Saturday, October 13, 2018

On Midrats 14 October 2018 - Episode 458: Maritime Insurgency and Counterinsurgency with Hunter Stires

Please join us at 5pm EDT for Midrats Episode 458: Maritime Insurgency and Counterinsurgency with Hunter Stires:
The outlaw and lawless ocean, non-state actors, intimidation, and hostile acts short of war - security on the high seas involves a lot more than fleet actions.

From the South China Sea as government policy, to land conflicts and economic stress moving to adjacent seas - what exactly is the concept of insurgency and counterinsurgency at sea?

Returning to Midrats to discuss this and more will be Hunter Stires.

Hunter is a Fellow with the John B. Hattendorf Center for Maritime Historical Research at the U.S. Naval War College and works in a non-resident capacity with the Center for a New American Security. His work focuses on maritime strategy and logistics for forward deployed naval forces in the Western Pacific in history and today. He is a freelance contributor to The National Interest and is recently the co-author with Dr. Patrick Cronin of "China is Waging a Maritime Insurgency in the South China Sea. It's Time for the United States to Counter It."

If you can't listen at the regular time, you can pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day" Escape "A Shipment of Mute Fate" (1947)

From the 1934 Esquire story

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Logistics, Logistics, Logistics: Can We Get the Army to the Fight?

Important question posed by David Larter ar Defense News The US Army is preparing to fight in Europe, but can it even get there?
The decline of U.S. surge capacity has been raising alarm bells in Washington as the National security structure comes to grips with facing dual threats from China and Russia, and has spurred efforts in Congress to try and get the Navy moving on a new class of logistics ship — also suggesting a look on the open market for used commercial ships to bridge the modernization gap.

But the list of issues the Ready Reserve Force faces in the meantime is ponderous. And solving them is going to mean the Navy, on the hook for the funding, will have to spend a lot of money on ships that largely stay in port during anything but national emergencies. This at a time that the Navy is trying to buy a new class of ballistic missile submarines, frigates and a new large surface combatant.

Shaking the dust off its long-range logistics plans has been a priority in the Army. A recent Navy report to Congress from March estimated that about 90 percent of all equipment used by the Army and Marine Corps in a major contingency would be transported by sea and the Army has been practicing moving large numbers of troops and equipment to Europe.
Go read it.

Not our first visit to this topic, see:
Warning Shot: "[T}he rapid depletion of the U.S. commercial fleet size" and a shortage of civilian mariners as threat to National Security

Sea Power Logistics: Fourth Arm of Defense:Sealift and Maritime Logistics in the Vietnam War by Salvatore R. Mercogliano and links therein.

Not Sexy But Important: "IG launches review of Military Sealift Command readiness problems"

Protecting the Military Sea Logistics Stream


Saturday, October 06, 2018

On Midrats 7 October 2018 - Episode 457: Russia's Red Banner Year, with Dr. Dmirty Gorenburg

Because its name has been in the news a lot lately, we once again take a look at the Russian state as it currently exists. With that in mind, please tune in at 5pm EDT on 7 October 2018 for Midrats Episode 457: Russia's Red Banner Year, with Dr. Dmirty Gorenburg
From its largest exercise since the end of the Cold War, to Syria, to a revival of covert direct action and intermediated nuclear weapons as an issue - Russia continues to claw back her place on the international stage.

As we approach the last quarter of the 2018 calendar year, what message is Russia trying to give the rest of the world and what should we expect through the end of the decade?

Our guest for the full hour to discuss this is a regular here on Midrats, Dr. Dmirty Gorenburg, Senior Research Scientist at CNA, researching security issues in the former Soviet Union, Russian military reform, Russian foreign policy, ethnic politics and identity, and Russian regional politics.

He is the editor of the journal Problems of Post-Communism and a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project. From 2005 through 2010, he previously held positions as the Executive Director of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies and editor of the journal Russian Politics and Law.
The show is pre-recorded so we won't be taking calls or manning the chatroom. If you can't listen at the regular time, you can pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Friday Film: "Launch 'Em" (1956)

This U.S. Navy Film Launch 'Em was filmed by pilots aboard the USS Hancock in 1956. The film was made while the carrier cruised home from her Far East deployment, apparently with the unofficial blessing of the Eisenhower administration. A legendary film among Naval Aviators, it disappeared from view in the very early 1960s, as it became politically incorrect and taboo. Pilots are fighting in the ready room. Flight deck crewmen starting jet engines with cigarette lighters. These and other hi-jinks might not be regulation, but they do appear in Launch 'Em.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Saudi Navy Intercepts Two Explosives-Filled Drone Boats

Maritime Executive report on mischief in the Red Sea: Saudi Navy Intercepts Two Explosives-Filled Drone Boats
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia's navy reported that it had destroyed two remote-controlled, explosives-filled vessels that were targeting the port of Jizan (Jazan). According to Saudi coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki, the Saudi Navy detected the boats approaching in series, one at 0450 hours and one at 0505 on Sunday morning. They were under remote control and were rigged with explosives, he reported. Saudi forces intercepted and destroyed the vessels.
State-owned oil company Saudi Aramco is building a large refinery and marine terminal complex at Jizan, and it is scheduled to be finished later this year. Houthi forces attempted to attack a product terminal at Jizan with a bomb boat once before, in April 2017. That attack was not reportedly successful. A similar Houthi attack on a Saudi frigate in January 2017 resulted in hull damage and the death of two Saudi sailors. Over the past year, Saudi forces have reported intercepting multiple Houthi drone boat attacks, including a series of attempted strikes on merchant vessels in August and September.

