Saturday, October 18, 2014

A live free for all on Midrats, Sunday!



Believe it or not, this week is our 250th Episode of Midrats.

In celebration, we're clearing the intellectual table, going to open the mic and see where it takes us.

From Kobane, to Coastal Defense, to Ebola and everything in between and sideways that's been in the national security news as of late, plus whatever else breaks above the ambient noise - we'll be covering it.

As with all Midrats Free For Alls, we are also opening the phone lines for our regular listeners who want to throw a topic our way.

Come join us Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern, and maybe longer, as we try to figure out how we got to 250.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room if you don't want to call in and practice your radio voice, where you can offer up your questions and observations, 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, October 17, 2014

Fullbore Friday

As during hunting season, your humble blogg'r is always short of time: a encore FbF from early in the run.

Speed. Superior technology. Superior Sailors. Long-range, accurate weapons. Superior training.

From LCS to DDG-1000, we are all told that these are the key to victory at sea. They make up for inferior numbers. They are Transformational. War has changed. We own them.

All that came to mind when I thought of three ships, HMS Exeter, HMS Ajax, and HMNZS Achilles.

The Graf Spee was, well, the Graf Spee. With memories of the SMS Emden in mind, she was the terror of the seas.

To go after her you had three old, under armed, and relatively unarmored cruisers. On paper, there should be no contest. But the combined British and New Zealand Force had a plan. They had what you cannot put on paper or PowePoint - but that which wins almost all battles at sea; audacity.
13th. of December 1939.At 0520 ( 5.20 AM ) the squadron was in position 34 degrees 34 minutes South, 49 degrees 17 minutes West, on a course of 060 degrees, at a speed of 14 knots, cruising in line ahead Ajax, Achilles and Exeter. Smoke bearing 320 degrees, ie to the South West from the force, was sighted at 0610 ( 6.10 AM ) and Exeter was ordered to investigate, she soon replied:
"I think it is a pocket Battleship!"
It did not take long for Graf Spee to act, in only two minutes she opened fire with her 11 inch turrets, one firing at Exeter, and one at Ajax.
The first division altered course to 340 degrees to close the range to the enemy, whilst Captain Bell hauled out of the line, altering course to the west, so he might attack Graf Spee from a widely different angle. All ships increased speed, now it should be noted that the enemy armament had almost twice the power of the British
cruisers, both Ajax and Achilles were light cruisers mounting 6 inch guns in their turrets, whilst Exeter was the lone ship of her class, mounting 6 by 8 inch guns in three twin turrets, A and B turrets forward, and a single Y turret mounted aft.

