Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sapolsky and Mattis Take an Elevator Ride

Everyone knows what an "elevator speech" is. You are stuck in an elevator and to soak up the uncomfortable silence for a short ride stuck in a small box, you have a little outline about what you do for a living.

Most people have more than one elevator speech; kids, pets, the commute, the weather. If you run in to the same people in the elevator, you often can use that time to get a message across where otherwise the opportunity might not naturally present itself.

That is kind of the vibe I got from a little article at The National Interest by Harvey M. Sapolsky, Professor Emeritus at the MIT and former Director of their Security Studies Program.

His little elevator speech length bit of advice for our new Secretary of Defense Mattis is a nice concentrated bit of soundness;
There are plenty of generals (and admirals) in the department who can give military advice to the president and manage the force. What is needed is a civilian who will worry about more than just the organizational health and military capabilities of the armed services. That person must also prioritize the financial and human resources the services need to perform their duties.
...Americans believe in institutional overlap and competition. Four air forces are better than one for innovation and combat performance, and so are several armies and a couple of navies. Resist the call for centralization and joint projects. We need more eyes on every problem. Centralization gives you giant projects like the Joint Strike Fighter and no alternatives when you need them.
...don’t waste your time on acquisition reform. There is never going to be a flawless acquisition system that works on the cutting edge of technology and meets all cost and scheduling promises. We need the advantage that the most advanced weapons give our forces, and that requires taking risks and accepting failures. Don’t fall for the frauds of management fads or the siren call of creating a Silicon Valley–like organization within the department. Instead, feed the complex network of defense laboratories, nonprofits and contractors that have kept us ahead for decades. The only stimulus they need is the inherent rivalry of the services as weapon buyers, and as protectors of their own technological futures as the preferred warriors of the nation
It is long overdue for us to expect our allies to do more and contribute to their own defense. President Donald J. Trump is right that too often we have been overly eager to take a bad deal so long as it justifies the need for additional force structure. It is the requirements of our defense, and not that of rich allies in Europe and Asia, that should support the maintenance and deployment of our forces. As the Second World War showed, it is often an advantage to be behind rather in front of our allies. Neither NATO or our other alliances should be vehicles by which allies get a free ride on the backs of U.S. taxpayers and soldiers.
There are some other good nuggets of advice there, read it all.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Shkval: Boogieman or Evolved Nightmare?

The Russian supercavitating torpedo, the Shkval, has been with us for decades. Partly because it has not been used in combat and partially because we just don't think it is all that much of a threat because of our own biases and understanding of the technology, we have not given it all that much thought.

We are very focused on defending against threats from the air, A2AD and all that jazz, and for those below, we have nifty little countermeasures and anti-torpedo defenses we are trying out - but those are focused on what we know and am comfortable with - traditional torpedoes.

Via The Economist, I'm not quite sure we are that ready for this;
WHEN introduced 40 years ago, the Soviet Shkval (“Squall”) torpedo was hailed as an “aircraft-carrier killer” because its speed, more than 370kph (200 knots), was four times that of any American rival. The claim was premature. Problems with its design meant Shkval turned out to be less threatening than hoped (or, from a NATO point of view, less dangerous than feared), even though it is still made and deployed. But supercavitation, the principle upon which its speed depends, has continued to intrigue torpedo designers. Now, noises coming out of the Soviet Union’s successor, Russia, are leading some in the West to worry that the country’s engineers have cracked it.
In October 2016 plans emerged for a new supercavitating torpedo, Khishchnik (“Predator”). Few details have been released, except that the work is being carried out by Elektropribor, a design bureau specialising in high-precision systems for submarines. Combining a General Dynamics-style sonar with a better motor could, however, result in a weapon that the world’s navies would truly have to fear.

Such a motor is possible, according to Georgiy Savchenko of the Institute of Hydromechanics at Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences. His supercavitation-research group estimates that with the right fuel (perhaps lithium, which packs more energy per kilogram than magnesium) a new torpedo could have ten times the range of Shkval. It would still be noisy, but, added to its speed, such a combination of range and tracking ability would make it hard to evade. Moreover, there is no theoretical reason why Khishchnik should not travel quite a lot faster than Shkval does. In laboratory tests, supercavitating projectiles have clocked more than 5,000kph.
That means you need to kill the archer if you can't do anything against the arrow.

Yea, about that ...

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bob Scales; The Future of America's Military at Risk - on Midrats

To meet the national security requirements of our republic in the years to come, what direction and emphasis do we need for our military? What are the false horizons we need to watch out for, and what important areas do we seem to be either ignoring or forgetting?

For the full hour our guest this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and more will be Bob Scales, Major General, US Army (Ret), discussing with him many of the issues he raises in his latest book from Naval Institute Press, Scales on War; The Future of America's Military at Risk.

Described by the Naval Institute Press as,
Scales on War is a collection of ideas, concepts, and observations about contemporary war taken from over thirty years of research, writing, and personal experience by retired Major General Bob Scales. Scales’ unique style of writing utilizes contemporary military history, current events, and his philosophy of ground warfare to create a very personal and expansive view of the future direction of American defense policies. 
Each chapter in the book addresses a distinct topic facing the upcoming prospects of America’s military, including tactical ground warfare, future gazing, the draft, and the role of women in the infantry. Fusing all of these topics together is Scales’ belief that, throughout its history, the United States has favored a technological approach to fighting its wars and has neglected its ground forces.
MAJ. GEN. Scales commanded units in Korea and the United States and two units in Vietnam, and he is the recipient of the Silver Star for action during the Battle of Hamburger Hill. He completed his service as commandant of the Army War College.

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, January 27, 2017

Fullbore Friday

What can one small ship, well trained, well led, and well armed do when she finds herself in the right place at the right time?

I give you the USS ENGLAND, (DE 635), via Michael Peck at TheNationalInterest;
The saga of the England began on May 18, 1944, when the England and two other destroyer escorts received orders to find a Japanese submarine reported heading toward the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. On the afternoon of May 19, the England's sonar detected the submarine I-16.

