Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday Music Stop

It's been a long time since I've done a "Saturday Music Stop." Part of it is that I think twitter is making me lazy and not doing what I prefer to do here at the homeblog where I have more than 140 characters. I should do better. I'll try.

I woke this AM under a dark cloud, the kind of dark you can only find in an empty, quite house the morning after a restive sleep. A mood made darker by working on an outline of a post I'm thinking of doing on Monday that goes back to 1177 BC. It is one of those dark moments where I found myself wandering over to YouTube because I wanted to hear Peter Gabriel's version of Bowie's "Heroes."



That led to Velvet Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes."



That seemed to feed the beast I love to loath, and then in the corner of the YouTube page I saw a familiar bearded man.

"Hey, it's Michael. What's he up to?"

Six months ago they did the below interview in conjunction with the release on the 25th anniversary of its original release, a remastered "Out of Time."

REM had already "turned the corner" for me at least when that alblum came out, and that work is mostly of little interest to me.

What is of interest is how Mike Mills and Michael Stipe have embraced the march of time. Representing the early cohort of Gen-X , like many of us in comparison to men of previous generations they have avoided the excessive male vanity of the combover, the razor, knife, and chemical.

It is fun to go, "Dude ... what happened." But all that does is to point out a denial on the speakers part of their own mortality. Time waits for no one. She has her plan. We can accept her plan with dignity, or we can fight her retreating tide until we become a stretched, filled, and plasticine-smooth parody of what we are not.

Mike and Micheal - especially my favorite member of the band Mike - have got it right I think. Mike perhaps a bit more grounded than Michael - but that is normal.

The only really frustrating thing about this interview is when Michael identifies himself as a "New Yorker." He's lost a lot in the last 25-yrs, most of his Southern accent, and now it seems even his roots.

Come back to Athens Michael - we like our quirky types. I believe Mike still live there. He seems a bit happier.

Anyway, enjoy the interview.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fullbore Friday


About half of this is from an email Sid sent me in 2009. I added a little bit - but what a catch.

An elderly leader with decades of experience at sea. Merchants without enough military ships to make the passage. Hostile waters. A mission.

What do you do against a superior military force, when you basically have next to nothin'..?


You have been put in command of really nothing of a military ability - but everything of an economic necessity. Your nation is one that is at war, and relies on sea born commerce to survive and prosper. Between you and your nation are thousands of miles of open ocean, and an enemy that wants to destroy you.

You know you do not have what you need to fight and win ... at least on paper.

So, what do you do? Well - if you are Commodore Sir Nathaniel Dance, you get to work. You go to war with the Fleet you have - not the Fleet you wish you had.

Let's set the stage.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the British economy depended on its ability to trade with the British Empire, particularly the valuable colonies in British India. The intercontinental trade was conducted by the governors of India, the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), using their fleet of large, well armed merchant vessels known as East Indiamen. These ships weighed between 500 long tons (508 t) and 1,200 long tons (1,219 t) and could carry up to 36 guns for defence against pirates, privateers and small warships. They were not, however, capable under normal circumstances of fighting off an enemy frigate or ship of the line. Their guns were usually of inferior design, and their crew smaller and less well trained than those on a naval ship.
The East Indiamen sought to ensure the safety of their cargo and passengers, not defeat enemy warships in battle. Despite these disadvantages, the size of East Indiamen meant that from a distance they appeared quite similar to a small ship of the line, a deception usually augmented by paintwork and dummy cannon. The East Indiamen would gather at ports in India and the Far East and from there set out for Britain in large convoys, often carrying millions of pounds worth of trade goods.
The journey would usually take six months and the ships would subsequently return carrying troops and passengers to augment the British forces stationed in India. "Country ships", smaller merchant vessels chartered for local trade, sometimes independently from the HEIC, would often join the convoys. To protect their ships from the depredations of pirates, the HEIC also operated its own private navy of small armed vessels. In combination, these ships were an effective deterrent against smaller raiders, but were no match for a professional warship.

