Friday, November 30, 2012

This Sunday on Midrats: Episode 152: "Navy Next, Interrupted"

Join us at 5pm (Eastern U.S.) on 2 Dec 12 for Episode 152: "Navy Next, Interrupted" on Midrats
Elections have consequences. There are paths not taken, and paths that remain.

In the last election, national security was very much kept in the background, but once you peeled away a layer or two and looked carefully, there was a lot of "there there" - and a lot of it involved what to do with the direction of the US Navy.

The erstwhile nautical corner of Team Romney had a direction they wanted to take the Navy.

What was that direction? What informed it, and what were the guiding requirements that shaped their concepts?

For the full hour we will have a Midrats regular, Bryan McGrath on to discuss this and more.

Bryan McGrath is a retired Surface Warfare Officer. He commanded USS BULKELEY (DDG 84) from 2004-2006, and finished his career by leading the team that wrote the nation's current maritime strategy.

He retired in 2008 and is currently a Washington DC based defense consultant at Delex Systems. From August 2011 to November 2012, he served on the Mitt Romney for President Defense Policy Working Group.

China: South China Sea Threats and Denials

China is doing one of its usual song and dance routines with respect to its claims to a large chunk of the South China Sea. First, it announces an increase in the authority of its "patrols" in the area as set out in Patrols in Hainan get more clout:
Police in Hainan will be authorized to board and search ships that illegally enter the province's waters in 2013, the latest Chinese effort to protect the South China Sea.

Under a set of regulation revisions the Hainan People's Congress approved on Tuesday, provincial border police are authorized to board or seize foreign ships that illegally enter the province's waters and order them to change course or stop sailing.

The full texts of the regulations, which take effect on Jan 1, will soon be released to the public, said Huang Shunxiang, director of the congress's press office.

Activities such as entering the island province's waters without permission, damaging coastal defense facilities, and engaging in publicity that threatens national security are illegal.

If foreign ships or crew members violate regulations, Hainan police have the right to take over the ships or their communications systems, under the revised regulations. (emphasis added)
Of course, this was followed by other semi-disclaimers, see China values free navigation in S. China Sea for example:
China attaches great importance to the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular press briefing on Friday.

Hong made the remarks in response to a question regarding recent reports that border patrol police in south China's island province of Hainan were given the power to embark on and check ships that illegally enter its waters.

China conducts marine management in accordance with international law and national law and safeguards its territorial sovereignty and rights over the South China Sea, the spokesman said.

"Meanwhile, we insist that all relevant disputes with neighboring countries should be resolved through friendly negotiation and consultation," Hong said.

All countries have freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, he said.

"China highly values free navigation in the South China Sea," Hong said. "At present, there are no problems in this regard."
Or, China seeks no marine hegemony: spokesman:
China's Defense Ministry spokesman on Thursday stressed that the country's move to build itself into a maritime power has nothing to do with seeking hegemony.

China wants to become a maritime power in order to enhance its capacity to exploit marine resources, develop the marine economy, safeguard the country's maritime rights and interests, and ensure a sustainable economic and social development, Geng Yansheng told a regular press conference.

That does not mean that China is aiming at expanding its presence at sea, nor at marine hegemony, Geng said.

Chinese leader Hu Jintao's report to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China earlier this month spelt out future efforts to build China into a maritime power.

The spokesman further denied interpretations that this position indicates a more hardline approach by China in its marine sovereignty claims, such as over the Diaoyu Islands.

"China's stance of safeguarding the country's legitimate sovereign rights and interests should not be regarded as a hardline approach," he said.

According to Geng, China will resolutely protect its sovereignty, security and development interests and will never yield to any outside pressure.

Safeguarding the country's marine rights and interests is one of the military's important duties and the army will well perform its duties under the country's deployment, Geng said.

Meanwhile, the spokesman noted, China is always committed to peaceful settlement of international disputes and opposes the wanton use of force or threat to use it.

China's armed forces advocate and follow the concept of a "harmonious ocean," and comply with the UN Charter as well as other international laws and rules, Geng said, adding that the Chinese military is active in taking part in international dialogue and cooperation in marine security and is willing to join other countries in maintaining security at sea.
Right, just remember that deeds speak louder than words.

Oh, yeah, and what the heck is "engaging in publicity that threatens national security?"

