Unrep MSC to amphib

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Department of Defense Assistance Following Hurricane Sandy

Here's a portion of a DoD press release on what is happening, found at DOD, FEMA, Other Agencies Aid Storm-affected Areas:
***
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta has directed that the Department of Defense provide any available disaster response resources requested by FEMA and state authorities as states throughout the Northeast begin to recover from Hurricane Sandy, the FEMA release said.

DOD continues to coordinate with FEMA, U.S. Northern Command and the National Guard Bureau on providing lifesaving and life sustaining assets to FEMA and governors, as requested, the release said.
***
FEMA and the Department of Defense established Incident Support Bases in Westover, Mass., and Lakehurst, N.J., to pre-position supplies, including water, meals, blankets and other resources closer to potentially impacted areas, should they be needed and requested by states, according to the FEMA release. FEMA has moved roughly 245,000 liters of water, more than 174,000 meals and thousands of blankets and cots to Westover Air Reserve Base; and more than 400,000 liters of water and more than 390,000 meals and thousands of cots to Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, N.J., and more commodities are en route, as weather conditions permit.
Soldiers prepare UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for further search and rescue missions on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Oct. 30, 2012, following the passing of Hurricane Sandy. The soldiers are assigned to the 1-150th Assault Helicopter Battalion, New Jersey Army National Guard. U.S. Air Force photos by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen

States, localities and the American Red Cross continue to operate emergency shelters along the East Coast. In addition, the following federal activities are also being coordinated in support of Hurricane Sandy response and recovery efforts, according to the FEMA release:

-- U.S. Northern Command Regional Defense Coordinating Officers and portions of the Defense Coordinating Element deployed in advance of the storm remain on the ground to validate, plan and coordinate potential Department of Defense support of FEMA's response operations and to facilitate DOD support of life-saving and response operations.

-- There are now more than 7,400 National Guard forces on duty supporting the governors of New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maryland. These forces are providing assistance to local first responders and FEMA by providing assistance at evacuation shelters, conducting route clearance and search-and-rescue missions, and delivering of essential equipment and supplies.

-- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mobilized temporary emergency power resources to provide support to areas affected by Sandy. These resources consist of teams with technical expertise to assess critical facility generator requirements and private sector contract support to install and operate generators. Other planning response teams remain on alert for debris management, infrastructure assessment, temporary roofing, water planning, and un-watering. Additional temporary power teams have also been placed on alert status.

-- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and FEMA activated ambulance contracts to support state requirements to evacuate patients as needed and requested. HHS has personnel deployed in support of state response efforts, including two 50-person Disaster Medical Assistance Teams providing triage and basic care in shelters in New Jersey. Additional medical teams are on alert. HHS also has personnel supporting 350 ambulances in New York that were activated through FEMA’s ambulance contracts. An additional Disaster Medical Assistance Team remains pre-staged in the mid-Atlantic, prepared to deploy quickly along the East Coast if needed.

-- The U.S. Department of Energy is working closely with FEMA, and in support of state and local officials who are responsible for working with utilities as they prepare for storms, deployed emergency response personnel to FEMA Regional Response Coordination Centers in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, and additional personnel are on standby to assist. DOE is working with states and local partners as the electric industry engages in power restoration efforts.

-- National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster remains in close communication with the East Coast state VOAD's to coordinate on a regional, multi-state level. Currently 15 states have activated their VOAD networks for readiness actions; the National VOAD is sharing their activities and needs with all VOAD members and partners.

-- FEMA activated its National Business Emergency Operations Center. More than 330 representatives from retail, transportation, food and groceries, building management, and other industries receive daily briefings on key federal response efforts. These briefings assist in federal and private sector planning efforts, and provide a forum to discuss response efforts and challenges that may arise for maintaining business operations and provides the opportunity to collaborate on innovative solutions.

-- In preparation for the storm, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission placed inspectors in all nuclear power plants that could potentially experience impacts from the storm. Inspectors independently verify that plant operators are making the proper preparations and taking actions to ensure plant safety before, during and after the storm. Out of an abundance of caution, three reactors were shut down during the storm while another plant, Oyster Creek in New Jersey, is being closely monitored due to high water levels in its water intake structure. The NRC will continue to coordinate with other federal and state agencies prior to the restart of the affected plants.

-- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hydrometeorological Prediction Center is now tracking the remnants of Hurricane Sandy and providing regular forecast updates. NOAA National Weather Service weather forecast offices in the affected areas are working closely with local emergency management officials. NOAA navigation response crews are staged and ready to commence waterway surveys in the affected areas.

-- The U.S. Coast Guard has teams along the East Coast to conduct search-and-rescue missions, respond to and mitigate threats to public health and the environment, and it continues to assess and advise status of ports along the East Coast.

-- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is coordinating with FEMA and affected states to identify housing providers who may have available housing units, including public housing agencies and multi-family owners. HUD is also speeding federal disaster assistance to New York and New Jersey to provide support to homeowners and low-income renters forced from their homes in the most heavily impacted areas. The president’s major disaster declarations for New York and New Jersey allow HUD to offer foreclosure relief and other assistance to some families in the designated counties.

-- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regional Food and Nutrition Service leadership is working with state commissioners and program administrators in the affected areas to meet food needs for emergency shelters and feeding sites and to assist with Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program requests.

-- The U.S. Postal Service is prepared for a quick response before, during and after a hurricane, and it has procedures in place to expedite recovery efforts, including making sure there is timely delivery of mailed ballots.

According to the National Weather Service, dangerous weather conditions continue to exist in many parts of the Mid-Atlantic, according to the FEMA release. Individuals should continue to monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local and tribal officials.

State, Tribal and local officials make determinations and announcements about evacuations, according to the FEMA release. States, localities and the Red Cross have emergency shelters open in many affected communities. To find a shelter, people can download the Red Cross Hurricane app, visit the Red Cross web site, or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
***
For those most affected by the storm, the arrival of assistance will seem too slow. As you can see, though, delivering aid involves a huge logistics problem and such things simply take time.