Understanding the importance of the Indian Ocean trade and seeking to threaten it from the start of the inevitable war, First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte ordered a squadron to sail for India in March 1803. This force was under the command of Contre-Admiral Charles-Alexandre Durand Linois and consisted of the ship of the line Marengo and three frigates.
What was Commodore Dance working with?
The China Fleet was a large annual British merchant convoy that gathered at Canton in the Pearl River during the winter before sailing for Britain, via India. As the convoy passed through the East Indies, it was joined by vessels sailing from other European ports in the region on the route to India, until it often numbered dozens of ships. The 1804 fleet departed in late January, and by the time it reached the approaches to the Strait of Malacca it had swelled to include 16 East Indiamen, 11 country ships, a Portuguese merchant ship from Macau and a vessel from Botany Bay in Australia.
Although the HEIC had provided the small, armed brig Ganges as an escort, this vessel could only dissuade pirates; it could not hope to compete with a French warship. There was no military escort: news of the outbreak of war had reached Canton before reinforcements had arrived from the squadron in India. Spies based in Canton had passed the composition and date of departure of the China Fleet to Linois in Batavia, and he set out to intercept it. However, Dutch informants at Canton had also passed on false reports that Royal Navy warships were accompanying the convoy, reports that may have been deliberately placed by British authorities.
The convoy was an immensely valuable prize, its cargo of tea, silk and porcelain valued at over £8 million in contemporary values (the equivalent of £541,000,000 as of 2009). Also on board were 80 Chinese plants ordered by Sir Joseph Banks for the royal gardens and carried in a specially designed plant room.
The HEIC Select Committee in Canton had been very concerned for the safety of the unescorted convoy, and had debated delaying its departure. The various captains had been consulted, including Henry Meriton, who in his ship Exeter had captured a frigate during the Action of 4 August 1800, a disastrous French attack on a convoy of East Indiamen off Brazil. Meriton advised that the convoy was powerful enough in both appearance and reality to dissuade any attack. He was opposed by John Farquharson of Alfred, who considered that the crews of East Indiamen were so badly trained that they would be unable to mutually defend one another if faced with a determined enemy.
Eventually the Committee decided that it could delay the convoy no longer and awarded command to the most experienced captain, Commodore Nathaniel Dance in the East Indiaman Earl Camden, an officer of over 45 years service at sea.
Not perfect - not even good; but what does a leader do? Improvise, adapt - overcome.
Lead.
Dance had been taken seriously ill at Bombay during the outward voyage, but had recovered in time to sail with the convoy. The fleet did not have any naval escorts, and though the East Indiamen were heavily armed for merchants, carrying nominal batteries of between 30 and 36 guns, they were no match for disciplined and professional naval forces. Not all of their listed armament was always carried, but to give the illusion of greater strength, fake gunports were often painted on the hulls, in the hope of distant observers mistaking them for 64-gun ships of the Royal Navy
...Maneuver and Deceive...
At dawn on 15 February, both the British and French forces raised their colours. Dance hoped to persuade Linois that his ships included some fully armed warships and he therefore ordered the brig Ganges and the four lead ships to hoist blue ensigns, while the rest of the convoy raised red ensigns. By the system of national flags then in use in British ships, this implied that the ships with blue ensigns were warships attached to the squadron of Admiral Rainier, while the others were merchant ships under their protection. Dance was unknowingly assisted by the information that had reached Linois at Batavia, which claimed that there were 23 merchant ships and the brig in the convoy. Dance had collected six additional ships during his journey, and the identity of these were unknown to the French, who assumed that at least some of the unidentified vessels must be warships, particularly as several vessels had been recently painted at Canton to resemble ships of the line.
At 09:00 Linois was still only observing the convoy, reluctant to attack until he could be sure of the nature of his opponents. Dance responded to the reprieve by reforming the line of battle into sailing formation to increase his convoy’s speed with the intention of reaching the Straits ahead of Linois.
With the convoy a less intimidating target, Linois began to slowly approach the British ships. By 13:00 it was clear that Linois's faster ships were in danger of isolating the rear of the convoy, and Dance ordered his lead ships to tack and come about, so that they would cross in front of the French squadron. The British successfully executed the manoeuvre, and at 13:15 Linois opened fire on the lead ship, Royal George, under the command of John Fam Timmins.
The Royal George and the next four ships in line, the Indiaman Ganges, Dance's Earl Camden, the Warley and the Alfred, all returned the fire, Ganges initially attacking the Royal George in error. Captain James Prendergrass in Hope, the next in line, was so eager to join the battle that he misjudged his speed and collided with Warley, the ships falling back as their crews worked to separate their rigging. Shots were then exchanged at long range for 43 minutes, neither side inflicting severe damage.

Royal George had one man killed: a sailor named Hugh Watt, another man wounded, and suffered some damage to her hull. None of the other British ships or any of the French reported anything worse than superficial damage in the engagement.
At 14:00, Linois abandoned the action and ordered his squadron to haul away with the wind and sail eastwards, away from the convoy, under all sail. Determined to maintain the pretence of the presence of warships, Dance ordered the ships flying naval ensigns, including his flagship Earl Camden, to chase the French. None of the merchant ships could match the French speed, but an attempt at a chase would hopefully dissuade the French from returning.
For two hours, Dance's squadron followed Linois, Hope coming close to catching Aventurier but ultimately unable to overtake the brig. At 16:00, Dance decided to gather his scattered ships and return to his former heading rather than risk attack from other raiders or lose sight of his convoy in the darkness. By 20:00, the entire British convoy had anchored at the entrance to the Straits of Malacca. On 28 February the British ships of the line HMS Sceptre and HMS Albion joined them in the Strait and convoyed them safely to Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, from where the convoy returned to Britain without further incident.
The attitude and conduct of the French Admiral is telling as an example of how not to fight war at sea.
The French admiral later attempted to explain his conduct during the engagement:
The ships which had tacked rejoined those which were engaging us, and three of the engaging ships manoeuvred to double our rear, while the remainder of the fleet, crowding sail and bearing up, evinced an intention to surround us. By this manoeuvre the enemy would have rendered my situation very dangerous. The superiority of his force was ascertained, and I had no longer to deliberate on the part I should take to avoid the consequence of an unequal engagement: profiting by the smoke, I hauled up to port, and steering east-north-east, I increased by distance from the enemy, who continued the pursuit of the squadron for three hours, discharging at it several broadsides.
—Linois, quoted in translation in William James' The Naval History of Great Britain during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Volume 3, 1827,
That is pathetic.

To end this FbF on a positive note - let's go back to Commodore Dance. Good leaders always are humble and thankful.

Placed, by the adventitious circumstances of seniority of service and absence of convoy, in the chief command of the fleet intrusted to my care, it has been my good fortune to have been enabled, by the firmness of those by whom I was supported, to perform my trust not only with fidelity, but without loss to my employers. Public opinion and public rewards have already far outrun my deserts; and I cannot but be sensible that the liberal spirit of my generous countrymen has measured what they are pleased to term their grateful sense of my conduct, rather by the particular utility of the exploit, than by any individual merit I can claim.
Class act.

First posted DEC09

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Diversity Thursday

If this weren't such a serious topic, I'd have more fun with it ... but my humor leans dark, so why not?

It is important on some DivThu that we have time to enjoy a good chortle. Of course, being that it is DivThu, there are certain thematic requirements and a need for a leavening agent of schadenfreude.

As we all know, from your command website to the composition of the USNA Color Guard, the Navy's branch of the Diversity Industry is obsessed with optics. They want pictures to be "diverse" even though they may have absolutely zero reflection of the demographics of the topic at hand.

Does not matter ... it is all about the optics and counting each face so that you have the "correct" type of jellybeans in the visual.

As we all know, they can go overboard. The best are when they are at a command that is 75% "white male" and yet, "white males" are only in 20% of the pictures.

