America

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Somali Pirates: August 2010 Attacks, NATO Warnings and Counter- Piracy

Poor sea conditions have slowed pirate activity in the Gulf of Aden and off the eastern Somali coast for the month of August. In addition, the number of international pirate-hunting naval forces is having an impact.

Multi-national efforts stops pirates, as reported here:
Japanese, EU and NATO forces cooperated on Sunday to intercept pirates who were preparing to attack ships in the Gulf of Aden, the NATO counter-piracy task force said.

A Japanese Maritime Self Defence (JMSDF) aircraft spotted a pirate skiff with seven suspected pirates on board and alerted a helicopter from the Danish warship Esbern Snare under NATO command, which intercepted the skiff.

"Subsequently the suspected pirates threw their weapons overboard and surrendered," a NATO statement, released in London, said.

An Italian helicopter from another vessel under NATO command provided support for the operation.

Crew members from an American warship, the USS Kauffman, also in NATO's counter-piracy operation, boarded the skiff and found a ladder pirates used to board ships "and other pirate-related paraphernalia," the statement added.

NATO August 2010 reports (purple= warning; orange= weapons fired; red = hijacking)
August. 28 2010
WARNING Gulf of Aden
Latitude: 12 17N Longitude: 04459E
Alert number 403 / 2010.
At 1449 UTC a Pirate Action Group consisting of ONE ARMED SKIFF was reported in position 12 17 N 044 59 E.
-----------------------------
August. 22 2010
WARNING Gulf of Aden
Latitude: 13 26N Longitude: 049 41E
Alert number 402 / 2010.
At 0417 UTC 22AUG a white skiff with weapons was reported in position 13 26N 049 41E.
-----------------------------
August. 19 2010
WARNING, Gulf of Aden
Latitude: 13 46N Longitude: 050 02E
Alert number 401 / 2010.
At 1007 UTC 19AUG a Pirate Action Group consisting of one skiff and one dhow was reported in position 13 46N 050 02E.
--------------------------------
18. August 2010
WARNING, Gulf of Aden
Latitude: 13 11 N Longitude: 049 06 E
Alert number 400 / 2010.
At 1453 UTC 18AUG a skiff was reported in position 13 11 N 049 06 E.
--------------------------------
17. August 2010
WARNING, Gulf of Aden
Latitude: 12 59N Longitude: 048 15E
Alert number 399 / 2010.
At 0434 UTC 17 AUG one skiff was reported in position 12 59N 048 15E
--------------------------------
9. August 2010
WARNING, Gulf of Aden
Latitude: 13 20N Longitude: 049 46E
Alert number 398 / 2010.
At 0513 UTC 1 skiff was reported attempting an approach to a merchant vessel in position 13 20 N 049 46E.

-----------------------------------

4. August 2010
WARNING Red Sea
Latitude: 15 48N Longitude: 041 25E
Alert number 396 / 2010.
At 1445 UTC 04 AUG 10 a merchant vessel was attacked by 5 white skiffs, each with 7 POB, in position 15 48N 041 25E. Weapons were fired.
------------------------------
3. August 2010
WARNING, Pirate Attack, Gulf of Aden / IRTC
Latitude: 12 56N, Longitude: 048 08E
Alert number 395 / 2010.
At 0324 UTC 03 AUG 10 merchant vessel is currently under attack by 1 skiffs in position 12 56N 048 08E. Red hulled skiff, 6 POB, weapons fired.

------------------------------
02 August 2010
Warning, Pirate Attack, Gulf of Aden
Latitude: 13 02N, Longitude: 048 54E
Alert number 394 / 2010
At 0420 UTC 02 AUG 10 a merchant vessel was hijacked in position 13 02N - 048 54E.
The counter-piracy effort is still mired in legal confusion, resulting in sort of pirate "catch and release" program as reported here:
International maritime laws again prevented authorities from prosecuting pirates captured by Danish warship Esbern Snarre over the weekend in the Aden Gulf.

According to Nato’s maritime command, the warship was summoned by a ship sailing under the Panama flag on Saturday, after it reported attacks by pirates.

When the Esbern Snarre and US carrier Winston Churchill arrived at the scene, the Panama-registered ship and a Norwegian ship were both under attack from Somali pirates. A helicopter sent out by the Esbern Snarre fired warning shots and the pirates fled in their boats towards the Somali coast.

Yet despite finding both knives and ammunition shells on board the pirates’ vessels, defence minister Gitte Lillelund Bech told news bureau Ritzau that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the pirates and that they were released. Bech said that neither the American nor Danish forces actually saw the pirates open fire on the two ships.

Nato forces have had a difficult time bringing pirates in the Arabian Sea to trial due to the often conflicting and complex national and maritime laws.
Clicking on the images may increase their size.

Pirates of the South China Sea: ReCAAP Reports

Info from ReCAAP about an increase in pirate attacks off Palau Mandkai in the South China Sea - six attacks in recent days.

On the 16 and 17 of August, three ships were attacked.
 
 Couple this with another report of seven incidents since June 2010 in the area off Palau Subi Besar and the southern part of the South China Sea is becoming a piracy hot spot.


Most of these incidents are armed robbery or attempted robbery. The pirates are described as being armed with "long knives" and /or guns.

A mid-year review by ReCAAP shows the piracy hot spots  have shifted from the Malacca Strait to the areas noted above (red arrow in larger map) and to the Singapore roadstead (red arrow in inset).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Killer Squid

Man eating giant squid:
Millions of killer giant squid are not only devouring vast amounts of fish they have even started attacking humans.
Two Mexican fishermen were recently dragged from their boats and chewed so badly that their bodies could not be identified even by their own families.
Oh goodie.

Set the squid guard watch.


Update: If they start walking like the snakeheads, I'm moving to higher ground.


Are You Prepared for a Hurricane? Earthquake? Flood?

 Before going on - remember that flooding kills more people during a hurricane than does the wind. In any emergency, Turn Around Don't Drown™.

Plan for 3 to 5 days on your own. It takes that long to mobilize help.

