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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Things to Appreciate

Post Christmas things to be thankful for:

  1. Volunteers: People who devote time to the Red Cross, Boys and Girl Scouts, 4H, Rotary, Lions Clubs, the USO, volunteer firefighters and the many, many other organizations that help make the United States an amazing place to live and work. 
  2. Hobbyists: Another thing I like is the number of Americans who take time to do things like restoring old cars, set up model railroads, make and run radio controlled cars and airplanes, chunk pumpkins, participate in the Society for Creative Anachronism and the thousands of other activities that make us all more interesting.
  3. The all-voluntary military. 
  4. Engineers: The people who make it work. Mostly in a seamless fashion.
  5. Innovators: Having a vision of the how things could be and then acting on it. 
  6. Doctors and nurses and the whole medical world. The medical payment system may be a mess, but they are saving more lives that ever and treating things that most of us have never ever heard of until we get it.
  7. People who enjoy taking their work seriously. Nothing makes my day more than finding that person who knows what they are doing, enjoys doing what they do and then does it so well that every one they touch with their work feels better.
  8. Leaders who understand that leadership is a service,making sure that the people you serve as a leader have the tools and training needed to do their jobs. Leaders who are so good that they live up to Sun Tzu's “A leader leads by example, not by force” 
  9. Mistakes you learn from.
  10. Children. 
  11. A good dog. 
  12. Most of all - my wife.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Please include a thought during this season for those on watch around the world.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Repeated Note on a Call for Small, Numerous Ships

Way back in 2008 we were discussing the shaping of the U.S. Navy fleet at The Time is Right for Revolution and the links therein. Part of that discussion follows:

CDR Salamander's Maritime Strategy Monday: the Revolt of the Commanders ought to stir up discussion - though I am not sure how many "flag bound" O-6s are reading blogs critical of the group think that has put us where we are. I do know that when on exercises it was common to acknowledge that some issues were "too hard" or "too time consuming" to let them dominate the exercise, though in real life one will not be able to "assume away" such problems.

In my view, during my last days being involved with such matters, we were not training senior officers in how to fight and how hard that fighting is against a determined enemy who has had time to build forces designed to exploit your well-known weaknesses.

So when CDR S calls for a "commander's revolt" I understand his frustration. And note that John Boyd paid for his revolution heavily while lesser men gained from his insight. The would-be revolutionaries need to understand the risks.

These commanders need some political help from someone who understands that we shouldn't have billion dollar ships doing missions poorly that could be done better by having many more mission-designed ships. To use a famous Navy phrase, "any ship can be a mine sweeper once." Real minesweepers can be reused after they have swept a channel- multibillion dollar "capital ships" cannot.

Given the promise of "network centric warfare," merely connecting a few huge platforms under-utilizes the potential for linking many small ships for greater tactical flexibility. Or, as Captain Wayne Hughes writes in Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat (p.286):
We have seen that the number of ships is the most valuable attribute that a fleet can have. We also saw that many small ships offer more tactical flexibility... The U.S. Navy is composed of large, highly capable ships, many of which have area defense capability. It was for defense more than for offense that the American navy sacrificed numbers for quality.*
The asterisk is to his footnote:
Another reason is because of the economies of scale. A large ship with three times the displacement of a small one will have three or more times the payload and probably only cost twice as much. Sometimes the ship must be big to carry and operate its payload, modern carrier aircraft illustrate. A large ship is also more comfortable for long cruises in many kinds of weather.
Hughes needs to be listened to. Sometimes the economies of scale and crew comfort need to be weighed against other factors, like winning wars and not being afraid to send your expensive ships into harm's way.
Where are we five years on? We are still having the same discussion - albeit the number of Littoral Combat Ships (more properly, "Littoral Drone Carriers" or LDCs) is growing. Exactly where the vast drone force is right now is unclear, though drones ought to be cheaper and easier to build in most ways - just turn the job over to robots as GM has done to most of its automobile manufacturing.

