Archive for May, 2011


we did that already

May 2011


Discussions of how the Pentagon can become a better consumer and a more responsible custodian of taxpayer money are – not without cause – a common refrain these days. So it isn’t really surprising when one comes upon yet another bureaucratic or institutional failing within DoD. A conference on Unmanned Systems hosted by the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at the National Defense University immediately began hitting on a series of issues right with the first panel. This was a panel discussion that spent time on a refreshingly short and simple word: reuse:

  • Industry has continued to develop platform-specific software packages essentially from the ground-up – and is certainly happy to continue to charge DoD for the favor.
  • DoD spends money on the right to use and reuse software and data associated with the systems that it buys. But does it know and understand those rights? Either way, as a matter of practice, it does not exercise them enough and should be.
  • Program managers are not incentivized to expend much effort on investigating potential opportunities to reuse software that has already been developed.
  • DoD spends money on and completes research and development. But those research and development programs, particularly those with significant classified aspects, have a way of disappearing once they get completed in a file drawer and on a server somewhere. Often there is little more than a place-holder webpage for the initial scope of the program at the outset. Not only are the products of or lessons learned from the programs inaccessible, but their very existence is known far more narrowly than their applicability. As a result, the products and lessons of that research are often not made part of the requirements writing process and later elements of programmatic and acquisition efforts.

While DoD funds cutting-edge technology it has proven to be all too often a lagging or late adaptor of new technology. We’re seeing a lot of powerpoint slides these days with common and open architectures. But how much progress has there really been in this regard? How has the fielding of the Aegis open architecture been going? Have we bought into the right concept and if we have, how are we really doing in terms of implementation?

Modern warfare and counter-terrorism bump up against international law and the “law of war” on a moment to moment basis – and that’s the subject of this week’s Midrats show – Episode 72 Lawfare and the Long War 05/22 by Midrats on Blog Talk Radio:

Never in our history have we fought a war where law, lawyers, and layers of legalese have impacted all levels of the war, Political, Strategic, Operational, and Tactical.

Why do we find ourselves here and in what direction are we going?

From Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and even domestically, the legal definition of the use of military power is evolving.

To discuss the impact of Lawfare for the full hour with Sal from the blog “CDR Salamander” and EagleOne from “EagleSpeak” will be David Glazier, CDR USN (Ret.).

David is a Professor of Law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. Prior to Loyola, he was a lecturer at the University of Virginia School of Law and a research fellow at the Center for National Security Law, where he conducted research on national security, military justice and the law of war. He also served as a pro bono consultant to Human Rights First.

Before attending law school, Glazier served twenty-one years as a US Navy surface warfare officer. In that capacity, he commanded the USS George Philip (FFG-12), served as the Seventh Fleet staff officer responsible for the US Navy-Japan relationship, the Pacific Fleet officer responsible for the US Navy-PRC relationship, and participated in UN sanctions enforcement against Yugoslavia and Haiti.

Glazier has a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law, an MA from Georgetown University in government/national security studies, and holds a BA in history from Amherst College.

So, with experience ranging from warrior to law of war scholar, Professor Glazier has some interesting (and perhaps unexpected) views on the matters described above.

Join us this Sunday at 5pm Eastern as we delve into the world of “lawfare.” I promise that the name of Hugo Grotius will be invoked somewhere along the way.

Link to the show page here.

From “Connecting the Dots”

Promotion board result season is upon us, and yet again, the questions fill the air as members of our team attempt to do their own analysis of the results. Despite the numerous flaws in such analysis, individuals will use their “findings” as reason to either validate or alter their desired career path. I mention flaws in the analysis because none of us have the decision inputs that the promotion board did. Yes, I will acknowledge that many times the information we have may be more relevant, as generally speaking many reporting seniors do a poor job of truly documenting performance, holding juniors formally accountable (conduct), and accounting for the personality traits that, if incentivized, would truly build a prolific team (Multipliers vs Diminishers). Our approach to Fitness Reports doesn’t do us any favors (ranking based on relative seniority amongst peers, trying to be “The Good Guy” for everyone, deferring the reality check to the promotion board, etc), but that is not the point of this post. My confusion lies in what really amounts to an annual quest to identify the jobs we should ourselves take as we refine our path to obtaining the collar devices for which we so desperately yearn. Yes, there are plenty who continue to value perceived success (rank) over measurable significance (making a meaningful contribution) and that in itself remains our biggest challenge.

Read the rest at

Posted by M. Ittleschmerz in Navy | 3 Comments

From Navy Times:

Navy: Helo fires on pirate skiff, killing 4

By William H. McMichael – Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday May 18, 2011 12:09:56 EDT

The crew of a Navy helicopter launched from the destroyer Bulkeley fired upon and is believed to have killed four pirates who were in the process of attacking a crude oil carrier while it was transiting the Gulf of Oman on Monday, according to Combined Maritime Forces.

