Archive for October, 2010

In case you didn’t know, yesterday was our Birthday!

Read what Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske had to say about the Naval Institute in Proceedings, Vol. 45 No. 192, February 1919:

Without some such stimulus as the Institute, the navy would be less like a pro­fession and more like a trade; we would be less like artists, and more like artisans; we would become too practical and narrow; we would have no broad vision of the navy as a whole.

Each one of us would regard his own special task as the only thing that concerned him, and would lose that sympathetic touch with his brother officers which all of us now enjoy.

The Naval Institute is a club at once social and professional, which is not restricted to any club-house on any avenue in any city, but which spreads over all the oceans to all of our ships and stations, down even into the depths of the sea where our submarines lie, and ten thousand feet into the air where our aeroplanes fly. It is the embodiment of the thought of the navy. It is the unofficial custodian of the navy’s professional hopes and fears. It looks ahead into the future, and back into the past, and keeps track of the happenings of the present. More at our sister blog

Photo by Susan Katz Keating

Susan Katz Keating attended the funeral of Brendan Looney at Arlington on the 4th of October. She captured well the moment when Brendan’s fellow warriors said their last goodbye: “Until the day I die, I never will forget the sight and sounds of 82 SEALS removing the Tridents from their uniforms and one by one, pounding them into the coffin with their fists. Brendan Looney, RIP” more here

In April of 2007 1st Recon Battalion’s Lt. Travis Manion was killed on patrol in Iraq. He was buried near his hometown in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Three years later, on the 21st of September, Travis’ best friend, Navy Special Warfare’s Lt. Brendan Looney was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Now these two best friends, college athlete standouts, Naval Academy roommates and American warriors have been laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, together.

Their story has touched so many because it transcends our individual differences and reminds us of our national similarity: that we are a free people whose country was founded on the belief that a great life is given to strenuous endeavor.

We lose sight of that unifying similarity as our lives become easier and more convenient. We forget what it means to sacrifice something we love for a greater good and as we enjoy the fruits of labor past, we too often forget our nation’s best and strongest remain overseas, at war.

Knowing the kind nature, strong character, good humor, and deep humility Travis and Brendan shared, I’m certain they’d ask us to forgive those that forget we are at war and that have mistaken a life of “ignoble ease” for the good life and instead ask we focus on the well-being of the men they led and lost. I’m sure they’d insist that any word spoken or written about their own memory address only what was always at their heart’s center: their family, their men, their mission and their country.

But I also know that the Reconnaissance Marines and Navy SEALs they fought with adored them and would demand we celebrate the life they lived, not mourn the life they lost.

And so I remember how Travis used to ball me up on grappling mats or how he was Kate and Mike Geiger’s perpetual third wheel or how Brendan would help us all handle the pressures of Annapolis by reminding us to relax and keep our eyes on the prize or the way he always laughed at one of Matty Midura’s jokes even before he finished them, and I find myself as I always was in their presence, smiling and happy.

When I think about who these men were, what they accomplished and what they will forever mean to their family and friends, comrades and country, I realize something very important – I realize Travis and Brendan have given us the blueprint for a man’s life lived, complete.

In a world of prevailing self-indulgence, gluttony, and short-cuts, contemporary man has gravitated towards weakness. Spirits are fragile. Character is a burden. Hearts are hollow. Souls are empty. Physical labor is offensive and intellectual exploration, uninteresting. Man’s great passions have been replaced by material enthusiasms. While our forefathers regarded the road less traveled a career choice, we look upon it as little more than some romantic distraction from…whatever the hell it is we’re all supposed to be doing with our lives. But not Travis and Brendan…

They chose to ignore our generation’s plague of weakness and fight the war waged on manliness in the only way they knew how: stoically and by example. Brendan and Travis remind us that the spirit of adventure, responsibility, duty, wit, honor, love, sacrifice, imagination, strength, and courage that defined the men who built this country still exist today – and in so doing proved there is hope for man after all.

When Theodore Roosevelt delivered his famous ode to the strenuous life before Chicago’s Hamilton Club in 1899, he was doing more than delivering a foreign policy stump. Roosevelt’s speech was about what it meant to be a man.

