Friday, October 31, 2014

Fullbore Friday

I will be, uncharacteristically perhaps, brief for today's FbF.

I actually had a rather long post written, and then deleted it. Most of it really didn't need to be published, and the public consumption part most of the regulars here know; know my view of what was done to move the difficult but winnable Afghan war in one speech in DEC09 to a hopeless cause.

Don't try to fight it out either way in comments. I'm in no mood to play with tired arguments from people are at best are just temporally disjointed, ignorant, or at worst just petty trolls.

Instead of all that non-productive crap, I decided to think of the good memories of Camp Bastion/Leatherneck as I knew it here. That cross between the surface of Mars and Moon Base Alpha. 

Two visits stand out the most. The two days of heartburn when I had following my overly enthusiastic breakfast with the Brits after not sleeping for the better parts of two days. Beans, stewed tomatoes, butter soaked dry toast and some kind of sausage on a stomach like that only prepped with black coffee in a dehydration was ... well ... what it was.

In a little more than four months before I hung up the uniform for good, Bastion was the pivot point in my last, "Screw the USAF, I'll figure this out myself" adventure.

Being stuck in Qatar after a conference; needing to get back to Kabul yesterday; a "two week delay" to get a flight back; staying all night after most everyone else gave up, and convincing a C-17 loadmaster in the middle of the night to open just a few seats in their "cargo only" flight - in a few minutes he came back after checking with the aircraft commander with a thumbs up. Had 5-minutes to get on. It was one of those, "Yes, I need to get to Kabul, but for now I just need to get in to AFG. I'll find my way to Kabul from there." moments.  

On the way, with a smug, "I told you I could do this" grin on my face, I walked around the lost souls hanging on hope in the wee hours I had met that day, grabbed a SEABEE CO and CMDCM who needed to get to their command who I told to wait with me as I was "feeling lucky," another lost O-5 Navy type who, like me, refused to accept that we had to wait two weeks, and a female USAF E-4 who was just lost not knowing what to do. With my team of misfit toys in tow, we followed the loadmaster to the C-17 and, like the cat who ate the canary, just nodded at each other as wheels when up, and fell asleep. Only the SEABEEs actually needed to get to Bastion - the rest of us other places. 

Sure enough, we got to Bastion in that C-17, shook hands and went our separate ways. My plan was that I had no plan, but hey - at least I was in AFG. Thing is, when alone and needing help - always look to family. The USMC was there. I knew right where to go.

Walked over in what was in '09 just a tent next to the taxi way, to USMC flight ops to see what was going to Kabul or Baghram - and generally to hang out in a place I knew I would be welcome, even if I was just a USN terminal O5 staff weenie a log way from his desk. 

"Nothing due today." Said the Marine looking at the ink board for today's flights, when all of a sudden we heard the distinct sound of a recently landed C-130 in beta. "Who is that?" I asked. "We have no idea."

Funny but longish story later; an ANG C-130 was dropping off one pallet and then flying empty to Baghram. I asked if I could have a ride, the nice Major said, "Sure." They said as long as I was willing to do a "combat dropoff" or whatever it is called when they keep all four burning and drop the ramp for people to run off; they'd stop in Kabul to drop me off. Just me.

And so, I found my way back to Kabul, not only two weeks earlier than the pogues in Qatar said I would - but 10-days earlier than the US Army Majors I traveled to Qatar with - but didn't think I could work the system, so headed off to the tent to snooze. They may have been SAMS graduates, but they didn't have that Navy, "I'll figure it out when I get there." sense of adventure. 

What a way to return to Kabul; a special flight in to Kabul all by myself, with a big sh1t-eating grin trotting off the back of a C-130 that didn't even bother to shut down - and before I was even past the tail of the aircraft, the ramp was coming up and the plane was taxiing. 

That was the last C-130 flight I would take, heck of a way to end that run. Still makes me smile.

A call to HQ ISAF, a USAF E-5, a Kiwi and a RAF guy pick me up in a Land Rover, and back to the HQ to finish up what was, in hindsight, thrown away by small, blinkered men. We tried.

Sigh. That was when we were in the middle of getting everything up to speed for the surge and we were all optimistic about the future. Few of us thought that Obama would quit later that year.

The days of SEABEEs, Red Horse, Rhino Snot, worldwide shortage of airport matting, and the Karzai family's cornering of the rock crushing market. Good times, good times.

That is my small, insignificant, staff weenie memory of Bastion/Leatherneck - but that isn't the story of that base. 

You could fill up years of FbF with the sacrifice of the US, UK, and allied servicemembers who served there. Doing their job as best as they were allowed - but largely untold by a bored nation, distracted leadership, and a largely indifferent culture.

Yes, the above is the short post. I'm just going to end it with the videos below. I frankly, just don't know what else to say. 

All that fighting, great fighting, that so few know about, and even fewer care. BZ to all - we did what we could and at least some of us, those who served with you and others who didn't but made the effort to find out, know. 

The rest can go pack sand.

Pause, ponder, and reflect.

Staff Sergeant Kenneth Oswood, of Romney, West Virginia, is one of the few members of the squadron who participated in both the Iraq withdrawal and Monday's Helmand airlift.

"It's a lot different this time .... Closing out Iraq, when we got there, we were told there hadn't been a shot fired in anger at us in years. And then you come here and they are still shooting at us," Oswood said.

"It's almost like it's not over here, and we're just kind of handing it over to someone else to fight."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The right-brain, left-brain balance

What are the reasons that even a technically minded organization would want to value a liberal arts education?

What are the lessons from some of the most successful civilian companies in the technology sector?

I'm discussing it over at USNIBlog - stop by and give it a read.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Oh, you beautiful DELTA of my youth ...

Here is a retro-Wednesday that has me going over my passive sonar equation, trying to remember how many teeth there were in the turbine of the DELTA III (Project 09786), working the CZ slide rule, working out F0, wondering what kind of propellers she had ... and ahhhh ... yes.

Look at her old, yet beautiful converted SSBN self. 

To many K-129, so some BS-136 - but to her friends, the ORENBERG. The old flirt, she seems to have popped her head up to say, "Hey there!"

Yngve Kristoffersen and Audun Tholfsen, two Norwegian researchers, were coming to the end of their day when they spotted something unusual on the water. 
"In the evening we spotted lights at a distance," the scientists recorded in their blog for October 16. 
"Turned out to be a submarine at the surface in position: 89° 17.5' N, 172° 42.9' W. We were not able to identify it." 

The men said that they approached the boat, but she sank back under the ice when they were within 100 metres of her.
How do you say, "Crap ... those aren't Polar Bears!" in Russian?
They did, however, obtain several photographs which show a distinctive profile, with the outline of the fin and bulbous bow pointing to her being a Russian nuclear submarine.

She has been potentially identified as the Delta class boat Orenburg.

If so, then the scientists met an old monster, a former ballistic missile bomber which displaces 13,700 tons when submerged, and was originally commissioned into the Northern Fleet in 1981.
Yep, that's her. Here is a shot of her pierside - they've taken away her classic DELTA hump;

The old girl has had an interesting post-Cold War life.

