Archive for the 'Military' Category

Nov 26 2014

The Hagel mess……

Listen up boys and girls, because contrary to the opinion of some ( and you know you are), I can , in fact, be critical of the President of the United States. And today is a good day to be critical of Mr. Obama, since just two days ago-he made a rather large blunder:

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned under pressure on Monday after President Obama determined that he had to shake up his national security team in the face of escalating conflicts overseas and hawkish Republicans reasserting themselves on Capitol Hill.

It was a striking reversal for a president who chose Mr. Hagel two years ago in part to limit the power of Pentagon officials who had repeatedly pushed for more troops in Afghanistan and a slower drawdown of American forces from Iraq. But in the end, Mr. Hagel’s passivity and lack of support in Mr. Obama’s inner circle proved too much for an administration that found itself back on a war footing.

Aides said Mr. Obama made the decision to remove his defense secretary on Friday after weeks of rising tension over a variety of issues, including what administration officials said were Mr. Hagel’s delays in transferring detainees from the military prison in Guantánamo Bay and a dispute with Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser, over Syria policy.

This is to put it as nicely as I can and to paraphrase Joe Biden, is "a big fucking mistake".

Lets start with the fact that, after the mid-terms where your party took a thumping in the mid-terms, it is a huge proclamation of weakness to chuck your SECDEF overboard and head into a new Congress spoiling for now 2, not 1 nasty confirmation fights. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

Hagel could not seem to win. He has been both condemned as being too hawkish and not hawkish enough. Which is it? Plus how about acknowledging that protracted wars in the Middle East are an express ticket to nowhere.

 He was never a good fit as defense secretary, a fact that White House officials have belatedly discovered.But if those White House aides really want to know who to blame for recent stumbles in national security, they should look in the mirror. This administration's problems begin with its packing the White House staff with Hill rats and political hacks-one of the least intellectually diverse groups ever to lead the executive branch. They think the problem is what they say, not what they do. They are wrong. 

Meantime, there is going also to be a new head of the House Armed Services Committee. This doesn't matter. Congress has failed to ask serious questions about defense for the last 15 years or so. So reporters writing about the two Armed Services committees, please feel free to use your time more wisely. Here is a link for that.

 

Firing Hagel is not a solution, it is a symptom of a bigger problem-namely an inability to :1) communicate a strategy and get people behind it and 2) understand that the biggest threats to the US are not in the Middle East or from ISIS, they are from the guys who spent the last years sitting out the conflicts in the Middle East and getting stronger in the meantime. That's right. The Bear and the Dragon are still not our friends. The Grey Hair did not recognize it, and I am afraid the current White House does not either. And its just not smart not to have a relief lined up right away. Even when Rumsfeld went away-they already had Gates on tap. Doubly stupid.  Not that I am a fan of Flournoy because I am not. Mainly because she never served in uniform and that is an automatic disqualification as far as I am concerned.  It is troubling that the President has some good former flags that could be tapped. ( Stavirdis or Mattis come to mind)-but then we get back to that problem of too much stuff not being delegated down to Cabinet heads.

And thus we get this:

 

I have already pointed out how President Barack Obama's decision to replace Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel differs from the superficially similar decision by President George W. Bush to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2006: Bush coupled the personnel shift with a thoroughgoing self-assessment and a resulting strategic shift. Bush's move was not just a change in personalities but a change in direction. (Bush also made other crucial personnel changes, most notably selecting General David Petraeus to lead the Iraq war effort, whereas the Obama administration has gone to some lengths to emphasize that there will be no other personnel changes on the national security team.)

Yet Obama's current personnel shuffle is different in another way that could prove almost as consequential: evidently President Obama fired Hagel without having a replacement lined up. When President Bush announced Rumsfeld's departure, he announced the nomination of Bob Gates at the same time. Obama has not yet named the replacement, and two of the most obvious front-runners, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy and Sen. Jack Reed, have already pulled their names out of contention. The failure to nominate someone is not necessarily proof that the talent pool is shallow, but it is proof that the removal of Hagel was poorly planned and not well coordinated.

 

This a self created mess and it is a bad way to start 2015. GRRRRR!

One response so far

Jul 14 2014

Submitted without comment-but worth your time

Published by under Feminist Buffoonery,Navy

This appeared at  Phib's place a week ago. It is so good and so much a commentary on what is wrong with my once beloved Navy, I had to post it here in it's entirety. Its worth a read-especially where it calls out the survivors of the Uncle Vern's purges during the last decade for their failures. Naval Aviation culture is dying-and when it is gone, people will never know how much fun it once was.

Here now is the post:

"When the Tailhook investigation began, and certain political elements used the incident to bring discredit on Naval Aviation as a whole, and then on the Navy writ large, one is entitled to ask, on behalf of those magnificent performers who have never failed their leaders, where were their leaders?" As Naval Aviation leadership begins to face one of the worst retention crises in its history, readdressing this question, originally posed by former Secretary of the Navy James Webb at the Naval Institute's 122nd Annual Meeting and sixth Annapolis Seminar in 1996, may help explain why some of aviation's best and brightest have decided to leave. 

Naval Aviation leadership is currently struggling with the real threat of not having enough pilots to fly the aircraft on its flight lines, and it's not solely due to cyclic and predictable factors (economy, OPTEMPO). The more insidious problem, going largely unaddressed, is one of trust and confidence; more accurately, the fleet's loss of trust and confidence in its senior leadership. This breakdown in trust has spread well beyond junior officers reaching their first "stay or go" milestones. Large numbers of post-command Commanders are electing to retire, instead of pursuing further promotion and increased retirement benefits. In both cases, officers are saying "no thanks" to generous amounts of money (for some, as much as $125,000), choosing instead to part ways with an organization they competed fiercely to join; one that, at some point, provided tremendous satisfaction.

  The Naval Personnel, Research, Studies and Technology (NPRS&T) group recently conducted a survey of Naval Aviators from the ranks of Lieutenant to Commander. All groups suggested availability of resources and workplace climate should be top priorities for senior leadership. These two factors go a long way towards explaining the larger problem of lost trust. 

