Archive for the 'Marine Corps' Category

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus speaks at Defense Forum Washington.



Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) speaks at Defense Forum Washington about the defense budget and the future of the sea services.



Congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) addresses the attendees of Defense Forum Washington.



After nearly three decades of peace the U.S. Navy went to war again, this time with Mexico. This conflict was fought both on the Pacific coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, and marked the Navy’s first large-scale amphibious operations.



Please join us at 5 pm (Eastern U.S.) on 24 Nov 13 for Midrats Episode 203: Bob Work and Global Maritime Power:

When one hangs up the uniform after decades of service, but still wants to contribute to their nations national security needs, what paths can that take? How does one find a path forward, and what are the keys to success?

In a budgetary challenge not seen by the US military in two decades, what are the important “must haves” that need to be kept at full strength, and what “nice to haves” may have to be put in to the side?

What are the legacy ideas, concepts, and capabilities that the Navy and Marine Corps need to make sure they maintain mastery of, and what new things are either here or are soon on the way that we need to set conditions for success now?

Our guest for the full hour to discuss this and more will be Robert O. Work, Col. USMC (Ret), presently CEO of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), and former Undersecretary of the Navy from 2009-2013.

After 27-years of active duty service in the Marine Corps, Work joined the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), where he focused on defense strategy and programs, revolutions in war, Department of Defense transformation, and maritime affairs. He also contributed to Department of Defense studies on global basing and emerging military missions; and provided support for the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review.

During this time, Work was also an adjunct professor at George Washington University, where he taught defense analysis and roles and missions of the armed forces.

In late 2008, Work served on President Barack Obama’s Department of Defense Transition Team.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois; and has Masters Degrees from the University of Southern California, the Naval Postgraduate School; and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Join us live (5pm EST) or pick the show up later by clicking here.



The inevitable fiscal crunch that is starting our Military down has the Pharisees of the defense industry, think tanks, and senior military leaders all rabble-rabbling about the need for change. Some of that change is strategic- Asia Pacific pivot anyone? Other bits of it reside in the acquisitions department, as we see with the pros and cons of developing “revolutionary” weapons systems to confront “new” threats. The most harrowing changes for military leaders are the all too well known cuts to manpower that will come in some fashion, no matter the logic, or lack thereof, which delineates how those cuts will happen. There is more change in the air than cordite after an end of fiscal year shooting range, but it is important to reflect on some history in order to avoid stepping on the same proverbial rakes that have smacked our national security establishment in the face during previous drawdowns.

Ideas like this one are an especially pervasive form of bad, and seem unable to die even when history proves them inadvisable. We saw the call for unification in President Eisenhower’s attempts to reevaluate our national security establishment in light of the massive technological, strategic, and social changes that occurred after World War Two. It was vital to acknowledge the necessity of change in that period, because much like Eisenhower’s dictum on planning, self-examination is vital even if most of the individual recommendations may turn out to be worthless. Reconsidering defense in light of nuclear weapons, ICBMS, and the bi-polar nature of security dilemmas when facing the Soviet Union was important. Trusting academic tea-leaf readers in their assessments and then proclaiming there would “never be another amphibious landing”, that ground forces would not be used in limited wars, and that tactical airpower was only needed to defend or shoot down strategic airpower looks downright foolhardy when viewed as historical record. What saved us from the march to a monolithic Star Fleet force that all wore the small uniforms and all died like red shirts landing on Klingon? The pluralistic competition of our service structure, which was inefficient and far from perfect, but possessed a flexibility that made it anti-fragile.

Separate services, even separate services that possess redundant capabilities, are a vital part of American national defense. The Army needs the Marine Corps to soak up public attention as a motivation for better performance as badly as the Marine Corps need the Army to keep its constant self worry about irrelevance and drive its performance. Those intangible reasons can be criticized as they are not measurable, but of direct consequence are the different service outlooks which spurn actual innovation.

