Archive for August, 2011

A colleague forwarded my way a discussion thread stemming from a recent online article focusing on the nation’s war colleges, the professional education of our war fighters and the faculty of said institutions so engaged. It is a relevant discussion as we find ourselves on the precipice of Draconian cuts in defense and, it seems, nothing is being taken off the table (yet) – including our postgraduate and professional institutions. The author of the article on improving PME that generated the thread, Prof. Joan Johnson-Freese (NSA Dept), takes aim at the current hiring practices of the Service’s PME – the Army, Naval and Air War Colleges. Highlighting an increasing trend of PME faculty positions as a jobs program for active duty officers retiring in place, she notes:

The problem snowballs when increasing numbers of retirees — who have little or no experience as educators — are hired as faculty, or, more insidiously, into a burgeoning number of administrative staff positions. The staff positions include assistant deans, associate deans, deans, program directors, special advisors, and “professors” with various titles, whose duties are sometimes — at best — unclear. Often, these jobs are filled without advertising the positions, or as the result of “worldwide” searches that always seem to produce the officer who was sitting down the hall waiting to retire as the only viable candidate. The educational goal of the institutions can be undermined by the desire to use the institutions as a jobs program for retirees. The result: the war colleges increasingly become bureaucracies driven by the bureaucratic goal of self-perpetuation.Teach Tough, Think Tough: Three Ways to Fix War Colleges

(I would note, that the author’s preface reflects the process across the federal government, but especially within the Services and DoD Agency of staffing with position descriptions “tailored” and targeted for a particular individual who will be retiring into that position. Fodder for another time. – SJS)

On the other side of the balance sheet, she asserts that (generally speaking) civilian faculty are often garnered from the ranks of academic “also rans”and walk-on prospects — a few diamonds are found, but for the most part, “stacks of dead wood” would be the order of the day. A third set, the so-called “practitioners” is also identified – notable for the specialized skill sets they bring, but mindful of the “expiration date” this knowledge set carries and its usefulness, absent refresh, as time marches on. Viewed in sum, the mix turns the mission of the PME schools on its head, turning them into holding pens for those marking time to full retirement in comfortable surroundings instead of institutions graduating mid- and senior-level officers armed to critically think, challenge and articulate solution sets in an increasingly complex world. The author does go to some pains to differentiate the Naval War College from the generalized meme and offers a three part solution based on the NWC’s experience which I will touch on later.

My observations here are somewhat colored by my experiences with post-graduate education, both at the Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey) and in JPME Phase 1 at NWC, but as a non-resident seminar student. In the case of the former, as a national Security Affairs (Soviet/East European Studies) Master’s student I had the opportunity to study in a curriculum that had scholars of national and international repute on staff. Included were the likes of Vernon Aspaturian, Robert Bathurst, Jiri Valenta and Kerry Kartchner among others. In the NSA course of studies, there wasn’t any coddling of students and the red pen was definitely wielded - but ultimately, to good effect. We were challenged to set aside orthodoxy and cultural norms, to look at issues from a differing perspective and in turn to press and challenge our professors. My seminar on nuclear weapons and national security certainly epitomized that environment as was the critique of my Master’s thesis on theater nuclear forces and strategies. All of which served good purpose in the approach I took in subsequent tours dealing with strategy and policy on the various staffs I served – less so for my operational tours. The non-resident seminar program on the other hand, with the exception of the national security studies phase, could pretty well be slotted under the practitioner side of the ledger, designed and scoped as it was for the student already in the Fleet and engaged in a full time job – and so while the intangibles of a campus delivered PME at NWC were missed, the concept and value are understood and informed by my NPS experience.

Turning then to Prof. Johnson-Freese’s three part recommendations, let’s examine each in turn:

“PME schools cannot overhaul the military retirement system, but they can limit the number of retirees hired onto war college faculties. One possibility would be to limit such hires to a percentage of the total faculty. This would force consideration of hiring retired officers for specialized talents and future potential, and not just for routine tasks with a nod to past rank taken as immediate qualification for the post.”