The NPRS&T survey solicited open-ended responses and provided selected examples in their summary. With respect to availability of resources, the underlying theme was, "stop asking us to doing more with less." Whether the "less" applies to flight hours, qualified Sailors, or materiel support, squadrons are routinely asked to meet increasingly demanding operational requirements with less of each. Worse, they're being told to do so by flag officers who wear flight jackets adorned with multiple 1000-hour tabs and Centurion patches, symbolizing aviation milestones which have become almost entirely unattainable to today's aviators. Squadrons are regularly sent on 10-month deployments with just-in-time parts delivery, artificial readiness, and aircraft that saw their best days when our flag officers were using them for a BAGEX.

NPRS&T also accepted open-ended responses pertaining to workplace climate.

Many of the ill effects described above spill into this arena, but there are additional issues that must be addressed. Not surprisingly, some of the key words provided in the responses include race, gender, SAPR, micro-management, and GMT. It is also no surprise that the manner in which our leadership has chosen to address these issues also serves to erode trust. 

Many of the cultural and climate issues that are alleged to plague our current force were accepted – nay, fostered – by today's admirals when they were swashbuckling junior officers. We're being asked to undo and "fix" the problems they watched develop.  

We're told to de-glamorize alcohol even as we hear legendary stories about the Miramar O'Club. We're required to complete mind-numbing Trafficking in Persons training, yet hear frequent reminiscences about Subic Bay and Pattaya. We watch good officers publicly shamed and relieved for offenses that the relieving flag officers themselves were guilty of, but in an era absent Facebook and Twitter. We see the fervor surrounding the military's alleged sexual assault crisis, while time and again, our flag officers fail to recognize the 99% of us who find such crimes equally reprehensible. Instead, we're subjected to yet another NKO training to make sure we remember that rape is wrong. And we're conducting this training at the expense of executing our primary mission – flying our aircraft and preparing for war. With this description of our "workplace climate," is it any wonder that Lieutenants and Commanders alike sense an ever-decreasing amount of trust from our leaders? Is it any surprise that talented and highly competitive officers are turning down bonuses and voting with their feet?

 So what's an admiral to do? First, our leadership must stop talking to us like we're suits at an annual shareholder's meeting. Speak to us honestly, frankly, and with words that don't betray your brown shoes. Don't speak to us about best-practices, enterprises, or stake-holders. Remember that we're a sharp and incredibly discerning audience who knows a bad deal when we see it. Stand up and own the problems that you've charged us with fixing. Accountability still matters in this profession. Second, stand up and serve as advocates for the over-whelming majority of us who are doing it right. There is very little faith among us that our leadership will stand up in the face of outside scrutiny to defend any officer who is unfortunate enough to end up on the wrong end of an investigation – for anything. We don't believe you have the ability, or the willingness, to pump the brakes before pulling the trigger.

For many, the professional satisfaction that may come with command at sea just doesn't seem worth the risk of having our careers, reputations, and families drug through the bilges on the basis of allegations. Our leaders are seeing the effects of their "do as I say, not as I did" message manifested in decreased retention, lost trust, and waning esprit de corps. James Webb asked, "Where were their leaders?" Today they are scrambling to piece together financial solutions to problems that can't be monetized – at least not until they can figure out how much our trust is worth."

The survey is here.

 

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May 26 2014

Second of two Memorial Day Posts

I paraphrased this bit of writing from Herman Wouk a couple of years back. I still think its a marvelous bit of writing and particularly appropriate as "America begins to leave the world stage". Not because it was forced to-but because of those who feel that merely dying for your fellow servicemen is sufficient justification for their ever being there in the first place. It is not-and it is important to remember on Memorial Day above all days. For every wartime death is an unnecessary tragedy, created because the world chooses to solve its problems, after 6000 years, with the fighting and dying of young men ( and now, even more sadly, women-who are supposed to serve a different role in our world)-for conflicts that shall not be long remembered. I post this because I think since, 1991, American casualties have been equivalent to those of the British Empire in the 20th century-men who were also fighting for their contemporaries, fighting to preserve an order that still needs to exist-but were sold out by their own civilian leadership. 

Of course we should honor their sacrifice on this day. But it only has real meaning if we honor the volunteers who died in these two wars by taking a lesson from these losses and work to keep this kind of stupidity from happening again. I am going to tell you this again Phib, the Afghans were never worthy of the sacrifice that was made on their behalf-and the effort expended to try to help them has accelerated our march from the world stage.  That is why it is worth reading this passage-we honor their efforts to our very soul. But if we don't find a better way to run our planet-then we have failed these valiant souls deeply. "Either war is finished, or we are!"

I've been out of pocket this weekend-down in Pensacola, playing golf at AC Read, watching the boats go across the sound, and catching up with some friends. He let me in on some very sad developments happening in our Navy-which I will proceed to document later this week. This, however, being Memorial Day, I thought I would pass on something different concerning remembering the fallen-from one of my favorite authors: Hermann Wouk. In the book is a  fictional correspondent's report, Sunset at Kidney Ridge, reflects on the decline of the British Empire; it serves roughly as the emotional midpoint of the book. While written about the path of the British Empire, I find Alastair Tudsbury's thoughts have applicability to our situation and our continuing struggle in the War without End. I have transcribed the entire piece, word for word ,  from Wouk's novel, War and Remembrance, Chapter 49.

Here then is Sunset at Kidney Ridge:

SUNSET ON KIDNEY RIDGE

By Alstair Tudsbury

By wireless from London. This dispatch, dated November 4, 1942 was the famous British correspondent's last-dictated shortly before he was killed by a landmine at El Alamein. Edited by his daughter and collaborator, Pamela Tudsbury, from an unfinished draft, it is reprinted by special permission of the London Observer.

 

The sun hangs huge and red above the far dust-streaked horizon. The desert cold is already falling on Kidney Ridge. This gray sandy elevation is deserted, except by the dead, and two intelligence officers and myself. Even the flies have left. Earlier they were here in clouds, blackening the corpses. They pester the living too, clustered at a  mand's eyes and the moisture in the corners of his mouth, drinking his sweat. But of course they prefer the dead. When the sun climbs over the opposite horizon tomorrow, the flies will return to their feast.

