Philippine Sea

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday is Heinlein Quote Day #27

From Time Enough for Love
Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation.
As we enter political season, though, you might hear arguments to the contrary.

Do you remember General Honore' trying to explain things to a reporter following Katrina?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Grim (Albeit Unintentional) Humor from the NYTimes

Apparently having neither listened nor read any commentary on the limitations of air power, a couple of New York Times reporters seem to be shocked - shocked I say - as they report Weeks of U.S. Strikes Fail to Dislodge ISIS in Iraq
After six weeks of American airstrikes, the Iraqi government’s forces have scarcely budged the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State from their hold on more than a quarter of the country, in part because many critical Sunni tribes remain on the sidelines.
Very weak boots on the ground, riven by competing tribal and religious sect differences.

Who could be surprised except the NYT?

General Mattis has it right:
Specifically, if this threat to our nation is determined to be as significant as I believe it is, we may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American ‘boots on the ground,’ ” Mattis said. “If a brigade of a our paratroopers or a battalion landing team of our Marines would strengthen our allies at a key juncture and create havoc/humiliation for our adversaries, then we should do what is necessary with our forces that exist for that very purpose.”
You might want to read all of his testimony, which is set out below. But especially this,
Properly used a mix of our troops can help set the conditions for the regional forces that can carry the bulk of the fighting on the ground. Half‐hearted or tentative efforts, or air strikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foe’s credibility, reinforcing his recruiting efforts which are already strong. I do not necessarily advocate American ground forces at this point, but we should never reassure our enemy that our Commander‐in‐Chief would not commit them at the time and place of his choosing. When we act it should be unequivocal, designed to end the fight as swiftly as possible.

Fighting ISIS: President Obama on Air Strikes

Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert Burck
President Obama's presentation on airstrikes against ISIS in a transcript
10:11 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Last night, on my orders, America’s armed forces began strikes against ISIL targets in Syria. Today, the American people give thanks for the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform, including the pilots who flew these missions with the courage and professionalism that we've come to expect from the finest military that the world has ever known.

Earlier this month, I outlined for the American people our strategy to confront the threat posed by the terrorist group known as ISIL. I made clear that as part of this campaign the United States would take action against targets in both Iraq and Syria so that these terrorists can't find safe haven anywhere. I also made clear that America would act as part of a broad coalition. And that's exactly what we've done.

We were joined in this action by our friends and partners -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, and Qatar. America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security.

The strength of this coalition makes it clear to the world that this is not America’s fight alone. Above all, the people and governments in the Middle East are rejecting ISIL and standing up for the peace and security that the people of the region and the world deserve.

Meanwhile, we will move forward with our plans, supported by bipartisan majorities in Congress, to ramp up our effort to train and equip the Syrian opposition, who are the best counterweight to ISIL and the Assad regime. And more broadly, over 40 nations have offered to help in this comprehensive effort to confront this terrorist threat -- to take out terrorist targets; to train and equip Iraqi and Syrian opposition fighters who are going up against ISIL on the ground; to cut off ISIL’s financing; to counter its hateful ideology; and to stop the flow of fighters into and out of the region.

Last night, we also took strikes to disrupt plotting against the United States and our allies by seasoned al Qaeda operatives in Syria who are known as the Khorasan Group. And once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people.

I've spoken to leaders in Congress and I'm pleased that there is bipartisan support for the actions we are taking. America is always stronger when we stand united, and that unity sends a powerful message to the world that we will do what’s necessary to defend our country.

Over the next several days I will have the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Abadi of Iraq, and with friends and allies at the United Nations to continue building support for the coalition that is confronting this serious threat to our peace and security. The overall effort will take time. There will be challenges ahead. But we're going to do what’s necessary to take the fight to this terrorist group, for the security of the country and the region and for the entire world.

Thanks. God bless our troops. God bless America
UPDATE: From CENTCOM, a report on the strikes here:
To conduct these strikes, the United States employed 47 TLAMs launched from USS Arleigh Burke and USS Philippine Sea operating from international waters in the Red Sea and North Arabian Gulf, as well as U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fighter, remotely piloted and bomber aircraft deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations. In addition, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also participated in or supported the airstrikes against ISIL targets. All aircraft safely exited the strike areas.
Separately, the United States has also taken action to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests conducted by a network of seasoned al-Qa'ida veterans - sometimes referred to as the Khorasan Group - who have established a safe haven in Syria to develop external attacks, construct and test improvised explosive devices and recruit Westerners to conduct operations. These strikes were undertaken only by U.S. assets.