Good times ... good times ... but the Commissar is happy.

How does this get to a point of humor besides the usual photo asshattery? Here's an example. 

I think the Diversity Bullies lost the bubble a bit.

As Admiral Mullen and Roughead insisted, and their politics maintain their inertia today, I have to take diversity in to consideration in everything I do. So what does diversity have to tell us about domestic violence? 

Let's see what our GMT is messaging to us.

So, what you're saying here is that domestic violence isn't a problem with European heterosexual couples?

OK. Good to know.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why the Third Offset Should Not be First in Your Hearts

If you've heard it once in the last year, you've heard it a thousand times.

Third Offset.

There is a good argument against it over at USNIBlog.

Stop by and give it a read.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

SM-6 and the Changing Calculus

An ongoing story in the Darwinian nature of war is the contest between the dominance of defense and offense. Especially acute on land - something 100-yrs on from WWI we are still talking about - it also applies at sea.

The last decade, much talk on the surface side of the house has been A2AD, ASBM, and a buzzword I like less every time I use it "distributed lethality," and the need to somehow find a way to get back in the anti-surface warfare fight at range.

Slowly and deliberately making it to the fleet, the SM-6 is showing all the signs of being the weapon we need now, and need in number.

As reported by Kris Osborne at The National Interest;
The Pentagon simultaneously fired two Standard Missile-6 weapons in rapid succession at a single ballistic missile target to asses new seeker technology and solidify the weapon's ability to ensure destruction of approaching enemy targets.

Using an emerging "active seeker" technology, two SM-6 missiles were able to simultaneously track and destroy a single target, greatly improving the probability of a target kill.
...
The SM-6 is unique in several respects; the weapon uses what is called an "active" seeker, meaning it can send a signal or electromagnetic ping forward in addition to receiving them. Electromagnetic signals, which travel at the speed of light, send a signal forward before analyzing the return signal to determine the shape, size, speed or configuration of an approaching threat. Since the speed of light is known, and the time of travel is able to be determined, a computer algorithm is able to calculate the exact distance of an object. Portions of this technology are built into the SM-6, using software upgrades.

An "active seeker" gives the missile to better attack maneuvering or moving targets at sea, because it does not need to rely upon a ship-based illuminator to bounce a signal off a target for a merely "passive" seeker to receive.

This is the technology which allows a ship commander to fire several SM-6 missiles in more rapid succession or closer to one another in the event that a target needs to be attacked with more than one missile.
Yes, in my head I'm counting VLS cells and wanting more, but nothing is perfect;
Compared with the SM-3, the ship-fired SM-6 interceptor is designed to track and destroy closer-in-threats such as a ballistic missile in the "terminal" phase of decent to its target.

The weapon has been established with an ability to knock out ballistic missiles approaching from the sky.
Of course, it is one thing to have mastery of defense and break the confidence your opponent may have in his offensive systems, but what about your offense? Here's the sexy part;
More recently, the weapon has been developed for a number of new "offensive" missions including surface attacks against enemy ships or defensive intercepts against anti-ship missiles closer to the surface.
Back to what we had with SM-1 but lost with SM-2. Good.  We also have the standard AAW ability;
The SM-6 has also been capable of anti-air defense, equipped with an ability to attack or destroy enemy helicopters, drones and other approaching threats. The weapon has now been established as defensive, offensive and capable of three distinct missions; they are surface warfare, anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense.
More testing and then ... get 'ye to the fleet.

One note of caution. We should be a bit more humble. Good-man-Mike had me sucking my teeth a bit;
"You now have absolute assurance of hit no matter what the threat is doing. If the threat takes a turn and does something weird and the first missile is unable to sense it and engage it, the second missile will," Mike Campisi, SM-6 Senior Director, Raytheon, told Scout Warrior in an interview.
Never say you have "absolute assurance" of anything at sea. Mother Ocean and Mars love to make a fool of you from your own over-confidence.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Bigger Navy? What About Our Human Capital?

In our desire to grow to a 350+ ship Navy, rightfully the first place people start to look is the budget. Without the money, all else is simply theories and talk.

Let's make the assumption that the money shows up. So, we just start rolling ships off the assembly line? Well, not so fast.

A partial answer is provided in a nice article from Mike Stone via Reuters
“It has historically taken five years to get someone proficient in shipbuilding," said Maura Dunn, vice president of human resources at Electric Boat.

It can take as many as seven years to train a welder skilled enough to make the most complex type of welds, radiographic structural welds needed on a nuclear-powered submarine, said Will Lennon, vice president of the shipyard's Columbia Class submarine program.

The Navy envisioned by Trump could create more than 50,000 jobs, the Shipbuilders Council of America, a trade group representing U.S. shipbuilders, repairers and suppliers, told Reuters.

The U.S. shipbuilding and repairing industry employed nearly 100,000 in 2016, Labor Department statistics show. The industry had as many as 176,000 workers at the height of the Cold War in the early 1980s as the United States built up a fleet of nearly 600 warships by the end of that decade.
The only way to grow our fleet is to grow our skilled trades, not an unknown challenge. Especially as the last wave of Baby Boomers just get too old for this line of work & we still suffer under an, "everyone must go to college" mindset, the human capital problem will only intensify. This is a good start.
To help grow a larger labor force from the ground up, General Dynamics' Electric Boat has partnered with seven high schools and trade schools in Connecticut and Rhode Island to develop a curriculum to train a next generation of welders and engineers.
Mike Rowe can't do all the heavy lifting on this culture shift. We need a change in attitude. Instead of having people get six figures in debt to get an otherwise unemployable degree in Sociology or Left Handed Latvian Lesbian Studies - what if we invested that in helping interested people learn a trade? It is a trade that pays well.
The two largest U.S. shipbuilders, General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc (HII.N), told Reuters they are planning to hire a total of 6,000 workers in 2017 just to meet current orders, such as the Columbia class ballistic missile submarine.

