Archive for May, 2009

Now this is the Cliff’s Notes version of a turnover as Commander Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.

Outgoing COM SHAPE, General Craddock – take it away!

A top NATO leader says the alliance’s politicians are effectively absent without leave in the battle against Afghan insurgents.

General John Craddock, the outgoing Supreme Allied Commander, was referring to the fact that countries such as Canada, the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands are doing most of the fighting in Afghanistan’s most dangerous regions.

“I’m probably being harsh here, but I also believe that much of this is due to the fact that political leadership in NATO is AWOL,” the U. S. Army general told the Atlantic Council of the United States.

Yes, I can hear you, yes Great Caesar – give us more!

More fundamentally, the Alliance has not kept its promises. It has not come close to funding the objectives it set for itself in 2006, upon taking control of the mission, and it is clear that the domestic political interests of NATO member states have been paramount over Alliance goals — even though said goals were achieved through painstaking consensus building. Craddock understands that political leaders in democracies have to consider public opinion. At the same time, however, he said “It’s the job of leaders to persuade the citizenry” on important foreign policy goals and that “often, this has not been the case.”

Sigh – truth always comes too late. Part of that truth is many nations in the Alliance only contribute enough to get their flag on a pole outside HQ ISAF in Kabul so they can claim to be part of it.

Many don’t, in numbers or through caveats, do enough to really contribute so, in the case it fails, they can simple blame the USA. All the benefits of being in a coalition – with none of the responsibility.

Go grab a fresh cup of coffee and watch the below. This is a great primer.

Watch Video:

Next Monday I’ll post some of my personal thoughts on my home blog what I see as changing in Afghanistan WRT the Alliance’s relationship to the USA. Things are changing – and I don’t think anyone with an Atlantist bent to their ideas will like it. The political of you will enjoy the Schadenfreude nature of it.


The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is one of the principal means by which the tenets of the National Defense Strategy are translated into potentially new policies, capabilities and initiatives. The QDR will set a long-term course for DoD to follow and will provide a strategic framework for DoD’s annual program, force development, force management, and corporate support mechanisms. Several very important decisions have been pushed from the budget to the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) for both the Navy and the Marine Corps. Unlike the Navy, budget cuts leading into the FY 2010 budget year did not predetermine several major, outstanding questions for the Marine Corps. At the top of the list is the specific role of Amphibious Assault, a capability question that will drive just about every major outstanding question surrounding the Marine Corps.

It is often highlighted the US Marine Corps has not conducted an amphibious assault since the Korean War, although technically this is not true. The Marine Corps has conducted 4 amphibious assaults in just the last 2 decades, which are among the 104 amphibious operations between the years 1990-2009. In two parts I list out the 104 amphibious operations conducted by the Marine Corps, earlier with the 66 amphibious operations between 1990 – 1999, and part two with the 38 operations between 2000 – 2009.

On the face of it, 2000 looks like a slow year with only 2 new amphibious operations. DETERMINED RESPONSE was a support operation in response to the bombing of the USS Cole in October by the 13th MEU(SOC), but the 13th MEU(SOC) was previously operating off East Timor supporting a UN humanitarian operation from September 14th-16th. The Marines only count operation STABILISE in East Timor once, beginning in 1999, but in 2000 the USS Juneau and the Bonhomme Richard ARG with the 15th MEU(SOC) supported operations in East Timor from January until March. The Marines list 6 ships operating as part of operation STABILISE in 2000, even thought operation STABILISE is counted in 1999 and not 2000.

The humanitarian mission to East Timor begun by the 13th MEU(SOC) in 2000 is not counted in 2001, but in 2001 the 11th MEU(SOC) supported that mission in April while the 15th MEU(SOC) supported that operation in September. The Marines count 5 new amphibious operations in 2001, all of them as part of operation ENDURING FREEDOM beginning in October when the Marines secured several airfields in Pakistan. Other operations conducted by the 15th MEU include the recovery of an Army UH-60 on October 20th, a strike operation on November 3rd in Afghanistan, and the 400 mile overland amphibious assault into Afghanistan conducted on November 25th. The 26th MEU(SOC) also conducted an operation into Afghanistan beginning on December 4th. In total the Marines list 5 amphibious operations in 2001.

2002 began with operation ANACONDA in March by ACE, 13th MEU. The Marines also list a strike operation as part of ENDURING FREEDOM conducted by the 22nd MEU(SOC)/ARG on July 5th. On September 19th the 24th MEU(SOC)/ARG conducted operation DYNAMIC RESPONSE in Kosovo, which was followed on October 28th with an operation by the 24th MEU(SOC)/ARG in Djibouti. The Marines list an operation including USS Mount Whitney around the Horn of Africa beginning on November 13th, but it is listed as a very generic ‘combating terrorism’ operation. In total, the Marine Corps list 5 amphibious operations in 2002.

In 2003 the Marines list a total of 7 amphibious operations, 6 of which are part of operation IRAQI FREEDOM. In total 17 ships are listed in three separate operations as a contingency for amphibious assault operations between February 16th and March 5th. On March 20 – 21 the Marines count two amphibious assault operations against Basra, by the 15th MEU(SOC) and the UK 3 Commando Brigade under the tactical control of I MEF. On March 28th the 24th MEU(SOC) conducted a reinforcement operation for IRAQI FREEDOM, and on April 15th – May 1st the 26th MEU(SOC) /ARG conducted a humanitarian support operation in Mosul. Finally as part of IRAQI FREEDOM, on October 13th the 13th MEU(SOC)/ARG conducted a humanitarian assistance operation on Al-Faw Peninsula. Lost behind the scenes, 4 ships participated in the embassy support and evacuation operation in Monrovia, Liberia in June, and again from August-October.

From February 23rd through June 25th, 2004 4th MEB/MAGTF-8 supported peacekeeping operations in Haiti for operation SECURE TOMORROW. From July to November the Belleau Wood ESG was involved in nation assistance and MIO in the Persian Gulf, including strike operations from Harriers in July. From December 7th – 20th th 3rd MEB responded to tropical storms in the Philippines. In late December, the 15th MEU(SOC)/Bonhomme Richard ARG, 9th ESB, USS Essex, USS Ft McHenry supported operation UNIFIED ASSISTANCE, the humanitarian assistance and disaster response operation to the devastating Southeast Asian Tsunami. There were 4 amphibious operations in 2004.

The first part of 2005 consisted mostly of follow up for UNIFIED ASSISTANCE, not counted in 2005 as any additional operations. Also in 2005 the USS Saipan supported a humanitarian operation in Haiti from February to May, and on October 8th the Tarawa ESG supported humanitarian operations in Pakistan following a devastating earthquake. The only other operation in 2005 was the 5 amphibious ships that responded to Hurricane Katrina. There were 3 amphibious operations in 2005.

On February 19th, 2006 the Essex ARG with the 31st MEU and 3rd MEB CE responded to a landslide in Leyte, Philippines for a humanitarian assistance/disaster response operation. Later in 2006, the 24th MEU and the Iwo Jima ARG, plus USS Trenton responded to embassy evacuation in Lebanon during the Hezbollah/Israeli war of 2006. From Feb-Aug the USS Peleliu and 11th MEU conducted strikes in Iraq, followed on September 9th – 12th with the Iwo Jima ARG and 24th MEU also conducting strike operations in Iraq. Beginning in November 2006 and lasting through November of 2007 the Boxer ARG/15th MEU and later the Bonhomme Richard ARG/13th MEU supported reinforcement operations in Al Anbar, Iraq. The Marines list the work of both ARGs as a single operation. Finally in December three ships supported the 31st MEU in a humanitarian response operation to the Philippines following Typhoon Durian. There were 6 amphibious operations in 2006.

From January to June 2007 the Bataan ARG/26th MEU conducted security operations around the Horn of Africa. Beginning in August the USS Kearsarge supported by the 22nd MEU conducted strike operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Marines list the strikes of the USS Kearsarge twice, once for each war theater supported. Following Cyclone Sidr, the Kearsarge ARG/22nd MEU and later the Tarawa ARG/11th MEU, as well as other Marine units, supported SEA ANGEL II, a humanitarian assistance/disaster response operation to Bangladesh. While there were several overlapping operations continuous for long periods of time, there were only 4 unique amphibious operations conducted in 2007.

In 2008 the Essex ARG responded to Myanmar for CARING RESPONSE following the Typhoon there. From May-November in 2008 the Peleliu ESG supported strike operations in Iraq. These were the only two amphibious operations in 2008.

There have been no amphibious operations to date in 2009.

From 2000 – 2009 the Marine Corps conducted 38 amphibious operations including 3 amphibious assaults, 8 strike operations, and 27 other operations ranging from HA/DR, maritime interdiction, or embassy evacuation. I’ll be discussing the Marine Corps leading up to the QDR all week over at my blog Information Dissemination.

Posted by galrahn in Marine Corps | 6 Comments

Some pictures of the USAF South Band playing to audiences in St. John’s Antigua. They are great practitioners of music diplomacy. I look forward to seeing them perform again in the near future.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Soft Power | 1 Comment

It appears that second-time around worked for the North Koreans:

SEOUL (AFP) — North Korea carried out a second and more powerful nuclear test, defying international pressure to rein in its atomic programmes after years of six-nation disarmament talks. The hardline communist state, which stunned the world by testing an atomic bomb for the first time in October 2006, had threatened another test after the UN Security Council censured it for a long-range rocket launch in April. The North “successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defence in every way,” the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. “The current nuclear test was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology,” it said. The force of the blast was between 10 and 20 kilotons, according to Russia’s defence ministry quoted by news agencies, vastly more than the estimated one kiloton blast three years ago.

While the Russians have historically over-estimated yields in their previous assessments, it is probably safe to say that the yield will fall around 10kt, more than surpassing 2006’s fizzle @ 1/2 kt. Better refinement should come with independent verification by US and other international sources in the coming days.

And now all the chips are on the table. China has been vocal about not desiring to see North Korea armed with nukes and it has been the principal intermediary at the Six Party talks on behalf of the North Koreans. By far, it is the major supplier of energy resources to the North, keeping them from literally going dark. What will China do besides verbally condemn? Support full sanctions against the DPRK or block such a move? What about the Russians? Push-back expected on any measures beyond strong verbal condemnation in the Security Council? To be sure, expect one or both to forward the argument that harsher penalties will be “unproductive” and lead to greater instability in the region (read: China is afraid of provoking collapse of the DPRK government and subsequent rush of refugees across its borders into China). What of South Korea and Japan? The DPRK’s on-gong missile tests, which have continued in the face of similar vocal condemnation and in spite of international agreements like the Missile Technology Control Regime or the International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, have energized Japan’s missile defense efforts – will a successful DPRK nuclear test now result in a Japan that feels it must either develop its own nuclear weapons as a counter? Undertake a more offensively oriented military? How assured can/should the Japanese be about any U.S. guarantees via extension of its nuclear umbrella?

Unstated in the initial uproar is this little gem — with a demonstrated proclivity towards proliferation whoring, particularly with Iran, what does this say about the future of nuclear arms control and non-proliferation? Were the parallel tests of an alleged new SRBM today demonstration of a nuclear capable missile? How close to a weaponized form was today’s test? What are the implications for increased instability in other regions that are faced with their own issues of nuclear proliferation (viz. Israel-Iran)?

It’s 0300 and somewhere there’s a phone ringing…

Update: More yield estimates coming in based on seismic activity. Looking like yield may have been between 4-5 kt. More here.

The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is one of the principal means by which the tenets of the National Defense Strategy are translated into potentially new policies, capabilities and initiatives. The QDR will set a long-term course for DoD to follow and will provide a strategic framework for DoD’s annual program, force development, force management, and corporate support mechanisms. Several very important decisions have been pushed from the budget to the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) for both the Navy and the Marine Corps. Unlike the Navy, budget cuts leading into the FY 2010 budget year did not predetermine several major, outstanding questions for the Marine Corps. At the top of the list is the specific role of Amphibious Assault, a capability question that will drive just about every major outstanding question surrounding the Marine Corps.

It is often highlighted the US Marine Corps has not conducted an amphibious assault since the Korean War, although technically this is not true. The Marine Corps has conducted 4 amphibious assaults in just the last 2 decades, which are among the 104 amphibious operations between the years 1990-2009. In two parts I list out the 104 amphibious operations conducted by the Marine Corps, beginning with the 66 amphibious operations between 1990 – 1999.

In 1990 the Marines conducted 8 amphibious operations. Operation TOP KICK was conducted from February 6-16 providing a sea based presence operation off Cartegena, Columbia with MAGTF 1-90. From July 17 – September 18, MAGTF 4-90 conducted MUD PACK, a humanitarian assistance/humanitarian response operation off Luzon, Philippines. In October the the Marines conducted three amphibious operations consisting of maritime interdiction operations/VBSS associated with UN resolution 661 with the 13th MEU(SOC)/ARG off Al Mutanabbi, Al Bahar, and Amuriyah. Five ships were utilized in all three operations. From November 15-21 the 4th MEU/PHIBGRU 2 consisting of 12 ships conducted the amphibious operation IMMINENT THUNDER as a show of force operation off Saudi Arabia. This was followed by a second show of force operation from December 8-18 with the 4th MEU / PHIBGRU 2 also consisting of 12 ships in SEA SOLDIER III near Ras Al Madrakah.

The first amphibious operation in 1991 was EASTERN EXIT, the noncombat evacuation operation conducted by USS Guam and USS Trenton with the evacuation of the embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia. From January – March USS Tripoli, and later USS New Orleans after Tripoli hit a mine, supported mine clearance operations in the Persian Gulf in support of operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. From January 23 – February 2nd 25 ships supported 4th & 5th MEBs/PHIBGRUs 2 & 3 in Ras Al Madrakah for SEA SOLDIER IV, a show of force operation. On January 29th 5 ships conducted operation DESERT STING, an often overlooked amphibious raid on Umm Al Maridim Island. On February 24th BLT 3/1 (5th MEB) conducted an amphibious assault in Al Wafrah “gap” during operation DESERT STORM. On February 25th 5 ships with the 13th MEU(SOC)/ARG participated in an amphibious demonstration at Ash Shuaybah as part of operation DESERT STORM, followed by two more amphibious demonstrations on February 26 with 4th MEB/PHIBGRU 2 consisting of three ships on Bubiyan Island and 1 ship at Faylakah Island. On March 1st 5 ships carrying the 13th MEU(SOC)/ARG conducted another amphibious raid on Faylak ah Island as part of operation DESERT STORM. Following the impact of Cyclone Marian, 7 ships carrying the 5th MEB conduct a humanitarian assistance/disaster response mission to Bangladesh in operation SEA ANGEL from May 15-29. Another humanitarian assistance mission, PROVIDE COMFORT in Turkey and Northern Iraq, was conducted by 3 ships with the 24th MEU(SOC)/ARG from April 7th through July 15th. From June 12-28, 3 ships carrying the 15th MEU/ARG respond in a humanitarian assistance/disaster response operation FIERY VIGIL to Mt. Pinatubo, Philippines. Finally beginning November 1991 and lasting through May 1993 USS Tortuga and other Marine forces respond to Haiti & Guantanamo Bay for humanitarian assistance in ABLE MANNER/SAFE HARBOR. In 1991 the Marines conducted 13 amphibious operations for the year.

In 1992 the Marines count seven amphibious operations, beginning with NORTHERN WATCH/SOUTHERN WATCH enforcing the no-fly zone and maritime interdiction operations in Iraq. Lasting until March 1993, several rotating ESG/ARGs participated in the operation. On April 13th the 24th MEU with three ships responded to Sicily in a disaster relief operation called HOT ROCK. On August 3rd the 11th MEU conducted a show of force operation in Kuwait that lasted until August 19th, when the 11th MEU was shifted to the coast of Kenya and Somalia to support the humanitarian operation PROVIDE RELIEF. The 11th MEU conducted PROVIDE RELIEF until February of 1993. Beginning in July of 1993 various MEU/ARGs began a maritime interdiction and no fly zone enforcement operation with several names over the years including DENY FLIGHT/SHARP GUARD/PROVIDE PROMISE/JOINT GUARD/DELIBERATE GUARD in the Adriatic Sea. On September 3rd, the 26th MEU supported a recovery operation for an Italian aircraft called PROVIDE PROMISE in Bosnia. Finally, in December the 15th MEU launched operation RESTORE HOPE, the humanitarian assistance mission to Somalia. The 15th MEU operated in theater until May 1993

In June 1993 the 24th MEU supported operation SUSTAIN HOPE in Somalia, a show of force humanitarian operation that was also supported by rotating MEU/ARGs from May 1993 – May 1994 called operation CONTINUE HOPE. In August 1993 BLT 3/8 supported by a 3 ship ARG responded to a disaster response mission (firefighting) in Tunisia. Beginning in September 1993 rotating ARGs conducted operation SUPPORT DEMOCRACY in Haiti through September 1994. There were 4 amphibious operations in 1993.

In April 1994 the a 3 ship ARG with the 11th MEU conducted an embassy evacuation in Bujumbura, Burundi called DISTANT RUNNER. Between August and October the Tripoli ARG supported the 15th MEU(SOC) in a humanitarian assistance and disaster response mission called SUPPORT HOPE to Rwanda & Uganda. In September, the 3 ship Wasp ARG conducted an intervention operation called RESTORE DEMOCRACY in Haiti. Finally, in October and November of 1994 the 15th MEU(SOC)/ARG deterrence and support mission for Kuwait called VIGILANT WARRIOR. There were 4 amphibious operations in 1994.

March 1-3, 1995 six ships of the Belleau Wood and Essex ARGs supported the amphibious withdrawal of UN forces from Somalia in UNITED SHIELD. On June 8th the Kearsarge ARG with the 24th MEU conducted operation DENY FLIGHT in Bosnia, the recovery operation of F-16 pilot Captain Scott O’Grady. In August and September the USS Kearsarge conducted strikes in Bosnia called operation DELIBERATE FORCE. In August the New Orleans ARG conducted a deterrence/support operation for Kuwait called VIGILANT SENTINEL. Beginning in November of 1995 several rotating ARGs supported JOINT ENDEAVOR, a Dayton Accord enforcement operation in the Adriatic/Balkans. There were 5 amphibious operations in 1995.

In 1996 Guam ARG was involved in two embassy security and evacuation operations. The first, ASSURED RESPONSE, began on April 20th off Liberia and the second, QUICK RESPONSE, began May 31 in support of the Central African Republic. Both operations were conducted until August, and there were the only 2 amphibious operations in 1996.

In March of 1997, the Marines got the call to be a global 911 force. From March 13 – March 27 3 ships supporting the 26th MEU conducted operation SILVER WAKE, providing security and evacuating the embassy in Tiranna, Albania. On March 22 the 22nd MEU was repositioned near Kinshasa, Zaire to support a potential embassy evacuation there in GUARDIAN RETRIEVAL. From May 2nd through June 5th the 26th MEU was stage at Brazzavile for the same operation. Despite multiple dynamics for that operation, the Marines only count GUARDIAN RETRIEVAL as a single operation. Prior to becoming involved in GUARDIAN RETRIVAL, three ships supporting the 26th MEU(SOC) were paired with three ships supporting the 13th MEU in the Persian Gulf to provide maritime interdiction operations supporting UN inspectors for Iraq. From May 20th – May 30th the Belleau Wood ARG with the 31st MEU supported BEVEL INCLINE, a contingency embassy evacuation operation near Jakarta, Indonesia. From May 29th – June 5th the Kearsarge ARG positioned for NOBEL OBELISK, the embassy evacuation in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Finally in November the 13th MEU provided security for the Mideast – North African Conference in Dohar, Qatar for operation SILENT ASSURANCE. In total there were 6 amphibious operations in 1997.

In February 1998 the Guam ARG supported deterrence and support operations for UN weapons inspectors in the Middle East. Between March 25th and April 6th, the Wasp ARG supported the 26th MEU in DYNAMIC RESPONSE in what the Marines call a nation assistance operation in Bosnia. On June 6th the Tarawa ARG and 11th MEU conducted SAFE DEPARTURE, an embassy evacuation operation from Asmara, Eritrea. Beginning on June 14th, the Wasp ARG and 26th MEU conducted multiple operations simultaneously in Bosnia-Herzegovina including the show of force operation DETERMINED FALCON, the peace enforcement operation JOINT FORGE, the maritime interdiction component of the operation DETERMINED FORGE, and the no-fly zone enforcement operation DELIBERATE FORGE. All of the operations conducted by the three ships of the Wasp ARG and the 26th MEU during this time period are counted as a single amphibious operation. In August the Saipan ARG and 22nd MEU was split to support 2 operations, the first by the Saipan was AUTUMN SHELTER, the embassy evacuation operation in Kinshasa, Congo from August 10-16. From August 17th – November 15th the rest of the ARG supported embassy security operation in Albania called RESOLVE RESOLUTE. From September 25th – October 5th the Essex ARG and 15th MEU supported SOUTHERN WATCH in Kuwait, the no-fly zone enforcement in the region. On October 7th the USS Bataan responded to Hurricane Georges Puerto Rico & U.S. Virgin Islands for the disaster response and humanitarian assistance mission FUNDAMENTAL RELIEF. Beginning on November 7th, the 15th MEU with the three ship Essex ARG and then supported by the three ship Belleau Wood ARG and 31st MEU on November 15th, the Marines supported DESERT THUNDER in Kuwait. On the 16th of December the Belleau Wood ARG split to support two operations, the first was DESERT FOX, the WMD strike operation against Iraq while the other ships of the ARG supported the embassy in Kuwait. There were 12 amphibious operations in 1998.

On April 5th, 1999 the Nassau ARG and 24th MEU supported humanitarian assistance to the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. On April 15th, the USS Nassau conducted NOBLE ANVIL, a strike operation in Yugoslavia. From April 30th – August, the Kearsarge ARG and 26th MEU conducted peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance operations in Albania with operation SHINING HOPE, also known by its NATO name ALLIED HARBOUR. Beginning in June 10th and lasting until July 6th, the 26th MEU conducted JOINT GUARDIAN in Macedonia, the initial entry operations for KFOR peacekeeping operations. On August 19th – September 10th, the Kearsarge ARG responded in AVID RESPONSE with a humanitarian and disaster response operation to the earthquake in Istanbul, Turkey. From September 30th – October 26th the Belleau Wood ARG and 31st MEU supported STABILISE in East Timor, followed by the Peleliu ARG and 11th MEU from November 1st – December 7th in the same operation. There were 6 amphibious operations in 1999.

From 1990 – 1999 conducted 66 amphibious operations including 1 amphibious assault, 2 amphibious raids, 1 amphibious withdrawal, 3 amphibious demonstrations, 11 strike operations, and 48 other operations ranging from HA/DR, maritime interdiction, or embassy evacuation. Stand by for amphibious operations 2000 – 2009 and I’ll be discussing the Marine Corps leading up to the QDR all week over at my blog Information Dissemination.

Posted by galrahn in Marine Corps | 12 Comments
BZ to the Dutch Onboard USNS COMFORT

The first team of Dutch personnel pictured above departed COMFORT on 14 May.

The Netherlands is one of the many partner nations of Continuing Promise ’09 and have committed to have a team of medical personnel onboard USNS COMFORT for the entire duration of the 4-month, 7-nation humanitarian deployment to the Caribbean and Latin America. They plan on doing so by dispatching 3 teams of personnel that will serve onboard COMFORT for approximately 6-7 weeks at a time.

According to CDR. Tom Donahue, MC, USN and COMFORT’s Director of Surgery, the Dutch handled “more cases as a group than any other service. They thought us a lot. I know we learned alot.”

They were onboard COMFORT for the first three stops of CP 09 which were Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Antigua & Barbuda. During this time, they performed approximately 23% of all the surgeries onboard COMFORT. Moreover, they worked so well together as a team that everyone thought they had all worked together for years in the Netherlands. In reality, they had all first met as a group at the airport. 

BZ to the Netherlands for sending such a fine team to USNS COMFORT!

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Soft Power | 8 Comments

Status of the Navy

May 2009


A trio of C-Span presentations made at a Hudson Institute forum that are worth watching. Takes about 3 hours:

Status of the Navy:

Particular attention should be paid to James Clad’s presentation starting about 30 minutes in. And Aaron Friedberg’s comments following. The theme is the long term effects of a decline in U.S. maritime capability in the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans. The post presentation Q&A discusses the “surprise” we are experiencing with China’s rapid increase in potential power. And the perceived lack of U.S. Navy presence in the area. Has China already limited our access to the Strait of Taiwan and the South China Sea?

Retired admiral and current U.S. Rep Sestak (D. PA) presentation on the status of the Navy:

Capability vs. numbers of units. Interesting discussion re maneuverable ballistic anti-ship missiles and ABM Aegis ships about 43 minutes in. He likes the LCS about 47 minutes in. Except there is a problem with module shifting. And he does peg the Navy’s pending lack of heavy lift helos when the H-53s go bye-bye. The H-60 cannot replace the lift that the H-3 and H-53s had.

Former SecNav John Lehman here at the same event:

“We should look like we know what we’re doing.” Telling the U.S. merchant fleet that it’s not the Navy’s job to provide freedom of the sea, even against Somali pirates in small skiffs, isn’t sending the right message. The Chinese don’t believe we can project sufficient force, perhaps with some reason. And we are not managing procurement well.

My thoughts:

  1. Capability based solely on models is a dangerous path;
  2. Hard to send one ship, no matter how capable, to 2 different locations at the same time;
  3. Numbers do matter;
  4. When the nation is involved in land wars, the Navy needs to continually speak up loudly about the importance of the U.S. being a maritime nation.

Update: Yes, the program was titled, “The Future of the Navy” or something by CSpan. Hudson advertised it as, “‘Don’t Give Up the Ships — A Look at a 200-Ship Navy”


UPDATE: Interesting discussion:

I was also interested to hear the Chief of Naval Operations state yesterday, at the Full Committee hearing, that the Navy still intends to maintain a minimum of 313 ships. It had begun to sound as if the Secretary of Defense, in his Foreign Affairs article, and the Navy, in its budget roll out, were beginning to back away from that number. It was not clear to me how the Navy planned to implement the joint Maritime Strategy, with its emphasis on forward presence, if the Navy intended to accept fewer ships. A ship can only be in one place at once and today’s fleet is the smallest it has been for nearly one hundred years.

Quote is from Rep. Todd Akin (R., Mo.)

Posted by Mark Tempest in Navy | 9 Comments

In addition to all of the medical personnel onboard USNS Comfort, there are 21 Seabees from Construction Batallion Maintenance Unit 202 (CBMU 202) out of Washington, DC and Little Creek, VA.

During the course of my visit to USNS COMFORT in Antigua & Barbuda, I was able to spend the morning with them at a local hospital where they were renovating the women’s barracks. On the day I visited them, it was their next to last day at the work site.

The Seabees gutted the interior of the building down to the studs and installed new doors, windows, flooring, electrical system, and light fixtures. On the exterior, they painted the entire building, installed new gutters, and dug up and replaced 130 feet of gray water lines. About the only thing left intact on the structure was the roof – everything else was renovated by CBMU 202.

The whole project was estimated to have cost $250,000. Besides providing the Seabees with some great rate training on the island of 365 beaches (which they hardly ever saw), the U.S. Navy joined forces with Rotary International and Antigua & Barbuda’s Public Works Department on this project. The local Rotary contributed more than $60,000 for this project which went towards the flooring and new bathroom and showers. Antigua & Barbuda’s Public Works Department was on hand to receive some invaluable training from our Seabees in addition to follow-on projects after the Seabees have departed Antigua & Barbuda.

Here are some pics of them at work on a women’s barracks at a local hospital in St. John’s, Antigua.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Soft Power | No Comments
Timeline: SUNDAY, 24 MAY 1942USN – Carriers Hornet and Enterprise move towards Pearl Harbor, where they will quickly be refitted and sent to Midway. The Japanese preparing to attack Midway mistakenly believe these carriers are in the Solomons.

Geography: Midway Atoll is part of a chain of volcanic islands, atolls, and sea mounts extending from Hawaii up to the tip of the Aleutian Islands and known as the Hawaii-Emperor chain. Formed 28 million years ago, the island’s volcanic mass subsided over the years, gradually being replaced by a coral reef that grew around the former volcanic island and was able to maintain itself near sea level by growing upwards. That reef is now over 516 feet (160 m) thick and comprised of mostly post-Miocene limestone with a layer of upper Miocene (Tertiary g) sediments and lower Miocene (Tertiary e) limestone at the bottom overlying the basalts. What remains today is a shallow water atoll about 10 kilometers across.

Location: As its name suggests, Midway lays nearly half-way between the continents of North America and Asia (and, coincidentally, it lies almost halfway around the Earth from Greenwich, England. Because of this strategic position, the humble outcrop of coral and sand became an important point in the journey by sea and later, air, between the US and Asia. The first attempt to establish Midway as a strategic outpost came in 1871, 12 years after their discovery and being claimed for the US, and four years after the island was formally taken possession of by Captain William Reynolds of the USS Lackawanna. The Pacific Mail and Steamship Company started a project to dredge a ship channel through the reef to establish a coaling station while avoiding the high-taxes imposed at ports controlled by the Hawaiians. The project was an utter failure, however, and while evacuating the last of the workers, the USS Saginaw ran aground on Kure Atoll – an inauspicious beginning to be sure…

The next occupying effort came as part of laying the trans-Pacific telegraph cable. In 1903, in response to complaints about incursions by Japanese poachers, President Teddy Roosevelt placed the island under the protection of the U.S. Navy which in turn, saw a 21-man Marine detachment posted to the island. In 1935, with the introduction of flying boat service to Asia via Pan Am’s famous clippers, Midway became an important refueling and stopover point until war intruded in 1941.

Beginning in 1940, facilities at Midway were steadily built-up as Midway was deemed second in importance only to Pearl Harbor. The Naval Air Station was completed as were the ship channel and island defenses.

Strategic importance: A casual glance at the chart on the right will make immediately apparent the strategic importance of Midway. Given its location, long-range patrol bombers and submarines operating from the base would assert effective control of shipping lanes throughout the central Pacific region, directly impacting the movement of forces and supplies either East- or Westward bound. Possession of Midway also entailed control of the Hawaiian Islands, even absent an occupying force. If Japan’s goal of Asian domination was to be complete, it had to eliminate Hawaii as a launching pad for American forces – likewise, if America was to remain a factor in the Pacific, it had to keep Hawaii operational and, by extension, Midway.

The die which had been cast 28 million years ago was now coming a cropper…

Posted by SteelJaw in Navy | 1 Comment

The following was released by Navy News:

“The Navy took delivery of its newest aircraft carrier, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding. George H.W. Bush is the 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

“George H.W. Bush has been eight years in the making, with its keel laid in 2003, followed by christening in 2006 and today’s delivery. It’s a testament to the dedication and professionalism of both the Navy and our industry partners,” said Capt. Frank Simei, Navy program manager for in-service aircraft carriers.

George H.W. Bush is the most advanced ship of its class. Relative to the last aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan substantial design features were modified and new technologies inserted. Examples include a new vacuum marine sanitation system, a new jet fuel distribution system and numerous other new control systems and piping materials. These new features will reduce the lifecycle cost of the carrier.

“George H.W. Bush’s delivery completes the construction of Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, but their legacy will continue” said Simei. “This ship will be an important part of our maritime forces for the next 50 years.”

George H. W. Bush was commissioned Jan. 10 at Norfolk Naval Base. Doro Bush Koch, daughter of President George H.W. Bush, is the ship’s sponsor.”


Of note is the remark that this is the last of the Nimitz-class CVNs. Once upon a time, I thought the CVN-78 was still going to be considered a Nimitz-class. No longer?

And is this going to be the signal to pass Enterprise CVN-65 out of service, or will they wait until CVN-78 is further along?

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Navy | 2 Comments
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