Man. I bet that CO is about my age, probably doing a bonus Command tour or perhaps the ORENBURG is considered a Major Command at Sea. I'd really love to share a bottle with that man and his XO to talk about, "back in the day." There is an old VICTOR III and TANGO cruise I would love to pick their brains about. If he was a JO on either, I could die right then a happy man.


Want to get underway on the ORENBURG? Me too ... believe it or not ... you can, in a fashion. Take some and enjoy the below video. I can almost smell that submarine funk through the screen. For a Russian ship, they seem to have taken good care of her considering her age.

Underway with wine, cigarettes and a cat. Sailors are Sailors, but in some ways - some still have a different kind of fun.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What N-code is Eeyore again?

After reading Lance Bacon's bit over at Navy Times, I felt like we all need to go get a drink or six.
The atmosphere was one of frustration shrouded in uncertainties as 1,100 Navy and industry leaders discussed ways to provide maintenance and modernization to a surface fleet burdened by growing demand and diminishing funds.

The Fleet Maintenance & Modernization Symposium 2014, aptly titled “Delivering Readiness in Austere Times,” provided a forum for ship crews, maintenance centers and industry to express their needs, challenges and potential solutions.
Sailors said they are increasingly mired in the mess that routine maintenance has become. Even things that should be a quick hit — something as simple as laying non-skid surface on a frigate’s tiny O3 level weather deck — is burdened by paperwork, conflicting requirements and the lack of contract flexibility. Similarly, civilians said they have insufficient visibility of what is happening on ships to better assess maintenance issues.

There are 89 administrative steps to hurdle from request to work for common maintenance, and that is “incredibly burdensome for the crew,” said Jeffrey Baur, maintenance policy manager for Fleet Forces Command. To overcome this “malicious expectation of adherence to a process,” a new planned maintenance system is in the works that will front-load maintenance schedules to ensure the right parts and people are sent to meet the problem. The new PMS is expected to be implemented by late 2021.
Yes, you got that date correct. Seven (7) years.

We fought and won WWII in less than five (5). Chew on that a bit.

Back to the Joy Parade;
While the Navy has looked in 92 percent of tanks and bilges aboard ship, some amphibs have not had that inspection in nearly 20 years.

Even more startling: Fewer than 29 percent of items identified in assessments are actually fixed, ... Even carriers have been forced to defer work — something once unheard of — because the surface Navy’s dire needs have drawn all available maintainers.

“I can’t get a pipe fitter because of the amount of work going on in surface,” said Capt. Mark Oesterreich, Naval Air Force Atlantic’s director of ship material. “There is a lack of resources to do critical jobs.”

Public shipyards are about 1,500 workers per day under the requirement, said Vice Adm. William Hilarides, head of Naval Sea Systems Command. The result: a carrier more than two months late in availability; two attack subs more than six months late, and two guided-missile subs more than a year late.
There is a great phrase that has always been a reference point for me from one of my intellectual heroes, Adam Smith;
“Be assured, my young friend, that there is a great deal of ruin in a nation”
-Adam Smith, 1782
There is a Salamander corollary that goes with that,
“Be assured, shipmate, that there is a great deal of deferred maintenance to be drained from a once well led Fleet.”
Things can get very bad, but with the right leadership and priorities, things can be turned around. We have the Sailors and knowledge, we just need the right leaders.

And to wrap it up ... we got so close,
“If we surge in the next four months, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Oesterreich said, pointing out that the West Coast has less availability than his fleet.

The reality of shorter maintenance periods and longer deployments is leaving too little time to fix problems and the cycle is increasingly unrealistic, a panel of command master chiefs said.

“I’ve seen ships that are scarily undermanned and under experienced,” said Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Justin Gray, who serves on the destroyer Gonzalez. “It’s not the sailors’ fault. It is the Navy doing that to the ship.”

According to one official estimate, as much as 40 percent of planned work is not done or done incorrectly.
How long have we been numbly accepting the "9-month deployments are the new normal for awhile until we settle in to a 8-month new normal for a few years?" Do we think this has no cause or consequence?

Master Chief Gray - you won't say it, so I will. The "Navy" isn't doing that to the ship, the Navy's senior leadership is allowing it to happen. It starts with SECNAV, his deputies, and then the CNO. What are their priorities? What are their speeches on? Where is their travel time spent?  

OK, let's be fair. Re-read the above, the linked article, and the below as well. Keep in mind the following from SECNAV's article in the Harvard Business Review from this year;
Leading a large, complex organization like the U.S. Navy ... calls for a certain approach. You begin with a narrow focus on your organization’s unique strength and role. ... 
That focus helps establish priorities. .... 
My primary objective since becoming the secretary of the navy, in 2009, has been to rebuild a fleet that declined from 316 ships in 2001 to just 278 before I took office. 

As the governor of Mississippi, I learned the power of setting a few specific priorities and relentlessly pushing them. As the CEO of a private company, I saw that creating a compelling vision and crafting an inspiring narrative are key to achieving results. You must never lose sight of the ultimate goal.   
Leadership in an interdependent system also means taking responsibility for keeping the system healthy.

Inside big organizations, managers themselves work interdependently, bringing their various strengths to the mix. Devote your energy as a leader to reminding your organization what its crucial role is, creating the vision and the narrative, and looking out for the health of the system. Then your presence, like the navy’s, will make a difference.
Well, crap.

How is that working out for us? 

That is who should be answering the questions. This did not happen out of the blue. We've seen this movie before. We are here on his watch. Given all he has said - he needs to address how we got here head on.

No blaming others - no - again - this has happened on his watch. If he thinks Rowden and Oesterreich are wrong, then fire them.

While we are at it, let's look again at Captain Oesterreich's point about manning. How are the shore billets doing compared to deploying units? How thick and rumpled has the tail gotten as the Fleet starves? Is there as much pain ashore as at sea? 

All those people ashore may have spent the last decade making sure that everyone got their special snowflake non-warfare pin, but what about the unsexy but important like pipe fitters, did they spend a little time there? 

What has been the percentage change in BA/NMP for HT over the last decade compared to the diversity and inclusion commissariat (both military and civilian). Did we design HT to be in a position to "optimally man" the Fleet? 

What support staff was working on decreasing and streamlining those 89 steps, as opposed to creating and finding redundant SAPR training events?

This did not happen by accident. This was not benign neglect. This happened for one main reason; leaders sand bag and delay either making a decision or a ruckus until the PCS cycle makes it someone else's problem. They are trying to survive in a command climate where you are to shut up and color, be one of the Carebears, and join in the sing along.

When the music stops, then the person left standing has to fix what others pushed to the right.

Here and at Midrats over the last few years we have reminded everyone that we will reach the point of fail-to-sail or catastrophic failure at sea. So far, we seem to be doing our best to make EagleOne and your humble blogg'r correct - again.

I think it is great to have a panel like they did at the Fleet Maintenance & Modernization Symposium, but what about action? Let's parse the 3-star's statement;
Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, the new commander of Naval Surfaces Forces, said this era must be marked by competence among maintainers and confidence in decisions made by leadership.
OK. Work with me a bit. What era in our Navy did not require "competence among maintainers?" The implication is, of course, that the era just prior to now is/was one that was beset with "incompetence among maintainers." If so, who are they, why were they allowed to be incompetant, and how are they being held accountable?

If we now, shockingly, find ourselves actually requireing competence to rebuild the material readiness capital that has been beset with ruinious policy in the near past, then what changes are being made to bring about the needed competance?

Also, if we need for there to be "confidence in decisions made by leadership" - then that implies that we are in a position where there is not confidence in decisions made by leadership. If that is believed, then, why? Who is responsible for this loss of confidence, and how are they being held accountable? What steps are being made to re-establish that confidence?

If nothing is being done, then we can assume that everyone is just fine with the level of competence and confidence in October of 2014 ... but no one is.

So, again - deeds not words. What is being done, who is doing it, and what is going to be made a lower priority so warfighting - and without proper maintenance there can be no warfighting - is the priority?

Back to Master Chief Gray,
“But if we want ... a Navy of true technicians, we need to invest in them.”
Agreed. But in a time of decreasing to at best steady state budgets - we have to establish priorities. The budget is a zero-sum-minus game. We have to take the money from one thing to create another. If we cannot do things now we are being asked to do without destroying the future ability to do it and more important things, then we need to say, "No" until resources match requirements.

That call isn't the Master Chief's. No, that is a 4-Star problem that requires 4-Star leadership inside direction and guidance from civilian leadership.

That is who we need to hear from. If we don't get what we need, then we will need to have CDR, CAPT, RDML, and RADM who reconcile themselves that they are happy with their terminal rank and decide to make a stand.

If we don't make this stand at peace while our material readiness capital is still at a salvageable level, then someone out there will be this century's Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky. Don't be "that guy."

Study your Admiral Rozhestvensky - and while you are at it - your Admiral Makarov as well.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Moral Warping of D1 Sports Shows its Head Again

For most of the first two decades of my life, I had the experience of most young American men, I played sports. Lots of sports. At one point or another, at varying degrees of mediocrity and length, I had the usual mix of football, baseball, wrestling, and basketball on an official level, and a smattering of other recreational ones as well.

I am a believer in the multi-faceted value of sports on the young mind and body, especially the mind. Team sports especially, I find them instrumental in learning many life lessons and better understanding your ability to control your mind and body, and learn to work with others under stress and emotion.

There is a dark side to sports, and the problem isn't mostly with the players - it is with those in the stands. The weekend tailgater or ESPN addict isn't per-se the issue, that is mostly social and from a love of the game. 

Even thought the root of all evil, money isn't a major source of the problem either. People do make a lot of money from sports (note how much USNA pays its coach) - though again, that is a primary driver of what vexes the institutions that go down the D1 route - there is an even deeper need that sports fill.

There are a lot of people who use sports to fill a psychological void in their life. For some it is reliving their own times on the field when they were younger, freer, more popular, and better looking than they are now in the post-compromise reality. For others it fills a primordial need for tribalism and conflict. When "their team" wins, they win. When their team does not, they are insulted, shamed, and feel less whole as if someone burned their village, raped their women, and stole all their cattle - all for a simple game.

It is that area where the problem comes from, the lower brain-stem drives. Straddling above that brain stem is the catylist of money for others - at that point you have a toxic mix ready to corrode and corrupt everything around it if it is not controlled and contained.

Many of you have read what happened to the Tarheals, but what happened at UNC Chapel Hill is not isolated to that august institution, and that culture is familiar to almost anyone who has gone to a major school with an D1 major sports team. As we have covered here over the years, people who should know better and should have a focus on a larger calling than a simple sport, football, have allowed sports to grow in stature and to enable an unnatural level of play, have compromised on the moral foundation of our military service academies.

You can search this site for the unforced errors by the US Naval Academy in their pursuit of D1 football, but for now - it is the Army's turn to slather themselves with the filth of their own misplaced priorities;
The Army football team wooed recruits this year with an alcohol-fueled party, a dinner date with female cadets, cash from boosters and VIP treatment on a party bus complete with cheerleaders and a police escort, documents obtained by The Gazette show.

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., which acknowledged the misconduct to The Gazette, disciplined 20 cadets for promoting underage drinking and other misdeeds and self-reported a recruiting violation to the NCAA. Two officers were reprimanded along with a pair of coaches. Those involved, though, avoided more serious punishments, including dismissal from the academy for cadets and courts-martial for officers.
I love this excuse;
"Although seen as a minor infraction by the NCAA, the U.S. Military Academy takes this very seriously and adjudicated this at the highest level of the disciplinary code," West Point said in a statement. "We adjudicated this under Article 10 of the Cadet Disciplinary Code and all cadets appeared before the Commandant's Disciplinary Board."
By all means, find a low standard and meet it. Yea team. Go Army, Beat Navy. Rah. Rah. Yawn ... rah.

How about that Air Force Academy leadership building team!
The superintendent of the Air Force Academy has called for an investigation into allegations of sexual assault, drug use, cheating, and favoritism among star student athletes. A report from the Colorado Springs Gazette found evidence that between 2010 and 2012, members of the football team and others took part in parties where heavy drinking, drug use, and sexual violence were commonplace.

According to The Gazette’s report, which was based on interviews and hundreds of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, a drink laced with Rohypnol, a date rape drug commonly known as “roofies,” was made specifically for women who attended a Dec. 2, 2011, party. According to a confidential informant who spoke to investigators a few days later, “four or five females did not recall what occurred the following day after the party.” The informant added that a gang rape took place that night.

The Office of Special Investigations eventually looked at 32 cadets, including 16 football players. Eight faced punishment and were dismissed for separate instances of misconduct, three of whom were court-martialed for sexual assault.
It is what you get when you have grown men and women who desperately want to sit in the stands and live vicariously through others. Combine that with outstanding athletes who were special snowflakes starting in middle school, and there you go.
The findings are egregious enough that academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson told The Gazette that she has called for an Inspector General's investigation of the athletic department.

"These efforts will help in eliminating subcultures ... whose climates do not align with our institutional core values," she said in a statement released Thursday exclusively to The Gazette. Johnson said the academy has taken steps to correct the problems within the athletic department. "Despite all of our efforts, I expect we'll still have issues with a few young people who will make poor choices," she wrote.
No, start with the adults involved with your athletic program and set your priorities correctly. The young men and women will respond accordingly.

Speaking of people involved in athletics. Over at the Severn School for Wayward Boys and Girls ... look who pokes his head out of the scupper to tut-tut the tribe;
Just prior to kickoff of Navy's home football game against Western Kentucky, the atmosphere at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium was electric. More than 30,000 fans were standing and cheering while the Brigade of Midshipmen were making a ruckus with the thunder sticks they had been given.

It was a completely different story as the two teams took the field for the start of the second half. There were only scattered fans in the seats as the grandstands on both sides of the field had significantly emptied.

Navy had led the game, 14-13, at halftime, but was outscored 23-13 in the second half and lost by a score of 36-27. When the Midshipmen tried to mount a game-winning drive in the waning minutes, there was very little noise or excitement inside the stadium.

This has become a worrisome trend at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in the opinion of athletic director Chet Gladchuk, who issued an email to all season ticket holders on Thursday urging them to remain in their seats for the entirety of home contests.

