Thursday, January 18, 2018

If You Aren't Inside the OODA Loop, You Might Be in a Bad Place

Great read Here’s How to Stop Squelching New Ideas, Eric Schmidt’s Advisory Board Tells DoD from Defense One
“Our adversaries in the 21st century are now continually disrupting us,” Blank said. “We have multiple adversaries moving at a speed faster than we are. Tools and tech that DoD used to own, drones and crypto was stuff we used to own, that’s not the case anymore.”

“China is now Apple. Not us.”

Monday, January 15, 2018

Somewhere Deming is Nodding - Maybe: "Navy Looking to Add Rigor to SWO Candidate Training Ahead of Assignment to Ship Crew"

Back in the day (1984 or so), the U. S. Navy decided to bring Dr. Deming to the fight.

For those of you unfamiliar with Deming's work, you can read about his work in Total Quality Management here (the Navy called it "Total Quality Leadership') and many other places. However, as with many such initiatives, a new leadership team or two caused the Navy to adandon Deming.

I'll look at Deming's theory in depth later, but one pertinent point is that every business is a customer to some other business and the customer has to seek to improve the quality of the material it receives from its suppliers so that it will spend less time and effort trying to fix or return defective material it receives as it uses those materials to make it own products.

Here's video in which Deming discusses a couple of his 14 Points - starting about 1:38, Deming notes that "finding what's wrong is not improvement of the process ... that managing defects, not looking at the system that produces the defects . . ."

With that as a lead-in, here's what the Navy has set out as a plan:

  1.   After finding a defect (junior officers who are "defective" in their watchstanding and professional skills);
  2.   actually took a look at the system that sends these officers to enter the fleet;
  3.   developed a plan to correct or eliminate those defects before they get to the customer - the customer being the fleet, the supplier being the Navy's personnel and training command.

So, is it a systemic fix or  a plan for a fix? Or putting out fires?

Navy Looking to Add Rigor to SWO Candidate Training Ahead of Assignment to Ship Crew
Adm. Phil Davidson said that, after leading a 60-day effort to compile the Comprehensive Review of Recent Surface Forces Incidents after several surface ship collisions last year, he is dedicated to adding more rigor to individual and unit-level assessments – with a particular eye on the seamanship and navigation training and assessments for SWO candidates.

“If you don’t have the underpinning foundation across the board – SWO candidates, your qualified SWOs on the ship, department head, [executive officer], [commanding officer] – then you’re short of an element of the team,” Davidson told reporters after giving a keynote speech at the annual Surface Navy Association symposium.
“My assessment of the team assessment, and SWO candidate training especially, it’s not sufficient enough when it comes to seamanship and navigation. You end up with conning officers and JOODs (junior officers of the deck) who [don’t] have sufficient depth to be part of the team from the outset, and that’s what we want to get to. JOOD is a role, conning officer is a role. They have to be competent in those roles when they step aboard a ship, and to have them be students aboard those ships is too much of a burden.”

This need for young officers to be proficient from their first day on an operational ship’s crew was highlighted by the fatal collision between destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and a merchant ship last summer. At the time of the collision, Davidson said during his speech, “there were only two ranks on watch: the CO, and ensigns.”

As a result, Davidson said SWO candidate training would be lengthened and would include more rigorous training and assessment on seamanship and navigation, damage control, risk assessment and other fundamentals.
Okay, so far as it goes.

Deming has 14 points, as you've seen, they are all inter-related. Will the Navy be bold enough to adopt all 14? Or is this just an effort to fix one piece of a larger problem withour addressing the other parts of the "system" that are in need of continuous improvement?

Here's an interesting piece from when it became apparent that the Navy was giving up on Deming, Imminent Demise of Deming in the Navy:
How do we make Quality/Deming theory relevant to warfighting ON THE BATTLEFIELD? To address this, we need to demonstrate links between Quality/Deming theory and military theory. We need to be able to use military history to empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of Quality/Deming theory in enhancing COMBAT-EFFECTIVENESS (we are addressing a group of (understandably) empirical people). Nothing else can impress our target audience. We are presently unequal to this task because it requires knowledge of military theory and history that is almost universally lacking among us, even those of us who are in the military. We can not hope to win unless we adopt this approach. In its absence, the military is right to reject Quality, Deming, and theory as irrelevant.
Some would look to the Boyd OODA loop as being akin to Deming's "Plan, Do, Check, Act" (PDCA) but others note differences:
The P-D-C-A cycle or loop is primarily an analytical approach that can be used with great success in a completely internal manner. One does not need to consult the external environment or adjust to unfolding circumstances to make the P-D-C-A loop work. P-D-C-A can be used with great success on the shop floor with the data that is available. Analysis which involves the use of a more or less complete data set to reach a conclusion. We use the data to make a decision about how to proceed, we than check and act to confirm or reject the hypothesis that our analysis has led us to.