The interdiction took place at 10:35 a.m. local time. The Norfolk, Va.-based Bulkeley, assigned to Joint Task Force 150, had received a mayday call from the German-owned, Panamanian-flagged crude carrier Artemis Glory, which said it was being chased and attacked by pirates.

Bulkeley responded to the mayday call, first heard by a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship and relayed to Combined Maritime Forces, by launching an SH-60B Seahawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Squadron Light 48, Detachment 4, to investigate. When it arrived on station — a command spokesman could not provide the distance or transit time — the crew saw four individuals in a skiff firing at Artemis Glory, using small arms.

The helicopter crew opened fire on the skiff under what command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Sam Hearn of the Royal Navy said was the principle of “extended unit self-defense” on behalf of the crude carrier. All four pirates are believed to have been killed, Hearn said. Hearn said he did not know which weapon system was employed but noted that the SH-60B is equipped with a single M-240 machine gun.

Officials do not believe the helicopter was fired upon by the pirates, Hearn said.

Hearn said Bulkeley did not pick up the bodies, and could not say whether the skiff was sunk. Once it was determined that Artemis Glory was out of danger, the ship continued on its way, Hearn said. The ship is transporting a cargo of crude oil from Saudi Arabia to China.

Much better result than the August 2009 incident when pirates fired on a US Navy helicopter, which did not return fire.

Show yourself a pirate, die at the hands of the US Navy.

As the Sikh Havildar in Kipling’s Kim explained when the Indian Holy Man asked him “What profit to kill men?”

“Very little – as I know, but if evil men were not now and then slain, it would not be a good world for weaponless dreamers.”

“The last of the 14 Lewis and Clark-class cargo ships that General Dynamics NASSCO is building in San Diego will be named after Cesar Chavez, the late civil rights and labor leader. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will visit NASSCO on Tuesday afternoon to make the formal announcement. Some members of the Chavez family are expected to be in attendance, says NASSCO, which recently laid the keel of the ship.”

Posted by admin in Navy | 134 Comments

Last week the CNO announced that the Information Dominance Directorate would not be acquiring programs and officers from the Surface and Submarine Warfare Divisions (N86 and N87). This decision took two years of study and was the final piece that tells us that N6’s merge with N2 really was to just free up a flag billet…which is what N6 has been doing every other year since inception.

But that’s not the 19th Century thinking. The old-think stems from the inability to further erode the power of the platform in favor of the modern dominance of the information. At the same time we see one part of the Navy realizing that the Littoral Combat Ship needs it’s own Program Executive Office to merge combat systems and hulls another part of the Navy is furthering the divide between the information and the platforms that use it.

Today’s modern Chief of Naval Operations Staff (OPNAV) is an amalgamation and transformation that only centuries of bureaucracy can provide. It often reminds me of the house I grew up in – it had been added on to and remodeled so many times that while it looked good from the outside and functioned well on the inside it was neither efficient, logical or the way any architect would have put it together. Which is probably why after the last hurricane to hit my hometown, the owners chose to tear it down rather than repair.

Now, I am not advocating that a natural disaster needs to so thoroughly wreck OPNAV that it would have to be rebuilt from scratch (though I suspect that there are many who would cheer at the thought, at least the wrecking part). Instead I propose that someone, somewhere should take a look at the mission and functions – both statutory and adopted – of the OPNAV staff and redesign it so that it becomes both efficient and logical.

To begin with – the term “Operations” should be removed. The Navy Staff has nothing to do with the operational movement of forces, nor should they. That is what Fleets are for and too many in the staff of the “Chief of All Naval Operations” think that they are there to move the chess pieces. What the Staff is really there to do is two fold – set policy and develop budgets. If it’s not one of those two things, then it’s probably make work or self-imposed churn.

Of course, we can’t just go off into la-la land and ignore some other realities – the “N-code” construct is something that needs to be retained as it is simple and universal within the various armed forces. Bad enough that we have so many different combinations of camouflage, at the very least our admin (where already aligned) should remain so.

How would one version of a redesigned staff look?

N1 – Personnel Policy: support the CNO (yes, keep the title) in formulating policy for the “man” and “train” functions. Move the Community Managers back to N1 and make Commander, Naval Personnel Command the executer of the current year budget (akin to the manner in which CFFC relates to CNO).

N2 – Disestablish: Intelligence functions do not need to be on a administrative staff.

N3 – Operational Policy: Force deployment allocation, deployment length, if there is a policy that applies to the application of forces ashore or at sea, this is where it gets approved. It might be developed somewhere else, but this is where it’s vetted before going to N5 and CNO

N4 – Logistics Policy: All things supply. And ammunition. And medical. And commissary. And infrastructure.