General Dynamics hopes to hire 2,000 workers at Electric Boat this year. Currently projected order levels would already require the shipyard to grow from less than 15,000 workers, to nearly 20,000 by the early 2030s, company documents reviewed by Reuters show.

Huntington Ingalls, the largest U.S. military shipbuilder, plans to hire 3,000 at its Newport News shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, and another 1,000 at the Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi this year to fulfill current orders, spokeswoman Beci Brenton said.
There is a sustainability issue to be concerned about as well. One that signals a need to take things slow and easy. No one is going to get hired on a promise, and one would hope for a career if you were going to go in to a field. No one goes in to a line of work to get laid off.

So, perhaps we should not be in all that much of a hurry. Have industry tell us what they can effectively digest, and then we should try to dovetail any increase along those lines. Perhaps this pressure will accelerate automation where it can be done.
Makers of submarine components such as reactor cores, big castings, and forgers of propellers and shafts would need five years to double production, said a congressional official with knowledge of the Navy’s long-term planning.

"We have been sizing the industrial base for two submarines a year. You can’t then just throw one or two more on top of that and say, 'Oh here, dial the switch and produce four reactor cores a year instead of two.' You just can't," the official said.

In his first budget proposal to Congress on Thursday, Trump proposed boosting defense spending by $54 billion for the fiscal 2018 year – a 10 percent increase from last year. He is also seeking $30 billion for the Defense Department in a supplemental budget for fiscal 2017, of which at least $433 million is earmarked for military shipbuilding.

A 350-ship Navy would cost $690 billion over the 30-year period, or $23 billion per year - 60 percent more than the average funding the Navy has received for shipbuilding in the past three decades, the Congressional Budget Office said.
Boring topic? Perhaps, but if you want a larger, more sustainable and scaleable Navy - it's sexy.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

WESTPAC's Progress with Toshi Yosihara - on Midrats



While a new American President, Russia, and ongoing operations against the Islamic State continue to absorb attention, the Western Pacific from Japan, Korea, China, to Australia continues forward.

Our guest to discuss all the latest developments Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Toshi Yoshihara.

A prior guest on Midrats, Dr. Yoshihara is a Senior Fellow at CSBA. Before joining CBSA he held the John A. van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies at the U.S. Naval War College where he taught strategy for over a decade.

He is co-author of Red Star over the Pacific: China's Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy, which has been listed on the Chief of Naval Operation’s Professional Reading Program since 2012. Translations of Red Star over the Pacific have been published in China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

He has also co-authored Indian Naval Strategy in the Twenty-first Century and Chinese Naval Strategy in the Twenty-first Century: The Turn to Mahan. He is co-editor of Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age: Power, Ambition, and the Ultimate Weapon and Asia Looks Seaward: Power and Maritime Strategy. His articles have appeared in Journal of Strategic Studies, Asian Security, Washington Quarterly, Orbis, World Affairs, Comparative Strategy, Strategic Analysis, Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, and Naval War College Review. The Naval War College Review awarded him the Hugh G. Nott Prize for best article of 2010.

He holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and a B.S.F.S. from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.

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.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Libya; Just Say No

Believe it or not, there are those from both the American right and left that want us to get MORE involved in the mess that is Libya.

I don't think so ... and am pondering a bit over at USNIBlog.

Come by and give it a read.

Between Surrender, Retreat, and Damage Control in the Culture Wars


In my dark moments, I easily fall back in to the place I was in October of 2015. I re-read it over the weekend after I used it in a reply over at twitter. I think it ages just fine.

You “stick to the maritime and national security issues” folks may want to stop now, as I’m going to indulge myself on some introspection along the lines of religion and culture – something I used to do more often here in the past. The long-term members of the Front Porch are used to this – but if you new kiddies don’t mind a little oversharing and more-than-usual scattermindedness, stick around. You might find something of interest.

Decoupling from a tottering structure is not an unusual place to be in the scheme of things. Sure, I plan on raging against the fading light, but what when the light is gone? Fun stuff, I know.

I’m not alone in this corner of thinking. Now and then I find someone I respect rhyming on that vibe in their own way, and I feel a little better about the funk that seems to come in and out of my consciousness like a tide.

The last day or so I’ve been pondering a writer I’ve been following for the better part of two decades. I used to read him a lot more than I used to, but when I see his by-line floating by, I always try to reach out and grab it before something else grabs my attention; I’m talking about someone I consider one of the better of GenX’s public intellectuals; Rod Dreher.

His interview over at NR about his new book, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, brought me back to the religious issue I’ve had since I left Hawaii a decade and a half ago; I’m an unchurched evangelical.

I’ll get back to the interview pull quotes later in the post, but let me flesh out that, “unchurched evangelical” phrase a bit. A few years before I got kicked off FB, I got a lot of strange notes from people – as is the case often with religion – so I’ll try to tell this story a bit better and ask that if anyone gets their feelings hurt, it is not my intention. If anyone wants to argue esoteric points of one confession or another, please don’t do it with me. Thank you, but I’ve fine with my journey at this point, as imperfect and flawed as it is.

Anyway, before “getting dunked” in my mid-30s and finding a great, small Southern Baptist congregation on Oahu, twice I had been part of and then left my ancestral confession, the Presbyterian Church, due to their obsessive focus on overt secular far-left politics. We left as a family in the late 70s when there was a huge dust-up over sermons supporting … Sunday after Sunday … Communist revolution in Central America. We literally got up and left and never came back. 

I tried again in college in the 1980s and left for roughly the same reason; I did not come to Bible study or your services to have you talk about what you read in the latest edition of The Nation – I wanted to hear about Jesus, not Chomsky. That was also the time I started to understand Calvinist teachings about predestination and wanted to dig in to that, but the conversation always drifted back to the evils of American imperialism, so that simply was not going to work. Off I went to do my best to keep pace with John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester for a few years instead.

So, for a decade and a half I wandered, thirsty.