O-O-D-A is more concerned with synthesizing an action out of an incomplete data set. Since we can never recognize all of the variables that we are forced to deal with in any environment, we must be able to make a decision that we believe will give us the highest probability for success. The synthesis of an action from the observation and orientation of a complex and mysterious environment, subject to frequent and unpredictable change, is the essence of the O-O-D-A loop.
Hmm.  I agree that PDCA can be internal - but the process also calls for going "outside" to partner with "suppliers:"
Even today many organizations treat suppliers as adversaries to beat at the negotiating table. Dr. Deming explained that the organization was a system that included the suppliers and customers. You need to manage and continually improve that entire system.

And to do so most effectively you need to partner with your suppliers over the long term. You need to treat them as partners. Saying they are partners is nearly worthless. What matters is how you operate. . .
If your "supplier" is providing personnel - isn't it vital that the supplier knows what traits you need in your workers, or in the case of the Surface Navy, what the traits are that make a good "surface warfare officer?" Can these traits be tested for? Can the desired traits be taught?

U. S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 11 December 2017 - 10 January 2018 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 4 - 10 January 2018

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

There's Crazy and Then There's Iran Crazy: "Certain powers funding Somalia pirates to undermine Iran economy"

Well, a paranoid government blaming its sucky economy on pretty much everyone else reaches down into the barrael of crazy and blames "Somali pirates" and their alleged sponsors. Really. From the "Mehr News Agency" Certain powers funding Somalia pirates to undermine Iran economy"
Iran’s Navy Commander Khanzadi deemed Somalia piracy as a kind of terrorism formed
in 2007 by proxy in a bid to undermine the Islamic Republic’s economy.
Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi made the remark on Sunday in a welcoming ceremony for the return of the 49th fleet after 67 days of voyage on open seas, adding “there was a tremendous attempt at depicting the presence of piracy off the coast of Somalia as something natural, but the acts of piracy reveal certain coordinators and perpetrators behind this new phenomenon in the 21st century.”

Khanzadi went on to add that certain powers are supplying Somalia pirates with intelligence and equipment, and funding them in a bid to undermine the economy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Iranian Navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since November 2008 to safeguard the vessels involved in maritime trade, especially the ships and oil tankers owned or leased by Iran.

Too bad the secret is out now, since Somali piracy  has been heavily supressed by "certain powers" including NATO, the EU, China, Japan, the U. S., Denmark, Germany, the UK, India, France, and many other countries that have contributed ships, aircraft and personnel to supress the pirates. Not to mention the effect of shipping using private security teams. What a clever plan that involves all those entities spending their national assests and treasure to secure the sea lines of communication that Iran needs to use to market its oil and gas.

Well, I guess it's a refreshing change from their usual misrepresentations about their Navy's success in fighting Somali pirates through its "flotillas."

Monday, January 08, 2018

Protecting the Military Sea Logistics Stream

In an important but largely overlooked speech back in November 2017, the head of  U. S. Transportation Command discussed some of the real problems facing USTRANSCOM in its sealift role, as reported in SEAPOWER Magazine Online:
Military Sealift Command (MSC) is sailing in “contested waters” today and the military needs to consider changing the way it operates, such as relearning how to conduct armed escort missions as it did in World War II, the commander of the U.S. Transportation Command (TransCom) said Nov. 15.

TransCom also is in discussions with the Navy on how it could replace the badly aged ships in the sealift and prepositioning fleets, possibly by buying low-cost used merchant ships, Air Force Gen. Darren McDew said.
Damage to UAE operated vessel Swift after missile attack off Yemen

Speaking at an Air Force Association breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club, McDew was asked about the concerns of Vice Adm. Dee Mewbourne, commander of MSC — which is part of TransCom — that the growing threats from potential adversaries, such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, means that his ships will be sailing into “contested waters.”

