Good Company

Good Company
Good Company

Thursday, July 30, 2020

I Confess

Much to the total lack of surprise for the various bosses I've had in my life, I don't like being forced to do things - especially things that seem to be simply mindless incantations that show -what? Loyalty? Patriotism? Group Spirit?

Perhaps I should explain a little. I confess that I have never liked saying the Pledge of Allegiance (only officially adopted in 1942, by the way).

You want to ask me if I will support and defend the Constitution? Sure, and I have so sworn on several occasions - each fraught with much more meaning than a mindless rote recital in the morning at school. The history of the Pledge is interesting, by the way.

I think West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, which did away with a mandatory requirement that students recite the Pledge is absolutely correct. Freedom means freedom to act and think for yourself, not "freedom to conform." As Justice Jackson wrote in that case:
The freedom asserted by these appellees does not bring them into collision with rights asserted by any other individual. It is such conflicts which most frequently require intervention of the State to determine where the rights of one end and those of another begin. But the refusal of these persons to participate in the ceremony does not interfere with or deny rights of others to do so. Nor is there any question in this case that their behavior is peaceable and orderly. The sole conflict is between authority and rights of the individual. The State asserts power to condition access to public education on making a prescribed sign and profession and at the same time to coerce attendance by punishing both parent and child. The latter stand on a right of self-determination in matters that touch individual opinion and personal attitude.
The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials, and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.
I confess, to my way of thinking,  that if you want to teach children (or adults for that matter) about the beauty of our Constitution you explain to them that they have the right to not to submit to authority in cases where their rights do not infringe on the rights of others. That our republic is founded on those individual rights that cannot be stripped from us.

Which bring me to another thing I must confess to - I believe the National Anthem should not be played before sporting events. A history of how it came to be played can be found here.

Now, I love the National Anthem, but I just happen to believe that it ought to be played on special occasions like the Fourth of July say or Constitution Day . . . I guess that's why I find the "stand or kneel" thing before a game of some sort controversy so silly. Just quit playing the anthem (any anthem) and play ball when ready. After that, any political grandstanding is just that.

What? - you don't hold a Constitution Day parade? or family ceremony with the reading of the Constitution and Amendments and an oath taking to protect and defend it from all enemies, both foreign and domestic? You could even use this one from the U.S. House of Representatives:
“I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
What office do you hold? The true "highest office in the land" - that of "United States citizen. "

It's for you all the federal and state employees and officials (including those appointed or elected) work. When elected officials put on airs, they forget to whom they are obligated for their temporary position.

You need to do your job, too, by discharging your duties to vote and to take action when your employees fail to do theirs.

By the way, Constitution Day is September 17, if you were wondering.

Perhaps by now you might getting the idea. If you try to force me to do something I don't want to do anyway - you won't get far.

See F=IW

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Gunsmoke "Ozymandias" (1957)

On Midrats 26 July 2020 - Episode 551: Military Power & Intellectual Property, with Robert M. Farley

Please join us at 5pm on 26 July 2020 for Midrats Episode 551: Military Power & Intellectual Property, with Robert M. Farley
How do different standards related to intellectual property influence the spread and adoption of emerging military technology?

How does the respect for law, process, and customs impact what shows up on the battlefield in the hands of both friend and foe?

In a return visit to Midrats this Sunday, we are going to explore this topic with Robert Farley. As a starting point to our discussion we will look at the issues he raised in the new book he co-authored with Davida H. Isaacs “Patents for Power: Intellectual Property and the Diffusion of Military Technology.”

Rob Farley teaches national security courses at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky, where he tolerates the Wildcats, although his heart remains committed to the Oregon Ducks. His interests lie in maritime history, airpower theory, and the politics of national defense.
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.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

What Makes Being a Navy Surface Warfare Officer Different than All Other Career Fields? Forehandedness . . .

