Saturday, October 01, 2016

On Midrats 2 Oct 2016 - Episode 352: Building Resilience in the Face of Man Made & Natural Threats

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 2 Oct 2016 for Midrats Episode 352: Building Resilience in the Face of Man Made & Natural Threats
At the height of hurricane season, people think of the impact such storms can have on the security, economy, and even the political direction of places if hit by such huge events such as Katrina.

As we saw in the attacks in New York City in 2001, terrorists are trying to create those same effects, along with a few more. With a global economy, local events can have international impact.

How do you best to prevent, prepare for, and recover from natural events - but on the high end, terrorist attacks that go beyond explosions, but reach the next level with chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons?

Our guest to discuss this and related concerns for the full hour will be J. Michael Barrett, Director of the Center for Homeland Security & Resilience (CHSR), and Diligent Innovations.

Mike's previous experience includes serving as the Director of Strategy for the White House Homeland Security Council, Intelligence Officer for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Senior Analyst for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A former Fulbright Scholar to Turkey, Mike has served as a Homeland Security Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, an Olin Foundation Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, and a research analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Mike received an M.A. in Strategic Studies and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., and an M.B.A. from the Australian School of Business in Sydney, Australia. He also was graduated cum laude with a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania and is an Occasional Guest Lecturer at National Defense University, Georgetown University, and Joint Special Operations University.
Join us live if you can (or pick the show up later) by clicking here. Or you can get the show later from our iTunes page here or from Stitcher here.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Mr. and Mrs. North "Cry Foul"

About the show:
Mr. and Mrs. North was a radio mystery series that aired on NBC and CBS from 1942 to
1954. Alice Frost and Joseph Curtin had the title roles when the series began in 1942. The characters, publisher Jerry North and his wife Pam, lived in Greenwich Village at 24 St. Anne's Flat. They were not professional detectives but simply an ordinary couple who stumbled across a murder or two every week for 12 years. The radio program eventually reached nearly 20 million listeners.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Department of Change for the Sake of Change: "Navy Eliminating 241-Year-Old Rating System in New Enlisted Rank Overhaul"

Apparently the secretariat of the U.S. Navy has solved all the other problems facing the Navy and decided to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic or, as Sam LaGrone reports, "Navy Eliminating 241-Year-Old Rating System in New Enlisted Rank Overhaul":
Sonar Tech
After more than 200 years, the Navy is making a fundamental change in how it will address its enlisted sailors, according to a notification on the new policy obtained by USNI News.

Starting today, the service will shelve the rating system it adopted from the U.K. Royal Navy, stop referring to sailors by their job titles and adopt a job classification in line with the Army, Marine Corps and the Air Force.

For example, under the new rules The Hunt for Red October character Sonar Technician Second Class Ronald “Jonesy” Jones – ST2 Jones for short – would be Petty Officer Second Class Jones or Petty Officer Jones. Machinist’s Mate First Class Jake Holman – MM1 Holman– from the novel and film The Sand Pebbles would be Petty Officer First Class Holman or Petty Officer Holman.

The change comes as Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has pushed the Department of the Navy to create gender-neutral titles for positions like rifleman and motorman.

A service official familiar with the process told USNI News Mabus’ gender-neutral push – examining ratings like Yeoman, Legalman and Damage Controlman – was the genesis of the look by the Navy’s personnel establishment.
Some people leave meaningful change in their wake and other just leave a trail of dumb.

If I had earned my way to be "Sonar Technician Second Class," I think I would prefer not to be confused with - oh, I don't know - a deck ape (and don't get me wrong, I personally enjoyed my time amongst the deck apes) or goodness knows,  a Legalman.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Excellent Read: "China and Asian Maritime Security" Testimony of Heritage's Dean Cheng Before the HouseSubcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Committee on Foreign Affairs

You ought to read this testimony on China and Asian Maritime Security, which combines Chinese history and current strategy. Some good excerpts:
The rise of Chinese maritime capabilities makes it the first new maritime power to take to the seas since the end of the 19th century. Unlike Wilhelmine Germany or the Soviet Union, both of which fielded substantial navies, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) actually relies upon the oceans for much of its economic activity. This dependence upon the sea also constitutes a radical break from that country’s millennia of history; the imperial treasure fleets of Admiral Zheng He were not nearly as central to Chinese power and livelihood. Thus, the transformation of the PRC from a land power to a maritime one constitutes one of the more fundamental changes in the international scene, certainly since the end of the Cold War, and arguably over the past century.
This growing dependence on the sea to operate various parts of its economy and maintain its society makes China unique. China is arguably the first continental power that is truly dependent upon the sea. Unlike Napoleonic France, Wilhelmine Germany, or the Soviet Union, China cannot look upon the sea as an optional area of operation, but as a vital area of national interest.
By contrast, since the rise of Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s and the diversification of China’s manufacturing base, China’s economic center of gravity has shifted toward the the coast. This has allowed such economic centers as Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Pudong to more easily access global trade routes for both imports of raw materials and exports of products. This has meant, however, that China’s recent economic development is also more vulnerable to potential attack from the sea.
An essential part of political warfare is legal warfare. From the Chinese perspective, legal warfare is not the “misuse” of the law, but rather, the exploitation of the law in support of broader political ends.
Such efforts also exploit not only the law, but also law enforcement agencies. For example, the use of the China Coast Guard (CCG) to enforce Chinese claims over the Senkakus, the Spratlys, and Scarborough Shoal not only serves to limit the potential for escalation, but also is a political statement. China is using law enforcement vessels to enforce its laws over its territories, reinforcing its claim to these various features.
As important, China’s conception of naval operations has steadily expanded. From “near-shore operations,” which roughly equate with coastal and brown-water duties, it has shifted emphasis to “near-sea” and now “far-sea” operations, roughly comparable to green water and blue water activities, respectively. These operations are not necessarily power projection–oriented, however.

