Friday, February 27, 2015

On Midrats 1 March 15 - Episode 269: "National Strategy and the Navy's Proper Role in it"

Strategy is not for amateurs*
Please join us at 5pm (EST)on 1 March 2015 for our Episode 269: National Strategy and the Navy's Proper Role in it:
The role of the Navy and Marine Corps should be to provide ready and capable forces to the joint commanders. Outside of that, what is the proper role of the sea services in designing a more national strategy?

What is the state of a national and a maritime strategy, who are the different players in the discussion, and what is the proper way forward?

Our guest to discuss this and more for the full hour will be Captain Robert C. "Barney" Rubel USN, (Ret.), Professor Emeritus, US Naval War College.

Captain Rubel, now retired, was previously the Dean of the Center for Naval Warfare Studies at the US Naval War College from 2006 to 2014. Prior to arriving at NWC, he was a thirty-year Navy veteran, with experience as e a light attack naval aviator, flying the A-7 Corsair II and later the F/A-18 Hornet, commanded VFA-131, and also served as the Inspector General at U.S. Southern Command.

He is a graduate of the Spanish Naval War College in Madrid and the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI., and has an undergraduate degree in liberal arts from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the US Naval War College.

Captain Rubel continues to serve as a member of the CNO Advisory Board and is active in local American Legion activities.
Please join us live or pick the show up later by clicking here or from our iTunes page here.

*Upper photo is of Dr. James H. Boren discussing bureaucracy in three dimensions

Friday Fun Video: "Navy's Biggest Airplane"

The almost never heard of again "Constitution" jumbo airplane, the R6V:

Two were built. Biggest fixed wing air planes ever operated by the U.S. Navy.

More here.

Not all ideas are good ideas. Of course some of the feature of this aircraft showed up in later planes.

Wait, 180 passengers or 400 troops?

Nice one landing gear touchdown in Alameda.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The New Domino Theory: Assisting Ukraine May Cause Russia to Help China Take Control Over the South China Sea Region

There is this National Interest piece by Harry J. Kazianis, "Russia Could Make China King of the South China Sea"
Events thousands of miles away in Ukraine could set off a chain reaction that could see China become the undisputed ruler of this large body of water thanks to a large infusion of Russian weapons and technology— if the West starts arming Ukraine.
Imagine this scenario: The West decides that it is time to arm Ukraine. Russia decides it needs to strike back— and not just in Europe. President Putin pulls out his map of the globe and looks for a place where Russian power would best stick it to the United States. His eyes light up on the one area that could not only strengthen ties with a potential partner but do real damage to America’s efforts to “pivot” to that part of the world: the South China Sea.
While Russia might not be a superpower anymore, it does have the power to create lots of havoc for the United States and its allies all over the world. Such moves would then see the West again look to strike back at Moscow, creating a dangerous dynamic that would see the conditions ripe for a new Cold War that is in no ones national interest. This is all the more reason for all parties concerned when it comes to Ukraine to find a political settlement to the crisis.
So, under this new "domino theory" (for info on the old "domino theory" see here), the inter-connectedness of the former "communist" (read complete dictatorships) countries would allow Putin to "send a message" to the U.S. by agreeing to sell very modern arms to China, which can then use those to cement its position  as regional hegemonic demon over the South China Sea region. That is, unless, of course, the West agrees to cede all or part of Czechoslovakia Ukraine to Hitler Putin in some sort of "political settlement." We know from history how well such appeasement agreements have work out. See Munich Pact, for example.

However, the argument is that failure to give up bits and pieces of Ukraine will cause Putin to knock over a domino piece elsewhere, most specifically the China piece.

But, isn't China doing just fine without agreeing to buy more Russian equipment? What with stolen plans, weak sister neighbors and a somewhat flaccid U.S. response so far to it bullying and island grabs, what does it need Russia for?

If I were Putin and I was looking at arming China, I'd be worried about my resource rich eastern areas that are so very close to China and its
area of influence. A Chinese "invasion" of Siberia has been discussed for some time and also discounted (oddly, both linked articles look at demographics to make their cases).

Frankly, if the information on some number of Chinese emigrating to Siberia is true (and perhaps even if is not) Putin has, through his assertions of "protecting ethnic Russians" in his Ukraine push, provided the Chinese with an argument to take action in Siberia to protect "ethnic Chinese." I imagine someone in the U.S. world of think tanks might be looking at how a signal to the Chinese about such an action might be viewed by the West if Putin pushes harder in the west.

Further, there is this interesting look at U.S.-China relations from a former U.S. Seventh Fleet commander in this U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings opinion piece, "Storm Warnings?":
• According to The Washington Post , China has increased its use of oil at the average pace of 6–7 percent a year since 1990—more than 20 straight years! At this pace, the PRC will catch the U.S. rate of petroleum usage in just over 20 more years.

• By 2020, China is expected to import 7.3 million barrels of crude oil per day—one half of Saudi Arabia’s planned output, as reported in Foreign Affairs . By way of comparison, today the Chinese import 4.7 million barrels per day and the United States about 9.7 million.

• A recent article in the International Herald Tribune states the PRC is preparing to build three times as many nuclear power plants in the coming decade as the rest of the world. However, electrical demand is growing so rapidly in the PRC that even if that happens, they will generate only 9.7 percent of the country’s power.

• According to National Geographic Magazine , today China produces and consumes nearly one third of the world’s steel, more than long-time industrial powers Japan, Germany, and the United States combined.

• David Hale Global Economics indicates that China now consumes 25 percent of Australia’s exports, up from 12 percent just two years previously, and has invested $44 billion in Australia since 2007.