By 0623 ( 6.23 AM ) all ships had opened fire, and an enemy report was broadcast.Graf Spee straddled Exeter ( that means shells in a salvo fall both sides of the target ), one shell burst short, and killed the starboard torpedo tube crews, riddled the searchlights and the aircraft on the catapult, which was manhandled over the side, leaving the ship without any spotting capability from that source. The enemy ship seemed undecided about her gunnery policy, as she shifted targets several times before concentrating both turrets upon Exeter. The third salvo from
By 0624 ( 6.24 AM ) Exeter sent off 8 salvoes against the enemy, but on the incoming path, she received a direct hit from an 11 shell in the fore part of the B turret, putting it out of action, as splinters from this shell burst swept the bridge it killed or wounded all personnel there except for the Captain and two others. It also demolished the wheel house communications, leaving Captain Bell without any means of giving wheel orders to enable course changes, or orders to the engine room regarding speed changes. He decided to fight his ship from the after conning position, but the communication system here was also damaged from the shell burst earlier that effected the torpedo tube crews etc. A chain of messengers was set up to pass orders to the after steering position.
Now two further 11 inch shell hits registerd in the fore part of the cruiser, and Graf Spee shifted one 11 inch turret onto Ajax, who was straddled three times. The secondary armament of the German ship now took on Ajax and Achilles alternately, but to little effect.
During all of this intensive engagement, Ajax achieved a minor miracle by being able to catapult her aircraft for spotting purposes.
Exeter had fired off her torpedoes at 0632 ( 6.32 AM, ) but did not achieve any result, now at 0637 ( 6.37 AM ) Graf Spee altered course some 150 degrees, steering to the North West under cover of smoke.
0638 to 0650 ( 6.38 to 6.50 AM )At about 0638 ( 6.38 AM ) Exeter altered course to Straboard to allow the firing of her starboard torpedoes, then took off to the North East to close the First Division, at 0645 ( 6.45 AM ) she turned westerly to keep within range.
Two more 11 inch hits fell upon Exeter, one put A turret out of action, and another started a fierce fire in the Chief Petty Officer's flat amidships, the 4 inch magazine was flooded through a burst water main. All the compass repeaters were out of action, the Captain had to rely on a simple boat's compass to allow him to keep the ship pointed so that Y turret might keep up her firing at the enemy, locally controlled, with the Gunnery Officer taking control from the searchlight platform.
At 0640 ( 6.40. AM ) an 11 inch shell fell just short of Achilles in line with her bridge, it burst at the waterline, with splinters killing four sailors, stunning the Gunnery Officer, ( many unkind Officers might comment, But that is but the normal condition for most Gunnery Officers. ) and slightly wounding the Captain and his Chief Yeoman of Signals.
0650 to 0708. ( 6.50 to 7.08 AM )Achilles with her guns firing in local control could not find the right line with her gun fire, her salvoes falling short. The aircraft from Ajax, reporting that the salvoes were all falling short, but in Achilles, their gun control officer was unaware that Ajax was not still in concentrated firing, he therefore wrongly concluded it was his fall of shot being reported as short, and corrected accordingly, this had the effect of all his gunfire falling way over the enemy pocket battleship. A real mix up at a time when to achieve hits on the enemy was crucial. With all the smoke added to the general confusion, direct spotting was quite hard.
Graf Spee made frequent course alterations trying to throw off the British ship's gunfire, she also made skilful use of the smoke she generated.
Exeter valiently kept up firing her Y turret in local control, but she now had developed a 7 degree list to starboard, adding to the difficulties of keeping Y turret firing. She was still a target for fire from Graf Spee, but shots fell consistantly over.
0708 to 0728. ( 7.08 to 7.28 AM )Graf Spee was still 16,000 yards from theFirst Division, and they were ordered to close the enemy at speed, accepting they would lose the benefit of having their guns bear on the enemy whilst they steamed closer to the German ship.
At 0708 ( 7. 08 AM ) Graf Spee made a dramatic alteration of course to port under cover of her smoke, and at 0720 ( 7. 20 AM ) she turned back to the North West to bring her guns to bear, and Ajax was very quickly straddled three times from a range of 11,000 yards.