Help is on the way. There is a plan.

For those of you who may have missed it, a month or so ago we had a discussion about the military's NORTHCOM and the role in plays in disaster relief on Midrats in an interview with Brigadier General Donald A. McGregor, the Deputy Director of Operations for Domestic Operations, Headquarters, United States Northern Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. You can find the show at Episode 140: NORTHCOM and Disaster Response or at our iTunes page here, Episode 140.

Fleet Size Matters

"Game Theory" - By John Arquilla at Foreign Policy
Given his great confidence in aircraft carriers and submarines, President Obama should take careful note that the board game includes them, too, with the carrier being the game's largest and most vulnerable ship -- just as it is in the real world today, as the array of smart, high-speed weapons that have emerged in recent years pose mortal threats to these behemoths. The most valuable vessel in "Battleship" -- that is, the one that is hardest to find and hit -- is also the smallest combatant.

Indeed, if Romney had remembered ever playing the game with any of his five sons, he might have been able to rebut the president on the spot. He could have said: "Of course this is ‘Battleship.' That's why I want a lot of smaller, but still well-armed vessels for the U.S. Navy, not just a handful of extremely expensive, highly vulnerable aircraft carriers and a few dozen submarines. China has hundreds of lethal missile and torpedo boats. We need more small, swift ships of our own that pack a real punch."
Read it all.

Small, fast, well-armed and numerous. Spreading the eggs to many baskets.

By the way, Captain Wayne Hughes of the Navy Postgraduate School wrote a book looking at this topic, Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat that addresses the idea that finding the enemy first and getting off the first shots is vital, or as his book says, "Attack effectively first."

Which is pretty good advice.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Un-Courage Under Fire

There is a military tradition that has led to American fighting men taking comfort that they will not be abandoned on the battlefield.

The Army Creed reads, in part:
I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.

U.S. Marines live by this rule, A deadly day: Marines under fire leave no man behind

The Army Ranger Creed:
Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.
Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.
Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.
Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.
Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.
Rangers Lead The Way!!!

The Navy SEAL Code:
"In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation's call; a common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America's finest special operations forces to serve his country and the American people, and to protect their way of life. I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes who have gone before, it embodies the trust of those whom I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident, I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans, always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates, and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish the mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of the mission depend on me — my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required, yet guided by the very principles I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail."
Medals are awarded to those who brave fire to rescue their comrades in arms:
With a brave driver at the wheel, Meyer stood in the gun turret exposed to withering fire, rallying Afghan troops to follow. Over the course of the five hours, he charged into the valley time and again. Employing a variety of machine guns, rifles, grenade launchers, and even a rock, Meyer repeatedly repulsed enemy attackers, carried wounded Afghan soldiers to safety, and provided cover for dozens of others to escape - supreme acts of valor and determination. In the end, Meyer and four stalwart comrades - an Army captain, an Afghan sergeant major, and two Marines - cleared the battlefield and came to grips with a tragedy they knew could have been avoided. For his actions on that day, Meyer became the first living Marine in three decades to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

But this? Panetta: Military lacked enough information to intervene during Benghazi attack
"(The) basic principle is that you don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on; without having some real-time information about what's taking place," Panetta told Pentagon reporters. "And as a result of not having that kind of information, the commander who was on the ground in that area, Gen. Ham, Gen. Dempsey and I felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation."
I prefer the old Coast Guard regulation about taking risks to conduct rescue operations:
"In attempting a rescue the keeper will select either the boat, breeches buoy, or life car, as in his judgment is best suited to effectively cope with the existing conditions. If the device first selected fails after such trial as satisfies him that no further attempt with it is feasible, he will resort to one of the others, and if that fails, then to the remaining one, and he will not desist from his efforts until by actual trial the impossibility of effecting a rescue is demonstrated. The statement of the keeper that he did not try to use the boat because the sea or surf was too heavy will not be accepted unless attempts to launch it were actually made and failed
Nothing in the American military history has ever suggested me that the excuse of "not enough information" has been acceptable as a reason not to do something when your comrades in arms are in trouble and need help. Our armed forces exist to go into harm's way to protect Americans, American property and to live up to that part of that Ranger Creed:
I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
Too bad that Creed doesn't seem to flow upwards. So much for keeping the faith.

UPDATE: One more example of courage in face of unknown but highly likely danger, Admiral Raymond Spruance:
Perhaps he made his most courageous decision on 05 June. His SBD's were launched late in the afternoon and did not get back until after dark. Without knowing how many IJN subs were lurking nearby, he had ENTERPRISE and HORNET turn on their lights so that their aircraft could land aboard. . . He did this for two very good reasons:

1. He did not want to sacrifice the lives of the young Americans who were aloft, and;
2. He did not want to lose those precious SBD's and their pilots.
That, Mr. Secretary Panetta, is keeping the faith.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Libya: Things that make you go "Hmmmm"

From John Rosenthal: Expert: Libyan ‘friends’ collude with our ‘enemies’
An unclassified U.S. diplomatic cable, which was recently released by the House Oversight Committee, shows that U.S. officials were also aware of reports that Libya Shield members refused to stop the Rajma attack or even indeed participated in it.

Nonetheless, the same cable reveals that on September 9 – just one day after that mausoleum attack and just two days before the attack on the U.S. mission – U.S. officials in Benghazi met with none other than Libya Shield commander Wisam bin Hamid. Bin Hamid’s last name is misspelled in the cable as “bin Ahmed.”

The meeting is remarkable not only in light of the evidence of collusion between Libya Shield and Salafist groups like Ansar al-Shariah. It is also remarkable in light of the fact that an unclassified U.S. government report identifies bin Hamid as possibly the head of the al-Qaida network in Libya and comes to the conclusion that his Libya Shield Brigade is one of the main vectors of al-Qaida “infiltration” of the country. The report was completed in August.