Titled "All In… All The Time," the email used the slogan of the Navy football team as a call to action for fans.
"That's the marching order for all members of our football team. 'All In… All The Time' reflects the expectation that they give 100 percent on every play for 60 minutes of every game," Gladchuk wrote. "As a catalyst for emotion and fan support, I am asking our fans to give our players 100 percent of their support for the same 60 minutes."
Chet, dude, you can't make someone love you.

OK, there is a review of the issue, what is the resolution?

There is a good conversation over at NYT about if college athletics as we now misuse it should be done away with. One of the articles outlines perfectly the one I have recommended for years. It keeps the unquestionably positive aspects of sports for college students, but eliminates most of the bad things that come with them.

James Davis outlines it very well. No need for DI, enjoy the DIII like a pro;
I am a firm believer that Division III athletics, which prohibits scholarships, is a vital part of a student's education at small colleges when properly developed and managed as a part of the overall college mission. If competition and physical education are important goals for students, then athletics, properly guided and balanced as part of an institutional mission, can be a valuable part of programming.
Coaches can serve as admissions recruiters for students with proper educational credentials and motivations; counselors for athletes who need discipline, skill development and proper exercise and diets; tutors when students need assistance on academic subjects and study habits; and disciplinarians when student residential life becomes a challenge. In short, coaches should operate competitive teams that motivate and teach life skills and team building that are different from other skill sets traditionally found in academia.
... I do believe that scholarship-free competitive sports should be integrated into the full life of the college and be balanced with fine arts, academic research pursuits, scholarship and other leadership training. When done properly, Division III athletics is an important part of a student's college experience. When done poorly, it detracts from academic reputation, financial strength and basic mission.
It is that simple. It is that turnkey. It makes that much sense.

That is unless, of course, you have people in positions of authority that are letting their lower brain stem requirements, tender egos, and for some - yes - their pocketbook - give them an excuse to sell their institutions integrity for a few bits of silver.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tall ships? Angry whales? I'm in!

It looks like this may be made right.

For those who know the basis for the book Moby Dick, then you should already have your heart beating a bit more right now.

Ron Howard is bringing epic book of the true story, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex to the big screen;

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fullbore Friday

This FbF is, in a way, obligatory - but a good obligatory.

We'll get there, but let's set the stage.

These men and women are all around us. You might be one of them. Most, however, will never be known for what they are. Events show one's nature, we rise to the occasion, we embrace our destiny, or - in a cold way - sometimes the training kicks in.

There was a study done awhile back of all things about ferry sinkings. The researchers found some striking consistency of reports that broke people's response to one of three areas. Some panic, some freeze, and a small percentage take action and save themselves and others.

Those who take action do the best. Then those who panic. But the final and larger group just wait for their fate, often sitting at their tables with blank faces in disbelief as the waters rise around them.

Some just have the right stuff, and we hire those who seem to have it for positions where one day that type of personality is needed.

In the words of Dave Grossman; the sheepdog.
“Then there are the wolves,” the old war veteran said, “and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.” Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

“Then there are sheepdogs,” he went on, “and I’m a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf.” Or, as a sign in one California law enforcement agency put it, “We intimidate those who intimidate others.”

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.
What does a sheepdog look like? Well, there he is, Kevin Vickers, the 58-year-old ceremonial Sergeant-at-Arms of Canada’s parliament.

I think at this point, the best thing to do is to show how his flock showed their thanks.

Note that Vickers did not need to wallow in therapy. He just needed to get back to work. Bravo Zulu.

A final note, there were other sheepdogs present that day, but fate gave them a pass.
After they heard gunfire outside their meeting room door Wednesday, Members of Parliament snapped close to 15 flagpoles to make sharp weapons.

Some positioned themselves on risers that flanked doors, ready to attack an assailant.

“There were 15 flags up at caucus and all but two were taken down,” one MP recalled.

“These guys were up there holding these spears ready to impale anyone who came in,” the source said.

“It was that or get mowed down,” the Member of Parliament said of the threat posed by a gunman who was ultimately shot dead by Parliament Hill security.

Mr. Harper, meanwhile, had been whisked into a closet in the Centre Block room shortly after the gunfights outside began.

There were more than 150 Tory MPs stuck in this caucus room during the ordeal.
MPs kept their flagpole weapons as souvenirs.

“Everyone was taking their spears home,” said the MP. “I’m going to frame mine.”
Defending their Prime Minister. In 2014, the Anglosphere still has it. 
"Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. 
The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?"

- William J. Bennett
In a lecture to the United States Naval Academy
November 24, 1997

Thursday, October 23, 2014

John Nagl's hard truth on Iraq

Over at FP, John Nagl rolls up what is going on in Iraq about as good as anyone else.

I'm just nodd'n my head in agreement.
The United States is now at war in Iraq for the third time in my lifetime, and after being in the middle of the first two I'm planning to sit this one out.
We seized defeat from the jaws of not-quite victory by not leaving behind a force of some 20,000 American advisors to stiffen the spine of the Iraqi Army and, perhaps more importantly, moderate the anti-Sunni tendencies of the Shiite politicians. But once he came into office, U.S. President Barack Obama overruled the advice of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Petraeus, who had since become director of the CIA. Obama's advisors urged him to keep troops in Iraq. Instead, the president chose to fulfill a campaign promise that he would end the war in Iraq during his first term. He abandoned a country in which Americans had been working and fighting continuously for more than 20 years in an effort to build a stable state.

In our absence, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave in to his worst sectarian tendencies, firing Sunni leaders of the Iraqi Army and replacing them with incompetent Shiite cronies. Al Qaeda in Iraq staged a comeback across the border in Syria, where another civil war raged without American involvement to moderate it. And this year, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham came roaring to life, seizing most of the Sunni territory in Iraq. Maliki's stooges abandoned their units under fire, and the Iraqi Army, built with billions of U.S. dollars and at the cost of many American soldiers' lives and limbs, crumbled in the absence of American air power and advisory support. Two years without Americans engaged in combat in Iraq ended in tragedy, and last month the president announced that U.S. combat troops were returning to Iraq to fight yet another war there, this time against the Islamic State.

With luck, we have learned a few things from these decades of war in Iraq: that the enemy has a say about when wars end, that in the absence of American leadership such evil forces will rise to power that we get dragged back in to fix things again, that wars are messy and slow and last a long, long time. Unless we finally get it right, I expect a fourth war in Iraq. I'm not optimistic.

Diversity Thursday

Time for another broad-view DivThu where we pull back and see where the foolishness you see from the Diversity Bullies in the Fleet come from and more importantly, where the people who are filling the civilian diversity and inclusion offices are intellectually coming from; what the Cultural Marxists world view is of those who are running the "affinity groups" and their sectarian awards and workshops our Department of the Navy budget money supports. In general, the toxic stew our leadership insists on injecting in to our Sailors.

First we have to tell a tale of warning. Yes, we have to fight these people and their cancerous socio-political agenda, but we also need to make sure we support our mates who are injured in battle. The enemy fights dirty - we have to fight smart. If you have a connection to a university or organization that has or is about to let themselves get mau-mau'd in to canceling a speaking appearance - push back hard.