Red Cross guidance - Are You Prepared for a Hurricane?:
Steps you can take to be prepared include:

1. Build a disaster supply kit or check the kit you prepared last year. Include a three-day supply of water and ready-to-eat non-perishable foods. Don’t forget a manual can opener, battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries. Your kit should also have a first aid kit, prescription and non-prescription medications, and copies of important documents. You can also shop the Red Cross store for emergency preparedness kits and supplies.
2. Prepare a personal disaster and evacuation plan. Identify two meeting places—one near your home, and one outside your area in case you can’t return home. Make plans for your pets. Select an out-of-area emergency contact person.
3. Be informed. Know what a hurricane WATCH means. If a hurricane WATCH is issued:
* Listen to weather updates from your battery-powered or hand-cranked radio.
* Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, hanging plants, bicycles, toys and garden tools. Anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
* Close all windows and doors.
* Cover windows with storm shutters or pre-cut plywood.
* If time permits, and you live in an identified surge zone, elevate furniture or move it to a higher floor to protect it from flooding.
* Fill your vehicle’s gas tank.
* Check your disaster supply kit to make sure items have not expire
Recommended stuff to have:
At a minimum, have the basic supplies listed below. Keep supplies in an easy-­to­-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate.

* Water—one gallon per person, per day (3­day supply for evacuation, 2­week supply for home)
* Food—non­perishable, easy­to­prepare items (3­day supply for evacuation, 2­week supply for home)
* Flashlight
* Battery­powered or hand­crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
* Extra batteries
* First aid kit
* Medications (7­day supply) and medical items
* Multi­purpose tool
* Sanitation and personal hygiene items
* Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
* Cell phone with chargers
* Family and emergency contact information
* Extra cash
* Emergency blanket
* Map(s) of the area

Consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit. Suggested items to help meet additional needs are:

* Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
* Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
* Games and activities for children
* Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
* Two­way radios
* Extra set of car keys and house keys
* Manual can opener

Additional supplies to keep at home or in your kit based on the types of disasters common to your area:

* Whistle
* N95 or surgical masks
* Matches
* Rain gear
* Towels
* Work gloves
* Tools/supplies for securing your home
* Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
* Plastic sheeting
* Duct tape
* Scissors
* Household liquid bleach
* Entertainment items
* Blankets or sleeping bags

See also here.

This may be a good idea Eton COMBOBASECAMP-KIT American Red Cross FR1000 and Uniden GMR1035 Two-way Emergency Handcrank Radio Base Camp Kit:
* A must for any emergency toolkit, the Base Camp Combo package is an AM/FM/WeatherBand Hand Crank Radio, Emergency Flashlight, Cell Phone Charger, Emergency Siren, and GMRS 2-Way Radio with two handheld units in one powerful package.
* With the ARC FR1000 don't get caught in the dark! This self-powered hand-crank radio lets you stay informed, even when the power is out. Tune into AM, FM and weather band frequencies for the most up-to-date information in case of emergency. The Voicelink is more than just a radio-it's a multifunctional wonder.
* The two-way walkie-talkie feature with GMRS technology lets you stay in touch, as does the built-in cell phone charger. You also get a flashlight, a beacon light that can function as an SOS signal, and a siren.
* Power it all with the twist of a crank. You'll be prepared for any emergency, and there's an added benefit - Etón Corporation will contribute $1.50 of the sales price to support the American Red Cross. Plus each radio includes American Red Cross disaster preparedness tips!
* The two Uniden GMR1035 handheld units have 22 Channels (15 GMRS, 7 FRS) with a range of up to 10 Miles as well as a battery strength meter so you don't get stranded without power. Each handheld unit includes 3 x AAA batteries for approx. 20 hours of use.
Got trees? A couple of tools to help move things bigger than yourself:














Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fearless Navy Bloggers Took to the Air: Interviews with Seth Cropsey and Bill Roggio

Good guests talking China and Pakistan and more.

You can listen by clicking on Episode 34 Pakistan at the hub and the rise of China. 8/29/2010 on Blog Talk Radio

or

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

UPDATE: An earlier BTR show on the situation in the Pacific here featuring Michael (Misha) Auslin, Director of Japan Studies and Resident Scholar in Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. (yes, ignore the COIN thing - that happened at episode 33 along with another discussion of Don't Ask, Don't Tell).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fearless Navy Bloggers Take to the Air: Episode 34 Pakistan at the hub and the rise of China 8/29/2010 Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Episode 34 Pakistan at the hub and the rise of China. 8/29/2010 - Midrats | Internet Radio | Blog Talk Radio. 5 pm Eastern U.S.
Where is the world's most interesting neighborhood? From northeast to southwest Asia. That is where we are going to focus on this episode of Midrats.Join us as we weigh in with to experts on the subject.
For the first half hour we will have as our guest Seth Cropsey, Senior Fellow from The Hudson Institute to discuss the rise of China and her growing influence throughout Asia and globally. For the second half of the hour we will have guest Bill Roggio from Long Wars Journal to discuss the central role of Pakistan in this decade and next's global conflict.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Pakistan Sucks," Says a NY Times Op-Ed and "It's all America's fault."

Yes, well, ignore billions of dollars of U.S. Aid humanitarian aid poured into the sink hole that is Pakistan and in the midst of a flood, blame the Americans for a failing state, and you have an NY Times op-ed piece by Ali Sethi "Pakistan, Drowning in Neglect":
“That is not advisable,” he said. There were soldiers on the highway, and they wouldn’t want to be on camera. What were soldiers doing on the highway?

The answer came in evasive, fragmented sentences: there was an airbase on the Sindhi side of the highway. This was where the military’s newest F-16 fighter jets were parked. But local residents believed that the base also housed the notorious American drones used to kill Islamist militants in the mountains. If true, this meant that the military was getting tens of millions of dollars a year in exchange, none of which trickled down to the local population.
***
But there is at least one other way of looking at the country revealed by this natural disaster. This is a place where peasants drown in rice fields they don’t own, where mud-and-brick villages are submerged to save slightly less expendable towns, and where dying villages stand next to airbases housing the most sophisticated fighter jets in the world. Such a country is owed more than just aid, it is owed nothing less than reparations from all those who preside over its soil.

This includes politicians and bureaucrats, who are already being brought to account by a rambunctious electronic media, but also an unaccountably powerful military and its constant American financiers, who together stand to lose the most when the next wave comes.
How much aid? How about $17 billion dollars from FY 2002 to FY2011.