Smaller, faster, cheaper and dispersed in the theater where that matters (Southeast Asia) ought to be the U.S. Navy mantra for the next few months and years.

Not to the exclusion of the big gray hulls - as an adjunct force, not a replacement.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Fun Film: "Face of a Nation" - Aircraft Carrier Operations in 1967

Aircraft carrier operations from 46 years ago. Sounds to me like it is narrated by Henry Fonda.

The more things change . . .

Thursday, December 19, 2013

China Does Counter-Piracy, Gets Experience in Blue Water Naval Operations

Part of GOA PLAN anti-piracy drill in 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]
U.S. Naval War College Publication, No Substitute for Experience: Chinese Antipiracy Operations in the Gulf of Aden by Andrew Ericson and Austin Strange (pdf). From the conclusion:
*** China’s process of gaining Far Seas experience is not simply one of increasing operational naval capabilities—it is far broader. Antipiracy operations conveniently enable China both to respond to internal and external pressures to act on the international stage and to raise significantly the overall ability of its increasingly powerful navy. The Gulf of Aden has challenged Beijing to adjudicate among multifarious, often contradictory, domestic and international forces. As the first major window into China’s Far Seas operations and its approach thereto, it foreshadows how Beijing will take its place in the world as its interests expand and its actions impact others more strongly.

Christmas Discussions and Freedom from Government

All the President's men (?) seem to have decided what the focal point of my Christmas season ought to be:

While the image has received enough well-deserved ridicule on Twitter and elsewhere to fill a large chunk of the an internet archive, of more concern to me is this government's idea that all of my holidays are now fair game for discussions of governmental policy.

Trust me, if there are discussions of government policy in my house over the holidays, it will center on freedom from having the government advise of us what to "talk about."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Christmas Love and Gifting Car Disaster Kits

Looking for that last minute Christmas gift that says "I love you!" and yet isn't another useless trinket?

How about a disaster kit for the car? Yes, it's not sexy but . . . nothing says "I care" more.

For the car - well, if you want a completely insane list (very ,very complete) there is this.

For the rest of us, we need a kit tailored to our primary driving location and our driving plans. By "plan" I mean that if you intend to drive into the remote corners of Nebraska or Wyoming or driving the "loneliest road in America" in Nevada in the dead of winter or tour the great American deserts in the summer, you might want to pack a kit that will help you survive a problem 200 miles from nowhere.

On the other hand, if you are driving local roads you may need something - uh - less. So, if I may,
here's my list of things I like to see in a car or car trunk:
  1. Cell phone and charger
  2. Jumper cables
  3. Mechanics gloves
  4. Space blanket
  5. Poncho
  6.  First aid kit
  7. Multi-tool
  8. Duct tape
  9. Spare tire, lug wrench and a little board to put under the jack
  10. Kitty litter
  11. A quart of oil
  12. Extra engine coolant
  13. An LED lantern and a couple of LED headlamps with extra batteries
  14. A roadside reflector
  15. A couple of reflective safety vests
  16. 4 pints of drinking water
  17. A few zip lock baggies (gallon size)
  18. About 6 tie wraps/cable ties
  19. About 10 feet of plastic sheeting
  20. Some plastic garbage bags
  21. Ice scraper
  22. A roll of paper towels
All of that should fit nicely into one of those plastic milk carton things.My estimated cost for al the stuff (except the phone) is under $130. You could probably do it for less.

It's not a diamond necklace, but if things get rough for your loved one, this stuff may help them more than a piece of jewelry.