When he spoke about manhood, he said, simply, that “the highest success comes not to the man who desires easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”

The splendid ultimate triumph being, of course, that a man “showed by their lives that they recognized the law of work, the law of strife; they toiled to win a competence for themselves and those dependent upon them; but they recognized that there were yet other and even loftier duties – duties to the nation and duties to the race.” When Theodore Roosevelt described the noblest nature of man, he foretold the lives of Travis and Brendan.

In the opening lines of his great sermon, Roosevelt invoked the essence of American virtue by addressing the character of her citizens. He exhorted that our tradition of a life of hard work and strife were our greatest national qualifications to lead the free world forward.

When asking the crowd what they would want of their America, he asked them first to consider what they would demand of their own sons, and then to regard them the same. And then I think of Travis’ and Brendan’s parents and how proud they must be that they raised men whose souls were so rich that they were willing to step forward to serve their country in a time of war and that they not only decided to be leaders of other great men, but decided to do so in the ranks of our military’s most elite tribes.

And yet I also imagine that with this deep pride comes an avalanche of sadness that must bury the divine emotional medicines of art, music, poetry, literature, and philosophy under a cold blanket of pain. Burying even Shakespeare: Your cause of sorrow/Must not be measured by his worth, for then/It hath no end.

But the Looney and Manion people are two great American families. To help their sorrow they have the strong love of one another, their faith in God and the devotion and gratitude of their country.

As part of that gratitude, we must honor what the Marine and SEAL warriors demand of us: that we celebrate their lives so significantly lived.

We celebrate the love that continues from their beautiful families, the devotion that endures from their dearest friends and mates, and the lasting legacy of strength, kindheartedness, service, good humor, loyalty, and bravery they have left to this world.

And we celebrate their story, which provides a blue print not just on how to be a good man, but on how to be a superior man; not just on how to be a good friend, but on how to be a best friend. In their lives they demonstrated a love for the ideas and values this country was founded upon, a love for the men they served alongside, and a love for their families that treasured them back. In this we see what so few men have ever felt even in one hundred years of life…that their lives that ended too soon in war are defined forever by love.

Brendan Looney and Travis Manion departed us from the darkest provinces in this world amid violence and bloodshed with a supreme moral distinction between their sacrifice and other men’s deaths. They lived great lives of strenuous endeavor, doing what they chose to do: defend their countrymen as Navy SEAL and U.S. Marine. And so they left those wretched places in the Anbar and Zabul, nobly, and with the happiest of hearts, and will rest forever in Arlington as they belong in our memory, together.

Join us Sunday at 5pm (Eastern) for Happy Birthday Navy from Midrats:

This Tuesday is the 235th Birthday of the US Navy. There is only one place to get your Navy on BlogTalkRadio – and that is Midrats!
Since the end of US involvement The Vietnam War almost 40 years ago, there are just a few USN Commanding Officers who know what it is like for a warship under attack; one of the handfull will be our first guest, CDR Kirk Lippold, USN (Ret.). He was the Commanding Officer of the USS Cole (DDG-67) when it was attacked while in port Aden, Yemen 12 October 2000 – the 10th anniversary will be this Tuesday. We will discuss his experiences then as well as the work he has done since his retirement with senior military fellow with Military Families United, and any other topics that fold their way in to our conversation.

Our second guest will be from the shadows of the Navy EOD world, Steve Phillips. After graduating from Annapolis in ’92, Steve found honest work as a SWO, but then transfered into EOD where he served as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician at EOD Mobile Units Six, Eight, and Ten. He is the author of Proximity: A Novel of the Navy’s Elite Bomb Squad which received a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America in 2008. Some of the proceeds from Proximity support the EOD Memorial Foundation which provides scholarship to the children of EOD Technicians who made the ultimate sacrifice. If you like his work, Steve is currently working on a non-fiction account of EOD Technicians in our current conflict with a working title of Improvised: EOD Techs in the War on Terrorism. The first two of the chapters for the non-fiction work are available at: “The Birth of the Combined Explosives Exploitation Cell” and “A Remembrance of 9/11”

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Posted by Mark Tempest in Navy, Podcasts | 2 Comments

Al Qaeda Is A Bigger Threat Today Than 10 Years Ago, Says Terrorism Expert
Al Qaeda is far more dangerous than it was 10 years ago, the former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit tells Deutsche Welle in an interview. He is also worried about the increased domestic threat the West is facing.

Fears of a Coup in Iraq; U.S. Advises Politicians To Be Cautious
Iraqi political and security sources in Baghdad and the mid-Euphrates provinces have warned of a real danger of a military coup or of an attempt by Shi’ite military militias, associated with Iran, of taking control of the regime in Iraq.

Interpol issues arrest warrants for Pakistani military officers over Mumbai attacks
Dear Pakistani military officers Maj. Ali Sameer and Maj. Iqbal: You may want to delay that long-planned vacation to London. You see, Interpol has just issued warrants for your arrest over your alleged roles in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

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This from The Associated Press a few minutes ago:

Gen. James Jones will resign as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser and will be replaced by Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, NBC News confirmed Friday.

The departure is not unexpected. Officials who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity said that Jones, whose resignation will be effective in two weeks, had planned from the start of his tenure to leave the position at about the two-year mark.

Obama is expected to make a formal announcement in the Rose Garden at 1 p.m. EDT.

Donilon, who said he was not interested in the position of chief of staff to the president, was widely believed to have his sights set on the post as National Security Adviser. Jones is also known to have recommended that General James Cartwright, the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, be offered the job.

Jones was appointed to the top security position in January 2009. He previously served as Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1999-2003, the Commander of US and NATO forces in Europe, and as the State Department’s Special Envoy for Middle East Regional Security.

Though the article states that General Jones had planned to leave the post at the two-year mark, recent revelations of the internal discord between Jones and Administration officials and staffers make this move perhaps more significant than it would otherwise be. President Obama will see the departure of his Defense Secretary and his National Security Advisor perhaps within 90 days of each other. Marine General Cartwright would be an interesting choice, but may get along no better with Administration officials than did Jones.

But General Cartwright does indeed seem to encourage the unvarnished exchange of ideas, including using this-here blogging medium.

We shall see how this works out. And whether General Cartwright or any other choice will offer the President substantially different advice from what he has gotten up to now from his National Security Team. With the US engaged in two wars, a potential shoving match with China, the specter of a nuclear Iran and North Korea, and the always looming threat of terrorism on US soil, the President and the nation he is entrusted to lead needs it to work out well.


Without the words “acting” or “interim”, it is Tom Donilon as the new National Security Advisor. The dynamic between Defense Secretary Gates and Donilon, and between the Armed Services and Donilon, will bear watching.

Russian Navy Update
Dmitry Gorenburg has an excellent four part review regarding the state of the Russian Navy and Russia’s shipbuilding plan over the next decade.

On food, Asia can’t keep pace with rising middle class demand
WSJ story on how Asia’s food demand continues to rise while the amount of land devoted to food production is pretty much capped this decade due to urbanization and planned investments just aren’t happening as envisioned (so yield per acre not rising enough to cover the delta in demand).

Top Advisor to Iranian Regime: Prepare for Nuclear War
A top advisor to Iran’s Defense Minister has written an article published by a website run by the MOIS about when Iran could use nuclear weapons against its enemies. Its publication of a state-connected website should be seen as an unofficial statement preparing the way for Iran to leave the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and officially develop nukes, a game plan I laid out here.

Is Hizbullah trying to take over Lebanon with Iran’s help?
The Lebanese guerrilla group is about to have its true face unmasked by the UN Hariri investigation – of course it’s panicking.

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.

The last couple of years have been an exceptionally difficult one for the U.S. Naval Academy. For the MIDN, Alumni, and the larger Navy family. USNA had to deal with serious issues of honor, a race-focused admissions policy, misguided priorities – to the more curious tactical details of the Potempkin Color Guard, odd traditions warped, a strange good-bye for the previous Superintendent, a penultimate act – the IG Report, and finally a sad, lonely changing of the watch. No, not a very good run for a critically important part of our Navy.

