Friday, September 29, 2017

Fullbore Friday

We really don't need fiction writers. There are exceptional stories all around us if we just take the time to look. 

Great reporting by Stephen Losey for a must-read FbF.

Oh, and read the last paragraph twice.
The team was sent to capture or kill Taliban leaders in the middle of the night in the Kunduz Province village ― a fairly standard mission, Hunter said.
...
When the helicopters dropped Hunter and his team off about a mile east of the village, he said, they realized the field was flooded. Maybe the Taliban knew they were coming, he said, or maybe it was standard irrigation, they never found out.

The field was so swamped that the helicopter sank about three feet into the mud, to the point where the back ramp couldn’t open and the team had to crawl out of a small hatch in the back and roll out.
...
They moved through a narrow alleyway, Hunter said, with multiple two-story buildings on either side with a “perfect line of sight down into this alleyway.”

Then the team ran into a 12-foot-tall metal gate that surveillance didn’t see earlier ― someone had apparently locked it after the noise of the initial firefight. The gunship was watching “nefarious activity” on the other side of the gate ― insurgents milling around, scoping out the Special Forces team, and running back to the other side of a building.

The team was bottlenecked in ― and at that point, the ambush was sprung.

THE FATAL FUNNEL

One of the insurgents flung a grenade over the gate. The team heard a thud, Hunter said, and had maybe a second and a half to turn and see what it was before it exploded. Gunfire erupted from all around them — they were engulfed in a 360-degree firefight, taking machine gun fire and grenades thrown over the walls, layup-style, from all sides, injuring four.

They had to get out of “the fatal funnel,” as Hunter called it. While shielding the wounded with his own body, Hunter started calling in the insurgents’ fighting positions to the gunship, which then started targeting them with Spooky’s massive 105mm Howitzer.
...
They were leapfrogging, Hall said ― targeting insurgents as the team pulled back, and shooting so continuously that the cannon began overheating.
Spooky’s actions gave the team on the ground a chance to find cover from the nonstop fire. The smoke was so thick that the team was moving blind through the village, guided by directions the aircraft were relaying to Hunter.


“I could see about four feet in front of me,” Hunter said.

They advanced on one compound, but an insurgent “basically dumps an entire mag through the door as we’re stacked up on the outside,” fatally shooting his captain in the belly, Hunter said. They instead moved to another compound across the street, which they could tell was empty.

Spooky 43 was also steadily firing its 40mm cannon alongside the 105mm on insurgents fighting from the buildings, as well as running from tree lines ― but then the 40mm started to suffer multiple malfunctions.
...
After team members seized the compound, Hunter said he heard some commotion from outside that sounded like pleas for help. He looked over the wall and saw two teammates outside, pinned down and exposed.

One of them ― the assistant team leader for the Special Forces team ― had been shot six times. The other teammate was too busy shooting back at the enemy to save the wounded team warrant officer, so Hunter and another teammate ran out to bring him back.

Hunter grabbed the wounded soldier by his shoulder strap and began dragging him 30 meters to safety, all while radioing in more airstrikes to Spooky 43. That soldier survived and is now recovering at Walter Reed, Hunter said.

“We had to get him in there,” Hunter said. “He was going to die out there if we didn’t get him in there.”

Hunter then alerted Spooky 43 that they were taking fire from the east and the enemy was closing in.

Typically, the Spooky shoots the 105mm fragmentation airburst round in open terrain, hundreds of meters away from friendly forces. But that night, it fired a shell that cut down the Taliban about 9 or 10 meters from the ground team ― and knocked Hunter “stupid for about 30 seconds.”

...
‘EVERYTHING WAS ON FIRE’

Once the team on the ground took the compound, Hall said, the fire never stopped. They dragged three dead or dying teammates inside, as well as several others who were so badly wounded they couldn’t walk, and set up a casualty collection point.

“Picture this: A group of about 50 people, with [about] 50 percent of them attritted to injuries, and half of them not able to walk,” Hunter said. “So what are the other half doing? Dragging, carrying bodies. That’s what we were doing with them as we were bounding up this alleyway.”

They hunkered down and the gunship and the Apaches set up “a 360-degree field of death” between the team and the enemy, Hunter said. For the next few hours, he said, “if it moved, it died.”

Hill said that the heated engagements set off one secondary explosion after another, and the fires were raging so hard that his night-vision goggles were getting washed out.

When Spooky 43 was out of 105s, it began marking structures with the 40mm for the Apaches to hit with their Hellfire missiles, Hill said. The Hellfires were hitting so close to the team that the tail debris from one ripped into the compound, hit the wall two feet in front of Hunter ― “almost took my head off,” he said ― and ricocheted into the middle of the building, spinning on the ground as it came to rest.

Eventually, another gunship arrived, as did the quick reaction force Hunter had called.

“They basically showed up and everything was on fire,” Hunter said.

At about 5 a.m., Hunter and his team left the compound and made their way to an open field to be evacuated via helicopter ― but got ambushed yet again. As he helped load the wounded into the helicopters, Hunter continued to direct airstrikes to protect them and take out the enemy.

Their fight ended at about 7 a.m.
...

“I had these dudes [Spooky 43] overhead, and never at one point was I worried about my team getting annihilated, because these guys were overhead,” Hunter said. “I learned that dudes got your back, no matter what. We found out how much we care about each other, because we got real down and dirty, and we figured a lot of stuff out about a lot of people.”
Fullbore.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Diversity Thursday

We’ll have a little fun with this week’s DivThu, not that this is funny, but a dark humor.

These purveyors of division and grievance pimps are a cancer on any organization they touch, but as long as you try to see what pathetic creatures they are, you can have a good giggle at their expense as they try so hard to be so serious about their racket.

Oh yes, it’s a racket. It has pretty much infected most of the Anglosphere – Australia as well.

As most of my readers are American, we can giggle a bit harder, we’re not paying for it;
WORKPLACE diversity consultants are charging Australian companies up to $1800 an hour to warn employees about the dangers of using “non-inclusive” language such as “mum”.

Former Labor leader Mark Latham slammed the Diversity Council of Australia’s “words at work” training program as “pathetic” on his Outsiders show on Wednesday night.

