This is about an hour and a half long, but it’s a pretty wide ranging look at the Royal Navy when it still had jets and carriers. It also takes a look at the Netherlands Navy. The sub portions are particularly interesting.
Category Archives: navy
The Nimitz class supercarriers are pretty big, at 1,092 feet and 103,000 tons. The Essex class carriers were a good deal smaller, at 820 feet and roughly 27,000 tons when built. Escort carriers were even smaller. The Casablanca class were even smaller, at 512 feet and 7,800 tons.
But the smallest carrier in the Navy was probably the Baylander, at 131 feet and 160 tons.
In the mid-1980s, at the Reagan defense buildup grew the fleet, a major part of the growth was in helicopters for surface combatants such as destroyers, frigates and cruisers.
Take a look at that tiny flight deck on the USS Knox above. Learning to fly a helicopter is one thing. Learning to land on a ship is another. Fixed wing Naval Aviators’s training culminated with their landing aboard the Navy’s training carrier, the USS Lexington. The problem was, the Navy didn’t always have a frigate or destroyer handy for rotary winged aviators to practice landing on.
It occurred to the Navy that you didn’t need much of a ship to practice landing helicopters on. And so, they converted a harbor utility craft by adding a landing platform and having it cruise off Pensacola as needed to allow fledgling birdmen practice at landing aboard. Designated IX-514, she was often called the HLT, or Helicopter Landing Trainer.
Put into service in 1986, the HLT served for more than 20 years qualifying Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard aviators, in addition to pilots from numerous civilian and foreign agencies.
Recently the Baylander (it cruised around Pensacola Bay and landed helicopters-what else would it be named?) was sold to The Trenk Family Foundation, and it is currently on display at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
The ship’s history before its conversion to the HLT was pretty interesting as well.
As the Vietnam War heated up in 1967, the Naval Support Activity Da Nang needed more lighterage to unload the vast sums of materiel arriving in Vietnam. And because the road network in Vietnam was poor and dangerous, the Navy need some coastal freighter capability to move cargoes from Da Nang to smaller facilities along the coast. The Navy’s LCU class utility landing craft were a bit small for the job, and further, most of them were already dedicated to the amphibious shipping fleet. So the Navy went shopping for an off-the-shelf design, and fortuitously found just what it was looking for up in Alaska. Designed to service oil pipeline construction, the Skilak class from the Pacific Coast Engineering Company fit the bill to a “T.” The Navy quickly bought a dozen as the YFU-71 class (YFU is code for Harbor Utility Craft). From around 1968 to the end of the war, they operated in support of operations in Vietnam. An Army Heavy Boat Company operated 6 of them after 1970, while one was transferred to Cambodia in 1970.
YFU-78 was sunk with heavy casualties from a Viet Cong rocket attack while loaded with ammunition.
At the end of the war, the remaining 10 ships evacuated to Guam, where most of them served until the mid-1980s before being sold off or transferred to other government agencies.
Here’s the Baylander in her days as YFU-79.
At least one or two of the class are still in service.
Helicopter operations aboard IX-514 in 2008.
The Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship program, while smaller than the Joint Strike Fighter program in dollars, is to my mind a bigger failure, from conception to execution.
The GAO was directed to review the deployment of USS Freedom to Singapore. It’s not a very pretty picture.
Largely missing from the picture was the USS Independence built by Austal, which spent most of that time homeported in San Diego, Calif., according to the document. Navy officials indicated they had “notional plans to deploy an Independence variant LCS sometime before 2017,” according to the report. (emphasis mine-XBrad)
The LCS ships were built with a notional service life of 20-25 years (as opposed to a notional service life of 30 years for most service combatants). The USS Independence was commissioned in January of 2010. To date, she’s not made any deployments, and the best the Navy can offer is the possibility they’ll send her out before the next three years are up?
China thinks it can defeat the US. David Axe thinks they can’t. Worse, the Chinese know they don’t have to.
David Axe takes a look at the relative naval strengths in the Western Pacific. For years armchair analysts have looked at a potential Sino-American conflict through the paradigm of an attack across the Taiwan Strait. For many years, the thought of an actual assault across the strait was rather unthinkable, as the Chinese had little or no genuine amphibious assault capability. That’s rapidly changing with the Chinese shipbuilding program producing significant amphibious shipping for both the People’s Liberation Army Navy, and for the People’s Liberation Army Ground Forces.
He sees the rapidly growing Chinese fleet as strong, but with one potentially fatal flaw- undersea warfare.
The bad news first. The People’s Republic of China now believes it can successfully prevent the United States from intervening in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or some other military assault by Beijing.
Now the good news. China is wrong — and for one major reason. It apparently disregards the decisive power of America’s nuclear-powered submarines.
Moreover, for economic and demographic reasons Beijing has a narrow historical window in which to use its military to alter the world’s power structure. If China doesn’t make a major military move in the next couple decades, it probably never will.
