Good Company

Good Company
Good Company

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

"Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces."


Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday Films:Historic films about drones and pilotless aircraft

Not sure about the order because it seems to not be in any logical sequence. On the other hand, if you want to watch films about the early days of drones and such, here you go, courtesy of Periscope Films with 13 movies:

To get the full story on each film especially the silent ones, I recommend you view them on YouTube, which you can do by clicking on the YouTube button in the lower right  when the film starts.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sailors at Sea? New Navy Fitness Suit Not for Thee?

Ta-Dah! A new Navy Navy Fitness Suit which seems just dandy for everyone except, I dunno, sailors on ships:
Navy photo of the NFS
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Navy announced Wednesday the manner of wear and availability for the new Navy Fitness Suit and women's choker style Service Dress White (SDW) jacket for chief petty officers and officers in NAVADMIN 125/17.

The new fitness suit completes the Navy's Physical Training Uniform (PTU) ensemble and will be a sea bag requirement for Sailors beginning Sept. 30, 2021. It is Navy blue, fully lined and made of water repellent, moisture wicking and odor-resistant fabric, with gold color NAVY logos and trimmed with silver reflective piping.

Beginning in July, the fitness suit will be available at select fleet concentration areas with Fleet-wide availability through Uniform Centers and the Navy Exchange Uniform Call Center no later than October 2017. Recruit Training Command is now issuing the fitness suit to new recruits.

The suit is designed primarily for group and unit physical training activities and the semi-annual physical readiness test.

The jacket should be worn over the PTU shirt, zipped at least three quarters up and sleeve cuffs should extend beyond the wrist, but not beyond the lower knuckle of the thumb. The pants will be worn on the waist over the PTU shorts, should extend down between the shoe top and heel but not beyond the heel.

The fitness suit is not authorized to be worn while in a duty status or when conducting official business on base.

Optional items that can be worn with the suit include the Blue Navy or Command Ball Cap, Navy Watch Cap, and thermal undergarments.


To help maintain the fitness suit for the expected four years before requiring replacement, it should be washed and dried at a low temperature setting in home-style machines. Using the industrial shipboard or bulk laundry is not recommended.
Emphasis added.

It's like being a sailor on a ship is . . . not something the uniform people worry about, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

If You Grow the Fleet, Who Is "Optimizing the US Navy's combat logistics force?"

Prompted by the celebration One Hundred Years of U.S. Navy Replenishment at Sea, it's good to remind ourselves that if you want to have world-wide fleet operations, you need to be able to sustain your fleet wherever it is and for as long
 as necessary.

A good history of refueling at sea can be found in Thomas Wildenberg's Gray Steel and Black Oil: Fast Tankers and Replenishment at Sea in the U.S. Navy, 1912-1995 which features this quote:
USNS Supply
Fuel stands first in importance of the resources of the fleet. Without ammunition, a ship may run away, hoping to fight another day but without fuel she can neither run, nor reach her station, nor remain on it, if remote, nor fight.

A partial history of naval logistics in WWII can be found at Beans, Bullets, and Black Oil: The Story of Fleet Logistics Afloat in the Pacific During World War II by Rear Adm. Worrall Reed Carter.

And more of the WWII story in Ships, Salvage, and Sinews of War: The Story of Fleet Logistics Afloat in Atlantic and Mediterranean Waters During World War II by Rear Admirals Worrall Reed Carter andElmer Ellsworth Duvall USN (Retired).

For the War in Korea, there is Logistics & Support Activities, 1950-1953 --Overview and Selected Views:
Logistics and support activities were vital to the success of U.S. and United Nations Korean War operations. Without extensive and efficient trans-oceanic shipping, the tens of thousands of service people and the hundreds of thousands of tons of "beans, bullets and black oil" needed every month to prosecute the war would never have reached a war zone that was some five thousand miles from the U.S. west coast and about twice that far from eastern seaboard ports. Without underway replenishment of warships off the Korean coast, the effectiveness of Naval forces there would have been substantially reduced. Without well-equipped and effectively-staffed Japanese bases close to the combat theater, sea and air operations against the Communist aggressors would have been gravely hindered, and, during the crisis periods of summer 1950 and winter 1950-51, probably impossible. Without ports and other facilities in South Korea, the insertion and sustenance of the large ground forces needed to defend that country simply could not have been done, and local naval operations would have been hamstrung.

Like much else about the Korean War, its logistics and support effort depended extensively on the legacy of World War II. Transport ships, long-range aircraft and much of the other equipment used in supporting the war had been made during that great conflict and had been wisely retained against the possibility that it might be needed again. The senior officer and enlisted servicemen and civilian sailors and airmen who resurrected the logistics and support system in response to the Korean crisis, and kept it running thereafter, had largely learned their crafts in the struggle against Japan and Germany.
For the Vietnam War, there's Mobility, support, endurance : a story of naval operational logistics in the Vietnam War, 1965-1968 by Vice Admiral Edwin B. Hooper (Retired):
Over the years a number of general officers and a few flag officers in
USNS Bighorn
positions of responsibility have written their own accounts of what went on during a major war. Quite understandably these have tended to focus mainly on the purely combat features of the war and on overall strategy. The result has often been an unbalanced picture of the total military effort.

