Monday, April 29, 2019

Dream Chasing

I am off on adventures which means that posts on this site are going to become more irregular in timing and numbers. Please enjoy the older posts and visit some of excellent Navy and national security blogs and sites out there.

Not quite sure how long these adventures will last, but be assured that I am well in both body and spirit and having a great time!

There are periods of your life when everything opens up to allow you to fulfill a dream, and this is one of those moments for me.

When time and opportunity allow, I will be posting, but not daily.

Be of good cheer and when you find a dream to chase, go after it with all your heart and soul!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Gulf of Guinea Counter-Piracy- Regional Agreement

Interregional Institute for Maritime Safety (ISMI) Empowers Maritime Officers To Fight Piracy In The Gulf Of Guinea:
The Interregional Institute for Maritime Safety (ISMI) has deepened
the capacity of maritime officers to fight against piracy on the seas.

Participants were brought together from Benin, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Côte d'Ivoire.
The Regional Coordinator of the Action of the State of the Sea, Guillaume de Beauregard, noted that the threat of piracy is still high and prevalent hence, the need to empower officers with the necessary ability to tackle the canker on sea.

"From 2017 to 2018, 40% of the 180 to 201 attacks worldwide were in the Gulf of Guinea. All the kidnappings that took place in 2018 took place in the Gulf of Guinea,” he stated.

According to him, the first figures for 2019 are rather encouraging, though all specialists agree that the Gulf of Guinea remains a hot spot for piracy in the world.
Interesting. The area needs a little less talk, though, and a lot more action.

Somali Pirates: Fishing Vessels Attacked Off Somali Coast

Seems that Somali pirates are up to their old tricks, grabbing a dhow to use as a "mother ship" and sending skiffs out to attack. EU NAVFOR reports:
On 21 April, fishing vessels FV Adria and FV Txori Argi were attacked by suspected pirates in the Indian Ocean, 280 NM off the coast of Somalia. The piracy attacks were thwarted, and the crew and vessels remained safe, thanks to the application of Best Management Practices (BMP) protection measures by the Masters, the crews and the private security teams embarked on both fishing vessels.
EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta confirms these attacks. It is likely that the attacks were facilitated by a mothership, which was reportedly seized by armed men on 19 April off the central Somali Coast.
EU NAVFOR subsequently dispatched its Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircrafts to search the area. In addition, EU NAVFOR flagship ESPS Navarra left the port in Mombasa in order to proceed into the area.
On 23 April, ESPS NAVARA successfully intercepted and boarded the dhow being used as a mothership.
The operation is still ongoing, and more details will be provided upon completion.
EU NAVFOR remains committed to deterring, preventing and suppressing piracy and emphasizes that the Maritime Industry must adhere to BMP measures in order to maximize the safety of the ship and their crews whilst transiting the high-risk area.
Hmmm. Looks like Perry-class frigate was useful in the operation, Spanish FFG Navarra. Too bad the US doesn't have something like them.

Hat tip to Lee.

U.S. Politics, Somalia, and the Very Best of Intentions

A must read article on some aspects of "humanitarian interventions" that get overlooked Here's What Rep. Ilhan Omar Gets Wrong About 'Black Hawk Down'
Task Force Ranger was the 1993 military effort ordered by President Bill Clinton to capture Aidid and his lieutenants so the U.N. could deliver food and medical aid without fear of being attacked or killed by Aidid’s forces. The American soldiers Omar attacked in her tweet — the men of Task Force Ranger –weren’t sent to Somalia for fame or fortune. They weren’t there because of a deep desire to visit the God-forsaken nation of Somalia. They were deployed to support peacekeepers who were desperate to rescue the country from starvation and the ravages of civil war. To do that, they had to capture the men responsible for it.
What gets forgotten, is that the original intention - to feed and protect the starving masses gets lost in the stories of those "saved" - thus Rep. Omar  seems to know only  the tales told by her elders who fled Somalia, who repeat the  stories of violence, some of it by "invaders" and not the tales of UN forces and US forces coming with food and medicine. Her bitterness seems largely second hand.

She doesn't seem to know that some of the first pirating of vessel off the Somali coast was done to ships carrying relief supplies and that those hijacked supplies were used to increase the power and wealth of some of same warlords who caused many of the problems in Somalia as it turned into a failed state.

Bitterness toward rescuers is not unusual in this world. Something about "biting the hand that feeds you."

Sunday, April 21, 2019


The Empty Tomb, 1889, Mikhail Nesterov

Matthew 28King James Version (KJV)

28 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

Friday, April 19, 2019

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 13 March - 17 April 2019 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 11 - 17 April 2019

U.S. Navy Office of Naval I... by on Scribd

U.S. Navy Office of Naval I... by on Scribd

Friday Film: "Top Gun: The Real Story"

Back in the days when the first "Top Gun" movie came out, if I had gotten a dollar for every overly aggressive litigation attorney (this was in Texas in those days, where some old school attorney occasionally engaged in fisticuffs in the halls of the courthouse) who told me that he "could have been like those guys," it would have made for a nice nest egg.

Well, I hate to disappoint you, but real life often varies from the movies. Professional Navy fighter pilots are smart, tough and a lot of them look like the guy or gal who offers to sell you insurance. Most of them are probably under 6 feet tall, because their offices aren't all that big. Most are in reasonable shape. And all of them work really, really hard to master their job. That being said, a select few do get to go to Fallon, Nevada - in the high desert about an hour from Reno sitting on the "Loneliest Road in America" - to receive training that will allow them to go back to their squadrons to train other pilots in tactics and things. Another select few will take the training and remain at Fallon to instruct while flying and learning. Very much "train the trainer."

All fighter pilots want to be the best, but they also want to be surrounded by other pilots who also want to be the best. And, as you will see, the training is not just for pilots.

Here's a slightly dated documentary about the Fighter Weapons School:

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: "The Navy Comes Through" (1943)

Interesting story involving Navy Armed Guards on merchant shipping in World War II from Lux Radio Theater based on a short story and movie.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Revisited: The Need for a Lighter, Faster, More Potent and Less Expensive "Green Water" Navy Surface Force

As briefly mentioned during our 7 April Midrats here, a discussion of how to effectively use our Navy Reserve for maritime purposes touched on Trump's Gunboats by Claude Berube and contributed to by me. I think this part of the discussion begins around the 46:21 point.

A key element of growing our fleet without breaking the budget (more than it is already), is distributed lethality among a larger force, a part of which should be designed and trained for warfare in the "green water" areas of the world (where most sea battles historically have been fought) and procured from existing U.S. shipbuilders at relatively minimal cost. It is that area the LCS was supposed to operate in before it was designed by a committee and became whatever it is. Let me offer up some quotes from the Gunboats article:

... It may be time for the U.S. Navy to go smaller in order to get bigger, sooner while waiting for the warm lines of present production to turn hot on longer lead time ships. The question of how to do this has been answered before in our history: use commercially proven hulls and adapt them to Navy use in nearly every conflict from the American Revolution to World War II. This surge in smaller, commercially-built vessels not only has historical precedence but satisfies growing global maritime challenges as well as domestic employment.
... Were billion dollar warships necessary for combating piracy off the Horn of Africa? In a Navy where the only tool is a hammer most every solution is an overly-excessive naval force. .... Instead of continuing to use the wrong tool for the job, it is logical to develop a diverse force of smaller naval ships to handle numerous, smaller missions, leaving the blue water navy to pursue the larger, vital warfighting role that it was designed to do. Smaller navy vessels working in squadrons may be more cost-effective in responding to global maritime incidents, patrolling coasts, and deterring similar forces. While the threat of Somali piracy has diminished the destabilization of other economies and nations could cause new threats to shipping to emerge as off Venezuela. Larger threats continue to loom as small Iranian boats swarm U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz and China’s maritime militia in the South China Sea have harassed ships in the past. Rather than offering larger, single targets of opportunity, dispersed squadrons of smaller vessels provide greater opportunities to counter asymmetric operations.
In his July 2012 USNI Proceedings article “Payloads over Platforms:
Charting a New Course,” then Chief of Naval Operation Admiral Greenert wrote, “We need to move from ‘luxury-car’ platforms—with their built-in capabilities—toward dependable ‘trucks’ that can handle a changing payload selection. “Sea trucks” is the perfect way in which to picture arming the smaller ship force. There already exist large numbers of “bolt on” modular weapons systems and sensor packages that could allow a squadron of such ships to present a challenge to any potential foe, ranging from anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles to various form of autonomous vehicles with many mission capabilities. The addition of helicopters to the mix adds both a counter-surface and ASW capability; the same is true for drones. A lightweight modular force means that a small squadron could form a formidable presence at a relatively low cost.
It's not like this is new concept here or at other locations, see, e.g. Psst.Psst. Wanna Distribute Your Lethality on the Cheap? and the links therein:
The underlying goal, of course, was to suggest a way of getting lots more platforms out there - with lots more weapons and capabilities. Cheaper, faster, and, if not better, certainly "good enough."
One problem has been that the Navy leadership and Congress have become very risk averse - and they dread the idea that smaller ships may be more vulnerable than bigger ships, which might result in the politically unacceptable loss of personnel. If "politics ain't beanbag" as Mr. Dooley put it, these folks need to understand that neither is war fighting. Our young officers and sailors understand that, especially after our involvement in the Middle East in which we have been placing our people at risk almost continuously since the "tanker war" began in 1987.

What we owe these volunteers is a large enough force 'right-sized" to meet the existing and potential threats to the areas of the world that are vital to our national interests. To accomplish this, we need to be bold enough to allow the folks who can understand and apply current technology to the problem of maintaining vital sea lines of communication. Armed UAVs operating in swarms from small decks may be answer to some issues, wise and wide use of UAVs, USVs, and UUVs may allow for especially good threat warning and targeting for a flotilla of small missile carrying high speed craft or other craft that carry lots of missiles and drones. We need to put good minds into brainstorming these and other possibilities.

And we need to do it now, before we get locked into being all "big decks" and having to deal with the risks that putting so many eggs in so few baskets that the loss of one ship spells catastrophe for the fleet.

Captain Wayne Hughes discussed some of this on Midrats back 6 years ago:

Nothing wrong with going back and revisiting Sea Fighter or even the hydrofoil missile boats of the past, both of which are pictured above.

**updated to fix a portion that went adrift during the original post writing

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 28 February - 3 April 2019 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/ SOUTHEAST ASIA: Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 28 March - 3 April 2019

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: "1984"

George Orwell's classic with David Niven as Winston Smith.

Beware the "Thought Police" ...

Double plus good!

On Midrats 7 April 2019 Episode 483: Quō Vādis, USNR?

Please join us on 7 April 2019 at 5pm Eastern for Midrats Episode 483: Quō Vādis, USNR?
Almost everyone who follows military issues can clearly point to what the Army Reserve, National Guard, USAFR, ANG, and USMC Reserves do – their individual and unit deployments have been highly visible so far in the Long War … but what about the Naval Reserve?

What are they doing? Are they being best utilized to purpose? As we re-look at the challenge of a maritime power facing emerging powers on the high seas, do we need to reassess the last few decades of policy, practice, and procedures in utilizing the available manpower and expertise that is and could reside in the US Navy Reserve?

Our guests this Sunday, April 7th from 5-6pm Eastern will be Chris Rawley, CAPT USNR and Claude Berube, LCDR USNR.

Chris Rawley is the CEO of Harvest Returns, a platform for investing in agriculture, and is Reserve Chief of Staff for Commander, Naval Surface Forces, helping to oversee 3,800 reserve sailors supporting fleet units around the world. During his 26 year military career, Rawley has filled a variety of leadership positions in naval, expeditionary, and joint special operations units afloat and ashore. He has deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, throughout Africa, the Persian Gulf, and Western Pacific. Rawley has a degree from Texas A&M University, earned an MBA at George Washington University, and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and Joint Forces Staff College.

Dr. Claude Berube teaches at the US Naval Academy and has published several books. He recently returned from his third deployment as an officer in the USNR. He has worked as a defense contractor, as a civilian with the Office of Naval Intelligence, and a staffer to two US Senators.
Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at Spreaker.

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Friday Film: "The Road to the Wall" (1962)

Ah, the Cold War - 24 hour alerts, bombers on standby, bomb shelters under houses, tank commanders at the Fulda Gap. And the Navy standing ready.

The effect of the differences between the promise of socialist and communist paradises and the grim reality caused (and continues to cause) mass migrations of people flowing away from such "people's republics."

Not surprisingly, the leaders of these alleged Utopian societies decided that only by halting the flow of such refugees could the people come to appreciate how splendid life could be under the "guidance" of those - um- "enlightened ones" who knew the true path.

Thus, everything that could be done to keep people in was done, fences, armed border guards looking inward with orders to shoot to kill, mine fields, travel passes, informers . . .

But there were always defectors . . . so there were more walls, including the Berlin Wall the ultimate symbol of the Cold War.

By the way, before the Wall dividing Berlin, there was an effort by the Soviets to blockade Berlin - shutting off all access by land routes. This effort was thwarted by the Berlin Airlift.

If you have the time, here's an excellent film about the effort it took to defeat the Soviet power grab, featuring Montgomery Clift and Paul Douglas and many of the real airmen, including Navy crews, and allied forces that flew some 28,000 missions to keep West Berlin fed for almost a year - from June 24, 1948 to May 12, 1949 - "The Big Lift" -