Patrick Haimzadeh is skeptical about any direct al-Qaida involvement in Libya. As he puts it, at this point al-Qaida is, in any case, essentially just a “brand-name, like Coca-Cola.” But he stresses that there is a real “ideological convergence” between the Libyan militias and al-Qaida.

He notes, moreover, that many of the militia members are veterans of al-Qaida-led insurgencies against U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Hmmmm.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Midrats this Sunday, Episode 147: The Recipient's Son and Navy PAOs

Please join us Sun, October 28, 2012 05:00PM for Episode 147: The Recipient's Son and Navy PAOs
Our show today will have guests that have seemingly unrelated topics - but both are connected to one thing; getting the story of our Navy, its people, and its culture out to the larger population.


For the first half of the hour, we will have returning guest Stephen Phillips. Steve is a 1992 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He began his naval career as a surface warfare officer in USS Harlan County and USS San Jacinto. He then applied and was accepted into the Navy’s Special Operations community. He subsequently served as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician at EOD Mobile Units Six, Eight, and Ten.

Steve is the author of the awarding-winning debut novel, Proximity, describes life as a Navy EOD Technician in the war on terrorism. His second novel,The Recipient’s Son, is a coming of age story that takes place at the U.S. Naval Academy in the late 80’s early 90’s.


Our guest for the second half of the hour will be LCDR Chris Servello, USN, director, Navy Newsdesk (OI-31) and Public Affairs Assistant to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations.

Chris will be here on his own behalf to discuss the role of the PAO in today's media environment. We'll also discuss how someone becomes a PAO along with some of the misconceptions and surprising aspects of what a PAO does.
Join us live by clicking here or use that link to download the show later which you can also do by going to our iTunes page here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Somali Pirates: Fire on NATO Ship, Lose Dhow in Return

NATO reports, Pirates Fire on NATO Ship:
On 24 October, while conducting routine surveillance off the Somali coast, HNLMS ROTTERDAM the flagship for the NATO ‘OCEAN SHIELD’ counter piracy mission, came under sustained fire from groups of suspected pirates.

  Small boat from the HNLMS Rotterdam returning fire on a suspect Dhow after coming under fire during an approach off coast Somalia on the 24th of October 2012.  (Photo courtesy: HNLMS Rotterdam)
A boarding team from Rotterdam was making an approach on a suspect dhow near the coast when they came under fire from ashore and from the dhow itself. Rotterdam returned fire in accordance with Rules of Engagement, during which the dhow was seen to ignite and crew members were observed leaping into the water. One crew member of the dhow was killed in this action and 25 people were subsequently rescued from the water by Rotterdam. Commodore Ben Bekkering, the commander of the NATO Task Force, said that the Rotterdam and her boats remained under sustained fire from the shore throughout, even while attempting to rescue the crew of the stricken dhow and one of Rotterdam’s rigid inflatable boats was damaged.

Those rescued were subsequently transferred to the NATO flagship where those who required it, were given prompt medical attention. None of the crew from the ROTTERDAM were injured during this action.

"We know that pirates are increasingly using larger dhows as mother ships. Therefore, we routinely inspect them" says Commodore Ben Bekkering, Commander of the NATO Task Force. "In this instance the pirates openly choose confrontation. This does not happen often and it indicates that we are indeed impeding their operations and in doing so, pushing them to take more extreme options.”
Suspect Dhow on fire after engagement with a small boat from the HNLMS Rotterdam
24 Oct 2012.
(Photo courtesy: HNLMS Rotterdam)
Commodore Bekkering praised the calm professionalism of the ROTTERDAM crew and stated that this incident together with ROTTERDAM’s successful interdiction of seven pirates on 11 October made two things very clear. "Firstly, it is obvious that the scourge of piracy has not gone away and we need to maintain our vigilance. Secondly, the risks to the pirates themselves are becoming much greater and while we regret any loss of life, we will deal with any threat we encounter in a firm, robust but always proportionate manner.”
HNLMS Rotterdam
Chases pirates, too

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rallying Cry



October 25:
It is a day most famous for the battles that occurred on it: the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the Battle of Balaklava (Charge of the Light Brigade) during the Crimean War in 1854 and the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Pacific theatre in 1944.

Ah, the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Perhaps you barely recall, or never knew about one of the great sea battles of World War II but some old posts may be educational, Sunday Ship History: The Battle of Leyte Gulf or  Sunday Ship History: Desperate Victory or  The Battle of Leyte Gulf: 23-26 October 1944.

Highly recommended reading, James Hornfischer's The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour

Yeah, the U.S. Navy has its St.Crispin's Day heroes, too.










Medal of Honor citation for CDR Earnest Evans, CO of Johnston reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Johnston in action against major units of the enemy Japanese fleet during the battle off Samar on 25 October 1944. The first to lay a smokescreen and to open fire as an enemy task force, vastly superior in number, firepower and armor, rapidly approached. Comdr. Evans gallantly diverted the powerful blasts of hostile guns from the lightly armed and armored carriers under his protection, launching the first torpedo attack when the Johnston came under straddling Japanese shellfire. Undaunted by damage sustained under the terrific volume of fire, he unhesitatingly joined others of his group to provide fire support during subsequent torpedo attacks against the Japanese and, outshooting and outmaneuvering the enemy as he consistently interposed his vessel between the hostile fleet units and our carriers despite the crippling loss of engine power and communications with steering aft, shifted command to the fantail, shouted steering orders through an open hatch to men turning the rudder by hand and battled furiously until the Johnston, burning and shuddering from a mortal blow, lay dead in the water after 3 hours of fierce combat. Seriously wounded early in the engagement, Comdr. Evans, by his indomitable courage and brilliant professional skill, aided materially in turning back the enemy during a critical phase of the action. His valiant fighting spirit throughout this historic battle will venture as an inspiration to all who served with him.

