Friday, February 16, 2018

Fullbore Friday

Sometimes you have to bring up a ship that did just solid, warship duty. For example, I give you the USS MANCHESTER (CL-83).

That is all for FbF today - but I leave you with something to ponder.

As we discuss what is or is not littoral warfare - check out
this picture. All the stealth in the world won't help you here --- and a lack of damage control will kill Sailors wholesale. That is why the selling of LCS is almost a crime.

First posted JAN2010

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Don't let, "That's a Ford for 'ya" - become a snarky catch-phrase

Are you up to speed on the latest issues with the USS FORD (CVN 78) and EMALS?

I've got the goods for 'ya over at USNIBlog.

Come visit and give it a read.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

What the Pros Study

Come on people ... I know you love you some logistics!

Don't run away ... David Beaumont has a very good and readable post up titled, HOPING AND PLANNING FOR THE BEST: UNDERSTANDING WAR WITHOUT LOGISTICS, that is well worth your time as he kicks off a full year of logistics.

No, seriously ... it is what he does.

Of note;
Security is being recast as international logistics systems and supply chains contribute to the reshaping of the global order, and strategic policy intertwines itself with economics and industrial power to create objectives for the military forces protecting national interests (it has, of course, been ever thus). The growing logistics needs of combat forces creates pressures at a time where ‘small wars’ are being fought on a shoestring budget, where the increasing outsourcing of military activities binds operational success with the fortunes of commercial opportunity, and the growing complexity and diversity of supply creates troubling issues for military security.
There is little discussion – nearly a complete absence – of how logistics shaped the Western counter-insurgency operations which followed. With forces ‘hoping for the best, and planning for the best’, small logistics footprints and inadequate strategic consideration severely curtained British Army operations in Basra in the early years of its deployment in Iraq. The need to secure supply-routes and distribution tasks restricted the frequency of combat patrols, and entrenched forces into ‘forward operating bases’ thus reducing the tactical mobility of the force. Similar experiences in Helmand, Afghanistan, were encountered. More and more significant resources had to be directed to logistics missions, drawing upon helicopters to overcome lacking equipment and the state of lowering materiel readiness as the supply chain failed to keep up.
Keep an eye on him for logistics with an Aussie accent. Hopefully, with very little slang.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Those are not simple sand bars China is building

If you haven't checked with the latest imagery of what China is building in the South China Sea, then you've missed a sea change.

What was at one time little more than sandbars with a shack and a spotty pier, are now a series of scaled down Diego Garcias.

Via the UK Daily Mail;
The dramatic military build-up is shown in pictures taken from a height of 1,500m (4,920 feet) in the last six months of 2017, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

One of the fortresses is situated on Panganiban, a reef which a United Nations-backed court has previously ruled belongs to the Philippines, it is reported.

On the three largest reefs, Kagitingan, Panganiban and Zamora, runways appeared to be ready to receive military aircraft.

As an old TLAM guy, I fully recognize a nice target set when I see one - but there is a lot more to coercive power in peace than what might happen in full war;
China had in December defended its construction on disputed islands as 'normal' after a US think tank released new satellite images showing the deployment of radar and other equipment.

The military expansion also ties into a broader Chinese initiative, called One Belt One Road.

The vast infrastructure project, launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping, is set to build a 'new Silk Road' of ports, railways and roads to expand trade across an arc of countries through Asia, Africa and Europe.

Hat tip BB.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A long, irregular, and forever war; a discussion with Dan Green - on Midrats

As we enter our 17th of ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the global struggle against terrorism, why is this war taking so long? Where are we making progress, where are we stalled, and where are we falling back?

There are no easy answers to these questions, if there were they wouldn’t need to be asked.

We will discuss these and related issues for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern with author Dr. Daniel R. Green, a Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy focusing on counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, and stability operations in the Middle East and Central Asia.

He is a reserve officer with the U.S. Navy with multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, along with holding several senior advisory positions dealing with the Middle East, Central Asia, and NATO/Europe in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the State Department.

Dr. Green recently completed his third book, In the Warlords' Shadow: Special Operations Forces, the Afghans, and their Fight with the Taliban that we will use as a stepping 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, February 09, 2018

Fullbore Friday

No one will attack you. No one has a reason to. You are neutral. You have not armed yourself with anything aggressive that might provoke them.

