Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Film: "Vertical Assault"

Produced by Sikorsky with U.S. Marine Corps cooperation:

Update: My guess is this was produced in the later 1950's, pre-Vietnam.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Micro Force: Small Combatants for the Littorals

We need a bigger U.S. Navy - but the fleet can be grown in many different ways. One way is to develop a "micro Navy" (as opposed to "Big Navy" gray hulls) buidling on the lessons learned and discarded from U.S. and allied patrol torpedo boat operations in WWII.

Update these boats with anti-ship missiles, mines, and unmanned drone vessels to be deployed from the boats - you've created a potentially deadly small combatant force for use in the littoral for a faction of the cost of larger ships.

More on this later.

Monday, October 16, 2017

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 11 September - 11 October 2017 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 5 - 11 October 2017

Australia ‘wait and see’ on China's "Belt and Road" Fantasy - ur - Initiative? Akbar's Warning

Interesting piece from the Aussie Lowy Institute's "The Interpreter" Belt and Road: The case for ‘wait and see’
. . . BRI raises bigger questions about the kind of regional economic and security order we would like to see in the Indo-Pacific. It is telling that BRI is organised on a 'hub-and-spokes' model, despite Chinese claims that it is somehow 'multilateral' in form. The 'One Belt' and 'One Road' run back to One Capital – Beijing – and joining BRI would require signing a bilateral memorandum of understanding with China rather signing up to some kind of internationally negotiated, rules-governed, multilateral institution. This speaks volumes about China's ambitions under Xi, particularly the desire for a Sino-centric economic order in which Beijing decides who gets trading and financial privileges from China, and who does not.
Sounds a lot like flypaper.

Or, as Admiral Akbar put it:

It all makes sense if you think of China as the "Middle Kingdom" and the rest of the world as tribute-paying barbarians.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Dimension X "The Professor Was A Thief" (1950)

L. Ron Hubbard ( yes, that guy) wrote this.

On Midrats 15 October 2017 - Episode 406: America's First General Staff, with John Kuehn

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 15 October 2017 for Midrats Episode 406: America's First General Staff, with John Kuehn
The General Board of the Navy existed for the first half of the 20th Century. In his latest
book, America's First General Staff: A Short History of the Rise and Fall of the General Board of the U.S. Navy, 1900-1950, our guest Dr. John T. Kuehn describes how the Board, a creature of its time born from a defined need following the "last war," became the organization that drove the growth of a world class navy and brought together the best in naval thought and strategic thinking.

For the full hour we'll examine its rise and fall, successes and failures, as well as the lessons it may teach us today.

Dr. Kuehn is the General William Stofft Chair for Historical Research at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He retired from the U.S. Navy 2004 at the rank of commander after 23 years of service as a naval flight officer in EP-3s and ES-3s. He authored Agents of Innovation (2008) and co-authored Eyewitness Pacific Theater (2008) with D.M. Giangreco, as well as numerous articles and editorials and was awarded a Moncado Prize from the Society for Military History in 2011.

His previous books include Napoleonic Warfare: The Operational Art of the Great Campaigns and A Military History of Japan: From the Age of the Samurai to the 21st Century as well as numerous articles and editorials. He was awarded a Moncado Prize from the Society for Military History in 2011.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

U.S. Navy Has a Coastal Mine Detection System

U.S. has a coastal mine detection system reports Megan Eckstine at USNI News
The Navy completed the first phase of its initial operational test and evaluation on the AN/DVS-1 Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) airborne mine detection system and is awaiting Littoral Combat Ship availability to complete the remaining testing.

COBRA is a sensor payload that operates onboard the MQ-8B Fire Scout and can detect beach zone mines in the daytime to help plan amphibious landings. An eventual block upgrade would add nighttime and surf zone detection capabilities.
Using air vehicle operators and mission payload operators from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1, maintainers from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 and operators from USS Independence (LCS-2) and the LCS Squadron (LCSRON) 1, the LCS program proved to the Operational Test and Evaluation Force that COBRA can effectively and reliably meet its mission requirements.

“Right now, in order for us to do the kind of reconnaissance you need in advance of an amphibious landing, you’ve got to put sailors and Marines, you’ve got to put somebody in there with eyes on target to see what’s there, see if there’s any obstacles. People are involved in it,” Taylor said.
“With this capability, you’re able to go from the LCS with an unmanned vehicle, you’re able to recon a whole line of beach – not just one or two areas, you can look at the whole beach, you can look at all the lanes that are possible without putting somebody there – which allows you to come back and look at that and choose which lane or lanes are available and which are not.”
COBRA aircraft component (U.S. Navy photo)

More on COBRA here:
The COBRA airborne payload will be carried on the MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned air system. This allows operators and other personnel to remain at a safe distance from the mine and obstacle belts and enemy direct and indirect fire. COBRA will be embarked in the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) as part of the mine countermeasures (MCM) mission package (MP).
Wonder who will protect the LCS at its "safe distance." And what is that distance in today's battlespace?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

U.S. Oil and Gas Building National Security

The good news - Lower Costs, Shale Growth Restrict Oil Price in Long Termfrom FItch Ratings:
Lower global production costs, considerable U.S. shale growth potential and shale's ability to quickly respond to changing market conditions should keep average annual oil prices below USD60 a barrel in the long term, Fitch Ratings says. But oil prices will remain volatile and could periodically exceed our assumptions.
We remain sceptical about the effectiveness of OPEC's production cuts to rebalance supply and demand in the near term, as well as to materially reduce crude stocks given the exclusion of Libya and Nigeria (both producing at higher levels since the cut), weak enforceability, and poor track records of adherence. OPEC's average compliance rate slipped to 75% in July from almost 100% at the beginning of the year, according to the International Energy Agency. It improved to 82% in August, but overall we expect average compliance rates in 2H17 and beyond to be weaker than in 1H17.
So relatively low fuel prices should continue, keeping more money into the U.S. economy.