The U.S. Navy’s submarines — the unsung main defenders of the current world order — must hold the line against China for another 20 years. After that, America can declare a sort of quiet victory in the increasingly chilly Cold War with China.
Yes, we do have excellent nuclear submarines. And any student of naval war in the Pacific will quickly realize that long range submarines unleashed offensively will have devastating consequences upon an enemy. Our Silent Service in World War II had an impact far larger than the numbers of sailors, or the numbers of boats assigned would suggest.
But no single weapon system or approach is the single key to victory. The great American talent in warfare is the integration of all forms of combat power to overwhelm an enemy, both physically and mentally. One role for nuclear submarines that Axe doesn’t mention is using our subs as Anti-submarine Warfare platforms to sanitize an area so our carriers and other surface ships can operate with relative safety. That’s going to take a few boats off the table, keeping them from pursuing Axe’s goal of sinking any notional Chinese amphibious assault.
Second, a look at both US and Japanese submarine operations in World War II suggests that submarines are not likely to be terribly successful in stopping any amphibious invasion. US submarines failed to stop Japanese invasion of the Philippines, and the Japanese never succeeded in stopping any of the many, many US amphibious assaults in the war. Similarly, the German U-boat force was never able to defeat any amphibious assault, though they did try.
But the real issue is, the Chinese currently have no intention of engaging in a shooting war with the US.
As Matthew Hipple argues, while the US is constrained by a “shoot/don’t shoot” deterrence posture of credible combat power in the disputed territories of the Western Pacific, China is leveraging every tactic and means short of shooting to achieve its aims. And absent US willingness to shoot first (and there’s none of that) China is both achieving near term goals, and showing regional forces that the US is not, in fact, a credible deterrent.
Defense strategists usually discuss asymmetry in terms of operations or tactics: specialized anti-ship missiles, cyber-attacks on command-and-control functions, or insurgency against conventional forces. Strategic-level asymmetry is less discussed—in this case, a force designed to stop an opponent’s war versus an opponent using those forces for everything but a war.
The United States is leaving a gap in its strategy. At CSF14, Andrea Dew describes this gap in the context of groups in active conflict: “Although we artificially draw lines between different domains, other adversaries use them seamlessly.”Dew’s specific concernsare about armed groups fighting a state through the exploitable seams of its stove-piped perspectives. This general concept applies to non-combat operations, where China is utilizing a gap in how the West views the scope and appropriate use of military action as a political instrument. Between the committee chambers of diplomats and the joint operations center of admirals, there is a blind spot in our strategy being manipulated, the same as if it were a small boat attack against a conventional blue-water combatant.
The US could counter this current Chinese operational plan, but the current administration, and the vast majority of the defense establishment simply do not have the mindset to engage in the strategic ambiguity needed.
Most US leaders see the path forward in terms of the past, when US and Soviet forces, seeing an escalating pattern of incidents at sea, forged an agreement to minimize the chances of a tense encounter escalating into a shooting match. They worked together to minimize the tensions.
The Chinese, however, are currently working instead to determine just how far they can push, and with every push, are seeking to expand that envelope, bit by bit. The more they can antagonize both regional powers, and the US, without firing a shot, the more they demonstrate a dominance that may lead regional powers to decide that an unhappy relationship with China is better than a feckless one with the US. And no submarine fleet, no matter how capable, can change that.
I’ve discussed NAS Glenview at these pages before. Here’s a 30 minute documentary on the history of Glenview featuring some of the pilots that flew from there. Enjoy:
Spill kinda stole my thunder last night, posting the youtube of flight ops aboard the Ranger. I’d planned to put that up this morning.
So instead, I have to steal from SteelJawScribe this vid.
Lots of great NavAir from the 60s, complete with uber-cheesy soundtrack. Grab a cuppa coffee.
From the good old days. The heart aches for the variety of aircraft on the flight deck in those days (ok I wasn’t born in ’72 but still).
SPOILER ALERT: Yeah, you can have that Viggie trap at the end. That quite frankly scared me a little and gave me a few gray hairs.
h/t to Comm Jam for the Facebook post.
Today marks the centennial of one of Western society’s most improbably momentous events. It was on June 28th, 1914 that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the Countess Sophie of Hohenberg, were assassinated in the street of the Bosnian city of Sarajevo. The events of that day, the failed bombing at the bridge, the missed attempt on the road, the wrong turn by the Archduke’s driver, the opportunity for another attempt on the Archduke’s life, are well-known. The motives of the assassin, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, and his Mlada Bosna (Young Bosnia), a group supported by the infamous Black Hand, are well-documented and, to the serious student of Balkan history, quite familiar.
What is nearly impossible to understand, despite the volumes upon volumes of historical analysis and the (now) generally agreed-upon portrayal of events, is HOW the assassination of an Archduke, the heir to a throne whose sitting monarch despised him, and whom he in turn despised, could be the triggering event that led to the greatest blood-letting cataclysm in Western history. There are superb pieces of research and analysis, among them Christopher Clark’s 2012 masterpiece The Sleepwalkers, and DJ Goodspeed’s The German Wars (1965), that provide detailed explanations of the diplomatic and military decisions that took Europe from a century of relative peace into a devastating conflict more profoundly destructive than the Thirty Years’ War. Even with that, a historian can often do little more than shake one’s head incredulously at the sequence of decisions and miscalculations that would pit the great nations against one another for four bloody years.
