Archive for December, 2009


DoD and Social Media

December 2009


There has been some interesting discussion on the possibility that DoD will institute a ban on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

It was asserted by some that DoD didn’t really understand social media, which may be true in part, and there were some very good arguments for and against having such programs available to our service members. Others saw the announcement as a grave threat to the rights of every American to screw off at work. (Okay, that was me.)

The DoD, for their part, mentioned serious security concerns in their late-July message. This was interpreted in a variety of ways, including possible OPSEC considerations.

However, the concern about social media is shared by all of government and much of private industry. And here, in large part, is why.

From an online article at Financial Times (

Law enforcement warnings, recent reports from private security experts and lawsuits are focusing attention on the issue. Some professionals, citing the ongoing boom in virus infections through such social networks as Facebook and Twitter, fear the trends could combine in 2010.

Targets have fallen victim to “spear phishing” and other tricks. In spear phishing, a misleading e-mail, instant message or social networking communication is aimed at one company or even a single person within that company, frequently a top executive. The message can be tailored convincingly with details of interest to that individual.

As with many generic phishing attacks that go to millions of users, the point is often to get the recipient to click on a link that installs software for surreptitiously logging keystrokes, so that passwords and account numbers can be recorded and transmitted over the internet to the hacker.

Aiming at small groups means that security programs that look for copies of previously reported attacks are less likely to recognize the software.

My experience with such issues is that these cyber security concerns have been expressed behind closed doors for some time, and an affordable and implementable technical solution is unfeasible for now. And the threat is serious enough that an out-and-out ban is being considered. For such analysis to be stated publicly means that several verified occurrences of successful cyberhacking via these means have taken place already, and cyber security experts are at a loss as to how to stop them.

So, regardless of where one’s opinion falls on the usefulness of social media in DoD, security concerns indeed appear to be at the center of considerations to ban Twitter and/or Facebook.

Social media

Today is the Day and we will blog about it all day long. But let’s start the day, not with the rivalry, but with the true spirit of football…a love of the game. From the Washington Post:

On Saturday afternoon, Jack Hatcher will put on his Navy football uniform for the second-to-last time. The senior fullback will run onto the grass at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field with his teammates and hear the cheers from a capacity crowd. Then he will walk to the sideline and disappear.

…He is one of 32 seniors who are hoping to finish their careers having never lost to another service academy team. And he is one of seven seniors who have yet to play a single varsity down in four years.

…Hatcher plays football because it’s fun, and because it keeps him fit. He likes the camaraderie. He uses it to relieve stress; he is a chemistry major with a 3.4 grade-point average — the highest of any fullback — and he hopes to go to medical school one day.

“When the smoke clears and the dust settles, it’s a game. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s what you do, it’s not who you are,” Hatcher said. “Football is something that builds character, and it’s one of the last sports that make men. I believe that.”

“To be honest with you, as a senior, I’d probably be offended if the coach put me on the field just because we were killing somebody. To me, that would be an insult,” Hatcher said matter-of-factly. “I’d rather they put in a freshman who is wavering on whether or not he wants to stay here. I’d rather they take him and show him something that may be beneficial.”

Full story here

Posted by admin in Army, Navy | 4 Comments

Go Navy! Beat Army!

December 2009


Go Navy! As the independent forum, we shouldn’t take sides but on this…well..Beat Army!

And to our friends at Black Five who who support the opposing *cough* losing *cough* team, we echo their sentiment:

The hyper-competitiveness of the game represents not just a rivalry in branch of service, but of service to the country. It’s a healthy rivalry and respect is paid to both the Army and the Navy at the end of the day. Remember that the young men on the football field this Saturday will soon be leading troops and fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan or where-ever-the-hell-else we send them.

And sometimes you have to be man enough to make a fool enough of yourself…or lose a bet

Sorry Army! Go Navy!

Posted by admin in Army, Navy | 1 Comment

It is the morning of 8 December 1941. Pearl Harbor is the scene of intense activity, as grim-faced Sailors and Marines come to grips with the fact that the United States is at war with Japan. The Japanese sneak attack had been devastating, with a large but unknown number of American casualties. Reports are bleak, as many US ships have been sunk or damaged, and most of the aircraft destroyed on the ground.

But the US military personnel in Hawaii can only imagine the horror. Here, there are no fires, no oil slicks, no capsized or shattered battleships, none sinking slowly into the mud. There is no wreckage of airplanes here that never left the tarmac, no dead and wounded, no clouds of black smoke. Just the US Pacific Fleet, swinging peacefully at anchor, and aircraft still lined up in neat rows.

Pearl Harbor, 8 December 1941, awaiting return of Carriers

Pearl Harbor, 8 December 1941, awaiting return of Carriers

AA .50 caliber at Wheeler Field awaiting an attack that never came

AA .50 caliber at Wheeler Field ready for an attack that never came

The Japanese have instead struck US installations in the Philippines beginning at 0230, 8 December, 1941. The wrecked aircraft litter Clark field and smaller outlying airstrips. The sunk, sinking, and burning ships are of the Asiatic Squadron, at anchorages of Olongapo, Cavite, and Mariveles. Hospitals in Manila and elsewhere are crowded with US and Fillipino wounded. Temporary morgues are filled with American dead.

Shore installations at Cavite burning after Japanese attack

Shore installations at Cavite burning after Japanese attack

USS Houston, sunk at Olongapo, 8 December 1941

USS Houston, sunk at Olongapo, 8 December 1941

Japanese photo showing wrecked USAAF P-35s at Clark Field

Japanese photo showing wrecked USAAF P-35s at Clark Field

US caskets at Palawan

US caskets at Palawan

Those of us who fancy ourselves students of history will often indulge in the examining of alternative outcomes to historical events. This is a common activity, and can allow for analysis of events in new and interesting ways. So it is especially with the Second World War. Many critical battles and campaigns were won or lost by the closest of margins, with the shaping of succeeding decades hanging in the balance. As Wellington said of Waterloo, “the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life…”

CINCLAX made a comment here in another post that gets right to the point. (He must have some sort of mind-reading device set up near where I live. Ask SWMBO some time, that is a definite possibility…) To wit, what if the Japanese hadn’t attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941?

Instead, what if that surprise blow had fallen first on General MacArthur and Admiral Hart in the Philippines?

What if the Combined Fleet had, instead of attacking Hawaii, lain waiting in ambush for the US Pacific Fleet and its precious carriers to sortie from Pearl Harbor?

How much would the obsolete and slow battleships (or any other assets lost at Pearl Harbor) have changed the balance of forces?

USS Arizona at sea in mid-December 1941

USS Arizona (BB-39) in mid-December 1941

Yorktown (CV-5) puts to sea after Japanese attack in Philippines

USS Yorktown (CV-5) puts to sea after Japanese attack in Philippines

Would the US have been able to relieve Wake? Guam?

What help might have been available to reinforce the Philippines?

Even Yamamoto admitted the strategic mistake of attacking Pearl Harbor. Was it also a tactical/operational error for Japan to strike the US Pacific Fleet?

I throw the matter open to this learned group of brigands, renegades, and Naval enthusiasts.


Go Navy! Beat Army!

December 2009



See the slideshow from our Photo Archive.

Follow the game on Twitter #GoNavy or #BeatArmy

Have a good spirit video or photo or game story? Link to it or tell us about in the comments!

Bite Army

Posted by admin in Army, Navy | 3 Comments

The final portion of my e-interview with John Burton is pasted below… Many thanks to John for his time as well as writing a fine book.

Any lessons learned from Fortnight of Infamy that are applicable for today’s policymakers?

World War II is especially interesting from the standpoint that it was a global conflict which really consisted of two distinctly separate, differently-motivated wars that occurred at the same time. In the broadest terms, Germany’s war in Europe and the Mediterranean was ignited by a combination of fascist ideology and Nazi rallying of a desire for retribution on the part of a country impoverished by a crushing debt-load of war reparations imposed as a “settlement” for the First World War. Japan’s war in East Asia and the Pacific was primarily instigated by the ambitions of a rapidly-growing, overpopulated nation to gain economic advantage and natural resources as expeditiously as possible.

Today, one can recognize a deja vu of new threats that are motivated by hostile or potentially hostile forces that are similarly driven, either by ideology or the eventual need to compete for natural resources. Despite significant advantages it holds in military technology, the United States once again faces the challenge of international over-commitment under conditions where American economic and political capability to influence future events in hot-spots of unrest around the globe has become limited.

If our experience in the Pacific during 1941 should teach us anything, that lesson would be to not underestimate the capabilities or intentions of our likely opponents – and not to so arrogantly and boldly overestimate our own ability to respond to challenges that arise.

Interestingly, one of the reasons the War Department was inclined to be unjustifiably bullish in its self-assessment of American battlefield capabilities during 1941 was the existence of a “weapons system” known as the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. As the U.S. painfully discovered during the first fortnight of war, and the year that followed, that sophisticated bomber and its sibling, the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, were not especially useful in countering the kind of offensive that Japan had launched in the Pacific – even though the four-engine bomber had been touted since the mid-1930s as a key and necessary component of America’s coastal defense. Its initial failure came as a surprise to many analysts and air officers. In fact, it was not until mid-1944 that the concept of strategic bombing really started to be even marginally effective above Europe. Over Japan, as General Curtis LeMay controversially demonstrated during 1945, the wide-area firebombing of population centers was more effective than any strategic bombing of Japanese factories. Perhaps, in this, there is also a lesson for modern managers of warfare: overdependence on any single type of complex weapons system can be very risky – especially if its effectiveness is largely a matter of theory and conjecture.

Of course, we should always remember that there is ample precedent that may be drawn from the annals of armed conflict to conclusively demonstrate that wars are still primarily won by those determined and courageous men on the ground who engage in combat with light weapons.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Books | 2 Comments

From the Richmond Times Dispatch – Let’s hope the fight is over.

Posted by admin in Army, History | 4 Comments

Fortnight of Infamy: Part 3

December 2009


Part 3 of my interview with author John Burton about December 1941. 

What are some of the reasons for the defeat of Allied air power west of Pearl Harbor?

In retrospect, the reasons for the collapse of Allied air power in the Far East are fairly simple to catalog, and I hope clearly enough presented to any reader of Fortnight of Infamy. Notable among those reasons are the following:

1. The timing of Japan’s nearly simultaneous assaults on Hawaii, Wake Island, Guam, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Siam (Thailand) and Malaya was extremely beneficial to the Japanese war effort. Attacks were fully expected in Siam and the Philippines. In fact, a number of Japanese reconnaissance over-flights of Philippine, Siamese, and Malayan territories had taken place during the week preceding the outbreak of hostilities. Over the island of Luzon, American fighters had repeatedly made attempts to intercept the intruders, without success. U.S. Navy and Army Air Forces aircraft had conducted similar surveillance missions around Japanese bases in French Indochina (Vietnam) and Formosa (Taiwan). From observations made during these flights, it was clear several days before December 7, 1941, that Japan was ready to launch invasions at one or more points in the Far East. Signal intelligence from listening stations in Manila and Honolulu effectively confirmed that assumption. In the event, weather conditions over the South China Sea made a fateful contribution to the success of Japan’s plan: a storm-induced delay in the initial raids on the on Philippines set the stage for major confusion when an unanticipated amphibious landing in Northern Malaya and the Pearl Harbor attack occurred before action in the Philippines. The consequences of this confusion proved disastrous.

2. A string of problems with the handful of American and British air warning radar installations in the Pacific and Far East sacrificed an important early detection advantage that could have helped the Allies respond to Japanese air raids. Had these devices been fully operational, on schedule, Japan could easily have lost an important element of surprise. Instead, the distribution of information obtained from the radar equipment only added to Allied confusion. Poor control of the dispatch for fighter aircraft attempting interceptions quickly magnified the problem.

3. Extreme deficiencies with American fighter planes rendered American, Australian and British interceptor squadrons virtually impotent. Adding to the issues with interception control, problems with fuel systems and engines in RAF and RAAF Brewster Buffaloes inhibited the ability of those Allied planes to attain sufficiently high altitudes for defense above Malayan targets. In the Philippines, a lack of oxygen tanks and oxygen-making equipment prevented most Curtiss P-40 Warhawks from reaching anywhere near the height necessary to intercept Japanese heavy bombers. And, for the few P-40s that did have bottles of oxygen to keep their pilots breathing above an altitude of 15,000 feet, a lack of two-stage superchargers ensured that their engines could not breathe well-enough at the 25,000-foot level that would have had to be attained to effectively engage in combat.

4. Pilot inexperience also limited the effectiveness of American and Australian interceptors. The few men who did manage to engage in aerial combat with enemy bombers were not properly trained in air-to-air gunnery. Improper gun maintenance exacerbated that problem when many of the Allied weapons failed to fire in flight. Consequently, most damage the young rookies inflicted was minimal – and, more often than not, those Allied fliers fell as prey to highly-skilled Japanese pilots in escorting fighters.

5. A serious lack of effective antiaircraft gun emplacements around Philippine and Malayan airbases gave Japanese bombers and strafing fighters a free pass to inflict serious damage on every important Allied landing field. Within the first forty-eight hours of the war, these raids dealt a serious blow to the Allies – one from which the battered American and British Commonwealth air forces did not manage to recover.

Overall, the Japanese made relatively few mistakes in prosecuting their opening campaigns of the Pacific War, while the Allies suffered heavily as a result of many blunders. At the end of the day, one can also say with some assurance that luck was with Japan and not with the Allies.


A program update on the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye was provided today at the AEW and Battle Management conference in Amsterdam. Providing the update was Northrop-Grumman’s VP for AEW &BM C2 programs, Jim Culmo and Hawkeye/Greyhound Program Manager, CAPT Shane Gahagan, USN.

Culmo noted that the company is on-track to deliver three pilot production E-2Ds to the U.S. Navy in 2010 and that manufacturing of the first two Low-Rate Initial Production aircraft is also progressing well. “We’re exceedingly pleased with where we are in the flight test program,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Shane Gahagan, Hawkeye Greyhound program manager. “The AN/APY-9 radar is performing very well and will bring to the fleet a significantly increased ability to operate in a highly cluttered environment while providing critical 360-degree coverage.”

