I mentioned the Lexicans are gonna be meeting in San Diego this weekend. Well, I haven’t had a vacation in years, so I said the heck with it. I’m going.
I’ll try to post something over the weekend, but don’t bet the farm on it.
I mentioned the Lexicans are gonna be meeting in San Diego this weekend. Well, I haven’t had a vacation in years, so I said the heck with it. I’m going.
I’ll try to post something over the weekend, but don’t bet the farm on it.
One of the great challenges facing the Army is bleeding talent. In times of downsizing “brightsizing” where the best and the brightest self select to leave is a real problem. Frustrated with the rules, regulations, and oftentimes petty bureaucracy of the Army, those who can, won’t. That is, they know they are smart enough, and perform well enough that they can be confident of success in other endeavors.
It is one thing when a bright junior officer who never planned on making the Army a career departs for greener pastures. But when a Captain, who found Company Command to be the most rewarding experience of their life leaves, that hurts the Army.
The Barefoot Strategist, writing at Medium’s The Bridge, argues that the Army’s Officer Evaluation Report System (OER) and the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act (DOPMA) contribute to this drain of talent.
Some see the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act, or DOPMA, as forcing the Army into a system that recognizes seniority over ability, stifles innovation, constrains its flexibility to recognize and fast track the highest performers to positions of greater responsibility, ultimately chasing the most talented and productive officers out of the service. Dr. Tim Kane is an outspoken critic of DOPMA. In his book Bleeding Talent: How the US Military Mismanages Great Leaders and Why It’s Time for a Revolution, he advocates scrapping DOPMA completely and transitioning the military to a management system more in line with the largest corporations in the United States.
Currently, when an officer is rated, the best possible score is “Above Average.” Well then, that, as Barefoot notes, puts our stellar leader in a pool of no less than 49% of his peers. But as you and I, and Barefoot know, there exists in every group a handful of truly outstanding performers, and then there’s the rest of us. But given the current structure of the OER and the DOPMA, it’s almost impossible to clearly identify those “fast burners.” Oh, a commander can try some narrative. But often times, a real “comer” works for a guy that writes only so well, while the less qualified guy in another unit works for a true wordsmith, and comes out sounding like Clausewitz’s little brother.
The OER and DOPMA process is structured the way it is to do as much as humanly possible to promote fairness. And that’s a seemingly laudable goal. Checks are in place so that one instance of poor chemistry between an officer and his rater won’t destroy that officer’s career.
Barefoot argues for a system better able to recognize and promote that thin slice of the talent pool that truly is head and shoulders above the competition.
Coincidentally, I happened to start reading a biography today of Edward Pellew, arguably the single most successful frigate captain the Royal Navy ever produced. A real “comer” and “fast burner” if there ever was one.
Pellew started out as a ship’s boy, rose to Able Seaman, and was recognized as officer potential, eventually being rated Master’s Mate, and eventually Midshipman. His promotion to Lieutenant, Master and Commander, and eventually Post Captain all came about through patronage. That is, his captains and others put in a good word for him and argued for him with the Admiralty.
The normal path to success in the Royal Navy in those days was through wealth and family connections. But even so, there remained a path that successful, influential officers could see to it that talented people with less than proper credentials were given the chance to succeed.
How should we identify the truly talented and dedicated in our ranks?
Today marks two years since CAPT Carroll “Lex” LeFon, USN (Ret.) passed in an accident at NAS Fallon.
We’ve talked about his accomplishments as an officer, an aviator, a family man.
We’ve praised his writings many times over the years.*
Let’s take a moment to discuss another aspect of his legacy. He had a fantastically loyal cadre of readers and commenters. To be sure, as a milblogger, a goodly number of them were fellow sailors and aviators, or otherwise connected with the service. But a large swath had no connection at all to the service beyond enjoying his writing. A large Facebook community sprang up, and is still going strong. Other Lexicans share on WordPress.
And this weekend, many will gather in San Diego at Shakespeare’s, Lex’s favorite pub, to remember Lex, enjoy time with Mary, his widow, and look to the future.
