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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Midrats on Spreaker - Episode 582: The Future of European Naval Power with Jeremy Stöhs

Pre-recorded for your listening pleasure, Midrats Episode 582: The Future of European Naval Power with Jeremy Stöhs

Where is European naval power in 2021, what is shaping it, and where is it going?This week returning guest Jeremy Stöhs is with us to review the above issues as outlined in an exceptional report he produced for the Centre for Military Studies at the University of Copenhagen., "How High? The Future of European Naval Power and the High-End Challenge."Jeremy is the Deputy Director of the Austrian Center for Intelligence, Propaganda and Security Studies and the editor for their journal, JIPSS.After service in the Austrian Federal Police in 2005-2010, he studied History and English/American Studies at the Universities of Graz, St. Petersburg (USA) and Marburg (GER) 2009-2015. He was a Defense Analyst at the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK) 2016-2019 and received his PhD in political sciences from Christian-Albrechts University Kiel, 2019. He is the author of "The Decline of European Naval Forces: Challenges to Sea Power in an Age of Fiscal Austerity and Political Uncertainty” (US Naval Institute Press, 2018).His research focuses on International Relations, Strategic Studies, U.S. and European Security and Defense Policy, Maritime Strategy and Security, Public Security.
Listen to "Episode 582: The Future of European Naval Power with Jeremy Stöhs" on Spreaker.

If you use Apple Podcasts, 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.

You can download the publication How High? The Future of European Naval Power and the High-End Challenge here.

Friday, February 26, 2021

It's a Busy Maritime World

From Marine Traffic, showing cargo ships, tankers and unknowns:

"UKMTO reports blast on Gulf of Oman ship"

An Israeli owned, Bahamian flagged car carrier has reported an explosion in the Gulf of Oman, as reported here:

A Bahamas-flagged ship, the MV HELIOS RAY, has been hit by an explosion in the Gulf of Oman, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) and a maritime security firm say.

"Investigations are ongoing. Vessel and crew are safe," the UKMTO's advisory notice said.

The incident occurred at 2040 GMT, it said, but gave no details about a possible cause.


Maritime security firm Dryad Global said the MV HELIOS RAY was a vehicle carrier owned by Helios Ray Ltd, an Israeli firm registered in the Isle of Man.

The ship was en route to Singapore from Dammam in Saudi Arabia.

Dryad Global report and analysis here:

Whilst details regarding the incident remain unclear it remains a realistic possibility that the event was the result of asymmetric activity by Iranian military. Such activity would be commensurate with current tensions and Iranian intent to exercise forceful diplomacy through military means within its immediate area of interest.
© Marcus-S

Friday Film: "This is Lakehurst" - Naval Air Station Lakehurst in the 1950's

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Saturday Is Old Radio Day - Abbot and Costello "Robinson Crusoe" with Charles Laughton

On Midrats 21 February 2021 - Episode 589: Late Winter Free For All

Please join us at 5pm EST for Midrats Episode 589: Late Winter Free For All

After a week moving from the warm embrace of Valentines Day to the cold jolt of a nation wide arctic freeze, come join us this Sunday at 5pm Eastern for a live Midrats Free For All!

Open chat room, open phone, and open topic on the - mostly - maritime national security front.

From the new Biden DOD and State Department's first moves, to the ongoing efforts of the USA and our allies as we try to figure out what we need to do to ensure the global system that serves us all.

Come join us and if you don't like these topics, join in the live chat or even give us a call.

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.

Poster from Navy History and Hertitage art collection

Friday, February 19, 2021

Modern Times: Drones Take Out a Undersea Threat

The Republic of Singapore Navy kills a threat:

On 29 Jan 2021, a small underwater explosion occurred in the waters off our Southern Islands. It was barely noticeable, but it was a remarkable event.

The underwater explosion signified a successful neutralisation of an underwater threat by an unmanned surface vessel (USV) - a first in the world.

"It was exciting and satisfying to execute the deployment of a K-STER expendable mine disposal system (EMDS) against an underwater threat. After more than three years of development, and numerous rounds of planning and checks, we finally managed to achieve the successful launch and firing of an EMDS from an USV – a breakthrough in the deployment of USVs!" MAJ Lim Yoong Seet, Head of Readiness and Resource Section, 6 Flotilla shared.