The DCA, headed by former Australian of the Year David Morrison, charges $2500 for members or $3600 for non-members for a two-hour program delivered by “experienced DCA staff and consultants” to educate companies about “the power of words”.
I adore this line. Truth? They can’t handle the truth.
Last year, the DCA revealed it had been forced to turn off comments and ratings on the video, which also urged against the use of the word “guys”, due to “highly offensive abuse”. 
“We are happy for feedback, both positive and negative, but we were not getting a constructive or respectful conversation,” a spokeswoman said at the time, with Ms Annese saying she was “surprised it received such an intense reaction and the tone of a lot of that”. 
“The sort of expletive-laden language that’s been directed towards people in our organisation and the chair of our board, I’m just confused by it,” she said. “It seemed a bit ironic to us [given we were] making a call for people to start having respectful workplaces.”
Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Old Dogs, New Tricks ...

The Army thinks that it can train and talk away manifestations of character a lifetime in the making.

Can you?

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog.

Come by and give it a read.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Men, Material, Money, and Morale: Ukraine's Foreverwar

When a people are at crisis, either at war or in the face of a natural disaster, knowing that you have friends helping out is critical in maintaining the one thing that keeps a people united and willing to carry on in the face of adversity; morale.

The academic/green eye-shade/Quartermaster Bloomfield mentality of putting all weight towards the most efficient or that which gives the most theoretical marginal utility is so steeped in the mindset of the technocracy that it cannot see the human element in the most human of events.

Nolan Peterson’s article last month about US aide to Ukraine should be required reading. It might help some understand the larger concept of the compounding positive effects that come from even a little help - efficient, essential or not. It just needs to be there. There is more at work than simple spreadsheets.
On the front lines against Russia and its separatist proxies in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian soldiers have, throughout the past three years of relentless combat, frequently turned to symbols of America to both intimidate and annoy their enemies—sometimes, in eclectic and creative ways.

Ukrainian soldiers have raised U.S. flags over their front-line trenches and forts—typically to the retort of sniper or mortar fire from across no man’s land. Sometimes, to really get under the enemy’s skin, an English-speaking Ukrainian soldier will radio commands in English over unencrypted channels, pretending to be a member of SEAL Team Six.

Since the war in the Donbas region began in April 2014, Russian propaganda has spun yarns about U.S. military forces actively participating in the war. Consequently, Ukrainian soldiers know that flaunting American military support for Ukraine is a potent psychological weapon against their enemies.

Any instance of U.S. military support for Ukraine is also a powerful morale booster for Ukrainian troops as they continue to grind out a 3-year-old war against a combined force of Russian troops and pro-Russian separatists.

“U.S. support lets the Ukrainians know the stronger guy is on their side,” Mamuka Mamulashvili, commander of the pro-Ukrainian Georgian National Legion, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“Support from the United States of our struggle for independence undoubtedly raises the fighting spirit of our soldiers,” Alexander Pochynok, a Ukrainian sniper, told The Daily Signal. “And the supply of advanced weapons systems such as Javelin will only accelerate our victory and the death of Russia.”

The U.S. has provided nonlethal military assistance for Ukraine since 2014, the year Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, and then started a proxy war in Ukraine’s southeastern Donbas region.

To date, Trump has not deviated from Obama’s decision to not arm Ukraine.

“Actually, the weapons themselves will not have a decisive impact on the course of combat operations,” Ukrainian army Lt. Andrei Mikheychenko told The Daily Signal.

“Deliveries of lethal weapons, in my opinion, will primarily have psychological significance for both the Ukrainian army and the terrorists it fights,” Mikheychenko, a member of the Ukrainian army’s 93rd Mechanized Brigade, said. “This demonstrates the seriousness of U.S. support for Ukraine as a strategic partner.”
As a side note, I could not help from having a good giggle at this bit of the article;
At the front-line village of Krymske in 2015, just outside the separatist stronghold of Luhansk, Ukrainian troops renamed a street from that of a Soviet luminary to “John McCain Street.”

When Canadian journalist and filmmaker Christian Borys asked the soldiers when they were going to name a street after then-President Barack Obama, the soldiers replied, “When he sends us weapons.”

Monday, September 25, 2017

5-Days Post-Maria; Time to up Our Game

First of all, throw away all your “Well, the lessons learned from the Haitian earthquake tells us … “ parlor talking points.

Haiti is not Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands; an earthquake is not a hurricane.

The residents of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are United States citizens. They are also some of our poorest citizens.

As a data point;
- Per capita income of Connecticut: $39,373
- Per capita income of Puerto Rico: $11,241
- Per capita income of USVI: $13,139

PR and USVI are islands. There are no six lane interstates where convoys of goods can come from neighboring states before the storms even end. Everything must come by air and sea.

Look at data point above one more time.

Here was Maria’s path:


Here it is if it came by Connecticut on the same scale. You see, geographic size and population wise, CT and PR are fairly close. You can treat Martha’s Vineyard as the USVI if you wish.


Is there any question in your mind that there would be a different response if this storm hit the middle of the DC to Boston Corridor? Not just governmental, but by the media and the general public?

PR and USVI should be swamped with help and assistance to the point they are like some areas of FL earlier this month – where they say, “We have all the help we can take.”

That isn’t even close to where we are right now. Over the weekend you couldn't get away from people talking about spoiled millionaires throwing hissy-fits at each other. 

No excuse. Yes, things are being done at the Federal level and in civil society - but where is the interest by the press and the people?

As you read the below, substitute every mention of Puerto Rico for Connecticut.
Hurricane Maria left a historic trail of destruction across Puerto Rico on Wednesday, its powerful winds carving holes in the walls of 300-year-old homes, flooding neighborhoods, sucking metal roofs off buildings, downing 100-year-old trees and leaving the entire island without power.

In the capital of San Juan, volunteers sprang into action, assisting stranded drivers, cutting and removing downed limbs to clear the roads. Looters also took advantage of the chaos following the storm to break into furniture stores and gas stations, running past a San Juan police car with sofas and chairs. The police car did not appear to stop.

Maria made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane packing 155-mph winds — just 2 mph short of Category 5 status — ...

“Puerto Rico isn’t going to be the same,” said Migdalia Caratini, a lawyer who lives east of San Juan. “It’s going to be before Maria and after Maria.”

The island was already reeling from Hurricane Irma, which passed the northern coast of Puerto Rico last week as a Category 5. Though Puerto Rico escaped a direct hit from Irma, the storm inflicted major damage on the electrical grid, and portions of the island had been without power even before Maria made landfall.