At the same time, the First Division turned to starboard to bring all their main armament bearing on Graf Spee, their fire appeared to most effective with Graf Spee on fire amidships. But at 0725 ( 7. 25 AM ) Ajax was hit by an 11 inch delayed action shell on the after superstructure, its passed through some cabins, wrecking them, then it went through X turret trunk, wrecking all the turret machinery below the gun house, a part of this shell base then struck Y turret barbette, close to the turret training rack, and jammed the turret. Thus one shell was responsible for putting both X and Y turrets out of action, for killing four, and wounding another six of X turret's crew.
It appeared that Graf Spee was neglecting Exeter, as she steered North West to close on the First Division, with Ajax assuming that the German ship would hold this course, she decided to fire off a broadside of her torpedoes. At 0724 ( 7. 24 A M ) she turned to starboard, and let go four torpedoes at a range of 9,000 yards, but without result.
Graf Spee must have seen them coming, and quickly took avoiding action by turning 130 degrees to port, and then returned to the North West after about three minutes.
Exeter was slowly dropping astern of the action, the forward damage taking it's toll. At 0740 ( 7. 40 A M ) Y turret still in local control stopped firing, this was due to a power failure caused by flooding. At 0740 ( 7. 40 A M ) Exeter was steering South East at a very slow speed, she needed to both make repairs and herself seaworthy again.
Now Ajax and Achilles altered course to 260 degrees so that the range to the enemy was reduced even more, then at 0721 ( 7.21 A M ) the spotting aircraft reported "Torpedoes approaching, they will pass ahead of you." The two cruisers decided to make sure they missed, and altered course to 180 degrees.
At 0732 ( 7.32 AM ) Graf Spee turned away to the West and started to zig zag, and Ajax seemed to be making good use of her three available guns, one of the hoists had failed in B turret, and both X and Y turrets were out of action.
Suddenly at 0736, ( 7.36 AM ) Graf Spee altered course to the South West to again bring all her armament to bear on the First Division, the range now down to 8,000 yards.
Ajax reported she had only 20% of her ammunition left.
The shooting by Graf Spee was accurate, and Commodore Harwood did not think she had suffered much damage from the salvoes from the British ships, so he decided to break off the action, at least till after dark. One of the last salvoes from the enemy had demolished Ajax's top mast, and with it all of her aerials, so jury aerials were rigged as quickly as possible. As the British ships turned away, Graf Spee did not follow them, but then altered course to 270 degrees, her speed 22 knots, this course would take her directly to the River Plate. The First Division, now turned to place themselves in shadowing positions on both quarters of the German ship, at a distance of about 15 miles.
British shipping in the area was alerted to Graf Spee's position, course and speed, this information was also sent off to the British Admiralty.
At 0912 ( 9.12 AM ) Ajax recovered her aircraft, then at 0916 ( 9.16 AM ) Harwood ordered Cumberland from the Falkland Islands to close the River Plate at full speed, he was in dire need of reinforcements to his force.
At 1104 ( 11.04 AM ) a merchant ship close to Graf Spee was stopped and blowing off clouds of steam, a signal from the pocket battleship read: "Please pick up lifeboats of English steamer." When coming up to the British ship, SS Shakespeare, all her boats were hoisted, and she reported that she was not in need of any assistance.
At 1105 ( 11.05 AM ) Exeter signalled that all her turrets were out of action, she was flooded up to No. 14 bulkhead, but could proceed at 18 knots, she was ordered to sail to the Falkland Islands at her best speed without placing strain on her bulkheads.
At 1342 ( 1.42 PM ) the British Naval Attache at Buenos Airies was informed that Graf Spee was making for the Plate. The shadowing of Graf Spee continued, and at 1915 ( 7.15 PM ) she suddenly fired off two salvoes at Ajax who turned away under smoke, the first salvo fell in line, the second in her wake as she turned, the range 26,000 yards.
It now seemed that Graf Spee intended to enter the Plate, and Achilles was told to follow her if she went West of Lobos, now Ajax was to proceed South of the English Bank, just in case the German doubled back that way.
Just after sunset, Graf Spee fired off three salvoes at Achilles, the third lobbed very close, in return, AchillesGraf Spee now proceeded North of the English Bank, and anchored in Montevideo roads at 0050. ( 00.50 AM ) fired 5 salvoes that seemed to straddle the enemy ship.
Harwood now reports that his main concern was how long Graf Spee intended to stay here.
At 2350 ( 11.50 PM ) Ajax and Achilles were ordered to withdraw from the Plate, Harwood did not want to risk them having to face Graf Spee silhouetted by the rising sun behind them. Achilles was to patrol the area from the Urugayan coast to a line 120 degrees from English Bank, whilst Ajax was to look after the Southern area. Both cruisers were to move back to the mouth of the Plate after the threat posed by the dawn had passed.
Fullbore.

UPDATE: Reader Oyster sends along the radio report. Cool.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Diversity Thursday

It is helpful to know that the issues we raise on DivThu are not just a problem with the military or government, it is all through our culture. 

That is why I like to look around in the larger culture now and then so everyone gets a chance to see those perpetually offended in the Diversity Industry for what they are; a fetid stew of rent-seeking grievance mongers, agenda driven Social Marxists, social justice fetishists, clueless frumps stuck in a 1970s intellectual temporal trap, useful idiots, self-loathing auto-masochists, and occasionally the rabidly sectarian hate-pimps using polite words with foam flecks at the corner of their mouths - all squatting athwart our culture for their own sense of self-entitlement.

Of course, we should only attack their idea, not the actual persons - right? Wrong.

These sick narcissists make a living destroying not just institutions, but individual people - all for their own monetary gain and starving egos. They feast on others, so, no - in this case I have no problem getting personal.

In 2014, more and more of what you see are those who are trying to bully-boy others in to shutting up, soak up the guilt they are throwing about, and as a result expect someone to cough up a paycheck for them just to make them go away and try to destroy someone else.

One sub-genre perpetually offended rent-seekers are the professional feminists, some of the most destructive people preventing women from being on a true level with men. As some of you know my personal story, Mama Salamander was a trailblazer and never had need or want for any of them for her success. 

Anyway, professional feminists are not out there for other women to succeed - if so they would be leading marches against ISIS, no, that isn't their priority. There is serious money in that job, if you can pull it off.

For the young pups in this line of work, the sad thing is that after a few decades, a lot of the fertile and easily plowed fields of man-hate is already occupied by some rather stout and stubborn 1st and 2nd generation professional feminists. So, like the second son or the yearling buck (yes, I am trying to find as many XY references I can), they have to wander far and wide to find their place.

The last really fertile holdout territories whose walls finally fell like Constantinople, was taken out by the 2nd generation, Naval Aviation at Tailhook. As a result, this new generation has had to subsist on the outer fringes of that sad battle, and generally making crap up they can't scratch out of academia. That gleaning has run out and is no longer productive. Slash and burn has run its course for that spot ... time to look anew.

Looking for other male dominated areas that may have weak-spined and easily cowed leadership, some of the young buck feminists have gone after that wonderfully "unique" male dominated area - gamers?

As such we have gamergate. If you are not up to speed, let's just go to wikipedia;
Gamergate (sometimes referred to as GamerGate or as a hashtag #gamergate) is a controversy in video game culture which began in August 2014. It concerns ingrained issues of sexism and misogyny in the gaming community, as well as journalistic ethics in the online gaming press, particularly conflicts of interest between video game journalists and developers.
I have to give credit to the uber-nerds of gamedom - they are fighting harder and defending their culture more than the wall of shame that was TACAIR leadership almost a quarter century ago.

One side-show to gamergate that I find particularly delicious is that of Anita Sarkeesian. A perfect specimine of the present generation of professional feminist, full of piss, vinegar, bile, and foam ... with a fair bit of agitprop, misdirection, and what looks like lies. Follow they money, they are;
In 2012, Sarkeesian started a Kickstarter campaign, to raise $6,000 so that she could pay for video games and fund production for a set of videos that would criticize gender tropes in video games. Within a day, Sarkeesian hit her initial goal. She went on to raise $150,000.

Sarkeesian missed her first deadline with no concrete explanation. While I was mildly skeptical when I found this out, I was absolutely stunned after watching a few of her videos.

Sarkeesian’s in-game footage is almost exclusively stolen from several YouTubers’ “Let’s Play” tutorial videos. Sarkeesian gave no credit or notice to the video creators. When several commenters began to accuse her of plagiarism, Sarkeesian disabled the comments and like/dislike options on her videos.

Some other critics accused Sarkeesian of exploiting Kickstarter. Sarkeesian, who admitted in a 2010 interview that she doesn’t even play video games, could not have possibly spent $150,000 on buying games and “production” when she simply took clips from other people’s videos.

When implored by critics and supporters alike to produce just one piece of documentation explaining how she spent the money, Sarkeesian refused.
She has a history in the bit of territory she is farming. Quite a bit of history.

She also seems to have a habit of creating drama when there isn't any naturally occurring;
Canadian-American author, blogger and feminist Anita Sarkeesian has canceled her scheduled Wednesday speech at Utah State University after learning the school would allow concealed firearms at the event despite an anonymous terror threat promising “the deadliest school shooting in American history.”

Utah State confirmed Sarkeesian’s decision to cancel in a tweet sent out shortly after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
I guess she was feeling unsatisfied with the gamers, she decided she needed to rub up against the gun folks too.

Well, I'm tired to toying with her around the edges. I'll roll her over to the gamers and let them play around a bit. This guy does it so much better anyway.



So, there you go. Stand up to these bullies, if the gamers can - why can't those in the military who break real things and kill real people for a living? 

I wish more women were like Mama Salamander and went after these rent-seekers, but hey ... if it takes a man to do a woman's job, so be it.

These professional outrage generators like Anita do no good for, in this case at least, the great professional women in our line of work who get it done day in and day out, and handle jerks like everyone else. We and they don't need to support people like Anita's invented career path with their time and tax money. 

We need to stop going to their award ceremonies. Stop going to their conferences, and unquestionably stop paying them to have any association with the DOD/DON.

As a side note, being that Anita seems to not like the song - with standard Kristen warning - here you go; bask in it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Admiral Rickover on our Present Crisis

For many, from the war (let’s call it what it is, in a fashion) against ISIS to the ongoing fumble in the response to Ebola, we seem to be having a crisis in the ability of our self-selecting nomenclatura to effectively lead and manage even the most basic functions of government; national security from outside threats.

There are two broad things at work.

First, in a nation as large and diverse as the USA, an effective federal government governs best when it governs least, and only in those prescribed areas that it can do it best. All other things need to be pushed down to State or local government – or here is a shocker – the people themselves. 

That isn’t just right and highly functional; we are seeing the results today what happens when our federal government does the opposite. People know when a large and all powerful government in the USA is not working. They may not fully understand why, but they see its dysfunction right in front of them every day.

Secondly, at the very highest positions of power, we have elected and assigned all the right people who went to the right schools and know all the right people and who have all the right intentions … and yet, it is being run worse than the Virginia DMV’s C-team.

Are these leaders idiots? No. Are they evil? No. What they have, by personality and education, is a world view and professional practice that has a fatal post-modern design flaw.

This is not a new problem, but it has grown and become greater as the power of the federal government has grown with size and power.

Admiral Rickover saw it in a different venue back in 1953. In part:
… decisions about the future development(s) … must frequently be made by people who do not necessarily have an intimate knowledge of the technical aspects … These people are, nonetheless, interested …

… this confusion stems from a failure to distinguish between the academic and the practical. These apparent conflicts can usually be explained only when the various aspects of the issue are resolved into their academic and practical components.

The tools of the academic-... designer are a piece of paper and a pencil with an eraser. If a mistake is made, it can always be erased and changed. If the practical-reactor designer errs, he wears the mistake around his neck ; it cannot be erased. Everyone can see it.

The academic-… designer is a dilettante. He has not had to assume any real responsibility in connection with his projects. He is free to luxuriate in elegant ideas, the practical shortcomings of which can be relegated to the category of “mere technical details." The practical-… designer must live with these same technical details. Although recalcitrant and awkward, they must be solved and cannot be put off until tomorrow. Their solutions require manpower, time and money.

Unfortunately for those who must make far-reaching decisions without the benefit of an intimate knowledge of … technology and unfortunately for the interested public, it is much easier to get the academic side of an issue than the practical side. For a large part those involved with the academic … have more inclination and time to present their ideas in reports and orally to those who will listen. Since they are innocently unaware of the real but hidden difficulties of their plans, They speak with great facility and confidence Those involved with (the) practical ..., humbled by their experiences, speak less and worry more.

Yet it is incumbent on those in high places to make wise decisions, and it is reasonable and important that the public be correctly informed. It is consequently incumbent on all of us to state the facts as forth rightly as possible. Although it is probably impossible to have ... ideas labelled as ”practical" or “academic" by the authors, it is worthwhile for both the authors and the audience to bear in mind this distinction and to be guided thereby.
A shorter version by another great American, William F. Buckley, Jr;
I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.

Hat tip Cabildo.

OK Naval Futurists, Wargame This

Yes, yes, yes ... this technology has been touted as "just around the corner" since Disney's Tomorrowland was considered a plausible view of the future, but ... from weapons that require a lot of electrical power, to power itself, to a further diversification of the world's energy options ... ponder.
Lockheed Martin Corp. said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready in a decade.

Tom McGuire, who heads the project, said he and a small team had been working on fusion energy at Lockheed's secretive Skunk Works for about four years but were now going public to find potential partners in industry and government for their work.

Initial work demonstrated the feasibility of building a 100-megawatt reactor measuring 7 feet by 10 feet, which could fit on the back of a large truck and is about 10 times smaller than current reactors, McGuire said.
You read that size correctly. Scalability? Safety? We'll see.
Compact nuclear fusion would also produce far less waste than coal-powered plants, and future reactors could eliminate radioactive waste completely, the company said.

McGuire said the company had several patents pending for the work and was looking for partners in academia, industry, and among government laboratories to advance the work.

Lockheed said it had shown it could complete a design and build and test it in as little as a year, which should produce an operational reactor in 10 years, McGuire said. A small reactor could power a US Navy warship and eliminate the need for other fuel sources that pose logistical challenges.

US submarines and aircraft carriers run on nuclear power, but they have large fission reactors on board that have to be replaced on a regular cycle.

"What makes our project really interesting and feasible is that timeline as a potential solution," McGuire said.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

No time for a Coast Artillery Corps Revival, Rep. Forbes

There are some ideas, weapons, tactics, and platforms that have a long historical record and are as useful now as they were then. Some ideas were exceptional for their time, but are just not a fit for the warfare requirements of today.

A good side arm was and is essential. As we saw in 2001-2, though we no longer need horse cavalry divisions, it is probably a good idea to keep enough equine presence in our Army to make sure we don't lose all those skills.

Recently, as reported by Sydney Freedberg over at BreakingDefense, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) sent a letter to the Army that is, well, a nice thought - but notsomuch.
China has an arsenal of long-range ship-killing missiles, based on land but able to hit US warships hundreds of miles offshore. Now the chairman of the House seapower subcommittee suggests we give them a taste of their own “anti-access/area denial” medicine. Why shouldn't the US Army develop its own land-based anti-ship missile force?

Rep. Randy Forbes has carefully timed his letter to the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, sending it on the eve of the service’s largest annual gathering, the massive Association of the US Army conference here in Washington. Nor does Forbes pull his geopolitical punches: He explicitly advocates “ground-based anti-ship missiles… specifically for deployment in the Western Pacific [to] offset current strategic advantages by the People’s Republic of China.”

“The Army’s existing expertise in missile defense, rocket and missile systems for offensive precision fires, and partner-capacity building make it a natural choice to spearhead… an integrated web of A2/AD systems among allies [that] would greatly increase the costs of any hostile action in the region,” Forbes continues.
A few things.

First, for the United States, the best coastal defense is a warship (especially submarines) or aircraft. I am a firm believer that fixed defenses are simply monuments to the folly of men.

Second, there is a nugget of goodness here. What may not be best for the USA, might for our smaller and less financially capable friends, a valid option. Here is the good part;
... spearhead… an integrated web of A2/AD systems among allies [that] would greatly increase the costs of any hostile action in the region,” Forbes continues.
There we go. That is something we can do, and we could do it with mostly off the shelf technology. Fixed positions, as is the norm in coastal defense, is not the answer.

As we saw in the Falkland Islands War with the HMS Glamorgan hit by a land-based improvised Exocet launcher, and more recently off Lebanon when the Israeli corvette Hanit was hit by a Hezbollah ASCM, land based coastal defenses using ASCM can be an effective area denial weapon.

What can we do to help our allies? Well, if we can move Aegis ashore, why not Harpoon and its follow-on? How ... well, what can we leverage from what the USAF learned with its late Cold War Ground Launched Cruise Missiles?


A 4-pack of Harpoon behind a truck? 

Work on a guidance CONOPS and you're off and running.

Produce that with Japan, Taiwan, The Philippines, and Vietnam? Sure ... that will complicate China's plans. That is good. Do we need Army officers wearing what is at the top of the post? No.

Oh, and the more modern weapons will make you pucker.






Hat tip Lee.

UPDATE: See what happens when you are the SECDEF's speech writer and you don't read CDRSalamander every day? You beclown your boss!
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday suggested a new Army mission at the annual AUSA convention: a coastal defense force.

In a speech to a military and industry audience that mostly shied away from program specifics, the secretary suggested the Army should try and “broaden its role by leveraging its current suite of long-range precision-guided missiles, rockets, artillery and air defense systems.”

Hagel said these capabilities “would provide multiple benefits, such as hardening the defenses of US installations; enabling greater mobility of Navy Aegis destroyers and other joint force assets; and helping ensure the free flow of commerce.”

He also insisted that “this concept is worthy of consideration going forward” and that “such a mission is not as foreign to the Army as it might seem — after the War of 1812, the Army was tasked with America’s coastal defense for over 100 years.”

UPDATE II - Electric Boogaloo: More from our friend Jim Holmes over at TheDiplomat.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hey! That’s my FITREP bullet!

Fair warning, the full article is full of excess partisan flackery, but in there is a cautious story for anyone running for office who has worn the uniform. 

Keep close control of yourself when describing what you have done, and more importantly control your staff’s messaging when they mention your service. Make sure they know what they are saying, keep it brief, and keep it technically accurate … or shut up. If you don't you open yourself up to at least a pedantic bother, at worse, a few percentages in your approval nu,mbers.

Now, back to my FITREP bullet;
Peters’ military service record jacket, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from the Department of the Navy and provided exclusively to Breitbart News, shows a man who had a broken service record that was substandard, one of his indirect commanding officers, retired Navy Commander Jim Semerad, said in an interview with Breitbart News. 
“Gary was pretty much a warm body in virtually all of the units I saw him assigned to,” Semerad said when reached by phone early Thursday. “He was never selected for anything.”
Who is Gary?
Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) has exaggerated and misrepresented his military service record on the campaign trail for U.S. Senate in Michigan, ...
Remember, no matter how humble your military record is, embrace it. It is still more than 93% of your countrymen, even if you never made it north of “My #1 Promotable.”

Don’t exaggerate or overly polish your record or job, and correct anyone who does. Underpromise and overdeliver, so to speak.
First off, Peters’ claims on his campaign website that he was “an expert pistol and rifle marksman.” Peters echoed those claims in various publications like MLive.com, a Michigan media source, and in the Detroit Free Press. 
“Peters spokeswoman Haley Morris said Peters was classified an expert marksman with pistol and rifle during his time in the U.S. Navy Reserve,” MLive.com reported in September 2013. 
“Peters said when he was in the U.S. Navy Reserve, he was qualified as an expert marksman in the M16 rifle and 9mm pistol,” the Detroit Free Press reported in February 2013. 
His record jacket shows that not only is that not true—but Peters actually made up a new, cooler-sounding firearms qualifications level for his campaign. Peters was never an “expert marksman” in either firearm category because there is no such category of qualification. In reality, according to military records, Peters was a “sharpshooter”—a lower military qualification than “expert”—in both M16 rifle and 9 MM pistol.
Really? I’ll give him a "knucklehead not knowing his terminology" pass, but again – really?
“In the case of Michigan Congressman Gary Peters I found his claims about his personal weapons qualifications perplexing,” West told Breitbart News. “First of all professional officers rarely tout weapon qualification badges."
No kidding. From here is becomes even more of an unforced, slightly goofy error.
Perhaps more drastic than his make believe firearms qualifications levels, Peters has claimed that he was a Seabee in the Navy. That’s technically not true. He was never a Seabee in the Navy, says Joseph John—a retired Navy Captain who now runs the group Combat Veterans For Congress. 
“I think about the training that I had as a Seabee — it’s very helpful for me in public service and the U.S. Senate,” Peters told a group of veterans at American Legion Post 426 in Trenton, MI, in early 2014, according to MLive.com.

Peters wasn’t really a Seabee, John says—he was an Assistant Supply Officer who was at one point assigned to the Seabee unit. The Seabees are an elite unit of combat-trained Naval engineers who build bridges, living quarters, airstrips and more in combat zones and harsh environments so U.S. forces can move into a region. Technically, Peters can claim he worked alongside the Seabees—but his officer designator code is one for the Supply Corps, not one for the Civil Engineer Corps of which the Seabees are a part.
“In addition, Congressman Peters' continued claims he was a Seabee--an elite unit of Naval engineers who build bridges and other structures in combat zones for the U.S. military--is a stretch of the truth,” John said. “He worked alongside Seabees, sure, but only as an Assistant Supply Officer. The documents of Peters’ military service show he was a Supply Corps officer with designator ‘3105.’ The three digits ‘310’ indicate he was with the Supply Corps, and the digit ‘5’ indicates he was a Naval Reserve officer. That means he was not a Seabee, or member of the Civil Engineer Corps, which would have meant he would have a ‘5105’ designator.”
OK, that is a bit more of a ligit hit. In a gray are from my perspective yet some will give him a pass – but still, dude?
“One of our missions was to build bridges,” Peters added at that American Legion post in Trenton, pumping his claimed experience in the military as useful for him in Congress. “I like to say: We learned how to build bridges while getting shot at. It’s kind of a metaphor for Washington: people are constantly taking shots but we've got to be able to build bridges, we got to bring people together...it's about being a practical problem solver.” 
Semerad, Peters’ old commanding officer when he served with the Seabees, said he’ll give Peters the claim he’s a Seabee. “If I work as a burger cook at a McDonald’s franchise, am I still an employee of McDonald’s?” he asks rhetorically to make the analogy before answering: “Yes.” 
But Semerad has serious issues with how Peters characterized his role for the unit on the campaign trail. For Peters’ claim that he built bridges, Semerad says that’s not true. Peters never built any bridges, Semerad said, and he certainly never was going to be “getting shot at.” He bought steel, concrete and other supplies from behind a desk in an office somewhere so “the other guys”—the members of the Seabee unit he served alongside—could build bridges.
Perhaps I just don’t get it. His record in the USNR is good and honorable – but when you exaggerate your record or let other do it for you – it is no longer about your record, it is about you.
“His Reserve duty included time in the Persian Gulf during Operation Southern Watch,” his website reads. “After the September 11th terrorist attacks, Gary felt compelled to rejoin the U.S. Navy Reserve and once again serve his country.” 
What he doesn’t say, however, when touting that stint during which he was sent overseas was that he was in Bahrain while other U.S. soldiers—not him—kept control of the region between the two different Gulf Wars after freeing Kuwait in the early 1990s. Peters also had a short stint no longer than two weeks at the US Naval Air Base Sigonella in Italy, to be fair. 
Being sent to Bahrain, Semerad says, was not some honorable combat zone that would Peters honestly brag about it on the campaign trail. 
“Bahrain is like Las Vegas,” Semerad said. “When you’re going over to Bahrain, it’s like going to Las Vegas compared to going to Omaha, Nebraska. That’s where everybody goes to have fun. Everybody in the Middle East, that’s where they go to find girls, fast cars and have fun—drink and be merry.”
This is where Semerad crossed the line. All service is honorable – and good and important work is being done in Sigonella and Bahrain. Also, Bahrain is Vegas compared to Jeddah perhaps, but that is about it, and you do get combat pay in Bahrain. Just say’n (full disclosure, I have spent a few months in Bahrain).

I don’t think this story will get much traction. It isn’t “stolen valorish” at all – just someone being unnecessarily grandiose about honorable service, or creating a perception of same.

It doesn’t rise to the level of anything but a lesson to others.