Much more at Naval News here.

Also highlighted is the Singapore Armed Forces intent to upgrade its fleet to include a "Multi-Role Combat Vessel" described here as

Multi-Role Combat Vessel

The replacement of the RSN's Victory-class Missile Corvettes with the Multi-Role Combat Vessels (MRCVs) is proceeding as planned, with six MRCVs expected to be delivered by 2030. The MRCV employs key technologies such as configurable modular payloads and unmanned systems, allowing the vessel to function as a "mothership" for unmanned drones and vessels to conduct a range of missions from peace to war.

Picture from Singapore MINDEF.

Friday Film: "The Great War" (1956)

Thursday, February 18, 2021

From the Backpacker's Emergency Supply Kit: The Portable "Bidet"

Low cost freshness for backpacking and/or emergencies CuloClean bidet

CuloClean is the portable bidet that you can plumb in your plastic bottle, fully discreet, efficient and portable.

Umm. A video. No real "activity" goes on but if you are a very delicate flower, you might decide not to watch this:

Bet some of you wish you'd had a system something like these when the great TP shortage was at it's peak.

Cold Weather Prep: Getting Ready for the Next Time (reposting of an old post from 2015 and before)

Re-posted from Dec 2013, as the latest "polar vortex" looms:

The first step in preparing for extremely cold weather consists of deciding whether you can make it to Florida before the storm hits.

In the alternative, the first step should consist of making plans well in advance of any storm.

Let's say you are in one of those states in which extreme winter weather is common or where ice storms and/or a few inches of snow are show stoppers. You may be housebound for several days. Electricity may go off. Your house will get cold and you may have to acknowledge that those little annoying creatures you have seen intermittently around are, in fact, your children.

A simple plan:
(1) Have enough water (see here). 3 gallons per person per day. Maybe a shelf with a cases of bottled water is a good idea.

(2) Have non-perishable food. Peanut butter and honey. Canned soups (get the kind that don't need to have water added!). . . tins of sardines, tuna fish, canned chicken, chili, mac and cheese . Plan on 5 days of living on your supplies including feeding those kids. Better make sure the kids will eat whatever you set aside. As a treat you can drink warm Jello. Buy a hand-powered can opener.

(3) Have some sort of alternate means of heating food and boiling water for coffee, tea or warm Jello. A camp stove is a good idea (use in well-ventilated areas). If you can get out to the charcoal grill or have a gas grill and can cook outside, well, there you go. Never ever use charcoal inside the house. If you use a camp stove, have some spare propane cylinders. Budget the use of the stove, because you may need it for a few days.

(4) Have flashlights, candle lantern (see here) and other light sources ready and have extra batteries and candles. Get an emergency radio - one with a "crank" to charge it and perhaps with a cell phone battery charger feature.

(5) Have plans to set up a "warm room" in which you and yours can huddle together while closing off the rest of your home. If you have an adequate supply of firewood (5 days?) then that might be the room with the fireplace in it. If you don't have enough firewood set aside, remember that when the fire goes out, lots of warm air goes up the chimney. Gather plenty of blankets, sleeping bags, comforters and the like. If you have space, it is not a bad idea to set up a camping tent as an internal shelter where you and yours (include the dogs and cats- they generate heat) can huddle together. Share sleeping bags or covers. Cuddle for warmth. As noted here:
If the power goes and you don’t have an alternative source of heat, then it’s time to go camping. Set up a tent in your living room and pile your family and pets inside under sleeping bags and blankets. The tent will keep your body heat trapped inside, and you’ll stay much warmer than you would in a large room. If you don’t have a tent, then you can easily make one out of blankets and furniture.

(6) Have lots of thick plastic sheeting, duct tape and nails. Just in case you lose a window or door or part of your roof, you can create an emergency patch.

(7) Have a supply of hand warmer packets. I like these especially if, for some reason, your kids are at home without your expert guidance because you can't get home. These things can generate some serious heat to help them hunker down until help arrives.