We miss you, Lex. And we thank God we had you in our lives, if far too briefly.
*Sadly, the blog is down. But I do know the family is working to restore it, and looking at publishing at least some of his works.
Every pass a Naval Aviator makes when landing aboard a carrier is graded by the Landing Signal Officer. Over the years, LSOs have devised an intricate, involved shorthand to describe and grade an approach. The utmost highest grade is simply “OK-3.” Just about the worst grade possible is FNKUA, which stands for Damn Near Killed Us All.
When you think about it, FNKUA actually is a pretty handy shorthand for events like this:
Sandwiches have been banned from an officers’ mess after a commander noticed many soldiers were eating them with their hands as he insisted “a gentleman or a lady uses a knife and fork.”
Major General James Cowan issued the note after he noticed officers were eating sandwiches with their hands and failing to stand when commanders entered the room.
His three-page letter criticised standards at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire where he said he had seen many “frankly barbaric” techniques and habits displayed by soldiers and officers.
The note, addressed to ‘Chaps’, said: “Quite a few officers in the divisional mess seem to be under the impression that they can eat their food with their hands. The practice of serving rolls and sandwiches must stop,” the Sun reported.
Actually, when in garrison, I expect my officers to behave as gentlemen (or ladies, as appropriate). I suspect the old ways work much the same in the British Army. General Cowan’s tips on etiquette are actually quite sound. Good for him.
In reference to the possibility one of the Joint Chiefs might resign in protest of the slashing of the defense budget, Casey posed the following question.
I hate to ask a stupid question here, but how bad is resigning a specific position? Don’t you still get to keep your pension, etc, at your permanent rank? Or is it too hard to make ends meet on a Colonel’s retirement pay?
What if you resign your commission? If you’re (say) over 20 years in, do you still keep the base retirement benefit, or do you lose everything?
I, personally, would not turn down even a Major’s retirement package. :)
But seriously, are we talking descent into poverty here, or just a less-healthy retirement package?
The highest permanent rank in the US military is O-8, which, in the Army, is Major General. Promotions from 2nd Lieutenant to Major General are via promotion boards convened by the Secretary of the Army.
But promotion to the ranks of O-9 (Lieutenant General or LTG) and O-10 (General or GEN) are via appointment to a specific position, and subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.
An LTG or GEN holds their rank based on the position to which they are appointed. For instance, a Corps Commander is a an LTG by virtue of being appointed to that position, rather than being appointed a Corps Commander by virtue of being an LTG.
When there are no other assignments available to an LTG or GEN, he or she retires. As a normal matter, they are permitted to retire in grade for satisfactory service. There have been cases where generals have lost a star at retirement (for instance, former Vice Admiral Sestak was retired as a Rear Admiral), but it is pretty rare.
Officers, of all grades, are granted a commission by the President, and may, after fulfilling their service obligation, resign that commission. As a practical matter, I’ve never heard of any officer with over 20 years of service resigning their commission. Instead, they apply to retire from active duty. Retirement pay is, legally, a retainer for possible future recall to active duty. And it is not unheard of for retired officers to be recalled. GEN Schoomaker was recalled from retirement to serve as Chief of Staff of the Army for four years, before again returning to retirement.
So when we discuss the possibility of one of the Joint Chiefs resigning, what we’re really discussing is them resigning from their appointment to the position they hold, rather than their commission, per se. But as he would then not have an assignment fit for his grade, his only real option would be to be retired immediately. The question then becomes, would he be allowed to retire at his last grade, O-10?
It’s an interesting question. The Senate has to approve retirements in grade. Would a Democrat controlled Senate approve such a retirement, or would they punish what they see as political opposition to Obama by reducing the retirement grade to O-9, or even O-8? Of course, doing that would be seen as a partisan, political attack on the military, something the Democrats don’t particularly want.
William Kyle Carpenter, a Marine Corps veteran who was severely wounded during a November 2010 grenade attack in Afghanistan, will receive the nation’s highest combat valor award later this year, Marine Corps Times has learned.
