Thursday, March 23, 2017

Diversity Thursday

If this weren't such a serious topic, I'd have more fun with it ... but my humor leans dark, so why not?

It is important on some DivThu that we have time to enjoy a good chortle. Of course, being that it is DivThu, there are certain thematic requirements and a need for a leavening agent of schadenfreude.

As we all know, from your command website to the composition of the USNA Color Guard, the Navy's branch of the Diversity Industry is obsessed with optics. They want pictures to be "diverse" even though they may have absolutely zero reflection of the demographics of the topic at hand.

Does not matter ... it is all about the optics and counting each face so that you have the "correct" type of jellybeans in the visual.

As we all know, they can go overboard. The best are when they are at a command that is 75% "white male" and yet, "white males" are only in 20% of the pictures.

Good times ... good times ... but the Commissar is happy.

How does this get to a point of humor besides the usual photo asshattery? Here's an example. 

I think the Diversity Bullies lost the bubble a bit.

As Admiral Mullen and Roughead insisted, and their politics maintain their inertia today, I have to take diversity in to consideration in everything I do. So what does diversity have to tell us about domestic violence? 

Let's see what our GMT is messaging to us.

So, what you're saying here is that domestic violence isn't a problem with European heterosexual couples?

OK. Good to know.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why the Third Offset Should Not be First in Your Hearts

If you've heard it once in the last year, you've heard it a thousand times.

Third Offset.

There is a good argument against it over at USNIBlog.

Stop by and give it a read.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

SM-6 and the Changing Calculus

An ongoing story in the Darwinian nature of war is the contest between the dominance of defense and offense. Especially acute on land - something 100-yrs on from WWI we are still talking about - it also applies at sea.

The last decade, much talk on the surface side of the house has been A2AD, ASBM, and a buzzword I like less every time I use it "distributed lethality," and the need to somehow find a way to get back in the anti-surface warfare fight at range.

Slowly and deliberately making it to the fleet, the SM-6 is showing all the signs of being the weapon we need now, and need in number.

As reported by Kris Osborne at The National Interest;
The Pentagon simultaneously fired two Standard Missile-6 weapons in rapid succession at a single ballistic missile target to asses new seeker technology and solidify the weapon's ability to ensure destruction of approaching enemy targets.

Using an emerging "active seeker" technology, two SM-6 missiles were able to simultaneously track and destroy a single target, greatly improving the probability of a target kill.
...
The SM-6 is unique in several respects; the weapon uses what is called an "active" seeker, meaning it can send a signal or electromagnetic ping forward in addition to receiving them. Electromagnetic signals, which travel at the speed of light, send a signal forward before analyzing the return signal to determine the shape, size, speed or configuration of an approaching threat. Since the speed of light is known, and the time of travel is able to be determined, a computer algorithm is able to calculate the exact distance of an object. Portions of this technology are built into the SM-6, using software upgrades.

An "active seeker" gives the missile to better attack maneuvering or moving targets at sea, because it does not need to rely upon a ship-based illuminator to bounce a signal off a target for a merely "passive" seeker to receive.

This is the technology which allows a ship commander to fire several SM-6 missiles in more rapid succession or closer to one another in the event that a target needs to be attacked with more than one missile.
Yes, in my head I'm counting VLS cells and wanting more, but nothing is perfect;
Compared with the SM-3, the ship-fired SM-6 interceptor is designed to track and destroy closer-in-threats such as a ballistic missile in the "terminal" phase of decent to its target.

The weapon has been established with an ability to knock out ballistic missiles approaching from the sky.
Of course, it is one thing to have mastery of defense and break the confidence your opponent may have in his offensive systems, but what about your offense? Here's the sexy part;
More recently, the weapon has been developed for a number of new "offensive" missions including surface attacks against enemy ships or defensive intercepts against anti-ship missiles closer to the surface.
Back to what we had with SM-1 but lost with SM-2. Good.  We also have the standard AAW ability;
The SM-6 has also been capable of anti-air defense, equipped with an ability to attack or destroy enemy helicopters, drones and other approaching threats. The weapon has now been established as defensive, offensive and capable of three distinct missions; they are surface warfare, anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense.
More testing and then ... get 'ye to the fleet.