What happened next is detailed in an account written by Captain John Williamson, who served as the England's executive officer during that time. In a March 1980 article in Proceedings Magazine, Williamson and co-author William Lanier describe the destroyer escort's baptism of fire. Four times the ship made attack runs over I-16 to launch Hedgehogs, which missed. The Japanese skipper cleverly tried to evade its pursuer by following the England's course and wake.

On the fifth run, the sub's luck ran out. Williamson recalls the crew cheering as they heard four to six Hedgehog hits. Then the England's “fantail was lifted a full 6 inches, then plopped heavily back into the water....We had, with cataclysmic certainty, heard the last of one Japanese submarine. Sobered, and more than taken aback by that final blast, we no longer felt like cheering. But we did stand a little straighter.”

Later that May, the Japanese Navy implemented Operation A-Go, which called for concentrating the Japanese fleet to ambush the Americans in a decisive battle. The plan included establishing a blocking line of seven subs northeast of the Admiralty Islands and New Guinea, across the expected path the Americans would take. The subs would give the Japanese early warning and then sink enough of the American battleline to affect the decisive fleet battle that would follow.

But after U.S. codebreakers deciphered the Japanese orders, the Americans decided that the England and her two companions would roll up the Japanese sub line from one end to the other. On the night of May 22, the USS George's radar picked up the RO-106 cruising on the surface, and illuminated the sub with its searchlight. The sub dived, only to run into the England conducting Hedgehog runs. The England obtained at least three hits, and observed wreckage bubbling to the surface.

On May 23, the RO-104 became the England's third victim, followed by the RO-116 on May 24. On May 26, a hunter-killer anti-submarine task force arrived, centered on the escort carrier Hoggatt Bay, which allowed the England and her two consorts to head to the port of Manus for resupply. On the way, the England sank the RO-108.

After taking on supplies, the destroyer escorts sailed back to what was left of the Japanese underwater picket line. On the early morning of May 30, the destroyer Hazelwood, escorting the Hoggatt Bay, picked up the RO-105 on radar. While several American ships hounded the sub, the England was ordered to stick to its own patrol area.

For almost 24 hours, the other U.S. ships hunted the RO-105, on which was sailing Captain Ryonosuka, the highly experienced leader of the Japanese Navy's Submarine Division 51. The sub managed to evade their attacks. Williamson recalls that the England offered to help and requested the location of the U.S. ships, only be told that “We are not going to tell you where we are. We have a damaged sub, and we are going to sink her. Do not come near us.”

By now out of air, the RO-105 surfaced between two of the American ships, which blocked each other's fire, then submerged again. Disregarding orders, the England headed to the vicinity, and was finally cleared to make its own attack. After surviving 21 attacks over 30 hours, the RO-105 was sunk by the England's Hedgehogs.

Two of the seven subs in the Japanese picket line had previously returned to port. The remaining five had all been sunk by the England.
Admiral Ernest King, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Navy, had this to say about the destroyer escort's exploit: "There will always be an England in the U.S. Navy."
Kind of full of huzzah, eh?

Well, this is CDRSalamander, so - here we go.

Look at King's quote again.
"There will always be an England in the U.S. Navy."
USS England (DE-635) was decommissioned in 1945 as it was just too much to repair her after surviving damage off Saipan. The next ship to have that name was the LEAHY Class ship, USS England (DLG/CG-22). She was commissioned in 1963 and decommissioned in 1994.

Think off all the warships we have commissioned since 1994 - some of which have names of dubious nature.

And yes ... we continue to make a liar out of Fleet Admiral King. In the word of a great American post-modern poet; sad.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Diversity Thursday

It is always reassuring when concepts we've discussed here on Thursdays over the last few years start to be brought up on a regular bases in polite company. Bit by bit, we may claw our way towards a culture that judges the content of a person's character - not useless superficialities like race or self-described ethnicity.

One of our core arguments has been the cancerous nature of the racial and ethnic spoils system that the rent seeking Diversity Industry injected in to our Navy - bringing the worst of early 1970s racial theory in to the middle of the 21st Century. 

As opposed to helping anyone, all it does is justify their paychecks, their hate-based grievance, and, well, their paychecks.

Not a harmless bit of rent seeking, in addition to actively punishing non-protected classes, the racial classifications and quotas they force on the system just perpetuate the problem that everyone really wants solved.

In a recent podcast, author Michael Lewis hit right on this specific problem;

LEWIS: One of the big things the human mind is doing all the time is making similarity judgments: Is this a friend or a foe? Is this a potential mate or not? Is this edible food or not? It’s always classifying. We take it for granted, but we’re doing it all the time. And Amos was interested even before he meets Danny, in how people make these judgments. What makes two things similar to each other. And he did really interesting work on the subject. And out of this work grows this other heuristic that they discover. They call it the “representative heuristic.” And if you want to put it in plain English, roughly what they’re saying is that people think in stereotypes. And the stereotypes are incredibly powerful. And when we’re looking for someone to fill any kind of job the fact that someone looks kind of like the way that we imagined the person who holds that job typically to look has huge effects on our judgment about whether that person will be good at that job, much to our detriment. And in fact I think they would probably agree that if a person looks too much like they belong at a job, it’s probably exactly when you want to question whether they belong at the job. Because maybe they got to the job because of the power of the stereotype.

DUBNER: But you know it seems to me at least that there is a little bit of Catch-22 in that in the modern era we talk a lot about equity and fairness and reparations of different sorts and therefore dwell even more on the defining characteristics that are different. And my concern is that by focusing on the differences, you essentially just continue to rebuild and re-create and magnify the stereotypes. Am I wrong?

LEWIS: I think you’re right. If you want to reduce the power of a stereotype, you eliminate the classifications. The more you reinforce the classifications, the more powerful the stereotype will be. That’s their work, I mean that’s not me speaking. That’s their work. And so it is, you’re absolutely right, the more we focus on race as a differentiator between people, the more stereotypes are going to be driving people’s judgments.

You can listen to the whole podcast below.

The podcast series focuses on many of the ideas in Michael Lewis's latest book, The Undoing Project.

Hat tip John.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Women's Revolt

So, you know that "force women to wear men's combo covers" that had our female Shipmates' nogg'ns all cattywampus?

Well, head on over to USNIBlog where something happened that will make you proud of the female contingent of the Potomac Flotilla.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Three Ships; One Picture; Many Problems

Details. Always look for the details.

Details tell stories. More often than not, they tell stories much deeper than what is only seen with they eyes.

As we are all excited about working towards a 350-ship Navy (I sure am) we are in danger of not fully understanding a more pressing problem right in front of us. It is a simple story - one known to Sailors for thousands of years.

In our case we have a picture of three of our ships, and they tell a story that was not the intention of the person to took and published it.

Look at the decks. Look at the hulls. Look at the fittings. You can get the hi-res version of the pic here.

As a wise man emphasized to me last year,
"this tells a story of nothing magic - long deployments- fewer deck SNs - less time and money to do preservation - I've seen better but also seen worse."
Our pros know this, but they can only do what they can do for corrosion control improvements. Chemistry, metallurgy, and physics have their own laws - laws that are not kind to being neglected.

This pic was not some random pic either. This was the featured image yesterday at navy.mil.

Have we reached the point where we have defined adequacy down? Is this the image we want the world to see of our Navy? 

This picture was a picture of choice. At no point did someone say, "We are in an ongoing INFO OPS and PSYOPS campaign. Public Affairs should support those efforts. I think we can find a better picture than this to feature today."

This matters, but perhaps it can still serve a function - it allows the truth of the material condition of our ships and the byproduct of "optimal manning" to break out in to the open.

We should look at the budget wedge we are putting towards preservation and deck Seaman, and budget a bit of a cushion - I think we're going to need it once we start digging around.

Remember the excuse for sinking all those SPRU barely 20-yrs old? They weren't taken good care of? Well ... yea. The Terrible 20s may be, well, you know.

Hat tip Phil.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Russia and the Imperial Mindset

As Russia seems to be top of mind (at last) with so many, let's stick with the topic.

Part of the problem outlined here and over at Midrats is that many think about Russia's actions with the same mindset they think about Germany, France, China, Turkey, or worse - domestic politics. A recipe for bad ideas, worse policy, and to be perpetually wrong.

Russia is not West, nor is it East; it is Russia. You have to reset your thinking to that fact from the start or you soon find yourself on a false path towards confusion.

Geographically, culturally and historically, Russia is in many ways unique. She is also a spot-welded cluster of contradictions.  

She often displays the best of our species in art, dance, music, literature, and science - but at the same time she demonstrates the worst of human nature via demographics, public health, sectarianism, ecology, economics, individual rights, and ethnic cleansing to genocide as policy.

Over at ASPI, the former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt has an article, Russia’s Imperial Instinct, that is helpful to both experienced Russia watchers and those new to the challenge.

To start to get a handle on where Russia is going, you need to look to where she has been;
Since coming to power following Russia’s tumultuous attempts at liberal and democratic reform in the 1990s, it has become increasingly clear that Putin aspires to make Russia great again, both economically and geopolitically. Despite some obvious differences between the founding of the Soviet Union and now, the historical parallel is too obvious to ignore.

Under Putin, Russia has invaded and occupied parts of Georgia, annexed Crimea from Ukraine, and militarily propped up two sham ‘republics’ in Eastern Ukraine. Russia has also tried—so far unsuccessfully—to establish a Novorossiya across Southern Ukraine.

Step by step, whenever opportunities present themselves, the Kremlin is ready to use all means at its disposal to regain what it considers its own. Putin may not have a firm or comprehensive plan for imperial restoration, but he undoubtedly has an abiding inclination to make imperial advances whenever the risk is bearable, as in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014.

So, what lessons can we take from the past? For starters, Russian imperialism has thrived when Europe and the West have been divided. This was the case when Hitler and Stalin entered into their non-aggression pact in 1939, and when Napoleon and Tsar Alexander entered into theirs in 1807. And we certainly should not forget the Yalta Conference in 1945.

Expanding both NATO and the European Union to include the Central European and Baltic countries has been essential to European security. In any other scenario, we would probably already be locked in a profoundly dangerous power struggle with a revanchist Russia reclaiming what it had lost.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the Russian Revolution in 1917 reshaped regional and global politics. In the immediate aftermath of each event, Russia demonstrated its historic inability to build harmonious relations with the countries along its periphery; and in the intermediate periods, it acted on its imperial ambitions at these countries’ expense.

But Russia will come to terms with itself only if the West firmly supports these countries’ independence over a prolonged period of time. Eventually, Russia will realize that it is in its own long-term interest to break its historical pattern, concentrate on its domestic development, and build peaceful and respectful relations with its neighbors.

We are certainly not there yet, but that’s no reason to throw in the towel—or throw out the lessons of history. We need a stable, prosperous, and peaceful Russia. And that can be achieved only with determined support for the independence and sovereignty of all of its neighbors.
Read the whole thing. Bilt is a man of deep experience in European affairs combined with a national understanding of the Russian nature that is hard to get a firm grasp on this side of the Atlantic. More than worth your time to read twice.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fullbore Friday

What is Fullbore?

An unbroken republic where one radically different political party turns power over peacefully to another.

Over to a great American, Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE).

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Diversity Thursday

Yes friends, we are well through the looking glass. When you combine the ability to order people to do anything that isn't legal in the military, along with the autocratic control you have over the Midshipmen and Cadets in our service academies - you have in a way an interesting little human terrarium.

Just so you know exactly how the new policy is. Notice the little twist? Some people are more equal than others, natch.

"Good order and discipline." OK. 

Like I've said for a long time; make a clear personal evaluation of your desire for personal liberty in your college years, what you really want. Unless you desire a tightly bound military immersion and limited freedom in your one run at undergrad - consider NROTC.  

UPDATE: Well, count your blessings; you could be in the USAFA.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Don't Plow the Back-40 With the BMW

While we are talking about Jerry's long-legged bit from '09 - the concept of "Influence Squadrons" is growing roots all over the place. Going beyond just naval units, I'm discussing it over at USNIBlog.

