Archive for October, 2010

Understanding Asia-Pacific Sea Power
In this first in a series on the region’s navies, The Diplomat looks at how to measure naval power—including the US and China’s.

Germany To Raise Alarm Over China Rare Earths Restrictions at G-20
Stung by Chinese muscle-flexing over minerals crucial for high-technology industries, the German government said Thursday that it would raise the alarm at the Group of 20 talks, even as it looks to step up efforts to develop new supplies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

What happened to China’s ‘peaceful rise’?
How can we make sense of a People’s Republic of China that is supposed to be, in the words of Deng Xiaoping, “biding its time and hiding its capabilities,” but in fact is picking fights with most of its neighbors, including the United States?

Checking China’s Territorial Moves
How should Washington react to increasing signs of Chinese assertiveness in its neighborhood? Four CFR experts counsel firmness and engagement with China, and intensified ties between the United States and its allies.

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Naval History Conference 2010

October 2010


Yesterday the United States Naval Institute held their History Conference 2010 in Annapolis covering the subject of piracy. I think I can safely speak for all attendees that this conference exceeded all expectations. The event schedule almost tells the story of how the conference unfolded in terms of narrative, but it was the content quality, discussion and analysis that offered perspectives on how with piracy – everything we have seen we have seen before, and yet what we are seeing today is in itself unique.

The day began with Dr. Martin Murphy, who laid the foundation in a short history of piracy leading to a conclusion of parallels to Somalia today. Citing numerous statistics and highlighting historical examples, some going back thousands of years, Dr. Murphy explored causes and conclusions to historical episodes that concluded with details how cultural understanding played a role in solving historical piracy problems in various regions. My take away from Dr Murphy was how there is a clear link between the strategies, tactics, and techniques utilized in modern COIN doctrine that can be directly applied toward developing counter-piracy doctrine. The other take away was there is no political appetite among US policy makers to actually develop that doctrine though, as the cost of COIN doctrine is too high to be executed to low level criminal activity like piracy.

The first panel moderated by RADM Joseph F. Callo, USNR (Ret.) included Dr. Virginia W. Lunsford, Frederick C. Leiner, and LCDR Benjamin Armstrong, USN. The panel focused primarily on the history of piracy and where comparisons can be made to modern piracy. The panel repeatedly stressed that there are no direct comparisons, noting that because of the cultural differences one finds in each specific place piracy has historically existed it is very difficult to directly apply solutions utilized against piracy in one place to another. As a panel focused on history, this panel turned out to be one of the more enjoyable panels I have observed at a conference, as the stories (and in particular less well known stories of US Navy history) added theater I had not expected. In several ways, good questions offered the panel an opportunity to feed off one another in citing historical cases ranging from the Barbary Wars in the Mediterranean Sea to the West Indies squadrons and beyond.

I want to focus a second on some of the fine points of the panel. Dr Lunsford noted 6 factors that allow piracy to flourish, and argued that disruption to any of the factors can limit piracy.

  • An available population of potential recruits
  • A secure base of operations
  • A sophisticated organization
  • Some degree of outside support
  • Cultural bonds that engender vibrant group solidarity
  • Access to goods or materials

LCDR BJ Armstrong also offered some interesting thoughts. Focusing at the operational level, LCDR Armstrong discussed the three P’s in piracy: People, Platforms, and Partnership. I found it interesting how LCDR Armstrong noted that in previous eras of piracy, it was young officers who stepped up and took risks to significantly impact theaters, but this example was tempered by noting success and failures of young officers – noting that understanding the limits of risks are important. In discussing platforms it was noted how in the West Indies, the US Navy struggled to curb piracy until three gun schooners were utilized in the fight, allowing the US Navy to go closer in shore to influence operations at the coast more effectively than the larger Navy ships were capable of doing due to draft concerns. Partnership was also noteworthy in that it highlighted the quiet support of British for logistics and provisions when fighting the Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean Sea. Partnership for forward operating bases used in fighting piracy is an American policy going back to the founding of the nation.

When a question was raised regarding the value of small Navy’s in fighting piracy, it was noteworthy the entire panel pointed to the historical example of the United States Navy prior to WWII as an example where small navy’s can make a significant contribution towards counter-piracy operations in Somalia today.