American intelligence analysts believe that Iran is supplying the technology needed for the Houthi "bomb boats," along with many other smuggled weapons systems, from AK-47s to small ballistic missiles.

More here

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 27 August - 26 September 2018 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 20 - 26 September 2018

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Bob and Ray (1957)

Humor from the past for a time that really could use some.

On Midrats 30 September 2018 at 3pm EDT - Episode 456: European Naval Power, with Jeremy Stöhs

Note the time change for this episode!

Please join us at 3pm (EDT) on 30 September 2018 for Midrats Episode 456: European Naval Power, with Jeremy Stöhs
What is the status of European naval power? With growing challenges from the Arctic Sea to the Mediterranean and a growing call for presence operations from the Gulf of Guinea to the South China Sea, how are the European nations building and maintaining fleets to remain effective and relevant regionally and on the high seas?

Our guest to discuss this and more for the full hour will be Jeremy Stöhs.

Jeremy is an Austrian-American defense analyst at the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK) and its adjunct Center for Maritime Strategy & Security. He is also a non-resident fellow of the Austrian Center for Intelligence, Propaganda & Security Studies (ACIPSS) and author of The Decline of European Naval Forces: Challenges to Sea Power in an Age of Fiscal Austerity and Political Uncertainty. You can follow him on twitter at @JeremyStohs.

Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Hurricane Related Car Rant

Please bear with me on this one small rant about my 2004 VW New Beetle, which I bought used a few years ago. It's a 1.8 liter turbo gas engine thing that is both zippy and showing its age.

First off, I am aware that VW has announced plans to stop making New Beetles in the near term. To this I say, good.

The basic New Beetle vehicle is a compromised design - in order to have the "Bug" shape they had to cram components into the thing. As consequence, the engine is not easy to access for repairs. It is not the "shade tree mechanic" friendly vehicle that the old Beetles were.

I knew that when I bought it, but I needed a car and the price was good.

I have since spent more on repairs than on the car, but the bleeding has been over years so it could be planned for.

But - it's the quality of construction and the deterioration of little pieces that will make you wonder. The driver side interior door handle plastic broke. The plastic in the interior has not held up well in the Southern clime and in the summer heat. Bought a fix kit on E Bay and repaired the problem. The dash, which is quite large in this car to hold air bags and such is sort of melting and is gummy. Might be due to some chemical used by a prior owner or detail person. Doesn't matter much, the car is not for show, but for driving a dog places and doing shopping runs. The seat material is coming apart - heat, age, misuse - and one thing more.

That thing being that this car leaks in the rain. Not every rain, but usually in heavy rains which have been preceded by event like pollen (our cars and houses get a heavy dose here from the pine trees), pine needle drops, Fall leaves, etc. This debris clogs the already inadequate drain system for the sunroof.

It leaks around the sunroof where the track has four drain holes that clog easily and are difficult to maintain because of their design and construction. If these drains clog - no, make that - when inevitably these drains clog, the interior of the car fills with water sometimes inches deep in the rear area foot well and sometimes in other areas, including the seats and in the trunk area. Even if you regularly try to keep these drains clear, a heavy rain may still cause flooding because the drains are small and the rain of a severe storm like those of a hurricane or tropical storm can overwhelm them.

Now that might be minor thing, except that when the car is "sealed" - windows up, sunroof closed - the damp interior and the warm air outside and inside - are a perfect environment for the growth of fungi -mildew, mold, etc.

I should note that this drainage issue exists not only in VW New Beetles but also in other VWs and some Audi models also equipped with a sunroof. You can learn about the effort needed to repair the problem on YouTube:

You note that this "fix" requires removal of the headliner and other components in the interior. Which, you might also note, is a lot of work, especially since much of the effort goes to simply doing what should have been done at the factory in the first place - properly sealing the connecting pieces with useful goo instead of a slap of "mastic" at the joints, and perhaps installing a small mesh screen at the water entry points to the drains to prevent the movement of tree detritus into the tubes that are the drains.

I am not yet inclined to remove my headliner to make a sort of fix, as it will not solve the recurring problem of debris blocking the drains.

So there's the background.

Here's the current saga.

We were leaving town for a couple of weeks and I knew that there was the possibility that, while we were gone, a storm would hit our area. Florence was headed generally toward us. I could not put the VW in the garage because my MG is parked there along with other material that has turned a nominal two car garage into a functional one car garage. I could have covered the VW with a tarp but thought that might signal people that we were gone. So I spent substantial time cleaning out the drains on the VW in hopes that should we get rains from the storm it wouldn't be enough to cause the car to flood inside.

Upon return home I found my efforts were in vain, the VW had water in it and, in addition, had a flourishing mold/fungi population.

Yes, in that 100% perfection of hindsight, I should have covered the car. Which begs the point that the car shouldn't leak in the first place.

