Archive for April, 2012
I think it safe to say that one thing almost everyone who comes by USNIBlog shares is a deep and abiding love and respect for our maritime heritage and the exceptional record history made by those who came before us.
Without its history, a organization is ungrounded and without a baseline to reference. In that light, what are we to make from paragraph 2 of the Navy IG’s Command Inspection report from AUG 11 (you can get the entire document here) ?
Three core mission areas are at risk in the future because of facilities challenges, command practices and resource constraints. … the perceived quality of work life at NAVHISTHERITAGECOM is the worst we have observed since NAVINSGEN began collecting such data in January 2006.
Give it a good read.
What is going on? An internal battle over the direction of an organization that has leaked in to a Command Inspection, or is something this important broken?
The dispatch of HMS Dauntless (D33) to the Falkland Islands is likely to put a virtual stop to suggestions and speculation Argentina might attempt a military campaign as part of the recent tensions surrounding the islands. While it is possible to suggest that the presence of Prince William as one of the helicopter pilots gave the Falkland Islands issue more visibility to the tensions surrounding the oil and Argentina with the British public, it is ultimately the presence of a single Royal Navy warship and the rumor of an associated submarine protecting the islands that gives both the local population and commentating analysts confidence that the islands are safe from adventurism – whether that adventurism from Argentina is real or imagined.
In a recent Guardian interview, part of the larger coverage on the Falkland Islands war that occurred 20 years ago, Rear Admiral Sir John Forster Woodward offered his tactical perspective on events in the Falklands today.
If the Falklands are ever captured by Argentina it will be impossible to win them back, says Woodward. “We could not retake the Falklands. We could not send a task force or even an aircraft carrier. If we had been in this state in 1982, the Falklands would be the Malvinas. We rely on sending reinforcements by air, but that would be impossible if we lost control of the airfield at Mount Pleasant.”
He is not, however, as despairing as that sounds. “The problem doesn’t arise, because they won’t be taking it,” he says, rapping his knuckles on the kitchen table for luck. “I hope I’m right.”
His hope is based on the recent arrival of the destroyer HMS Dauntless. “We need her surface-to-air missiles. The Argentines might hope to overcome the four Typhoon jets at Mount Pleasant with a dozen Mirages and then bomb the airfield out of action, but while she’s there with her missiles they won’t try that. I’m not sure the Government understands how important she is.”
Argentina believes Britain has also sent a nuclear-powered attack submarine, or SSN, which the MoD neither confirms nor denies. As an expert submariner, Woodward sees the use. “If they want to invade, it will have to be by sea and an SSN will chop them up. They know that.”
If you haven’t read the article, it is worth reading in its entirety. Also worth reading is this article from Chris Parry in the Daily Mail.
The inherent capability of seapower to dissuade aggression is often taken for granted, until it is plainly obvious. It is highly questionable whether HMS Dauntless (D33) is actually preventing a new war in the Falklands, as it is highly questionable whether Argentina would ever try to take the islands by force again, but it is very clear that the presence of credible naval power will cease the tension that comes from speculating about military action.
What the presence of HMS Dauntless (D33) around the Falkland Islands does is clarify the costs to Argentina of military adventurism, specifically forcing Argentina to adjust any calculations potentially made undertaking a military option to retake the Falkland Islands. In any scenario where two sides face off against each other in diplomatic disputes, the addition of military power by either side forces adjustments to the cost calculations of the other side.
With that said, the Royal Navy is the smallest it has been in centuries, and today is too small to sustain deployments of Type 45 destroyers or nuclear attack submarines for the protection of the Falkland Islands indefinitely. When HMS Dauntless (D33) leaves the region, should a similar replacement not show up – it is a safe bet that the political rhetoric and tension will return to the Falkland Islands.
One final thought. It is still remarkable – to say the least – that a single warship in the 21st century can still carry with it so much political influence and virtually cease the potential for tension through the forward deployed presence of credible naval power alone. In a nation with a large Navy like the US Navy, the value of a single ship is often taken for granted by the political leaders and the people of the United States who enjoy the benefits that come from being a large naval power, but in a small Navy like the Royal Navy, the influence of naval power stands evident today to one and all.
Got my orders today, actually. I have a No Later Than date in June. Yeah, June. We’re in April.