President Obama authorized $7.9 billion in October 2009.

Was some of this money spent to further U.S. interests?

I sure as hell hope so.

We are, after all, a country and not a charity.

Even with that, which country has hundreds of members of its military engaged in difficult rescue missions? Who will match the following (as of 16 Aug - I'm sure the totals are higher now)?
WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2010 – Four U.S. Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters arrived today and U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo aircraft began transporting international aid within Pakistan as part of the continued U.S. humanitarian assistance in support of flood relief from the monsoon floods.

The four helicopters are part of the contingent of 19 helicopters urgently ordered to Pakistan last week by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. They bring to 11 the total number of U.S. military aircraft in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, two Air Force C-130 aircraft from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing in Afghanistan flew to the Pakistani air force base Chaklala in Rawalpindi this morning in response to a Pakistani government request to pick up and transport international relief supplies stored there for delivery to flood-stricken areas. These flights are scheduled to continue daily to assist with getting out urgently needed relief supplies. An estimated 52,000 pounds of relief supplies were delivered today to Sukkur for distribution by Pakistani government and military authorities.

To date, the United States has pledged to provide about $76 million in assistance to flood-affected populations in Pakistan. Support includes both financial assistance and the immediate provision of urgently needed supplies and services, drawing on unique U.S. capabilities and resources.

U.S. military helicopters have rescued 3,555 people and transported 436,340 pounds of emergency relief supplies in spite of bad weather. In addition, within 36 hours of the initial flooding on July 29, the United States began delivering thousands of packaged meals to Pakistan from U.S. stocks in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region. In all, 436,944 meals that conform with Islamic law were provided to civilian and military officials in Pakistan for distribution to Pakistanis in need.

Two shipments of heavy-duty, waterproof plastic sheeting to be used in construction of temporary dry shelter arrived in Karachi over the past two days. The 770 rolls bring the number of sheeting materials rolls brought to Pakistan to 1,870, an amount expected to help in providing shelter for 112,000 people. Some 14,000 blankets were brought along with the sheeting last week.

“Our experience has shown that plastic sheeting is urgently needed for temporary shelters, and we know it is urgently needed in Sindh as the flood waters continue to move south,” said U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson. “It will be supplied along with locally purchased materials that can be easily moved when people are able to return home.”

The sheeting material will provide dry shelter for 46,800 people in Sindh province. The cargo is immediately being sent to a logistics hub in Sindh and will be distributed by local and international organizations.

Other U.S. contributions to date include:

-- A month’s emergency food rations to more than 307,000 people through a partnership with the World Food Program.

-- About $11.25 million for the United Nations Refugee Agency, $5 million for the International Committee of the Red Cross, $3 million to the World Health Organization and $4.1 million for Save the Children.

-- A total of 436,944 meals delivered to civilian and military officials in Pakistan within 36 hours of the initial flooding via U.S. Air Force airlift, a contribution of about $3.7 million.

-- Emergency relief items totaling about $4 million delivered to the National Disaster Management Authority. The items include: 18 Zodiac rescue boats, six water filtration units, 10 water storage bladders, 30 concrete-cutting saws and 12 pre-fabricated steel bridges. A 25-kilowatt generator was provided to the Frontier Scouts-KPk to support their flood relief efforts.
You want more? Go review this, which includes only the DoD involvement.

Let's turn the question back to the internal politics of Pakistan:
"Why did not Pakistan invest in more flood control instead of nuclear weapons?" After all, floods have happened for years:
Yet, little attention has been focused on why the flood and other natural hazards that have struck Pakistan have done so much damage. Pakistan has suffered from earthquakes, droughts and floods in recent years. In each case, the cost in terms of human life, suffering and material damage has been magnified by the country’s underdeveloped physical and social infrastructure. Previously, floods occurred in 1950, 1970, 1975, 1982, 1992 and 1993, washing away homes, crops, livestock, roads, schools and clinics. Mercifully, the extensive system of dams, embankments and canals—partly built with U.S. foreign assistance in the 1960s—has permitted some management of the downstream water flow, but this system was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the current flood.  (emphasis added)
I guess, though, to follow the popular phrase, "it would have been worse" without that aid from the 1960s. And, it also follows that if the Americans are willing to pay for flood control, that frees up Pakistani money for things like developing nuclear weapons technology.

Oh, wait, there was a disruption in aid to Pakistan?
But actual U.S. development assistance to Pakistan has been minimal since the large aid programs of the 1960s and early 1970s (the hey-day of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship). At that time, U.S. development assistance helped build roads, power stations and a vibrant agricultural economy. Since then, Pakistan has seen little cash for development projects from the United States.
Let's see, the liberal Brooking Institute couldn't bring itself to identify why the aid dropped, but I will (with the help of Wikipedia):
On the surface as well, Carter's diplomatic policies towards Pakistan in particular changed drastically. The administration had cut off financial aid to the country in early 1979 when religious fundamentalists, encouraged by the prevailing Islamist military dictatorship over Pakistan, burnt down a US Embassy based there. The international stake in Pakistan, however, had greatly increased with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The then-President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, was offered 400 million dollars to subsidize the anti-communist Mujahideen in Afghanistan by Carter. General Zia declined the offer as insufficient, famously declaring it to be "peanuts"; and the U.S. was forced to step up aid to Pakistan. (emphasis added)
Of course, there was that "Symington Amendment" thingie:
The Symington Amendment (to the aforementioned Foreign Assistance Act) prohibits delivering or receiving economic assistance and military aid unless the President certifies that Pakistan has not obtained any nuclear-enriched material. The Glenn Amendment requires the termination of U.S. government economic assistance and military transfers due to Pakistan's testing of a nuclear device in 1998 (this applies to India as well). It also prohibits U.S. support for non-Basic Human Needs lending at the International Financial Institutes. The Pressler Amendment calls for sanctions on government to government military sales and new economic assistance unless the President certifies that Pakistan does not possess a nuclear device.
The Symington Amendment was first activated against Pakistan in 1979 because of Pakistan's importation of equipment for the Kahuta uranium-enrichment facility, a facility which is not subject to IAEA safeguards. However, the Soviet invasion of Afghansitan in 1979 led to a shift in U.S. proliferation policies towards Pakistan, and in 1981 Congress waived the Symington Amendment, citing national security concerns.
Until 1990, the United States provided military aid to Pakistan to modernize its conventional defensive capability. During this period the U.S. allocated about 40% of its assistance package to non-reimbursable credits for military purchases, the third largest program behind Israel and Egypt. The remainder of the aid program was devoted to economic assistance.