But more good news from the Oil and Gas Journal of Oct 9, 2017, reporting on remarks by Interior Secretary Zinke commenting on efforts to help U.S. oil and gas producers:
“Regulations should be ground in science—not a political agenda,” the secretary indicated. “This is why we’re reviewing and possibly revoking rules that are overly punitive. We’re trying to find the quickest way to get to ‘yes’ without sacrificing our environmental and other responsibilities. With our joint model, we’ll make sure that agencies from many parts of the federal government can work together and involve states, tribes, and other stakeholders earlier in the process.”

Zinke said that more federal oil and gas resource development will improve US security and provide more jobs and economic growth. “I don’t want to see our country held hostage by a foreign oil producer or US troops sent into combat to protect supply routes,” he maintained. “Every drop of US oil that’s produced supplants one from Iran. That’s effective leverage.”
There is an interesting issue that lurks behind efforts to reduce or ban the use of petroleum powered vehicles- well posed by BOb Tippee of the Oil and Gas Journal:

The greenest means of efficient and large elecrical power generation is nuclear, not wind or geothermal or solar or water current.

See Electric Cars Are Not Necessarily Clean: Your battery-powered vehicle is only as green as your electricity supplier and Electric car growth sparks environmental concerns: Mining of raw materials and recycling of lithium-ion batteries in spotlight.

Of course, if the goal is reducing CO2, I guess other types of environmental concerns melt away.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Disaster Relief (and Other Uses) "Flying Cell Phone Towers"

"Flying Cell Phone Towers Go Mainstream" says Martin UAV and Fenix Group:

Fenix Group, a private VA based technology firm, has partnered with Martin UAV, a Texas based manufacturer of rugged utility drones to launch the world’s first drone capable of providing fully functional 4G cell phone service.

The feat may be a world’s first, and the company sees huge potential for government and industry with the flying cell phone tower, weighing in at under 55 pounds.

“When we first conceived the project, we knew we had to make it a priority,” said Dave Peterson, Fenix Group’s President & CEO.

“The market is just there for this right now and Martin UAV immediately understood that.”

“Beyond tactical closed networks for DoD at huge cost savings over what is currently being fielded, the marriage of unmanned systems with LTE core networks is representative of what Google was trying to do with their Loon program.”

“We beat Google at something, for very little money, and that feels great.”
In addition to providing a coverage area on the ground, the payload is also able to stream encrypted video from the drone’s camera system to anyone on the network.

In the future, soldiers, search and rescue teams, and first responders will have access to drone video from their phones. The Fenix team even went so far as to enable Internet access so that command centers could access the feed from anywhere in the world.

Yes, it's advertising, but the tech idea is great.

Monday, October 09, 2017

U.S.Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 4 September - 4 October 2017 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 28 September - 4 October 2017

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 4 September - 4 October 2... by lawofsea on Scribd

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and W... by lawofsea on Scribd

China and It's "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" Clone Plan

Well now, it seems the gloves, if not coming off, are being tugged at. Bonnie Glaser notes in a tweet about the following South China Morning Post artice:
Chinese oceanographic researcher says this part of an effort to breach the Second Island Chain.
Breaching the second island chain? Why?

Andrew Ericson and Joel Wuthnow explain in Why Islands Still Matter in Asia: The Enduring Significance of the Pacific “Island Chains”:
The extensive chains of Pacific islands ringing China have been described as a wall, a barrier to be breached by an attacker or strengthened by a defender. They are seen as springboards, potential bases for operations to attack or invade others in the region. In a territorial sense, they are benchmarks marking the extent of a country’s influence.

“It’s truly a case of where you stand. Perspective is shaped by one’s geographic and geostrategic position,” said Andrew Erickson, a professor with the China Maritime Studies Institute at the Naval War College.

“Barriers is a very Chinese perspective,” said Erickson. “It reflects a concern that foreign military facilities based on the islands may impede or threaten China’s efforts or influence.” …
An excellent discussion of China's island "layers of active defense" at Jon Solomon's Potential Chinese Anti-Ship Capabilities Between the First and Second Island Chains which includes a posting of this U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence graphic:
and this:
The sea lanes in question pass through the waters between the First Island Chain and the line stretching from Hokkaido through the Bonins and Marianas to the Palaus (e.g, the “Second Island Chain”). I’ve recently written about the PLAAF’s effective reach into the Western Pacific, and it’s been widely understood for years that late-generation PLAN submarines possess the technological capability to operate for several weeks in these waters before having to return to port. China would be hard-pressed to achieve localized sea control anywhere within this broad area; its own surface combatants and shipping would be just as vulnerable to attack. It wouldn’t need sea control, though, to achieve its probable campaign-level objectives of bogging down (or outright thwarting) an effective U.S. military response, or perhaps inflicting coercive economic pain upon one or more embattled American allies. The use of PLA submarines and strike aircraft to pressure U.S. and allied sea lines of communications would be entirely sufficient. And as Toshi Yoshihara and Martin Murphy point out in their article in the Summer ‘15 Naval War College Review, these kinds of PLA operations would be consistent with the Mao-derived maritime strategic theory of “sabotage warfare at sea,” albeit at a much greater distance from China’s shores than the theory originally conceived. Such operations have been widely discussed in Chinese strategic literature over the past two decades
That link regarding the "first island chain" goes to a Wikipedia piece:
The first island chain refers to the first chain of major archipelagos out from the East Asian continental mainland coast. Principally composed of the Kuril Islands, Japanese Archipelago, Ryukyu Islands, Taiwan, the northern Philippines, and Borneo; from the Kamchatka Peninsula to the Malay Peninsula. Some definitions of the first island chain anchor the northern end on the Russian Far East coast north of Sahkalin Island, with Sahkalin Island being the first link in the chain.[1] However, others consider the Aleutians as the farthest north-eastern first link in the chain.[2] The first island chain forms one of three island chain doctrines within the Island Chain Strategy.