(8) Have practiced what to do well in advance of a storm so that even the kids understand how to protect themselves from freezing to death. The basics of setting up an inside the home camp ought to be easy enough- kids understand making tents using blankets and with an LED lantern and experience using hand warmer packets they ought to do fine. Make sure every knows how to change batteries in the lights and have a couple of spares about. Most kids old enough to be home alone can make up a warm bed and be taught that having drinking water and some food is vital (peanut butter is your friend). They do not need to light fires or use camp stoves unless they are old enough to do so safely. Having a Boy Scout in the house is a good thing. Also, it will help if the kids know that "old Mrs. Smith" is next door if they need an adult - in fact, Mrs. Smith may welcome the company. Probably a good idea to set up that relationship before the need arises, though.

(9) For goodness sake, ahead of time buy or create a cheap emergency toilet kit. Make sure you have toilet bags, wipes, etc. The alternatives are . . . poor.

(10) Take care of your pets. Food, water and the like. Dogs and cats are easier to deal with than fish and turtles given their habitats.

(11) Have fire extinguishers available. Nothing good happens when burning down the house in winter.

(12) Be smart.

NOAA and Red Cross Winter Storm Preparedness Guide:

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Nuclear Power: Now is the time

Freezing in the dark because wind turbines and solar panels are frozen or not usable? The greenest of all power sources and one that works winter, summer, spring and fall. From the Hoover Institution and retired Admiral James Ellis:

Saturday, February 13, 2021

1984 and You: A Lesson

From Hillsdale College's President Larry P. Arnn in Imprimis Orwell’s 1984 and Today

In the beginning of his history of the Persian War, Herodotus recounts that in Persia it was considered illegal even to think about something that was illegal to do—in other words, the law sought to control people’s thoughts. Herodotus makes plain that the Persians were not able to do this. We today are able to get closer through the use of modern technology. In Orwell’s 1984, there are telescreens everywhere, as well as hidden cameras and microphones. Nearly everything you do is watched and heard. It even emerges that the watchers have become expert at reading people’s faces. The organization that oversees all this is called the Thought Police.

If it sounds far-fetched, look at China today: there are cameras everywhere watching the people, and everything they do on the Internet is monitored. Algorithms are run and experiments are underway to assign each individual a social score. If you don’t act or think in the politically correct way, things happen to you—you lose the ability to travel, for instance, or you lose your job. It’s a very comprehensive system. And by the way, you can also look at how big tech companies here in the U.S. are tracking people’s movements and activities to the extent that they are often able to know in advance what people will be doing. Even more alarming, these companies are increasingly able and willing to use the information they compile to manipulate people’s thoughts and decisions.

The protagonist of 1984 is a man named Winston Smith. He works for the state, and his job is to rewrite history. He sits at a table with a telescreen in front of him that watches everything he does. To one side is something called a memory hole—when Winston puts things in it, he assumes they are burned and lost forever. Tasks are delivered to him in cylinders through a pneumatic tube. The task might involve something big, like a change in what country the state is at war with: when the enemy changes, all references to the previous war with a different enemy need to be expunged. Or the task might be something small: if an individual falls out of favor with the state, photographs of him being honored need to be altered or erased altogether from the records. Winston’s job is to fix every book, periodical, newspaper, etc. that reveals or refers to what used to be the truth, in order that it conform to the new truth.

One man, of course, can’t do this alone. There’s a film based on 1984 starring John Hurt as Winston Smith. In the film they depict the room where he works, and there are people in cubicles like his as far as the eye can see. There would have to be millions of workers involved in constantly re-writing the past. One of the chief questions raised by the book is, what makes this worth the effort? Why does the regime do it?

Winston’s awareness of this endless, mighty effort to alter reality makes him cynical and disaffected. He comes to see that he knows nothing of the past, of real history: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified,” he says at one point, “every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. . . . Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” Does any of this sound familiar?

You can read more at the above link.