Your unit is not finished training. You are nowhere near the front. You have plenty of time before you have to confront the enemy.

You are in a modern city full of civilians. There is no reason for anyone to attack you.

You are only 17 in 1940.

You have made it to 2018. You've had a full life - one whose experience is a witness to the false assumptions of others.

If you pardon the rough translation, I give you Corporal William 'Bill' Ramakers, Royal Netherlands Marines, the last veteran of the Battle for the Maasbruggen as the Dutch call it - or the 1940 Battle for Rotterdam in the Anglosphere.

Bill recently passed away after 95 years;
As a 17-year-old marine, Bill and his comrades fought for days against the German invasion force in Rotterdam during May of 1940. Because of their steadfast resistance, the marines, dressed in dark blue uniforms, were nicknamed by the Germans the "schwarzen Teufel": the Black Devils.
What an interesting path he took.
Ramakers became prisoner of war after the battle, but managed to escape a short time later. After the liberation of the south of the Netherlands in 1944, Ramakers left Scotland and Camp Lejeune in the United States for marine training.

After extensive training, with with the Marine Brigade he was supposed to participate in the invasion of Japan if that country did not surrender. With no invasion, Ramakers left for the former Dutch East Indies, and returned to the Netherlands in 1948. In 1951 with his young family, Ramakers emigrated to Canada.
Fullbore Corporal ... and congrats on a long and well lived life.

The pic is from his return to The Netherlands in 2014 with a visit by the King and Queen.

As for the Battle of Rotterdam, this is a great video overview of a brief part of WWII mostly unknown outside The Netherlands.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Diversity Thursday

The diversity industry has a unique ability to make both idiots and cowards of people.

A perfect example this week comes from the Home Country;
Mandarins at the Foreign Office invited staff to wear Islamic headscarves for the day, claiming they symbolised ‘liberation, respect and security’.

The event was last Thursday, just days before Britain marked the 100th anniversary of women being given the vote.
We all know where this came from. Their internal Diversity Commissariate had a wonderful idea that only a sexist, racist, homophobic bigot would oppose ... so of course it would be approved and supported. You know the drill;
An internal email to Foreign Office staff said the event was taking place on February 1 between midday and 2pm inside the department’s headquarters at Whitehall.

It read: ‘Would you like to try on a hijab or learn why Muslim women wear the headscarf? Come along to our walk-in event. Free scarves for all those that choose to wear it for the day or part of the day.

‘Muslim women, along with followers of many other religions, choose to wear the hijab. Many find liberation, respect and security through wearing it. #StrongInHijab. Join us for #WorldHijabDay.’ Posters for the event, featuring Foreign Office branding, were circulated. World Hijab Day, an annual event, was also marked in the Scottish Parliament.
As there seemed to be no one in the Foreign Office that had a shred of intellectual courage, we'll have to let others make the point;
The department was accused of backing the ‘institutional oppression of women’ by giving away taxpayer-funded headscarves at a walk-in event to mark World Hijab Day.

The event was held as women in ultra-conservative Iran burned their headscarves in protest at being forced to wear them or face arrest and prison.
Many Muslim women across the world have shunned the hijab – which covers the hair and neck but not the face – as an antiquated, oppressive, religious tool.
Maajid Nawaz, who heads the counter-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, criticised the department for ‘supporting World Hijab Day and the institutional oppression of women through modesty culture, while brave Iranian women risk all to remove hijab tyranny’.

Anti-hijab activist Masih Alinejad told Reuters: ‘We are fighting against the most visible symbol of oppression. These women are saying, “It is enough – it is the 21st century and we want to be our true selves.”’

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Bad Liberty, but Good Location

India and China are busy in the IO. The bases are not where I would want to be stationed, but interesting when you put them on the big map.

I'm reviewing over at USNIBlog.

Come on by and give it a read.

Kissinger Has Your Answer, if you are Willing to Listen

Walter Russell Mead over at WSJ has a quick summary of Kissinger's view of today. There is so much here to agree with, and hopefully Kissinger, a WWII vet still with us, is able to still influence the right people in the right places.
I once heard someone ask Mr. Kissinger what he saw as the most important trends in the world. I braced myself for an hour of sage but complex geopolitical monologue. Instead he replied with a single sentence, albeit one with more substance than most books published in the field: “You must never forget that the unification of Germany is more important than the development of the European Union, that the fall of the Soviet Union is more important than the unification of Germany, and that the rise of India and China is more important than the fall of the Soviet Union.”
How those two rise in parallel will be the story of this century. We are a "mature" and settled power, they are not.

