Friday, February 12, 2016

Fullbore Friday

I like traditional FbF. Let's go OldSchool.

Let me set the stage for you.

You have had a fairly
successful career for a Naval Officer. The highlights included shortly after Commissioning, finding yourself in the middle of an insurrection overseas. With a grab bag of Allies, the insurrection is put down, and due to your actions, you get a quick promotion to Lieutenant.

You continue to excel and a dozen years later you find yourself promoted to Commander. War comes soon thereafter, and a successful series of ships later, you are promoted to Captain and shortly after the war ends given Command of a Cruiser.

Peacetime was not good for you though. Less than a year after Command at Sea, you find yourself at Court Martial for insubordination during your Shore Command. You survive the Court Martial, but two years later the inevitable "peace dividend" arrives and so do the forced retirement boards.

25 years of Commissioned service and weakened by the Court Martial, the expected happens. You retire and return with your wife and family to country living away from the sea - content in your civilian life.

16 years pass. You are 60 years old. History, as it does, intervenes.

Your nation is at war again. There is only one thing to do. You volunteer. You go to sea. You get Command.

Folks, I present to you a man, and officer, of the highest caliber. If you need to measure yourself by others - you could do much worse than Captain Edward Coverley Kennedy, RN.

His command at age 60? HMS Rawalpindi, built in 1925, an Armed Merchant Cruiser (a converted passenger ship). The
ship you go to war with.
During her refit RAWALPINDI was armed with eight 6-inch guns built in 1900 and two 3-inch gun mounts, the crew learning that they saw service in the First World War. The passenger liner’s aft funnel was removed, as were most of the civilian luxuries leaving a bare bones passenger liner. By mid September HMS RAWALPINDI was out of the yard as an AMC, heading for the RN Base at Scapa Flow to begin conducting patrols in the Atlantic that would last three weeks at a time.
And what are you facing?
SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU were ... 38,000 tons and armed with nine 11-inch guns as their main armament and twelve 5.9-inch guns as their secondary battery. With a speed of 31 knots and a crew of over 1450 sailors, they were at the time the most advanced battleships built by Germany.
From the TimesOnline, here is his story - the story of the HMS Rawalpindi.
On the bridge of the British ship , on November 23, 1939, stood Captain Edward Coverley Kennedy, a 60-year-old Scot, father of the late Sir Ludovic Kennedy, with a distinguished naval career behind him, who had come out of retirement to command the Rawalpindi. Its role was to intercept merchant vessels carrying grain to Germany but, in the darkening afternoon, Captain Kennedy saw something far more threatening — the silhouette of an enemy battleship.
In fact there were two – the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, each weighing 32,000 tons, with a maximum speed of 31 knots, and fitted with state-of-the-art guns and armour plating. The British ship stood no chance. Kennedy took immediate evasive action but was outrun. Ordered to surrender, he faced a momentous choice — whether to give in or to fight.

Turning to his chief engineer, he remarked calmly: “We’ll fight them both, they’ll sink us, and that will be that. Goodbye.” They shook hands.

The Rawalpindi’s first salvos hit the Gneisenau but fell short of the Scharnhorst. Both ships opened fire, to devastating effect. Fifteen minutes later it was all over.

They destroyed the
Rawalpindi’s bridge, wireless room, gunnery control room and engine room, plunging the ship in darkness and disabling the electric ammunition hoists. Kennedy ordered shells to be pulled up by hand and rolled to the guns, now forced to fire independently. Although the ship was on fire the guns kept firing, scoring hits on both German vessels. But as Kennedy went aft with two ratings to organise a smokescreen, they were met by another enemy salvo. All three were instantly killed.
By this stage Rawalpindi’s steering gear was out of action, her water supply had failed and her guns fell silent. As the crew took to the lifeboats, a shell the Scharnhorst penetrated Rawalpindi’s forward magazine, causing a huge explosion. The ship split in two and began to sink.

The loss of her Captain and nearly all her 300 crew was a devastating blow so early in the war. But back home, the engagement caught the public’s imagination. The
press portrayed the action as a sign that the fighting spirit of the Royal Navy had not been broken. Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, spoke of Kennedy in the same breath as Drake, Hood and Nelson.
Some can look at this as folly, bravado, or worse. Really?