       Here not only did these German and British soldiers die, who litter the ground as far as the eye can see in the fading red light. Here at El Alamein, the Afrika Korps died. The Korps was a legend, a dashing clean- cut enemy , a menace and at the same time a sort of glory; in Churchillian rhetoric, a gallant foe worthy of our steel. It is not known if Rommel has made good is escape, or whether his straggle of routed supermen will be bagged by the Eight Army. But the Afrika Korps is dead, crushed by British arms. We have won here, in the great Western of Africa, a victory to stand with Crecy, Agincourt, Blenheim, and Waterloo.

        Lines from Southey's "Battle of Blenheim" are haunting me here on Kidney Ridge:

They say it was a shocking sight

After the field was won,

For many thousand bodies here

Lay rotting in the sun

But things like that, you know, must be

After a famous victory.

        The bodies, numerous as they are, strike the eye less than the blasted and burned out tanks that dot this weirdly beautiful wasteland, these squat hulls with their long guns, casting elongated blue shadows on the pastel grays and browns and pinks of the far-stretching sands. Here is the central incongruity of Kidney Ridge-the masses of smashed twentieth-century machinery tumbled about in these harsh flat sandy wilds, where  one envisions warriors on camels or horses, or perhaps the elephants of Hannibal.

        How far they came to perish here, these soldiers and these machines! What a bizarre train of events brought youngsters from the Rhineland and Prussia, from the Socttish Highlands and London, from Australia and New Zealand, to butt at each other to the death with flame- spitting machinery in faraway Africa, in a setting as dry and as lonesome as the moon?

       But that is the hallmark of this war. No other war has ever been like it. This war rings the world. Kideny Ridge is everwhere on our small globe. Men fight as far away from home as they can be transported, with courage and endurance that makes on proud of the human race, in horrible contrivances that make one ashamed of the human race.

         My jeep will take me back to Cairo shortly, and I will dictate a dispatch about what I see here. What I am looking at, right now as the sun touches the horizon, is this. Two intelligence offices, not fifty yards from me, are lifting the German driver out of a blasted tank, using meat hooks. He is black and charred. He has no head. He is a trunk with arms and legs. The smell is like gamy pork. The legs wear good boots, only a bit scorched.

          I am very tired. A voice I don't want to listen to tells me that this England's last land triumph; that our military history ends here with a victory to stand with the greatest, won largely with machines shipped ten thousand miles from American factories. Tommy Atkins will serve with pluck and valor wherever he fights here after, as always; but the conduct of the war is slipping from our hands.

          We are outnumbered and outclassed. Modern War is a clangorous and dreary measuring of industrial plants. Germany's industrial capacity passed ours in 1905. We hung on through the First World War by sheer grit. Today the two giants of the earth are the United States and the Soviet Union. They more than outmatch Germany and Japan, now that they have shaken off their surprise setbacks and sprung to arms. Tocqueville's vision is coming to pass in our time. They will divide the empire of the world.

          The sun going down on Kidney Ridge is setting on the British Empire, on which-we learned as schoolboys-the sun never set.  Our Empire was born of the skill of our explorers, the martial prowess of our yeomanry, the innovative genius of our scientists and engineers. We stole a march on the world that lasted 200 years. Lulled by the long peaceful protection of the great fleet we built, we thought it could last forever. We dozed.

          Here in Kidney Ridge we have erased the disgrace of our somnolence. If history is but the clash of arms, we now begin to leave the stage with honor. But if it is a march to the human spirit toward world freedom, we will never leave the stage. British ideas, British institutions, British scientific method, will lead the way in other lands, in other guises. English will become the planetary tongue, that is now certain. We have been the Greece of the new age.

      But you object, the theme of the new age is socialism. I am not so sure of that. Even so, Karl Marx, the scruffy Mohammad of this spreading economic Islam, built his strident dogmas on the theories of British economists. He created his apocalyptic visions in the hospitality of a British Museum. He read British books, lived on British bounty, wrote in British freedom, collaborated with Englishmen and lies in a London grave. People forget all that.

         The sun has set. It will get dark and cold quickly now. The intelligence officers are beckoning me to their lorry. The first stars spring forth in the indigo sky. I take a last look around at the dead of El Alamein and mutter a prayer for these poor devils, German and British, who turn and turn about sang Lili Marlene in the cafes of Tobruk, hugging the same sleazy girls. Now they lie here together, their young appetites cold, their homesick songs stilled.

"Why twas a very wicked thing!"

Said Little Wilhemine

"Nay, nay my little girl"  quoth he-

Pamela Tudsbury writesThe telephone rang just at that moment, as my father was declaiming the verser with his usual relish. It was a summons to the interview with General Montgomery. He left at once. A lorry brought back his body the next morning. As a World War I reserve officer, he was buried with honors in the Brisitsh Military Cemetery outside Alexandria.

The London observer asked me to complete the article. I have tried, I have his hand written notes for three more paragraphds. But I cannot do it. I can however, complete Southey's verse for him. So ends my fathers career of war reporting-

"It was a famous victory"

*     *       *

Yes it is a piece from an American novel, with a British slant. However I think if you try, you can substitute American battles, American names, and American cities and see the analogies to our present day. It is true that not all of the comparisons are apt-the Soviet Union is no more and it is pretty clear socialism has been discredited-however substitute "Globalization and rampant unregulated profit taking" and Tudsbury's prediction holds true. And I would also point out-as much as so many people try to deny it, whatever we Americans have in the way of honor and virtue, we learned it from the British.

If we seek to honor the sacrifices of the brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines who have fallen today-we must also ask ourself what are we doing to make this country a better place to live for their children and their families. For in the end, that was what they were fighting to defend, a free society that improves itself, not simply falls back into the evils they fought so hard to protect us from.

Andrew Bacevich wrote recently:

Americans once believed war to be a great evil. Whenever possible, war was to be avoided. When circumstances made war unavoidable, Americans wanted peace swiftly restored.