Pirates: Counter-Piracy Operations

Multinational counter-piracy operations off the Somali coast are defined by reports like this one from Nov 21, 2012, EU Naval Force and Combined Task Force 151 Work Together to Ensure No Safe Haven for Pirates In Indian Ocean:
The boarding team from ROS Regele Ferdinand brings the apprehended pirates and their skiff back to the Romanian warship (EUNAVFOR photo)
Earlier today, Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand, under command of the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) worked in close co-operation with Turkish warship TCG Gemlik of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151) to apprehended nine suspected pirates at sea off the coast of Somalia.

In the early hours of the morning, Swedish EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Aircraft located the suspicious skiff at sea 420 nautical miles east of Mogadishu. Counter piracy forces in the area were quickly alerted, and being the two closest warships, both TCG Gemlik and ROS Regele Ferdinand made haste to the area to investigate, as the Luxembourg EU NAVFOR patrol aircraft maintained visual coverage from the air.

Once at the scene, TCG Gemlik sent a boarding team to search the suspect vessel, which had tried, unsuccessfully, to evade capture for over an hour. In an excellent demonstration of co-operation between the 2 counter-piracy forces, ROS Regele Ferdinand then embarked the suspect pirates on to the Romanian frigate for further questioning and evidence collection in order to fully assess the possibility of prosecution of the nine suspects.

After gathering intelligence, the skiff was destroyed, thus preventing the suspect pirates from using it to attack ships in the future.
Meanwhile, on the other side of Africa, Nigeria does counter-piracy as set out here:
A ONE-WEEK onslaught against crude oil theft and other illegal activities on sea by the army, navy and air force has led to the arrest of two oil tankers and interrogation of 15 others at the Gulf of Guinea.

The raid tagged ‘Exercise FARAUTA’ was sequel to the mandate by President Goodluck Jonathan when he appointed two new service chiefs, urging the military to get rid of oil thieves from Nigeria’s seaways.

The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, who was on board the Nigerian Navy ship ‘Thunder’, led the operation at sea.

“We interrogated 17 vessels at sea, out of which, we found two culpable. Some would have to explain as per the quantity of the petroleum they have on board, some were in excess of what was approved and one of the other vessels did not have any documentation at all. It is important to note that this exercise would continue. For us to continue to do what we are supposed to do, it is important we get all the support we can get from government. The navy needs to be encouraged. Crude oil thieves and pirates have already seen the signals and they don’t have a choice than to leave our waters,” Ezeoba said.
South China Sea, yellow circle indicates area of attack
The Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report (to 28 Nov 12) (here (pdf) shows mostly robberies at anchorage but there is this:
VIETNAM: Tanker hijacked on 19 November in the vicinity of 07:10 N – 109:09 E, approximately 174.4 nm southeast of Con Son Island. Eleven pirates armed with long knives and pistols hijacked the tanker. The nine crew members were forced overboard into a life raft and rescued shortly after by a Vietnamese fishing trawler. While thought to be enroute toward Vietnam to sell the vessels cargo of marine gas oil illegally in Vietnam waters/ port, all eleven pirates were apprehended by the Vietnam Marine Police Special Task Force and are currently under the custody of the VMP. Prior to apprehension, it was reported that the pirates had changed the IMO number and name of the vessel. (ReCAAP ISC)
UPDATE: ReCAAP update here (pdf):
On 22 Nov 12 at or about 0404 hrs (local time), Zafirah was located at
approximately 35 nm south-east of Vung Tung (09o 50.10’ N, 107o 19.59’ E). The
Vietnam Marine Police despatched two patrol vessels to the location to monitor the
situation. The tanker was reported to have been renamed ‘MD FEAHORSE’ and has a
different IMO number. From the statement made by the master of Zafirah, there were
11 pirates onboard the tanker and they were armed with long knives and pistols. On 22
Nov 12 at or about 1600 hrs (local time), the Vietnam Marine Police Special Task Force
boarded Zafirah and apprehended all 11 pirates who are currently under the custody of
the VMP.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


So this morning, I was reading Roger L. Simon's "‘Mind Your Own Beeswax!’: How Social Conservatives Can Win By Losing" which discusses, among other things, the need for social conservatives to get out of the business of trying to use the tools of government to enforce rules against things they are against, while objecting to "liberals" using the tools of government to enforce things they believe it.

As Mr. Simon writes,
It’s interesting how some of those who most vociferously object to government interference in our economic affairs are most desirous of government interference in our personal ones.