One of our Shipmates in need of support is Robert Lopez, professor of English and Classics at Cal State-Northridge;
On August 6, 2012, I published an essay in Public Discourse, entitled “Growing Up with Two Moms.” It described my life growing up with a lesbian mother and her partner. Discussion of same-sex parenting until that point generally treated the children of gay parents as extensions of gay adults. Whatever was good for gay adults was presumed to benefit children they raised. No serious consideration was given to divergence between the children’s interests and the interests of gay adults who wanted and loved them. My point was this:

Quite simply, growing up with gay parents was very difficult, and not because of prejudice from neighbors. People in our community didn’t really know what was going on in the house. To most outside observers, I was a well-raised, high-achieving child, finishing high school with straight A’s.

Inside, however, I was confused.
There were loving things about my childhood, but it was hard. That is all I wanted to say. I didn’t argue anything about gay marriage or even gay adoption. Eventually I did come to voice support for traditional marriage laws, but here I only spoke out of my own experience.
You need to read it all ... but this is where it all rolled down to;
Soon I was getting hit by writers all across the web. A piece on August 9, 2012, in Frontiers LA affixed my photograph and began with the line, “Perhaps you know Cal State Northridge bisexual professor Robert Oscar Lopez—and hence might understand why he wants to cozy up to the antigay National Organization for Marriage.”

At that time I had no connection to the National Organization for Marriage, yet as late as September 2014, the Human Rights Campaign would still claim that I spoke at NOM “March for Marriage” rallies. All of this would be jarring news for NOM, since I support gay civil unions and foster care eligibility for gay couples.
On August 14, 2012, the campaign reached my workplace in a whole new way when my dean informed me that I would have to turn over all emails from January 2009 onward that had anything to do with Mark Regnerus and his research team, Witherspoon Institute, Bradley Foundation, NOM, U.S. elected officials, the Romney campaign, Republican National Committee, and University of Texas officials.

A team of IT workers and student employees were allowed to access emails and turn them over to my off-campus accusers.

For a year, the provost’s office, dean’s office, and president’s office at Northridge were barraged with angry emails denouncing me and demanding that the university take action.
In the American Literature class, friends of the bisexual female student who was working for public affairs filed a complaint against me with the Equity and Diversity Office, claiming I was a homophobe. They even alleged I had erections while teaching. The accusations were thrown out, but not before I had to hire a lawyer for an investigative hearing with the university attorneys.

A colleague who had received emails told me that he believed in the Freedom of Information Act and sided with my accusers; he ended up serving on my tenure review panel and interrogating me about my “personal revelations.”

The grants officer of the College of Humanities tried to block me from accessing grant money that had been given to me by outside donors. The Associate Vice Provost tried to block me from bringing Mickey Rooney to campus. In one phone call the following March, after receiving an email forwarded to her by a secretary who happens to be a lesbian mother, she ranted at me for my alleged unscrupulousness and dishonesty.
After I visited the European Union in Brussels with leaders of the French family movement, Manif pour Tous, the organizers of a gender studies conference at Lille University I was to attend told me the university administration did not want me on campus. More disinvitations followed. Three other universities had invited me to speak, but canceled over the concerns of administrators over hate speech.

GLAAD placed me on their “Commentator Accountability Project.” The Human Rights Campaign classified me as an “exporter of hate.”
On the morning of October 6, I was greeted with a flurry of angry emails calling me a “bigot” and a “right-wing asshole,” plus voice mail messages calling me a “bag of shit” and telling me to perform a sexual act on myself. These emails were sent to the president, provost, and chair. I spent two days in meetings with the provost, the campus police, and my students to explain what was going on. Finally I had to resort to legal measures and had my lawyer send a letter to Chad Griffin, head of the HRC.

I doubt if anything will come of my efforts to make it stop. My appeal to the American Association of University Professors on grounds of academic freedom was dismissed with a curt note. My letter to the Modern Language Association was never acknowledged.
They are, in a word, fascists. What HRC and their fellow travelers have done to many people who just don't agree with 100% of their agenda should shame everyone associated with them. I know I am a bit sheepish that I shared a trench with them in the repeal of DADT. Doesn't change my position that it was the right thing to do, I just can't control the radicalism of others - and many of those people have gone full fascist.

Going from the threatening and psycho, let's go to the patently absurd but serious. I give you Ray Mark Rinaldi, unsurprisingly the Denver Post's Fine Arts Critic; Did diversity miss the train in Union Station's architecture?
It's dangerous to assign race to people simply by glancing at their faces. Some people don't look at all like their race. Many people are a mix.

But if my recent counts of people in the restaurants, bars and shops in and around Denver's rehabbed, reopened Union Station are even close, it's an overwhelmingly white place. How can the new cultural jewel of our city — where 47 percent of the population is minority — draw a crowd that is 98.2 percent Caucasian on a bustling, buzzed Saturday night?
Well Ray, like the final part of this post below, there are somethings that white people like to do - renovation of old buildings and then hanging out in them are one. So?

I would invite Ray to kick back and enjoy it, but alas ... joy doesn't seem to be Ray's thing.
t doesn't look at all like Denver in 2014. More like Denver in 1950. More like Boise, Idaho, or Billings, Mont. This is a public place, owned by all of us, open to all, but the invitation to visit was declined by many, and it's obvious who isn't showing up.
Yes, Ray's comment seem that bigoted. Let's grab some popcorn and read him some more.
A few years ago, the station was a ghost town. Now it is wildly popular, and in many ways, a smashing success.

If, that is, you are white and not paying attention. Or if you think diversity doesn't matter. If you do, you can't help but feel like something is off amidst all the clinking of martini glasses in the swank Cooper Lounge on the mezzanine, or the low hum of pucks sliding across shuffleboard tables in the Great Hall.
It's easy to speculate why things are different at Union Station, though it requires some less elegant thinking about the way people of different ethnicities behave, some stereotyping.
Let's start with the building itself, the actual architecture. Union Station is a neo-classical mix of styles — European styles. The symmetry, arched windows, ornate cornice and stacked, stone walls have their roots in the glory days of France, England, Greece and Rome, in empires that were nearly absent of ethnic minorities and who felt fully at ease invading, exploiting and actually enslaving the people of Africa, subcontinent Asia and South America.
OK, I have to stop and bask in that incredible ignorance on display. Where to start?

France and England had little to do with South America at all. 

England was but one part of the polyglot British Empire, and were bit players in the African slave trade (that was mostly the business of others, mostly Spain, Portugal, Arabs and Africans themselves). As a matter of fact, it was the British Empire that was responsible for ending the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Google William Wilberforce for goodness sakes.

The Greek and Roman Empires? I guess he doesn't know where the root of the word "slave" comes from. In any event, the Greeks and Romans preferred European slaves, usually Slavs, Gauls, and whoever else they felt like taking. There was no such thing as race slavery ... heck, if you want to pick on the pre-British but English nation, they were gangbusters on Irish slaves in the 1600s.

I would make a few more observations, but I don't think Ray is that interested. Methinks he is more interested in trying to convince as many people as possible that he cares so much more than everyone else. He is the true anti-racist and most inclusive of all the special snowflakes out there. Yawn.