His next point, which should be obvious, is ignored every day by people of both parties. Culture, tradition, and history are critically important.

People do not think the same. Not all cultures are equal. History does not pick a side, and unquestionably does not owe you a future.
It has often been said, sometimes by Mr. Kissinger himself, that he is a “realist” while many of his critics are “idealists.” There is some truth there, and Mr. Kissinger’s most trenchant opponents attack what they characterize as his cynical willingness to achieve policy objectives through morally dubious or even reprehensible means. But the gap between Mr. Kissinger and the rest cuts deeper. He isn’t suspicious merely of rosy idealism; he is suspicious of those who think ideologically about foreign policy, reasoning down from first principles and lofty assumptions rather than grounding their analysis in the messiness and contradictions of the real world.
Historical study and a lifetime of experience have taught Mr. Kissinger the folly of assuming that Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping or Ayatollah Khamenei thinks like American leaders do or wants the same things. Each of these men and their supporters are grounded in cultural and historical imperatives that do not always mesh with ideas about Adam Smith, liberal order and win-win negotiating.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Finland Ain't Playing Games

Remember that Finland only has a population of 5.5 million, 1.7% of the population of the USA. She only spends 1.4% of her GDP on defense. She only has a wee bit of coastline in the cul-de-sac of the Baltic ... but she is nestled up to Russia and a bit of a history with her.

All that being noted;
The U.S. State Department has cleared a pair of first-time missile sales for Finland’s navy that could top $730 million in total.
The first package covers 68 Evolved Seasparrow Missiles (ESSM) and one ESSM inert operational missile, along with associated parts and technical expertise, with an estimated cost of $112.7 million. These weapons are for use on Finland’s new Squadron 2020 class Corvette ships.

The second package, which comes with an estimated price tag of $622 million, covers a mix of surface launched Harpoon weapons, which will go on Finland’s Hamina class ships, Multirole Corvette ships, and Coastal Batteries.

Included in this package are 100 RGM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II Plus Extended Range (ER) Grade B Surface-Launched Missiles, 12 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Grade B Surface-Launched Missiles, 12 RGM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II+ ER Grade B Surface-Launched Upgrade Kits, four RTM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Grade B Exercise Surface-Launched Missiles, and four RTM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II+ ER Grade B Exercise Surface-Launched Missiles.
On a per-capita basis, that would be like the USA buying 8,882 Harpoons - if you only count the 100 Block II ER.

She's not in NATO (yet), she does not have a large navy - but she has enough to distract the Russian Baltic Sea Fleet ... and that will do well enough.

Now, if she will just grow to 2% GDP or a bit more like her Estonian neighbor, she will be much more on track. Small nations need to have big spines.

Monday, February 05, 2018

How Many Votes do Marines Have?

The slow, painful death of the of our best ally's military - a nation that cannot even defend her home waters anymore - should be a reminder to everyone what happens when the number of politicians who want to buy votes via the welfare state outnumber those who have an understanding of history and what it takes to maintain a nation's ability to defend itself. 

Perhaps I am being unkind to politicians, because the larger part of the problem are the citizens who don't really care, they just want more Soma;
The United Kingdom will lose its ability to conduct specialised amphibious operations, if leaked plans considered in the National Security Capability Review (NSCR) are not cancelled by the new Modernising Defence Programme (MDP), according to the Commons Defence Committee.

In its Report, 'Sunset for the Royal Marines?', published today, the Committee warns that further reductions in the Royal Marines and the disposal of the amphibious ships HMS Albion, and HMS Bulwark, would be “militarily illiterate” and “totally at odds with strategic reality”.

The NSCR, has been carried out by the National Security Adviser rather than by the Ministry of Defence. It has led to persistent rumours of major cuts in conventional forces. Up to 2,000 Royal Marines – about 30% of current strength – would be lost, together with the two amphibious assault ships which are essential for landing personnel, heavy equipment and supplies over a beach.
The Report sets out the series of challenges faced by the Royal Marines in recent years. Since 2011, numbers have declined from 7,020 to 6,580; training and exercises have been cancelled; and surveys have shown a tangible drop in morale. The disproportionate contributions made by the Royal Marines to UK Defence – not least in providing up to half of all UK Special Forces personnel – are being put at risk by inadequate funding.