On Wednesday, officials from the Puerto Rico State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management said that portions of the island could be without power for several weeks.
...
Another evacuee at the coliseum, Josefina Bayes de la Paz, said her home flooded after a nearby river overflowed its banks. She was already working only two days a week as a cleaner before the storm, earning $138. Now, with people struggling to get by without power, she didn't expect to find any work.

"The poor people are hungry," she said. "Workers need direct help."

Bayes has a daughter on the U.S. mainland, but couldn't ask her for help: She lives in Houston, and lost her own house to flooding during Hurricane Harvey.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello, in a statement, called for calm and “prudence during these difficult days.” Citing the need to maintain public order, Rossello imposed a curfew for the island from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. that will be in effect until Saturday. As night fell, most buildings in San Juan were dark, though some had generators to provide power.
...
People in this ravaged city get their drinking water from a hole poked into a fire hose attached to a street hydrant.

No one has power and they haven't heard from the outside world in four days, when Hurricane Maria barreled through here early Wednesday, smashing homes and sending walls of water through town.

Now residents here face a new peril: the Guajataca Dam, which was threatening to breach and could send more floods their way.

"Unfortunately, we're right in its path," said Kevin Azzaro, an assistant to Mayor Carlos Molina here.

Azzaro said he didn't know how the city could prepare for more floods, other than asking residents to stay in their homes as much as possible.

Residents here were desperate for news from the dam. However, with no phone service or Internet access anywhere, they relied on bits of news relayed from other residents or city officials.
...
Puerto Rico's nonvoting representative in the U.S. Congress said Sunday that Hurricane Maria's destruction has set the island back decades, even as authorities worked to assess the extent of the damage.

"The devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years," said Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez. "I can't deny that the Puerto Rico of now is different from that of a week ago. The destruction of properties, of flattened structures, of families without homes, of debris everywhere. The island's greenery is gone."

Mike Hyland, a spokesman for the American Public Power Association, which represents the Puerto Rican power agency, said Sunday that restoration is a long ways off. The organization is working with U.S. Energy Department crews as well as New York Power Authority workers sent down by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to fly over the island and assess damage.

Crews hoped to get helicopters and drones in the air over the next two days to assess the damage, but Hyland said they need to be patient and let the military continue rescuing people before focusing on restoring power.

"We are trying to get an understanding of the extent of the damage over the next 48 hours to then begin to work with our federal partners to get the right crews and equipment down to Puerto Rico," Hyland said.

Large amounts of federal aid have begun moving into Puerto Rico, welcomed by local officials who praised the Trump administration's response but called for the emergency loosening of rules long blamed for condemning the U.S. territory to second-class status.

The opening of the island's main port in the capital allowed 11 ships to bring in 1.6 million gallons of water, 23,000 cots, dozens of generators and food. Dozens more shipments are expected in upcoming days.
So far, our fellow Americans in PR and USVI are being stoic;
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is warning that his government needs broader assistance from the federal government, calling on the Pentagon especially to provide more aid for law enforcement and transportation.

Rosselló said he's also worried that Congress will shortchange his island once the initial wave of emergency relief is gone.

“We still need some more help. This is clearly a critical disaster in Puerto Rico,” he said on a shaky cellphone connection Sunday night from San Juan. “It can’t be minimized and we can’t start overlooking us now that the storm passed, because the danger lurks.”

Senior congressional aides in both parties said late Sunday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency isn't expected to ask lawmakers for a new round of federal disaster relief funding until mid-October, meaning that the agency thinks it has enough money at its disposal to cover major disaster recovery operations nationwide. Absent a formal request from the Trump administration, lawmakers cannot begin work on a federal relief bill for the latest round of damage caused by record-setting hurricanes, the aides said.

What will they do when cholera takes root and what little fuel is outside of San Juan runs out?

I hope in the next 24 hours we hear a lot more; not just prayers and thoughts but substantial plans for a lot of help.

The dysfunction of PR pre-storm is another story, but for right now we should just focus on bringing them back to a modern society. This will take months.

Overdo it people; overdo.

Oh, and for those who want to make political hay out of this one way or another, go pound sand you blood sucking parasite. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hezbollah, Israel, Syria, Lebanon and What's Next - on Midrats



As the Syrian conflict enters what looks to be its end game, one old player on the scene is emerging stronger than it has ever been, a point of concern for all the nations in the area.

How has the Syrian civil war changed Hezbollah and her allies, and what does it signal about the post-war order?

To discuss this and related issues will be our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm, Sulome Anderson.

Sulome is journalist and author based between New York City and Beirut, Lebanon. An alumna of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She writes regularly for publications including Newsweek, The Atlantic, New York, Harpers, Foreign Policy, VICE, Village Voice and Vox.com. Her first book, The Hostage’s Daughter was published in 2016.

We will use her latest article, Hezbollah’s New Strength Leaves Israeli Border Tense, as a starting off point for our conversation.

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, September 22, 2017

Fullbore Friday

In the course of a military career, we have all found ourselves at some point or another at an extraordinary place in time, doing things or being responsible for things we had no idea we would find ourselves as the critical player.

At the moment, you don’t fully grasp what you did – or even why you did it. As time passes and you think about them, you try to figure out the why and the how. At the moment, you just do.

Sometimes it is training, others it is what makes you an individual, many times you can spend a lifetime in hindsight trying to figure it all out.

It can happen at any time. You could be fully prepared for it, spent months and years training for that eventuality, or it could just be a bolt out of the blue requiring an action or decision just as rapidly.

As leaders, at a moment of crisis, the decision will fall on to you. Eyes will fall on you. Ears will listen for your voice. You may look to the right and left looking for guidance or a clue to what needs to be done – but find nothing but others waiting on you.

There is no normal watch. There are not unimportant billets. One many can make a difference.

We recently lost one of the Patron Saints of Watchstanders, ROTC/OCS Graduate Hall of Fame, and a distinguished member of the Retired O-5 Mafia.
Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov was 44 years old and working at a missile detection bunker south of Moscow on September 26, 1983. His computer told him that five nuclear missiles were on their way, and given their flight time, he had just 20 minutes to launch a counter attack. But Petrov told his superior officers that it was a false alarm. He had absolutely no real evidence that this was true, but it probably saved millions of lives.

“The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds, staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word ‘launch’ on it,” Petrov told the BBC’s Russian Service back in 2013.


“I had all the data [to suggest there was an ongoing missile attack]. If I had sent my report up the chain of command, nobody would have said a word against it,” Petrov said.