But I didn't and now had to clean up the mess. This involved using my shop vac to suck up the standing water, opening all the possible car openings and spraying white vinegar over everything in the interior to kill the unwelcome mold/fungi, then spreading Borax around to further protect the interior. Gloves and face mask respirator were the uniform of the day.

So far it has worked to kill what was there and prevent a return.

But how to prevent the problem of water entry without doing the work in the above video? And without needing to use a car cover all the time? My first thought was to use some plastic wrap held in place with magnets as a stop gap fix. Then I thought of using something like those magnetic signs people hang on the doors of their cars and trucks to advertise their businesses. A quick Google search revealed that many, many people had the same idea. So I ordered a large roll of that to experiment with.

It ought to be simple - put in on when rain is expected, take it off when I want to use the sunroof.

I'll let you know how the experiment works out.

By the way, my Subaru's sunroof doesn't have this problem. Perhaps VW/Audi should take a look at how they build their cars.

Thus ends this rant.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday Film: "Freedom Comes High"

Not sure if this film was meant to boost morale or warn the home folks of war's costs ... or both.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Growing Up Words


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

A Father To His Son
By Carl Sandburg

A father sees his son nearing manhood.
What shall he tell that son?
"Life is hard; be steel; be a rock."
And this might stand him for the storms
and serve him for humdrum monotony
and guide him among sudden betrayals
and tighten him for slack moments.
"Life is a soft loam; be gentle; go easy."
And this too might serve him.
Brutes have been gentled where lashes failed.
The growth of a frail flower in a path up
has sometimes shattered and split a rock.
A tough will counts. So does desire.
So does a rich soft wanting.
Without rich wanting nothing arrives.
Tell him too much money has killed men
and left them dead years before burial:
the quest of lucre beyond a few easy needs
has twisted good enough men
sometimes into dry thwarted worms.
Tell him time as a stuff can be wasted.
Tell him to be a fool every so often
and to have no shame over having been a fool
yet learning something out of every folly
hoping to repeat none of the cheap follies
thus arriving at intimate understanding
of a world numbering many fools.
Tell him to be alone often and get at himself
and above all tell himself no lies about himself
whatever the white lies and protective fronts
he may use against other people.
Tell him solitude is creative if he is strong
and the final decisions are made in silent rooms.
Tell him to be different from other people
if it comes natural and easy being different.
Let him have lazy days seeking his deeper motives.
Let him seek deep for where he is born natural.
Then he may understand Shakespeare
and the Wright brothers, Pasteur, Pavlov,
Michael Faraday and free imaginations
Bringing changes into a world resenting change.
He will be lonely enough
to have time for the work
he knows as his own.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: BBC's Paul Temple Intervenes "The Marquis" series

A short serial show from the BBC with the now not unusual characters - a crime solving novelist and his reporter wife. More here:
Paul Temple is a fictional character, created by English writer Francis Durbridge (1912–1998). Temple is a professional author of crime fiction and an amateur private detective. Together with his journalist wife Louise, affectionately known as Steve from her pen name 'Steve Trent', he solves whodunnit crimes through subtle, humorously articulated deduction. Always the gentleman, the strongest oath he ever utters is "by Timothy".

Here are the episodes in the serial in order.

The Marquis

Concerning Felix Reybourn

Kellaway Manor

A Warning from the Marquis

Paul Temple Keeps an Appointment

Above Suspicion

The October Hotel

Introducing the Marquis


Friday, August 31, 2018

Garbage In, Garbage Out: "Premature Death" and Environmental Policy

Excellent explanation of the problems with the EPA using "premature death" as a component of its cost-benefit calculations.

Bob Tippee editor of the the Oil & Gas Journal:

On the basis of this approach, I would think the City of San Francisco might be in trouble for the "premature deaths" caused by homeless pollution.

Already California has been fined for issues caused by the pollution emitting from the homeless. See Feces, blood, syringes at California Capitol: Workers unprepared for clean up, OSHA says:
Capitol Park groundskeepers, who usually maintain shrubbery and repair park facilities, complained that they were expected to clean blood and fecal matter left in the park. The workers said they were given pressure washers, which can atomize the waste and expose the groundskeepers and passers-by to blood-borne diseases, said Steve Crouch, director of public employees for the International Union of Operating Engineers. He filed the complaint on behalf of the workers on March 15.

“Over the past several years, the homeless started spending more time at Capitol Park around trees and bushes, woody areas,” said Crouch. “In the evenings, they spend the night, and they leave debris and garbage.”

The job should have been done by a hazardous materials crew, Crouch said, and the areas probably should have been cordoned off to limit other people to exposure.

and, without vouching for this following site, its links are valid 16K Complaints Related To Fecal Matter Reported In A Week: San Francisco has created a sanctuary of filth:
Things are going down the drain in San Francisco…or not. In just the last seven days, the city that only two days ago found a 20 lb. bag of human excrement left in the hot sun has logged over 16,000 feces-related complaints, according to Newswars and KRTV. The outhouse conditions and other factors have already cost the California cesspool millions in lost business, and the situation only getting crappier.

There is an even a website related to the city’s scatological nightmare that actually records the town’s “non-emergency” requests. If the word “feces” is typed into the site’s search engine, 16,015 (as of this posting) instances come up. Of course, there are many other terms for the stench and those words give thousands of more instances. The sanctuary city is an outdoor outhouse as the wealthy liberals who allowed it to happen live far away from the aroma that they’ve created with their policies, and residents are just now realizing the cost.

The homeless and their encampments are the major problem. While many citizens have no qualms about allowing a vacant lot to lose a few tax dollars to house the unfortunate, the process of human bodily functions is often forgotten about (at least until the smell hits them and wrestles their nostrils a bit).
Going to the SF City website SF311 and entering the word "feces" came up with this very partial listing:

I wonder what this is doing to those citizens not wearing hazmat suits and not taking care to not spread the contamination airborne when using power washers or garden hoses to clear their sidewalks. Perhaps the EPA could do an audit of the lack of sanitation in SF is doing to the people there. The millions in lost tourist dollars doesn't seem to have the impact that worrying over "premature deaths" seems to have.

I doubt SF is the only city in the US dealing - or seemingly, not dealing, with such issues.

Friday Film: Pacific Frontier (1964)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Life Lessons from American Ninja Warriors, Warrior Games, and Vietnam POWs

I confess, I am a fan of the American Ninja Warrior competition which is a summer series on NBC. I find the show interesting on a number of levels, both in its efforts to appeal to a wide audience and in the lessons the participants share with the audience.

First, let me point out that others have written of lessons to be garnered from the show, ranging from 5 CUSTOMER SERVICE LESSONS FROM AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR to Lessons for Entrepreneurs From 'Ninja Warrior' Training to What American Ninja Warrior Can Teach Us About Business and Life, Part 1, What American Ninja Warrior Can Teach Us About Business and Life, Part 2 and What American Ninja Warrior Can Teach Us About Business and Life, Part 3.

Second, I am a believer that testing one's mental and physical limits is vital - at any age, adjusting for the things life has thrown at you.

This brings me to the Warrior Games, perhaps less flashy that ANW, but which carries many of the same messages:

  1. You can't win if you don't try.
  2. Trying is winning.
  3. Effort is everything.
  4. Everyone will fail at some point.
  5. Failure is not the end, but the beginning.
  6. There are no losers - only differing degrees of success.

How do Vietnam POWs fit into this? Let me recommend, again, Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton: Six Characteristics of High-Performance Teams, in which men under the most dire of circumstances overcame their environment and pushed beyond limits to become more, much more than broken men. John McCain? Just one of the winners that were forged in that place and time.

What to make of this? We may not be ninja warrior stuff but we all face the challenges of life. How each of us take on those challenges is . . . what makes heroes. Discouragement and doubt are dream killers but take heart from those who refuse to surrender to them - and begin to live bravely, one small step at a time toward your goals.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

On Midrats 26 August 2018 - Episode 451: A Navy of the Gilded Age, with Scott Mobley

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 26 August 2018 for Midrats Episode 451: A Navy of the Gilded Age, with Scott Mobley
The last quarter of the 19th Century, the Gilded Age, was a period of breathtaking change in society, technology, politics and industry. This rapid change helped drive the intellectual and institutional change that brought the US Navy to the world’s attention in the Spanish-American War of 1898.

The first two decades of the 20th Century are generally called the Progressive Era, but that only took place due to the advance of progressive ideology the quarter century prior during the Gilded Age.

Our guest for the full hour to discuss these and related issues raised in his new book, Progressives in Navy Blue: Maritime Strategy, American Empire, and the Transformation of U.S. Naval Identity, 1873-1898, will be Scott Mobley, CAPT, USN (Ret).

Scott is the current Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy (CSLD) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and holds an M.A. in National Security affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School. Most recently, he earned a Ph.D. in History at the University of Wisconsin.

As a career U.S. Navy surface warfare officer, Scott commanded USS BOONE (FFG-28) and USS CAMDEN (AOE-2). While under his command, CAMDEN participated in the opening assault phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Other notable tours included: Reactor Officer in USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN-76); Navy Section Chief at the U.S. Military Group in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Chief of Staff for Commander, Naval Surface Group Pacific Northwest. Scott retired from the Navy with the rank of Captain, after thirty years of service.

Scott also serves on the U.S. Naval Institute Naval History Advisory Board and is a founding editor for Voices & Visions, an open-access online reader featuring primary media sources that illuminate the history of U.S. foreign relations.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Friday, August 24, 2018

Friday Film: FJ-2 Fury Flight Capabilities (1953)

Looks like an Air Force F-86 Sabre. But it's Navy!

The North American FJ-2 and FJ-3 Fury are a series of swept-wing carrier-capable fighters for the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The FJ-2 resulted from an effort to navalize the United States Air Force's F-86 Sabre. These aircraft featured folding wings, and a longer nose landing strut designed to increase angle of attack upon launch and to accommodate a longer oleo to absorb the shock of hard landings on an aircraft carrier deck.

Although sharing a U.S. Navy designation with its distant predecessor, the straight-winged North American FJ-1 Fury, the FJ-2/-3 were completely different aircraft. (The later FJ-4 Fury was again, a complete structural redesign of the FJ-3). The FJ-2 was one of the aircraft used to evaluate the first steam catapult on a US Navy aircraft-carrier.
By 1951, the Navy's existing straight-wing fighters were much inferior in performance to the swept-wing Soviet MiG-15 then operating in the Korean War; the swept-wing fighters in the Navy's development pipeline, including the Vought F7U Cutlass and F9F Cougar that were not yet ready for deployment.