The second panel was moderated by LCDR Claude G. Berube, USNR, and consisted of Eric Wertheim, Robert Gauvin, and CAPT Mark Tempest, USNR (Ret.). This panel focused more on the history of modern piracy and the history of modern efforts in counter-piracy, with a focus primarily on the Strait of Malacca and Somalia. The issues raised by the panel primarily included the problems regarding what to do once counter-piracy measures are effective, and nations have pirates in custody. With so many nation states as a stakeholder in any given scenario, it led to interesting discussion. An example would be a Liberian flagged, Singapore owned vessel with a Ukrainian master, a crew consisting of members of multiple nationalities, an Indian union, and a British insurance company attacked by Somali pirates with the pirates captured by a Dutch warship and a trial to be conducted by Kenya under their requirements for evidence. In the end, it really is no wonder there are so many ‘catch and release.’

Then came Stephen M. Carmel, Senior Vice President of Maersk Line, Limited. If you have never heard Stephen Carmel speak, it is worth the price of admission to any conference. I will attempt to get a copy of the speech by Mr. Carmel and post it here on the blog, because it is a long list of statistics that leaves no doubt regarding the insignificance of modern piracy in the big economic picture. There was one thing that jumped out to me regarding his speech though – and it is something that needs to be very carefully considered.

The current methods of ransom payment for hijacked ships represents a suitable condition to the commercial industry for managing Somali piracy in its current form, where no one is being killed and property is being returned. This relationship appears to work as long as there are no links between piracy and terrorism in Somalia. In other words, it is in the interest of the $7+ trillion global commercial shipping industry for there to be no links between piracy and terrorism in Somalia. In a cynical world, al-Shabab has the largest global political lobby on the planet towards the ability to conduct piracy in the same non-lethal manner as other Somali clans. Just saying, something to consider.

The final panel of the day was moderated by CDR John P. Patch, USN (Ret.), and consisted of RADM Terence E. McKnight, USN (Ret.), Capt Zachary D. Martin, USMC, and Laurence Smallman of RAND. I sat at the table throughout the day with Mr. Smallman and CDR Patch, so I admit being partial to this panel as they had insightful commentary all afternoon for me. Mr. Smallman touched on but never extensively expanded on his theories of maritime disorder while on the panel, although I intend to mine the RAND database in the future to see if this concept is further developed for public analysis. Captain Martin was largely reserved in his opinions (as one would expect from an operator), but stressed as Marines often do on these types of piracy panels that the US Marine Corps brings a broad variety of capabilities outside the kinetic operational focus that usually gets all of the attention; highlighting that training operations in developing professional security forces regionally goes a long way towards developing sustainable counter-piracy operations in the region. This panel also carried further points raised by Stephen Carmel regarding the distinctions of anti-piracy, which are ship based measures taken to prevent the hijacking of a ship, and counter-piracy which is the activities by maritime forces at the operational and tactical level against pirates.

The panel and conference concluded on the point that the international community is nowhere near a solution to the root causes of modern piracy, but has made significant strides in both anti-piracy and counter-piracy containment in piracy regions globally. Piracy remains a globally managed maritime challenge, but the slogans that popped up following the conference tell the story in many ways. The international community has been ineffective in solving the problems of modern piracy, but at least they have been collectively ineffective in solving the problems of modern piracy together. It is like the old saying, none of us are as smart as all of us. When it comes to modern piracy, the takeaway from the conference on piracy for me was how none of us are as ineffective as all of us.

China policy fight
With President Obama set for a major trip to Asia next month and the Obama administration nearing the halfway point of its first term, U.S. officials tell Inside the Ring that a heated policy debate is under way over how to deal with China.

If Pakistanis Thought Like Americans
With the U.S.-Pakistani strategic dialogue resuming in Washington today, the relationship could hardly be worse. The trust deficit, already vast, has been stressed to the breaking point by NATO incursions into Pakistan and the subsequent ten-day closure of the major land supply route from Karachi to Afghanistan in retaliation. But there is a grimmer prospect.

And the winner is … Muqtada
Iraq’s next government will likely be Iran-friendly and Shi’ite-friendly, headed by incumbent Nuri al-Maliki, but crucially with the support of Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. At the same time, although Iraq has the third-largest proven oil reserves in the world, it will be exploited by Chinese, Russian and Asian companies, not US Big Oil – the final nail in the coffin of the neo- conservative fantasy of a Greater Middle East as an American lake.