At the turn of the century, I found exactly what I was looking for; a small, Bible based, welcoming, diverse, tolerant congregation - got dunked, and then for a bit over a year, was a Sunday and Wednesday night Southern Baptist. Then I transferred to Norfolk.

Megachurch country. I don’t like big crowds and intellectual confinement. I really don’t like judgmental diktat that is not Bible based. I also don’t like person “A” saying their sin is of less concern than person “B’s” sin – and to be mean and nasty about it. I also don’t like the atmosphere of the Prosperity Gospel where the pastor lives in a manner well above their average parishioner. A lot of that in Norfolk, at least where I tried. Could not find a home.

I then moved to Europe. Besides the high holidays when a RAF Chaplain held English language Anglican services, we were unchurched in a 90% Catholic area.

Move back to the USA and home … and still; no place to call home, and life. Could not find a home … mostly because I got tired of looking. My fault this time, really.

So, we keep it in the home … mostly. Well, mostly me; imperfectly. The kids got a mix of Christian and secular private education, but not since they were small were they really part of a Church community. They share their father’s philosophy about crowds and scolds I have found, so trying for force a fit would not have worked out well. A Christian family, yes. Church going? Not so much this decade.

That outlines where your quasi-humble blogger is coming from, now back to Rod. Rod is Orthodox – a convert - and that really isn’t an option here as I’m not Russian or Greek or Syrian – and the Orthodox Churches in my area code are exceptionally ethnic in this regard. That and I’m not a fan of all the “extras.”

Ditto the Catholic Church. I can’t be a member of that confession for a lot of reasons, but I do like to be a buttress – supporting it from the outside. Always impressed with Catholic priests and the exceptional intellectual work they do, but I just can’t take the whole package.

That is why Rod’s observations appeal to me. We are roughly the same age, both Southerners, share a similar world view in a few areas (see his 2002 essay, “Crunchy Cons” that turned in to the 2006 book) and have not dissimilar life experiences outside our professional lives.

Here are some pull quotes from the interview;
A number of people are under the false impression that The Benedict Option is a call to head for the hills. It’s not. The book is about the crisis of Western civilization and Western Christianity, and about how believers living in this post-Christian culture can respond faithfully to it. We are not called to be monks. Our vocation is to live in the world. But how can we do that while facing challenges that Christians have not had to face for 1,500 years? Pope Benedict XVI said that we are living through a period of disruption comparable to the fall of the Roman Empire. I think he’s right. That’s why I say we lay Christians of the 21st century need to look at how St. Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century responded to the collapse of his own civilization. There are lessons for us there.
...
...we have a lot to be alarmed about. In addition to the considerable geopolitical turmoil in the world today, the state of the churches in the West is weak. The faith is flat on its back in Europe. We have long considered the United States to be a counterexample to European secularization, but research over the past ten years is conclusive: America is now headed down the same declining spiritual path. The Millennial generation rejects religious belief in percentages never before seen. Older Christians like to comfort themselves by saying that the young people will come back when they get older. It’s not really true. Plus, the content of the Christian faith that people actually profess has decayed dramatically from its historic orthodoxy. Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith and his team have documented exhaustively that among younger Americans, the faith is only nominally Christian in terms of its content. They have cast aside coherent, biblically consistent Christianity for a shallow, feel-good counterfeit that Smith calls “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” This is not the kind of Christianity that will endure — but this is the Christianity that most Americans hold. In my travels to Christian colleges, both Evangelical and Catholic, I hear the same thing from professors: Our students are coming to us from churches, families, and Christian schools knowing next to nothing about their faith. Contemporary American Christianity is a house built on sand.
...
This is a book about Christian hope, which is not the same thing as optimism. I don’t believe that we have a lot of cause to be optimistic these days, but we have every reason to hope. Look at the Benedictines of Norcia, who are not defeated by the disaster they have suffered, but are drawing deeply on their faith and traditions to overcome it. I hope that my book encourages all believers to do the same.
...
When I started writing the book, I asked my friend Michael Hanby, a philosopher at Catholic University of America, for his advice. He said, “Ask yourself: ‘What would Karol Wojtyla do?’” I didn’t understand what he was getting at. He said that when the Nazis invaded Poland, they sought to crush the Polish nation by erasing its memory of what it meant to be Polish, and what it meant to be Catholic. The future Pope St. John Paul II and his circle realized that the most important form of resistance they could offer was to keep that cultural memory alive. They wrote and performed plays about the faith, and about patriotism. They did this under fear of death. If the Gestapo had found them, they would have imprisoned them all, and maybe killed them. But culture was that important to the survival of the nation, and those Poles risked everything to keep the story alive.
...
It is very practical, very much geared to everyday life. He is a saint for our time and place, just as he was for the sixth century. I hope that my book helps all Christians — Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox alike — find their way through the darkness, to Christ.
From a religious point of view, his journey to Constantinople found better rooting than my trip for a dunking at a beach in Hawaii. Good for him. As for his view of our future, I think he might be on to something. More pondering required.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

You do you, Loren Thompson; You do You

I try to avoid the personal, but within the Beltway, Loren Thompson is a special kind of fella - and since he threw shade at milbloggers in such a laughable way back in '09, I've tried my best to dismiss what production he puts out.

I never want to begrudge someone earning a day's paycheck, but I'm sorry - I couldn't let this pass;
Things have not gone well for the Pentagon’s much-criticized acquisition system since the 9-11 attacks. The military got a lot more money for new weapons than anyone could have predicted when the new millennium began, but tens of billions of dollars were squandered on programs that either were canceled or delayed by controversy.

However, there are a few new combat systems that stand out as successes, and the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor is arguably the most pleasant surprise. Tiltrotors are revolutionary airframes that combine the vertical agility of a helicopter with the speed, range and fuel efficiency of a fixed-wing plane. They can land pretty much anywhere, or hover over a spot for long periods, but they fly twice as far and twice as fast as the helicopters they replace.