I’m referring of course to social conservatives, who want to legislate our morals and values according to their views.
The examples he uses are abortion and same-sex marriage. His fundamental question is why is either one of these issues a matter for the government to be involved with?

Take marriage. I suspect the reason the American states first got involved in issuing licenses for marriage was to prevent "race mingling" (among other things) as set out here:
By the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from marrying blacks, “mulattos,” Japanese, Chinese, Indians, “Mongolians,” “Malays” or Filipinos. Twelve states would not issue a marriage license if one partner was a drunk, an addict or a “mental defect.” Eighteen states set barriers to remarriage after divorce.

In the mid-20th century, governments began to get out of the business of deciding which couples were “fit” to marry. Courts invalidated laws against interracial marriage, struck down other barriers and even extended marriage rights to prisoners.
It was also during the early 20th Century that serious efforts were made to eliminate "defectives" in our society from reproducing in the name of "eugenics." An interesting history of efforts to "perfect" society by sterilizing those deemed "unfit" can be found here:
In 1914, eugenicist Harry Laughlin published a Model Eugenical Sterilization Law that proposed to authorize sterilization of the “socially inadequate” – people “maintained wholly or in part by public expense.” The law included sterilization of the “feebleminded, insane, criminalistic, epileptic, inebriate, diseased, blind, deaf, deformed, and dependent” – including “orphans, ne’er-do-wells, tramps, the homeless and paupers.” Laughlin’s publication was the basis for Virginia’s Eugenical Sterilization Act, passed in 1924, which was first tested in the well-known Buck v. Bell case.
As seen by the nearby map, which came from here,the idea was popular. Why? Well, it was a "progressive" attempt to protect and improve the species, as set out here (pdf):
The term eugenics was originally coined by Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton (1822–1911) in 1883 to mean ‘truly’ or ‘purely’ born (Galton, 1883). It was redefined by Galton’s American disciple Charles B. Davenport
(1866–1944) as ‘the science of the improvement of the human race by better breeding’ (Davenport, 1910). Eugenic theory was based on a belief in the genetic inheritance of a large number of social traits. At that time ‘genetic’ meant largely Mendelian heredity
where very complex traits were thought to be governed by one or two genes.
Between 1910 and 1935 Laughlin wrote up what became knownas the ‘model sterilization law’ that was used, in modified form, by a number of states (Reilly,1991). Through contacts with influential members of local chapters of the American Eugenics Society (AES), Laughlin and other eugenicists lobbied in a number of state legislatures on behalf of compulsory sterilization laws for institutionalized individuals deemed to be ‘genetically inferior’. In virtually all cases, itwas claimed that sterilization of genetic defectives
now would save millions of dollars in the future (Figure 2). By 1935 over 30 states had passed such laws. Well over 21,000 such sterilizations had taken place by 1935 and well over 60,000 by the 1960s (Paul, 1974; see Note). A court challenge to the onstitutionality
of such laws, Buck vs Bell in Virginia, was staged by pro-sterilization forces in 1925. The law was upheld at the state level and by the US Supreme court on appeal in 1927. It was in writing his majority opinion on this case that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes coined the oft-repeated phrase ‘Three generations of imbeciles are enough’ (Lombardo, 1985).
It is beyond the scope of this paper to describe in any detail the character of the progressive movement, but a few of its most central tenets will suggest how closely eugenic thinking managed to fit in with progressive philosophy. On the one hand, progressivism supported the ideology of scientific planning and management, that is, the new complex economics and other social developments could not be left simply to laissez-faire practices.
Get the idea? The law was structured to forbid certain marriages that, in the scientific view of the day, would weaken the species. Further, the state acquired the power to sterilize the "unfit" so that they could not reproduce.

Now, some states are considering financial restitution to some of those who were sterilized. See here:
An effort to compensate survivors of North Carolina's defunct sterilization program with cash payments received a jolt of bipartisanship when Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis vowed to see it through this year.

Thousands of North Carolina residents in the 20th century received surgeries through a state-sponsored eugenics program that left them unable to reproduce. A state panel often authorized sterilizations for people it found mentally feeble, promiscuous or too poor to raise children.

Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue supports $50,000 payments to the living victims. Tillis was one of four sponsors - two Democrats and two Republicans - of a compensation bill for the same amount.

"Every once in a while I feel like you have the chance to make history. Th
is is one of those chances," Tillis said on the House floor this month during debate on the bill. "This is an opportunity to say, 'we're going to put this to rest.'"