With a change in leadership there is always hope – and I think the new Supe, VADM Michael Miller, is off to a very good start. A few promising nuggets on background have come my way from the Severn Underground, and we recently saw some more in open source.

If you didn’t get it from Facebook – VADM Miller gave a speech recently to USNA alumni. It was a very good talk – and that is what it was; a talk. Not a lecture, not really a speech – but a talk among friends. Watch the whole thing at the Facebook link and then come back..

There is one point that I wanted you to think about. Think about all the times you have spoken to a group of people. Now segment them into those where you never expected an applause line. If you have ever had that happen – you know the impact that can have on a speaker. It breaks your stride and makes you ponder – it emphasizes to you that something you said hit a nerve – it is important. Think back to some of the more negative things that came out of Annapolis up to and including the IG Report. In many, what was a common thread? Now, watch this shorter cut of the larger speech and come back again.

VADM Miller’s initial response was right on. In the X-ring. That is the right answer – that is the right idea – that is in the finest traditions of our Representative Republic and the ideals that will help keep it together. Yes, I know he refined his comments a bit to broaden his running room – but I trust his initial comments and instincts and will grant him his hedge. VADM need running room.

I wish him the best of luck, support, and the will to see it through. He has quite the headwind if he wants to do this. Institutional inertia and those whose paycheck relies of sectarianism will oppose him. Congressional pressure will be huge – heck, they just removed language from the USCG funding bill – dangerous language it seems,

Buried in the annual Coast Guard authorization act passed this week by Congress is wording that would strike from the U.S. Code the statement that all appointments to the Coast Guard Academy “shall be made without regard to the sex, race, color or religious beliefs of an applicant.”

No, a correct policy of judging people by the content of their character is unquestionably out – an unjust policy of judging by the color of their skin is the in thing from the CNO on down.

With the drive to reinforce active discrimination from DC – VADM Miller’s “radical” support for a just system will run into opposition, but that’s OK. Compared to the challenges he has faced in his career, this should be easy.

We have the right words, we should look forward to the right actions – and look forward to a great year for the Naval Academy. Our Midshipmen and our Navy deserve it, not to mention the taxpayer.

Project CADILLAC (Part I)

Ed note: Everything has a beginning and that beginning is usually quite humble compared to present conditions. Consider, a small spring at the headwaters of the Madison River in Montana is the source of the mighty Missouri River which itself empties into ol’ man river — the Mississippi, all of which drain the better part of the country described in the Louisiana Purchase. Likewise, current day Airborne Early Warning and battle management, as we know it, sprang from humble beginnings and the collaborative efforts of the private and public sectors and borne in the urgency of war. Herewith then, the story of that effort is told as we begin the observance of the Hawkeye’s 50th Anniversary. – SJS

There is an arrogance permeating our culture such that it is widely believed that the (fill in the blank with the latest technological wonder) is (1) fairly recent in invention and (2) anything that preceded was hopelessly crude and unsophisticated, if it even existed or could have been possibly conceived in an earlier age. Serious students of history, particularly technological history, will assert though, the degree of inventiveness and technical complexity evidenced by our predecessors is indeed extraordinary, especially when put in context of the extent of knowledge in a particular field at the time. The story of airborne radar, and airborne early warning radar in particular, is one of the signatory lessons in this vein.

Radar was not unknown in the early days of WWII – indeed the story of how the CHAIN HOME radar stations, linked to coordination centers who in turn guided and directed Leigh-Mallory’s “big wing” fighter tactics is well known. The US Navy was already working to incorporate radar into its surface ships to permit gunnery under all weather/day-night conditions and meet navigational needs. Radar “expanded the battle space” (in the current parlance) but soon encountered problems – not the least of which was the curvature of the earth and the haven it provided to low flying aircraft. The solution, raise the radar antenna by mounting the radar to an aircraft, was fraught with a number of challenges.

Chief among those hurdles was the radar wave itself. The early search radars were low frequency (HF-band) with a long PRF (pulse repetition frequency) which provided the necessary range and were generally easy to generate. The down side was the requirement for large, very large antennas. Even later radars with parabolic antennas and operating at higher frequencies still tended to be very large. Airborne radar would need to be a microwave radar that provided high power with a smaller antenna. Simple in thought, difficult in execution. Yet efforts were underway on both sides of the Atlantic to meet this problem. The solution would be a device called a magnetron – specifically, a cavity magnetron.

Simple two-pole magnetrons were developed in the 1920s by Albert Hull at General Electric’s Research Laboratories (Schenectady, New York), as an outgrowth of his work on the magnetic control of vacuum tubes in an attempt to work around the patents held by Lee DeForest on electrostatic control. The two-pole magnetron, also known as a split-anode magnetron, had relatively low efficiency. The cavity version (properly referred to as a resonant-cavity magnetron), the path British scientists and engineers were working, proved to be far more useful.

In 1940, at the University of Birmingham in the UK, John Randall and Dr. Harry Boot produced a working prototype similar to Hollman’s cavity magnetron, but added liquid cooling and a stronger cavity. Randall and Boot soon managed to increase its power output 100-fold. Instead of giving up on the magnetron due to its frequency inaccuracy (in essence, what the Luftwaffe did), they instead sampled the output signal and synced their receiver to whatever frequency was actually being generated. An early 6kW version, built by GECRL (Wembley, UK) and given to the U.S. government in September 1940, was called “the most valuable cargo ever brought to our shores” (see Tizard Mission). At the time the most powerful equivalent microwave-producer available in the US (a klystron- basically a linear beam tube) had a power of only ten watts.

In the meantime, back in the US, work was underway on electronic relays as a means of extending the range of radar. The idea was to take multiple radars, deploy them at the limit of line-of-sight ranges and link those images into one centralized picture on the flagship. That line-of-sight range, of course, could be extended if the extended range platforms, or pickets, were airborne. As early as 14 Aug 1942, the MIT Radiation Lab (MIT-RL) demonstrated this capability using television equipment borrowed from RCA (actually with assistance from National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) via a contract negotiated with RCA) and an experimental radar on the roof of another building. Further development and refinement led to the successful relay of radar signals to a receiver at East Boston Airport in May 1943 from an aircraft operating over Nantucket Island at 10,000 ft at a range of about 50 nm. In July 1943, the relay radar, the AN/APS-14 was demonstrated to naval officers at the East Boston Airport and a short film developed for COMINCH which was subsequently followed with a request to extend the range to 100 nm.

By the end of December 1943 even with the successful extension of range to 100 nm, however, there was no decision to proceed with production of the AN/APS-14 and there was movement to cancel the project. The following month though, the Navy proposed to develop an AEW system that had as part of the set-up, a high-power relay teamed with a high-power, microwave radar (enabled by the British magnetron). MIT-RL was awarded the task and Project CADILLAC was underway.

To Be Continued

h/t: Blackfive,

“MAJ Lan Dalat, a military officer student currently attending the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, and his brother, Anthony Lang who works at the college, are Vietnamese Boat People who were rescued by the USS Ranger in 1981. Major Dalat recently went to San Antonio to speak at the USS Ranger reunion. Because he and his family were picked up by a US Navy ship, Dalat is giving back to the country that saved him and his family.

This is their story (and it is awesome)”

Posted by admin in History, Navy | No Comments

U.S. Slams Pakistani Effort On Militants
A new White House assessment steps up criticism of Pakistan’s campaign against militants, stating bluntly that its government and military have been unwilling to take action against al Qaeda and like-minded terrorists.

Why A Terrorist Strike On Europe Risks Geopolitical Meltdown
Bad as they are, right now, relations between the U.S. and Pakistan could get a whole lot worse if a feared Mumbai-style terrorist plot materializes in Europe.

Pakistan: Is It Over, Over There?
Just when it seemed that things could not get worse, they do. One would have thought that given the ongoing catastrophic floods, conditions in Pakistan were at a nadir. But last week, several incidents lowered even that bar regarding U.S.-Pakistani ties.

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