for dragons to slay? No; not our job.

I think we could have done IRQ a bit different - but the zero-option may have been the best one once we achieved something we could call a victory, which we did. 

Syria, Lebanon and Egypt ... really? Even if the American people would have supported the hundred of thousands of American forces and thousands of lives to try to shape events via the miltary - it would all be vanity; a short vapor to fade once we left - and for what? As long as the people in those nations are fine with oppression and squalor - there isn't much we can do inside our means.

What are we going to do - send the USMC in to Falluhah ... again? Rinse then repeat?

Iran? That is a huge nation with much of its nuclear capability difficult to remove unless you physically occupy the nation. We are years past the easy fix - if there ever were one. Our best bet was to support the "Green Revolution" but the Obama Administration blew that chance.

On top of it all - in none of those places will we get any help of significance from any nation - but will be blamed for the expected byproduct of intervention. Again, even if the American people supported it - that doesn't mean we should do more than we already have.

We need to put the military back a bit and work what we can in the diplomatic, informational, and economic levers of national power.

This is the key - the American people do not support low-threshold/high-risk military action. They don't want any boots on the ground in any of those nations. There are some things they will support, things we need to train, man, and equip our forces to do.

We should - in the absence of direct attack or existential threat - leave the world alone. If our friends need our help, then we should help them do what they need to do - not do it for them.

If a threat comes up, then we can kill their people and break their stuff retail. No reason to do wholesale effort when the locals won't even do it.

As Max brings it up - Syria is a perfect example. If it isn't so bad that the Turks won't put boots on the ground, then when did it become our job to clean up their back yard?

USA political advice?
It is time for the cycle to swing back to a more interventionist phase. There is an opening here for a presidential contender smart enough to grasp it. If history is any judge, the swing back to interventionism is coming, and soon. A smart contender would get out ahead of the cycle now by outlining how the United States can pursue a policy of strategically grounded, tactically adept international leadership.
No. Any candidate that comes forward with a pro-interventionist platform will be lucky to get 35% of the national vote.

Punitive expeditions? Yes. Presence ops? Yes. Enabling allies? Yes. Global engagement? Yes.
Take up the White Man's burden, Ye dare not stoop to less--
Nor call too loud on Freedom To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper, By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples Shall weigh your gods and you.
Naw ... that's ok. I think we'll shrug.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

OK fine; just call Hull-1 USS Salamander (FFG-62) and I won't beat you with an iron rod

I'm sorry - I'm laughing my head off.

Byron has some nice shipfitter words to yell, and Sid will just wave his hand and order another round - but really guys - this is just off the hook funny. Think about all the time we have spend over the last - dare I say - almost decade about LCS. About the real need for a solid patrol frigate. How we were told what "old thinking" ignoramuses we were. About what bad players we were not fully supporting the bright and shiny LCS of Tomorrowland.

Well ... great. A decade later and a few billion down the scupper; via Chris Cavas, you're welcome.
Christine Fox, acting deputy defense secretary ... in a classified memo ... directed the Navy to halt LCS production after 32 ships and begin development of a “more capable surface combatant.”
A capability gap already has been identified for an escort ship, said Bryan Clark, a naval analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. Until last year, Clark also was a special assistant to Greenert, where he led the development of Navy strategy.

“The real need is for an escort to accompany convoys, logistic ships, even parts of the battle fleet. Analysis shows that as a gap. But LCS cannot provide air defense to ships it’s escorting — it only has self-defense,” Clark said.
Yea - read that again. You're frack'n welcome.
A frigate of about 4,100 tons, he said, would be a ship less capable than a 9,200-ton Aegis destroyer, but larger than the LCS.

“A frigate study would need to focus on designs that currently exist, that could be rapidly implemented at a US yard. And they’d probably include designs based on the LCS as well,” he said. “The study could include existing designs as well as starting from scratch. Foreign designs would be part of the mix — just as LCS is a derivative of foreign designs.”
“The Navy doesn’t really have an escort vessel that can do this mission. If you get into a large conflict you need to protect ships,” Clark said.
Work on future surface combat ships already is underway at the Pentagon by the director of surface warfare, and under the direction of the surface warfare commander in San Diego, but neither of those efforts is focused on a frigate. A new study, Clark said, would be aimed at a ship that could be developed within only a few years.

