Archive for March, 2011

Today’s post comes by way of AT1 Charles Berlemann, Jr. Currently assigned to VAQ-135 (World Famous Back Ravens), he enlisted in 1998 and has made five deployments (see “Postcards from Deployment”). Interested since 1995 (Charles calls himself an “unofficial member), he joined the Institute in 1999. We have maintained correspondence for a few years now and as a former VAW MO and CO, I would have moved heaven and earth to have had someone with his presence, leadership skills, technical acumen and, let’s call it what it really is, ethos in my squadron. He comes to this fora with eloquently expressed concerns about the current emphasis and projected direction for the Institute. If you are a member of the Board of Directors – stop, read and carefully consider what is written. Here is one of the bright lights in the Institute’s membership and someone with real vision for its future…someone you need to pay attention to.

I am writing today since you dear reader care just as deeply about the USNI as I care about our organization. We want to see this organization be a place where ideas can be allowed to ebb and flow. Our organization should be willing to help people generate their ideas and not suppress them. We also want to see our organization grow with membership; whether that member is a brand new sailor walking in a graduation ceremony at RTC Great Lakes or the retired master merchant mariner in his backyard. Our publishing arm is also, incredibly important to not only ourselves, but to our nation’s knowledge level. I feel that if we see a transition of our organization from an independent forum that fosters our current mission of advancing our professional, technical, scientific, and literary knowledge; over to an organization that becomes an advocacy group that we will be losing a uniquely different voice for the naval profession.

I was one of those rare geeky kids interested in USNI publications as a youngster. I have been an avid reader of both Proceedings since the mid 1980’s, starting when I was in the 3rd grade. My father, who has been a member since the late 1970’s, who use to leave his copy of “Proceedings” lying on his end table; I would borrow and attempt to read them. Initially I would just look at the photo captions and article titles. Even at that young age, I was asking questions about what those titles meant and why some of the articles had been included in the magazine. As I got older, I would dive into the book reviews and the letters to the editors. Every so often there would be an article which would peak my interest so I would read it in full and discuss it with my dad asking about why an article was written. I wanted to know “What is going on that led the author to ask this question?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by SteelJaw in Navy | 6 Comments

Reporting In

Upon checking into the next phase of training, our CO encouraged us to keep a journal, write down our thoughts…and/or blog. So…

I am currently stationed in Ballston Spa, NY where I am continuing my training in the Navy’s nuclear power pipeline at “prototype.” Having completed Nuclear Power School, I am now preparing to operate a reactor. Currently, I am getting qualifications to operate the reactor the Navy has here and will qualify by early September. At that point, I will be qualified to start qualifying as an Engineering Officer of the Watch on a submarine. Then, I will head to Groton where I will attend Submarine Officer Basic Course after which I will report to a submarine. Should everything going smoothly, I would be reporting in late November/December.

That’s where I am in the grand scheme of things.

Right now, I am learning as much as possible about the many, many systems which comprise the nuclear plant up here. I arrive at the “site” (the installation is actually “owned” by the Department of Energy) at about 0700 everyday. My partner and I then come up with a plan for the day (what systems to tackle that day), grab the reference manuals and start studying. After we feel comfortable with the material, we take a quiz on the computer. Passing the quiz allows you to be tested by an instructor on the material, who can sign to the proficiency on the material in our thick qualification binders. Just to give readers an idea, we study 56 hours a week for 6 months. It’s a thick binder.

This past week went by quickly (as did the weekend), but we discovered a place which does $.20 wings on Thursdays, so that practically adds a day to the weekend, right?

Anyway, I’m trying to get back in to the blogging habit. One of my friends at Power School remarked that he wished he had kept a journal while he was at the Academy and I agreed. In the moment, JOs feel so busy; we are busy, but thinking, writing and reflecting are habits. I’ll try to get back into them.

Libyan rebels appeared to make marked progress Mar. 27, driving westward from the long-contested town of Ajdabiya to small towns west of Ras Lanuf. In so doing, the rebels have consolidated control over almost all the energy infrastructure on the Gulf of Sidra.

Some 100 miles of advance is certainly noteworthy, but by almost all indications it was not a matter of Gadhafi’s forces being defeated by force of arms so much as a deliberate decision to pull back, possibly to Sirte (the Libyan leader’s hometown and a loyalist stronghold).