Sometime ago I asked What is a SWO?". The problem with being a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) is that is a "jack of all trades" sort of job. You have to do and know a wide variety of things to become a good SWO, especially as you work into becoming an "Officer of the Deck" on a Navy ship.

To develop this thought, let me quote from the Admiral James Stavridis and Captain Robert Girrer book, Watch Officer's Guide, noting that while being a "watch officer" may be the single most important job of a Navy junior officer, it is but one of a number of tasks that make up a JO's day at sea.The topic at hand is "Characteristics of the OOD" - a position described in the book as
The officer of the deck (OOD) occupies a unique position in a naval ship. Nowhere in military or civilian life is there a parallel to the range and degree of responsibility that is placed in the hands of the OOD. As a direct representative of the captain, he or she acts with all the authority of command and, next to the captain and the executive officer (XO), is the most important person in the ship.
Qualification as OOD is the cornerstone of professional growth for a surface line officer and the most critical milestone of the surface warfare qualification.
As the captain's direct representative, the OOD is the only person on board who can make decisions that affect the safety of the ship and the lives of her crew. The captain cannot be on the bridge at all times, and as history has repeatedly demonstrated, the OOD sometimes has to take actions that determine whether shipmates live or die. Accountability is one of the reasons why the OOD holds a unique position. No OOD should ever forget that.
Well, what makes a good OOD? A vital trait is "forehandedness" which is a Navy term that not too different in intent from the Scouts motto of "Be Prepared!" Again to the Watch Office's Guide:
The watch officer should be ready for any situation. For that reason, the most important faculty for the watch officer to cultivate is forehandedness. If there is reason to think that there will be fog during a watch, he or she should check over the fog procedure before taking the deck. . . . The watch officer must always look ahead - a minute, an hour, and a day - and make it a matter of pride never to be caught unprepared.

The wise watch officer will mentally rehearse the action to take in event of a fire, a man overboard, s steering failure, or any other serious casualty. The habit is not too difficult to acquire and is certain to pay large dividends. Forehandedness is the mark of a successful watch officer. . . .
In addition to knowing how to navigate, an OOD must have thorough knowledge of the nautical rules of the road, and the many, many things attendant to "driving the warship" - a good watch officer has to have sufficient knowledge of how the engineering systems of the ship operate. Sometimes this is to know how much, if any, lead time is required for the engineering crew to be ready to any speed changes, sometimes it's to understand the nature of a engineering problem and the limitations that might cause. He or she also has to have knowledge the ships weapons systems and their capabilities and employment, of the ship's sensors and their operational status, as well as the systems of those ships that may be in company. A knowledge of flight operations and the needs of any helicopters or drones that may be deployed or ready to be employed. A knowledge of ship damage control. There are many other useful bits of knowledge that an OOD needs to have learned on the way to qualifying - all of which feed into forehandedness in predicting what will come next and what actions may be required to deal with them.

An OOD on a warship is in a far different position than a deck officer on a normal merchant ship, though there are similarities in the need to be prepared.

In a warship the OOD may be called upon to immediately take action to protect the ship from a sudden attack by authorizing the use of defensive weapons before he or she has the chance to speak with the captain. No 3rd mate on a container ship will ever have to make that call or face the consequences for doing so.

It is in training for, discussing with the CO, and continuous thinking of "what if" situations that a good watch officer hones the "faculty" of forehandedness.

But wait, there's more . . . in addition to developing and honing the knowledge and skill set to be a good OOD, the officers on Navy ships perform duties as division officers and department heads - providing leadership to the technically trained sailors who operate and maintain the ship's equipment. While much of the supervision of the technical work is delegated to chiefs and senior petty officers, a good officer has to know enough about the equipment to understand performance and repair issues. The division officer has to know the men and women assigned to his division and keep track of their training requirements, berthing condition, and any personal issues that may affect their performance for good or ill. Further, the division officer has to know his or her function at general quarters, when it's time to fight the ship or perform damage control. Thus, a junior officer may be both a bridge watch officer and also be the ship's damage control assistant.

There's a pretty good explanation of the responsibilities of a guided missile destroyer departments and divisions here, of which this is a part:

Operations Department supports the ship in sustained operations at sea as a part of a Joint Task Group or as an independent unit in Anti-Air, Anti-Surface, Anti-Submarine and Strike Warfare operations against the enemy. Secondary roles include fixed and rotary-wing aircraft control, electronic navigation, electronic and visual communication, Naval Gunfire Support, electronic warfare, search and rescue.

The Operations Officer (OPS) is responsible for the evaluation and dissemination of combat and operational information required for the ship to fulfill its assigned mission. Other duties include serving as Command Training Officer, Command Safety Officer, and Primary Security Assistant.

OD Division, run by the First Lieutenant, is comprised of Boatswain's Mates (BMs), one of the traditional ratings in the United States Navy, and undesignated seamen. Experts in deck seamanship, BMs safely execute all deck evolutions, such as anchoring, mooring, underway replenishment, small boat operations, and flight deck operations. OD Division is also responsible for the preservation and painting of the ship. Deck Seamen (SN) are the ship's deck maintenance workforce. They assist the Boatswain's Mates in operating deck equipment and in maintaining topside spaces.

Led by the Combat Information Center Officer (CICO), OI Division consists of Operations Specialists (OSs). They operate radars, navigation equipment, and communication equipment in the Combat Information Center (CIC). They evaluate radar displays, identify contacts, and carry out the tactical decisions for the Combat System. They plot imagery data using maps and charts and receive data from computerized intelligence systems ashore and afloat. This division is responsible for the collection and dissemination of all combat information required for the ship to assess the tactical situation, and successfully employ the unique combat capabilities of the complex warship.
The OSs always remain “FROSTY and OSCAR MIKE!”

NN Division, led by the Navigator, consists of Quartermasters (QMs), who are responsible for the safe navigation in the ship, and for visual communications. Quartermasters maintain all the charts and equipment necessary to safely navigate the ship. When the ship is underway, a Quartermaster is always on watch on the bridge to determine the ships position, assist the Officer of the Deck, and track the Path of Intended Movement (PIM). QMs are experts in visual communications, allowing the ship to communicate with other ships in sight, without using electronic means, which can be detected by the enemy.

OT DIVISION consisting of the Cryptological Technicians (CTRs, CTTs, CTMs) operating in both CIC and SSES. The CTs encrypt, decrypt, and jam all ranges of signals and information both friendly and foe.
If you have the feeling that operating a warship at sea is a complex endeavor, you are correct. It's the reason why Surface Warfare Officers are different because it's necessary for them to be good at their complex and numerous jobs.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

On Midrats 19 July 2020 - Episode 550: The Future of Australian National Security with Peter Dean

Pre-recorded show ( due to the 12 hour time difference between Perth and the eastern U.S.) you can pick up by clicking the link below:

How does Australia best position itself in today's security climate? How does her history shape how she sees her place relative to new and possible future alliances?

Our guest for the next hour to discuss this and more will be Doctor Peter Dean.

Peter is a Professor & Chair, Defence Studies Director, at the University of Western Australia’s Defence and Security Program, and their Public Policy Institute.

Listen to "Episode 550: The Future of Australian National Security with Peter Dean" on Spreaker.

It'll be available on Apple Podcasts a little later here.

Fun with Iran: Allegedly "Hijacked" Tanker Ends Up in Iran Under Suspicious Circumstances

AP report UN agency: US-sought tanker 'hijacked' off UAE now in Iran
A United Nations agency acknowledged Sunday that a U.S.-sought oil tanker “hijacked” off the coast of the United Arab Emirates after allegedly smuggling Iranian crude oil is back in Iranian waters.

Gulf Sky fka Nautica Source:
The International Labor Organization said that the MT Gulf Sky was hijacked July 5, citing its captain. That mirrors earlier reporting by The Associated Press.

“The vessel was taken to Iran,” the ILO said.
Iranian state media and officials have not acknowledged the hijacking and arrival of the MT Gulf Sky to Iran. The U.S. government similarly has not commented.

In May, the U.S. Justice Department filed criminal charges against two Iranians, accusing them of trying to launder some $12 million to purchase the tanker, then named the MT Nautica, through a series of front companies.

Court documents allege the smuggling scheme involved the Quds Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which is its elite expeditionary unit, as well as Iran’s national oil and tanker companies. The two men charged, one of whom also has an Iraqi passport, remain at large.

A U.S. bank froze funds associated with the sale, causing the seller to launch a lawsuit in the UAE to repossess the vessel, the Justice Department earlier said. That civil action was believed to still be pending, raising questions of how the tanker sailed away from the Emirates after being seized by authorities there.

Friday, July 17, 2020

China Rhetoric Run Wild Asserts US South China Sea Ops "solely at the pleasure of the PLA"

Chinese state media warns US warships of 'carrier killer missiles'; US Navy 'not intimidated' reads the American Military News headline.

The actual quote from the Chinese propaganda source "Global Times" is

Beijing-based military expert Li Jie told the Global Times that the US is attempting to show off its military capability to the world, threaten China and enforce its hegemonic policies.

The South China Sea is fully within the grasp of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), and any US aircraft carrier movement in the region is solely at the pleasure of the PLA, which has a wide selection of anti-aircraft carrier weapons like the DF-21D and DF-26 "aircraft carrier killer" missiles, analysts noted.

In response to the Pentagon's statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a regular press conference on Friday that Xisha Islands are indisputably China's inherent territory. China's military exercises in the seas off Xisha Islands are within our sovereignty and beyond reproach. The fundamental cause of instability in the South China Sea is the large-scale military activities and flexing of muscles by some non-regional country that lies tens of thousands of miles away.
Since the phrase "global commons" seems to be one that the Chinese government needs to learn, here's one from a UN document -
the global commons – those resource domains that do not fall within the jurisdiction of any one particular country, and to which all nations have access
More specifically, from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) regarding the "High Seas:"
Article 86

Application of the provisions of this Part

The provisions of this Part apply to all parts of the sea that are not included in the exclusive economic zone, in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a State, or in the archipelagic waters of an archipelagic State. This article does not entail any abridgement of the freedoms enjoyed by all States in the exclusive economic zone in accordance with article 58.

Article 87

Freedom of the high seas

1. The high seas are open to all States, whether coastal or land-locked. Freedom of the high seas is exercised under the conditions laid down by this Convention and by other rules of international law. It comprises, inter alia, both for coastal and land-locked States:

(a) freedom of navigation;

(b) freedom of overflight;

(c) freedom to lay submarine cables and pipelines, subject to Part VI;

(d) freedom to construct artificial islands and other installations permitted under international law, subject to Part VI;

(e) freedom of fishing, subject to the conditions laid down in section 2;

(f) freedom of scientific research, subject to Parts VI and XIII.

2. These freedoms shall be exercised by all States with due regard for the interests of other States in their exercise of the freedom of the high seas, and also with due regard for the rights under this Convention with respect to activities in the Area.

Article 88

Reservation of the high seas for peaceful purposes

The high seas shall be reserved for peaceful purposes.

Article 89

Invalidity of claims of sovereignty over the high seas

No State may validly purport to subject any part of the high seas to its sovereignty.
Further, China's efforts to assert sovereignty over the area enclosed by its magical "9 Dashed Line" map has been rejected, as set out here:

An international tribunal in The Hague delivered a sweeping rebuke on Tuesday of China’s behavior in the South China Sea, including its construction of artificial islands, and found that its expansive claim to sovereignty over the waters had no legal basis.

The landmark case, brought by the Philippines, was seen as an important crossroads in China’s rise as a global power and in its rivalry with the United States, and it could force Beijing to reconsider its assertive tactics in the region or risk being labeled an international outlaw. It was the first time the Chinese government had been summoned before the international justice system.

In its most significant finding, the tribunal rejected China’s argument that it enjoys historic rights over most of the South China Sea. That could give the governments of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam more leverage in their own maritime disputes with Beijing.

The tribunal also said that China had violated international law by causing “irreparable harm” to the marine environment, endangering Philippine ships and interfering with Philippine fishing and oil exploration.
The main issue before the panel was the legality of China’s claim to waters within a “nine-dash line” that appears on official Chinese maps and encircles as much as 90 percent of the South China Sea, an area the size of Mexico. The Philippines had asked the tribunal to find the claim to be in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which both China and the Philippines have ratified.

In its decision, the tribunal said any historic rights to the sea that China had previously enjoyed “were extinguished” by the treaty, which lays out rules for drawing zones of control over the world’s oceans based on distances to coastlines. The panel added that while China had used islands in the sea in the past, it had never exercised exclusive authority over the waters.

The panel also concluded that several disputed rocks and reefs in the South China Sea were too small for China to claim control of economic activities in the waters around them. As a result, it found, China was engaged in unlawful behavior in Philippine waters, including activities that had aggravated the dispute
As noted in that article, there is no enforcement mechanism for the ruling - except, it would seem, for all the other responsible nations of the world to continue to treat the Chinese claims as bogus and keep treating the bulk of the South China Sea as "high seas" over which China has no sovereign
Ronald Reagan and Nimitz Carrier Strike Groups steam in formation in the South China Sea,  demonstrating peaceful use of the "high seas" (U.S. Navy/MC3 Jason Tarleton)

Recently, India, has stated, according to the Times of India the South China Sea is an international waterway and part of the "global commons:"
Responding to questions on the security situation in South China Sea (SCS), the government on Thursday said its position had been clear and consistent the SCS was a part of global commons and India had an abiding interest in peace and stability in the region.

“We firmly stand for the freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce in these international waterways, in accordance with international law, notably UNCLOS,” said the MEA spokesperson.
China may or may not have the capability to do damage to U.S. and other forces operating in the South China Sea, but their blunt force approach to trying to enforce an illegal claim of sovereignty over big portions of the "high seas" by their smarmy threat of violence simply indicates the true nature of their corrupt government.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

China's Outlaw Government

I keep thinking that these words could be forced to work with that awful "Pina Colada Song"
"If you like brutal dictators
And getting sent off to camps
If you're not into freedom
If you like being controlled
If you like being
In the ruins of fate
Then the CCP is what you've looked for
And it's too late to escape"

Or, as someone else put it:
America’s relations with China should proceed from the recognition that the Chinese government is lawless. China flouts the rule of law, not occasionally or incidentally but characteristically, because the government understands itself as the source of law and unconstrained by it. The problem of China reminds us of the deeper laws that all nations must respect and that determine whether or not our positive laws are legally just.
The list of CCP outrages grows daily. Let me put a few down just to get started:

  1. All its claims to anything based on "historical use" are complete and utter garbage, especially those involving the South China Sea;
  2. Its claims that their "man-made islands" in the South China Sea extending China's territorial lists in completely bogus;
  3. Its treatment of its own minorities, especially but not limited to the Uighurs, is unconscionable;
  4. Its treatment of Hong Kong and those there brave to seek freedom is purely tyrannical;
  5. Its bullying concerning the ships, fishing fleets, and territories of the other nations abutting the South China Sea, including the use of its para-maritime forces, military grade "coast guard," and other assets borders on warring on those neighbors and often includes intrusion for unlawful purposes into the internationally recognized sovereign waters of those states;
  6. Its persistent efforts to corrupt the governments of other nations through bribery, threats, and outright infiltration of research facilities to steal research;
  7. China's government lies about everything all the time and then punishes those who would tell the truth;
  8. Its Orwellian "social credit system" is an offense to freedom

More to follow and links will be provided.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Vincent Price in Suspense "The Name of the Beast" (1946)

On Midrats 12 July 2020 - Episode 549: What a Navy is For with Sam Tangredi

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 12 July for Midrats Episode 549: What a Navy is For with Sam Tangredi
Do policy makers and those who design our grand national strategy really understand what a Navy is? How does the planet's premier naval power seem to have trouble explaining why it needs a navy, what a navy does, and how to get it ready for war?