That makes tiltrotors so versatile that the military services which already own them are rethinking how combat operations should be conducted, and the services which don’t own them are seriously considering how to find room in their budgets for tiltrotor technology.
Loren, really. You've been around long enough. I mean; dude.

Post 9-11? "Revolutionary?"

So, I head on over to the library. I grab my acetate protected copy of the 1986 Maritime Strategy and ... well ... BEHOLD!



There we are kids, right on page 28 with a pic of its stunt double.

1986. A decade and a half prior to 9-11.

The RFP went out in 1982, 19 yrs before 9-11. It first flew in 1989, 12-yrs prior to 9-11. An entire generation of USMC aviators passed their career waiting for this aircraft that was always just a POM away deployability. 

We're here - but the hard work was all done pre-911.

Of course, Loren knows this.
This is remarkable progress for a program that was so controversial when it first began flying that Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney tried to kill it every year he held the job. Cheney managed to terminate a hundred major weapons programs during his tenure — the Cold War had just ended — but he couldn’t do in the Osprey because Congress and the Marine Corps banded together to protect it. Now, in the tenth year since Osprey first became operational, it is clear they were right and Cheney was wrong.
Those years were '89-'93 for those at home keeping score.

So, why would Loren use 9-11 as a benchmark? Why is he toot'n this horn in this way?

I'll let you figure that out.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Wait, the EU's Disaggregation is Trump's Fault Too?

Well, this is silly.
Prime Minister Robert Fico told Slovakia's parliament on Wednesday he was skeptical of the Union's future once Britain leaves in 2019.

"I'm afraid the EU will be divided by the money issue after 2020...In the spirit of Trump's 'America first', we can expect to hear 'Germany first', 'France first' etc."
Confusing correlation with causation a bit there Bobby?

Sure, There is a wind blowing in the West right now - and it is a rejection of much of the political globalism pushed by the Davos gaggle and their ilk. They have failed the people, and the people are pushing back. You can't blame this on Trump. 

In Europe, this is embodied by the EU. It has outgrown its natural usefulness in a diverse continent beset by the ethnic problems that have plagued it from pre-history. The European people in time tire of those who try to weld them together as one entity. They especially don't like Romans, French, German or other groups who try to hold the high income/high status positions for themselves, and for the others ...
And there is a brewing crisis over what eastern leaders see as hypocritical protectionism inside the EU single market by western governments trying to impose their own national minimum wages on enterprising -- and cheap -- eastern "posted workers", who offer services like trucking and construction in the west.
Europe. You do you ... you always seem to.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Strategic Discipline & the Building of a New National Strategy - on Midrats



We are in the second month of a new President who is building a new national security team. He and his team come to their positions with a very different view of the world and America's place in it than their predecessors had.

What direction will they take our nation? What role should realism, alliances, and the requirement to anchor all to a strategic discipline focused on the long term interests of our nation have on the decisions they make?

What do his initial steps and the people so far on his team tell us about where we are going? How may we may have to rethink the basic organizing concepts for America’s role in the world?

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this an related issues will be Frank Hoffman.

Frank is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University.

He formerly directed the NDU Press operations which includes the journals Joint Force Quarterly and PRISM. From August of 2009 to June 2011, he served in the Department of the Navy as a senior executive as the Senior Director, Naval Capabilities and Readiness. He started at National Defense University in 2011 and became a Distinguished Research Fellow in December 2016.

He retired from the Marine Corps Reserve in the summer of 2001 at the grade of Lieutenant Colonel. He has authored one book (Decisive Force; The New American Way of War, Praeger, 1996), over 100 essays and articles, and frequently contributes to Orbis, Joint Force Quarterly, the Journal of Strategic Studies, Parameters, the Naval Institute Proceedings and Marine Corps Gazette.

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

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fullbore Friday


Last week we lost the last half of one of the great teams of WWII; a local boy and father of USAF Special Operations. If what they did took place in Europe, they would have had a movie made out of it. As it took place in the Burma theater - well - at least we can cover it here.
John R. Alison, a World War II fighter pilot who helped lead a daring and unprecedented Allied air invasion of Burma, has died, a son said Wednesday.

The retired Air Force major general and former Northrop Corp. executive died of natural causes Monday at his home in Washington, John R. Alison III said.

Alison's wartime achievements included seven victories, six in the air, qualifying him as an ace, according to the Air Force Association, an independent organization in Arlington, Va., that promotes public understanding of aerospace power.
What did he do?
Operation THURSDAY began on March 5, 1944, when the first C-47 launched from India towing two overloaded gliders filled with Wingate's troops, equipment, and supplies. A total of 26 transports towing gliders comprised the first wave. The gliders, carrying from 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of excess weight, strained the C-47 tow planes and ropes and caused significant problems. With eight of the first wave of C-47s each losing a glider, Colonel Cochran decided to limit one glider to each remaining transport. This decision allowed the air commandos to successfully deliver Wingate's initial and succeeding forces to the jungle clearings over 200 miles behind Japanese lines in Burma.

During the first day the strip, designated "Broadway," was improved so transport, glider, and liaison aircraft could land safely. They brought supplies, equipment and reinforcements, and evacuated the injured. A second strip, opened by glider assault, relieved congestion at Broadway. Airlift inserted almost 10,000 men, well over 1,000 mules, and approximately 250 tons of supplies. Casualties from the high-risk, untested concept, including missing, were less than 150, and for the first time in military history aircraft evacuated all killed, wounded, and sick from behind enemy lines.

The air commandos also protected the British ground forces by harassing the Japanese. This harassment, conducted by P-51s and B-25s equipped with a 75mm cannon in the nose and 12 .50 caliber machine guns, included bombing bridges, strafing and bombing parked aircraft, air-to-air combat, and destroying the communications, transportation, and military infrastructure.
Wait, who is that Cochran character? Funny you should ask.

See that guy to the left - that was then Lt. Col. Philip Cochran, USAAC. He passed away in 1979. He was - wrap this around your head PCO pipeline guys and gals - 1st USAAF Air Commando Group Co-Commander with Alison. Co-Commander. I guess if Hap Arnold tells you, you work it out.

See him and his men in action below. Remember - he was only 34 in 1944. Alison was 32.

Remember that next time you dismiss the capabilities and opinion of your senior LTs and junior LCDR.

Ponder a lot.



One more bit about Cochran - talk about character.
Cochran was the inspiration behind characters in the Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon by Milton Caniff.
...
Cochran dated actress Betty White in the early 1960s after being introduced by Jack Paar. White declined his marriage proposal; later dating Cochran and her future husband Allen Ludden simultaneously, until her romance with Ludden became serious.
Hat tip GOH. First posted June 2011.

UPDATE: Our friend LCDR B.J. Armstrong sent along a reminder that if you are interested in this, you need to read William Y'Blood's Air Commandos Against Japan by USNI Press. He reviewed it a few years ago at The Journal of Military History.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A Swedish Whisper

What can the Swedes tell us about the dangers of another BRAC?

I'm telling the story over at USNIBlog. 

Come by and see.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

APN-6 and Shooting Up the Horse

I almost didn't post on this note from the Air Boss by Megan Eckstein, as it was just very inside baseball. For at least the members of the Front Porch, you always impress me with your knowledge base, so I think we're OK.

Good people in tough jobs have to make hard decisions. You can push a lot of things to the right. As Adam Smith once said,
“...there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.”
...there is also a great deal of ruin in a military. You can ignore things in the short term and hope you have the ability to fix them at some point down the road - or hope someone else can. Sure, you know you are doing harm, but you need what you need what you need now and the future just has to take care of itself.

Without much more commentary, here is the bit in Megan article about VADM Shoemaker that stuck with me,
“We’re trying to be smart and efficient in how we apply the legacy readiness dollars versus the new platform readiness dollars,” he said.

“And it’s an ongoing discussion and a tradeoff, but the key piece is applying those lessons to ensure that our most capable forces are ready.”

One major lesson learned likely to be followed going forward is acknowledging the importance of the APN-6 budget line – the aircraft procurement line item that supports “initial outfitting for spares, and it also covers the stock on our shelves on our carriers, our amphibs and also at our shore bases,” Shoemaker said during his panel presentation.

That line item was funded at about 90 percent of the requirement in the early 2000s, about 85 percent just before sequestration hit, around 75 percent since the sequester, and only 71 percent this fiscal year.

“So that’s year on year we’ve kind of been funding less of the requirement, and not surprisingly, not unexpectedly, full mission capable aircraft have come down from 55 percent – we try to work in a band between 50 and 60 (percent) – to less than 30 percent today. That connection’s not hard to make,” he said.

Shoemaker said aviation readiness has been on a steady decline but right now is at its “most acute” since sequestration went into effect and across-the-board cuts were imposed in 2013.
This is more serious than it looks. This is why the balance of any "new" money we borrow from our grandchildren to plus-up the military will just get soaked up like drops of water on a dry kitchen sponge.

We've been shooting up the horse for awhile.

It is what it is.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part LXVIII

We need to get moving towards the 350+ Navy sooner more than later - and we need new designs for the new reality of war at sea.

1. Range.
2. ASUW.
3. Number and diversity of ASW tools and weapons from search, location, tracking, and especially attack. Without going in to too many details on this net, the last part especially. The professional malpractice, blindness and complacent arrogance there is gobsmacking.

Right now we have decks full of light strike-fighters (F-18 E/F are better than A-D but still), DDG designed in the Cold War (though greatly modified and as history has looped back to blue water, still very useful even if most don't have ASUW capabilities beyond their 5" gun), and the smaller part of our fleet consists of two Tiffany price, China-doll robust, "exquisitely designed" LCS that still can't address the threats from the Clinton Administration that helped spawn it.

The only thing that seems to be going well is our submarine force.

The CO of the Chinese aircraft carrier Captain Liu Zhe, PLAN had an interesting article out that in a very Chinese way, points where they are going;
Throughout history, the development of great power is closely related to the ocean. Some people say, "stronger than the world who will be better than the sea, the decline in the world who will be weaker than the sea."

Today, in the process of realizing the dream of China, in the process of building a strong ocean, the development of "all the way along the way", not only the wealth of the sea, friends from all corners of the globe, and security threats are mainly from the sea. The more turbulent changes in the undercurrent, the more the need for military Yong Li tide wave. As the President suggested, as a soldier, must be brave to assume the historical responsibility of our generation of soldiers.

Although the Chinese soldiers do not produce grain, but the production of security; not create wealth, but to defend the peaceful environment of peace and comfort. The party and the people to us this aircraft carrier, is the national strength of the cohesion, is a symbol of national will, is the national security barrier, it is a strong backing of world peace. The Liaoning ship forged into a war can win the battle of the aircraft carrier, we are duty-bound
...
Not far from the future, our pace will be bigger, go farther, Liaoning ship will ride in the broader ocean, J-15 fighters will fly in the more distant blue sky. We will continue to forge ahead in the forefront of the construction of the Navy transformation, fighting in the national interests of the new frontier, adhere to the first line in the maintenance of world peace. We firmly believe that the farther away from the territorial sea, the more secure the motherland will be behind, the world peace will be more of a guarantee.
You can't say we weren't warned. Remember this as well - China increased their military budget 7% last year.

H/t SJS

Friday, March 03, 2017

Fullbore Friday

She doesn't care.

This scenario isn't IAW the CONOPS.

She doesn't care.

This ship will never be part of a major feet engagement on the high seas.

She doesn't care.

This ship is designed for a single mission.

She doesn't care.

War never cares.