There ought to be a destroyer named after CDR Evans. The DE that bore his name was decommissioned in 1968.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sea Level and the Environment: "Antarctica’s Weight-Loss"

From Ocean News and Technology, "New Understanding of Antarctica’s Weight-Loss":
Houseboat of San Francisco Bay
The rate of global sea level change is reasonably well-established but understanding the different sources of this rise is more challenging. Using re-calibrated scales that are able to ‘weigh’ ice sheets from space to a greater degree of accuracy than ever before, the international team led by Newcastle University has discovered that Antarctica overall is contributing much less to the substantial sea-level rise than originally thought.

Instead, the large amount of water flowing away from West Antarctica through ice-melt has been partly cancelled out by the volume of water falling onto the continent in the form of snow, suggesting some past studies have overestimated Antarctica’s contribution to fast-rising sea levels.
Oh, what exactly are the rates of sea level change? NOAA knows and reports here, from whence comes this graphic (which should enlarge if clicked upon):



You might note that rates of increase are measured in mm per year and feet per century.

The houseboat? A rising tide lifts all houses within the sea rise limits . . .

UPDATE: Changed image to a more user-friendly version

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Neither "Horses or Bayonets" - Why the Size of the Navy Matters

From the Third Debate:
ROMNEY: “Our Navy is old — excuse me, our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We’re now at under 285. We’re headed down to the low 200s if we go through a sequestration. That’s unacceptable to me.”

OBAMA: “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting ships. ”
Well,  I am counting ships. The Navy has, in fact, said this country needs a minimum of 313 ships to fulfill all the missions assigned to it. That 313, by the way, includes those marvels described by the President - aircraft carriers and submarines.

What do we actually have?

I put up a post that talked about the size of the fleet the other day. You can visit it here. In that post I discussed the size of the surface combatant force, which is on its way down to something under 108 ships. There are at least two more ships in commission today than at the end of the period shown in the chart above. One is a new LCS, USS Fort Worth, and one is USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112).

Now, for those you who might think a ship is a ship, let me suggest that there is a rather large difference between a ship intended to take the fight to an opposing force (a combatant) and the other ships which are intended to either support the combatants (the auxiliary force consisting of refueling and ammunition ships) and the "follow on force" designed to deliver land combat power from the sea (the amphibious force).

The total includes, as I have indicated, submarines (67 of which 14 are ballistic missile boats or strategic assets, the others are definitely combatants), aircraft carriers (10 after the Enterprise is decommissioned and before the Ford enters the fleet). We have 31 amphibs, 47 auxiliaries.

So, how do we use our fleet? From the Navy's own website::
Ships and Submarines
Deployable Battle Force Ships: 287
Total Ships Deployed/Underway Ships Deployed: 114 (40%)
Ships Underway for Local Ops / Training (USFF / 3rd Fleet) Ships Underway for Local Ops / Training (USFF / 3rd Fleet): 45 (15%)
Ships Underway
Underway Aircraft Carriers:
USS Enterprise (CVN 65) - port visit Naples, IT
USS Nimitz (CVN 68) - Pacific Ocean
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) - 5th Fleet
USS George Washington (CVN 73) - West Pacific
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) - 5th Fleet
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) - Atlantic Ocean
Underway Amphibious Assault Ships:
USS Peleliu (LHA 5) - 5th Fleet
USS Bataan (LHD 5) - Atlantic Ocean
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) - port visit Subic Bay, RP
USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) - 5th Fleet

Aircraft (operational): 3700+

USS Enterprise is on her way back home to be decommissioned after a zillion years of good and faithful service with a crew none of whom were born when she was commissioned in 1961.

Okay, 287 total ships.

And, as noted in my earlier post, plans are to shrink warships while slowing the building of new ones.
What does it mean if we have fewer than 313 ships?

It means longer deployments for aging ships. It means a greater demand on a shrinking sailor "workforce" - it means that our carrier fleet, so condescendingly described by the President to Governor Romney, goes to sea with escorts that cannot then be used for other missions. It means the ships we do have are ridden hard. It means maintenance slips.

It means that, as many us who are former Navy officers keep saying, that at some point the Navy will have to tell the President that there are missions we cannot do because we don't have the ships, despite the language of the poster nearby.

We don't have the ships because we cratered to the Russians on anti-ballistic missile sites in Poland and decided to put ABM ships into the Black Sea or off Spain or someplace where they cannot be diverted to other missions.

We are scheduled to build 55 Littoral Combat Ships which are proclaimed to be the "Swiss Army Knives" of multi-mission warships, but only if they have their modules (which they don't quite yet), their helicopters and a logistics support system that, in my view, has not yet appeared. We will use these under-gunned, undermanned but expensively high speed ships to show the flag.

Whoopee.

They may have a great potential - but do a Google search on "LCS" and then decide how you will feel when you or your son or daughter is assigned to one to "show the flag" to the growing Chinese fleet which, while it has problems of its own, has hardly under-armed the ships it obviously perceives it needs to push into the Cow's Tongue of the South China Sea.
.
As shown in my earlier post, of the 287 (+/-) ships of the U.S. Navy, less than 1/2 are meant to be combatant warships capable of gaining sea control by force. Amphibious ships and the auxiliary ships are "follow on forces" - they come in after the sea and air space are ours. Leave out the 10 carriers remaining after the Enterprise retires and we are scheduled to have 107 war fighting surface ships next year.

We are more than a "two-ocean Navy" - we operate world-wide, in the Pacific, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, Arabian Gulf. We keep 40% of our force deployed; 15% in training for deployment; and the remainder in the shipyards for repair or in port doing other maintenance.

Why the heavy maintenance schedule? The sea is a harsh operating environment. And, unlike a company that operates a fleet of trucks or cars, we can't just pick up a bunch of the new model year from the local dealer. You have to have a plan - have strategy and build a fleet to match that strategy.