The Marine Corps decided it would gladly incorporate vulnerable and unwieldy rotary aircraft that Army and Air Force leaders largely ignored during Korea, and in doing so enabled the much better resourced Army to perfect the techniques of vertical envelopment to a higher degree than it ever could in Vietnam. The Navy had to have an Air Force that threatened its budget in order to develop SSBNs, and not pursue the much less effective option of carrier borne strategic bombers. Our most recent wars have shown the truth that a market place of defense ideas is better than a command economy for strategy. While the Marine Corps stubbornly resisted SOCOM membership, the other services gladly perfected the techniques needed to combat global terrorism in the learning laboratories of Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Those were bloody lessons, but proved that some enemies cannot be defeated by large MEUs waiting off shores, although the synergy created between such a force and SOCOM has proven to be vital, and continues to pay national security dividends. Service diversity even ensures we do not forget lessons learned in blood that may seem inefficient during peacetime arguments on Capitol Hill. Even the best planners can shortchange things that are easily forgotten as peace breaks out. Something as boring as oil platform protection is a skill the world’s preeminent Navy forgot, and had to relearn from the worlds 12th largest navy (the U.S. Coast Guard). There is known historical value and definite future value in keeping a diverse and flexible force, but to do so one must resist the urge to unify in the name of declining dollars. Cost savings are easy to evaluate in peacetime dollars, but take on a morbid tone when seen in defeat and death at the opening stages of a conflict.

Cleary such an arrangement has inefficiencies, and wasting taxpayer dollars in the worst economy in years should be viewed as criminal no matter if the DOD is committing the waste or not. Grenada, Desert One, and Vietnam all demonstrated the tragic human cost of pursuing service parochialism over higher interests. Such costs have been mitigated in part by the Goldwater-Nichols act of 1986. Goldwater-Nichols is far from perfect and could use an upgrade to incorporate recent lessons from the Long War. Jointness in our operations, communications, and interoperability is a good thing. Understanding perspective, knowing how the whole of the military functions instead of just one’s own slice, and talk the language of service peers are also good things. Making claims that bureaucratic restructuring to “align” and “combine” are fools errands, they repeat the mistakes that we almost made in trying to tear down an organic system. Our current force has grown through invaluable combat experience, to replace it with a theoretical framework that has never worked is a bad idea of immense magnitude.

There have been examples of “unified” militaries, look at Saddam’s Republican Guard, it clearly combined the best equipment, personnel, and training available to fulfill “civilian” leadership’s strategic wishes. Such a system is horribly fragile, and succumbs to the groupthink that all bureaucracies do. In this age of belt tightening, we should correctly become more efficient, but there are better ways than throwing out everything and starting from scratch. Reexamining our bloated personnel policies, taking a hard look at our compensation and retirement systems that resemble ticking fiscal bombs, and revamping our professional military education are all better places to start than tired and historically bankrupt calls for the “merger of …[U.S.]…ground forces”. The diversity of thought which comes from each service is one of the strongest weapons our joint force possesses, it would wise to avoid dulling such fine tool so we can save dollars only to spend lives unnecessarily in a future conflict.



It is relatively well-known that students at the Naval Academy are called midshipmen. But what is less-known is where that term comes from. How were officers prepared and trained prior to the founding of the Naval Academy and other, later commissioning programs like ROTC? For the month of May, we are looking at the midshipman training process at the Naval Academy, and we begin with a discussion of the origin of the term midshipman using today’s object, a dirk owned by Stephen Decatur.



1705 by Sean Lawler

1705 by Sean Lawler

Four years. It really doesn’t seem that long really; a tour at a land unit, maybe two afloat. However, in terms of loosing Shipmates, reality of time lost starts to set in the next day and thus any time afterwards is, well, forever.

It was four years ago today that the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps lost some of their Shipmates during a midair collision of Coast Guard Rescue 1705 and a Marine Corps helicopter off the coast of California.

On the night of 29 October 2009 I was standing watch within the LANT Area Command Center as the SAR Controller; I took the Critical Incident Communications (CIC) call as it came in from the West Coast via HQ. I can easily recall the near three hour long conference call and listening to the voice fluctuations of the Search and Rescue Controllers as they were getting the direct communications from those on scene.

