Good Company

Good Company
Good Company

Thursday, June 30, 2016

"It's for the Children" and Other Excuses for War-Making

I've long been a critic of humanitarian interventions:
These should not be confused with "humanitarian operations." Humanitarian operations
Refugee boat capsizing after escaping a the consequences of a humanitarian intervention
are approved by countries affected by some disaster or another, such as the aid rendered to the victims of the tsunami of December 2004 or other efforts to assist areas impacted by storms or earthquakes. In such cases, military forces may end up working with non-governmental organizations like the Red Cross or transnational entities like the UN and its disaster contractors. In such cases, the role of the military is usually logistical support.

By contrast, in a "humanitarian intervention" armed force is used directly to intervene in a sovereign nation's affairs even against the will of the sovereign of the invaded or attacked nation.

So it was with a great deal of interest I read David Bromwich's "The Roots of Hillary's Infatuation with War" in which he discusses the alter ego of "humanitarian intervention" - "smart power":
Smart power is supposed to widen the prospects of liberal society and assist the spread of human rights. Yet the term itself creates a puzzle. Hillary Clinton’s successful advocacy of violent regime change in Libya and her continuing call to support armed insurgents against the Assad government in Syria have been arguments for war, but arguments that claim a special exemption. For these wars—both the one we led and the one we should have led—were “humanitarian wars.” This last phrase Clinton has avoided using, just as she has avoided explaining her commitment to the internationalist program known as “Responsibility to Protect,” with its broad definition of genocide and multiple triggers for legitimate intervention. Instead, in a Democratic primary debate in October 2015, she chose to characterize the Libya war as “smart power at its best.”

Understanding the impulse to "protect" (couched as a "responsibility to protect") is important in examining political candidates for high office.

Not just in terms of the presumptive Democratic Party presidential candidate who is the topic of Dr. Bromwich's piece, but also in thinking about how we get into messy situations abroad - like Kosovo (still not at peace and hello ISIS, Somalia ("Blackhawk Down"), and Libya (hello, ISIS). If I recall correctly there were some "red line" warnings to Assad in Syria that sounded in humanitarian concerns.

In any event, Dr. Bromwich is right in asking at what level of humanitarian concern is intervention acceptable to a candidate? Would the Khmer Rouge and the killing fields of Cambodia now qualify? Rwanda? What about Mao's China and its "cultural revolution?" Stalin starving the Ukraine?

I think you get the drift - putting U.S. forces into combat in defense of the U.S. is one thing. Using our forces to deliver aid after a disaster is another. But is intervening in another country's affairs "for the children" - a mission we ought to undertake?

Indeed, as Dr. Bromwich writes, "An incorrigible belief in the purity of one’s motives is among the most dangerous endowments a politician can possess."

My mother always quoted, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

It's a dangerous path.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Terrorist Threats to Shipping: Philippines ISIS Team Member Abu Sayyaf Nabs Sailors, Seeks Ransom to Fund Operations

Abu Sayyaf kidnaps 7 Indonesian sailors
Jolo Island is in the oval

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday finally confirmed the Abu Sayyaf Group's (ASG) kidnapping of seven Indonesian sailors in the Sulu Sea, two days after Indonesian authorities announced the incident.
The AFP's Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) said that armed men on board two motorized boats intercepted the Indonesian's tugboat while en route to Indonesia in the Sulu Sea around 11 a.m. last June 22.
The WesMinCom's report said that only seven of the 13 crewmen on board the Indonesia tugboat were taken by the bandits.
It said that the seven Indonesians have been turned over by the armed men, later identified as the Muktadil brothers -- Nickson, Brown, Badung and Dadis -- to Abu Sayyaf Group sub-leader Majal Adja alias Apo Mike based in Sulu.
The WesMinCom said among those kidnapped was the boat's captain, who had called his wife in Indonesia to relay that their kidnappers were asking 20 million Malaysian ringgit.
Now, Indonesian hostages of Abu Sayyaf located:
Efforts to release seven Indonesian sailors recently abducted in waters off southern Philippines have progressed, with the defense ministries of the two countries on Monday locating the hostages.
The government had been tight-lipped over its handling of the aftermath of the kidnapping of seven members of the crew of the tugboat Charles 001 on June 20 in waters near Philippines’ Jolo island, where the headquarters of terrorist group Abu Sayyaf is located.
Abu Sayyaf has for more than a decade been notorious for its profit-driven activities, such as extortion and kidnap-for-ransom, and has a number of sub-operations under its control.
Of course Abu Sayyaf is now asserting it is affiliated with ISIS:
Southeast Asian militants who claim to be fighting for Islamic State in the Middle East have said they have chosen one of the most wanted men in the Philippines to head a regional faction of the ultraradical group, security officials said on Thursday.

The claim was made in a video that was recently posted on social media, possibly last week, a military intelligence official in the Philippines told Reuters. The video is significant, experts say, because it shows that Islamic State supporters are now being asked to stay home and unify under one umbrella group to launch attacks in Southeast Asia, instead of being drawn to the fight in the Middle East.

Authorities in the region have been on heightened alert since Islamic State claimed an attack in the Indonesian capital Jakarta in January in which eight people were killed, including four of the attackers. In the 20-minute video seen by Reuters, young men and some children in military fatigues are shown carrying and training with weapons, and holding Islamic State flags.
In the video, a man authorities in Malaysia have identified as Mohd Rafi Udin, a Malaysian militant currently in Syria, says in Malay: "If you cannot go to (Syria), join up and go to the Philippines."

In the video, Udin also urges Muslims to unite under the leadership of Abu Abdullah, a Philippine militant leader who pledged allegiance to Islamic State in January. Abu Abdullah, also known as Isnilon Hapilon, is a leader of the Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf.
Abu Sayyaf poses some threat to shipping transiting the Sulu and Celebes Seas, especially to tugs,dive boats and other small craft which can be boarded and from which hostages can be removed. They are not yet in the business of hijacking larger ships.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: A British Exit From Europe - "We shall never surrender" Winston Churchill (1940)

The British leave Europe after a disaster:

More on the Battle of Dunkirk here.

On Midrats 26 June 2016 - Episode 338: Trans-national terrorism and the Long War with Bill Roggio

Please join us on 26 June 2016 at 5pm EDT for Midrats Episode 338: Trans-national terrorism and the Long War with Bill Roggio
When the BREXIT dust settles one thing will remain – the Long War against Islamic terrorists.

In a wide arch along its bloody edge, Islamic extremism continues to look for new opportunities for expansion, and within the borders of Dar al-Islam seeks to impose a retrograde view of Islam by destroying religious minorities, secular governments, and Islamic modernizers.

This Sunday returning guest Bill Roggio will be with us for the full hour to discuss this and more. Bill is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, President of Public Multimedia Inc, a non-profit news organization; and the founder and Editor of The Long War Journal, a news site devoted to covering the war on terror. He has embedded with the US and the Iraqi military six times from 2005-08, and with the Canadian Army in Afghanistan in 2006. Bill served in the US Army and New Jersey National Guard from 1991-97.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or pick the show up later from out iTunes page here or from Stitcher here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Film: A Salute to the Silent Service - "The Growler Story" (1958)

Featuring one of truly heroic acts in American Naval history - Commander Gilmore and his "Take her down" order:

His Medal of Honor citation:
Medal of Honor Citation for Commander Howard W. Gilmore
For distinguished gallantry and valor above and beyond the call of duty as Commanding
Officer of the USS Growler during her Fourth War Patrol in the Southwest Pacific from 10 January to 7 February 1943. Boldly striking at the enemy in spite of continuous hostile air and antisubmarine patrols, CDR Gilmore sank one Japanese freighter and damaged another by torpedo fire, successfully evading severe depth charges following each attack. In the darkness of night on 7 February, an enemy gunboat closed range and prepared to ram the Growler. CDR Gilmore daringly maneuvered to avoid the crash and rammed the attacker instead, ripping into her port side at 11 knots and bursting wide her plates. In the terrific fire of the sinking gunboat’s heavy machineguns, CDR Gilmore calmly gave the order to clear the bridge, and refusing safety for himself, remained on deck while his men preceded him below. Struck down by the fusillade of bullets and having done his utmost against the enemy, in his final living moments, CDR Gilmore gave his last order to the officer of the deck, “Take her down.” The Growler dived; seriously damaged but under control, she was brought safely to port by her well-trained crew inspired by the courageous fighting spirit of their dead captain.

Drawing by Fred Freeman from the Naval History and Heritage Command collection.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 17 May - 15 June 2016 and a New Maritime Security Approach in Southeast Asia

Office of Naval Intelligence Threats to Shipping:

Not mentioned in the report (due to its timing), Three southeast Asian nations to designate shipping corridor to battle piracy:
Celebes and Sulu Seas indicated by ovals
The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia signed the agreement to designate a transit corridor for commercial vessels in order to prevent hijacks by pirates.

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines on Monday agreed to designate a transit corridor for commercial vessels crossing a maritime zone hit by a spate of hijackings by Islamist militants in the southern Philippines.

Nearly 20 Indonesian and Malaysian tugboat crew have been kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf militants this year, with Jakarta airing fears that the problem could reach levels seen off the coast of Somalia.
Analysts say $40-billion worth of cargo passes through the Sulu and Celebes seas each year, including supertankers from the Indian Ocean that cannot use the crowded Malacca Strait.

The three countries also agreed to step up air and sea patrols and escorts for commercial ships in the common maritime areas to fend off potential hijacks, kidnaps and robbery.

Philippine Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the leaders agreed to share the best practices evolved by Indonesia and Malaysia during a joint effort to patrol the busy Malacca Strait waterway against pirates, as a model for three-way cooperation with the Philippines.


Analysts say $40-billion worth of cargo passes through the Sulu and Celebes seas each year, including supertankers from the Indian Ocean that cannot use the crowded Malacca Strait.

The three countries also agreed to step up air and sea patrols and escorts for commercial ships in the common maritime areas to fend off potential hijacks, kidnaps and robbery.

Philippine Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the leaders agreed to share the best practices evolved by Indonesia and Malaysia during a joint effort to patrol the busy Malacca Strait waterway against pirates, as a model for three-way cooperation with the Philippines.


There was no immediate comment from the Abu Sayyaf rebels.

Piracy near Somalia’s coast has subsided after shipping firms hired private security details and international warships patrolled the waters.
It's a Reuters report. Love the "no immediate comment from the . . . rebels" bit.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Orlando Terrorist 911 Transcripts Now Released in an Unredacted Form

Apparently there was a sudden outbreak of common sense in the administration and FBI, DOJ release new, full transcript of Orlando shooter's 911 call
An earlier version of the transcript had deleted the word “Islamic State” and the name of ISIS leader “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” Omar Mateen made the 50-second 911 call in which he claimed responsibility for the assault and pledged allegiance to the terror organization's chief at 2:35 a.m., more than a half hour into the June 12 slaughter at gay nightclub Pulse.

“I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State,” Mateen says on the new transcript.

The old version had several words scrubbed and read: "I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted]."

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called the earlier decision by DOJ and the FBI to release only a partial transcript "preposterous."

"We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS," Ryan said in a statement. "We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community. The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this, and why."

Before the Redaction: Early Reports on the Orlando Terrorist's Content of Phone Calls to the 911 Operator

Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen mentioned Boston bombers in 911 call:
Statement from Mass. State Police:

"During a conference call with federal law enforcement officials a short time ago, Massachusetts State Police and other local law enforcement authorities learned that the Orlando nightclub gunman, during his rampage, pledged allegiance to ISIS and referenced the Tsarnaev brothers, the terrorists who exploded bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon. In light of that information, the Commonwealth Fusion Center continues to share information and intelligence with federal authorities investigating the Orlando terrorist act as well as with police assigned to the Boston Regional Intelligence Center.

"As previously stated, the names of the gunman and his wife did not appear in any databases of potential terrorist suspects maintained by local authorities; however, law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts continue to work with federal authorities to learn more about the nature of the statement about the Tsarnaev brothers attributed to the Orlando terrorist.

"No further information is available at this time."
Orlando Gunman Omar Mateen Called 911 From Bathroom, Says House Intelligence Panel's Rep. Schiff : NPR
SCHIFF: Well, we had a number of briefings from the FBI over the last couple days. He was interviewed both, I guess, in 2013 and 2014 on the basis of concerning statements he made to co-workers. The FBI evidently ran down those statements and those leads - was not able to develop the evidence to bring some kind of a charge of material support for terrorism or any conspiracy case. And this is the reality, the FBI fans out across the country when people do see something and say something. But it doesn't always result in the bringing of charges. And it's simply not enough when people express even very offensive views, very radical views if there's no evidence that they're acting to effectuate them to bring about the violence.

I think the FBI director will address this probably later today. And certainly we're going to be scouring over those files again to see were there some things that were missed, some steps that could've been taken. But there's often going to be the case where people known to us...