The first island chain has its purpose in Chinese military doctrine. The People's Republic of China views the first island chain as the area it must secure and disable from American bases, aircraft and aircraft-carrier groups, if in defending itself it must tactically unleash a pre-emptive attack against an enemy. The aim of the doctrine is to seal off the Yellow Sea, South China Sea and East China Sea inside an arc running from the Aleutians in the north to Borneo in the south.[3] According to reports by American think tanks CSBA and RAND, by 2020, China will be well on its way to having the means to achieve its first island chain policy.[4]
The Yoshihara and Martin article (pdf here) notes China's Mao inspired concept of "active defense"
At length, in March 1956, the Central Military Commission issued military strategic guidance under the rubric of “active defense, defend the motherland.” “Active defense,” a concept that Mao developed and refined in the 1930s, called for the employment of offensive operations and tactics to achieve strategically defensive goals. The navy’s role was to support the army and the air force against the enemy on land. Under active defense, the PLAN’s missions were to conduct joint counter landing operations with ground and air forces; wreck the enemy’s sea lines of communications, severing the supply of materiel and manpower; weaken and annihilate the enemy’s seaborne transport tools and combat vessels; jointly operate with ground forces in contests over key points and locations along the coast; guarantee the security of our coastal base system and strategic locations; support ground forces in littoral flanking operations; act in concert with ground forces to recover offshore islands and all territories

For years China was not a true naval power, so it turned to the lessons it had learned from the guerrilla war its new leaders had fought and won. The leader of the PLAN, an army general, reached back:
After consulting Mao Zedong’s military writings from the 1920s and 1930s and those of Soviet experts, Xiao articulated the operational concept of “sabotage warfare at sea” (海上破袭战). Confronted with better-armed enemies, he understood that China was in no position to fight them head-on. Drawing on his own battlefield experiences, the admiral reasoned that inferior Chinese forces had to “use suddenness and sabotage and guerilla tactics to unceasingly attack and destroy the enemy, accumulate small victories in place of big wins, fully leverage and bring into play our advantageous conditions, exploit and create unfavorable conditions for the enemy, and implement protracted war.” Mao would have instantly recognized these ideas as his own.

Four key features characterized Xiao’s sabotage warfare at sea. First, it called for the use of all available weaponry to deliver all possible types of attacks against the enemy. Second, it emphasized covert action and sudden surprise attacks to overpower unsuspecting or unprepared adversaries, so as to seize the initiative. Third, it required offensive campaigns and tactics to assault unceasingly the effective strength of the enemy. Fourth, it demanded the agile use of troops and combat styles to preserve one’s own forces while annihilating the opponent. Xiao essentially codified what his forces had practiced out of sheer necessity in previous years. In contrast to a “naval strategy” as such, seeking to align available means with larger political aims, the admiral furnished a concept that was largely operational and tactical in nature. Xiao, in essence, identified methods for winning battles
This thinking breeds maritime militia, anti-ship ballistic missiles and a rapid expansion of a navy.

All this being prelude to the bit Ms. Glaser points to in this innocuously titled article,
US spy planes kept eye on Chinese scientists during research expedition near Guam
Xu Kuidong, a lead researcher with the mission who is affiliated with the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Qingdao, Shandong, said the scientists on board were “well aware” of the area’s sensitivity.

“It is all about the Second Island Chain,” he said, referring to a series of archipelagos that stretches from the eastern coast of Japan to the Bonin islands, to the Mariana islands, to Guam and the island country of Palau.

The US-controlled islands initially served as a second line of defence against communist countries in East Asia during the cold war. Today they are regarded as a major constraint on China’s rapidly expanding marine power and influence in the Pacific Ocean.
The team’s findings would be shared with the Chinese military and other interest groups in government, Xu said.
“There are many efforts going on to breach the Second Island Chain, this is part of them,” he said.
According to Tom Matelski, a US Army War College Fellow at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Hawaii, China was seeking to build a military base in Micronesia.
Micronesia, with a population of about 110,000, has received a large amount of aid and investment from China since 2003. The money helped build some of the nation’s largest farms, schools, bridges and power plants, as well as the residence for the president and other senior government officials.
Since Micronesia lacked its own military, it had “outsourced” its defence to the US since the end of the second world war. But in 2015 Micronesian lawmakers introduced a resolution to end the exclusive partnership with the US as early as 2018.

If the Chinese military got a foothold on a Micronesian island, “the US could potentially lose their access to the strategic lines of communication that connect the Pacific Ocean to the vital traffic of the East and South China Seas”, Matelski wrote in an article published on the website of The Diplomat magazine in February last year.
Possession of portions of the Second Island Chain would give China a “springboard against foreign force projection,” he said.
So, China - currently through obstensibly peaceful means - seeks to do what the Japanese tried to do before the start of WWII - developing bases on trade routes, expanding their presence, developing what amounts to a clone of the Japanese Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere

Or, more accurately:
As noted here by Andrew Ericson:
“Back when imperial Japan was trying to gain control of the first, second and even a third chain – the Aleutians – there was a concern that if Japan didn’t control the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii the Americans would, to Japan’s geostrategic detriment,” said Erickson. “At the outset of World War II, Japan made an extraordinary effort to use part of the chains as a springboard, and they were indeed benchmarks of Japanese military progress. That was only halted then the US turned island-hopping in the other direction.”

“Today, Japan is concerned about Chinese attempts to influence and control areas and to develop weapon systems vis-a-vis these island chains,” Erickson added. “And there’s a lot of Japanese concern about ongoing Chinese efforts to penetrate the chains using increasingly powerful and complex groups of naval vessels. I think Japan feels very much connected to these island chains. As China looks to the chains and aspires to do things, I think Japan feels very targeted by that, it feels it very acutely.” …

“Many Chinese sources emphasize their view of Taiwan’s status as a key node on the first island chain,” Erickson said. “Some Chinese sources see this not only as a springboard against mainland China, but a number of sources express aspirations of eventually [bringing the island] under mainland control, perhaps in a very robust fashion that would allow for some form of Chinese-controlled military facilities. We see discussion of ports, particularly on the east coast of Taiwan, allowing for China to conclusively break out of the confines of the first island chain once and for all.”

“I see no other part of an island chain that is really in the category of what some Chinese strategists ultimately aspire to control and own themselves,” Erickson said. “That definitely sets Taiwan apart.”

And while most attention is focused on the first island chain running south along the eastern edge of the South China Sea, the significance of the second chain, which includes the US territory of Guam, could grow.

“A number of Chinese sources see this as a rear staging area for US and allied forces,” Erickson said.

“But the second island chain will grow in China’s geostrategic thinking. As China continues to send naval forces afield, it will be a benchmark.”

Over time, he added, “China can do more to hold Guam and other parts of the second island chain at risk.”
Not just the "second island chain" either, as James Holmes points out in Island Chains Everywhere: Some Chinese strategists see Hawaii as Asia’s ‘third island chain.’ What does this view say about US-China ties?
At least some Chinese strategists think of Hawaii as an appendage of Asia rather than a geographic feature of the Pacific Ocean, placed closer to the Americas than to the Chinese coastline. The concept of first and second island chains is familiar to Asia specialists, but the concept of a third island chain, positioned only 2,400 miles from San Francisco, is a novel one. It appears on a map of the Pacific found in a recent translation of Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan’s The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783—the same translation whose front cover blares, ‘Does China Need an Aircraft Carrier?’

For Hawaii to fit the island chain template, however, it would need to be (1) a very long series of islands that (2) runs north-south fairly close to Asian shores, (3) encloses the Asian mainland, and (4) is inhabited by a prospective rival or rivals of China able to project military power seaward. Hawaii meets the last test but fails the first three miserably. We may as well describe the Americas as Asia’s fourth island chain. That the island chain metaphor sounds outlandish to American ears when applied to Hawaii, while many Chinese take it seriously, nonetheless reveals something discomfiting about US-China relations.

As Chinese naval proponents see it, the first and second island chains complicate their nation’s nautical destiny so long as they remain in potentially hostile hands—as they will in the case of Japan, to take the most obvious example. Japan’s combination of geographic position, multiple seaports suitable for military shipping and resources makes it a permanent factor in Chinese strategy. Forces stationed along the island chains can encumber the Chinese navy’s free access to the Western Pacific while inhibiting north-south movement along the Asian seaboard. How to surmount or work around these immovable obstacles understandably preoccupies scholars and practitioners of naval affairs in China.

But what about Hawaii? That the archipelago commands enormous strategic value for the United States has been axiomatic for American strategists for over a century. For example, Mahan—whom the Timesof London colorfully dubbed the United States' ‘Copernicus’ of sea power—lauded its geopolitical worth. Unlike their forebears from the age of sail, steamships could defy winds and currents, but they also demanded fuel in bulk to make long voyages. Accordingly, he exhorted a United States with commercial interests at stake in Asia to forge a ‘chain’ of island bases to support the transpacific journeys of steam-propelled merchantmen and their guardians, armoured men-of-war.
Taken to extremes, Beijing’s habit of appraising Pacific and Indian Ocean geography through the island chain lens—that is, seeing geographic features as an adversary’s defense perimeter that must be punctured, or a wall that must be fortified for defense—could misshape Chinese maritime strategy. Prodded by such conceptions, the Chinese leadership could take an unduly pessimistic view of the strategic surroundings, needlessly straining relations with the many seafaring powers that ply the Western Pacific and China’s near seas.
The game is afoot.

It's why we have a Navy to limit this before it gets out of hand. But we need a bigger force, one well thought out to insure international trade routes stay free.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Disaster Preparation - The Two Basic Needs

Watching the mess in Puerto Rico unfold after the disasters in Texas and Florida, there is the need to once again emphasize that there are two major survival necessities around which everything else pales in comparison. These are the two basic needs that will make survival possible in a post hurricane tropical or sub-tropical environment:
  1. Water
  2. Food
Marines ready water for delivery on Puerto Rico.
U.S. Navy Photo by MC3 Jacob A. Goff
Yep, if you are stuck in an area where a hurricane is headed (whether by choice or otherwise), or if you live in an earthquake zone,  you need to plan on getting your own water and food for several days (I say 7 to 10, but 14 or 21 might be better).

You do not want to be one of those who plan on an immediate government or NGO rescue.

The logistics flow takes time to gear up, to find safe routes to where you are and to do its form of triage to allocate resources to the most devestated areas. Especially in an area with potentially disrupted transportation infrastructure (really - like a single highway on bridges running down to Key West - or an island 1000 miles off the U.S. coast like Pierto Rico - or say, Guam, which is almost 4,000 miles west of Hawaii which is itself 2500 miles from California - or New Orleans, which after Katrina really had only 1 bridge for access), you need to think that help might be some time in getting to you.

Ships need to be loaded with emergency supplies and equipment and then sail to get to islands. At 20
Food rations be loaded for deliver on Puerto Rico. U.S. Navy
Photo by MC3 Jacob A. Goff
knots, 1000 miles takes 50 hours of steady steaming by ship. That alone is 2 days and the loadout may take another day or 2 and the ship may have to wait for the storm that just hit you to clear before they can get to you. So that "3 day" minimum suggestion of food and water is long gone before any ship from outside can get to you. There may also be delays in getting port to open to receive the cargo and then delays in getting roads clear enough to transport the cargo to where it can be distributed.

