Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Shipping in 2015

Once again for 2015 a big hat tip to the ICC International Maritime Bureau for their excellent work in capturing reported attacks on ships. Their work can be found at Live Piracy Map and Live Piracy Report. As they note,
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) is the world’s only non-governmental, manned centre receiving and disseminating reports of piracy and armed robbery 24 hours a day, across the globe.
Transparent statistics from IMB PRC is vital to raise awareness and encourage authorities to tackle piracy and armed robbery firmly.
Keeping that in mind, for 2015 here's a look at reported incidents in 2015:

 Compare that to 2014:

Once again, these assaults on shipping include a wide-range of acts, from hijackings to "sneak aboard and steal stuff" and perceived threats. Such attacks tend to occur in major shipping lanes and anchorages, such as the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, but also off the west coast of Africa near major oil ports. IMB guidance on reporting which:
.... follows the definition of Piracy as laid down in Article 101 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and Armed Robbery as laid down in Resolution A.1025 (26) adopted on 2 December 2009 at the 26th Assembly Session of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
Zooming in:

West Africa:

Indian Ocean:

 SE Asia:

Straits of Malacca and Singapore:

South China Sea:

 About 240 + incidents in 2015.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ha Ha Ha! Huh? "US military drafting 'new narrative' for ISIS war"

From the "We Really Do Have a Strategy and We'll Tell You What It Is As Soon As We Figure It Out Department," The Hill reports US military drafting 'new narrative' for ISIS war:
The U.S. military is seeking to craft a “new narrative” for the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), in part to push back on the growing perception that President Obama does not have a strategy.

Military officials on the Operation Inherent Resolve task force have recently formed a working group to formulate a "new narrative," defense officials told The Hill. Separately, the Joint Staff has drafted its own messaging document.

The steps are preliminary, and are part of a larger effort to better communicate the U.S.'s military strategy amid heavy criticism from Republican presidential candidates who say Obama is losing the battle against the terrorist group.

"To say there's no strategy is just flat out wrong," said Army Col. Christopher Garver, public affairs officer for the Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve. "If you want to have a debate about it, that's good, let's talk about it. But there is a strategy," he added.

The new working group will look at "how best to articulate what it is we're trying to do ... and do it in a concise easy to understand way," Garver said.
Ususally you have a "concise easy to understand" articulation of what you are trying to do before - you know - before you start committing forces and that sort of thing.

Something like "smashing ISIS and its fellow travelers into paste" might be a good start. Perhaps that lacks the proper "strategic vision."

Not like announcing fictional "red lines" or opening the door to the Russians to support the guy who you previously asserted needed to "go."

One place to start would be to have some idea how you want things to look when we are done with our mission. See here.

I can't believe that is really so hard to "articulate" without sounding like a Facebook breakup mantra - "It's complicated."

Graphic borrowed from here.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Layaway Cheer

More Christmas spirit with a slew of Christmas stories about generous people paying off strangers' Kmart and Walmart Layaway balances:

'Layaway Angels' Give Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars to Walmart Shoppers
The holiday trend is alive and well at the world’s largest retailer.

“Layaway Angels” seem to be coming out of the weeds this season to reignite our holiday spirit. Especially at Walmart.

First, Fortune reported that one mysterious donor in Northeast Ohio paid off over $100,000 worth of layaways at two Walmart locations, helping more than 200 customers celebrate Christmas. Then we began to notice this trend popping up in various cities.

An anonymous businessman, known only as “Santa B.” (rather than the more familiar “Santa C.”), contributed a total of $158,000 to two Walmart stores in Pennsylvania. ABC 27 reported a $79,000 donation to a Harrisburg location, and KUTV reports the same amount was donated to a Walmart in Mechanicsburg.

More Mystery Holiday Helpers Spreading Layaway Cheer:
Three separate donors gave more than $100,000 each to stores in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. They spent a combined half million dollars.

Walmart spokesperson Wyatt Jefferies also said an anonymous donor in Tulsa, Oklahoma, indicated plans to give $25,000 to a store and give $100 gift cards to layaway customers.

Toys R Us said mystery donors have given more than $50,000 to seven stores around the country over the past week, settling more than 300 customers’ accounts.

Kmart says it’s also received secretive donations to pay down scores of customers’ layaway contracts. The company also partners with a non-profit called Pay Away the Layaway, which accepts donations to buy toys, clothes, coats and books held on layaway.

Kmart says more than $60,000 has been put toward clearing balances.
Layaway angel pays off Pennsylvania mom's K-Mart Christmas gifts

Hayward Kmart shoppers treated to ‘Pay Away The Layaway':
Cassandra Mathews of Hayward was one of the unsuspecting shoppers. She said she's doing the best she can to give her grandchildren a few nice Christmas presents, partnering up with their other grandmother. She says she had to put some things on layaway, paying little by little.

Not much, not overboard, but they're going to know it's Christmas," Mathews said, "My grandchildren are 3, 6, and 2 and it's kind of hard to see other children that age, playing outside with something new and they don't have anything."

On Tuesday evening, workers took Mathews to the back of the store where some ‘Layaway Angels’ were waiting.

"I'm Xia, this is Andre, and Josie and we are volunteering with payawaythelayaway.org and we are here to pay off your layaway for the holidays," said Xia Chekwa, a payawaythelayaway.org volunteer.

If you need even more just Google "Kmart Layaway" news or "Walmart Layaway News."

Anonymous gifts to strangers. By those whose hearts are full.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Christmas Tale

Lost the Spirit of Christmas maybe a little?

Need a nudge?

Then I encourage you to read "Walmart is a Holy Land".

Made this old guy get a little misty-eyed.

Walk the walk, indeed.

H/T Instapundit.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The War Against Terrorists and Thugs: The Bowe Bergdahl Fiasco

Was it poor advice coupled with an agenda driven? Or just plain old stupidity? In either event, lying seems to be part of the game plan.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: "A Christmas Carol"

Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" featuring Orson Wells narration and with Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge.

Pull up to a cozy fire, grab a hot toddy and let the old radio show magic carry you away:

Have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Fun Film: U.S. Navy Hydrofoils

Speed! Power!

Update: Nice discussion at Navy Matters:
The PHMs were envisioned to be minimally manned and include a mothership for maintenance and support. Manning and crew activities were to be limited to port/starboard watches. Maintenance, logistics, and support were to be provided by a converted LST acting as the mothership. We see, then, that the ships were designed to the same operational manning and maintenance concept as the LCS.
Yeah, give me a couple hundred of these things and I could pose some serious issues to bad guys.

See also here.

Navy Matters puts the cost of Pegasus at about $900,000 (1975 dollars, I assume) - or about $4 million in 2015 dollars. If one LCS costs $300 million, you could build about 75 Pegasus-like ships for the same amount.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Small Ship Navy: Numerous and Expendable? Why not?

The U.S. Navy's newly designated "frigate" (nee "Littoral Combat Ship") is not a dead program, but it ain't all that healthy, either, as set out in Pentagon Cuts LCS to 40 Ships. This has set off some "I was right and you were wrong -ism".

Really, the FF/LCS is not the first Navy ship design that proved to be - uh - less than optimal.

It probably won't be the last.

Let's suppose we ask the question that underlies the size of our fleet: What do we plan to do with it?

If the answer is long-range standoff missions, then it would seem aircraft carriers and their assigned air wings are one part of the answer.

If the answer is killing submarines that might threaten our country or those aircraft carriers, it should be clear that ASW attack submarines are a large part of the answer, along with long-range maritime patrol aircraft and real honest to goodness ASW destroyers.

If the answer is support of forces ashore, then perhaps the new Zumwalt-class destroyers are part of the answer.

USS Pegasus (PHM-1)
If the answer is local sea control in contested waters in narrow straits, inshore, then the answer probably is a force deigned to go into harm's way in those waters. As set out in this 2001 Wall Street Journal article by Greg Jaffe describing a 2000 war game:
The U.S. is at war with China, and U.S. Navy commanders are using a new breed of ship called Streetfighter to sail perilously close to the Chinese coast.

There, the small, fast, inexpensive warships -- designed to go into harm's way and, if necessary, be lost -- hunt down Chinese subs and missile launchers hidden among fishing boats and cargo ships. Some Streetfighters are sunk by enemy fire, and casualties are high, but they help the U.S. win earlier than the military pros had projected.
The Streetfighters existed only on paper. But their performance in that mock battle was enough to convince the war college's director, Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, that a fleet of Streetfighters could give any foe fits -- provided the Navy is willing to endure casualties.

"Streetfighter is alive, well and an inevitability," he crowed.
Even then, there were "cautious voices, like a now former CJCS,
Some top Navy commanders have grave doubts. "I look at the Streetfighter concept and worry that we are saying, 'It's OK to lose ships,' " says Vice Adm. Michael Mullen, commander of the U.S. 2nd Fleet in Norfolk, Va. Others question whether sailors in an all-volunteer force would sign up to serve on the ships, or whether Congress would approve the money to build them.
Yeah, well, the FF/LCS is a lot of things, but it does not appear to be so robust that if confronted by a threat it wouldn't be "expendable." More from Cebrowski:
The 58-year-old admiral immediately homed in on one of the most vexing weaknesses in the current fleet. In the past 10 years, the proliferation of cruise missiles and cheap diesel subs has made it easier for enemies to strike U.S. vessels. A recent General Accounting Office report concluded that the Navy's ability to deal with the threat posed by cruise missiles and diesel subs in coastal regions was "marginal" and that nothing the Navy is currently buying will "provide adequate protection against improved versions of these weapons."

To protect its precious ships and crews, the military leadership is pushing them farther and farther out to sea, where they are safer but not nearly as effective. "We've become risk-averse," Adm. Cebrowski says.
Re-read Adm Mullen's comment again to see what Adm. Cebrowski was speaking about.
The idea of building a new class of small ships had been kicking around at the Naval War College and the Naval Post Graduate School, where retired Navy Capt. Wayne Hughes, one of Adm. Cebrowski's former commanding officers, had been playing with some concepts. Adm. Cebrowski had been thinking about the need for a new class of small ship as well. So he and Capt. Hughes put the concept on paper.

Because Streetfighters would be cheap -- one design would cost only about $70 million a ship, compared with as much as $1 billion for a new destroyer -- the Navy would be able to buy hundreds for the price of one 10-ship carrier battle group. The ships would operate along crowded coastal waters, hiding in coves and springing out to destroy enemy subs, hunt down mines and disrupt enemy missiles that could more easily target larger, slower ships.

After a few days or weeks of heavy fighting, the bigger ships would move in and take over the fight. Some Streetfighters would be lost, and some sailors would die. "Streetfighters must be designed to lose," Capt. Hughes wrote at the time. "If the ships become too costly or too heavily manned, commanders will be unwilling to put them at risk."
I am not sure in this age of near real time satellite imaging that "hiding in coves" might still work, but there is that "quantity has a quality all of its own" thing.

The fun one can have imagining a fleet with a combination of large capable ships and small, fast "sea-going fire ants" boiling out of hiddie holes is immense. Capt Wayne Hughes' The New Navy Fighting Machine: A Study of the Connections Between Contemporary Policy, Strategy, Sea Power, Naval Operations, and the Composition of the United States Fleet suggests:
The “New Navy Fighting Machine” promotes a wider mix of ships, in a more numerous fleet, with better-focused capabilities, to meet a range of scenarios in green and blue water environments. The new fighting machine does this within an affordable SCN (Ship Construction Navy) budget ceiling, because the U.S. defense budget already dominates defense spending in the rest of the world.

The fleet’s new component is a green water force of small vessels to fulfill the three sea service chiefs’ maritime strategy of collaboration and support of theater security operations now manifested in Navy global fleet stations. The green water force also includes coastal combat forces, and additional reconnaissance for the land and sea side of a littoral. These capabilities are achieved with 10% of the SCN budget.
How many "green water ships? Hughes suggests 240 (+400 inshore patrol craft). Hughes rightly compares the need for a new command to drive developing this green water component of naval power to that that developed Naval Aviation in its infancy. Hughes:
We also show, in rough outline, that the new fighting machine is better suited than the present projection-heavy 313-ship1 Navy to support regional conflicts and, if it should become necessary, to constrain Russian ambitions.

Submarines in greater numbers are central to the maritime strategy, but within a constrained budget the larger force cannot be exclusively nuclear powered. We find that diesel submarines with air-independent propulsion not only allow twice as many submarines, but they also nicely complement the SSNs in the critical scenario.

Because the United States has not conducted an opposed amphibious landing in nearly 60 years, the new fighting machine emphasizes amphibious lift rather than amphibious assault. We stress the unparalleled success of national sealift in timely delivery of ground forces where needed, when needed, and for as long as needed. It is a national treasure that has received too little attention. We assiduously maintain this strong sealift component in the new fighting machine.

The study does not eliminate high-end warships, the individual capabilities of which are unmatched by any other nation in the world. To do so would end America’s maritime superiority. On the other hand, a Navy of only large, multibillion dollar warships will result in a smaller and smaller force that cannot fulfill its roles around the world. Some of those roles, maritime interdiction operations and coastal patrol for example, can be handled by smaller ships in greater numbers.
That 313 number above has now shrunk to 272.

Some are going to debate the building of new frigates or corvettes to boost ship numbers. I suggest instead building the "green water" force using technology that already exists. Further, I suggest building up a corps young officers to drive these new toys hard with some LCDR and CDR supervision.

If you don't think there are some young people who like this idea, see this from 2012 New Navy Fighting Machine in the South China Sea by a couple of then Lieutenants, Dylan Ross and Jimmy Harmon:
This thesis advocates fleet growth as articulated in Hughes' New Navy Fighting Machine (NNFM) study. Comparisons of the NNFM, the U.S. fleet, and the PRC fleet demonstrate both the disparity facing the American surface forces, and the near parity obtained in the NNFM. CT through unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), and naval obscurants provide American surface forces increased staying power and tactical advantage. Scouting and communications networking through a theater wide constellation of airships provide the American fleet with persistentsituationalawareness of the battle space, tactical communications with subsurface forces, and improved emissions control (EMCON) measures for surface forces. The distributive properties of the NNFM, combined with this study's CT [counter-targeting] and scouting findings, offer American surface combatants success over the PRC Navy in the SCS scenario.
ANd who wouldn't like to drive one of these:

or be the a squadron CO of 8 or 10 of these:

We could do worse than building a few of these.

In fact, we have done worse. Too bad the PHMs like Pegasus were killed. We could have had 38 years of experience with small fast, heavily armed war ships by now. "Coulda, shoulda."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

In case you missed it: Combating Terrorism Center at West Point "ISIL, Syria and Iraq Resources"

Good stuff on the mess in the Middle East at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point's "ISIL, Syria and Iraq Resources"
This is the gateway to resources, research, and analysis the Combating Terrorism Center has produced over the last decade about the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS), the Islamic State (IS) or Da`ish, and its predecessors (al-Tawhid wa-al-Jihad, al-Qa`ida in Mesopotamia (AQI), Majlis Shura al-Mujahidin, Hilf al-Muttayibin and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI)).
Probably more answers there than you have questions.

Of particular interest is their pdf The Group That Calls Itself a State: Understanding the Evolution and Challenges of the Islamic State which is about a year old, but has good insight:
The evolution of the IS through accident and design led to an organization with the ability to carry out a large number of attacks. From November 2011 to May 2014 (before the IS’s advance into Mosul), the IS self-reported over 19,000 military operations in Iraq alone. The large majority of its attacks were concentrated in Sunni-dominated areas in Iraq, while Shi’a-dominated areas saw comparatively less violence over time. In the short-term, this divide suggests the existence of a natural demographic buffer against expansion by the IS. Over the long-term, the efficacy of this buffer depends on intervening events and actions by other states and groups.

Supporting the activities of the IS is a diverse financial portfolio that includes (among other things) oil, donations, and war loot. This diversity provides some insulation against the loss of any individual component. Oil is important to the IS, but certainly not the only source of revenue. This is not to suggest that the group is financially impregnable, but it does mean that a comprehensive strategy that addresses the group’s varied revenue streams is necessary to effectively minimize the IS’s ability to function over the long term. Another area in which the IS has had some measure of success is in its propaganda campaign. This success comes in part because of the fact that the IS’s messages to recruits differs in important respects from that of an organization like AQ. For example, videos put forward by the IS tend to be filled with rank-and-file members whom potential recruits find much more relatable than AQ’s videos full of leadership figures giving speeches. This “relatability,” paired with slick production techniques and military successes on the ground, appeals to a new generation of recruits for the IS.

Finally, key to the long-term trajectory of the IS is its ability to provide satisfactory levels of governance to people living under its control. In the short-term, the IS has had some success at providing social services to locals that the Syrian and Iraqi governments failed to provide. This success has resulted in some boost to its overall appeal. However, there is no lack of shortcomings in the area of the IS’s governance. Barring adaptation by the group and a reduction in pressure applied by third-party actors, these failures will only increase with time. Highlighting these failures, together with the negative aspects of the IS’s governance, may undercut support for the group.

Disaster Prep Wednesday: "Preparedness and Disaster" Videos

Nice videos from the Kansas City area:

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Why Do Some People Become Terrorists?

Is there any messier topic than the one that poses the question, "Why to people decide to become terrorists?"

As set out in the Foreign Affairs article, "The Game Theory Behind Terrorism", the answer to that question is of vital importance:
... U.S. counterterrorism has moved from a purely operations-centered strategy—for example, assassinating al Qaeda leaders or what the media calls “cutting off the snake’s head”—to analyzing what the Department of Homeland Security describes as “the dynamics of radicalization to violence” or the reasons why some individuals associated with violent extremism commit violence and others do not. This new perspective has roped in government bodies, activists, and data scientists who not only analyze terrorist social networks and messaging patterns, but also transmit counter-extremist narratives.
In 1960, at the height of the Cold War, Nobel Prize-winning American economist Thomas Schelling introduced the world to his “theory of strategy,” an adaptation of game theory to the world of international relations. In his book, The Strategy of Conflict, Schelling coined the concept of a “focal point” (now known as a “Schelling point”) to describe how individuals and nations reach an agreement when bargaining with each other. The process involves anticipating what the other person or country might do.
Although Schelling certainly could not have foreseen the application of this idea to defeating ISIS, it is eerily appropriate. If we apply the 16 squares scenario with radicalization, what we are trying to prevent is, in effect, this “psychic moment,” as Schelling calls it, when likeminded individuals all come to check the same box: engage in terrorism. Around 20,000 plus foreign fighters, many of whom grew up in prosperous, democratic countries, have already done so.
In Schelling’s theory, these individuals would have made their decision through “rational behavior…based on an explicit and internally consistent value system.” For jihadists, that value system is Salafism. Given the fact that most of the world’s Salafis are not violent, however, it cannot be the Salafi ideology alone that encourages violence. Moreover, given that ISIS disseminates a good deal of nonviolent messaging—it recently released its own set of textbooks on geography, history, and Arabic poetry for a course to “educate” future jihadists—it is not violence alone that attracts individuals to its worldview.

It is, rather, ISIS’ ability to sell and validate its worldview in light of distinct circumstances that Muslim communities either experience or observe. Specifically, for both those socially and economically disenfranchised by life in the developed world, as well as for those experiencing or witnessing the violent unrest in Syria, ISIS offers the promise of a tranquil and authentic Islamic state, full of opportunity for those who accept its authority.
I don't know about the "tranquil and authentic" thing, but as I have said before, young people who perceive that things are not as they would like are a potentially potent force, as we learned from Hitler and a few hundred other men on a mission -
Inspiring young men to causes bigger than themselves is an old, old story. With lots of unhappy endings.
But why do they young people get involved? I keep hearing and reading that they are disaffected by things like poverty, global warming and various prejudices. As in "Rising tension in France blamed on disaffected Arab youths" or "U.S. Is Trying to Counter ISIS’ Efforts to Lure Alienated Young Muslims"

I'm a simple minded guy, so I like fairly uncomplicated ideas about human motivation. It occurs to me that a key motivator for many young, idealistic people is the desire to "make a better world." We see it all the time in environmental activists and other people rallying around some common cause, probably even including those fighting against that part of global warming they attribute to the activities of mankind. Back in the day when I studied such behavior, I grew to really appreciate the "life positions" described in the psychological school of Transactional Analysis (TA) (yes, I know TA has lots of critics, but bear with me here). These life positions are best viewed in a simple chart:

the ok corral (franklin ernst, 1971)

Sure, you say, but so what? It's my theory that many of the "disaffected" youth are not driven by poverty or the shrinking of glaciers in Greenland, but rather are acting out of a feeling superiority - they view themselves, as do many young people, as in a better position to see the bad things in the world and also believe they have the moral and spiritual superiority that allows them to take action to "improve" things (i.e. to change things to make the world as they believe it ought to be). Or, as TA would have it, they feel they are OK, but the rest of us are "Not OK" and they want to help us correct our thinking and behavior. Support for this idea can be found (somewhat tangentially, I admit) here:
. . . a distorted view of the principles of Islam and a violent and criminal interpretation of the obligation of Jihad constitute the main factor of their drive. Statements made in the course of interrogation by arrested terrorists (especially by supergrasses, referred to in Italy as ‘repenters’) as well as ideological documents disseminated internationally on the internet or items seized in the course of various judicial enquiries consistently show that the religious view of the world, obviously in the distorted perspective specific to terrorists, constitutes the main reason for their behaviour, whereas practically no importance attaches to the aspiration to liberate specific occupied territories or oppressed peoples.
There is also research that indicates that:
However, convenient ‘root causes’ like poverty, illiteracy, backwardness, fundamentalism, authoritarianism are hardly the considerations in sustaining terrorism or in winning recruits (Parashar, 2005). Claude Berrebi in a Rand Corporation study on the root causes of terrorism concluded that “If there is a link between income level, education, and participation in terrorist activities, it is either very weak or in the opposite direction of what one intuitively might have expected”
So, if not poverty, poor education or climate change, what?

Under Transactional Analysis, a person who holds the "I'm okay, you're not ok" life position:
It is a position of persons who feel victimized or persecuted, so victimize and persecute others. • They blame others for their miseries. • Delinquents and criminals often have this position and taken on paranoid behavior which in extreme cases may lead to homicide.
or as set here:
People in this position feel themselves to be superior in some way to others, who are seen as inferior and not OK. As a result, they may be contemptuous and quick to anger. Their talk about others will be smug and supercilious, contrasting their own relative perfection with the limitation of others.
Well, how does a religion that teaches that it is the only truth path, and that non-believers are less than a believer impact a personality like that?

I have an idea that with certain people, under the right conditions may see that the non-believers need to be taught a lesson - to be punished for not accepting the true path - or for their wicked ways.

Couple that with a network and ideology that reinforces that life position and you may just have a terrorist.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Submarine Warfare Against Aircraft Carriers: Lessons the Chinese are Studying

Interesting piece by U.S. Naval War College Associate Professor Lyle J. Goldstein at The National Interest "How to Sink a U.S. Navy Carrier: China Turns to France For Ideas"
The revelation that a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier group could be so vulnerable to a nuclear submarine did not make the mainstream media, and no mention was made by the many attentive defense analysts on this site, so it seems. However, the Chinese defense media does not miss much, especially concerning the capabilities of U.S. Navy carrier groups. In fact, a special issue of 兵工科技 [Ordnance Industry Science and Technology] (2015, no. 8) covered this “event,” featuring an interview with Chinese Submarine Academy professor 迟国仓 [Chi Guocang] as its cover story under the title: “A Single Nuclear Submarine ‘Sinks’ Half of an Aircraft Carrier Battle Group.”
There are a whole bunch of caveats, but the need for strong U.S. anti-submarine warfare skills is certainly suggested by the article.

Ring Out a Warning

A few of us who spent much of our lives working to ". . . defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . ." either on a full time or part-time basis have undertaken blogs and other activities to share our concerns over the dangers facing the country to which that Constitution belongs.

You will find some of the few of these "milbloggers" and fellow travelers over there on the right side of this blog. Some great milbloggers have moved on, others have taken up the torch.

Some of these concerns we discuss are over the actions, both potential or actual, of foreign nations. North Korea, Iran, China, and a couple of others come to mind.

Some anxiety arose with the increase in trans-national groups who have declared "war" on the United States and its form of government. Or, perhaps, on the "life style" of its people. Some more came with the increase in sea piracy off failed states - a threat that should have pointed out the vulnerable nature of sea-going global commerce and the need for strong naval forces to keep the sea lanes open and free. People simply don't know or forget how much commerce flows by sea.

Other concerns crop up because of what former and current military and civilian planners see as disconnects between the tools provided to war fighters (weapons systems - ships, airplanes and ground-pounder stuff) and the needs of the end users and the cost to the country. E.g. Is the F-35 worth the cost? Is the LCS worth anything as a warship? Three Zumwalt-class "destroyers" the size of a WWII battleship? Really? What about the A-10? Can bombing bring something like ISIS to its knees?

Questions are raised about the priorities of the Defense Department. CDR Salamander has a regular Thursday feature Diversity Thursday in which he documents the problems arising from a "diversity industry" which has levered its way into the DoD and made appearance seemingly more important than performance. Want a discussion about the failure of naval leadership and lack of trust in that leadership? See what the Skipper wrote.

Given this, it is with a great deal of interest that I read Sarah Hoyt's Ring The Bell about another question of priorities of the media and the powers that be. In her world, "ringing the bell" was to, in the words of the old "progressive" (read "coomunist") song, If I Had a Hammer:
... ring out danger,
... ring out a warning . . .
Which song,according to the link at Wikipedia, was
The song was first performed publicly by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays on June 3, 1949, at St. Nicholas Arena in New York at a testimonial dinner for the leaders of the Communist Party of the United States, who were then on trial in federal court, charged with violating the Smith Act by advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government.
The irony, as you will see, is that Ms. Hoyt nails the media:
Our media by and large learned Marxism in their “best colleges” and therefore are blind to the dangers of totalitarian regimes of the left. And therefore haven’t been very good at sounding the alarm, even when the world-divorced philosophies of the left destroyed our society. They would have delivered us hand-tied to the Soviet Union if only the Soviet Union had been coherent enough to win.

Balked of their victory, they’d happily deliver us to ISIS even though, REALISTICALLY, they should oppose everything ISIS stands for, including oppression of gays and women.

BUT our elites REALLY don’t like us. They’re not going to ring the bell.

Sort of like listening to "For What It's Worth" in light of today's PC world:

Only it's step out of line and get an IRS audit. Or a bunch of protesters demanding your firing and proposing "re-education" for those who disagree with them and their world view.

Which gets me back to the defense of the Constitution including its amendments.

We need to stand up against those who would attempt to transform things like freedom of speech and independence of thought into something that the "government" has graciously bestowed on us and which can be taken away if our thoughts and speech displease some crowd. Freedom of religion - not granted by the government - but protected from the government (and the mob) by the First Amendment. Gun ownership? Not granted by the government, but protected from the government by the Second Amendment. Freedom of speech? Not granted to us by the government, but protected from the intrusion of government.

In sum, we need to continue to fight back against those who would "happily deliver us to ISIS." One of the best weapons is mockery of their self-righteousness, their priggery and their exceptionally shallow understanding of either freedom or the threats to it.

So, if the right to bear arms is important to you, engage in your First Amendment right to associate with others to reject efforts to restrict that right. Join the NRA. Write letters to your elected representatives. Call lying politicians liars.
Oh, and more of this:

Don't let up. Never surrender a point.

The bell is ringing.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Midrats Special Early Episode 310: Fleet Battle School - 13 Dec 2015 at 2PM (EST)

Please join us for a special 2PM (EST) early edition of Midrats for Episode 310: Fleet Battle School
How do you design a game that has practical tactical application to the naval tactician? Even more ambitious, how do you make one accessible and understandable with the goal of making it a mobile wargame for eventual use by sailors and warfare commands.

For today's show we will discuss one of the projects of the CNO's Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC), the game "Fleet Battle School."

Our guests to discuss this game, gaming in general, and its practical application will be three individuals involved in the project; LT Matthew Hipple, Paul Vebber and Chris Kona. Chris Kona is a warfare analyst at Naval Undersea Warfare Center. A former submarine officer in the U.S. Navy, he was project lead for the CRIC’s Fleet Battle School wargame project. Paul Vebber is a retired SWO CDR who is a life-long hobby wargamer. He was one of founders of Matrix Games, the premiere publisher of computer wargames, working with them until their merger with Slitherine games. He currently works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Mission Area Director for Undersea Warfare as Asst. Director for Concept Development, Wargaming, and Experimentation.
Join us live if you can (or pick the show up later by clicking here). Or pick the show up later on our iTunes page here.

Thomas Sowell: Wealth, Poverty and Politics

Thomas Sowell has a new book,
Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective and here is a discussion about it:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Disaster Prep Wednesday: I Got Your Gun Control Right Here

Nice piece on slowing down would be mass killers, which contains this truth:
Gun Free Zones are hunting preserves for innocent people.
If you decide you aren't interested in being part of that preserve, then what kind of weapon do you need to stop a bad guy? Not much, really. You could use a cross bow, but the damn things are hard to conceal.

There are all sorts of lists of nice concealed pistols out there. My suggestion is that you get something that will fire a shot filled round in addition to regular ammo. Why? Makes it harder to miss the bad guy and makes it harder for a stray round to take out a fellow innocent.

Interesting discussion of self-defense shot rounds suitable for use in a pistol at NRA/American Rifleman:
The most efficient handgun for shooting .410 shells would have a smooth-bore barrel sized to fit that shell only. However, sawed-off shotguns and smooth-bore pistols have been restricted in this country for some time due to NFA regulations established in 1934. In order for a handgun to qualify for over-the-counter sale without additional Federal tax stamps and paperwork, it must have a rifled barrel and be chambered for a center-fire cartridge intended for handguns or rifles.
See the handy info from 410Handguns.com here, which serves to point out that shot shells are a mostly a close up and personal thing. Then again, personal defense is all about up close.

Info on the Smith & Wesson Governor, one of those .410/.45 combos here:
The Smith & Wesson Governor revolver puts six rounds of customizable response under your control. Load with .410 2 1/2" shotshells, .45 ACP or .45 Colt - alone or in combination - and hit your target in every situation.
Training also helps.

That's where you learn the kind of gun control that matters.

UPDATE: See Top Cops Warm to Idea of Armed Citizenry to Confront Terrorists:
Oakland University criminal justice professor Daniel Kennedy couldn't agree more. He told the Detroit News that terrorists would be reluctant to attack armed citizens.

“We don’t have laboratories where we can test these theories, but there is something to the argument that terrorists want a high body count — and if they can only shoot a few people before they’re taken out themselves, it wouldn’t have the kind of impact they want.”
Which is a cowed population willing to accept anything to stop the terrorists, including meekly surrendering.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

On the President's Speech

For some reason the President's inability to admit any error on his part reminds me of an aspect of the Fonz.

Mind, that's the only aspect of the Fonz I see they might share.

And the Fonz actually knew he was wrong, he just couldn't say it.

As opposed to being wrong and just not knowing it or knowing how much. Or maybe not even caring. Which is worst of all.

Monday, December 07, 2015

The Pearl Harbor Attack 7 Dec 1941

Excellent historical work at the Naval History and Heritage Command
When the attack ended shortly before 10:00 a.m., less than two hours after it began, the American forces has paid a fearful price. Twenty-one ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were sunk or damaged: the battleships USS Arizona (BB-39), USS California (BB-44), USSMaryland (BB-46), USS Nevada (BB-36), USS Oklahoma (BB-37), USS Pennsylvania (BB-38), USS Tennessee (BB-43) and USS West Virginia (BB-48); cruisers USS Helena (CL-50), USS Honolulu (CL-48) and USS Raleigh (CL-7); the destroyers USS Cassin (DD-372), USS Downes (DD-375), USS Helm (DD-388) and USS Shaw (DD-373); seaplane tender USS Curtiss (AV-4); target ship (ex-battleship) USS Utah (AG-16); repair ship USS Vestal (AR-4); minelayer USS Oglala (CM-4); tug USS Sotoyomo (YT-9); and Floating Drydock Number 2. Aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and 159 damaged, the majority hit before the had a chance to take off. American dead numbered 2,403. That figure included 68 civilians, most of them killed by improperly fused anti-aircraft shells landing in Honolulu. There were 1,178 military and civilian wounded.
Given a 5 hour time difference between Oahu and Washington D.C., 10 a.m. Hawaii time is 3 p.m. Eastern, 2 p.m. Central, 1 p.m. Mountain and 12 noon Pacific.

Here, again, is an on the scene report as telephoned in from on scene Honolulu to the studios of NBC Radio:


My father and his brothers and my father-in-law were called to active duty shortly thereafter along with millions of other young American men. On the home front, some people were not allowed to join up due to the nature of their jobs. For example, my mother's brother worked for DuPont explosives and was not allowed to serve in the military. Women entered the work place to take up jobs that had traditionally been solely performed by men. Many also volunteered to serve in the military. Others took up important roles in the Red Cross.

It was a total effort.

The world changed.

Today many have no idea what a full mobilization would be like.

It also work remembering that after the attack, most of the ships sunk or damaged were raised, refitted and returned to the fight. See Sunday Ship History: After Pearl Harbor - Down but not out:
On October 25, 1944, at the seminal battle of Surigao Strait, the battleships USS Mississippi, USS Maryland, USS West Virginia, USS Tennessee, USS California and USS Pennsylvania "crossed the T" of a Japanese fleet in the last great surface ship engagement.

Of the six battleships of the U.S. Navy involved in the action, five had been either sunk or damaged during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
That's how to respond to attacks - pick yourself up and fight back.


Saturday, December 05, 2015

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Honolulu Reports Attack on 7 Dec 1941 and FDR Seeks a Declaration of War from Congress

U.S. total involvement in WWII is occasioned by an attack out of the blue:

First, from Honolulu on 7 Dec 1941 - a long distance call to NBC:

The following day, 8 Dec, President Roosevelt goes before Congress:

Friday, December 04, 2015

On Midrats 6 December 2015 - Episode 309: Law and the Long War

Please join us on Sunday, 6 Dec 2015 at 5pm EST (US) for Midrats Episode 309: Law and the Long War:
When a nation of laws goes to war, their laws go with them.

In a decade and a half of fighting terrorism, the laws that define our actions overseas and at home have morphed as the threat and strategy for dealing with it has.

From fighting ISIS, operating with and in failed states, dealing with the expanding "refugee crisis," to keeping the balance between security and safety - what has the legal shop been up to?

Our guest for the full hour is returning guest Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., Major General, USAF (Ret.), Professor of the Practice of Law, and Executive Director, Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University.

General Dunlap’s teaching and scholarly writing focus on national security, international law, civil-military relations, cyberwar, airpower, counter-insurgency, military justice, and ethical issues related to the practice of national security law.
Join us live if you can (or pick the show up later) by clicking here.

You can also find the show later by visiting our iTunes page here.

Friday Fun Film: When Your Ego Gets the Best of You

A parable for our time:

If your ego can't handle the truth without "shading", your ego is out of whack. And if your "courtiers" are afraid to tell you the truth, you have hired the wrong people or given them the wrong message.

And another little story that might make you think about how naked we might be without a strong carrier force.

Yes, it's an ad for the A-6. There are lessons here, though.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

This could hurt the proposed canal funding: "Nicaragua's Momotombo volcano has just erupted for the first time in 110 years"

Oh, that "on hold" Nicaragua canal project?

That hold might be a little longer

Nicaragua's Momotombo volcano has just erupted for the first time in 110 years:
Nicaragua's largest volcano, Momotombo, has started erupting for the first time since 1905, and it's putting on one hell of a show. Schools in the region have been evacuated, but fortunately for now the hot rock and ash "are heading toward very sparsely populated areas," says government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo.
As noted in the first link, it was an image of Momotombo on postage stamp that helped place the Panama canal where it is - in an area without such issues.

See also here.

On the Media

We need some electronic media control in this country.

Self control.

They have too many talking heads covering stories with too little information at hand.

This leads to rampant speculation and ridiculous reporting. If "first reports are always wrong" then the media needs to pause to get the story right.

See the San Bernardino coverage.

Count the memes.

Just saying.

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times is doing the kind of work that should be emulated by the electron pushers. See here. I'm not the only one to think so. See here.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Disaster Prep Wednesday: You Are On Your Own

That's it.

You are on your own.

Plan accordingly.

Sort out the urgent and important items.

I suggest you use something like the "Eisenhower Matrix":
The Difference Between Urgent and Important

Urgent means that a task requires immediate attention. These are the to-do’s that shout “Now!” Urgent tasks put us in a reactive mode, one marked by a defensive, negative, hurried, and narrowly-focused mindset.

Important tasks are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values, and goals. Sometimes important tasks are also urgent, but typically they’re not. When we focus on important activities we operate in a responsive mode, which helps us remain calm, rational, and open to new opportunities.
You might note that President Eisenhower said, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”

 Where would you put preparing for likely disasters in the matrix?

Good luck.

Oh, and there is this other useful quote from General Eisenhower:
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

2015 Has Been a Slower Year for Sea Pirates

With the slowdown (well, nearly complete stoppage of Somali piracy), 2015 has, in the words of the ICC Commercial Crime Service/International Maritime Bureau here, seen a "reduction"in overall piracy at sea/crimes against mariners:
In Southeast Asia, a piracy crackdown appears to be bearing fruit, with only two hijackings reported in the third quarter of the year. Indonesian and Malaysian authorities have also arrested and in some cases prosecuted, members of product tanker hijacking gangs, notably those behind the MT Sun Birdie and MT Orkim Harmony attacks.

“The robust actions taken particularly by the Indonesian and Malaysian authorities – including the arrest of one the alleged masterminds – is precisely the type of deterrent required” commented P Mukundan, IMB Director.

The two hijackings, on a small product tanker in the Straits of Malacca and a fishing vessel 40-miles west of Pulau Langkawi, were among 47 incidents the IMB PRC recorded globally between July and September.

To date 190 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships have been officially counted this year, the greatest number in Indonesia, which tallied 86 mainly low-level incidents, followed by Vietnam with 19 low-level reports.

While only one new incident of an actual attack was reported for the last quarter in the Gulf of Guinea, IMB believes the real number to be considerably higher.
Nice ICC/IMB graphic:

Yes, it is still dangerous out there.

Nigerians gangs may have halted the cargo-jacking and returned to kidnapping crew, as set out in this Reuters report:
Pirates attacked a Polish-owned cargo vessel off the Nigerian coast and kidnapped its captain and four crew, Polish authorities said, in the first documented incident of its kind in almost year in some of the deadliest shipping lanes on earth.

The Cyprus-registered Szafir was boarded overnight by armed men in two boats, who looted the 10,000-tonne container ship, operator EuroAfrica said.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

North Korea: Oil and Gas Powerhouse?

Interesting piece at The National Interest "Could North Korea Be the Next Energy Superpower?" which has the nice subtitle, "Pyongyang's advances in oil and natural gas could help fuel a still-ambitious military" which nicely sums up the strategic concerns raised. Of course, there is this -
However, the lack of recent reported investment suggests Western companies have been reluctant to invest in the totalitarian state, which remains subject to international sanctions over its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs from the United Nations, as well as from the United States, Britain, Canada, China and Japan.
The prospect of the North Korean military having access to plentiful new supplies of oil and gas will send shivers down the spine of governments from Seoul to Tokyo and beyond. Fortunately, it appears the regime’s goal of opening up its reserves appears just a pipe dream for now.
Nice pun, there.

Perhaps their Iranian friends would like to try breaking some more sanctions because the NORKS would need all kinds of help to produce anything.

The Great Nicaragua Canal Project: "On Hold"

Blue line is proposed canal, red line is Costa Rica border
That great big alternative to the Panama Canal seems to have run into some trouble, as reported here:
Construction work on a controversial canal that would link the Pacific Ocean with the Caribbean via an overland route across Nicaragua and through Central America’s largest lake has been postponed until late 2016, says the company behind the project.

China-based HKND Co. issued a statement Wednesday saying that “the construction of locks and the big excavations will start toward the end of 2016,” adding that “the canal’s design is currently being fine-tuned.”
The project has drawn sharp criticism from scientists over its potential impacts on Lake Nicaragua and delicate coastal ecosystems. Local communities concerned about their farmland have also protested the project, while some policy experts have raised doubts about its financial viability. China’s economic downturn and the worldwide collapse in commodity prices, have further undercut enthusiasm for the project.
It does have, on the other hand, an Nicaraguan government "environmental permit" so it has that going for it.

Not to be too cynical, but a $50 billion project would seem to offer potentially large opportunities for, shall we say, "kickbacks" for such permit approval. Follow the money, as they say.

Of course, there is also this "$50bn Nicaragua canal postponed as Chinese tycoon's fortunes falter" as the UK Guardian headline reads:
The mega-project – which would be the world’s biggest earth-moving operation – has proved controversial since it was agreed by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega and Wang Jing, the Chinese telecoms mogul who subsequently registered HKND.

Nicaraguan officials say the investment will boost the economy and raise living standards in the second-poorest nation in Latin America. But conservationists have warned that the 178-mile canal will damage Lake Nicaragua – the biggest freshwater source in Central America – and infringe upon protected areas and indigenous territory.
Well, I suspect some people's living standards might be raised, but unless they practice "trickle down" economics in Nicaragua, it might not be those of the displaced proletariat.

At any rate there are some real questions, some raised in this Journal of Commerce article "Consulting firm exit raises Nicaragua Canal feasibility questions":
Nicaragua’s government has long claimed that an economic feasibility study by blue-chip U.S. consultancy McKinsey & Co. is crucial to enticing Western investors to its $40 to $50 billion canal project. However, it has been confirmed that McKinsey has not worked on the Nicaragua Canal project since 2014, raising new questions about the Nicaraguan government’s public statements as well as the project’s chances of attracting Western investors.
A confidential source who claimed to have inside knowledge of McKinsey’s work with HKND told a very different story about the economic feasibility study. McKinsey did initially consult on the project, made repeated requests for payment, and ultimately received payment from HKND around June 2014, the source said. Shortly after being paid, McKinsey informed HKND in writing that it would discontinue working on the project, said the confidential source.

Maybe if they had a 5-year plan.

And it is a nice strategic location. See the above map.

Of course there is that volcano issue in Nicaragua. You know, like the one that may have caused the U.S. to develop the Panama Canal. See here. Of course, the 5 active (out of 50) Nicaraguan volcanoes make for a nice tourist attraction, including "Volcanic Obsession" tours.


UPDATE: Report of volcanic activity in early December 2015 "Nicaragua volcano belches ash, causes fears of eruption":
A large volcano in western Nicaragua, Momotombo, yesterday belched ash and gas up to a kilometre (3,000 feet) in the sky, sparking fears that the giant could be waking from a fitful 110-year-old slumber.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: The Mysterious Traveler

The Mysterious Traveler
... was an anthology radio series, a magazine and a comic book. All three featured stories which ran the gamut from fantasy and science fiction to straight crime dramas of mystery and suspense.
Here's an episode from 1949, "The Planet Zevius"

Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday Fun Film: "Sea Wars"

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Noted here:
According to The Washington Post, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex Delgado created a parody trailer of the film, “Sea Wars: The Ike Awakens,” using crewmates from the aircraft carrier.

Friday Film: Kittyhawks and the Defense of Australia

44 days. 24 brave men. A stubborn refusal to allow Australia to be "expendable."

Thursday, November 26, 2015


If our menu is not as elaborate as that of USS Arizona in 1917, we are no less grateful for the blessings of the past year.

From the Naval History and Heritage Command:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Don't Let the Turkey Burn Your House Down (Reposted)

Here's a re-posting of a 2014 post on how to avoid making a wreck of your Thanksgiving:

Okay, try not to burn your house down while cooking your turkey.

Especially true if you decide to deep fat fry the thing.

Some words of advice from Joseph Lindberg at the Twin Cities Pioneer Press
Exploding turkeys: How to avoid them
On average, five Americans die each year from fires caused by deep fryers, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

The most common mistake is overfilling the deep-frying vat, which causes oil to spill over the edge and ignite, engulfing the entire unit in flames that are difficult to extinguish.

And placing a frozen -- or even partially frozen -- turkey into the vat can cause an explosion of hot oil, according to the fire marshal.

In fact, UL, an independent and global safety science company, considers turkey fryers so hazardous that it will not certify them for safe use.

U.S. fire departments respond to about 1,000 home fires each year that are started by deep fryers. In addition to deaths, those fires cause some 60 injuries and $15 million in direct property damage on average per year.

To avoid explosions and fire, follow these tips from the fire marshal:

-- Place the fryer outdoors on a flat surface, and never on a wooden deck or in a garage.

-- Fill a cold fryer with water and place your turkey into the vat to determine the amount of oil needed. Mark the water level well below the rim of the vat, and make sure the fryer dries thoroughly before filling with oil.

-- Oil and water do not mix. Avoid injury, and explosions, by thoroughly thawing and drying the bird before frying it.

Be smarter than the turkey. Don't be in the running for a Darwin Award.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Turkey v. Russia: Turks Defend Their Airspace

Reuters report "Turkey downs Russian warplane near Syria border, Moscow denies airspace violation". Hurryiet report:
Turkish F-16
Two Turkish F-16's shot down a Russian-made SU-24 jet on Nov. 24 near the Syrian border after it violated Turkish airspace, presidential sources said.

Turkey shot down the jet after it failed to heed the warnings within the rules of engagement.

Initial reports said the jet belonged to Russia, but presidential sources later clarified that the jet's nationality was unknown.

The Turkish Armed Force also stated that the jet of “unknown nationality” had been warned 10 times in five minutes about its violation of the airspace.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday Is Old Time Radio Day: Fibber McGee and Molly "The War is Not Almost Over" (1943)

A small look at America during on a full war footing:

On Midrats 22 November 2015 - Episode 307: Our Own Private Petard - Procurement & Strategy with Robert Farley

Please join us at 5pm on 22 November 2015 for Midrats Episode 307: Our Own Private Petard - Procurement & Strategy with Robert Farley
This Sunday we are going to look at the big pixels that supports the entire national security infrastructure above it.

Using his recent article in The National Interest, The Real Threat to America's Military (And It's Not China, Russia or Iran), we will tackle the greatest challenge of a world power - those things it has no one else to blame for.

Procurement, strategy, and the choices we make. The run of the last 30 years of weapons development and strategic foresight has not been a very good one. Why?
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here or by picking it up later by visiting our iTunes page.