Carpenter, a 24-year-old medically retired corporal, will become the service’s third Medal of Honor recipient from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which date back to October 2001. The Marine Corps is finalizing plans with the White House for a ceremony in Washington, officials said.
Marine Corps Times began making inquires about the status of Carpenter’s case because the statute of limitations for Department of Navy Medal of Honor awards requires that a formal recommendation be made within three years of the combat action in question. Carpenter, the subject of two cover stories published by Marine Corps Times in 2012, also recently appeared in the national media. He was the subject of a January feature story in Reader’s Digest and a related appearance Jan. 27 on Katie Couric’s syndicated talk show.
Carpenter declined to comment on reports that he would soon receive the Medal of Honor.
A Marine Corps spokesman referred all comment to the White House. A White House spokesman said he had no scheduling announcements to make regarding the award. However, Medal of Honor presentations are typically announced only a month in advance.
I debated whether to post this or not. I’d prefer a better sourced article. But MCT sure thinks it is a done deal. At any event, CPL Carpenter’s recovery is an inspiring story, in and of itself.
Russia so far has tried very hard to make its incursion into Crimea as non-violent as possible. That’s a pretty smart move. The Russians certainly aren’t universally loved there, but it is a far smarter approach than making an explicitly punitive expedition. As it is, Putin has presented to the West a fait acompli in Crimea. We can bluster all we want, but the US, the EU, and NATO aren’t going to go to war over the Crimea. For that matter, the heart of the EU isn’t even going to try economic sanctions over the matter.
So, does Russia simply hold what it has, and have a “referendum” in a month or two, or does it expand its reach.
Galrahn notes that as a practical matter, Russia can seize a line from Odessa to Kharkov with little or no effective resistance. That’s territory Russia would rather have effective control over than actually physically occupy.
Will Russia sit tight? Will they seize eastern Ukraine, and then negotiate from there? What say you?
It’s laundry/housekeeping day, so you get links.
From ELP, cuts to the F-35C program. ELP has a point. Cutting back from 69 birds for a jet that still hasn’t made a single trap at sea isn’t just budget pressure, it’s common sense.
Via Navy Times comes a piece about Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division developing in-house a very small, lightweight, low cost guided missile.
As the military relies more and more on unmanned aerial vehicles to carry out pinpoint strikes, the services need smaller munitions to arm them.
And that’s where Spike comes in. Weighing 5 pounds, this mini-missile developed by the Navy is many, many times lighter than the 100-pound Hellfires typically carried by UAVs — but still packs a precision punch. Scott O’Neil, who is overseeing its development, calls Spike “the world’s smallest guided missile.”
“Most of our weapons are fairly large because they’re taking out very big targets,” O’Neil, the executive director of Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, told Navy Times in a Feb. 12 phone interview. “We’ve started looking at, with miniaturization of electronics, what does that mean to weaponry? How small can we make weapons and keep them effective against the targets that we’re talking about?”
China Lake has a long history of successful in-house development programs for NavAir weapon systems. The most famous is the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile program. The AGM-45 Shrike was developed from the AIM-7 Sparrow missile, and the AGM-122 Sidearm was made from surplus AIM-9C missiles with a low cost passive radar seeker. The AGM-123 Skipper II mated a 1000# Paveway II Laser Guided Bomb with surplus Shrike motors to give Navy attack jets a low cost precision standoff weapon. As you can see, China Lake gets good results with minimal resources.
Interestingly, this “Spike” program is more about NAWC-WD learning what they can and cannot do, than producing a fielded weapon. Having said that, they just might manage to come up with something quite useful.
I’ve said before, Russian actions in Crimea are as much a message to former Soviet satellites as they are to Ukraine itself. Poland has heard that message loud and clear.
In keeping with that piece from DrewM at Ace’s, were I the President, I’d alert a few BCTs for immediate deployment to Poland for some unscheduled exercises.
Screw it, we’re going all Ukraine, all day. For now anyway.