“There was no rule about how long we were allowed to think before we reported a strike. But we knew that every second of procrastination took away valuable time; that the Soviet Union’s military and political leadership needed to be informed without delay,” he told the BBC.

“All I had to do was to reach for the phone; to raise the direct line to our top commanders—but I couldn’t move. I felt like I was sitting on a hot frying pan,” Petrov said.

Perhaps importantly, Petrov noted that he was the only officer around that day who had received a civilian education. Everyone else were professional soldiers and he believed that they would have simply reported the attack at face value. The men around him were “taught to give and obey orders.” Luckily, Petrov disobeyed what simply didn’t feel right to him.

Petrov reasoned that if the Americans were going to launch a first strike they’d send more than five missiles, despite the fact that they could still do an enormous amount of damage. He also believed that since the alert system was relatively new it seemed likely that it could be sending a false alarm.


When I first heard his story years ago, I thought it was one part gilding the lily, another part mythology. Over time, many professionals looked in to the story – and it seems to have held the test of time.

Did one man save the world – or would someone else up the chain have dialed things back? We don’t know, but what we do know is when this man was faced with a call, he made the right one.

I would recommend you read the full article. Look at the pictures. Look how he lived. A humble man who served a fallen empire living in humble means.

How was he officially rewarded?
In the aftermath, the Soviet government investigated the incident and determined that Petrov had insufficiently documented his actions during the crisis. He explained it as "Because I had a phone in one hand and the intercom in the other, and I don’t have a third hand"; nevertheless, Petrov received a reprimand.

In 1984, Petrov left the military and got a job at the research institute that had developed the Soviet Union's early warning system. He later retired after his wife was diagnosed with cancer so he could care for her.

The O-5 Mafia understands ... but none of that matters.

But he lived a grand life, did good.

Straight 5.0s, #1 Early Promote. 

Fullbore.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Diversity Thursday

At this point in 2017, can well meaning people agree that Identity Politics is one of the last places our Navy needs to be moving towards and encouraging?

Can we agree that dividing people in to groups based on race, ethnicity and sex is divisive and prejudicial to good order and discipline?

Can we agree that showing favoritism to one group over another based on same is a cancer that leads nowhere but to division and strife?

Can we agree that you cannot contain Identity Politics to only one group; that if you encourage and reward one group for engaging in Identity Politics, that over time other groups will start to do the same - with or without your encouragement?

Can we agree that the primary reason people try to hide something that is naturally apparent to observers, derives from shame? Like makeup over a scar, paint over rust, or fragrance over smell - to hide, obscure, or artificially change a natural feature is simply a manifestation of shame?

What if the objects of shame are people? Is this an activity our Navy should be engaged in? Encourage? Proud of?

Regardless of who they are, do we want those serving our nation feel that we don't value their service simply due to their race, ethnicity or sex? Not imply or leave open to misunderstanding - but openly - red in tooth and claw - tell them that their presence is not wanted simply because of how they were born?

Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? Why do we lie to ourselves and others? Why do we have leaders who desire to enter every argument on the basis of something as meaningless as race and ethnicity?

For the folks new to DivThu and uninitiated, we should probably clearly define something first; "diversity" in the Navy is what is measured as such. Socio-economic background, State of residency, region, and academic background is not what what is tracked and accounted for; race, ethnicity, and increasingly sex and sexual proclivity is what is meant by the word "diversity." Mostly race and ethnicity.

Check out the Diversity Commissariat's calendar for approved and unapproved race and ethnicity.

We have a long history of building Potemkin Village photo-shoots that create a false impression of the actual makeup of our Navy. In many publications and videos, it is just plain laughable. USNA can be especially silly in this regard as we have covered through the years WRT the Color Guard fiasco and other occasions.

PAOs and other marketing types can't help themselves when it comes to counting jelly beans - but why do it for internal reasons? Are we so seeped in the worst aspects of academic Cultural-Marxism that we believe the people we bring in and the culture we mold them to allows people to be motivated, driven, and shaped by racial prejudice? As apposed to stamping it out, we encourage it?

Are we really OK with people who openly accept and promote a culture that encourages an individual's learned bigotry? If we have someone in the service who does or does not want to do a job based on the race of people who are presently doing that job - do we even want that person in the service?

The military has no use for those who are so driven by race and ethnicity that it impacts their job decision and performance. There are too many people who don't think that way that we can retain - they are the ones we want, not those guided by the most base brain-stem tribal instincts.

If we are a meritocracy, then we should only care about one thing; performance. What shade your skin is, if your last name as a vowel or not, or who you want to share an evening in Paris with should make no difference. If someone thinks it does, then that person needs more training, better leadership, or a different line of work.

If a leader is pushing a sectarian world view, then in the second decade of the 21st Century they have no reason to be in a leadership position where they can pollute minds of subordinates with their biases.

Not everyone promoting such actions are creating them out of whole cloth. Many junior personnel are just executing the orders of those above them; not illegal orders, just distasteful orders. So go on their own, but most only "go there" if they are directed to. As such,  I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the LT quoted in the below. 

This is an institutional problem.
-----Original Message-----
From: [redacted]
Sent: Wednesday, August 30, 2017 3:49 PM
To: [redacted], Christopher J CAPT STRIKEFIGHT, Commodore
Cc: Alex [redacted]; CSFWL_OCEN_SQUADRON_COS; CSFWL_OCEN_SQUADRON_XOS; [redacted], Kevin M CAPT STRIKEFIGHT, SFWL; [redacted], Joseph R CDR STRIKEFIGHT, OPS O; Samuel [redacted]
Subject: Re: USNA Social Date Change

CAPT [redacted],

Sir, can you please send us 6-8 diverse JO's with recent cruise experience. We are trying to overcome stereotypes about the composition of the VFA community, so we would like to represent broad of a JO population as possible (mix of pilots/ WSO's/ males/ females/ backgrounds/ ethnicities). It also helps to have a mix of squadrons. The most important factor to consider is that midshipmen resonate best with young JO's that have charismatic personalities and are excited about the leadership and career opportunities Naval Aviation holds.

We're looking forward to welcoming the VFA community back to the yard to kick off our Naval Aviation event series this year, thanks again helping us get the future generation into the cockpit.