While lawmakers agree the program represents an awful chapter in state history, the idea of going further and securing monetary compensation for the victims has been a hard sell this year, especially for Tillis' fellow Republicans.
North Carolina laws enforced from 1929 to 1974 led to more than 7,600 people undergoing sterilizations. Some chose to be sterilized as a form of birth control. Up to 2,000 people who were sterilized may be alive. The state has verified 118 victims who are still living.

Then-Gov. Mike Easley formally apologized for the program in 2002. Compensation supporters say the tax-free money is a concrete way to show the state's regret. No other state with a similar program has agreed to make payments like North Carolina is considering.
Due to budget issues, the payments have yet to be authorized.

So, would you trust the state to now decide whether your genetic make up is so screwed up that you should not be allowed to procreate? Or should the state decide that certain persons are too big a drain on society to be allowed to continue living if they so choose?

I suspect, "death panels" aside, most of us want the state to keep its nose out of this business.

I do not want to step deeply into the abortion issue. I do note that there are some in the history of abortion in this country who saw the issue as being part of the eugenics process - a means of ridding society of the unfit who will become a burden on the taxpayers. Birth control was seen a way of perfecting the human race:
Let us first of all consider merely from the viewpoint of business and "efficiency" the biological or racial problems which confront us. As Americans, we have of late made much of "efficiency" and business organization. Yet would any corporation for one moment conduct its affairs as we conduct the infinitely more important affairs of our civilization? Would any modern stockbreeder permit the deterioration of his livestock as we not only permit but positively encourage the destruction and deterioration of the most precious, the most essential elements in our world community—the mothers and children. With the mothers and children thus cheapened, the next generation of men and women is inevitably below par. The tendency of the human elements, under present conditions, is constantly downward.

Turn to Robert M. Yerkes's "Psychological Examining in the United States Army"(1) in which we are informed that the psychological examination of the drafted men indicated that nearly half—47.3 per cent.—of the population had the mentality of twelve-year-old children or less—in other words that they are morons. Professor Conklin, in his recently published volume "The Direction of Human Evolution"(2) is led, on the findings of Mr. Yerkes's report, to assert: "Assuming that these drafted men are a fair sample of the entire population of approximately 100,000,000, this means that 45,000,000 or nearly one-half the entire population, will never develop mental capacity beyond the stage represented by a normal twelve-year-old child, and that only 13,500,000 will ever show superior intelligence."

Making all due allowances for the errors and discrepancies of the psychological examination, we are nevertheless face to face with a serious and destructive practice. Our "overhead" expense in segregating the delinquent, the defective and the dependent, in prisons, asylums and permanent homes, our failure to segregate morons who are increasing and multiplying—I have sufficiently indicated, though in truth I have merely scratched the surface of this international menace—demonstrate our foolhardy and extravagant sentimentalism. No industrial corporation could maintain its existence upon such a foundation. Yet hardheaded "captains of industry," financiers who pride themselves upon their cool-headed and keen-sighted business ability are dropping millions into rosewater philanthropies and charities that are silly at best and vicious at worst. In our dealings with such elements there is a bland maladministration and misuse of huge sums that should in all righteousness be used for the development and education of the healthy elements of the community.

At the present time, civilized nations are penalizing talent and genius, the bearers of the torch of civilization, to coddle and perpetuate the choking human undergrowth, which, as all authorities tell us, is escaping control and threatens to overrun the whole garden of humanity. Yet men continue to drug themselves with the opiate of optimism, or sink back upon the cushions of Christian resignation, their intellectual powers anaesthetized by cheerful platitudes. Or else, even those, who are fully cognizant of the chaos and conflict, seek an escape in those pretentious but fundamentally fallacious social philosophies which place the blame for contemporary world misery upon anybody or anything except the indomitable but uncontrolled instincts of living organisms. These men fight with shadows and forget the realities of existence. Too many centuries have we sought to hide from the inevitable, which confronts us at every step throughout life.

Let us conceive for the moment at least, a world not burdened by the weight of dependent and delinquent classes, a total population of mature, intelligent, critical and expressive men and women. Instead of the inert, exploitable, mentally passive class which now forms the barren substratum of our civilization, try to imagine a population active, resistant, passing individual and social lives of the most contented and healthy sort. Would such men and women, liberated from our endless, unceasing struggle against mass prejudice and inertia, be deprived in any way of the stimulating zest of life? Would they sink into a slough of complacency and fatuity?