There is a logic to this. Gadhafi was on extended lines vulnerable to airpower. He was on the verge of taking Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital, when the coalition began to bomb targets in Libya, but the vast stretches of open territory between these towns leave readily identifiable armor and artillery vulnerable to attack from the air. By pulling back to strongholds like Sirte, not only does Gadhafi reduce the extension of his own lines and force the rebels to extend theirs, but he falls back onto stockpiles of his own in more built-up areas where it is far more difficult to attack targets from the air for fear of inflicting civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, the rebels in the east never actually conquered much territory through conquest in the first place, rather enjoying the accumulation of territory ceded to them by either the abandonment or defection of the military and security forces responsible for it. Even now there is little sign that they have coalesced into a meaningful military force (much less one with the logistical wherewithal to fight on extended lines), even as they have charged westward into territory vacated in the course of Gadhafi’s retreat. In fact, there is a risk that they will overreach themselves, riding the momentum of their westward advance directly into prepared defensive positions by more competent loyalist forces.

In any event, the tactical problems that define the attempt to change the reality on the ground in Libya through the application of airpower alone remain considerable. The open terrain between Gadhafi’s strongholds in the east and the rebel strongholds (even Ras Lanuf) remains a considerable challenge for either side to sustain combat operations across. And it remains far from clear that even with air support directed by western special operations forces that the rebels will be able to dislodge loyalist forces from prepared defenses in built-up urban areas.

Posted by nhughes in Strategy, Tactics | 5 Comments


March 2011


Our co-blogger here at USNIBLog – Admiral Stavridis, USN, SACEUR – sent along this tweet earlier today,

#NATO is now in charge of the Arms Embargo off the coast of #Libya. I designated a top Italian Admiral to run it.

Yes, he is on Twitter – and if you don’t follow him on Twitter you are making us both sad.

I am going to put up my next “Big Pixel” Operation ODYSSEY DAWN (OOD) post on Monday – but for now I want to focus on this.

This NATO effort has been named Operation Unified Protector and its mission is to assist the international community in reducing the flow of arms and material prohibited by the arms embargo into and from Libya in order to reduce acts of aggression against the civilian population.

NATO’s response to the situation in Libya is based on three fundamental principles: added value from the Alliance to the existing international efforts; a clear legal mandate and strong regional support.

Operation Unified Protector will assist in reducing the flow of arms, related material and mercenaries to and from the coastal waters off Libya only.

NATO nation ships and aircraft will conduct operations to monitor, report and, if needed,interdict vessels and intercept aircraft where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that they are carrying cargo in violation of the arms embargo or suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries.

Joint Forces Command Naples is designated as the command headquarters with Vice Admiral Rinaldo Veri of the Italian Navy, Commander of Maritime Command Naples, in command of the arms embargo operation who will, in turn, appoint the Task Force Commander at sea.

I’m going to stick with NATO terms here; so work with me and don’t get all nit-picky if you are using a different Operational Planning school – we’re working fundamentals of Operational Planning here and its all close enough. Also, this post will be almost as hard to follow as the C2 structure we have in place – don’t blame me, I’m only as poor of a writer as my subject. Ahem. Let’s dive in to this.

Under the Operational Commander, you have three major Component Commanders; Land Component Commander (LCC), Maritime Component Commander (MCC), and Air Component Commander (ACC). There can be variations on the theme – but these are the big three we’ll talk about.

Here we are, almost a week into OOD and …. well …. we have a hybrid structure that has been American, until now.

To review: COMAFRICOM is the COCOM with C6F CNE, Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III apparently serving as the JTF Operational Commander. I say apparently, as this C2 structure is a dog’s breakfast at this point with unconnected and uncoordinated lines. Who has OPCOM, OPCON, TACOM, TACON of who is so out of joint (pun intended) to everyone that until yesterday Norway grounded its F-16s in Crete simply because it had no idea who was who and why.

Now we have something different. As OOD has American stink on it and everyone seems to want to call this something different, NATO is using Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR (OUP) for the Maritime aspect of this and will have to do. That gives us at this point another custom C2 structure with both USA and NATO – and perhaps – some Coalition of the Willing structure for ACC and a replacement for COMAFRICOM in the future.

Sorry I don’t have a C2 diagram for you, but it would take at least two hours to make and would need at a minimum a 4-foot by 6-foot whiteboard to put it up correctly and it would still be wrong inside half a day.