I guess shrinking your fleet because you can't budget to keep the minimum you need is a sort of strategy. Just not a winning one.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Out in the Far Pacific with the U.S. Coast Guard

Nice piece about Coast Guard Cutter Sequoia operating from Guam in "The Black Pearl of the Pacific" from the Coast Guard Compass written by Ens. Rebecca Rebar:
Arriving at the islands of Ulithi, Nomwin and Murilo, crewmembers divided and distributed 25 pallets of humanitarian supplies stored in the cargo hold to each of the islands. Sequoia provided basic rebuilding supplies to the typhoon-ravaged atolls, including rain barrels for drinking water catchment , school supplies, first aid kits and food. The crew also met with the islanders to teach them boating safety and basic first aid. Each island they stopped at provided opportunities for positive interactions and unforgettable memories between islanders and Sequoia’s crew.
More at the link - Americans should take pride in their hard-working Coasties.

More about Sequoia:
Sequoia WLB-215

United States Coast Guard Cutter SEQUOIA (WLB-215) is a 225’ ocean going buoy tender. SEQUOIA is the 15th of 16 new 225’ cutters being built. Sequoia was launched at the Marinette Marine Corporation Shipyard in Marinette, Wis. on Aug. 23, 2003. The Coast Guard took delivery of SEQUOIA on April 21, 2004. Her commissioning crew then began their over 13,000 mile trip back to their homeport of Apra Harbor, Guam.

SEQUOIA WLB-215

Builder: Marinette Marine Corporation Shipyard in Marinette, Wis.
Launched: 23 August, 2003
Delivery: 21 April 2004
Length: 225’
Beam: 46’
Draft: 13’
Propulsion: Two 3100 HP Caterpillar diesels
Speed: 15 knots at full load displacement
Range: 6,000 miles at 12 knots
Armament: Two .50 caliber machine gun

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Gods of the Naval Engagements"



Over at CDR Salamander, a little truth in poetry when guest poster URR pens (with a nod to Kipling) "Gods of the Naval Engagements".

Well, don't sit there goggling - go read it. Now.

Force level information from here. Pay attention to where the red boxes are placed. Now, consider the number of auxiliaries and amphibious ships - which, of course, are important, but are not "ships of the line" meant to engage enemy warships. Our surface warships (cruisers+destroyers+frigates+LCS) are not the 122 shown. No, the non-carrier surface warship fleet is  22+61+26+2= 111.

The 26 frigates? From here:
The guided missile frigates (FFG) bring a short range anti-air warfare (AAW) capability (provided by their Phalanx Close-In Weapon System) to the frigate mission, but they have some limitations. Designed as cost efficient surface combatants, they lack the multi-mission capability necessary for modern surface combatants faced with multiple, high-technology threats. They also offer limited capacity for growth. Despite this, the FFG 7 class is a robust platform, capable of withstanding considerable damage. This "toughness" was aptly demonstrated when USS Samuel B. Roberts struck a mine and USS Stark was hit by two Exocet cruise missiles. In both cases the ships survived, were repaired and returned to the fleet. USS Stark was decommissioned in May 1999.

The Surface Combatant Force Requirement Study does not define any need for a single mission ship such as the frigate and there are no frigates planned in the Navy's five-year shipbuilding plan.
How are these frigates armed?Well, that "G" at the end of FFG used to mean they had a guided missile system. Now it seems to be meaningless:
Armament: Six MK-46 torpedoes(from two triple mounts); One 76 mm (3-inch)/62 caliber MK 75 rapid fire gun; One Phalanx close-in-weapons system.
Red circle indicates location of missing missile launcher
Yep, they are de-fanged as noted by Wikipedia:
In mid-2000, the Navy removed the frigates' Mk 13 single-arm missile launchers and magazines because the primary missile, the Standard SM-1MR, became outmoded.
In some cases the removed launcher has been replaced with a 25mm cannon.

So, now, about 1/4 of the U.S. surface combatants are not really all that capable of surface warfare against an enemy who might load up even small coastal craft with anti-ship cruise missiles. Pretty much these ships ought to be useful for chasing pirates armed with small arms or doing counter-drug operations in the Caribbean.

It should also be noted that the most recent commissioning date of an FFG was in 1989 or 23 years ago. The oldest in active service was commissioned in 1983 - 29 years ago. Most of the "class of 1983" currently in service are due to be decommissioned in 2013. As noted above, there is no "frigate" replacement - those slots are to be filled by the LCS, a "multi-mission" capable ship if it ever gets its mission modules.

That's just swell.

Australia, among other countries, has found a way to keep the Perry-class a warship, as set out here.

UPDATE:
But wait, there's more, as set out here where the headline reads, "11 ships to be decommissioned in fiscal 2013":
Fiscal 2013 decommissioning schedule
Oct. 31: frigate Crommelin.
Feb. 15: frigate Underwood.
Feb. 27: frigate Curts.
March 15: carrier Enterprise and frigate Carr.
March 22: frigate Klakring.
March 31: cruisers Cowpens, Anzio, Vicksburg and Port Royal.
Aug. 30: frigate Reuben James.
Let's see, that's 6 fewer frigates and 4 fewer cruisers. That would drop the non-carrier surface warship fleet to 101.
Of course, there are planned commissionings of new ships, the schedule of which is kindly provided by our friends in the Navy League of the United States (to which I have added the red boxes showing the commissioning of surface warships):

Let's see, that adds 1 new surface warship LCS 4 in 2013, so the combatants rise to 102. Plus one more LCS in 2014 so - 103. Then the unproven new DDG1000 class adds 2 in 2015. Up to 105.

And then?

More to follow on the discussion of "quality" over "quantity." You can start reading Bryan McGrath at Information Dissemination on Re-visiting Fleet Size now, though.




Thursday, October 18, 2012

More about that "pirate" attack off Sri Lanka

Following up on this earlier post Pirates Off Sri Lanka, here's a clarifying report "Asylum seekers turn pirates, seize boat, attack crew off Sri Lanka":
The man rescued by Capt Petersen said he believed two colleagues had drowned, though Sri Lankan police said it was possible they were still aboard the Theja.

