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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: The Pacific Story, "Our Strategic Needs in the Pacific" (1946)

The U.S. has been a Pacific nation since before 1850 (California statehood). With the addition of
Hawaii, Guam, American Somoa and other territories and the alliances we have, the Pacific is really not something we needed to "pivot" to. We simply are a Pacific power with all that implies.

Further, with the expenditure of lives of young Americans and the expenditure of vast sums to free the Pacific from occupation (including - by the way - China, the Philippines, New Guinea and other areas), we have paid our dues as a Pacific nation. We have every right and reason to be involved in the region. We are a "stakeholder."

Here's a show from 1946 dealing with the issues of Pacific in the days after WWII:


Friday, September 22, 2017

On Midrats 24 September 2017 - Episode 403: Hezbollah, Israel, Syria, Lebanon and What's Next

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 24 September 2017 for Midrats Episode 403: Hezbollah, Israel, Syria, Lebanon and What's Next
As the Syrian conflict enters what looks to be its end game, one old player on the scene is emerging stronger than it has ever been, a point of concern for all the nations in the area.

How has the Syrian civil war changed Hezbollah and her allies, and what does it signal about the post-war order?

To discuss this and related issues will be our guest for the full hour, Solume Anderson.

Solume is journalist and author based between New York City and Beirut, Lebanon. An
alumna of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She writes regularly for publications including Newsweek, The Atlantic, New York, Harpers, Foreign Policy, VICE, Village Voice and Vox.com. Her first book, The Hostage’s Daughter was published in 2016.

We will use her latest article, Hezbollah’s New Strength Leaves Israeli Border Tense, as a starting off point for our conversation.
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 Double Feature: "Operation Pluto" and "Time of Disaster"

First, British film about a remarkable engineering feat that help win the war in Europe:



Unrelated, but interesting, a film about civic duty during disasters:


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fun in the U.S. Navy World

Galrahn takes on the "can-do" vs. "must-do" Navy in The US Navy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Tuesday
"Can do" cultures don't require risk mitigation plans, but "must do" cultures do. The distinction is the difference. A "Can do" culture in an organization is a bottom-up culture of productivity, while a "must do" culture within an organization is a top-down culture of productivity. The specific characteristics that distinctly identifies whether an organization has a positive "can do" culture or a negative "must do" culture is the persistent requirement for risk mitigation and the acceptance of risk mitigation as part of standard operating procedure at the senior leadership level.

The CNO's own testimony before the Senate on Tuesday suggests that the US Navy has a toxic "must do" top-down culture, because he not only cited risk mitigation but a tremendous amount of evidence was presented in testimony that the acceptance of risk mitigation as part of standard operating procedure is prevalent in the Pacific theater.
We touched on this in our recent Midrats episode with David Larter about 25:40:



Couple that with this USNI Proceedings piece by LT John Miller, There Are No Benign Operations with its excellent lede:
The Navy often overlooks its vulnerabilities in peacetime, but as the crew of the USS Stark and sailors before them have learned, material and personnel readiness are critical even during seemingly neutral taskings.

Lesson learned applications? Another USNI Proceedings piece by RADM John Wade and LT Timothy Baker, Red Sea Combat Generates High-Velocity Learning:
Most important, with this tasking came direction to ensure the ships’ crews knew they were not being investigated. Our assessment was not an investigation; rather, it was a method for extracting valuable lessons from ships having engaged in combat to increase the surface community’s warfighting effectiveness.
***
The assessment confirms how these ships performed. The first and perhaps most significant lesson emerged from observing the impact of the Red Sea littoral environment on combat-system performance during an actual engagement. Until the events in October, the best understanding of environmental impact on system performance had come from computer simulations and live-fire exercises in the less-challenging conditions in the Virginia Capes or Southern California operational areas. Second, we identified specific areas where SMWDC can improve firing-point procedures, refine the Aegis ship self-defense system (SSDS) and SPY radar doctrines, and provide increased threat-specific training to increase battlespace and maximize depth-of-fire for shipboard weapons. The third lesson derived from assessing crew endurance. Until now, little had been understood about how stress and uncertainty affect sailors in our newest and most capable warships in combat.

On a different but related topic, an excellent post by Scott Cheney-Peters on Filling the Maritime Law Enforcement Gap
Last week, Japan gathered world maritime security leaders in Tokyo for the first-ever Coast Guard Global Summit. Even without the U.S. Coast Guard’s headline-grabbing search and rescue operations in the wake of recent hurricanes, attendees had plenty to talk about. They face an array of maritime challenges including piracy in Africa and Asia, large-scale migration in Europe, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing pretty much everywhere. And this before, as a concession to cooperation and dialogue, the summit agenda avoided an issue increasingly important to Asian maritime services: protecting sovereign rights in the face of competing maritime entitlement claims.

Any one of those challenges could stress a maritime law enforcement service to the limits of its operational effectiveness; taken together, they point to a critical security danger that has been ignored by too many for too long. Around the world there is a pervasive lack of adequate capabilities to deal with maritime security challenges below the threshold of war. Nations that have rarely assessed their interests accurately in the maritime domain or resourced their protection accordingly are beginning to face up to the mounting threats. More than ever, governments are seeking assistance with what are primarily maritime law enforcement operations, leading even NGOs and private enterprise to try to fill the Last week, Japan gathered world maritime security leaders in Tokyo for the first-ever Coast Guard Global Summit. Even without the U.S. Coast Guard’s headline-grabbing search and rescue operations in the wake of recent hurricanes, attendees had plenty to talk about. They face an array of maritime challenges including piracy in Africa and Asia, large-scale migration in Europe, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing pretty much everywhere. And this before, as a concession to cooperation and dialogue, the summit agenda avoided an issue increasingly important to Asian maritime services: protecting sovereign rights in the face of competing maritime entitlement claims.

Any one of those challenges could stress a maritime law enforcement service to the limits of its operational effectiveness; taken together, they point to a critical security danger that has been ignored by too many for too long. Around the world there is a pervasive lack of adequate capabilities to deal with maritime security challenges below the threshold of war. Nations that have rarely assessed their interests accurately in the maritime domain or resourced their protection accordingly are beginning to face up to the mounting threats. More than ever, governments are seeking assistance with what are primarily maritime law enforcement operations, leading even NGOs and private enterprise to try to fill gaps in some instances.
Nice to see that SecNav is looking at filling some gaps with platforms that may not be "first line" ships but which can carry out some important missions while saving the big gray hulls for other matters, as reported by Ben Werner at USNI News SECNAV Spencer: Oliver Hazard Perry Frigates Could be Low-Cost Drug Interdiction Platforms:
SECNAV Richard V. Spencer told reporters he and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson are studying how the Navy faces-off a threat and how the Navy can best match the different types of threats.

“Is a (guided-missile destroyer) DDG the thing to put for drug interdictions down in the Caribbean? I don’t think so,” Spencer said.
“Do we actually have something in the portfolio right now?”

If pressed, Spencer said he’d task the Littoral Combat Ship with assisting the Coast Guard’s drug interdiction work in U.S. 4th Fleet in the short term. But looking forward to the Navy’s stated goal of increasing its fleet size to 355 ships, Spencer said part of his planning will include considering recommissioning the seven Perrys (FFG-7).

“One of the things we might look at is bringing the Perry-class to do a limited drug interdiction mode,” Spencer said.
***
“No combat systems, but sea-ready, navigation ready, radar ready out the door,” Spencer said. “That’s a pretty inexpensive proven platform right there,” Spencer said. “Can you arm it up with Tomahawks? No.”

But for drug interdiction or operating in low threat areas, Spencer said the frigates could accomplish these important missions without expensive upgrades to weapons systems.


As I have stated before, Congress needs to quit screwing around with funding the Navy and the Coast Guard and provide the American people with a force funded to do its job. That includes funding for an adequate number of ships and personnel. While it's sexy to discuss carriers and cruisers, it's the non-sexy areas that also need attention. These include ice breakers, fleet auxiliaries and mine warfare.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Short Version of the Hearing on Recent United States Navy Incidents at Sea: "We need ships and more people"

Let me sum up Recent United States Navy Incidents at Sea Hearing by United States Senate Commitee on Armed Services. "We need more ships and people."

It is the job of Congress.
"The Congress shall have Power To ...provide and maintain a Navy.... ARTICLE I, SECTION 8, CLAUSE 13, U.S. Constitution.

See SecNav Spencer:
All of these efforts rest on a foundation of sufficient and predictable funding to sustain our readiness. As I stated in my confirmation hearing, the Navy-Marine Corps team, their families, and their civilian teammates have never failed our Nation, and they never will. However, I believe that we are failing them through such actions as the Budget Control Act and repeated continuing resolutions. This imbalance must be rectified.

See CNO Richardson:
I have testified several times about the “triple whammy” - the corrosive confluence of high operational tempo constrained funding levels, and budget uncertainty. Although warfighting capabilities of ships have dramatically increased in the last century, the size and scope of U.S. responsibilities around the world have also increased, and the Navy is feeling the strains of consistently high operational tempo. Added to this challenge, eight years of continuing resolutions and the Budget Control Act have impacted the ability to plan and schedule training, ship maintenance, and modernization.

We had a discussion on these recent incidents with David Larter:



There's a discussion of "can do-ism" beginning about 25:27. My apologies for the "breaking up" on my part, but the answer is spot on as is Sal's follow-on.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

On Midrats 17 September 2015 -Episode 402: Mid-September Melee

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 17 September 2017 for Midrats Episode 402: Mid-September Melee:
From WESTPAC to the Caribbean to the Euphrates river valley to Arakan province,
U.S. Navy photo by MC3 Ryre Arciaga/Released)
we’ll be covering the mostly maritime national security developments of the last few weeks for the full hour in a Midrats free-for-all format. This is also your chance to bring up the topics you want addressed. Join in the chat room live to share your questions, or call in to the show if there is something you like us to talk about.
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.

Constitution Day