From the Sea of Azov to the Danube Delta, the maritime component of the Russian invasion of Ukraine's is bringing to the front universal constants; treaties, neutral shipping, amphibious operations, blockades, choke points, sea lines of communication, and an expanded environment where conflict can expand in unexpected ways.
While much of the focus has been ashore, significant developments - and lessons - can be found in the developments in the Black Sea. That will be the focus on today's Midrats with a panel discussion with Claude Berube, Chris Cavas, and Sal Mercogliano.
Dr Claude Berube has taught at the US Naval Academy since 2005 and has worked for two US Senators. He is a Commander in the Navy Reserve. His latest book is “On Wide Seas: The US Navy in the Jacksonian Era” and his third novel, “The Philippine Pact” will be released this fall.
Chris Cavas is a long-time naval journalist who has reported on navies and maritime issues in the United States and around the world. He’s also the co-host of the weekly CavasShips podcast focusing on naval matters.
Dr. Sal Mercogliano is a Maritime Historian at Campbell University. A former merchant mariner and Host of the What's Going On With Shipping YouTube Channel.
Monday, February 28, 2022
U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report, 26 January to 23 February 2022
Attacks of ships in the Black Sea as part of the Russian invasion of the rest of Ukraine (remember they already grabbed Crimea) reflected here:
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought turmoil to commodities markets as the conflict ensnares merchant shipping.
At least three merchant ships have been reportedly hit since Russian forces began the attack on its neighbor this week. Insurers are either not offering to cover vessels sailing into the Black Sea, or they’re demanding huge premiums to do so.
A discussion of the situation in the Black Sea form Midrats on 27 Feb 27 (I was flying home from a family visit and was unable to join the conversation):
Saturday, February 26, 2022
Friday, February 25, 2022
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Remember, the Russians hold the Presidency of the UN Security Council. The UN is a joke. OSCE is a joke. The EU is little more than a nest of rent-seeking, clock-watching grift-fest. NATO is, well, dysfunctional but better than nothing. Nations must take ownership of their own security. Yes, Taiwan and Japan I am talking to you. Study history. Be ready.***
Is everyone clear what Russia is now? She has a small GDP and apocalyptic demographics, but she is taking what she has and is invading her neighbors, killing people, and taking land. If your nation, company, or neighbor is buying anything from them – they are paying for this military adventurism. If the press wants to do its job, start pulling that string.
The U.S. needs to restart its energy independence efforts and reverse the course of what the current administration has done so that we can offer Europe energy security and cut the flow of energy dollors and Euros to the thugs in Moscowland.
As Mao said, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Putin is seeking political power, not only over Ukraine, but over Western Europe. His approach is not subtle diplomacy.
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
"U.S. forges maritime technology collaborations to improve domain awareness" from Indo-Pacific Defense Forum
To safeguard maritime borders, the United States military is promoting cooperative technology efforts to provide near-real time global maritime situational awareness to combat everything from illegal fishing and human trafficking to sovereignty threats.
Recent successes include the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL’s) new program, called Proteus, to identify, query and filter maritime vessels based on user-defined criteria and the Defense Innovation Unit’s (DIU’s) international competition, known as xView3, to create machine learning models to locate and distinguish maritime vessels with synthetic aperture radar.
The U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, in particular, are also pushing for broader collaborations among allies and partners to apply advanced military technologies, including surveillance satellites, high-resolution radar and data-sharing software, to maritime security challenges, experts said.
Advanced maritime capabilities are in high demand as security threats such as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing continue to worsen worldwide and contribute to broader stability issues.
The People’s Republic of China is “obviously high on the list … when talking about state-sponsored IUU and the way that they use it as both a tool for … economic purposes, but also increasingly for the purposes of influencing bilateral relationships,” Whitley Saumweber, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Stephenson Ocean Security Project, said in December 2021, according to National Defense magazine.
More about Proteus here:
“PROTEUS is an exciting new U.S. government Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) system providing a powerful array of MDA information and analysis tools,” said Cameron Naron, Director of Maritime Security, US Maritime Administration. “This system enables MDA stakeholders to collaboratively discover and investigate suspicious and illegal maritime activity throughout the world in ways never before possible.”