Wrap it up nicely. Give it with love.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Little Known Tale from World War II: Sherwood Forest, American Oil Workers and the War Effort

An article in the Oil and Gas Journal put me on to this fascinating saga from the American Oil and Gas Historical Society,
"Roughnecks of Sherwood Forest"
Two bronze statues separated by the Atlantic Ocean commemorate the achievements of World War II American roughnecks. The first stands in Dukes Wood near the village of Eakring in Nottinghamshire, England. Its twin greets visitors at Memorial Square in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

The seven-foot bronze statues, separated by more than 2,400 miles, commemorate 44 Americans who – during a critical time during the war – produced oil. They drilled in Sherwood Forest.
England’s principal fuel supplies came by convoy from Trinidad and America and were subjected to relentless Nazi submarine attacks. Meanwhile, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel’s rampaging North African campaign threatened England’s access to Middle East oilfield sources.
So, the Brits sought some American help and got 44 oil field workers ("roughnecks" in U.S. oil field terms), whose efforts helped create an "unsinkable tanker" during Britain's hours of great need for oil and its products to fight and to survive the war which had been raging for 3 years . . .
Using innovative methods, the Americans drilled an average of one well per week in Duke’s Wood, while the British took at least five weeks per well.
Submarine warfare, an American oil roughneck buried in a military cemetery in England and all of it a secret . . .

Read it all, it's a great story that ought to be more widely known.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Interesting Video: "Beyond Software: The Future of Conflict"

On my MP3 player is the audiobook version Peter Singer's Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century .

Below is a YouTube video of Mr. Singer leading a discussion with Admiral James Stavridis, USN (ret), Ms, Helen Greiner (iRobot co-founder), Col. Greg Conti, USA (Cyber Research Center, USMA) and investor/entrepreneur Yossi Vari on the topic of "Beyond Software: The Future of Conflict" - which makes some very interesting points. Enjoy!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Midrats Sunday 5pm (Eastern): Episode 206: Small Ships, Flotillas and the Requirements of Naval Supremacy

Please join us on Sunday for Midrats Episode 206: Small Ships, Flotillas and the Requirements of Naval Supremacy
For a maritime power with global requirements, what is the role of the small ship in times of peace and war?

What are the tradeoffs between quantity and capability, size and range, survivability and affordable?

Does the US Navy need a high-low mix or a Strike Group-Flotilla mix?

Where do our national requirements influence how we build our Fleet vs. the process other nations build theirs?

Do we have a sustainable path towards a balanced Fleet, or are we sailing on based on outdated charts?

To discuss this and more for the full hour will be returning guest U.S. Naval War College Center for Naval Warfare Studies Dean, Captain Robert C. Rubel, USN (Ret.)
15 Dec 13 at 5pm. Join us live or listen to the show later by clicking here

Watching China's Aircraft Carrier Gets Interesting for U.S. Navy Cruiser

USS Cowpens
A Bill Gertz report on international naval gamesmanship in the South China Sea as "Chinese Naval Vessel Tries to Force U.S. Warship to Stop in International Waters":
A Chinese naval vessel tried to force a U.S. guided missile warship to stop in international waters recently, causing a tense military standoff in the latest case of Chinese maritime harassment, according to defense officials.

The guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens, which recently took part in disaster relief operations in the Philippines, was confronted by Chinese warships in the South China Sea near Beijing’s new aircraft carrier Liaoning, according to officials familiar with the incident.

“On December 5th, while lawfully operating in international waters in the South China Sea, USS Cowpens and a PLA Navy vessel had an encounter that required maneuvering to avoid a collision,” a Navy official said.

“This incident underscores the need to ensure the highest standards of professional seamanship, including communications between vessels, to mitigate the risk of an unintended incident or mishap.”
The encounter appears to be part of a pattern of Chinese political signaling that it will not accept the presence of American military power in its East Asian theater of influence, Fisher said.

“China has spent the last 20 years building up its Navy and now feels that it can use it to obtain its political objectives,” he said.

Fisher said that since early 2012 China has gone on the offensive in both the South China and East China Seas.
China has made major claims to the South China Sea and this is one way to fight back.

Oh, if you are surprised by these antics, you may have missed China Kindly Sends Its "Slightly Used" Aircraft Carrier on Training Mission for U.S. Submarines in South China Sea.

Expect more of the same as the wanna-be "Bullies of the South China Sea" get push back from their neighbors and their neighbor's friends.

Is the U.S. a neighbor? Guam is good and in the neighborhood.