As an interim measure, the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics ordered a direct development of the swept-wing F-86E Sabres as the FJ-2. As the F-86 had not been designed to be carrier-capable, this involved some risk, but Navy pilots had observed that the F-86A actually had a lower landing speed than the F9F Panther. During carrier qualification trials the Navy informed Grumman that if the F9F-5 stall speed was not reduced by 12 mph (10 kn; 19 km/h) it would be removed from carrier operations at the same time that the FJ-2 was already making its debut into Navy squadrons.[2] North American's chief engineer at the time stated that the swept wing Sabre had handling and stall characteristics at low speeds comparable to the best straight winged airplanes.[3] The urgency behind the program was such that 300 (later reduced to 200) FJ-2 fighters were ordered before the prototypes had flown.

FJ-1 and FJ-2 in 1952
The first prototype to fly was actually the third aircraft ordered: Designated XFJ-2B and first flown on 27 December 1951, it differed only from a standard F-86E-10 in its armament, having four 20-mm Colt Mk 12 cannon instead of the six Colt-Browning M3 .50 machine guns of the Sabre. The second and third aircraft to fly were designated XFJ-2 and lacked armament, but were modified to be carrier-capable: They had an arrester hook and a longer nosewheel leg to increase angle of attack at take-off and landing, and catapult fittings. In August 1952 carrier trials were flown on USS Midway, followed by carrier qualification trials on USS Coral Sea in October–December 1952. Results were less than satisfactory. Low-speed handling was considered poor, and the arrester hook and nose gear leg were insufficiently strong.

Marine Corps FJ-2 of the VMF-312 Checkerboards.
The first production aircraft flew on 22 November 1952. This FJ-2 incorporated further modifications for carrier operations: The track of the main landing gear was widened by eight inches, the outer wing panels folded upward, and the windscreen was modified to give the pilot a better view during approach. The FJ-2 also featured an all-moving "flying tail" without dihedral.[4] Because of problems experienced during launches with steam catapults, a number of FJ-2 later received a stronger nosewheel strut. Outwardly, the FJ-2 was hard to distinguish from an F-86, apart from Navy paint and the gun muzzles of the 20 mm cannon. The engine was the General Electric J47-GE-2, a navalized version of the J47-GE-27 used in the F-86F. The naval modifications of the FJ-2 had increased weight by about 500 kg over the F-86F, but unfortunately had not succeeded in delivering a fully carrier-capable fighter. A decision had already been made to give it to land-based squadrons of the US Marine Corps.

Construction was slowed due to demand for the F-86 in Korea; the FJ-2 was not produced in large numbers until after that conflict had concluded. Only seven aircraft had been delivered by then end of 1953, and it was January 1954 before the first aircraft was delivered to a Marine squadron, VMF-122. The Navy preferred the lighter F9F Cougar due to its superior slow-speed performance for carrier operations, and the 200 FJ-2 models built were delivered to the United States Marine Corps. The Marines did make several cruises aboard carriers and tried to solve the type's carrier handling problems, but the FJ-2 was never really satisfactory. In 1956, the FJ-2 already disappeared from front-line service, and reserve units retired it in 1957.

Back. Regular posting to resume soon.

Back from a short vacation to a magical land of no - repeat no - internet or, really, media disturbances to the flow of nature.

Relaxing is the word for it.

Back, so posting resumes soon. Until the next vacation.

Monday, August 13, 2018

U. S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 9 July - 8 August 2018 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 2 – 8 August 2018

The Future is at Hand: ACTUV and the Navy to Come

Future plans:
DARPA has successfully completed its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program and has officially transferred the technology demonstration vessel, christened Sea Hunter, to the Office of Naval Research (ONR). ONR will continue developing the revolutionary prototype vehicle—the first of what could ultimately become an entirely new class of ocean-going vessel able to traverse thousands of kilometers over open seas for months at a time, without a single crew member aboard—as the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV).
“ACTUV represents a new vision of naval surface warfare that trades small numbers of very capable, high-value assets for large numbers of commoditized, simpler platforms that are more capable in the aggregate,” said Fred Kennedy, TTO director. “The U.S. military has talked about the strategic importance of replacing ‘king’ and ‘queen’ pieces on the maritime chessboard with lots of ‘pawns,’ and ACTUV is a first step toward doing exactly that.”
Or, as Robert Work put it:
We are going to remember this because how often can you be at the christening of a robot warship? Now, let me tell you, I'm going to talk a little bit about the Predator in just a few minutes, but in the United States Air Force, there are airplanes and drones. The Navy cannot make that mistake. There have to be warships. And it doesn't matter whether they are manned or unmanned. They will take the fight to the enemy. I'm on a ship that looks like a Klingon “Bird of Prey.”

It's – haze gray. If you look up front of the bridge, at the pilot house, you'll notice big bolts. You can take that pilot house off and this ship can operate autonomously. If the Navy falls in the trap of thinking of these vessels as somehow different than the other haze gray warships that send shivers down the spine of our enemies, wherever they may be in the world, they're going to make a damn big mistake.

