Sub Trail

Sub Trail

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.

U. S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 25 June - 25 July 2018 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 19 - 25 July 2018

Saturday, July 28, 2018

On Midrats 29 July 2018 - Episode 447: The Changing Landscape for the Military Journalist with Sam LaGrone

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 29 July 2018 for Midrats Episode 447: The Changing Landscape for the Military Journalist with Sam LaGrone
Especially in the last two years, those reporting on defense issues in
the United States have seen a significant change in access to people and information compared to the relatively open environment of a decade and a half ago.

How have things changed and how does this not only impact how military journalists do their job, but more importantly, how does it impact the ability for the American citizen to keep an eye on what is being done in their name with their money.

Our guest for the full hour to discuss this and related issues with be Sam LaGrone.

Sam is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy

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 Is Old Radio Day: "The Rattlesnake and the Barefoot Bride" (1937) from True Detective Mysteries

Based on true stories ripped from the pages of True Detective Mysteries magazine which published from 1924 to 1995. Noted for the often lurid covers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Merit Promotions? Wow. Military May Be Adopting 20th Century Management Practices

Military Times reports "The officer promotion system is quietly getting a massive overhaul":
Congress is poised to pass the most sweeping reforms to the military’s officer promotion system in almost four decades, a move that would end years of intense debate inside the Pentagon to bring the personnel system in line with many private-sector employment practices.

The changes would have a far-reaching impact on the culture of the officer corps and change the incentives for how individual officers manage their own careers.

“These are the most significant reforms we’ve seen since the late 1970s — if not longer,” said Brad Carson, who served as the Pentagon’s top personnel official during President Barack Obama’s administration.

“And this isn’t just about cyber jobs or signal or the JAG corps. This can be applied to any person in any job.”
Sounds like what happens in the rest of the world - the cream rises to the top - instead of getting frustrated with the "system" that sometimes holds talent back and drives it out of the services.

So, good!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Surface Warfare Training - Congressional Improvement Plan

6 (a) FINDINGS.—Congress makes the following find-
7 ings:
8 (1) In 2017, there were three collisions and one
9 grounding involving United States Navy ships in the
10 Western Pacific. The two most recent mishaps in-
11 volved separate incidents of a Japan-based United
12 States Navy destroyer colliding with a commercial
13 merchant vessel, resulting in the combined loss of 17
14 sailors.
15 (2) The causal factors in these four mishaps
16 are linked directly to a failure to take sufficient ac-
17 tion in accordance with the rules of good seaman-
18 ship.
19 (3) Because risks are high in the maritime envi-
20 ronment, there are widely accepted standards for
21 safe seamanship and navigation. In the United
22 States, the International Convention on Standards
23 of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (herein-
24 after in this section referred to as the ‘‘STCW’’) for
25 Seafarers, standardizes the skills and foundational knowledge a maritime professional must have in sea-
26 manship and navigation.
3 (4) Section 568 of the National Defense Au4
thorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (Public Law
5 114–328; 130 Stat. 2139) endorsed the STCW proc-
6 ess and required the Secretary of Defense to maxi-
7 mize the extent to which Armed Forces service,
8 training, and qualifications are creditable toward
9 meeting merchant mariner licenses and certifications.
11 (5) The Surface Warfare Officer Course Curriculum is being modified to include ten individual
13 Go/No Go Mariner Assessments/Competency Check
14 Milestones to ensure standardization and quality of
15 the surface warfare community.
16 (6) The Military-to-Mariner Transition report
17 of September 2017 notes the Army maintains an ex-
18 tensive STCW qualifications program and that a
19 similar Navy program does not exist.
20 (b) SENSE OF CONGRESS.—It is the sense of Con-
21 gress that—
22 (1) the Secretary of the Navy should establish
23 a comprehensive individual proficiency assessment
24 process and include such an assessment prior to all
1 operational surface warfare officer tour assignments;
2 and
3 (2) the Secretary of the Navy should signifi-
4 cantly expand the STCW qualifications process to
5 improve seamanship and navigation individual skills
6 training for surface warfare candidates, surface war-
7 fare officers, quartermasters and operations special-
8 ists to include an increased set of courses that di-
9 rectly correspond to STCW standards.
10 (c) REPORT.—Not later than March 1, 2019, the
11 Secretary of the Navy shall submit to the congressional
12 defense committees a report that includes each of the fol-
13 lowing:
14 (1) A detailed description of the surface war-
15 fare officer assessments process.
16 (2) A list of programs that have been approved
17 for credit toward merchant mariner credentials.
18 (3) A complete gap analysis of the existing sur
19 face warfare training curriculum and STCW.
20 (4) A complete gap analysis of the existing sur-
21 face warfare training curriculum and the 3rd mate
22 unlimited licensing requirement.
23 (5) An assessment of surface warfare options to
24 complete the 3rd mate unlimited license and the
25 STCW qualification.
USCG checklist on obtaining 3rd Mates License:

You might note that Navy ROTC grads who do not attend one of the maritime academies may have require some additional time to meet the "Sea Service" requirement.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

On Midrats 22 July 2018 - Episode 446: July Maritime Natsec Melee

Please join at 5pm (EDT) on 22 July 2018 for Midrats Episode 446: July Maritime Natsec Melee:
NATO, Russia, the Chinese Navy, Australia's pocket fleet of the future and a potpourri of
other issues that come across the transom - it's Midrats Melee!

Open topic, open phones and we'll be trolling the chat room for ideas.

Come join us live.
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, July 21, 2018

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Battle Stations: " The Navy's Air Arm" (1943)

Ely's First Flight Off Ship 1910 (U.S. Navy )

MH-53E  (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Curtis D. Spencer)
F/A-18E (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Class Kenneth Abbate)
H-60 (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 William McCann)
E-2D U.S. Navy photo byMC2 Kenneth Abbate)

Friday, July 20, 2018

Sunday, July 15, 2018

On Midrats 15 July 2018 - Episode 445: How Small Ships Can Make a Big Navy Better

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 8 July 2018 for Midrats Episode 445: How Small Ships Can Make a Big Navy Better
Building off our discussions from last week's Midrats, our guest this  will be Lieutenant Joshua M. Roaf, USN to discuss part of the solution to improving the professional performance of our Surface Warfare Officers in what should be the core of their skillset; seamanship.
Using many of the issues he raised in a recent article co-authored with LT Adam Biggs, USN, Bring Back the Patrol Craft, we will explore the various advantages of returning balance to the fleet with an expansion of truly small surface combatants.

A native of Bennington, Vermont, LT Roaf graduated from Ithaca College, Ithaca NY in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and earned his commission from Officer Candidate School in 2010.

Afloat, Lieutenant Roaf completed his division officer tours aboard USS REUBEN JAMES (FFG57) where he served as the Main Propulsion Officer and Electrical Officer and then aboard USS ANZIO (CG-68) as the Navigator and Executive Department Head. During his sea tours, he participated in numerous Multi-National exercises (RIMPAC 2011/12, CANADIAN TGEX, BOLD ALLIGATOR, JOINT WARRIOR) and completed two Western Pacific deployments.

Ashore, Lieutenant Roaf taught navigation, naval operations and leadership development through the North Carolina Piedmont Region Consortium (NCPR) Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (UNC). Additionally, he earned his Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in Toxicology degree from the UNC. In support of this degree, Lieutenant Roaf completed a joint internship at the Wright Paterson Air Force base in Dayton Ohio working with the Navy Medical Research Unit.

He is currently stationed at Surface Warfare Officer School in Newport RI, training to become a Department Head afloat.
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, July 14, 2018

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Stan Freberg "Great Moments in History - Paul Revere" (1957)

Stan Freberg was way ahead of his time and too far out for sponsors to sign on - a combination that left him without a show after only a few episodes. But those
episodes were fun!

On Midrats 8 July 2018 - Episode 444: The Slow March to FITZGERALD & MCCAIN, with J. C. Harvey, Jr

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 8 July 2018 for Midrats Episode 444: The Slow March to FITZGERALD & MCCAIN, with J. C. Harvey, Jr
The condition that brought us to the series of events in WESTPAC in 2017 did not happen overnight. They did not happen in one PCS cycle, or under one command climate. Layer by layer from many sources, it took time to get to where we found it.

Our guest for the full hour to discuss his views of the latent causes of
what is now generally accepted as a systemic failure of a "new normal" will be J.C. Harvey, Jr., Admiral USN (Ret.).

Admiral Harvey retired from the Navy in November, 2012 after serving as the Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, in Norfolk, Virginia.

In his 39 year Navy career, he specialized in naval nuclear propulsion, surface ship & Carrier strike-group operations & Navy-wide manpower management/personnel policy development. He served in a variety of operational command positions at sea, as the Navy’s Chief of Naval Personnel (the senior uniformed human resources official in the Navy) & as the Director, Navy Staff immediately prior to commanding U.S. Fleet Forces.

Since his retirement, Admiral Harvey has joined the Board of Directors of the Navy Memorial Foundation, where he currently serves as Chairman of the Board, & serves as an Outside Director of AT Kearney, PSDS.

On 12 January, 2014, he was sworn in as a member of Governor McAuliffe’s cabinet where he served as the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Veteran & Defense Affairs until 31 August, 2017.

A few months later, he joined the Institute of Defense Analyses as the Director, Strategy, Forces & Resources Division.

Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Admiral Harvey is a graduate of the Phillips Exeter Academy, the US Naval Academy & the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

Admiral Harvey & his wife, Mary Ellen, now reside in Vienna, Virginia & have two grown children, Sarah & David.
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, July 05, 2018

Fun With Iran: Iran Threatens Closure of Strait of Hormuz Unless Demands Met (Again)

Reuters report Iran's Rouhani hints at threat to neighbors' exports if oil sales halted
President Hassan Rouhani appeared on Tuesday to threaten to disrupt oil shipments from
neighboring countries if Washington presses ahead with its goal of forcing all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.
Iranian officials in the past have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile U.S. action against Iran.

“The Americans have claimed they want to completely stop Iran’s oil exports. They don’t understand the meaning of this statement, because it has no meaning for Iranian oil not to be exported, while the region’s oil is exported,” the website,, quoted him as saying.
Let's see now, major oil producers who might benefit if Iran cuts off its nose to spite its face include Russia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, the U.S. - I would add Venezuela, but its oil production capabilities are in shambles. The U.S is now the world's leading producer, thanks to fracking, so Iran's threats are less meaningful than they were once upon a time.

Oh, yes, there is also this U.S. Navy says will protect commerce in face of Iran oil threat:
The U.S. Navy stands ready to ensure free navigation and the flow of commerce, the U.S. military’s Central Command said on Thursday, as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned they would block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if necessary.
If Iran cannot sell its oil under U.S. pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to either, said Mohammad Ali Jafari, who commands the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s most powerful military force.

“We are hopeful that this plan expressed by our president will be implemented if needed ... We will make the enemy understand that either all can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one,” Jafari was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

The Strait of Hormuz is the most important oil transit channel in the world with about one-fifth of global oil consumption passing through each day.

“The U.S. and its partners provide, and promote security and stability in the region,” Central Command spokesman Navy Captain Bill Urban said in an email to Reuters.

Asked what would be the U.S. Naval Forces’ reaction if Iran blocks the strait, he said: “Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows.”
USN photo- those aren't toys on the racks

The Guards’ naval arm lacks a strong conventional fleet. However, it has many speed boats and portable anti-ship missile launchers, and can lay
,U mines.

A senior U.S. military leader said in 2012 the Guards have the ability to block the strait “for a period of time” but the United States would take action to reopen it in such an event.
Well, that's why we have a Navy. And an Air Force.

USAF photo
I would think clearing the air space above the Arabian Gulf would be priority one, followed by using air power to smite the "many speed boats and portable anti-ship missile launchers" probably while they sortie to lay mines or line up for swarm attacks. Air power including Navy and AF assets, of course, along with allies in the area who would probably not look kindly on Iran attempts to cut off the oil flow through the Strait or movement in the Gulf.

One might ask the question, "How much of a IRGC swarm can an AC-130 chop up if an Ac-130J was called upon to sweep the sea of IRGC swarms?" Unlike a similar question about woodchucks, I think the answer to this one would be "lots and lots."

Iran's leadership is failing the people of Iran more than ever as they try to hang on to their perks and power. Being stupid in this situation would put them squarely on the back of an already very restless tiger.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Acts of War? Weaponizing Mass Migration

In these modern times, the definition of what constitutes an "act of war" is evolving to meet new threats. For example, when does a "cyber intrusion" into the governmental and private networks of a nation reach the level where it a virtual act of war, akin to an invasion albeit with electrons and not bodies? This is a hot topic.

Currently less discussed but of rising interest involves a foreign government actively encouraging and abetting segments of its own population and those of other countries to migrate to another sovereign state. When does this "soft invasion" reach the level that the target state would be justified in declaring war on the encouraging state?

In her book Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion and Foreign Policy, Kelly M. Greenhill quotes Samar Sen, India Ambassador to the UN
If aggression against another foreign country means that it strains its social structure, that it ruins its finances, that it has to give up territory for sheltering refugees . . . what is the difference between that type of aggression and the other type, the more classical type, when someone declares war, or something of that sort?
Ms. Greenhill describes her book focus,
. . . on a very particular non-military method of applying coercive pressure -the use of migration and refugee crises as instruments of persuasion.
While "non-military" this sort of coercion is, according to Ms. Greenhill's research, widely used. She cites 56 instances since 1951. This list of 56 does not include the mass influx of refugees spawned by the Syrian civil war, Venezuela's collapse, nor things like the large flow of immigrants from nations into the U.S. from nations of Mexico, Central and South America.

Why include Mexico?