Present-day Americans, few of them directly affected by events in Iraq or Afghanistan, find war tolerable. They accept it. Since 9/11, war has become normalcy. Peace has become an entirely theoretical construct. A report of G.I.s getting shot at, maimed, or killed is no longer something the average American gets exercised about. Rest assured that no such reports will interfere with plans for the long weekend that Memorial Day makes possible.

You should find that trend very scary-I know I do.

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May 01 2014

Happy May Day! Power Point Rangers of the world unite!

Dilbert captures the art of briefing a flag officer:

219144.strip

Serious point to be made-I have always shaken my head at flags who insisted that their briefing products be" dumbed down." They usually never phrase it that way-but rather insist on the BLUF ( Bottom Line Up Front).  Seems in Capstone training, the ability to read and skim gets unlearned. Our now . former. boss-he was a big believer in pictures on slides. Somehow he felt that bullets on slides produced for note taking, took away from his brief. Never mind the fact that a good briefer does not have to read the slide-but bullets provide detailed context. Then again, to this guy, context is never important-just his conclusions.

And we wonder why we end up with things like LCS.

It is to weep.

 

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Apr 24 2014

Uh excuse me, this is what you said you wanted.

Published by under Military,Navy

Remember in the run up after the Gulf War, when the first big push for dropping the combat exclusion laws started and women said they "just wanted to be treated like the men".

It seems someone did not get the memo:

Allegations that “sexually explicit humor” and the display of “pornographic images” were allowed — and sometimes encouraged — by the former head of the Blue Angels were just some of the complaints that led to his firing from the No. 2 job at Naval Station Coronado, Calif., the Navy said in a Wednesday news release. Capt. Gregory McWherter led the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron from November 2008 to November 2010 and again from May 2011 to November 2012. He was relieved of his post at Coronado on April 18 because of the initial findings into complaints made regarding his time with the Blue Angels, but the Navy released no details of the allegations at the time. Wednesday’s release says the complaints involved “lewd speech, inappropriate comments and sexually explicit humor … allowed in the workplace and in some cases encouraged by the commanding officer.” Pornographic material also was displayed and shared electronically at the command, the complaint alleges.

Give me a fucking break!

Here is a guy who had squadron command, then held sequential command in one of the most visible public jobs in the Navy, not once, but twice, and then is working as a leader at a base with probably a higher per capita ratio of females than any in the Navy-and he does not know his environment? It's too ludicrous to believe.

Jesus H. Christ, indeed.

The more that gets released the more this looks to me like someone whose nether regions are out of joint-and decided to take out a grudge.

This is how guys interact with each other-and as I discovered to my shock in my final Navy years-women did too.

We won't even get into the fact that NMCI firewalls give you the white screen of death over anything that even smells like the "P" word.

But nonetheless-here we are.

This whole thing stinks. Good thing the complainant did not work at ISIS:

 

 

3 responses so far

Apr 20 2014

Advancment by IG complaint.

Published by under Military,Navy

In Star Trek's alternate universe, people moved up in the Terran Empire by assassination. Over here in this universe, it appears to be happening via the vehicle of the IG complaint:

News about the Navy’s investigation of former Blue Angels lead pilot Capt. Greg McWherter over alleged misconduct when he commanded the flight demonstration team sparked shock among some who know him and expressions of hope for his exoneration on Friday.

The decision was based on initial findings of an ongoing investigation into recent allegations of misconduct and an inappropriate command climate at the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels) based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla,” according to a Navy press release. Vice Adm. William French, commander of Navy Installations Command, made the decision, the Navy said. Thus McWherter has come full circle since a panel of admirals and former Blue Angels officers selected him as they do all aviators named to lead the Blues.

 

If you don't think this whole thing seems more than a little bit fishy, you have not seen the ball since kick-off. McWherter was twice tapped to lead the Blue Angels. And now 18 months later. they firing him? For what exactly? And when did the Navy abandon other less arbitrary means of getting its points across?

This smells oddly like the O.P. Honors case-where,by the way, no one found any real evidence of him doing anything that was really wrong. 

A disgruntled Sailor perhaps? Or someone tied to a certain group that wields disproportional influence in the Navy of today. ( Let the reader form his own conclusions what that means).

Either way-something is not right here.

10 responses so far

Apr 18 2014

Another domino falls……..

Published by under Navy,Uncategorized

They seem to be going after every one. Officers, civilians, CPO's and now Petty Officers:   

SAN DIEGO — A fourth member of the Navy has been charged with conspiracy to commit bribery in a multimillion-dollar scheme involving a Singapore-based defense contractor accused of providing cash, vacations, electronics and prostitutes in exchange for classified information.

“The camera is awesome bro!” Japan-based Petty Officer Dan Layug wrote in an email to the vice president of a military contractor that is included in a complaint unsealed Thursday. “Thanks a lot! Been a while since I had a new gadget!”

In another email, Layug asks, “What are the chances of getting the new iPad 3?” according to the complaint. Layug made his initial court appearance Thursday, a day after he was arrested in San Diego. A judge set bail at $100,000 and ordered GPS monitoring if Layug is released, according to a U.S. attorney’s statement. He hasn’t entered a plea, and messages seeking comment from his attorney were not immediately returned.  

"And every time you send me my shipment its just a few cases short!"

"Carrying charges, my boy, carrying charges."

 

2 responses so far

Mar 25 2014

I got nothing.

Published by under Navy

There is lots going on right now-not so much of it good. I have what could be termed a pretty solid case of writers block coupled with what could only be described as "the blues", being depressed and not seeing a good way forward.

When I get in a better frame of mind, I will start writing again-till then, I just have to cry myself to sleep at night.

There are people doing some quality writing however. If you care about the Navy and the direction it is taking, then you owe it to yourself to go and read this long, but well written piece over at the USNI blog.

Then come back here and comment. I for one am not sure bonuses are at the heart of the retention problem. Lack of ability to travel and have fun is.

Your thoughts?

2 responses so far

Feb 25 2014

And the other shoe drops………

Published by under Military,Navy

Nothing will ruin your day like a collision at sea.

Or a grounding.

This business of firing CO's at a drop of a hat is getting out of control. Not every mistake needs to be published by public execution. It might be-that given the chance-he might learn a good deal and be a better commander and officer in the long run.

But we will never know will we?

The commanding officer of the frigate Taylor was fired Tuesday two weeks after his ship ran aground in the Black Sea, where it was standing by in case it was needed to support security at the Winter Olympics.

Cmdr. Dennis Volpe was removed from command of the Mayport, Fla.-based frigate by Capt. Jim Aiken, the head of Task Force 65, “due to loss of confidence in Volpe’s ability to command,” 6th Fleet said in a Tuesday news release.

Taylor ran aground Feb. 12 while preparing to moor in Samsun, Turkey, with no reported injuries. The Navy publicized the incident a week later, during the investigation.

The investigation hasn’t turned up anything egregious, said Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Flaherty, who characterized the incident as a “standard grounding.”

Good thing Chester Nimitz did not have to serve in today's Navy.  

I shudder to think what hell it must be to be in command in today's Navy. If you are male-you start with one strike against you. If you life to have fun and are a liberty hound in port-the count automatically becomes 3-2. Of course if you are female………..

2 responses so far

Feb 03 2014

Traveliing again

On the road again-had a challenging journey yesterday to the other side of the Atlantic. To start with my ICE train to the Frankfurt Airport was going to be delayed by 90 minutes. That was a non starter as it was going to make me late for check in-and my requisite need to "pre-charge" in the lounge. ( The new Lufthansa lounges in the Z terminal of FRA are pretty sweet). Went to the Deutsche Bahn office and got re-routed to an IC train which was taking me to the Frankfurt Main station.

I made it in a ok amount of time-but then using LH's check in kiosks caused a bit of problem when it refused to read my passport. The newest EU immigrant manning the kiosk line-seemed not to grasp the fact that I need to go to a counter where a human could check my passport. Finally got that worked out-and by the grace of God the security line was very short. Landed safely in the lounge.

Then after boarding the plane-saw the change to get an open aisle seat with out someone next to me. Snagged it and figured things were looking up! But I spoke too soon.

The plane required maintenance that delayed us by almost an hour. Now this was a problem because I was hoping to make it time to get in a combat nap at the hotel prior to Super Bowl kickoff. Now I would be lucky to make the kickoff-much less the first quarter.

It turned out ok-made it to my room just as national anthem was being sung. Turns out, of course, I need not have bothered-the game was a Seahawk blowout. They slaughtered the Bronco's, who appeared to have left any offense they had back in Denver.

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On a serious note, James Fallows has been running an excellent series of articles about the use of Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg. "About the service and sacrifice of this brave man and other men and women like him, we cannot say enough." But as Fallows points out-ALL of us should be outraged that he had to make TEN deployments to the various hellholes America has chosen to fight its war without end in. Furhtermore, there is a dichotomy of purpose when you have the architects of a failed policy somehow applauding him-while failing to do the things that might have prevented his suffering in the first place.

The vast majority of us play no part whatsoever in these prolonged overseas campaigns; people like Sgt. Remsburg go out on 10 deployments; we rousingly cheer their courage and will; and then we move on. Last month I mentioned that the most memorable book I read in 2013 was Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain. It's about a group of U.S. soldiers who barely survive a terrible encounter in Iraq, and then are paraded around in a halftime tribute at a big Dallas Cowboys game. The crowd at Cowboys Stadium cheers in very much the way the Capitol audience did last night—then they get back to watching the game.

 

Later Fallows examines the implications in clearer detail.

There was another moment in the speech that I think will look worse in the long view. It was the emotionally charged ending, the tribute to the obviously courageous and grievously wounded Sergeant Cory Remsburg.

The moment was powerful human and political drama; it reflected deserved credit and gratitude on Remsburg and his family; and as I wrote earlier today, I think it was entirely sincere on the president's part, as a similar tribute would have been from his predecessor George W. Bush. With the significant difference that Bush initiated the wars these men and women have fought in, and Obama has been winding them down. And so the most favorable reading of the moment, as John Cassidy has argued, is that the president was trying to dramatize to the rest of the government the human cost of the open-ended wars many of them have egged on.

But I don't think that's how it came across to most of the Congress, or was processed by the commentariat. This was not presented as a "never again" moment; it was a "this is America's finest!" moment—which Cory Remsburg himself, and with his family, certainly is. (Also see Peter Beinart on this point.) For America as a whole, the episode did not show us at our finest. In the earlier item, I tried to explain why these few minutes will reflect badly on us and our times when our children's children view them years from now. Since the explanation was buried at the end of a long post, I repeat it at the end of this one.

A Congress that by default is pressuring the country toward war, most recently with Iran, and that would not dream of enacting either a special tax or any kind of enforced or shared service to sustain these wars, gives a prolonged, deserved ovation for a person who has dedicated his all to the country. Tears well up in many eyes; the cheering persists; the admiration for this young man is profound. Then everyone moves right on.

Years from now, people can play this clip and see something about the culture of our times. It's a moment of which only the Remsburg family will be proud. 

 

His long exploration of the historical allusions is also worth a read.

Lunch is over-gotta get back to work. Hope it does not snow tonight.

 

6 responses so far

Jan 14 2014

Who needs a sabbatical?

Well it’s been two years since I have right royally pissed off the feminist lobby, and it is January and I am cold. So it is probably a good time to jump back into the pool and piss them off again.

Navy Times had a recent article up discussing the idea of sabbaticals, and how they could “help retain women in ranks”. After all, a military career is hard and all, and it is increasingly getting in the way of having it all:

Across the military services, leaders are experimenting with programs that will give valued officers and enlisted troops, men and women, the incentive to stay. Also, as the Pentagon moves to bring women into more jobs closer to the combat zone, military officials believe it is crucial to keep mid-career female officers in the services so they can mentor those on the front lines.

 

“We have innovative things we’re trying to retain women in the service,” said Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson, vice chief of naval operations. “It’s about creating the personnel policies that enable someone to say it’s Navy and family, instead of Navy or family.”

 

In other words, the Navy wants to create a “mommy track”. For what reason, I have no real idea, but it appears they do.

I’ll pause a moment so that you can throw up, and then, scratch your head and utter a cheery, “WTF?!?!”

It seems to me they are not getting the point here.  But I will explain why in a minute. For now, lets remember how hard it is for a service woman to “have it all” shall we?

In October, Katherine left the service and moved from Camp Lejeune to California to be with her fiancé. It was a difficult decision, but in the end, she said, she chose stability.

“For women to have a family and a career, it’s just extremely difficult. And, being in the military, it is extra sacrifice, you have deployments, you have workups, and it just makes it that much more challenging,” she said. “The Marine Corps is a lifestyle, it’s not a job. You dress it, you eat it, you breathe it, you live it. For me, I want to focus on getting married.”

So far, Sarah has chosen to stay in. “I love being a Marine, I love the people I work with,” she said. But not long ago, Rachel said she also is weighing similar issues.

It’s not an uncommon dilemma. More often than men in the military, women choose their family over service.

 

Here is a news flash madam, yes it is about choices, and when you chose to enter the service you made a choice to deal with these complexities. It’s pretty lousy to get in, decide you don’t like the rules of the game and then instead of coping with them, decide it’s better to change the rules and the playing field.

At the risk of being branded with the “M” word-I will remind you that there were reasons that society evolved into the roles for men and women to play in it. Now I will grant you that those roles are changing and society has to change too-but it seems to me that this goes a bit too far.

First of all, its rather discriminatory towards those men (and women) who are not a part of a dual service couple. (Which is a whole another bad trend that is going on-the service has incentives that encourage Sailors to marry Sailors, but we will set that aside for this discussion). A lot of people cannot afford to lose one year’s earnings (or two) especially if there is a stay at home spouse-or young children to raise. They would probably like a year off too-but they can’t afford one.

Second, the logic here is completely faulty.  Especially this idea that you have to have women to mentor women. I thought the services were supposed to be gender neutral. So isn’t that what you have a chain of command for? Isn’t that what you have standards of professional conduct for? Is that not why the Navy is firing so many men?

As it is, there is far too much of this “women networking with other women“ going on with results that are predictably geared to undermine the chain of command. I’ve written about it before-and we have seen far too many Navy Times headlines that have been predicated by mentors “encouraging” actions that have resulted in disaster.

Furthermore the hand of time stops for no one-and the DOPMA wall is still out there, and you can’t tell me that there are not some tradeoffs that get made in the advancement world when you elect this course. For one thing you are changing year groups-and the dynamics of who you are competing with may change dramatically and not for the better.

The Navy is not, and cannot be, a “family friendly” employer. That does not mean, however, that men and women cannot find a balance and raise a family. But it does involve choices and these choices are sometimes hard ones. I hate to remind folks this-but having to make those choices is not the Navy’s fault. When one chooses to enter a Navy career, you are making a statement as either a man or a woman: You want to do something hard and career worthy. That women are the only ones who can have children is a biological fact-not a hindrance the Navy created. If later on downstream a woman decides that she would rather get out and have a family, that’s a choice for her to make. Literally millions of women make it every year. But please, spare me the flack about the idea that the Navy somehow needs to make “accommodations” for the increasing numbers of women in its ranks. It belies the original reason the women said they wanted to serve-to have the same opportunities as men. Well making choices about family and career is an opportunity.

But it’s unfair, men with a stay at home wife don’t have to make that choice!” BS.  I would remind you that there are choices that are being made by the other family-not the least of which is getting by on a lot less money than the dual service couple. “You make choices and you live with them”.

Well, there is nothing wrong with a sabbatical.” No, there probably isn’t-except when you frame it as a way to “retain women”-and allow them to not have to make hard choices, then you are laying bare the hypocrisy behind the idea –and providing an clear inkling of the double standard that will be enforced in its execution. Why not fix the root problem, which is the Navy’s trying to shove 100lbs into a 50lb career bag, and revise DOPMA, to slow down promotion flow points, and allow officers to serve longer . Maybe give every officer a good 2 year break when he or she attends a civilian university to get a Masters Degree. (It could also have the added benefit of exposing these folks to parts of America that don’t normally see military folks). Bring back some of the “good deal" tours as well.

To pay Phibian a compliment for a change, he’s right when he says, “Again, this isn't harmless. In the zero sum game that is selection, support, promotion, and award – special treatment based on [Gender] is discrimination. It also puts in a perverse incentive to lie, cheat, steal, and to tolerate those among you who do.” In essence you are getting to the heart of what all us nay-sayers said many years ago when we began the great experiment, you will fundamentally change the institution in ways that will ultimately destroy the things that made it worth serving in. The PAO hoopla about these sabbaticals and the idea that somehow the Navy has to get to a 50-50 gender split is just crazy. This is not a corporation-it’s a fighting force. You don't always get everything you want-and you cannot have it all. "You make choices and you live with them." We would do well to remember that.

I used to give dual service couples advice, that I thought at the time made sense and I still do. The powers that be did not like it very much and told me not to pass it on. I ignored them. Basically for a dual service couple-you have to decide who will be CNO and who won't be. In other words you have to decide whose career will come first-and then stick to that strategy. If you both want to be successful you will be childless and or lonely. It does not matter if its the man or the woman-but you have to choose. I still think its a useful thing to ponder-and I've met many dual service couples who follow exactly that course. It works-but evidently CDR Steinem doesn't want to hear it.

2 responses so far

Dec 13 2013

In trying to do good, they just do more harm.

As promised, I am taking this opportunity to offer my thoughts on some provisions of the 2014 Defense Bill that should make anyone with any military experience at all, just a little bit nervous. ( If not downright upset.)

First the good parts ( I guess). The bill revamps the Sodomy section of the UCMJ. Repeal of DADT made this pretty much mandatory for obvious reasons. Consensual Sodomy is now just fine and is not punishable under the UCMJ.  Non consensual sodomy however is still a violation.  So be careful out there, if you go "knocking at the back door" and your GF does not like it, you could be heading to mast. ;-(

In my opinion they should have just done away the Sodomy article all together, along with the one on adultery.  When you have created the convoluted mess that we have,  where you have Sailors dating Sailors and all other craziness-its just unreasonable to have a UCMJ that has a completely unworkable and unenforceable morals provision. These were normally "pile on charges anyway"-and so they should be done away with. So should the one about prostitution IMHO, but I know the do-gooders will never allow that to happen.

Now here is the list of bad things, and it is long ( the ones I vehemently disagree with are highlighted in yellow).:

Sexual Assault and Prevention

  • Extends specified crime victims’ rights to victims of UCMJ offenses.
  • Amends Article 60, UCMJ, to limit the authority of court-martial convening authorities to modify the findings and sentence of courts-martial.
  • Requires that victims be afforded an opportunity to submit matters for consideration by a convening authority before the convening authority takes action on the findings and sentence of a court-martial and limits convening authority consideration to matters considered at trial.
  • Amends Article 32, UCMJ, to change Article 32 proceedings from an investigation to a preliminary hearing normally conducted by a judge advocate to determine whether there is probable cause to prosecute a case.
  • Eliminates the five-year statute of limitations on prosecutions for certain sex-related offenses under the UCMJ.
  • Requires interviews of victims of sex-related offenses to be conducted in the presence of trial counsel, victim’s counsel, or a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate if requested by the victim.
  • Limits jurisdiction over specified sex-related offenses to trial by general court-martial and requires a minimum sentence of Dishonorable Discharge or Dismissal for conviction of these offenses.
  • Repeals the offense of consensual sodomy under the UCMJ.
  • Removes the character and military service of an accused from factors a commander should consider in deciding how to dispose of any offense.
  • Prohibits retaliation against service members for reporting a criminal offense.
  • Prohibits enlisting or commissioning in the military of individuals convicted of certain felony sex-related offenses.
  • Requires the Coast Guard to issue regulations requiring timely action on requests for transfer or reassignment by sexual assault victims.
  • Provides for temporary administrative reassignment or removal of service members accused of committing specified sex offenses.
  • Enhances protections for military whistleblowers.
  • Requires DOD IG investigation of allegations of retaliatory personnel actions for reporting certain sexual offenses.
  • Requires a Special Victims’ Counsel program in each service to provide legal counsel to victims of sexual assault.
  • Requires service secretaries to track compliance of commanding officers in conducting command climate assessments.
  • Requires DOD to retain for 50 years certain forms filed in connection with reports of sexual assault involving service members.
  • Requires timely access to Sexual Assault Response Coordinators by members of the National Guard and Reserves who are victims of sexual assault.
  • Requires the Secretary of Defense to report on the adequacy of training, qualifications, and experience of individuals with sexual assault prevention and response duties.
  • Requires assignment of at least one full-time sexual assault nurse examiner to military medical treatment facilities that have a 24-hour emergency room.
  • Assigns additional responsibilities to the DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.
  • Assigns additional tasks to the Response Systems Panel and to the Judicial Review Panel established to review matters involving sexual assaults in the military.
  • Requires the Response Systems Panel to submit its report no later one year after its first meeting on its review of systems used to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate sexual assault crimes.
  • Requires review of practices of military criminal investigative organizations, including the determination of whether an offense is founded.
  • Requires Secretary of Defense to identify common core elements that must be included in sexual assault prevention and response training.
  • Requires Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on the progress made in developing and implementing a comprehensive policy on the retention of and access to evidence and records relating to sexual assaults involving service members.
  • Requires Secretary of Defense to review the role of the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity in sexual harassment cases.
  • Requires enhanced protections for prospective service members and new service members during entry level processing and training.
  • Requires commanding officers to immediately refer reports of sexual offenses involving service members in their command to the appropriate military criminal investigation organization for investigation.
  • Requires a written report be provided to senior officers within eight days of an unrestricted report of sexual assault to ensure necessary care and support for the victim and timely investigation of the offense.
  • Requires review by the service secretary of a convening authority’s decision not to prosecute certain charges of sexual offenses when the staff judge advocate recommends prosecution, and review by a superior general court-martial convening authority when the staff judge advocate recommends against prosecution.
  • Requires that court-martial convictions, non-judicial punishment, or administrative action for sex-related offenses be noted in the service member’s personnel records and requires that commanders review the history of substantiated sexual offenses of service members assigned to their commands.
  • Requires military service academies to provide training and education on prevention of sexual assault within 14 days of arrival of new cadets and midshipmen and annually thereafter.
  • Requires that service members be notified that they can answer no to the question about consulting with a mental health professional on the Questionnaire for National Security Positions (Standard Form 86) if the consultation relates to the service member being a victim of a sexual assault.
  • Expresses the sense of Congress that commanders are responsible for establishing a healthy command climate where victims can report criminal activity, including sexual assault, without fear of retaliation, and that failure to maintain such a climate is an appropriate basis for relief from command.
  • Expresses the sense of Congress that charges of rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy, or attempts to commit these offenses, should be prosecuted by court-martial rather than non-judicial punishment or administrative action.
  • Expresses the sense of Congress that discharges in lieu of court-martial should be used very sparingly for service members who are charged with rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy, or attempts to commit these offenses, and that victims should be consulted about the discharge of the service member whenever possible

- See more at: http://www.levin.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/sasc-leaders-reach-agreement-with-house-counterparts-on-defense-authorization#sthash.dRN9gYPf.dpuf

Just about all of this is bad-really bad. By undermining the Convening Authoritiy's ability to exercise his responsibility under the UCMJ, you are going to make sure a lot of innocent folks get railroaded.

Most military sexual assault cases are not clear cut. Its not some guy just grabbing a girl, throwing her down and raping her in the closet. Rather they are primarily "buyer's remorse"  types of cases where both parties have probably made some bad decisions, under the influence of love, lust, and / or alcohol-and the issue of consent is most often times not clear cut.

What these changes do is make sure that every case, EVERY case of alleged sexual harassment, will be tried at the highest possible level. Even when the facts of the case don't warrant it. Furthermore, it also raises the possibility that someone who does something clearly wrong will get away with it scot free. Court Martials are Courts. Rules of evidence and cross examination apply-and trust me, defense attorneys will do their best to drag the victim through the mud and make her look like a bigger tramp than Delilah. That is their job. These cases are difficult, and it comes as a surprise to no one who understands the nature of the crime that sometimes getting to guilty beyond a reasonable doubt simply cannot be done. To remove this authority from the chain of command lets commanders off the hook and decreases options for securing justice for victims. I am not a lawyer-but it seems a commander has more authority under a murder charge than on a sexual assault one. In what universe does that make sense?

And I'll be blunt. Not everyone of these "he said, she said" cases needs to go to court martial. In many cases-where it is not a full blown rape or even felony sexual assault, the commander may in fact need to punish both parties. These laws make one sex out to be a preferred class. Guess which one? I'll give you a hint, its not the one with a penis.

Which of course, is what the Congress people want. They want to ensure that folks walk around afraid and on eggshells-while they do nothing about the underlying causes, which set people up for failure to begin with. This why I continue to bridle at these calls that the "military needs to change its culture". Um no. You need to understand the problem you create by putting men and women together in large quantities to begin with. The military culture is just fine.

These trouble makers just want to show they "are doing something". Oh you are doing something all right-something really stupid.

This is a bad business. If you claim to say you want to hold commanders accountable, then you HAVE to provide them the tools they need to do their jobs properly. These provisions do not do that.

 

One response so far

Nov 23 2013

Time to burn the tapes?

Published by under Navy

Every time you turn around-the rather rotund Malaysian claims another victim:

The alleged Pacific fleet swindler known as "Fat Leonard" made his first court appearance in San Diego on Thursday to hear formal charges against him that include conspiring with Navy officers on port contracts worth more than $200 million and bribing them with cash, prostitutes and Lady Gaga tickets.

A U.S. magistrate judge issued a conditional ruling Thursday that would allow Leonard Glenn "Fat Leonard" Francis to be released on $1 million bail.

Judge Jan Adler attached to his ruling a list of stringent restrictions, including that Francis not only be monitored by GPS but must rent a San Diego apartment with surveillance cameras and alarms on the windows, and hire an independent, 24-hour security guard who would alert authorities if he tried to flee.

Adler also stayed his decision pending a review from a U.S. district judge. It was unclear when that would happen.

Francis, 49, head of the Glenn Defense Marine Asia ship servicing firm operating out of Singapore, was arrested in September in San Diego in a sting operation by San Diego authorities and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

While Francis was in court, another Navy officer was caught up in the widening contracting scandal involving connections to GDMA. The Navy announced Thursday that Capt. David Haas, 45, deputy commander of Coastal Riverine Group 1 in Imperial Beach, Calif., had been suspended while his alleged connections to Francis were being investigated.

"The decision to re-assign Haas was made based upon allegations in connection with an ongoing NCIS (NCIS) investigation into Glenn Defense Marine," the Navy said in a statement. Coastal Riverine Group 1 is in charge of port and harbor security in San Diego. 

In addition to Haas, two admirals, a captain, two commanders and an NCIS agent are also under investigation in the scandal that allegedly involved Francis paying for information on the movements of Navy ships that could be serviced by his firm, which has won contracts from the Navy worth more than $200 million since 2009.

"According to the allegations in this case, a number of officials were willing to sacrifice their integrity and millions of taxpayer dollars for personal gratification," Laura Duffy, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, said in court papers.

This thing just keeps getting bigger and bigger. My apologies for not posting sooner-but my trip last week was a really busy one. No time or energy at the end of each day. Back home just long enough to do laundry then out the door again. ;-)

One response so far

Nov 10 2013

Upping the ante…..

Published by under Navy

They just can't let a good deal alone-so much for that receiving agent job in Utapao. :-(   

True strory. GDMA had a guy employed to take care of cargo and pax deliveries at Utapao. Guy worked from his cell phone, was a retired Marine, who made sure aircrews got the things they needed like food, fuel, and lodging. ( Hookers were not on the menu-you had to buy those on your own. ;-)   ) By all accounts he had a really good time and life.

But not any more. As I predicted and as reported here by JR Random, there are more than two sacrificial lambs involved here:

Two flag officers have been added to the growing list of Navy officials allegedly connected to a large-scale bribery scheme in Asia.

The Navy announced late Friday that Vice Adm. Ted “Twig” Branch, director of Naval Intelligence, and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, director of Intelligence Operations, are under investigation for “inappropriate conduct” stemming from their relationships with Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. and its CEO Leonard Francis, a larger-than-life character well known in Navy circles and nicknamed “Fat Leonard.” These are the highest-ranking officials to have been linked in the ongoing investigation. More fallout is expected.

“The allegations against Admirals Branch and Loveless involve inappropriate conduct prior to their current assignments and flag officer rank,” said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Navy’s chief of information, in an emailed statement. “There is no indication, nor do the allegations suggest, that in either case there was any breach of classified information.” In light of the investigation, however, the Navy has suspended the flag officers’ access to classified materials.

Holy cow. This can't be good-especially since Ted Branch was a CVN CO at one time-and worked in Operations at CPF.  I think this thing is going to continue to grow at an exponential rate………..

 

6 responses so far

Sep 18 2013

Another good deal gone fleeting……

For those that do not know, Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., has long had a "lock" on the business of providing husbanding services to Navy ships in Asia. It's quite a lucrative business and is also known as a good deal for retiring supply officers who might want to stay in Asia. 

Or at least it was until yesterday:

SAN DIEGO — A Navy commander, a Naval criminal investigator and a defense contractor have been charged with conspiracy in a bribery scheme to gain millions in international port contracts, federal prosecutors said.

Leonard Francis was arrested this week in San Diego, Cmdr. Michael Misiewicz was arrested in Colorado, and NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Beliveau II was arrested in Virginia, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement Tuesday night. Each faces up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery.

An email seeking comment from an NCIS spokesman wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday evening.

Francis, a Malaysian national who lives in Singapore, is the president and CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., which has had “husbanding” contracts for Navy ships at ports worldwide for 25 years. The contracts — one of which was worth up to $125 million — involve providing services for ships and submarines in port, such as providing tugboats, security and transportation, paying customs fees, supplying food, fuel and water, and removing trash.

Prosecutors contend that Francis conspired to bribe the other men with luxury travel, prostitutes and gifts in exchange for information that allowed him to overcharge on port contracts by millions of dollars.

Could this be a potential business or job opportunity for mois?cool

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