Turkey Objects To Nato Missile Shield Targeting Iran
Turkey has imposed hurdles to Nato’s planned anti-ballistic missile shield in Europe by demanding proof that the system would not exclusively target Iran. The development raised further concerns that Turkish foreign policy was tilting outside the sphere of the Western alliance towards alignment with its eastern neighbour.

Tamil Tigers Trying To Regroup
TAMIL rebel leaders based in the United States and Norway are trying to revive their defeated separatist movement, Sri Lanka’s prime minister told parliament on Tuesday.

Trans-Atlantic Austerity: Can NATO Remain Relevant Amid Defense Cuts?
When NATO leaders convene in Lisbon in November to adopt a new Strategic Concept, the alliance’s blueprint for the future, they will find that trans-Atlantic security has entered an age of austerity. Burdened by weakened economies, allied governments are cutting their defense budgets, some significantly. However, retrenchment and reduced ambitions are not NATO’s only options.

Chris van Avery is an Asia-Pacific FAO and Military Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, and blogs on a variety of topics at The Yankee Sage.

This Thursday, 21 October 2010, marks the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the first purpose built AEW aircraft, the E-2 Hawkeye (actually, it was the YW2F-1). Designed around the radar, rather than adapting an existing airframe, the Hawkeye symbolized function over form – from the 24ft “rotodome” prominently perched over the fuselage, to the quadruple tail and twin turboprops. It wasn’t pretty – but then, it wasn’t meant to win beauty contests.

It was meant for far more deadly competition.

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I knew coming out here that, just as in my last deployment, when it was all over, it would seem like it only took seconds to get there.

Well, I am there; I leave tomorrow. 337 Days Boots on Ground.

I’ve served in Bagram and Kandahar, with 4 Army units. It all seems like it only took seconds to get here, just the same I am tired and ready to go home. The prelude to this deployment was 3 years of Sea Duty and a FIFTH Fleet deployment, I had nearly 5 months between my ship deployment and this deployment. I need a break. I’m getting one, in a sense, as well. My next tour will be with NATO in Europe, this has been the light at the end of the tunnel for me out here. Getting those orders has been one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve had on this deployment, as I didn’t use CMS to get the orders. I got the orders through networking, it’s still hard to believe that it all actually came together. In this sense, that has been the dominant narrative for my entire deployment. Let me explain…

In coming out here, Sailors are told of how an IA/GSA tour will help their personal development and growth. How I interpreted the message is different than how it actually played out. I hadn’t expected the growth to be so personal, to affect me on a deeper level than professionally. Who I am today, is not who I was a year ago, the growth I’ve experienced out here is the most I ever have experienced in a single year. But, it is because I pushed for it and gained it, but mostly from online. Everything I’ve experienced has had the internet–all of you–as a foil. I’ve at once been well grounded in the happenings at home, as well as everything that’s happened out here.

While the Army had me process their awards to service members (I processed over 2,000 awards since last December. Close to 400 of them in my first two weeks here–which is how I got the Army Commendation Medal in my rack shown above), I considered it my primary duty to take care of the Sailors at the same command with me. I wasn’t their LPO (Leading Petty Officer), but I did assume/invent the title of “Naval Liaison” for myself. Professionally this made me learn a lot. It’s one thing to work in an office that takes care of Sailors, it’s another to have to be the person to do that. I really did take care of a small divisions worth of Sailors out here.

I’ve often joked with other Sailors out here that I consider this IA tour my “Navy appreciation tour”. Often, things are funny cause they are true. I really am glad I joined the Navy vice any other branch. The Department of the Navy does a better job taking care of its personnel than any other.

Would I do another IA tour? Yes. But, with some caveats. I don’t want to come back to Afghanistan, unless I am directly contributing towards winning the war. I couldn’t stomach sitting in an office writing awards with a war all around me, again. I have to contribute directly to victory if I am going to go to war. However, I’d process awards for the Navy in Iraq or in Djibouti. I also want to go back to sea before I deploy to land again. I firmly believe that I belong at sea more than I do ashore, that I can best serve my country doing all we have to do at sea (and getting ready to go to sea), than I can on land. As my RDC used to make us say, “Sailors belong on ships, ships belong at sea; haze-gray and underway is the only way to be.”

You know, we’ve been doing these IA tours for a relatively long time now. I would have thought that many if not most Soldiers would have had served with Sailors before. But, outside of a few instances, none had before. Even more curiously, units show up out here and are surprised to see that they have Sailors, some units really had no clue that there were Sailors already in country to augment them. After this initial surprise wares off, we then try to figure out where we will get another computer from to accommodate the Sailors as well as the Soldiers they brought with them. War is full of contradictions and this war is no different. I’ve both been amazed at how quiet is has been, as well as how loud. How quickly things change, and how slow change is to come to Afghanistan. It was quite the moment to be working in my office when the news broke the story about the Rolling Stone article that lead to a new COMISAF.

There’s more I’d like to say, and I’ve got some great ‘land stories’. But, all the rest of it is best said in person and over a round. And again, I am tired, in more ways that I realize. Before I say anything else, especially publicly, I need to think about everything that has happened to me out here. I know I don’t completely understand the narrative I’ve lived–that will only come with time. the next time I talk with all of you, I will not be in Afghanistan any more.

What now; what’s next?

Xi’s the one?
Today, China announced that Xi Jinping has been named the vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, an important sign that he’s successfully navigated this gauntlet and is destined to take over in Beijing once Hu Jintao retires in 2012.

New Taliban Terror Threat Concerns U.S. Security, Law Enforcement Officials
Senior U.S. intelligence, security and law enforcement officials are concerned over recent intelligence and “chatter” that strongly suugests the Pakistani Taliban may have already snuck another terrorist into the U.S. to launch an attack, according to Fox News Channel’s National Security Correspondent Catherine Herridge in her terrorism report yesterday.

CNN says Pakistan protecting Osama bin Laden
CNN cites an unnamed NATO official who charges that members of Pakistan’s intelligence service are giving shelter to Osama bin Laden in the country’s northwest.

Saudi intelligence warns of terror threat against France
Saudi intelligence services have warned of a new terror threat from al Qaeda against Europe, particularly in France, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said Sunday.

Moscow Searches for Strategic Depth in the “Reset”
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s edict on September 23, formalizing sanctions against Iran following the UN Security Council resolution passed on June 9, has rekindled domestic interest in the “reset” policy in US-Russian bilateral relations.

Chris van Avery is an Asia-Pacific FAO and Military Professor at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, and blogs on a variety of topics at The Yankee Sage.

1050L 24 Oct 1944. USS St. Lo (CVE-63) is under heavy air attack. After successfully fending off the superior surface force of VADM Takeo Kurita’s Center Force, “Taffy 3” is now defending against a surprise air attack that has lasted some 40 minutes already. One of the features of this attack is the use of suicide attacks.
The “Divine Wind” — Kamikazes.
In the midst of battle, St Lo is struck by a plane flown by Lt Yukio Seki. Penetrating the escort carrier’s unarmored flight deck, the plane and its bomb explode in the port hangar bay, igniting a massive fire with secondary explosions. When the bomb and torpedo magazine detonates, St. Lo is engulfed in flames and sinks 30 minutes later. Barely 6 days later, the carriers Franklin and Belleau Wood were struck by suicide aircraft. Both were forced to retire for repair before rejoining the fleet. This emerging threat, kamikaze attacks, were a hint of what was to come as the Fleet closed on the Japanese homeland. The urgency for getting Cadillac’s capabilities operationally deployed was being underscored by increasing losses in the Pacific…

Development & Production

AN/APS-20 Installation in AD3W (similar to earlier TBM-3W installation)

Recognizing the importance of the Cadillac system, an early decision was made by the Navy to establish production coincident with its development. To be sure, this imparted significant risk to the program, but in light of its benefits this was deemed acceptable. To facilitate this plan, the project was divided into five parts: shipboard system; airborne system; airborne radar; radar transmitter; and beacons and IFF. So far, what had been brought together was still not much more than a conceptual model – it was time for building actual sets. Development was undertaken in earnest shortly after approval in May 1944. Using ground-based radar located atop Mt. Cadillac and operating at low power to simulate the APS-20, work on the airborne elements, particularly the relay equipment was well underway. This arrangement allowed prolonged simulation of the air- and ship-board environment, contributing significantly to the shortened development timeline.

Progress was measured in the completion of each of the first 5 developmental sets envisioned. The first set flew in August 1944 –

AEW Radar Picture of Cape Cod from 20K ft.

barely 3 months after the approval to begin work was received. Each subsequent system saw incremental improvements over its predecessor with the improvements folded back into the earlier models. By October 1944 a full-fledged demonstration was flown for the benefit of USAAF and USN leaders. These demonstrations consisted of 2 aircraft and 1 shipboard set and were flown out of Bedford Airport (later known as Hanscom AFB), Massachusetts. By all accounts, the demonstration was extremely successful, which boded well for the production units, forty of which had been ordered by the Navy in July 1944.

AN/APS-20 Antenna installation on TBM-3W

As additional developmental sets were completed, permanent sites were established in Bedford and MIT (originally scheduled for Brigantine, NJ). The latter was established at MIT for the purpose of evaluating the system in the heavy interference conditions expected in the operational environment. It was in this environment that the first major problem was uncovered as the system was found to jam itself – interference was so bad that rotational data as transmitted by the double-pulsed coding and passed over the relay link was virtually completely jammed. An extraordinary effort though on the part of the development team led to a triple pulse encoding scheme. With little time to fully test this new set-up (there was considerable rework in the synchronizers, relay receivers and decoders to be accomplished), the third set was packed off to formal Navy trials at the CIC Group Training Center, Brigantine, NJ that started in January 1945 – only two weeks behind schedule

In December, at the height of the crisis over finding a means to address the interference problem, DCNO(Air) disclosed to Cadillac team leaders the urgency by which their equipment was required to combat the rapidly growing kamikaze threat. Even though Cadillac was already at the top of the Navy’s electronics development requirements, with the increased need, the Navy made available substantial numbers of officers, technicians, draftsmen and even a special air transport system to facilitate delivery of parts and personnel.

On the production side, a flexible system of generalized target dates were crystallized as designs firmed up, permitting incorporation of changes as experience was gained with the development units. Though this was undoubtedly the least economic process in terms of cost, the brute force development/production method was necessary to ensure delivery of the critical sets in time for the invasion of Japan — anything less than the very high priority Cadillac carried would have hampered successful completion. Nevertheless, a production schedule was agreed to in June with BuAer that would start deliveries of operational systems with two in February 1945. This was subsequently modified in November for initial delivery of 1 set in March 1945 followed by 4 in April and then 8 per month afterwards.

Operational Testing

Not long after starting operational evaluations at Brigantine, more problems were discovered, centered primarily on interference issues in the shipboard environment. Again, most of us today are well aware of the hazards the witches’ brew of RF in the CV environment. Mixtures of high-powered radars operating at different frequencies overlaid with HF, VHF and UHF voice comms provide an extremely challenging environment to develop and deploy a new system, even with the benefit of fifty plus years of experience. Without the benefit of that experience, the roadblocks encountered are not surprising. More modifications were made to the shipboard system with filters to screen out the extraneous radiation. Additionally, as more experience was gained with the APS-20 radar, it was determined that anti-clutter filters were needed to reduce the effect of large clutter discretes from the sea’s surface in and around the immediate vicinity AEW platform (typically out to 20 nm from ownship). Mounting the antenna above the airframe would have resolved this problem, using the aircraft itself to screen out large clutter discretes encountered from returns within 10-15 nm from the platform, but that was not an option for the Avenger platform.

On the West coast, training in the TBM-3W for pilots and crewmen was undertaken by the Fleet Airborne Electronics Training Unit (FAETU) in preparation for deployment. While the crews were in training, the USS Ranger (CV-4), recently returned from delivering aircraft to allied forces in Casablanca, entered Norfolk Naval Shipyard 17 May 1945 for a six-week overhaul, during which a CIC and the Cadillac shipboard equipment were installed. Underway again in July, she arrived at North Island on July 25th where she loaded aboard her airwing. This airwing was different from the conventional wing in that it included several developmental concepts; among these were the Cadillac configured TBM-3Ws and the Night Air Combat Training Unit from Barber’s Point. By August 1945 she was in Hawaiian waters conducting final CQ prior to leaving for Japanese waters when the war ended.

With the end of the war, Cadillac was almost, but not quite completed. While the carrier-based component did not have a chance to prove itself in combat, the utility of carrier-based AEW was so clear and its applications so far ranging in impact that further development and deployment would continue post-war, with deployments on Enterprise and Bunker Hill. In addition to the carrier-based component, a second development was begun under Cadillac II for a more robust airborne capability. That will be the subject for the next installment.

TBM-3W Data
Wing span: 54.2 ft
Length: 41.0 ft
Weight (empty): 11,893 lbs
Weight (max): 14,798 lbs
Max Speed: 260 mph @ 16,450 ft
Cruise: 144 mph
Svc ceiling: 28,500 ft
Range (scout): 845 miles

To Be Continued…

PLAN’s new purpose-built hospital ship, Peace Ark, spent last week anchored off Kenya’s coast while providing medical assistance to Kenyan citizens:

The crew, which leaves the port of Mombasa tomorrow, has been doing an average of six operations, 80 physical examinations, 110 dental check-ups, 35 CT scans, 200 DR examinations, 240 ultra sound cases and 170 heart check-ups per day.

The Peace Ark hospital has 428 medical and support staff. They include neurologists, surgeons, radiologists, dermatologists, biomedical engineers and psychologists.

Other facilities are a rescue helicopter, 32 medical departments including Chinese herbal medicine, 300 hospital beds and a wide range of diagnostic medical equipment.

The daily stats offer some insight into the medical assistance capacity of the new hospital ship, however that is not what interests me. What interests me is that PLAN first humanitarian assistance deployment is already scoring major public diplomacy victories for China. Need proof?

Today news of the Peace Ark’s visit to Kenya was posted on the popular social new website Reddit. Within four hours over 840 readers had voted up the story to the top page, where it currently remains. Another further 270 readers had commented on the story. The most popular comment? “When is it visiting the USA?”

If American lives weren’t being risked and sometimes lost in this struggle, such would have the makings of a Peter Sellers comedy. This from the Associated Press:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia says a former Guantanamo detainee who went through its militant rehabilitation program and then rejoined al-Qaida in Yemen has turned himself in to authorities.

An Interior Ministry statement said Friday that Jabir Jubran al-Fayfi contacted Saudi authorities from Yemen to express his regret and readiness to surrender. Yemeni authorities arranged for his return.

Al-Fayfi was released from Guantanamo in 2006.

He rejoined al-Qaida in Yemen, where the terror network’s local offshoot is attacking Western targets and Yemeni security forces and leaders. The offshoot also claimed responsibility for the failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner in December.

The catch-and-release program on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan is a dangerous farce. Mind-boggling, in fact. Exceeded only by the idea that terror suspects captured as illegal combatants in combat with US forces should be granted full rights and privileges of Prisoners of War.

Which is exceeded exponentially by the notion that such suspects should be tried in US courtrooms, giving them the full Constitutional rights that any US citizen has in a court of law. More, in many way, than did the three SEALS who stood trial for allegedly punching a detainee.

Fight to win, defeat the enemy.

Congressional elections are approaching and according to my Facebook news feed, EVERYBODY has an opinion. Hurray for democracy and free speech, right? My civilian friends are most certainly ethically unencumbered to express their choice for candidates/parties. But what is the best way for members of the military to express themselves in accordance with regulations? When it comes to online “speech,” it is sometimes a little unclear what the ethical choices are.

DOD Directive 1344.10 details the types and extent of political participation of members of the armed forces. For example, we may “Sign a petition for a specific legislative action or a petition to place a candidate’s name on an official election ballot, if the signing does not obligate the member to engage in partisan political activity and is done as a private citizen and not as a representative of the Armed Forces.” Suppose a member joins a group over Facebook supporting a legislative measure, surely he’s acting as a private citizen, right? What if he has set his profile picture to a picture of himself in uniform? Is he still really acting as a private citizen? It doesn’t seem so to me–all the rest of the world sees is a member of the military supporting a political cause.

One thing is clear, we are not permitted to “[publish] partisan political articles, letters, or endorsements signed or written by the member that solicits votes for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.” This should extend to online activity. Think before you update your status!

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