Archive for January, 2010
As more video and still footage becomes available, some thoughts are emerging. First observation is that clearly this is just a flying prototype that focuses on the airframe and not much else for a 5th gen fighter:
Alexander Golts, an independent military analyst, said the T-50 is running on old engines, and the only major technological breakthrough was designing the airframe making the jet more difficult for radars to spot, in keeping with its U.S. counterpart.
Still, the basic airframe will define certain things that carry over to the production bird. More observations, video and imagery over at the homepage…
Tomorrow (1 February 2010) brings the much anticipated release of the first of three documents of significant import to the US Navy – the QDR for 2010 (Draft-QDR-2010-predecisional). Language in the draft highlights China as one of several state-actors that have acquired significant anti-access capabilities over the past ten years. Additionally, it points out that:
Chinese military doctrine calls for pre-emptive strikes against an intervening power early in a conflict and places special emphasis on crippling the adversary’s ISR, command and control, and information systems. (draft QDR 2010, p. 32)
The report also notes China’s expanding reach and growing interests abroad, and underscores the need for a two-track approach of engagement and prudent planning:
China’s rapid development of global economic power and political influence, combined with an equally rapid expansion of military capabilities, is one of the central and defining elements of the strategic landscape in the Asian region and, increasingly, global security affairs. China has begun to articulate new military roles, missions, and capabilities in support of its larger regional and global interests, which could enable it to play a more substantial role in the delivery of international public goods. The United States welcomes the rise of a strong, prosperous, and successful China that plays a greater role in world affairs. However, that future is not fixed, and while the United States will seek to maximize positive outcomes and the common benefits that can accrue from cooperation, prudence requires that the United States balance against the possibility that cooperative approaches may fail to prevent disruptive competition and conflict.
The limited transparency of China’s military modernization – in terms of its capabilities, intentions, and investments – remains a source of growing concern in the region, which increases the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation. Our relationship with China must therefore be multi-dimensional in scope and undergirded by a process of building and deepening strategic trust that seeks to reinforce and expand on areas of mutual interest, while sustaining open channels of communication to discuss sources of friction in the bilateral relationship, and manage and ultimately reduce the risk that is inherent to any relationship as broad and complex as that shared by the United States and China. (draft QDR 2010, p. 53)
This is all well and good, especially in light of writings such as this which advocates a very Mahanian view of the Chinese Navy and establishment of overseas bases. Justification, according to the writer, Dr. Shen Dengli, rests on 4 strategic precepts of China’s overseas interests:
With the continuous expansion of China’s overseas business, the governments are more accountable for protecting the overseas interests. There are four responsibilities: the protection of the people and fortunes overseas; the guarantee of smooth trading; the prevention of the overseas intervention which harms the unity of the country and the defense against foreign invasion. The purpose of the tasks is to deter the threats posed on our legal interests.
From USNI West 2010:
There is a very interesting article in the Washington Post this morning, regarding our sometimes partner, full-time economic rival and competitor, and potential military adversary, the People’s Republic of China.
Just in time for AFCEA/USNI West 2010, which examines the QDR and “smart power”, China plays a major card in her hand. She obviously is flexing her new muscles as a recognized world power, feeling comfortable enough in her position to do so, and to openly challenge the United States over several major issues in recent weeks. China has been a topic of discussion before at USNI West, we shall see if the topic is again at center stage.
What will be interesting is, with the 2010 QDR more than a year in the making, if this seemingly sudden shift in China’s posture is within the abilities of the US to counter, or to defeat, if necessary. The “smartest” power, for all the political pontification regarding the term, is that which can bring sufficient force to deter an enemy and maintain US influence in key regions, and to defeat that enemy should deterrence prove ineffective.
It will be interesting to see if the QDR holds to this maxim: that the US should build its military force to counter the capabilities of its current and potential enemies, and should develop its operational plans (OPLANS) to counter those enemies’ intentions.
China’s seemingly sudden “change in attitude” is neither. It is a product of her tradition of taking a decades- and even centuries-long view of international affairs, and her long-held view of her rightful place in Asia and the world. Perceptions otherwise are due entirely to our own set of lenses.
So, what are you doing this afternoon? Why, you’re listening to Midrats, of course!