Friday Fun Film: Submarine News from 1959

Visiting the North Pole, a submarine launch in the Gulf of Mexico, mail by missile and more.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Help Put a Halt to "Sea Blindness" - USNI Defense Forum 2013

If you, like me, couldn't get to DC for USNI Defense Forum Washington 2013, read about and watch it here. One of the keys to keeping a strong Navy it to work hard at telling the country why we need a large and competent force - not letting, in the words of Royal Navy Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, "sea blindness" rob of us of a key element of national and international security.

Rep Randy Forbes (R, Va) spoke and wonders:
“When I look at what we’re doing in national defense today, I can’t help but think back to the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said that this country is still the best hope for the world, a treasure beyond comparison,” said Forbes, “and I wonder if we’re doing everything today to defend and protect it.”
There is much much more at the link.

Here's an interesting quote from SecNav Ray Mabus:
The Secretary explained that the past 4 1/2 years has afforded him a unique opportunity to observe the Navy and Marine Corps, and he shared that perspective with the audience. “The value of the Navy and Marine Corps is as apparent today as it was when the nation was founded,” he said. “The framers of the Constitution understood that we have to maintain a constant and persistent presence,” he explained, recounting the many campaigns in which the services have fought through the nation’s history. “In each of those the American Navy has maintained control of the seas and guaranteed freedom of navigation between those wars, and peaceful free trade, and in doing so, has underwritten its contribution to the growth of the world economy.” The Navy responds to every call, whether combat or humanitarian aid disaster relief, recalling recent aid missions to the Philippines, Japan, and Haiti. “It’s one of the things that we do, and we are very good at it.” In fact, he noted, the US receives requests for humanitarian assistance every two weeks -- and is the only naval service in the world being capable of performing that role. That also precludes the need for securing overflight rights or permission to base. Instead, he notes, “We [the Navy] don’t have to come in from anywhere; we are already there.”

How do we keep that presence? SECNAV Mabus explained that it requires four things: people, platforms, power, and partnerships. People are first because they are the most important asset, as the machines can’t operate without them. “We push responsibility, and we push authority down,” he explained. “We expect from junior sailors and junior officers great decision-making. We expect them to do these incredibly complex jobs and we expect them to do it every single day.”

With regard to platforms, the Secretary observed, “at some point quantity becomes a quality all its own. We have arrested the decline of the fleet.” ****
Go read, watch the videos and spread the word.

We need to put a halt to "sea blindness" in this country.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Prevent Hypothermia and Frostbite

I was watching television the other day when one of the characters got dunked in water and then began running into the woods on a cold day. The plot point was that this child was going into "hypothermia." "Well," I asked myself, "how long does it take to go from being okay to hitting that hypothermic wall?"

The short answer is "not all that long."

What is hypothermia? From the Center for Disease Control, hypothermia
When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.

Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.

Victims of hypothermia are often (1) elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; (2) babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; (3) people who remain outdoors for long periods—the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.; and (4) people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.

Recognizing Hypothermia

Warnings signs of hypothermia:

- shivering, exhaustion
- confusion, fumbling hands
- memory loss, slurred speech
- drowsiness

- bright red, cold skin
- very low energy
Can vigorous exercise stop hypthermia? Sure, up to the point where you stop and your sweat begins to cause a chilling effect. After running a marathon in freezing weather I couldn't seem to get warm fast enough. Knowing what I know now, I would have changed to dry clothes much quicker than I did.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"How to Make the Navy Bigger, Sooner, Cheaper" -A Revisit to 2008

Recently I was asked to provide some thoughts for "Corvette Week" over at
Coastal Command Patrol Boat  (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Joshua Scott)
 CIMSEC NextWar and came up with Cheaper Corvettes: COOP and STUFT like that, in which I suggested that if "payloads" are the key to the future then the "platform" end of some naval force could allow for a different approach to getting drones of various types out to sea and, even more importantly, out to where the action might be. There is a nice follow on Non-Traditional Drone Motherships by NavalDrones.

As some long-time reader may know, that CIMSEC post was not my first foray into trying to figure out a way to pay less to get more to meet a problem identified by former Navy Secretary Winter back in 2008. One of my efforts was to suggest an anti-piracy force on the cheap, How to Make the Navy Bigger, Sooner, Cheaper
Too much ocean, too many shorelines, too many needs, too few ships. What's a navy to do?
The high-speed experimental boat Stiletto

Secretary Winter wants analysis of the right ships to build and a more efficient process to build them. All of which is fine, but - there is a faster, cheaper path to get bigger, sooner at lower cost - putting hulls in the water while awaiting that analysis.

Here's my modest proposal:
  1. Take $250 million dollars and put it aside;
  2. Of that $250 million, use $100 million to buy or lease 50 to 100 offshore crew boats as currently used in the offshore oil industry (many of them are reaching the end of their expected useful life in the industry - you might be able to pick up some bargains).
  3. Invest $50 million in refurbishing the boats and in getting weapons for their decks. Turn them into "navalized" vessels. Make 22 knots the minimum acceptable speed.
  4. Do not try to make these low cost littoral combat ships into battleships for all conditions. Talk to the LCDRs who will be squadron commanders and the LTs who will be the commanding officers about what they would need to provide a presence, fight in a low threat environment against modestly armed pirates and the like, support occasional missions ashore and interdict drug smuggler semi-submersibles. Give them what they need in terms of state of the art comms using COTS (heck, load put a communication van on board if so that no time is wasted trying to rewire the little ships more than needed). Put in some comfortable berthing suited for the sea states in which these things (I call them Special Purpose Vessels or SPVs) will operate.
  5. Under no cirmcumstance should the total U.S. Navy investment in any single SPV exceed $2 million, excluding the cost of adding weapons systems (adding a M-1 Abrams, for example) and the personnel costs.
  6. Make the project a 12 month "emergency" - and kill the bureaucracy that would ordinarily take on this job - find a hard charging Captain, make him or her report directly to SecNav and tell them what the mission and the budget will be. Then get out of the way except for monthly status reports.
  7. Over the horizon radar system
  8. Find a group of O-3s who are ready for command and who can think for themselves and train the heck out of them by letting them go to sea in the type of ships that you are acquiring, let them learn from the masters of current offshore supply and crew vessels. Find some O-4s who can take hold of the idea of being a squadron commander of a 5 ship squadron and train them in mission like that being conducted by the Africa station.
  9. Borrow some Army Rangers or fleet Marines and train them in the ship boardings, small boat ops, shipboard firefighting and ship defense. Treat them like the Marines of old. Stress people skills appropriate for counter-terrorism work.
  10. Lease some ships to be used as "tenders" for the SPVs - small container ships on which the containers can be shops, supply warehouses, refrigerator units, etc. Bladders for fuel. Use the Arapaho concept to set up a flight deck for helo ops.
  11. Be generous with UAV assets - use the small "net recoverable" types.
  12. Don't limit the small boat assets to RHIBs. Experiment with M-ships, small go-fasts captured from drug dealers, whatever. The idea is to have boats that can operate in one sea state worse than the pirates, drug smugglers, etc.
  13. Falklands war - container ship landing deck
  14. Use the MIUW van concept for adding some sonar capability. TIS/VIS is a necessity.
Start with a couple of squadrons, tell your O-6 that you want them ready in 6 months for operational testing. Unleash the budget dollars. For op testing, send one squadron off to the coast of Somalia for anti-pirate work. Send the other off Iraq. Put those expensive great big cruisers and destroyers currently in the area to work doing blue water stuff.

Paint Coast Guard like stripe on the hull of the SPVs - but make it Navy blue. If the Coasties want to join in, give them a boat and paint the stripe orange. Make the SPVs highly visible. Nothing deters crime like a visible cop on the beat.
I have made some spelling corrections and other modifications from my original post - and would probably add "offshore Gulf of Guinea" as a training zone for the force.

Further, the rapid development of drones of various types opens up lots of new possibilities for using this on-the-cheap "influence squadrons" (with apologies to CAPT Hendrix) to try out new approaches to littoral operations or inshore work. As Admiral Harvey pointed out during his recent appearance on Midrats (starting about24:20), the littorals are a complex world and even non-state actors are in possession of weapons capable of striking out at ships off shore. If you read CDR Salamander's post on a training accident in which a target drone managed to smack into a cruiser The CHANCELLORSVILLE Shrug it is worth reading the comments of Steeljaw Scribe concerning the potential issues facing ships operating close to shore facing a high speed missile threat:
What the BQM did isn't trivial by a long stretch...but consider this - take a 6,000lb+ telephone pole that has been burning liquid fuel to push it to between Mach 2.5 - 3.0; even if the large HE/SAP warhead doesn't fuse and detonate imagine the damage it would cause if C-ville had been hit in the same spot. As for the "shootshootshootshoot" the reality is if you are relying on ownship sensors and kinetic kill, you won't get past the "Oh Shit.." preamble (do the math -- 60-70 nm @ Mach 2.5 - 3.0 and 100 ft or below. And let's just say there are multiple missiles inbound because only Hollywood TTP shoots missiles in a stream raid of 1. We are fast moving beyond the capabilities of chemical-based weaponry to address an extant near-hypersonic threat in the terminal kinetic realm. We absolutely must be there to address the hypersonic threat that will begin to manifest itself before the end of this decade. Fortunately we have folks working on a number of solutions -- but I fear for I also hear a lot of whistling past the graveyard, especially at certain pay grades/GS/SES levels. w/r, SJS
CDR S and I have discussed before the realities of the short reaction window available to ship drivers who operate in restricted waters. One possibility is to come up with technical fixes that allow you to move your force sufficiently offshore to create some breathing space and allow counter-battery fire to be employed. However, if you look at the realities of the world we live on, the areas we most need to operate in are not all in deep blue water with infinite sea room to operate in. Instead, they are mostly narrow seas in which stand-off capability may, in fact, take you out of the fight and moving into the restricted area exposes large ships to numerous threats.

As I note in the CIMSEC post, one benefit of the use of smaller, cheaper ships with lots of drones is the increase it causes in targeting to your opponent. Given that no one in the fight has an infinite number of bullets, forcing your opponent to have to make hard choices on what to shoot at can only be good thing.

Influence squadrons, indeed! More platforms, more payloads, less money. Win,win, win.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Sulu Sea: "Five fishermen shot dead in Philippine sea attack"

Not sure this is piracy or some sort of fishing turf war or something else, "Five fishermen shot dead in Philippine sea attack":
Gunmen aboard a speedboat shot dead five members of a fishing crew in a mysterious attack in the seas of the southern Philippines, the coast guard said Saturday.

The five were part of a fishing fleet off the troubled southern islands of Sulu when the gunmen attacked them on Friday, said coast guard spokesman Lieutenant Jomark Angue.

Even as the five leapt overboard, the gunmen riddled them with bullets, then sped off. Only three of the bodies were recovered, he said.

The attackers were suspected to be pirates Angue added. But it was unclear why they would attack the fishing boat crew.

Law-enforcement sources said the attack might be part of an extortion attempt by armed groups operating in Sulu, an impoverished, heavily-forested group of islands.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Join the Marines for the Holidays

Please make a monetary donation or give new toys before December 18.

More info at Toys for Tots.

No better friends . . .

Friday Fun Film: Foreign Trade

One of those Coronet films that social studies teachers used to drag in while they were off having a meeting somewhere.

Sea lines of commerce come into play.