As a card-carrying member of the retired cohort I would concur – case-by-case, specialty by specialty. it isn’t closing the door altogether on that group, but rather raising the bar for admittance. Being a present instructor with the rank of Captain or Colonel should not grant entrée in and of itself, yet those who have demonstrated or show potential as teachers and scholars of a high order who come from a military background would presumably still stand to gain placement. This cohort is important because of the validation it offers the PME – that it isn’t just filled with ivory tower dwellers who have not been on the battle line. Conversely, it is also important that the War Colleges do not become another technical trade school – there is a need for diversity in perspective, background and experience that may be shared and imparted to the military students. It was one thing to study, for example, the whys and whereofs of the Czech Prague Spring – it was another matter entirely to study under someone who survived to emigrate and teach about it (and still another matter about filtering those same perspectives). That brings up the next point about the civilian-sourced faculty:

“PME academic faculty need a tenure or tenure-like system that not only gives them a goal to achieve through greater productivity, but allows them to cohere as a stable faculty and participate fully in the life of their colleges. Just as in a civilian institution, faculty should be reviewed after five years for their classroom abilities (considered over the long term, and not just based on sometimes fickle student evaluations), but also as academics serious about their careers, as demonstrated by published, policy-relevant scholarship.

Let me hasten to add that she underscores attainment of tenure is not a guarantee of permanent employment, and that even after tenure is granted, “Being retained permanently should not mean — as it often does now — automatic promotions with accompanying pay raises.” High levels of expectations should be established for scholarly, relevant work outside the class. Insofar as the NWC is concerned, I know there has been value found in several venues, some with immediate applicability to my current line of work. The third recommendation is one I find especially helpful and worth pursuing – because it is also the one most tied to “relevance” as viewed by a customer FO/GO or SES:

“More effort should be made to bring practitioners and experts from other specialized fields to the war colleges, such as the highly successful Secretary of the Navy Fellowships from the 1980s, a program that has since been discontinued but should be revived. However, these fellowships should be temporary and terminal. Outside experts and practitioners should come to the PME system, teach in the core curriculum or offer electives in their field, and conduct research and curriculum development — and then return to their regular posts elsewhere. Otherwise, they might well end up spending their time in PME trying to make their visiting positions permanent instead of serving the needs the fellowship was meant to meet.”

The challenge here might be in the grey area that exists between the Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (like CNA and RAND) and the War Colleges, and the Navy’s own Federal Executive Fellowship program. And herein might be fertile ground for active and retired alike who have gained some standing in particular fields to break out of the detailing/contractual lock-step cycle and further explore and expound on an area of concentration – not necessarily as a PhD candidate, but as a post- practical master’s. The flow of such practitioners through the PME institutions would serve to keep the respective faculties up to speed and ensure the curricula maintain relevancy and currency. And perhaps it might just serve as the source of the next maritime strategy.

If we are to keep our PME institutions as viable sources of education for following generations of leaders, relevancy and validity must be ensured, and that starts with the faculty. In the course of the ensuing thread of comments and critique a central theme emerged that a creative tension needs to exist between the two principle factions (active duty and civilian professors) over the focus of effort and that it is incumbent on the senior leaders at these institutions to ensure one side or the other doesn’t prevail. A delicate balancing act to be sure, but that is why they (the senior leadership) are in those positions. Prof. Johnson-Freese offers a model for that management and presumably has instituted it within her organizational reach in her time at NWC. I, and many others I think, would be interested in knowing how that model’s implementation has fared and the particular challenges in implementing it.

Your thoughts?

Update: Some commentary (provided SEPCOR) on Prof. Johnson-Freese’s article in general and the Naval War College in particular is provided below As pointed out by my colleague (who provided the same) “…together with NWC Professor Emeritus Tom Hone’s comment on “Teach Tough, Think Tough: Three Ways to Fix War Colleges”, by NWC Professor and former DSDM Department Chair Dr. Joan Johnson-Freese, NWC Don Chisholm’s commentary on war college faculties is not only a guide for thoughtful management of faculty at PME institutions in general, but a strong bulwark against past and future arguments in favor of closing the Naval War College.”: 


 A Comment on “Teach Tough, Think Tough: Three Ways to Fix War Colleges,” by Dr. Joan Johnson-Freese ( by Tom Hone)

 Introduction: The Problem

The very interesting essay by Dr. Johnson-Freese touches on the heart of the problem faced by the war colleges in its first sentence, where Dr. Johnson-Freese says that the war colleges are “the country’s professional military education institutions.” But there is often a great difference between an educational institution such as a well known liberal arts college and a professional school. Indeed, one of the criticisms often leveled against professional schools of law and medicine is that their programs are too narrow, or too technical, and that therefore they really don’t prepare tomorrow’s doctors and lawyers to learn as they progress through their careers.