The E-2D was designed to provide the warfighter with enhanced capabilities required to meet emerging threats such as low-flying ASCMs in the high clutter near- and overland environment. With the newly developed AN/APY-9 Electronic Scan Array (ESA) radar, Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) system, Electronic Support Measures (ESM), and off-board sensors, in concert with surface combatants equipped with the Aegis combat system, the E-2D will have the capability to detect, track, and defeat cruise missile threats at extended ranges. It will also provide unparalleled maritime domain awareness including airspace control for manned and unmanned assets, monitoring of surface movements, civil support, and command and control of tactical forces.

The combined radar modes work together to provide continuous, 360-degree air and surface scanning capability, allowing flight operators to focus the radar on select areas of interest. “The AN/APY-9 can ‘see’ smaller targets and more of them at a greater range than currently fielded radar systems,” Culmo said. He added that the E-2D’s systems, including radar long-range detection, “are exceeding key performance specifications.”

Which brings me to a point of interest. Given the direction MDA is headed in expanding our BMD capabilities at the theater and regional levels by looking at alternative platforms and capabilities – such as ISR assets like UAVs to improve I&W, perhaps it ought to widen the aperture a bit and look at the capabilities the E-2D is bringing to the fight? One of the hallmarks of missile defense is the wide-ranging field of play within which the threat is engaged. As such, BMD cannot be platform-centric since we re fast approaching the point where the interceptors will outrange their supporting sensors (when launched from the same platform). Instead, BMD, especially the sea-based adjunct, will become a complex fire control system made up of netted sensors and shooters.

Now, look again at the quote above – “The combined radar modes work together to provide continuous, 360-degree air and surface scanning capability, allowing flight operators to focus the radar on select areas of interest.” That is the advantage of an ESA. The ability to manage the radar energy is literally light years ahead of what we had in the E-2C. In a theater fight, it makes me wonder what capabilities it might bring for detNorthrop Grummanection of mobile platforms and the launch/boost phase of SR/MRBMs — what capabilities the E-2D’s advanced networking might bring to networking shooters that are BVR of one another and yet not dependent on what are becoming increasingly vulnerable satellite-based networks.

To be sure, the dance card for the Advanced Hawkeye is likely already crowded and on a relative scale, advanced cruise missiles are a greater threat in a larger sense to US and allied naval forces – for now. Nevertheless, it would pay huge dividends down the road if we found a nascent BMD capability already resident in the system, or, one that could be coaxed forth with relatively smaller expenditures of capital. The force multiplier effect in combination with sea- and eventually, shore-based Aegis BMD could conceivably pay huge dividends.

How about it MDA? Navy?

(Source: Northrop Grumman)

Crossposted at

Last week, I argued that if the Navy wanted to play a major role in Afghanistan, it must prioritize soft power skills and the USN staff corp:

All the carrier strike groups in the world will not find victory in the mountains of Afghanistan. To win over the hearts and minds, McChrystal’s strategy requires a surge of a new sort: of nurses, doctors, dentists, engineers, and civil-affairs units, the domain of the staff corp officer.

Needless to say, this argument stirred up a hornets’ nest from line officers and USNI readers. Exactly zero commenters agreed with me. In a 350 word reply, Admiral John. C. Harvey of U.S. Fleet Forces Command claimed the “post appears to be an argument in search of the facts to support it“.

First, a big thanks to everyone that replied. It was great to see USNI readers at their best, challenging an argument with intelligent critiques and counters. I enjoy them immensely. Second, I am unpersuaded by the counterarguments. In the coming weeks I will publish a follow-up response. I meant to write a reply sooner, but Obama’s Afghanistan speech rightly took my and everyone’s attention. Third, Cdr. James Kraska of the Naval War College has a new article in Orbis magazine taking exact opposite position from my own:

An entire generation of [its] mid-career commissioned and noncommissioned officers tried to learn counterinsurgency land warfare in the desert and mountains of central Asia while their counterparts in China conducted fleet exercises to learn how to destroy them.

I am still searching for a full copy of the article online, but Tom Ricks has some good comments.

Without having read the article, I cannot say much. But, I will say that the “China threat” is an overused justification for ignoring current conflicts. The global economy has integrated Chinese and United States markets to such a degree that full scale war is not in the interest of either countries for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, the amount of US debt owned by China has only solidified the countries mutual dependence. Any major conflict would threaten both Chinese markets and revenue from US debt repayments. For better or worse, we need each other. There are threats in the world, but a Chinese Pearl Harbor is not one of them.

Update: Thanks to a few USNI readers for getting me a copy of the article.

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