No! Life for them would be enriched, intensified and ennobled in a fashion it is difficult for us in our spiritual and physical squalor even to imagine. There would be a new renaissance of the arts and sciences. Awakened at last to the proximity of the treasures of life lying all about them, the children of that age would be inspired by a spirit of adventure and romance that would indeed produce a terrestrial paradise. [Margaret L. Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization, 1922, Chapter XII]
Well, we all know where carrying that plan of eliminating the "unfit" has led in the past.

In some cultures, the "unfit" who don't follow mainstream thinking are branded as "infidels" and forced to convert or die.

All of which brought me back to a book I read when I was about 13 or 14. Eric Frank Russell's planet of Gand, which introduced me "MYOB" - and you can read about it here:
‘A man has duties. He has no right to refuse those.’

‘No?’ She raised tantalizing eyebrows, delicately curved. ‘Who defines those duties—himself or somebody else?’

‘His superiors most times.’

‘Superiors,’ she scoffed with devastating scorn. ‘No man is superior to another. No man has the slightest right to define another man’s duties. If anyone on Terra exercises such impudent power it is only because idiots permit him to do so. They fear freedom. They prefer to be told. They like to be ordered around. They love their chains and kiss their manacles. What men!’
Amazing what happens when you allow other people to mind your business.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Back to Blogging!

Had a nice holiday, regular blogging to resume as soon as I clear the decks of all the other stuff that has accumulated over the last week.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiday Routine

Light blogging this week.

It's holiday week with family visiting.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

UPDATE: Pretty quiet here now after the hectic pie/turkey/salad/vegetables/stuffing/mashed potatoes/cranberry sauce excitement of yesterday.

I was just thinking of why Thanksgiving is a really good holiday.

We gathered as family and friends, met some new friends, shared many memories, had some laughs and some reflective moments about those no longer with us in person. We had a chance to review successes and the other results. Contemplating good health news and those lingering things that getting older brings.

While the breaking of bread together is important - it's the people that matter most at Thanksgiving. For them and for the blessings of the past year, it is good to take a pause.

Not having to struggle with gifts issues and working together to put the capstone meal together - it's a sweeter holiday for it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On Midrats Sunday, Nov 18, 2012- Capt Wayne Hughes in Episode 150: "Policy, Fleet Size, and the Navy Next"

Join us this coming Sunday at 5pm Eastern U.S. as we talk with Capt. Wayne Hughes, USN (Ret)on Midrats, Episode 150: "Policy, Fleet Size, and the Navy Next" on Blog Talk Radio:
"If we cannot have the navy estimates of our policy, then let's have the policy of our navy estimates."---- Lieutenant Ambroise Baudry, French Navy

As our guest this week noted in his book Fleet Tactics: Theory and Practice, "These are the watchwords for the twenty-first-century American navy."

As we leave our land wars in Asia and look forward to the future maritime challenges of our nation, what size and kind of Fleet should the US Navy have?

How will budgets impact the size and nature of our Fleet, and how will that impact the ability of the Navy to meet what it will be asked to do?

What are the major schools of thought on what should drive our Fleet design, and what does history have to tell us about where we should head, and what we should be cautious of?

Our guest for the full hour to discuss this and a lot more will be Wayne Hughes, Captain, USN (Ret), who in addition to being the author of innumerable books and articles, is a Professor, Department of Operations Research at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.

Captain Hughes received an MS in Operations Research from NPS in 1964, and returned in 1979 and continued as a civilian instructor for thirty-two years, including 5 years as Dean of the Graduate School of Operational and Information Sciences, he is a Distinguished Alumnus of NPS.

On active duty he commanded a minesweeper, a destroyer, and directed a large training command. Ashore, he was Deputy Director of the CNO’s Systems Analysis (OP-96), and Aide to Under Secretary of the Navy R. James Woolsey.
Join us live here (and you can listen/download the show from there later, too) or pick the show up on iTunes here.

Things I Would Pay $15 to Watch Online: "The Fiscal Cliff: What Does This Mean for Defense and National Security?"

Dear U.S. Naval Institute:

You have many wonderful programs and forums that are held in Washington, DC, Norfolk, VA, Annapolis, MD and San Diego, CA.

I would like to attend them all. Sadly, though, I do not live in Washington, Norfolk, etc.

In order to attend a forum in DC, for example, I would have to incur travel costs including airfare, hotel, meals, cab fare and/or gas. In addition, it means time off from work or projects.