Now, I've been waiting for this day for a long time. A long time. We are in a period of incredible technological flux. Advances in autonomy and artificial intelligence and autonomous control systems and advanced computing and big data and learning machines and intuitive rapid visualization tools, meta-materials, miniaturization. They are leading us to a period of a time of great human-machine collaboration.

This will be a change just like other momentous changes in our society. You see this human-machine collaboration in our business and manufacturing now. You see it in our daily lives and you're going to see it increasingly in warfare. So I believe, without a doubt, you're going to look back on this day just like people like you were sitting on the stage when the USS Nautilus was christened, the first nuclear powered submarine, or when the USS Enterprise was commissioned, the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier or when the DDG 1000 was commissioned, our first stealth battleship. And you are going to look back on this and say, "I was part of history."
And it is designed to be very efficient. This ship you see before you costs a little bit more than $2 million to build. It was designed for an operating cost of $15,000 to $20,000 per day, per day. To give you a sense, a DDG [guided missile destroyer], that's $700k per day. We're talking $15,000 to $20,000 for this vessel to operate for 24 hours. An unmanned helicopter operating for 24 hours would cost $300k.

So just like what happened with Predator, I am absolutely salivating to see what is going to happen when this baby gets down to the [Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet] after O&R has checked it all out, made sure it's safe, and see what our creative warfighters of the U.S. Navy can do with it.

You can imagine anti-submarine warfare pickets, you can imagine anti-submarine warfare wolfpacks, you can imagine mine warfare flotillas, you can imagine distributive anti-surface warfare surface action groups, you can imagine this carrying deception vans, electronic warfare vans. You can actually envision, just do the math, these -- we can build these for $20 million, five for $100 million, 25 for half a billion, 50 for a billion.

This area right here looks pretty good. We might be able to put a six pack or a four pack of missiles on them. Now imagine 50 of these distributed and operating together under the hands of a flotilla commander, and this is really something.
Want low cost, potent warships that require no manning, thus saving all that wasted space on the human needs for food, water, berthing? Get on it!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

On Midrats 12 August 2018 - Episode 449: Ethics, Professionalism, Education & the Military Professional

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 12 August 2018 for Midrats Episode 449: Ethics, Professionalism, Education & the Military Professional
A military is not an amorphous mass, but a collection of individuals each who can make decisions in their professional role that can have great impact, both positive and negative, well beyond their immediate and personal concerns.

Decisions, policies, and behavior derive from the training, traditions, and fundamental culture of the people who make them. What is the role of ethics, training and other culture forming activities in defining the military professional and how he executes his responsibilities?

Our guests this week to dive in to these and related issues will be Nathan Finney and Tyrell Mayfield. As a base for our discussions, we will touch on subject areas they raised in the upcoming book they are co-editors of “Redefining the Modern Military: The Intersection of Profession and Ethics” published by the U.S. Naval Institute Press.

Nathan Finney is an officer in the U.S. Army, a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations; a Non-Resident Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute; and a former Non-Resident Fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point and has helped found multiple organizations, including The Strategy Bridge; the Military Writers Guild; and the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum.

Tyrell O. Mayfield is an officer in the US Air Force and a co-founder and board member of the non-profit The Strategy Bridge. Ty has published photography and written work in a number of online forums, magazines, newspapers, and peer-reviewed journals. Ty is a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School and the US Army War College and holds masters degrees in International Relations, National Security Studies and Strategic Art. Ty is currently writing a memoir about his time in Kabul.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Oceans of Drones

Interesting piece from the Economist on expanding ocean surveillance in a variety of causes, including military Avast, me hearties: How aquatic, autonomous robots could reduce lawlessness at sea
As the cost of building and operating such vehicles drops, satellite communications systems provide cheaper and faster connectivity, and machine intelligence improves, drones could provide a powerful means of policing illegal activities that take place, unseen, at sea. Powered by wave action, wind power or solar panels, drones could operate for months or even years at a time, scanning large areas in swarms, monitoring environmental conditions and alerting human overseers when something looks amiss. If drones ruled the waves, fisheries would be more sustainable, pollution would be reduced and human trafficking would be harder to get away with. Even if drones can monitor only a small fraction of the ocean’s surface, their presence could be a powerful deterrent.
We touched on the use of AI and drone assets in our last Midrats - especially in the building of databases through which anomalous behavior can be detected and tracked, about 48 minutes in, though the discussion that preceded got to that point.

Hat tip to Lee.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Dimension X "Requiem" (1951)

A Heinlein tale.  Funny how our interest in the moon has - uh- waxed and waned.

On Midrats 5 August 2018 - Episode 448: AI, Machine Learning and Their Future Role in Military Operations

Please join us on 5 August 2018 at 5 pm EDT for Midrats Episode 448: AI, Machine Learning and Their Future Role in Military Operations
The future has been with us for quite awhile now, but the intersection of advance manufacturing, Moore's Law, and data storage are bringing
to the front capabilities that for decades were found only in science fiction.

Autonomous and varying degrees of human-robot teaming, artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning are not just growing parts of the modern economy, with each passing year they become more and more integrated with military operations.