To complete the picture, it is necessary to place in proper perspective the logistic support actions upon which the combatant forces and the effectiveness of these forces were totally dependent. It is the coupling of combat strength and logistic support that makes victory possible, whether it be action by a small unit, a major battle, a campaign, a war, or the wide variety of peacetime operations to support the national interest. Thus, along with knowledge of combat activities, one must gain an appreciation of logistics, of its relationship to operations, and the nature of operational logistic actions for a full understanding of a war. Hopefully, this recording of the activities of the Service Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, will advance that appreciation, and contribute to a more complete picture of the Vietnam Conflict.
What about going forward? Here's a OR look at the issues as they existed in 2008.

If you are wondering about the current Navy combat logistics force, it is now in the Military Sealift Command and the inventory of ships can be found here.

Is sea-going logistics a concern? See this 2014 article by James Holmes, US Surrenders Naval Logistics Supremacy: Without underway replenishment ships, America’s ability to project power in wartime will shrivel.:
If the United States wants to escape the danger zone in its strategic competition with China — disproving Beijing’s fancy that it can rule the Western Pacific — decommissioning the U.S. Navy’s fastest, most capacious combat logistics ships is no way to do it. Just the opposite. It telegraphs that America is no longer serious about fighting far from North America for long spans of time. Competitors will take note.

Monday, May 22, 2017

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 17 April - 17 May 2017 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 11 - 17 May 2017

One Hundred Years of U.S. Navy Replenishment at Sea

Navy Admin Message

161747Z MAY 17




Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Lux Radio Theatre "No Highway in the Sky" (1952)

Jimmy Stewart, Marlene Dietrich recreate their movie roles in No Highway in the

The film is based on the novel No Highway by Nevil Shute and was one of the first films that depicted a potential aviation disaster involving metal fatigue.

Friday, May 19, 2017

On Midrats 21 May 2017 - Episode 385: Springtime for Russia?

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 21 May 2017 for Midrats Episode 385: Springtime for Russia?:
To say that the profile of Russia since the American elections last fall has increased in the minds of Americans would be an understatement.

Outside the 24-hr news cycle, there have been significant developments in Russia internally and externally. From the Baltics, to nuclear weapons, to her growing influence in the Middle East following her involvement in the Syrian conflict.

What should people be focused on with regards to Russia on the global stage this year?

Returning as our resident Russian expert for the full hour to discuss this and more will be Dr. Dmirty Gorenburg, Senior Research Scientist at CNA, a non-profit think tank, and writer at the Russian Military Reform Blog. Dr. Gorenburg conducts research on security issues in the former Soviet Union, Russian military reform, Russian foreign policy, ethnic politics and identity, and Russian regional politics. He is also the editor of the journal Problems of Post-Communism and a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project. From 2005 through 2010, he was the Executive Director of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, and from 2009 to 2016, the editor of the journal Russian Politics and Law.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can pick the show up later by clicking that link or by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Just a Context Thing: U.S. not alone in issues with naval shipbuilding

MarineLink reports "Late & Overweight: Germany's New Frigates Found Wanting":
2016 Bundeswehr / Carsten Vennemann)
Germany's much-delayed new frigates, built by ThyssenKrupp and Luerssen for at least 650 million euros ($710 million) apiece, are overweight and float with a persistent list to starboard, according to a confidential report seen by Reuters.

The ships, designed to need a crew of only 120, less than half their predecessors, are a crucial element in Germany's plans to beef up its military to face an increasingly uncertain European security landscape and a more assertive Russia.

Designed to remain at sea for far longer than the German armed forces' existing fleet, the new F125 frigates need extensive servicing only once every two years, compared to once every nine months for their predecessors.

The 1.3 degree starboard list and excess weight, which emerged during testing in September, means the ship is now close to the limit of its design parameters and will raise the class's lifetime maintenance costs by around 20 million euros, according to a confidential annex to a regular German defence ministry report.

A defence ministry spokeswoman declined to comment on the confidential report, but said "in general terms" that the development of the four ships, the first of which was to have been delivered in 2014, remained on track.
Buidling ship on time and on budget is hard. Except, perhaps for the U.S. submarine force, which until recently has been exceptional but apparently is facing growing pains as set out by Chris Cavas in here:
Problems seem to stem from two primary factors: the move in 2011 to double the submarine construction rate from one to two per year has strained shipyards and the industrial base that supplies parts for the subs; and the Navy has successively reduced contractual building times as shipbuilders grew more experienced with building the submarines, cutting back on earlier, highly-trumpeted opportunities to beat deadlines.

Friday Film: U-67 (1931)

How about a revenge movie based on a WWI submarine attack and a failure to follow orders?

Here's U-67 (a/k/a Sea Ghost):

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I Like Facts

Can't read Twitter today or the past few days without wondering whatever happened to facts.

Not speculation. Not "sources" who won't come forward for cross-examination. Not editorials, not opinion pieces.


Now, as a lawyer it never surprised me that in a trial or a deposition that two
people can look at the same thing and get two different meanings from it. That's why we have juries and judges to decided whether the weight of the evidence offered makes one meaning more likely than another.

Not an uncommon theme in art -see Rashomon effect.

Of course, in the perfect world, reporting would be (as science purports to be) "value free." Hard to do, as studying sociology teaches:
Sociologists should observe value neutrality while conducting social research. It means that he should exclude ideological or non -scientific assumption from research. He should not make evaluative judgment about empirical evidence. Value judgment should be restricted to sociologists' area of technical competence. He should make his own values open and clear and refrain from advocating particular values. Value neutrality enables the social scientists to fulfill the basic value of scientific enquiry that is search for true knowledge. Thus sociology being a science cherishes the goal of value neutrality. According to Alvin Gouldner value-free principle did enhance the autonomy of sociology where it could steadily pursue basic problems rather than journalistically react to passing events and allowed it more freedom to pursue questions uninteresting either to the respectable or to the rebellious. It made sociology freer as Comte had wanted it to be -to pursue all its own theoretical implications. Value free principle did contribute to the intellectual growth and emancipation of the enterprise.Value-free doctrine enhanced freedom from moral compulsiveness; it permitted a partial escape from the parochial prescriptions of the sociologists' local or native culture. Effective internalization of the value-free principle has always encouraged at least a temporary suspension of the moralizing reflexes built into the sociologist by his own society. The value-free doctrine has a paradoxical potentiality; it might enable men to make better value judgments rather than none. It could encourage a habit of mind that might help men in discriminating between their punitive drives and their ethical sentiments. However in practice it has been extremely difficult to fulfill this goal of value neutrality. Values creep in various stages in sociological research. According to Gunnar Myrdal total value neutrality is impossible. 'Chaos does not organize itself into cosmos. We need view points.' Thus in order to carry out social research viewpoints are needed which form the basis of hypothesis which enables the social scientists to collect empirical data. These view-points involve valuations and also while formulating the hypothesis. Thus a sociologist has to be value frank and should make the values which have got incorporated in the choice of the topic of the research of the formulation of hypothesis clear and explicit at the very outset in the research. The value-free doctrine is useful both to those who want to escape from the world and to those who want to escape into it. They think of sociology as a way of getting ahead in the world by providing them with neutral techniques that may be sold on the open market to any buyer. The belief that it is not the business of sociologist to make value judgments is taken by some to mean that the market on which they can vend their skills is unlimited. Some sociologists have had no hesitation about doing market research designed to sell more cigarettes although well aware of the implications of recent cancer research. According to Gouldner the value-free doctrine from Weber's standpoint is an effort to compromise two of the deepest traditions of the western thought, reason and faith but that his arbitration seeks to safeguard the romantic residue in modern man. Like Freud, Weber never really believed in an enduring peace or in a final resolution of this conflict. What he did was to seek a truce through the segregation of the contenders by allowing each to dominate in different spheres of life.

At any rate, Twitter seems to be about as "fact free" as you can get lately. Idle conjecture, ideologically driven "interpretations" of events and total bias are fun, I suppose, but really, I like facts - even those often contradictory facts that need to be weighed carefully by a jury.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Italian Field of Fire Volcano Building Pressure, Headed for Eruption?

Experts warn that Italy's supervolcano could be closer to an eruption than we think:
NASA Photo
Almost 500 years ago, Italy's Campi Flegrei supervolcano erupted, spewing molten rock and thick plumes of smoke into the atmosphere for eight days straight, and literally forming a new mountain from the chunks of Earth it drew from below.

Now, researchers are warning that this vast, fiery cauldron could be ready to blow once more, with pressure building up over the past 67 years showing no signs of easing up. And just to put that into perspective, this supervolcano is responsible for one of the biggest eruptions on the planet.

"By studying how the ground is cracking and moving at Campi Flegrei, we think it may be approaching a critical stage where further unrest will increase the possibility of an eruption, and it's imperative that the authorities are prepared for this," says Christopher Kilburn from the University College London Hazard Centre.

You might picture a supervolcano as just like a regular volcano, only super-sized, but it's more like a giant volcano that's been flattened into the ground, leaving extensive fields of volcanic activity like we now see at Yellowstone.
Campi Flegrei (or "burning fields" in Italian) covers an area of 100 square kilometres (38 square miles) just west of Naples, with a massive 12-km-wide (7.4-mile) caldera at its centre. It boasts 24 craters and large volcanic edifices, mostly hidden under the Mediterranean Sea.

In recent times, Campi Flegrei has had two major eruptions - 35,000 years ago and 12,000 years ago - and a smaller eruption in 1538.

It's all relative though, because that "smaller" eruption lasted for eight days straight, and spewed so much material into the surrounding area, it formed a whole new mountain, Monte Nuovo.
Spent about 6 month in Naples and visited Camp Flegrei several times. Given the population density of the area, an eruption could be . . . bad.

More here:
Campi Flegrei (also referred to as Phlegrean Fields) is a volcano located in southern Italy, immediately north-west of the city of Naples. The structure is not that of a more classical stratovolcano (a more or less regular cone surmounted by a volcanic crater), instead that of a large, 12x15 km caldera, this being a vast depression originated by a structural collapse following one or more large-scale volcanic eruptions. The Campi Flegrei caldera has been largely filled by volcanic products from eruptions originated after the caldera formation, so that the general appearance to-date is that of a generally flat area punctuated by several post-caldera volcanic craters.
The last eruption occurred in 1538, and was among the smallest recorded in the eruptive history of Campi Flegrei. This eruption interrupted a period of quiescence of more than 3,000 years, and in about one week it originated the Monte Nuovo (= “New Mountain”) cone, about 130 m high. Since then, the activity at Phlegraean Fields has been mainly characterized by bradyseism (slow upward or downward motion of the caldera floor), and fumarolic activity mainly located in the Solfatara crater.