As always, CDR Salamander has insight worth sharing on the Russian occupation of Crimea, and what likely Courses of Action Russia will take.
The essence of Russia is that she produces more history than can be consumed locally: this has been true since Catherine the Great, and especially true for the last century. Part of it is geography, part cultural. She straddles Europe to the West, and Asia to the East. She holds the Northeast front of Christendom. She is not Catholic, not Protestant – but Orthodox. Her people do not understand, nor are they comfortable with, the fruits of the enlightenment – but in arts, sciences, and music fewer people are as skilled. She is a very big country in both population and geographic size. Insecure, yet strong. Sickly, but powerful. She will not be ignored.
No one should be shocked this is going on. What we have seen over the last week is easily somewhere between the Red Most Likely and Red Most Dangerous COA.
Should be an interesting week as more cards are revealed.
And don’t forget, there’s always a lively discussion in the comments over there.
One member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is considering resigning in protest over recent defense cuts, says Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).
The ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee told reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast on Thursday that the nation’s top military officers have privately expressed their discontent with the continuing budget uncertainty at the Defense Department.
Time magazine’s Mark Thompson asked Inhofe, “How close do you think [the chiefs] are to saying, ‘Screw this, I’m out of here?’”
“I’m not going to tell you who they are, but there’s one who’s very close to doing just what you’re suggesting,” responded Inhofe. His role on the Senate Armed Services Committee entails frequent meetings with top military commanders.
It’s almost certainly Odierno, with an outside possibility of Chief of the NGB Frank Grass.
Not to be All Ukraine, All the Time, but DrewM has a good post up at AoS.
It’s hard to keep up with fast moving events (like this) so I thought I’d run through some of the bigger picture items.
I know it’s popular on the right (and even among some liberals) to say that Obama’s weakness, as evidenced by his failure to follow through on Syria, emboldened Putin but I don’t buy it.
Recall that in 2008 Vladimir Putin undertook a similar operation in the South Ossetia region of Georgia. Was George W. Bush viewed as weak and vacillating by Putin? Had Bush appeared to the world as week and unwilling to use military force in a crisis?
via Ace of Spades HQ.
This week the Russian Federation, for all intents and purposes, invaded a sovereign country. As difficult as interpretations of the Budapest Memorandum, OSCE convention, and other aspects of international law and norm can be to define, there can be no mistake; Ukraine’s territorial integrity was unilaterally violated and there must be a response. Figuring out the suitable, feasible, and acceptable response must occur and it must occur quickly if it is to have the intended effect. But the decision making process in Washington, Brussels, Kiev, and Strasbourg must be tempered and not reactionary. It must not give in to the calls to conflate, unknowingly or intently, the Budapest Memorandum with NATO’s Article 5. It must not, as ADM(ret) Stavridis or current sitting members of the Obama administration would have it, lash out with punitive and largely unproductive measures or worse yet, counterproductive to longer term strategic interests. Primarily however, rational strategy, both diplomatic and military if need be, must understand history, both recent and older. We must understand what has brought us to the precipice again in Europe and what we can yet still do about it.
A great piece on some of the motivations of Russia in the Ukraine crisis. It’s a fairly long read, but you owe it to yourself to better understand the situation in Ukraine.
The Russian military has given Ukrainian forces in Crimea until 03:00 GMT to surrender or face an assault, Ukrainian defence sources have said.
The head of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Aleksander Vitko set the deadline and threatened an attack “across Crimea”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier said Russia was responding to “ultra-nationalist threats”.
Western powers have condemned Moscow’s decision to send troops as a “violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty”.
Russia is now said to be in de facto control of the Crimea region.
Well, it’s a good thing the Obama administration has offered a Putin a diplomatic offramp to defuse the situation.
Putin is not just signalling his willingness to use force in Crimea. He’s putting all the former Soviet Republics and former eastern European satellites on notice that he’s going to reestablish the empire, and they can either rejoin the Russian orbit with incentives, or with pain.