I offer, in no particular order, some of the factors which led to what can be described as the least necessary of wars.
A notable mediocrity amongst the foreign ministers of the belligerents, to include England’s Edward Grey, who failed to understand that England’s real interests were in a balance of European power, and not in France’s desire to avenge the humiliation of 1871. There was Count Berthold of Austria-Hungary, whose distinct lack of subtlety in his demands to Serbia inflamed Russia (who held dreams of being the protector of “pan-Serbism” in the Balkans). Russia’s Sazonov, a duplicitous and dishonest schemer who collaborated with France’s Poincaré to virtually guarantee war with Germany. France’s revolving door of Foreign Ministers, none effective, that included René Viviani during what became known as the July Crisis. Wilhelmine Germany’s Gottlieb von Jagow, whose terrible miscalculation of the Austria-Serbia crisis proved so tragic.
Detached and often delusional monarchs, whose laissez-faire approaches to their respective nation’s diplomatic postures during the critical weeks following the assassination allowed the respective foreign ministers mentioned above, along with military chiefs of those countries, to dictate rather than execute their nation’s foreign policies. Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary only briefly interrupted his vacation after the assassination, and was largely absent from the seat of power in Vienna during most of the July Crisis. When he did return, he was somewhat shocked at the harsh terms of the ultimatum to Serbia, crafted by his own Foreign Minister and Chief of Staff. Tsar Nicholas in Russia was absent for crucial meetings between French President Poincaré and his own “war party” of Sazonov and War Minister Sukhomlinov, during which it is presumed Russia agreed to war with Germany should she intervene in the Austria-Serbia crisis. Even the mercurial and impetuous Kaiser Wilhelm, whose envy of the Royal Navy (and subsequent Naval Race with Britain) and imperial desires were perceived by the British as threats to the Empire, was strangely passive during the playing out of the events of July 1914, limiting himself to making marginal notes in the diplomatic messages until the specter of a wider continental war elicited desperation. The one exception as head of state is the aforementioned Raymond Poincaré, the French President, whose actively malignant role included agitating for the long-desired war of revanche with Germany, and enlisting the Russians to assist France in that effort.
The international order built so carefully by Bismarck in the later decades of the 19th Century was rendered topsy-turvy, with illogical alliances and unlikely enmities that cooler analysis and more competent diplomacy might have gone great lengths to remedy. Britain had far more in common with Germany than with her traditional antagonist, France. Germany had been to war with Austria in 1866, when it wrested away the German states from Vienna (and from the very same Franz Josef) to, eventually, in 1871, Berlin. Kaiser Wilhelm and Tzar Nicholas, cousins (along with George V) and grandsons of Victoria, had warm personal relations, and many more reasons to cooperate over the breakup of European Turkey than to be in conflict. England, for her part, had been the traditional guardian of the European balance of power before inexplicably abandoning that role in an informal (but in the end, very binding) alliance with France.
To the events of July 1914, technological development and industrialization would be a determinant of not just tactics and doctrine, but also would be a major factor in the shaping and executing of Grand Strategy for the countries embroiled in the crisis. The mobilization of an army in the industrial age entailed a great deal of preparation, and once executed, left little to no room for equivocation. To do so would be to throw the proverbial spanner in the works, causing upheaval, delays, and the real spectre of being unprepared and in the midst of deploying when war came. Thus, when the decisions in the respective governments for mobilization came, war was all but inevitable. Interestingly, the last continental power to order mobilization was Imperial Germany. Wilhelm, with the prospect of war looming, had tried desperately to apply the brakes to the rapidly accelerating events. That German war plans calling for the rapid defeat of France to avoid a two-front war were what impelled the German Army to violate Belgian neutrality is one of the tragic ironies of all history. It was the invasion of Belgium which, in the end, made inevitable British intervention against Germany, preventing the very victory over France sought by the Germans, and all but ensuring their slow strangulation at the hands of the Royal Navy which they had so antagonized with the Naval Race in the previous two decades.
Of the battlefields themselves, much has been said. The warning signs of what modern war would be had been plentiful for anyone who cared to see. Dating to the American Civil War, the increasingly deadly weapons of the Industrial Age had made their presence felt. Britain, certainly, had experience against an enemy armed with modern metallic cartridge rifles in South Africa, and had employed modern machine guns against its empire’s foes at places like Omdurman and Cape Colony. Envisioning what being on the other side of the Maxim Gun would entail should not have been beyond imagination for the British Army’s Officer corps. Modern breech-loading rapid-fire artillery, with recoil systems which eliminated the need to re-position guns after firing, had been in military inventories for more than two decades. The battlefield tactics of 1914, a full generation behind those technological developments, were an invitation to the subsequent slaughter that ensued, resulting in the profligate wastage of much of the youth of Europe. The names of the Somme, Verdun, Gallipoli, Jutland, Ypres, Loos, Caporetto, Tannenberg, Passchendaele, and the Isonzo all evoke images of privation and death without purpose, and rightly or wrongly, of incompetent and criminally obtuse military leadership.