It’s definitely a trend in my life for me to leave from places in unexpected ways. I left Afghanistan all of a sudden, and rather abruptly from my ship to go to Afghanistan–just crazy, crazy transitions. But, I’d be lying if I said I don’t find it all an adventure.
But, so yeah, Pensacola is next, and STA-21 probably isn’t going to happen for me this year. The due date for the package is July, and I’ll have been at A-school for only two months by then. So, meh, there will be other options out there. I figure most of the things I’m going to have to talk about in the near future will have to be [redacted] or maybe [redacted] cause you know CTRs do stuff like [redacted] for a living.
I’m a little bummed that the odds of putting a STA-21 package in are nil. Becoming a CTR was supposed to be [redacted]. But, has seemed to have become the primary plan. But, again, no biggie, I’m fine with that; it all happens for a reason. I only entertained this notion of becoming a CTR because it was something I was interested in becoming in the first place.
I just hope I find it fascinating.
One recurring thing I’ve been told over my last 15 or so months working at SHAPE is that I might be peaking in my career–very early in my career. And well, yeah, maybe I am. But, I don’t think so.
What now; what’s next?
From the April 2012 Edition of Leatherneck Magazine:
By R. R. Keene
If you’ve never been to Dong Ha, you haven’t missed a thing. Well, perhaps with the exception of Easter 1972.
No one really knows how many of those who were there are still around to talk about it. The South Vietnamese Marines are no more: banished or dead. The North Vietnamese soldiers who fired their weapons in frustration from across the Cau Viet River are scattered and old or dead. John Ripley’s been dead for three years and wasn’t the kind to brag.
So, from time to time we have to retell his legendary tale and pass it to every generation of Marines.
Colonel John W. Ripley: When they talk of Marines with cojones, one thing comes to mind—Ripley as a captain at the bridge at Dong Ha.
At 33, Ripley was an “old Asia hand” on his second Vietnam combat tour. He deployed in country as a reconnaissance platoon leader in 1965 and then commanded “Lima” Company, 3d Battalion, Third Marine Regiment. “Ripley’s Raiders” they call themselves, and they insist the “33” label of Vietnamese “Ba Muoi Ba” Bier (beer) really means 3d Bn, 3d Marines. They liked Ripley. He was no wuss. He gave his Marines no slack, kept them in the field and got them in plenty of combat, but also took good care of them, and they took their wounds together.
In addition to the Purple Heart, Ripley won a Silver Star during an attack with Lima Co against an NVA regimental command post.
The men of Lima Co admire their “skipper” and like telling stories about him.
One Marine said, “I remember Staff Seargeant Joe Martin saying, Ripley was on Harlan County [(LST1196)] in port on the Caribbean in 1964. He was crossdecking when one of the ‘squid’ officers of the day said something insulting about the Corps. ‘Rip’ threw him in the drink. They put him in ‘hack’ down over the bilges in the bowels of USS Boxer [(LPH4)], where the hull makes a V. He did pushups all day. Eventually he took over Weapons, 2/2 and was Martin’s platoon commander.”
Ripley, even for a Marine, was a physical fitness animal. He was a “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war” believer who’d taken it to heart—and all the other muscles of his body—as an enlisted man and later as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. It gave him an edge on his exchange tour with the British Royal Marines on the Malay Peninsula, at the U.S. Army’s Airborne and Ranger schools and with the Navy’s underwater demolition teams. He had be come jump, scuba and Ranger qualified.
Ripley said, “Endurance: We confuse this with fitness … but mental endurance is like an extra bandolier. … You lock and load and keep going.”
More about the Memorial to Company L, 3d Battalion, Third Marine Regiment gathered at Semper Fidelis Memorial Park, National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Va., to dedicate the “CAPTAIN J. W. RIPLEY LIMA CO RVN-1967” Memorial, honor their fallen comrades and remember their commanding officer.
Thank you Leatherneck Magazine and Mr. Keene.
Semper Fi Dad
When all else fails, we fall back on ourselves – this time on April Fool’s Day. For what it is worth, there are many foolish things to discuss – the Navy’s shipbuilding budget, the U.S. defense budget writ large, fueling the fleet stuff, the SecNav’s idea of testing the on-coming watch sections for alcohol and drugs and much, more.
Join us by clicking here. You can call in at (347) 308-8397 and be foolish, too.
UPDATE: Actually, film maker Scott Kesterson is our guest.