On the Maritime side though, NATO JFC Naples is an Operational Level Commander who also happens to be the same person with a different hat, USA C6F Admiral Samual J. Locklear, III, USN.

With his NATO hat as JFC Naples, ADM Locklear has a LCC, MCC, and ACC. In Naples is his MCC, Maritime Command Naples who is taking the point in OUP and will appoint someone else to command the Task Force at Sea. Funny, I would think COM MCC Naples Actual would – but perhaps other things are in play that will flesh out later. Not a tidy C2 for now, but what one is in coalition operations?

According to his website, ADM Locklear’s ACC is in Izmir, Turkey – so I don’t think that will be a player. His LCC is in Madrid … and let’s not speak of that.

The announcement of a MCC for OOD/OUP is good news as it means that things are slowly being patched together. We are a little closer to being able to turn it over to a Coalition Command structure as the CINC states he wants to take place – if we can have someone step up to Operation HOT POTATO.

Where to? For now we have the relatively benign MCC job under an Italian Admiral in NATO’s Command Structure – I think the ACC will probably be American but not NATO when all is said and done for both structural, training, and practical reasons that I will outline in a broader context next Monday or Tuesday.

LCC. Well, let’s just hope we don’t need one of those. Ever.

So far, this has a whiff of the Kosovo operation in a way; a patch-up/pick-up operation with little to no preliminary Operational Planning (though there was time for it if there was POL/MIL guidance earlier than the last minute). SACEUR is a tough job on any day – with AFG and now OOD/OUP … it just got more interesting – but without sounding like a smack; we’ve got the right man for the job in place.

UPDATE: Things look like they have settled even more broadly than the above last night. With Turkey deciding to stop opposition – to my pleasant surprise considering what they had been saying over the last couple of weeks – things are looking much “cleaner” and the operations is mostly falling under JFC Naples, ADM Locklear, USN, and his Component Command Structure.

Strategic headquarters of NATO, Supreme Headquarters Allied Power Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium, would oversee the general operation, the source said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

The mission of the air would be monitored in Izmir, Turkey, but the daily tactical operations in a series of short Renatico Poggio, the diplomat said. Turkey has blocked a new effort Wednesday night to give NATO a role in the no-fly zone because it requires an end to the bombing campaign led by a coalition led by the United States, Britain and France.

JFC Naples the Operational Level Command, and ACC will be Izmir. Heh, I owe someone a beer.

There looks like we may have some OEF-vs-ISAF like parallel structure with the Libyan operation. If you listen to the end of NATO’s Secretary General’s statement, he mentions continues coordination with “Coalition” forces. Maybe he means something else – but it wold be a shame if we have parallel C2 structures.

I would offer though that in 2011, NATO should really have more details out than this – things may change but that is all we know right now.

UPDATE II: Looks like we have split the Air Component Command in to two parts. One doing air-to-ground, the other the air-to-air. Yes, a parallel command structure within a Component Command. Messy – but isn’t everything political?

As NATO takes over, a Canadian air force general will command most of the Libyan air war but not the nastiest bits – bombing ground targets and attacking Moammar Gadhafi’s tanks – reflecting an ongoing split in the alliance.

Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard will initially run only the no-fly zone over Libya. An Italian admiral will command the multinational naval blockade offshore. The punishing and controversial bombing runs and air-to-ground strafing will remain under U.S. command until NATO establishes rules of engagement acceptable to reluctant alliance nations such as Germany and Turkey.

U.S., British, Canadian and French warplanes conducting air-to-ground strikes will remain under the command of U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear. In military jargon he is “double-hatted” – serving as commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe as well as joint task force commander for NATO’s southern command in Naples. Gen. Bouchard serves as his deputy in the latter role, and handing day-to-day running of the war to the Canadian will take Adm. Locklear out of the limelight.

Read it closer, again, on who is doing what. Yep.

As NATO takes over, a Canadian air force general will command most of the Libyan air war but not the nastiest bits – bombing ground targets and attacking Moammar Gadhafi’s tanks – reflecting an ongoing split in the alliance.

Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard will initially run only the no-fly zone over Libya. An Italian admiral will command the multinational naval blockade offshore. The punishing and controversial bombing runs and air-to-ground strafing will remain under U.S. command until NATO establishes rules of engagement acceptable to reluctant alliance nations such as Germany and Turkey.