V/R,

[redacted]


[redacted]
[redacted]
United States Naval Academy
[redacted]
​O: ​[redacted]

C: [redacted]​
"...overcome stereotypes..." - really? Why are we overcoming stereotypes?
Stereotype
nown
...
4. Sociology. a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group:
Is there is implication that all stereotypes are bad? Not all are bad, they are simply a reflection of the reality created by individual choices and talents. Is the present stereotype in the VFA community "bad" to the degree it needs to be hidden? Why is it "bad?" 

Is this bad and unmotivating simply based on the DNA of who is at the table?



Who cares if everyone on a panel is a white male, Asian female, or some unknown but glorious all-American mixture of this, that and the other thing? We should not care, and the best of our young men and women will not care. If they do, then we've recruited the wrong men and women - or more likely - filled their heads with a bunch of sectarian garbage that needs to be untrained.

NB: I quoted the initiating email of a long thread by the time it got to me. I stripped the rest away an none of the people mentioned in this email sent it to me. I received a copy way down the thread forwarded through many levels. The Fleet LT who sent it to me shared some additional details I wish I could post as well, but that would expose them. 

The problem is not the racial attitudes of our junior officers or Midshipmen. The problem is with the senior leadership that encourages, requires, and derive personal gain from promoting sectarianism, division, and the strife that come with it. 

This is just another example in a long shameful record. 

Our Navy is better than this.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sen. Kaine (D-VA) Puts CDR Salamander in the Senate Record

Today at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Recent United States Navy Incidents at Sea, Senator Kaine quoted a post from November 2008 based on the resignation letter from a regular reader and Junior Officer SWO who was kind enough to allow me to publish it.

To see what got the Senator and his staff's attention, I'll re-post the letter in full.

REASON FOR SUBMISSION OF REQUEST

There are a multitude of reasons I am requesting to resign from active duty; in brief, I have lost faith in the direction of the Navy and I wish to pursue graduate education on my own terms.

I do not see a bright future for the Surface Navy. Our newest and projected ships are all troubling for multiple reasons. The LPD-17 class is a mess; late, over budget, incomplete and possesses questionable mission capability. LCS and DDG-1000, which were supposed to make up significant portions of our future fleet, are both struggling to get more than two hulls in the water and are having many of the same difficulties as LPD-17. These difficulties will continue to lead to a further dilution of the already limited assets we have. Our future combatants, LCS and DDG-1000, are both ridiculously under armed. Any frigate-sized combat ship whose primary weapon is a single 57mm cannon is dangerously ill-equipped. The secondary weapons systems are manned, un-stabilized .50 caliber guns. High rate of fire 57mm cannon are great, if they are secondary or tertiary weapons systems. Manned weapon systems, as we force ourselves to operate them, are inordinately manpower intensive. This is a huge flaw on a ship that is very light on bodies. Un-stabilized weapons are also of dubious use in any form of sea state. I understand the concept of adding capability to LCS with mission modules, but it is hard to temporarily install a gun on a ship. Even with a MIW package installed, the ship may have to fight. Have we learned nothing from history? Ships built to outrun anything they can not outgun generally can neither run nor fight as they are employed, will FREEDOM become known as equivalent to HOOD? DDG-1000 is another flawed concept, but at least 57mm cannon are included as a secondary weapon. In the modern littoral world the risks are simply too high to steam one of two or three multibillion dollar capital ships to do the land attack job. Any 15,000 ton ship that draws nearly 30 feet has no business being anywhere near the coastline. The ship has now been publicly justified solely because it is needed to develop the technology for CG(X). DDG-1000 will soon be nothing more than a white elephant. As part of the bigger picture, we no longer have ships that we can even pretend excel at surface warfare. We have allowed the air and submarine services to take responsibility for all of our offensive capability. We continue to develop fundamentally defensive capabilities. The fact is that in a conflict with a Russian or Chinese surface ship, our ships have no ability to credibly shoot back. Our offensive capability is limited to a helicopter or possibly a Harpoon, which is entirely unacceptable. We have entirely lost any credible offensive surface capability.


The manning for these new classes is also a concern. How these ships will have to operate and fight does not fit the current training or manning paradigm. I served as the Operations Officer on a PC. The PCs are the closest thing we have to the optimal manning construct of LCS. The administrative burden placed on the ships due to an antiquated manning system is obscene. In addition to this fact, crews are consistently put in situations where they have nothing but bad options; this limits readiness, hurts morale and is a disgrace to ORM practices. There is not the depth of talent available in optimum manning solutions, or sometimes simply the bodies, for the current manning process to work. These manning problems are directly related to future platforms and there is currently no credible solution, especially with the limited numbers of ships projected. New classes, with “optimal manning” will be consistently fighting an uphill battle. That battle will inevitably sap time, resources, and morale. That manning battle will in the long term affect the quality of people choosing to go to these ships. Will a hot running Junior Officer or Chief choose to go to a ship that may well be viewed as out of the mainstream and is known to be more work than a comparable DDG? Some may, many will not. The LCS manning models all suggest that it will be an entirely senior crew. Will they all be willing to stand watches, in port and underway that may actually be below their paygrade? What happens on the ship when the detailer who is completely unaffected sends a second class to fill a first class billet, as one up or one down is OK, a Sailor who does not have the requisite schools, ability, or maturity to fill a senior billet? What happens when there is an unanticipated loss on board? That billet needs to be filled and detailers can do nothing but activate their antiquated system and cut orders for someone coming from shore duty to arrive in six months. Even with staff and flag level involvement these issues persist. Each question I ask has been an actual issue and while I know they exist on all ships they disproportionately affect ships with smaller crews. Adding officers to the LCS manning construct to allow for a three section watch rotation, which was a listed justification at one point, leads me to believe that many of the actual manning issues to be seen have not been actively thought through. Many problems have surely been addressed, but what of those that are unanticipated? What happens when you go through a training cycle and have to demonstrate two watch sections and a fully qualified training team, especially during times when it may be physically impossible to do? One of three things will have to happen: change shipboard manning, change training and operation practices, or force the crews to deal with it. I anticipate the third option as being most likely. It is unreasonable to expect the newest and best surface assets to operate to their full potential with these manning problems. However, the system is not built to accommodate them. The crews inevitably will have to make up for institutional shortcomings with extra watch standing and extraordinary effort.