One note of caution. We should be a bit more humble. Good-man-Mike had me sucking my teeth a bit;
"You now have absolute assurance of hit no matter what the threat is doing. If the threat takes a turn and does something weird and the first missile is unable to sense it and engage it, the second missile will," Mike Campisi, SM-6 Senior Director, Raytheon, told Scout Warrior in an interview.
Never say you have "absolute assurance" of anything at sea. Mother Ocean and Mars love to make a fool of you from your own over-confidence.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Bigger Navy? What About Our Human Capital?

In our desire to grow to a 350+ ship Navy, rightfully the first place people start to look is the budget. Without the money, all else is simply theories and talk.

Let's make the assumption that the money shows up. So, we just start rolling ships off the assembly line? Well, not so fast.

A partial answer is provided in a nice article from Mike Stone via Reuters
“It has historically taken five years to get someone proficient in shipbuilding," said Maura Dunn, vice president of human resources at Electric Boat.

It can take as many as seven years to train a welder skilled enough to make the most complex type of welds, radiographic structural welds needed on a nuclear-powered submarine, said Will Lennon, vice president of the shipyard's Columbia Class submarine program.

The Navy envisioned by Trump could create more than 50,000 jobs, the Shipbuilders Council of America, a trade group representing U.S. shipbuilders, repairers and suppliers, told Reuters.

The U.S. shipbuilding and repairing industry employed nearly 100,000 in 2016, Labor Department statistics show. The industry had as many as 176,000 workers at the height of the Cold War in the early 1980s as the United States built up a fleet of nearly 600 warships by the end of that decade.
The only way to grow our fleet is to grow our skilled trades, not an unknown challenge. Especially as the last wave of Baby Boomers just get too old for this line of work & we still suffer under an, "everyone must go to college" mindset, the human capital problem will only intensify. This is a good start.
To help grow a larger labor force from the ground up, General Dynamics' Electric Boat has partnered with seven high schools and trade schools in Connecticut and Rhode Island to develop a curriculum to train a next generation of welders and engineers.
Mike Rowe can't do all the heavy lifting on this culture shift. We need a change in attitude. Instead of having people get six figures in debt to get an otherwise unemployable degree in Sociology or Left Handed Latvian Lesbian Studies - what if we invested that in helping interested people learn a trade? It is a trade that pays well.
The two largest U.S. shipbuilders, General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc (HII.N), told Reuters they are planning to hire a total of 6,000 workers in 2017 just to meet current orders, such as the Columbia class ballistic missile submarine.

General Dynamics hopes to hire 2,000 workers at Electric Boat this year. Currently projected order levels would already require the shipyard to grow from less than 15,000 workers, to nearly 20,000 by the early 2030s, company documents reviewed by Reuters show.

Huntington Ingalls, the largest U.S. military shipbuilder, plans to hire 3,000 at its Newport News shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, and another 1,000 at the Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi this year to fulfill current orders, spokeswoman Beci Brenton said.
There is a sustainability issue to be concerned about as well. One that signals a need to take things slow and easy. No one is going to get hired on a promise, and one would hope for a career if you were going to go in to a field. No one goes in to a line of work to get laid off.

So, perhaps we should not be in all that much of a hurry. Have industry tell us what they can effectively digest, and then we should try to dovetail any increase along those lines. Perhaps this pressure will accelerate automation where it can be done.
Makers of submarine components such as reactor cores, big castings, and forgers of propellers and shafts would need five years to double production, said a congressional official with knowledge of the Navy’s long-term planning.

"We have been sizing the industrial base for two submarines a year. You can’t then just throw one or two more on top of that and say, 'Oh here, dial the switch and produce four reactor cores a year instead of two.' You just can't," the official said.

In his first budget proposal to Congress on Thursday, Trump proposed boosting defense spending by $54 billion for the fiscal 2018 year – a 10 percent increase from last year. He is also seeking $30 billion for the Defense Department in a supplemental budget for fiscal 2017, of which at least $433 million is earmarked for military shipbuilding.

A 350-ship Navy would cost $690 billion over the 30-year period, or $23 billion per year - 60 percent more than the average funding the Navy has received for shipbuilding in the past three decades, the Congressional Budget Office said.
Boring topic? Perhaps, but if you want a larger, more sustainable and scaleable Navy - it's sexy.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

WESTPAC's Progress with Toshi Yosihara - on Midrats



While a new American President, Russia, and ongoing operations against the Islamic State continue to absorb attention, the Western Pacific from Japan, Korea, China, to Australia continues forward.

Our guest to discuss all the latest developments Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Toshi Yoshihara.

