Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Islamic State - rise & world view with Craig Whiteside, on Midrats

The Islamic State, ISIL/ISIS/Daesh - whatever people may call them - are not a flash in the pan. Not quite insurgency, not quiet terrorist organization, not quite nation state - what they are is a presence that has resilience, trans-national support, and has a long range plan.

What is their background, how have they evolved, and how do they view the world?

Our guest for the full hour from 5-6pm Eastern this Sunday to discuss this and more will be Craig Whiteside, LTC USA (Ret.), Associate Professor of Theater Security Decision Making for the Naval War College Monterey at the Naval Postgraduate School. Craig came to the War College from Washington State University, where he was a PhD student in Political Science and taught American Government and National Security Affairs. 

Prior to returning to school, Professor Whiteside was a career infantry officer in the U.S. Army with service in the airborne infantry. He is an Iraq war veteran and served with the Geronimos of the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry in Iskandariyah as the battalion executive officer during 2006-7. He finished his military service as the Professor of Military Science at Washington State. Professor Whiteside is currently working on his dissertation investigating the political worldview of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS). He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio

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

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fullbore Friday

In WWII, the German Navy from top to bottom was perhaps the best service in keeping its honor (the Luftwaffe right behind, but soiled mostly because of its senior officer, the nightmarishly obtuse war criminal Reichsmarschall des Grossdeutschen Reiches Hermann Göring). As such, it is easier to look at what they did with so little for things to ponder now.

An encore FbF from early 2009.

Lessons and pondering.

What types of ships need to be escorted? What if you don 't have enough escorts to ensure the preservation of your Capital Ships?

We all know the charge of heroes from Taffy 3 - but what would have happened if there were not enough escorts for the small carriers - as many at the time never thought they would face anything of substance.

Ahhhh - there we go. Always look askance at a leader who tells you not to worry about a threat you know is out there. One that will tell you other units or "off board" sensors can cover all the other threats.

What if a leader tells you other ships will provide security in one dimension - say AAW or ASUW - which makes sense - but the little LT in the back of your brain tells you, "...but we don't have enough of those to go around; and what about the other threats?"

Forget what you think you know about Carrier warfare in WWII. The North Sea and the North Atlantic are not the Pacific. Different theaters have different requirements - they did then, and they do now.
The 22,500-ton carriers Glorious and Courageous had been converted in the 1920s from being heavy cruisers into an aircraft carrier armed with only 4.7in guns. The light armament was justified by the Admiralty in order to save weight and that such ships should have to rely on their screening ships in order to protect them.
HMS Courageous sent out a warning that this would be a tough war for a carrier - even if you had proper escorts.
...Schuhart in U-29 was still searching for the convoy. While running submerged, he spotted a Swordfish biplane instead. A Swordfish 300 miles out in the open sea could only mean one thing – that an aircraft carrier had to be close by. Keeping a sharp watch, at 1800 hours a puff of smoke was spotted on the horizon. It was the carrier Courageous. Schuhart sent his crew to battle stations and adjusted for an interception course.

But he could not mount an attack. Planes were circling over the carrier and the two remaining destroyer escorts were clearly visible. He later wrote in his log “At that time it looked like a hopeless operation. Because of the aircraft, I could not surface and my underwater speed was less than 8 knots while the carrier could do 26. But we were told during our training to always stay close and that is exactly what I did, following him submerged”.

Schuhart trailed on for another one and a half hours, all the while losing distance with the carrier. Then suddenly at 1930 hours, the carrier turned into the wind to launch aircraft, inadvertently placing the ship in perfect position for a torpedo attack. By 1940 hours, U-29 was in position and Schuhart fired all three forward torpedoes from less than 3,000 yards. Schuhart logged “the vast size of the target upset all normal calculations and in any case, I was looking straight into the sun”.
By the next morning of September 18, news of the sinking had been broadcasted worldwide. The sinking of the HMS Courageous was the first U-boat offensive against the Royal Navy, and more importantly, Schuhart’s victory prompted the Admiralty to withdraw all three remaining carriers from the Western Approaches. The first naval engagement turned out to be a resounding victory, as carriers were not to be seen in those waters for another four years.
Ah, you are thinking. This is about ASW .... well ... no. This is about being reactionary.