Even if the admission to the forum is free or at a reduced price I am still looking at substantial out of pocket costs.

So, here's a plea from the hinterlands, next time you plan an event like the 2012 Defense Forum Washington: The Fiscal Cliff: What Does This Mean for Defense and National Security?, please consider offering an option of allowing virtual attendance - I'd be happy to pay for the privilege of being able to watch and listen in on my laptop or desktop computer. Since my admission price to the live event is $15 (being a USNI member), I'd pay that (and perhaps a little more) to save the hundreds of other dollars of having to travel hither and yon.

The quality doesn't have to be particularly high. The main thing is the access for me and others who would love to join in. Virtually.

Virtual attendance may allow younger officers and junior enlisted to join in while remaining at their duty stations.

I know that there are companies that provide technical assistance in such things here in the 21st Century.

I also note that may other organizations put on live video programs including The Heritage Foundation and The Cato Institute.

Please consider this idea.

Thank you.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Worst Post Veterans Day Idea Ever: "John Kerry's Name Being Floated for Defense Secretary"

Why not just issue an invitation to a Vietnam Veteran's March on Washington to oppose this incredibly stupid idea? John Kerry's Name Being Floated for Defense Secretary:
The Washington Post reports that President Obama is "considering" asking Kerry to take the post, currently occupied by Leon Panetta. The 74-year-old Panetta is expected to step down sometime next year, and when combined with Clinton's planned retirement, and the unplanned resignation of David Patreaus at the CIA, the entire national security team will need to be overhauled.
If Mr. Obama had announce this "considering" before the election, we could have saved a lot of trouble. . .

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans Day

Some interesting numbers:
21.5 million The number of military veterans in the United States in 2011
When They Served
7.5 million Number of Vietnam-era veterans in 2011.

5.1 million served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present);

1.8 million in World War II (1941-1945);

2.4 million in the Korean War (1950-1953);

5.4 million in peacetime only.*

51,079 Number of living veterans in 2011 who served during the Vietnam era and both Gulf War eras and no other period.

Other living veterans in 2011 who served during three wars:

43,942 served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam era.

Living veterans in 2011 who served during two wars and no other period:

876,663 served during both Gulf War eras.
205,205 served during both the Korean War and the Vietnam era.
129,972 served during both World War II and the Korean War.
314,000,000 U.S. citizens, 22 million veterans or 7% of the population is composed of veterans.

To all of them, thanks!

*"Peacetime?"  I wonder if that includes the Cold War? Really ought to be given a little credit.

Friday, November 09, 2012

The Next Ice Age Cometh, But Slowed By Man?

With a hat tip to Instapundit and a link to my earlier post Sea Levels and Ice Ages, now comes a new scientific report, "Human Carbon Emissions Seen by Researchers Holding Back Ice Age":
Human emissions of fossil carbon into the atmosphere and the resulting increase in temperatures may be holding off the next ice age, according to research from Sweden’s University of Gothenburg.

“We are probably entering a new ice age right now,” Lars Franzen, a professor of physical geography at the university, was cited as saying in an online statement today. “However, we’re not noticing it due to the effects of carbon dioxide.”
. . . “If we accept that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to an increase in global temperature, the logical conclusion must be that reduced levels lead to a drop in temperature.”
There does seem to be a sort of logic in that.

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
          --- Robert Frost

Things to Worry About: Japan and China and some islands in the East China Sea

Daniel Blumenthal at Foreign Policy's Shadow Government blog, on "Why the Japan-China Senkaku dispute is the most explosive issue in Asia":
While the United States affirmed that the U.S.-Japan treaty covers the Senkakus, there still is a disagreement between Washington and Tokyo over who has sovereignty over the islands. This disagreement dates back to the 1970s and is yet another manifestation of the careless and rushed way in which Washington handled its normalization with China.
Arrow indicates disputed area. Sea lanes in purple (from CIA map).
Update: Another effort to show the disputed area

Japan feels isolated, and cannot understand why Washington remains neutral over this sovereignty dispute. Japan has a point. The United States has dined out on a neutral stance -- falling back on apathy toward the outcomes of territorial disputes throughout Asia, as long as they are "resolved peacefully" -- for a long time. This position was reasonable enough when China was weak and unable to press its claims, but those days are over. Is the United States really agnostic about the outcome of territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas? Of course not. It does not want conflict, but neither does it want China to control territories that sit along important sea lanes.
Of course, sea lanes are vital, but as noted here:

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Post Election Thoughts

I think the election process has identified the main issues with which we are confronted.