Since the 1950s the Campi Flegrei volcano is in a state of unrest, characterized by discrete (months to years) periods of caldera floor up-rise accompanied by seismic swarms and shortly followed by significant changes in the composition and flow of fumaroles. The latest crisis occurred in 1983, when about 40,000 people were evacuated from the town of Pozzuoli. During last ten years there have been several minor uplift phases, each accompanied by seismic swarms, and a general intensification of the fumarolic outflow that overall contribute to substantial concern for a possible reappraisal of the volcanic activity in the area.

Monday, May 15, 2017

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 10 April - 10 May 2017 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 4 - 10 May 2017

In addition to the warnings below, Matime Executive reports Saudi Forces Find More Naval Mines Off Yemen:
On Monday, the Royal Saudi Navy announced that its forces have located more floating mines off the coast of Yemen, likely placed by Houthi rebel militias.

The latest mine sightings were off of Midi, a port on the Red Sea just south of the Yemeni-Saudi border. The Saudi military said that the mines were of simple construction, but they could pose a threat to civilian maritime traffic, including aid vessels.

In mid-March, a Yemeni coast guard ship struck a mine near the port of Mokha, about 40 nm to the north of the strategically important Strait of Bab al-Mandeb. The ensuing blast killed two servicemembers and wounded eight. The Saudi navy said that it disabled several more naval mines near the port later in the month; images posted to social media at about the same time claim to show improvised mines recovered from Yemen’s Red Sea coast.
Obviously, improvised sea mines constitute a cheap deterrent to naval operations in waters that for various reasons restrict ship movements. Not an encouraging development, but a not unexpected asymmetric means of warfare. See Houthi-Cast Naval Mines Threaten International Navigation near Midi, Yemen from whence the nearby photo came.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Special Mother's Day Movie: "This is Automation" (1955)

I don't think the relationship between this film and Mother's Day ought to be obvious. Or not.

Enjoy the day!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday Film: The Hunter Killers (1967) - Anti-Submarine Aircraft and Stuff

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, May 11, 2017

This is how you get more Trump: "Duke Prof in Trouble for Calling Diversity Training a Waste"

Duke Prof in Trouble for Calling Diversity Training a Waste:
Frankly, the reported actions of those taking issue with Griffiths' criticisms serve as an ideal case study in how social justice warriors work. First, they push out their ideology in the form of "diversity training," which is really nothing more than SJW propaganda. Then, should anyone dare to criticize it, they try to punish the person for having a dissenting opinion on the topic, up to and including prison if they can get away with it.
If I were Professor Grifith, I'd make 'em take me to trial and I'd publicize the heck out of it. Every. step. of. the.way.

I'd demand an open trial and if that is rejected, I'd publicize that.

The only way to stop this garbage is to call it that.

Because "freedom of speech" and "academic freedom" need it.

Update: Professor Griffith's open letter re this witch hunt can be found here:
Intellectual freedom – freedom to speak and write without fear of discipline and punishment – is under pressure at Duke Divinity these days. My own case illustrates this. Over the past year or so I’ve spoken and written in various public forums here, with as much clarity and energy as I can muster, about matters relevant to our life together. The matters I’ve addressed include: the vocation and purpose of our school; the importance of the intellectual virtues to our common life; the place that seeking diversity among our faculty should have in that common life; the nature of racial, ethnic, and gender identities, and whether there’s speech about certain topics forbidden to some among those identities; and the nature and purpose of theological education. I’ve reviewed these contributions, to the extent that I can (some of them are available only in memory), and I’m happy with them and stand behind them. They’re substantive; they’re trenchant; and they address matters of importance for our common life. So it seems to me. What I’ve argued in these contributions may of course be wrong; that’s a feature of the human condition.

My speech and writing about these topics has now led to two distinct (but probably causally related) disciplinary procedures against me, one instigated by Elaine Heath, our Dean, and the other instigated by Thea Portier-Young, our colleague. I give at the end of this message a bare-bones factual account of these disciplinary proceedings to date.

These disciplinary proceedings are designed not to engage and rebut the views I hold and have expressed about the matters mentioned, but rather to discipline me for having expressed them. Elaine Heath and Thea Portier-Young, when faced with disagreement, prefer discipline to argument. In doing so they act illiberally and anti-intellectually; their action shows totalitarian affinities in its preferred method, which is the veiled use of institutional power. They appeal to non- or anti-intellectual categories (‘unprofessional conduct’ in Heath’s case; ‘harassment’ in Portier-Young’s) to short-circuit disagreement. All this is shameful, and I call them out on it.

Heath and Portier-Young aren’t alone among us in showing these tendencies. The convictions that some of my colleagues hold about justice for racial, ethnic, and gender minorities have led them to attempt occupation of a place of unassailably luminous moral probity. That’s a utopia, and those who seek it place themselves outside the space of reason. Once you’ve made that move, those who disagree with you inevitably seem corrupt and dangerous, better removed than argued with, while you seem to yourself beyond criticism. What you do then is discipline your opponents. The contributions to our common life made by, inter alia, Chuck Campbell, Jay Carter, and Valerie Cooper exhibit these tendencies. I call them out too. I hope that they, together with Heath and Portier-Young, will reconsider, repent, make public apology to me and our colleagues for the damage done, and re-dedicate themselves to the life of the mind which is, because of their institutional location, their primary professional vocation. That life requires openness, transparency, and a willingness to engage. I commend all these things to them, and hope devoutly that they come to see their importance more clearly than they now do..
Yes, name the names.

Upadate2: Not a libel lawyer, but I wonder if describing a professor's email this way "The use of mass emails to express racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry is offensive and unacceptable, especially in a Christian institution" comes under libel per se?

One definition:

libel per se
n. broadcast or written publication of a false statement about another which accuses him/her of a crime, immoral acts, inability to perform his/her profession, having a loathsome disease (like syphilis) or dishonesty in business. Such claims are considered so obviously harmful that malice need not be proved to obtain a judgment for "general damages," and not just specific losses.
Perhaps a jury should decide or at least suit be brought. It really worked out well for Duke in the lacrosse players' cases, perhaps to the tune of $100 million.

Things: Armed Ice Breakers? Combating Terrorism? Sea Piracy Map? Global war on Illegal Fishing? Foreign threats to U.S. energy independence?

Chuck Hill asks Will the CG Again Arm Icebreakers? Good question. Depends on how we perceive the Russian and Chinese threats in the Arctic.

Interested in "combating terrorism?" Need to visit the Combating Terrorism Center at the USMA site for lots of good info and excellent publications:
Situated at the nexus of theory and practice, the Combating Terrorism Center serves as an important national resource that rigorously studies the terrorist threat and provides policy-relevant research while moving the boundaries of academic knowledge. The CTC’s distinguished scholars, international network of experts, and access to senior U.S. government leadership set it apart from any other like enterprise.

The ICC IMB Live Piracy Map shows where the "bad guys" are operating and Live Piracy Report tells what they've been up to:

Zones of ineffective law enforcement seem to be part of the pattern. Most incidents are not hijackings and kidnappings, but rather low level theft and robbery, so we've got that going for us.

Speaking of illegal activity, Indonesia Wants Global War on Illegal Fishing. Hello, China! But China is not alone as noted in West Africa loses over $2 billion to illegal fishing because governments don’t talk to each other:
Both international and regional vessels are guilty of contravening existing regulations, Greenpeace found during a ten-week surveillance voyage from February to May. It documented a number of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing practices off the coast of Mauritania, Senegal, Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Sierra Leone. After boarding 37 fishing vessels, the group found evidence of infractions like illegal shark finning, possession of incorrect net mesh sizes, and fishing without licenses or outside of permit areas. These illegal activities were carried out by vessels with Chinese, Italian, Korean, Comoros, and Senegalese flags.
I'm surprised the Spanish flag wasn't seen. See Looting the Seas:
Spanish member of the European Parliament (MEP) Josefa Andrés Barea said the subsidized foreign fishing licenses are vital. When Spain entered the EU in 1986, very few Spanish vessels were allowed in the Union’s waters. So fishing in foreign waters was — and still is — the only way for many ship owners to make a living. And if Spain isn’t fishing, she said, less savory global players will scoop up the catch instead.

"There's a fundamental problem here which is that major [fishing] powers like China will be there if we're not. And they don't have any rules,” Andrés said. “They're much more predatory than we are."
Sort of weak argument, isn't it? "If I don't rob you first, a worse thug might get you instead . . ." Part of the outrage is that the Spanish fleet, like the Chinese is heavily subsidized.

Speaking of subsidized, the Nigerian oil minister wants to cut back U.S. shale production because it's hurting Nigeria's oil sales. No, I'm not kidding, see Oil Prices's Nigerian Oil Minister Calls For Broader Policy To Limit US Shale Production:
Nigeria is hoping that OPEC will extend the oil production cut deal for the rest of 2017 as the challenge from U.S. shale is showing no signs of subsiding, according to the country’s Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachukwu. Kachikwu admitted that U.S. shale is OPEC’s biggest problem as production can be cut or boosted in a short time in response to changing market conditions, unlike conventional oil projects.

It’s worth recalling how two months ago, Reuters quoted sources as saying that two senior Saudi energy officials held closed-door talks with some of the biggest shale producers in the U.S., warning them OPEC would not extend the production cut deal to offset their growing output. Apparently, things have changed since then because an extension is near a foregone conclusion.
Speaking to media at the offshore Technology Conference, Kachikwu hinted that a policy initiative aimed at curbing shale output, or an agreement within the industry would help OPEC’s efforts. The likelihood of either of these happening is remote, particularly not with a President whose top priority is energy independence and not with an private shale oil industry that has suffered its fair share as a result of what some see as a price war initiated by Saudi Arabia and its allies and others see as a desperate attempt on the part of some OPEC producers to conceal their dwindling supplies.
Heh. Energy independence for the U.S. means it's a buyer's market.

Update: The Saudis are whining,too. See Saudi Arabia Whines US Has Too Much Control Over World’s Oil. Have I mentioned I get some pension money from a couple of U.S. energy companies? Well, I do.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Respite from the News Drama Kings and Queens: "Act Your Age" (1949)

Coronet Films -a popular filler for substitute teachers of yesteryear while regular teachers were off doing something else. Here's some advice that may be relevant to certain politicians and media types today as the news cycle goes into hyperdrive:

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

In Case You Forgot or Never Knew: "The United States Army in Somalia, 1992-1994" and 23 Years Later

In light of some of our discussion on Midrats with Christopher Preble (about 37:20), a reminder of why sometimes the road to hell is paved with good intentions and unintended consequences:

The United States Army in Somalia, 1992-1994
The United States Army has a long tradition of humanitarian relief. No
such operation has proven as costly or shocking, however, as that undertaken in Somalia from August 1992 to March 1994. Greeted initially by Somalis happy to be saved from starvation, U.S. troops were slowly drawn into interclan power struggles and ill-defined "nation-building" missions. The American people woke up one day in early October 1993 to news reports of dozens of our soldiers killed or wounded in fierce fighting in the streets of the capital city Mogadishu. These disturbing events of a decade ago have taken on increasing meaning after the horrific attacks of 11 September 2001.

It goes on today: The Department of Defense announced May 6, the death of a U.S. Navy Sailor who was in support of a Somali National Army-led operation with U.S. Africa Command.:
Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, 38, of Falmouth, Maine, was killed during an operation against al-Shabaab May 5 in a remote area approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu.

"Senior Chief Kyle Milliken embodied the warrior spirit and toughness infused in our very best Navy SEALs. We grieve his death, but we celebrate his life and many accomplishments. He is irreplaceable as a husband, father, son, friend and teammate - and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and teammates," said Rear Adm. Timothy Szymanski, commander, Naval Special Warfare Command. "His sacrifice is a stark reminder that Naval Special Operators are forward doing their job, confronting terrorism overseas to prevent evil from reaching our shores."
Rest in peace, Senior Chief.

Art by Sergeant (Ret.) Jeffrey T. Manuszak from The U.S. Army Center for Military History

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Friday, May 05, 2017

On Midrats 7 May 2017 - Episode 383: The Downside of Being the Indispensable Nation

Please join us on 7 May 2017 at 5pm (EDT) for Midrats Episode 383: The Downside of Being the Indispensable Nation
Whenever there is a global crisis, natural disaster or man-made, civilian
or of a security related issue - the world turns their eyes to the United States of America.

The indispensable nation. The only global super-power. You all know the drill.

Is it an honor, or a burden? Is it a habit we should, or can sustain?

Our guest for the full hour to discuss this and related issues will be Christopher Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.

As a starting point for our discussion, we will use the article he co-authored with William Ruger at War on the Rocks, No More of the Same: the Problem with Primacy.
Listen live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can pick the show up later by clicking that link or by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Friday Film: Midway and Coral Sea Newsreel

Update: Australian documentary on Coral Sea:

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Coast Guard warns of laser strikes to commercial vessels in National Capitol Region

I'd say to keep an eye on this, but . . .

Coast Guard warns of laser strikes to commercial vessels in National Capitol Region
The Coast Guard is investigating multiple laser strikes during the past
month aimed at commercial vessels transiting the Chesapeake Bay and warns the public of this dangerous act.

Four incidences occurred early Wednesday morning between midnight and 3 a.m., involving the motor vessels Salome, Bulk Spain, and AM Annaba. Additionally, a pilot vessel was lased as it was on its way back to the pilot launch.

Three other incidents occurred: Monday around 2 a.m., involving the motor vessel Hoegh Osaka; Sunday at 4 a.m., and involved the cruise ship Carnival Pride and another April 7 at approximately 1 a.m., involving the motor vessel Maersk Kolkata.

During all incidents, the laser light was described as steady, powerful and somewhat painful to the eyes. The reporting source believes the laser originated in the area between Drum Point and Cove Point, and lasted for approximately 15 minutes.

"Laser lights, and other bright lights can be a hazard to navigation," said Lt. Trish Elliston, Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capitol Region. "The most likely scenario is the laser would blind or distract a pilot which would prevent the pilot from seeing a smaller vessel. This could cause a collision or other serious incident in the shipping channel."

The Laser Safety Act, makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly and willfully cause or attempt to cause bodily injury by shining, pointing, or focusing the beam of a laser pointer on an individual operating a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft. The penalty is a maximum 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.

The Coast Guard is working with state and local law enforcement along with Chesapeake Bay Pilots to investigate the incidents. Anyone with information leading to the whereabouts of the individual, or individuals, involved are asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region Command Center at 410-576-2525 or via email at
I'm thinking someone is looking to cause a problem or we have another idiot on the loose who had $200 to buy a powerful laser pointer.

Failed Missile Tests

The news isn't that the tests failed, but rather that these countries are working on these weapons.

Iran missile test fails from sub in Strait of Hormuz says Times of Israel
Iran attempted an unsuccessful test launch on Tuesday of a cruise missile from a submarine in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

Two US officials told Fox News that an Iranian Yono-class “midget” submarine conducted the missile launch, but the test failed.

North Korea is the only other country that operates this kind of sub, according to the report.

The report did not detail the size or range of the missile or its warhead payload.

Last month, Iran’s navy deployed new anti-ship missiles, called Nasir, boasting that they could be fired from land or ship-based launchers. The cruise missile was test fired during the “Velayat 95” Iranian military drills in the Persian Gulf in February.

CNN reports North Korean missile test fails, US and South Korea say:
An attempted missile launch by North Korea on Sunday failed, US and South Korean defense officials told CNN.

The attempted launch occurred a day after the regime of Kim Jong Un showed off a bevy of new missiles and launchers at a large-scale military parade on its most important holiday.
A South Korean defense official said the action took place in Sinpo, a port city in eastern North Korea. That was the site of a ballistic missile test earlier this month in which the projectile fell into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.
Here's a video of a successful sub launch in 2015 thanks to CNN:

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

China's New Silk Road: Troubled River Waters and More

Reuters reports China's Silk Road push in Thailand may founder on Mekong River row:
China's plan to blast open more of the Mekong River for bigger cargo ships could founder on a remote outcrop of half-submerged rocks that Thai protesters have vowed to protect against Beijing's economic expansion in Southeast Asia.

Dynamiting the Pi Long rapids and other sections of the Mekong between Thailand and Laos will harm the environment and bring trade advantages only to China, the protesters say.

"This will be the death of the Mekong," said Niwat Roykaew, chairman of the Rak Chiang Khong Conservation Group, which is campaigning against the project. "You'll never be able to revive it."

Niwat said blasting the Mekong will destroy fish breeding grounds, disrupt migrating birds and cause increased water flow that will erode riverside farmland.

Such opposition reflects a wider challenge to China's ambitious "One Belt, One Road" project to build a modern-day Silk Road through Asia to Europe.
The Mekong River originates in the Tibetan plateau and cascades through China and five Southeast Asian countries.

China has built a series of dams along its stretch of the river that Thai campaigners say has impacted the water flow and made the regional giant hard to trust.
You can read that "modern-day Silk Road" stuff as China seeking routes around its "first island chain" problems and sea lines of communication issues in addition to seeking new markets for Chinese made goods.

China seems convinced that problems can be ironed out if enough money is thrown into the project.

Backgrounder from the Council on Foreign Relation on the "new Silk Road" - Building the New Silk Road:
China has multiple reasons for pursuing the New Silk Road. Xi has promoted a vision of a more assertive China, while the "new normal" of slowing growth puts pressure on the country’s leadership to open new markets for its consumer goods and excess industrial capacity. Promoting economic development in the troubled western province of Xinjiang, where separatist violence has been on the upswing, is another major concern, as is securing long-term energy supplies.

China's strategy is conceived as a two-pronged effort. The first focuses on overland infrastructure development through Central Asia—the "Silk Road Economic Belt"—while the second foresees the expansion of maritime shipping routes through the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf—the "Maritime Silk Road."
In 2013, Xi told an audience in Kazakhstan that he wants to create a vast network of railways, energy pipelines, highways, and streamlined border crossings, both westward—through the mountainous former Soviet republics—and southward, toward Pakistan, India, and the rest of Southeast Asia. Such a network would also expand the international use of Chinese currency, the renminbi, in transactions throughout the region, while new infrastructure could "break the bottleneck in Asian connectivity," according to Xi. The Asian Development Bank, highlighting the need for more such investments, estimates that the region faces a yearly infrastructure financing shortfall of nearly $800 billion.

Xi subsequently announced plans for the maritime silk road at the 2013 summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia. To accommodate expanding maritime trade traffic, China will invest in port development throughout the Indian Ocean, in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Pakistan.
And a look at the expensive project from Joshua Eisenman and Devin Stewart at Foreign Plolicy China’s New Silk Road Is Getting Muddy:
But rather than hand-wringing over TPP’s ignominious failure, Asia watchers should turn their attention to China’s unprecedented $1 trillion strategic gambit: the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, aka “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR). Launched in 2013 as President Xi Jinping’s signature initiative, OBOR holds great promise, as well as potential pitfalls, for both China and its neighbors.

OBOR is a game-changing plan to bring about the next stage of globalization, a Sinocentric vision that harks back to the ancient Silk Roads — but this time on Beijing’s terms. The goal is to create a new economic “belt” of connective infrastructure westward into Eurasia and a new maritime “road” connecting China to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Examples of OBOR projects include a railway linking China to Laos and another one through Mongolia and Kazakhstan; gas and oil pipelines through Turkmenistan and Myanmar; road and port development in Sri Lanka; and the cornerstone $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which encompasses highways, pipelines, coal-based electricity generation, and the Chinese-operated Gwadar port.
OBOR is primarily a “build it and they will come” initiative. Rather than improving the host country’s industrial or productive capacity, it expands and strengthens transportation and energy arteries, including ports, rails, communications, electricity, and pipelines. It promises to stimulate the ailing Chinese economy in the short and medium terms through construction and telecoms contracts and capital goods provision while in the long term opening new trade routes so Chinese products can fill store shelves in OBOR countries for decades to come.
OBOR presents significant domestic economic and political risks for China. There is real tension between the Chinese government’s drive to invest in riskier developing countries via OBOR and private capital’s flight to safety amid a domestic economic slowdown and growing protectionist fears. Just as Beijing is pushing OBOR on its state-owned enterprises, private Chinese investors are finding ever more ingenious ways to offshore their resources in safer assets, particularly U.S. real estate. Beijing has responded with increasingly pervasive capital controls, but technology has made these difficult to enforce.

More than a decade ago, the United States called on China to be a “responsible stakeholder,” both in its neighborhood and beyond. The years since have seen the rise of a new, and increasingly assertive, Chinese foreign policy. OBOR is a big part of Beijing’s new approach and a potential harbinger for a new stage of Sinocentric globalization. It is a grand vision with wide-reaching political consequences both at home and abroad. If it succeeds, China will become the unquestioned Eurasian hegemon. But Beijing’s efforts likewise carry enormous economic and political risks that Chinese policymakers know they must mitigate if President Xi’s initiative is to live up to its billing. The question is whether OBOR can overcome the logistical, political, security, and financial challenges identified above — or be thwarted by them, losing hundreds of billions of dollars and creating a slew of disgruntled debtor neighbors with landscapes scarred by white-elephant projects. Only time will tell.
From 2016, Alexandra Viers at Cipher Brief Evaluating China's New Silk Road:
Below these surface level gains, Beijing hopes the land based Silk Road Economic Belt will lessen China’s dependence on South East Asian shipping lanes for access to energy and raw materials from the Middle East and Africa. Beijing knows that these shipping lanes will play a critical role in any U.S. led military strategy towards China.