Set you alarms and adjust your schedules for a 5pm EST/1700R/2200Z showtime. Our special guest this week will be Mackenzie Eaglen, Research Fellow for National Security at The Heritage Foundation.
Join me with my fellow USNIBlog contributers and co-hosts EagleOne and Galrahn for a review of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) we haven’t seen yet (though we do have a predecisional draft to ponder).
The final draft is due out tomorrow – but why wait – what is the fun with that?
You only get this chance every four years – don’t miss it. The first half hour will be a panel discussion based on the 20 JAN 09 HASC Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee meeting’s questions, and then we will bring in our guest for the second half of the hour.
To top it off, we’ll try something different and take callers the entire hour – so no need to wait to get a word in edgewise. Our call-in number will be (347) 308-8397. Hope you can make it, but if you can’t – you can get the archived shows from either the showpage or just do a search for our podcast “Midrats” in iTunes.
“Midshipmen are persons of integrity: They stand for that which is right.
They tell the truth and ensure that the full truth is known. They do not lie.
They embrace fairness in all actions. They ensure that work submitted as their own is their own, and that assistance received from any source is authorized and properly documented. They do not cheat.
They respect the property of others and ensure that others are able to benefit from the use of their own property. They do not steal.”
Words of guidance and inspiration. An ethos and a personal challenge embraced by the very best this nation has to offer that have gone to war against America’s enemies. A creed that any parent who values the concepts of honor and service would be rightfully proud to have a son or daughter commit to.
Yet, there are again noisome murmurs from those who hold the institutions of the US Navy and the United States Naval Academy dear that this Code of Honor has been violated. It is not as if the shadow of scandal has not darkened the grounds along the Severn before. There have been acts of misconduct by Midshipmen and by Staff on many occasions before. Some of those acts have been criminal, and have brought dishonor upon the perpetrators, and on the Academy. They were, however, largely acts by individuals or groups of Midshipmen or staff that deserved and received punishment and/or expulsion as appropriate.
Of late, however, the murmurs have reached shouted crescendo. The reason for that goes far beyond the deeds of sometimes unworthy Midshipmen whom the process of training and evaluation at the US Naval Academy theoretically winnows from its ranks. The voices raised loudly in objection are directed at the one absolutely indispensable aspect of the Naval Academy that is supposed to distinguish that institution from other places of higher education.
That indispensable aspect is the Naval Academy leadership. These are Commissioned Officers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps, whose responsibilities it is to teach, guide, mentor, evaluate, and serve as an example for the future Officers from whose ranks, as was so eloquently stated, “come the great Captains who hold the Nation’s destiny in their hands the moment the war tocsin sounds”. And that leadership has again failed miserably. In doing so, they have forfeited their credibility. For those who take their responsibilities of leadership seriously, this might seem unfair to hear. But it is axiomatic that one’s reputation is defines in large measure by the company kept.
Rather than presenting an example of leadership and an embodiment of the Honor Code, those entrusted with the shaping of Naval Officers at the US Naval Academy have proven unworthy of the young men and women they are purported to lead. They themselves cannot be said to live by the Honor Code that is the benchmark of their charges. That leadership has consistently failed to display the integrity that is supposedly expected of the Midshipmen. That leadership chooses the expedient and advantageous over that which is right, and over the truth. Fairness is pushed aside for political correctness. Tolerance of cheating and of drug use has been deemed acceptable. And such actions, sanctioned officially or unofficially, make a mockery of that Honor Code.
Fairness is incompatible with a double-standard for admissions on the grounds of “diversity” or any other grounds. Yet, it is not only condoned, but encouraged. The resulting “diversity” is proudly touted, but the methods by which such is accomplished are carefully hidden behind closed doors. To expose the double standard to widespread scrutiny would invite the scorn which it deserves. Fairness indeed.
The racial discrimination against two USNA Color Guard Midshipmen this past autumn was exponentially compounded by repeated attempts to rationalize such despicable action to the Midshipmen and the public by senior leadership, including the Superintendent of USNA and the Commandant of Midshipmen. Trouble is, not only were the actions themselves shameful and indefensible, and displayed horrendous judgment and/or lack of backbone, but later remarks by those Officers regarding the incident were extremely difficult to believe, and seemed intentionally obfuscating. So much for integrity.
