Monday, October 23, 2017

On to the Next Stage of Foreverwar

As the last few blocks are being cleared of the Islamic State's fighters in their capital Raqqa, let's review the core of PLAN SALAMANDER from a little over two years ago;
Let the Iranians and Russians kill Sunni Arab Islamists in the west of Syria while we kill them in the east. How about this: we'll kill them east of the Euphrates and south of road from Nassib in the southwest, through Damascus to Deir ez-Zur on the Euphrates. The Russians, Syrians, and Iranian proxies can kill them in the rest. Once they are done in the north and west, we can just do CAS for the Kurds on the front lines of their frontier as we all push IS forces in to the Iraqi desert.
Though adjusted in REV. 1 four months ago, that holds up well over time.

Note a key word in the above, "kill." That is the best long-term solution to the question of what to do with the Islamic States fighters. Kill them there before they get back here. 

You kill them as they are non-state actors and unlawful combatants. They will continue to kill until they have assume room temperature. Eliminating their "caliphate" and taking their capital does undermine their Strategic Center of Gravity (The religious justification for their existence), it does not eliminate the threat.

In may, SECDEF Mattis outlined what was really the only way to properly end the Islamic State;
Mattis pointed to the battles for Mosul and Tal Afar as models for how these tactics will be implemented in other places. In both cases, forces on the ground, some with U.S. help, have surrounded IS targets to try to prevent Islamic State militants from retreating and foreign fighters from leaving the battlefield to return home. The forces then advance and clear these cities block by block, a hard task that takes time. This is what Mattis described as annihilation. The Islamic State’s greatest strength on the battlefield has been its ability to retreat and regroup, and the goal of annihilation is to destroy that strength.
We won't get them all. Every day more and more who stayed at home are getting radicalized in place and are just looking for an opportunity.

We've seen so much already, no one should be surprised what is on the way.
Now, those cities have fallen to American-backed forces, but the number of combat-hardened returnees has been much smaller than anticipated, if still worrisome, counterterrorism officials say. That is in part because the Trump administration intensified its focus on preventing fighters from seeping out of those cities, and more militants fought to the death than expected. Hundreds also surrendered in Raqqa, and some probably escaped to new battlegrounds in Libya or the Philippines.

“We’re not seeing a lot of flow out of the core caliphate because most of those people are dead now,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, said last week. “Some of them are going to go to ground.”
And so we are at the next phase: their "big pond" has dried up. Like the walking catfish, they are now scattering about looking for new ponds. Due to the self-loathing policies of decades, in Western Europe there are plenty of small ponds nearby for them to find, hide, swim and plan in. In Africa and SE Asia, opportunities abound.
Some 40,000 fighters from more than 120 countries poured into the battles in Syria and Iraq over the past four years, American officials say. Of the more than 5,000 Europeans who joined those ranks, as many as 1,500 have returned home, including many women and children, and most of the rest are dead or still fighting, according to Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s top counterterrorism official.
...
“I’ve been saying for a long time that there won’t be a ‘flood’ of returnees, rather a steady trickle, and that’s what we are seeing,” said Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study for Radicalization at King’s College London. “Many of them are stuck in the Turkish border areas, where they are contemplating their next move.”

As it becomes harder for the Islamic State to plan attacks from Iraq and Syria, some plotters may have also moved to the Philippines or to Libya. The bomber who killed 22 people at a pop concert in Manchester, England, in May had met in Libya with members of an Islamic State unit linked to the Paris attacks, according to current and retired intelligence officials.
...
“It only takes one or two fighters to slip through the cracks back to Europe — armed with militant knowledge or even instructions by their handlers — to wreak havoc and bring ISIS back to the TV screens,” said Laith Alkhouri, a director at Flashpoint, a business risk intelligence company in New York that tracks militant threats and cyberthreats.

That cold reality is pressuring European politicians and policymakers to erect or strengthen the legal frameworks and institutions needed to identify, arrest, prosecute and imprison foreign fighters before they can build new networks or join existing ones, wherever they end up.
Europe, Australia, and even the United States already have a low-grade insurgency in place. Policy makers need to plan for what is coming. We can't kill them all.
Some fighters leaving conflict zones seem to have been briefed in detail on how to act when they encountered government authorities, in an apparent attempt to ensure that they would not be deported to countries where they may be arrested, the United Nations report noted. That might indicate a deliberate attempt by Islamic State leaders to establish a presence in different regions, the report concluded.

The report said people returning from these conflict zones fell into three broad categories: First, those who were disenchanted by their experiences in Iraq or Syria and were good candidates to be reintegrated into society.

Second, a much smaller group who return intending to conduct terrorist attacks. And third, individuals who have cut ties with the Islamic State and are disillusioned by the organization, but who remain radicalized and are ready to join another terrorist group should the opportunity arise.

“It is an incredibly difficult adversary,” Mr. Pompeo said at a security conference in Washington last week. “They still have the capacity to control and influence citizens all around the world.”

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fullbore Friday

Does this guy look badass enough for you?

You have no idea
.

In the summer of 1897 tribesmen of the North-western frontier of India (now a part of Pakistan) began attacking and intimidating British forces in the area. The Indian Government decided that the unprovoked attacks by the Afridis and the Orakzais tribesmen could not go unpunished and decided that a show of force in Tirah, the tribe’s summer home, was appropriate. Accordingly, Sir William Lockhart was ordered out from Britain and

appointed to command a force of 32,882 officers and soldiers. The intention was to advance into the Chagru valley on 20 October but the Alikhel tribesmen had seen the preparation of a mountain road by the army working parties.

They anticipated the route to be taken by the army and occupied the village of Dargai and the Narik spur. This formed the western boundary of the valley and completely dominated the road along which the Expeditionary Force was to descend. It was therefore necessary to dislodge the tribesmen from their position. The water supply of Dargai was some distance away from the village and General Palmer saw that adjacent heights would have to be taken if it were to be reached. The tribesmen were not expected back and the order to retire was given. Two companies of the Gordon Highlanders were left to hold the tribesmen in check till the other regiments had taken up a new position. First one company was ordered to retire and then the other. Only half of the last company remained when the enemy appeared behind them from over a hill only thirty yards away. The Gordon Highlanders promptly formed up as the enemy fired and rushed them thinking them defeated. The men stood their ground and killed six of the tribesmen only yards from them. The other tribesmen turned and ran.

General Kempster’s brigade was ordered to storm the Heights and the 1st Division was strengthened by the 2nd Derbyshires and the 3rd Sikhs. They were to be supported by three batteries with another on Samana Sukh if required. The Gurkhas, Dorsets and Derbys all suffered terrible casualties and were met by such intense fire, from only 200 yards away, that those who were not cut down in the charge could do no more than hold onto the position they had reached. Over 100 men lay dead and wounded. The tribesmen rejoiced, waving their standards and beating their drums as victory seemed assured. General Kempster ordered the Gordon Highlanders to the front. The Gordon Highlanders advanced. The dead and wounded of the other regiments were brought back. On getting to the spot reached by the Derbys and Dorsets, the Gordons lay under cover for three minutes as the guns again concentrated their fire on the summit.

The moment came to advance. The Pipe-Major of the Gordon Highlanders was superintending the bringing up of the reserve ammunition when the order to advance came through and he was still doing so when the order to charge was given. Lance-Corporal Piper Milne was the next most senior piper and he led Pipers Findlater, Fraser, Wills, and Kidd into action. In his despatch to the Adjutant-General in India on 9 December 1897, Sir William Lockhart recalled that, "The Gordon Highlanders went straight up the hill without check or hesitation. Headed by their pipers, and led by Lieut-Colonel Mathias, CB, with Major Macbean on his right and Lieutenant A F Gordon on his left, this splendid battalion marched across the open. It dashed through a murderous fire…" As the Gordon Highlanders burst into the field of fire Major Macbean fell almost immediately, shot through the thigh. He dragged himself to the shelter of a boulder and cheered on his men as they passed. A bullet hit Piper Milne in the chest and he fell, unable to continue. Three-quarters of the way across the exposed strip of land Piper Findlater was shot in the ankles. He fell and, leaning against a rock, continued to play his pipes as blood ran from his wounds, dying his kilt red. Of the five pipers who led the charge only Piper Kidd made it to the Heights.

The first division reached the sheltering rocks and paused for breath. As their numbers increased to 400 they started again up the precipitous path to the crest of the hill. Reaching the top they rushed along the succession of ridges as the tribesmen took flight. The position was won at 3.15pm. The Gordon Highlanders gave three cheers for Colonel Mathias. As he came over the last ascent the Colonel had rather breathlessly commented to a colour-sergeant, "Stiff climb, eh, Mackie? Not quite - so young - as I was - you know." With a friendly slap on his commanding officer’s back the sergeant replied, "Never mind, sir! Ye’re ga’un vara strong for an auld man!" Major-General Yeatman-Biggs reported favourably on several Gordon Highlanders. "Major F Macbean, who was the first to spring out of cover and lead his company to the attack... Piper Findlater, who after being shot through both feet and unable to stand, sat up under heavy fire playing the regimental march to encourage the charge... Private Lawson, who carried Lieutenant Dingwall, when wounded and unable to move, out of a heavy fire, and subsequently returned and brought in Private Macmillan, being himself wounded in two places in so doing... I recommend Piper Findlater and Private Lawson for the Victoria Cross."

Later, Findlater wrote, "I remember the Colonel addressing the regiment, telling them what they were expected to do. I remember again the order for the regiment to attack, and the order "Pipers to the front". I am told that the ‘Cock of the North’ was the tune ordered to be played, but I didn’t hear the order, and using my own judgement I thought that the charge would be better led by a quick strathspey, so I struck up ‘The Haughs o’ Cromdale’. The ‘Cock o’ the North’ is more of a march tune and the effort we had to make was a rush and a charge. The battle fever had taken hold of us and we thought not of what the other was feeling. Our whole interest being centred in self. Social positions were not thought of, and officers and men went forward with eagerness shoulder to shoulder. When I got wounded the feeling was as if I had been struck heavily with a stick. I remember falling and playing on for a short time; but I was bleeding profusely and in a few minutes sickened. I am told that the time I continued playing after falling was about five minutes. After the position was won, and the wounded taken to the rear, my first thoughts on recovery were how lucky I had been in getting off so easily. It never occurred to me that I had done anything to merit reward. What I did I could not help doing. It was a very great surprise when I was told that my action had been brave, and a recommendation had been made to award me the soldier’s prize - the VC."


I don't think the FbF is fully complete unless you know what these men followed up that hill. Here's "The Haughs o' Cromdale."



Hat tip Claude & David.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Diversity Thursday

After a couple of positive DivThu, time to bring things down a bit.

Remember, all these sectarian, Cultural Marxist fidget-spinners eventually find themselves in to the military branch of the Diversity Industry. Remember I warned you a few years ago about microaggression and safe spaces? Already inside the lifelines.

So will be one of the most openly racist byproducts of that fetid stew soon be in your local "Diversity and Inclusion" officer's nogg'n, if not already there;
Are the yellow Minifigures in the Lego universe white people? A Grade 8 social-studies class at Allan A. Martin Sr. Public School in Mississauga mulled this existential question on a recent afternoon while their teacher delivered a lesson on one of the most politically charged topics addressed in Canadian classrooms.

The lesson of the day was white privilege, the idea that white people enjoy unearned advantages due to their race. Her exercise was meant to show that white people receive greater public profile for many of the occupations society deems to be the most important. This isn't a required subject, but one Ms. Hardy has elected to teach for the past four years.
...
In the eighties, a white woman named Peggy McIntosh wrote a piece titled White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, which listed particular privileges white people have that many racialized people do not. It has become one of the key teacher resources on the subject in North America. She enumerated the daily effects of white privilege in her own life in the piece, among them: "I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed."

When a Grade 11 anthropology teacher at a high school in Caledon, Ont., passed out Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack to her class last spring, one of her students, Logan Boden, was skeptical. He declared white privilege to be a racist ideology. The teacher responded, "Coming from a white male …," according to Mr. Boden.

When he got home from school, he told his mother, Rebecca Knott, about what had happened. He'd encountered the term "white privilege" before that day and was surprised his teacher was bringing it up in class.

"I've seen a lot of social-justice warriors and feminists use the term … to shut people down, to say their opinion isn't valid because they're white," he said. "It's a term basically coined to make you feel bad for being white."
...
"We have to challenge our assumptions and work through them and sometimes that can be uncomfortable for people for a long period of time, especially if they're the ones who are benefiting from that privilege."

It's not just students and parents who have taken issue with the subject, but educators, too.

Mohammed Saleh, a teacher in Southern Ontario, leads workshops on white privilege for ETFO throughout the province. Many have elected to attend but others have been sent by their superintendents and don't hide their skepticism around the topic.

Some say this isn't an issue for them because all their students are white. Mr. Saleh tells them those students likely will venture beyond their homogeneous communities as adults.

The issue with the workshops is that only the truly committed turn what they learn into lessons for their students, says Sam Hammond, ETFO's president, and that's not enough.

"White privilege should be incorporated into the curriculum both at the faculty of education level and in the curriculum across the system in a non-colonialized way," he said.
Racism can only exist when good people allow it.

Stand up. Speak up.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

So, How is Your Cruiser Program Going?

A cruiser by any other name is still a cruiser.

I'm pondering the latest offering from the PLAN over at USNIBlog.

Come on by!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The line is holding ... but you can hear the load it is carrying

Many of the threads we've discussed here over the years have come together in this one deployment of a cruiser.

In all the discussions about what we need to do to remain the premier naval power in the world and the tools we provide our Navy to do it, there is a lot of theory talking about talking. That is natural, as it is easy to hide some problems from the general public and even those in "the know" when your greatest challenge is yourself. 

Often in peace, when things are not where they need to be nothing bad happens. Why should it? They system is not under stress. Likewise, when things are going real well, nothing really bad happens either. It is hard to find something that you can put your hands on to get a tactile feel of what is going on.

The USS MONTEREY (CG 61) just gave us one of those moments. We should take a moment to see why the world's largest Navy continues to show the signs - from retention to collisions at sea - of an organization under stress from overuse.

We did not get here by accident. From the rise of China, the demographic/economic/religious drivers of migration and terrorism, to the expansion of mid-20th Century weapons technology - all the threats we see evolved in clear sight.

How did we get there?

First of all are the 2nd and 3rd order effects of the manning concepts of the Transformationalists. Instead of seeing our Sailors as our greatest asset, they saw only costs. As a result, they were treated as green-eyeshade mentalities have always treated people as a cost.

The shambolic mess of at-sea manning speaks for itself.

Instead of joining a long, almost anonymous list of people making strong, steady progress in evolving the fleet step by step, they decided to reach for fame in an arrogant leap as none have done before - to succeed for their name - or sell the future of others to fate when it was time to make the flash flesh.

LCS, DDG-1000, CG(N?)-X, and the restart of the DDG-51 line speaks for itself.

Training and readiness were no longer seen as how one prepares and measures the ability to take ships and Sailors to go in harm's way when the time comes, but uncomfortable and difficult things that if not properly "shaped" might produce the wrong color on a stoplight PPT. Fudge, hedge, ignore.

The material condition of the SPRU as we decomm'd them were the first sign, and then to the everyday results of a the lack of depot level support requiring already undermanned ships to do that work themselves that we see today speaks for itself.

We will do more than less, not because it is the best thing to do, but because it is what we want to do to make the theory flesh, get our check in the block, and hopefully make it through the change of command ceremony without a bad FITREP, crunched ships, and dead Sailors.

The initial reports of the factors that led to the FITZGERALD and MCCAIN speaks for itself.

Instead of a natural progression from the TICO cruiser, we created an unaffordable, program and technology risk laden monster that went nowhere. We still do not have a modern frigate - or any frigates for that matter. We tried to force-mode a "no frigate" requirements on a world that demanded them. We still do not have a DDG-X design. Will the Arleigh Burkes become the Navy's B-52, where four generations of a family will serve on the same platform?

And in OCT of 2017, where have two decades of malpractice gotten us? We find ourselves at the second half of the second decade of the 21st Century surrounded by threats in hostile waters we watched grow for years and did little ... and are found wanting not by some exotic and advanced adversary - but our inability to execute the very basics of seamanship from anchoring to avoiding being run over by merchant ships.

With no great battles at sea, no lurking threat in the deep attriting our fleet, we are running short of ships.

...and so, we have to do this;
The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) departed Naval Station Norfolk Oct. 16, for a surge deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet and U.S. 6th Fleet areas of operation.
Why?
The guided-missile cruiser Monterey will deploy on Oct. 16 as the Navy shuffles ships around to ensure there are enough ballistic-missile defense ships in the Pacific in the wake of two major accidents that rendered the destroyer’s McCain and Fitzgerald unable to deploy.

“Monterey will leave on a previously unscheduled deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas to conduct maritime security operations,” Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson told Navy Times Thursday.

“This deployment will allow the Hawaii-based destroyer O‘Kane to deploy to 7th Fleet to provide more BMD-capable ships in the region,” she said, referring to ships with ballistic-missile defense systems.
Didn't MONTEREY just get back from deployment? Yes, she did;
It will be Monterey’s second deployment to both regions in the past year. Monterey left Norfolk June 1, 2016, as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group and spent most of that deployment in 5th Fleet supporting operations there. The ship returned home Jan. 19.
Deployed 7.5 months. Home 9 months. Deploying again.

This 27-yr old cruiser and her crew are headed out again. Didn't we just spend a couple of months talking about how riding our ships hard and leaving them up wet, along with burning out crews was bad?

The MONTEREY will turn-to and take care of business as ships and Sailors have done for thousands of years. The why and when are the responsibility of senior leadership. I hope she has the material, training, and manning support she requires that the MCCAIN and FITZGERALD didn't.

This little vignette is exactly why the likes of Jerry Hendrix and Bryan McGrath have been warning that our Navy is too small.

We know what not to do, but we continue to do it - because we have decided we "have to." Hope isn't a plan, as the saying goes - but that is where we are. We hope that the MONTEREY will not find herself in a place where she demonstrates what we just got through telling Congress and the American people what happens when you ask too much - stretch demands too far - of our ships and the very human men and women we put on them.

The line is holding fast, but can you hear that? That sound resonating up and down the line?

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Report on the HMS SHEFFIELD: 35-yrs Later

Top of the fold article in the UK's The Guardian that should demand your attention this AM.

Ian Cobain has a superb summary following a review of the fully declassified results from the board of inquiry into the loss of the Sheffield during The Falkland Islands War.

I'll make the assumption that my readers are very familiar with the attack on the SHEFFIELD, if not - slap yourself three times, get to the bookcase and comeback. Instead, here are some of the findings as reported by Ian. And yes, we can all see this moment in time on ships we've served on;
- Some members of the crew were “bored and a little frustrated by inactivity” and the ship was “not fully prepared” for an attack.

- The anti-air warfare officer had left the ship’s operations room and was having a coffee in the wardroom when the Argentinian navy launched the attack, while his assistant had left “to visit the heads” (relieve himself). 
- The radar on board the ship that could have detected incoming Super Étendard fighter aircraft had been blanked out by a transmission being made to another vessel.

- When a nearby ship, HMS Glasgow, did spot the approaching aircraft, the principal warfare officer in the Sheffield’s ops room failed to react, “partly through inexperience, but more importantly from inadequacy”.

- The anti-air warfare officer was recalled to the ops room, but did not believe the Sheffield was within range of Argentina’s Super Étendard aircraft that carried the missiles.
- When the incoming missiles came into view, officers on the bridge were “mesmerised” by the sight and did not broadcast a warning to the ship’s company.
I have a lot of sympathy for the crew and leadership of the SHEFFIELD. They fit in a centuries long record of navies content in peace having a spotty transition to war.

The attack always come at a bad time, from a bad direction, doing things you were trained the enemy could not do, when you are worn down by constant watches and little sleep. 

At the end of the day, later with plenty of time, hindsight, and comfort; other people ashore will pick and pick at every detail to find fault - and so it was, is, and will be.

Before one judges too much Captain Salt, RN and his crew, make the effort to read it all - and understand the context and time.

I cannot find an online copy of the unredacted version The Guardian mentions, but here is a copy of the previously highly redacted copy.

The results continue to rightfully influence ship design and training. There are very few examples of what can happen in modern naval combat, and the weapons have not changed all that much in the last few decades - and physics along with the human element are unchanged.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fullbore Friday

No more complaining about a long Sea & Anchor detail.

What a great story about a frigate ... and three hurricanes.

Read the full thing, but here is how it starts;
THE 24-gun frigate H.M.S. Experiment was built in 1740 by Henry Bird of Rotherhithe. She sailed on her maiden voyage on 21 July 1740 from Spithead to join Vice-Admiral Vernon's squadron in the West Indies. Her captain was James Rentone, who had piloted Vernon's squadron into Portobello Harbour and had been given the honour of bearing the news of Vernon's victory to the king. George II had rewarded him with a present of 200 guineas and the promise of a 6o-gun ship. Under his command H.M.S. Experiment had nearly completed her passage to the West Indies when she received her first taste of what a hurricane could do.