The air-to-air portion is 98% over. Nothing more to do. That “combat” will go from USA to NATO with a nice Canadian helo pilot in charge (who BTW is an outstanding General Officer FWIW – good guy to have there).

There is still a fair bit of wet work to be done air-to-ground … so … who is commanding that and doing most of the sorties? Yep, USA. We will need two white boards to diagrams this C2 structure … if you can. Unity of Command? Don’t be silly.


Libya – Now What?

March 2011


The U.S. and its NATO allies are now through three full nights of the air campaign over Libya, and approaching their fourth. They have once again demonstrated that given uncontested access to regional air bases that they can conduct a coordinated, complex air campaign to suppress enemy air defenses; target command, control and communications nodes and take out military vehicles in the open. But now that this has been achieved, and as the United States prepares to hand command of operations over to its European allies, the apparent lack of a consensus on military objectives or wider political goals begins to evolve very quickly from abstract down-the-road issues to more tangible and pressing questions of ‘now what?’

CDRSalamander laid out these questions out on Sunday. With the air campaign now well underway, we’re beginning to see additional indications relevant to some of these questions. Most stark regards the opposition forces in the east, which even before the announcement of a NFZ never proved capable of mounting a coherent military opposition to the advance of Gadhafi’s forces — their defensive lines collapsed as he drove eastward. Even now, after three days of air strikes against his positions between the rebel capital of Benghazi and the town of Ajdabiyah, the rebels proved incapable of retaking the town and again had to retreat under fire from Gadhafi’s forces. There is little indication thus far that their problems are advanced enough that even close air support coordinated by western special operations teams can make a difference. They lack the basic cohesion and organization as well as competency and proficiency in basic military operations — much less the ability to organize logistical support for a sustained push across the country. What it would take to get these forces to the point that they could defeat better-trained forces loyal to Gadhafi that have proven committed and capable (in a way that was never dependent on the limited harassment of what remained of Gadhafi’s air forces) and are now dug in and taking shelter in built-up urban areas. This is simply not something airpower alone is capable of resolving while at the same time doing its best to keep civilian casualties to a minimum.

This raises an even more important point. Not only has the west intervened in a civil war — with all the attendant uncertainties that CDRSal identified, as well as the likely attendant further deterioration of the humanitarian conditions on the ground without forces in place (or even the political consensus to be ready to deploy those forces). But it has stepped into a very messy situation where all manner of Libyan tribal, societal and personal divisions are boiling to the surface all at once as Gadhafi’s four-decade control over the country is finally eroding. That intervention entails picking a side, and we did not pick the side that is capable of unifying the country militarily with minimal support.

Instead it appears to have intervened based on the west’s perception of the unrest that has wracked the Middle East and North Africa in 2011. This perception is based on an idealized but flawed narrative of what has happened in the region, a narrative that suggests that these strong men — from Gadhafi to Mubarak — are the only thing standing between liberal masses yearning to be free and democratic countries that share basic western values. In reality, it is often far from clear that the opposition to these regimes has much at all unifying it other than opposition to the regime itself and there are strong illiberal, non-secular and conservative strands that underly many of the demographics and political forces at work.

[Admin note: this came to our CEO – if you know of anyone who would like to post a dispatch from Afghanistan, Iraq, Japan, Libya, or elsewhere, please email us at [email protected]]

An online friend I’ve nicknamed DoT posted this email from Ensign Margaret Morton, USNA ’10 aboard USS Mustin (DDG 89). The ship’s mission this week is to provide relief to the stricken near Sendai. She provides details of the situation from her vantage point:

Dear friends and family, I am in complete amazement. The number of recipients of this e-mail has grown exponentially, and I quite literally have received replies from people all over the world. I have shared your thoughts and prayers with my sailors and they appreciate the support as much as I do. I am writing to give a second update on the events off the coast of Sendai.

I stood watch this morning from 2-7 am, carefully maneuvering through the darkness so as not to hit half submerged cargo boxes and overturned boats. To add to the challenge, our visibility decreased from about 8 miles to less than one in a matter of minutes as we entered into a blizzard. And if that wasn’t enough, we still are remaining cautious of the radiation hazard a couple hundred miles away and feeling various aftershocks. In my Captain’s words, “You couldn’t write this stuff.” Every day has been an adventure.