The effect of the unprecedented butchery on the psyche of Western civilization is still being felt. The old order in much of Europe, political as well as social, collapsed utterly. The confidence in the enlightened nature of Man, of his scientific mastery, and his cultural education, was shattered forever. Monarchies in Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Germany fell, replaced mostly by the anarchy of revolution. In the wake of that revolution, spurred in great measure by the War to End All Wars, came the Bolsheviks and National Socialists who would ensure that the horrors of 1914-18 would be just a precursor to the bloodiest of centuries.
However implausible it may seem (and all the more implausible with closer analysis), the impetus for the Great War and all that followed occurred one hundred years ago today, when bullets from a sickly and tubercular young assassin’s pistol ended the lives of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife on a Sarajevo street. The warnings of Bismarck in the 1878 Congress of Berlin to not allow Europe to devolve into general war over “some damned fool thing in the Balkans” went, in the end, unheeded.
It’s fairly technical, but even so, and with the redactions, you can get the gist of what happened. I’d be interested in hearing from any SWOs, particularly and AEGIS types.
XBRAD told us about this the other day. He openly questioned its purpose, especially in light of the track record of this Administration to act illegally and oversee the persecution of law-abiding political opponents with the apparatus of their own government.
Well, Eric Holder tells us the purpose of this new task force:
But we also must concern ourselves with the continued danger we face from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of other causes from anti-government animus to racial prejudice.
Anyone who doesn’t pick up on the verbiage has missed the last five years of Eric Holder’s corrosive and bigoted black activism. There was, of course, the FBI memorandum telling us that returning white Veterans who believe in God, small government, and the right to keep and bear arms are domestic terrorist suspects. There is the military’s “education” (extracted from documents at the Southern Poverty Law Center, no less) that conservative groups and Christian organizations are akin to the KKK. And that military members may be charged under the UCMJ for supporting and belonging to such groups. The US military has routinely run training scenarios in which the adversary is “right-wing extremist”, which is to say, actual and otherwise law-abiding citizens who are magically attributed a violent character which requires a military response so they may be “crushed”. Then, there is the study a couple of years ago in which “domestic terrorists” were defined as those who “defended the Constitution” and have reverence for individual liberty.
One has only to quickly peruse the various “See Something, Say Something” Public Service Announcements about terrorism to see that virtually every portrayal of a terrorist is a white male. All of them. Despite the 1993 WTC bombing, 9/11, Khobar Towers, USS Cole, the Boston Marathon bombing, and dozens of other domestic attacks and murders perpetrated by Muslim Jihadists, the US Government’s portrayal of terrorists is invariably white and male.
So the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee? Under an Attorney General who has vowed not to pursue cases that reflect badly on “his people”? In an Administration that has perpetrated use of the IRS, EPA, Justice, and NSA to visit retribution on individuals and groups that differ politically with the far left? Place your bets. Gabriel Rottman, First Amendment lawyer for the ACLU, already has.
Given the already lenient standards for when the government can launch an investigation, the announced task force is both unnecessary and an invitation to investigate Americans because of the beliefs they hold, not because of any wrongdoing.
Which is to say, with this Administration especially, conservative heterosexual white males. And other, law-abiding political opponents. And one can reasonably assume that this “Executive Committee” will have all the trappings of due process that comes with a closed-door deliberation of “informed high-level government officials” instead of those pesky and inconvenient Constitutional rights under the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments.
Oh, and by the way…
I… do solemnly swear 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.
H/T to Fran
The primary asset for electronic warfare in the USMC has been the venerable Grumman EA-6B Prowler (and to a lesser extent, recently, RQ-7 Shadow UAVs). These airframe utilize the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System (TJS) to monitor and disrupt threat radars and communications on the battlefield. Lately during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, the Prowler (in addition to US Navy and Airforce EW assets) to jam cell phone integrated improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The Prowler has been in USMC service since the early 1970′s and due to airframe age have very recently been replaced by the EA-18G Growler, in US Navy service. The USMC has no plans to operate the Growler and will gradually phase the Prowler out to opt for an EW version of the F-35 Lightning 2. As for 2013, the USMC operated 4 squadrons (called VMAQs-) of Prowlers.
The decision of the USMC to opt for an EW version of the F-35 is already pretty controverisal. The USMC will operated the F-35B (the STOVL) version. It’s unknown whether or not the USMC will develop an “electronic attack” version of the F-35B (perhaps EF-35B) or add EW as another task for the F-35 to d0. The later would be possbile in terms of hardware given the AESA radar but in high threat environs, the single pilot would likely become task saturated. Most likely, the USMC would depend on the Navy’s Growlers and the USAF EC-130 aircraft. In a high threat “day-one” area either aircraft wouldn’t be able to escort the F-35. Most likely, both the EC-130 and Growler provide jamming coverage in at a relatively safer distance from a target area i.e “stand-off jamming.”