Now comes the tale of the varsity football player, who has a history of honors violations and enough demerits to fill a seabag, who fails a drug test. His test detected levels of THC, the residue of marijuana usage. Fail a drug test, the Academy’s rules say, and you’re out. Zero tolerance. Ask any Navy Officer or enlisted Sailor, they live by the same rules. So, this miscreant Midshipman, a star halfback on a Division I football team, is gone. It is a shame, as he had a chance that others would give their arms and legs for. And he blew it. He tells the Superintendent that he didn’t know he was smoking pot, that it was in a cigar or some such unlikely tall tale. The Superintendent, Vice Admiral Fowler, must have been furious. Right? The gall of that Middie, insulting the good Admiral’s intelligence like that. He must be out on the express train.
Not so fast. This Midshipman, a 3/c, has been retained. It seems that Vice Admiral Fowler decided to buy the Midshipman’s story of unknowingly ingesting enough marijuana to register positive on a drug test. In defense of this flabbergasting decision, from “spokesman” Joe Carpenter we get this incomprehensible drivel offered as justification:
“This does not mean that there is a policy of mandatory separation — only that the service member be processed for separation. However, the Navy’s illegal drug policy requires the commander to ascertain if a service member knowingly consumed an illegal drug. This aspect is one of several issues that must be established for the commander to determine if the Navy’s drug use policy was violated by a service member.”
This Midshipman, with a history of conduct that proves he cannot be trusted, is being “believed” by the senior Officer at Annapolis, while telling a tale that a brand new Second Lieutenant or Ensign wouldn’t fall for. In doing so, Vice Admiral Fowler overruled virtually every recommendation from this young man’s seniors. This Midshipman is a minority. Did skin color play a part? I would hope not. But judging from the track record of Admiral Fowler et al, it certainly seems possible. He is a minority in another way. He can run off tackle and score against a Division I defense. Which helps to propel a financially profitable football program to national prominence. Did that have anything to do with the decision? You would have to ask the Admiral. But you should believe what he says at your own peril. And, as in the case of the Color Guard scandal, Midshipmen are being leaned on to keep mouths shut regarding the football player’s positive drug test and the decision to retain. Whether such leaning is justified or not is impossible to tell. The credibility of the Officers insisting on the Annapolis Omerta is in tatters.
Though I would be proud to have a son or daughter commit to the Honor Code and to the culture of service and discipline that represents the best of the US Naval Academy, I would not desire to have that son or daughter in such a “leadership” climate so fermented, discriminatory, politically motivated, dishonest, and lacking in courage as this one. Indeed, I would have grave reservations about that son or daughter serving under an Officer who was shaped by that climate.
So the crescendo of shouted voices over such events at the US Naval Academy is not without warrant. There is a rotten, pervasive failure of leadership at Annapolis. And it begins at the top. Though, regrettably, such a failure is fostered by Navy leadership farther upstream. Vice Admiral Fowler should have been relieved of his duties after the shame of the USNA Color Guard fiasco. He wasn’t. The reason he wasn’t is that his actions and decisions are part and parcel of the ugly business end of pushing forward the CNO’s priority of “diversity”. The Superintendent and the CNO have repeatedly decided against doing what is right in favor of doing what is politically advantageous. It is a line, once crossed, that is increasingly easy to rationalize crossing. That is the symptom of the epidemic of political correctness brainwashing that has eroded our confidence, our readiness, and our security across DoD. And it needs to end.
There are those who will question the grounds on which I am qualified to make such assertions. I am an Officer, a combat veteran, a citizen, and a taxpayer. For what it’s worth, similar opinions are legion among those observers of these events who have served in, or are still serving in, the US Navy and Marine Corps. They are citizens and taxpayers, too. More importantly, though my children mentioned here are hypothetical, theirs aren’t. They, and the rest of the American people, are the parents of the next generation of the US Navy’s leadership and of its bluejackets.
