Archive for March, 2010

Phil Ewing over at Navy Times makes an interesting catch:

Navy engineers in March began looking into how the fleet should prepare for an attack by one of the most feared and controversial weapons of the modern age: an electromagnetic pulse.

So, even though the U.S. is working to cut nuclear weapons, we’re also preparing to operate in a world where nuclear weapons have proliferated or are set to be employed in less conventional ways– in, oh, say, Anti-Ship Ballistic Missiles.

Under the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Force Electromagnetic Effects and Spectrum Management Office, the U.S. Navy EMP Program is reconstituting knowledge lost after the Cold War:

“We have eight scientists and engineers who are providing Navy leadership with information crucial to assessing the fleet’s posture with regard to EMP,” said Alex Solomonik, Navy EMP Program Manager. “Navy Warfare Center EMP experts – with over 80 years combined electromagnetic pulse experience – form an extremely powerful link to past lessons learned.”

The group advises Navy leadership about strategies and safety measures to mitigate EMP damage in the unlikely event a nuclear weapon detonates at an altitude in excess of 40 miles, generating a high altitude electromagnetic pulse.

“The consequences of failing to take appropriate precautions to protect fleet mission critical systems can ultimately prove catastrophic to the Navy’s mission,” said Blaise Corbett, Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren EMP Assessment Group Leader.

So, to do my part in building awareness of this old “new” threat, here’s a primer from the latest CHIPS:

Electromagnetic pulse is a radiated electromagnetic field, typically generated and associated with a nuclear detonation. A nuclear device detonated at an altitude in excess of 40 miles generates High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP), which is the focus of the U.S. Navy program. This high-altitude nuclear explosion creates high energy photons known as gamma rays. The photons collide with molecules in the upper atmosphere creating free electrons called Compton electrons, which then interact with the Earth’s geomagnetic field lines to create a HEMP.

HEMP can be characterized as a radio frequency emission with broad frequency content, high electrical field levels up to 100 kilovolts per meter, and high instantaneous power density levels that can exceed 20 megawatts per meter squared.

HEMP is composed of three components commonly referred to as E1, E2 and E3.

E1, often referred to as the prompt component, is characterized by short pulse duration and a fast rise time. The actual EMP experienced is a function of the weapon yield and design, burst height, latitude of the burst, and relative observer location from the burst point.

E2 is often compared to lightning in terms of duration and frequency content (frequencies contained in the signal), while E3 has the longest duration, lowest frequency content, and lowest field levels.

As such, E1 poses the greatest danger to individual electronic systems, while E3 poses the greatest threat to networked infrastructure, such as long line power and telephone networks. The focus of the military is primarily on electronic system impacts due to E1.

EMP is one of those hotly-debated threats. Skeptics are quite right to argue that, oh, an unfortunately timed coffee spill onto a critical keyboard poses an even greater (and more likely) hazard to naval operations.

But in a world where naval platforms are set to last for four or five decades…who knows who will have a nuclear weapon by then? Or, for that matter, how nuclear weaponry will be harnessed?


Admiral Mullen, CJCS, 2 February 2010:

As a murmur swept through a hearing room packed with gay rights leaders, Admiral Mullen said it was his personal belief that “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.”

He is the first sitting chairman of the Joint Chiefs to support a repeal of the policy, and his forceful expression of his views seemed to catch not only gay rights leaders but also Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is the committee’s chairman, by surprise.

MGEN Mixon, CG, US Army Pacific, 8 March 2010:

It is often stated that most servicemembers are in favor of repealing the policy. I do not believe that is accurate. I suspect many servicemembers, their families, veterans and citizens are wondering what to do to stop this ill-advised repeal of a policy that has achieved a balance between a citizen’s desire to serve and acceptable conduct.

Now is the time to write your elected officials and chain of command and express your views. If those of us who are in favor of retaining the current policy do not speak up, there is no chance to retain the current policy.

Admiral Mullen again, 25 March, 2010:

When asked about Mixon’s letter this morning, both Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen called Mixon’s actions “inappropriate” because in his leadership position, Mixon has great influence on other men and women in uniform.


So, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has the unrestricted right to express a personal opinion while testifying in uniform before Congress, but for a Commanding General to do so in an open letter to Stars Stripes is “inappropriate” because that CG has “great influence on other men and women in uniform”?

This is plain and simple hypocrisy on the part of Admiral Mullen. “Unanimous support of the Joint Chiefs”? That might be news to General Conway. If Admiral Mullen wants to be a political animal, he should take off the Navy uniform and enter the world of politics. Then, he can advocate and lobby all he wants to. If not, he should conduct himself as he apparently expects others to do.

Should Admiral Mullen decide that admonishment for expressing personal opinions in an official capacity is the order of the day, he should start early tomorrow, when he is looking in the mirror for his morning shave. If he cannot bring himself to display the most basic fundamental of leadership, that of leading by example, perhaps he should follow his own advice and “vote with his feet” right out the door.

Possible big news coming out of South Korea:

South Korea scrambled naval vessels to western waters near the disputed maritime border with North Korea late Friday after an explosion ripped a hole in the bottom of a military ship, officials and news reports said.

South Korea’s YTN TV network said the government, which met in emergency session in an underground bunker after the incident, was investigating whether the sinking was due to a torpedo attack by the North.

The 1,200-ton ship — reported to have 104 crew on board — began sinking off the coast of South Korean-controlled Baengnyeong Island close to North Korea around 10:45 p.m. (1345 GMT, 9:45 a.m. EDT), an official at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with department policy.

Update: The ship is the PCC-772 Cheonan, a Pohang class corvette.

Private security contractors killed a Somali pirate Wednesday–and no one seems to know how to react.

Roger Middleton from the British think tank Chatham House commented that there’s currently no regulation of private security on board ships, no guidelines about who is responsible in case of an attack, and no industrywide standards. So what’s next?

“This will be scrutinized very closely…The bottom line is somebody has been killed and someone has to give an accounting of that,” said Arvinder Sambei, a legal consultant for the U.N. In other words, security contractors should standby to be investigated for their actions. It’s just not clear who will be doing the investigation–the ship’s flagged nation (Panama), the owners’ home nation (UAE) or the nation from which the contractors have citizenship (unknown).

All of this is making me wish I attended an open lectureheld here at the Academy by LCDR Berube on private security contractors as a possible solution to the piracy question held here at the Academy a few weeks ago. (LCDR Berube was recently spotted on Midrats talking about DADT.)

Do we want private security contractors helping secure ships from piracy? Sure, ships have the right to defend themselves. The follow-up questions of how closely their actions are monitored (a huge investigation every time there’s an incident could prove unwieldy) and who holds them accountable have yet to be answered. Any thoughts?

Elizabeth I 1533-1603

Four-hundred seven years ago on this day, March 24th, 1603, Queen Elizabeth I breathed her last. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII and the unfortunate Ann Boleyn, and when Good Queen Bess died, the relatively brief but celebrated Tudor Dynasty died with her. Yet, Elizabeth I’s significance in the shaping of the England, and the Great Britain that followed, is difficult to overstate. A pope once said of the staunchly Protestant Elizabeth that “she be Maiden to but half an island, yet Spain, France, and all in her realm fear her”. Perhaps her description of herself is most accurate. She told her subjects on the eve of war with Spain that, despite her weak and feminine frame, she “had the heart of a King, and a King of England, too”. Indeed, she did. Twenty-nine years into her 44 year reign came the seminal event that transformed England from a marginal and fractious power on the edge of Catholic Europe into the premier sea power in the history of the world to that time.

Drake statue in Devon

During the Spanish crisis of 1587-88, it was Elizabeth I who commissioned her cousin, Charles Howard, to command a 55-ship fleet that included the Devon privateer Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins, erstwhile Royal Navy treasurer who rebuilt Henry VIII’s decayed navy in to a force of fast and maneuverable ships that defeated Philip II’s Spanish force under the Duke of Medina Sidonia.