Meanwhile facing IED threats in Afganistan, the gradual drawdown of the USMC’s Prowler fleet, and continued delays in the F-35, the USMC would be left without an organic EW capability. It was recently revealed in 2008 that the USMC has developed a “podded” EW solution, called the Intrepid Tiger II for it’s Harrier fleet:
In 2008 the USMC took dealing with the improvised explosive devices threat into their own hands and what they ended up with was a cost effective and highly adaptable jamming and communications intelligence pod that should be a model of how to satisfy future urgent “niche capability” needs.
It is called the Intrepid Tiger II and it looks very much like a ALQ-167 threat simulation podused for training by NAVAIR and its “Red Air” contractors. The pod itself is about the same size as a AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missile, with various aerials emitting from its tubular body. This configuration makes the pod capable of being deployed aboard the AV-8B Harrier jump-jet and its aerodynamic impact on the jet’s performance is so anemic that the aircraft’s flight computer does not even need a software update to carry it, it just treats it as an AGM-65 Maverick missile.
During the system’s rapid design phase, engineers made use of off the shelf parts in order to bring the program’s costs down and shorten the urgently needed pod’s developmental time-span. The first eight pods cost about a million dollars each, which is a bargain considering that anything with the words “new” and “military” next to it usually has an appalling price tag. When you look at what the Corps gets for that million bucks, Intrepid Tiger II is an all-out steal.
The Intrepid Tiger is also highly automated (there’s only one pilot in the Harrier) and can, interestingly be operated either by the pilot and/or a remote ground station via datalink. The USMC hope to integrate the pod with other airborne platforms (Hornet and Cobra chiefly). While Intrepid Tiger does provide a limited solution in the face of the drawdown of the Prowler, and it also provides theather commanders with another EW asset option as current options aviable are “low density, high deman” meaning there aren’t enough to go around. The downside is that the Harrier doesn’t have much of a loiter capability (if someone needs on-station coverage) and you aren’t getting the same capability in terms of jamming coverage and power as you would from a dedicated EW platform.
But hell, something is better than nothing and the USMC deserves kudos for coming up with something.
IMO, for the USMC to maintain an organic EW capabilty, they should opt for the Growler (an EW F-35 is a naive pipe dream and pointless gamble). The training infastructure is already there in the Navy and additional purchases would lower the unit costs. That said, because of the very high optempo of current national EW assets, Intrepid Tiger is a decent “ad hoc” organic EW platform and could develop into something useful for other services.
There’s something that you’ll want to go read over at I don’t know; ask the skipper:
It wasn’t necessarily his last flight evah. It was his last flight in that particular tour of duty, in that squadron, on that boat. Then again, there was certainly no guarantee of another sea-based sortie. This fella – if I remember the callsign correctly – we will refer to as Tex from this point forward. His call sign sounded similar. It might have even rhymed.
Make sure to add the blog to you daily read too. Lots of great stuff there.
What a great way to hang up the spurs.
Sort of Sir Julian Corbett meets Woody Allen. (“Ninety percent of life is just showing up”. ) From Forbes.com:
On Wednesday, Vietnamese officials announced that one of China’s ships intentionally rammed two of their Sea Guard vessels. The incidents took place on Sunday, the 4th. Six were injured, according to Hanoi.
“Chinese ships, with air support, sought to intimidate Vietnamese vessels,” said Tran Duy Hai of the Foreign Ministry at a news conference. Other officials said six other Vietnamese craft were hit.
The incidents occurred after China National Offshore Oil Corp., better known as CNOOC , had on May 2 towed a deep-water rig, the size of several football fields, to an area that Hanoi claims is within its exclusive economic zone, near the Paracel Islands.
This is not some commercial venture, nor can any Chinese incursion of this type ever be so considered.
…it is clear that the company was using the rig at Beijing’s behest. “This reflected the will of the central government and is also related to the U.S. strategy on Asia,”said a Chinese oil official, speaking anonymously to Reuters, about drilling in Vietnam’s waters. “It is not commercially driven. It is also not like CNOOC has set a big exploration blueprint for the region.”
It did not take long for Chinese leaders to test President Obama’s general commitment to maintain regional security after his eight-day, four-nation “reassurance” visit there at the end of last month. …This is the first time China has drilled in Vietnamese waters. Moreover, this is the first time Beijing openly used its “gray hulls”—navy ships—in close support of “white hulls”—civilian maritime craft—while enforcing a territorial claim, according to the Nelson Report, the Washington insider newsletter. There are seven Chinese naval ships in the vicinity of the rig.