SCHIFF: ...That are a matter of concern are not apprehended - can't be apprehended and go on to commit acts of violence.

INSKEEP: OK. Two questions based on the briefings you received. This is a man who during the incident we're told - our justice correspondent Carrie Johnson who's with us in the studios confirms to us that he made a 911 call. He in some manner pledged allegiance to ISIS, we're told, during the attack. First, based on your briefings, do you know that that's actually what he did? Do you have any idea of how he worded it on that 911 call?

SCHIFF: Well, what my understanding is that he did call 911. It sounds from the press conference as well today that was during the period where he was holed up in the bathroom with hostages. And during that call, my understanding is that he pledged allegiance to Baghdadi and to ISIS.

INSKEEP: Oh, the caliph. OK.
Significance of Orlando gunman calling 911 during standoff:
The FBI said investigators are following up on about 100 leads in the Orlando attack that killed 50 people, including the gunman, Omar Mateen. It is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

The 29-year-old shooter opened fire around 2 a.m. ET at Pulse, a nightclub that's described itself as Orlando's hottest gay bar. He called 911 during his nearly three-hour standoff with the police, holding several hostages and pledging allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Orlando shooting survivor: I can still hear everybody yelling, gunshots firing
"I think that's very significant because ISIS tells its followers that they must pledge bayat, they must pledge allegiance to ISIS before they die. We saw that in San Bernardino, and now we've seen it here," former CIA deputy director and CBS News senior security contributor Michael Morell said Monday on "CBS This Morning." "So I think it's very important because it shows that he was in touch with that ISIS messaging."
Orlando Nightclub Attack: What We Know:
President Obama says it appears Omar Mateen was radicalized by extremist propaganda disseminated on the Internet. Here’s an excerpt from his remarks at the White House made after he received a security briefing:

We’re still at the preliminary stages of the investigation, and there’s a lot more that we have to learn. The one thing that we can say is that this is being treated as a terrorist investigation. It appears that the shooter was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated on the Internet. All those materials are currently being searched, exploited so we can have a better sense of the pathway that the killer took in making a decision to launch this attack. … At this stage, we see no clear evidence that he was directed externally. It does appear that at the last minute he pronounced allegiance to ISIL, but there’s no evidence so far that he was, in fact, directed by ISIL, and there are also, at this stage, no direct evidence that he was part of a larger plot. In that sense, it appears to be similar to what we saw in San Bernardino, but we don’t yet know. (emphasis added to President Obama's own words)
I don't know why the FBI decided to close the corral gate after the cattle have left by redacting the comments of this terrorist, but if it's to prevent word getting out that this was an act by an ISIS devotee, I think it's just a little late.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Fun Films: Lighter than Air

Blimps. It takes a little while to get to them in the first film . . .

Talk about herding cats -

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The ISIS Media Front

Every ISIS inspired rampage reminds me that it we are waging, in addition to the kinetic war, a "hearts and minds" campaign against the appeal of jihadist rhetoric and imagery. We discussed this on Midrats Episode 322: Radical Extremism, Visual Propaganda, and The Long War with Professor Cori Dauber and Mark Robinson:

Well, here's some further analysis How to Beat Back ISIS Propaganda from Dr. Haror J. Ingram:
Messaging that exploits the disparity between what one’s adversary says and does, while promoting the close alignment of one’s own words and actions, is a timeless propaganda strategy. As Professor Doug Borer said during discussions at the Naval Postgraduate School: “it’s the say-do gap, stupid.” As a messaging strategy, it does more than merely expose hypocrisy or incompetence; it goes to the heart of an actor’s perceived credibility. Forget slick production or social media—this is Al Qaeda and ISIS’s propaganda trademark. From bin Laden’s frequent assertion that the perpetrators of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings have no right to label him a “terrorist,” to Inspire and Dabiq magazines’ regular claims that Western governments do not afford Muslim citizens the same rights as other citizens, this messaging is designed to expose the West’s say-do gap.

The “information theater” is where perception becomes reality, and Western messaging has tended to be comparatively less adept at leveraging this approach. This has not been helped by events such as the Abu Ghraib revelations and, more recently, an unwillingness to back up “red lines” drawn in Syria. Western counterterrorism messaging would benefit from focusing on tying extremists to the crises experienced by their potential supporter base, highlighting that say-do gap and avoiding futile counter-proselytizing.

Strategic communications campaigns must be devised within the context of strategic policy decisions. Even the best messaging cannot replace “real” policy or action; nor can one assume that action will “speak for itself.” Over three decades ago, President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Decision Directive 75 integrated military, economic and information elements into a wide-ranging strategy designed to catalyze the Soviet Union’s downfall. NSDD 75 and subsequent directives show that the Reagan administration understood the compounding benefits of synchronizing message and action, its force-multiplying effect on the overall campaign and its decisive impact on perceptions of credibility. Current strategies could learn much from this history.
As is the case with most of the struggle against terrorists, the fight is all uphill - the jihadist propaganda machine needs to find only one mind to infiltrate with its call to action while we have to try to counter all such influence.

Like all good guerrilla forces, the jihadists use our strengths (free press, free speech, freedom of religion, freedom in general) as weapons against us in a form of media jujitsu.

The excesses of our society, which we put on full display in print and over the air and in movies, come to dominate the imagery of our country abroad - despite the vast gap between that imagery and the daily reality of our lives.

This lesson is brought home when talking to visitors from overseas who have come to take a look at us. Having seen us through the lens of news ("if it bleeds, it leads"), movies and television (oh, take your pick of the latest "real life" crime films that shows on-going gang warfare and thugs holding their pistols sideways as they blaze away) and the language of our would-be social elites who know exactly what is best for those of us in the "bitter clinger" group, these visitors often are stunned by the far different reality of a genuinely peaceful country with helpful citizens.

Our country is bigger, cleaner, and far more peaceful that they could have known from the sources they have seen.

We have social welfare programs for our poor. We offer free medical care. Our charities are better, bigger and quicker to respond that any massive government program could ever be.

We welcome immigrants who arrive legally (and lots who don't), especially those who seek a better life by learning about those freedoms that make us a great country.

Perhaps it is not odd that those who seem to be most drawn to ISIS-like propaganda appear to be those who cannot learn the tolerance the vast majority of the rest of us are willing to extend to others. Once in that mode, all the negative media they absorb along with the ISIS claptrap sets them up.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Smarter Force in the Littorals? Two essays to read

Well, well, well, someone else is beating the drum of being smarter in the way we spend our money on naval forces for the littorals - the area where most wars are fought by the way - right near the coasts - "inshore" as we nautical types might say - here in a UNSI Proceedings article, CDR Phillip Pournelle discusses The Deadly Future of Littoral Sea Control
The U.S. Navy is building a fleet that is not adapted to either the future mission set or rising threats. It is being built centered around aircraft carriers and submarines. Surface ships are being constructed as either escorts for the carriers or as ballistic-missile-defense platforms. While the littoral combat ship (LCS) was originally intended for sea-control operations in the near-shore environment, its current design is best employed as a mother ship for other platforms to enter the littorals. The result of all this is a brittle—and thus risk-adverse—fleet that will not give us influence, may increase the likelihood of conflict, and reduce the range of mission options available to the national command authority.
Sea Control is the raison d’ĂȘtre for a navy. The littorals have become and will increasingly be critical to the global economy and joint operations. To be relevant a fleet must have the ability to secure the littorals, dispute them, or just as importantly exercise in them in the face of an enemy who will contest them. Different platforms perform each of these tasks, some more effectively than others, which should drive fleet architectures. As the proliferation of weapons changes the littoral environment, the U.S. Navy will be forced to reexamine fleet architectures and make some significant changes to remain viable. This is due to the poor staying power of surface vessels in relation to their signature in the face of these rising threats. This new deadly environment will have tactical, operational, and strategic implications for the fleet and require significant changes if the fleet wishes to remain effective.
. . . As the precision-strike regime, ironically created by the United States, propagates around the world, ASCMs {anti-ship cruise missiles} and other threats to surface ships will expand. The speed of this proliferation may accelerate as new low-footprint manufacturing capabilities spread. 6

Tamil Tiger Improved Manned "Torpedo"
This will greatly change the security environment, particularly in the littorals, as it will greatly increase the lethality of smaller vessels and shore batteries. 7 This will in turn profoundly alter the security landscape. The Tamil Sea Tigers tied the Sri Lankan navy in knots through the use of small attack boats and suicide explosive vessels. 8 Had they possessed ASCMs they could possibly have won. Similar challenges may arise in an ally’s conflict with irregular forces such as Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines’ archipelagic environment. Closer to home could be the arming of semisubmersible platforms with ASCMs or other PSR weapons. The greatest threat will be to amphibious operations into places with conditions like Lebanon’s. 9
The good Commander has followed up his article with a blog post on the USNI Blog, Combined Arms in the Littoral Environment:
One of the most dramatic impacts of modern electronics is the increasing ability of smaller platforms to conduct scouting. Aerostats, towed kites, and small UAVs such as Scan Eagle give small platforms capabilities similar to larger platforms operating helicopters, etc. These smaller platforms have no need for the large flightdeck and hangar required for normal helicopter operations. They just need a small flat surface and storage area for rotary drones, nets and launchers for UAVs, or the UAVs can be designed to be recovered from the water. The MQ-8B could potentially be operated from a small flight deck with a small maintenance and storage hanger. This will drive the displacement requirements (and the resulting signature) for such platforms down considerably. Flotillas can then be further augmented in their ocean surveillance (“scouting”) missions by the use of land based aircraft, UAVs, Aerostats, etc. as well as carrier based aircraft operating further back.
Corvettes enabled in this manner can have the same surveillance capacity as any destroyer or frigate. By employing an aerostat or towed kite the corvette would have the ability to suspend a radar system at altitude. Because the power generation is on the ship, the aerostat or kite can have a very capable radar normally seen only in the largest UAVs or on helicopters. Further the greater altitude also provides the ability to control light weight visual sensor
Scan Eagle on Mk 5 SOC Boat
enabled UAVs like the Scan Eagle at far greater ranges. Combining the two systems grants the Corvette the ability to conduct surveillance on a large area with the radar locating contacts and the scan eagle visually identifying them. Thus we have gained the same capability which in the past would have required a large flight deck on a destroyer or frigate.

Complementing their scouting capability smaller platforms increasingly will have lethal
Aerostat on a CG leased vessel
firepower. The capabilities of anti-ship cruise missiles continue to improve. The distribution of firepower across multiple platforms will mean an enemy has very little opportunity to eliminate such a force without response. Similarly, defensive systems are becoming smaller and more effective. Thus the flotilla force is the littoral element of the Distributed Lethality concept designed for this deadly environment. The limiting factor for the size of corvettes is becoming less dominated by the weapons and more by endurance. Thus it would appear the knee in the curve between competing factors of size, endurance, signature, defensive weapons, offensive weapons, scouting capacity, etc. is between 350 and 800 tons.

Maybe you remember Department of Crazy Ideas: How about a cheap inshore fleet? and its sister How to Make the Navy Bigger, Sooner, Cheaper or Galrahn's The Push For Littoral Strike Groups? Or maybe The Small Ship Navy: Numerous and Expendable? Why not? or a contribution CIMSEC's "Corvette Week" Cheaper Corvettes: COOP and STUFT Like That?

Of course many of my rants were not based on the foundation CDR Pournelle had built so far. He makes compelling arguments and I recommend his work to you.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Saturday Is old Radio Day: Theatre Five "Terror from Beyond" (1964)

On the air Mon- Fri at 5pm - Theatre 5 . . . About:
The variety of dramatic presentations was one of Theatre 5's most compelling features. With a broad mix of genres and some of Radio, Stage, Television and Film's finest guest stars, ABC's humble 21-minute scripts packed a lot of entertainment into a relatively small format.

On Midrats 12 June 2016 Episode 336: "21st Century Knox and The Historical Imperative"

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 12 June 2016 for Midrats Episode 336: "21st Century Knox and The Historical Imperative":
As part of our ongoing series of interviews with the editors of each
addition to the 21st Century Foundations series, we will have David Kohnen the editor of the latest in the series, 21st Century Knox, on for the full hour.

Kohnen described the focus of the book, Commodore Dudley Wright Knox, USN, as someone who, "... challended fellow naval professionals to recognize the inherent relevance of history in examining contemporary problems. In his writings, Knox cited historical examples when strategists foolishly anticipated the unknown future without first pursuing a detailed understanding of the past."

David Kohen earned a PhD with the Laughton Chair of Naval History at the University of London, King's College. He is the author of Commanders Winn and Knowles: Winning the U-boat War with Intelligence as well as other works.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or get it later from iTunes or Stitcher.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Free Courses in National Security and Intelligence

Let's say you have an interest in national security and intelligence but neither the time nor the money to attend a degree or credential program covering those topics - where can you turn to get some insight into such matters?

Well, you might start with POLSC313: US Intelligence and National Security from
The study of United States intelligence and national security operations is an analysis of how the various branches of government work together and, as a check upon each other, how they work to protect and promote American interests at home and abroad. The purpose of this course is to provide you with an overview of national security policy analysis and the United States intelligence community. As you progress through this course, you will learn about strategic thought and strategy formulation, develop the ability to assess national security issues and threats, and cultivate an understanding of the political and military institutions involved in the formulation and execution of national security policy through diplomacy, intelligence operations, and military force. This course will examine problems and issues regarding United States national security policy. A large section of the course will deal with the major actors and institutions involved in making and creating national security policy and the intelligence community. National security is the most critical role of your government, without which, all other policies could not be created.
A key component of the above course being U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security
Policy and Strategy, 2nd Edition:
This edition of the U. S. Army War College Guide to National Security Policy and Strategy reflects to some extent recent changes in the structure of the core curriculum at the War College. The college broke its traditional core course, “War, National Policy and Strategy,” into two courses: “Theory of War and Strategy” and “National Security Policy and Strategy.” The result for this book is the expansion of the block on strategic theory and the introduction of a block on specific strategic issues. Because little time has past since the publication of the most recent version of this book, this edition is largely an expansion of its predecessor rather than a major rewriting. Several chapters are new and others have undergone significant rewrites or updates, but about two-thirds of the book remains unchanged. Although this is not primarily a textbook, it does reflect both the method and manner we use to teach strategy formulation to America’s future senior leaders. The book is also not a comprehensive or exhaustive treatment of either strategy or the policymaking process. The Guide is organized in broad groups of chapters addressing general subject areas. We begin with a look at some specific issues about the general security environment—largely international. The section on strategic thought and formulation includes chapters on broad issues of strategy formulation as well as some basic strategic theory. The third section is about the elements of national power. A section on the national security policymaking process in the United States precedes the final section that deals with selected strategic issues.
While you are at it, this title from the AWC might be a good one Strategy and Grand Strategy: What Students and Practitioners Need to Know:
In this monograph, Dr. Tami Davis Biddle examines why it is so difficult to devise, implement, and sustain sound strategies and grand strategies. Her analysis begins with an examination of the meaning of the term “strategy” and a history of the ways that political actors have sought to employ strategies and grand strategies to achieve their desired political aims. She examines the reasons why the logic undergirding strategy is often lacking and why challenges of implementation (including bureaucratic politics, unforeseen events, civil-military tensions, and domestic pressures) complicate and undermine desired outcomes. This clear-headed critique, built on a broad base of literature (historical and modern; academic and policy-oriented), will serve as a valuable guide to students and policymakers alike as they seek to navigate their way through the unavoidable challenges—and inevitable twists and turns—inherent in the development and implementation of strategy.

If you can gain access, the "self-study" courses offered by The Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security might be of interest:
These courses are developed by the NPS CHDS teaching faculty and are derived from course content (lecture material and course readings) from the Center’s homeland security master’s degree curriculum. The courses, offered at no cost, are designed for homeland defense and security professionals who wish to enhance their understanding of key homeland security concepts and require the flexibility of self-paced instruction.
There are several good titles offered, including "Critical Infrastructure Protection: Transportation Security" and "Critical Infrastructure: Vulnerability Analysis and Protection" the latter course description ought to prompt some thinking all by it self:
Critical Infrastructure protection is one of the cornerstones of homeland security. While PDD-63 lists 8 sectors, the National Strategy for Protection of Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets lists 11 sectors: Water, Power & Energy, Information & Telecommunications, Chemical Industry, Transportation, Banking & Finance, Defense Industry, Postal & Shipping, Agriculture & Food, Public Health, and Emergency Services. For the purposes of this course, we have divided these into levels with Water, Power & Energy, and Information & Telecommunications forming the first – or foundational – level. Chemical Industry, Transportation, and Banking & Finance are assigned level 2, and the remaining sectors are designated level 3 infrastructures. These levels indicate dependencies – higher levels are dependent on lower levels. Thus we focus most attention on the most fundamental critical infrastructures. This course develops a network theory of vulnerability analysis and risk assessment called “model-based vulnerability analysis” used to extract the critical nodes from each sector, model the nodes’ vulnerabilities by representing them in the form of a fault-tree, and then applying fault and financial risk reduction techniques to derive the optimal strategy for protection of each sector.