In short, there’s a tension between “education” considered in its broadest sense and the sort of advanced schooling that prepares professionals for their careers. This tension dogs the faculties of the war colleges, and it inevitably must. On the one hand, they are supposed to “open and enlarge” the intellectual horizons of their students. On the other hand, they are supposed to help their students prepare to win the nation’s wars, help set the nation’s strategy, and plan and conduct counterinsurgency campaigns.

 The Naval War College’s Solution

The Naval War College (where I taught in 1985-86 and 2006-2009) deals with this tension in several ways. The first is by making one part of the curriculum (the study of strategy) more “intellectual” while making another part (the mastery of joint operations planning) intellectual but also heavily “practical.” You can think of the Naval War College curriculum-and its faculty as well-as spread across a continuum from the highly intellectual to a combination of the intellectual with the art and practice of planning military operations.

Given this continuum, you would expect to see very academically strong instructors, with outstanding publishing records, in the Strategy Department and mostly active and retired military officers with great operational experience in the Joint Military Operations Department-and in fact that is what you do see. At the same time, there are prominent academics even in the Joint Military Operations Department: professors Milan Vego and Donald Chisholm, to name just two.

This illustrates the second way the Naval War College deals with the tension between education (defined broadly) and professional education (which is far more technical and focused): the College “seeds” its operations department with academics, just as the best law and medical schools recruit and retain scholars who bring to their programs the sort of erudition that even professional students need to encounter.

The third way that the Naval War College deals with the continuum that runs from strategy to operations is to encourage and reward cooperation and communication across department boundaries. In my first tour at the Naval War College (1985-86), there was a lot of informal but meaningful contact between my department (then called National Security Decision-Making) and the Strategy Department. Faculty from those two departments even met informally with their colleagues in the operations department to talk about teaching strategies, research, and current issues relevant to the College’s program. There was less of this informal contact in my second tour (2006-2009), but that was because the teaching load was greater, and, in my case, because I was trying to do the research and publishing that Dr. Johnson-Freese advocates.

The fourth way that the Naval War College tries to overcome the problems described by Dr. Johnson-Freese is by rewarding research and publication. I benefited from this during both of my tours teaching at Newport. Both times, my department chairs (in two different departments, by the way) encouraged my research and writing and even did their best to find time for me to study and write. In addition, I always had colleagues who were happy to read and comment critically on what I wrote. That’s why I went back to the Naval War College a second time-because of an atmosphere that challenged me to think and to learn.

The fifth way that the Naval War College addresses the tension between education broadly defined and education defined narrowly is by allowing faculty to come and go. In my case, I never intended to stay for a long time at Newport. Instead, I wanted to (a) gain experience that I could plow back into the curriculum, (b) “get where the action was” as much as I could, given my skills and background, and (c) show I could both publish and manage-that is, combine intellectual work with practical work.

If you’re educating professionals, you can’t treat them like regular undergraduates. You can’t retreat to your special discipline and take refuge there because your students won’t have that option once they leave the war college and go off to make war or prepare for it. Their profession is demanding-intellectually, socially, ethically, and in terms of the demands it makes upon their energy. To be an effective instructor, you need to have had at least some experience like that of your students. That doesn’t mean that you should be shot at and survive, but it does mean that you should have found yourself challenged- seriously challenged-as a thinker and as a decision-maker. My experience with the Naval War College is that the College’s leaders have liked potential faculty with that background, and I think they have been correct to like them.

 The Bottom Line

What it comes down to in the end is leadership, especially from the war college presidents and their department chairs. Dr. Johnson-Freese noted in her essay that when she became a department chair in 2002, she found that most of the active-duty officers in her department at the Naval War College intended to stay as instructors once they retired. Her next act as the new chair should have been to tell every member of her department that this would not be possible and that, in fact, it was not and would not be department policy while she was the chair. Put another way, she faced a severe leadership challenge, and it was her duty to deal with it in such a way as to balance her professional ethics with the need to alter the social atmosphere that existed within her department.

That is never easy to do. I still grit my teeth when I think of some of the management or leadership errors that I made when I was a manager in the Navy and the Defense Department. But it’s what senior leaders get paid for. The chairman of a department at the Naval War College usually has under him or her an outstanding faculty. It’s up to him or her to lead that faculty-to change expectations, if they need changing, and to institute new standards of professional behavior, if new standards are needed.