War called on the crew of the sloop of war HMAS YARRA (U77) in March of 1942, and the YARRA and her crew did what needed to be done.
On 27 February orders were given to clear all remaining British auxiliary craft from Batavia (now Jakarta). About midnight Yarra and the Indian sloop HMIS Jumna sailed escorting a convoy to Tjilatjap. Arriving off Tjilatjap at 11 am on 2 March, the ships were warned not to enter harbour. The Yarra was ordered to take the convoy, which consisted of the depot ship Anking, the tanker Francol and the motor minesweeper MMS 51, to Fremantle while the Jumna sailed for Colombo. No time was to be lost, as powerful Japanese forces were known to be operating in the waters south of Java.

Steaming steadily south east at an average speed of 8.5 knots, the Yarra and her convoy made steady progress during the night of 2-3 March. Except for a faintly discerned shadowing aircraft sighted in the evening, there was no sign of the enemy. On the morning of the third two lifeboats were sighted. From these, Yarra picked up a number of exhausted survivors of the Dutch merchant ship Parigi, sunk by the Japanese two days earlier.

At 6.30 am on 4 March, as the sun rose the lookout in Yarra sighted the unmistakable topmasts of a Japanese heavy cruiser squadron to the north-east. The squadron consisted of Atago, Takao and Maya, each armed with ten 8-inch guns, and two destroyers. Immediately Lieutenant Commander Rankin made a sighting report, ordered the ships of convoy to scatter and, placing his ship between them and the enemy, laid smoke and prepared to engage. Yarra was outgunned and out-ranged, and the enemy ships were faster. Against such odds her task was hopeless, yet she kept fighting even as her convoy was overwhelmed and sunk, ship by ship.

Anking, which was carrying many RAN personnel was sunk first. Overwhelmed by many hits she was despatched in ten minutes. By then Yarra was on fire and listing heavily to port but still shooting. MMS 51 was on fire and was put down shortly after by a hail of close range automatic gunfire from one of the cruisers. The Francol took more punishment and still remained afloat, finally succumbing at about 7.30. Yarra, shattered by numerous hits, was the last to go. Soon after 8.00 am, Rankin ordered that the ship be abandoned. Minutes later he was killed when an 8-inch salvo hit the bridge. Leading Seaman R. Taylor, manning the last remaining gun, kept on firing until he too was killed, and the Yarra's guns fell silent. Her end, which came after close-range shelling by the two Japanese destroyers, was witnessed by 34 survivors on two rafts. All, except the Dutch captain of Parigi, were naval ratings.

When Yarra sank, the Japanese made off to the north-east after picking up one boatload of survivors from Francol. A collection of boats, rafts and floats was left scattered over a wide area of sea. Towards evening, a passing Dutch vessel, Tawali, rescued 57 officers and men from Anking. However, in spite of frantic signals, she failed to sight two Carley floats, which held 14 men from MMS 51. For the next two and a half days they drifted about until picked up by the Dutch steamer Tjimanjoek on 7 March. Meanwhile Yarra's men, their numbers sadly reduced by wounds, exposure, and thirst, continued to drift helplessly. On 9 March 13 of the sloop's ratings were picked up by the Dutch submarine KlL. Of the complement of 151, 138 (including the captain and all officers) were killed in the action or died subsequently on the raft.

Hat tip John Perryman

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Diversity Thursday

I'm not sure if Charmane or Clarence are related, but nonetheless, both of their jobs are prime candidates to put at the top of a short-list in any manpower efficiency review. Why can't Clarence send out his own emails? Why must Charmane just cut-n-past what is already in the attachment and claim as her own? 

The mind ponders in our latest edition of, "As the Rent-Seekers Turn."

I'm going to give you as little D&G as possible, as long time readers of DivThu don't need a primer on primary and secondary education performance differentials leading to skewed entering-cohort metrics. You don't need to hear again about the horror show of officially sanctioned and taxpayer subsidized discrimination based on self-described race and ethnicity as it is practiced by the DOD's branch of the diversity industry. You don't need me to toot my own horn about the warning I have last decade that the Orwellian "Unconscious Bias" cultists would get their nose in the tent. No, you're fully up to speed. 

Just sit back and enjoy, you're paying for it.

If anyone is new here, just get a fresh cup of coffee and click the "Diversity" tab to get up to speed.


BEHOLD!

TRANSMITTED ON BEHALF OF MR. CLARENCE A. JOHNSON, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

Ladies/Gentlemen:

The Department of Defense, Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity (ODMEO), is pleased to announce the 2017 Federal Executive Webcast Series, at no cost to participants. Click here for video announcement/details: http://www.tvworldwide.net/Player?VID=Royal/161228_RoyalConsulting_FederalExecutiveWebcastSeries.mp4. Please see attachments for additional information, including the brochure for webcast topics and dates. Each session is one hour in length.

OVERVIEW:
ODMEO is partnering with AAFEA to offer the Federal Executive Webcast Series, developed to address pipeline and data trends that reveal a significant lag in women and minorities in general population of senior leaders. This training is intended to enable the development of a cadre of world-class senior civilian leaders with the enterprise-wide perspective and the critical skills needed to lead organizations.

CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPATION:
1) Department of Defense Civilian Employee at the Grades levels GS-14 and 15
2) Transitioning Active Duty or Reserve Military Personnel (within a year out window of exiting military service) at the rank of O-5/6 and E-8/9
3) Career Aspirations for advancement to GS-15 or Senior Executive Service Corps
4) 100% commitment to attend the 8 required webcasts sessions and all other requirements
5) Reading and examining related resources assigned
6) Willingness to serve as a mentor for subordinate grade personnel and ambassador for marketing DoD as a potential employer
7) Complete all on-line evaluations, surveys and follow-up writing assignments

Due date for applications: FEBRUARY 8, 2017 BY 5:00 PM. Online submissions only. Limit is 100 participants, so apply early! Please visit www.aafea.org for additional information.

Please give widest dissemination to help us get the word out. Thank you.

V/r,

Charmane S. Johnson
GS-15
Director, DoD Policy for Special Emphasis Programs
Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity
(703) 571-[redacted]



H/t W.