A prior guest on Midrats, Dr. Yoshihara is a Senior Fellow at CSBA. Before joining CBSA he held the John A. van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies at the U.S. Naval War College where he taught strategy for over a decade.

He is co-author of Red Star over the Pacific: China's Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy, which has been listed on the Chief of Naval Operation’s Professional Reading Program since 2012. Translations of Red Star over the Pacific have been published in China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

He has also co-authored Indian Naval Strategy in the Twenty-first Century and Chinese Naval Strategy in the Twenty-first Century: The Turn to Mahan. He is co-editor of Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age: Power, Ambition, and the Ultimate Weapon and Asia Looks Seaward: Power and Maritime Strategy. His articles have appeared in Journal of Strategic Studies, Asian Security, Washington Quarterly, Orbis, World Affairs, Comparative Strategy, Strategic Analysis, Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, and Naval War College Review. The Naval War College Review awarded him the Hugh G. Nott Prize for best article of 2010.

He holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and a B.S.F.S. from the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio or Stitcher

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Libya; Just Say No

Believe it or not, there are those from both the American right and left that want us to get MORE involved in the mess that is Libya.

I don't think so ... and am pondering a bit over at USNIBlog.

Come by and give it a read.

Between Surrender, Retreat, and Damage Control in the Culture Wars


In my dark moments, I easily fall back in to the place I was in October of 2015. I re-read it over the weekend after I used it in a reply over at twitter. I think it ages just fine.

You “stick to the maritime and national security issues” folks may want to stop now, as I’m going to indulge myself on some introspection along the lines of religion and culture – something I used to do more often here in the past. The long-term members of the Front Porch are used to this – but if you new kiddies don’t mind a little oversharing and more-than-usual scattermindedness, stick around. You might find something of interest.

Decoupling from a tottering structure is not an unusual place to be in the scheme of things. Sure, I plan on raging against the fading light, but what when the light is gone? Fun stuff, I know.

I’m not alone in this corner of thinking. Now and then I find someone I respect rhyming on that vibe in their own way, and I feel a little better about the funk that seems to come in and out of my consciousness like a tide.

The last day or so I’ve been pondering a writer I’ve been following for the better part of two decades. I used to read him a lot more than I used to, but when I see his by-line floating by, I always try to reach out and grab it before something else grabs my attention; I’m talking about someone I consider one of the better of GenX’s public intellectuals; Rod Dreher.

His interview over at NR about his new book, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, brought me back to the religious issue I’ve had since I left Hawaii a decade and a half ago; I’m an unchurched evangelical.

I’ll get back to the interview pull quotes later in the post, but let me flesh out that, “unchurched evangelical” phrase a bit. A few years before I got kicked off FB, I got a lot of strange notes from people – as is the case often with religion – so I’ll try to tell this story a bit better and ask that if anyone gets their feelings hurt, it is not my intention. If anyone wants to argue esoteric points of one confession or another, please don’t do it with me. Thank you, but I’ve fine with my journey at this point, as imperfect and flawed as it is.

Anyway, before “getting dunked” in my mid-30s and finding a great, small Southern Baptist congregation on Oahu, twice I had been part of and then left my ancestral confession, the Presbyterian Church, due to their obsessive focus on overt secular far-left politics. We left as a family in the late 70s when there was a huge dust-up over sermons supporting … Sunday after Sunday … Communist revolution in Central America. We literally got up and left and never came back. 

I tried again in college in the 1980s and left for roughly the same reason; I did not come to Bible study or your services to have you talk about what you read in the latest edition of The Nation – I wanted to hear about Jesus, not Chomsky. That was also the time I started to understand Calvinist teachings about predestination and wanted to dig in to that, but the conversation always drifted back to the evils of American imperialism, so that simply was not going to work. Off I went to do my best to keep pace with John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester for a few years instead.

So, for a decade and a half I wandered, thirsty.

At the turn of the century, I found exactly what I was looking for; a small, Bible based, welcoming, diverse, tolerant congregation - got dunked, and then for a bit over a year, was a Sunday and Wednesday night Southern Baptist. Then I transferred to Norfolk.

Megachurch country. I don’t like big crowds and intellectual confinement. I really don’t like judgmental diktat that is not Bible based. I also don’t like person “A” saying their sin is of less concern than person “B’s” sin – and to be mean and nasty about it. I also don’t like the atmosphere of the Prosperity Gospel where the pastor lives in a manner well above their average parishioner. A lot of that in Norfolk, at least where I tried. Could not find a home.