I would very much have appreciated Dr. Johnson-Freese explaining to me and to her other readers what precisely she did to move her department toward the model that she describes in her essay. I admire the model. I have attempted to “live it.” But it’s not an easy model to implement, and those charged with leading the war colleges need to learn from former successful leaders in those institutions how to make them what they should-and can-be. Perhaps Dr. Johnson-Freese will provide that sort of guidance in a subsequent essay. I certainly hope so.


NAVWARCOL Prof. Don Chisholm on managing war college faculties:

“A major difficulty in attracting and retaining competent civilian faculty is to find those who grasp the “otherness” of the JPME institutions and are still willing to come. I think in Newport, as Tom Hone pointed out, the Strategy and Policy Department has consistently done a spectacular job in this. JMO has been more challenged because the nature of what it teaches (I chaired our faculty recruitment committee for a number of years and experienced this first hand) attracted mostly second-tier PhD’s. We ultimately decided that it was better to hire retired officers with the requisite active duty bona fides and develop them into builders of curriculum, etc. than to go the other route, based on credentialing rather than potential intellectual contribution. I think we have mostly succeeded with this course of action.

The whine from the Air Force civilian professor that made the rounds recently suggested to me, after looking at his vita, that he probably couldn’t get a research university job, “settled” for the Air Force institution and never quite grasped its mission — and for some long time too. More broadly, to some extent this may be explained by the second-tier academic status of some significant number of civilian faculty at JPME institutions, who, at least some of them, evidently could not gain tenured positions in mainstream academia, and yet yearned for some semblance of that life. I viewed (and continue to view) this effort as a subversion of the proper allocation of personnel resources at the JPME institutions.

 When I came to Newport more than a decade ago, I understood that I was shifting from one career to another, even though I continued with the title of “Professor.” That doesn’t mean that I abandoned interest in research and publication, but that I understood that it would take on a secondary complexion to be pursued in the interstices between curriculum development, faculty development, and teaching. And, truth be told, at times I chafe under this priority, but I also recognize that I decided to come to Newport and to remain there.

At the war colleges, there ought to be a continuing friction between active duty faculty and civilian faculty over the proper focus of effort. The leadership of these colleges needs practically to exploit this friction in order to produce better curriculum, not to allow the one or the other to “win,” and at the same time not to allow the conflict to become so intense as to drift into a state of anomie. I think for the most part, the Naval War College has succeeded in sustaining this creative friction

To gain a fundamental understanding of the institutional development of American higher education, let me commend Lawrence Veysey’s fine book “The Emergence of the American University” (circa 1964, I think). Veysey limns out the origins of the three strands of education that have always existed in uneasy tension with each other from the beginning been part of the university, namely between (1) undergraduate education; (2) PhD teaching and research; and (3) professional education. His description accords with my own experiences over a couple of decades in public research universities.”


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There was sad news today of the death of Colonel Charles P. Murray, USA, Retired, who passed away in South Carolina this afternoon at the age of 89. Colonel Murray was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions while commanding Company C, 30th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, on 16 December, 1944. Those actions are summarized in his award citation. Worth a read, and a re-read.

For commanding Company C, 30th Infantry, displaying supreme courage and heroic initiative near Kaysersberg, France, on 16 December 1944, while leading a reinforced platoon into enemy territory. Descending into a valley beneath hilltop positions held by our troops, he observed a force of 200 Germans pouring deadly mortar, bazooka, machine-gun, and small arms fire into an American battalion occupying the crest of the ridge. The enemy’s position in a sunken road, though hidden from the ridge, was open to a flank attack by 1st Lt. Murray’s patrol but he hesitated to commit so small a force to battle with the superior and strongly disposed enemy. Crawling out ahead of his troops to a vantage point, he called by radio for artillery fire. His shells bracketed the German force, but when he was about to correct the range his radio went dead. He returned to his patrol, secured grenades and a rifle to launch them and went back to his self-appointed outpost. His first shots disclosed his position; the enemy directed heavy fire against him as he methodically fired his missiles into the narrow defile. Again he returned to his patrol. With an automatic rifle and ammunition, he once more moved to his exposed position. Burst after burst he fired into the enemy, killing 20, wounding many others, and completely disorganizing its ranks, which began to withdraw. He prevented the removal of 3 German mortars by knocking out a truck. By that time a mortar had been brought to his support. 1st Lt. Murray directed fire of this weapon, causing further casualties and confusion in the German ranks. Calling on his patrol to follow, he then moved out toward his original objective, possession of a bridge and construction of a roadblock. He captured 10 Germans in foxholes. An eleventh, while pretending to surrender, threw a grenade which knocked him to the ground, inflicting 8 wounds. Though suffering and bleeding profusely, he refused to return to the rear until he had chosen the spot for the block and had seen his men correctly deployed. By his single-handed attack on an overwhelming force and by his intrepid and heroic fighting, 1st Lt. Murray stopped a counterattack, established an advance position against formidable odds, and provided an inspiring example for the men of his command.