Regardless of the LCS debate, “this need was starting to emerge anyway,” he said.
Starting to emerge? Shipmate - it emerged a decade ago when any clear-headed analysis showed that LCS was not what a global, power-projection Fleet needed. Sure, I can and had defended the niche for a corvette size ship - but the whole "we don't need frigates, but this will replace frigates and do their job" line was wrong from step one.

The LCS über alles mafia was sailing in the face of history, physics, technology risk studies, and just plain best practices - and destroyed careers, reputations and inpuned the motives of anyone who tried to warn them of the wrongheadedness of this reckless act.

Yes, we are now slowly backing away - but the deathbed conversions just rub me wrong a bit. Yes, I am being petty - but come on.

Let me grab a pull quote again,
...neither of those efforts is focused on a frigate. ...
Then what, pray tell, are they focused on? We have two groups studying DDG-X? No, time for a FFG-X team.

Clark is on to something too;
...could be developed within only a few years.
Yep'r. We've wasted enough time. We got the OHP's that way, and they seemed to do a fine job. Benchmarking a lot of the good Eurofrigate designs - we can do it.

All it needs is that one little word everyone is hungry for; leadership.

Chop, chop!

As we move forward - let's drop the never-may-be FFG-(X) and put a little cautionary note out there.  

So many of the problems we have with LCS had to do with falling in love with your own PPT and not thinking critically about what we were putting to luck and best case scenarios. As was warned last decade, once LCS hulls were displacing water, the issues PPT'd over could no longer be avoided. That is what we are seeing now.

One more quote;
Key to that is effective anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-air combat systems. The ASW mission package under development for LCS is getting early rave reviews from surface warfare officers,
No. You cannot give rave reviews to a system that has not been underway and operated by Sailors - much less worked with during a deployment under various conditions or even a real ASW exercise.

Remember that ASW is not some quick "bolt out of the blue" tactical action. ASW "Awfully Slow Warfare" is more of a campaign. It is days, to weeks to months of regular, steady work. There has never been a "war winning" technology that you can pull out of your hat at war and like magic sweep the seas of submarines. Though stated as such, it didn't work for sonar, depth charges, or the homing torpedo. ASW is hard on people, logistics, and equipment - and when you are actually faced with a hostile submarine - it will quickly drain what few ASW weapons you have.

That leads us to the end of the kill chain - our ASW weapons. No reason to go in to too much detail, but this is clear; we have little diversity in weaponeering options, depth of magazine, and to be frank - history shows that we should be suspect of the quality of the LWT that we have.  LWT is the only tool in our ASW set ... so ....

ASW with LCS is all theory and hope - just like so much of the LCS program. With the decision made that LCS will be such an important part of the Fleet numbers wise, we need to get it right ... but for now, I would recommend that people keep their professional reputation intact by not telling people what "rave reviews" you have of a system that hasn't even been through a COMPTUEX yet.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Navalist's Nightmare

No one has ever accused me of being Miss. Mary Sunshine, especially about the future possibilities of our Fleet.

Half a decade ago we were well in to the warning stages of looking at a Fleet by 2020 of 240. In one very pessimistic moment near the end of the last decade, I think someone on the Front Porch made the serious note of 220 being not outside consideration.

Well, when someone as smart as our friend Seth Cropsey throws down a number, it deserves consideration. Via TheWeeklyStandard;
Added to failed states and terror is the more ominous possibility that “budget realities” will eviscerate American seapower by as much as half of its current strength—285 combatant ships—within the next decade and a half. “Budget realities” is code for both political parties’ unwillingness to maintain American seapower at levels that would guarantee continued U.S. dominance at sea. The Navy has thus been revising CS-21 for over a year and is likely to make public its efforts soon.
But no maritime threat trumps the self-inflicted diminution of U.S. seapower, whose retreating goals are unsupported by the monies to pay for them. Strategy is supposed to make difficult choices among competing needs with limited resources. It is not expected to move mountains with teaspoons. An October 2013 report of the Congressional Budget Office is one of several that foresees continued shrinkage of America’s combat fleet. “The total costs of carrying out the 2014 [shipbuilding] plan,” it says, “—an average of about $21 billion in 2013 dollars per year over the next 30 years—would be one-third higher than the funding amounts that the Navy has received in recent decades” (emphasis added). In other words, the Navy’s goal of reaching the fleet that the 2014 fiscal year plan envisions depends on large, sustained, and historically anomalous increases to its shipbuilding budget. The largest strategic challenge facing the United States is to rebuild the seapower on which our status as a great power rests.
That my friends, is a Fleet of 140 ships.