Howard’s Ark Royal battles Medina Sidona’s San Martin

Though Elizabeth set England on the path to preeminence on the world’s oceans and ruled for the first time over an English maritime power, subsequent events tell a cautionary tale of advantage squandered and ruinous complacency. Not fifty years after the defeat of the Armada, Charles I found himself unable to raise the required “ship money” from his inland subjects as well as the coastal counties because he failed to show to them that the Royal Navy protected and secured the economic and cultural prosperity enjoyed by ALL of what Churchill called “the Island Race”. The challenge to the authority of the Crown was a critical event in the spiral toward the English Civil War.

Worse was to come. Following the Restoration in 1660, England became embroiled in two disastrous wars with the Dutch. The English suffered a series of humiliating defeats, including a raid by the Dutch fleet under de Ruyter venturing up the Thames and Medway, burning several British ships and capturing the flagship Royal Charles. The defeats were in large measure due to the neglect of the Royal Navy, the instrument on which, the Act of Parliament so eloquently stated, “the wealth, safety, and strength of the kingdom chiefly depend.”

Dutch Warships in the Medway

To ensure the lesson of humiliation did not fade in the centuries since the Dutch wars of 1664-72, the words of none other than Rudyard Kipling gives us a stark reminder.

No King will heed our warnings,

No Court will pay our claims,

Our King and Court for their Disport

Do sell the very Thames!

For, now de Ruyter’s Topsails

Off naked Chatham show,

We dare not meet him with our Fleet,

And this the Dutchmen know!

There is a sad and ironic symmetry to the fact that England first became a great sea power under Elizabeth I, while three and a half centuries later, under Elizabeth II, an England wracked with debt would cease to be one.

March 2011. The still of the pre-dawn darkness is only slightly disturbed by the passage of a container ship. Like the many thousands of others like her plying the ocean’s ways, this one’s cargo is neatly stacked on the deck — ISO shipping containers in a multitude of colors and shippers markings. As the fog bank thickens, a radar scope is closely scrutinized on the bridge. Out here, off the shipping lanes no other merchant traffic is expected and, it would appear, neither were there any signs of fishing craft or more troubling, naval or coast guard ships. Earlier in the night a code had been passed via an internet podcast and confirmed via a secure webpage. Soon, very soon, part of the ship’s cargo would complete the long journey begun in Sverdlovsk.

Up forward, locks are removed on two of the containers and a pair of shadowy figures enter each container. A series of muffled noises from the interior of the boxes is rapidly followed by their tops falling to one side and a brace of four tubes quickly rise to the vertical. A minute or two passes and the quiet is shattered by a series of explosions. From each tube a long, slender figure emerges atop a cloud of gases. Bright flames suddenly appear and the forms race off to the far horizon, away from the sun, still hours away from rising.

NAVSTA Norfolk has been home to US naval aviation ever since Eugene Ely first flew his fragile, kite-like aircraft off a makeshift platform mounted on the anchored USS Birmingham. From her roadsted, flattops of the Essex, Midway, Forrestal, Enterprise and now the Nimitz class sortied to distant spots on the globe to carry out the missions assigned — presence, deterrence, and when necessary, the fury unleashed from their decks and the holds of their escorts reinforced the determination of a free people to remain free.

On this early morning, Pier 12 is brightly lit in floodlights as the two Nimitz-class carriers, USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 72) complete preparations for an emergency sortie on the tide. Both had pulled into Norfolk one day prior with their full airwing complement on board to take on one final round of provisions and the remainder of their embarked airwing personnel and equipment. Tensions have dramatically risen in the Gulf over the past few weeks following Iran’s declaration of nuclear capability. There had been no detonation, and some were saying it was just a boast – that the Iranians were still years away from really having the capability for even a couple of weapons. Still, Israel had attempted a long-range strike only to recall it when the US threatened to expose the mission. A show of force was in order and to reinforce the two carrier presence in the Gulf (Eisenhower and Washington were already there) the Vinson was being turned back from a Hong Kong port visit and TR with Truman would join her outside the Straits of Hormuz.

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I was 21 years old and given a college history class assignment on World War II. For a student in the 1980s, World War II seemed like ancient history. But, I also had a personal connection. My grandfather had served as an amphibious task force commander in World War II, and saw combat in the Battle of Guadalcanal. He earned the Navy Cross, the service’s second-highest award, for his actions in the battle. And he was still alive and coherent at 92 years old. So, I decided to interview him.

I had a video camera, but I didn’t have a tripod. I did not have a film crew, but I did have a girlfriend, Liz Dyer, who was willing to help. She had a grandfather who served in the Navy, too, so she was eager about the project. I wore jeans, a college sweatshirt and electric blue mascara (it was the 80s!). Grandaddy wore his California resort wear – a short-sleeved, collared polyester shirt and polyester pants with the belt cinched tightly and pulled up high above his waist. Even though it was spring break in southern California, he wore a sweater. He was always cold, which surprised me – given how much time he spent on the ocean. But he was 92 and thin-skinned at this point and kept the heat on all year round.

Liz sneezed halfway through the interview, making the camera bounce up and down. She became tired holding the camera; you could hear her heavy breathing as she became more weary and her muscles started to cramp. A few neighbors stopped by and rang the doorbell; you can hear my mom whispering to them about the “big interview” in the background, asking them to come back later.

Despite the distractions and the amateur production job Liz and I were doing, it was a bonding moment for Grandaddy and me (and nostalgic for Liz, since her grandfather had already died). He knew I was going to be commissioned an officer in the Navy in about a year and that he and my father were my inspiration for doing so, but he didn’t know what kind of interest I had in his service…until then. I did my homework and studied the ship’s log, the charts and the award citation. But, I didn’t know how he thought – strategically and tactically…until then. I didn’t know what kind of a manager and leader he was…until then. And this is what I learned:

As the newly appointed commander of a unit of APAs, Grandaddy was in charge of a group of ships that were responsible for ferrying troops from Australia, New Zealand, and Noumea to the smaller islands in the Solomons. On the evening of February 17, 1943, they were given a heads-up that they had been targeted by the Japanese. In this interview, he made it very clear that the attack he and his crew sustained was expected. While this can allow for some planning, it can also raise anxiety levels to an unbearable level. I attended a reunion of some of Grandaddy’s crew from USS Crescent City (APA-21) in 2004 and they recounted his speech on the eve of the assault. They said he made it clear that they were about to be attacked and that not all of them would survive. He indicated that “this moment” – February 17, 1943, could be the seminal experience for them in this war. His stoicism was memorable and left an indelible impression on them. And his unflinching strength provided an example for the crew to follow, even if they quivered inside. I will never know if Grandaddy felt scared. He never, ever showed it. The unwavering example he set for his Sailors is a powerful lesson for leaders of all stripes. But, it has consequences, for he was an emotionally absent person with most of his immediate family. He was soft and affectionate with me, a granddaughter who took interest in his career. But that was an anomaly.

Grandaddy was not a leader who hammered his leadership style into his crew – he was a bit more subtle, and surprisingly so. Not to say he didn’t have a temper or a well-formed opinion – many people have attested to his outbursts and his soliloquies. But, he was somewhat indirect in his teachings and in his dictums. He recounted in this interview that, after the 90-minute attack by Japanese fighter pilots, there was some crew banter on the ships’ radio circuit about the surviving Japanese aviators who were floating in the ocean nearby awaiting rescue. Some of the crewmembers wanted to throw them some provisions. Grandaddy grabbed control of the radio and demanded that the airwaves be kept clear for more critical transmissions. His edict obviously silenced the more humanitarian Sailors. While I do not agree with his moral decision, I have some respect for his tack. He didn’t prohibit his crew from providing some humanitarian assistance, but he made his priorities clear without a direct order. It was creative, to say the least.