Colonel Murray would serve in Korea and Vietnam following his World War II service, and would accumulate three Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart. He retired from the Army in 1973.

As one hero passes on to Elysium, another has recognition bestowed.

God did indeed shed His grace upon us when he gave us men such as these. May they always be among us.

As is standard when working with the Royal Navy – tactically seamless and it moves as smooth as silk.

MONMOUTH launched her Lynx helicopter from 60 miles away to assess the situation. Lt Chris Easterbrook Royal Navy, pilot of the Ship’s helicopter “Black Knight” said:“Having heard about the distress of the CARAVOS HORIZON, we urgently launched to assess the threat to the merchant vessel and to provide real-time information to MONMOUTH. We stood off at a distance, relaying the current situation and taking photographs and video footage to aid the Commanding Officer’s decision making process. We had to make sure that we understood the situation onboard fully, in order to determine what level of threat the boarding team may face once embarked.”

At the same time, communications were established with the Master of the MV CARAVOS HORIZON, safe inside his citadel with his 23 crew. He provided information on what had happened to his ship, but was unaware of the current situation onboard and had not heard any activity outside the citadel.

Whilst approaching, MONMOUTH was also liaising with a nearby US warship, USS BATAAN (LHD 5), dispatched a MH-60S helicopter to assist and provide a wider area of surveillance. Analysing all the reports that were coming in, there appeared to be no sign of the attackers and only a ladder over the side of MV CARAVOS HORIZON was spotted.

A team of Royal Marine Commandos, backed up by a Royal Navy Boarding Team, embarked on MV CARAVOS HORIZON by helicopter and boats. They systematically worked their way through the vessel ensuring it was clear of intruders. Lt Harry Lane RM, the Officer Commanding the Royal Marines, said:

“I was immensely proud of the way my team conducted themselves. This was a time critical operation; it was late in the day and we had very few daylight left. At the very minimum we needed to get on board and into the superstructure of the merchant vessel before last light. We were able to achieve this with some very quick planning and the use of the RN boarding team to bolster our numbers.”

As soon as it became clear that the attackers had fled, the boarding team freed the crew from their refuge and handed control of the vessel back to the Master.

Remember our discussion on Midrats earlier this year with Capt. Alexander Martin, USMC? How he described the “citadel” concept? Well – looks like it worked again.

Communication, secure locations for the crew to hold up and wait, and more importantly a military that is willing to put tough men in harms way who are willing to execute violence to permit the free flow of commerce; simple concept that works charms. Works even better with allies who deploy with few to any caveats beyond standard Force-wide ROE.

BZ to all involved in this Combined action. As it should be.

As a side-bar; speaking of our friends at USNIBlog — I think we know some rotorheads that might be with the BATAAN.

If he doesn’t make his PAO get me pictures ……

Sometimes a Navy surface warfare officer feels like Rodney Dangerfield – “I don’t get no respect.”

Part of the problem, it seems to me, is that we tend to stress our mistakes and shortcomings instead of focusing on the great feats of arms that should be carved into the decks of our haze gray hulls.

Naval aviation, submariners and special warrior rightfully have staked out their places in modern history.

The surface warrior? Well, not so much.

Part of that is, of course, the U.S. Navy has been so dominant on the oceans of the world for so long that there have been few surface actions involving the fleet since – well, since World War II.

Shooting up some offshore oil rigs – it just isn’t all that much.

And even when talking about WWII, it’s the carrier battles that usually pop up – Coral Sea, Midway, the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot . . .

Sure, there were WWII surface battles that come to mind, like the Battle of Surigao Strait – the last great “all surface” battle- or the Battle of Samar, where a handful of destroyers, a few Navy pilots and some escort carriers took on a much superior Japanese force and, well, you can read all about it in James Hornfischer’s Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors.

Then there is the story of the great naval battles fought in the waters off Guadalcanal – a tale that begins with the near disaster of the Battle of Savo Island (at look at which you can find here) and with the seemingly eternal grudge of Marines toward the Navy that “abandoned” them on Guadalcanal.

Well, now, wouldn’t it be nice if Mr. Hornfischer had written a book on that topic? Try this: Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal:

Neptune’s Inferno is at once the most epic and the most intimate account ever written of the contest for control of the seaways of the Solomon Islands, America’s first concerted offensive against the Imperial Japanese juggernaut and the true turning point of the Pacific conflict. This grim, protracted campaign has long been heralded as a Marine victory. Now, with his powerful portrait of the Navy’s sacrifice—three sailors died at sea for every man lost ashore—Hornfischer tells for the first time the full story of the men who fought in destroyers, cruisers, and battleships in the narrow, deadly waters of “Ironbottom Sound.” Here, in brilliant cinematic detail, are the seven major naval actions that began in August of 1942, a time when the war seemed unwinnable and America fought on a shoestring, with the outcome always in doubt.

And wouldn’t it be great to discuss his books with Mr.Hornfischer?

Well, this Sunday 5pm Eastern, Mr. Hornfischer visits us at Midrats on Episode 84 James D. Hornfischer which my co-host CDR Salamander has described as:

When you mention books on naval history, there are but a few authors whose work immediately come to mind, and our guest is one of them.

Unquestionably one of the finest writers of naval history of the last half-century; James D. Hornfischer.

We have talked about his books on a regular basis both on Midrats and over at our homeblogs; The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors and Ship of Ghosts. He has a new book out, one that will be required reading for his fans – Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal.

We will have him for the full hour, so don’t miss the discussion of the U.S. Navy in the opening of WWII, the lessons we should take from history, and the importance of the study of naval history for both the professional and amateur.

Please join us. Here the link again: Episode 84 James D. Hornfischer

I’m working some odd hours this week and I guess I haven’t been following the news carefully enough: RADM Rindskopf, the youngest commander (26 years old) of an American fleet submarine during WWII, passed away on July 27.

Admiral Rindskopf would receive the Navy Cross, the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for his wartime service. He later served as commander of two submarine flotillas and of the Navy’s submarine school in New London, Conn. After being promoted to admiral in 1967, he was assistant chief of staff for intelligence to Adm. John S. McCain Jr., commander of the United States Pacific Command during the Vietnam War and father of Senator John McCain of Arizona.

I remember him attending the Submarine Birthday Balls held at the Naval Academy, where he loved engaging the midshipmen with his stories and reflections. I always enjoy hearing from our veterans, and we all are missing out on their experiences and wisdom when one passes away…most especially when it is someone such as RADM Rindskopf.

Energy independence and energy security are not just buzzwords. From the car you drive to the food you eat and the heat that makes winters livable and power that makes summers productive to our urban culture; energy and power are what makes our civilization possible.

If you don’t have secure energy, you do not have a secure nation. The areas of the world that have the greatest energy supplies are neither stable or natural friends of our Western Democracy. That is a problem, and explains why most of our wars have been fought where they have been.

Is new technology helping to change the national security equation?

To discuss for the full hour will be Amy Myers Jaffe, the Wallace S. Wilson Fellow in Energy Studies, director of the Energy Forum at the Baker Institute, author, and associate director of the Rice Energy Program at Rice University.

Ms. Jaffe is one of the authors of the paper, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, “SHALE GAS AND U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY” linked to in this earlier post Shale Gas and U.S. National Security and has studied this area extensively.

Please join us for what should be an interesting conversation. Sunday, 5pm Eastern or, if you can’t make it, the show will be available for download from BlogTalkRadio or iTunes. You can join us live by clicking here

U.S. Coast Guard Celebrating 221 years of service :

On August 4, 1790, President George Washington put pen to paper and created the Revenue Cutter Service. That service of “a few armed vessels, judiciously stationed at the entrances of our ports, might at a small expense be made useful sentinels of the laws” has grown into America’s maritime first responder. For 221 years, the United States Coast Guard has protected Americans on the sea, protected America from threats delivered by sea and protected the sea itself.

As the only military service with the ability to enforce laws within our borders and the only law enforcement agency authorized to enforce them outside our borders, the Coast Guard has evolved from its early beginnings but perhaps never so much as it has over the past decade. As America prepares to recognize the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Coast Guard men and women are deployed throughout the world sharing their expertise in border protection, drug interdiction and counter-terrorism with our allies while their Shipmates stand a taut watch protecting the homeland.

Well, however they got to it, thanks for being there, Coasties!

It is a steady, unending – yet poetic chant.

It takes three to make one.”

Analysts say the French military is in crisis, strained by restructuring and budget cuts, and tested by three simultaneous conflicts abroad.

Not since the early 1990s, with Bosnia and Rwanda, has the French military been so stretched. “France no longer has the military means to match its political ambitions,” ran a front-page headline in newspaper Le Monde. And recently, a French admiral was admonished for saying the country’s only aircraft carrier could be nonoperational for all of 2012 if it did not return from the Libyan coast for maintenance.

That’s an exaggeration, says Jean-Pierre Maulny, of the Paris-based International Strategic Research Institute. But Maulny says it will be hard to keep this momentum up for the long or even the medium term.

“It’s true that the Charles de Gaulle needs routine maintenance, and while we have enough pilots to continue flying sorties over Libya, we cannot for the moment train new ones,” Maulny says. “The intervention in Libya is led by the Europeans, and countries will start dropping out and public support eroding if we do not find a political solution soon.”

Stalemate and political crisis. Never a good combo for European military adventures. Didn’t I mention a “whiff of the Suez Crisis” five months ago? Nevermind.

There were two things that surprised me early on in this whateverwearecallingit; 1-we would hit ground targets early and often – eliminating a need to even worry about the Libyan Air Force after a few days; 2-that the French would go in at such a heavy level. I think we can thank SECDEF Gates for making sure this went strong early – and the French for showing leadership.

BZ to the French, but the French Admiral in question, Admiral Pierre-François Forissier, is exactly right. The Spanish carrier is enjoying tapas somewhere, the British no longer have that capability, and after a strong start the Italians have left for coffee. The American aircraft carriers are off doing other things.

That leaves one French carrier to do the heavy lifting. As anyone who has been on a carrier knows – you need to come in after awhile. No one is there to take her place with a French flag.

A good reminder to all as we look to cut – one carrier isn’t really one carrier. For any kind of sustained operation – it is but a fraction of a carrier presence. If a nation needs a sustained presence, especially any one that has a respectable operational tempo, you need a bench.

The French have done well, no one should think anything of Big Charles leaving station when she does. As for the Libyan muddle itself, I’ll let Admiral Mullen, repeating what he has said since April, speak for me,

“We are, generally, in a stalemate,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mullen told a press briefing in Washington billed as his last before retirement.

As the Europeans one-by-one fall off and the Gadaffi family holds on through SEP – then what does that stalemate become? Where does “luck” go in one of our Lines of Operation?

Rhyme. Always rhymes.


how low can we go

August 2011


Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a whole lot of talk about ‘getting to zero’ at U.S. Strategic Command’s Deterrence Symposium in Omaha, Nebraska (from which, I might point out, the extensive trade show exhibit floor was completely — and refreshingly — absent; the event was entirely panel discussions and keynote addresses). But some interesting points were made by panelists on the subject of what happens next now that the New START treaty has been signed, ratified and gone into effect. One of the most salient points made by the panel was that the focus on numerical parity with the Russians might be becoming increasingly anachronistic in terms of the global strategic balance.

Certainly, the continued maintenance of strategic stability with Moscow is important. The arms control model of verifiable reductions, transparency and confidence building has proven to be productive and fruitful over the years. But as one panelist observed, what is important about the strategic balance is its stability, its transparency and the confidence building it affords — the comfort each side has that its nuclear arsenal is sufficient to guarantee its national interests. Yet those interests are very different. The Russians have come to rely increasingly heavily on tactical nuclear weapons for territorial defense scenarios and will necessarily and not without cause remain deeply uneasy with the maturation and fielding of more advanced and mobile American ballistic missile defenses. The United States, meanwhile, not only guarantees its own national interest with its nuclear arsenal but has extended that nuclear guarantee to some 30 other countries — and while the cartel war in Mexico is concerning, has few of the territorial integrity concerns of Moscow.

