Saturday, April 29, 2017

From Mosul to Raqqa with Bill Roggio, on Midrats

Except for a few final holdouts and mopping up, the siege of Mosul is almost over and the wrecked city back in the hands of allied Iraqi factions. Soon the attention will turn west as the investment of Raqqa is setting up nicely.

As they lose actual ground in Iraq and Syria, what will the next step be for the Islamic State? Where will they move to as their next safe haven, and what should be expect from the thousands of fighters trained by them who will return to their home nations?

Our guest for the entire hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and related issues will be Bill Roggio, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio or Stitcher

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

Friday, April 28, 2017

Fullbore Friday

What is your crew ready for? Are you ready for the battle you want to have, or have you trained your crew for the battles they could face?

In your head, have you done the math on what happens if the enemy is all of a sudden "there?" What do you do as the range closes ... and closes ... and despite all the outgoing fire ... she still comes?

One such occurrence in the the Great War the night of 20/21 April 1917 in the Dover Strait to give you something to ponder;
(HMS) Broke, flotilla leader, Faulknor-class, 2,000t, 6-4in/1-1½pdr/2mg/4-21in tt, Cdr Edward Evans. Also turned to ram and fired a torpedo which seemed to hit the intended victim (alternatively this was Swift's hit on G.85), steadied, then put helm hard over to hit a destroyer further down the line - G.42 rammed amidships at 27kts. Locked together, Broke's sailors had to repel German boarders in hand-to-hand fighting and while Broke poured fire into G.42 from point blank range, the last two German destroyers poured fire into her as they steered past. Getting clear, she limped eastwards after Swift, but with boiler-rooms badly damaged, steam dropping, half of bridge on fire and decks swept with shellfire. Decided to turn back for the torpedoed G.85, stopped and in flames, and the rammed G.42, which both opened fire. Broke replied and silenced them, but then her engines gave up and she drifted towards the burning G.85. Destroyers Mentor, Lydiard, Lucifer had by now left Dover, reached Broke about 0115 and pulled her clear, taken in tow for Dover; 40 crew killed and wounded (dd - 21 killed, 36 wounded) (Rn/Cn/D/dd)

The action took place around 51.09N, 01.37E where the two German ships went down, Swift and Broke were in dockyard hands for several weeks and there were no more destroyer raids on the Dover Straits for ten months. Cdr Evans was feted in the British press as "Evans of the Broke".

Hat tip C-4

Thursday, April 27, 2017

No Army, The Character of War Has Not Changed

There is so much wrong here in the 9th circle of PPT hell, I don't know where to start.

I don't think we would get too deep in to this "almost as intellectually useless as a quad-chart" bit of Staff vomit though; I'd stop the briefer right at the upper left hand corner.

In a bemused tone seasoned with no small bit of sarcasm and irritation;
"Excuse me, but could you please explain how war being, "lethal, contested and having complex operations." is a change from the character of the last few thousand of years of conflict?"

Oh, and  ...

Hat tip @JenJudson

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Yes, on China There is Always Math

Sorry, no scratch and sniff ... but plenty of other things to keep your interest about where China is going at my post at USNIBlog today.

Come by and give it a read.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Strikes Seem to Work

There is so much going on with the T-45/F-18 O2 problem that it is hard to get your head around exactly what is the most interesting.

Is it the fact that this has been a known problem for over twice the time it took to fight WWII and nothing was seriously done until now?

Is it the cycles of aviation leadership that couldn't or refused to see it as an issue ... or decided the easier thing to do was to shift the problem in to someone else's PCS cycle?

Is it the hubris of engineers who put more faith in their theories than the facts in the aircraft?

Hard to say, but what I find most interesting is the fact that what finally got things moving was after a body of the best junior officers in Naval Aviation went on strike.

There is a broad and deep well of trust junior officers in aviation have in their aviation leadership. It is a byproduct of the shared risk they take in the aircraft and the trust you have in each other, regardless of paygrade, in a world where even the most routine flight holds a chance of death from a whole host of reasons, most beyond the control of the pilot.

As there is this shared risk and background, there isn't a belief that your leadership would knowingly put your life in risk for anything but the mission.

Sure, you may not personally like your leadership, may not think some are as good at flying than you are, and perhaps even eyeroll at their careerism ... but it takes a lot for you to finally run out of confidence in them when it comes to safely operating the aircraft. NATOPS is written in blood ... etc ... etc ... etc.