No, that is focus on mission and understanding your place in war - and the fact that in war, you don't choose your role or your moment.

Among naval historians, controversy still surrounds Kennedy’s orders, which had been been to evade action, not seek it out. But, in fact, the circumstances of that day left him with no alternative. The Rawalpindi did its best to seek the shelter of a fog bank, and sent out smoke floats, which failed to ignite. An iceberg four miles away offered better protection, but it was too late. The outcome of Kennedy’s refusal to surrender led to the loss of his ship and most of its crew. But it was also a significant setback for the German navy. Not only did the Rawalpindi inflict damage on the two battleships but it ensured that they gave up any notion of breaking out into the Atlantic, ...
With today's communication, we often forget what it was like for those whose loved ones were at sea in WWII.
Captain Kennedy’s daughter, Katherine Calvocoressi, 82, (was) Aged 12, (when) she had learned of her father’s death on the radio: “We were living in a cottage in Scotland with no telephone and my mother heard it on the 9 o’clock news.

“My sister and I had gone up to bed and my mother came rushing upstairs saying, ‘Girls, you must come down!’ She told us what had happened, which was a huge shock. I remember saying, ‘Perhaps Daddy’s one of the survivors?’ and my mother replying, ‘
No, he was the Captain’. She was an extremely strong character.”
As a side-note, for you Anglophiles here is a link to his son, Sir Ludovic Kennedy.

This FbF first appeared in FEB10.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Diversity Thursday

Priorities and selective selectivity.

From the Severn School for Wayward Boys and Girls. 

On Fat Tuesday;
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David [redacted] [redacted]
Date: Mon, Feb 8, 2016 at 8:09 AM
Subject: Guest Speaker Tara Allison - Transgender Experiences and Family Life - Tues, 9 FEB, 1230, R102
To: [redacted]

With the recent DoD policy changes related to transgender military service members and the forthcoming working committee results, we are fortunate to have Ms. (sic) Tara Allison talk with us about her (sic) experiences related to transgender families. For many of us, we probably have never met anyone who is transgender and this is good opportunity to gain perspective and learn. Tara is a 1987 graduate of USNA and served as a Nuclear Submarine Officer before transitioning to civilian life and becoming a lawyer.

Please join us on Tuesday, February 9th at 1230 in Rickover 102 to hear Tara Allison talk about her (sic) experiences as a transgender woman (sic), family life, and life before/after her gender transition.

Who: Ms. (sic) Tara Allison
When: Tuesday, February 9th, 1230-1315
Where: Rickover 102

CAPT David [redacted], USN, Ph.D.
Permanent Military Professor
Leadership, Ethics and Law Department
112 Cooper Road, Stop 7b
U.S. Naval Academy
Annapolis, MD 21402
(410) 293-[redacted]
Interesting anti-science from a biology POV, but anyway - note the desire to promote awareness. Note the all so cutting edge socio-political follower hipsterdom.


The next day was Ash Wednesday. From what I have been told, about half the Brigade of MIDN are Catholic.

What do they cater in? Mission BBQ. BBQ, on the day Catholics can't eat meat.

Who knows, maybe they'll have and Eid dinner with pork chops ... but I doubt it.

Celebration of some kinds of diversity are more important than others.

Yes, this is a petty DivThu ... but a funny one.

Hat tip Y.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Shaka, when the walls fell

How would a Tamarian get me to make the following observations and then cut it out of a post?
As for service differences, my subjective opinion is no more or less perfect than anyone else - so let me put this out there.

1. USMC: Agreed with RADM Klien, they do have the best culture in the aggregate. They are smaller, more selective, and are all focused on supporting the rifleman - their core competency. From a distance, that comes from mutual respect derived from high standards and a culture that tries to promote both obedience and contrary opinion. Tradition, yet innovation. Not that it does them all that good, their opinions as of late have been treated with disdain by their civilian leadership - but at least they tried. If you love being part of a well coordinated organization that will let you become something greater than yourself, a great place to be.

2. Army: Years of garrison duty have made the Army in general a bit more rigid and bureaucratic, and with the exception of certain branches of the combat arms, run by the lowest common denominator. Anyone who has tried to get issued gear from the Army knows of what I speak. Slow to move, and difficult to change. If you want to serve, but not sure how, what, or for how long, a great place to be.

3. USAF: Take the most irritating parts of the DMV, mall cops, and a country club - throw in a little IT support center - and you have the USAF. They took the Army's love of process and combined it with a aviator's disregard for admin overhead. If you are good at shutting up and coloring, aren't a big fan of dirt and discord, a great place to be.

4. Navy: Pick your rate, pick your fate. As I am Navy, I really can't look at the Navy from the outside. My subjectivity is just too subjective. But let's play opposites for a bit. What I noticed first while serving with other services, perhaps the opposite is what the Navy is. Perhaps. So, we are big and wide from SEALS to Surface Nukes. From VFA types to AMPHIB CHENGs. From Riverine to Submarine. All we know is we do what we do, and everyone else is somehow not as good as we and our command is at what we do. That, or someone has stolen the strawberries and gets too much sleep. We may be a bit slovenly and messy, perhaps a bit soft in the middle, but who cares? We tend to be loose and inconsistent with procedures, and if you can't keep up, well, every command needs FITREP fodder. We can't do configuration control for squat - but we like it that way for some reason. Sure, there may be a governing instruction, but that isn't quite how we do it here. No you can't park on the grass, no we aren't building new parking lots, no there isn't a shuttle. If you want a better spot, then come in before 0545. Not my problem. SUPPO ordered too much asparagus and only Rice Krispies are available until we get back home. Suck it up.

Our Navy culture? Worked great for me.
Well you have to go over to USNIBlog to find out.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

As LCS Failure is Evergreen, so the Senate goes Salamander

When Sen. McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Reed (D-RI) turn even more Salamander on you ... well ... the front porch just shakes its head;
In the letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, McCain and Reed also said they were "concerned that Navy leaders are overstating the current state of the program and the challenging path to achieving the promised capability."

"We expect Navy leaders to acknowledge and close the chasm between aspirations and reality for the LCS," they wrote.

The senators contrasted comments made by Mabus in January about the ship and its "robust" capabilities -- "now that's a success story," he said in a speech -- with a more critical assessment this month from the Pentagon's chief weapons tester that disclosed new questions about the LCS's combat effectiveness and reliability.

"We seldom hear from Navy leaders about these challenges," wrote McCain of Arizona and Reed of Rhode Island.
Bingo. All this self inflicted woe, so avoidable, so predictable, so unnecessary - but like a stubborn drunk, perhaps we just need to hit rock bottom first.

What have we warned our Navy about for a decade here? In all the ongoing happy-talk about LCS, our Navy is still betting what little professional capital it has on The Hill for a sub-optimal platform we have forced on ourselves. Even in the face of clear programmatic implosion, while some acknowledge shortcomings, we still have high profile personnel speak and act as if the PPT has been made flesh.

When even career politicians hold your word in contempt and cynical scorn - perhaps it is time to re-evaluate our well worn habits of not acting like customers of the military-industrial complex, but their Baghdad Bobs.

Then again, as Congress continues to avoid the Salamander Bill on post-retirement employment of General Officers and Flag Officers. One has little reason to wonder why. It has been well over a decade, let me review for you;
GOFO shall not work for a publicly or privately held company that has business with the Department of Defense for a period not less than five years following their effective date of retirement.
Well I digress. Back to beating the Little Crappy Ship about the scuppers.

Here is what it is making us do. None of these statements are even remotely supported by an objective review of facts;
Asked about the letter, Rear Adm. Dawn Cutler, the Navy's chief spokeswoman, said, "We will continue to refine how we maintain, operate and deploy LCS based on what we learn in operational tests, maintenance and deployments."

"The first two deployments of LCS have been successful, but we still have work to do in order to better execute the mission for which this platform was designed," she said in an email.
In his Jan. 14 speech to the Surface Navy Association, a Navy industry support group, Mabus said that "a group of small surface ships like the LCS is still capable of putting the enemy fleet at the bottom of the ocean."
In the name of all that his holy SECNAV, with what? What fleet? With what weapon? Sure, we can take out the Icelandic cod fishing fleet, maybe ... but good googly moogly. And RDML Cutler, I know you're uber-PAO CHINFO and all, but please in the name of sweet Neptune, define "successful deployment?"

I would really like to go a week without beating up this sad and pathetic smear on the honor of our Navy, but it just won't let me. Just won't.

What could be this year's Pink Flamingo? Just as I hope that LCS will with enough money, luck, and Sailor's sweat be made something useful - what if it is actually even worse than I have thought all these years? What if by the election it is found so bad that we put in a "stop work" order on it?

Ponder that.

Please, prove us wrong ... but alas, alas, that great surface force, that mighty navy! For in one hour is thy judgment come.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Football and Leadership Under Crisis

In defeat, one can find lessons on how leaders comport themselves. True character is demonstrated under crisis.

This is how you do it;

This is how you don't;

Which One is the Climate Change OPLAN Annex Again?

Yes, you will have to ask that question fellow Staff Weenies.

Here is how you turn an E.O. in to a clown show.

We used to make fun of the Soviets for forcing on their military a bunch of political showmanship that had nothing to do with fighting and winning wars. We used to pride ourselves on a rigorous and disciplined approach to military planning from trying to define Centers of Gravity to making sure our Assumptions were sound and that our analysis of Critical Vulnerabilities etc was as close to accurate as could be.  Poor thinking or unrelated issues were quickly and without mercy cut. When a clean OPLAN was long enough you had to.

Well, you can forget that. We are moving to full Soviet clown show where political cargo cults are being forced on military planning - not because military professionals see it as important, but because The Party demands it.

First, Ref. A., Executive Order 13653 - Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change. Here are the juicy bits. Read all of Sections 4, 5, and 6. In part;
Sec. 4. Providing Information, Data, and Tools for Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience. (a) In support of Federal, regional, State, local, tribal, private-sector and nonprofit-sector efforts to prepare for the impacts of climate change, the Departments of Defense, the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, and Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and any other agencies as recommended by the Council established in section 6 of this order, shall, supported by USGCRP, work together to develop and provide authoritative, easily accessible, usable, and timely data, information, and decision-support tools on climate preparedness and resilience.
... each agency shall develop or continue to develop, implement, and update comprehensive plans that integrate consideration of climate change into agency operations and overall mission objectives ...
How did this get translated in to action by The Pentagon?
To four-star generals and admirals, among them the regional combatant commanders who plan and fight the nation’s wars, the directive tells them: “Incorporate climate change impacts into plans and operations and integrate DoD guidance and analysis in Combatant Command planning to address climate change-related risks and opportunities across the full range of military operations, including steady-state campaign planning and operations and contingency planning.”

The directive, “Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience,” is in line with President Obama’s view that global warming is the country’s foremost national security threat, or close to it. Mr. Obama says there is no debate on the existence of man-made global warming and its ensuing climate change. Supporters of this viewpoint label as “deniers” any scientists who disagree.
The Pentagon is ordering the top brass to incorporate climate change into virtually everything they do, from testing weapons to training troops to war planning to joint exercises with allies.

A new directive’s theme: The U.S. Armed Forces must show “resilience” and beat back the threat based on “actionable science.”

It says the military will not be able to maintain effectiveness unless the directive is followed. It orders the establishment of a new layer of bureaucracy — a wide array of “climate change boards, councils and working groups” to infuse climate change into “programs, plans and policies.”
One interesting side-bar; I'll let you google it, but the phrase "Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience" is exactly copied from the standard issue bits from the Global Warming Climate Change industry papers. Not even trying to hide what they are doing. Funny, if not pathetic.

I'm not here to argue "climate change" any more than I will argue the daily cycle of light following darkness; darkness following light. That is not the issue. The issue is the forcing, the excessive translation of a lawful order from an E.O. to this shameless saddling of inefficiency.

Trust me, as a former planner who wrote no kidding OPLANS, if Climate Change needed to be part of one, we would have included it. If I suggested that we include it, I would have been laughed at by my peers, and reassigned to the exercise branch by my superiors.

Rightfully so.

This is, again, an own goal. This signals a the complete lack of seriousness and a leadership decoupled from reality. As Russia proves the value of hard power to force national will on others, we are creating huge bureaucratic processes that have nothing to do at all with serious tactical, operational, or strategic professional practice. 

As for the professional planners, sure, they will follow this directive, but it will only be pro-forma. Just like the self-criticisms that the Soviet Political Officers would force people to do, they will go through the motions. If we are lucky, all that will be expended to check the box for this hobby horse will be a tasker to the METOC officer to produce a 1 to 2 page Annex to the OPLAN stuck in the back and ignored.

If you are disappointed or angry, feel free. They didn't have to go full potato in response to the E.O., but they did.

Until an election allows serious adults to be appointed to leadership positions, and a CINC that will CANX that E.O. we just have to live with it.  That doesn't mean we can't slap it around a bit. It is worthy of scorn, satire, and general spite.

Is this driving procurement strategy? Is this driving CONOPS development? Or, as it appears, this is simply driving a political agenda using DOD time, personnel and resources?

There is a way to answer the mail without going the full Heaven's Gate - Hale-Bopp comet, but no - we are going to all in.

Here is who to blame.
The directive originated in the office of Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. Final approval came from Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work.

The directive is loaded with orders to civilian leaders and officers on specifically how counter-climate change strategy is to permeate planning.

“This involves deliberate preparation, close cooperation, and coordinated planing by DoD to provide for the continuity of DoD operations, services and programs,” it states.

“The DoD must be able to adapt current and future operations to address the impacts of climate change in order to maintain an effective and efficient U.S. military,” it adds. “Mission planning and execution must include anticipating and managing any risks that develop as a result of climate change to build resilience.”

Climate change must be integrated in:

• Weapons buying and testing “across the life cycle of weapons systems, platforms and equipment.”

• Training ranges and capabilities.

• Defense intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance.

• Defense education and training.

• Combatant commander joint training with allies to “assess the risks to U.S. security interests posed by climate change.”

• Joint Chiefs of Staff collaboration “with allies and partners to optimize joint exercises and war games including factors contributing to geopolitical and socioeconomic instability.”
You have a choice here. You can answer the mail without forcing yourself to become an advocate of a political agenda, or you can be a full-throated tool of The Party. You can just follow the minimum requirements of the lawful order with a shrug, or you can force yourself to be an advocate and signal to the Commissar what a good Party member you are.

Some people have chosen the later. Let them come forward so we can at least identify them. It will help the sorting later.

UPDATE: You can read DOD DIRECTIVE 4715.21 in full here.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Fullbore Friday

This may be a month where we open and close with FbF about the same person.

We will have to wait until the 29th for perhaps a bit more detail, but for now this is enough.

Exceptional Sailors doing exceptional things which they consider a normal part of their job.
A senior enlisted SEAL will be the first sailor in a decade to receive the Medal of Honor, for a mission to rescue an American civilian hostage in Afghanistan in 2012, according to a Tuesday release from the White House.

President Obama will present Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Edward Byers with the nation's highest award for valor in a Feb. 29 ceremony at the White House, the release said.
Much about the mission — and Byers' role in it — remains secret. While the White House usually gives a much more detailed account of what a service member has done to be awarded the Medal of Honor, Byers commendation cites only "his courageous actions while serving as part of a team that rescued an American civilian being held hostage in Afghanistan, December 8-9, 2012."
Sometime after midnight on Dec. 9, Joseph heard shots outside the shack where he was being held, he recounted in a 2014 book, "Kidnapped by the Taliban: A Story of Terror, Hope, and Rescue by SEAL Team Six."

"Is Dilip Joseph here?" shouted one of the heavily armed men, wearing night-vision goggles and speaking English. When Joseph identified himself, one of the SEALs — Joseph doesn't know for sure — immediately laid down on top of him to protect him from the fighting, asking about his welfare. Amid the gunfire, the SEAL calmly asked if he had been fed, if he could walk, and if he had been mistreated.

Five Taliban fighters were killed, according to USA Today. One Navy SEAL — the first one in the door, who the others called Nic — had been shot in the forehead.

As they waited for a helicopter 12 minutes out, the SEALs protected Joseph by "sandwiching" him between two team members.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "strongly recommended" Byers for the Medal of Honor in December 2014, according to a memo obtained by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.

The ceremony was delayed in part by Byers' recent deployment, according to a senior Defense official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

A 1905 executive order by President Teddy Roosevelt requires that Medal of Honor recipients come to Washington to receive the medal from the president.

Byers will be the 11th living service member to receive the medal for actions in Afghanistan and the third sailor to earn the distinction since Sept. 11, 2001.