The decisions we make now about the size and composition of our nuclear arsenal will have direct bearing on our strategic posture and strategic options later in this century. There is broad agreement that investment in the intellectual capital and infrastructure that underlies our nuclear enterprise is warranted. But as the operationally deployed size of the American — and particularly Russian — arsenals fall, the reality that almost every other nuclear arsenal in the world (the legacy arsenals of the United Kingdom and France excepted) is actually growing changes the equation. For a long time, combined U.S.-Soviet and then U.S.-Russian arsenals left the rest of the world’s nuclear arms effectively “a rounding error,” as one panelist observed. But the panel also observed that this is increasingly untrue. China in particular is stuck with the problem that what constitutes a “minimal means of reprisal” will change as BMD capabilities expand and improve. Its arsenal continues to grow and improve. The proliferation of ballistic missile technology in the past several decades and the failure of the international community to prevent the proliferation of nuclear means that while the bilateral U.S.-Russian nuclear balance remains perhaps the foremost question, it also remains the most settled and stable balance. Enormous unknowns and other potential nuclear-armed competitors — or, perhaps more problematically, combinations thereof — must also be considered.

These days in the U.S., the discussion about nuclear weapons is usually about economy: what is the minimum sufficient arsenal and how cheaply can we maintain it? Nuclear weapons have proven to be more of a political and diplomatic tool than a military one in any operational sense, and there are certainly more operationally useful investments that we can and should be making. But the inputs of the current fiscal climate, the inertia of the arms control agenda and the continued political lip service paid to the fantasy of ‘getting to zero’ all push the American arsenal in the same direction. The affordability of the SSBN(X) of paramount concern and the idea of a compromise modified Virginia SSN-based design gaining traction, there are also questions of how much capacity we will actually have to expand the size of the arsenal as the global nuclear balance continues to evolve.

The U.S. has moved towards more flexible and politically viable means of deterrence to supplement the nuclear arsenal. And certainly, capabilities like a viable and affordable Conventional Prompt Global Strike system that can be fielded in numbers would factor into the equation. But is concern about the size of the arsenal also dated? The limitations of nuclear deterrence have certainly been manifest since the advent of the atomic bomb. Is the arsenal at or about its current size worth the cost? Or will the nuclear-armed challenges of the 21st century be better met by other means?

A paper, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy from the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, “SHALE GAS AND U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY”:

The Baker Institute study “Shale Gas and U.S. National Security,” sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, investigates the role that U.S. shale gas will play in global energy markets as global primary energy use shifts increasingly to natural gas. Specifically, the study concludes that shale gas will diminish the petro-power of major natural gas producers in the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela, and it will be a major factor limiting global dependence on natural gas supplies from the same unstable regions that are currently uncertain sources of the global supply of oil. In addition, the timely development of U.S. shale gas resources will limit the need for the United States to import liquefied natural gas for at least two decades, thereby reducing negative energy-related stress on the U.S. trade deficit and economy.

You can read the source document by downloading it from here.

Here’s an interesting section that points out how global energy markets work:

Not only is shale gas important for U.S. national security, it’s providing a benefit to Europe and Asia.

Damn right it will “have significant geopolitical ramifications.”

And we have a lot of it, as set out here:

The U.S. Has Abundant Shale Gas Resources

Of the natural gas consumed in the United States in 2009, 87% was produced domestically; thus, the supply of natural gas is not as dependent on foreign producers as is the supply of crude oil, and the delivery system is less subject to interruption. The availability of large quantities of shale gas will further allow the United States to consume a predominantly domestic supply of gas.

According to the EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2011, the United States possesses 2,552 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of potential natural gas resources. Natural gas from shale resources, considered uneconomical just a few years ago, accounts for 827 Tcf of this resource estimate, more than double the estimate published last year.

Enough for 110 Years of Use

At the 2009 rate of U.S. consumption (about 22.8 Tcf per year), 2,552 Tcf of natural gas is enough to supply approximately 110 years of use. Shale gas resource and production estimates increased significantly between the 2010 and 2011 Outlook reports and are likely to increase further in the future.

U.S. Energy Information Agency ;study, “Review of Emerging Resources: U.S. Shale Gas and Shale Oil Plays”:

Although the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) and energy projections began representing shale gas resource development and production in the mid-1990s, only in the past 5 years has shale gas been recognized as a “game changer” for the U.S. natural gas market. The proliferation of activity into new shale plays has increased dry shale gas production in the United States from 1.0 trillion cubic feet in 2006 to 4.8 trillion cubic feet, or 23 percent of total U.S. dry natural gas production, in 2010. Wet shale gas reserves increased to about 60.64 trillion cubic feet by year-end 2009, when they comprised about 21 percent of overall U.S. natural gas reserves, now at the highest level since 1971. Oil production from shale plays, notably the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana, has also grown rapidly in recent years.

You can thank the engineers who developed the technology and techniques to make this possible.

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