Helicopters? They can get to place where the roads are gone, but they have limitations on range, lift capacity and need fuel and maintenance. Pilots need rest. While the Navy, Coast Guard, Marines and Army have lots of helicopters, getting them to the scene and supporting their operations is also a logistical challenge. In addition, the services use those helicopters to carry out their national security duties, so there are linits on the numbers that can be sent to a disaster area. Same goes for the Navy ships capable of supporting such operations - they are in high demand and short supply.

All of which is to say - if you are in a place where a disaster is likely (including California with its earthquake potential), plan on being without assistance for some period of time.

At a minimum, have some means of catching and purifying drinking water. A good list of emergency water purification is found at 5 Ways to Purify Water:

  1. Boil it;
  2. Chlorinate it;
  3. Use purification tablets;
  4. Distill it;
  5. Filter it
Got no fire/chlorine/tablets?

You can distill even sea water into safe drinking water using scrap materials:

The key here is to be proactive.

If you planned ahead for disaster, then you should have chlorine bleach, tablets or water filters and containers and so forth, including means of catching rain water or transporting water from other sources.

What about food? In a perfect world, you've put aside emergency food stocks. Or you've decided that for a few weeks you and yours can tough it out with emergency ration bars like these from SOS Products:

Looking for an affordable and long-lasting disaster preparedness food? Stock up your emergency supplies with SOS food bars. With a five-year shelf life and an affordable cost, these wafers are the perfect emergency food rations.

This particular pack comes with nine food bars totaling 3600 calories. All nine taste like a coconut cookie and are delicious!

The SOS emergency food ration bar is US Coast Guard approved and is able to stand up to hot and cold temperatures. As such, they’re one of the best disaster foods on the market. Buy enough for the whole family today. You’ll be glad you did when disaster strikes.
For about $6 you get a 3-day supply for 1 person or $42 for a 21-day supply. If you have a family of 4 that's $168 for a 21-day supply.

Note that the SOS Bars are only one example of many similar products.

Now it may be that after several weeks of any emergency ration you will be tired of the taste, but consider the alternative.

It may be possible to live on other food that you already have or can gather. However, in the event of a disaster you will be competing with many other people for non-perishable food.

Yes, these lessons need to be repeated after evrey disaster.

By the way, have you got a bicycle? Preferably a sturdy one? Best emergency transport when there's no gas . . .

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Fuel From Sea Water? Navy Research Lab Has a Patent

NRL Receives US Patent for Carbon Capture Device: A Key Step in Synthetic Fuel Production from Seawater says the press release from NRL's Daniel Parry:
The world’s oceans cover approximately 70 percent of Earth’s surface and contain roughly 93 percent of the planet’s carbon dioxide (CO2). With around 38,000 gigatons (Gt) of carbon, our world’s oceans contain 16 times as much carbon as that found on land or in the atmosphere combined.

“With greater attention being directed at mitigating the effects CO2 can have on the environment, an interesting and attractive alternative is to recycle the gas into energy-rich molecules,” said Dr. Heather Willauer, research chemist, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). “The process, based on Fischer–Tropsch technology, is CO2 neutral and eliminates the emission of sulfur and nitrogen compounds that are produced from the combustion of petroleum derived fossil fuels.”

Building on the concept of capturing this natural resource, researchers at NRL have developed and received patent 9,719,178, issued Aug. 1 by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO), for an electrolytic-cation exchange module (E-CEM). Under this design, the E-CEM is capable of both producing hydrogen (H2) and simultaneously extracting CO2 from seawater.

“In our previous work, the initial scale-up and integration of the E-CEM into a skid platform provided us the data needed to establish faster acidity equilibrium for future modules and improve energy efficiencies and production,” said Willauer. “This technology provides the Navy the capability to produce fuel stock, at sea or in remote locations, for the production of synthetic LNG, CNG, F-76, and JP-5 petroleum products.”

Located at NRL's Marine Corrosion Facility, Key West, Florida, the next generation, modified E-CEM, demonstrates the progressive steps forward toward integrating and commercializing these systems. The result, at present, is a 33 percent improvement in production time of CO2 and H2 with a feedstock production rate of a single E-CEM capable of producing more than one gallon of fuel per day — contributing to the removal of nearly five tons of CO2 per year.(emphasis added)

Well, cleans up the CO2, produces hydrogen for fuel as well as carbon. Sounds like a winner.

Producing fuel at sea? Time for that Arthur C. Clarke quote: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

ASW Via Drone Boats

Via the Early Bird Brief and C4ISRNet, comes this report of a product test, Elbit demonstrates anti-submarine drone:
Remotely guided by human operators through satellite communications, the Seagull sailed in the Haifa Bay, Israel, to perform the anti-submarine mission using control consoles 2,200 miles away.

“Operating its dipping sonar and Elbit Systems‘ proprietary software, Seagull performed real-time detections and classification of objects, demonstrating capability to deter and dissuade hostile subsurface activity,” according to a Elbit announcement. “The Seagull team included two operators, a USV operator and sonar operator.”
More from the Elbit corporate website:

The Seagull Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) systems have superior mine counter measures (MCM) capability. This USV facilitates end-to-end mine hunting operations, including detection, classification, location, identification and neutralization of bottom, moored and drifting sea mines while taking the sailor out of the mine field.

The Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability provides the navy with a significant tactical advantage by effectively deterring and threatening enemy submarines using an available asset with significantly lower risk.

Featuring switchable, modular mission payload suites, Seagull can perform ASW and
MCM, electronic warfare (EW), maritime security (MS), hydrography and other missions using the same vessels, mission control system and data links.
And more here:
Seagull is a 12-meter long USV that can be operated from a mother-ship or from shore stations. It provides multi-mission capabilities including ASW, Mine Hunting & Mine Sweeping (MCM), Electronic Warfare (EW), maritime security and underwater commercial missions, leveraging modular mission system installation and offering a high level of autonomy.