My thoughts are summed up in the old Toby Keith song:

Thank you.This ends my post election thoughts.

Things to Read

Al Qaeda does PR inside our OODA loop,from The Long War Journal: Zawahiri says raids on diplomatic facilities were 'defeats' for US.

From The Small Wars Journal, Chairman Mao vs. President Assad: People’s War in Syria

A disturbing factoid about Mexican drug cartels from The Small Wars Journal Blog here:
. . . conflict between organized criminal groups has resulted in the beheading of 1,303 people in five years . . .

When ignorance of an industry hurts us all, Rep. Ed Markey (Dolt, Mass) can't seem to grasp why an offshore oil lease is not a sure thing, as set out in this Oil and Gas Journal Markey's 'use it-lose it' logic:
Markey seems to believe that if an oil company bids for and wins a tract of federal land, it already knows hydrocarbons underlie the area.

He would rather that we pay no attention to the tens of millions of acres that federal agencies have declared off-limits to leasing or exploration to appease environmental activists.

Markey charged, "The oil companies are sitting on huge reserves of oil they're not even using, and they come back asking for more areas to be opened up for them to drill (OGJ Online, Oct. 23, 2012)."

It's not clear how Markey knows oil and gas underlie leases that haven't been drilled. Perhaps he is offering himself as a geological consultant, because companies would certainly like to know in advance—without having to spend millions to drill—where hydrocarbons lie.
Thoughts on the future of the U.S. Navy from U.S. Naval Institute's Proceedings, Disruptive Technologies: The Navy's Way Forward:
For the U.S. Navy in the 21st century, robotic and unmanned systems will create a dramatic reorganization on par with the introduction of steam propulsion or the aircraft carrier. While the Navy and land services have embraced unmanned vehicles in air operations, similar surface and subsurface vehicles have been badly lagging. With less than 1 percent of Department of Defense funding for these types of craft in Fiscal Year 2011, unmanned maritime systems have no fielded programs of record in the Navy’s main warfare communities.
The United States is in the best position to invent a dominant naval force of the future. Once it builds the infrastructure to create the future Navy, China and other potential rivals’ investments in creating and countering industrial navies will look more like a massive blunder than a threat.
UPDATE: All the news from the battleground of Yemen you will find time to read at Armies of Liberation

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Sea Levels and Ice Ages

For those of you contemplating buying beach front homes in the next 100 years or so, here's a cautionary report that seas are rising faster than previously projected, "Could Estimates of the Rate of Future Sea-Level Rise Be Too Low?":
Sea levels are rising faster than expected from global warming, and University of Colorado geologist Bill Hay has a good idea why. The last official IPCC report in 2007 projected a global sea level rise between 0.2 and 0.5 meters by the year 2100. But current sea-level rise measurements meet or exceed the high end of that range and suggest a rise of one meter or more by the end of the century.
For those of you still following the "English" system, one meter is a little over 3 feet.

For those of you seeking some geologic background, consider this:
During most of the last 1 billion years the earth had no permanent ice. However, sometimes large areas of the globe were covered with vast ice sheets. These times are known as ice ages.
So, "no permanent ice" for a billion years or so, but now it is a crisis? Well, if you live along the sea, as something like 80% of the world's population does.

I am not a climate change denier, as I have repeatedly stated. But I am interested in how often the earth's climate has changed and when.

"KYA" means "thousand years ago"
Around 15,000 years ago much of North America (okay, almost all of Canada and a big swath of the northern U.S.) was covered by a big glacier. See the graphic I have liberated from the Illinois State Museum that shows the retreat of that glacier ice, leaving us, among other things, the Great Lakes.

One thing
Ice ages are recurring periods in the Earth's history, usually thousands or tens of thousands of years in length, when the entire Earth experiences colder climatic conditions. During these periods, enormous continental glaciers called ice sheets cover large areas of the Earth’s surface. Ice ages are separated by warmer periods called interglacial periods. Several ice ages have occurred throughout our planet's history. The last ice age peaked about 18,000 years ago, after which the Earth again began to warm.
Recent cycles of advancing and retreating ice sheets have occurred approximately every 100,000 years. Each cycle consists of a long, generally cold period during which the ice sheets slowly reach their maximum size, and a relatively short, warm period during which the ice sheets rapidly retreat.