"He told us he was a fisherman from Sri Lanka and their fishing boat was attacked ... by some people who wanted their boat for emigration to Australia," Capt Petersen said.

"There were six people on this fishing boat. At least four of them were tied up and thrown into the sea.
Worth reading the whole thing.

More here, which has the great quote, ''There was some degree of criminality,'' he said.

It is also possible this is one of those things where the would-be immigrants were facing attack by the boat crew they thought they had a deal with (not an uncommon thing in history - just ask Vietnamese boat people) and defended themselves with some vigor.

I still don't think we have the full story.

Things must be tough in Sri Lanka to prompt this sort of desperate action.

UPDATE: A nice piece on a portion of the human smuggling racket to Australia from last year at The Telegraph's "The inside story of people smuggling to Australia"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Zero Emission Ships: The Power of Hydrogen

Image from GL Group
From Maritime Propulsion "The Future of the Fehmarn Link: ZERO EMISSION SHIPS":
The FutureShip engineers took a completely new course and approached the matter in a holistic way: from fuel-protection, through energy conversion and storage, and up to optimization of the ship design. For example, the surplus electricity generated by wind turbines in northern Germany and Denmark is to be used to produce hydrogen. This can be transformed back into electrical energy by the fuel cells on board the ship in order to supply the electrical pod drives. Any excess electricity is stored in batteries to cover peaks in demand. Modern hull lines, optimized propeller shapes and efficient procedures in port play a vital role in reducing the overall energy needs.
Read more at the GL website here:
Created by GL’s Strategic Research and Development unit, the Zero-Emission Container Feeder Vessel (“ZERO”) is a design concept for a completely emission- free vessel powered by liquid hydrogen (LH2). The fuel for the GL ZERO could be produced using surplus wind energy, and the vessel type would be ideally suited for operating in northern European waters.
One catch, though, the price of marine gas oil has to increase to make this venture cost competitive:
The hydrogen produced could be liquefied and stored in tanks. Intermediate storage of LH2 for up to ten days would require the installation of insulated tanks of up to 5,000 m3. With the wind farm operating approximately 4,000 hours per annum, the price of LH2 would be about US$7,500/t. These costs include production, liquefaction and on-site storage. GL estimates that liquid hydrogen produced by wind power could be commercially attractive sometime between 2020 and 2030, provided that the price of marine gas oil (MGO) increases to US$2,000/t.
According to BunkerWorld.com, current MGO price is about 1/2 of that $2000/t level.

Gl has a nice video, too, here. Or, from YouTube:

Pirates Off Sri Lanka

Arrow indicates rough area of the attack
Reported as "Sri Lanka Navy brings fishermen injured by pirate attack ashore, three are missing"

Sri Lankan Navy has brought ashore two fishermen who were critically injured in a suspected pirate attack in the deep seas off southeastern coast of Sri Lanka.

At least two Sri Lankan fishermen were critically injured and three others are missing in a suspected pirate attack, the Navy said today.

Five fishermen who set off on fishing in a multi-day trawler from the coast of Kudawella Fisheries Harbor in the deep south on Sunday (14) had been assaulted by a group of ten pirates in a small boat and thrown into the sea, the police spokesman SSP Prishantha Jayakody said.

Two of the fishermen had been rescued by two merchant vessels, MV Lusail and MV Edith Maersk, in the south-eastern deep seas and handed them over to the Navy.
More here in which it is reported that the identity of the attackers is presently unknown (or unreported) but that Somali pirates have attacked Sri Lankan boats in the past.

Maybe, but . . . I await something more definite.

UPDATE: Well these pirates appear to be people who are trying to get to Australia to seek asylum". I doubt this is a good introduction to immigration officials.

Gulf of Guinea Pirates: Part of Ship's Crew Taken by Pirates Off Nigeria

Reuters reports Nigeria pirates kidnap 6 Russians, one Estonian
Pirates off the coast of Nigeria have kidnapped six Russians and an Estonian during an attack on their ship, Bourbon, the French shipping company operating the vessel said on Wednesday.

Another nine crew members were safe and had reached the Nigerian port of Onne, in the oil-rich Niger Delta, said the spokeswoman for Bourbon, which supplies vessels to the offshore oil industry. The seven were abducted on Monday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fighting Pirates: A Lawerly Debate

From MaritimeTV, a couple of maritime legal thinkers discuss Armed Guards on Vessels. From May, 2012, and it seems a little OBE but still worth watching.

Hat tip to: The Marine Advocate Online.

You can order Defending Against Pirates here for $75 (downloadable pdf) or as a more expensive hard copy.

You might also be interested in a book to which I contributed, 
Maritime Private Security
Market Responses to Piracy, Terrorism and Waterborne Security Risks in the 21st Century
Edited by Patrick Cullen and Claude Berube, available here or from Amazon here.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Midrats Oct 14, 2012: Episode 145: The Aden Effect with Claude Berube

Please join us Sunday, October 14 at 5pm (Eastern U.S.) for Midrats Episode 145: The Aden Effect with Claude Berube on Blog Talk Radio:
Terror attacks on an American embassy. Piracy on the high seas. Political intrigue. Leadership at sea.

Not just the news of the day, but some of the topics you'll find in Claude Berube's new non-fiction book, The Aden Effect. We'll have the author with us for the full hour to talk about the book, writing, and perhaps a few more things as well.

Claude's articles have appeared in Orbis, Naval History, Vietnam History, Jane’s Intelligence Review, Naval Institute Proceedings, the Christian Science Monitor and other periodicals. He has worked on Capitol Hill and for the Office of Naval Intelligence. A lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, he has served twice overseas including a deployment to the Persian Gulf with Expeditionary Strike Group Five. He currently teaches at the United States Naval Academy.

From the description on of his new book on Amazon, "Murder, politics, seapower, Middle East instability, and intrigue in the White House are all part of this action thriller. Set against a background of modern piracy in the Gulf of Aden, the story begins as the new Ambassador to Yemen, C.J. Sumner, is assigned to negotiate access to the oil fields off the island of Socotra and enlist help countering pirates who are capturing ships at will off the Horn of Africa. Meeting with resistance to her diplomatic overtures, Sumner recruits Connor Stark, a former naval officer turned mercenary who knows the region, as her defense attache. When Stark sets up a meeting with the owner of a Yemeni shipping company and the ruling family, the challenges begin."
Join us live (or listen later) by clicking here or listen later at our iTunes page here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Somali Pirates; Dutch Navy, doing NATO work, nabs some suspected pirates

HMS Rotterdam
Reported as "Dutch navy detains Somali pirates":
Dutch sailors taking part in NATO's piracy-busting operation Ocean Shield on Thursday detained seven suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia after an attack on a Spanish vessel.

The alleged pirates were intercepted by Dutch amphibian transport HMS Rotterdam after the Izurdia was ambushed by a skiff off the Horn of Africa, the Dutch defence ministry said in a statement.
Here's the Netherlands Defence Ministry statement, as translated, more or less, by Google:
Netherlands MOD photo
Hr. Ms. Rotterdam has this morning put an end to the activities of a group of suspected pirates from Somalia. The suspected pirates men and their boat on board the Rotterdam taken pending further besluitvorming.De quest for the pirate group began yesterday afternoon when the Spanish fishing vessel Izurdia reporting an attack by a skiff called. "The timely and complete reporting of the Izurdia enabled us focused action. Following coordination between the staffs of NATO and EU task forces was eventually Rotterdam who suspected pirates managed to intercept," said Commander Bekkering, commander of NATO Task Force 508.

Schoten
"During our search is suspicious skiff by the crew on the bridge seen after the Cougar helicopter and boarding team are deployed," says the commander of Rotterdam, captain, sea Huub Hulsker know. "From the helicopter, the suspect skiff with warning shots to stop forced. The boarding team has seven suspects taken to Hr. Ms.. Rotterdam where they are retained."

508
Hr. Ms. Rotterdam has its patrol for Operation Ocean Shield, NATO's contribution to the international anti-piracy mission in the waters around the Horn of Africa, meanwhile prosecuted. Aboard the flagship of NATO Task Force 508 are located about 350 soldiers from all armed forces and from 8 different NATO countries.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Middle East Mess: Turkey Claims Russian Arms on Moscow to Damascus "Airliner" Forced to Land in Turkey

The Republic of Turkey, which has, for the most part, tried to stay clear of the Syrian disaster unfolding on its border, now has pushed further into the mess by following up on some intelligence and forcing an aircraft headed from Moscow to Damascus to land in Ankara and undergo a search. This investigation reportedly resulted in a veritable hit, as reported by the NY Times in "Turkish Leader Says Russian Munitions Found on Syrian Jetliner":
The Turks, saying they had acted on an intelligence tip, forced the Air Syria flight with 35 passengers aboard to land at an airport in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Wednesday.

“From Russia, an institution equivalent to our Machinery and Chemical Industry has sent military tools, equipment and ammunition to the Syrian Defense Ministry,” Mr. Erdogan was quoted as saying about the plane inspection. He was drawing a comparison to Turkey’s Machinery and Chemical Industry Institution, or MKEK, a leading provider of defense equipment to the Turkish military.

“Upon the intelligence received, research there was conducted and it was unfortunately seen that there was such equipment inside,” Mr. Erdogan said.
Since the Turks have been exchanging intermittent artillery fire with Syrian forces, they might just be a little put out by anyone supplying more ammunition to the Syrian regime.

The Turkish Hurryiet Daily News has more, with a Turkish Foreign Ministry official sounding a little like Captain Renault from the movie Casablanca (bolded below and I mean that movie reference in a good way):
A civilian Syrian passenger airplane flying from Moscow to Damascus was forced to land at Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport late on Oct. 10, and some of the cargo aboard was seized due to intelligence that it included material in violation of international civil aviation rules. Turkey allowed the aircraft to take off and continue on its route after seizing its cargo and grounding it for nine hours.


Turkish F-16
Ankara issued a diplomatic note to the Syrian Consulate in Istanbul yesterday. “The plane’s cargo was inconsistent with its bills of lading, and the cargo may have had a military purpose. The receiver [of the cargo] was listed as the Syrian Defense Ministry,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry official told Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. The cargo has been seized, not confiscated as yet, but probably will be confiscated, he said. “We are not prepared to comment on the description of the cargo. We will discuss it after we finish examining it,” he said.

“We are determined not to allow arms supply via Turkish airspace to a regime that is resorting to cruelty against its own people. Trying to do so by using our airspace is unacceptable,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said, a few hours after the plane landed, escorted by two Turkish F-16 jets. Turkish planes do not use Syrian airspace any longer because Syrian air space is not secure for Turkish planes, he said.
UPDATE: Syria call the Turks liars, according to the BBC:
Syria has accused Turkey of lying over its claim that a Syria-bound plane forced to land in Ankara was carrying Russian-made defence equipment.

Syria's foreign ministry challenged Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who made the claim, to show publicly the "ammunition" that had been seized.
Now, that's an interesting "good neighbor" approach taken by the Syrians. ... and the Russians who have joined in the name calling.

Somali Pirates: EU does a little preemptive work

Reported by EUNAVFOR as "EU Naval Force Quick To Capture Suspect Pirate Boat":

Yesterday EU Naval Force flagship, ITS San Giusto stopped and apprehended a skiff with 7 suspect pirates onboard.