It features inherent C4I capabilities for enhanced situation awareness and mission endurance of more than four days.
I can see a use for these things. Lots of uses, in fact.

All photos from ELbit Systems.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Disaster Relief: It's Always About Logistics

Logistics, logistics, logistics. Some excellent points about the problems of Puerto Rico and the issues faced in getting assstiance to the population at Breaking: Trump waives Jones Act for Puerto Rico which quotes a Bloomberg piece by Laura Blewitt Mountains of Aid Are Languishing on the Docks in Puerto Rico which, as the title suggests, states the issues concerning aid are not in the delivery to the island, but in the infrastructure of the island:
There are plenty of ships and plenty of cargo to come into the island,” said Mark Miller, a spokesman for Crowley, based in Jacksonville, Florida. “From there, that’s where the supply chain breaks down -- getting the goods from the port to the people on the island who need them.”
The buildings that would receive supplies are destroyed and without electricity, Miller said. The transport companies that have staff available and diesel on hand encounter downed poles and power lines while navigating 80,000-pound tractor-trailers on delicate washed-out roads.

“It’s one thing to move a little car through there,” Miller said. “It’s another to move a semi truck.”

Russel L. Honore, a retired Army lieutenant general who took over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said the efforts in Puerto Rico require what he called "expeditionary logistics" -- ships, aircraft and trucks that can move goods onto and around the island.
Read it all.

By the way, while the government recommends 3 days worth of food and water per person (and pet), the reality is that you are far better off planning on 7 to 10 days without power, water and food from other than your own supplies.

About the photo:
170925-M-IZ659-0017 ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands (Sept. 24, 2017) U.S. Marines assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 26, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU), cut branches from a fallen tree to clear a road in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 25, 2017. The 26th MEU is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, and local authorities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with the combined goal of protecting the lives and safety of those in affected areas. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Santino D. Martinez/Released)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Innovative Ways to Expand the Radio and Radar Horizon from DARPA

Keep good idea coming (and help design plans for scenarios where satellites might be unavailable) - here is a DARPA test report TALONS Tested on Commissioned U.S. Navy Vessel for First Time:
DARPA’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort recently demonstrated its prototype of a low-cost, elevated sensor mast aboard a commissioned U.S. Navy vessel for the first time. The crew of USS Zephyr, a 174-foot (53-meter) Cyclone-class patrol coastal ship, evaluated the technology demonstration system over three days near Naval Station Mayport, Florida.

TALONS demonstrated safe and routine operation from the ship’s deck under a variety of sea states and wind conditions without adversely affecting the ship’s operational capability. In tests, the system significantly improved the ship’s ability to detect, track, and classify contacts of interest. It also increased communications range between the ship and remote platforms such as the Zephyr’s rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs).

Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could persistently suspend intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) instruments and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds at altitudes between 500 and 1,500 feet above sea level—many times higher than current ships’ masts—greatly extending the equipment’s range and effectiveness.

“We’re very pleased with the USS Zephyr testing, which showed that a future system based on TALONS could provide operational benefits for even small Navy vessels,” said Scott Littlefield, a program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO). “In the next year, we will continue our cooperative relationship with the U.S. Navy and work toward fully automating launch and recovery, which would make the system even easier to use on manned vessels and compatible with unmanned surface vessels.”

“Expectations were really exceeded with the ease of not only deployment, but the recovery of the system,” said Lt. Cmdr. Cameron Ingram, commanding officer of the Zephyr. “Beyond the initial launch, it immediately stabilized, and it had a very smooth transition all the way up to altitude. I was very impressed with how stable it was.”

The TALONS test on USS Zephyr built upon a successful joint test last year with DARPA’s Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program. ACTUV’s technology demonstration vessel set sail with TALONS as its first payload as part of open-water testing off the coast of California.

TALONS is part of DARPA’s Phase 1 research for Tern, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR).

That "joint test" with the ACTUV? See below:

DARPA’s Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program has developed and built a technology demonstration vessel that is currently undergoing open-water testing off the coast of California and recently set sail with its first payload: a prototype of a low-cost, elevated sensor mast developed through the Agency’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort.

ACTUV seeks to lay the technical foundation for an entirely new class of ocean-going vessel—one able to traverse thousands of kilometers over the open seas for months at a time, without a single crew member aboard. Potential missions include submarine tracking and countermine activities. Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could persistently carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.

The demonstration took place over two days with 90 minutes of flight each day. The TALONS prototype started out from its “nest” installed on the back of the ACTUV vehicle. It then expanded its parachute and rose to an altitude of 1,000 feet, where it tested its onboard sensors and communications equipment. Once the test was complete, the prototype reeled itself in back to the nest. The entire process took place as the ACTUV vehicle maneuvered at operationally realistic speeds.

While aloft, TALONS demonstrated significant improvements to the range of the sensors and radios it carried compared to mounting them directly on a surface vessel. For example, TALONS’ surface-track radar extended its range by 500 percent—six times—compared to its range at sea level. Its electro-optical/infrared scanner doubled its observed discrimination range. The TALONS team plugged in a commercial handheld omnidirectional radio; that radio’s range more than tripled.

“I was delighted to explore the possibility of hosting TALONS on ACTUV and from my perspective, the testing could not have gone better,” said Scott Littlefield, DARPA program manager for ACTUV. “We just started at-sea testing of ACTUV in June, and until now we've been focused on getting the basic ship systems to work. TALONS was our first chance to demonstrate hosting a real payload and showing the versatility of ACTUV to do a wide variety of missions for which it wasn't originally designed.”

“TALONS showed the advantages of using a low-cost add-on elevated sensor to extend the vision and connectivity of a surface asset and ACTUV demonstrated its ability as a flexible and robust payload truck,” said Dan Patt, DARPA program manager for TALONS. “This demonstration was an important milestone in showing how clever use of unmanned systems could cost-effectively provide improved capabilities.”

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Modern Times?

Walter Lippmann wrote The Good Society before World War II but some of it speaks to us today:
Although the partisans who are now fighting for the mastery of the modern world wear shirts of different colors, their weapons are drawn from the same armory, their doctrines are variations of the same theme, and they go forth to battle singing the same tune with slightly different words. Their weapons are the coercive direction of the life and labor of mankind. Their doctrine is that disorder and misery can be overcome only by more and more compulsory organization. Their promise is that through the power of the state men can be made happy.

Throughout the world, in the name of progress, men who call themselves communists, socialists, fascists, nationalists, progressives, and even liberals, are unanimous in holding that government with its instruments of coercion must, by commanding the people how they shall live, direct the course of civilization and fix the shape of things to come.
That's not to suggest the Mr. Lippmann was not right about everything he ever wrote- like most of us, his thinking evolved as he grew older.

Considering when he was writing the above, however,  his thoughts here are worth considering in these more -uh- modern times.

Freedom requires resisting "compulsory organization" in all its various guises.

I think AG Session gets it right here:
Attorney General Sessions Gives an Address on the Importance of Free Speech on College Campuses
Washington, DC ~ Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you for that kind introduction. I am so pleased to be here at Georgetown Law and to be speaking at the Georgetown Center for the Constitution where the exchange of ideas is both welcomed and encouraged. Thank you, Professor Barnett for that introduction and for hosting me here with your students. And thank you students for letting me take part in this important conversation with you.

As you embark on another school year, you and hundreds of your peers across this campus will, we hope, continue the intellectual journey that is higher education. You will discover new areas of knowledge; you will engage in debates great and small; many of your views will be challenged and some changed. You will—if your institutions follow our nation’s historic cultural and education traditions—pursue truth while growing in mind and spirit. In short, we hope you will take part in the right of every American: the free, robust, and sometimes contentious exchange of ideas.

As you exercise these rights, realize how precious, how rare, and how fragile they are. In most societies throughout history and in so many that I have had the opportunity to visit, such rights do not exist. In these places, openly criticizing the government or expressing unorthodox opinions could land you in jail or worse.

Let me tell you about one such example. It occurred one autumn when a few idealistic university students came together as a group to advocate for a deeply felt political creed. Wanting to recruit others to their cause, they staked out some ground on a campus walkway popular with students and approached them as they passed.

They said things like: “Do you like freedom? Do you like liberty?” and then they offered to these passersby a document they revered and believed stood for these ideals: the U.S. Constitution. These young proselytizers for liberty did not block the walkway, did not disrupt surrounding activities, and did not use intimidation or violence to press their cause.

Nevertheless, a local government official labeled this behavior “provocative” and in violation of government policy. When the young people bravely refused to stop, citing their right to free speech, the local official had them arrested, handcuffed, and jailed.

This troubling incident could have occurred under any number of tyrannies where the bedrock American ideals of freedom of thought and speech have no foothold. But this incident happened right here in the United States, just last year, at a public college in Battle Creek, Michigan. A state official actually had students jailed for handing out copies of the United States Constitution.

Freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack.

The American university was once the center of academic freedom—a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas. But it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos.

In 2017, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education surveyed 450 colleges and universities across the country and found that 40 percent maintain speech codes that substantially infringe on constitutionally protected speech. Of the public colleges surveyed, which are bound by the First Amendment, fully one-third had written policies banning disfavored speech.

For example, at Boise State University in Idaho, the Student Code of Conduct prohibits “[c]onduct that a reasonable person would find offensive.” At Clemson University in South Carolina, the Student Code of Conduct bans any verbal or physical act that creates an “offensive educational, work or living environment.”

But who decides what is offensive and what is acceptable? The university is about the search for truth, not the imposition of truth by a government censor.

Speech and civility codes violate what the late Justice Antonin Scalia rightly called “the first axiom of the First Amendment,” which is that, “as a general rule, the state has no power to ban speech on the basis of its content.” In this great land, the government does not get to tell you what to think or what to say.

In addition to written speech codes, many colleges now deign to “tolerate” free speech only in certain, geographically limited, “free speech zones.” For example, a student recently filed suit against Pierce College, a public school in southern California, alleging that it prohibited him from distributing Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution outside the school’s free speech zone.

The size of this free speech zone? 616 square feet—an area barely the size of a couple of college dorm rooms. These cramped zones are eerily similar to what the Supreme Court warned against in the seminal 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines case about student speech: “Freedom of expression would not truly exist if the right could be exercised only in an area that a benevolent government has provided as a safe haven.”

College administrators also have silenced speech by permitting “the heckler’s veto” to control who gets to speak and what messages are conveyed. In these instances, administrators discourage or prohibit speech if there is even a threat that it will be met with protest. In other words, the school favors the heckler’s disruptive tactics over the speaker’s First Amendment rights. These administrators seem to forget that, as the Supreme Court put it in Watson v. City of Memphis more than 50 years ago, “constitutional rights may not be denied simply because of hostility to their assertion or exercise.”

This permissive attitude toward the heckler’s veto has spawned a cottage industry of protestors who have quickly learned that school administrators will capitulate to their demands.

Protestors are now routinely shutting down speeches and debates across the country in an effort to silence voices that insufficiently conform with their views.

A frightening example occurred this year at Middlebury College. Student protestors violently shut down a debate between an invited speaker and one of the school’s own professors. As soon as the event began, the protestors shouted for 20 minutes, preventing the debate from occurring.

