August 31, 2007

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:31 am

This is a well-argued plea from a contractor returned from Iraq.

August 30, 2007

Even A Blind Squirrel Finds A Nut Now And Then

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:35 pm

At least I got one prediction right.

I spent a year working a master’s thesis about the Navy and SOF. One of the things I wrote about was that there was a way to relive pressure on SOF tasking, by making good troops do one of the SOF missions at that level. The beauty of having special ops forces is that they can do a broad range of things in a multimission manner, able to do one SOF role and immediately change to another as necessary. If you think the force needs to be elite multimission capable, then you call out SOF.

However, there are times where you need one mission done very well and can’t afford to try to grow enough SOF to handle the mission. One of the first examples I saw was having Navy divers perform some of the roles SEALs did in support of a SEAL mission, freeing a few SEALs for other work. Later, I worked with surface ships performing maritime interceptions by themselves, a mission that once was the exclusive purview of SOF.

Michael Yon reports in his continuing series that “Normal Marines have morphed into doing vintage Special Forces work.” This is a necessary development and a combination of risk assessment, operational need, and skill.

We’ll see more of it in the coming years, I expect.

Taken In

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:13 pm

Remember that one specialist with a rough life? Looks as though it might not have been. Wesley Morgan says his post is likely bogus.

This First Draft Is Worth A Close Read

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:47 am

CDR Salamander creates a neologism I’m not too happy about, but the basic idea behind it makes sense and the lengthy post has many threads I’d like to see tied together. (It rambles, but stick with it.) He’s railing against, among other things, business- and buzzword-minded leadership against historical parallels. There’s always a tension between innovation and the basic understanding that there’s nothing new under the sun–but that’s not what Salamander’s griping about. He’s looking at the leadership trends and finding the trends wanting.

I was thinking about something similar on a run today. COL McMaster’s gotten no nod for a star. Rickover wouldn’t have gotten a star if he hadn’t gotten some friends on the Hill. Boyd of course didn’t get a star. The only way Mahan (who had a command at sea far from first rank) got a star (and not running-the-navy stars) was that Mahan was really popular at the right time. Change agents tend not to have other attributes needed for that level of leadership, and the fact that they’re change agents prevents that promotion as well. Some capable people who can think big thoughts are just weird. Boyd finessed the issue by assuming the world was made of people that “do something” and people that “be somebody”, and forcing his acolytes to make that choice, while he retired as a colonel and stayed a lowly staffer in a tie. This goes on rather commonly–Sims nearly killed his career as a lieutenant before Roosevelt personally intervened–such that people who make change in a bureaucracy do not tend to rise to run the organization. (Sometimes the person running the organization causes that change, which is a special case. Zumwalt’s example may be worth discussing.)

However, I think that Boyd posited a generally true but overall false dilemma; one can do and be…if one’s the right kind of person at the right time. (Me, I tend to the Sinatra corollary of the Boyd/Plato argument.) And quite frankly multistar admirals are merely midlevel bureaucrats with nice uniforms and personal cooks; they can’t change an organization like an agile bulletproof captain with an agenda and a group of followers can. A one- or two-star far from DC can cause change in a small place…provided the change sticks when the admiral gets relieved a year or so down the road. Seen that; seen it work, seen it not work, seen it backfire.

The big question, if you’re one of those people looking at being Influential, is what you really want to shoot for. You get maybe one shot. What are you going to do with that shot, given the opportunity?

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:16 am

Karl at Protein Wisdom puts up a post that, while familiar to both of you what read this, is detailed and worth the time.

August 27, 2007

Mike Yon’s Got A Good Dispatch Up

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:10 pm

Good things to listen to, as well, about windows and COIN and press.

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:24 am

An interesting discussion on Rep. Baird, who surprised some folks this week with an op-ed with conclusions that I generally agree with (hence the surprise).

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:13 am

Frank certainly inspired his cousin.

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:12 am

Via Lex, another well argued reason to continue to rebut people who think the “swift boat vets” were political liars. I’ll take a couple of Medal of Honor winners over a 94-day wonder any day.

August 26, 2007

How Many Days Since He Promised To Release His Records, Again?

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:57 pm

I really admire the cut of Beldar’s jib. This is high quality smartassery here (although you guys who didn’t serve alongside smallcraft amphib Vietnam vets during the 2004 election may not quite understand my glee).

I’ll tell ya what, though, Senator: On the off chance that I’m misreading what’s behind your allowing limitations to lapse against O’Neill and Corsi, and you really intended to sue them but just, I dunno, forgot:

You have a standing offer from me: Just sue me here in Houston for defamation. After all, I’ve republished most of the SwiftVets’ claims here on my blog, and I’ve made many of them again in my own voice. I use a pseudonym for my blog name, but it’s not anonymous — my name and address are linked on every page of this blog, and have been since the day it started. I’ll waive any statute of limitations defense. I’ll waive service of process. Hell, I’ll meet you at the federal courthouse doors for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (you have diversity jurisdiction), and I’ll even pay your filing fee! 

You think it will be too expensive to have big teams of lawyers? Fine — let’s just you and me tangle one-on-one, both of us pro se. (I’ll agree not to oppose your application for admission pro hac vice to the federal court here in Texas, and I’ll even pay the fees to get your law license reinstated in Massachusetts.) Just me at my table, you at yours, and then twelve jurors good and true in the jury box. (I may need a napkin, though, or maybe even a drool-bucket, because the very notion of going one-on-one with you in court is causing me to salivate.) Or, hell, you can have as many lawyers as you want, and I’ll still go pro se. Go fetch David Boies, he might do it pro bono (unless he’s already figured out what a loser your case would be). Whatever. As long as there’s a judge who can make you shut up each time your turn is over and who’ll then give me a fair turn, I’ll be satisfied.

My one stipulation is: No confidentiality orders, and no motions to quash. Everything that’s uncovered in pretrial discovery has to become part of the public record without delay. We’ll put it all on the internet via a neutral host (say, the WaPo). We’ll do the pretrial depos on video, too, and jointly move the court to permit TV coverage of the trial, so that the public (and the jury, eventually) can see who sweats under oath under the bright lights.

Doesn’t that sound like fun, Senator? Gosh, it does to me.

The only way I see something like this happening, though, is if someone at Kerry’s level of public visibility makes an offer like this in a way that’s entirely too embarrassing to refuse at the same time Kerry’s unwise or vain enough to do it. Which I doubt would happen; at this point I expect he’s just trying to let everything die as much of a death as the Paris negotiations with the North Vietnamese.

August 25, 2007

This Is Like A Complete Inverse Of My Teen Years

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:32 am

Usually I’m the guy who liked music like PiL in a room full of people who grooved on Tiffany back in the day. Who in the world thought up this booking?

August 24, 2007

In Which I Describe The Ring Around The Neck Of The Cormorant

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:59 pm

Phibs gets back from work and gets all excited about a new gadget.

Caveat: This hits a weak spot. I used to be on a boat with tubes that didn’t necessarily hold missiles, and there was room for *all kinds* of stuff. I get the idea that a ship is a moving box where you put stuff, and putting different kinds of stuff into the box (how about this with a payload?) can be a good thing. I’ve seen some great ideas related to this (for example) in the past fifteen years or so that I won’t discuss on this circuit. Note: I’m a biased opinion.

I see two critiques, one technological, one operational.

Technical risk is clearly nonzero. Although we and other navies had planes on boats in WWII, space limitations kept the craft payload and range down, and the three different environments (undersea, surface, air) means lots of trouble. In WWII they solved part of the problem by launching surfaced (as we did with rockets from Barb to the Japanese mainland, and later with Loon, and with Regulus, the predecessor to today’s Trident missiles). The vertical-to-horizontal thing is common to almost anything you put in the tube, no matter where the gadget goes when it’s launched (undersea, land, surface, subsurface). The craft has to be pretty rugged to survive seawater, launching, pressure, and flying. It can be done, but it’s going to be high technical risk and compromises might make the thing not useful. The idea sounds like a critter on the evolutionary path of things I’ve seen for a while.

The sub, if you’re thinking of it as a box of stuff that moves around, can seed sensors and other things into a conflict’s environment before anyone else friendly is there. An airborne patrol gadget is another one of the possible gadgets. The weak point today is in the technological maturity of the things you would use to seed the environment, because of limitations on capability which over the last decade have been lifted some.

To mitigate the technical risk for all the gadgets, and to get useful new stuff on ships quicker, the submarine force gave a guy at NAVSEA control over some money and a direction from a four star to field whatever can fit on a ship in a matter of months and be usable for an exercise, and see what happens. That was a useful process of weeding out the vaporware and the not-quite-yet and the “oh geez that didn’t work right”, and was done at least twice with very productive results that I know of (before I left the submarine force).

Operational risk will be in the tasking and the tactics. Inserting things and people from in the boat to somewhere else can be done even if it isn’t perfectly stealthy all the time. There is a risk versus gain to deal with that can be mitigated in a pretty well-known thought process. The devil’s in the details of where you want to use it, whether it’s on the ship when you need it, the capability you’re up against, and the constraints/restraints. I’ve done it and it can be done. I won’t necessarily want to do it in sea state zero with a fishing boat on top of me and weapons pointed at me quicker than I can reposition if I want the gadget and me to live, but it can be done.

Chap’s bottom line? I’d give it as much a chance to survive as anything else that far below milestone 1. Team Sub had at one time a good way of vetting what worked. The utility is not a niche but not necessarily a killer app, either.

Filed under: — Chap @ 9:00 pm

Okay, maybe this is the snark of the day. Two minutes of Dissident Frogman explaining things.

(h/t Steve Shippert)

Snark Of The Day

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:28 pm

In the comments to a gripe about recalling units:

I was a cog in the big machine. No, I was a toner cartridge. Y’know: use it up, burn it out, throw it away and put in a new one.

I will remember that phrase for later use…

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:39 pm

Radley Balko, as always, cuts right to the chase. This would be why they call it “Incumbistan”.

I learned about this stuff when I found out that the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Civil Rights Act, and a few others were not applicable…to Congress, because they exempted themselves. Well, if it’s good enough for us citizens, then it should perhaps be good enough for our servants, eh?

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:37 am

Now this is bizarre. Ayman Abdel Nour is on Facebook. The dude’s in jail as a Syrian dissident, and not exactly hip to the digital jive, right?

But 29 ‘friends’, nonetheless…

Yeah, We Know Where You Are…

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:42 am

It ain’t just that you got a boat. It’s how stealthily you drive the boat. Looks like these guys don’t do it well enough

August 22, 2007

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:35 am

Over at Mudville you see how one of those military guys puts things together, through a meandering but pointed series of observations. The old guys have seen some of this before.

August 21, 2007

Every Once In A While This Has To Be Re-Learned

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:45 pm

Naval Reactors is rather sensitive about goofing around in chicken suits in public. Of course you’re going to get your head handed to you. After the CO gets his handed to him, of course.

Famous To Fifteen People

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:37 pm

So I’m finished with a bike ride and am gasping like the beached whale I am when the guy in the white station wagon pulls over and rolls down his window. Who he is, I dunno–I’ve met a lot of people this last two weeks and broke my people-remembering bone about five years ago. Guy says “I saw your article in the paper! They had your picture!”

Oh, thanks! They printed it? Good! Guess I’d better find it in the subscriber’s area.

By the way here’s the Barnett article.

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