I hope I learned something from Grandaddy professionally. I adored him personally, as he showered affection on me and mentored me professionally – his only granddaughter who arrived very late in his life and who was enamored with his career. But I’m not sure I can adopt his stoic, rigid, hermetically-sealed professional style. It may have worked in World War II, but I’m not so certain it would work today. For that insight, I would have to ask today’s combat veterans. Certainly the principles still apply, but the style probably needs to be adapted. I’m sure he had similar sentiments when he attended my college graduation and commissioning as a (female) naval officer. Same principles, but very different look. Rest in peace, Grandaddy. You served hard and well. I love you.

Watch my 24-minute video interview with Grandaddy from 1988 here:
Bunny is a former naval officer, the third generation in her family to serve. Since HBO’s The Pacific is spending a significant amount of its air time covering the Battle of Guadalcanal, she dusted off an old video interview she hosted with her grandfather, a Navy Cross recipient from the battle. He died in 1992 on the eve of his 97th birthday and is buried at Arlington with his wife. Watch the entire video (24 minutes long) of her 1988 interview with her grandfather on Navy TV at:

Click here to see the video interview of VADM Ingolf N. Kiland.

Here is something that has come at me from multiple sources – you can blame George Talbot for this post.

All of a sudden – everyone wants to talk about fuel and LCS – so let’s talk about fuel. I was going to do this on my home blog – but decided this was a better venue.

Join me in the LCS pain, because all of this discussion is based on a ship and CONOPS that still is in its changing infancy as emerging realities about the program manifest themselves. All we have to work with are vignettes, computer models, and the low-impact test drive going on in the Caribbean right now – none show a clear picture.

Estimates on line missions – MIW, ASUW, ASW – are even fuzzier as the Mission Modules are not ready for prime-time, and even after they “are,” there won’t be enough to swap-out to any meaningful extent during a deployment, much less the infrastructure and equipment to do so forward deployed to any meaningful extent. It will be years until you get a data sample worth anything – if then.

In that light – I request that everyone keep an open mind with this post – especially you engineers. Don’t fall in love with details – have a wide standard deviation when it comes to the numbers. Any numbers others, or I use are in very large pixels. That shouldn’t stop the conversation. Be flexible, and let’s dive in.

Note the bolded section below,

“But there are troubling indications that Austal’s bid could get scuttled by politics, potentially dealing Mobile a second devastating blow while the city is still recovering from the tanker tragedy.

One of the key advantages of Austal’s LCS is that it is far more fuel-efficient than Lockheed’s heavier ship, particularly at high speeds. The cost savings over a 30-year life cycle could exceed $2 billion per vessel, according to internal Navy documents.

That’s significant at a time when Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former Mississippi governor, is trying to cut back on the Navy’s skyrocketing fuel costs.

It’s Austal’s contention, however, that the Navy’s Request for Proposals does not include life-cycle costs as a factor in the LCS contest.

While Mabus and other top Navy officials have disagreed, a top Pentagon acquisitions executive confirmed Austal’s assessment. “

SECNAV is not bluff’n about being Green. The RFP may not have included life-cycle costs, but that was then and this is now.

Take the SECNAV’s push towards Green – and then fold in the CNO’s Guidance for 2010;

We increased our focus on Total Ownership Costs (TOC) and are integrating that into every step of the Two-Pass Six-Gate acquisition review process.

We will inject discussion of TOC into all stages of program review stages ….

Total ownership and manpower costs will be key components of all programatic discussions and decisions.

Therefore – everyone needs to pivot, ponder, and discuss. LCS is going to happen – we can mitigate the pain (especially during the Terrible ’20s) by ensuring that we have the best value Tiffany; I would bet a P-3 JO’s per diem that this concern was a major driver in the CNO’s statement.

Go back to the bolded paragraph above. $2 bil per ship savings of one design over another if that ship is rode hard and left up wet through crew swapping and max time deployed. That would be with a 25kts+ avg – but let’s run with it to make a point. A lower estimate I have seen has a delta of $400 mil based on 3-months per year deployed on average.