Such are the wages of the Tiffany Navy, happy talk, and outright programmatic arrogance that this is even a possibility; that and a large helping of spending lunacy during the last gasp of the Western Welfare State.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wish Rusty a Happy 10th

One of the premier blogs in The Long War just marked their 10th anniversary.

TheJawaReport and Rusty are one of the reasons I decided to join the blogosphere - and he and his crew have done some incredibly important work for the West.

If you ever wonder where this blog gets some of its strange wandering from - you can point a finger at Jawa. A little spice to go with the stick-to-your-ribs goodness.

I don't think he has forgiven me for getting banned in Pakistan first - but we're still OK.

Happy blog-birthday to you and your crew Rusty.

4th Anniversary Free For All, on Midrats

That's right ... Midrats has been on the air four years. 

This week we aren't having guests, just the two hosts and any listeners who want to take the opportunity to call in or throw a question or topic to us in the chat room. Breaking news, regular topics, or whatever you pull out of your seabag - we're going to cove it

Green range, as it were - this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern.

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.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fullbore Friday

I'm not going to put much commentary here, but just a note to consider if not the man Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, but his family.

Every time I see someone with a POW/MIA sticker on their car, or the flag flying here or there - I wonder if they think of Bowe and his family.

There is an American Soldier being held by the enemy. What are we doing for him? What are we doing for his family?

To endure that long in captivity, or to wake up every day knowing your son is in such bondage. To ponder, indeed; fullbore.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Perhaps Coins Have Jumped the Shark

Behold the "coin" from DDG-1000's Chiefs Mess. The "coin" is 2.5" by 1.25". You can pick one up for $10.

Nuff said.

How about that "smart power"

Well ... this is blunt;
President Obama has been judged to be 'chronically incapable' of conducting a coherent military strategy and 'has no sense of what he wants to do in the world', according to Oxford University professor, Sir Hew Strachan - one of the UK's most respected and senior military advisers.
Strachan is currently a member of the United Kingdom's Chief of Defence Staff's Strategic Advisory Panel and claims that the 'crazy' mismanagement of the Syrian crisis at the end of the summer was the worst example of the military planning in evidence since 9/11 and that at least President George W. Bush had a plan and stuck to it.

'If anything it’s gone backwards instead of forwards, Obama seems to be almost chronically incapable of doing this,' said Strachan.
'Bush may have had totally fanciful political objectives in terms of trying to fight a global War on Terror, which was inherently astrategic, but at least he had a clear sense of what he wanted to do in the world.
'Obama has no sense of what he wants to do in the world,'
Actually Hew, Obama does. As I mentioned last week, Obama wants to fundamentally transform the USA, and to do that he neither wants nor desires the distraction of foreign entanglement - much less do anything that might support the high standing of the USA military in the eyes of its citizens. No more victories. The US military needs to be humbled and shrunk so that future Presidents cannot use it very easily.

That, BTW, is a legitimate goal. I don't agree with it, but it is within the boundaries of acceptable goals. I just wish the President would be a bit more open about it.

Anyway, he doesn't understand the importance of sound strategic planning because he is not interested in it. It isn't a priority. Results speak for themselves.

I do need to point out one thing, Hew is pimp'n a book - not that there is anything wrong with that.
The verdicts reached by Strachan are published in his new book, The Direction of War: Contemporary Strategy in Historical Perspective, which is to be released next month.
Hew ends with a good point to ponder; when does obedience to civilian authority become obsequiousness?
'Soldiers have a duty here as well—if they just say, ‘yes Mr. Prime Minister or Mr. President, we can give you exactly what you want,’ then they’re probably not being very honest.'
A point we've been making here for awhile.

Diversity Thursday

Over in the latest issue of Proceedings, Senior Chief Murphy writes DivThu so I don't have to.
Criticism of DEOMI last October involved a lesson on Power and Privilege, chapter EOAC-3000 of the Equal Opportunity Advisor Course student guide. The chapter emphasizes how “power and privilege can sometimes create exclusive work environments at the expense of others” and introduces students to the concept of white privilege. Two themes of that chapter deserve scrutiny. The first is that white males gain privileges and success through “unearned advantage.” The second is the assumption that “racism is everywhere.”

DEOMI defines white privilege as “the package of unearned advantages granted to those members of a diverse society with white skin.” Discussion of the concept explains that whites today benefit unfairly from historical institutional racism. By logical extension, that argument means whites—the text emphasizes white men—who achieve some level of status do so unfairly, suggesting their accomplishments are undeserved.

