Archive for the 'Hard Power' Category

USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) returns to Pearl Harbor from a BMD deployment that lasted over 9 months

USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) returns to Pearl Harbor from a BMD deployment that lasted over 9 months

Of all the missions the Surface Navy does, Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) might be the least sexy. It involves sitting in a small box in the middle of the ocean for weeks, usually far away from land or even any commercial shipping traffic. Ships on station need to be in a specific engineering and combat systems configuration at all times so they can track or engage a target at a moments notice. This means there aren’t many opportunities for training, ship handling, gun shoots, swim calls, and other evolutions. Sometimes, a poor middle-of-the-ocean satellite uplink makes the internet unusable, and “River City” could be set (meaning the internet is turned off completely) for bandwidth constraints or upholding Operational Security (OPSEC) due to mission sensitivities. Depending on the ship’s heading and location, TV-DTS (the Navy’s satellite TV connection) could go down as well. Hopefully the seas aren’t rough, because there’s little chance to get a modified location (MODLOC) to divert for better weather. If it’s a nice day, fishing from the fantail seems to be the most exciting thing to do; although there never seems to be much luck in getting a catch (it seems most fish know how to avoid the BMD box at all costs). Forget port calls, but even when ships aren’t on station, they could still be on a formal or informal “tether” which prevents them from going anywhere too far away from the BMD Theater (yes that means no Australia!).

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According to the Yŏnhap News Agency last Thursday, ROK Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin “confirmed…that he had requested the U.S. government” to postpone the OPCON (Operational Command) transfer slated for December, 2015. Citing from the same source, the National Journal elaborated further by saying Minister Kim believed that the United States was open to postponing the transfer because “a top U.S. government official leaked to journalists” Minister Kim’s request for the delay.

Chuck Hagel and Kim Kwan-jin

Ministerial-level meeting

There may be several reasons for the ROK government’s desire to postpone the OPCON transfer. First, the critics of the OPCON transfer both in Washington and the ROK argue that this transition is “dangerously myopic” as it ignores “the asymmetric challenges that [North Korea] presents.” Second, given the shrinking budget, they argue that the ROK may not have enough time to improve its own C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computer and Intelligence) capabilities, notwithstanding a vigorous procurement and acquisition of state-of-the-art weaponry and indigenous research and development programs for its local defense industries. Third, South Korea’s uneven defense spending, and operational and institutional handicaps within the conservative ROK officer corps have prevented South Korea from developing a coherent strategy and the necessary wherewithal to operate on its own. To the critics of the OPCON handover, all these may point to the fact that, over the years, the ROK’s “political will to allocate the required resources has been constrained by economic pressures and the imperative to sustain South Korea’s socio-economic stability and growth.” As if to underscore this point, the ROK’s defense budget grew fourfold “at a rate higher than conventional explanations would expect” due to fears that the United States may eventually withdraw from the Korean peninsula. It was perhaps for these reasons that retired GEN B. B. Bell, a former Commander of the United States Forces Korea, has advocated postponing the transfer “permanently.

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iran_2586247b

In the wake of Hassan Rowhani’s landslide victory as Iran’s new president, some foreign policy mavens now believe that Rowhani’s presidency may augur a positive shift in Iran’s hitherto hostile policy towards the West. However, despite a glimmer of hope that Rowhani’s election may translate into moderate policies towards the West, others have “adopted a cautious ‘wait-and-see’ posture,” citing Rowhani’s past affiliation with the Ayatollah.

For East Asian experts, Rowhani’s election warrants attention because it remains to be seen whether Iran will retain its current alliance with Kim Jŏng-ŭn even if it chooses to reconcile with the West. After all, some have alleged that Iran has played a major role in the DPRK’s successful testing of its Ŭnha-3 rocket last December. More importantly, Rowhani’s future stance towards the West deserves attention because it may determine whether or not the United States must revise its strategy to adapt to new geostrategic realities. Indeed, it can be argued that the aforementioned factors are not mutually exclusive but intricately intertwined.

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X-47B Taxi

Today’s successful launch of an X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator marks a significant turning point for Naval Aviation, as much for its cultural acceptance by the community as for its technological significance.

As a newly minted Naval Aviator in 2002, the mere mention of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the ready room was enough to send most discussions into overdrive. The Navy, after all, would never have a need for drones, especially not ones launched from an aircraft carrier or a surface combatant. When a leading aircraft manufacturer’s UAV team joined us during a cruise in 2003 to measure the GEORGE WASHINGTON’s flight deck, the response was a mixture of mild curiosity and more than a little negativity.

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She blinded me with science.

She blinded me with science.

We may not have servant robots or flying cars, but it America is finally ready to deploy functional lasers. Next year, the USS PONCE will receive the military’s first field-ready Laser Weapon System (LaWS) . The navy, and nation, are justifiably excited to finally embrace military laser technology. However, it is important for us to realize the tactical and technological limitations of our new system before rushing too quickly to rely on them too often. She blinded me with science. Lasers still face great challenges from the weather, ability to detect hits, and power demands.

Red Sky in Morning

Lasers are nothing more than light: deadly, deadly light. Like all light, lasers as at the mercy of the atmospheric conditions they encounter. In particular, lasers are at the mercy of refraction and scattering. Refraction changes the angle that occurs as light moves through an atmosphere of varying density and makeup. As lasers are designed for longer ranges, or short range lasers encounter areas of differing conditions, the trajectory will change. This could pose challenges as targets move through areas of varying range and atmospheric density over long ranges.

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The following post is by a friend of mine, Nate Hunt. Nate takes care of the family farm by day, and by night does CG renderings of North Korean missile launch sites. He often shares his work on facebook, where I’ve watched him hone his skills over the last few years.

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A number of people have asked me to do short write-up describing a little about the current Tongchang-ri launch pad reconstruction work that I am working and why I am doing such a project along with the methods and tools I use for the reconstruction process.

To answer the first question, the launch pad reconstruction is actually a small part of a much larger project which scope is to accurately reconstruct not just the launch pad but the entirety of the North Korean West-Coast launch site that I am currently working on reconstructing in small stages with the launch pad being just a part.

The reconstruction is to provide a comprehensive reconstruction tool of said site for research and to help gauge changes to the site overtime which is useful if one has an accurate model to compare top down images with to better understand how things may be have been changed or removed over time.

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USAF photo

Please join CDR Salamander and me on February 10, 2013 at 5pm Eastern U.S. for “Episode 162: Air Diplomacy, Air-Sea Battle, and the PAC Pivot”:

Photo: Lockheed Martin

As we shift from ground combat in Asia and reset to a more natural position of a naval and aerospace power, are we thinking correctly on how to best leverage our resources and strengths?

Photo: MDA

How should we be using sea power and air power to create the right effects during peace, yet be poised to have the best utility at war? Are there concepts, habits, and systems that have had their time and should be moved aside for newer tools and ideas?

Our guest for the full hour will be Dr. Adam Lowther, Senior Fellow at the Center for the National Interest in Washington, DC.

He is the author of numerous books and articles on national security topics and previously served in the US Navy.

Join us live if you can here or download or listen to the show later here or on our iTunes page here.



topics_01In the course of reading Robert Kaplan’s article in the Wall Street Journal, I had to back up and read this twice.

The Japanese navy boasts roughly four times as many major warships as the British Royal Navy.

Wait … what?

OK, that reality has sunk in over the last decade – but we are still a bit of an Anglophile navy, and even with the Pacific Pivot, we still give the mother country a lot of heft for historical and emotional reasons.

In their constitutional quasi-isolation, Japan’s very real power has

Here is the context;

… in Asia. Nationalism there is young and vibrant—as it was in the West in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Asia is in the midst of a feverish arms race, featuring advanced diesel-electric submarines, the latest fighter jets and ballistic missiles. China, having consolidated its land borders following nearly two centuries of disorder, is projecting air and sea power into what it regards as the blue national soil of the South China and East China seas.

Japan and other countries are reacting in kind. Slipping out of its quasi-pacifistic shell, Japan is rediscovering nationalism as a default option. The Japanese navy boasts roughly four times as many major warships as the British Royal Navy. As for Vietnam and the Philippines, nobody who visits those countries and talks with their officials, as I have, about their territorial claims would imagine for a moment that we live in a post-national age.

The disputes in Asia are not about ideology or any uplifting moral philosophy; they are about who gets to control space on the map.

Silly Transformationalists … dreaming is for kiddies. Get ye back to your history books!

Back on topic though; yes, the facts are clear.

Though you can find +/- difference depending on source, definitions, and recent com/decom; here are the numbers:
Royal Navy:
Helicopter Carriers: 2
Amphibious Ships: 2
Destroyers: 7
Frigates: 13
Submarines: 6-SSN, 4-SSBN

We’ll call that 24.

Japanese Navy:
Helicopter Carriers: 2 (technically 4, all of which are helicopter carrying destroyers. The SHIRANE Class of 2 are only half decks and are really just destroyers. HYUGA Class of 2 are no-kidding helicopter carriers. Two more much larger 19,500 ton ships on the way this decade as well).
Amphibious Ships: 5
Destroyers: 40
Frigates: 6
Submarines: 16-SS

We’ll call that 67. If you are what Salamander defines as “major combatants” then you have 2.8 times, not 4x, but there are lots of ways to count. Perhaps they are looking at smaller ships as well. By either definition though, it should give one pause not only to reflect about the decline of the Royal Navy – but more importantly – the latent and potential power of the Japanese Navy.

Anyone who has worked with the Japanese will agree with me as well that from a professional point of view, they are an exceptionally quality force.

Here is the tie in.

Did you catch this little memo?

Japan’s Defense Ministry will request a second boost to its military budget, according to reports, just a day after the government announced the first Defense budget increase in 10 years.

The boosts, although relatively modest compared with Japan’s overall defense spending, coincide with increasing tensions in the Asia Pacific region.Japan’s Defense Ministry intends to ask for 180.5 billion yen ($2.1 billion) from a government stimulus package – on top of an increase of more than 100 billion yen ($1.1 billion) to its military budget announced earlier this week – in order to upgrade its air defenses, according to the BBC..

Good. Japan needs to continue to do this, and we should welcome the move as long overdue (though don’t get too excited, their larger budgetary problems are even greater than ours). Europe fades, Royal Navy withers … where can the USA look for its major partner at sea?

We don’t have to look far. With the tweaks they are on the road to make in their Constitution – Japan is right there.



Join us at 5pm (Eastern U.S.), 6 Jan 2013, for the first live episode of the new year, Episode 157: “Force Structure and Tipping Points”:

What happens when a global maritime power finds itself in a position where it can no longer sustain the global presence it once considered an essential requirement?

The US Navy has been in a period of decline in both numbers and capability for awhile, and as budgetary reality sets in and burn out starts to hollow remaining capabilities – the decline is set to continue for at least another decade.

How far the decline goes until stability sets in is unknown, but what is the best reaction to this reality? Are the lessons one can derive from history that can help policy makers shape direction and priority going forward?

Our guest for the full hour to discuss will be Daniel J. Whiteneck, Ph.D.

Dr. Whiteneck is a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses. He has directed projects ranging from Tipping Point and the future of US maritime dominance, to the use of naval forces in deterrence and influence operations. He also led studies on naval coalition operations and maritime security operations focusing on counter-piracy and counter-proliferation.

Dr. Whiteneck deployed twice with Carrier Strike Groups for OEF and OIF. His CNA field assignments included two tours on numbered fleet staffs, as well as field representative to the Commander of NATO Joint Command Lisbon in 2004-05. He also did three tours in the Pentagon as CNA Scientific Analyst to N51, N31, and OPNAV DEEP BLUE.

He held academic positions at the Seattle University, the University of Colorado, and the Air Force Academy, before joining CNA. In addition to authoring a number of CNA studies over the past 14 years, he has published articles and book chapters on US and British global leadership and naval operations, NATO’s expansion and operations, and the role of conventional and strategic deterrence against terrorist networks and rogue states after 9/11.

Join us live here or download the show later from Midrats on BlogTalkRadio or from our iTunes page.



In his own soft-spoken words, from our Americans at War Series.

http://www.americans-at-war.com/videodetail.php?id=2

In part:

Daniel Inouye / U.S. Army /Served 1943-1947. Inouye’s remarkable act of courage resulted in being awarded the Medal of Honor. This can be partly explained by the words his Japanese immigrant father told him before deploying, “This country has been good to us. Whatever you do, do not dishonor this country and if you must die, die with honor.”

In the outtakes of this video, Inouye related to the Naval Institute that the grenade was in the hand of the arm that was blown off (THE ONE BLOWN OFF), pulled out the grenade out of that hand and threw it over enemy lines.



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