Come by and give it a read - but read it with a British accent.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Poland Needs Fords, not Ferraris

Jerry's classic from '09 came to mind when I read the following about plucky, brave Poland's drive to grow its defense budget and recapitalize their air arm;
The Polish Ministry of Defence is analysing a possible purchase of 50-100 aircraft to replace the Polish Air Force's aging Sukhoi Su-22 strike aircraft and Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter aircraft.
Yes, NATO still has SU-22.
"We consider various possibilities that would be beneficial, [including purchase of] F-16 aircraft; used or new or another solution. The optimal solution would be a purchase of 50-100 aircraft," Bartosz Kownacki, deputy defence minister responsible for defence procurement, told the government-owned Polish Press Agency (PAP).

"I think that during a month and a half we will have a clear idea if is worth buying used F-16s from the United States or new F-35s," he added. According to Kownacki, the aircraft Poland has been offered are older variants than the F-16C/D Block 52+ models currently used by the Polish Air Force. The F-16 option being considered would see Poland purchase 96 used F-16s (six squadrons) for PLN100 million (USD24 million) each to replace Poland's aging 32 MiG-29s and 32 Su-22s.
Poland needs additional firepower now, and every platform counts. They are not going to march on Moscow, so they need something - in numbers - to fight and hold the line at home.

A well trained pilot in a Block 52+ F-16 can handle anything the Russians can throw at them. They do not need now, nor can afford the F-35 in the appropriate numbers.

Something else besides the trusty F-16, I would also offer that the Swedes are about to have a fire-sale of some slightly used Gripens;
Last year the Swedish defense company SAAB made its final delivery of 96 Gripen planes ordered by the Swedish government. Now, despite having thousands of flying hours and many years left, the fighter jets are destined for the scrapheap. The Swedish government is buying even newer Gripen planes.

Gripen C/D is an advanced fighter jet with attack and surveillance capabilities, which unlike its Gripen predecessors is also compatible with NATO standards and thus more easily exportable. SAAB has sold or leased the plane not only to the Swedish government but to South Africa, Hungary, Thailand, the Czech Republic and even to the United Kingdom, which uses the plane for pilot training.

But in 2012, the Swedish parliament voted to place another order, this time for sixty new Gripen E aircraft, to be manufactured with immediate effect. “The government’s order was connected to likely sales to Brazil and Switzerland,” Swedish defense analyst Robert Dalsjö told me. “Because other governments were likely to buy it as well, the idea was that the Swedish government would get the planes more cheaply than it otherwise would.”
That is a nice bit of kit that the Swedes might make a good deal on. As the Poles already fly the F-16, there is some economy on just getting more of them - but there is something to be said for having two sources for your fighter aircraft and making nice with a neighbor who also does not like the Bear all that much.

Either way, the smart move for Poland would be to buy "good" in bulk, and wait for the "perfect" to mature a bit and be a bit more affordable.

Hey ... well look at that;
...Kownacki suggested that now would be the wrong time to purchase the F-35, should that be the route the country opts for. In his view, had Poland enterer the programme five years ago, then Polish industry could have been involved. However, given the current price of the initial aircraft remains high it is worth Poland waiting a few years until "F-35 availability rises and the prices drop".

Anything we can do to help the Poles, we should. Last year, they crossed the 2% of GDP threshold and continues to grow in their investment in their defense. We should reward them as much as we can. 

You know the theory; reward behavior you approve of - punish that you don't. When you look at her former Warsaw Pact allies now in NATO to her south - an example of positive behavior is very much needed.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Fighting Seablindness is an All Hands Effort

Navalists have the wind at our backs. 

We have not had an opportunity like this in over 30 years to make our point to the American people why it is so critical that our republic own a powerful navy of global reach.

The need has been clear and well documented even before our republic was free of the British Crown, but to most outside the seapower fraternity it is not self-evident.

It is a sale that must be made to each generation. It is a story that must be told and retold; repackaged and redelivered by as many paths as possible. When a crisis brings its need in to focus, it is too late.

A strong navy cannot be built, trained and manned overnight and be effective. It must be ready on day one.

If we don't tell that story enough and in the right way - when her nation calls for her navy, she will not be ready. Even though she will not be ready, she will still answer the call. When an un-ready, under-capitalized, and poorly trained and manned navy gets underway against a challenger that is ready; the seas are filled with your own dead Sailors, it seabed littered with your ships, and your nation is opened to strategic risk to an enemy emboldened by victory.

One fellow retired Commander is more than carrying the load. As we discussed in his visit to Midrats late last year, Bryan McGrath is conducting a speaking tour on seapower in his corner of the republic. He recently put his video series on YouTube. Highly recommended.

As you get yourself ready for the next President and wonder what new directions we may take, during the course of the week, watch a video or so a day. Send a link along to a friend.

If we want our nation to understand why she needs a strong Navy and Marine Corps team, all must do a part. We can't all be Bryan, but we can introduce him to a few friends.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fullbore Friday

What more can you say: thanks.
He was 16 when he shipped off to France in 1917 to join the ambulance corps with the serial No. 15577 -- one of 4.7 million Americans to serve in "The War to End All Wars" against Germany.

"I always knew I'd be one of the last because I was one of the youngest when I joined," Buckles said in his interview with the Daily News, after he became the last surviving member of those 4.7 million.

"But I never thought I'd be the last one."

Even after the war, Buckles couldn't escape the battlefield. In 1941, Buckles was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines while working as a purser for a steamship company. He languished for more than three years in prison camps before he was rescued in a military raid.

"I was never actually looking for adventure," Buckles once told The Associated Press. "It just came to me."

He also wasn't looking for the fame that came his way in 2008, when the second-to-last American veteran of World War I, Harry Richard Landis of Florida, passed away. But once he achieved the status of last surviving veteran, Buckles helped lobby to rededicate the existing District of Columbia World War I memorial on the National Mall in Washington as a national memorial.

With Buckles' passing, there are only two documented surviving veterans of The Great War left - 109-year-old Claude Choules and 110-year-old Florence Green, both of whom are British.