It is critical to understand the full spectrum of the threat. It does not matter if you are at the Tactical, Operational, or Strategic level - heck, you could even be an Engineering Stud at NAVSEA.

If anyone grew up catching lizards like I did knows a simple but effective trick. If you wiggle you fingers a foot away from one side - you can easily catch him from the other.

By early June 1940, the British position in Norway had become perilous, as was the growing threat to the UK from the success of the German Blitzkrieg that an evacuation of the forces landed in Norway had become a necessity. On 4 June two convoys of troopships were organised and sailed on the 5 June. By the 8 June, all British and Allied troops had been embarked and the two convoys had set sail without being interfered with by the enemy. At this point the carriers HMS Glorious and HMS Ark Royal had been operating north of Andenes Point, Lofoten Islands. Glorious had taken on board some 20 RAF Hurricane and Gladiator fighters, whose pilots had taken the unprecedented step of landing on an aircraft carrier to try and save their valuable aircraft. It also had on board ten fighters and five torpedo bombers of the Fleet Air Arm. Both Ark Royal and Glorious were to have formed part of the escort to one of the convoys but in the early hours of the 8 June, Glorious made a signal to Vice Admiral Aircraft Carriers in Ark Royal asking permission to proceed independently to Scarpa. The request was approved and so Glorious and her two escorting destroyers parted company with Ark Royal at 0253. Meanwhile, the German battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau (both of 32,000 tons, nine 11in and twelve 5.9in guns), along with the heavy cruiser Hipper (of 14,000 tons) and four destroyers had sailed from Kiel on 4 June with orders to bombard the British base at Harstadt near Narvik. On the 7 June news reached the German force that the British were attempting to withdraw and the commander of the group, Admiral Wilhelm Marschall decided to attack the southern most of the two convoys. In the morning of the 8 June, the German force encountered four british ships, the oil tanker, Oil Pioneer, the empty troopship Orama, the escort trawler Juniper and the hospital ship Atlantis. Only the hospital ship was spared. This engagement however minor, had cost the Germans time and fuel, and so the Hipper was ordered back to Trondheim to refuel with the destroyer escort while the two battle cruisers carried on the search.

Shortly after 1600 the two groups of ships sighted each other and action stations was sounded on Glorious and attempts were made to get some of her aircraft ready for action. The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau both increased speed to full and both opened fire at 1632 and 1646 respectively. Glorious was hit by Scharnhorst's third salvo at 1638, which penetrated the flight deck and exploded in the upper hanger starting a large fire which disrupted the attempts to get some aircraft airborne. Splinters damaged the boiler casing and smoke entered the air intakes, causing a temporary loss of steam pressure. A second hit was received which killed most of the bridge crew. The escorting destroyers laid smoke to screen Glorious, which was quite effective, forcing the Germans to cease firing, at about 1700 until 1720. At this point any help from other British ships was out of the question as the cruiser Devonshire was 100 miles away, the Ark Royal and its group were 200 miles away and the cruisers Southampton and Coventry were 470 miles away. Devonshire picked up a barely intelligible signal at around 1720 but did not break radio silence to pass it on. On board were the King of Norway and his ministers and breaking radio silence would have involved serious risk in revealing her position. None of the other ships received Glorious' radio signal, neither did nay shore station. Ardent managed to hit the Scharnhorst but received multiple hits from the 5.9in secondary armament and sank at around 1725. Glorious received another hit in the centre engine room just after the Germans had recommenced firing that shook the whole ship, caused a loss of speed and a starboard list. Just after this, Acasta passed ahead of Scharnhorst and manoeuvred to onto its starboard side and fired two salvos of four torpedoes. One hit Scharnhorst below the aft main battery turret that caused significant damage and casualties and forced the ship to sharply reduce speed. Acasta also hit the Scharnhorst with her main guns but came under heavy and accurate fire and was badly damaged. She sank at about 1820. By this time Glorious had already sank at around 1810 and the German ships altered course for Trondheim. No attempt was made to pick up survivors. The only survivors to be picked up were taken on board the Norwegian vessel Borgund, and the thirty-nine were taken to Thorshaven and transferred back to the UK on HMS Veteran.
You can almost see a Taffy-3 like battle ... but numbers, ISR, and luck were not on the side of the British that day. That and from much research, senior leadership was not focused on their primary mission and the threat to it. Sound familiar?

They were also facing the German Navy.