For goodness sakes, in Navy and USMC aviation we have relieved Commodores and Flag Officers who have gundecked annual written tests and check flights.

That is why the IP's revolt and its aftermath are so interesting.

Absolutely nothing would have been done without it ... which is why it happened. The collective opinion of the best aviation junior officers realized that the well of trust had gone dry, and they had to do something for their concerns to break through. Sad commentary, but it happened.

Word did get through. Via Mark Faram over at NavyTimes;
The commander of the Pacific Fleet, Adm. Scott Swift, will lead a month-long review of the recent physiological episodes experienced by pilots flying in the T-45 and F/A-18 aircraft.

The rash of incidents involving pilots in flight who had trouble breathing prompted the Navy to ground the T-45 trainer aircraft in early April. Dozens of Navy flight instructors had refused to fly the aircraft.

In response, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran issued a short memo to Swift telling him to investigate and respond “within 30-days,” according to a copy of the April 21 memo obtained by Navy Times.

“To better inform future operational, fiscal and personnel decisions, [Swift] is directed to lead a comprehensive review of the facts, circumstances and processes surrounding the recent PE’s involving T-45 and F-18 aircrews to include how these issues have been addressed,” Moran wrote.
"The seriousness in which I view these incidents is reflected in the seniority of those leading this review,” Moran said in an April 24 Navy press release. “They will provide a full and open accounting to our aviation community, their families and the public."
The right thing to do, finally.

What will they find out, and what will the resolution be? That is a story still to be told.

Until then, BZ to the IPs and their revolt - and the senior leaders for listening.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Your Future? Bio-ethnic Warfare

I'm not sure a good word has been coined yet for the weaponized by-product of the advances of understanding DNA, our ability to manipulate and target DNA, and the power of modern computing ... so I'll coin one for today's use; Bio-ethnic warfare.

Advancing technology is dove-tailing with a regressing sectarianism that emphasizes race and ethnicity.

What has been for years simply a "what if" is on the cusp of "when?" 

Combine the technology of "23 & Me" and "Ancestry DNA" to a sociopathic ethno-nationalist, and what do you get?
Some scientists have raised the still-controversial idea that as the availability of basic genetic engineering techniques also rises, it could become easier to create new, more sophisticated weapons, perhaps targeted to the DNA of an individual or even an entire ethnic group.

Last month, former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman — who has been warning of biological attack since before 9/11 and has said the United States has been “damn lucky” to avoid it — called on President Donald Trump and Congress to make biodefense a national priority.

In a 2010 paper, former CIA officer Rolf Mowatt-Larssen described how al-Qaida wanted to acquire biological weapons with roughly the same level of priority that it sought a stolen nuclear weapon. It never came close to getting either, focusing instead on more conventional attacks.
If I were to place bets, it wouldn't be a large nation or trans-national terrorist organization that would first use this technology. The risk for blow-back etc for most nations and organizations would be too great. No - I think the real danger is a small group of like minded sociopaths or a cult would be the party to step forward.

Jim Jones meets 12-Monkeys;
The greatest danger may come if any of the handful of people who have relevant expertise decide to mount solo attacks. After anthrax-filled envelopes began to appear in government and other offices in late 2001, FBI agents concluded that a microbiologist and U.S. Army researcher, Bruce Ivins, was likely responsible and was believed to have acted alone. Ivins committed suicide in 2007, shortly before his planned arrest; a panel of scientists later cast doubt on the FBI’s evidence against him.

There are other dangers. If the regime in North Korea were to collapse, some worry Pyongyang could unleash its biological arsenal, which may include smallpox.

World War I saw the emergence of chemical warfare, World War II the atomic bomb. The next era-defining superweapon, some experts have long warned us, could be biological.
Do you know your haplogroup? With whom do you share that haplogroup, and would anyone want to eliminate you?

Have a great week!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fullbore Friday

Speaking of oil in the water off Louisiana. 
U-Boats in the Gulf you ask? Oh, yea.

Now and then, I have to tip my hat to the men of the German U-boat fleet. They didn't have the great submarines like we did - no, not even close. But what they did with them ... it is still amazing.

In the summer of 1942, U-166 patrolled the Gulf of Mexico in searches for a new victim. Steamer Robert E. Lee appeared 70 kilometers from the Mississippi mouth on July 30. The passenger carrier of 5184 tons displacement was going from Trinidad escorted with a PC-566 cruiser. There were over 400 passengers on board the vessel, mostly technical specialists and seamen rescued from sunk ships. The cruiser contacted with the coast station over the air and reported its coordinate position; it was a fatal mistake as the negotiations were intercepted by the German submarine.

The U-166 captain Kullmann ordered to immediately open fire against the ship. People on board the passenger carrier saw a white foamy trace on the sea surface and then a torpedo explosion followed. Marshal Charlton, who was a sailor on Robert E. Lee steamer tells: ?We felt a quick bump, as if the ship ran against a stone wall. The torpedo got into the engine-room and smashed it to pieces.¦ The steamer got a serious breach and sank very quickly; passengers on Robert E. Lee were rather lucky v only 25 people sank.

German submariners were eager to find out whether the hunting was a success. They got so used to remain unpunished for their doings in the Gulf of Mexico that U-166 surfaced without any cautiousness. PC-566 seamen rescued passengers from the steamer, then they noticed the hostile submarine and showered it with depth-bombs. One of them hit the fore body. A catastrophe was inevitable, and the submarine broke into two pieces just in few minutes and sank. The debris went down at a depth of about 1.500 meters in Mississippi-s underwater canyon. Not far from the dilapidated submarine hull, was lying an awkward carcass of the steamer that it torpedoed.

Germany waited for any information from U-166 in vain. No information about the submarine appeared after July 30, 1942, that is why U-166 and its crew of 52 seamen were considered missing.

In almost 60 years, at the beginning of 2001, researches were held at the sea bottom for further laying of oil pipelines there. By that time, the place where Robert E. Lee steamer sank was known, as its framework was found in 1986 already. However, when measurement was done, underwater robots detected strange anomalies of the sea bottom near the place where the steamer was lying. Maritime archeologists joined the researches and determined that wreckage of a submarine of the IX-C class were quite close to the steamer.

But what was the submarine that American pilots bombed not fat from the Mississippi delta? On July 24-25, 1942, U-166 executed a secret mission in the Gulf of Mexico near the Mississippi mouth and laid mined there. In that very place U-166 came across U-171, a giant submarine of the same class. In several days, an American plane noticed U-171.

The pilots decided to attack the submarine. Submarine specialist Krist says that the pilots had one depth-bomb weighing 120 kilograms. ?It would have been an exceptional case if the pilots had managed to sink a submarine of the IX-C class. But no miracle happened.¦

The American pilots remained above the place where they dropped the bomb for an hour. They even saw an oil spot spreading on the sea surface, that is the reason why they were sure that they managed to sank a submarine. But out of the whole number of 
German submarines that furrowed the Gulf of Mexico, only U-166 didn-t get back home from there. But it is unlikely that U-171 submarine seriously suffered from the dropped bomb, as the submarine moved away from the American shores. But the days of U-171 were also numbered: it was blown up when it approached the base in Lorient, near the French shores. Some members of the U-171 crew were saved, but 22 men were killed.U-166 suffered the same fate that majority of the Nazi Germany-s submarines did. Within ten years, 1935-1945, over a half of submarines out of the whole number of 1167 didn-t get back from their combat missions. German historians sum up losses of the enemy: 2900 vessels and 33 thousand seamen at the cost of the life of 30 thousand German submariners.Underwater pictures of the U-166 framework and wreckage of the steamer that it sank lying side by side produce a painful impression: the hunter and the pray, the killer and the victim are lying together in one underwater grave, covered with sand and silt, almost forgotten. This is just another reminder of the war horrors.

The U-boat fleet suffered extremely heavy casualties, losing 743 U-boats.
From one of my favorite books of all time, Gaylord Kelshall's The U-Boat War in the Caribbean, the story is told in much greater detail.U-166 was a Type IXC U-boat commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Günther Kuhlmann, 28 years old.

He made 
three patrols - but his third, 44 days, is the one he is remembered for.

U-166:Displacement: (tons) 1,120 (sf); 1,232 (sm); 1,540 (total)
Length: (m) 76,76 oa; 58,75 ph
Beam: (m) 6,76 oa; 4,40 ph
Draught: (draft) 4,70 m
Height: 9,40 m
Power: (hp) 4400 (sf); 1000 (sm)
Speed: (knots) 18,3; (sf) 7,3 (sm)
Range:(miles/knots) 13450/10 (sf); 63/4 (sm)
Torpedoes: 22; 4/2 (bow/stern tubes)
Mines: 44 TMA
Deck gun: 105/45, 110 rounds
Crew: 48-56 men
Max depth: ca. 230m (755 feet)

First posted OCT 2010. New additions below.