Soon after the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, in 1990 the Bush I Administration declined to make the certification that Pakistan does "not possess a nuclear explosive device and that the proposed U.S. assistance program will significantly reduce the risk that Pakistan will possess a nuclear explosive device." As a result the Pressler Amendment went into effect against Pakistan, ending all government to government military sales to Pakistan.

Speaking of Pakistan's "friends," how about explaining The Pakistan Taliban has threatened to attack foreign aid workers hampering efforts to get relief to the eight million people affected by the flooding?

In the meantime, forgive my lack of sympathy for the picture painted by Ali Sethi. Some beds you make all on your own.

Pakistan flood map from ReliefWeb. Click on it to enlarge.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Royal Navy: Ships Needed

The "dangerously weak" Royal Navy will put trade routes at risk from pirates and terrorists unless the Government buys more frigates, a think tank has warned.:
It pointed out that 95 per cent of British trade by volume and 90 per cent by value was carried out by sea.

But the Navy's policing role risked being undermined if it did not receive extra funding, they argued. The article added that it would be a "grave failure" if the review "attended principally – or worse, exclusively" to the financial squeeze from the Government and political pressure over Afghanistan.

"No one associates the full supermarket shelves, the availability of a range of other goods and the supply of fuels to power our homes, cars and industry with the free flow of sea trade."

The report said future orders should be "seriously cost-constrained" so ships were more basic and more could be bought. The MoD has said one of its long-term aims will be to use less specialised, cheaper ships that are easier to sell abroad.
One former naval officer notes that most of the work is done by helicopters, anyway. No report how he suggests the helicopters get out to sea to do their work.

So much for Rule Britannia:
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves:
Britons never will be slaves.
It is an island, after all.

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), "King Richard II", Act 2 scene 1
Of course, maybe they could work a deal with the Danes. That's a Danish design up at the top.

Littoral Combat Ship: Minimal Manning Factors

Duty Aboard the Littoral Combat Ship: ‘Grueling but Manageable’:
Designed to sail in close-to-shore waters, the 3,000-ton LCS is technologically unlike anything sailors have experienced before. But it remains to be seen whether advanced technology can make up for actual hands on deck.

“When we started this, we knew we had to learn more than one job. We knew we would have to be multi-talented. But I don’t think any of us had any idea how much we were going to have to know and learn and stretch ourselves to be able to get this ship to operate,” says Doyle, who has been with the LCS program since 2005. She served as the crew’s executive officer through Freedom’s build and commissioning process and became commanding officer in March 2009.
***
The crew works in three six-hour shifts. Sailors stand watch at their assigned stations for six hours and then have the next 12 hours off. But the caveat is that the ship conducts many missions that require more sailors than just one shift’s worth of watch standers, Doyle says.
***
Sailors only end up with about six hours of rest a day. “We try not to impinge upon those six hours. But sometimes we have to,” Doyle says. Emergencies, such as fire or flooding, require all hands on deck. Pulling in and out of port also involves the entire crew.

Timmons says he only has four to six hours of sleep every 24 to 48 hours. The work cycle on board is grueling but manageable, he says. He believes that LCS is the future of the Navy.
Most Navy veterans with ship service have done their share of long hours and long days with minimal rest. These were, for the most part, exceptions - not a design plan.

Merchant ships can get away with minimal manning because they don't have all those things to do that distinguish warships from them - like manning a combat info center, operating helicopters and the like.

Now, if you need more people to operate safely, where will you put them?

Another interesting part of this article is this from one of the commanding officers who was interviewed:
“We don’t have big fuel tanks though, so while we’re very efficient, we can’t go far,” says Edwards, who last month took command of Blue Crew and sailed Freedom back to her home port of San Diego.
That's just dandy. Send a squadron of these to sea and you'll need a dedicated logistics train to keep them fueled and fed.
 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Iranians at Sea: Swarm Attacks (revisited)

In light of the Iranian Republican Guard announcement about new, high speed missile firing targets boats, here's what I wrote in September 2007 in Iran's Swarm Attack Tactics in the Strait of Hormuz:

You might have missed this article on Iran's 1000 boat "swarm force" stationed near the Strait of Hormuz...:
The U.S. Navy has determined that Iran has amassed a fleet of fast patrol boats in the 43-kilometer straits. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, responsible for strategic programs, leads the effort.

At this point, officials said, IRGC has deployed more than 1,000 FPBs in and around the straits. The vessels, armed with cruise missiles, mines, torpedoes and rocket-propelled grenades, are up to 23 meters in long and can reach a speed of 100 kilometers per hour. ***
"This marks the implementation of Iran's swarm program, where dozens of armed speed boats attack much larger naval vessels from all sides," an official said.
***
IRGC swarming tactics envision a group of more than 100 speedboats attacking a target, such as a Western naval vessel or a commercial oil tanker. They said 20 or more speedboats would strike from each direction, making defense extremely difficult.
***
"We have devised various tactics and other ways of coping," U.S. commander Vice Adm. Kevin Cosgriff said. "You just don't get 1,000 or 500 or even 20 of anything under way and tightly orchestrated over a large body of water to create a specific effect at a specific time and specific place. They have their own challenges.''
Wait, they won't just magically appear all around a carrier battle group all at once? Even with their incredible Iranian stealth attack ground effect boat/planes?

More on "swarm" tactics and on the Iranian stealth effort here under the title of "Iran's Doctrine of Asymmetric Naval Warfare" -
Swarming tactics are not new; they have been practiced by land armies for thousands of years. Such tactics require light, mobile forces with substantial striking power, capable of rapidly concentrating to attack an enemy from multiple directions and then rapidly dispersing.