In total, U.S. Central Command conducted eight strikes against Khorasan Group targets west of Aleppo to include training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communication building and command and control facilities.
See here.
UPDATE2: A little Navy video on mission launch:

UPDATE3: A very interesting piece from (I can't believe I'm writing this) Politico, The Barbarians Within Our Gates:
Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed. The promise of political empowerment, the return of politics, the restoration of human dignity heralded by the season of Arab uprisings in their early heydays—all has given way to civil wars, ethnic, sectarian and regional divisions and the reassertion of absolutism, both in its military and atavistic forms.

Read the rest here.

War Against Terrorists: Al Qaeda is back in the news and gets attacked to forestall "imminent attack"

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II
Al Qaeda makes the news again, and gets attacked in Syria, as set out here
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby confirmed Tuesday that the plotting was far along.

“This is a very dangerous group,” Kirby told Fox News. “We had information, good information that they were very actively plotting and very close to the end of that plotting -- and planning an attack on targets either in Europe or the U.S. homeland.”

As for the result of the airstrikes, he said: “We think we hit what we were aiming at.”
More from the Long War Journal:
The US-led bombing campaign in Syria is targeting the Al Nusrah Front, an official branch of al Qaeda, as well as the Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that is one of Al Nusrah's fiercest rivals.

Before they were launched, the air strikes were framed as being necessary to damage the Islamic State, a jihadist group that has seized large swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq. But in recent days US officials signaled that they were also concerned about al Qaeda's presence in Syria, including the possibility that al Qaeda operatives would seek to use the country as a launching pad for attacks in the West.

Several well-connected online jihadists have posted pictures of the Al Nusrah Front positions struck in the bombings. They also claim that al Qaeda veterans dispatched from Afghanistan to Syria, all of whom were part of Al Nusrah, have been killed.
Among the Al Nusrah Front positions targeted in the bombings are locations where members of the so-called "Khorasan group" are thought to be located. Ayman al Zawahiri, the emir of al Qaeda, sent the group to Syria specifically to plan attacks against the US and its interests. The group, which takes its name from al Qaeda's Khorasan shura (or advisory) council, is reportedly led by Muhsin al Fadhli, an experienced al Qaeda operative who has been involved in planning international terrorist attacks for years.

Al Fadhli's presence in Syria was first reported by the Arab Times in March. Shortly thereafter, The Long War Journal confirmed and expanded on this reporting. [See LWJ report, Former head of al Qaeda's network in Iran now operates in Syria.] The Long War Journal reported at the time that al Fadhli's plans "were a significant cause for concern among counterterrorism authorities."

The New York Times reported earlier this month that al Fadhli leads the Khorasan group in Syria.

Unconfirmed reports on jihadist social media sites say that al Fadhli was killed in the bombings. Neither US officials, nor al Qaeda has verified this reporting. The fog of war often makes it difficult to quickly confirm whether an individual jihadist has been killed, wounded, or survived unscathed. Initial reports should be treated with skepticism and there is no firm evidence yet that al Fadhli has been killed.

Read more: here

More on the Al Nusrah Front here:
Al-Nusra Front (also the Nusra Front or Jabhat al-Nusra) was formed in late 2011, when Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) emir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sent operative Abu Muhammad al-Julani to Syria to organize jihadist cells in the region. The Nusra Front rose quickly to prominence among rebel organizations in Syria for its reliable supply of arms, funding, and fighters—some from donors abroad, and some from AQI. Considered well trained, professional, and relatively successful on the battlefield, they earned the respect and support of many rebel groups, including some in the secular Free Syrian Army (FSA). However, al-Nusra also made some enemies among the Syrian people and opposition by imposing religious laws, although the group has shied away from the types of brutal executions and sectarian attacks that made AQI unpopular. Al-Nusra was also the first Syrian force to claim responsibility for terrorist attacks that killed civilians. (footnotes omitted)
Al-Nusra is affiliated with AQ and has pledged allegiance to the organization, serving as its only official branch in the Syrian conflict after global AQ emir Ayman al-Zawahiri publicly disowned ISIS following months of ISIS disobedience to AQ orders.
So, it's not really that the Al Nusrah Front and the Khorasan group just sprang up - but have been around and have enjoyed the chaos of Syria as providing recruiting and a safe haven.

Until now.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Midrats 21 Sept 14 - Episode 246: "When the short snappy war goes long, with Chris Dougherty"

Please join us on Sunday, 21 September 14 at 5pm (EDT) for Episode 246: When the short snappy war goes long, with Chris Dougherty
As we once again face the promise of a conflict with a limited mission and a strangely ill-defined Strategic and Operational design - what do we need to keep in mind not just from recent history, but the longer term record?