Because the president-elect of Mexico has raised the issue as set out in here The then Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) stated
“And soon, very soon, to the victory of our movement — we will defend all the migrants in the American continent and all the migrants in the world, who by necessity, must leave their towns and find a life in the United States, it is a human right we will defend.” (Google translation) (see Spanish language article from which the Google translation came)
I fully support legal immigration. The U.S. is a better country for the millions of immigrants who have arrived legally in this country and contributed to our society. However, the intentional effort to offload a country's poor or problems onto another country is something more. Some of you may remember Castro's cynical Mariel Boatlift:
On April 20, 1980, the Castro regime announces that all Cubans wishing to emigrate to the U.S. are free to board boats at the port of Mariel west of Havana, launching the Mariel Boatlift. The first of 125,000 Cuban refugees from Mariel reached Florida the next day.
In all, 125,000 Cubans fled to U.S. shores in about 1,700 boats, creating large waves of people that overwhelmed the U.S. Coast guard. Cuban guards had packed boat after boat, without considering safety, making some of the overcrowded boats barely seaworthy. Twenty-seven migrants died, including 14 on an overloaded boat that capsized on May 17.

The boatlift also began to have negative political implications for U.S.President Jimmy Carter.When it was discovered that a number of the exiles had been released from Cuban jails and mental health facilities, many were placed in refugee camps while others were held in federal prisons to undergo deportation hearings. Of the 125,000 “Marielitos,” as the refugees came to be known, who landed in Florida, more than 1,700 were jailed and another 587 were detained until they could find sponsors.

But let's go back to Ambassador Sen's quote for a second and ask, "When does a foreign government's complicity in encouraging its own people and/or those of other nations to violate the borders of another state become "aggressive" enough to be the "act of war?"

Let's see what Liam says in Warfare Today has to say in Weaponized Migration is the New Battlespace:
We have already heard much talk about weaponized narrative and seen the results of cyber warfare from the Ukraine to the US Elections, allegedly. We can now add to the hybrid warfare arsenal a new strategy concept, the weaponization of mass migration, or, to coin a phrase, sociological warfare. Simply shifting a large mass of people into the enemy’s territory produces chaos, conflict and economic erosion without the aggressor having to fire a single shot, or even appearing to have done anything.
Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and commander of US European Command, suggested to the US Senate Armed Services Committee in 2016 that “Russia and the Assad regime are deliberately weaponizing migration from Syria in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve.” Russia denied this, but the New York Times reported that, "The one group that needs no convincing about Russia’s manipulation of the migrant issue is the migrants themselves."
Back to the Greenhill book, in which she offers several definitions of the migrations she is interested in, including,
... coercive engineered migrations (or migration-driven coercion) as those cross-border population movements that are deliberately created or manipulated in order to induce political, military and/or economic concesssions from a target state or states.
After intentionally generating crises, weak actors can offer to make them disappear in exchange for financial or politcal payoffs.
The effect on the engineered migration target state is accentuated by the domestic political divisions of that target. More Greenhill:
Like immigration and refugee policy more generally, real and threatened migration crises tend to split societies into (at least) two mutually antagonistic and often highly mobilized groups: the pro-refugee/migrant camp and the anti-refugee/migrant camp.
The domestic political environment is important because,
...coercive engineered migration can be usefully conceived as a two-level, generally asymmetric, coercion by punishment strategy, in which challengers on the international level seek to influence the behavior of their targets by exploiting the existence of of competing domestic interests within the target state(s) and by manipulating the costs or risks imposed on their civilian population(s).
... a key (norms-based mechanism that can enhance the coercive power ... is the imposition of ... hypocrisy costs - defined as those symbolic political costs that can be imposed when there exists a real or perceived disparity between a professed commitment to liberal values and norms and demonstrated actions that contravene such a commitment.
Hypocrisy costs are not necessary for coercion to succeed; however, they can serve as effective force multipliers for weak challengers, allowing them to punch above their weight and to influence the behavior of actors normally outside their ambit.
That being stated, let's look at the most recent immigration crisis facing the U.S. - the process in which children may be separated from their families - a situation that, it must be understood by now, that did not suddenly arrive in 2018, but which is now being exploited by both domestic and foreign nations to coerce the current administration to change a long-standing policy and as a political lever by the party not in power to keep protests going against the current administration in hopes of influencing voters in upcoming elections.

One of Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals pushed exploitation of something akin the Ms. Greenhill's "hypocrisy costs" -
"Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules"
If the administration is "pro-family" - attack the enforcement of this policy as being "anti-family" and therefore hypocritical, regardless of history or facts. We see the opponents of this policy employing another Alinsky rule when they go after administration members personally. That rule
"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)" (source
Bottom line - when watching the news reports of immigration issues, be mindful that behind the protests, behinds the sad pictures (whether or not they were taken during this administration) there is a political agenda being played out - partially domestic, but most certainly also driven by foreign governments to attempt to coerce the U.S. by the asymmetric weapon of both the threat and reality of mass migration, which may "engineered" to force concessions by our government.