By her reckoning she was in latitude 16° 34' N, longitude 43° 04', west of Madeira. Her log reads:
Saturday 30 August 1740
The first part fresh gales and squally, the latter a very hard Gale of wind at NNE and NE with a great swell from the ESE. At 6 p.m. took all the reefs in the topsails, furld the foretopsail, bunted the courses, brought too under main topsail and got down the topgallant yards: at 1 a.m. handed maintops'!, lower'd the main and foreyards and reef'd the courses: at daybreak the gale continued increasing and, having no hopes of its breaking, about r o a.m. cut away the topmasts to save the lower masts: soon after the mizon mast went away at the lower part of the hounds: the sea made a breach over the ship and we kept one pump constantly going, the wynch of the other being broke render'd it useless: lost one of the swivell guns over board by the fall of the foretop mast and had one of the lower studding sail booms wash'd away and severall other things of the deck harness, barr'l with beef 45 pd. and sev'l casks.

Sunday 31 August 1740
The first part a violent storm of wind from NE to East with a very great sea making a breach over us, the latter part the gale somewhat abated: at 4 a.m. the foresail being split in pieces cut him away from the yard and lost most part of the canvas: at 8 a.m. bent a new foresail and set the reef' d courses.
On that afternoon her company raised a jury maintopmast and let the reefs out of the courses. On the next day they got up a fire-boom for a foretopmast and a maintopgallant yard for a topsail yard. At daybreak on 3 September they sighted Antigua and sailed into English Harbour. There Captain Rentone delivered the Duke of Newcastle's letters to General Mathews and wrote to the Admiralty a description of the hurricane which adds a little to the log-book entry.
I made a great deal of water, my comings being very low and the tarpaulings, tho' double battened, being insufficient to keep it from getting down in a very great quantity for 14 hours which the gale continued without the least intermission and one of my pumps disabled by the wynch breaking so that I had but one to depend on and that almost constantly going and if the gale had continued many hours longer, the least increase of water would have made it very difficult to save the ship.
Hat tip Society for Nautical Research.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Diversity Thursday

Apple's first VP of Diversity and Inclusion goes Salamander?

It seems so;
“Diversity is the human experience. I get a little bit frustrated when diversity or the term diversity is tagged to the people of color, or the women, or the LGBT.” Her answer was met with a round of applause at the session.

Young Smith went on to add that “there can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.” The issue, Young Smith explains, “is representation and mix.” She is keen to work to bring all voices into the room that “can contribute to the outcome of any situation.”

Young Smith wants to also focus on “allies and alliances,” and called on “those who have platforms or those who have the benefit of greater representation to tell the stories of those who do not.” She said when that’s accomplished, it’s a “win for everyone.”
In a month where we are looking for good news, I'll take it at face value.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Relax, no Coup

One of the less enlightened talking points of the last few weeks was started by the left flailing away at Trump, but instead just smearing the military. Their whole argument is both an insult to history and to the intelligence of the reader.

It has been bubbling up over the last few months from those associated with the previous administration. Mostly that group who floated around in the miasma one found in the Rhodes/Rice/Powers circles. They and their comrades seem to be suffering, ahem, from a little historical amnesia seasoned with varying degrees of fainting-couch flopping and communal bed wetting.

Last week, Jerry Hendrix & Adam Routh writing over at National Review showed mercy by bringing in a truck-load of cold water to this sad intellectual spectacle.
It seems that President Trump’s reliance upon retired and active-duty generals in staffing the upper echelons of his administration has raised concerns among a large number of well-informed people.

With retired Marine general John Kelly serving as White House chief of staff, retired Marine general James Mattis serving as secretary of defense, and Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster serving as national-security adviser, charges are being levied that the nation has embarked down a dangerous path. Some feel that the abundance of retired military officers in high-level government positions undermines the “non-partisan nature of the military” and decreases the public’s trust in its armed forces. Others are of the opinion that Trump’s reliance on military men will “throw off the balance of a system that for good reason favors civilian leadership.
They bring up Stephen Kinzen in the Boston Globe as a solid example of this breathless irresponsibility.
Among the most enduring political images of the 20th century was the military junta. It was a group of grim-faced officers — usually three — who rose to control a state. The junta would tolerate civilian institutions that agreed to remain subservient, but in the end enforced its own will. As recently as a few decades ago, military juntas ruled important countries including Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and Greece.

These days the junta system is making a comeback in, of all places, Washington. Ultimate power to shape American foreign and security policy has fallen into the hands of three military men: General James Mattis, the secretary of defense; General John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff; and General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser.
That guy, that overheated and ill-informed guy, is – perhaps not shockingly – a professor at Brown University.

Everyone needs to take a powder.
The historical fact is that the government of the United States has always relied heavily upon retired military men for advice and service. Three former generals — George Marshall, Alexander Haig, and Colin Powell — have served as secretary of state. A fleet admiral and a general — William Leahy and Haig — have served as White House chief of staff. One vice admiral and four generals — John Poindexter, Brent Scowcroft, Powell, James Jones, and McMaster — have served as national-security adviser. The military has also played strong leading roles in the nation’s intelligence community, with ten admirals or general officers serving as either the director of central intelligence or the director of national intelligence. Additionally, while only two former generals have served as secretary of defense since the position was established in 1947, of the 56 men who served as secretary of war before that position was replaced by the secretary of defense, eleven had served previously at the military rank of general. Even more important, twelve of our nation’s 45 presidents have held the rank of general, beginning with General of the Armies George Washington and ending (for now) with General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower, who left office in January 1961.
There is an additional factor to keep in mind to help explain why we have so many General Officers in the Trump Administration. In 2016, as a reaction to what rightfully is considered a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, many of our best and most experienced right-of-center leaders took themselves out of consideration for any position serving a possible Trump Administration. That narrowed the pool of people to pick from to either Trump partisans or those who kept themselves quiet to neutral.

There are consequences to elections and actions taken in the course of one. In the end though,
...everyone should take a breath. Historically, the appointment of former and actively serving generals to high-level political positions has been the norm. The service of former generals in high office does not signal the beginning of a military coup today any more than George Marshall’s service in the 1950s indicated an attempt to overthrow civilian authority then, nor does the service of retired military officers threaten to damage the reputation of the military so long as they provide considered advice and act in a responsible manner.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Engineering is hard. Even harder in a global marketplace

New ships and their engineering plants have a long history of growing pains of one cause or another. Our LCS and the Royal Navy Type-45 are just two of the most recent examples.

At the end of this small article at StrategyPage.com's Murphy's Law about the next batch of 5 German Navy K130 corvettes, the author brings up a couple of issues that are a bit under-appreciated;
The first five K130s didn’t enter service until 2010 because it was found that there was a serious problem with the first ones delivered. It seems that the gearbox for the diesel engines were defective. Some screws came loose, fell into the gears, causing them fail. The gearbox was manufactured by a Swiss firm, and the Swiss reputation for flawless engineering was believed to have made a problem like this nearly impossible. But it turned out that the Swiss subcontracted much of the work to a Polish firm, which did not have the same Swiss standards of engineering excellence. The Germans demanded that the Swiss clear up this mess and delayed the first K130s entering service until 2010. The first two K130s were commissioned in 2008, but were soon decommissioned until the gearbox problems were addressed. Three more K130s were not commissioned until they had any needed modifications to their gearboxes and five were in service by 2013.
First issue: when you outsource your engineering - don't assume that is the end of the outsourcing chain. If you are "buying" a supplier's reputation, and are you actually getting that which you thing you're buying?

Second issue: while the peacetime economics may be sound, what are the potential issues at war with having significant parts of your warships built in other nations - especially ones that are not even allied with you?

When the next multi-year nation-state on nation-state war comes, which it will, who will be able at war to best get around the outsourcing efficiencies of peace?

Friday, October 06, 2017

Fullbore Friday

What happens when character is braced by training and fate finds both at a place and time they are both needed?

We found out during the attack in Las Vegas. Just one of many stories;
A veteran Marine and his friends sprung into action in an attempt to save dozens of lives during the Las Vegas massacre.
Taylor Winston, 29, was close to the righthand side of the stage when gunfire rained down at the Route 91 Harvest festival. He said the first gunshots sounded like fireworks, but he soon realized people were screaming and saw bodies drop to the ground.

Winston, a sergeant who served in Iraq, and Jenn Lewis fled with the crowd.
...
But Winston and Lewis didn’t abandon their fellow music lovers. They spotted a work truck near the venue, with no owner in sight, and commandeered it to transport victims to the hospital, Winston told The Daily Beast.
...
“Jenn and I luckily found a truck with keys in it and started transporting priority victims to the hospital and made a couple trips and tried to help out the best we could until more ambulances could arrive,” Winston said.

A designer for the Country Rebel social network, Winston has been to country music festivals before and said he figured one or two work trucks would still have the keys inside. “So I just crossed my fingers and it turned out to work out,” Winston said.

In two trips, Winston and Lewis said they transported about two dozen people to the hospital. Victims were piled into the back seat and truck bed. Winston told people to apply pressure to the wounds, as he sped to Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center, wanting to get people there “before they bled out.”
...
Winston served in the military from 2006 to 2011, doing a tour in Iraq before he was honorably discharged, he said.
...
After his hospital trips were over, Winston learned that he saved the life of a friend’s sister. In the mad rush, he didn’t remember anyone’s faces.
“I was in such a speedy movement I didn’t assess anyone’s faces or anything,” Winston said. “Just wounds and who was most critical. I was just trying to be efficient and get the most serious critical condition people to the hospital first.”

Winston and Lewis were able to flag down a squad car while en route, and the cop put on the vehicle’s flashers, escorting them through traffic.
BZ Marine, and the rest of you great Americans.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

More Admiral Nelson; less Quartermaster Bloomfield

I'm still trying to wrap my head around how a military unit activated after Maria would just sit for a week without orders ... and just wait as the enemy was all around them.

Ponder with me over at USNIBlog.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

The Great Green Vanity Project

When does a personal vanity project become policy? Simple, when you have the power to do so and the top-cover to let you have your way.

That is all you really need to know about how SECNAV Mabus got his farcical “Great Green Fleet” – a topic we’ve covered here over the years.

In the September issue of USNI’s Proceedings, Marc Cancian brings the whole sordid mess back in to view, stake and hammer in hand,
In 2011, then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced an initiative called the Great Green Fleet. Although wrapped in the mantle of warfighting, it was never really about the Navy. Instead, it was about pursuing a national energy agenda and using military money to create a biofuel industry. The Great Green Fleet became part of a broader set of initiatives designed to put the Navy on the front lines of the fight against climate change.
...and why not. It is only money;
The Great Green Fleet was the most egregious element of the former secretary’s energy initiatives. Biofuels—making fuel from biological matter rather than pumping it from the ground—were thought to be more environmentally friendly and a way to reduce dependence on foreign oil. The administration committed to a half-billion-dollar initiative to jump-start the industry, of which the Navy was responsible for $150 million.
How much depot level maintenance in WESTPAC would that have supported? Well, not as much press time and infinitely less virtue to signal - but priorities, Shipmate;
Although wrapped in the mantle of warfighting, it was never really about the Navy. Instead, it was about pursuing a national energy agenda and using military money to create a biofuel industry. The Great Green Fleet became part of a broader set of initiatives designed to put the Navy on the front lines of the fight against climate change. Although superficially plausible at the time when fuel prices were high, the Green Fleet is inappropriate, even counterproductive, at a time of booming U.S. energy production and Navy budget shortfalls. It is time to take a critical look at these energy initiatives, terminate those that do not directly help the Navy, subject others to cost-benefit analysis, but also look broadly at places where additional energy investments might help the Navy.
...
Creating new fuel sources was never necessary, but it is ludicrous now. Fracking and other technologies have skyrocketed U.S. production of oil and natural gas. The U.S. Energy Information Agency expects the United States to produce more crude oil in 2018 (9.9 million barrels per day) than it ever has in its history. The United States is now the largest hydrocarbon producer in the world, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia, having increased its production by 50 percent in the last decade. Global oil prices have plummeted, from $140 per barrel to about $50 per barrel.
Make sure to read it all, and I like his recommendations at the end; Terminate, Review, Continue, Examine, & Drop.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Puerto Rico - From the Outside in

After watching what some of the worse people on American political, media and cultural scene have done this week, let me start this Monday with what I ended last Monday's post with;
Oh, and for those who want to make political hay out of this one way or another, go pound sand you blood sucking parasite.
I feel no obligation to summarize, counter, or respond to those retched creatures one way or another. You will know them by their words, and may history judge them with the blinding lights of reason and facts.

In the last week everyone has a better appreciation for what a hurricane the size of Maria can do when it hits and island as strong and direct as it did. The nearest modern port to San Juan is Miami, a bit over 1,000 miles away. Distance, time, & logistics. That is the key. Add to it the scale of the storm, the way it hit the island, and some unique circumstances of Puerto Rico herself, and you have a unique situation.

In many ways, in the last week we have upped our game with regard to a national response. You can perhaps nit-pic on the margins, but on the large pixels - we seem to have done a good job. The challenge is now on the ground.

We find ourselves now with more supplies than the ports can handle. For the last five or so days the gritty reality of logistics kicked it - ground transport. There simply were not enough drivers and trucks ready to respond. It is ground transport that has to make it happen now.

Rotary wing assets are good for spot help and emergencies - but ground transport is the only way you can really move goods to 3.5 million people on a crowded island that even before the storm had spotty infrastructure. 

Ships providing communications, medical care, and fresh water are good - but are limited to near-shore areas in the near term.

There are no I-10, I-75 and I-95 interstate highways for convoys of goods and repair trucks to come in from neighboring States via multiple GLOC.

This will not be a easy or short fix. Here is an ONSTA report from Michael Brewer of AVERT (American Volunteer Emergency Response Team);
First impressions flying over the island were sort of a confirmation that we were in for something more than what the news was reporting. If there were a thousand rooftops littering the landscape, 950 of them were torn down to the struts, agape to the sky and rain above, with reminders of their former integrity strewn around the yards and streets. Shingles floating in sewage overflow mixed with sand and mud and the remnants of a week and a half of living in a post-apocalyptic version of Puerto Rico. It was a pretty somber first look, and all the joking and mood-lightening humor on our little plane full of supplies ended awkwardly and abruptly.

We hit the ground running. The supplies that Dr. Elizabeth King loaded into our plane at Fort Lauderdale were unloaded. The recipients of her generosity met me on the tarmac and said "We saw you on Facebook!!" That relief aid was enough to make them positively beam, and I took their camera back onto the tarmac to make sure they had pictures of it being offloaded. Someone quickly absconded with the supplies, however, and it took the combined efforts of the ladies themselves and several others to get it back. More evidence that it's a cutthroat disaster zone through and through.