If you have lots of "whats" ... you're not alone.

This incident was a great embarrassment to the Admiralty. Many questions were raised at the time in Parliament, by Richard Stokes and have continued to be asked until the present day. Did Admiral Forbes really know of the movements of Glorious and her destroyer escort, and if not, was he in a position to give assistance if they encountered trouble? Were two small destroyers really enough to protect a valuable asset such as an aircraft carrier when HMS Courageous (Glorious' sister ship) had been torpedoed by U-29 with the loss of 500 men? Why did the Admiralty leave nearly a thousand men to drift for three nights and two days before a mere handful were picked up by chance? Why had Glorious separated from Ark Royal and her group only thirteen hours before? Why were no lookouts posted? Why had she not been warned that enemy ships might be along the route? Why were her urgent signals never heard, or if they were, not acted upon? Why didn't the destroyers send a report of enemy sightings? The answers that have been given, first by the Admiralty and then by the MoD have been questioned right from day one. The official reason given for Glorious' independent departure from Norway was that she was short of fuel and could not wait another 24 hours to come back with Ark Royal. Both Winston Churchill and Captain S Roskill (in 1980 after conducting extensive research) who had written the official history of the Royal Navy in World War II poured scorn on this explanation.

There are three reasons why such an explanation is open to question. The first is that there are no corroborating signals, logs, reports or witnesses. The second lies with the fuel position. Was it more economical to return at 17 or 18 knots (the speed at which she was travelling when she encountered the Scharnhorst or Gneisenau) by herself or return at 13 or 14 knots with the convoy? Of course Glorious would have used more fuel in waiting for the convoy to assemble, but overall, she would have used less fuel by waiting and returning with the other ships. In addition, if a ship is short of fuel and has a number of her boilers shut down, it is more difficult for her to reach full speed and thus outrun the pursuers, which is what happened in Glorious' case. If such a situation arises, isn't it therefore obvious that the ship will be safer in company? Why was Glorious in such a hurry that she ignored these considerations? A hand written note in an Admiralty file provides a clue. The note was from the CO of one of the destroyers in the Ark Royal group, Commander Le Geyt, who noted a signal flashed from Glorious to Ark Royal requesting permission to depart immediately the purpose of which was to make preparations for courts martial. The ship departed 30 minutes later. It was no secret that the Captain of Glorious (a submarine hero from World War One) had been in a state of conflict with his FAA staff. Things had come to a head on a previous trip to Norway, when the FAA officers had expressed doubts over a plan that involved, in their view, a futile and nearly suicidal ground attack. When Glorious returned to refuel, the Commander (A) was put ashore pending court martial. While the Admiralty and more recently the MoD have argued that a court martial would have been an extremely trivial reason to risk a carrier, two destroyers and 1,500 lives, when the story was being researched by Stephen Roskill, he contacted a number of retired naval officers who had served under the CO of Glorious, none of them tried to dissuade him that 'the fuel story is bunkum . . . the problem was the Captain's impatience for a court martial'. (Quoted in Slessor, p. 33) Following on from this why did Vice Admiral Wells in Ark Royal allow the Glorious to return independently? Unfortunately Wells was never interviewed, and so we shall never know for sure. Why didn't the Admiralty pass on the intelligence from Bletchley Park that German surface forces were likely to leave Kiel for the North Sea to the ships out at sea? That the intelligence had reached the Admiralty was indicated in the official history of British Intelligence during the Second World War and supported by Sir Harry Hinsley, who had passed the intelligence onto the Admiralty (and written the official history), but contradicted in a 1997 paper entitled 'HMS Glorious - Points of Controversy' published by the MoD's Naval Historical Branch. It was argued that only one faint and garbled message was heard by the one ship, the Devonshire, which could not take any action, and was carrying the King of Norway and his cabinet in any case. However, five members of the Devonshire's crew maintain that enough of the message was heard that to realise that Glorious had sighted two German warships and was in trouble. If this was the case, why didn't Admiral Cunningham pass on a warning to the troop convoys, as thousands to troops were at risk? The question is made even more difficult as the Devonshire's logs are missing. Why did the Devonshire exercise all four main turrets within minutes of the Glorious sending her first enemy report? Why did the Devonshire increase to 30kts and start zigzagging a few minutes after Glorious' final signal was sent, according to German signals? Finally, why was Glorious flying no air patrols despite a week earlier flying 'safe circle' air patrol through the very same waters? Despite all these questions over the incident and the available evidence to the contrary, the sad fact remains that the MoD remains tied to the excuse that it was the lack of fuel that forced HMS Glorious to leave for Scarpa Flow, even though the sinking of the ship occurred over sixty years ago.
The unanswered "why."

The sea is an interesting place. The enemy gets a vote ... and risk is not to be assumed away. Risks must be taken - but taken with care and for the right reasons.

From the German side: HMS Glorious vs
Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.

The lessons of 1940 are germane today. What do you take away? If interested more in this beautiful class, you can see rare color video here and here. ....and yes, I noticed the amount of water over the bow at flank speed. Quite a "wet" class of ship.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Diversity Thursday

Nothing happens by accident, but we'll get to that in a minute.

First, let's talk about what USNA thinks is most important about their incoming class.

Interesting things that we signal on what we consider our priorities.

What are the Top-6 things that we most value in our new USNA Midshipmen?

- Good AP exams.
- Good PT.
- Leadership record.
- Better chance for the guys to find a wife at school.
- Playing by AKC rules still (we'll get to that in a moment).
- Nationwide.

Hey ... we got 4 out of 6 criteria actually that matter; we'll call that a partial victory. Now the pathetic bits.

We've had fun with pictures in the past, it is time to do so again. This is just so easy. So comical. So patronizing. So hamfisted. So, predictable. No matter how you do it, it is funny.

As you look at the pictures, remember that there are only a few reasons to do this; you are trying to curry favor with people who are only focused on socio-political race and gender issues; you are trying to hide reality; you really don't like white people, specifically white males. None of these reasons are honorable or belong in a serious institution. One way or another, it is kind of embarrassing - but mostly I'm embarrassed for the MIDN in these pictures. They don't want to be defined by their DNA, just their performance. They don't want to be anyones pet to be brought out to entertain guests - they just want to be part of a larger organization.

Its not their fault.


The easiest way to see what the PAOs want you to see is to just count who is the center of each picture. ~+/- we have four black females, two white females, three asian females, two black males, and two asian males.

So, if you are just looking at pictures and assume, correctly, that they put what is important right at the center - and therefore message what they desire, then the ideal USNA is 69% female, 46% black, 38% asian, and not a while male of any importance anywhere. Sounds about right. Of course, you really cannot tell hispanic by a picture so who knows that wedge, and who cares.

Actually, let's do the numbers on the second page. First, strip out the international category and the hispanic category. One is a joke to be on the list, and hispanic is an artificial construct that can be any race. That gives us 1,036 as a population. As such, white are 75%, multiple race (BZ) 9%, black 7% and asian at 8%. American Indian and Pacific Islanders at less than 1%.

Do you notice that they break out multiracial by blacks and asians, but not white? Why? Can't whites be multiracial too ... or is the Navy following the KKK one drop rule, or the Nazi grandparent rule?

Nothing to do with DivThu either - but and interesting metric; look at the SAT scores - that is an easily benchmarked data point. I got news for everyone, intellectually, USNA is not an elite academic institution. Good to very good, but not all that - puts them somewhere in the 30s. Not Ivy League smart, but closer to UNC-Chapel Hill, GWU or William and Mary. On balance, that is a good thing. 

Check it out if you wish.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

We can bury and walk away from "The Global Force for Good" now

This will do. This will do nicely.

Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson

I'm not going to mention the name of the Islamic terrorist who was killed in Australia yesterday. Like Marino Faliero, let's not honor him with public display.

Instead, let us honor true heroism in the Anglo-Saxon tradition;
Tori Johnson, 34, was wrestling a gun from hostage-taker Man Haron Monis when he was killed.

It is understood the cafe manager decided to take action when the gunman began to doze off after the siege had been ongoing for 17 hours.

He lunged at the hostage-taker’s weapon, allowing others to flee.

He was one of two hostages killed in the siege, with 38-year-old lawyer Katrina Dawson also fatally shot.

The second hostage killed has been identified as barrister Katrina Dawson. The 38-year-old mother-of-three is the sister of well-known Sydney lawyer Sandy Dawson.

Ms Dawson was tragically killed trying to defend her pregnant colleague, Julie Taylor.
Tori was the manager. That business was his responsibility. It was his place to take action when it was time. BZ.

Katrina, a mother three times over, knew that the innocent life unborn was of more importance than one who already had a full life. BZ.

All of this, of course, was avoidable. If you have not already, google search the record of the killer. A murderer and rapist who should have been deported a long time ago.

Some parts of our West are doing their best to commit suicide just so bullies won't call them names for doing the right thing. This is the result of a twisted desire by the pampered to push self-destructive immigration and crime enforcement policies just so they can be called nice things by the self-loathing pushers of a debunked but still powerful political mindset that is a lower form of our modern Anglo-Saxon culture.

Blood on their hands? Yes, from the press to the politicians who stood in the way of that man being deported. Due to their fundamental failure to protect their citizens, the citizens had to protect themselves - and Tori and Katrina paid with their lives for others' intellectual vanity.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Weaponizing "Big Data" and the Coming Hyper-Personalization of Conflict

Or guest on yesterday's Midrats, Charles Dunlap Jr., USAF (Ret.) has an article out in the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, The Hyper-Personalization of War: Cyber, Big Data, and the Changing Face of Conflict, that everyone should get a cup of coffee and read carefully.

Once the algorithms are there, the economics of duplication & simplification bring about affordability and expendability - the cold logic of progress will take over. 

If you have an opponent who cares little to any for law, your morality, or the legal niceties of civilized conflict (what little there is), then you have a very brave world indeed.

Charlie outlines a capability that everyone should take a moment to ponder.
It is critical to understand that cyberderived data does not sit in isolation from other developing technologies.

One technology that achieved significant prominence in recent years is the use of remotely-piloted aircraft commonly known as “drones” to engage in long-term surveillance of battlefields in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and to attack enemy fighters wherever found.
the U.S. military is developing a generation of small drones capable of operating in networked groups, or “swarms.”

Other reports suggest efforts to develop lethal micro-drones that “resemble winged, multi-legged bugs” which “swarm through alleys, crawl across windowsills, and perch on power lines” as they seek their target.

Parallel to the rapid development of drone technology is the swift advance of facial recognition software.

The linkage of the two in the context of “Big Data” was virtually inevitable. In 2013 the Associated Press, in a story provocatively entitled, “Drones With Facial Recognition Technology Will End Anonymity, Everywhere,”
What does this “cocktail” of cyber technologies mean for warfighting? Quite simply, it appears that in the not-too-distant future, the U.S. military - and likely other militaries - will be able to launch swarms of drones equipped with facial recognition software to roam battlefields looking for very specific members of an enemy’s force. These could be officers, but also selected technicians and battle-hardened leaders who possess vital and difficult-to-replace skills.
As he touches on in his article - there is one place this give me the most pause, and it has nothing to do with state-to-state conflict.

We already have small, almost undetectable drones that can sit like insects and wait. They also have the ability to dwell for a long time conserving their power - or with flexible solar cells or other means perhaps even make their own power as they wait in a sunny spot - until the target arrives. Personalized targets via autonomous target recognition software and preloaded courses of action and rules of engagement.

Every place you park your car. Every place you walk your dog. Every store you visit. Every place your kids go to school - any place you show your face could have - attacked to a tree, a wall, a pole, anything - a small drone processing every face, just waiting; waiting for you.

I would argue that you don't even need facial recognition. As any practitioner of the acoustic arts will tell you, every engine has its own specific sound. You can identify ships from another of the same class with the same machinery simply by the different acoustic sounds the small imperfections in each ship's construction give.

Have a nice acoustic signature for your car along with a pattern of your daily life, you don't need a face. Your voice. A decade or more, who knows - your smell.

Your lethal payload? Depends on the precision of your delivery. That is probably the easiest.

Just ponder that ... just ponder.

And in case you think this is a little "out there" ...

Of course, just to save you the trouble of putting it in comments.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

COIN, Cyber, and Lawfare: the continuity of war in to 2015, on Midrats

With the coming of the new year, some things have not changes and the old challenges are still with us; most waxing - only a few waning.

This Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern we have returning guest Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., Major General, USAF (Ret.), Professor of the Practice of Law, and Executive Director, Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University.

We will cover the board spectrum of the evolution of Counter Insurgency, warfare in the cyber domain, and the ever-present impact of law on the conduct of war.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio

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

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio