CAPT Hinkley and LTJG Hipple’s recent posts have served as something as a kick in the pants for me… It’s been a really long time since I wrote anything.
But, yeah, I’ve been busy…
I’m not in Belgium any more. ¬†I left at the end of February, at the last date that Millington said was possible without losing my billet and thus being removed from the Navy: 28FEB13.
In the present, I am at Corry Station, in Pensacola. ¬†Learning about the stuff that the aforementioned gentlemen wrote about. ¬†The thing about it though, I can’t write about what I’ve learned and am learning–its a different world I’ve walked into. ¬†From the completely open source world of social media into the Crypto-Tech world. ¬†I am at A-school. ¬†I am surrounded by boots. ¬†Every 45 seconds I am greeted in the P-ways with “good evening Petty Officer.” ¬†I am a class leader, I have a number of boots I am charged with keeping on task… And it is fascinating.
It’s like seeing myself seven years ago when I was new to the Navy. ¬†The questions they have differ little from my own back when…. They’re so young though, my god. ¬†When you’re a boot, you don’t think you stand out¬†that much. ¬†But, you do. ¬†The mistakes you’re going to make are predictable and understandable. ¬†My experience over the last two weeks of school reminds of a quote from Hobbes,
Prudence is but experience, which equal time, equally bestows on all men, in those things they equally apply themselves unto.
Experience, and in turn prudence, starts with bootcamp. ¬†It builds to some expertise in A-school, you reach the Fleet and it is there that you learn to be a Sailor. ¬†This fact seems to have been abused back when I came into the Navy. ¬†A-schools back then were afflicted with the vogue notion of CBT, or Computer Based Training. ¬†Where the Navy assumed boots to be cleaver enough to essentially teach themselves. ¬†I’ve been told that even some of the more technical rates were afflicted by this methodology as well. ¬†Even more so, instructors favored the term ‘you’ll learn it in the Fleet’ when a somewhat vexing question would be asked of them. ¬†Again, all this to me, strikes me as a perversion of how a senior Sailor understands how they became who they are.
A more accurate portrayal of the development of a Sailor (‘Sailor-ization’ is a term that should not be used. ¬†One does not simply make a person into a Sailor, a person must grow into being a Sailor–the onus is on the one growing.) is that no amount of schooling nor any quantity of sea stories can completely ready a Sailor for life at sea or in the Fleet. ¬†But, that does not mean there is not great efficacy for either. ¬†Rather, the senior Sailor needs to fully appreciate what they are able to impart to their junior classmate. ¬†Everything they have lived can impart a small measure of prudence into that junior Sailor. ¬†Indeed, I consider this a sacred duty for the senior Sailor.
Having that first or second class in the classroom is invaluable. ¬†Having a 2nd or 1st that can truly spin a yarn is worth every cent of their pay. ¬†A 1st or 2nd that boots are in awe of is your surest bet to creating a Sailor worthy of the Fleet. ¬†I sincerely doubt that becoming a Master Training Specialist ensures any of this. ¬†In fact, I am nearly certain it doesn’t. ¬†But, I am open to being corrected regarding this perception.
A-school is the last great chance for the military to hold onto their boots, and impart in them the words that need to resonate in their heads for the next 20+ years. ¬†Once they leave here, for many of them, they start their adult lives and it will be too late. ¬†The core of their professional-selves are set.
For the senior Sailor, what is important is that they learn about who they have grown to become in each conversation they have with their juniors. ¬†As you explain to them what you experienced in the Fleet you discover aspects of your experience that you possibly had not considered before. ¬†From their reactions you are allowed to, in some small part, relive that experience and see from a 3rd person perspective how that experience affected you. ¬†In spinning that yarn, you learn just as much as they are. ¬†There seems to be much emphasis on the underscoring of technical prowess in being an instructor at A-school, I hope the Navy appreciates this more¬†ephemeral aspect of instruction as well.
You’d probably be floored to know that about 10% of my class has a 4 year degree. ¬†There are more than five others in school with me that have their masters. ¬†What’s amazing is that it’s fairly evenly split between guys as such either not knowing they could be an officer, and others who do not want to be officers. ¬†The lines between what an officer is and an enlisted guy is blurring. ¬†In many respects what it is coming down to is how a person was trained and treated. ¬†If I were given the power, I’d like to do an experiment and see if someone from high school, and only high school, could become as good of an officer as someone from college.
There are still some months I have left here at Corry Station. ¬†I am very eager to get to know more people well established in the community I am entering. ¬†But, even more so, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to lead in some small way the boots (to be sure, I use that term in an endearing way) in class with me. ¬†They are teaching me more than they realize.
I appreciated ADM Greenert’s blog on “Wireless Cyberwar, The EM Spectrum, And the Changing Navy“, and before that, his December 2012 Proceedings article entitled, “Imminent Domain“.¬† He highlighted critical enabling areas of warfare that we can no longer afford to treat as mere support.¬† However, I found it disappointing that EMS and cyber were consistently linked together.¬† Future conflicts will be won or lost within the “maneuver space” of the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS), regardless of other cyber operations.¬† While cyber is clearly a critical area that demands national attention,¬† we need just as much specific attention paid to our capabilities and capacities to operate with or without cyber in the physical medium of the EMS.¬† Tying the two (regrettably related) but separate and distinct topics together dilutes the significance of the current and future challenge: Fight and win inside an increasingly congested, contested EMS.¬† I have seen it more appropriately pinpointed at NSWC Crane where posters advertise “Control the Spectrum, Control the Fight!”¬†¬† Is there an article out there from a Flag or General officer on the importance of EW, or the significance of controlling the use of the EMS at a time and a place of our choosing¬† – that was not written and/or published in China?
A few years ago, I was given a tremendous opportunity to form JCCS-1 to work with almost 300 Sailors, traveling together to Iraq to defeat the RC-IED threat to our forces in OIF.¬† That was a rude awakening for the U.S. to find an adversary that was fighting inside the EMS better than we were.¬† Fortunately, as soon as we focused on “controlling the EMS”, ¬†we could rely upon “the expertise and flexibility of our research base, our history of adaptation, and the skill and perseverance of our Sailors” that the CNO calls out in his blog.¬† The personal and professional efforts of these young men and women, E-4 to O-5, ultimately led to significantly degrading RC-IED effectiveness, saving lives in combat through control of the EMS.¬† Again, this particular fight was about conducting Electronic Warfare (EW): Electronic Attack (EA), Electronic Protect (EP) and Electronic Warfare Support (ES) within the EMS, and was rightfully segregated from other ¬†cyber issues.¬†¬† Whether it was industry, Army I2WD, JHU APL, Navy or Air Force, each partner leveraged its experience and expertise for a joint success story.¬†¬† Hopefully we have captured the painful lessons from having to create a force to enable fighting inside the EMS.¬† We can bet that if the adversary saw an EMS¬† vulnerability there, the next adversary will be looking in similar places.
It is encouraging that the Navy continues to lead in the investment for critical EW programs like the Next Generation Jammer, the EA-18G, and the Surface Warfare EW Improvement Program (SEWIP).¬† I applaud the CNO’s unprecedented acknowledgement of the critical issues, especially including EMS, and also for the establishment of Fleet Cyber Command (FCC)/Commander TENTH Fleet (C10F), to focus on global cyber and EW operations, but I do have one concern when it comes to execution:¬† Does anyone know who is actually held accountable for failure to be able to fight within the EMS?¬† Who will be held responsible if our air forces are shot down because they were confused by the loss of GPS or worse yet by DRFM jammers? ¬†Who will be responsible if EMI, material condition or even lack of an effective EW training program prevents an ASMD systems from operating effectively at sea?
Our people are our greatest asset.¬† We owe it to them to have the most capable fighting force within this new maneuver space.¬† This is a terrific forum to generate the type of discussion that will highlight capability and capacity gaps to our naval leaders and future leaders.¬† Knowing our organizational, budgetary and/or political restrictions, we must do more with what we have.¬† We need the experts in your individual areas who are passionate about your skill set to inspire others to get together to find ways to leverage complementary talents.¬† Electrons don’t care what color shoes you wear or even what platform you operate.¬† Please share your thoughts to enable another joint success story for our forces.
CAPT Brian “Hinks” Hinkley US Navy (ret) currently work as VP, Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations for URS Federal Services, Inc.¬† Retiring from the Navy in 2010, his highlights included: First Director, Fleet Electronic Warfare Center (FEWC), Norfolk, VA, responsible for highlighting current and future Navy EW shortfalls and prioritizing requirements across DOTMLPF areas impacting Fleet Man, Train, and Equip EW/Spectrum Management (SM) and Information Operations (IO) readiness. First Commander, Joint Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device EW (CREW) Composite Squadron ONE (JCCS-1), Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq, the first Navy force specifically designed to defeat the RC-IED threat to US, Coalition, and Partner Nation forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).¬† Commanding Officer, Tactical Electronic warfare Squadron (VAQ-135) during combat operations over Afghanistan and Iraq.¬† Clearance:¬† TS/SCI.
…one of many thoughts that went into my thinking for the post above ‚Äď there are others…
- It is not a challenge of us having to merge spectrum and cyberspace – technology has already created the merger.¬†¬†Analog systems can now create digital effects and vice versa.¬†¬†As Admiral Greenert’s Proceedings article points out,¬†”Jammers that once simply overloaded radar or communication receivers with EM energy can now use computer controllers to deny signals to receivers or retransmit altered signals to them that inject false targets, obscured areas, or even malicious computer code. Our newest radars and jammers can also coordinate and synchronize their operations automatically with one another through computer networks, even when the systems are on different ships, aircraft, or unmanned vehicles.”¬†¬†Technology has already created the merger between analog and digital, between traditional EW and Computer Network Operations.¬†¬†Our challenge is to build a force whose parochialisms within stove-piped communities like Intel, Cryptology and EW can be leveraged to build weapons systems and operators that can understand the physics behind the environment and the operational warfighting importance of fighting within this new “maneuver space”.
In his piece, ‚ÄúImminent Domain,‚ÄĚ ADM Greenert suggests that the EM and Cyber spectrums need now be considered a stand-alone domain of conflict. Respectfully, we‚Äôre already there. The electronic environment, wired and unwired, is an obsession for defense planners. In CYBERCOM, the EM-Cyber spectrum practically has its own unified command. The navy‚Äôs component of CYBERCOM, the ‚Äú10th Fleet,‚ÄĚ in name harkens back to ADM Greenert‚Äôs example of the rise of sub-surface warfare. From the military‚Äôs fears over an assassin‚Äôs mace style EMP attack to the public‚Äôs obsession in movies like Live Free, Die Hard and games like Black Ops 2, the awareness is more than there. While we may have recognized this new environment, ADM Greenert is right in that we have not taken this challenge to heart. If forces are going to operate as if the EM-Cyber spectrum is a domain of warfare, they must act as they would in the physical battlefield on the tactical level, not just the strategic: take cover, stay organized, and interrupt the enemy‚Äôs OODA loop.
They have been quiet recently – but you can’t count them out, so Somali pirates are discussed this week on Midrats in Episode 170: “Stolen Seas: Tales of Somali Piracy”:
We have heard from industry, military leaders, Marines, and private security providers, this Sunday we are going to look at piracy at a more personal level with director Thymaya Payne of the documentary, “Stolen Seas: Tales of Somali Piracy.”
He will be our guest for the full hour.
The filmmakers have spent the past three years traveling to some of the world’s most violent locales in order to make this documentary on Somali piracy, Stolen Seas. Utilizing exclusive interviews and unparalleled access to real pirates, hostages, hostages’ relatives, ship-owners, pirate negotiators and experts on piracy and international policy, Stolen Seas presents a chilling exploration of the Somali pirate phenomenon.
The film throws the viewer, through audio recordings and found video, right into the middle of the real-life hostage negotiation of a Danish shipping vessel, the CEC Future. As the haggling between the ship’s stoic owner Per Gullestrup, and the pirate’s loquacious negotiator, Ishmael Ali, drags on for 70 days, these two adversaries’ relationship takes an unexpected turn and an unlikely friendship is born.
Stolen Seas is an eye opening refutation of preconceived ideas on how or why piracy has become the world’s most frightening multi-million dollar growth industry.
Join us live (or download later) here at 5pm Sunday, 7 Apr 13.
In a recent post at AOL Defense, I examine Congress‚Äôs role in the problem of excessive overhead within the Department of Defense. Because of a series of legislative actions dating back to 1947, the bureaucracy within the Department of Defense has grown unwieldy and draws scare resources away from the warfighter. Given the current fiscal problems facing the nation and the American public‚Äôs waning support for defense spending, now is the time to reconsider some fundamental issues pertaining to the organization and management of the military forces of the United States.
From the start, a goal of the National Security Act of 1947 was to make the military more efficient and effective. The first Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, wrote to President Truman after the Key West Conference in 1948 stressing the need to integrate policy and procedures throughout the military in order to produce an effective, economical, harmonious businesslike organization.
It seems inevitable when the fiscal environment wanes toward austerity that there are calls for reducing forward presence in those regions of the world that concern us most. Some have argued that our forward presence is too expensive in relation to the immediate threat. They would advocate pulling back our deployed maritime forces and allowing our allies to take on a greater share of their own defense. These critics further imply that the Navy is deployed everywhere, all the time, without a clear mission other than simply being out and about.
Does the Navy have a counterargument to this view, and if so how do we characterize it? The U.S. Navy has long maintained that our strategic value to the Nation is predicated on our ability to operate forward. We have long used the phrase forward presence to emphasize this posture and convey both a robust operational tempo and a readiness for any crisis. We characterize it within our Maritime Strategy as a ‚Äúcore capability.‚ÄĚ1
Carriers started off as fleet auxiliaries a century ago, scouting and screening for the battle line, before taking their place as the chief repository of U.S. Navy striking power during World War II. The CVN could trace the same trajectory followed by the battleships‚ÄĒfrom capital ship, to expensive fleet auxiliary, and into eventual obsolescence and retirement.
Why is he thinking this way?
This is a milieu populated not just by adversary cruisers and destroyers, but
Old “Silkworm” Anti-Ship Missiles
by missile-toting subs and fast patrol craft. This is also an age of land-based sea power. Extended-range fire support has come a long way since the days of Corbett and Mahan, when a fort‚Äôs guns could clear enemy vessels out of a few miles of offshore waters, and that was it. Tactical aircraft flying from airfields ashore, batteries of antiship cruise missiles, and even an exotic antiship ballistic missile are among the weaponry with which U.S. Navy defenders must now contend. This latter-day, hybrid land/sea flotilla menaces not just CVNs but all surface forces that venture within its range.
|Modern Iranian Chinese C-801/2 Dispenser|
Actually, it is a return to the old days, when Lord Nelson’s adage “A ship’s a fool to fight a fort” was the wisdom of the day.
Anti-access weapons and capability have just added to their range, as land-based powers seek to convert their “near seas” into safe, controlled space.
What does it mean if Professor Holmes is right?
I would suggest starting with building up the submarine fleet. A slew of diesel/AIP boats would be good (in theory, cheaper than nukes). Or something different – submersible missile hydrofoil ships? Break out the old Tom Swift books and see if anything makes sense.
I should also note that one of the original arguments for something like the Littoral Combat Ship was that it was an inexpensive asset that could be put in harm’s way . . . to keep the sea lanes open among other things.
The U.S. Navy needs to be very careful to the avoid the hammer/nail approach to problem solving.
As the budget cuts kick in – I’m having a few flashbacks to the 1990s “peace dividend” era. The key to getting through this process is communication. It takes away some of the uncertainty, and in a way it focuses attention to priorities. It is always interesting, and instructive, to see how different organizations start the process of thinking about what should and should not get the cut.
Via the SalamanderUnderground, the following notes from a Chief of Naval Personnel recent all-hands call is helpful, and adds a bit to Ryan’s post from the 21st.
VADM Van Buskirk’s MT&E priorities are to STABILIZE (at 320,000 personnel), BALANCE (overmanned and undermanned ratings) and DISTRIBUTE (between sea and shore) the workforce. Sailors need to be ASSIGNABLE, DEPLOYABLE and DISTRIBUTABLE in order to meet the Chief of Naval Operations tenets to be WARFIGHTERS FIRST, OPERATE FORWARD and BE READY.
In order to meet these goals, his emphasis is to attack undermanned ratings and increase the quality of recruits as currently evident on entry level exam scores. Quality of recruits is key to keep apprised and abreast of technological changes. He noted that Perform to Serve (PTS) is at 90 percent acceptable in-rate quotas with averages at over 95 percent over the last four months. Retention is historically high but a continued focus is on resiliency of the force. He indicated continued FY funding for sailor support and family readiness programs.
Q&A session discussion included impact of sequestration/CR regarding as well as the following topics:
- USN continuation of tuition assistance (TA) through this FY (all other Services have curtailed this benefit). 45 thousand sailors are recipients of TA with over 90 percent receiving degrees.
- Possible changes in advancement to include consideration of multiple scores such as sea duty.
- Priority of Cyber training but fiscal pressures including civilian furloughs may slow training pipelines.
- Attack undermanned rates with new accessions. YTD have had 41,000 new accessions. Previous years were approximately 35,000-37,000. Looking at a summer surge of recruits.
- Provision of health care with possible civilian furloughs requiring referrals to civilian specialists in town. Possible contributory payments for pharmacy co-pays and increased retiree payment for Tricare for Life.
- Discussion of option to obtain NECs on-line leveraging technology for training. Limitations include current training infrastructure and classification limitations.
- Active duty IAs (except for specific specialties such as dog handling) will be transferred to reserve component. Expect closure of Gulfport MS and other IA training centers.
- STA-21 IW program closed this year. Accession options adjusted based on ROTC, OCS and related accession pipelines. Look for adjustments in future cycles.
- Number one priority is stabilizing the work force ensuring proper distribution and balance. Cross deck sailors may receive special pays and other incentives.
This is going on throughout the Navy and other services. As budgets continue to contract, expect to see more and more of this.
Priorities; time to rack-n-stack ‘em.
There is a fair bit of talk about the rush for the arctic for economic and strategic reasons – and where there is international interest on the seas, the nations involved need to think about what is the best way to secure their interests.
While the initial thought might be Navy – is the natural answer really the Coast Guard? If the USCG is the right answer, is it trained, manned and equipped for the job?
What does it need to do in order to fulfill its role – and why may it be the best answer to the question – who will show the flag up north?
Our guest this Sunday for the full hour from 5-6pm EST will be U.S. Naval War College Associate Professor James R. Holmes. As a starting point for our conversation, we will use his latest article in Foreign Policy: America Needs a Coast Guard That Can Fight: As the Arctic becomes an arena for conflict, the United States‚Äô forgotten naval force will need to cowboy up.
Join us live or later by going to Midrats on BTR or picking up the show later from our iTunes page (lately there has been some delay in getting the show to iTunes, though, and the link may require iTunes).
I can hear the backlash from that title from here. However, before you put me in a position to be stoned by the masses I’d like to make my case and open the floor to your thoughts too.
My military service has been good to me. I have fairly good healthcare, I get paid well, I’ve learned a lot of life skills, and my jobs haven’t been all that bad either. I’m sure we can all agree that our education benefits over the last ten years or so have been rather awesome too. As a matter of perspective, if not an admission, I was able to pay for about 90 percent of my bacholor degree by way of tuition assistance (TA) while serving in the Coast Guard.
As a one-time Education Services Officer and full time education evangelist I can say that TA was an awesome tool. Times were great, until March 1st, 2013 came and messed that all up.
The deed known as Sequestration became a reality at the beginng of this month and immediately started changing things. From travel to schools and conferences in between life as I/we knew it had begun to alter.
In the Coast Guard alone our operational budget had to be cut by some 25 percent. As I actually type that out it doesn’t seem too bad. That is, until I remember that the word “operational” means search and rescue, among other things. As a measure to ensure the Coast Guard is able to continue saving lives and protecting the nations shores our leaders had to look around to find ways to fill that 25% gap with “non-operational” funds. It’s no surprise that TA was eliminated. I am surprised, however, it didn’t happen sooner if only as a cost saving measure.
Over the last year, give or take, the question of when/if TA is going to be cut or reduced had been broached by many. Though I had no official word from higher authority my gut told me it was in trouble; with or without sequestration. Nonetheless, in the end four of the five military services, USCG included, killed their TA funding.
Aside from obvious fiscal savings- the act of dropping TA may be a subliminal tactic to keep only the best and the brightest in the ranks of our military. I don’t think you’ll actually hear anyone comment on that nor do I think it was a real reason to drop it. However, one has to remember that TA was not only a awesome deal but a recruiting and retentention tool too. How better to thin the ranks outside of the avenues already being taken?
So this leads me to why this ordeal is good. As mentioned this may be a way for the Coast Guard, and others, to retain only the best of their service, or at least the best educated. From my personal observations, with no real data to back it up, I’ve noticed that most of our senior Enlisted folks, as well as most Officers above O-2, hold some sort of degree or are perusing such. With the TA program currently dismissed, and the next fiscal year expected to bring only a fraction of the funds back for use, only those who are truly dedicated will get their education on their own dime*.
As I understand it NAVADMIN 263/04 (the link is broken to the actual message) from the Navy states, in so many words, that beginning in fiscal year 2011 an associate degree or equivalent that is rating-relevant will be a prerequisite for advancement to senior chief petty officer for active and reserve personnel. If this were true across all services then only the best educated would be the leaders.
It’s true that an education doesn’t mean you’re going to be a great leader but one has to admit that if we were required to get a degree in our specialty our military would be better for. We don’t need a retained workforce, we need an educated workforce to move forward in today’s world.
So the removal, or reduction, of tuition assistance will allow the Coast Guard to keep only the best and brightest in its ranks. If they were to go one step further and require certain degrees for certain jobs or certain ranks then we could truly be one of the best educated fighting nations in the world.
Does removal tuition assistance suck? Yes. But will it help the Coast Guard and other services in the long run? Also yes, if it is leveraged correctly.
Any thoughts on the matter?
Update 22 March 2013: The Coast Guard also reinstated its TA (http://www.uscgnews.com/go/doc/4007/1732873/)
* Rumors are tuition assistance in the Coast Guard is going to be back, but not nearly as robust as it once was.