Midrats Sunday 8 Dec 13 Episode 205: A 21st Century Navy With John C. Harvey, Jr, ADM USN (Ret)

Please join us on Sunday 8 Dec 13 at 5pm (Eastern U.S.) for Midrats Episode 205: A 21st Century Navy With John C. Harvey, Jr, ADM USN (Ret)
In less than a month we will be firmly in the middle of the 2nd decade of the 21st Century. What path were we put on at the start 21st Century that got us here? How do we evaluate the right decisions, the neutral decisions, and the less than optimal calls of the last decade and a half? What lessons can we take away now in order to make decisions to best position the Navy on the approaches to 2030?

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday to discuss this an much more will be Admiral John C. Harvey, Jr, USN (Ret).

Almost a year since he joined the retired ranks, when in uniform Admiral Harvey was one of the of the more engaged, visible, and accessible Flag Officers of his generation - and in retirement he continues to be an influential voice.

Admiral Harvey was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a 1973 graduate of the U S Naval Academy.

In his thirty-nine year Navy career, he specialized in naval nuclear propulsion, surface ship and carrier strike-group operations and Navy-wide manpower management/personnel policy development.

He commanded the USS DAVID R RAY (DD 971), the USS CAPE ST GEORGE (CG 71), the THEODORE ROOSEVELT Strike Group/CCDG-8 and also served as the Navy’s 54th Chief of Naval Personnel and as the Director, Navy Staff.

Prior to his retirement from the Navy in November, 2012, Admiral Harvey served as Commander, US Fleet Forces Command. He now makes his home in Vienna, Virginia where he resides with his wife, Mary Ellen.
Join us live or, if you can't make it live, pick up the show later by clicking here.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Iran: Accidental Truth and More

Iran's Self-Proclaimed Helicopter Carrier (Room for 2)
Best headline of the day from Iran's Fars News "Iran’s Naval Presence in High Seas No Threat to Any Country". Truer words are hard to come by, especially from Iran's media.

 Too bad the chief of their Navy didn't say exactly that. What he said was,
“While the Navy’s measures in the region enjoy a full deterrent and repelling power against threats, they are in line with maintaining regional security and pose no threat to the friendly states,” Sayyari said, addressing the foreign military attach├ęs in Tehran on Tuesday.
I added the emphasis. As far I can tell, the definition of a "friendly" state was not given, but I assume North Korea is safe.

During the same speech, Rear Admiral Sayyari also indicated a planned transit of Iranian ships through the Mediterranean into the Atlantic. If they stay close to the shore, they ought to be able to use radar navigation the whole long way.

As the crow flies, it's about 3200 nautical miles from Bandar Abbas to Gibraltar. Ships are not crows, though, so it is somewhat longer sea voyage.

By way of reference, it's about 2200 nautical miles (as the crow flies) from San Diego to Honolulu and there are no stops along the way.

Yes, baby steps to world domination, I know.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Extreme Cold Weather or Baby, It's Cold Outside

The first step in preparing for extremely cold weather consists of deciding whether you can make it to Florida before the storm hits.

In the alternative, the first step should consist of making plans well in advance of any storm.

Let's say you are in one of those states in which extreme winter weather is common or where ice storms and/or a few inches of snow are show stoppers. You may be housebound for several days. Electricity may go off. Your house will get cold and you may have to acknowledge that those little annoying creatures you have seen intermittently around are, in fact, your children.

A simple plan:
(1) Have enough water (see here). 3 gallons per person per day. Maybe a shelf with a cases of bottled water is a good idea.

(2) Have non-perishable food. Peanut butter and honey. Canned soups (get the kind that don't need to have water added!). . . tins of sardines, tuna fish, canned chicken, chili, mac and cheese . Plan on 5 days of living on your supplies including feeding those kids. Better make sure the kids will eat whatever you set aside. As a treat you can drink warm Jello. Buy a hand-powered can opener.

(3) Have some sort of alternate means of heating food and boiling water for coffee, tea or warm Jello. A camp stove is a good idea (use in well-ventilated areas). If you can get out to the charcoal grill or have a gas grill and can cook outside, well, there you go. Never ever use charcoal inside the house. If you use a camp stove, have some spare propane cylinders. Budget the use of the stove, because you may need it for a few days.

(4) Have flashlights, candle lantern (see here) and other light sources ready and have extra batteries and candles. Get an emergency radio - one with a "crank" to charge it and perhaps with a cell phone battery charger feature.

(5) Have plans to set up a "warm room" in which you and yours can huddle together while closing off the rest of your home. If you have an adequate supply of firewood (5 days?) then that might be the room with the fireplace in it. If you don't have enough firewood set aside, remember that when the fire goes out, lots of warm air goes up the chimney. Gather plenty of blankets, sleeping bags, comforters and the like. If you have space, it is not a bad idea to set up a camping tent as an internal shelter where you and yours (include the dogs and cats- they generate heat) can huddle together. Share sleeping bags or covers. Cuddle for warmth. As noted here:
If the power goes and you don’t have an alternative source of heat, then it’s time to go camping. Set up a tent in your living room and pile your family and pets inside under sleeping bags and blankets. The tent will keep your body heat trapped inside, and you’ll stay much warmer than you would in a large room. If you don’t have a tent, then you can easily make one out of blankets and furniture.

(6) Have lots of thick plastic sheeting, duct tape and nails. Just in case you lose a window or door or part of your roof, you can create an emergency patch.

(7) Have a supply of hand warmer packets. I like these especially if, for some reason, your kids are at home without your expert guidance because you can't get home. These things can generate some serious heat to help them hunker down until help arrives.

(8) Have practiced what to do well in advance of a storm so that even the kids understand how to protect themselves from freezing to death. The basics of setting up an inside the home camp ought to be easy enough- kids understand making tents using blankets and with an LED lantern and experience using hand warmer packets they ought to do fine. Make sure every knows how to change batteries in the lights and have a couple of spares about. Most kids old enough to be home alone can make up a warm bed and be taught that having drinking water and some food is vital (peanut butter is your friend). They do not need to light fires or use camp stoves unless they are old enough to do so safely. Having a Boy Scout in the house is a good thing. Also, it will help if the kids know that "old Mrs. Smith" is next door if they need an adult - in fact, Mrs. Smith may welcome the company. Probably a good idea to set up that relationship before the need arises, though.

(9) For goodness sake, ahead of time buy or create a cheap emergency toilet kit. Make sure you have toilet bags, wipes, etc. The alternatives are . . . poor.

(10) Take care of your pets. Food, water and the like. Dogs and cats are easier to deal with than fish and turtles given their habitats.

(11) Have fire extinguishers available. Nothing good happens when burning down the house in winter.

(12) Be smart.

NOAA and Red Cross Winter Storm Preparedness Guide:

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

North Korea: Power Struggle at the Top

The Current Kim-in-Charge of the NORKS
It could be the sign of a long winter in North Korea, as  the wooly caterpillar heads begin to roll including Kim Jong-un's uncle, as reported by the BBC in "North Korea powerbroker 'dismissed'":
A powerful uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been removed from his post, South Korean media reports say.

Citing South Korea's intelligence agency, they say Chang Song-thaek, 67, lost his position as vice-chairman of the North's top military body.

Two close aides were also executed for corruption, according to the reports.
The NORK management style seems to allow the leader to point the finger at everyone else for the failures and failings of major domestic and international issues.

The current Kim-in-Power wants to be make sure he is the "Un and only."

Monday, December 02, 2013

Cheapening the Discussion of Corvettes (ships not cars)

CIMSEC asked for it, and I gave it to them "Cheaper Corvettes: COOP and STUFT like that"
U.S. Navy test missile firing drone
It occurs to me that we need to take the thinking that developed the WWII escort aircraft carrier (CVE) and model it down to a ship that is a “drone” carrier (and by “drone” I mean unmanned vessels of any type- surface, subsurface and aerial) – like the LCS only in the smaller economy version.

After all, if the real weapons systems toted by the LCS are its drones, then virtually any vessel capable of lowering said drones into the water or into the air and hosting their command and control system can be a “drone carrier,” too. Such a ship becomes a “mother ship” for the drones.
Read the rest here.