What future capabilities can we expect and how will we work through the ethical and legal complications that will come with them?

Our guest to discuss these and related topics will be Ali Crawford.

Ali Crawford Ali has an M.A. from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce where she focused on diplomacy, intelligence, cyber policy, and cyber warfare. She tweets at @ali_craw.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can also pick the show up later by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Kosovo and NATO: Never Ending Story?

The Kosovo problem never really goes away, it just lingers. Resident Serb and Albanian residents mix like oil and water, especially if outside forces keeping stirring things up/ So now, Balkan Insight reports NATO Vows to Prevent Violence in North Kosovo
The Commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force in Naples, Admiral James Fogo, has said that NATO is ready to react if violent incidents erupt in the Serb-majority north of Kosovo – after a leading Serbian Orthodox cleric in Kosovo, Abbot Sava Janjic, warned of the risk of “staged” violence there.

“Political leaders are trying to solve some difficult issues; not everyone agrees in democracies,” Fogo said on Wednesday during a tour of NATO sites in Kosovo, Kossev news website quoted.

“Some people tend to take their disagreements onto the street. I strongly recommend that they do not do it or, if they do, to do it peacefully, as in all civilized democracies,” Fogo added.

With its peacekeeping force KFOR, NATO would remain a support for the institutions of Kosovo “in maintaining a safe and secure environment during this month and in the months of the rest of the year”, Fogo continued.

Fogo’s statement comes after the Abbot of the famous Visoki Decani monastery posted on social network accounts that he was worried by rumours of potentially staged clashes in northern Kosovo, designed to lead to a rapid partition of the territory.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called Janjic’s tweets “meaningless gossip”, however, dismissing talk of staged clashes designed to speed up an ethnic partition of Kosovo.

“This is empty talk. We will lead a policy of peace and stability. I am committed to not one person from north or south [of Kosovo] suffering,” Vucic told Pink TV, adding that Serbia would protect Orthodox monasteries and churches in Kosovo, “as well those in which Janjic is”.

However, Janjic’s warning has chimed with a feeling of unease in northern Kosovo, stimulated by rumours of a partition arrangement that would pave the way for Serbia’s recognition of an independent Kosovo.
NATO’s Fogo pointed out that KFOR has more than enough peacekeepers to deal with any disturbances, however.

“The 4,000 [NATO soldiers] who remain within the territory and on the administrative lines of Kosovo are supported, as we call them, with rapid reaction forces. So, if there is a need, they will respond, and NATO is very, very strong both inside and outside of Kosovo,” Fogo said.

The mainly ethnic Albanian former province declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.

However, the far north of the country, including the northern half of the town of Mitrovica, remains under the effective control of Belgrade.

While Serbia refuses to recognise Kosovo as a state, it has had to take part in EU-mediated talks with the authorities in Pristina aimed at normalising relations, in order to pursue its goal of EU membership.

Moreover, as Serbia’s EU integration advances, pressure is growing on Belgrade to finally resolve its relations with the breakaway former province, which most EU members recognised a decade ago.

Combined with this pressure, talk of an exchange of territories – swapping Albanian-majority areas in southern Serbia for Serb-majority ones in northern Kosovo – has again arisen among some Serbian and Kosovo politicians, although never raised officially.nic

On May 11, Serbia’s nationalistic Orthodox Church pleaded with the Belgrade government neither to recognise Kosovo’s independence nor agree to any exchange of territory.
Sectarian and perceived ethnic differences in a small relatively isolated "country" with a "war" ("humanitarian intervention") that started 20 years ago and smolders on and on and on.

Kosovo's main function seems to be as a "money pit" for the EU which has dumped over 3 billion Euros in an attempt to promote "Kosovo’s institutions, sustainable economic development and Kosovo’s European future." NATO's presence in Kosovo also has incurred costs over the past 19 years.

Not working out so well, apparently. But follow the money and the power grabs and you can see what is behind the curtains:
Corruption in Kosovo poses high risks for companies operating or planning to invest in the country. A lack of transparency and accountability in Kosovo’s public administration results in widespread corruption and negatively affects the investment climate. The judiciary, customs, public utilities and procurement sectors are the most affected by corruption. While anti-corruption laws are strong, the judicial system is inefficient, leading to poor enforcement. Active and passive bribery, extortion, money laundering and abuse of office are prohibited by Kosovo’s Criminal Code, while facilitation payments are not addressed. According to Kosovan law, all gifts received by public officials should be declared and registered. Notwithstanding, the practices of offering gifts and bribery are common in Kosovo.
Oh, joy, another kleptocracy.

Not to mention that former comrade Putin doesn't mind diverting NATO attention by supporting the Serbs, which is not a new Russian policy, but a long-standing tradition that almost caused the Kosovo war to get much bigger under General Wes Clark,

Monday, July 30, 2018

For the People - National Public Radio and "What You Need To Know About The Democratic Socialists Of America"

Just how far out are some members of the "Democratic Socialists of America?"

Some clues in the National Public Radio piece What You Need To Know About The Democratic Socialists Of America
Here's how one socialist sums up his beliefs:

"I think we just need to realize that the end goal is, ultimately, like social control of the means of production," said Joe Cernelli, a founding member of that West Virginia DSA chapter. "You know we don't just want to improve capitalism, we will ultimately want to get rid of it."

That's not just his idea; the DSA views capitalism as an oppressive system — "We see it as fundamentally undemocratic," as DSA National Director Maria Svart put it. Here's how she sums up what the group wants:

"When it comes right down to it, we believe people need to be able to live a dignified life. I mean, there are certain things that should not be left up to the market," she said.

Removing some parts of the economy from the forces of the free market, for example. In other words, socialism.

In the DSA's ideal economy, some sectors — like health care and utilities — would be government-controlled. Other businesses would be worker-owned, as Svart explains it.

"Let's say you were negotiating at a bargaining table with workers in a bakery, and the workers said, 'Look, we want more than a quarter of the bread; we want half of the bread, or we want two-thirds of the bread,' " she said. "The socialist would say, 'Actually, we want the bakery. We want to control it all, for all of our benefit.' "
Oh. Management by committee? Or by the whole? Are some workers going to be more equal than others in order to direct the effort of the bakery? Will there be meetings to discuss what products will be produced - a ban on unhealthy things like cakes and doughnuts and an increase in non-GMO, gluten free products? What happens if the consumers reject the bakery products? Can the workers dump "free-riders" - non-productive "owners?" Or will they demand other bakeries conform to their product list?

I've got to hand to these people - they truly believe that humans can be perfected by this approach and "if only" "real socialism" were applied then everything would be wonderful. That "true belief" relies on a total lack of historical knowledge and a whole lot of magical thinking.

Then there's the need to get rid of that messy U. S. Constitution thing:
It's easy to focus on the "socialist" part here, but the word "democratic" is also a part of the group's name, and members often stress that part of their ideology. They say putting workers in charge of businesses, for example, necessarily makes those businesses more democratic.

But beyond that, the group advocates for some pretty revolutionary changes to democracy, like abolishing the Senate. The DSA calls it "extremely unrepresentative" for the way it gives both tiny and huge states alike two senators each — the group would like to replace it with a more representative body.
And, of course, money is never a problem for these folks - they'll just raise taxes on the "wealthy" and on "corporations" to pay for their pipe dreams. Of course, those "corporations" have employees who are free to purchase stock in their companies or other companies, thus becoming "worker-owners" - who will be hurt by the confiscation of the income generated by their work and the work of their fellow workers.

Well, as many of us know, this sort of thinking has not worked well in other places.

What Exactly is a Socialist Economy?:
In a capitalist economy, the market determines prices through the laws of supply and demand. For example, when demand for coffee increases, a profit-seeking business will boost prices to increase its profit. If at the same time, society’s appetite for tea diminishes, growers will face lower prices, and aggregate production will decline. In the long run, some suppliers may even exit the business. Because consumers and suppliers negotiate a new “market-clearing price” for these goods, the quantity produced more or less matches the public’s needs.

Under a true socialist system, it’s the government’s role to determine output and pricing levels. The challenge is synchronizing these decisions with the needs of consumers. Socialist economists such as Oskar Lange have argued that, by responding to inventory levels, central planners can avoid major production inefficiencies. So when stores experience a surplus of tea, it signals the need to cut prices, and vice versa.

One of the critiques of socialism is that, even if government officials can adjust prices, the lack of competition between different producers reduces the incentive to do so. Opponents also suggest that public control of production necessarily creates an unwieldy, inefficient bureaucracy. The same central planning committee could, in theory, be in charge of pricing thousands of products, making it extremely difficult to react to market cues promptly.

Furthermore, the concentration of power within government can create an environment where political motivations override the basic needs of the people. Indeed, at the same time the Soviet Union was diverting vast resources to build up its military capability, its residents often had trouble attaining a variety of goods, including food, soap, and even television sets.
Political motivations? When the government controls work, housing, and medical care it can control behavior by selectively denying access to such things to disfavored groups as happened in the former Yugoslavia, as set out in David Rieff's Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West (p87)
. . . But most people still expected to work in the same place for life, and had grown accustomed to looking to the workplace for all kinds of accompanying benefits. Being fired meant losing a great deal more than a paycheck . . . what were indispensable were the health insurance and other state benefits that were immediately revoked when a person was fired.

People were even made insecure in their lodgings . . . In Serbia proper, people's fear of being fired . . . and losing a flat owned by that enterprise was one of the ways the Milosevic regime compelled consent. Better support the regime than be out in the street homeless. In Banja Luka, this legacy of the Titoist period provided the Serb authorities with the next move in the process of ethnically cleansing the urban non-Serbian population. The firing itself was only the beginning. For once when someone's dismissal had been made known officially, the next step was for a letter to be sent demanding that the person vacate the apartment in which he or she had been living.

Thus, to be deprived of a job was almost to stop being citizen, to be forcibly be moved from the status of non-Serb to the status of non-person in only a couple of official decrees.
Far-fetched in the U.S.? Noticed any people losing their jobs because of current or even lost past transgressions of the whatever today's standard of politically correct behavior is?

In case you haven't gotten the message, the DSA is all about power. The power to take control of your life and the lives of all Americans and subvert them to the will of a small group of people who have the firm belief that they know what is best for all of us - despite what we may believe.