Work Crew

Work Crew

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Not So Far-Fetched - "Space Militias?"

Is the U.S. ready for China’s ‘space militias’? asks Adam Routh at SpaceNews:
NASA image of possible asteroid mining

Economic interests in space continue to rise. In 2016 the global space economy represented $329 billion, and 76 percent of the total was produced through commercial efforts. With some of the most lucrative endeavors like asteroid mining, space tourism, micro satellites, and space colonies still in the early stages of development and application, it’s no wonder economic projections estimate the space sector will grow to $2.7 trillion over the next three decades.

Nations’ militaries will continue to protect vital economic interests, and outer space will be no exception. But how will it happen? Will the United States see peer competitor militaries expand more aggressively into outer space? The answer lies in gray zone tactics and space militias.

The operational complexities of the space environment coupled with poorly defined international norms and laws will likely encourage U.S. adversaries to use gray zone tactics. Chinese maritime militias provide a likely model.
Space militias could operate much in the same way maritime militias act currently. Space militias will be commercial (or at least appear to be commercial) spacecraft supporting commercial activities but when directed by their government will quickly adjust and adopt a more military or law enforcement like role. The United States should expect these space militias to defend territory, provide situational awareness, and even attack other spacecraft through a variety of anti-satellite systems, but instead of people, these commercial spacecraft will rely on automation and artificial intelligence for basic operations. Without human life at stake risk tolerance will surely increas

Before the recent NavyCon at USNA, we discussed some of this on Midrats:

It was discussed at NavyCon, too.

And a modest discussion of space exploration, asteroid mining and such stuff at Space Exploration: Inflatable Habitat Ready for Space Station Trip:
"It will," the old man promised. "Funny—not so long ago people thought that space ships would have to be really rigid—all metal. So how did they turn out? Made of stellene, mostly—an improved form of polyethylene—almost the same stuff as a weather balloon."

"A few millimeters thick, light, perfectly flexible when deflated," Nelsen added. "Cut out and cement your bubb together in any shape you choose. Fold it up firmly, like a parachute—it makes a small package that can be carried up into orbit in a blastoff rocket with the best efficiency. There, attached flasks of breathable atmosphere fill it out in a minute. Eight pounds pressure makes it fairly solid in a vacuum. So, behold—you've got breathing and living room, inside. There's nylon cording for increased strength—as in an automobile tire—though not nearly as much. There's a silicone gum between the thin double layers, to seal possible meteor punctures. A darkening lead-salt impregnation in the otherwise transparent stellene cuts radiation entry below the danger level, and filters the glare and the hard ultra-violet out of the sunshine. So there you are, all set up."

"Rig your hub and guy wires," old Paul carried on, cheerfully. "Attach your sun-powered ionic drive, set up your air-restorer, spin your vehicle for centrifuge-gravity, and you're ready to move—out of orbit."
The quote is from The Planet Strappers by Raymond Z. Gallun (1961). As I recall it featured some sort of space piratea. A more contempory cite might be The Expanse.

UPDATE: Jerry Hendrix notes his CNAS report From Blue to Black
Applying the Concepts of Sea Power to the Ocean of Space
written with Michelle Shevin-Coetzee:

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day - NavyCon Warmup " The Green Hills of Earth"

Hey, NavyCon starts at noon U.S. Eastern on 18 November 2017 so, in preparation, here's a classic about space travel which hits on many of the underlying themes I would expect from the presenters at NavyCon - space travel is the human future, space involves risks, including phsyical and those we are familiar with on earth - lines of commerce, sustainment of forces in remote areas, rogues, tramps and large doses of the unknown.

Heinleins' classic "The Green Hills of Earth" (1947) anticipates these things and posits humankind in space. This version is from X Minus One in 1955:

NavyCon is hosted by the US Naval Academy Museum and will, as noted below, will be streamed live:



18 November 2017, 1200-1700 EST
U.S. Naval Academy Museum


Opening Address (1200-1220)
Claude Berube, Director USNA Museum
• "The ‘Academy,’ Naval Heritage, and Star Trek"

Special Guest Speaker (1220-1240 plus 10 min Q&A)
CAPT Kay Hire (Ret), (USNA ’81), NASA astronaut STS-90 and STS-130
• "The NASA of Today and Tomorrow"

Panel 1 (1250-1330)
LT Matt Hipple, USN
• "Why the proposed Space Cadre Ought to be part of the Navy"
Tim Choi (PhD Candidate)
• "Maritime Security, Sea Lanes, Chokepoints and ‘Star Trek Deep Space Nine’"

Panel 2 (1330-1430)
Raymond Pritchett, “Galrahn” of
• "Naval Irregular Warfare and SciFi Videogames"
Jonathan Bratten
• “Non-State Actors: The Case of ‘Firefly’”
CDR BJ Armstrong
• "Bringing Balance to the Fleet Forces: Issues of Fleet Design in ‘Star Wars’ and ‘The Expanse.’" 

Break (1430-1445)


Panel 3 (1445-1530)
Jennifer Marland, National Museum of the U.S. Navy
• “Why Old Tech is sometimes the Right Answer: ‘Battlestar Galactica’”
David Larter, reporter Navy Times
• "Fleet Leadership in ‘Star Wars’"

Panel 4 (1530-1615)
CAPT Mark Vandroff (USNA ’89), former Program Manager of DDG-51 program
• "Acquisition Reform Implementation by the Galactic Empire in the Years Prior to the Battle of Yavin"
Dr. Jerry Hendrix, Center for a New American Security, (former Director of Naval History & Heritage Command)
• "Fleet Operations and Tactics in David Weber’s Honor Harrington Series"

Keynote Address (1615-1645):
Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), HASC Seapower Subcommittee, USMC/Iraq Vet
• “Service, Citizenship & ‘Starship Troopers’”

Concluding Address (1645-1715)
David Weber, science fiction author of best-selling Honor Harrington series

Friday, November 17, 2017

On Midrats 19 November 2017 - Episode 411: Making a Better War College

Please join us at 5pm EST on 19 Nov 2017 for Midrats Episode 411: Making a Better War College
What is the best way to hone the intellectual edge of the officers who will lead our Navy? How do we gather our best minds and ideas together to best prepare our Navy for the next war?

How is our constellation of war colleges structured, how did it get to where it is today, and how do we modernize it to meet todays challenges?

We've put together a small panel for today's show to address this and related issues with returning guests Dr. James Holmes and Dr. John Kuehn.

Dr. Holmes is a professor of strategy and former visiting professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College. A former U.S. Navy surface-warfare officer and combat veteran of the first Gulf War, he served as a weapons and engineering officer in the battleship Wisconsin, engineering and firefighting instructor at the Surface Warfare Officers School Command, and military professor of strategy at the Naval War College. He was the last gunnery officer to fire a battleship’s big guns in anger.

Dr. Kuehn is the General William Stofft Chair for Historical Research at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He retired from the U.S. Navy 2004 at the rank of commander after 23 years of service as a naval flight officer in EP-3s and ES-3s. He authored Agents of Innovation (2008) and co-authored Eyewitness Pacific Theater (2008) with D.M. Giangreco, as well as numerous articles and editorials and was awarded a Moncado Prize from the Society for Military History in 2011.

Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Friday Films: Merchant Marine in WWII "Men and the Sea" (1943) and "Seaman Tarfu" an Army Joke

Training of men for service in the Merchant Marine during WWII: "This is war of cargo ships"

A lttle humor:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 9 October - 8 November 2017 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 2 - 8 November 2017

U.S.Military Power "Overstretched" - We Need More Ships!

Interesting assessment by Peter Apps at Reuters Commentary: The truth behind the U.S. show of force in Asia
The ever-increasing demand for military resources in a growing number of places is causing increased concern in the U.S. military. In June, a report by the U.S. Army War College described America’s military clout as “fraying” and bluntly concluded that the era of U.S. global military primacy that followed the fall of the Berlin wall was over. America’s armed forces have a variety of strategies to tackle that decline but the truth is that coming wars will look very different from the sort of military deployments taken for granted in the recent past.
Much of the burden of U.S. operations in the last 15 years has fallen on a handful of special operations units, whose budgets, personnel numbers and deployments have all risen dramatically. They are now dangerously overstretched, and the U.S. Army is now looking to create more mainstream units to take on unconventional deployments.
The Pentagon budget – $825 billion this fiscal year – is rising, and continues to dwarf that of any other nation. But it is also spread much more widely. China and Russia – spending $146 billion and 70 billion respectively – lack America’s global reach, but are more aggressively focused on their own immediate neighborhoods. Both have aggressively plowed resources into techniques and tactics such as cyber warfare and missiles that U.S. tacticians worry might give them the edge in any local war.
Not news to those who follow such things, but a reminder that being the "world's guardian" requires a commitment to man, equip and train our forces to do their work.

