Guns Free

Guns Free

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

No Navy menus, no pictures of turkey and fixings being served in the field.

No, this year I'm thankful for the gift of laughter, which is very necessary in these times.

So, without further folderol, here's Bugs and my friend Elmer:



And, of course,


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Holiday Routine



Thanksgiving Week, maximum leave for the crew, minimal manning.

If you have time off, enjoy it!

The world will continue to turn if you kick back a little.

Pumpkin pie is good!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Dragnet "The Big Present" (November, 1953)

Happy Thanksgiving!



On Midrats 24 November 2019 - Episode 516: Making the Fleet Ready for a Peer Challenge, with Bryan McGrath

Please join us at 5pm EST on 24 November 2019 for Midrats Episode 516: Making the Fleet Ready for a Peer Challenge, with Bryan McGrath
Keeping a fleet ready for war is a process of years of careful, consistent, and sustained stewardship of both personnel and material.

The easiest parts are the buying of equipment and recruiting new people.The hard parts, maintenance, training, and retention – mostly because they are hard – rarely break in to the open.

For our fleet, the structure we live in is the Optimized Fleet Response
Plan (OFRP). It is a system few understand well, but is one designed around a peace time “efficiency” with only a passing interest in wartime “effectiveness.”

Decades of dominance at sea has provided the US Navy the luxury of such, but as China expands her fleet at an alarming rate – do we need a new construct?

Our guest for the full hour to discuss this and related topics will be Bryan McGrath, CDR USN (Ret.).

Bryan McGrath grew up in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1987. He was commissioned upon graduation in the United States Navy, and served as a Surface Warfare Officer until his retirement in 2008. At sea, he served primarily in cruisers and destroyers, rising to command of the Destroyer USS BULKELEY (DDG 84). During his command tour, he won the Surface Navy Association’s Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Award for Inspirational Leadership, and the BULKELEY was awarded the USS ARIZONA Memorial Trophy signifying the fleet’s most combat ready unit. Ashore, Bryan enjoyed four tours in Washington DC, including his final tour in which he acted as Team Leader and primary author of our nation’s 2007 maritime strategy entitled “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.”

Since retirement, Bryan has become active in presidential politics, serving first as the Navy Policy Team lead for the Romney Campaign in 2012, and then as the Navy and Marine Corps Policy lead for the Rubio Campaign in 2016.
If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

2019 Iran Military Power Report from the Defense Intelligence Agency

2019 Iran Military Power Report



Link to a pdf version of the report here.

From the Preface:
Throughout its 40-year history, the Islamic Republic of Iran has remained implacably opposed to the United States, our presence in the Middle East, and our support to Israel. While attempting to strengthen its deterrence against foreign attack and influence, Tehran has committed itself to becoming the dominant power in the turbulent and strategic Middle East. Its ambitions and identity as a largely Persian Shia power in a region composed of primarily Arab Sunni states often put it at odds with its neighbors, most of
which look to the United States and the West to guarantee their security.

Iran sees itself as closer than ever to achieving its goals. Tehran has played the cards dealt it by the fall of Saddam, the uprising in Syria, the rise and retreat of ISIS, and the conflict in Yemen. It leads a cohesive if informal bloc of Shia and Alawi state and nonstate actors—its “Axis of Resistance” against the West. Meanwhile, a perception that the United States is disinterested and disengaged pervades the region.

By applying a rigorous lessons-learned process during decades of conflict in the Middle East, Iran has adapted its military capabilities and doctrine to account for developments by the United States and its allies. Although still technologically inferior to most of its competitors, the Iranian military has progressed
substantially over the past few decades.

To achieve its goals, Iran continues to rely on its unconventional warfare elements and asymmetric capabilities— intended to exploit the perceived weaknesses of a superior adversary—to provide deterrence and project power. This combination of lethal conventional capabilities and proxy forces poses a persistent threat. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force leads Iranian power projection through a complex network of state and nonstate partners and militant proxies. Iran’s conventional military emphasizes niche capabilities and guerilla style tactics against its technologically advanced adversaries. Its substantial arsenal of ballistic missiles is designed to overwhelm U.S. forces and our partners in the region. Its swarms of small boats, large inventory of naval mines, and arsenal of antiship missiles can severely disrupt maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz—a strategic chokepoint critical to global trade. Each of these forces are becoming increasingly survivable, precise, and responsive.

In more recent years, with the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, Iran has taken nascent steps toward developing a limited expeditionary capability. Iran’s conventional forces are now in the regional power projection game as well. At the same time, modern conventional capabilities will be open to Iran for the first time since the revolution, as the UN arms embargo is scheduled to end by October 2020. With these opportunities, we could begin to see significant changes in Iranian strategy and capabilities, as Iran becomes a more traditional military force.

As Tehran expands its capabilities and role as both an unconventional and conventional threat in the Middle East, it is more important than ever that we understand Iran’s military power and the threat it poses to our interests, our allies, and our own security.

2019 China Military Power Report from the Defense Intelligence Agency




Link to PDF of the report here.

From the Preface:
The Defense Intelligence Agency—indeed the broader U.S. Intelligence Community—is continually asked, "What do we need to know about China?" What is China’s vision of the world and its role in it? What are Beijing’s strategic intentions and what are the implications for Washington? How are the PLA’s roles and missions changing as it becomes a more capable military force?

Since Mao Zedong’s Communist Revolution in October 1949 brought the Chinese Communist Party to power, China has struggled to identify and align itself with its desired place in the world. Early factional struggles for control of party leadership, decades of negotiations to define territorial boundaries, and continued claims to territories not yet recovered have at times seemed at odds with the self-described nature of the Chinese as peace-loving and oriented only toward their own defense. Chinese leaders historically have been willing to use military force against threats to their regime, whether foreign or domestic, at times preemptively. Lack of significant involvement in military operations during the last several decades has led to a sense of insecurity within the PLA as it seeks to modernize into a great power military.

Still, the United States has at times found itself in direct conflict with China or Chinese forces. China supported two major conflicts in Asia after the Second World War, introducing Chinese volunteer forces in Korea and providing direct Chinese air and air defense support to Hanoi in Vietnam. In addition, China fought border skirmishes with the Soviet Union, India, and a unified Vietnam. In all three cases, military action was an integral part of Chinese diplomatic negotiations. Since then, China has concluded negotiations for most of its land borders (India and Bhutan being the outliers) but remains in contention with Japan, the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam over maritime borders, which may in part explain motivation for the PLA Navy’s impressive growth and the new emphasis on maritime law enforcement capabilities.

China’s double-digit economic growth has slowed recently, but it served to fund several successive defense modernization Five-Year Plans. As international concern over Beijing's human rights policies stymied the PLA’s search for ever more sophisticated technologies, China shifted funds and efforts to acquiring technology by any means available. Domestic laws forced foreign partners of Chinese-based joint ventures to release their technology in exchange for entry into China’s lucrative market, and China has used other means to secure needed technology and expertise. The result of this multifaceted approach to technology acquisition is a PLA on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapon systems in the world. In some areas, it already leads the world.

Chinese leaders characterize China’s long-term military modernization program as essential to achieving great power status. Indeed, China is building a robust, lethal force with capabilities spanning the air, maritime, space and information domains which will enable China to impose its will in the region. As it continues to grow in strength and confidence, our nation’s leaders will face a China insistent on having a greater voice in global interactions, which at times may be antithetical to U.S. interests. With a deeper understanding of the military might behind Chinese economic and diplomatic efforts, we can provide our own national political, economic, and military leaders the widest range of options for choosing when to counter, when to encourage, and when to join with China in actions around the world.

This report offers insights into the modernization of Chinese military power as it reforms from a defensive, inflexible ground-based force charged with domestic and peripheral security responsibilities to a joint, highly agile, expeditionary, and power-projecting arm of Chinese foreign policy that engages in military diplomacy and operations across the globe.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

China Seeks Range Extender for Anti-Ship Missile

Reported as China accidentally reveals top secret new weapon
H-6K variant with cruise missiles (credit Alert 5)
A centrefold graphic recently flourished intimate details of a Chinese bomber carrying a stark new weapon. State-controlled media has since gone into cover-up mode. But military analysts think Beijing may have been caught with its pants down. The government produced Modern Ships magazine has splashed high-resolution computer-generated images of China’s most recent addition to its strategic bomber line-up – the H-6N – over the front and feature pages. But that’s not what drew the eye of the world’s defence thinkers. The graphics showed the new bomber carrying a huge ballistic missile slung under its fuselage. And that missile looks a lot like one of a family of ballistic weapons deployed by China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) as aircraft carrier killers.
I have my doubts that this was "accidental" - thinking it's more of a psyop, but it does raise some ideas to counter such weapons - ideas that our parents and grandparents (oh, hell, maybe even our great grandparents) thought up way back when in the fun days of the Cold War.

As seen in the photo above, the Chinese already have the potential to extend their cruise missile range by use of the same H-6 platform. So what does the potential to add the "ship killer" ballistic missile mean? As the article quoted above notes, it has the potential to add more range to this "carrier killer" anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM).

So, what do you do to counter a relatively slow moving bomber that flies out to launch a big ASBM? You do what we used to do against the kamikaze planes of the Japanese in WWII and the Soviet threat in the Cold War - you station "pickets" of various kinds to detect and report activity that might threaten your forces. In WWII, it was "radar picket destroyers." During the Cold War we had radar picket submarines
:
By this time, the Cold War with the Soviet Union was in full swing, and air defense of U.S. carrier battle groups on potential strike missions near the Russian landmass generated a requirement for even more submarine radar pickets. Eventually, six more World War II submarines - all Manitowac-built USS Gato (SS-212)-class boats - were chosen for the more drastic MIGRAINE III SSR conversion. Because experience had shown that even the newer SSR configurations were seriously cramped, the final MIGRAINE design
called for cutting the boats in two and inserting a 24-foot "plug" to get additional room for an expanded CIC and electronic spaces forward of the main control room. Even so, the MIGRAINE IIIs also had to sacrifice their after torpedo tubes for more berthing space, but they were fitted with a larger, streamlined sail, with the BPS-2 search radar mounted aft of the periscopes and other masts. An AN/BPS-3 height-finder radar on a pedestal just behind the sail and an AN/URN-3 TACAN beacon on the afterdeck completed the installation. The six MIGRAINE III boats - USSs Pompon (SSR-267), Rasher (SSR-269), Raton (SSR-270), Ray (SSR-271), Redfin (SSR-272), and Rock (SSR-274) - were all converted at the Philadelphia Navy Yard between 1951 and 1953 - giving the Navy a total of ten radar picket submarines to face the growing Soviet threat just as the Korean War was drawing to a close.
There were also radar picket ships of the Guardian class:
The AGRs were based on both coasts at Newport, Rhode Island (later Davisville, Rhode Island) and Treasure Island, California near San Francisco, eight on the East Coast and eight on the West Coast. They would spend 30–45 days at sea regardless of weather, alternating with 15 days in port, monitoring aircraft approaching the United States as an extension of the Distant Early Warning line under the Continental Air Defense Command. Their primary duty was to warn of a surprise Soviet bomber attack. The AGRs were augmented by twelve radar picket destroyer escorts of the Edsall and John C. Butler classes, known as DERs, and Lockheed WV-2 Warning Star aircraft. The DERs and WV-2s were called Barrier Forces, BarLant and BarPac, and operated much further from the US than the AGRs. By 1965, the development of over-the-horizon radar had superseded their function, and the radar picket ships were decommissioned and scrapped by the early 1970s.
SBX-1
Now we already have "over the horizon radar", including the "big ball on a oil platform" - SBX-1 (pdf) and a bunch of other stuff to look for missiles, which is exactly what the H-6N is - with a slow launch phase (under 600 knots) followed by a more rapid phase after the booster on the missile engages.

These are modern times. We have Aegis ships, anti-ballistic missile missiles, and satellites that monitor such things.

Let's suppose we decide for a "belt and suspenders" approach that some additional pickets might be a good idea - could we use long lingering UAVs akin to the solar power NASA Pathfinder to keep an eye on things? Of
NASA Pathfinder
course we could, in fact, the idea has already been looked at:
In 1993, after ten years in storage, the aircraft was brought back to flight status for a brief mission by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO). With the addition of small solar arrays, five low-altitude checkout flights were flown under the BMDO program at NASA Dryden in the fall of 1993 and early 1994 on a combination of solar and battery power.
No much in new thinking under the sun.

U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Corwin M. Colbert)
From the surface of the sea side, there is little reason why unmanned platforms, now being developed for anti-submarine warfare, Sea Hunter cannot also be adapted for use as radar pickets, perhaps with passive sensor characteristics.

The point to all this being that the threat of aircraft launched ASMs or even ASBMs is not a sea change, but merely a logical follow on weapon for a country as geographically limited as is China. And that we've seen threats like this before and found ways to limit them.

Everything old is new again.

As an aside, the U.S. played with Air Launched Ballistic Missiles in the past (1974), see

Monday, November 18, 2019

Report "Saudi-led coalition says Yemen's Houthis hijacked vessel south of Red Sea"

Reuters reports Saudi-led coalition says Yemen's Houthis hijacked vessel south of Red Sea
The Saudi-led military coalition engaged in Yemen said on Monday that the Iran-aligned Houthi movement had hijacked a vessel towing a South Korean drilling rig south of the Red Sea, the state Saudi Press Agency reported.

It quoted coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki as saying the vessel was seized late on Sunday by armed members of the Houthi group. He did not say how many crew members were on board the seized ship.
Interesting. I guess the Houthi goal is further disruption of Red Sea transits.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 10 October 2019 - 13 November 2019 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/SOUTHEAST ASIA Weekly Piracy Update for 7 to 13 November 2019



Friday, November 15, 2019

On Midrats 17 November 2019 - Episode 515: Building a Thinking Force: the Navy’s CLO, John Kroger

Please join us at 5pm(EST) on 17 November 2019 for Midrats Episode 515: Building a Thinking Force: the Navy’s CLO, John Kroger
A byproduct of the April 2018 memo from Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly,
the newly created position of CLO is described as, “A senior civilian with educational leadership experience headquartered in the Pentagon, with a small supporting staff transferred from extant Navy and Marine education management billets, responsible to the President, Naval University for all matters related to education in policy, budgets, promotion board precepts. Congressional interaction, future requirements, and assessments.”

The Navy's first Chief Learning Officer (CLO) John Kroger will join us for the full hour to describe his mandate, the path ahead, and the opportunities and challenges of building a position from scratch.

John served as an enlisted Marine between 1983 and 1986. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University and a law degree from Harvard University. After college, he spent a significant part of his career in the public sector, as a U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor and Attorney General of Oregon from 2009 to 2012.

Kroger’s academic experience includes working as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and Leader in Residence at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. For the past six years, Kroger was president of Reed College, a small liberal arts college in Portland, Ore.
If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Friday Film: WWII "Women in Defense"

Written by Eleanor Roosevelt and narrated by Katherine Hepburn


Saturday, November 09, 2019

Happy Birthday, USMC!

Happy Birthday, USMC! Glad your are at our side and have been for 244 years!




Old radio - "Uncommon Valor"-


Admiral Nimitz on the fight for Iwo Jima:
By their victory, the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions and other units of the Fifth Amphibious Corps have made an accounting to their country which only history will be able to value fully. Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Laugh of the Day: Beijing pledges ‘long term peace’ in South China Sea

From the Chinese Alibaba owned South China Sea Morning Post come this howlerBeijing pledges ‘long term peace’ in South China Sea where its Asean neighbours also stake claims:
China is hopeful for “new progress” to be made in ongoing talks with the Asean bloc for a code of conduct governing the disputed South China Sea, Premier Li Keqiang said at a summit on Sunday, as other regional leaders called for countries to exercise restraint over the row.
Li’s comments at the twice-yearly Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting comes amid flaring tensions between Vietnam and Beijing over the dispute triggered by a Chinese oil survey vessel that remained within waters claimed by the Southeast Asian country for more than three months.
“We stand ready to work with Asean countries building on the existing foundation and basis to strive for new progress in the [code of conduct], according to the three-year time frame, so as to maintain and uphold long term peace in the South China Sea,” Li said at the start of a plenary session with the 10 Asean leaders.
This bit of double talk - after all, which country is the one stirring up tension with its neighbors with excessive claims to rights that violate the other countries territorial and exclusive economic zones (EEZs) - was reported by the SCMP with the accompanying map:
You might notice that China's famous "9 dash line" encroaches on the sovereign waters of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and judging by the SCMP map, the Japanese Senkaku Islands. You might also note that the SCMP map leaves off the EEZs of the Philippines and Malaysia and Japan. For those, we need another map, this one from the Voice of America :
Or perhaps this one from the American Center for Democracy:
Recall that the claims of all parties, are in part, based on assertions of ownership of various islands or rocks in the SCS. China also bases its claims on a theory of historical usage. China claims were rejected by an international tribunal. As with so much else that is modern, China disavows that ruling:
China said it did not recognize the ruling, which it described as "null and void." The case was brought by the Philippines over China’s vast territorial claims and island-building in the region.

The ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, is the first to address competing claims and interests among a half-dozen countries fronting the South China Sea.

The panel said any historic rights to resources that China may have had were invalid if they are incompatible with exclusive economic zones established under a United Nations treaty.

The tribunal also ruled that China caused “irreparable harm” to the marine environment, “unlawfully” interfered with fishermen from the Philippines, and engaged in a massive land-reclamation and island-building campaign that is “incompatible” with international obligations.
In fact, Mr. Li has been pretty belligerent:
China is committed to peace but cannot give up “even one inch” of territory that the country’s ancestors left behind, Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday during his first visit to Beijing.

Xi’s remarks underscored deep-rooted areas of tension in Sino-U.S. ties, particularly over what the Pentagon views as China’s militarization of the South China Sea, a vital transit route for world trade.
"Long term peace" in Chinese terms means acceding to all its demands.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Strait of Hormuz: U.S. Marines on Merchant Ships Providing Security

Reported as Marines Embark Merchant Vessel to Provide Security in Strait of Hormuz Transit:
STRAIT OF HORMUZ (NNS) -- Marines and Sailors deployed with
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tanner A. Gerst/Released)
Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team, Central Command (FASTCENT) Company, assigned to Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (TF 51/5th MEB), embarked on a Military Sealift Command time chartered vessel in the Arabian Gulf to provide security during a Strait of Hormuz transit Oct. 21.


Task Force 51/5th MEB has a myriad of inherently maneuverable assets that offer commanders the ability to flexibly respond to a wide variety of missions and contingencies, and that are capable of being rapidly deployed. Specifically, FASTCENT Marines work with U.S. partners and allies to protect personnel and property while simultaneously ensuring freedom of navigation in international waterways.

"A strong U.S. presence in the Gulf region is both a deterrent to any potential adversaries who may have an interest in disrupting the maritime domain or using the seas for nefarious purposes, as well as a force to reassure allies, and partners of the United States' commitment to ensuring the free flow of commerce throughout the region," said Brigadier Gen. Matthew Trollinger, Commander of Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Marines with FASTCENT Company have a history of performing a wide variety of missions and contingencies related to deterring, detecting, mitigating, and defending vital naval and national assets against terrorism since its activation in 1986.

"The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps has and will continue to protect U.S. forces and interests in the region. This includes routine escorting and embarking on U.S. flagged vessels transiting through the region," said Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet.

TF 51/5th MEB is entrusted with rapidly aggregating crisis response capabilities and positioning Navy and Marine Corps forces throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to ensure command and control of forces at sea, from the sea, and ashore.

"We are focused on maintaining strong defenses and exposing nefarious actors. We are not seeking conflict, but we will be prepared to defend ourselves and respond to attacks on U.S. forces and our interests," said Malloy.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 24 September 2019 - 30 October 2019 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/SOUTHEAST ASIA Weekly Piracy Update for 24 to 30 October 2019

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


Saturday, November 02, 2019

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: You Are There- "The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson" (1949)

About the effort to impeach:
The impeachment and trial of Andrew Johnson had important political implications for the balance of federal legislative–executive power. It maintained the principle that Congress should not remove the President from office simply because its members disagreed with him over policy, style, and administration of the office. It also resulted in diminished presidential influence on public policy and overall governing power, fostering a system of governance which Woodrow Wilson referred to in the 1870s as "Congressional Government". Johnson remained the only U.S. president to have been impeached and faced a senate trial for over a century, until Bill Clinton became the second in 1998

On Midrats 3 November 2019 - Episode 513: Naval Aviation with Kevin Miller

Please join us at 5pm EST (don't forget the time change) on 3 November 2019 for Midrats Episode 513: Naval Aviation with Kevin Miller:
With the sequel to "Top Gun" coming up, if you ever wore the
uniform of the US Navy, you're going to get asked a lot of questions.

For this week's show we are going to talk about today's Naval Aviation experience with author Kevin Miller, CAPT, USN (Ret.)

Kevin is a third generation naval officer. He graduated from the University of Mississippi and was designated a Naval Aviator in August 1983. In his career he flew the A-7E Corsair II and FA-18C Hornet, deploying overseas six times throughout the 1980’s and 90’s aboard the aircraft carriers Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt and Enterprise. He finished his career in the Pentagon serving on the staff of the Secretary of the Navy, retiring in 2005.

After leaving the service Kevin was employed as an associate at two Washington DC defense consulting firms, and it was during this time he drafted his first novel Raven One. In 2010 he joined the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Today he is a self-employed defense consultant, Amazon Best-Selling author of the military action-adventure novels Raven One and Declared Hostile and serves as Vice President of Legislative Affairs for the Tailhook Association.

Kevin earned a Master of Science in Business Management from Florida State University and a Master of National Security Policy and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.
Upate:
Listen to "Episode 513: Naval Aviation with Kevin Miller" on Spreaker.