• According to the South China Morning Post , while the PRC accounts for more than 20 percent of the world’s population, it has only 7 percent of the world’s fresh water, and its vast system of 87,000 reservoirs is not in the best of shape; 43 percent are said to be in poor condition.

All of this is to say that China is facing serious natural-resource challenges, including the need to import an ever-increasing amount of raw materials.
VADM Crowder notes that these external resource dependencies would support a strong blue water navy to protect China's sea lines of communication.

Admiral Crowder makes several excellent points in the piece, not the least of which is the need for some plain speaking on the part of the U.S.:
In fact, if the United States were a lot more transparent about its concerns in the region with regard to China, it could probably reach a glide path that moves more toward cooperation than confrontation. But until the Chinese show us by their words, and more important, their deeds, that their naval buildup is not about coercing the nations of the region—particularly over resources—then we have to be capable of making such an outcome, quite simply, not worth the risk.

On the other hand, if there truly are vast resources of oil, gas, and iron just sitting outside China's border with Russia . . . and exploiting those resources would not require the use of vulnerable sea lanes . . . well, I suspect there are Chinese operation plans on just how grabbing a big chunk of Russia's "far east" might happen, especially if Putin gets Russian forces heavily engaged in the west.

The point is that while Putin might be tempted to tip some dominoes, he really needs to be very careful. The West/U.S. does not need to cede anything at all because it has its own domino strings to push.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Fighting ISIS: The French Send an Aircraft Carrier

As reported here:
France has deployed its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in Iraq, as part of the US-led military campaign, French media report, citing government officials.

"The integration of the Charles de Gaulle in the operation... (in Iraq) begins this morning," a member of Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's staff told AFP.

The agency reports that the first Rafale fighter jet took off from the aircraft carrier on Monday morning. The warship was sailing about 200 kilometres (120 miles) off the coast north of Bahrain in the direction of Iraq.

Jets sent from the carrier reach Iraq twice as fast as those, flying from their base in the United Arab Emirates.
In apparently unrelated news, France's Dassault Aviation has made an export sales of Rafale fighters to Egypt, as noted by Aviation Week here:

Egypt will take delivery of 3-5 Rafales in the next few months after recently signing a contract for 24 aircraft—marking an unusually rapid sequence of events. Egypt has long been considered a potential customer but such haste between signing and delivery is unheard of, even considering the hostile geopolitical tensions in the region. However, Cairo’s military wants to flex muscles by putting up-to-date combat aircraft into service as soon as possible.
. . .(Rafale is more biased to air-to-ground versus air-to-air combat, and may therefore be better suited to most of today’s confrontations). . .
In the fight against ISIS, have additional competent air-to-ground fighters is a good thing.

France seems very interested in taking it to the would-be califatians for some reason. C'est bon!

It should be noted that France and the U.S. have occasionally demonstrated the interoperability of their carrier-based aircraft by landing and taking off from each other's deck. See here.

A Sailor guides an F-1 Rafale, assigned to the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, to a catapult for launch on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) during carrier qualification integration. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Caswell/Released)
An F-1 Rafale, assigned to the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) during carrier qualification integration.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Caswell/Released)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Political Quote of the Day: "Cargo Cult" Politics

From here:
A great deal of what the Left does, especially under Obama’s leadership, amounts to conjuring prosperity by chanting magic spells.

Not familiar with "cargo cults?" See here:
After World War II anthropologists discovered that an unusual religion had developed among the islanders of the South Pacific. It was oriented around the concept of cargo which the islanders perceived as the source of the wealth and power of the Europeans and Americans. This religion, known as the Cargo Cult, held that if the proper ceremonies were performed shipments of riches would be sent from some heavenly place. It was all very logical to the islanders. The islanders saw that they worked hard but were poor whereas the Europeans and Americans did not work but instead wrote things down on paper and in due time a shipment of wonderful things would arrive.
Humorously, there was a Psychology Today article on The Tea Party as a Cargo Cult:
The free market is the talisman that the Tea Party is praying will re-establish the good times. When a Cargo Cult is created, people display an ardent, irrational attachment to symbols of wealth and irrelevant markers of former times. Tea Partiers have associated in their minds the idea of a simple, rural America with the prosperity and world dominance they and the country previously enjoyed.

But no amount of bowing to images of Sarah Palin in wader boots supposedly fishing for her family's dinner is going to bring those days back. And, when Cargo Cults crash, the resulting human debris - in terms of addiction, suicide, and violence - isn't nearly so pretty as the airplanes Cargo Culters built out of flotsam.

Seeking a smaller, less taxing government is exactly like performing ceremonies to bring wealth from the heavens . As opposed to repeatedly demanding that the "rich" (top 1%ers) pay "their fair share," you know.

Saturday Is Heinlein Quote Day #45

From Time Enough for Love:
Don't ever become a pessimist... a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Fun Film: "Coast Guard Ice Patrol (1958)"

Details the work of the U.S. Coast Guard in the international sea lanes of the Northern Pacific [North Atlantic], where icebergs are a constant threat to passenger and cargo ships. USCG patrol vessels track ice formations, assisted by B-17 aircraft. Features footage of the famed liner Queen Mary and USCGC Mendota (WHEC-69), an Owasco class high endurance cutter. Mendota was scrapped in 1974.