Anyway, back to the foolishness;
Yes, that's all in the past; things have changed. But the $54 million renovation of Union Station doesn't take that into account. It restores the symbols of an old world with no updates. The gilded chandeliers have been rewired, the marble polished, but there's no nod to the present, no interior walls in the bright colors of Mexico, no Asian simplicity is in the remix. There are no giant sculptures by African-American artists bonused into the lobby, no murals on the basement walls.
History has its ups and downs, the thinking goes, and you can't blame buildings for the good or bad that happened. But a preservationist just might end up with a building that draws mostly white people — with a Union Station.

The present restoration harkens back to Union Station at its height, in the first half of a 20th century when many Americans suffered the social indignity and economic disadvantage of a segregated America.
There's no traditional Mexican restaurant, no soul-food restaurant, no sushi bar, as if no one noticed that the Mexican-American, African-American and Asian-American families that own and operate those places across the city are also our best food purveyors.
It could have let its imagination run wild and installed a basketball court or a rec center, day-care facility, museum, a theater that any group could rent, an indoor playground, or yes, a Subway.

But it chose a different path. RTD, whose buses and trains are the most diverse places in Denver, created a monster of separation. You can't keep private enterprise from doing this sort of deed, but a public entity, a common asset, might have more democratic obligations.
A friendly suggestion for Ray; dude - if you are looking for a retrograde attitude towards race and ethnicity, are concerned about people who judge others simply by the way they look, then you may want to start with yourself.

And now, the third part of our play. 

A good friend reminded me of one of the foundation stones of this generation of Cultural Marxists Diversity Bullies, the "Progressive Stack."

Something only the patronizing, predominately white and privileged uber-left could come up with.

Enjoy another woman who you should be happy you don't wake up with after your second night on the town during Fleet Week.

Maybe Ray can count faces here too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How about a precision fires pick-me-up?

I don't know about you, but after writing tomorrow's post, I need one.

Building off a side-topic from last Sunday's Midrats ... how about a little of Raytheon's 84 precision-guided Excalibur-Ib all up rounds fired in 2013 during qualification flight tests at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz?

LCS Supporters as Art

Almost a decade ... almost, folks here and a few other places have been trying to tell as many people of possible the complete and epic failure of the Little Crappy Ship. As a concept, as a program, as an effective use of shipbuilding money.

Sure, we can have an build as many LCS as we want, but it will be about as useful as using BMWs to plow potato fields.

Every season, new people come in to the discussion anew. They either have not been interested in the topic until recently, have a job related to it, or are doing their best to be a team player for Big Navy.

Our message on LCS has remained fairly consistent over the last decade, and we are a bit over 86% correct. The true believers? Well, no. They keep failing.

We've used lots of words to argue with them - but how do you demonstrate to them how they look, all wet behind the ears and running right in with enthusiasm to the church of the hard truth?

Well, Dave Fothergill has provided us with a artistic representation of each new batch of LCS advocates as they approach the firm, strong, and unmoving truth of the god of the LCS copybook headings.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Coastal ASW - yes, it's that hard

Like many of you, I've been enjoying trying to read between the lines over the weekend as Sweden plays hide-n-seek with their old nemesis, Russia.
There are fears of Russians and it is October, but it's not a Tom Clancy novel. It is a case of international naval intrigue off the Swedish coast that brings back memories of the Cold War.

The Swedish military on Monday intensified a search in the ocean off Stockholm for an underwater mystery vessel, but stopped short of calling it a submarine. Civilian vessels were ordered to stay at least six miles (about 10 kilometers) away from the Swedish warship conducting the search, the English-language website The Local reported.

The search began Thursday after Swedish intelligence picked up an emergency radio call in Russian, reported The Local, citing the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

The radio transmissions were being sent to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, 330 miles (530 kilometers) south of Stockholm on the Baltic's southern shore, according to The Local report.

There were also reports that a foreign vessel was spotted in the waters near Stockholm.
Russia on Sunday denied it has any vessel in Swedish waters. Moscow suggested the vessel may belong to the Netherlands and have been involved in naval exercises off Sweden, according to a report from Russia's Itar-TASS news agency.

The Dutch were quick to respond, saying a sub involved in the exercises was anchored in Tallinn harbor of NATO-ally Estonia for the weekend, according to a report from Agence France-Presse.

What I have found most instructive about this exercise is that it should remind all that ASW is a "come as you are" type of evolution. There is no training time out for you to get your act together; you had better have the training and equipment you need to find the sneaky little bastards when they show up in your back yard.

Of course, after the Cold War, the "Awfully Slow Warfare" was often left to wither and starve with many of the unsexy but important things. Looking at what the Swedish Navy has ASW wise, well, I'm glad I'm not trying to find that Russian with their toys. Letting ASW waste away that close to the bear? Not smart, and to paraphrase Comrade Trotsky,
You might not be interested in submarines, but submarines are interested in you.
Over at FP, Elias Groll has done a great job seeing the larger picture of how Sweden found herself playing blind man's bluff, and why.
On Sunday, Oct. 19, the Swedish authorities released a photograph showing what looks to be a periscope peeking above the surface.

The man who took that photo has since come forward and says he is certain that it shows a submarine. Moreover, the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported that Swedish authorities intercepted an encrypted distress signal from the area in which the submarine is believed to be located. That signal was reportedly bound for the Russian naval base in Kaliningrad.
One working theory is that the submarine has been damaged and is unable to navigate out of Swedish waters. The incident comes on the heels of the Northern Archer military exercise in the Baltic Sea, which involved Swedish and Dutch forces, and some analysts have speculated that the sub was in the area to observe the exercise and gather intelligence.
But in carrying out their search, the Swedish authorities are being severely hampered by their lack of sonar-equipped helicopters. Because the Stockholm archipelago is a dense island landscape, it has become something of a notorious playground for submarines, which have ample natural features behind which to hide and evade surface vessels. Unlike ships moving on the surface, helicopters have a distinct advantage in tracking down submarines, which have great difficulty monitoring aircraft while underwater. A helicopter can quickly cover large areas, surprising submarines by dropping sonar sensors. But Sweden's fleet of anti-submarine helicopters were phased out in 2008, and the replacement isn't expected until 2018.
The cuts were part of Sweden's broader reduction in defense spending in the aftermath of the Cold War.
You know my fetish for the story a nation's defense spending as a percentage of GDP tells, regardless of the size of its economy. Well ... here is your story;

The Swedes just voted in a gaggle of leftists, so we'll see what they do, I'm not optimistic in the medium or long term. Western leftists always fold in the face of power. 

Sweden's neighborhood has been getting more interesting for awhile.
This weekend's submarine incident is a sort of grim cherry on top. "What's been happening in the Baltic Sea, including airspace incursions, shows that we have a new, changed situation," Peter Hultqvist, the Swedish minister of defense, said to Svenska Dagbladet.

As a result, Sweden may very well be recalibrating its defense spending. "I would be extremely surprised if what has happened this summer and is possibly now happening in the Stockholm archipelago hasn't had an impact on all parties' budget priorities," Allan Widman, a defense spokesman for one center-right party, told Svenska Dagbladet.
Well Svendska, you're out of power now. We'll see what you do if or when you get back from the wilderness. Until then, perhaps the Swedish politicians should just shrug and say, "Sometimes you hunt Russians with the navy you have, not the navy you wish you had ... or even need."

Until then, and to my former students and colleagues I offer you this - "You can't buy training like this!"

And to our Russian shipmates, I hope you have managed to sneak home; otherwise you have drowned, or if the Swedes capture you - when you get back to Mother Russia, you're going to have a bad day.

On balance though, I'm with the Swedes. Go get 'em. Here's your Joint Action Area (JTAA).

UPDATE: Elias just made my day and makes my heart even warmer for my friends in the Swedish military;
The Swedish Navy continues to stalk the waters off the coast of its capital for a foreign -- all but certainly Russian -- submarine, and the country's military brass on Tuesday sounded an exasperated note to describe the unsuccessful hunt. "This is very serious," Sverker Göransson, the country's top military commander, told reporters. "I would even go so far as to say," he continued, "to say that it's fucked up."

Monday, October 20, 2014

CNO rethinking STEM bias?

Good news on the intellectual capital development front.

After trending in the wrong direction for years towards and unnecessarily skewed, to 85% STEM, bias in officer accessions, it looks like the CNO may reassess.

Via our pal Sam LaGrone at USNINews;
The Department of the Navy funds 4,200 NROTC midshipmen — around 3,300 Navy and about 870 Marine Corps midshipmen. For Navy options, 85 percent of the funds are devoted to STEM majors while 15 percent is left for liberal arts and language degrees.

“It is of great value to revisit this [issue],” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert at the CSIS and U.S. Naval Institute’s Maritime Security Dialogue on Tuesday in response to a question from a member of the University of George Washington NROTC battalion.
“We should do it periodically and not just sit on it and we’re doing that.”

Greenert said he had met with his strategic advisory group on Monday and the topic has emerged.

As to if the Navy will change the balance of scholarships in the future, Greenert responded with, “well, we’ll see.”
Yea ... I caught that hedge as well. I hope he wasn't just making happy talk to make the uncomfortable question go away. As always, deeds not words will tell the story - but he opened the door for other voices to address the topic.
... retired NATO Supreme Commander Adm. James G. Stavridis suggested the Navy also revisit the scholarship program mix.

Stavridis — who is also the U.S. Naval Institute’s Chair of the Board of Directors and the Dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University — graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in electrical engineering and earned graduate degrees in international relations.

“In all honesty, I found the situations I encountered in the course of my career, I was more benefited by what I had studied about the world international relations and history and all of the other aspects of those disciplines than my electrical engineering background,” he said.

“I don’t know that the balance needs to be fifty-fifty, it is a technical service and that’s part of what we do.”
Spot on.

It is a topic we discussed again for a bit on Midrats yesterday, and one that will not be going away soon.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A live free for all on Midrats, Sunday!

Believe it or not, this week is our 250th Episode of Midrats.

In celebration, we're clearing the intellectual table, going to open the mic and see where it takes us.

From Kobane, to Coastal Defense, to Ebola and everything in between and sideways that's been in the national security news as of late, plus whatever else breaks above the ambient noise - we'll be covering it.

As with all Midrats Free For Alls, we are also opening the phone lines for our regular listeners who want to throw a topic our way.

Come join us Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern, and maybe longer, as we try to figure out how we got to 250.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room if you don't want to call in and practice your radio voice, where you can offer up your questions and observations, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio

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.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fullbore Friday

As during hunting season, your humble blogg'r is always short of time: a encore FbF from early in the run.

Speed. Superior technology. Superior Sailors. Long-range, accurate weapons. Superior training.

From LCS to DDG-1000, we are all told that these are the key to victory at sea. They make up for inferior numbers. They are Transformational. War has changed. We own them.

All that came to mind when I thought of three ships, HMS Exeter, HMS Ajax, and HMNZS Achilles.

The Graf Spee was, well, the Graf Spee. With memories of the SMS Emden in mind, she was the terror of the seas.

To go after her you had three old, under armed, and relatively unarmored cruisers. On paper, there should be no contest. But the combined British and New Zealand Force had a plan. They had what you cannot put on paper or PowePoint - but that which wins almost all battles at sea; audacity.
13th. of December 1939.At 0520 ( 5.20 AM ) the squadron was in position 34 degrees 34 minutes South, 49 degrees 17 minutes West, on a course of 060 degrees, at a speed of 14 knots, cruising in line ahead Ajax, Achilles and Exeter. Smoke bearing 320 degrees, ie to the South West from the force, was sighted at 0610 ( 6.10 AM ) and Exeter was ordered to investigate, she soon replied:
"I think it is a pocket Battleship!"
It did not take long for Graf Spee to act, in only two minutes she opened fire with her 11 inch turrets, one firing at Exeter, and one at Ajax.
The first division altered course to 340 degrees to close the range to the enemy, whilst Captain Bell hauled out of the line, altering course to the west, so he might attack Graf Spee from a widely different angle. All ships increased speed, now it should be noted that the enemy armament had almost twice the power of the British
cruisers, both Ajax and Achilles were light cruisers mounting 6 inch guns in their turrets, whilst Exeter was the lone ship of her class, mounting 6 by 8 inch guns in three twin turrets, A and B turrets forward, and a single Y turret mounted aft.