When the debaters attempted to move to a private broadcasting location, the protestors—many in masks, a common tactic also used by the detestable Ku Klux Klan—pulled fire alarms, surrounded the speakers, and began physically assaulting them. In short, Middlebury students engaged in a violent riot to ensure that neither they nor their fellow students would hear speech they may have disagreed with.

Indeed, the crackdown on speech crosses creeds, races, issues, and religions. At Brown University, a speech to promote transgender rights was cancelled after students protested because a Jewish group cosponsored the lecture. Virginia Tech disinvited an African American speaker because he had written on race issues and they worried about protests disrupting the event.

This is not right. This is not in the great tradition of America. And, yet, school administrators bend to this behavior. In effect, they coddle it and encourage it.

Just over a week ago, after the Orwellian-named “anti-fascist” protestors had successfully shut down numerous campus speaker events in recent months with violent riots, Berkeley was reportedly forced to spend more than $600,000 and have an overwhelming police presence simply to prove that the mob was not in control of the campus.

In advance, the school offered “counseling” to any students or faculty whose “sense of safety or belonging” was threatened by a speech from Ben Shapiro—a 33-year-old Harvard trained lawyer who has been frequently targeted by anti-Semites for his Jewish faith and who vigorously condemns hate speech on both the left and right.

In the end, Mr. Shapiro spoke to a packed house. And to my knowledge, no one fainted, no one was unsafe. No one needed counseling.

Yet, after this small victory for free speech, a student speaking to a reporter said in reaction, “I don’t think Berkley should host any controversial speakers, on either side.” That is, perhaps, the worst lesson to take away from this episode.

I know that the vast majority of students like you at the Constitution Center need no lecture on the dangers of government-imposed group think. But we have seen a rash of incidents often perpetrated by small groups of those students and professors unable or unwilling to defend their own beliefs in the public forum.

Unfortunately, their acts have been tolerated by administrators and shrugged off by other students. So let us directly address the question: Why should we worry that free speech is in retreat at our universities?

Of course, for publicly run institutions, the easy answer is that upholding free speech rights is not an option, but an unshakable requirement of the First Amendment. As Justice Robert Jackson once explained: “If there is a fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.”

But even setting aside the law, the more fundamental issue is that the university is supposed to be the place where we train virtuous citizens. It is where the next generation of Americans are equipped to contribute to and live in a diverse and free society filled with many, often contrary, voices.

Our legal heritage, upon which the Founders crafted the Bill of Rights, taught that reason and knowledge produced the closest approximation to truth—and from truth may arise justice. But reason requires discourse and, frequently, argument. And that is why the free speech guarantee is found not just in the First Amendment, but also permeates our institutions, our traditions, and our Constitution.

The jury trial, the right to cross-examine witnesses, the Speech & Debate Clause, the very art and practice of lawyering—all of these are rooted in the idea that speech, reason, and confrontation are the very bedrock of a good society. In fact, these practices are designed to ascertain what is the truth. And from that truth, good policies and actions can be founded.

The Federalists against the Anti-federalists, Abraham Lincoln against Stephen Douglas, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. against George Wallace. Indeed, it was the power of Dr. King’s words that crushed segregation and overcame the violence of the segregationists. At so many times in our history as a people, it was speech—and still more speech—that led Americans to a more just, more perfect union.

The right to freely examine the moral and the immoral, the prudent and the foolish, the practical and the inefficient, and the right to argue for their merits or demerits remain indispensable for a healthy republic. This has been known since the beginning of our nation.

James Madison knew this when, as part of his protest against the Alien and Sedition Acts—the speech codes of his day—he said that the freedom of speech is “the only effectual guardian of every other right.”

And, in a quote that I am reminded of daily in this job, Thomas Jefferson knew this when he said in words now chiseled in the stone of his memorial, “I swear upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

Soon you will be the professor, the university president, the Attorney General, and even the President of the United States. And you will have your own pressing issues to grapple with. But I promise you that no issue is better decided with less debate, indifference, and with voices unheard.

There are those who will say that certain speech isn’t deserving of protection. They will say that some speech is hurtful—even hateful. They will point to the very speech and beliefs that we abhor as Americans. But the right of free speech does not exist only to protect the ideas upon which most agree at a given moment in time.

As Justice Brandeis eloquently stated in his 1927 concurrence in Whitney v. California: “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”

And let me be clear that protecting free speech does not mean condoning violence like we saw recently in Charlottesville. Indeed, I call upon universities to stand up against those who would silence free expression by violence or other means on their campuses.

But a mature society can tell the difference between violence and unpopular speech, and a truly free society stands up—and speaks up—for cherished rights precisely when it is most difficult to do so.

As Justice Holmes once wrote: “If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought—not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” For the thought that we hate.

And we must do so on our campuses. University officials and faculty must defend free expression boldly and unequivocally. That means presidents, regents, trustees and alumni as well. A national recommitment to free speech on campus is long overdue. And action to ensure First Amendment rights is overdue.

Starting today, the Department of Justice will do its part in this struggle. We will enforce federal law, defend free speech, and protect students’ free expression from whatever end of the political spectrum it may come. To that end, we are filing a Statement of Interest in a campus free speech case this week and we will be filing more in the weeks and months to come.

This month, we marked the 230th anniversary of our Constitution. This month, we also marked the 54th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham. Four little girls died that day as they changed into their choir robes because the Klan wanted to silence the voices fighting for civil rights. But their voices were not silenced.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would call them “the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity,” and I urge you to go back and read that eulogy and consider what it had to say to each of us. This is the true legacy of free speech that has been handed down to you. It was bought with a price. This is the heritage that you have been given and which you must protect.

So I am here today to ask you to be involved to make your voices heard—and to defend the rights of others to do the same.

For the last 241 years, we have staked a country on the principle that robust and even contentious debate is how we discover truth and resolve the most intractable problems before us.

Your generation will decide if this experiment in freedom will continue. Nothing less than the future of our Republic depends on it.