We linked up with Jason Abernathy, as fine a human being as I have ever met, and a genuine humanitarian of character and integrity. We helped him load some supplies for the poorer and less-served areas and made our way out to Dorado. Those who know Puerto Rico know Dorado as a resort area on the coast west of San Juan. But if you live here, you know that like most resort towns in the rest of the world, it is surrounded by poor neighborhoods and those residents are some of the last to receive the aid absorbed by the big metro areas where it all lands. As we passed he FEMA distribution center, I was struck by how little was being done there in such a massive disaster. The activity I saw seemed "self-contained," meaning it looked as though vehicles were fueling and helicopters were moving, but only internally. First impressions can of course be wrong.

As we made our way down the highway, we saw lines of cars clustered along the shoulders trying to take advantage of the few decent cellular coverage areas. Mini-villages of cars and SUVs lined up at the edges of an electrical, invisible barrier between connectivity with the outside world and isolation. Tree falls, power lines down, and power poles ripped unceremoniously from the ground and flung against fences and buildings punctuated the statement "This will not be fixed quickly."

We made some very good inroads and have identified a place to establish a hospital. Tomorrow, we'll set about the business of taking stock of everything, making preparations, and getting these people the help they need. We will help these people. And we'll succeed because all of you have helped put us here.

We had the opportunity to ask some of the wealthy people at the airport who were evacuating their families "What's happening on the island?" They said, almost universally, "those who can afford to are leaving." I asked one resident, What about those who can't afford to? What are they doing?
"They are starving. They are thirsty. And they are dying."
That last bit is not hyperbole for some locations. As a datapoint, I am probably one of the better prepared people in my neighborhood. During Maria, all we lacked was air conditioning and in four days we had power back. I was good for food for my family for a few weeks. Not everyone has the resources or applied pessimism that I do. What if my neighbor ran out of food after 3 days w/no Publix to go to? Would I feed them? Yes. My three weeks of comfortable supplies shrinks to two weeks. Could skimp calories back to three if I wanted to - but what happens when my sisters show up at my door at day-8 without any food? What if my nephew's generator cooling his insulin supply goes out? What happens when we run out of potable water? Now, take everyone mentioned above and cut their income by 75% for the last decade - as my peer group in the FL in not in line with the average peer group in PR. You can do the math from there.

If you can clear away the mindless partisan chaff being thrown about, another week in there are some solid additional idea worth considering. Our friend Jerry Hendrix had some good points;
One area in which the Trump administration could possibly lend additional assistance would be looking at a more robust activation of its assets in the Defense Department's Transportation Command to include more heavy-lift and cargo aircraft, as well as Maritime Administration shipping to move the logistics-heavy large infrastructure items on the ocean. Everything from bulldozers to transformers needs to come by ships, and it's been decades since it was really flexed to its full capacity. This would have the dual purpose of revealing any significant weaknesses in the Transportation Command assets and readiness should we need it in a military emergency down the road.
...
One of the frustrating comments I recently received was that the Navy should have had the Comfort manned and ready prior to these hurricanes. Given that it has been over a decade since the nation suffered a major hurricane-related disaster, the argument my friend was making suggested that we should man the hospital ships each year during the three-month hurricane season. This would have cost tens of millions of dollars each year at the same time the Navy is shrinking and has less money and time to man, train and equip its combat and regular naval presence force to meet its day-to-day tasks. We have had a ship grounded and three collisions in the western Pacific over the past few months, largely due to the strain we have placed the Navy under.
I think Chris Cavas had a good idea;
Sitting in the harbor of San Juan, Puerto Rico right now is the USCGC James (WMEC-901), one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s newest, largest, and most capable cutters. The ship is at anchor, operating as a command and control center for federal response teams dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island on 20 September.

There is no doubt the James is a very useful asset in the region, where communications have been heavily damaged and are only slowly being restored. The systems on the cutter help coordinate government activities on the island and help keep the Federal Emergency Management Agency and officials in Washington apprised of what’s going on.
...
An alternative is available—another ship already outfitted as a floating command base, able to give multiple agencies and officials the kind of situational awareness and communications facilities they need. The ship can refuel helicopters, support small craft, and provide berthing and feeding facilities for hundreds of passengers. Even better, the ship has nothing else to do—meaning it can stay as long as necessary—and she’s only three steaming days away.

The USS Ponce (AFSB-1)—named for the Puerto Rican city—is an afloat forward staging base, a recently-developed kind of ship intended to support small craft, helicopters, combat teams. and commanders in a forward operating area. She is at Norfolk, Virginia, having just returned on 27 September from a successful five-year mission in the Persian Gulf. The Ponce was converted to a staging base in 2012 from an amphibious landing ship, and has been replaced by a larger, built-for-the-purpose ship. The Proud Lion—the ship’s nickname—now has nothing to do except be decommissioned and scrapped.
Nice summary from the 3-star leading the support effort.






Friday, September 29, 2017

Fullbore Friday

We really don't need fiction writers. There are exceptional stories all around us if we just take the time to look. 

Great reporting by Stephen Losey for a must-read FbF.

Oh, and read the last paragraph twice.
The team was sent to capture or kill Taliban leaders in the middle of the night in the Kunduz Province village ― a fairly standard mission, Hunter said.
...
When the helicopters dropped Hunter and his team off about a mile east of the village, he said, they realized the field was flooded. Maybe the Taliban knew they were coming, he said, or maybe it was standard irrigation, they never found out.

The field was so swamped that the helicopter sank about three feet into the mud, to the point where the back ramp couldn’t open and the team had to crawl out of a small hatch in the back and roll out.
...
They moved through a narrow alleyway, Hunter said, with multiple two-story buildings on either side with a “perfect line of sight down into this alleyway.”

Then the team ran into a 12-foot-tall metal gate that surveillance didn’t see earlier ― someone had apparently locked it after the noise of the initial firefight. The gunship was watching “nefarious activity” on the other side of the gate ― insurgents milling around, scoping out the Special Forces team, and running back to the other side of a building.

The team was bottlenecked in ― and at that point, the ambush was sprung.

THE FATAL FUNNEL

One of the insurgents flung a grenade over the gate. The team heard a thud, Hunter said, and had maybe a second and a half to turn and see what it was before it exploded. Gunfire erupted from all around them — they were engulfed in a 360-degree firefight, taking machine gun fire and grenades thrown over the walls, layup-style, from all sides, injuring four.

They had to get out of “the fatal funnel,” as Hunter called it. While shielding the wounded with his own body, Hunter started calling in the insurgents’ fighting positions to the gunship, which then started targeting them with Spooky’s massive 105mm Howitzer.
...
They were leapfrogging, Hall said ― targeting insurgents as the team pulled back, and shooting so continuously that the cannon began overheating.
Spooky’s actions gave the team on the ground a chance to find cover from the nonstop fire. The smoke was so thick that the team was moving blind through the village, guided by directions the aircraft were relaying to Hunter.


“I could see about four feet in front of me,” Hunter said.

They advanced on one compound, but an insurgent “basically dumps an entire mag through the door as we’re stacked up on the outside,” fatally shooting his captain in the belly, Hunter said. They instead moved to another compound across the street, which they could tell was empty.

Spooky 43 was also steadily firing its 40mm cannon alongside the 105mm on insurgents fighting from the buildings, as well as running from tree lines ― but then the 40mm started to suffer multiple malfunctions.
...
After team members seized the compound, Hunter said he heard some commotion from outside that sounded like pleas for help. He looked over the wall and saw two teammates outside, pinned down and exposed.

One of them ― the assistant team leader for the Special Forces team ― had been shot six times. The other teammate was too busy shooting back at the enemy to save the wounded team warrant officer, so Hunter and another teammate ran out to bring him back.

Hunter grabbed the wounded soldier by his shoulder strap and began dragging him 30 meters to safety, all while radioing in more airstrikes to Spooky 43. That soldier survived and is now recovering at Walter Reed, Hunter said.

“We had to get him in there,” Hunter said. “He was going to die out there if we didn’t get him in there.”

Hunter then alerted Spooky 43 that they were taking fire from the east and the enemy was closing in.

Typically, the Spooky shoots the 105mm fragmentation airburst round in open terrain, hundreds of meters away from friendly forces. But that night, it fired a shell that cut down the Taliban about 9 or 10 meters from the ground team ― and knocked Hunter “stupid for about 30 seconds.”

...
‘EVERYTHING WAS ON FIRE’

Once the team on the ground took the compound, Hall said, the fire never stopped. They dragged three dead or dying teammates inside, as well as several others who were so badly wounded they couldn’t walk, and set up a casualty collection point.

“Picture this: A group of about 50 people, with [about] 50 percent of them attritted to injuries, and half of them not able to walk,” Hunter said. “So what are the other half doing? Dragging, carrying bodies. That’s what we were doing with them as we were bounding up this alleyway.”

They hunkered down and the gunship and the Apaches set up “a 360-degree field of death” between the team and the enemy, Hunter said. For the next few hours, he said, “if it moved, it died.”

Hill said that the heated engagements set off one secondary explosion after another, and the fires were raging so hard that his night-vision goggles were getting washed out.

When Spooky 43 was out of 105s, it began marking structures with the 40mm for the Apaches to hit with their Hellfire missiles, Hill said. The Hellfires were hitting so close to the team that the tail debris from one ripped into the compound, hit the wall two feet in front of Hunter ― “almost took my head off,” he said ― and ricocheted into the middle of the building, spinning on the ground as it came to rest.

Eventually, another gunship arrived, as did the quick reaction force Hunter had called.

“They basically showed up and everything was on fire,” Hunter said.

At about 5 a.m., Hunter and his team left the compound and made their way to an open field to be evacuated via helicopter ― but got ambushed yet again. As he helped load the wounded into the helicopters, Hunter continued to direct airstrikes to protect them and take out the enemy.

Their fight ended at about 7 a.m.
...

“I had these dudes [Spooky 43] overhead, and never at one point was I worried about my team getting annihilated, because these guys were overhead,” Hunter said. “I learned that dudes got your back, no matter what. We found out how much we care about each other, because we got real down and dirty, and we figured a lot of stuff out about a lot of people.”
Fullbore.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Diversity Thursday

We’ll have a little fun with this week’s DivThu, not that this is funny, but a dark humor.

These purveyors of division and grievance pimps are a cancer on any organization they touch, but as long as you try to see what pathetic creatures they are, you can have a good giggle at their expense as they try so hard to be so serious about their racket.

Oh yes, it’s a racket. It has pretty much infected most of the Anglosphere – Australia as well.

As most of my readers are American, we can giggle a bit harder, we’re not paying for it;
WORKPLACE diversity consultants are charging Australian companies up to $1800 an hour to warn employees about the dangers of using “non-inclusive” language such as “mum”.

Former Labor leader Mark Latham slammed the Diversity Council of Australia’s “words at work” training program as “pathetic” on his Outsiders show on Wednesday night.

The DCA, headed by former Australian of the Year David Morrison, charges $2500 for members or $3600 for non-members for a two-hour program delivered by “experienced DCA staff and consultants” to educate companies about “the power of words”.
I adore this line. Truth? They can’t handle the truth.
Last year, the DCA revealed it had been forced to turn off comments and ratings on the video, which also urged against the use of the word “guys”, due to “highly offensive abuse”. 
“We are happy for feedback, both positive and negative, but we were not getting a constructive or respectful conversation,” a spokeswoman said at the time, with Ms Annese saying she was “surprised it received such an intense reaction and the tone of a lot of that”. 
“The sort of expletive-laden language that’s been directed towards people in our organisation and the chair of our board, I’m just confused by it,” she said. “It seemed a bit ironic to us [given we were] making a call for people to start having respectful workplaces.”
Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Old Dogs, New Tricks ...

The Army thinks that it can train and talk away manifestations of character a lifetime in the making.

Can you?

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog.

Come by and give it a read.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Men, Material, Money, and Morale: Ukraine's Foreverwar

When a people are at crisis, either at war or in the face of a natural disaster, knowing that you have friends helping out is critical in maintaining the one thing that keeps a people united and willing to carry on in the face of adversity; morale.

The academic/green eye-shade/Quartermaster Bloomfield mentality of putting all weight towards the most efficient or that which gives the most theoretical marginal utility is so steeped in the mindset of the technocracy that it cannot see the human element in the most human of events.

Nolan Peterson’s article last month about US aide to Ukraine should be required reading. It might help some understand the larger concept of the compounding positive effects that come from even a little help - efficient, essential or not. It just needs to be there. There is more at work than simple spreadsheets.
On the front lines against Russia and its separatist proxies in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian soldiers have, throughout the past three years of relentless combat, frequently turned to symbols of America to both intimidate and annoy their enemies—sometimes, in eclectic and creative ways.

Ukrainian soldiers have raised U.S. flags over their front-line trenches and forts—typically to the retort of sniper or mortar fire from across no man’s land. Sometimes, to really get under the enemy’s skin, an English-speaking Ukrainian soldier will radio commands in English over unencrypted channels, pretending to be a member of SEAL Team Six.

Since the war in the Donbas region began in April 2014, Russian propaganda has spun yarns about U.S. military forces actively participating in the war. Consequently, Ukrainian soldiers know that flaunting American military support for Ukraine is a potent psychological weapon against their enemies.

Any instance of U.S. military support for Ukraine is also a powerful morale booster for Ukrainian troops as they continue to grind out a 3-year-old war against a combined force of Russian troops and pro-Russian separatists.

“U.S. support lets the Ukrainians know the stronger guy is on their side,” Mamuka Mamulashvili, commander of the pro-Ukrainian Georgian National Legion, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“Support from the United States of our struggle for independence undoubtedly raises the fighting spirit of our soldiers,” Alexander Pochynok, a Ukrainian sniper, told The Daily Signal. “And the supply of advanced weapons systems such as Javelin will only accelerate our victory and the death of Russia.”

The U.S. has provided nonlethal military assistance for Ukraine since 2014, the year Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, and then started a proxy war in Ukraine’s southeastern Donbas region.

To date, Trump has not deviated from Obama’s decision to not arm Ukraine.

“Actually, the weapons themselves will not have a decisive impact on the course of combat operations,” Ukrainian army Lt. Andrei Mikheychenko told The Daily Signal.

“Deliveries of lethal weapons, in my opinion, will primarily have psychological significance for both the Ukrainian army and the terrorists it fights,” Mikheychenko, a member of the Ukrainian army’s 93rd Mechanized Brigade, said. “This demonstrates the seriousness of U.S. support for Ukraine as a strategic partner.”
As a side note, I could not help from having a good giggle at this bit of the article;
At the front-line village of Krymske in 2015, just outside the separatist stronghold of Luhansk, Ukrainian troops renamed a street from that of a Soviet luminary to “John McCain Street.”

When Canadian journalist and filmmaker Christian Borys asked the soldiers when they were going to name a street after then-President Barack Obama, the soldiers replied, “When he sends us weapons.”

Monday, September 25, 2017

5-Days Post-Maria; Time to up Our Game

First of all, throw away all your “Well, the lessons learned from the Haitian earthquake tells us … “ parlor talking points.

Haiti is not Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands; an earthquake is not a hurricane.

The residents of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are United States citizens. They are also some of our poorest citizens.

As a data point;
- Per capita income of Connecticut: $39,373
- Per capita income of Puerto Rico: $11,241
- Per capita income of USVI: $13,139

PR and USVI are islands. There are no six lane interstates where convoys of goods can come from neighboring states before the storms even end. Everything must come by air and sea.

Look at data point above one more time.

Here was Maria’s path:


Here it is if it came by Connecticut on the same scale. You see, geographic size and population wise, CT and PR are fairly close. You can treat Martha’s Vineyard as the USVI if you wish.


Is there any question in your mind that there would be a different response if this storm hit the middle of the DC to Boston Corridor? Not just governmental, but by the media and the general public?

PR and USVI should be swamped with help and assistance to the point they are like some areas of FL earlier this month – where they say, “We have all the help we can take.”

That isn’t even close to where we are right now. Over the weekend you couldn't get away from people talking about spoiled millionaires throwing hissy-fits at each other. 

No excuse. Yes, things are being done at the Federal level and in civil society - but where is the interest by the press and the people?

As you read the below, substitute every mention of Puerto Rico for Connecticut.
Hurricane Maria left a historic trail of destruction across Puerto Rico on Wednesday, its powerful winds carving holes in the walls of 300-year-old homes, flooding neighborhoods, sucking metal roofs off buildings, downing 100-year-old trees and leaving the entire island without power.

In the capital of San Juan, volunteers sprang into action, assisting stranded drivers, cutting and removing downed limbs to clear the roads. Looters also took advantage of the chaos following the storm to break into furniture stores and gas stations, running past a San Juan police car with sofas and chairs. The police car did not appear to stop.

Maria made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane packing 155-mph winds — just 2 mph short of Category 5 status — ...

“Puerto Rico isn’t going to be the same,” said Migdalia Caratini, a lawyer who lives east of San Juan. “It’s going to be before Maria and after Maria.”

The island was already reeling from Hurricane Irma, which passed the northern coast of Puerto Rico last week as a Category 5. Though Puerto Rico escaped a direct hit from Irma, the storm inflicted major damage on the electrical grid, and portions of the island had been without power even before Maria made landfall.

On Wednesday, officials from the Puerto Rico State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management said that portions of the island could be without power for several weeks.
...
Another evacuee at the coliseum, Josefina Bayes de la Paz, said her home flooded after a nearby river overflowed its banks. She was already working only two days a week as a cleaner before the storm, earning $138. Now, with people struggling to get by without power, she didn't expect to find any work.

"The poor people are hungry," she said. "Workers need direct help."

Bayes has a daughter on the U.S. mainland, but couldn't ask her for help: She lives in Houston, and lost her own house to flooding during Hurricane Harvey.

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello, in a statement, called for calm and “prudence during these difficult days.” Citing the need to maintain public order, Rossello imposed a curfew for the island from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. that will be in effect until Saturday. As night fell, most buildings in San Juan were dark, though some had generators to provide power.
...
People in this ravaged city get their drinking water from a hole poked into a fire hose attached to a street hydrant.

No one has power and they haven't heard from the outside world in four days, when Hurricane Maria barreled through here early Wednesday, smashing homes and sending walls of water through town.

Now residents here face a new peril: the Guajataca Dam, which was threatening to breach and could send more floods their way.

"Unfortunately, we're right in its path," said Kevin Azzaro, an assistant to Mayor Carlos Molina here.

Azzaro said he didn't know how the city could prepare for more floods, other than asking residents to stay in their homes as much as possible.

Residents here were desperate for news from the dam. However, with no phone service or Internet access anywhere, they relied on bits of news relayed from other residents or city officials.
...
Puerto Rico's nonvoting representative in the U.S. Congress said Sunday that Hurricane Maria's destruction has set the island back decades, even as authorities worked to assess the extent of the damage.

"The devastation in Puerto Rico has set us back nearly 20 to 30 years," said Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez. "I can't deny that the Puerto Rico of now is different from that of a week ago. The destruction of properties, of flattened structures, of families without homes, of debris everywhere. The island's greenery is gone."

Mike Hyland, a spokesman for the American Public Power Association, which represents the Puerto Rican power agency, said Sunday that restoration is a long ways off. The organization is working with U.S. Energy Department crews as well as New York Power Authority workers sent down by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to fly over the island and assess damage.

Crews hoped to get helicopters and drones in the air over the next two days to assess the damage, but Hyland said they need to be patient and let the military continue rescuing people before focusing on restoring power.

"We are trying to get an understanding of the extent of the damage over the next 48 hours to then begin to work with our federal partners to get the right crews and equipment down to Puerto Rico," Hyland said.

Large amounts of federal aid have begun moving into Puerto Rico, welcomed by local officials who praised the Trump administration's response but called for the emergency loosening of rules long blamed for condemning the U.S. territory to second-class status.

The opening of the island's main port in the capital allowed 11 ships to bring in 1.6 million gallons of water, 23,000 cots, dozens of generators and food. Dozens more shipments are expected in upcoming days.
So far, our fellow Americans in PR and USVI are being stoic;
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is warning that his government needs broader assistance from the federal government, calling on the Pentagon especially to provide more aid for law enforcement and transportation.

Rosselló said he's also worried that Congress will shortchange his island once the initial wave of emergency relief is gone.

“We still need some more help. This is clearly a critical disaster in Puerto Rico,” he said on a shaky cellphone connection Sunday night from San Juan. “It can’t be minimized and we can’t start overlooking us now that the storm passed, because the danger lurks.”

Senior congressional aides in both parties said late Sunday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency isn't expected to ask lawmakers for a new round of federal disaster relief funding until mid-October, meaning that the agency thinks it has enough money at its disposal to cover major disaster recovery operations nationwide. Absent a formal request from the Trump administration, lawmakers cannot begin work on a federal relief bill for the latest round of damage caused by record-setting hurricanes, the aides said.

What will they do when cholera takes root and what little fuel is outside of San Juan runs out?

I hope in the next 24 hours we hear a lot more; not just prayers and thoughts but substantial plans for a lot of help.

The dysfunction of PR pre-storm is another story, but for right now we should just focus on bringing them back to a modern society. This will take months.

Overdo it people; overdo.

Oh, and for those who want to make political hay out of this one way or another, go pound sand you blood sucking parasite.