Perhaps President Obama and his Administration can begin to appreciate the value of a truly global Navy with sufficient hulls and capabilities to protect US interests and that of her allies. An inadequate number of large, expensive capital ships cannot provide adequate forward presence in all the places in which such presence is required, irrespective of the relative combat power of the individual warship. Wednesday’s events near the Paracels provides an object lesson of precisely that. China’s example of the use of an “influence squadron” is a telling one. The PLA Navy is where the PRC wishes it to be in order to further Chinese interests. Those interests are being furthered at the direct expense of US interests. And the US Navy, stretched past the breaking point by global commitments with a shrinking force, is notably absent in the role of forward presence.
The entire episode of China’s expansion of exploration into the Paracels, the erecting of a massive rig structure, and the protection of that rig with Navy units shows also that The People’s Republic of China is no more intimidated by the hollow platitudes of President Obama’s guarantees to our Asian allies than Vladimir Putin is by Obama’s incessant harping on non-existent “consequences” for actions along Russia’s borders. Once again, we have rivals and potential adversaries who understand power. The ability to influence allies and enemies to act in a way which is in consonance with one’s national interests, and the willingness to use all the elements of national power to bring that about.
The common thread along both Russia’s western border and the South China Sea is a feckless and vacillating United States, whose statecraft is in the hands of naive and talentless amateurs who are rapidly dismantling their own military capabilties. Small wonder our allies are not reassured by the words of our President. Because, like our rivals East and West, they know those words are without consequence, because they are without the will (nor soon, the means) to give them meaning.
By now most of us have seen the above image of First Lady Michelle Obama holding a “hashtag” sign in reference to the kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian Christian girls by Islamic extremist terror group Boko Haram. Maddening as it is, the image is appropriately symbolic of the Obama Presidency. This silly idea that “Twitter” hashtags being circulated amongst empathetic bystanders somehow equates to actually DOING SOMETHING is right in line with the abysmally weak and ineffective foreign policy of her husband’s administration. Which is to say bold and serious talk of “red lines” and “changing calculus” is accompanied by stern warnings and finger wagging, talk of “consequences”, “sanctions”, and “pivots”, all amounting, like this hashtag nonsense, to nothing at all of any value or consequence.
Worse, Michelle Obama’s meaningless little stunt comes after her husband’s State Department assiduously avoided labeling Boko Haram as a terrorist organization for more than four years. The burning of churches, the murder and torture of thousands of Nigerian Christians, elicited not a peep from Michelle Obama. She seems only now to care in the slightest because Boko Haram’s campaign of terror and murder can be seen as a “women’s issue”. And Lord knows she needs to be at the front lines in the “War on Women”. Just like Hillary Clinton, who now sees Boko Haram as “abominable” and “criminal”, committing “terrorist acts”. For the four years in which the State Department dithered in labeling Boko Haram as terrorists, however, the Secretary of State was that very same Hillary Clinton.
Also, Michelle, the abducted girls are not “yours”. Even though you think some idiotic picture of you with a “hashtag” showing “support” makes them so. They are the children of parents who have lived in fear of violence and death at the hands of these Islamic extremists for half a decade. Those extremists are armed partially by the very same weapons, and trained by the very same fighters, that your husband’s administration provided when it shipped arms to in Libya to overthrow a docile Khaddafi, all the while “leading from behind”. Those Islamic extremists have now metastasized across Africa, into Mali, and the CAR, Algeria, and northern Nigeria. Boko Haram is, in no small part, what it is because of the wildly misguided and irresponsible policies of Barack Hussein Obama.
Men such as those that comprise Boko Haram and the other malignant Islamist terrorists that are soaking Africa’s sand with blood, Christian and Muslim? They cannot be reasoned with. They are not open to “negotiation” or “beer summits”. Your pathetic display is fodder for their humor, as it shows how intellectually and morally weak you are. Such men as Boko Haram are not men with whom one can live peacefully, ever. No, those men need to be killed. When it comes to that, other men, good men, far better men than your husband, leave their loved ones to face the danger and the fear, to risk everything to keep the wolves at bay. They go because their country calls them to go. And because they know that the safety of those they love depends on their willingness to put their lives on the line to kill those with whom peaceful coexistence is impossible.
And when some of those good, brave men die keeping us safe, we honor them and remember them. Men like Ty Woods and Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Chris Stevens. Part of that ceremony involves the respectful handling of the symbol of the nation they fought and died for. That’s right, Michelle. All that for a flag. Because their sacrifice is what stands between our children and Boko Haram. And they gave their last full measure of devotion. While you tweeted. Which is why you will never understand about the flag. Much to your lasting shame. Such men have always been proud of their country, even if you aren’t. Because you haven’t the wherewithal to understand why you should be.
Since xbradtc blogged about this earlier in the week, I’m thowing up a cutaway for the latest incarnation of the western world’s (i.e. non-Russian) largest helicopter (that’d be helo to the NAVY/USMC team and “chopper” to the Army). This done is taken from the King Stallion’s website at Sikorsky:
Well, actually, more a timeline.
Our fellow long-time Moron ArthurK has been “liveblogging” the Battle of Guadalcanal on twitter.
He’s also covering the great battles of Coral Sea, and presumably Midway.
Follow him at:
Coral Sea and Midway would reverse the tide of the Japanese Navy, making possible the attack through the open Central Pacific.
But the epic struggle of Guadalcanal would be just as critical, opening the drive through the Solomons, and leading the way to the little known, but incredibly important drive through the Southwest Pacific. It was the SWP that held the resources Japan had gone to war for, and it was the drive there that would, in time, cut Japan off from them.
The United States Navy SEALs have a a relatively short but active history in the United States special operations community. During World War 2 they were orignally called “amphibious scout and raiders” that conducted reconaisance of enemy beachheads. Formally established as SEAL (SEa Air Land) Teams on 1 Janurary 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, they have partcipated an all major conflicts since Vietnam (and including some that we’ll never know about).
SEALs, with good reason, normally shun any kind of publicity. I like to say that if someone tells you they’re a SEAL, the odds are that they aren’t. More recently, the mass-media attention surrounding Operation Neptune Spear (and in particular SEAL Team 6) and a spate of movies has turned the public’s attention towards The Teams. Photographer Stephanie Fried-Perenchio’s collection of photographs, in the book, SEAL: The Unspoken Sacrifice captures roughly 12 years of SEAL daily life and that of thier families and especially the neverending Team deployments in support of the Global War On Terror.
On May 8th at 6pm cst, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library will be have photographs on display from SEAL: The Unspoken Sacrifice,with the photographer, Stephanie Fried-Perenchio in attendance as well as artifacts donated from the Navy Seal Museum. In addition, there will be an offical Navy photo exhibit commemerating SEALs killed in training or action since 9/11/01.
The event is open to the public and will be a reception featuring the book’s author and retired SEALs. The cost for admission is $20 and again is open to the public.
You can purchase ticket for the event here.
I hope to see you there.
If readers aren’t in the Chicagoland area but know people are and would be interested in this event please pass this information on.
I’d also kindly and respectfully ask any Mil-bloggers to assist in getting the word out about this event.
Information Dissemination contributor (and Salamander Front Porch regular) Lazarus lays out a good plan which should ring slightly familiar. Laz’s post contains far more practical information than my conceptual musings, and I am very pleased to see the ideas be floated in such a widely-read forum as ID.
A Ticonderoga class cruiser shorn of most of its combat systems, operations, and supply departments would qualify for nucleus crew status. A U.S. nucleus crew might spend a week to 10 days per quarter underway with these opportunities spread out rather than concentrated in one at sea event. Underway periods need be no greater than 24 hours in duration in order to provide elements of basic crew training. Crews could eat pre-prepared meals for short underway periods, and a shore-based centralized supply office could support individual ship’s logistics and maintenance support needs. All CGs selected for such a program would be assigned to geographic areas relatively free from foul weather sortie requirements. The program would need to be flexible in order to be resilient through periods of fluctuating budget support.
Lazarus points to the wear and tear that the Ticos have endured, and is far more diplomatic than I have been about the cause of their “rapid aging”.
Shortfalls in training and maintenance in the decade of the 2000’s as highlighted in the Balisle report further indicate the class has been proverbially “put away wet” without necessary attention as well.
In short, a bunch of senior Naval Officers, including a number of Admirals, decided that skimping on maintenance and manpower was a good way to save money. For all of their MBAs and other service experience, that cabal of Officers cost this country and its Navy BILLIONS of dollars in premature retirement of fully capitalized assets, by formulating a stupid and short-sighted plan that ignored the very fundamentals of equipment operation that any Vocational High School Equipment Maintenance and Repair teacher could have taught them in ten minutes.
I do hope someone is listening at Big Navy. Otherwise more valuable assets and taxpayer treasure go down the drain for the stubborn stupidity of our Navy’s leadership.
It’s “Beat up on LCS Day” at CDR Salamander’s. First, we’ll steal a document from the good CDR himself about the origins of the Little Crappy Ship. Note the extensive use of subjective adjectives, vice concrete, measurable metrics.
Indeed, the only hard number in the document is the 50 knot speed, which drove so much of the design process that it overwhelmed pretty much any chance of a reasonable outcome.
Of course, in contrast, one of the comments links to this document on how the “design to cost” approach to the Patrol Frigate (which would become the FFG-7 class frigate” was quite specific on just what the ship would entail.
One of the strengths of the program management of the PF was a very clear vision of just what the ship was intended to do. That vision drove the decisions of which features to include. In contrast, the LCS document emphasized features such as “netted” and other rot. Just what the ship was intended to do in the mission areas was a tad vague. The inshore ASW portion looks a lot like an underpants gnome business model.
Today is the 25th of April. It is ANZAC Day, commemorating the 99th anniversary of the landings of 31,000 men of The Australian Division, and the Australian-New Zealand Division (reinforced with two batteries of mountain guns) on the crescent-shaped portion of beach known as Ari Burnu, forever after known as Anzac Cove.
The ANZAC landing began before dawn on 25 April 1915, and was initially unopposed, By mid-morning, however, Turkish troops under LtCol Mustapha Kemal had reacted strongly and taken the landing beaches and the precariously shallow Dominion positions under rifle, machine gun, and artillery fire. Unable to move forward, and hanging onto hillside rocks and scrapes, ANZAC Commander MajGen Sir William Birdwood asked to have the beach-head evacuated.
The Royal Navy argued that such an evacuation, particularly under fire, was impractical. So Birdwood was ordered to stay, with the advice given by General Sir Ian Hamilton to “dig, dig, dig!”. It is from this message, many conclude, that the ANZACs became known as the “diggers”. Despite herculean efforts and near-suicidal courage, including the tragically costly landings at Sulva Bay in August of 1915, the stalemate was never broken. Unable to advance, with no evacuation possible, the ANZACs remained locked in their initial positions, enduring conditions even more horrendous than those on the Western Front, until finally pulled out as a part of the general evacuation of the Gallipoli Operation in December of 1915.
ANZAC Day has become a day of remembrance for all Australian and New Zealand war dead, but remains especially poignant for the nearly 13,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who gave their lives in the foothills of the Bari Sair Mountains, in the eight months of hell on Earth that was Anzac Cove.
At the going down of the sun,
and in the morning,
we will remember them.
The Chinese have slavishly copied the US Navy’s techniques and procedures as they learn to operate tactical jets from their first carrier, the Liaoning. Apparently, the also realize the critical importance of releasing “hooah” vids.
Spill thought this was pretty cheesy. I thought it was pretty good, though obviously not “homemade” the way most US vids are.
URR posted about an article by William Lind. Lots of people immediately panned the article (and by my lights, rightly so), mostly about the intellectual incuriosity of junior officers.
CDR Salamander, of course, took a poke at the article. But he also gives credit where due on some parts of Lind’s piece. For my money, the biggest structural problem in the officer corps is the stupendously bloated staff sizes. Your mileage may vary.
As with so many posts at CDR Sal’s, the real fun is in the comments. That’s your reading assignment for today.
From The American Conservative. Bill Lind, one of the authors of Fourth Generation Warfare, is often a bit of a scratchy contrarian who is firmly convinced of his own infallibility when it comes to military theory. Lind has never served in uniform, and often his condescending pontification and admonitions of “You’re doing it all wrong!” to US military thinkers causes his views to be dismissed out of hand. But Lind is very smart, and often had nuggets of insight that deserve our consideration. Here are a few from his TAC article:
Even junior officers inhabit a world where they hear only endless, hyperbolic praise of “the world’s greatest military ever.” They feed this swill to each other and expect it from everyone else. If they don’t get it, they become angry. Senior officers’ bubbles, created by vast, sycophantic staffs, rival Xerxes’s court. Woe betide the ignorant courtier who tells the god-king something he doesn’t want to hear.
What defines a professional—historically there were only three professions, law, medicine, and theology—is that he has read, studied, and knows the literature of his field. The vast majority of our officers read no serious military history or theory.
While my personal experience has been that Marine Officers tend to read and discuss military history, it could be that I gravitate toward those who do. I will admit that I am chagrined at the numbers of Officers of all services who have seemingly no interest in doing so.
Lind also identifies what he calls “structural failings”:
The first, and possibly the worst, is an officer corps vastly too large for its organization—now augmented by an ant-army of contractors, most of whom are retired officers. A German Panzer division in World War II had about 21 officers in its headquarters. Our division headquarters are cities. Every briefing—and there are many, the American military loves briefings because they convey the illusion of content without offering any—is attended by rank-upon-rank of horse-holders and flower-strewers, all officers.
Command tours are too short to accomplish anything, usually about 18 months, because behind each commander is a long line of fellow officers eagerly awaiting their lick at the ice-cream cone… Decisions are committee-consensus, lowest common denominator, which Boyd warned is usually the worst of all possible alternatives. Nothing can be changed or reformed because of the vast number of players defending their “rice bowls.” The only measurable product is entropy.
The second and third structural failings are related because both work to undermine moral courage and character, which the Prussian army defined as “eagerness to make decisions and take responsibility.” They are the “up or out” promotion system and “all or nothing” vesting for retirement at 20 years. “Up or out” means an officer must constantly curry favor for promotion because if he is not steadily promoted he must leave the service. “All or nothing” says that if “up or out” pushes him out before he has served 20 years, he leaves with no pension. (Most American officers are married with children.)
It is not difficult to see how these… structural failings in the officer corps morally emasculate our officers and all too often turn them, as they rise in rank and near the magic 20 years, into ass-kissing conformists.
I cannot help but notice the truth that rings from much of what Lind asserts. I have made some of those very same assertions myself on more than a few occasions. Give the article a read. What does the gang here think? Is Lind on target? If so, how do we fix it? Can it be fixed?