That, Vice Admiral Fowler, Admiral Roughead, and Secretary Mabus, should give pause to each of you. The future of the United States Navy, and the security of our great nation, rides on the very shoulders of those whom your failures have affected most. The Honor Code starts with you, the Navy’s and Academy’s senior leadership. The Honor Code should be the watchwords of a Navy whose first and overwhelmingly most important goal is to be ready to fight and win our nation’s wars. A Navy whose Officer leadership and quality of the Sailors on its deckplates have achieved “diversity” based on merit and skill, not through forcing through unfair, politically-driven, and discriminatory measures based on skin color, gender, or enthnicity, or a time clocked in a 40-yard dash.
When I’m about to exit an aircraft on a night jump I always experience a certain degree of fear. When I feel the apprehension come on (it always does) I have a mental immediate action drill I execute. First I wish I wasn’t there. This doesn’t help. Next I wonder what I’m doing sitting next to all these guys that actually enjoy this stuff. This also doesn’t help. Then I get scared. And, while maintaining a straight face, I let the fear saturate me. (What if my parachute doesn’t open? What if? What if? What if?) I take it all in, look to the guy next to me and smile. “Hey, yea, awesome! Can’t wait…” Next, I take a deep breath and picture a smoking hot girl standing on the edge of the ramp with the Jump Master…waiting for me to go. Then, all at once, (and only because I know she’s watching) fear becomes adrenalin (and testosterone and other manly chemicals not approved by the FDA), and the adrenalin becomes motion and motion becomes…the quiet of the night. And then there’s the thought of the beautiful hammer back in the bird, missing me, wishing she had passed me her phone number before I jumped out…
When faced with fear it’s important to lie to yourself.
When I’m getting physically “conditioned” by the likes of a Gunny Cederholm or Gunny Leandro I get tired fast and want nothing more than to stop. With guys like this, failure is not an option, so I developed another mental game to deal with exhaustion. I picture myself in a Nike commercial. I see myself running effortlessly and my sweat becomes the different colors of Gatorade and my boots get lighter and motivating music plays in my head…and, well, who wouldn’t want to look good in a Nike commercial?
When faced with fatigue it’s important to appeal to your vanity.
When you find yourself in a situation that is both scary and tiring, it’s best to picture yourself in a Nike commercial surrounded by a bunch of gorgeous girls. Success here depends on your ability to be both vain and lie to yourself.
And so it goes, that across the broad array of human emotion, fear and fatigue interest me most. These I find the most atomic of man’s passions, the most enduring and complex. Sure, love is famously confusing, desperately sought and certainly the most celebrated. Sadness is an indispensable part of our own life’s film. And happiness, as Frost reminds us (O Stormy, stormy world…), makes up in height what it lacks in length. But whether we’re feeling love, sadness, or joy (or anything else) no emotion persists (or directly influences our ethics, heart, soul, body and mind at once) like fear and fatigue. These two things – more so than any of the great passions – deliver man to his brink and force his hand. Will I or won’t I? Should I? Could I? I will. I won’t. I can’t. I must…
This great life is our story. Our story is given a voice by our character. Our character is built (and revealed) by the decisions we make. And our decisions are (without exception) acted upon by fear and fatigue – life’s mystic, unforgiving and prevailing emotional gravity. Whether or not a great life becomes our great story is entirely up to us. All this hinges on our ability to recognize, understand, cope with, and ultimately overcome (which in some cases might mean to submit to) fear and fatigue.
The problem is not that this gravity exists; the problem is to what extent we allow this gravity to affect our decisions – our life’s story.
I celebrate these things that give such spectacular color to life’s brinksmanship. This gravity comes in all forms – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial and moral fears and fatigues – and we feel them each day as they directly shape our decisions for better and worse and lead us only to our next challenge (and to drink) and moves us forward, or not at all and with desperate and absolute regret. It’s all quite dramatic.
But no good story is without good drama…or a hero. If a man doesn’t possess the desire to be the hero of his own life’s story (and if the definition of a hero is someone of strong character who serves others first and does well by his fellow man and who acts remarkably, or at least tries his best to), then who would want to be?
I was thinking today about this sort of thing. About some men of my generation (in particular) who I know would feel uncomfortable using words like “remarkable” when describing their own life’s story. And then I thought about a man’s character and the things we do (and those we don’t do) because of fear; and the things we can do (and those we cannot do) because of fatigue. I was thinking about fear (or worry, apprehension, concern, fright, trepidation, anxiety, alarm or horror) and fatigue (or weariness, exhaustion, or plain tiredness). And I thought about how toughness matters. I thought about how important it is to recognize your fears, address your fatigue and carry on…or, as a close friend pointed out over lunch some time ago, how sometimes there is great virtue (and toughness) in recognizing the fear and fatigue that faces you as insurmountable, and deciding to pack it up and head home…and then I wondered if toughness mattered at all to the bulk of men in today’s extra-soft, extra-sensitive, extra-safe culture of cuddle cures all?
I’m not so sure.
And then there’s the decisions we make. The part that comes after we recognize that gravity of fear and fatigue pervades and that all decisions we make (the ones that matter anyway) are influenced by anxiety and exhaustion, fear and fatigue.
I read somewhere (or maybe someone told me) that a commander’s success on the battlefield depends more on his ability to know when to give an order and that truly there are only three orders to give: “Yes.” “No.” Or “not yet.” “Not yet” being the most difficult of them all. Timing matters in battle. (As does good judgment, wisdom, sobriety, excellence, courage, and blind luck.) Timing also matters in other things like dating but good judgment, wisdom, and sobriety matter much less. Blind luck always counts and as demonstrated by the girl a guy like my buddy A-Beautiful-Joe somehow managed to land, “a good man” is quite relative and in the eyes of the beholder. Sorry ABJ, but she could have done a lot better…
But in all this we find life’s great challenge: move to the edge, face your fear or fatigue (or both) and make a choice (whether in war, with women, or on Wall Street, there are only three)…Yes. No. Not yet.
And it is really that simple if life is as I think it is – a confusing, beautiful, messy, remarkable, sad, inspired and chaotic series of experiences and memories shaped by the decisions we make (or by those we don’t make). It really is as simple as “yes”, “no”, or “not yet” so long as we have the courage to be our own life’s hero…so long as we strive to serve and be remarkable and remind ourselves that our life is our story and our story is about our character and our character is about our decisions…and decisions are about our recognition of and our response to life’s mystic-gravity…fear and fatigue.
And while how a man deals with such things vary (some have God, others Glenlivet) I’ve found it best walk to the edge, remember you are your own life’s hero, think of a beautiful girl, and jump.
That’s right – The Navy is looking for people with working knowledge of all eras of teak decking application processes and procedures on battleships. Inquiring minds want to know the board widths, joints, spacing and materials used in teak deck applications for each era of deck treatment on battleships. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) believes these items should be applicable to all battleships, but are ready to be proven wrong on that assumption. If anyone has knowledge, history or expertise to share, contact Beth Freese at NAVSEA in Washington, DC at 202-781-4423 or [email protected]
NAVSEA is responsible for the disposition and/or disposal of decommissioned U.S. Navy ships, including those ships that are sold to foreign navies or donated to cities for use as museums. In trying to establish best practices for the maintenance and repair of the teak decks found on battleships, NAVSEA is eager to collect any “corporate knowledge” that might exist in the memories and experience of battleship shipmates.
Teak – also known as Tectona Grandis – is known to be one of the hardiest types of wood. It is native to South East Asia and a tall, straight, deciduous tree. Its wood is dense and durable, with natural oils that fend off rust and cracks. Since wood is a natural insulator, it also helps with temperature control and better absorbs damage (when compared to steel!). Consequently, it has been used on ships since the Middle Ages.
To see a teak deck, visit USS Wisconsin, USS Missouri, Battleship North Carolina, Battleship Cove or Battleship New Jersey.
Well, not so fast…it looks like the USS MESA VERDE (LPD-19) had substantive powerplant issues before her shock trials (back in August-September 2008)–USS MESA VERDE suffered a “catastrophic” mishap even before LPD-17 failed in the Gulf.
Read the Defense Department’s December 2009 Operational Test and Evaluation Report closely:
Catastrophic casualties recorded prior to the Full Ship Shock Trial in LPD-19 and during LPD-17’s deployment revealed serious fabrication and production deficiencies in the main lube oil service system.”
What happened there? IF the LPD-19 event was, in any way, comparable with the November 2008 LPD-17 failure (where the ship was sidelined for weeks), then why wasn’t the LPD-19 failure widely broadcast?
The LPD-19 incident predates the LPD-17 incident. Why, then, in the light of such a catastrophic failure, was the LPD-17 sent out on deployment with no fixes in sight? Were the LPD-19 problems kept quiet…or, to be cynical for a moment…Did the LPD-19 failure occur in close proximity to the Navy’s announcement that the LPD-17 reached IOC in May 2008?
Unless the Operational Test and Evaluation Report is detailing a completely different failure, the Report contradicts Jay Stefany, the Navy’s LPD-17 program manager. Navy Times’ Chris Cavas recently reported:
“Stefany said the problems were a recurrence of similar issues discovered about a year ago on the Mesa Verde (LPD 19) and Green Bay (LPD 20). “The ships were down for a number of months,” he said, and stainless steel shavings were discovered in the lube oil.”
Seems like LPD-19–at a minimum–failed about a year an a half ago…
Along with that interesting note, the Operational Test and Evaluation Report emphasizes the entire Class is experiencing a range of other failures/problems–problems that go far beyond welding or engine plant design. The platform is, at best, infirm.
First–and unsurprisingly–the engineering is problematic:
“Reliability problems associated with the Engineering Control System (ECS), including frequent failures and high false alarm rates, and the electrical distribution system, including unexplained loss of service generators and the uncommanded opening of breakers, revealed shortfalls in manning and training to support sustained manual operation of the plant.”
Communications are wobbly:
“…reliability problems with the SWAN and the Interior Voice Communications System degrade command and control and are single points of failure during operations.”
And, of course, the amphibious basics ain’t good, either:
‘Reliability problems related to well deck ramps, ventilation, bridge crane, and Cargo Ammunition Magazine (CAM) elevators detracts from mission accomplishment and reduces amphibious warfare suitability.”
Add in issues with the LPD-17’s ability to produce chilled water, there’s also a long laundry list of problems with the LPD-17 Class SSDS, the RAM system, radars and gun interface. Combined, those failures limit the LPD-17 Class, opening these ships to attack.
But those problems were covered last year, over here.
The continued vigorous defense of these platforms by Marines and other LPD-17 boosters simply stuns me. Why are we building LPD-17s if the ships are not functional?
Is time to stop work on these things? What’s the going opinion? Do tell!
Hidden among the many legends and characters of the United States Marine Corps are countless Marines, Officer and enlisted, who served with distinction alongside those legends in places whose names populate the 234-year history of the Corps. These Marines shared in the hardships, the dangers, the courage, and the triumphs which made the Corps what it is today.
One such Marine turns 80 today. Captain Andrew Bruce McFarlane was born in Teaneck New Jersey on 26 January, 1930. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1948, and retired in 1971. During that time, he served in Korea with Chesty Puller’s First Marines, spent two tours as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island, South Carolina, and is one of very few men to make the rather unlikely transition from First Sergeant to Second Lieutenant. As an Officer of Marines, Captain McFarlane served two tours in Vietnam, in 1966-67 and 1970-71. In his career, Captain McFarlane was awarded three Bronze Stars, (1 in Korea, 2 in Vietnam), a Presidential Unit Citation, a Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, and a host of other medals and ribbons from his service in two wars.
USNI got the chance to ask Captain McFarlane some questions about his service and his experiences. The questions, and his responses, are below:
USNI: What was it that drew you to the Marine Corps?
I graduated from Rutherford High School, June 1947. Worked at assorted part-time jobs, decided to enter the US Military. USMC was my first and only choice. I enlisted on the Marine Corps Birthday, 10 Nov 1948, for a 3 yr enlistment. My recruiting office was in Newark NJ. I was 18 years and 10 months old. I finished “boot camp”, Parris Island SC, at the end of January, and turned 19 years old last day at Parris Island, January 26, 1949. As a young Marine, you wanted to learn & do your very best and my DI’s at Parris Island started me in the right direction.
USNI: How many WWII veterans did F/2/1 have in its ranks, and how did they provide guidance to the younger Marines during the Inchon landing and the fighting that followed?