How do navalists set the table when it is time to define, invest, and assign roles, responsibilities, missions and who get what percentage of the DOD pie?

Our returning guest this Sunday to discuss this and related topics will be Sam Tangredi, and we will use his recent article, Does the Pentagon Understand What a Navy Is For?, as a starting point for our conversation.

Professor Tangredi was appointed as the Leidos Chair of Future Warfare Studies in March 2019 and since May 2017, has served as the director of the Institute for Future Warfare Studies. He initially joined the Naval War College as a professor of national, naval and maritime strategy in the Strategic and Operational Research Department, Center for Naval Warfare Studies in October 2016. He has published five books, over 150 journal articles and book chapters, and numerous reports for government and academic organizations. He is a retired Navy captain and surface warfare officer specializing in naval strategy. He held command at sea and directed several strategic planning organizations.
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.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Friday Film: "Inside the Declaration of Independence"

It does not do to sugarcoat history, but to understand where we are, we have to know where we came from.

The Declaration of Independence written was written by real men with all the baggage real people carry. Surely the throwing off of the tyranny of royalty is the lasting contribution of its words. Making us live up to that opening,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
is the story of all the years since July, 1776 to the present.

Update: Four Things Every American Should Know About the Declaration of Independence which should be read in its entirety:
Calvin Coolidge put it best in 1926 to mark the country’s 150th birthday. “There is something beyond the establishment of a new nation, great as that event would be, in the Declaration of Independence which has ever since caused it to be regarded as one of the great charters that not only was to liberate America but was everywhere to ennoble humanity. It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history.”

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Korean War: Crusade in the Pacific

June 25, 1950 was the date the North Korean forces invaded South Korea. 70 years later, the disparity between the North and South Koreans is a remarkable testament to the differences between the differences in the governments under which the two portions of the Korean people live.

Here's a series of old shows about the Korean War and the U. S. role in Asia:

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Fun with Iran: Pipeline Planned for Iranian Port Outside Strait of Hormuz

Iran launches key pipeline project to bypass Strait of Hormuz for oil exports :
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani launched an oil pipeline project which will enable the country to export its oil using a route other than the Strait of Hormuz, Tasnim news agency reported.

“What is strategic about this project is that many countries in the region have managed to find a second way so that they can export their oil using other routes whenever the Strait of Hormuz faces danger,” Rouhani said addressing a ceremony to inaugurate the project.

The 1,000-km pipeline will bring oil from Goreh in Bushehr port city in the Gulf to another port city of Jask in the Sea of Oman.

The Kharg Island terminal in the Gulf is currently Iran’s main terminal, accounting for 90 percent of its oil exports. To reach Kharg, tankers must pass through the Strait of Hormuz.

With the launch of the pipeline from Goreh to Jask, the country’s oil exports will no longer be linked to the Hormuz Strait, which will make Jask strategically important as the country’s second-largest crude oil export terminal.
Seems like an interesting plan.

Don't know who Iran thinks might close the Strait of Hormuz, but it's nice of them to be planning to provide additional targets for the same folks who might want to stop Iranian shipments from Kharg Island. A 600 mile long pipeline and a nice new terminal? Tempting.
Jask location

Kharg Island in red circle, Jask with red pin

Kharg Island facilities

As you might guess, this is a partial response to the earlier reported Omani effort to build a large storage and loading facility on the Arabian Sea. And it's a recognition that it's a long transit from Kharg Island to open water.