IAs are a sore subject. They remain an issue and have not been properly addressed. I know entirely too many people who have been sent on an IA to do jobs that have no professional application to their career. The numbers, as presented, are misleading. For example, from the current SWO CO/XO Mentoring Brief available from BUPERS (April 2008 as I write this, in September) there are approximately 75 Lieutenants on an IA or GSA, which equates to just shy of 4% of the force strength. I know not all of those are my year group but I do know some from my year group have already been on an IA, are on an IA or will be on an IA. The numbers when compared to the 281 of my year group set as a goal for SWOCP takers is staggeringly higher, nearly 25%. It will not surprise me to see numbers of around that 25% when we look at final percentages of year groups that have been on an IA or GSA. It may be that my perceptions are incorrect, as I am a skeptic by nature, but it certainly still feels like the sword of Damocles is hanging over our collective head. The communication has been terrible regarding IA/GSAs, and, by the way, changing a name does not change the problem. They should have been a temporary solution for an overextended Army and State Department. I would have gone on one of those in a heartbeat. In fact I applaud the Navy for helping; but now why do they still exist? Are they permanent billets associated with Army units; that we can deal with? On the other hand are we still filling gaps that now five years down the road we should not be? To address the negative impression the GSA has been turned into a “good deal” with tag lines like: beneficial to your career, Command Billets, IA instead of a second division officer, or second department head tour, etc. It seems to have turned into an unofficial requirement. If you want to look really good at a board you need all of your qualifications and an IA. They may not be mandatory, but if they are a plus and so many people have done them now, should I volunteer to go do something way out of my line of work just to look better and be more promotable? Another issue is that it seems ridiculous to go on an IA and still be required to do a joint tour and JPME. Were these things not instituted so more senior officers have a better idea of how other services work? It looks as if we have failed to apply common sense to an arbitrary checklist. I could go on for pages regarding the IA/GSA process, but the summary is that I feel like SWOs are being sold a bad deal and are even more embittered than they would be otherwise.

The whole IA/GSA process seems to be not much more than a thorn in the side of a surface force, which requires focus on unanswered topics. We are abrogating our duty to adapt to the conflict we are in. The capability we could field for the cost of one of our average surface ships in terms of maritime counterinsurgency (MCOIN) seems to be significant. I do not get the impression that we have focused enough on this capability. It remains a tiny sideshow relegated to reserve components and collateral duties. I am a non-compliant certified boarding officer. It is a capability we have added to surface ships in a haphazard manner; the current time and training allotted is inadequate for this duty and it is only a matter of time until we kill people. I will never argue that we do not need a bluewater strategic capability, it is one of our core competencies. We are failing to adjust to current issues and the corresponding decrease in conflict intensity. MCOIN cannot remain a subset of our special forces if we are to remain a valuable asset beyond the high seas and blue water realm. As warfare becomes more asymmetric missions once reserved for special forces will need to be handled by regular commands.

If I saw the Navy as actively pursuing MCOIN or a strategic vision that actually was relevant I would be less disillusioned. I would certainly consider staying in the Navy if the Navy was going down a more logical road to include the capabilities discussed in the previous paragraph. I am forced, if I wish to continue in the Surface Navy, to follow the career checklist: Department head school, a standard first tour department head tour, then maybe I could do something interesting, pending availability. I have been told that my time on a PC will not come back to bite me, but it seems as if it is because it is clearly listed as outside the mainstream (slide seven of the previously referenced brief). I am required to do three of four division officer and department head tours in the mainstream (slide nine of the previously referenced brief). I do not want to be fighting an uphill battle for the rest of my career, which given the standard career guidance, seems to be the only way I could ever do anything that excites me. My options, assuming I successfully complete a first tour department head job, are at best limited. Based on the most recent second tour department head billet list (July 2008) 50% of available second tours are on a staff, which holds exactly zero interest for me. Less than 10% of the jobs are what I would call appealing based on what I know now, and while I have gotten my first choice for every assignment so far I am not willing to stake my future happiness on a slim probability which may not even be available.

I would argue that giving officers the ability to have more options, even if outside the mainstream, would be beneficial to retention and broaden the capabilities of future commanders. Diversity is a dangerous term because we do not value career diversity. We say we value diversity and yet force our officers to stay in the mainstream to stay competitive. There is a huge difference between what we say we value and what we actually value. True diversity is variety of background and assignment. Diversity is not an Aegis division officer tour fleeting up on board, then two department head tours fleeting up on an Aegis ship, and then two tours as Executive Officer then Commanding Officer on an Aegis ship. True diversity in assignment is the opposite of that defined by the current hot-runners career path. Diversity as we define it in the Navy is nothing more than racism masquerading as an insult to the officer corps. I treat all of my Sailors exactly the same, regardless of their background or skin color; any officer worth their collar devices does the same. To suggest that I do otherwise is a denigration of my character and leadership. I do not need to come from the same socioeconomic background to tell a Sailor to stop sleeping on watch, take responsibility for their space or, on the other end of the spectrum, be their advocate at an awards board or ranking board. Diversity as practiced in the Navy means that, by the basic numbers promoted as goals for the 2037 Flag Officer pool, we will have to disproportionately promote Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American officers at the expense of White officers; especially given the historical retention problems among non-white officers. That is divisive, unfair, and racist. We have done away with promoting fairly and based promotion or awards on checking the boxes of what we think our Navy ought to look like.

The problem of checking the boxes, vice actually being a capable Navy exists everywhere. Lessons learned and codifications of “best practices” have led the Navy to being a force focused on the checklist as the end state vice actual capability. As one example, Afloat Training Group (ATG) does not care that a ship has a method to ensure safe navigation. The concern revolves around a ship meeting the requirements set forth in the Training Manual and the overly burdensome Training Figure of Merit computer. By failing to empower our personnel to come up with their own adequate solutions, and holding them accountable if they do not, we encourage a culture of mediocrity. Examples are everywhere around the Navy where a Sailor’s natural problem solving ability is stifled and that Sailor is forced to follow a checklist. This is a dangerous mentality that will come back to haunt us should we ever be involved in a shooting war. People are no longer being taught to operate, think, and fight within a box defined by the confluence of legal and operational requirements; they are taught to follow the checklist and if they do not they may be held accountable for inappropriate actions. We are slowly, but surely, falling into the Russian model where ships and fleets will be paralyzed because of their conditioned hesitance to act without specific guidelines and orders. We used to pride ourselves on the independence and warfighting spirit of our officers; now I have no desire for command at sea because it is not what it once was.
Command used to be a place where you could finally break free of all the stupidity you had been subjected to and do things how you wanted. Not so now. It is unconscionable that a Commanding Officer is forced to adopt generic standing orders or just tweaks the prepackaged outline provided in the pipeline. Commanding Officers are micromanaged to the point where command by negation has been killed, long gone are the days of Nimitz, Spruance and Halsey.