By 0623 ( 6.23 AM ) all ships had opened fire, and an enemy report was broadcast.Graf Spee straddled Exeter ( that means shells in a salvo fall both sides of the target ), one shell burst short, and killed the starboard torpedo tube crews, riddled the searchlights and the aircraft on the catapult, which was manhandled over the side, leaving the ship without any spotting capability from that source. The enemy ship seemed undecided about her gunnery policy, as she shifted targets several times before concentrating both turrets upon Exeter. The third salvo from
By 0624 ( 6.24 AM ) Exeter sent off 8 salvoes against the enemy, but on the incoming path, she received a direct hit from an 11 shell in the fore part of the B turret, putting it out of action, as splinters from this shell burst swept the bridge it killed or wounded all personnel there except for the Captain and two others. It also demolished the wheel house communications, leaving Captain Bell without any means of giving wheel orders to enable course changes, or orders to the engine room regarding speed changes. He decided to fight his ship from the after conning position, but the communication system here was also damaged from the shell burst earlier that effected the torpedo tube crews etc. A chain of messengers was set up to pass orders to the after steering position.
Now two further 11 inch shell hits registerd in the fore part of the cruiser, and Graf Spee shifted one 11 inch turret onto Ajax, who was straddled three times. The secondary armament of the German ship now took on Ajax and Achilles alternately, but to little effect.
During all of this intensive engagement, Ajax achieved a minor miracle by being able to catapult her aircraft for spotting purposes.
Exeter had fired off her torpedoes at 0632 ( 6.32 AM, ) but did not achieve any result, now at 0637 ( 6.37 AM ) Graf Spee altered course some 150 degrees, steering to the North West under cover of smoke.
0638 to 0650 ( 6.38 to 6.50 AM )At about 0638 ( 6.38 AM ) Exeter altered course to Straboard to allow the firing of her starboard torpedoes, then took off to the North East to close the First Division, at 0645 ( 6.45 AM ) she turned westerly to keep within range.
Two more 11 inch hits fell upon Exeter, one put A turret out of action, and another started a fierce fire in the Chief Petty Officer's flat amidships, the 4 inch magazine was flooded through a burst water main. All the compass repeaters were out of action, the Captain had to rely on a simple boat's compass to allow him to keep the ship pointed so that Y turret might keep up her firing at the enemy, locally controlled, with the Gunnery Officer taking control from the searchlight platform.
At 0640 ( 6.40. AM ) an 11 inch shell fell just short of Achilles in line with her bridge, it burst at the waterline, with splinters killing four sailors, stunning the Gunnery Officer, ( many unkind Officers might comment, But that is but the normal condition for most Gunnery Officers. ) and slightly wounding the Captain and his Chief Yeoman of Signals.
0650 to 0708. ( 6.50 to 7.08 AM )Achilles with her guns firing in local control could not find the right line with her gun fire, her salvoes falling short. The aircraft from Ajax, reporting that the salvoes were all falling short, but in Achilles, their gun control officer was unaware that Ajax was not still in concentrated firing, he therefore wrongly concluded it was his fall of shot being reported as short, and corrected accordingly, this had the effect of all his gunfire falling way over the enemy pocket battleship. A real mix up at a time when to achieve hits on the enemy was crucial. With all the smoke added to the general confusion, direct spotting was quite hard.
Graf Spee made frequent course alterations trying to throw off the British ship's gunfire, she also made skilful use of the smoke she generated.
Exeter valiently kept up firing her Y turret in local control, but she now had developed a 7 degree list to starboard, adding to the difficulties of keeping Y turret firing. She was still a target for fire from Graf Spee, but shots fell consistantly over.
0708 to 0728. ( 7.08 to 7.28 AM )Graf Spee was still 16,000 yards from theFirst Division, and they were ordered to close the enemy at speed, accepting they would lose the benefit of having their guns bear on the enemy whilst they steamed closer to the German ship.
At 0708 ( 7. 08 AM ) Graf Spee made a dramatic alteration of course to port under cover of her smoke, and at 0720 ( 7. 20 AM ) she turned back to the North West to bring her guns to bear, and Ajax was very quickly straddled three times from a range of 11,000 yards.
At the same time, the First Division turned to starboard to bring all their main armament bearing on Graf Spee, their fire appeared to most effective with Graf Spee on fire amidships. But at 0725 ( 7. 25 AM ) Ajax was hit by an 11 inch delayed action shell on the after superstructure, its passed through some cabins, wrecking them, then it went through X turret trunk, wrecking all the turret machinery below the gun house, a part of this shell base then struck Y turret barbette, close to the turret training rack, and jammed the turret. Thus one shell was responsible for putting both X and Y turrets out of action, for killing four, and wounding another six of X turret's crew.
It appeared that Graf Spee was neglecting Exeter, as she steered North West to close on the First Division, with Ajax assuming that the German ship would hold this course, she decided to fire off a broadside of her torpedoes. At 0724 ( 7. 24 A M ) she turned to starboard, and let go four torpedoes at a range of 9,000 yards, but without result.
Graf Spee must have seen them coming, and quickly took avoiding action by turning 130 degrees to port, and then returned to the North West after about three minutes.
Exeter was slowly dropping astern of the action, the forward damage taking it's toll. At 0740 ( 7. 40 A M ) Y turret still in local control stopped firing, this was due to a power failure caused by flooding. At 0740 ( 7. 40 A M ) Exeter was steering South East at a very slow speed, she needed to both make repairs and herself seaworthy again.
Now Ajax and Achilles altered course to 260 degrees so that the range to the enemy was reduced even more, then at 0721 ( 7.21 A M ) the spotting aircraft reported "Torpedoes approaching, they will pass ahead of you." The two cruisers decided to make sure they missed, and altered course to 180 degrees.
At 0732 ( 7.32 AM ) Graf Spee turned away to the West and started to zig zag, and Ajax seemed to be making good use of her three available guns, one of the hoists had failed in B turret, and both X and Y turrets were out of action.
Suddenly at 0736, ( 7.36 AM ) Graf Spee altered course to the South West to again bring all her armament to bear on the First Division, the range now down to 8,000 yards.
Ajax reported she had only 20% of her ammunition left.
The shooting by Graf Spee was accurate, and Commodore Harwood did not think she had suffered much damage from the salvoes from the British ships, so he decided to break off the action, at least till after dark. One of the last salvoes from the enemy had demolished Ajax's top mast, and with it all of her aerials, so jury aerials were rigged as quickly as possible. As the British ships turned away, Graf Spee did not follow them, but then altered course to 270 degrees, her speed 22 knots, this course would take her directly to the River Plate. The First Division, now turned to place themselves in shadowing positions on both quarters of the German ship, at a distance of about 15 miles.
British shipping in the area was alerted to Graf Spee's position, course and speed, this information was also sent off to the British Admiralty.
At 0912 ( 9.12 AM ) Ajax recovered her aircraft, then at 0916 ( 9.16 AM ) Harwood ordered Cumberland from the Falkland Islands to close the River Plate at full speed, he was in dire need of reinforcements to his force.
At 1104 ( 11.04 AM ) a merchant ship close to Graf Spee was stopped and blowing off clouds of steam, a signal from the pocket battleship read: "Please pick up lifeboats of English steamer." When coming up to the British ship, SS Shakespeare, all her boats were hoisted, and she reported that she was not in need of any assistance.
At 1105 ( 11.05 AM ) Exeter signalled that all her turrets were out of action, she was flooded up to No. 14 bulkhead, but could proceed at 18 knots, she was ordered to sail to the Falkland Islands at her best speed without placing strain on her bulkheads.
At 1342 ( 1.42 PM ) the British Naval Attache at Buenos Airies was informed that Graf Spee was making for the Plate. The shadowing of Graf Spee continued, and at 1915 ( 7.15 PM ) she suddenly fired off two salvoes at Ajax who turned away under smoke, the first salvo fell in line, the second in her wake as she turned, the range 26,000 yards.
It now seemed that Graf Spee intended to enter the Plate, and Achilles was told to follow her if she went West of Lobos, now Ajax was to proceed South of the English Bank, just in case the German doubled back that way.
Just after sunset, Graf Spee fired off three salvoes at Achilles, the third lobbed very close, in return, AchillesGraf Spee now proceeded North of the English Bank, and anchored in Montevideo roads at 0050. ( 00.50 AM ) fired 5 salvoes that seemed to straddle the enemy ship.
Harwood now reports that his main concern was how long Graf Spee intended to stay here.
At 2350 ( 11.50 PM ) Ajax and Achilles were ordered to withdraw from the Plate, Harwood did not want to risk them having to face Graf Spee silhouetted by the rising sun behind them. Achilles was to patrol the area from the Urugayan coast to a line 120 degrees from English Bank, whilst Ajax was to look after the Southern area. Both cruisers were to move back to the mouth of the Plate after the threat posed by the dawn had passed.

UPDATE: Reader Oyster sends along the radio report. Cool.