The shift of China’s economic center of gravity to its coast, as noted earlier, means that Beijing is at least as interested in keeping foreign air and naval forces away from China’s shores. Indeed, Chinese anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) activities should be seen at least partly in this light. Given the range of modern precision-guided munition weapons, however, keeping an adversary away from China’s shores means being able to undertake A2/AD activities at ranges of a thousand miles or more.

To this end, China is likely to employ not only traditional naval forces, but civilian and commercial assets, in unorthodox ways that embody “hybrid” approaches to warfare. China’s fishing fleets, for example, include a substantial number of naval militia assets, essentially civilian vessels that respond to government (including military) assignments as necessary. Such forces could be exploited to provide everything from intelligence gathering to early warning for China’s navy.[16] CCG vessels, some of which were cascaded from the PLAN, can do the same. More disturbingly, China has reportedly installed radars typically found on patrol vessels on some of the oil rigs in the East China Sea.[17] This further blurs the line between military and civilian assets, and suggests a new means by which oil rigs can serve as “mobile national territory,” while further expanding China’s maritime situational awareness envelope.
The physical space of the South China Sea region itself is an invaluable resource, as it provides a strategic buffer. This is especially important as the PRC has built up the island of Hainan in the northwest corner of the South China Sea. Chinese military engineers have constructed a dock to handle its aircraft carriers, dedicated port facilities, including tunnels, for submarines, and a number of military airfields.[20] (The American EP-3 that collided with a Chinese fighter in 2001 crash-landed at one of these airfields.) In addition, China’s newest spaceport is located on Hainan Island, where it will be lofting future manned Chinese space missions. It is clearly not in the Chinese interest to allow foreign, and especially American, naval capability to make close approaches to Hainan.

Instead, it is in China’s interest to make the South China Sea as forbidding as possible, especially for American submarines, which remain qualitatively superior to their Chinese counterparts. It is therefore not surprising that there appears to be an effort to create a massive sonar surveillance network that would cover the region.[21] Indeed, military bases on the artificial islands China has built in the Spratlys, as well as in the Paracels and perhaps at Scarborough Shoal and Macclesfield Bank in the future, could provide convenient sites for processing data, and also for basing anti-submarine warfare aircraft and helicopters. Such deployments would make the deployment of American submarines into those waters far riskier.
Really, read it all.

Hat tip to James Kraska

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Industrial Espionage - Old School Version Against China

There was a time when China had a monopoly on a product the rest of the world grew dependent on and it took a British agent, engaging in industrial espionage to wrest that monopoly from them. As set out in Sarah Rose's excellent book For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History
Robert Fortune was a Scottish gardener, botanist, plant hunter - and industrial spy. In 1848, the East India Company engaged him to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China - territory forbidden to foreigners - to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea. For centuries, China had been the world's sole tea manufacturer. Britain purchased this fuel for its Empire by trading opium to the Chinese - a poisonous relationship Britain fought two destructive wars to sustain. The East India Company had profited lavishly as the middleman, but now it was sinking, having lost its monopoly to trade tea. Its salvation, it thought, was to establish its own plantations in the Himalayas of British India. There were just two problems: India had no tea plants worth growing, and the company wouldn't have known what to do with them if it had. Hence Robert Fortune's daring trip.
Disguising himself, Fortune nabbed both tea plants and experts and secreted them from China to British controlled territories and changed the world - and not for the better for the Chinese.

Are we still feeling the effects of these 19th Century act of industrial espionage? Was this theft part of the "100 years of humiliation" ingrained in modern Chinese thought? What lessons did China learn from the British tea effort?

I commend the book to you as you examine such thoughts.

The book has been 6 years in print and is available used at reasonable prices or for Kindle. Very good audio edition, too.

See also here:
Widespread consumption of costly tea in England and the American Colonies combined with China’s lack of interest in purchasing western goods, results in a disastrous trade deficit, as millions in Mexican silver dollars are poured into China to pay for Chinese tea and other goods.

Britain’s solution to their trade deficit with China is to promote the sale of addicitve opium grown in India and smuggled into China for profit.

Eventually British intransigent violations of Chinese laws forbidding the sale and use of opium bring about the Opium Wars and the spiraling downfall of China in defeat from a previous position of unrivaled world trading power.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Mind Webs with Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" and Arthur C. Clarke's "The Haunted Space Suit"

Mindwebs explained here:
Mindwebs, produced by WHA Radio in Madison, Wisconsin, between 1976 and 1984,
was really less a radio show in the familiar sense and more a series of readings of short stories by amazing writers, such as Richard Matheson, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury. Talented writing, wonderful accompaniment music and superb reading by Michael Hansen make the show one of our favorites. 150 shows were produced and aired.

Here a couple of very famous SciFi short stories from a couple of great writers: