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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Burns and Allen - "Thanksgiving" (1940)


Somewhat oddly, it starts with an ad for Spam.



By the way, Spam has not gone out of style and is a favored treat for long distance hikers.

For Thanksgiving, though, turkey and pumpkin pie  . . .

On Midrats 22 November 2020- Episode 568: The Problem with Proconsuls; the Combatant Commanders


Please join us at 5pm EST for Midrats Episode 568: The Problem with Proconsuls; the Combatant Commanders

34 years after Goldwater-Nichols and the rise of the Combatant Commanders (COCOMS), is our national security structures more in line with what we need in the 21 Century, or the Roman Empire’s Proconsuls?

What are these mini-Pentagons supposed to bring to the national security of the United States, and what are they actually delivering?

What do they do right, and where are they off phase?

Our returning guest for the full hour to discuss this an more will be Mackenzie Eaglen. We will use her recent article, Putting Combatant Commanders on a Demand Signal Diet at War on the Rocks as a starting point for our conversation.

Mackenzie is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where she works on defense strategy, defense budgets, and military readiness. She has also served as a staff member on the 2018 National Defense Strategy Commission, the 2014 National Defense Panel, and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel. Prior to joining the American Enterprise Institute, she worked on defense issues in the House of Representatives, in the Senate, and at the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Joint Staff.

If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going to here. Or on Spreaker. Or on Spotify.



Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Navy Ship Manning: "{M}an the fleet to the requirements or reduce the requirements"


Excellent discussion of the U.S. Navy's shipboard manning issues by a former Fleet Master Chief of Fleet Forces Command at the USNI Blog Manning Still Matters: A Fleet Perspective:

To those leaders making these decisions, or who are unaware of them but could influence them, I would ask, “Would you feel safe boarding a civilian airline whose maintenance department was routinely and chronically undermanned this way?” and “Would you feel comfortable letting your family?” Even though leaders and budgeters save costs in the MPN account, there are personal costs that result from reductions in their sailor’s sleep, fitness, personal time, or cognitive performance. Manning shortfalls contribute to crew fatigue and reduced crew endurance, increasing the chance of mistakes and increasing their risk tolerance to a point of ethical dilemma and decisions to cut corners with maintenance and other administrative requirements to self-manage the workload.

This is a "read the whole thing piece." Master Chief Kingsbury points out the issues caused by the efforts to save personnel dollars -

  • Overwork on some ratings at sea
  • Impact on morale and retention
  • Impact of fatigue 
  • Poor effects of "fill vice fit" manning - i.e. there's a reason the manning document calls for a certain number of quartermasters, for example. 
  • Stress Dangers of cross decking as short term fills for shortages in certain rates

Giving the fleet billets is one thing, but in a highly technical environment requiring specialized people, giving them the right billets with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to meet the job requirement is another. And, the sailor working 80 hours suffers the same effects regardless of where their unit is in the OFRP. Once any ship falls to a certain level of fit, they could be displayed as yellow or red to more accurately reflect the level of risk, so force manning managers could decide where to accept risk. To this end, leverage the new type commander human factors engineers, fleet safety officers, and naval safety center to analyze and articulate the risk to mission and force. Then, communicate to OPNAV N1 in terms of operational risk and challenge them to take actions to mitigate it, such as increasing recruiting goals, retention incentives, or adjusting distribution policies.

From the Navy's Core Values Charter

“COMMITMENT” The day-to-day duty of every man and woman in the Department of the Navy is to join together as a team to improve the quality of our work, our people and ourselves. I will:

    • Foster respect up and down the chain of command. 
    • Care for the personal and spiritual well-being of my people. 
    • Show respect toward all people without regard to race, religion or gender. 
    • Always strive for positive change and personal improvement. 
    • Exhibit the highest degree of moral character, professional excellence, quality, and competence in all that I do. (emphasis added)

The "well-being" of our people ought to be the driving factor in ship manning. This has to include that the right people are put in the right positions with the right training and tools to do their jobs so that any ship - all ships- go to sea with the confidence that the men and women who serve therein are ready to take on the heavy burdens going to sea and, potentially, into harm's way involve.

Admiral Nimitz said, "Leadership consists of picking good men and helping them do their best." When we put our men and women into a fleet where they are hamstrung by manning shortfalls, we are not exercising good leadership.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Sarah Mead

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Our Miss Brooks "Thanksgiving Weekend" (1949)




On Midrats 15 November 2020- Episode 567: Carriers: Workhorse & Warhorse with Megan Eckstein & Sam LaGrone



Please join us on 15 November 2020 for Midrats Episode 567: Carriers: Workhorse & Warhorse with Megan Eckstein & Sam LaGrone

Fewer carriers are deploying more even as repeated warning lights have been going off that we are expending in peace what we will need in war when it comes to personnel and materiel in carrier aviation.

How did we get here, where are we, and where are we going?

Using her article, No Margin Left: Overworked Carrier Force Struggles to Maintain Deployments After Decades of Overuse, as a starting point and diving it to some of the additional insights she gained while writing it, Megan Eckstein from USNINews will be joining us along with Sam LaGrone.

Megan Eckstein is the deputy editor for USNI News. She previously covered Congress and the Pentagon for Defense Daily, and the surface navy and amphibious operations as an associate editor for Inside the Navy. She began her career covering the military at the Frederick (Md.) News-Post, where she wrote about personnel and family issues, military medical research, local reserve and National Guard units and more. Eckstein is a 2009 graduate of University of Maryland College Park.

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.

If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going to here. Or on Spreaker. Or on Spotify.

(U.S. Navy Photo by MC3 Anthony Collier)

Friday, November 13, 2020

Italian Navy Thwarts Potential Gulf of Guinea Pirate Attack








November 7, 2020 action in the GOG Report
Italian frigate Martinengo assistance to M/V Torm Alexandra was concluded yesterday at 2030. A #BrigataMarinaSanMarco team released by helicopter, cleared the vessel allowing crew to regain possession and keep navigating safely

Video here.

All happened in international waters.

Photos and video from the Italian Navy.

By the way, what nice looking frigate.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veterans Day




Just a brief thanks to all the men and women with whom I served on active duty and in the reserves.

You are the veterans I honor on this day.

Thanks for all you taught me about service, sacrifice, and duty.

Photo by Chris Davies from here

Good Information: Law School is a Bad Investment - for Most People

From George Leef, The Worst Higher Education ‘Investment’ — Law School

At Texas Public Policy Foundation, Andrew Gillen has been doing some excellent work analyzing higher education. In a recent study, he used the Obama administration’s “Gainful Employment” methodology to see how law schools would fare if they were put to that test.

What he found was that the great majority of the schools would fail, which is to say that their graduates don’t earn enough to reasonably cover the debts they incur in getting their degrees.

***

There is a large need for lawyers in America, but much of the legal work doesn’t pay well enough to justify the huge expense in time and money it takes to get into the field. For that, the American Bar Association is the culprit, since it insists on a needlessly burdensome model of legal education.

My suggestion is that state governments stop mandating graduation from an ABA-accredited school before anyone can take the bar exam. Where one learns the material shouldn’t matter.

When I was in law school some states, like Georgia, still allowed people who "read the law" (didn't attend law school) to take the bar exam. Legal secretaries often took this route and became successful lawyers. The ABA model described has always seemed to me like a "restraint of trade" pretending to be a quality control mechanism.

The other big secret is that attending law school does not, at least in my experience, prepare you for the bar exams, or even, really,  much in the way of the practice of law. Instead, aspiring lawyers take various bar preparation courses that give you a rapid survey of the things that appear on bar exams, usually tied to the important legal aspects of the state whose bar you'll be taking. For example, I took bar exams in Georgia and Texas. To get up to speed for these bar exams, I took bar review courses. Not surprisingly, the Texas bar exam had questions on oil and gas law, the Georgia exam did not. The Texas bar review course covered it sufficiently for me to pass the Texas bar. See here for a listing of such courses, some of which may cost in the thousands of dollars above your law school costs. See here

Looking back, my view is that law school should take, at most, about 18 months not 3 years, and the the bulk of the important legal learning is in the first 6 months. The rest of the time could better be used to take practical topics in areas where a student thinks they might want to practice, like estate planning, maritime law, or real property law. For those who plan to become criminal defense attorneys or prosecutors, legal clinics are a great help. The idea of legal apprentices needs to be revived.

I have seen the results of the overproduction of attorneys.

Much legal "document review" work is contracted out to firms that hire recent law school grads or use offshore document reviewers. All use some sort of computerized key word document review scan to highlight certain key words or word groupings to make the hunt for privileged documents easier. But there's still a great deal of need for attorney reviewers to scan thousands of pages of documents.

Competition in this review business is high, and the result is that some review firms pay the bare minimum for human reviewers.

The reviewers, many of whom have significant debt from both undergrad and law school loans, taked these jobs because they have few other options. Too inexperienced to start their own firm, too low on the quality of their law school and/or class standing totem pole to get the fabled "high paying jobs," they become contract attorneys for review firms pitched as "cost savers." Being a contract attorney generally means few, if any, employment benefits.

See a pitch for review services. See reviewer benefits and disadvantages

There are even firms that specialize in recruiting and staffing document reviewers, see here:

We created DocReviewers.com to provide a better document review experience.

That means simplifying the recruitment process. One DocReviewers.com application makes you eligible for projects from multiple agencies and firms, including those you haven’t already worked with. It also means automating your conflicts and availability. You’ll receive invites to projects happening when you’re available and conflicts forms will become a thing of the past.

More at “Objection! Law schools can be hazardous to students’ financial health.” (pdf)

Saturday, November 07, 2020

On Midrats 8 November 2020- Episode 566: Post-Election Melee




Please join us at 5pm (EST) on 8 November 2020 for Midrats Episode 566: Post-Election Melee
The 2020 election is over … well, mostly over. Though there are a few threads to clean up, the fabric the next few years natsec policy will be sewn from is pretty well known – so where does that lead us?

We’ll get to that – but once again we need to invest some time to talk about Midrats’s contribution to NavyCon!

EagleOne presented a segment for NavyCon2020A, we we’re going to talk about that a bit … and then we’ll pick up where our pre-election left off.

Open topic ... and open phones!

If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going to here. Or on Spreaker. Or on Spotify.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

China's Government: The Bully Who Wants to Steal Your Lunch Money

China's government has Australia and other countries in it sights as it tries to bully them into stopping any criticism of China by cutting off their ability to export products to the Chinese market. In a remarkably brazen show of hypocrisy, as the Sydney Morning Herald reports, Xi says it's 'ill advised to hurt the interests of others' as Australia braces for $6 billion hit:
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has denied it is ratcheting up economic pressure to win diplomatic concessions. On Wednesday, a day after a verbal notice relayed by customs agents was delivered to traders telling them to stop importing Australian products, it said any restrictions on imports were a matter for individual companies.
Truth in China is a pretty flexible concept, but its bully boy actions speak louder than its lies.

Monday, November 02, 2020

NAVYCON 2020A: Someone Made the Mistake of Inviting Me to Talk


NAVYCON 2020A goes live November 5 at 7pm Eastern

Lots of great presenters, interesting topics combining science fiction and military thinking together.

I think I was invited because I watched Star Trek (original series) when it first came on the air back in the 1960's. By the time most of the other presenters were born those shows were over 20 years old. Designated old guy, that's me.

Speaker list

Abstracts and background documents here.

You can register here.

I get to rant talk about training and make the other presenters look good.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 1 October to 28 October 2020

U.S. Navy Office of Naval I... by lawofsea

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Recurring Item: "China Threatens"

Shannon Tiezzi reports at The Diplomat Xi Warns That China Will ‘Use War to Prevent War’: China's 
Chairman "President" Xi rattles the Korean War as a victory for China and suggests it as a lesson for the U.S.

Xi’s speech echoed – but greatly expanded on – the themes of his remarks on October 19. First, he emphasized the Korean War as a David-vs-Goliath struggle, with China standing up for justice against a far more powerful enemy. In his words, the war started when the U.S., acting from its “Cold War mentality,” “interfered” in the resolution of the Korean civil war (translation: North Korea invaded the South, and the United States intervened).

In this “extremely asymmetric” war, Xi said, China won with “less steel, more spirit” against an enemy equipped with “more steel, less spirit”: “The forces of China and North Korea defeated their armed-to-teeth rival and shattered the myth of invincibility of the U.S. army.”

***

But Xi also tries hard to paint this as a victory not only for China, but the world. According to his speech, the end of the Korean War was a triumph for “peace and justice” and a blow to “imperialism.” He claimed that the war “greatly encouraged” the trend toward Asian countries’ independence and liberation from colonial forces.

***

But Xi also warns that “the road ahead will not be smooth,” and advises China that it will need the martial spirit of the war to overcome today’s challenges. “It is necessary to speak to invaders in the language they know: that is, use war to prevent war… and use a [military] victory to win peace and respect,” Xi said.

In the last 70 years, one side's ally on the Korean peninsula has prospered and its people are free from repression and it's not the one on whose behalf China intervened.

Just sayin'


NASA image from 2014

I wouldn't be too proud of a war "victory" that leaves my ally looking like that at night, Mr. Xi.

Carrier-Based Navy F-18s May Get Hypersonic Cruise Missiles

DoD Kicks Off New Hypersonic Program; F-18 To Get Hypersonic Cruise Missile Breaking Defense reports:

USAF photo

One hypersonic program that Bussey revealed is already in the works would eventually put a hypersonic cruise missile on a carrier-based F-18.

She said the effort, which is being run by the Air Force Research Lab and has been contracted to Boeing, is developing a dual mode scramjet design. “We’re doing this so that we can have an option for the Navy that is compatible with F-18 based on carriers. We hope to have that testing wrapped up in time to support any decisions that either the Air Force or the Navy will end up making in terms of future hypersonic cruise missile activities.”

Earlier in the piece is this-
Universities in the US, Australia, the UK and Canada are eligible to work on the DoD program, said Gillian Bussey, head of the Joint Hypersonic Transition Office. But Bussey added Texas A&M has strict counterintelligence protocols in place, and the Pentagon will have strict rules for who can participate in the often classified work. The team in particular wants to ensure “we’re not training Chinese scientists that are going to go help their programs for example.”
Way cool!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

On Midrats 25 October 2020 - Episode 564: Pre-election Melee


Please join us at 5pm EDT for Midrats Episode 564: Pre-election Melee

We don't do politics here ... but we do touch on how politics can impact national security issues ... so here we go!

Why has national security almost been a non-issue this election?

What to expect if Trump gets a second term.

What and who will come to the front if Biden is elected.

What will drive the challenge regardless of who gets elected?

Come join us for the full hour as we discuss this and more with an open chat room and open phones if you want to join in.

If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going to here. Or on Spreaker. Or on Spotify.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

On Midrats 18 October 2020 - Episode 563: The Middle East's Future Imperfect with Steven Cook


Please join us at 5pm on 18 October 2020 for Midrats Episode 563: The Middle East's Future Imperfect with Steven Cook

In a very rough year, there were sprinkles of renewed optimism about the Middle East as Israel established relations with a few of the Gulf Arab nations, but the Middle East is, and has been, always about more than Arab-Israeli relations.

From North Africa across the Mediterranean coast to Syria and across the Arabian Peninsula to Yemen, what is the state of play in the Middle East as a whole, and where are the trends taking the region?

Our guest this Sunday, October 18th for the full hour to discuss than and mor will be Steven A. Cook.

Steven is Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is an expert on Arab and Turkish politics as well as U.S.-Middle East policy. Cook is the author of False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East; The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square, which won the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s gold medal in 2012; and Ruling But Not Governing: The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria, and Turkey.

He is a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine. He has also published widely in international affairs journals, opinion magazines, and newspapers, and he is a frequent commentator on radio and television. His work can be found on CFR.org. Prior to joining CFR, Cook was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution (2001–2002) and a Soref research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (1995–1996). Cook holds a BA in international studies from Vassar College, an MA in international relations from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and both an MA and a PhD in political science from the University of Pennsylvania. He speaks Arabic and Turkish and reads French.

If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going to here. Or on Spreaker. Or on Spotify.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Ain't Gonna Work on the Twitter Farm No More

Well, Twitter once was a useful tool, but . . . So long, farewell, adeui, bye-bye, adios, etc. You might find me over at Parler as @lawofsea



China Games: "Pakistan politicians fear losing strategic islands to China"

From Nikkei Asia, a report of how China seems to be seeking strategic ports in Pakistan and near India and the vital oil lanes from the Strait of Hormuz: Pakistan politicians fear losing strategic islands to China

Pakistan's federal government has triggered a political uproar after taking direct control of two islands previously under the regional government of Sindh province.

President Arif Alvi signed the Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA) ordinance last month to facilitate reclamation and urban planning on Bundal and Bhuddo islands, which are located south of Karachi. Both islands are some eight kilometers across, and the largest along Sindh's coast.

Government officials say PIDA has been created to develop the islands as commercial zones. Imran Ismail, Sindh's governor, has claimed that Bundal on its own can take on Dubai and attract investment of $50 billion -- equal to the amount already tagged for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key component in President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

****

The ordinance is helpful to Beijing's expanding economic ambitions in Pakistan. Last month, it nominated Nong Rang as its ambassador to Islamabad. Unusually, he is a political appointee well versed in commerce and trade, and analysts believe this portends increased commercial and BRI activities.

Mohan Malik, a visiting fellow at Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, said the sudden way in which the two islands near Karachi have been placed under federal control shows that something is afoot. He told Nikkei that the ordinance's stated goals of developing the islands for trade, investment and international tourism "seem to have been taken straight out of Beijing's BRI playbook."


 

Interesting,

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Happy Birthday, Navy!

So, what did you get the Navy to celebrate 245 years of service to the country? Or did you forget again this year because you suffer from "sea blindness" and don't know what the Navy people out there are doing to protect your freedom, free and open seas, and working with willing allies to bolster the world's economy?

Cakes are nice, but how about a round of applause and a request to your elected representatives to support the fleet?

Happy birthday, NAVY!

And thanks to all you sailors, asea and ashore, present and past.




Saturday, October 03, 2020

On Midrats 4 October 2020 - Episode 561: Missile Barges and the Modern Auxiliary Cruiser with Chris Rawley



Please join us at 5pm on 4 October 2020 for Midrats Episode 561: Missile Barges and the Modern Auxiliary Cruiser with Chris Rawley

Turning merchant ships in to warships is a story as old as mankind. From war canoe to privateers to auxiliary cruisers fo the modern era - they always fit a certain niche in the drive to control the seas.

What of today? What options are there if we need the ability to get as much "national will" downrange and over the horizon as soon as possible? Combine that question with a new one, "Where are all the VLS cells we need?" - and you have a great episode of Midrats.

Returning to Midrats to discuss these and related issues will be Chris Rawley.

Captain Chris Rawley 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 28 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. In his civilian role, Chris is the CEO of Harvest Returns, a platform for investing in agriculture.

  
  If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going to here. Or on Spreaker. Or on Spotify.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day; Fibber Mcgee and Molly "Uncle Dennis Disappears Parts 1 and 2" (1942)

These shows are from late May and early June of 1942 - about 6 months after the U.S. entered WWII.

PART 1




PART 2


Saturday, September 26, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: From Canada - Nightfall "Sometimes They Bite"

On Midrats 27 September 2020 - Episode 560: Pre-Fall Free For All



Please join us at 5pm on 27 September 2020 for Midrats Episode 560: Pre-Fall Free For All

Some may call it the silly season, some may call it a quickening, some may just get eye cramps from rolling them all the time ... but here we are under 6-weeks from a national election and from swarms of unmanned ideas seeping out of the easy-button to solve all our worries, to doom and gloom from Taiwan to the arctic - all getting in the way of solid navalist conversation.

EagleOne and I offer you a tonic for all this gibberish this Sunday as we cover the major issues from Dhahran to Washington, DC ... or at least try to boil them down to basics.

It will be an open topic, open phones free for all ... so if you think our topics are bogus, bring your own!

If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

On Midrats 20 September 2020 - Episode 559: Saving the US Merchant Industry with Captain John Konrad


Please join us a 5pm on 20 September 2020 for Midrats Episode 559: Saving the US Merchant Industry with Captain John Konrad

The neglected American merchant fleet and industry is a problem long standing. The realization of the growing challenge on the other side of the Pacific, and the knowledge of what is needed to support it, has brought the problem in sharp relief.

Like most long neglected problems, the causes are many and deep. Ships, personnel, legal, regulatory, and the latest punch from COVID-19 have all intensified an already gathering storm.

Returning to Midrats this Sunday to discuss this critical foundation of maritime power will be Captain John Konrad.

John is the founder and CEO of the maritime news site gCaptain.com and author of the book Fire On The Horizon. He is licensed to captain the world's largest ships and has sailed from ports around the world. John is an adviser at MassChallenge, SeaAhead, and the MIT startup blkSAIL. He is a distinguished alumnus of New York Maritime College.
If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Constitution Day - September 17, 2020

So, how will you celebrate Constitution Day?
On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the document they had created. We encourage all Americans to observe this important day in our nation's history by attending local events in your area. Celebrate Constitution Day through activities, learning, parades and demonstrations of our Love for the United State of America and the Blessings of Freedom Our Founding Fathers secured for us.
Yep, 4 pages. The Bill of Rights were passed by Congress in 1789.but not ratified until December 15, 1791.

Monday, September 14, 2020

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 13 August - 9 September 2020

From ONI
ONI Weekly Piracy Update (WPU)

Effective 28 August 2020, the Weekly Piracy Update has been discontinued and a section of our former WPU has been incorporated into our (expanded) Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report. The new WTS section (Appendix A) provides Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea statistics and trends for the last six months and the last five years.

ONI Monthly Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Reports

The Worlwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) message provides information on threats to merchant vessels, the shipping industry, and other maritime stakeholders worldwide in the last 30 days.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

On Midrats 13 September 2020 - Episode 558: Shipyards & the Maritime Industrial Base, with Maiya Clark


Concerned with the ability of our maritime industrial base to not just build the navy the nation needs, but to help maintain it? Well, do we have the episode for you! Join us this Sunday at 5pm with out guest for the full hour, Maiya Clark, as we discuss the issues she raises in her recent work, U.S. Navy Shipyards Desperately Need Revitalization and a Rethink. Maiya 
Clark is a research assistant in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, focusing on defense industrial base issues. Before joining the Center for National Defense team, she worked at Heritage as assistant to Dr. James Jay Carafano, Vice President of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy. She originally joined The Heritage Foundation in 2018 as a research and administrative assistant in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. Maiya holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations with a minor in economics from the University of Southern California.
If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Fun with Iran: Revolutionary Guards to Take Control?

Interesting piece in Foreign Affairs, The Revolutionary Guards Are Poised to Take Over Iran:
That Iran will soon have a military-run government is not a foregone conclusion,

but it seems increasingly to be the most likely. Iranians are frustrated with partisan tensions and compounding crises. U.S. sanctions have drained the country’s economic lifeblood: purchasing power parity has decreased to two-thirds of what it was a decade ago, even as the public’s obsession with wealth has grown exponentially. Wounded pride and resentment that Iranians cannot enjoy the international prestige they deserve is giving rise to a novel form of nationalism.

President Hassan Rouhani, unable to deliver on either his domestic or foreign policy promises, has apparently thrown in the towel, as his recent management of the pandemic indicates. He was reluctant to recognize the novel coronavirus as a national threat until it was too late, and his contradictory messages on the subject confused the public and even garnered criticism from the supreme leader. By comparison, the IRGC holds a strong hand that is growing only stronger. But the very nature of its advantages may militate against its becoming the custodian of the state.

***

The IRGC presents itself as the cure for Iran’s national malaise, but it is in fact a big contributor to the problem. Its regional exploits dim the country’s prospects for sustained and steady development. Under U.S. sanctions, the IRGC expanded an underground economy, complete with a new corrupt elite of “smuggling entrepreneurs.” The IRGC prevents the government from recruiting experts whom it deems politically unfit, and it derails government policies and projects at will. All the while, it issues propaganda insisting that politicians and bureaucrats are to blame.

Sounds like more good times for Iran. I feel for the people, caught up in this nightmare.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Attacks on Merchant Shipping So Far in 2020

From the good people at the ICCC CCS IMB Piracy & Armed Robbery Map 2020 here a snapshot of where the actions against shipping and ship's crew lie:

Worldwide

West Africa/Gulf of Guinea


Southeast Asia/Philippines


Gulf of Mexico/Central and South America




Saturday, August 29, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Theater 5 - "All the Bright Young Ones" (1964)


On Midrats 30 August 2020: Episode 556: Space Force – Culture, Ranks and Making the Future with Matt Hipple and Jack McCain

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) for Midrats Episode 556: Space Force – Culture, Ranks and Making the Future with Matt Hipple and Jack McCain
Culture is upstream from performance.

Behind a sometimes playful, sometimes serious, argument about what rank structure the new Space Force should use is the very serious matter of culture.

Culture for any organization is the foundation future success or failure, and is a based on words, and titles. These mean things – especially when they are related to the actual work you do.

Using their recent article, Parochialism, not Congress or naval history, will kill the Space Force, returning Midrats alumni Matt Hipple and Jack McCain will be with us for the full hour in a broad ranging discussion on building the right foundation and culture for Space Force … and maybe a few minutes about the upcoming Dune remake too.
If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

I don't usually talk politics here, but sometimes . . .

Just spent a week way up in the Virginia mountains, in a place where we get no cell phone coverage, no radio, no television, no cable, no 24 hour talking heads. Just us, about 400 acres and stream, some cows, deer, birds, and when the night sky clears of clouds, amazing star gazing. On a moonless night with no light pollution,  the Milky Way is stunning.

For some reason, while on this short vacation, I decided it was time to re-read Atlas Shrugged. While the book is a hot mess in so
many ways (especially Ms. Rand's ideas on - uh- romance), I found sufficient parallels to current events to keep plugging away even through those things that a novel published in 1957 could not possibly get right about these modern times. But more often than I thought possible, the book nails aspects of these days.

Much of the novel deals with the issues of logistics and what the failure/disruption/mismanagement of logistics systems (in her case centering on railroads) would do to the country as a whole. Many of us who have toiled in logistics appreciate the concerns. Those of us who have experienced the logistical issues wrought by COVID-19 may have a clearer grasp on how tenuous a system it is, and how efficiently it has worked for us in recent years.

I am not alone in both criticizing this book, but noting the current relevance of some of its parts. I commend to your reading this piece from the Wall Street Journal, 'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years by Stephan Moore.
Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit.
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For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.
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The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged" {note: Mr. Moore wrote this during the early days of President Obama's administration} The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls."
Ah, "windfall profit taxes" are familiar to those of us who toiled in the oil business.
From 1980 to 1988, the WPT may have reduced domestic oil production anywhere from 1.2% to 8.0% (320 to 1,269 million barrels). Dependence on imported oil grew from between 3% and 13%. The tax was repealed in 1988 because (1) it was an administrative burden to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), (2) it was a compliance burden to the oil industry, (3) due to low oil prices, the tax was generating little or no revenues in 1987 and 1988, and (4) it made the United States more dependent on foreign oil. The depressed state of the U.S. oil industry after 1986 also contributed to the repeal decision.
Get that? The attempt to rake in more taxes actually lowered productivity and decreased revenue. But it sure sounded good politically, and is back today. It's still nonsense.

I would note the efforts of the governors of California and New York and the mayor of New York City to somehow believe that people won't flee from higher taxes and worsening living conditions to sites of lower taxes and better conditions are a case of incredibly "magical thinking" on their parts. NYC's socialist mayor being the most magical thinker of them all for believing that people who leave his crowded overtaxed city for the suburbs will return because NYC is such a magical place. Rational humans make rational choices, and the rational ones are voting with their feet, Mr. Mayor, so you better figure out how to govern without their taxes and without the corporations that will desert your "worker's paradise" for less restrictive and less expensive venues.

"Magical thinking"is also present when the political correctness movement sees "free speech" as akin to a "one way street" - you are free to speak your mind so long as what you say agrees with them, otherwise you are "evil." It's "magic" that if we all say the same thing - whether true or not - then peace and love will break out. Ms. Rand knew better and so do you and I.

"Economic lunacy" will never disappear, especially when our more vocal "socialist" and "Marxist" politicians can proclaim nonsense without widely reported assessments of exactly how "looney" their idiotic ideas are and why they are so destructive of a free society that is driven by a market economy.

Read the book, mull over the real lessons (e.g. most politicians are in it for the power, not the benefit of all mankind. That power includes doing "favors" for their supporters as Ms. Rand sets out in the book. How do you fight the "looters" and "moochers?" By not accepting their terms, by not accepting undeserved guilt designed to force you to grant their power grabs.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

On Midrats 16 August 2020 - Episode 554: Summer of Our Discontent Melee







Please join us at 5pm on 16 August 2020 for Midrats Episode 554: Summer of Our Discontent Melee
In our COVID-19 summer doldrums, what could be better than kicking back with a nice cold drink with the kings of natsec social distancing, Sal & EagleOne for a live Midrats free-for-all?

Come join us this Sunday from 5-6pm as we cover the waterfront from San Diego to DC; the Taiwan Strait to Cypriot gas fields.
As always, the chat room will be up and the phone lines will be open.
If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.