Roamy suggested this week’s hottie, Jordana Brewster. Born in Panama, with English, Scottish, and Brazilian heritage, raised in England, Brazil, and New York, a Yalie, and of course, most famous for playing Mia Torretto in the Fast and the Furious movies, she’s also an accomplished swimsuit model, just like her mom!
As an observer and commentator on issues facing the Air Force, I’m sometimes critical of General Mark Welsh, the service’s Chief of Staff. Fair or unfair, his time at the controls has been turbulent for airmen and their families. The service’s descent has accelerated under his watch, with a recent stream of scandal, failure, and general chicanery conspiring with a clouded fiscal picture to raise questions about the future of the entire institution. That said, it’s not infrequent that Welsh demonstrates he “gets it” . . . and that airmen have reasonable grounds for tempered optimism. Welsh’s recent guidance on facial hair, of all things, is an odd but significant such moment.
For Air Force Chief of Staff GEN Mark Welsh, Mustache March is about a hell of a lot more than a fun contest. This is your must read of the day about leadership and organizational dynamics.
HBO confirmed Friday that it is developing a third World War II miniseries from Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
our editor recommends
Steven Spielberg Reveals Daniel Day-Lewis’ Original ‘Lincoln’ Rejection Letter
Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks Pay Tribute to ‘Band of Brothers’ Inspiration
Joining an oeuvre that already includes 2001′s Band of Brothers and 2010′s The Pacific, the untitled miniseries will explore the aerial wars through the eyes of enlisted men of the Eighth Air Force — known as the men of the Mighty Eighth. The project will use as its source material historian Donald L. Miller’s nonfiction tome Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany.
I can see Nick Searcy playing Doolittle.
The Moscow-based Military Parade has revealed more details on China’s mysterious indigenous aircraft carriers currently under construction in Dalian and Shanghai.
In an report on Feb. 28, the Russian website said that the first vessel — known as 001A and designed by the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation — is being built in Dalian in northeast China’s Liaoning province and will be equipped with a steam catapult. The new carrier is expected to have a greater tonnage than China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was originally a Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier purchased from Ukraine in 1998.
I can’t really excerpt much more under fair use. But it goes on to say the first new-build will be a conventional powered ship with two steam cats, and the second will be a nuke with four cats.
Not really sure how much experience China has with building the nuke plants needed for a carrier. An attack sub can get by with fairly modest horsepower for a given speed. But a carrier needs an awful lot of oomph to get up to speed and simultaneously provide steam for the cats.
Still, going with catapults tells us they want to field a genuine capability at sea, rather than just ski-jumping a couple of lightly armed fighters from time to time. And I’m sure Spill has details somewhere on the Chinese Hawkeye knockoff, which would need a catapult to go to sea.
CAPT Rodgers, former CO of the USS PONCE Afloat Forward Staging Base, discusses how his ad-hoc crew of Sailors and civilian mariners plucked a 40 year old ship from decommissioning’s doorstep and turned it into the most in-demand platform in the Arabian Gulf.
We’ve been tinkering on a post on AFSB, and it’s kissing cousin, the Mobile Landing Platform, but real life keeps interrupting research and writing. Matthew Hipple’s Sea Control podcast is worth your time this weekend. And be sure to take a look at what the Sailors and CivMars have teamed up to do at low cost.
So the Naval Diplomat found a seam in the teaching schedule and promptly winged off to Tokyo, there to lend supersecret counsel to the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Self-Defense Forces. Be afraid, China; be very, very afraid.
While here I have consorted with greatness. A journey down Tokyo Bay to visit the U.S.-Japanese fleet base at Yokosuka included a side trip aboard the battleship Mikasa, Togo’s flagship at Port Arthur, the Battle of the Yellow Sea, and Tsushima Strait. Strikingly, the museum ship’s organizers portray Togo as a peer not just of Lord Nelson, the usual comparison, but also of John Paul Jones of blessed memory, who proclaimed that he had not yet begun to fight during one single-ship engagement in the American Revolution. Generous, and diplomatic, of them to make room for Jones in such company. Also on the agenda was a trip to the JMSDF Staff College for meetings with the College faculty. There a bust of Akiyama Saneyuki presides over the educational enterprise. Excellent!