Let’s cut the high estimate in half and call it $1 bil (no one knows what the price of fuel will be over the next 20 years, much less the effect of an overweight LCS and/or partial MMs installed) and let’s round down the platform costs (I am feeling nice today and won’t include the higher estimates over the run and the costs of MMs) and say that at the end of the production run, each ship costs $500mil. You could replace or build the ship twice with the dollars saved.

Harumph? OK, move the decimal place over one. $40 million. Enough to think about? Well, $40milx55= $2.2 billion.

We also have this from Defense Daily,

GD’S LCS BURNS LESS FUEL AT HIGHER SPEEDS, NAVY DOCUMENT SHOWS: The General Dynamics variant of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) uses less fuel per hour during higher rates of speed than the Lockheed Martin vessel, according to a Navy document. The one-page LCS Consumption Curves shows that both ships use about the same amount of fuel, or barrels, per hour between zero and 16 knots. At five knots, the General Dynamics aluminum trimaran uses 3.2 barrels per hour versus 3.9 for Lockheed Martin’s semi-planing monohull. At 14 knots, the General Dynamics ship uses 11.3 barrels per hour while the Lockheed Martin ship uses 12.7. At 16 knots, the Lockheed Martin ship uses 18.4 barrels per hour while the General Dynamics ship uses 15.5, according to the document. At 30 knots, the General Dynamics trimaran burns through 62.7 barrels per hour, while the Lockheed Martin monohull uses 102.9 barrels per hour, according to the document. At 40 knots, the Lockheed Martin ship burns through 138 barrels per hour while the General Dynamics ship uses 105.7 barrels per hour. But how often will the Navy operate either ship beyond 16 knots? According to Lockheed Martin, LCS won’t be spending a lot of time cruising at top speed. “Fuel economy is dependent on the operational profile of the ship. The Navy’s LCS mission profile, a significant criteria used to design LCS, results in the ship operating at speeds below 16 knots more than 90 percent of the time,” Kimberly Martinez, a company spokeswoman, told Defense Daily yesterday. “At this speed, Lockheed Martin’s analysis indicates its design displays better fuel efficiency due to its economical 16-cylinder diesel engines.”

And Lockheed Martin maintains that its semi-planing monohull design meets all of the Navy’s requirements. “Fuel efficiency is just one component of total ownership cost. Acquisition cost, manpower, maintenance, training and support costs are other key elements and Lockheed Martin believes its design provides the most cost-effective balance across all elements,” Martinez added. The Navy declined yesterday to comment for this article. Fuel consumption has become the focal point of efforts by Mobile, Ala.-based Austal USA and Sen. Jeff Sessions to point out that the General Dynamics-Austal USA-built LCS is more fuel efficient. At last week’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Sessions raised the issue of fuel consumption during questioning of Navy leadership. Sessions asked (Defense Daily, 3/2)

Let’s chew some more.

On Baggett’s thesis linked to early on in the post, on page 38 you have this little graph – you can find the background data there.

So. Will the SECNAV want a more fuel efficient warship? Will the COCOMs want ships to be able to show up as needed throughout their AOR? Will the Maritime Component Commander want a ship that isn’t an unnecessary burden on what few replenishment assets he has available? Will the Commanding Officers of LCS want to carry the most fuel possible?

If the future is the Pacific, then with the practical nature of PACFLT ops, especially when we have so few “unsexy” replenishment platforms, is range even more critical?

From what I have seen, 5 knots gets you max range, with LCS-2 going significantly farther than LCS-1 at any speed (due to capacity). Don’t get wrapped up in the “why the h311 do it at 5 kts …”, but work with me here to make a point.

Using the Defense Daily numbers, at 5 knots LCS-2 can probably make San Diego – Pearl (refuel) – Tokyo without going below 50%; LCS-1 would be on fumes as she pulled in for the same transit, but would probably make it to Tokyo. The leg from Pearl to Tokyo is about 3,350 nm.

So, you’re SECNAV. Assume all other planning assumptions are a wash between LCS-1 and LCS-2 models – what call do you make?