N5 – Strategy Formulation and Policy Wholeness: What are we doing long term? And, do all of our policies make sense when put together?

N6 – Communications Spectrum Policy:

N7 – Disestablish

N8 – Budget Wholeness: Build the budget. This is the only one that I will speak to subcodes:

N81: Personnel budgetting. Works in N8, N1 signs concurrent report.

N82: Intelligence system budgetting. Works in N8, Defense Intelligence Agency signs concurrent report.

N83: Operations budgetting. Works in N8, N3 and CUSFFC sign concurrent report.

N84: Logistics budgetting. Works in N8, N4 signs concurrent report.

N85: Platforms: The hull, airframe, seaframe, people tank what ever you want to call the macro platform.

N86: Communications budgetting. Works in N8, N6 signs concurrent report.

N87: Sensors: How the platforms see

N88: Weapons: How the platforms kill

Policy. Budget. That’s all. All those other things that OPNAV does now? Figure out (1) what value do they provide and then either stop doing the things without real value or realign those things with value to the appropriate operational commander.

And I am certain someone will quibble (especially about that N2 part) but at least it’s a place to start a discussion that is both long overdue and likely to not to have any official sanction any time soon.

As far back as the late 1990s, the distinguishing characteristic of the eastern European countries whom were courted in the Partnership for Peace initiative (of which, at II MEF in 1998, I was a participant) was the individual and collective views of their common neighbor to the east, Russia. Even then, while Russia lay economically prostrate and was seemingly no longer a threat to the West, those nations whom shared a common border, or whom had been a part of the Russian Empire, or more recently, the Soviet Union, cast mistrustful eyes at the Russian Bear.

This differed markedly from military and political thought in the United States in the years immediately following the end of the Cold War. There was a palpable sense to the Americans that Russia was now to be a long term friend who needed us, and could be cultivated based on now-common national goals. In our uniquely American way, we declared “the end of history” and “everything’s different”. In doing so, we discounted a half dozen centuries of national and cultural experience with Russia that had shaped our new Partnership for Peace allies.

This morning, George Friedman of STRATFOR has penned a superb and thought-provoking piece regarding a burgeoning military alliance among Russia’s neighbors in, as Putin describes it, the Near Abroad, which Friedman summarizes thus:

On May 12, the Visegrad Group announced the formation of a “battle group” under the command of Poland. The battle group would be in place by 2016 as an independent force and would not be part of NATO command.

More telling is the shift in the approaches of those participating countries with regards to NATO itself, an organization whose willingness to provide any meaningful security or ability to constitute any effective military power on the scale which would be required to oppose Russia is perceived rightly as non-existent. Economics, Friedman points out, also plays a role in the shifting of this approach:

First, Russia has changed dramatically since the Yeltsin years. It has increased its power in the former Soviet sphere of influence substantially, and in 2008 it carried out an effective campaign against Georgia. Since then it has also extended its influence in other former Soviet states. The Visegrad members’ underlying fear of Russia, built on powerful historical recollection, has become more intense. They are both the front line to the former Soviet Union and the countries that have the least confidence that the Cold War is simply an old memory.

Second, the infatuation with Europe, while not gone, has frayed. The ongoing economic crisis, now focused again on Greece, has raised two questions: whether Europe as an entity is viable and whether the reforms proposed to stabilize Europe represent a solution for them or primarily for the Germans. It is not, by any means, that they have given up the desire to be Europeans, nor that they have completely lost faith in the European Union as an institution and an idea. Nevertheless, it would be unreasonable to expect that these countries would not be uneasy about the direction that Europe was taking. If one wants evidence, look no further than the unease with which Warsaw and Prague are deflecting questions about the eventual date of their entry into the Eurozone. Both are the strongest economies in Central Europe, and neither is enthusiastic about the euro.

Finally, there are severe questions as to whether NATO provides a genuine umbrella of security to the region and its members. The NATO strategic concept, which was drawn up in November 2010, generated substantial concern on two scores. First, there was the question of the degree of American commitment to the region, considering that the document sought to expand the alliance’s role in non-European theaters of operation. For example, the Americans pledged a total of one brigade to the defense of Poland in the event of a conflict, far below what Poland thought necessary to protect the North European Plain. Second, the general weakness of European militaries meant that, willingness aside, the ability of the Europeans to participate in defending the region was questionable. Certainly, events in Libya, where NATO had neither a singular political will nor the military participation of most of its members, had to raise doubts. It was not so much the wisdom of going to war but the inability to create a coherent strategy and deploy adequate resources that raised questions of whether NATO would be any more effective in protecting the Visegrad nations.