The most vivid moment that’s still ground into my skull was hearing- through a radio over the phone- that those on scene had found a “huge tire” with a marking of “Sacto” on it… my heart sank; my stomach hurt. As I rushed to find out who was on that flight I remember going into a cold sweat; the Coast Guard isn’t that large of a service. The aviation community within is even smaller. I was, as many know, a prior Navigator aboard our C-130′s. While most of my time was spent in Kodiak, AK I have a deep appreciation of those who fly in the more traffic-heavy areas of the nation- it’s hard work.

In the end little to nothing was found from the downed aircraft, less immediate debris, nor any bodies recovered. Please take a moment today to remember those who were lost four years ago today;

  • Lt. Cmdr. Che J. Barnes was the commander of CG-1705, an HC-130 long-range surveillance aircraft based at Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, Calif. A 1996 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, Barnes was awarded the 2009 Cmdr. Elmer F. Stone Aviation Crew Rescue Award. During his 17-year Coast Guard career, Barnes also received the Coast Guard Commendation Medal, three Coast Guard Achievement Medals and two Coast Guard Letter of Commendation
    ribbons.

    A native of Capay, Calif., Barnes is survived by his father, Martin K. Barnes; twin brother, Noah L. Barnes, brothers; Thaddeus F.M. Barsotti, and Freeman O. Barsotti; and girlfriend, Carrie Reynolds. He is preceded in death by his mother, Kathleen F. Barsotti.

  • Lt. Adam W. Bryant was the co-pilot of CG-1705. Bryant was a 2003 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy and was a recipient of the Coast Guard Commandant’s Letter of Commendation ribbon.

    A native of Crewe, Va., Bryant is survived by his mother, Nina Bryant; father, Jerry Bryant; and brother, Benjamin Bryant.

  • Chief Petty Officer John F. Seidman was the flight engineer of CG-1705, an HC-130 long-range surveillance aircraft based at Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, Calif. In his 23 years of service, Seidman was awarded the Coast Guard Commendation Medal, Coast Guard Achievement Medal, Coast Guard Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbon, and
    seven Coast Guard Good Conduct Medals.

    A native of Stockton, Calif., Seidman is survived by his wife, Jennifer Seidman; parents, William (Bill) and Connie Seidman; and brother, Jeffery Seidman.

  • Petty Officer 2nd Class Carl P. Grigonis was the navigator of CG-1705. In his nine years of service, Grigonis was awarded the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, Coast Guard Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbon, and three Coast Guard Good Conduct Medals.

    A native of Mayfield Heights, Ohio, Grigonis is survived by his wife, Kristen Grigonis; his son, Hayden; the upcoming arrival of their daughter, Kalina; his mother, Janina Grigonis; and brother, George Grigonis.

  • Petty Officer 2nd Class Monica L. Beacham was the radio operator of CG-1705. In her nine years of service, Beacham was awarded two Coast Guard good conduct medals.

    A native of Decaturville, Tenn., Beacham is survived by her husband, Seaman Travis Beacham; her daughter, Hailey; her mother, Shirl Jean Merrell; brother, Michael Gipson; and sister, Kelly Johnson.

  • Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason S. Moletzsky was air crew for CG-1705. In his seven years of service, Moletzky was awarded the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, two Coast Guard Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbons, and two Coast Guard Good Conduct Medals.

    A native of Norristown, Pa., Moletzky is survived by his fiancé, Christiana Biscardi; parents, John and Lisa Moletzsky; and sisters, Amanda and Rebecca Moletzsky.

  • Petty Officer 3rd Class Danny R. Kreder II was drop master for CG-1705. In his four years of service, Kreder was awarded the Coast Guard Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbon, and the Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal.

    A native of Elm Mott, Texas, Kreder is survived by his wife, Victoria (Sovey) Kreder; parents, Jeff and Jodi Woodruff; brothers, Brandon and Cory Kreder; grandmother, Pamela Sue Lyle; grandparents, Wayne and Shirley Sovey; and in-laws, Sam and Tracy Sovey.

Never forget, always remember.

(Cross post from ryanerickson.com)



h3greendeck

Over the Columbus Day weekend I had the great opportunity to participate in the first national Defense Entrepreneur’s Forum conference. The event was hosted at The Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and a number of other organizations, like USNI, sponsored events from breakfasts to happy hours. At its heart, however, the conference was independently organized by a group of mid-grade and junior officers to explore the nexus of innovation and entrepreneurship with military affairs and defense industry.

Off the top, the very existence of the event was something to behold. Over a hundred men and women from the junior ranks of the military, civilians from the defense world both inside and outside government, and innovation/silicon valley folks, got together for three days to talk about how to make the military better in the 21st century. They paid their own way. The government is shutdown. Even if it wasn’t, sequestration meant there was no travel money. They filled out a leave chit and pulled out their personal credit cards. These individuals have such a belief in the idea that the military needs new ways of looking at things and doing things, and such an overwhelming desire to be part of that, that they all dropped hundreds of dollars and their long weekend to go to Chicago to meet with one another.

I do have a personal note about attendance that I think should be made: while many junior personnel had the guts to vote with their wallets and their time, only one General officer showed up, and a couple of Colonels. I’m not sure what any of that means, but it is worth noting because ALL ranks, rates, and grades were invited. In fact, there was some pretty significant outreach to the Flag and General Officer community by the organizers.

So, the Defense Entrepreneur’s Forum 2013 set out in part to inspire, in part to educate, and in part to execute. The events were livecast with the support of Google, and there is a DEF Youtube Channel. The Tweetwall went up and participants were encouraged to tweet as the event went on to highlight ideas and lessons. You can read back through the tweets from the weekend at #DEF2013 if you are interested.

Over the next week or two I’m hoping that there will be a number of blog posts across the web about what we all experienced at DEF. LT Hipple has already reported back at USNI Blog and there are a few others (here, here, here) to get us started.

I just wanted to share one observation that I took away from the weekend. On Sunday, Sean Maday, a former USAF Captain who now works at Google pointed out in his Keynote that a few short years ago, when he was wearing baby blue with railroad tracks on his collar, a three or four-star wouldn’t even acknowledge his existence, never mind listen to his ideas. Today, just because he put on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt instead of a uniform, they travel to Palo Alto to meet him, desperate to know what he thinks. This illustrates one of the great truths that was only hinted at in the excitement of DEF: Innovative junior officers don’t have the power to execute their ideas.

One of the mantras of the weekend was that we must have results. Ben Kohlmann quoted fellow board member Micha Murphy that “execution is the new innovation.” This is a valid observation, but only after the innovator is given the nod, a green deck if you will. Someone in a position of power and influence has to buy into the idea that a) there is a problem and b) this is a good solution. In the world of Silicon Valley they don’t have Flag and General Officers who are part of a massive, centuries old bureaucracy. However, they do have the venture capitalists and money men, and if you can’t get a money man to buy into your grand IT innovation or start-up it’s going to be pretty tough to get anywhere.

It may be that the best way to look at this is to think about military strategy, maybe think a little bit about Sun Tzu and stir in some Liddell Hart with a touch of John Boyd, and look for an indirect approach. In the closing hours of the conference Colonel Michael-Bob Starr (USAF, one of the few senior officers at DEF) tweeted:

So how do you influence the decision makers? While it was not formally talked about, it did come up again and again with comments about communicating your idea. As Howard Lieberman said on Sunday in a breakout: “Publish your idea and get credit for it.”

So, here’s my lesson observed from DEF 2013: It isn’t good enough to have a great idea or to figure out how you would implement it. Neither of those things matter unless you figure out how to influence the influencer, how to get your idea in front of someone who can make a decision and get the green-light. We heard repeatedly this weekend that one of the best ways to get your idea in front of someone is to publish it. The hyperlink, the pdf, or the hard copy of the magazine are a lot more likely to find their way in front of the person with that power than you are just wandering aimlessly around your base with a great innovation in your head.

I think we’ve heard this before: Dare to read, think, write…publish.



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