According to DEOMI, regardless of their socioeconomic starting point, intellectual capacity, or other factors affecting professional success, individual members of this group did not earn anything because they were unfairly advantaged by factors outside their control.
Likely anticipating controversy, DEOMI labeled the chapter on Power and Privilege with the phrases “FOR TRAINING PURPOSES ONLY” and “DO NOT USE ON THE JOB” [emphasis not added]. These phrases, which appear only once, will not prevent the concepts and conclusions from influencing equal opportunity advisers in the force. In fact, parts of the chapter are quite directive. One such area is a section detailing how advisers should seek to become a “strong white ally” so they can “increase their social, political, and economic power” as means for overcoming racism and discrimination. This is also where students are instructed to “assume racism is everywhere” while also being told to “attack the source of power” as a strategy for combating racism. These are not lessons intended for training purposes only; they are meant to shape adviser behaviors.

Instead of denigrating an entire population and teaching future equal-opportunity officers to assume the worst, we should honestly fulfill the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Military professionals should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

... We must not judge anyone by the real and perceived wrongdoing of previous generations simply because of shared traits. To do so is to say huge numbers of today’s leaders are illegitimate and our programs are undeniably biased. That borders on sedition. No wonder DEOMI caveated the chapter with such notices.
Read the whole thing.

Bigots do walk among us, but more often than not they attend DEOMI classes, workshops, and are probably working in your EEO shop.

They are the only one we run in to that openly advocate for discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin. Sad thing is, they get rewarded for it too.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

LCS: the OJ Simpson of Warships

Front porch .... more people owe us beer; Byron, MTH, & Sid, start up the BBQ.

Via Chris Cavas, the what;
The office of the secretary of defense (OSD) has directed the Navy to limit its overall buy of littoral combat ships to a total of 32 ships, foregoing 20 more of the small, fast and controversial warships, Pentagon sources have confirmed.

The decision, in a Jan. 6 memo from acting deputy secretary of defense Christine Fox, came after the Pentagon received its final 2015 budget guidance from the White House.
So what?

Well - our expected Fleet numbers moves south - the needed service life requirement for existing ships shift to the right.

The what next? We need to look at what will replace it, and what we need to do in order to get what we can our of the 32 we'll have in the Fleet.

I would also offer that we need to look very hard at what when wrong with this program ... and not do that again.

Executive Summary: right call; feel free to drift closer to 24 if needed.

A Dead Communist? Good.

The only thing better than an unrepentant National Socialist assuming room temperature is an unapologetic Communist doing same.

Eric Hobsbawm gone? About time. It is guys like this that drove me from left to right in the 80s anyway.

What a blood-soaked hypocrite.
Leading Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm left more than £1.8million in his will, it has been revealed.

Hobsbawm, who died aged 95 in October 2012, was one of Britain’s most eminent historians, but he was widely criticised for his defence of communist regimes.
According to records held at the Brighton probate office, Hobsbawm – who joined the Communist Party at 14 and once described himself as an ‘unrepentant communist’ – left an estate with assets totalling £1,835,341.
Am I a little harsh? No. In this century, a person who calls himself a Marxist is simply someone who is sad that Communist has lost all its cool vibe.

The last 100 years has been soaked by those who followed the spawn of Marx. Behold the piles of bodies.

Look at the damage to the ecology.

Look at all the toxic thought they have injected in to politics, dividing and placing one part of society against the other using the brutality of the mob or the police power of the state.

Amazing how he would prattle on like this sitting on all this wealth for his own comfort and status. Heck, in an oblique way, one can respect a radical who lives what he preached - but this guy?

In his dotage in 1994 a respected academic historian, author of bestselling books, and lifelong Marxist was interviewed for the Times Literary Supplement about his youthful commitment to Stalin. The interviewer asked “What that comes down to is saying that had the radiant tomorrow actually been created, the loss of fifteen, twenty million people might have been justified?”

Eric Hobsbawm, who died yesterday aged 95, replied instantly; “Yes”
Hey Pawel;
In his book The Age Of Extreme, published in 1994, he quite deliberately underplayed the Soviet Union’s attack on Finland in 1939-40, saying it was merely an attempt to push the Russian border a little further away from Leningrad. He also omits any mention of the massacre of 20,000 Polish soldiers by Russian Secret Police at Katyn.

In the same book, he dismisses the appallingly violent suppression by the Nazis of the Polish resistance in the 1944 Warsaw uprising - when a complacent Soviet army ignored desperate pleas to come to the Poles’ aid - as 'the penalty of a premature uprising'.
These are not mistakes - they are wicked lies.

In his 1997 book On History, he wrote the following: ‘Fragile as the communist systems turned out to be, only a limited, even minimal, use of force was necessary to maintain them from 1957 until 1989.’
When the horrors of Communism could no longer be denied and the former nations in bondage rejoined the free world - this guy still stuck by his intellectual poison - and yet he still was praised and rewarded.

There should be no nice words for the dead such as his. In a just world, he would get the Cromwell treatment.

Oh well, OK. I went a little overboard; sorry. I simply cannot abide tyrants or their apologists. They are evil.

Here he is from 2011. Watch the unashamed.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Burkes, what works, and planning for the future imperfect

There is a line in this article on the updates to the DDG-51 Class that is sublime in its importance and the story it tells.

I'm serious;
"If you look at one of the ships that have been through the HME modernization and look at one of its tanks and its bilges -- it looks like a ship that could last another 15 years."
Remember the movement to extend the service life well beyond 30 years? Well it won't happen by PPT alone. Hard, smart work needs to be done for decades.

This is a good quote too;
"A DDG 51 has got to be able to fight and withstand a reasonable amount of battle damage, so you need to keep up with things like corrosion, hull strength and paint,"
"Every year you have a ship out there is a significant investment in fuel, people and spare parts. What you want is to keep the ship combat relevant so it continues to be able to perform the full range of missions against all the modern threats throughout its life," Capt. Mark Vandroff, program manager for DDG 51 acquisition,
We can chat all we want about the hope of LCS one day finding something satisfactory for the Fleet. We can let some have fevered dreams of DDG-1000 doing ... whatever that rump of a program will be able to do. You can ignore economics, physics and politics and dream of platforms yet funded, much less at IOC ... all the while pretending we can conduct a 21st Century war at sea with late-20th Century 2nd class ASCM and a LWT magazine that .... well, you know.

The fact is that in the near to medium term - at least through the end of the 2020s, the backbone of the Fleet and the primary surface combatant giving Combatant Commanders' maritime component Commanders the ability will be the Burke Class.

Until then, as our defense budgets strain and non-warfighting needs still bloat ... we should all baby our Burkes - they are even more important to the future than they are now.

I sure hope we have taken better care of them than we did the SPRUCANS. We'll need every one.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Hardest Question Yet

EagleOne points the way to something that should give everyone pause.

From Powerline, quoting Gates from this book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War
Obama ordered an intensification of our effort in Afghanistan, while admitting privately that he expected it to fail. Approximately 80% of the fatalities our military has suffered in Afghanistan have taken place on Obama’s watch, not because he was pursuing a strategy that he sincerely believed to be in America’s interest, but because he cynically calculated that sending Americans to die in a useless campaign (as he assessed it) would benefit him politically.
This is what has set me back. EagleOne brings in one of Napoleon's Maxims.
Maxim LXXII. A general-in-chief has no right to shelter his mistakes in war under cover of his sovereign, or of a minister, when these are both distant from the scene of operation, and must consequently be either ill informed or wholly ignorant of the actual state of things.

Hence it follows, that every general is culpable who undertakes the execution of a plan which he considers faulty. It is his duty to represent his reasons, to insist upon a change of plan--in short, to give in his resignation rather than allow himself to be made the instrument of his army's ruin. Every general-in-chief who fights a battle in consequence of superior orders, with the certainty of losing it, is equally blamable.

In this last-mentioned case, the general ought to refuse obedience; because a blind obedience is due only to a military command given by a superior present on the spot at the moment of action. Being in possession of the real state of things, the superior has it then in his power to afford the necessary explainations to the person who executes his orders.

But supposing a general-in-chief to receive a positive order from his sovereign, directing him to fight a battle, with the further injunction, to yield to his adversary, and allow himself to be defeated -- ought he to obey it? No. If the general should be able to comprehend the meaning or utility of such an order, he should execute it; otherwise, he should refuse to obey it.
I need to ponder this some more, but here is a central point; who knew what when - and what did they do? Those in uniform who violated Napoleons Maxim do realize that, by knowingly going along with a political decision with no military end - they have become political themselves. 

Either they led people to their death for political convenience of others - or if they did not know, were ordered to by other up the chain of command.

So. Where does that buck stop ... or in the words of that great American Stateswhatever;