The Report also rigorously examines the role of HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark. It concludes that their disposal would remove any prospect of the Armed Forces achieving a successful amphibious landing with a substantial force.
When Labour gets back in power?

You can read the full report here.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Fullbore Friday

In 2009 we lost a lion of the Cold War. 

 It is amazing, especially in NYC, who could be just around the corner.

Of all the things I spent my time on there, wouldn't it have been great to have audited a class of his, or at least asked him if I could buy him a cup of coffee?

Major General Béla Király, PhD - Hungarian Army and Member of the Hungarian Parliament.

Well done on a life well lived. From the NYT's Obit;
Gen. Bela K. Kiraly, the commander in chief of the revolutionary forces in the Hungarian uprising of 1956, who for more than half a century was considered a folk hero in Hungary, and who returned there in 1989 to serve in its post-Communist government, died Saturday in Budapest. He was 97.

story at Brooklyn College, where he taught from 1964 to 1982. Before returning to Hungary, he lived for many years in Highland Lakes, N.J.

A former major general in the Hungarian Army, General Kiraly was the senior military leader of Hungary’s short-lived revolt against Soviet forces in the autumn of 1956. As commander in chief of the Hungarian National Guard and the leader of the Budapest garrison, he commanded a force of 26,000 insurgents and 30,000 Hungarian Army troops who had joined them.

When the uprising began on Oct. 23, General Kiraly was weak, ill and exhausted; he had just been released after spending five years in prison, four of them on death row, on manufactured charges of espionage. After the uprising was put down violently by the Soviets less than two weeks later, he fled to the United States.
Bela Kalman Kiraly was born on April 14, 1912, in Kaposvar, in southwest Hungary. After graduating from the state military academy in Budapest, he served as an army officer in World War II. In later years, General Kiraly said in interviews that he had tried to join the Russian side in the war rather than serve with Hungary’s fascist forces, but was unable to do so.

During the war, Mr. Kiraly commanded a battalion of 400 Jewish slave laborers at the Ukrainian front. Disobeying orders from his superiors, as The Jerusalem Post wrote in 1993, he “put the 400 men under his command into Hungarian uniforms and treated them humanely.” For his actions, he was honored in 1993 as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial authority in Jerusalem.

Captured by the Russians in 1944, Mr. Kiraly was sent to Siberia. He and two dozen of his men managed to escape from the train carrying them there and walked over the Carpathian Mountains back to Hungary. Mr. Kiraly was made a general in 1950 and appointed leader of the military academy in Budapest.

In 1951,
General Kiraly was arrested on charges of subversion, sedition and spying for the United States. (The charges are now widely believed to have been concocted by Hungary’s Stalinist leaders.) He was given a death sentence, later commuted to life at hard labor. In October 1956, General Kiraly was among the prisoners paroled by the Hungarian government in a futile effort to appease mounting popular unrest.

When the uprising started, General Kiraly was in a Budapest hospital. “I was skin and bones coming out of five years of imprisonment,” Agence France-Presse quoted him as saying in 2006. “I was far from being healed, so I had to slip out of the hospital because the doctors would not let me go.”

At the request of Imre Nagy, a liberal Communist who was Hungary’s prime minister from 1953 to 1955 — and who was returned to office at the start of the uprising — General Kiraly organized the loose confederation of students, workers and other insurgents into a well-oiled fighting force.

“In 24 hours, I created a professional military staff,” the general said in the Agence France-Presse interview.

But it was no match for the hundreds of Soviet tanks that rolled into Budapest on Nov. 4. Pursued by two tank divisions, General Kiraly and a small band of resistance fighters headed for Austria. As they approached the border, the general ordered his men to blow up a nearby ammunition dump. With the Soviet tanks enveloped in the resulting cloud of smoke, General Kiraly and his men slipped through the border fence.

General Kiraly made his way to the United States, where he remained for the next 33 years. In 1958, Mr. Nagy and other leaders of the uprising were executed by Hungary’s post-revolutionary government. Had General Kiraly returned, he would most likely have met the same fate.
There is a lot more, please read it all.

Men like are the ones that make you ask; "What have I really done with the life that I have been given?"

I used to be a regular at a small restaurant that was owned by a husband and wife team. He was an officer in the Hungarian Air Force and escaped after the fall. He told me almost all of the other officers in his unit were executed immediately after capture; he kept running, made it to Austria then the USA. He still proudly kept a picture of himself in uniform with him.

A proud people. I hope this century is better to the Hungarians than the last.

First posted in 2009.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Keeping an Eye on the Long Game: Part LXXII

Most everyone here has probably heard about the Chinese test installation of a "railgun."

I don't know what it is, but it is big.

Three standard sized containers are mounted on the ship’s open deck immediately aft of the turret, which are believed to be the generators and other associated equipment needed to power a railgun. Other modifications on the ship seen in the published photos also include a new additional observation gallery and an unknown sensor atop the original superstructure, which is believed to be a control room and observation platform related to the railgun.

The bow doors used for conducting amphibious operations has also been welded shut. It is not known where the modified ship was photographed, although the Haiyangshan was previously known to serve with the PLAN’s East Sea Fleet. The ship has made at least one voyage post-modification, suggesting underway trials to test the seaworthiness of the modifications has begun.
When I saw that barrel, I immediately thought of this picture of our shore mounted test vehicle we bolted on a JHSV a bit ago - just like the author of the article did.

Yes, that sure looks familiar.

A couple of things. First, we don't know if it is a railgun, or if it is - how far along their testing is. That being said, I don't think the PLAN would do that install if they didn't think it was a go. We'll see.

Second, if it is, don't be shocked. Have you looked at all the advanced positions in technology and engineering at our finest engineering schools we openly give to Chinese nationals? Are you are up to speed on the huge amount of espionage they are engaged in while our FBI invests much of its intellectual capital playing political games in DC?

It would be zero shock to me if the Chinese did not have all the plans and testing results from our railgun program. As a matter of fact, given the record, I would be shocked if they did not.

If it makes you angry that the Chinese keep stealing our stuff so they can use it against us later, then by all means, get angry - but don't be mad at the Chinese. Our counter-intel operations have been a disgrace for years. Get mad at the FBI and those who have oversight of them. Get mad at our universities who gladly give up limited advanced spots to fully paid Chinese students over native-born students that only pay in-state or need scholarship money.

Let not your heart be troubled, some good things are happening on our end too. The Japanese - whose submarines are exceptionally good - are leaning in strong;
An effort that was initiated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) to modernise its undersea warfare capabilities in 2012 is on track to deliver the planned fleet of 22 diesel-electric submarines required for the country’s defence needs by the early 2020s called for under the Japanese government’s 2013 National Defense Program Guidelines, according to a JMSDF official.

Speaking at the Undersea Defence Technology Asia seminar at the Asia Defence Expo & Conference Series (ADECS) 2018 in Singapore, Captain Takahiro Nishiyama, deputy director of the Plans and Programmes Division at the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Maritime Staff Office, revealed that seven of the service’s 82 m Oyashio-class submarines – which have a surface displacement of 2,800 tonnes – have already completed service-life extension work to date.

The seven boats have received extensive refits during their second and third maintenance cycles, which have been planned to bring the vessels to “almost the same level of that of the latest model [Souryu-class] submarine” while extending their service lives.
If the Japanese would double their build so that by 2030 there are more like 35-45 Japanese SS in commission - that would keep things sporty.

In other weapons development, we are moving hopefully in another area faster than the Chinese can steal it; lasers.
The US Navy (USN) has selected Lockheed Martin’s .. for the fast-track development of a high-energy laser weapon system for testing on a DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer.
HELIOS will leverage proven mature technology to field a 60-150 kW class high-energy laser weapon system
See the kW? Remember the low-end laser we installed on the PONCE a few years ago? It is 30kW.

Build a little; test a little; learn a lot.

China is playing the Long Game - I think as an institution we are too, at last.

We need to broaden our efforts. We need to up counter-intel, neck down training China's scientists, encourage our friends to carry a fair bit of the security load, and keep building bit by bit.

Oh, being that we are talking railguns ... I have to embed the video...