The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will serve as the funding arm of OBOR, which has a projected investment of $1.4 trillion. Spanning from Europe to Australia, 57 countries signed on as Potential Founding Members of the AIIB in September 2015, with Japan and the United States refusing to join.(emphasis added)
From 2015, Anthony Kleven at the Diplomat, Is China's Maritime Silk Road A Military Strategy?:
Did Xi Jinping just acknowledge that the Maritime Silk Road has, in fact, a strong military dimension?

That seems to be the case, following a joint declaration made with his Djibouti counterpart, Ismail Omar Guelleh (IOG), on the sidelines of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg. According to Xinhua, the usually guarded Xi welcomed “Djibouti’s participation in developing Beijing-proposed 21st-century Maritime Silk Road in proper ways.”

However, in light of last week’s bombshell that China has chosen this sleepy East African nation to house its first military base, giving such a warm embrace to Djibouti’s “proper” participation in the Maritime Silk Road is, quite frankly, startling.
So, yes.

The Chinese have been reading Mahan:
Mahan was one of the foremost proponents of the “vigorous foreign policy” referred to by Turner. Mahan believed that the U.S. economy would soon be unable to absorb the massive amounts of industrial and commercial goods being produced domestically, and he argued that the United States should seek new markets abroad. What concerned Mahan most was ensuring that the U.S. Government could guarantee access to these new international markets. Securing such access would require three things: a merchant navy, which could carry American products to new markets across the “great highway” of the high seas; an American battleship navy to deter or destroy rival fleets; and a network of naval bases capable of providing fuel and supplies for the enlarged navy, and maintaining open lines of communications between the United States and its new markets.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Iran's Plans

Interesting read at Foreign Affairs by Ehud Yaari, Iran's Ambitions in the Levant: Why It's Building Two Land Corridors to the Mediterranean
. . .for any containment plan to be effective, Washington must examine Iran’s newly emerging strategy in the Levant and must understand that although Tehran still hopes to achieve regional hegemony in the long term, its current plan is to focus on obtaining and maintaining a predominant position in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. The bloody quagmire involving those three countries offers more opportunities to consolidate power than what would surely be a riskier confrontation in the Gulf, where Iran would have to contend with the United States and its allies. Success in the narrower approach, moreover, could ultimately strengthen Tehran’s hand against Saudi Arabia and those in the Sunni bloc.

General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force division within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is one of those in charge of executing the new policy vision. For the last three years, he has been kept busy setting up the building blocks for at least one, but more likely two, land corridors across the Levant (one in the north and one in the south), linking Iran to the Mediterranean. These pathways would traverse a distance of at least 800 miles from Iran’s western borders through the Euphrates and Tigris valleys and the vast expanses of desert in Iraq and Syria, providing a link to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and finally ending at the edge of the Golan Heights. The two corridors would serve as chains to move military supplies or militiamen when needed.

We discussed Iran's actions as part of our Midrats talk with Bill Roggio at about the 20 minute point

Keep an eye on this.

UPDATE: More discussion of Iran's goals at StrategyPage in Iran: Enemies Within And Without:
But that changed in 2017 as the alliance with Turkey and Russia began to come apart. Iran blames this on Israel which, in this case, is partially correct. Israel knows that Iran wants to establish a pro-Iranian militia in Syria similar to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Assads know this would mean they would have to share power in Syria with Iran. Most Syrians don’t care for this, just as most Lebanese don’t care for the Hezbollah presence. No one, including Russia, Turkey and Israel, want another Hezbollah established in Syria. Iran will not back down on this and that has damaged their relationships with their allies.
Iran is also accused, by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States as well as most Yemenis, of trying to establish another Hezbollah in Yemen. That was always a long shot and this attempt seems to have failed. Iran seemed to anticipate that and their support of the Shia rebels was always a low cost and largely covert operation. Iran tried to persuade the Yemeni Shia to adopt a more cautious and gradual strategy. That advice was ignored and when the Yemeni Shia had an opportunity to seize the capital and declare a new government in 2015 they did so. It didn’t work but came close enough to encourage Iran to spend a lot of what little cash they had to support the Yemeni Shia more lavishly. Iran knew that the Yemeni Shia, or at least some of them, would be grateful for this support and that would benefit Iran long-term. If nothing else it annoyed the Saudis and other Gulf Arabs. By early 2017 the outnumbered and outgunned Shia rebels continue to hold out against the Sunni majority and their Arab (led by the Saudis) allies. This is mainly a media victory for Iran because the Sunni Arab Gulf states are providing the Iranians with excellent media opportunities to criticize the Arabs and the West. Iran is making the most of the fact that the Arabs, even with greater numbers and superior weapons, are unable to quickly defeat fellow Arabs who just happen to be Shia. Iran, the largest Shia majority nation in the world, considers the Shia form of Islam superior to the Sunni variants. Iranian media plays up the suffering of Yemenis in general and manages to keep itself too low profile for the media to pay attention to. Moreover, the Shia form of Islam makes a big deal out of losing battles but ultimately winning it all.