But "Big Brother?" - just as in the novel, he has his agents calling out "thought crime" everywhere. Twitter and other social feeds being their natural home.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day - Fibber McGee and Molly "Valentine Candy" (1942)

Monday, February 08, 2021

China's "Gray Zone" War: Sand Suckers

Interesting piece from Reuters:

China’s latest weapon against Taiwan: the sand dredger:
The sand-dredging is one weapon China is using against Taiwan in a campaign of so-called gray-zone warfare, which entails using irregular tactics to exhaust a foe without actually resorting to open combat. Since June last year, Chinese dredgers have been swarming around the Matsu Islands, dropping anchor and scooping up vast amounts of sand from the ocean bed for construction projects in China.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 6 January to 3 February 2021

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

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Midrats Episode 579 is Up on Spreaker

Today we are going to discuss military strategy from the a macro level. We will cover the ways to teach military strategy to already seasoned military and civilian personnel, some of the significant members of the strategic canon, and larger strategic challenges we find today. Our guest for the full hour Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Dr. Alessio Patalano. Alessio is Reader in East Asian Warfare and Security at the Department of War Studies (DWS), King’s College London (KCL), and specializes in maritime strategy and doctrine, Japanese military history and strategy, East Asian Security. From 2006 to 2015, he was visiting professor in Strategy at the Italian Naval War College (ISMM), Venice. In Japan, Dr. Patalano has been a visiting professor at the Japan Maritime Command and Staff College (JMCSC). He is also a Senior Fellow at the highly influential think tanks Policy Exchange and RUSI.
Listen to "Episode 579: Military Strategy From the Classroom to the Briefing Room, with Dr. Alissio Patalano" on Spreaker.

Video: Thomas Sowell: "Common Sense in a Senseless World"

Monday, February 01, 2021

China As Bully: New Maritime "Law" Threatens War With Neighbors (and the U.S.)

China's new maritime "law" is another example of China attempts to cow its neighbors into submission to its rules that counter the existing international rule. And the neigbors are aware of this, as set up in the The Japan Times report Japan braces for moves in East China Sea after China Coast Guard law:

Japan is has expressed alarm over China’s new law that allows the China Coast Guard to use force against foreign parties for what Beijing views as violations of its sovereignty and jurisdiction.

The new law, which entered into force Monday, “could shake the order based on international law,” a Defense Ministry executive warns.

Tokyo is braced for possible Chinese military actions in the East China Sea, where tensions are running high over the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, claimed by Beijing.

Some in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party say that the Self-Defense Forces should play a bigger role in dealing with the situation.

U.S. Defense Department report last year described the China Goast Guard, often called the country’s second navy, as “by far the largest coast guard force in the world.”

Beijing put the coast guard under the command of the Communist Party of China’s Central Military Commission, the top leadership body for the country’s military, in 2018.

The new law allows the coast guard to take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, against foreign organizations or individuals that violate Chinese sovereignty or jurisdiction.

By contrast, the Japan Coast Guard is bound by strict restrictions on the use of weapons under the law, which clearly bans it from military activities.

Coast guard ships from China have repeatedly intruded into Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands.

Last year, Japan spotted Chinese coast guard and other government vessels inside the contiguous zone surrounding the territorial waters around the islets on 333 seperate days, a record number.

Usually, Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels deal with such ships from China. But if Chinese ships become aggressive, SDF vessels may be dispatched to conduct security operations.

At an LDP meeting last week, lawmakers attacked the new Chinese law. One warned, “China is taking aim at the Senkaku Islands,” while another said, “China’s move is nothing less than a threat.”

Yes, this is how wars get started - overreaching by a neighborhood bully who feels slighted by what happened in the past. China's "100 years of humiliation" ended some time ago, but apparently it allows the CCP dictatorship all the excuse it needs to attle sabers.

Couple this with the latest aggresson in the air in Taiwan airspace, China is feeling out the new U.S. leadership. I hope they find that it has a spine.

UPDATE: And in the Philippines:

The Philippines has protested a new Chinese law that authorizes its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels and destroy other countries’ structures on islands it claims, Manila’s top diplomat said Wednesday.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a tweet that the new Chinese law “is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies” it. Failure to challenge the law “is submission to it,” he said.

“While enacting law is a sovereign prerogative, this one — given the area involved, or for that matter the open South China Sea — is a verbal threat of war to any country that defies the law,” Locsin said.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 30 December 2020 to 27 January 2021

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