Above and beyond the problems I have detailed in the Navy, I want to pursue a graduate degree of my choosing; one of actual value to me. The reliance on the checklist as the end state vice a tool to get there has made its appearance in education as well. Why should I use my personal time on shore duty to get a master’s degree to remain competitive with officers whose shore duty is solely for the pursuit of a master’s degree? We have already seen the suspension of this arbitrary policy on the enlisted side and that is good. I do not want a Chief focusing on getting an associates degree so he can make Senior Chief, I want him focused on our Sailors. I am glad that requirement has been suspended. An advanced degree, no matter what it is, is now becoming the arbitrary goal among officers instead of the actual ability to think critically. I chose to avoid getting a degree that will not benefit me in the long term, aside from filling an arbitrary requirement. Instead, I will use the benefits now afforded me under the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get a degree that is useful in the civilian world.

I have fulfilled my obligation to the Navy and more. I have served on multiple deployments covering most of the world. I have experienced unique situations and have been privileged to work for and with excellent people. I have also had the privilege to lead excellent people and I have rewarded their trust in me. I have no doubt that my experiences in the Navy have made me a better and stronger person and for that I am thankful. However it is unbearable for me to remain a square peg in a Navy full of round holes. It pains me to see so many good people and possibilities wasted by our self inflicted bureaucratic ineptitude and institutional inertia. Problems of our own making are the things standing between where we are and where we need to be, yet we continue over the cliff like lemmings. Please accept my reasons for resignation in the positive spirit they were written because I honestly do care for the greater good of the Navy. The current direction of the Navy and my disillusionment with policies has led to my decision to start another life.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Tailhook 2017 SU-22 Shootdown Panel

It has been a tough month or so for the Navy and it might be time for a morale boost to let everyone know that there is some very good news out there, great leaders, and great professionals.

Take some time to watch this panel discussion with the individuals involved.

This is also a time to give a nod to our Navy’s culture that we have such panels and have them open to the general public.

BZ to all.



H/t EagleOne on Midrats.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mid-September Melee on Midrats!



From WESTPAC to the Caribbean to the Euphrates river valley to Arakan province, we’ll be covering the mostly maritime national security developments of the last few weeks for the full hour in a Midrats free-for-all format.

This is also your chance to bring up the topics you want addressed. Join in the chat room live to share your questions, or call in to the show if there is something you like us to talk about.

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, September 15, 2017

Fullbore Friday

Like the subject matter of today's FbF, there won't be a lot of detail - and you don't want the detail.

You just need to know that there is a lot of general badassery being done in your name that if you did know the details, you would be both proud and humble at the same time.

The submarine service is well unknown for this little fact. The world's most deadly geeks.

Cmdr. Melvin Smith, commanding officer of the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Jimmy Carter, watches as the submarine travels through the Hood Canal. (Lt. Cmdr. Michael Smith/U.S. Navy)
We've covered a few times when British submarines have flown the Jolly Roger, and we highly approve. So many of the US Navy traditions come from the Mother Country, so I don't see why we can't keep stealing their best.

BZ to Skipper Smith and his crew. We'll read about it in a couple of decades, maybe.

Oh, and this; Salamander approved attitude as well. A CO is always on stage.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

PSYOPS vs ISIS

From a doctrine and staffing perspective, it only takes a few months as a NATO Staff Weenie to realize that the USA is, to be blunt, horrible at INFO OPS and PSYOPS compared to some nations who are much smaller us. We could do much better.

It is a shame, we are by many measures one of the most creative people in the world - but our military seems to smother that aspect of our host culture to the point of blandness.

Are we getting better? I don't know - we still seem to have a bias towards the PAO side of the INFO OPS/PSYOPS/PAO three legged puzzle ... but this report from Tom Rogan is nice to see;
... And on Thursday, Townsend answered reporter questions about the status of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Townsend said he has seen "Indicators in intelligence channels that he's still alive." This is notable since we've heard little about al-Baghdadi since June when Russia claimed it killed the ISIS leader. As I noted at the time, there are a number of reasons why that Russian claim was always questionable.

And on Thursday, Townsend answered reporter questions about the status of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Townsend said he has seen "Indicators in intelligence channels that he's still alive." This is notable since we've heard little about al-Baghdadi since June when Russia claimed it killed the ISIS leader. As I noted at the time, there are a number of reasons why that Russian claim was always questionable.
...
Playing to that reality, Townsend flips ISIS propaganda back onto itself, reminding lower-rank fighters of their terrible mistake. They who once served God's will by playing Grand Theft Auto in the flesh now await a pathetic demise. As I've explained, this propaganda battle is crucial in dissuading susceptible individuals from joining the caliphate.
I don't know if that is enough. We need to play harder.

Fear is not enough, we need to use more shame and "face."

We need to be as brutal as the worst shitposters on 4chan. As a matter of fact, we should be recruiting them as contractors.

If they can get under the skin of ISIS as well as they do Shia (yes, that Shia) ... it would be money well spent.

Monday, September 11, 2017

On the Wall, Fox News Was Playing

I was in the C5F AOR on September 11th, 2001. 

Just another day. In the corner Fox News played most days, CNN others.

It was just background noise. Then I heard YN3 say, "Oh, shit!" at about the 11:15 moment in the video below.

See wasn't known for cussing.

At the 19:09 point we knew all had changed.



This is all I feel like blogging about today.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Reporting on a Navy in Crisis, With David Larter - on Midrats



In an era of the 24-hr news cycle but in a subject area where accuracy and subject-knowledge is required - how does the navy-focused media report on the fast changing environment?

For the professional journalist, the last few months have shown that even peacetime naval operations can create stories as professionally demanding as reporting on wartime developments.

The stories coming from the deaths of 17 Sailors from the USS FITZGERALD and USS JOHN S. MCCAIN and the reaction from the SECNAV on down are just the latest example.

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss the interplay between media, political concerns, industry pressure, and personal agendas in reporting on our Navy will be David Larter, Naval Warfare Reporter for Defense News. He's a graduate of the University of Richmond and a former Operations Specialist Second Class, still DNQ in his ESWS qual.