I then moved to Europe. Besides the high holidays when a RAF Chaplain held English language Anglican services, we were unchurched in a 90% Catholic area.

Move back to the USA and home … and still; no place to call home, and life. Could not find a home … mostly because I got tired of looking. My fault this time, really.

So, we keep it in the home … mostly. Well, mostly me; imperfectly. The kids got a mix of Christian and secular private education, but not since they were small were they really part of a Church community. They share their father’s philosophy about crowds and scolds I have found, so trying for force a fit would not have worked out well. A Christian family, yes. Church going? Not so much this decade.

That outlines where your quasi-humble blogger is coming from, now back to Rod. Rod is Orthodox – a convert - and that really isn’t an option here as I’m not Russian or Greek or Syrian – and the Orthodox Churches in my area code are exceptionally ethnic in this regard. That and I’m not a fan of all the “extras.”

Ditto the Catholic Church. I can’t be a member of that confession for a lot of reasons, but I do like to be a buttress – supporting it from the outside. Always impressed with Catholic priests and the exceptional intellectual work they do, but I just can’t take the whole package.

That is why Rod’s observations appeal to me. We are roughly the same age, both Southerners, share a similar world view in a few areas (see his 2002 essay, “Crunchy Cons” that turned in to the 2006 book) and have not dissimilar life experiences outside our professional lives.

Here are some pull quotes from the interview;
A number of people are under the false impression that The Benedict Option is a call to head for the hills. It’s not. The book is about the crisis of Western civilization and Western Christianity, and about how believers living in this post-Christian culture can respond faithfully to it. We are not called to be monks. Our vocation is to live in the world. But how can we do that while facing challenges that Christians have not had to face for 1,500 years? Pope Benedict XVI said that we are living through a period of disruption comparable to the fall of the Roman Empire. I think he’s right. That’s why I say we lay Christians of the 21st century need to look at how St. Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century responded to the collapse of his own civilization. There are lessons for us there.
...
...we have a lot to be alarmed about. In addition to the considerable geopolitical turmoil in the world today, the state of the churches in the West is weak. The faith is flat on its back in Europe. We have long considered the United States to be a counterexample to European secularization, but research over the past ten years is conclusive: America is now headed down the same declining spiritual path. The Millennial generation rejects religious belief in percentages never before seen. Older Christians like to comfort themselves by saying that the young people will come back when they get older. It’s not really true. Plus, the content of the Christian faith that people actually profess has decayed dramatically from its historic orthodoxy. Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith and his team have documented exhaustively that among younger Americans, the faith is only nominally Christian in terms of its content. They have cast aside coherent, biblically consistent Christianity for a shallow, feel-good counterfeit that Smith calls “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” This is not the kind of Christianity that will endure — but this is the Christianity that most Americans hold. In my travels to Christian colleges, both Evangelical and Catholic, I hear the same thing from professors: Our students are coming to us from churches, families, and Christian schools knowing next to nothing about their faith. Contemporary American Christianity is a house built on sand.
...
This is a book about Christian hope, which is not the same thing as optimism. I don’t believe that we have a lot of cause to be optimistic these days, but we have every reason to hope. Look at the Benedictines of Norcia, who are not defeated by the disaster they have suffered, but are drawing deeply on their faith and traditions to overcome it. I hope that my book encourages all believers to do the same.
...
When I started writing the book, I asked my friend Michael Hanby, a philosopher at Catholic University of America, for his advice. He said, “Ask yourself: ‘What would Karol Wojtyla do?’” I didn’t understand what he was getting at. He said that when the Nazis invaded Poland, they sought to crush the Polish nation by erasing its memory of what it meant to be Polish, and what it meant to be Catholic. The future Pope St. John Paul II and his circle realized that the most important form of resistance they could offer was to keep that cultural memory alive. They wrote and performed plays about the faith, and about patriotism. They did this under fear of death. If the Gestapo had found them, they would have imprisoned them all, and maybe killed them. But culture was that important to the survival of the nation, and those Poles risked everything to keep the story alive.
...
It is very practical, very much geared to everyday life. He is a saint for our time and place, just as he was for the sixth century. I hope that my book helps all Christians — Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox alike — find their way through the darkness, to Christ.
From a religious point of view, his journey to Constantinople found better rooting than my trip for a dunking at a beach in Hawaii. Good for him. As for his view of our future, I think he might be on to something. More pondering required.