The EU warship, that was carrying out counter-piracy patrols as part of Operation Atalanta, had sighted the skiff carrying a ladder and up to 20 fuel drums 180 miles east of Socotra and immediately launched its helicopter to investigate. Once at the scene, the boarding team from San Giusto boarded the vessel and apprehended the men.
EUNAVFOR photo: Boarding team from ITS San Giusto visits the suspect skiff

Speaking about the successful capture of the skiff, Rear Admiral Potts, who is the Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force said “This was the first sighting of a suspect pirate vessel in the Somali Basin for over 3 months and EU Naval Force got to it before it had a chance of carrying out an attack on ships transiting the area. Rear Admiral Potts added “We knew, as the monsoon period ended this month that pirates would try their luck at sea and this is why we have constantly warned against complacency. My message to the pirates is clear – we are watching you and we plan to capture you if you put to sea. Equally, this is an indication that pirates still intend to get out to sea and all involved in countering piracy, whether they are the military or industry must remain vigilant and prepared.
EUNAVFOR photo: ITS San Giusto eliminates ladder carrying skiff

After gathering intelligence, the skiff was destroyed, thus preventing the suspect pirates from using it to attack ships in the future.
Somewhere criminal defense attorneys are becoming outraged that this action took place only on the "suspicion" of piratical intent. After all, there must be hundreds dozens many a legitimate explanation for carrying a ladder on a skiff at sea - perhaps one of the skiff crew's cat was stuck in a tree on an island . . .

EUNAVFOR video follows:

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

North Korea: Missile Threat Against U.S.

I don't see it in this BBC report, "North Korea warns US on missiles after South deal", but I'm pretty sure that along with the claim that the NORKS have the missile range to strike, in addition to Guam and Japan, the U.S. mainland, there was the threat of a "nuclear sea of fire" -
North Korea says it has missiles that can hit the US mainland, in a statement two days after South Korea unveiled a missile deal with the US.

The statement said US bases in "Japan, Guam and the US mainland" were within its "scope of strike".
***
North Korea routinely issues strong rhetoric against Seoul and Washington.

The statement, carried by state-run KCNA news agency and attributed to North Korea's National Defence Commission, said Pyongyang would match any enemy "nuclear for nuclear, missile for missile".

On Sunday, South Korea announced it had reached an agreement with the US on extending the range of its ballistic missiles.
Really? Well, allegedly the Taepodong-2 has a range of about 6000km, which might bring Alaska into range. The red line on the Google map is roughly 6000km, which would indicate a possible ability to hit mainland Alaska from where North Korea was before it launched a missile at the U.S.

In case you are curious, the U.S.Navy has Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) equipped ships:
As of November 2012, there are 26 Aegis BMD combatants (5 cruisers [CGs] and 21 destroyers [DDGs] in the U.S. Navy. Of the 26 ships, 16 are assigned to the Pacific Fleet and 10 to the Atlantic Fleet. In response to the increasing demand for Aegis BMD capability from the Combatant Commanders, the MDA and Navy are working together to increase the number of Aegis BMD capable ships. Such efforts consist of upgrading Aegis DDGs to the BMD capability, incorporating Aegis BMD into the Aegis Moderization Program and new construction of Aegis BMD DDGs.
***
Aegis BMD is the first missile defense capability produced by the MDA that has been purchased by a military ally. Japan’s four KONGO Class Destroyers have been upgraded with BMD operational capabilities.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Weekend Reading

The American Spectator : Volleyball Mom Knows Better Than Obama

"Market, production conditions will prevent meeting RFS" which may not make much sense as a headline, but is a report about how Congressional imposed standards for the increasing use of ethanol are impossible to meet which will result in fines for refiners (which, of course, will be passed on to consumers) but which would lead me, if I were a refiner, to shut the refinery down and go Galt.

Good book on South America, Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America's Soul by Michael Reid. Something in the description of the "populist" leader rang a bell:
By `populism' I mean two things: first, a brand of politics in which a strong, charismatic leader purports to be a saviour, blurring the distinction between leader, government, party and state, and ignoring the need for the restraint of executive power through checks and balances. Second, populism has often involved redistribution of income and/or wealth in an unsustainable fashion. Michael Reid. Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America's Soul (Kindle Locations 256-258). Kindle Edition.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Declan Barnes/Released)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Syria: Turkey Get Fired On, Shoots Back and NATO Gets a Call

WaPo reports, "Turkey PM’s office says Turkish artillery fired on Syria after shelling of Turkish town" :
Turkish artillery fired on Syrian targets after deadly shelling from Syria hit a Turkish border town on Wednesday, sharply raising tensions on a volatile border that has been crossed by tens of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their country.
More from Hurriyet:
Targets in Syria has been bombed in return to a deadly attack which killed 5 people in southeeastern Turkey, Turkish Prime Ministry has said.

"These provacations against the safety of Turkey will not remain unanswered," the Prime Ministry said. "We have responded to the attack, and bombed targets in Syria."
***
An emergency NATO meeting had been summoned, and will take place in the upcoming hours.

The Prime Minister said Turkey's response abided with the international law, and came as self-defense.
NATO. Hmmmm. This could get nasty.

UPDATE: The Turkish parliament has authorized cross border operations for its military, as set out here:
The Turkish Parliament has passed a motion allowing the military to conduct cross-border raids into Syria.

Some 320 deputies cast votes in favor of the motion, while 129 voted against it.
***
“All military targets have been hit by the shells. After this point, the process is down to the reaction of the opposite side [Syria]. They have now taken the lessons that they should have taken,” AKP Ankara Deputy Yalçın Akdoğan said.

Regarding opposition criticism of the mandate text, Akdoğan said: “There is nothing saying we have to go to a war in the text. The criticism of the opposition is political. Everything is clear in the text."

AKP Deputy Group Chairman Nurettin Canikli said there was an armed attack toward Turkey undetaken by the Syrian goverment. “Everybody needs to define their side. Are you on Turkey’s side or on the side of cruel al-Assad? Are you on the side of al-Assad, who has been shelling his own people including children? You need to make a decision on this.

Nobody in the Turkish Grand Assembly can defend the policy of a country who attacked this country [Turkey]. Our duty is to defend our country,” Canikli said.
UPDATE2: A WSJ report with a discussion of the NATO duty to come to the aid of an attacked NATO member, which Turkey is:

Oh,yes, and the Syrian chemical weapons threat.