“They doing that now,” McDew said, possibly referring to the missile attacks against two MSC ships operating off of Yemen earlier this year.

And the contested environment “doesn’t start when they get under way. It starts before they leave port,” he added, repeating his earlier warnings about the threat all of his command faces from cyber attacks and disruption of the space-based navigation systems.
McDew compared the potential threat to the MSC vessels to the horrific losses inflicted
"Armed Escort" FFGs in 1982
by German submarines on the Merchant Mariners crossing the Atlantic in World War II. Those civilian seaman “died at the highest rate of any U.S. force” in the war he said.

To help counter that threat, “in World War II, we had armed convoys,” he noted. “We haven’t had to worry about that since then. Maybe we have to look at what armed escort looks like.”

The general suggested that today’s cyber threats could equal the danger from World War II submarines.

The military will have to think differently because “those lines of communications will be contested.”
Asked about Mewbourne’s concerns about the advanced age of his sealift and prepositioning ships, McDew said he was in discussions with the Navy on how to modernize the sealift fleets.

He said the National Defense Authorization Act, which may be approved by Congress by the end of the month, has language that “would allow us to buy used vessels. There are ships on the market now that would cost one-half or one-third as much as new ships, and are available for pennies on the dollar.”

Those ships could be modernized and modified in U.S. shipyards, so “everyone wins,” he said.
McDew noted that he is “the largest owner of steam ships in the world,” but does not want that distinction, adding that virtually all the world’s commercial vessels have diesel engines, which are cheaper and require fewer Sailors.
Okay, let's look at the issues:

  1.  The threat environment has changed so that, at the very least, near shore sealift shipping is threatened by both state and non-state actors. This is true because of the proliferation of anti-shipping cruise missiles that can be transported by truck and operated with ease (see War Is Boring To Threaten Ships, the Houthis Improvised a Missile Strike Force ). While the most recent example is that of the cited missile attacks off Yemen, the issue has been very ripe since 2006 when Hezbollah, apparently aided by Iran, fired a C-802 missile at an Israeli warship. The threat of such missile attacks by state actors has, of course, been around much longer  (also Iran: Silkworm on the Hormuz).
  2.  The "sealift fleet" is old and too small. See Not Sexy But Important: "IG launches review of Military Sealift Command readiness problems".While it may be possible to modernize the sealift fleet by buying more modern used ships and refurbishing them for military use, there are issues in protecting those newer (and the current) ships both from cyber and sea-going threats. General McDew notes the need for "armed escorts." The U. S. Navy retired its last "designed to convoy" escort Perry-class FFG-7 frigates without replacements in 2015. Now the Navy is looking for a new FFX to fill the gap - and in seeming recognition that the Littoral Combat Ship is not a suitable vessel for the task - which it was never intended to perform.
  3. Underlying all of the above is the sound recognition that "sea control" in today's world is far more complex than it was in the time of a couple of near peer navies. With the land-based anti-ship cruise missiles, the safe haven of being "offshore" has moved much further from land than it used to be. Using a putative fisherman having a hand-held GPS and a radio, or using small drones flown from the beach, the targeting of shipping offshore does not really require expensive shore based or aerial targeting radars to launch missiles with their own target seeking capabilities.
  4. As a result, all those "chokepoints" so vital to sea lines of communication are threatened as never before. While the U. S. has long relied on "out-teching" adversaries, the speed with which technology changes to counter such tech is worrisome and requires both more hardware both of a counter-battery nature and defense to be spread to more vessels, including to those combat logistics force ships now operated by MSC as unarmed, mostly civilian manned units. It may be time, under the rules that govern arming such ships to return to the day when mnay such ships were manned by Navy officers and sailors, or at least to return to the days of "Navy Armed Guards" but with very modern weaponry to counter these threats. 
The most important point is to start now to address these issues. It is apparent that General McDew "gets it" - and the the Navy is moving to act - but Congress needs to understand th problems and find funding for the needed fixes now, before it's too late. 

    U. S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 4 December 2017 – 3 January 2018 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 28 December 2017 – 3 January 2018

    Saturday, January 06, 2018

    Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Night Beat "A Case of Butter" (1950)

    Frank Lovejoy
    Frank Lovejoy starred as Randy (originally "Lucky") Stone, a reporter who covered the night beat for the Chicago Star, encountering criminals and troubled souls. Listeners were invited to join Stone as he "searches through the city for the strange stories waiting for him in the darkness."