We are now in a warm period that has lasted more than 10,000 years, which is longer than many of the previous warm intervals. If the pattern of glacial cycles holds true, scientists believe the Earth is soon due for another cold period. In the 1800s, global temperatures began decreasing during a period known as the Little Ice Age. Currently, patterns indicate that the Earth is nearing the end of an interglacial period, meaning that another ice age is predicted in a few thousand years.
So, short term planning would suggest not buying land on low-lying barrier islands or in south Florida. Longer term planning would suggest stocking up on down vests.

Then there is the Milankovitch theory:
These three factors—tilt, orbital shape, and precession—combine to create changes in climate. Since these dynamics are operating on different time scales, their interactions are complicated. Sometimes their effects reinforce each other and sometimes they tend to cancel each other. For example, 11,000 years from now when precession has caused the Northern Hemisphere summer to begin in December, the effect of an increase in solar radiation at the perihelion in January and decrease at the aphelion in July will exaggerate Northern Hemisphere seasonal differences rather than soften them as is the case today.
Oh good, something to look forward to.

UPDATE: Wondering why this post appears on a maritime security blog? Ships being built today and planned for in the near term and the naval and Coast Guard force the United States must include thinking about such matters as a changing coastline in the U.S. and abroad.

The Ship of State Sails On

A little Longfellow in the morning:
O Ship of State

Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
'Tis of the wave and not the rock;
'Tis but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee.
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee, -are all with thee!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Sunday on Midrats - Episode 148: "Pre-Election Pontifications"

Join us on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 5pm Eastern U.S for
Episode 148: Pre-Election Pontifications by Midrats on Blog Talk Radio:
Tired of the robo-calls? Tired of the same-old-same-old election babble on the TV and radio?

Well, take a break from it all and join Sal from "CDR Salamander" and EagleOne from "EagleSpeak" this Sunday from 5-6pm as they cover the maritime and national security board from stem to stern in a Midrats free-for-all.

Now is the time to call in and ask questions of the hosts on the topics you want addressed, or jump in the chat room and steer the conversation the direction you want covered.

Open mic at Midrats ... join in!
If you can't join us for the fun, you can listen later here or from our iTunes page.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

How Not to Win Debates: Censor people you disagree with

Okay, I get it, Facebook has rules for what it allows on its site.

When you have rules, you have to apply them fairly or people will notice.

So, when the Special Operations Speaks guys put up the image below on their Facebook site and Facebook took down twice, later admitting it was wrong to do so because the image does not violate Facebook rules, well, it looks like some sensitive soul at Facebook had just decided to have a fine old censorship party.

If Facebook doesn't want to allow people to be critical of, say, President Obama, they need to add that to their rules. Because, otherwise, it just looks like they can't handle opposing views.

The image that offended somebody at Facebook:

Whether SOS is right or not, yanking the image kinda stifles discussion, doesn't it?

And it sure looks like the thing in Libya is something that needs to be discussed.

In any event, good for Facebook fixing the mess they created.

As for the employee who yanked the SOS image - well, it looks like a lot more people are going to see it now that you made it into a controversy. So, congratulations, you really screwed the pooch.

Now let the discussion begin.

Hurricane Sandy Recovery: Navy Orders Some Amphibs to the New York Area to Standby

Navy Chief of Information, Rear Adm. John Kirby, clarifies:
USS Wasp (LHD-1)
There have been a number of media reports today discussing the Navy’s role in providing support to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. I wanted to take a minute to clean things up a bit. Right now, the only official tasking the Navy has received is to provide contract support in obtaining industrial size pumps for the Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to dewater areas of New York City.

It is true that the Navy is moving ships to be closer to the areas affected by the hurricane; however these ships have not been officially tasked to provide support.

USS San Antonio (LPD-17)
Yesterday, the helicopter carrier USS Wasp (LHD 1), which was already at sea riding out the storm, began to head north to be better positioned. And today the Fleet Commander ordered two other amphibious ships, USS San Antonio (LPD-17) and USS Carter Hall (LSD-50), to get underway and likewise head north.

USS Carter Hall (LSD-50)
These decisions provide national and local decision makers maximum flexibility and options should there be a need for Navy support. Most importantly, this will allow our forces to be best postured to minimize the amount of time it will take these forces to get on station if tasked.

Any and all such support will be coordinated through U.S. Northern Command. While the military plays an important role in disaster response, all our efforts are in support of FEMA first and foremost.