Posted by CDRSalamander in Navy | 73 Comments

Today’s London’s Sunday Times shed light on even more damning evidence of Iranian involvement with the Taliban forces in Afghanistan. The article says, in part:

TALIBAN commanders have revealed that hundreds of insurgents have been trained in Iran to kill Nato forces in Afghanistan.

The commanders said they had learnt to mount complex ambushes and lay improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have been responsible for most of the deaths of British troops in Helmand province.

The accounts of two commanders, in interviews with The Sunday Times, are the first descriptions of training of the Taliban in Iran.

The article goes on to discuss why Shia Iran has come to the aid of the Sunni Taliban. It should come as no surprise, but to many, it will.

A couple of questions for Mister Putin in Russia:

Is this the same Iran for whom you will be launching the Bushehr Nuclear Reactor? Have the Iranians agreed suddenly to IAEA inspections of the Bushehr site? If so, why have you not announced that to the West?

Here is a suggestion. Let us not harbor delusions about either regime, Iran or Russia, as we seem desperate to do with China.

Iran is a fiercely anti-Western Islamic theocracy bent on the destruction of Israel and subjugation of the non-Muslim world. They are seeking nuclear weapons, for sale to Non-State Actors (who would not hesitate to use those weapons in Amsterdam or Los Angeles), and for their own use, atop missiles that can range Tel Aviv and beyond. Iran’s assistance to the Taliban (as well as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda) is part and parcel of such an anti-Western policy.

Russia, ruled by neo-Stalinist Putin, is actively helping Iran with its nuclear efforts. Putin is deliberately frustrating US aims at sanctions against Iran, and is well aware of Iran’s activities in Gaza and Afghanistan. Russia is not an American ally, nor a partner, except in those rare instances when doing so (or appearing to do so) gains Russia an advantage. Russia is a rival and an adversary, and a dangerous one. Even without the military might she once had (and is anxious to rebuild at first opportunity), Russia has the economic and technological weapons to be that dangerous adversary, and uses them at every opportunity.

Secretary of State Clinton should know this as well as anyone after this latest trip. It is high time for the US to prepare and act accordingly.

USNS Comfort returned to Baltimore on Friday after completing their humanitarian mission in Haiti. The hospital ship made a rushed departure from Baltimore on January 16th only days after an earthquake devastated the island nation. It is the weekend, and rather than discuss the number of patients treated or supplies delivered, I think it is appropriate to just take a look at the good work of her crew through the photos of some MCs.

Cmdr. Sam Critides, from Glen Ridge, N.J., a neurosurgeon embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort, speaks with Carl Shapiro, site director of St. Boniface Hospital, as a local crowd observes. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannon Warner.

Sailors assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort, prepare for the landing of an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter during an underway replenishment off the coast of Haiti. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Shannon Warner.

Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit transport patients discharged from USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) to an intermediate aftercare facility in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Jackson.

The USNS Comfort as seen from the air Feb. 8 in Port-au-Prince. The last Haitian patient was discharged from the vessel Feb. 27. There were 88,646 patient encounters including primary care, pediatrics, dental, OB/GYN, immunizations, lab work and pharmacy scripts. The highest number of patients aboard the ship were 485, Jan. 29. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Jo Bridgwater.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Brittany Saulsberry, from Dallas, Texas, comforts a young boy before he receives medical treatment aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort. The boy was brought aboard for treatment of a cancerous infection in his eye and a variety of other life-threatening conditions. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Jackson.

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort, left, and the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Leroy Grumman conduct an underway replenishment in the Caribbean Sea. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Jackson.

Haitian-American Sailors embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort sing Ayiti Cheri (Haiti My Darling) in Creole during a remembrance ceremony for the people of Haiti. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Edwardo Proano.

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort arrives at Naval Station Norfolk following a seven-week deployment to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility to provide medical care in Haiti as part of Operation Unified Response. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Steinhour.

Good job USNS Comfort!

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