In all early duty assignments it was those Sergeants and Corporals who had served in the late stages of WWII and decided to remain and serve 20 + years in the USMC. In the early days before Korea and during these early days in Korea, it was those WWII NCO’s who kept us alive, we soon grew up while in Korea and we became seasoned/experience young NCO’s. It was the WWII Marines made the 1st Marine Division what it was in the South Pacific (WWII) and was continued in Korea. They were the very best.
USNI: What was it like to have your Regiment commanded by Colonel Lewis “Chesty” Puller, a Corps legend?
Colonel Puller, a great Marine, when he commanded the 1st Marine Regiment in Korea, was then 50 yrs old, a real legend. I saw him a few times between Inchon & Seoul. The last saw him, he was a retired general at Quantico, Va @ the Marine Corp Birthday 1969. I was a Captain at AWS (Amphibious Warfare School). In my opinion, it is a true shame that the USMC never named a USMC Training Base/Camp after Puller. The only Chesty is the USMC Bulldog mascot, which I think is really very poor.
USNI: What was Fox Company’s role in the landing at Inchon and the fight to recapture Seoul?
F2/1 landed over Blue Beach (Inchon Harbor), and was required the following day (D+1) to take high ground around & near Inchon and continued on the MSR (Inchon-Seoul road).
USNI: Describe the fighting around the Chosin Reservoir and Koto-Ri.
Fighting around the actual Chosin Reservoir was the 5th and 7th regiments; they were deep in battle and suffered by far the most casualties in the 1st Marine Division. The 1st Marines (Chesty Puller) was located just north of Koto-Ri at Hagura- Ri. The 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, and the 2nd Battalion (with F/2/1) was at Koto-Ri . This was also theCP for 1st Marine Division & 1st Marine Regiment), the 3rd Battalion was south of Koto-Ri at the railroad and highway junction. As I’ve said, the 5th & 7th regiments in constant contact with the enemy!! We were at Koto-Ri, mostly securing the high ground around Koto-Ri. For sure the Marines of entire 1st Marine Division were ALL VERY COLD.
USNI: What do you remember most proudly about your time as a Drill Instructor at Parris Island?
Given that many of the anti-Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) crowd have adapted the FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class Frigates as a sort of “alternative” to the LCS (a legacy shipbuilding program that, in the opinion of the anti-LCS crowd, was everything the LCS program is not), a nice dose of history might be in order.
Those who now love the FFG-7 program probably don’t remember that the FFG-7, in its early days, was the LCS of the Seventies.
Don’t believe me? Here’s an excerpt from a June 1977 paper entitled “The U.S. Sea Control Mission: Forces, Capabilities, and Requirements,” detailing criticism leveled by, back then, the trendy-minded, well-heeled anti-FFG-7 crowd. Read the passage. It should sound familiar to anybody who has sorted any amount of anti-LCS agitation:
“The FFG-7 program has met with considerable criticism in recent years on several accounts. It has proved far more costly than originally planned: estimates of its unit cost rose from about $65 million to $168 million in constant dollars in just three years. At the same time, serious questions have been raised about its capabilities. Critics claim that the FFG lacks firepower and redundant sensors for operations in high-threat areas; that its single screw propulsion renders it vulnerable to attackers; that it lacks size and capacity for low-cost, mid-life modifications. Other critics have suggested that the FFG is too slow for conducting ASW operations against modern Soviet submarines. The House Armed Services Committee was particularly critical of the FFG program…”
That’s quite an inauspicious beginning…But today, more than 30 years after introduction, FFG-7s remain efficient enough for modern Navies to operate–and valuable enough to upgrade.
Look closely at those cost estimates. Plug the first FFG-7 cost estimate into an inflation calculator and the result is $230 million–almost exactly the same amount of money the Navy first programmed for the LCS.
Shove that final 1977 FFG-7 cost estimate of $168 million into an inflation calculator, and the end result is $595 million in 2009 dollars. Today, the LCS-3 and 4 cost $548.8 million and $547.7 million respectively. If one of the two LCS designs functions as advertised–and are hiding no major flaws–then we’ve got a pretty interesting higher-end FFG-7-like replacement platform.
That bit of context might give LCS critics something to think about. Of course, even with the “FFG-7 was/is better than the LCS” platform knocked about a bit, the debate over whether or not a less costly ship model might serve just as well as an LCS remains valid…and valuable. So have at it!