"Somebody has to pass it down. If I'm the last one, then I have to be the one to do it," Buckles told The News.

  Hat tip URR.

This FbF first posted March 2011.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Diversity Thursday

As usual with diversity advocates, there is no discussion on qualifications or merit. There is no discussion about why at no time in the near future - due to huge disparity in high school, college, and grad school graduation rates and scores between racial and officially recognized ethnic groups - will senior levels ever "look like America." 

If you are new to these facts, we've covered them in detail in previous DivThu. Just follow the diversity tag.

Now and then you just need to listen to the diversity commissariat pitch to remind you of the narrow minds you are faced with when they go on the warpath. They are the most base kind of racialists - only looking at people skin deep. Anyone who is not in full alignment with their program of active discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, or national origin (which you have to be if you want to meet their mindless metrics) - then naturally, you are a racist. You know the drill.

So, let's go over to the diversity funny-farm at WaPo where Joe Davidson demonstrates his grasping, race-based rent-seeking for all to see;
...the fate of the Obama administration’s diversity efforts all the more concerning. What will become of them when this administration ends next week and that of President-elect Donald Trump begins?

The tenor of Trump’s campaign and his history of racism (note his championship of the birther farce to undermine Obama’s presidency) and ethnic degradation (note his Mexican rapists slur during his campaign launch) provide no confidence for diversity advocates.
There it is.
And national security intelligence staffers generally have reason to be wary, given his disparagement of their finding that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered cyber hacking to promote Trump’s election campaign, thus tainting the legitimacy of his electoral college victory.

“Clearly, President-elect Trump lacks a history of sustained serious attention to inclusion and diversity,” Ernest J. Wilson III, University of Southern California dean of journalism and communications, said with restraint. He edited the book on this, called “Diversity and U.S. Foreign Policy.”
Ahhhhh...the best theories the 1970s have to offer, for you today!
If diversity is a national security imperative, statistics indicate an unfinished national security duty persists. Two blatant examples — 90 percent of the State Department’s Senior Executive Service is white. The Senior Foreign Service is 87 percent white.

The Senior Foreign Service feels “less diverse in terms of racial and ethnic background today than it was 20 years ago when I started serving in the State Department,” Rice said during an interview. She didn’t have statistics on that point, but the anecdotal observations of the veteran ambassador and diplomat are telling.
The presidential memorandum she was instrumental in drafting focuses on data and directs agencies to take a series of actions to promote diversity. It calls for a report to the president no later than 120 days after its Oct. 5 date. That would be two weeks after Trump takes over, but Rice is confident it will be ready before Obama leaves.

Ruth A. Davis, a retired pioneering black career diplomat gives Obama a B+ for his national security diversity efforts, saying they “might have been a bit more pronounced.” He missed an A in part because he could have selected more African American national security political appointees. She was the Foreign Service Institute’s first black director and the first woman of color appointed director general of the Foreign Service.
After the election, Rice met with midlevel career staffers to ensure the president’s memorandum is actually implemented. Other administration officials met with career employees from across government in November.

“Given the nature of this campaign on this issue of diversity and inclusion,” Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan told them, that is “all the more reason” they “should be thinking about how you step up, how you join together in the coming months and years to make sure that this issue gets carried on.”

That’s the challenge.
As we mentioned after the memo was drafted in DEC, one of the first actions of the Trump Administration should be to revoke it root and branch. It is officially sanctioned racism and has no place in a free republic.

There is no place in a modern society for a system based on active discrimination by acts of commission or omission against citizens based on race, creed, color, or national origin. It is wrong and it is immoral.

Again - watch the incoming Administration. This memo - along with so much of the racialist mindset in our government - must be rolled back.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Running Rust Tells a Story

So, you are about to get a bag'o'cash to buy some ships ... but is that really where you should put that money first?

I'm thinking that through a bit with the help of the VCNO over at USNIBlog.

Come visit and ponder with us.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Corvettes of Winter

Don't get me wrong, I love the Baltics - it's beautiful, the people are great - but, well, there are the winters...

As such, I don't know about you, but even for a Russian, there has to be a better place for a Black Sea ship to overwinter than that sad, little, abused, and threadbare corner of the former East Prussia;
“Your greetings and the warmth of your hearts to Kaliningrad!!” — On October 26, the DFR Lab revealed that two Russian Buyan-M class corvettes of the Black Sea Fleet, armed with Kalibr-NK long-range cruise missiles, had entered the Baltic Sea. The deployment was a surprise, because only three weeks earlier, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) had announced that the ships were to be attached to its Mediterranean squadron.
Read the whole thing over at medium.com, they've done a great job with OSINT to geo-locate exactly where these two exceptional corvettes are located.
The Russian MoD has not officially confirmed the transfer of the two corvettes to the Baltic Fleet. Its latest official statement is the one from October 5 in which it announced their attachment to the Mediterranean squadron.
However, on October 26, Russian media outlet “Izvestiya” ran a report quoting an anonymous “official source from the Russian Ministry of Defense” which appeared to confirm the deployment.
Baltic or Med? Who knows. I do know Sailors though ... and I think they'd rather winter in Tartus or Sevastopol.

There are other issues with Russian plans for the enclave;
The article reported that the Baltic Fleet would soon be reinforced with a division of Buyan-M class missile corvettes, armed with Kalibr missiles. It went on:
According to Izvestiya’s information, the first two small missile ships — “Zelenyy Dol” and “Serpukhov” — are being transferred from the Black to the Baltic Sea, and will soon join the newly formed division. Three more missile ships will be constructed and sent to the Baltic Fleet by the end of 2020.
“The formation of a small missile ship division and brigade within the Baltic Fleet has already started,” an official source from the Russian Ministry of Defense told Izvestiya. “We are planning to finish the job in two to three years. Currently, the newly-formed divisions have already received their first missile complexes and ships.”
And no, I don't think this is part of any Russian dis-information campaign. Russian PAOs are just not that well organized in the Baltic right now. They do plan to build up the Baltic Fleet, and Kaliber capable surface combatants are no longer needed near Syria.

If you are a geography geek like me, enter 54.637778, 19.945833 in to GoogleEarth and play around the port of Baltiysk (nee Pillau) and the neat old Swedish star-fort ruins. Kind of sad the mis-use of the land you can see from the air over then entire enclave - but such is war and Soviet/Russia misuse of once productive land.

To get a better view of the issues, take some time to follow the Kaliningrad/Polish border. Though not a Bavarian landscape, the Polish side is full of small farms, functional villages, and a people trying to make the most economic good of the land. On the Kaliningrad side? Yikes. The Russian part of East Prussia is to the former East Prussia what the NYC of "I am Legend" is to NYC of today.

Oh, and that island at N54 36' 37.31" E19 56' 53.1" - I'd like to know its history. 

Monday, January 09, 2017

Germany is Turning Itself in to What it Didn't Want to Be

As the waves upon waves of migrants from the Arab world and Africa started to break in greater and greater numbers across the shores of Europe a few years ago, I warned that if they did not find some way to keep these teeming millions out - and return as many as possible back that were already there - that eventually this would force the European nations to be something that they did not want to be. The mainstream Center-Left and Center-Right parties would have to become more nationalistic or the people would continue to turn to parties and individuals who did not share liberal ideals.

No one, not the indigenous population nor recent legal immigrants would be better for it. All is unfolding with almost mathematical precision.

The problem of growing pockets of unassimilated colonies was already there and growing. Merkel's suicidal decision to look like a great humanitarian by welcoming in over a million military aged unemployable men only threw accelerant on to the swelling discontent of the indigenous population who felt they were losing their nations - which they are.

It is 2017 now, and we find Germany, the heart of Europe, here;
In a guest editorial for the influential daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the federal interior minister surprised his party and the entire country with his concept of a "strong state." At almost the exact same time, Sigmar Gabriel, the head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Merkel's junior coalition partner, presented a paper with his own ideas for a revamped security policy. Gabriel, who is Merkel's vice chancellor, demanded a tougher approach to potentially violent Salafists. "I am in favor of zero tolerance," he told SPIEGEL in an interview this week.
Germany, de Maizière wrote in his op-ed, is not sufficiently prepared for the crises and catastrophes of our times. The interior minister currently oversees more than 60,000 people working for the Federal Criminal Police Office, the federal police force, the domestic intelligence agency BfV and other agencies, and he believes changes are necessary. The federal government, he now believes, needs greater leverage to control all of the country's security agencies. He says that more video surveillance is needed as is the expanded use of facial recognition technology and beefed-up personnel. The state, he believes, must become stronger.
The image of the gray semi-truck in the middle of an idyllically decorated square marks a turning point for Germany. Islamist terror has arrived in full force. It is no longer merely apparent in the form of arrests and investigations, no longer present in speeches about "abstract threats" and the serious expressions on the faces of security agency heads following the comparatively minor attacks of last summer. Islamist terror has now struck at the heart of German culture -- a Christmas market shortly before Christmas Eve.

And the facts speak for themselves: German security agencies were unable to prevent the attack despite the fact that its perpetrator, Anis Amri, had been known for months to be an Islamist threat. Numerous agencies had files on him, they were aware of his contacts to Islamic State and they knew that he had searched the internet for bomb-building instructions.
Even the Green Party is calling for more security and police presence, something unthinkable just a few years ago. Party co-chair Cem Özdemir has said that his party will play a constructive role in the discussion over Interior Minister de Maizière's proposals.

The shift was also noticeable in the relative lack of criticism aimed at Cologne police for resorting to racial profiling to prevent a repeat of last new year's eve sexual assaults. The debate's paradigm has shifted.
Unlike past terrorist problems in Germany with The Red Army Faction and similar Communist cells that were political in nature - the latest threat is religious and ethnic. It is easier to undermine the Strategic Center of Gravity for political terrorist organizations; you just remove the political underpinnings and people will adopt a new political philosophy with less militant aspects - in this case, the Green Party or Die Linke.

It is a completely different effort to go after religious and ethnic based violence. One is exceptionally difficult to change - the other almost impossible to change inside generations of assimilation - if that.

To one degree or another, this totally avoidable disaster is playing out roughly along the lines expected. The post-war global Western liberal consensus is being torn apart by its own internal contradictions that keep its political mechanisms paralyzed to inaction.

If not for the political and personal cowardice by politicians from both sides of the aisle who were afraid of being called names or not being invited to the right conferences and dinner parties, the present situation would not exist. Sure, certain newspapers and magazines would call them nasty things, paint them as uncaring, and the usual suspects would tut-tut them to try to hurt their feelings  - but the nation they are trusted with would not be subject to a permanent deployment of military forces policing streets from a threat coming from within. Large segments of their major cities would not be "no-go" areas for public services. Rape would not become common.

How can a nation focus on a growing Russia when their own people cannot walk the streets in fear of a self-isolated foreign power holding sway in large parts of their cities?

Why did this come to pass?

Is starts with more than a little willful disregard for human nature and history in the modern era's governing class. In a strange alignment with various socio-political power centers - lessons learned by previous generations' blood and treasure is ignored.

This disregard is driven by three well meaning mental aspirations, and four malignancies.

First of all there is simply a desire not to address uncomfortable questions driven out of "polite conversation" by the same people who caused the discomfort.

Second, we have a certain narcissism in our governing class who feel they are better than those generations that came before. They can shape things better because they are smarter. With just enough money and virtue signaling, they can make it so that we can all live in a rainbow world powered my unicorn poop.

Third, tied in with that narcissism of virtue, is a narcissism of the now. "What are people saying about ME now? What support am I getting NOW." There is little desire to look at 2nd and 3rd order effects - what the compounding in time will do. Even less is a desire to make decisions that will create positive effects for their citizens in the future if it does not help their virtue signaling now.

Indeed, for some, they don't even like their fellow citizens and don't care about those people's future - they want a New Citizen. 

That leads to the malignancies.

Those three aspirations all have to do with a desire for social acceptance and popularity - an adult version of middle school social positioning. There are also reasons that have to do with a darker side of the psyche that lead to the four malignancies.

First, as you have here in the USA, there is the cultural self-loathing from the left and those seduced by the social capital that comes from being on the "good right" (see David Brooks). They want to pull themselves up as separate from their host culture by doing all they can by bring that culture down to a lower level. For whatever reason, they hate the nest they were born to. Unable to find self-worth in themselves, they can only hope to destroy that which they blame for their own inadequacies. All the good of the West is ignored or smeared - every mistake or bad point brought in to focus, exaggerated and used as a club to beat to a pulp all that is good.

Second are the grasping seekers of cheap labor. Squeezing every possible bit of margin to compete against the sweat shops of the world. Industries can gain only so much by automation in the face of a developed society's wage pressures. As such, they use their influence to bring in "guest workers" who will do for low wages what native born will not do. They never leave, and their children won't do that work, so more imports need to come. That is easier to do than attacking unfair trade practices - and is easier to get allies that will support for other reasons than economic ones.

Problem is, these low-cost, unskilled labor come from cultures that are not compatible with their host nations, they do not assimilate, and are not encouraged to. A manageable issue with the 1st generation with a small number, but when that unassimilated mass becomes 10%, 20% and the 50% of cities? Then what? Well, the people who first invited them made their money and are dead. Their children and grandchildren will have to deal with Molenbeek.

Third is something related to cultural self-loathing, and that is compassion pimping. Like those who feed their dog cheap food and lock them in a kennel - yet give money to the ASPCA - the compassion pimps want to show how much they care about others far away, while ignoring those already in their care. Not the poor down the street or in their own family - no that is too close and uncomfortable. Better to show how much you care by inviting in masses of problems that will live in "other people's" neighborhoods, go to school with other people's kids, go to public swimming pools - not in your gated community, not to your private school, not in your personal pool, not dating your daughters and sons.

Fourth and most cynical is voter replacement. One of the best ways to control populations is to keep them distinct. Give them something arbitrary that keeps them in a box, and then have that box as a reliable part of your voting block. If you don't like the fact that the French speaking part of Belgium isn't growing as fast as the Dutch speaking part? Simple fix; import French speakers from North Africa. Keep them isolated, but make them citizens as soon as you can so they can vote. Or, in the USA - like California - issue them drivers' licenses even before the become citizens so they can vote. In all cases, bring them in from cultures that see the government as a source of patronage - and reinforce that fact. Make sure you are seen as the party of government. Make sure they know who is on their side - and who is not.

History shows this never ends well - but if no one is encouraged to look at history and you don't teach in anymore - who is going to warn you? How will you know?

Of course, none of this happens in isolation. Eventually there is a reaction. The original inhabitants will, if ignored by mainstream and responsible politicians long enough, look to other places. They will begin to radicalize if they feel they need to in order to have their concerns addressed. Pressure will build and can only be contained so long.

This has been coming for a long time - that evening of drinks I had with a table full of Scandinavian military officers a decade ago, listening to them discuss what is not discussed openly in polite society, made that clear to me. The migrant crisis has only quickened things.

One little note; a major reason Europe has enjoyed so many decades of peace following WWII is the huge amount of state-sanctioned ethnic cleansing that took place from the Volga to the Rhine. This removed many of the simmering problems related to ethnic minorities stirring up trouble.  Poles were forced at the end of a bayonet to Poland. Germans to Germany. Italians to Italy ... and for the most part that is what happened. Ugly, but effective and probably already saved the lives of tens of millions.

Not content to enjoy the good harvest from the bloody sacrifice of the post-war migrations, the Europeans decided to import an even harder problem.

The solution is not going to be pleasant for anyone - and the bad stuff hasn't even happened yet. Anyone who thinks this has a happy ending is a fool. 

You can have your liberal welfare state, or you can have mass 3rd World immigration. You can't have both.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Is it Time for a General Staff? - Midrats with ML Cavanaugh

The 1980s might be getting some of its foreign policy back - but why is our entire defense framework in the second-half of the second decade of the 21st Century based around ideas forged when the Chrysler K-car was still a young platform?

Is our present system creating the conditions for our uniformed senior leadership to forge the best path for our military to support national security requirements?

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern is returning to Midrats to discuss this and more; M.L. Cavanaugh.

Matt and is a US Army Strategist with global experience in assignments ranging from the Pentagon to Korea and Iraq to his current post at US Army Space and Missile Defense Command. He’s a Non Resident Fellow with the Modern War Institute (MWI) at West Point, where he provides regular commentary and analysis. He’s also a contributor to War on the Rocks, and Matt’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, and at ForeignPolicy.com, among other publications. After graduating from West Point in 2002, he earned his Master’s degree at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, and is currently at work on a PhD dissertation on supreme command under Professor Emeritus Colin Gray at the University of Reading (UK). You can find more on Matt at MLCavanaugh.com and he can be reached via Twitter @MLCavanaugh.

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, January 06, 2017

Fullbore Friday

For you fans of, "The Cruel Sea" ... I repost this about once a year as I just love the history and record of this scrappy class of warship.

I was reminded today of her via Claude's retweet about the HMCS SACKVILLE
Even if you've read this FbF in the past - give it another read.

What happens when a Navy finds itself short and has to play catch-up until the yards can design and build a more capable fleet? Sink all its funds into a few big ships and then hold its breath? Perhaps build good enough until you get yourself straightened out? Go smart?
They were a stop-gap measure to take the strain of convoy protection until large numbers of larger vessels — destroyers and frigates — could be produced. Their simple design using parts common to merchant shipping meant they could be constructed in small commercial shipyards all over the United Kingdom and eastern Canada where larger ships like destroyers could not be built. Additionally, the use of commercial machinery meant that the largely reserve and volunteer crews that manned them were familiar with their operation.
Yep, you knew they were going to make it to FbF - The Flower Class Corvette from one of the books on Phibian's professional reading list (hey, there is an idea I never get around to), The Cruel Sea. For a 205', 33' beam 16 kt ship - she seems multi-mission to me.
* 1 x 4 in (102 mm) BL Mk IX gun,
* One QF 2 pounder naval gun (40 mm) "pom-pom"
* Six x 20 mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns
* One Hedgehog A/S Mortar
* Depth charge projectors
Range 3,500 nautical miles at 12 knots, and oh boy did they made a lot of them; 267. Duty is as duty does - the Battle of the Atlantic would have been lost without them.
Service on corvettes was cold, wet, monotonous and uncomfortable. The ships were nicknamed "the pekingese of the ocean". They had a reputation of being very bad at rolling in heavy seas, with 80-degree rolls (that is, 40 degrees each side of the normal upright position) (check out the pics here) being fairly common - according to Nicholas Monsarrat they "would roll on wet grass" - however, they were very seaworthy ships, and no seaman was ever lost overboard from a Flower during WW2.Flower corvettes provided the main escort duties during the critical Battle of the Atlantic, and so were in the thick of the fight. Their primary aim was to ensure that merchantmen survived the crossing rather than sink U-boats, and so if a convoy encountered a U-boat a typical action would involve the corvette forcing the submarine to dive (thus limiting its speed and manoeverability) and keeping it underwater (and pre-occupied with avoiding depth charge attack) long enough for the convey to pass unmolested. This tactic was stretched to the limits when the U-boats made a 'wolf-pack' attack, intended to swamp the convoy's defences, and the Flower's low top speed made effective pursuit of a surfaced U-boat impossible.

Radar, Huff-Duff radio direction finding, depth-charge projectors and ASDIC meant that the Flower was well equipped to detect and defend, but lack of speed meant that they were not so capable of joining the more glamorous fast hunter-killer surface groups which were in place by the end of the war. Success for a Flower, therefore, should be measured in terms of tonnage protected rather than U-Boats sunk. Typical reports of convoy actions by these craft include numerous instances of U-Boat detection near a convoy, short engagement with gun or depth-charge, followed by a rapid return to station as another U-Boat takes advantage of the fight to attack the unguarded convoy. Continuous actions of this kind against a numerically superior U-Boat pack demanded considerable seamanship skills from all concerned, and were very wearing on the crew.

35 were lost at sea, of which 22 were torpedoed by U-boats, and 4 sunk by mines. It is thought that Flowers participated in the sinking of 47 U-boats and 4 Italian submarines.
How is this for you Snipes out there.
2 fire tube boilers, one 4-cycle triple-expansion steam engine
Don't laugh at that plant - after the war they proved their value.
Of particular interest is the story of HMCS Sudbury, built in Ontario in 1941. After WW2 ended she was converted to a towboat and Harold Elworthy, owner of Island Tug & Barge bought her in 1954. The Sudbury and her crew specialized in deep-sea salvage and completed many dramatic operations, but made their reputation in November/December 1955 when they pulled off the daring North Pacific rescue of the Greek freighter Makedonia.

The Sudbury towed the disabled vessel for 40 days through some of the roughest weather imaginable before arriving safely into Vancouver to a hero's welcome. The incident made headlines around the world and for the next decade the Sudbury and her 65-meter sister ship Sudbury II, purchased by Island Tug in 1958 were the most famous tugs on the Pacific coast.
There is actually one as a museum ship, HMCS SACKVILLE (K-181) that is pictured below. What a class of ship.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Modern Submarines Too Quiet? Don't Try to Listen Then

The Economist in the last six months published a series of interesting articles on the challenges of anti-submarine warfare.

As long time readers may have figured out, I love - from a professional perspective - ASW. Neglected and unloved by most, but to me a passion. Though few really cared outside fellow fetishists, I was actually damn good at it - for an officer.

It is all math and a little bit of instinct built by experience, but since I got too old to play tactical and was needed elsewhere - and then after leaving AD totally out of it - I've had to nibble what I can off of open source.

For those of you who share this passion, one thing we are always looking for is where technology is going. ASW is hard and is always getting harder in the Darwinian measure/counter-measure hide-n-seek that defines this warfare area. You cannot sit still and expect to win.

Though some 100# heads tell you they have "war winning" technology - even when briefed in you soon realize that, well, ... there are holes in the tactical applications. That being said, the more tools the better - and operational experience tells us that you need lots of different tools in order to successfully prosecute enemy submarines through search, localization, track, and attack. 

Not everything works everywhere against all targets - so bring a big toolbag.

As such, this little bit had me reaching for the circular slide rule;
...modern submarines are very quiet, and neither side has gained a definitive upper hand.

There are other options. Submarine-spotting aircraft carry “magnetic anomaly detectors” (MAD) which pick up disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by a submarine’s metal hull. Those disturbances are tiny, which means MAD is only useful at ranges of a few hundred metres.

There may, though, be a better way. Thanks to something called the Debye effect, it might be possible to hunt submarines using the magnetic signatures of their wakes. Seawater is salty, full of ions of sodium and chlorine. Because those ions have different masses, any nudge—such as a passing submarine—moves some farther than others. Each ion carries an electric charge, and the movement of those charges produces a magnetic field.

The Debye effect has been known since 1933, but its effects were thought to be tiny. The American navy set out to explore it nonetheless in 2009, giving research grants to three firms to check whether it could be used for submarine detection. One, Cortana Corporation of Falls Church, Virginia, found a significant effect. Cortana was given a second grant in 2011 to continue the work, which was expected to produce a sensor which could be deployed from a ship. Since then the navy has continued to award Cortana grants for hush-hush jobs.

Neither Cortana nor the navy will discuss exactly what they are up to. But it is likely that the technique can only detect certain submarine movements in some situations. Submarines produce many different types of wake. As well as the familiar V-shaped wake they leave underwater disturbances known as “internal waves”, flat swirls called “pancake eddies” and miniature vortices which spin off from fins and control surfaces. These all depend not only on speed and depth but also on the submarine’s hydrodynamics (the underwater version of aerodynamics).
Read it all. Exciting stuff.

Add to it some of the things ... well ... things still locked away, and I like new ways to work the early part of the kill chain ... as long as those sneaky bastards keep moving ...

As a side note, why does The Economist keep putting stuff out about ASW? One has to remember, the island nation was twice in the last hundred years almost starved to death by submarines.

She knows.