I encourage reading the entire piece. To anyone who has worked closely with military officers of the nations of Eastern Europe, and who knows some of the history of those borders, such a move by those countries is hardly a surprise. To the contrary, it seems a logical and prudent progression. However, I think back to a Title 10 War Game I attended a couple years ago, when in a lecture session an Army Major asked whether, in light of NATO’s impotence regarding the Georgia-Ossetia invasion, if the nations of Eastern Europe who trusted Russia least and had the most to fear, would come around to the idea of an alliance as a hedge against Russian expansion. The idea was rather airily dismissed as being “highly unlikely” and myriad “reasons” given for this viewpoint. However, it seemed at the time to those of us in the audience that all the contrary “reasons” would eventually be offset by the need for collective security which NATO no longer was willing or able to provide.
In this post-Cold War world, which is now twenty years in the making, what should have occurred to us by now is that the fundamentals of international relations have not changed. Nations will act in what they believe is their best self-interests. Something about alliances being temporary, and interests, permanent. The Visegrad Group’s formation of an independent Battle Group is one such example that, if we truly understand diplomacy and statesmanship, should surprise us not at all. If we can break out of our rather short-vision prism, the United States should see this as an opportunity for having a vehicle for the containment of Russia in Europe which NATO is no longer willing to provide. The Visegrad Group consists of members whom, like NATO in the 1950s-80s, understand the stakes of the game. We should act with seriousness of purpose, and engage accordingly.

When you scan over it fast – it is really just a small transport, right? For such a small ship with such a humble mission – JHSV continues to bring a lot of interest. Why?

Along with co-host and fellow USNIBlogg’r EagleOne, we hosted a panel discussion this weekend focused on just one thing; the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV).

To discuss this curious little ship for the full hour, we brought together John Patch, CDR USN Ret., Associate Professor of Strategic Intelligence at the US Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership, and “Leesea” a former SWO who has managed sealift ships for the Military Sealift Command since 1980 to include the original charter of the HSV WestPac Express.

Why do we need JHSV, what requirement does it meet? How is the program from a manning, shipbuilding, and development perspective viewed? What missions can/should it do and how should it be armed, if at all?

Grab a fresh cup of coffee, and click here to give it a listen and help us ponder.

Posted by admin in Aviation, Navy | 1 Comment

The Subtext

May 2011


An interesting subtext pervaded much of the USNI-sponsored Joint Warfighting Conference at Virginia Beach. ADM Harvey spoke about the strains the demands of the Combatant Commands were placing on his service. Former Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne spoke about the importance of fifth generation fighters, both the F-35 and F-22 (his position on the F-22 contributed heavily to his replacement by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates). And GEN Ray Odierno emphasized the importance of retaining a balanced force and the trajectory of current strategic trends (i.e. ‘fourth generation’ warfare or whatever you want to call it with the unstated implication that maintaining the Army at close to its current size is essential). This is not to sum up much broader addresses in a sentence. But it was particularly striking how a subtext of a defense of each service’s role and importance was, in one way or another, to be found in so many of the addresses delivered at a conference about jointness.

ADM Harvey emphasized the balance to be struck between the demands of the Combatant Commands and the need for a more sustainable deployment tempo and concept of operations for the fleet. At the end of the day, everyone is on the same team and this subtext of defensiveness is simply a symptom.

As during the Interwar period and the marginalization of tank development, any time the budget ax looms, entrenched interests dig in their heels and attempt to ensure that the ax falls as lightly as possible on them. This is not an attack on individuals or specific warfare specialties, it is an institutional reaction by long serving and patriotic servicemen and women that have spent their careers mastering a discipline of warfare that they understandably and justifiably believe to be critical to national security.

But as one panelist in a separate discussion argued (though in another context), ‘balance’ is a cop out — a way to cut from everything without making real choices where we try to continue to do everything but as a result will find ourselves doing less, less well and in fewer places. Notably, the exception to this has been the discussion of network security — ‘cyber’. Both the address by LTGEN Robert Schmidle, Jr., Deputy Commander U.S. Cyber Command and the subsequent panel discussion, there seems to be almost no discussion of service-specific considerations or efforts, particularly when it comes to defensive efforts and day-to-day network operations. There seems to be broad and strong consensus on the need for this (perhaps there are points of contention here that simply did not come to the surface at the conference, but it certainly made for a stark counterpoint).

But ultimately, while the budget ax can be used to justify and force through fundamental changes, it can also make fundamental change more difficult, particularly in terms of R&D and next-generation capabilities. On the one hand, we have examples of a phenomenally and tightly integrated and effective joint team resident in the Joint Special Operations Command and elsewhere. But on the other, even at a conference on jointness, we can also see lines being drawn in anticipation of further fiscal cuts at the Pentagon that bode ill for preparing for future conflict. And we would do well to remember that it was this sort of budgetary environment that led the U.S. Army to appoint a horse cavalryman as the head of the cavalry (which, along with the infantry, included tanks in a ‘supporting’ role) in 1939.

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