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, September 08, 2017

Fullbore Friday


As the D-Day invasion was ongoing, the German Navy sortied what they could to try to drive the allies back across the channel. The most feared were the French based U-boats.

Please read the whole thing, but here is a nice summary of one of the under-told stories of WWII, Coastal Command.

On night. One crew. Two U-boats.

Fullbore.

“G-George” droned on through the night. Men drank coffee from thermos flasks, kept the chatter to a minimum, scanned the endless sea and began to feel the numbing weariness set in that came with these long over-water patrols. But adrenalin shot through their bloodstreams like amphetamine just after 2 a.m. when Foster announced on the intercom that he had a solid return on his radar 12 miles dead ahead in the vicinity of Ushant Island (Ouessant). It was too early to tell whether it was a French fishing smack or the conning tower of a U-boat. Moore corrected his course slightly to port to put the target in the path of the moon reflecting on the water. Three miles out the conning tower of a submarine was made out in the moonlight.

Coastal Command anti-submarine crews were trained to attack the moment a U-boat was detected and without deliberation. An undamaged Type VIIC U-boat, with a well-trained crew could crash dive beneath the surface in 30 seconds. Time was of the essence, as was complete surprise.

Immediately, Moore instructed Foster to switch off the radar in case the submarine had detection equipment, and then began to drop lower and lower, adjusting his course to keep the enemy up-moon until he was at 50 feet above the calm surface. McDowall, the navigator, took his position at the bomb sight. Moore ordered the four big bomb doors opened and as they slid upwards and outboard on their rollers, he could hear the hydraulic pumps working and sense the difference in the airflow note down the sides of his warhorse. Approaching the U-boat, which they calculated was making 10–12 knots in a westerly direction, they selected 6 depth charges from their quiver, attacking due south and 90 degrees to the path of the U-boat on her starboard side. Moore chose to leave the powerful 22 million-candela Leigh Light off to further keep their whereabouts secret. As they screamed in for the attack, the spare navigator, Pilot Officer Alec Gibb, DFC sprayed the conning tower with heavy machine gun fire (some 150 rounds according to the after action report) from his position in the nose. Moore and Gibb later stated they could see as many as 8 submariners scrambling from the tower to get to the deck guns. There was some anti-aircraft return fire, but it was too little and too late. They had caught them completely by surprise.

As they roared over the submarine at 190 mph, six depth charges, set 55 feet apart, were falling from “G-George’s” bomb bay, having been released by McDowall whose accuracy this night would be perfect. Three fell on either side of the submarine in a textbook straddling attack just ahead of the conning tower. A flame-float, designed to ignite when it hit the water was also dropped to identify the position of the submarine at the moment of attack. The rear gunner Flight Sergeant I. Webb watched in fascination as the detonations exploded white in the moonlight and appeared to lift the 700-ton submarine out of the water.

By the time they had climbed, swung around and were homing on the beacon of the flame float at the position of the attack, there was nothing left of the U-boat save for some floating wreckage and the oily slick of diesel fuel. A Type VIIC U-boat had disappeared and ceased to exist in a matter of seconds, the depth charges having done their job breaching the pressure hull and sending one of Karl Dönitz’ hunters to the bottom with all hands. One can only imagine the last minutes of terror for the more than 50 men aboard.

Sadly, when this submarine sank, there was no one who could identify which U-boat it was. Postwar accounting pointed to U-629, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Hans–Helmut Bugs on its 11th war patrol. She had just slipped out of her pen at Brest the day before. Still, other researchers disclaim the U-629 identification, pointing instead to U-441, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Klaus Hartmann on its ninth and final war patrol. It is not my goal to be definitive as to the identity of the fifty or so men killed that night, that best being left to experts in the field. Knowing would bring the story to a satisfying close, but it will not lessen the tragedy or the courage of the U-boat men who died that night.

Moore settled his crew down after the last pass over the wreckage, and ordered a course correction to take them back on their patrol. At 0231, just twenty minutes after the first radar contact was made, “G-George” sent a message to command that they had sunk a U-boat. The men were charged with electricity, but they had a job to do and hours before they could return home to St Eval.

Just a few minutes later at 0240 hrs, as they settled down at 700 feet ASL, Foster reported another radar contact 10 degrees off the starboard nose, this time just 6 miles ahead. Moore, with information from Foster, began to home in on the target, and at 2.5 miles range and 75 degrees to starboard, they sighted the conning tower of another U-boat on a northwesterly course running at an estimated eight knots on the surface. This time Moore needed to circle to port and come in on a course that would allow them to attack up the moon path.

Bringing the big Liberator down to 50 feet once again, Moore approached the U-boat at 110 degrees to its starboard side with plenty of time to set up another perfect attack at 190 mph. The remaining six Torpex depth charges were released at 55-foot intervals as well as a flame float. Again, Gibb, the spare navigator in the nose, was firing his machine gun at the conning tower, which answered this time with flak and tracer fire. As they roared overhead, the rear gunner Webb saw four depth charges strike the water to the starboard side of the U-boat and two on the her port side—another textbook straddling attack. Massive flumes of exploding water were seen rising on either side of the submarine, ten feet aft of the conning tower and totally obscuring the target.

Returning to the position of the flame float, Moore, Gibb and Ketcheson saw the U-boat in the bright moonlight, with a heavy list to starboard. As they approached, the bow rose steeply out of the water to an angle of about 80 degrees. The boat slid back into the sea “amid a large amount of confused water” according to the 224 Squadron ORB.

Moore circled in fascination and, coming around again, he turned on the powerful Leigh Light slung beneath his starboard wing outboard of engine No. 4. The blinding blue-white beam illuminated three yellow dinghies crowded with men floating on an oily surface strewn with bits of wreckage. One can imagine how exposed the survivors must have felt caught in the white light of the Leigh with a heavily armed Liberator thundering down its beam toward them. They passed overhead without further molesting the surviving crew, switched off the Leigh Light and left the German sailors floating in the moonlight.

The submarine was U-373, another Type VIIC boat commanded by Kapitänleutnant Detlef von Lehsten on its 11th war patrol. It had just slipped out of Brest after a six-month repair following a similar attack by a Coastal Command Wellington and Liberator in January. We know for certain that this was U-373 because all but four members of the crew survived to be picked up the next day by French fishing vessels and returned to Brest. Von Lehsten was one of the survivors.


Hat tip Al.