Cruise ships have changed, too.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

On Midrats 22 Feb 2015, 5pm - Episode 268: 21st Century Sims

Please join us live on 22 Feb 15 at 5pm EST for Midrats Episode 268: 21st Century Sims:
Who was "The Gun Doctor," the officer over a century ago led the revolution in naval gunnery, the development of torpedo boat and destroyer operations, and during WWI served as the senior US naval commander in Europe? More than the man instrumental in the establishment of the convoy system that helped keep the United Kingdom from starvation in the conflict, following the war his leadership as president of the Naval War College he help to established the creative and innovative Navy that in the interwar period developed the operating concepts for the submarines and aircraft carriers that led the victory in World War II.

What are the lessons of a century ago taught by Admiral William S. Sims, USN that are critically important for the serving officer today?

Our guest for the full hour to discuss this latest book, 21st Century Sims, will be returning guest, LCDR Benjamin Armstrong, USN.

Benjamin "BJ" Armstrong is a naval aviator who has served as a helicopter pilot flying amphibious search and rescue and special warfare missions and as the Officer-in-Charge of a Navy helicopter gunship detachment deployed for counter-piracy and counter-terror operations. He is a PhD Candidate in the Department of War Studies, King's College, London.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here or by going to our iTunes pages here.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Disaster Prep Wednesday on Monday: Extreme Cold Weather or Baby, It's Cold Outside (Re-posting)

Re-posted from Dec 2013, as the latest "polar vortex" looms:

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:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Fun Film: "ASW: Hunter/Killer Aircraft (1967)"

Anti-submarine Warfare is hard. Hard now and hard back in the late 60's when the Soviet sub force was big.

Shows the Navy's anti-submarine patrol in action during the late 1960s. Featuring flight operations off the aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-18), fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft perform sweeps of the sea in the vicinity of the fleet main body. They are joined by destroyers and other warships equipped with sonar, depth-charges and ASW torpedoes. The Grumman S-2 Tracker aircraft is especially featured.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Inshore Undersea Warfare: Diver Detection Systems

Anyone who has ever worked in the inshore undersea warfare area knows that diver detection long has  been an issue. Over the years there have been lots of people seeking a solution to detecting, classifying and directing responses to the sub-surface threats in inshore waters.

Marine Technology says that Israeli Navy installs advanced underwater AquaShield detection system:
The latest defense system makes Israel “100 percent impervious to all such attacks”, says a senior Israeli Naval officer in a press statement.

“The chances of a diver infiltrating the system are zero. The system is proven and constitutes a sea barrier for Israel,” the naval officer explained.
AquaShieldDDS system  (courtesy DSIT)
I don't know about that 100%, but some details are available from the company that developed "Aquashield" DSIT:
Building on its technical and operational experience in sonar and underwater acoustic systems for naval applications, DSIT has developed an innovative, cost-effective Diver Detection Sonar (DDS) system, the AquaShield™, that provides critical coastal and offshore protection of sites through detecting, tracking, and warning of unauthorized divers and SDVs for effective response.
AquaShield™ DDS systems operate in all weather and water conditions. The system’s flexibility enables rapid deployment and adjustment to specific site conditions. The DDS sensors can be integrated with other sensors into a comprehensive command and control (C&C) system to provide a complete tactical picture both above and below the water for more intelligent evaluation of and effective response to the threat.
Brochures about the product are available at the bottom of this DSIT webpage here.

DSIT is not alone providing such sonar equipment. Another company is Sonardyne which produces the "Sentinel Diver Detection System" and also this video of how its system might be used:

Sentinel is the world’s most widely deployed intruder detection sonar, developed to meet the underwater security requirements of private, commercial, government and naval end users.

The system reliably detects, tracks and classifies divers and small underwater vehicles approaching a protected asset from any direction and alerts security personnel to the potential threat. Whether it is protecting a critical infrastructure facility, offshore platform, sea port or super yacht at anchor, Sentinel’s autonomous monitoring capabilities, long range detection and proven low false alarm rates, provide a rapidly deployable, 360° underwater security solution for any application.

Sentinel takes reliable, long range underwater intruder detection to a new level and since its first introduction in 2006, has been shown to outperform far more expensive and complex technologies. The system is small, lightweight, has a low false alarm rate and once configured, can be left to operate autonomously.
PDF on the Sentinel system here

Other systems are available from Kongsberg, Saab, Atlas Elektronik, FarSounder, and BSSHolland. Sample brochure:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Videos from West 2015

Well worth viewing, the thoughts of the folks who are in charge:

Deputy Secretary of Defense, Robert Work:

Admiral William Gortney, NORAD Commander:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

President Obama's 2015 National Security Strategy

What the White House says about it, "President Obama's National Security Strategy in 2015: Strong and Sustainable American Leadership":
Here are the 4 key ways we will advance a strong and sustained American leadership:
1. We will advance the security of the United States, its citizens, and U.S. allies and partners by:
- Maintaining a national defense that is the best trained, equipped, and led force in the world
- Reinforcing our homeland security to protect Americans from terrorist attacks and natural hazards
- Striving for a world without nuclear weapons and ensuring nuclear materials don't fall into the wrong hands
- Developing a global capacity to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to biological threats like Ebola through the Global Health Security Agenda
2. We will advance a strong, innovative, and growing U.S. economy in an open international economic system by:
- Strengthening American energy security and increasing global access to reliable and  affordable energy to bolster economic growth and development worldwide
- Advancing a trade agenda -- including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic  Trade and Investment Partnership -- that creates good American jobs and shared prosperity
- Leading efforts to reduce extreme poverty, food insecurity, and preventable deaths with initiatives such as Feed the Future and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
3. We will advance respect for universal values at home and around the world by:
- Holding ourselves to the highest possible standard by living our values at home even as we do what is necessary to keep our people safe and our allies secure
- Leading the way in confronting the corruption by promoting adherence to standards of accountable and transparent governance
- Leading the international community to prevent and respond to human rights abuses and mass atrocities as well as gender-based violence and discrimination against LGBT persons
4. We will advance an international order that promotes peace, security, and oppor­tunity through stronger cooperation by:
- Strengthening and growing our global alliances and partnerships, forging diverse coalitions, and leading at the United Nations and other multilateral organizations
- Pursuing a stable Middle East and North Africa by countering terrorism, preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and reducing the underlying sources of conflict
- Promoting a prosperous, secure, and democratic Western Hemisphere by expanding integration and leveraging a new opening to Cuba to expand our engagement
What Foreign Policy's Shadow Government blog says in "Patience Isn’t Always a Virtue":
The central conceit of the document, though, is the concept of “strategic patience.” By this the Obama administration means not doing too much in the world, seeing how things develop before acting, using our powers in limited ways that will accrue large effects over time. They see it as “influencing the trajectory of major shifts in the security landscape today in order to secure our national interests in the future.”

And to an extent, they’re right. The United States often insists on immediate results, in international affairs as in so many other aspects of government activity. Smart strategies take into account cost-effectivness, and immediate effects are often extremely costly (their emphasis on cost does not extend to considering the national debt as a security risk, however).

But patience has its costs, too. Our “patience” in Syria has cost 230,000 lives and 5 million refugees, an expansion of Iran’s influence in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, destabilization of friendly countries in the region to include Jordan and Turkey, and the spread of horrific tortures and war crimes on a large scale. President Obama’s patience is the Syrian peoples’ tragedy.
What a New York Times opinion piece by Peter Baker and David E. Sanger says in "Security Strategy Recognizes U.S. Limits":
“The question is never whether America should lead, but how we should lead,” Mr. Obama writes in an introduction to the document, a report that seems to mix legacy with strategy. In taking on terrorists, he argues that the United States should avoid the deployment of large ground forces like those sent more than a decade ago to Iraq and Afghanistan. In spreading democratic values, he says, America should fight corruption and reach out to young people.

“On all these fronts, America leads from a position of strength,” he writes. “But this does not mean we can or should attempt to dictate the trajectory of all unfolding events around the world. As powerful as we are and will remain, our resources and influence are not infinite. And in a complex world, many of the security problems we face do not lend themselves to quick and easy fixes.”
Over all, it reflects a president who is more seasoned and scarred than the one who last released a formal national security strategy in 2010. At the time, Mr. Obama’s main goals were ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, rebuilding ties with Russia and reviving a world economy reeling from financial collapse.

Now the economy is on the rebound, and the vast majority of troops have been brought home. But the Russian rapprochement is dead, spinoffs of Al Qaeda are on the rise, and the implosions of several Arab states have upended a strategy for the region that Mr. Obama laid out in the first years of his presidency.

The strategy lists eight top strategic risks to the United States, starting with a catastrophic attack at home but including threats like climate change, disruptions in the energy market and significant problems caused by weak or failing states.
What the International Business Times' Amy Nordrum sees:
Overall, though, Obama communicated a reluctance to commit military forces to combat threats in unfocused wars like those which he entered into during his early presidency, saying the U.S. should be careful not to try to "dictate the trajectory of all unfolding events around the world."

“The United States will always defend our interests and uphold our commitments to allies and partners. But, we have to make hard choices among many competing priorities, and we must always resist the over-reach that comes when we make decisions based upon fear,” he wrote in his introductory letter to the strategy.

To that end, the president’s top priorities will also be attacking nebulous threats that are more closely tied to public health, inequality and a faltering global economy. He lists finding secure sources of affordable energy, ending poverty, exploiting new markets for American goods and fighting for LGBT rights as chief among them. LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. The strategy also gives a nod to efforts to fend off Ebola and the need to address “the urgent crisis of climate change.”
UPDATE: From James Joyner at The National Interest:
The Obama administration’s long-overdue update to the National Security Strategy hit the streets Friday morning. It is in many ways a remarkable document, lucidly describing the foreign (and domestic) policy vision of the only global power, nodding to an enormous number of allies, partners and stakeholders. It is, however, only loosely about national security. More importantly, it’s decidedly not a strategy.
Taken in microcosm, the dozens of unprioritized priorities of the 2015 NSS are banal. There’s little over which to disagree on a point-by-point basis. Indeed, like most of its predecessors, it reads like a summary of recent issues of publications like Foreign Affairs and The National Interest written by junior bureaucrats on the National Security Staff that’s then been edited by the president’s domestic-policy advisors—which, in fairness, is pretty much what it is.
You can decide for yourselves. It might help to look at exactly what "strategic planning" is, which is well set out here:
The underlying assumption of strategy from a national perspective is that states and other competitive entities have interests that they will pursue to the best of their abilities. Interests are desired end states such as survival, economic well-being, and enduring national values. The national elements of power are the resources used to promote or advance national interests. Strategy is the pursuit, protection, or advancement of these interests through the application of the instruments of power. Strategy is fundamentally a choice; it reflects a preference for a future state or condition. In doing so, strategy confronts adversaries and some things simply remain beyond control or unforeseen.

Strategy is all about how (way or concept) leadership will use the power (means or resources) available to the state to exercise control over sets of circumstances and geographic locations to achieve objectives (ends) that support state interests. Strategy provides direction for the coercive or persuasive use of this power to achieve specified objectives. This direction is by nature proactive. It seeks to control the environment as opposed to reacting to it. Strategy is not crisis management. It is its antithesis. Crisis management occurs when there is no strategy or the strategy fails. Thus, the first premise of a theory of strategy is that strategy is proactive and anticipatory.

A second premise of a theory of strategy is that the strategist must know what is to be accomplished--that is, he must know the end state that he is trying to achieve. Only by analyzing and understanding the desired end state in the context of the internal and external environment can the strategist develop appropriate objectives leading to the desired end state.

A third premise of a theory of strategy is that the strategy must identify an appropriate balance among the objectives sought, the methods to pursue the objectives, and the resources available. In formulating a strategy the ends, ways, and means are part of an integral whole and if one is discussing a strategy at the national (grand)level with a national level end, the ways and means would similarly refer to national level concepts and resources. That is ends, ways, and means must be consistent. Thus a National Security Strategy end could be supported by concepts based on all the instruments of power and the associated resources. For the military element of power, the National Military Strategy would identify appropriate ends for the military to be accomplished through national military concepts with national military resources. In a similar manner a Theater or Regional Commander in Chief (CINC) would have specific theater level objectives for which he would develop theater concepts and use resources allocated to his theater. In some cases these might include other than military instruments of power if those resources are available. The levels of strategy are distinct, but interrelated because of the hierarchical and comprehensive nature of strategy.

A fourth premise of strategy is that political purpose must dominate all strategy; thus, Clausewitz’ famous dictum, "War is merely the continuation of policy by other means." Political purpose is stated in policy. Policy is the expression of the desired end state sought by the government. In its finest form it is clear articulation of guidance for the employment of the instruments of power towards the attainment of one or more end states. In practice it tends to be much vaguer. Nonetheless policy dominates strategy by its articulation of the end state and its guidance. The analysis of the end state and guidance yields objectives leading to the desired end state. Objectives provide purpose, focus, and justification for the actions embodied in a strategy. National strategy is concerned with a hierarchy of objectives that is determined by the political purpose of the state. Policy insures that strategy pursues appropriate aims.

A fifth premise is that strategy is hierarchical. Foster argues that true strategy is the purview of the leader and is a "weltanschauung" (world view) that represents both national consensus and comprehensive direction. In the cosmic scheme of things Foster may well be right, but reality requires more than a "weltanschauung." Political leadership insures and maintains its control and influence through the hierarchical nature of state strategy. Strategy cascades from the national level down to the lower levels. Generally strategy emerges at the top as a consequence of policy statements and a stated National Security Strategy (sometimes referred to as Grand Strategy). National Security Strategy lays out broad objectives and direction for the use of all the instruments of power. From this National Security Strategy the major activities and departments develop subordinate strategies. For the military this is the National Military Strategy. In turn, the National Military Strategy leads to lower strategies appropriate to the various levels of war.

A sixth premise is that strategy is comprehensive. That is to say, while the strategist may be devising a strategy from a particular perspective, he must consider the whole of the strategic environment in his analysis to arrive at a proper strategy to serve his purpose at his level. He is concerned with external and internal factors at all levels. On the other hand, in formulating a strategy, the strategist must also be cognizant that each aspect--objectives, concepts, and resources--has effects on the environment around him. Thus, the strategist must have a comprehensive knowledge of what else is happening and the potential first, second, third, etc., order effects of his own choices on the efforts of those above, below, and on his same level. The strategist’s efforts must be fully integrated with the strategies or efforts of senior, co-equal, and subordinate elements. Strategists must think holistically--that is comprehensively. They must be cognizant of both the "big picture," their own institution’s capabilities and resources, and the impact of their actions on the whole of the environment. Good strategy is never developed in isolation.

A seventh premise is that strategy is developed from a thorough analysis and knowledge of the strategic situation/environment. The purpose of this analysis is to highlight the internal and external factors that help define or may affect the specific objectives, concepts, and resources of the strategy.

The last premise of a theory of strategy is that some risk is inherent to all strategy and the best any strategy can offer is a favorable balance against failure. Failure can be either the failure to achieve one’s own objectives and/or providing a significant advantage to one’s adversaries.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Things Military Leaders Could Learn from Coach Dean Smith

Coach Dean Smith has died but his words should live on as leadership advice helpful to leaders in
any walk of life, but especially to the military where leaders often have to coach 18 to 25 year old young men and women to become the best they can be - both for themselves and for the team.

Some of Coach Smith's thoughts from his book The Carolina Way:
  1.  "The most important thing in good leadership is truly caring. The best leaders in any profession care about the people they lead, and the people who are being led know when the caring is genuine and when it's faked or not there at all."
  2.  “Play Hard; Play Together; Play Smart.” Good description from a review of his book here: "Hard meant with effort, determination, and courage; together meant unselfishly, trusting your teammates, and doing everything possible not to let them down; and smart meant with good execution and poise, treating each possession as if it were the only one in the game.”
  3.  In some ways, this ties into stoic philosophy: "Smith recognized that occasionally his teams would have bad luck or face a particularly good team or player on their best night, but he believed that if his teams simply concentrated on those things within their control, then they would generally be successful."
  4. Feedback: Take the time to your people as individuals. Give them feedback positive and negative in private sessions. Let them know what is expected and let them know how they are doing. (praise in public, correct in private). "I'd get on the players if I needed to, but it was also important to praise them for the good things they had done, especially on the road, where they faced enough adversity without my piling on. I wasn't as critical during games as I was at practice. Players needed confidence during games more than criticism."
  5. "The coach's job is to be part servant in helping each player reach his goals within the team concept... When I became head coach at North Carolina, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the players. How did they want to be treated? How could I help them reach their potential? How could I make the game fun and enjoyable and still work them hard?"
  6. "Dr. Jerry Bell: Part of Dean Smith's greatness as a leader lies in his ability to get his players to get beyond understanding their roles to embracing them. But their commitment starts with clarity. If employees don't understand their roles, their specific areas of responsibility, it's almost impossible for the company to work well as a team. Confusion will reign. Divided responsibility ends up being nobody's responsibility. "
  7. Teach young leaders by delegating authority - Coach Smith entrusted his older UNC players with the authority to make and enforce rules governing the team. Coach kept the responsibility for this being done in the right manner by letting the players know what his standards were for them.
Care. Set high standards and help your people reach them. Treat people as you would like to be treated. Put others first. Make sure everyone understands their roles. Delegate authority. Hold people responsible. Be fair.

One other lesson to be learned. Coach Smith took a lot of strong stands in his life. For example, he integrated the UNC athletic program when he recruited Charlie Scott to play for the Tarheels in 1966, among other things. Perhaps that is Coach Smith most valuable lesson to leaders - have the courage of your convictions.

Rest in peace, Coach.

Proud to be a Tarheel

UPDATE: Forgot to give a hat tip and link to Championship Coaches Network .

    Friday, February 06, 2015

    Friday Fun Film: U.S. Coast Guard Video

    That other Sea Service that does so much with so little -

    2014 Coast Guard Video of the Year Official Trailer:

    And, a Week in the life of the Coast Guard 2014:

    On Midrats 8 Feb 2015 - Episode 266: East Africa and CJTF-HOA with Major General Wayne W. Grigsby Jr., USA

    Please join us on 8 Feb 2015 at 5pm (EST)  for Midrats Episode 266: East Africa and CJTF-HOA with Major General Wayne W. Grigsby Jr., USA
    Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) based out of Djibouti is playing the long game with the nations of east Africa, our allies, governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and other concerned parties to not only help build a better future for the nations in that corner of the continent, but to ensure the security of the American homeland.

    Our guest to discuss their role and more will be Major General Wayne W. Grigsby Jr., United States Army - Commander CJTF-HOA.

    Due to scheduling issues, the interview with MG Grigsby was recorded earlier.

    Listen "live' or download the show later by clicking here. Or pick the show up from our iTunes page here.

    Thursday, February 05, 2015

    Somebody Gets It: "6 Reasons Why 'Starship Troopers' Is the New 'The Art of War'"

    From Popular Mechanics, 6 Reasons Why 'Starship Troopers' Is the New 'The Art of War'.

    I'll toss in some thoughts:

    1. Ethics: War Sometimes is the Answer

    2. Mobility:
    •    (a) "Firstest with the mostest"
    •     (b)“Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire     and be still as the Mountain.”
    •     (c) Logistics, logistics, logistics

    3. Controlled Violence Requires Professionals.

    Department of the Navy Fiscal Year 2016 Briefing Slides (dated 2 Feb 2015)

    Bottom line up front:
    Click on image to enlarge

    Hat tip: USNI News.

    More information available from Fiscal Year 2016 Department of the Navy Budget Materials. Of special interest to you bean counters is the Supporting Exhibits.

    Wednesday, February 04, 2015

    Disaster Prep Wednesday: "The Resilience Dividend"

    Importance of disaster preparation lessons even from a PBS book author discussion. Book being discussed is The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong:

    From a review here:
    Resilience, as defined by Judith Rodin, the author of the important book “The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong,” is the capacity of any entity, ranging from an individual, a corporation or a society, to pre-emptively prepare for sudden disruptions that were unpredicted, to recover from them and then to take advantage of new opportunities produced by the disruption for further growth and expansion.

    It is the latter part of this equation that the author terms as the “resilience dividend.” Thus, although it is critical for the affected entities to return to “normal functioning” following a major disruption such as a catastrophic terrorist attack, earthquake, hurricane or financial collapse, one of the crucial benefits of the “resilience dividend” is that it enables organizations that are truly resilient to significantly transform themselves in a beneficial manner “even when disruptions are not occurring.”
    In other words, knowing that disruptions are inevitable, doesn't it make sense to create for yourself or your business, family, neighborhood, city, state and country "resilience" that goes beyond mitigation?
    Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. Mitigation is taking action now—before the next disaster—to reduce human and financial consequences later (analyzing risk, reducing risk, insuring against risk). Effective mitigation requires that we all understand local risks, address the hard choices and invest in long-term community well-being. Without mitigation actions, we jeopardize our safety, financial security and self-reliance.
    UPDATE: More here. UPDATE2: And here.

    Tuesday, February 03, 2015

    Tuesday Reading: Drug Submarines and Other Things Indicating We Live in a Very Dangerous World

    Suggestions to while away your day or week.

    First, an interesting piece in a long pdf form about Narco-Submarines Specially Fabricated Vessels Used For Drug Smuggling Purposes (hat tip: Small Wars Journal). From the intro by Admiral James Stavrides, USN(ret):
    Just over 20 years ago, narco-submarines emerged as an alternative method of transporting narcotics. This study is important and relevant to the present challenges faced by law enforcement authorities and militaries as it specifically focuses on these specially fabricated vessels that have been used for drug smuggling purposes.

    Second, an article from the Thomas Joscelyn at the Long War Journal that reflects on the mess that Libya has become Ansar al Sharia photos focus on governance efforts near Benghazi:
    The propaganda photos were posted on a Twitter feed maintained by Ansar al Sharia's media arm, Al Raya Media. That feed was subsequently suspended by Twitter.

    The group has been locked in a fierce battle with forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar since last year. Ansar al Sharia Libya leads the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC), an alliance of jihadist groups seeking to control Benghazi.
    The photos are undoubtedly intended to project power and influence in and around Benghazi at a time when the group is battling for control of the city and its suburbs. General Haftar's forces similarly claim to control most of Benghazi and the surrounding neighborhoods. According to multiple reports, the city of Benghazi has suffered extensive damage during the fighting between the jihadists and Haftar's men.

    A flag commonly associated with the Islamic State, which claims to rule as a caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria, can be seen in photos of a building under the group's control. A number of Ansar al Sharia vehicles are shown flying the same flag. However, this does not mean that the group has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. The same images show a black banner typically associated with the Al Nusrah Front, an official branch of al Qaeda in Syria, and al Qaeda in the lower right hand corner. The same type of flag was adopted by a number of organizations prior to the rivalry between the Islamic State and al Qaeda. In addition, a number of groups loyal to al Qaeda have used the same type of banner. Still, there are rumors on social media that some Ansar al Sharia's followers have defected to the Islamic State.
    You need a scorecard to keep track of the rival jihadist groups who are intent on seizing power, not only in Libya, but in much of the Middle East and parts of Africa.

    Third, an article from the Economist giving a view of what Russia's Putin in up to in one of the into which he has stuck a finger, Understanding Putin’s plans: The Russian president is stepping up both the war in Ukraine and his confrontational rhetoric against NATO and the West:
    This ratcheting up of anti-Western rhetoric is in part a response to a deteriorating economy. Indeed, Mr Putin upgraded the war into a Russia-NATO conflict just as Standard and Poor’s, a rating agency, was downgrading Russia’s credit rating to junk. The fall in oil prices and continued pressure on the rouble is driving up prices, causing much grumbling among ordinary Russians. While the government is carefully avoiding the word crisis, it has started to talk of anti-crisis measures.
    Ah, power politics.

    Fourth, Russia again, along with Castro's Cuba and the latest Kim-in-Charge's North Korea, as Newsweek reports Russia Plans Joint Military Drills With North Korea and Cuba:
    Gerasimov [chief of staff of the Russian armed forces] announced: “We are planning an expansion of the communication lines of our military central command. We are entering preliminary negotiations with the armed forces of Brazil, Vietnam, Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

    “We are going to conduct a series of joint naval and air force exercises, as well as joint drills of our ground troops and air assault troops,” the military official added.
    In other words, just more tweaking of the West.

    Fifth, the not unexpected result of China's attempt to bully itself into dominance of the South China Sea reported by Mike Mazza in the National Interest Made in China: A Vietnam-Philippines Axis :
    Vietnam and the Philippines, which have long-standing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, are forming a strategic partnership. Worried over the rise of China and, in particular, Beijing’s increasingly belligerent actions in pursuit of its own territorial claims, Hanoi and Manila are banding together.
    May seem like mice making an alliance to bell the cat, but . . .

    Finally, two pieces on the fun and frolicking in Saudi Saudi King Salman's Audacious Power Play:
    Arabia as a new king takes over and where is hot button items are
    By recommitting to these classic features of Saudi policy, King Salman is not providing much material to those who would like to portray him as a moderate and a reformer. Rather, he is reinvesting in the same unsustainable strategies that have set the kingdom up for greater instability down the road.

    So let’s meet Salman’s new regime. Just like the old Saudi regime, only worse.
    and The Houthis Test King Salman: The Turmoil in Yemen Puts Saudi Arabia in a Tight Spot:
    For the Saudis, the change of power within Yemen may weaken the leverage they once had with Sanaa and signals the growth of an even larger threat: Iran.
    I know there's a lot more but these caught my attention this morning.


    Monday, February 02, 2015

    Is the Bab El-Mandeb strait threatened by events in Aden? Is Iran involved?

    Houthis attempting to control Yemen’s Bab El-Mandeb strait:
    Recent advances by Yemen’s Houthi movement are part of an attempt to take control of the strategic Bab El-Mandeb strait off the Yemeni coast, military sources in the country said on Saturday.

    This comes as three members of the group and three military personnel were killed on Friday evening as the armed Houthis attempted an attack on the Al-Khoukha military camp just south of the coastal city of Al-Hudaydah, close to the strategic waterway.

    The Bab El-Mandeb, which connects the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea and Suez Canal, is one of the most important maritime corridors in the world, through which most of Yemen’s oil exports pass on their way to global markets.
    Retired Yemeni brigadier-general Mohsen Khasrouf told Asharq Al-Awsat the group “has its eyes firmly on the Bab El-Mandeb strait” and that Friday night’s attack represented “the first step on the road to taking control” of the waterway for the Houthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
    “The Bab El-Mandeb strait is not just related to Yemen’s security but to the security of the whole region,” Khasrouf said, adding that Iran was acting through the Houthis and attempting to gain control of the strait, which in addition to Iranian control of the strait of Hormuz, would give the Islamic Republic a strategic maritime advantage on the Arabian Peninsula’s surrounding waterways.
    The Bab El-Madeb strait is on the "chokepoints" identified by the U.S. Energy Information Administration here:

    The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is a chokepoint between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, and it is a strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. The strait is located between Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, and connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Most exports from the Persian Gulf that transit the Suez Canal and SUMED Pipeline also pass through Bab el-Mandeb.

    An estimated 3.8 million bbl/d of crude oil and refined petroleum products flowed through this waterway in 2013 toward Europe, the United States, and Asia, an increase from 2.9 million bbl/d in 2009. Oil shipped through the strait decreased by almost one-third in 2009 because of the global economic downturn and the decline in northbound oil shipments to Europe. Northbound oil shipments increased through Bab el-Mandeb Strait in 2013, and more than half of the traffic, about 2.1 million bbl/d, moved northbound to the Suez Canal and SUMED Pipeline.

    The Bab el-Mandeb Strait is 18 miles wide at its narrowest point, limiting tanker traffic to two 2-mile-wide channels for inbound and outbound shipments. Closure of the Bab el-Mandeb could keep tankers from the Persian Gulf from reaching the Suez Canal or SUMED Pipeline, diverting them around the southern tip of Africa, adding to transit time and cost. In addition, European and North African southbound oil flows could no longer take the most direct route to Asian markets via the Suez Canal and Bab el-Mandeb.
    Exactly what weapons a Yemeni force would use to "control" this strait is a matter of some conjecture. Possibly, long range artillery or anti-ship cruise missiles or sea mines could be used.

    One source for such weapons could be Iran, which, of course, just might have some interest in having another means of threatening the flow of oil out of the Arabian Gulf to the West. The Iranian Navy has long self-identified as maintaining a counter-piracy "flotilla" in and around the Red Sea, usually consisting of a semi-frigate and a replenishment vessel (often referred to by the Iranians as a "helicopter carrier"). See here.

    On the other hand, the strait also serves as an route for the export of Iranian crude, so if Iran is behind the Houthi effort, it would most likely be planning a contingency operation for an effort to complete blockade oil flowing to the West through the Suez Canal, while leaving access from its port to the East open. This might buy a few days before the tanker fleets readjust their routing around south Africa.

    Yemeni naval forces are mostly relatively lightly armed coastal patrol craft.

    Interesting Reading on Law, Pirates and Private Maritime Security Forces

    Worth reading the original to see part of the complexity the maritime community has to deal with in attempting to keep its ships safe and secure, here are selections from an article from Maritime Executive by Simon O.Williams, LLM dealing with  International Legal Framework Governing Maritime Security:
    While UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] includes several articles regulating state responses against piracy (Articles 100 to 107 and 110), the Convention provides no foundation or guidance for private efforts in combating piracy. Instead, there are many fragmented treaties, conventions, legal principles and soft law instruments that supplement UNCLOS.
    The Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA) Convention and Protocol was designed to fill voids in international law necessary to combat other threats to human life and security of navigation and commerce at sea not fully prescribed under UNCLOS. It requires states to pass legislation making unlawful piratical and terrorist acts against navigation serious criminal offenses under their national laws.
    In 2005 the 1988 SUA Convention and Protocol were amended to become the 2005 SUA Convention and the 2005 SUA Protocol. The 2005 SUA framework contains three new categories of offenses.

             - Using a ship as a weapon or as a means for committing terrorist acts.
             - Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on the high seas.
             - Transporting a person alleged to have committed an offense under other                  UN anti-terrorism conventions.
    In relation to private maritime security, a main legal conundrum with SOLAS is whether employing armed security on board a vessel can deprive the ship’s Master of their overall responsibility to control all actions aboard their vessel, as required by SOLAS. If so, this would be in contradiction of SOLAS Reg 34-1 and Reg 8, Chapter XI-2.

    Many coastal states have taken additional steps to clarify the relationship between Master and privately contracted armed security personnel (PCASP), amending national legislation to reaffirm the Master’s overall authority to authorize PCASP targeting, deployment and target engagement (specifically, weapons discharge of any-kind). In an effort to resolve this dispute, the largest international shipping association, the Baltic International Maritime Council (BIMCO), has released a commercial contract template, GUARDCON, which establishes this clear line of superiority with the ship’s Master remaining in command at all times.
    U.N. Firearms Protocol

    In addition to the Law of the Sea framework, maritime security providers must also navigate the complex international legal regime of the U.N. Firearms Protocol, a legally binding agreement which entered into force in 2005, currently signed by 109 states plus the European Union, to ensure armed security provider, or those importing/transporting weapons, carry the required port and transit state permits.

    Making this matter more complicated in recent years, floating armories have emerged as offshore supply stores delivering weapons and crews to client vessels, circumventing port and coastal state regulations and bypassing the need for import/export compliance. Of course, this has opened a Pandora’s box in terms of unaccounted-for firearms. In other circumstances, PCASP have jettisoned weapons into the sea after completing missions in order to sidestep import/export regulations reaffirmed in the Protocol.

    The Principle of Self-Defense

    Of primary importance to the legal reasoning behind the private use of force at sea in counter-piracy is the principle of Self-Defense.
    “Customary international law, among other legal authorities, provides that the use of force is restricted to cases of necessity or self-defence, i.e. cases in which there is no other way out and in which the requirements of necessity, reasonableness and proportionality are observed in connection with the use of force. Such customary international law is binding […] The use of force by private security guards must therefore be based on the general, internationally accepted principles of self-defence.”
    Moreover, individual guards or any persons aboard a vessel, for that matter, have the right to self-defense of their person. This is a fundamental human right. If pirates or other assailants are directing weapons’ fire in their direction, for example, and they believe their lives to be in grave danger, the same right of self-defense for vessels applies at the personal level.

    Doctrine of Necessity

    After being discussed for decades in international law circles, the Doctrine of Necessity was finally incorporated into the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts.

    Article 25 of this document provides that an otherwise illegal act, such as using force to neutralize a terrorist or pirate attack at sea, can be justified if it meets two criteria.
    The act was the only means of safeguarding an essential interest of the state against a grave and imminent peril.

    The act did not seriously impair an essential interest of the state toward which the obligation existed.


    As with any set of laws meant to create order out of chaos, one question remains - who will enforce the law and by what means?  It's also worth noting that pirates seem to have little difficulty with the issues of the U.N. Firearms Protocol.