Today our helo was vectored off to an isolated hospital with SOS showing on the rooftop. This hospital contained over 200 patients still alive and in desperate need of supplies. We delivered food, water, clothing, and blankets. The pilots are about to make a final run for the day right now and are calling for any last things we can bear to give up. I managed to grab another jacket from my closet and my old UGG boots. I figure I don’t need much more than coveralls and a pair of black boots to live on a ship.

A major concern for us out here on the water is the people we left behind. The Navy has around 25,000 people living in the Yokosuka area. As a preemptive measure, they have just begun voluntary evacuation of families from Japan due to the uncertainty of the nuclear plants and the potential for the winds to shift and spread radiation to the south. They also are feeling the many aftershocks from the initial earthquake, including a six that occurred just across Tokyo Bay from the base. For me, I only have to worry about the state of my household goods, for most of my sailors, they have a lot more on the line.

Please keep all of these people affected in your prayers, from those suffering from injury and loss, to those isolated, yet struggling to survive, and finally for the Sailors and their families who want to help, but must care for their own at the same time.

Many of you have asked how you can help and for now, I don’t have much information as we are only doing what we can from the ship. However, people from our ship are donating money to the American Red Cross who has been working with the Japanese Red Cross to tailor to their specific needs. I will try to find a point of contact in Japan that can provide more information on donations.

Again, thank you for your support, your prayers, your pictures, and the notes you have sent. I am very thankful to have such an awesome group of people to lift me up. Love

Posted by admin in Navy, Soft Power | 6 Comments

And so, yesterday it started in earnest. In what seems strangely like a mix of the immediate aftermath of DESERT STORM’s Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, DESERT FOX, with a whiff of the Suez Crisis thrown in – what in the USA we are calling Operation ODYSSEY DAWN, ELLAMY for the British, HARMATTAN for the French, and MOBILE for the Canadians in now underway.

We saw yesterday the launch of TLAM – both traditional and tactical TLAM – along with Anglo-French strike aircraft going after Libyan government positions to “shape the battlespace” for further operations. The Pentagon created slide below outlines the Maritime forces – but unfortunately leaves out one of the TLAM shooters, the SSN HMS TRIUMPH (click image for larger).

From the same Pentagon brief, the below slide shows we plan on a two-station No Fly Zone Libya (NFZ-L). So far it looks like it will be using land-based aircraft only. See the previous posts about those challenges – especially for any long-term presence.

Where did we strike? This should give you an idea.

A few things stand out for me. First is the USS FLORIDA SSGN, the mixed use of the Tactical TLAM, and the British use of their Anglo-French-Italian ALCM Stormshadow. Initial reports just mentioned French and British aircraft, but AFRICOM also reports that EA-18G made their combat appearance, and AV-8B Harriers aboard the USS KEARSARGE (LHD-3) participated in strikes. More information will follow as the day goes forward, I’m sure.

Also, until a Coalition Command is set up (!), from the Pentagon brief (watch it here), it seems that this is being run by Commander, Africa Command; General Ham with Admiral Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III apparently in Tactical Command with Joint Task Force ODYSSEY DAWN embarked USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC-20).

As a final thought for now, I want to return to VADM Gortney’s brief from the Pentagon where he stated that the initial strikes were done to “Create the conditions and shape the battlespace, partners can take the lead.”

Now that we are in, it begs a few questions.

1. Will the anti-Gadaffi forces be able to advance under Coalition top-cover?

2. Do our Coalition partners have the political, military, and financial ability to support a protracted NFZ-L? If partner nations start to fall out over time – when do we decide to remove our support, or do we plan to be the last nation standing, again?

3. As we have intervened in a civil war; what if any obligation do we have to prevent defeat of the rebels’ ground forces – or if their defeat is eminent – evacuate them and resettle with their families?

4. What is the diplomatic plan if the Gadaffi forces defeat the rebellion? According to The Telegraph CJCS Admiral Mullen stated,

Adm Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the outcome of military action from the air was “very uncertain” and made it clear that Washington did not see the goal of Operation Odyssey Dawn as removing the Libyan leader from power.

Well, I can tell you that however you spell his name, Gadaffi thinks we are. The leaders of the rebellion thinks we are, and … errr …

Since military action was authorised, Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, has said that the only logical conclusion to the military campaign was the removal of Col Gaddafi. David Cameron has also reiterated demands for the Libyan leader, who yesterday vowed a “long war”, to step down.

STRATCOM fail. Next.