History shows us that military and political leaders either over or under appreciate changing technology, outmoded doctrine, and the imperfect correlation between past experience and present requirements.

From the national psyche to stockpiled war reserves - what happens when the short and splendid turns in to the long slog?

Using his latest article in The National Interest, The Most Terrifying Lesson of World War I: War Is Not Always "Short and Sharp," as a starting point, but expanding to a much broader discussion, our guest for the full hour will be Chris Dougherty, research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA).

Mr. Dougherty graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Security Studies from the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington and received an M.A. in Strategic Studies with distinction from John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. He also served as an airborne infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment from 1997 to 2000.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also get our show on iTunes here.

Saturday Is Heinlein Quote Day #26

If you ever find yourself in the situation where this advice might be needed, it is good to have it. From the Notebooks of Lazarus Long:
Get a shot off fast. This upsets him long enough to let you make your second shot perfect.

Actually, General Patton had a similar thought:
"A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later."
Most people will be more familiar with,
"A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week."

Timing is everything.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Fun Video: "Submarine Salvage" (1969)

"Submarine Salvage"
This U.S. Navy film shows how a sunken submarine can be raised from the depths using pontoons and air apparatus. Features footage of the salvage vessel USS Hoist (ARS-40), hard hat divers, and animations and footage of a real salvage operation exercise.

Lots of good deck seamanship involved along with some engineering math. Plus variations on the old diver's saying: "Plan your dive and dive your plan."

That saying can cover a whole range of adventures in your life - from a simple hike in the woods to creating a business.

You might notice some of the planners using a slide rule for their calculations. For some of you it might be the first time you've ever seen one in use. Hard to believe that they could perform salvage operations, build bridges and dams, design airplanes and all that stuff without a computer on hand - but they did.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Disturbing Report: Pakistani Naval Officers Tried to Hijack Ship to Attack U.S. Navy

Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal reports AQIS claims plot to strike US warships was executed by Pakistani Navy officers
Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed that Pakistani Navy officers were involved in the failed attempt to hijack a Pakistani warship and launch missiles at US Navy vessels in the Indian Ocean.

AQIS' spokesman, Usama Mahmoud, made the claim today in a statement released on his Twitter account. Mahmoud's statement was obtained by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Mahmoud had previously claimed on Sept. 13 that AQIS executed the attack on the Pakistani warship, and published a diagram purporting to show the layout of the PNS Zulfiqar. He said that the attackers had planned to take control of the PNS Zulfiqar and launch missiles at US warships in the Indian Ocean. The PNS Zulfiqar carries at least eight C-802 surface to surface anti-ship missiles.
While Mahmoud's claim that Pakistani naval officers executed the attack on the PNS Zulfiqar cannot be proven, Pakistani officials and press reports indicate that at least some of the attackers are members of the Pakistani military.
Read the whole thing.

Yes, Bill is quoting a AQIS spokesman so take those comments for what it they are worth. However, even if they are mostly a tissue of deceit, there is still the underlying premise of the remarks - that AQIS thinks there is a way to hijack a modern technology to threaten U.S. naval forces operating in the vicinity.

Disturbing. On the other hand, U.S. naval forces are now forewarned.

General characteristics of the Zulfigar class can be found here:
The F-22P or Zulfiquar-class frigate (Urdu: ذوالفقار ‎ English: Sword class), is a general purpose frigate built by Pakistan and China for the Pakistan Navy (PN). They are an adaptation of the Type 053H3 frigates of China but include elements of the Type 054 frigates as well.
The frigate's primary surface-to-surface missile armament comprises eight C-802 subsonic anti-ship missiles carried in two launchers with four cells each, fitted between the foremast and the funnel.
Built by China. Those box launchers circled in the nearby photo contain the C-802's.

Info on the C-802 here:
The Ying-Ji-802 land attack and anti-ship cruise missile [Western designation SACCADE], is an improved version of the C-801 which employs a small turbojet engine in place of the original solid rocket engine. The weight of the subsonic (0.9 Mach) Yingji-802 is reduced from 815 kilograms to 715 kilograms, but its range is increased from 42 kilometers to 120 kilometers. The 165 kg. (363 lb.) warhead is just as powerful as the earlier version. Since the missile has a small radar reflectivity and is only about five to seven meters above the sea surface when it attacks the target, and since its guidance equipment has strong anti-jamming capability, target ships have a very low success rate in intercepting the missile. The hit probability of the Yingji-802 is estimated to be as high as 98 percent. The Yingji-802 can be launched from airplanes, ships, submarines and land-based vehicles, and is considered along with the US "Harpoon" as among the best anti-ship missiles of the present-day world.
Photo shows a C-802 launching from a from truck mounted box launcher.