Iranian naval swarming tactics focus on surprising and isolating the enemy’s forces and preventing their reinforcement or resupply, thereby shattering the enemy’s morale and will to fight. Iran has practiced both mass and dispersed swarming tactics. The former employs mass formations of hundreds of lightly armed and agile small boats that set off from different bases, then converge from different directions to attack a target or group of targets. The latter uses a small number of highly agile missile or torpedo attack craft that set off on their own, from geographically dispersed and concealed locations, and then converge to attack a single target or set of targets (such as a tanker convoy). The dispersed swarming tactic is much more difficult to detect and repel because the attacker never operates in mass formations.

During the Iran-Iraq War, the Pasdaran navy used mass swarming tactics; as a result, its forces proved vulnerable to attack by U.S. naval and air power. Because of this, it is unlikely that such tactics would be used for anything but diversionary attacks in the future. In today’s Iranian naval forces, mass swarming tactics have largely given way to dispersed swarming.

Dispersed swarming tactics are most successful when attackers can elude detection through concealment and mobility, employ stand-off firepower, and use superior situational awareness (intelligence), enabling them to find and engage the enemy first. This accounts for a number of trends in Iranian naval force development in the past two decades. The first is the acquisition and development of small, fast weapons platforms—particularly lightly armed small boats and missile-armed fast-attack craft; extended- and long-range shore- and sea-based antiship missiles; midget and diesel attack submarines (for intelligence gathering, covert mine laying, naval special warfare, and conventional combat operations); low-signature reconnaissance and combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); and the adaptation of the Shahab-3 medium-range surface-to-surface missile armed with a cluster warhead reportedly carrying 1,400 bomblets, for use against enemy naval bases and carrier battle groups.

Iran has also sought to improve its ability to achieve surprise by employing low-observable technologies (such as radar-absorbent paints), strict communications discipline, stringent emissions control measures, passively or autonomously guided weapons systems (such as the Kowsar series of television-guided antiship missiles), and sophisticated command-and-control arrangements. To support its naval swarm tactics, Iran has encouraged decentralized decisionmaking and initiative, as well as autonomy and self-sufficiency among naval combat elements.
Dispersed swarming? Adm Cosgrove has it right - a coordinated attack is difficult to conceal and an uncoordinated attack can lead to forces being defeated seriatim.

For some thoughts on the effectiveness of other "super" weapons, Galrahn has a good post here.

Picture of captured Iranian Boghammer boat in San Diego Harbor from here as is the Iranian Boghammer action photo which bears the following caption on the Warboats site:
Iranian Boghammer from "Operation Earnst Will." Note on the bow the box is 107mm rocket launchers and also carried 51 cal on stern, plus RPGs & SAAM missles.
UPDATE: Map of Strait of Hormuz liberated from someplace else. It purports to show Silkworm missile ranges in the area.
To reiterate, it's really hard to hide 20 or 30 or 100 boats getting underway and trying to sneak around in an area like the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Faster boats don't add much to the picture - except they make faster fireballs flaming across the water.

However, there is some interesting discussion of "swarming tactics" at the Canadian Naval Review that points out a few successes in special circumstances (HMS Cornwall was in a maneuver bind when the IRGC went after her small boat crews, for example, or the famous "victory" by a swarm brought by a U.S. Marine general in a training exercise). By the way, "victories" like that are why we do training exercises in the first place.

 UPDATE: More here:
The Iranians used small speedboats extensively within the Gulf and the Strait throughout the 1980s Tanker War with Iraq, inflicting damage on vessels with rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and machine guns. During the War, Iran often used the boats in shallower, coastal waters, where the boats could swiftly attack and then hide among the "multitude of islands, islets and coral reefs."  Iran also used small boats to lay mines with a small, crude onboard crane.



Tactically, Iran commonly tried "mass swarming tactics" to attack using large numbers of small boats simultaneously.  The largest of these attacks allegedly involved over forty individual boats. These "mass swarm" attacks proved extremely vulnerable to U.S. air power during the Tanker War.  This susceptibility may be one of the major factors causing the IRGC to retreat from a planned attack on Kuwaiti oil infrastructure in October 1987 in the face of a Saudi/U.S. show of air and sea strength. footnotes omitted)
ANOTHER UPDATE: Phil Ewing of the Navy Times "The Scoop Deck" captures the essence of the Iranian claims with his posts Iran’s massive armada ("That means that Iran has the largest navy in history by an enormous margin — so many combat vessels that you could walk their decks from Bandar Abbas to Doha without getting your feet wet.") and Swarm Warning ("Action movie directors are encouraged to make a summer blockbuster that includes Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobras defending a Navy strike group against a small-boat swarm attack. Because that would be epic.").

Troubled am I. Not.

However, if Hollywood needs script advice and a handsome old guy to play the tough but kindly American admiral . . . my email address is over on the right.

Maritime Security: Heritage Foundation's Homeland Security 2020: The Future of Defending the Homeland Day 1 - Maritime Security

A couple of hours of interesting discussion described by the hosts as:
With ninety percent of the world’s trade transported by sea, a major terrorist attack focused on one or more U.S. ports would significantly impact the U.S. economy and our ability to project military power. While Congress has passed legislation to protect America’s ports, it’s important to evaluate its effectiveness, as well as that of intelligence measures taken since 9/11. Join us as our panelists examines what policies and capabilities the U.S. needs to develop in order to prevent or recover from possible attacks and better protect the homeland.

Iran: Not Quite Together

Interesting opinion piece by Michael Ledeen in the Wall Street Journal "Cracks in the Iranian Monolith" which is well worth reading as we consider the wounded beast of the Iranian thugocracy.

In light of yesterday's hype over Iran's new "drone bomber" (see here), an sidebar worth noting:
A few weeks ago, according to official and private reports, the Iranian air force shot down three drones near the southwestern city of Bushehr, where a Russian-supplied nuclear reactor has just started up. When the Revolutionary Guards inspected the debris, they expected to find proof of high-altitude spying. Instead, the Guards had to report to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that the air force had blasted Iran's own unmanned aircraft out of the sky.

Apparently, according to official Iranian press accounts, the Iranian military had created a special unit to deploy the drones—some for surveillance and others, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bragged on Sunday, to carry bombs—but hadn't informed the air force.
Makes you wonder about their ability to coordinate anything big militarily, though they have the "sponsoring of terrorists" thing going fairly well, I suppose.

Somalia: Hotel Suicide Attack Kills 32, Incuding 6 Somali Parliment Members

Reported by the BBC:
Somali gunmen have stormed a hotel close to the presidential palace and killed six MPs on the second day of an Islamist offensive.

The deputy prime minister told the BBC that at least 32 people had been killed in the attack.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the men were disguised as government soldiers.

They approached the Muna hotel, opened fire on a guard, then one of them blew himself up inside the building.
***
Al-Shabab began its offensive on Monday soon after its spokesman said the group was declaring a "massive war" on the AU force, describing its 6,000 peacekeepers as "invaders".
***
The group said it carried out last month's deadly twin bombings in Uganda's capital during the football World Cup final.
Such nice, peaceful people.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Iran: Republican Guard Commander Brags About Iran's "Fastest in World" Armed Speed Boats

60 knot missile armed speed boats? Yes, of course. Iran's got the fastest in the world, according to the chief yapper in charge of the Republican Guards here:
Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said that speed boats, specially the newly mass-produced missile-launching vessels, have granted high mobility and power to the IRGC Navy and made it a unique force in the world.


"As regards high-speed missile-launching vessels, no country in the world enjoys such a power (that Iran has)," Fadavi said, addressing a ceremony held to mark inauguration of the production lines of two types of new speed vessels.

"We emphasize that we have gained a unique power in this field of naval defense," Fadavi went on saying.

Admiral Fadavi further compared the high speed of the Iranian vessels and the IRGC Navy's high mobility with the US Navy, and said, "US warships currently have a maximum speed of 31 knots while the Iranian vessels can traverse twice as fast on average."
Just like the old U.S. PT boats, I bet they have really nice wakes. I also bet that the boats can't out run 20mm cannon projectiles.





Iran: Re-invention of the V-1 "Buzz Bomb"

In an announcement suitably mocked in Danger Room's "Iran’s Robotic ‘Ambassador of Death’ is More Envoy of Annoyance (Updated)", Iranian scientists appeared to have labored long and hard to reinvent the German V-1 "Buzz Bomb" with just enough frills to make it somewhat modern. "Look, it carries bombs! It's an unmanned bomber!"



Noah Shachtman suggests it might be able to carry 4 C-701 anti-ship missiles. Which means blowing one of these out of the sky kills 5 birds with one stone.The C-701 is a lighter missile akin to the U.S. Maverick missile.

According to Wikipedia, the C-701 is designed to take out smaller naval units of 180 tons or less. For reference, a modern Burke-class U.S. Navy destroyer displaces about 8000 tons.

Top photo: Via Aviation Week's Blog, Ares. The post is worth reading.

V-1 photo from The Museum of Flight.

UPDATE:  Video:
 

Iranian Karrar Drone

No wheels or skids. Designed for one way trips.

Adding to the Maritime Security Mix: First deepwater oil discovered off East Africa

Oil & Gas Journal reports "First deepwater oil discovered off East Africa" :
An exploratory well off Mozambique has penetrated 38 m of net oil and gas saturated sands in the upper of two Cretaceous fan lobes, signaling the first documented occurrence of liquids hydrocarbons in deep water off East Africa.
The Ironclad-1 well, operated by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. in Area 1 off Mozambique, is in the Rovuma basin 110 km south of the Windjammer dry gas discovery, drilled earlier in the same six-well exploratory program to 16,930 ft in 4,800 ft of water 30 miles off the coast ...
Map is from Anadarko, with my addition of a guesstimate as to the location of the Ironclad well site (yellow star). Click on them to enlarge images.

The Mozambique Channel is a chokepoint for shipping traffic off Africa. During WWII, the Japanese found it to be a "target-rich" environment as set out here:
Churchill telegraphed to Roosevelt: "A Japanese air, submarine, and/or cruiser base at Diego Suarez [on the northern tip of Madagascar, halfway between Cape Town and Colombo] would paralyse our whole convoy route both to the Middle East and to the Far East...."
Now, of course, there are pirates in the waters north of the entrance to the Channel. UPDATE: In November 2009, MV Delvina was captured at the northern end on the Mozambique Channel as shown on the nearby map. See here and here.

The map below shows the area with the red arrow pointing generally at the location of these wells.

Further, there are disputed territorial claims to areas that now may be worth a vigorous defense (see here):
At the northern entrances of the Mozambique Channel occur a number of islands, reefs and submarine banks. The largest land masses in this area are those of the Comoros Islands. With an area of 2,170 km² this volcanic group consists of 4 main islands: Ngazidja, Nzwani, Mwali, Mayotte and several smaller islets that lie off the main islands.

Farther in to the channel occur a trio of widely separated coral reefs and islands that form overseas possessions of France: Bassas da India, Juan de Nova and Île Europa. These islands are strategically important — their ownership is disputed between France and Madagascar. All are small, flat and uninhabited. The islets of Europa and Juan de Nova are important habitats for migrating landbirds and breeding seabirds.

Northwards, lying at the entrances in to the Channel, lie the French-owned Îles Glorieuses (Glorioso Islands) and the submerged reefs of Banc du Geyser and Banc du Leven (Banc du Zelee), both of which lie in international waters.
Could get to be an interesting area.

UPDATE: Info on the Rovuma Basin from the National Petroleum Institute of Mozambique (NIP) here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fearless Navy Bloggers Take to the Air: Episode 33 The Other Side of Counter Insurgency and the fading of DADT- Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

After some "technical trouble" last week, we're back with a vengence as we host Episode 33 The Other Side of Counter Insurgency and the fading of DADT 8/22/2010 - Midrats on Blog Talk Radio:
After a decade of conflict - is the impact and influence of Counter Insurgency (COIN) doctrine creating an imbalance in how we equip and train our armed forces? As we move towards the fall 2010 election, what happened to the push to repeal DADT? Join us this Sunday, August 22th at 5pm EST, as we bring on two guests to discuss.

For the first half our will be Douglas A. Macgregor Col. USA, (Ret) , the author of USNI Press's "Warrior's Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting," and "Transformation Under Fire: Revolutionizing How America Fights."

For the second half of the hour, we are going to update a subject we last covered back in Episode 7 in February. Our guest will be retired Navy Reserve Commander Zoe Dunning, Board Co-Chair of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. With her we will discuss the lobbying efforts on behalf of repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and a status report on where the debate stands.
This time we'll have dual controls and a back up site, just in case.

Now, let's see how Murphy will strike this time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thank you, Congress!

Unemployment Rates by State, Seasonally Adjusted, Latest month available (Bureau of Labor Statistics): (click to enlarge)

 

Please let us spend our own money on things that would employ American workers.

It's comforting to know that some Americans can still afford vacations.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Maritime Security: Suspicious Vessels Detected Near Tanker Attacked in Strait of Hormuz

A couple of weeks ago, a Japanese oil tanker was damaged by something in the Strait of Hormuz - that something later determined to be an attack by explosives delivered as the ship was in transit - see Maritime Security: Tanker Damage in Strait of Hormuz Was Due to Explosives, Report Says for details.

Now comes a further, and disturbing, report about the incident, reported by Japan Today as "2 small ships detected near Japan tanker damaged in Strait of Hormuz":
Japanese authorities have found radar data showing two small unidentified ships near the Japanese tanker that was damaged in a suspected attack in the Strait of Hormuz in late July, transport ministry sources said Tuesday.

The data retrieved from the tanker’s voyage data recorder showed two small ships changing directions many times and making other suspicious moves, raising the possibility that they may have been involved in the purported attack.
***
The National Police Agency’s National Research Institute of Police Science is also checking substances collected from the damaged part of the tanker to see if they were components of an explosive.

The 160,292-ton tanker M. Star was damaged in a suspected explosion while sailing in Omani waters in the western part of the Strait of Hormuz on July 28, leaving one person slightly injured.

The radar data showed the small ships sailing parallel to the tanker, passing it and then turning around. They also showed that at some point, one of the ships disappeared from the radar, a move believed to indicate that it had moved to its blind spot around the tanker, according to the sources.
Again, the question is where did those little ships come from? And who is supporting such an attack?

Hat tip to Saturn 5.

On The Dismissal of Piracy Charges

Probably there are some irritated prosecutors and angry sailors as US Judge Throws Out Piracy Charges Against 6 Somalis:
A U.S. judge has dismissed piracy charges against six Somali men accused of attacking a U.S. Navy ship off the Horn of Africa in April, although the group still faces several lesser counts.

Attorneys for the men had argued the defendants' actions did not amount to piracy because they did not board or take control of the USS Ashland in the Gulf of Aden or take anything of value from it. U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson in the eastern city of Norfolk, Virginia agreed Tuesday, ruling that the government failed to establish that any of the "unauthorized acts of aggression" committed constituted piracy under the law.

Prosecutors accused the six of opening fire on the USS Ashland from a small skiff. The U.S. vessel returned fire, sinking the skiff and killing one occupant. All others on board were captured. The U.S. Justice Department has declined to comment on the case.
Not really a stunning victory for the Somalis, there are still those "lesser charges" to face - though the threat of life imprisonment may be gone.

Shooting at people at sea is still some sort of crime even if those shots didn't result in capture of a targeted ship.

Before you get into a state of high dudgeon about this case, it might do to read the case cited as precedent, United States v. Smith, 18 U.S. 5 Wheat. 153 (1820) which wends its merry way to a determination that (at p. 161,162):
There is scarcely a writer on the law of nations, who does not allude to piracy as a crime of a settled and determinate nature, and whatever may be the diversity of definitions in other respects, all writers concur in holding that robbery or forcible depredations upon the sea, animo furandi, is piracy. The same doctrine is held by all the great writers on maritime law in terms that admit of no reasonable doubt.
***
We have therefore no hesitation in declaring that piracy, by the law of nations, is robbery upon the sea, and that it is sufficiently and constitutionally defined by the fifth section of the act of 1819.

Robbery normally involves the theft or taking of something under the threat of force. In this case, as set out here, the would be pirates never got to the robbery part because their skiff was blown up before they had a chance to fulfill the crime. This is a different situation than that of the Somali who was captured on the Maersk Alabama.

In the cases involving ignorant men shooting at warships apparently in the mistaken belief they were some other sort of prey and then getting their boats blown away by counter fire, you have . . . assault and very poor target selection.

So, in the absence of a Congressional act that defines piracy to includes something more than "robbery upon the sea" the result, based on this case, which, admittedly, has been buried under dust for some time, not a surprise.

However, Congress could act and further define piracy, as Justice Story noted in 1820:
The Constitution declares that Congress shall have power "to define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations." (U.S. v Smith at 158)
If Congress wants to protect warships in situations like this, they can write the law to do so.

I suspect that in the golden days of yore, not many men who took an armed vessel under fire ever lived to be able to plead the defense offered up in this case . . .

UPDATE (19 Aug 2010): Having read the opinion (which you can download here) and reviewed the comments made here and here, let me note that there is controversy among lawyers far better read in international law than I about the applicability of the definition of piracy found in the 1958 Treaty on the Law of Sea (ratified by the U.S.) and/or the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (not ratified by the U.S.).

The government argued that certain international treaties should be used in considering what the definition of "piracy" is. While the United States is not a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it is a signatory to the predecessor to that Convention - the 1958 Convention on the Law of the Sea. Article 15 of the 1958 Convention reads:
Article 15
Piracy consists of any of the following acts:
(1) Any illegal acts of violence, detention or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:
(a) On the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;
(b) Against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;
(2) Any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;
(3) Any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph 1 or subparagraph 2 of this article.
 
The court, in rejecting this argument, writes (at p.14):
However, the Court finds that despite the fact that the crime of piracy is generally recognized in the international community, Smith is the only clear, undisputed precedent that interprets the statute at issue. The international sources the Government provides are unsettled.
He rejects the 1958 Convention and the more recent UNCLOS (click to enlarge):
The experts find this to be wrong, Prof. Eugene Kontorovich quoted here:
...The Law of the Sea treaty clearly includes attempts as part of piracy. Here the judge errs in claiming the U.S. did not ratify the treaty: it ratified the 1958 version of the treaty that had the same piracy language. And Washington accepts the current UNCLOS as stating customary international law. Moreover, the Executive has in recent times treated attempt as part of piracy. In 2006 the US Navy captured some Somalis in the Gulf of Aden and turned them over for trial in Kenya on piracy charges (the first such handover). The incident involved an attempted piracy.

The opinion’s due process argument is also pretty weak. If one is on notice that piracy is illegal under international law, isn’t one also on notice that trying to commit it will also get you in trouble, especially when as in this case the attempt failed not through lack of trying, but solely because of resistance by the would-be-victim?
All of which points out a reason why there are appellate courts.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Recommended Viewing: "A New Cold War: Inside Nuclear Iran" with Reza Kahlili, Michael Ledeen, and Melissa Boyle Mahle - Book TV

I can't embed the video, but in a spare hour and a half, I highly recommend viewing this C-Span Book TV episode: International Affairs - A New Cold War: Inside Nuclear Iran with Reza Kahlili, Michael Ledeen, and Melissa Boyle Mahle.

Described as:
A panel discussion on how to deal with Iran with Reza Kahlili ("A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran"), Michael Ledeen ("Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War against the West"), and Melissa Boyle Mahle ("Denial and Deception: An .. Read More
A panel discussion on how to deal with Iran with Reza Kahlili ("A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran"), Michael Ledeen ("Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War against the West"), and Melissa Boyle Mahle ("Denial and Deception: An Insider’s View of the CIA"). This event was hosted by the Spy Museum in Washington, DC.
Of special note is the section that begins about 56:33, Michael Ledeen speaking about 1:00:00,and Reza Kahlili's comments following a question that begins about 1:09:40 dealing with the effects of Iran having nuclear weapons and blackmailing the Arabian/Persian Gulf area (and the rest of the world).

It ought to send chills down your spine.

Danes to Fight Piracy at Source

Reported at Shiptalk:
She [Gitte Lillelund Bech, the Danish minister of defence] wants Danish soldiers in Africa to set up coast guards, and to help African nations implement fishing controls, as it is believed that most Somali pirates were originally fishermen who turned to piracy after other nations emptied the Somali waters of fish.
Nice plan. Hope it works.

Of course, there are some folks in Somalia who are not so happy about outside assistance, as noted here:
Jihadist cells in Mogadishu are increasingly fragmented and answer to no one.

Some have targeted national aid workers and civil society leaders.

This has infused political violence with a high level of unpredictability and randomness in Mogadishu, eroding the ability of Somali aid workers, businesspeople, and civic figures to take calculated risks in their movement and work.

The US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report, published in June 2009, noted the widespread use of children in fighting forces in the country.

Extremist groups opposed to the TFG, such as the Al Shabaab, conscript and recruit children as young as eight years, including girls, to plant bombs and carry out assassinations.
Lovely, religious people those jihadists.

I don't believe they are going to be thrilled with the Danish flag:


On the other hand, there is a history thing:

Littoral combat ships. Old style.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fearless Navy Bloggers Take to the Air: Episode 33 The RIse of China the Fading of DADT 8/15/2010 - Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

5pm (Eastern U.S.) Sunday:
Episode 33 The RIse of China the Fading of DADT 8/15/2010 - Midrats on Blog Talk Radio:
Building off of last weeks discussion of the changing face of international and security issues in the Western Pacific, for the first half hour we will have Seth Cropsey, Senior Fellow from the Hudson Institute to discuss the rise of China and her growing influence throughout Asia and globally.

For the second half of the hour, we will have retired Navy Reserve Commander Zoe Dunning, Board Co-Chair of the Servicemembers Legal Defense
Network on to discuss the lobbying efforts on behalf of repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and a status report where the debate stands.
UPDATE: Well, something happened and the episode was not conducted. Sorry for any inconvenience. Steps have been taken to establish an alternative site should this happen again - and the show will go on - stay tuned for details.

Speed Bumped: The Million Dollar Speeding Ticket

Swede faces world-record million dollar speeding penalty:
A Swedish motorist caught driving at 290km/h (180mph) in Switzerland could be given a world-record speeding fine of SFr1.08m ($1m; £656,000), prosecutors say.

The 37-year-old, who has not been named, was clocked driving his Mercedes sports car at 170km/h over the limit.

Under Swiss law, the level of fine is determined by the wealth of the driver and the speed recorded.
Cheaper to buy an airplane to go that fast. And less risk to those "little people" who share the road.

Probably felt like he was only going 120mph. You know, a "safe speed."

Maybe he had a pregnant friend at home who need pickles and ice cream, "Right now!"

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday Reading

Maggie needs some "comfort food". You can help with the comfort.

Jane looks at Armies of Liberation: "Anwar Awlaki, the Elvis of al-Qaeda".

The Secret History of the World. Leaders without followers tend not to go places. Revolutions happen when the people are ready.

Why letting Somali pirates return to their hell hole state may not be an act of kindness despite protests to the contrary.

Got your smaller Navy right here. Really, it's like buying one fire truck for a city because statistics show that most of the time there's only one fire at a time. But it's a "really competent" fire truck. More on this later.


Survivors of that plane crash that killed Senator Stevens got help from the Coasties and National Guard. The Otter is a great plane, but I like two engines. Either of which can keep the plane in the air.

The Sentinel, a publication of the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point offers up "The Mysterious Relationship Between Al-Qa`ida and Iran" By Bruce Riedel in its July 2010 issue which you can download as a pdf here:
On balance, the evidence of a hostile relationship is much more compelling than evidence for a collaborative one. Nevertheless, that does not preclude the possibility of occasional operational collusion; terrorists often seek help from criminals and drug dealers, and therefore from other terrorists as well. Yet it does not suggest a partnership or alliance.
Iran and the Taliban, well ... it's complicated.

UPDATE: A logistics issue in getting aid to Pakistan reported here. Be sure to read CDR Salamander's comment. See comment above about the number of fire trucks... Unspoken is the lack of cargo capacity of the H-60 compared to the H-53 and the old H-3 helicopters. Less capacity means more sorties to carry the same cargo. And there are range issues, too.

UPDATE2: A must read about the state of United States shipping here.

UPDATE3: I haven't commented on the new Iranian mini- subs because, well, I want the Iranians to waste their time on such projects if it makes them happy. StrategyPage covers the situation quite well.