5. If the rebellion succeeds, what are the Coalition’s obligation to prevent reprisal killings and tribal based score settling?

6. If the rebellion succeeds and the war on the ground becomes a series of human rights incidents, as is often the end game in civil wars (which we will have no control over as we have no forces on the ground), do we continue to give those forces top-cover to continue their human rights abuses?

7. If this is our basis for intervention, then what do we tell the leaders of uprisings in Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, and other places?

A few days ago I received an email from James Knochel at I had never heard of the group before. Their goal is to save the USS Enterprise from the scrapyard by converting it into a dedicated disaster response ship:

The Navy is planning to send the Enterprise on two 6-month cruises before throwing it away. They’ll have to cut it up to extract the nuclear reactors, so there’s no prospect for turning it into a museum. The Enterprise’s replacement, the USS Gerald R. Ford, is specifically designed to reduce operating costs. The Enterprise is just too expensive for the Navy to keep as an active warship.

Instead of throwing away a perfectly functional ship, we propose that the Enterprise be dedicated to disaster response.

This is a horrible idea. Enterprise is too big, too deep, too costly, and too old to be a viable dedicated humanitarian and disaster relief ship. The fundamental problem with Knochel’s idea is that it seems primarily interesting in finding a mission for the ship, rather than finding the right ship for the mission. In other words, it is about saving Enterprise, not saving people. If you are really interested in providing effective humanitarian relief, loading disaster response modules onto many ships would be a better choice.

However, given that it is clearly an original idea, I thought I would throw it out there to readers and see what your thoughts are.

Update: Here is a response from Knochel

“The genesis for my “Send the Enterprise” idea was in thinking about
ways to mitigate the environmental impact of BP’s Deepwater Horizon

Oil seeps into the world’s oceans every day. Bacteria in the ocean
waters use oxygen to eat this oil. But due to the massive amounts of
oil and natural gas that were being released from the blowout, all
available oxygen in the waters around the Macondo Prospect site was
quickly consumed.

My idea called for using “bubble fences” to get extra oxygen into the
water, thereby feeding the oil-consuming bacteria. This would require
a lot of energy, and I thought the U.S. Navy’s “portable” nuclear
reactors would be the ideal way to power this sort of infrastructure.

One of my early readers suggested that it’d be easier to pump warm,
oxygenated water to the depths required than air, which I eventually
realized was a good insight.

It’s not enough to have a good idea, they have to be properly marketed
too. In hindsight, Kevin Costner’s centrifuge was rather mediocre at
actually collecting oil, but his celebrity status got him attention
and million-dollar contracts.

I have neither celebrity nor attention, and good ideas don’t sell
themselves. To help with marketing, I titled my piece to piggyback on
to the mystique and legend of the Navy’s oldest nuclear powered ship:
Save the Gulf, Send the Enterprise

In the process of researching that article, I learned about many of
the disasters that the Navy has responded to in recent years. After
BP’s well was finally plugged, my thoughts shifted towards future
disasters: the possibility of another offshore blowout, and the
certainty of future volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis
anywhere in the world.

“When Disaster Strikes, Send the Enterprise” gets a lot more attention
than “wouldn’t it be cool if the U.S. Navy had some ships that were
dedicated to disaster response?”

Perhaps you all are correct that amphibious ships are more appropriate
for HA/DR than retired aircraft carriers. Whatever the case, I’m
hoping that the Congress will appropriate some money to fully study
the prospect of dedicating ships to these purposes.

If this idea takes off, and you see the media talking about “sending
the Enterprise”, please remember it’s more a marketing strategy than
an effort to “save” a specific ship.

Thanks for all the feedback & ideas.


James Knochel”

As things have picked up as of late WRT the No-Fly Zone over Libya (NFZ-L) – I think it is time to update the post from 17 days ago.

We have a “go” – in a fashion – for a NFZ-L. CONOPS, COA, ROE, etc; the most important things we really don’t know what we will have. What we do know at the moment is what nations are already throwing their hat in.

CAN: 6 CF-18.
GBR: Unknown number of Tornado and Typhoon fighters. Possible E-3D and tanker support, perhaps others. Frigates HMS CUMBERLAND and HMS WESTMINSTER.
FRA: Bases in southern France & Corsica. CVN FS CHARLES DE GAULLE with 35 aircraft perhaps.
USA: We can bring the the multitude or European based aircraft to bear; if we want to. We have the KEARSARGE ESG in the area. The Big E and her CSG are within reach in a few days; if we want it to. BATAAN ESG will deploy early and can lean in; if we want it to.
ESP: Access to airbases and unspecified aircraft and navy ships.
ITA: Accesses to airbases and support “without reserve” – whatever that means.
BEL: 6 F-16.
QAT: Unspecified support – the only Arab nation so far that I can see coming out post NFZ-L approval.