For Japan, the rise of Chinese naval power is an immediate and pressing issue. A key ally in the Western Pacific, and Obama sends an unqualified as ambassador, whose very first steps offended the Japanese deeply.
U.S. intelligence estimates conclude that Russia has no intention of invading Ukraine. This, despite the launch of a massive, new Russian military exercise near Ukraine’s border and moves from armed men to seize two key airports in the country’s Crimea region.
The latest developments led Ukraine’s interior minister Arsen Avakov Friday to accuse Russia of invading the Russian majority province of Crimea after armed militias took control of the civilian airport in Simferopol, the region’s capital and the military airport in Sevastopol, where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based. Russian authorities meanwhile have denied any responsibility for the seizure of the two airports in the region.
Really? When the “cease fire” in Kiev between the Yanukovych regime and the protesters was announced, the first thing most people noticed was that it was due to expire the day the Winter Olympics ended. Smart money around the blogs was that as soon as the spotlight was off Sochi, Russian forces would intervene, in one manner or another.
Given the large ethnic Russian population in Crimea, and the critical Russian bases on the peninsula, the only question was (and still is) will the Russians be content with just Crimea, or will they attempt to retake all of Ukraine?
Actually, make no doubt, Russia will attempt to retake all of Ukraine. We doubt they will do so through military occupation (though a ginned up emergency is hardly out of the question), but though economic and political coercion. Russia (especially Putin, but a goodly percentage of the man-on-the-street population as well) simply cannot conceive of a Ukraine that falls outside the Russian sphere of influence.
How is it that our intelligence community has such an incredibly poor grasp of history and culture that they cannot see that which is plainly before them? What was to stop Russia from entering Crimea? The Russians knew that they would be, if not welcomed with open arms, almost certainly unopposed. Heck, the Russians already occupied Crimea, with military installations shared with the Ukrainians. What possible downside did Russia see? None.
We’ve been pretty unimpressed with the Obama administration’s response, but frankly, we see little that the US could do to prevent any such Russian response. Having said that, the inability of the US intelligence community to see the obvious is deeply troubling.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Bill Smith, a 100 percent disabled retired Green Beret colonel, survived the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon, several deployments to war zones and ailments seen and unseen as a result.
But when two St. Petersburg College police officers approached him on the evening of Feb. 17 while he was sitting at the Hard Drive Cafe with his service dog Lucky and told him to remove the animal from the Clearwater campus, he was “flabbergasted” that they acted “in violation of federal law.”
Smith says he was asked to remove the dog from campus despite offering to show a letter of proof and later asked to provide medical information about his condition before he could return with the dog, which would be a violation of federal law. College officials say Smith failed to previously provide required information about the dog and that they acted in accordance with the law.
Once again, the police have no clue what the law is, so they just impose their power upon a citizen, the law be damned.
And the university, even after being told what the law is, illegally demands documentation that they are prohibited from even asking for.
Folks, it’s not that hard.
KIEV, Ukraine — Armed men described as Russian troops took control of key airports in Crimea on Friday and Russian transport planes flew into the strategic region, Ukrainian officials said, an ominous sign of the Kremlin’s iron hand in Ukraine. President Barack Obama bluntly warned Moscow “there will be costs” if it intervenes militarily.
The sudden arrival of men in military uniforms patrolling key strategic facilities prompted Ukraine to accuse Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” – a claim that brought an alarming new dimension to the crisis.
In a hastily arranged statement delivered from the White House, Obama called on Russia to respect the independence and territory of Ukraine and not try to take advantage of its neighbor, which is undergoing political upheaval.
“Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing,” Obama said.
Such action by Russia would not serve the interests of the Ukrainian people, Russia or Europe, Obama said, and would represent a “profound interference” in matters he said must be decided by the Ukrainian people.
I told you Putin wasn’t just going to shrug off the loss of access to Sevastapol.