Not surprisingly, YouTube has some good discussions:

The point being, there is stuff out there for the autodidacts among you.

You might not get a piece of paper at the end, but you will know what you know.

Monday, June 06, 2016

The Allied Invasion of Normandy "D-Day" Radio Reporting from the Assault

George Hicks reports on the invasion as set out by Radio Days:
The New York World Telegram called it "the greatest recording yet to come out of the war." This was the amazing recording made by George Hicks, London Bureau Chief for the Blue Network (soon to become ABC) of the beginning of the D-Day Normandy Invasion. To add to the amazement, until 1944 recordings of any kind on the air had been banned by the networks with few exceptions. The reason given was that they were a deception upon the public. But the New York Times concluded that "[transcriptions] can be more alive than a live program."

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Update: What the people in the U.S. first heard about the invasion - from NBC:

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: The Battle of Midway Eyewitness Reports

Between 4 and 7 June 1942, only six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea, the United States Navy under Admirals Chester Nimitz, Frank Jack Fletcher, and Raymond A. Spruance decisively defeated an attacking fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy under Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto, Chuichi Nagumo, and Nobutake Kondo near Midway Atoll, inflicting devastating damage on the Japanese fleet that proved irreparable. Military historian John Keegan called it "the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare."

On Midrats 5 June 2016 - Episode 335: War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Schoolhouse at Sea

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on June 5, 2016, for Midrats Episode 335: War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Schoolhouse at Sea
Last month started what we hope will be a regular occurrence in the education of our future leaders; the US Naval Academy took 10 Midshipmen along with a group of instructors on-board the topsail schooners Pride of Baltimore and Lynx as part of an elective history course titled “War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Schoolhouse at Sea.”

We will have two of the instructors for the cruise with us for the full hour, returning guest LCDR Claude Berube, USNR, instructor at the USNA Department of History, Director of the US Naval Academy Museum and organizer of the program, along with USNA leadership instructor, LT Jack McCain, USN who focused instruction during the cruise on naval hero Stephen Decatur.

We will discuss the genesis of the program, the areas of instruction, the experience, along with the general topic of the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or get it later from iTunes or Stitcher

Friday, June 03, 2016

Friday Films: The Battle of Midway - Background and More

3 June to 7 June 1942 - and the turning point in the war in the Pacific:


Award winning documentary by John Ford:

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Smaller, Cheaper Close Air Support: "Bronco 12 Cleared Hot"

For some time I have been an advocate* for "basic" aircraft for close air support of our forces in the field - and now there's an interesting piece discussing that topic in the latest U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings by Captain Andy Walton, USN, "Bronco 12 Cleared Hot"
Fighting a low-end war with high-end supersonic aircraft has put a heavy burden on the Department of Defense’s fourth-generation fighter and attack fleet. Sustainment of aging fourth-generation and acquisition of fifth-generation aircraft have left the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps with little interest in adding low-end light-attack airframes to their inventories and quieted the debate over light attack for U.S. special operations forces (SOF) and general purpose forces (GPF).

From as early as 2002, advocates of “low-cost irregular warfare aircraft” such as the AT-6, A-29, AT-802, OV-10, Scorpion, and others argued the overall cost savings in fuel, maintenance, and manpower were worth exploring. They proposed that even small numbers of these forward-deployed expeditionary aircraft could ease the flight-hour and service-life strain on fourth-generation aircraft performing low-threat armed reconnaissance (AR), air interdiction (AI), and close-air-support (CAS) missions, the airborne tankers supporting them, as well as the number of fuel convoys traveling to air bases in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Iraq.

The recent OV-10 deployment, named Combat Dragon II (CD II), provides a template for how adaptable, flexible, innovative, forward-thinking people can produce ideas easily applied to the combatant commander’s capability shortfalls. If adopted, it would ease service topline budget pressure and position the DOD to be prepared for the range of missions it may face in the future. The CD II deployment also demonstrated how gaps in our current strategy can be filled with repurposed or off-the-shelf hardware.
It's in the "open to the public" part of the on-line magazine, so please read it.

*See The Legacy of Lex: A Common Sense Call on the F-35 for example.

Oh, and the Bronco can do carriers and ships like LHAs:

UPDATE: More info on the "amazing" OV-10 here. And a look at another CAS aircraft effort and "Imminent Fury" here.