DEU, I guess, decided they had enough of the Libyan desert a few decades ago – and our other allies I presume were out of OPTAR or some other excuse. As for the rest of NATO – well, this sounds about par.

Before Friday’s meeting, NATO allies were still divided on whether to impose a no-fly zone. While the United States, Britain and France strongly backed the idea, Germany remained cautious and Turkey expressed opposition.

A diplomat said that NATO nations reached consensus on Friday on the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya, but failed to fix details about how partners will take part in.

NATO ambassadors are expected to meet over the weekend, the diplomat added.

Meanwhile, some NATO nations have expressed their willingness to participate in the deployment of a no-fly zone over Libya.

We shouldn’t expect more from them. Those who could, have. The rest will take a couple of months to figure out how they can do enough to get their flag outside the headquarters – but not enough to take any blame if things should go wrong.

We also know that there is hard math at work here. Physics and engineering cannot be successfully fudged for long. Almost all the viable non-USN particiapation is shore based. Distance is not your friend, especially with the short legs of many of the fighters being offered. Tanker support will be a huge requirement in money and material if you want a serious NFZ-L – as will heavy AEW. If you want, as some have mentioned, a “No-Drive Zone Libya” (NDZ-L), then you are asking for dramatic increase in the Combined Joint Statement of Requirements (CJSOR) – and will need boots on the ground to do it right.

The role and participation by the USA is still behind closed doors, but unless something unusual happens, we know how this will happen in broad terms;

Michael O’Hanlon, a defense expert at the Brookings Institution, said the United States “frankly might wind up playing the biggest role” because Britain and France may be unable to get sufficient aircraft to Libya quickly enough.

“A key part of the role the U.S. is going to play here is going to be like one of President Obama’s previous jobs: community organizer,” said Brian Katulis, a Middle East expert at the Center for American Progress.

Frank knows time-distance it seems; Brian is a cheeky monkey.

With the atrophied military capability and shaky will of the European nations – not to mention their budget “issues” – any type of significant military action in the Maghreb will require the USA to do the heavy lifting. We are the indispensable nation – and when it comes to any sustained action from the sea, the USN is the indispensable Navy.

If you have to project any type of power ashore with ranges such as here (see post from 01MAR) – the CVN is the indispensable ship. As we have waited to the 11th hour to do anything, I still stand by my statements from 17 days ago; without more than 1 CVN you will not have an effective NFZ-L. We don’t have that yet, and may never.

So, if that is where we stand; are we just relying on hope and best case scenarios? Is the NFZ-L just for show and a half-hearted effort? Are we ready for the time and effort for a sustained NFZ-L? Are our allies? Are we going to just let the Europeans fail as they did in AFG from ’06-’08 and then try to fix it later?

Finally there is this questions that many seem to want to avoid. We set up a NFZ-L and Gadaffi still wins in the face of it; what is our Branch Plan, or Sequel? What are the second and third order effects of an ineffective NFZ-L that results in a Gadaffi win?

Well – hopefully we won’t have to figure that out. Smart professionals are working that – but before everyone starts moving their little-bits around the map – listen to SECDEF Gates one more time.

Another dark room – let’s all step in together.

UPDATE: NOR and DNK are in … as tanks start to enter Benghazi. Tic, toc; tic, toc.

UPDATE II: Pictures are important and tell the story of the costs of delay. A couple of weeks ago, Gadaffi only had the area around Tripoli and a scattered town or two. The facts on the ground have changes significantly. Quite the challenge (click for larger).

The ballot sent to members for the April 2011 Annual meeting included a vote on changing the U.S. Naval Institute’s mission statement. In a special meeting on March 17, the Institute’s Board of Directors agreed unanimously to delay any change in the Institute’s mission statement whatever the outcome of the balloting. The Directors agreed that a wide-ranging and fully open debate led by the membership will provide the guidance needed to shape any change, if necessary. Directors and staff are now considering options for engaging the membership in this discussion, and will have further information available shortly.

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