Additional actions supported by PROTEUS include:
- Counter Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF)
- Maritime Protected Areas (MPAs)
- Search and Rescue (SAR)
- Critical Infrastructure Protection
- Environmental Protection & Response
- Maritime Law Enforcement
- Counter smuggling (drugs, weapons, money, people)
Monday, February 21, 2022
Saturday, February 19, 2022
Friday, February 18, 2022
Monday, February 14, 2022
U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report, 12 January to 9 February 2022
Sunday, February 13, 2022
On Midrats 13 February 2022 at 1130am EST- Episode 616: First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11 with Toby Harnden
Note the special time - please join us at 1130AM (EST)on 13 Feb 2022 for MidratsEpisode 616: First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11 with Toby Harnden
As described on Amazon, "Eight CIA officers are dropped into the mountains of northern Afghanistan on October 17, 2001. They are Team Alpha, an eclectic band of linguists, tribal experts, and elite warriors: the first Americans to operate inside Taliban territory. Their covert mission is to track down Al- Qaeda and stop the terrorists from infiltrating the United States again."
Most may be familiar with one member of that team, Mike Spann. This Sunday we will spend the hour talking about that Team, the first few months of the Afghanistan conflict, and what the war and its future looked like early on as described in the recent book, First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11.
The author Toby Harnden will be with us for the full hour to discuss the book and the story it tells.
Toby is an author, journalist, and a winner of the Orwell Prize for Books. A former foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times of London and the Daily Telegraph who reported from thirty-three countries, he specializes in terrorism and war. Born in Portsmouth, England, Harnden was imprisoned in Zimbabwe, prosecuted in Britain for protecting confidential sources, and vindicated by a $23 million public inquiry in Ireland. A dual British and US citizen, he spent a decade as a Royal Navy officer before becoming a journalist. He holds a First Class degree in modern history from Oxford and is the author of Bandit Country: The IRA & South Armagh and Dead Men Risen: An Epic Story of War and Heroism in Afghanistan. Previously based in London, Belfast, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Washington, DC, he lives in Virginia.
Saturday, February 12, 2022
Friday, February 11, 2022
Monday, February 07, 2022
As some of you might have gathered over the years, I am a fan of the punitive expedition. More particularly, the form of punitive expedition as so well defined by Kevin Benson, Col (ret) in his short 2019 essay Bringing Back the Punitive Expedition
A punitive expedition results in a measured, relatively swift, focused response. It can be of some duration but only long enough to achieve the policy ends of punishing the group that threatened US interests or caused US casualties. There is no regime change, no re-ordering of the existing power structure in a region. A punitive expedition demonstrates the will and ability of the US government to act with violence. Especially when striking into ungoverned areas there is no Phase V (enable civil authority) as there is no civil authority to reestablish. The purpose of the punitive expedition is to act with violence and return to home station. The linkage to policy is straightforward. In ungoverned or poorly governed spaces, a punitive expedition is measured, focused, and not open-ended. A punitive expedition acts with diplomatic and informational efforts, each reinforcing the other. Indeed strategists and planners must bear in mind the political object irrespective of the development of use of force options. Again we return to Clausewitz: “The political object—the original motive for the war—will thus determine both the military objective to be reached and the amount of effort it requires.”
I commend the rest of his essay to your reading.
We have a lot of units in our military that would be excellent at carrying out such missions. The problem is keeping our focus in applying what can be an effective deterrent to actions that would harm our country.
Cartoon shows General John J. Pershing stamping out a nest of rattlesnakes (labeled "Villista," "Bandit," and "Cutthroat"). In 1916, President Wilson sent a Punitive Expedition commanded by Pershing into Mexico to capture the rebel and bandit leader Francisco "Pancho" Villa, who had been raiding American towns. Villa and his band eluded the American force. Contributor Names Pease, Lute, 1869-1963, artist
Saturday, February 05, 2022
Please join us at 5pm EST on 6 February 2022 for Midrats Episode 615: Gaming Out WWIII with Michael Cee:
Decades of peace and relative stability in Europe is suddenly shattered as armies start to mobilize on a scale not seen since WWII.
No, not 2022...but 1987.
What is there to learn for today from what could have happened at the end of the Cold War?
In addition to the above teaser questions, this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern with our guest Michael Cee we will dive into the research, tools, wargaming, and art of creating alternative historical fiction about what may have happened with the wrong people in the wrong positions of power at the wrong time in the late 1980s.
Michael is the creator and author of World War III 1987, a blog that takes a detailed look at a hypothetical Third World War set in 1987, as well as several topics related to the NATO-Warsaw Pact military balance in the later years of the Cold War. He is also the author of a second blog, Today’s Defense and International Relations Topics that’s centered on contemporary geopolitical and defense issues and news. He is a 44-year-old former Air Force officer who has also spent time in government service and as a senior member of a research institute. He has earned an MSFS from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, as well as an MPA and PhD in Politics from Princeton University. Over the summer of 2019, Michael signed a two-book deal with a New York City publishing house. At present he is making final edits on his first novel, which is also based on a hypothetical global conflict set in 1987.