Posts Tagged ‘military’

The next war.

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

Richard Fernandez, as usual, has a good thought on where we are likely to be at the end of Obama’s presidency.

Even as America’s rivals are probing its defenses all across the globe, the Pentagon seems decidedly leery over taking on any new missions in the Middle East. “The Obama administration and the Iraqi government are eager to retake Iraq’s second-largest city from the Islamic State, which would allow President Barack Obama to claim a major victory over the terror group before he leaves office. But the top U.S. military brass says not so fast.”

The debate over the timetable for taking Mosul … highlights the competing pressures of an administration seeking to craft its legacy and military professionals worried about rushing into a bloody urban war.
It may also suggest an implicit consensus that it would be best to avoid risky undertakings for the remainder of the Obama administration and prepare instead for the serious threats that the administration’s mistakes have unleashed.

I just finished Robert Gates Memoir of his time as Sec Def for both Bush and Obama.

My own review of his book is here and I consider it excellent. He liked and respected Obama although some of that may be diplomacy. He disliked and did not respect Obama’s staff, who probably reflected his disinterested attitude toward governing. Obama told Gates that he liked making decisions but Gates believed he showed little interest in making them work.

Foreign Policy writes, it’s “crunch time for Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea” as satellite photos showed China fortifying its new island bastions with missiles.

“Is there anything Washington can do to slow China’s land grab?” it rhetorically asks? The answer is: probably not with the current leadership of the free world. Nobody really wants to follow president Obama into a crisis.

There is about the current international situation the atmosphere of fiasco. The Russia/Iran buildup continues, fueled as the Free Beacon notes by cash the Obama administration gave Tehran itself. Russia is now increasingly in command of the Syrian Army fighting beside an Iranian “foreign legion”, eliciting nothing more than a squeak from the president. There are warnings it is now time to start preparing for the collapse of Saudi Arabia without the expectation of being able to prevent it.

No solutions appear possible for the present. Plans appear to focus on the world after Obama.

This is exceedingly dangerous. The collapse of Saudi Arabia is one crisis that faces us.

For half a century, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been the linchpin of U.S. Mideast policy. A guaranteed supply of oil has bought a guaranteed supply of security. Ignoring autocratic practices and the export of Wahhabi extremism, Washington stubbornly dubs its ally “moderate.” So tight is the trust that U.S. special operators dip into Saudi petrodollars as a counterterrorism slush fund without a second thought. In a sea of chaos, goes the refrain, the kingdom is one state that’s stable.

But is it?

In fact, Saudi Arabia is no state at all. There are two ways to describe it: as a political enterprise with a clever but ultimately unsustainable business model, or so corrupt as to resemble in its functioning a vertically and horizontally integrated criminal organization. Either way, it can’t last. It’s past time U.S. decision-makers began planning for the collapse of the Saudi kingdom.

Fortunately, and contrary to the policies of Obama, the US is now self-sufficient in energy. The Obama aid to Iran has further destabilized the Saudis.

Everyone is making shift for themselves because that is all that is possible. But the most significant actions have been undertaken by the Pentagon itself. It has proposed the largest budget in years for the express purpose of rebuilding the deterrent force against Russia. The New York Times reported plans to “fortify” Eastern Europe. Real Clear Defense reports a crash program called the Third Offset Strategy to boost up the combat power of the US military in the short term. The current Defense Budget is a tacit mea admission of a need to make up for ground squandered in the last 7 years.

Gates has high praise for Ash Carter so Defense is probably in as good hands as is possible now.

It seems clear there is widespread consensus there will be a major period of instability or conflict after Obama leaves office, perhaps even before he departs. Conflicts in Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Middle East, North Africa, China, etc. are not only possible, they have actually started and each is escalating.

What is still unclear is how bad it will get. That depends on two things: the extent to which Western defenses can be rebuilt and the judiciousness with which foreign and security policy leadership is exercised. Political events in 2016 are crucial not only in America, but all over the world because they will determine, more or less, who is in charge when the balloon goes up. If the West can prepare in time and uses its assets properly, the worst of the crisis can still be avoided and a general peace might still be preserved. If nothing intelligent replaces the last seven years of foolishness then the embers now smoldering may burst into open flame, merge and threaten everybody with the major conflict Dmitry Medvedev warned against.

There will still be some calls in the next few months for president Obama to “do something” but there will be fewer than you would expect. The word is out, even among allies. He’s a busted flush. For the moment, the consensus appears to sit tight, get ready, take no chances and wait out Obama’s term.

That seems to be all we can do.

The Doolittle raid on Tokyo.

Sunday, April 19th, 2015


Today is the 73rd anniversary of the Doolittle raid on Tokyo.

Annual rendezvous were held for many years but General Doolittle died in 1993.

Doolittle’s most important contribution to aeronautical technology was the development of instrument flying. He was the first to recognize that true operational freedom in the air could not be achieved unless pilots developed the ability to control and navigate aircraft in flight, from takeoff run to landing rollout, regardless of the range of vision from the cockpit. Doolittle was the first to envision that a pilot could be trained to use instruments to fly through fog, clouds, precipitation of all forms, darkness, or any other impediment to visibility; and in spite of the pilot’s own possibly convoluted motion sense inputs. Even at this early stage, the ability to control aircraft was getting beyond the motion sense capability of the pilot. That is, as aircraft became faster and more maneuverable, pilots could become seriously disoriented without visual cues from outside the cockpit, because aircraft could move in ways that pilots’ senses could not accurately decipher.

He was a great pioneer and air racer. He lived to the age of 96 and died in Pebble Beach, California in 1993.

L1/Japan, Tokyo Raid/1942/pho 12

His crew.

Survivors continued to meet and there are five surviving Doolittle Raiders.

There were 80 raiders of whom 56 survived the war.

There was one physician, Dr. Thomas R. White, on the raid. He flew as a Gunner in order to go on the raid. He was one of the three raiders to receive the the Silver Star for Gallantry in the line of duty for saving the life of Lieutenant Ted Lawson by amputating his leg shortly after the bail out and donated some of his own blood by transfusion.

L1/Japan, Tokyo Raid/1942/pho 57

He is one of these crew members.

The last reunion was held on November 13, 2013.

And now there are two.


Vale brave men.

The end of the X 47B program.

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

x 47b

I have previously posted on this program. Now it seems to be coming to an end. I suspect budget priorities are the reason.

There are no plans to extend the testing for its Unmanned Carrier Air Vehicle demonstrator (UCAS-D) program after this month’s planned autonomous aerial refueling (AAR) tests, Naval Air Systems Command officials said on Tuesday.

Following the end of the testing contract the service plans to donate the two Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned aerial vehicles — Salty Dog 501 and Salty 502 — to a museum or resign them to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. — the Pentagon’s so-called aircraft “boneyard,” said Capt. B.V. Duarte, program manager of NAVAIR’s PMA-268 that oversees UCAS-D and the Navy’s planned Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) programs.

The airframes have many more hours of service life so the reasons may be Obama’s budget priorities.

Last month, Senate Armed Services Committee chair Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) issued a strongly worded letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on the UCLASS program and encouraged Carter to keep flying the UCAS-D airframes.

“Our nation has made a sizeable investment in this demonstration program to date, and both air vehicles have consumed only a small fraction of their approved flying hours,” wrote McCain.
Following the test program “there will be no unmanned air vehicles operating from carrier decks for several years. I think this would be a lost learning opportunity in what promises to be a critical area for sustaining the long-term operational and strategic relevance of the aircraft carrier.”

It will probably take a new president to get this program back on track. Or a serious attack on the US.

A day at the ocean

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Today my son, Joe, and his son, William, went to the harbor at San Pedro to see the USS Iowa on the first day it was open to the public. We had neglected to buy tickets online and, when we arrived, we found first that it had been moved from where we thought it was, and that the line was enormous. In fact, they had stopped selling tickets because the ship was too crowded.

Joe got on his cell phone and logged into the ship website, where he was able to buy tickets for the 2 o’clock boarding time. He couldn’t print, of course, so we went over to the yacht club where we were able to print the tickets. We had lunch and went back to the ship about 1:40. We found the end of the line for 2 o’clock and boarded just about on time.

It was still very crowded but the tour was enjoyable.

Here are Joe and William on the main deck with the two forward turrets in the background. The #2 turret is the one that had the lethal explosion in 1989. The initial reports suggested that it had occurred by sabotage.

The first investigation into the explosion, conducted by the US Navy, concluded that one of the gun turret crew members, Clayton Hartwig, who died in the explosion, had deliberately caused it. During the investigation, numerous leaks to the media, later attributed to Navy officers and investigators, implied that Hartwig and another sailor, Kendall Truitt, had engaged in a homosexual relationship and that Hartwig had caused the explosion after their relationship had soured. In its report, however, the Navy concluded that the evidence did not show that Hartwig was homosexual but that he was suicidal and had caused the explosion with either an electronic or chemical detonator.

Ultimately, that explanation was rejected by the public and Congress as an out for the Navy and the explanation was an error in loading the bags of powder.

Here is William standing by a shell and the powder bags on the main deck. The bags are behind the shell and are rammed into the breech after the shell with a rammer. The investigation concluded that it was not a human error or a deliberate act but an error in loading.

During its review, Sandia determined that a significant overram of the powder bags into the gun had occurred as it was being loaded and that the overram could have caused the explosion. A subsequent test by the Navy of the overram scenario confirmed that an overram could have caused an explosion in the gun breech. Sandia’s technicians also found that the physical evidence did not support the Navy’s theory that an electronic or chemical detonator had been used to initiate the explosion.

At any rate, the tour was fun and the day was beautiful. The ship is still not fully restored and will require a lot of work to get into good shape for tourists. It got quite warm in the after section where the ship store is and I finally headed up to the main deck again to cool off.

Here are Joe and William at the stern of the ship looking out at the empty cruise ship terminal.

Here is William on the bridge with the rest of the ship in the background.

Here is Joe taking a photo of William with the main gun turrets in the background.

It was a beautiful day. We will be back.

D Day

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Today is the 68th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Most of the men who did it are gone now. Only a few are still here to celebrate the life that so many never had. Art Burns is a family member who was in the 101st airborne, I believe. He still lives in Long Beach, Michigan and comes into Chicago every once in a while.

I have previously posted a few photos on our trip to Normandy with the girls.

Here are a few more.

This is Omaha Beach. The cliffs are forbidding. The few breaks in them were blocked with huge concrete roadblocks but the troops got through them.

This is Omaha from above with Cindy in the foreground

This German fort is located at Omaha. Fortunately for the troops, the guns were zeroed at the high tide line and they landed at low tide. The guns could not bear on the landing craft as they came in.

Here are the girls in the American cemetery above Omaha Beach. We spent several hours there and it is very moving. Annie is the farthest from the camera.

Our British allies landed the same day and here is the site where the 6th Airborne division landed the morning of D-Day at the Pegasus Bridge. That is the memorial to Major Howard, the commander of the landing brigade. He was played in the movie, “The Longest Day” by Richard Todd, who was actually in the 6th airborne and landed with them that day although farther inland. The British only had one Airborne division but did not want the Germans to know that, hence the name.

Here is Pegasus Bridge although this bridge is a replica. The original bridge is preserved in a field across the Caen Canal near the museum.

Here is the original bridge set in a field in front of the museum.

On the morning of the landing at the bridge, the owner of the cafe located next to it was awakened by gunfire. He came out and learned of the British landing. He immediately converted his cafe into a first aid station. He even went into his garden, where he had buried a supply of wine, dug it up and served it to wounded British troops as they waited to be evacuated later in the day.

His daughter, a small child, was also awakened and watched all the excitement. She survives, at least until we were there in 2006, and she prepared our lunch. The cafe is filled with British mementoes of the landing.

If anyone remembers the movie, it shows Lord Lovat, who commanded the British commandoes on D-Day, marching them inland from the beach to relieve the airborne troops. As they marched, a bagpipe played.

Here are those bagpipes.

Finally, I took lots of photos of Ponte du Hoc where the US Rangers scaled the cliffs to silence some big guns that enfiladed the beaches on either side. The guns had been moved inland but the mission went on. In 1984, the commander of those Rangers, at the 40th anniversary of the landing, looked at the cliffs and said he could not imagine how they did it.

I can see why.

I predicted this

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

I have already predicted this. The weasels among the effete left are already looking for an excuse to keep ROTC off campuses. Don’t Ask has now been repealed and gays may openly serve in the military, hopefully with more maturity than Private Manningserved his country. Now the political left will have to find another excuse. How is this ?

It should not be forgotten that schools have legitimate and moral reasons for keeping the military at bay, regardless of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” They can stand with those who for reasons of conscience reject military solutions to conflicts.

It’s a shame Mr McCarthy hasn’t had the opportunity to experience what the lack of a competent military can bring. I’m not sure Mr McCarthy would go as far as the World Socialists.

WikiLeaks and Private Manning are being targeted because they have done what a cowardly and spineless media has refused to do—tell the truth about the crimes of American imperialism. Working people in the United States and around the world must demand the dropping of all threats and charges against WikiLeaks, an end to the government harassment and targeting of whistleblowers, and the immediate release of Private Bradley Manning.

But, if the truth were told, I think we could find very similar thoughts somewhere in his cranium. After all…

ROTC and its warrior ethic taint the intellectual purity of a school, if by purity we mean trying to rise above the foul idea that nations can kill and destroy their way to peace. If a school such as Harvard does sell out to the military, let it at least be honest and add a sign at its Cambridge front portal: Harvard, a Pentagon Annex.

Colman McCarthy, a former Post columnist, directs the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington and teaches courses on nonviolence at four area universities and two high schools.

Yes, I think those thoughts are in there.

Here is another opinion on McCarthy’s magnum opus.

Colman invokes Martin Luther King. King certainly urged non-violent protests against Jim Crow and the Vietnam War; but was he a pacifist? Did he oppose in retrospect, say, the Civil War? That is, did he deplore Lincoln’s military decision to restore the Union without slavery? Perhaps non-violent protests might have won a secessionist South back into the Union by the 1920s or 1930s without slavery. After all, what is a mere 60 or 70 years more of slavery?

Well put.

More on the Navy’s carrier attack drone

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

A couple of years ago I posted a photo of the new Navy drone, which will be carrier based.

Now, Popular Science has another photo of this drone which will make carrier landings next year. It is bigger than World War II carrier planes and is another step away from manned attack and fighter planes. Drones can take Gs that humans cannot, even with G suits. The experience with bigger and bigger drones in Afghanistan is going to change military aviation.

Wesley Clark; his friends speak out

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Wesley Clark has been on the news lately. First he was a Hillary supporter. Now he is an Obama supporter. He is trashing John McCain. What did Clark’s own friends say about him back when his autobiography came out ? Hint: It wasn’t nice.

Like his fellow airwave-hog Richard Holbrooke, the State Department’s special negotiator in the run-up to the Kosovo bombing, Clark sought to wage the war by chatting up Tom Brokaw and Christiane Amanpour. He made end-runs around the U.S. Army chain of command and leaked information to other branches of government (State, in particular) and other governments (Britain’s, in particular).

But at the same time, his methods led him into a propagandistic press strategy that was transparent to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to the war. And they hurt him in U.S. military circles, where he was considered a showboating egotist and a devious political operator. Defense Secretary William Cohen told Clark, through Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hugh Shelton, “Get your fucking face off the TV.” Shelton didn’t trust him. Nor did Gen. Eric Shinseki, subsequently Army chief. And once the Kosovo operation was finished, Cohen–with no objection from President Clinton–ended Clark’s tour of duty early. In essence, sacked him.


Inartful, at best.

The Left supports the troops

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

The Left supports the troops as long as they refuse to fight. This is the sort of thing we get from The American Prospect, a left-wing magazine:

A striking number of officers have chosen to leave the armed forces–by deciding not to re-enlist after completing their official military obligation, by turning to civilian lawyers when they are told to deploy to Iraq, and, increasingly, through desertion. Among those who remain in the military, morale is low, largely because of the damage caused by Iraq.

How many Army officers have deserted ? She writes:

More than 25,000 soldiers and officers have deserted since 2003; more than 200 have sought refuge in Canada.

I would certainly like to see evidence of this number. I simply don’t believe it. But this is how te Left supports the troops.

Obama voters

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

UPDATE: Here is an Obama supporter, and presumably voter. She must be highly educated and she wants to nationalize the US oil industry. What a brilliant idea ! She must be very, very highly educated. It takes years of Marxist economics to arrive at those brilliant insights !

A few people have noticed something when Obama voters are described. They are all “highly educated”. What does that mean ?

Here is one characteristic:

I stole a friend’s idea and devised “The World War II Test.” I invited the applicants for interviews. These PMI wannabes came off as slick and somewhat rude. I noted something among my subjects, a sense of entitlement, they all, to varying degrees, emitted a message along the lines of “Why are you bothering me with this silly interview? I am obviously brilliant. I have a degree from Columbia. I am not going to spend my whole life as you have in this stupid bureaucracy. I just need this to add to my resume. I am in a hurry.” I hit them with the test, which consisted of about dozen questions about WWII and its aftermath. I recall a few.

He asked them a few questions like “Who were our allies in World War II?” One applicant said “Why are you asking about World War II when the job is about NATO ?


Now, here is someone   who is not “highly educated” and is probably not an Obama voter.

We do know that there are Obama voters out there from stories like these.

No doubt those people are “highly educated.”

If you wonder who Marcus Luttrell is, this is his story.