U.S. made "Ambassador" class from VT Halter
If you believe this is an argument that the U.S. Navy needs more ships, you are correct. They do not all need to be "super carriers," however. What we need is a presence. One ship can only cover so much ocean, but many smaller ships, costing far less than a DDG can provide presence with a call forward support force of big gray hulls.

You might recall this piece from The National Interest. Trump's Gunboats:
M-80 Stiletto (USN Photo PHAN Damien Horvath)
Instead of continuing to use the wrong tool for the job, it is logical to develop a diverse force of smaller naval ships to handle numerous, smaller missions, leaving the blue water navy to pursue the larger, vital warfighting role that it was designed to do. Smaller navy vessels working in squadrons may be more cost-effective in responding to global maritime incidents, patrolling coasts, and deterring similar forces. While the threat of Somali piracy has diminished the destabilization of other economies and nations could cause new threats to shipping to emerge as off Venezuela. Larger threats continue to loom as small Iranian boats swarm U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz and China’s maritime militia in the South China Sea have harassed ships in the past. Rather than offering larger, single targets of opportunity, dispersed squadrons of smaller vessels provide greater opportunities to counter asymmetric operations.
In his July 2012 USNI Proceedings article “Payloads over Platforms: Charting a New
Ambassador II fro VT Halter
Course,” then Chief of Naval Operation Admiral Greenert wrote, “We need to move from ‘luxury-car’ platforms—with their built-in capabilities—toward dependable ‘trucks’ that can handle a changing payload selection. “Sea trucks” is the perfect way in which to picture arming the smaller ship force. There already exist large numbers of “bolt on” modular weapons systems and sensor packages that could allow a squadron of such ships to present a challenge to any potential foe, ranging from anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles to various form of autonomous vehicles with many mission capabilities. The addition of helicopters to the mix adds both a counter-surface and ASW capability; the same is true for drones. A lightweight modular force means that a small squadron could form a formidable presence at a relatively low cost.

The United State must have the available number of assets for regional presence or surge operations. In major operations and power projection this means strike groups of major combatants. But the navy also needs smaller, more affordable vessels for low-intensity operations. These smaller ships can be built early in the new administration to meet that maritime security gap. Immediate construction on low-end vessels would also provide a gateway to training a broader, skilled workforce when contracts are in place for eventual larger combatants.

Update: Build a bunch of "hulls" then add on gear to meet missions. Here's a good starter hull from Damen Shipyards in their Fast Crew Supplier 5009 Patrol:

51 Meters, 26 knots. Steel hull. From the Damen website:

Catch that part about:
The huge clutter-free aft deck can be fitted with all equipment necessary for patrol tasks, e.g. daughter craft – from RIBs to Interceptors. Besides, ballistic protected safe zones can be created in the superstructure.
But it's time to get started!

Monday, November 13, 2017

In Memoriam Captain Thomas Hudner, Navy Pilot, Medal of Honor Recipient

Sad new that one of out heroes has died -  Flyer who tried to save Navy’s first black combat pilot dies
A former U.S. Navy captain and pilot who received the Medal of Honor for his heroics during the Korean War has died. Thomas Hudner Jr. was 93.

Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services Secretary Francisco Urena announced Hudner’s death Monday. Hudner was the former commissioner of the department.

Hudner was awarded the Medal of Honor during the Korean War in 1950 after his plane came under enemy fire and he crash-landed in an unsuccessful effort to save the life of his wingman and friend, Ensign Jesse Brown, the Navy’s first black combat pilot.
You might be interested in the interview we had with Captain Hudner a few years back on Midrats: