Archive for September, 2011


Reported as “Board and search operation carried out by EU NAVFOR warship:


EUNAVFOR warship FGS KÖLN has today, 28 September, stopped and boarded a suspicious group of two small boats, a whaler and skiff.

The suspicious boats were located by FGS KÖLN 70 nautical miles South West off Mogadishu, Somalia, 30 miles off the coast. A helicopter was sent to inspect the group of boats and 12 people with equipment usually associated with piracy were seen on board. The boats refused to stop when hailed. KÖLN’s helicopter fired warning shots ahead of the skiff which caused the boat to stop.


Before the boats could be boarded by teams from FGS KÖLN, the crew of the boats started to throw weapons and other items overboard. The skiff, whaler and their engines were destroyed to prevent any potential future use for piracy and the men released close to the shore.

UPDATE: Another anti-pirate move by FGS Koln reported here:

On September 29 the EU NAVFOR warship FGS KÖLN located and destroyed a suspicious whaler close to a beach off Somalia, 100 nautical miles SW of Mogadishu.

Koln’s counter-piracy action end result (EUNAVFOR photo)

A helicopter was dispatched to inspect and found the whaler loaded with equipment usually related to piracy on board.

No crew was seen on board. Consequently, the whaler was destroyed to prevent any potential future use for piracy.

More interdicting of pirate boats like this are needed. Blockade the pirates.

Did you happen to catch the @ISAFmedia twitter feed in the last week? Or, ever? That feed is getting some considerable accolades from some of the more active members of the Twitterverse. Why? Because of the discourse that ISAF is having with individuals. Think about it for a minute. Rather than a citizen having to get their information by proxy during a press conference or statement, the citizen is now able to engage with ISAF (or any organization) directly. The nuance of message that such an ability allows serves to make the information availed by ISAF all the more cogent.

Read through the links recanting the conversations the @ISAFmedia account has had. It’s no easy feat, twitter moves fast with many people able to come at you at once–and never mind the time difference between those in the conversation. So, what does it take to be able to be the person at the helm of an organization’s social media? As usual, the Marines have exceptional guidance for where to begin. It’s no wonder too, the social media chief listed in their guidance is an E-5 (natch).

Listen to active audiences to determine how to best engage. The paradigm of telling everyone what they
need to know no longer carries significant weight when communicating via social media channels —
social media requires, and begins with, listening. If you don’t know and understand the audiences you are
communicating with, then the interaction will be of limited value. Listening to the online community and
complying with Department of Defense policies is paramount to communication success.
One thing I would add to their guidance for organizations is that after listening comes engagement, with enough engagement comes familiarity and with familiarity comes a rapport. The Marines have laid out what I’d consider the basic school for social media engagement (by anyone, it’s worth reading even if you only check facebook once a week). Their guidance will get you up to the familiarity point of social media engagement. After which, it is the individual at the helm which actually builds rapport.
The abilities of @ISAFmedia and their social media team are where the rest of the military’s engagement in social media needs to be. However, it is worth mentioning that one social media ‘personality’ does not and cannot work for all commands. By this, I mean that the topics relevant to a COCOM are significantly different from a rifle platoon, where topics are what drive personality. We don’t need dozens of @ISAF clones out there. What we do need are Service Members as informed and plain spoken as @ISAFmedia; able to hold their own in social media while imbued with the sensibilities outlined in the Marine’s social media guidance–IMHO.

Today is the anniversary of the watershed battle of Salamis, in which the Greek States defeated a much larger Persian fleet in the congested narrows north of the island in the Aegean which bears the battle’s name. Mike Anderson’s very fine Ancient History Blog describes the action:

Thermistocles knew that the Persian fleet was much larger than his own (1200 ships to 400) so he decided to use geography to improve his chances. The Salamis Island occupies the center of the Saronic Sea near Athens. On the east side of Salamis sits a pointed peninsula called Cynosura. The waters north of this peninsula were quite narrow – too small for entire Persian fleet. Themistocles reasoned that his odds of winning would improve if he only had to fight a fraction of the Persian fleet.

He formed his fleet into a line and placed it running north to south against the eastern coast of Salamis Island. To oppose him the Persians were forced to create their own line on the Attican side of the bay. The Persians attacked early in a September morning but the battle quickly became a rout in favor of the Greeks. Many of the Persian ships were pushed back to Attica where they ran aground. Others, trying to escape to Phalerum (a bay near Athens) were cut off by an Aeginetan squadron and destroyed.

Outnumbered badly by the Persian fleet, Thermistocles lured the stronger enemy into restricted waters, where it could not bring its overwhelming power to bear, and was carved up piecemeal. Salamis was a turning point in the Greco-Persian wars. With that decisive defeat, and those at Plataea on land, and at Mycale, which involved an amphibious landing by the Greeks, the threat of Persian invasion was eliminated for good.

Two and a half millenia hence, combat in the littorals and the ability to project power ashore remain fundamental capabilities essential to any Naval power.

Vietnam Firm Pays ‘Millions’ to Free Pirated Ship
Agence France-Presse (09/26/11)

The Vietnamese shipping firm Hoang Son Ltd. has paid a $2.6 million ransom to free its hijacked carrier and the ship’s crew. The vessel, known as the Hoang Son Sun, was captured by Somali pirates about 520 nautical miles southeast of Muscat, Oman, on Jan. 20, along with its crew of 24. Somali pirates still hold at least 49 vessels and more than 500 crewmembers hostage, the monitoring group Ecoterra says. Meanwhile, the Denmark-based firm Risk Intelligence is reporting that the ransom for an average-sized merchant vessel captured by pirates has risen to roughly $5 million.

Full article here

It’s interesting to watch the difference between users of “Reply” and “Reply All”. Quite often it’s obvious that most users of email give almost zero thought to which of the two they are going to use when they respond to an email. They are on autopilot.

So, when should one use “Reply All”?

– When the response is of interest or need to a majority of the recipients.

Simple. So, if you are a “Reply All” by default, then this means that pithy comments about a your favorite sports team, or a personal thanks to a mass goodbye email, or scathing comments about a spelling error are best either sent with a “Reply” and just to the original sender…or just not sent at all.

Now, there’s a flip side. Those who default to the “Reply” button when it’s clearly a group conversation in progress. How do you know when to “Reply All” ?

– When the response is of interest or need to a majority of the recipients.

Now, in the “Replay” defaultist world there is a different set of thoughts that need to come to play. If the email were instead a conversation in a group setting, would you whisper your response to one person only? Wait until the group broke up and ask your question? If yes, then by all means, just “Reply”….but if others need the information you are asking for…then use “Reply All”.

Mundane things that we do every day…but there is no default answer and 1 second of thought can save a hundred individuals a second of “delete”.

If you dig around a bit, you can find more and more about the Tactical Lessons Identified (learned is a totally different concept) from the Libyan operations. Like all real world operations, when looked at with a clear eye you can learn what theories were good in practice, what old lessons you needed to remember, and who was being too optimistic or too academic when it came to the realities of combat.

Robbin Laird has a great article out based in a large part on his interviews with the French military. What is so interesting is to hear from other nations what we are used to hearing from our own – expeditionary and littoral combat. This is good and healthy for all – and exceptionally valuable to the military professional who is willing to listen.

Make sure and read it all – but here are the things that stuck with me the most;

A main point underscored by the French military was the impact of the political process on military planning. The French President clearly saw the need for the operation and had worked closely with the British Prime Minister to put in place a political process which would facilitate a Libyan support operation for the rebels. But until NATO received the UN Mandate was obtained, no military action could be authorized. This meant that there was little or no planning for military operations with the result that, in the words of one French military officer, “we were forced to craft operations on the fly with little or no pre-planning or pre-coordination. We did some on our own but until the authorization for action was in place, we could not mobilize assets.”

That is why it is so critical that you have a Commander identified early in a process with a Staff in place. Many an Operational Planner has received the, “We are not supposed to do any planning for this. So, I want the core planning team to just … what shall we call it … talk about this. Don’t plan … just, ahem, talk. Have the Chair see to me in four hours about your, ahem, discussions …. ” speech with a nod-nod-wink-wink from the N/J/CJ-5.

There is no reason to go without a plan on the shelf … unless … you don’t have one. If you don’t have one in work – then someone needs to have a serious talk with their planning staff. Even with a pick-up team – you should already have a plan in work once a crisis rears its head. Sounds like they had something to work with – but given the sloppy start to the Libyan operations; no shock we had to improv a bit at the start.

…. and now – one of my favorite topics, NSFS.

An aspect of the operation of the helos off of the Mistral is noteworthy as well. The frigate with which it was deployed used its guns to support the helo deployment. The guns provided fire suppression to enhance the security of the insertion of the helos off of the Mistral.

The ship’s C2 is first rate and was part of the link to the air fleet for receiving and processing information to shape an intelligence picture in support of strike operations. This demonstrated that integrating maritime with land-based air can provide a powerful littoral operations capability, one which may prove very relevant to the United States as it rethinks the relationship between the USAF and the USN-USMC team in shaping 21st century operations.

Hasn’t this been true since, well, we had aircraft flying early last century? The critical importance and flexibility of the naval gun known for centuries? Modern combat from The Falklands, to the Haiphong gunline, to Five Inch Friday, to Libya reminds us – have your gun ready. None of this is new or shocking – but the fact we have to relearn fundamentals is a reminder how much we need to focus on them – “we” of course being the USA and its allies.

For the veterans of the Balkan operations in the ’90s to AFG the last decade – some habits never go away.

First, rules of engagement were being proposed by the partners of France in NATO that were “ridiculous,” to quote one French officer. “We received from NATO sources the directive that there were to be NO civilian casualties from our air strikes. My view was, why not just not do airstrikes. We pushed back and insisted on something sane: ‘No excessive civilian casualties from NATO air strikes.'”

Here is one final thing that I think we need to ponder on in depth; UAV/S. Too many people are enamored by the PPT and the promise. Not content with having an improved tool – they want to think they have a new tool that can do it all. It is hard even in peace for them to accept the very real bandwidth, loss rates, and other issues – what is harder to explain to the UAV/S true believers are the tactical limitations.

FROM UCAV-N to BAMS – the transformationalists really think that the F-35 will be the last manned fighter. Kind of the same mentality that I read in a book after the Falkland Island War about the Harrier stating that it was likely that the Harrier will ever see combat again. Silly, but there it was. The Future does not like to be taunted. She is touchy like that.

In that light – everyone needs to keep this reality check in mind. In this case, our French friends are exactly right.

the notion that unmanned systems are going to replace the pilot is ludicrous in a dynamic targeting situation. If we are reluctant to give a guy with SA in the pilot’s seat authority, why are we going to give some guy in Nevada or Paris looking through a soda straw the authority to do dynamic targeting.”


Episode 90 Pacific Air in WWII :

Join Sal from “CDR Salamander” and EagleOne from “EagleSpeak” with their returning guest, author David Sears for the full hour to discuss his latest book, Pacific Air: How Fearless Flyboys, Peerless Aircraft, and Fast Flattops Conquered the Skies in the War with Japan.

For WWII and aviaition fans – this is a show you do not want to miss!

Click here to join us. 5pm Sunday, 25 September 2011.

Or, if you can’t be there, download it later from the show site or from Midrats on iTunes.


Talker’s Block

September 2011


While Admiral Stavridis routinely says the below in an elegant fashion…Seth Godin comes at it from another direction.

No one ever gets talker’s block. No one wakes up in the morning, discovers he has nothing to say and sits quietly, for days or weeks, until the muse hits, until the moment is right, until all the craziness in his life has died down.

Why then, is writer’s block endemic?

The reason we don’t get talker’s block is that we’re in the habit of talking without a lot of concern for whether or not our inane blather will come back to haunt us. Talk is cheap. Talk is ephemeral. Talk can be easily denied.

We talk poorly and then, eventually (or sometimes), we talk smart. We get better at talking precisely because we talk. We see what works and what doesn’t, and if we’re insightful, do more of what works. How can one get talker’s block after all this practice?

Writer’s block isn’t hard to cure.

Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better.

I believe that everyone should write in public. Get a blog. Or use Squidoo or Tumblr or a microblogging site. Use an alias if you like. Turn off comments, certainly–you don’t need more criticism, you need more writing.

Do it every day. Every single day. Not a diary, not fiction, but analysis. Clear, crisp, honest writing about what you see in the world. Or want to see. Or teach (in writing). Tell us how to do something.

If you know you have to write something every single day, even a paragraph, you will improve your writing. If you’re concerned with quality, of course, then not writing is not a problem, because zero is perfect and without defects. Shipping nothing is safe.

The second best thing to zero is something better than bad. So if you know you have write tomorrow, your brain will start working on something better than bad. And then you’ll inevitably redefine bad and tomorrow will be better than that. And on and on.

Write like you talk. Often.

So, start by doing something. You don’t have to follow Seth’s ideas. Go small. Comment on a blog or a news story. Join an online forum AND comment. Write notes for the Plan of the Day. Dare the slings and arrows of the others who are also working at bettering their own writing (or just blathering along full of sound and fury).

But practice, practice, practice. Over and over and over again. I hear lots of great conversations with great viewpoints that never make it to the written, and retained, word. Share them. Practice.

Fouled Anchor Intro: This post appears at the request of a leader in the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) and its Self-Synchronization Team, known as the IDCSync. While the subject may appear a bit specialized on the surface, the concept should have wide appeal, particularly for other relatively small communities. It should also be of interest to members of other warfare communities, arguably beneficiaries of the IDC’s specialized skills, and the IDC can only benefit from your comments and contributions.

I was compelled to ask before posting it how are the discussions, since many take place on Facebook, are they anonymous. Well, Facebook obviously isn’t, but many of the ideas shared via IDCSync appear in their weekly newsletter. They are submitted anonymously or come from other non-attributed sources. They may originate anywhere, from offline discussions to passing comments or unofficial gripes. It is proving an effective means of converting ideas which may have died in the passageway to discussions with a Flag audience.

There are many outlets for this type of post, but the IDCSync sought publication here, on your USNI Blog, because they understand that this blog has Navy-wide relevance and reach…much like the IDC itself.



In the spirit of taking permission, demonstrating horizontal leadership, and active communication, the below post comes from the “Cloud of Collaboration” that is the Information Dominance Corps Self-Synchronization Team…

“Fostering Collaboration and Conversation Across the IDC”

They have never met in person, individually or as a group, yet they are a team in the strongest sense of the word. They volunteer their time. Their work is strictly unofficial. Their individual anonymity ensures only the group as a whole gains credit for their actions. Their collective efforts enable collaboration and ensure collective situational awareness across a newly-formed community. They are self-starters who believe in “making time” for the collective good of that community. They are the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) Self Synchronization Team.

The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) ordered the establishment of the IDC on October 6, 2009. As outlined in OPNAV Instruction 5300.12, “the IDC has been created within the U.S. Navy to more effectively and collaboratively lead and manage a cadre of officers, enlisted, and civilian professionals who possess skills in information-intensive fields.” Those personnel include Information Professional (IP) officers and Information Technicians (IT), Information Warfare (IW) officers and Cryptologic Technicians (CT), Naval Intelligence officers and Intelligence Specialists (IS), Oceanography (OCEANO) officers and Aerographer’s Mates (AG), select members of the Space Cadre, and associated civilians. Under the leadership of the newly-established Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (OPNAV N2/N6) the IDC encompasses more than 47,000 Navy professionals.

The IDC Self Synchronization effort — IDCsync for short — began shortly after the IDC was established with just one person and an idea: Find a way to bring the members of the IDC together using the latest in collaboration and communication tools.

That individual effort soon grew with the addition of a number of like-minded individuals. Today, the IDCsync Team is as diverse as the IDC itself with team members hailing from the ranks of active and reserve force enlisted and officer ranks, as well as civilian members of the community. Their guiding principle is “making time;” each member makes time to make their environment, their shipmates, and the entire IDC better.

The group’s greatest strength, beyond its members, is its unofficial status. This is a grassroots effort of IDC members working for and with other IDC members to move the community forward. As an independent initiative, the individual efforts of the team members are not constrained by anything more than the group’s collective approval. But as IDC members themselves, the group has a vested interest in forwarding a productive, collaborative dialogue aimed at improving the IDC as a whole.

Tools and Channels

To reach the members of the IDC, the IDCsync Team employs a number of channels drawn from the tools of the trade of the information age (and the IDC) — email (using a newsletter format), the web, and various social media venues.

Most of the effort is concentrated on the IDC Self Synchronization Facebook site, which currently serves over 2,000 members. The page’s stated purpose is “To share unclassified information, enhance our collective situational awareness and facilitate the development of a common Navy IDC culture.”

IDCsync Team members independently post information relevant to the IDC on the Facebook page, coordinating their efforts electronically via a team coordination site and online chat. Information shared runs the gamut of the IDC interest areas — technology, innovation, and leadership issues included. if it’s deemed pertinent to the IDC, it is posted on the site. The ultimate goal is to spark conversation and collaboration between members.

In recognition of its growing audience and increasing reach, the site has been used by members of the IDC Flag Deck to disseminate official correspondence and reach the greater IDC collective. IDCsync’s audience includes everyone from the backbone of the IDC, our enlisted Sailors, to commanding officers, current and former IDC Flag Officers, and civilian Senior Executive Service (SES) staff. Administrators and site members alike can post information, share ideas, and collaborate.

The primary IDC Self Synchronization web site contains pertinent IDC documents and resources with the intent of creating a “one stop” library of information.

The team also sends out a weekly newsletter which encapsulates Facebook posts for the previous week. The same information is also disseminated via Twitter, Google+ (Google’s new social networking site), and eChirp on Intelink-U. Details of all the venues are available on the web page.

With the IDC Self Synchronization team and tools in place, the only missing element is you.

Does the idea of sharing, collaborating, and enhancing the professional knowledge of the community resonate with you? Then now is the time to step out of the audience and join the conversation. Join your community conversation by visiting the IDC Self Synchronization Facebook and web sites today. The forum belongs to you — make it your own!

To learn more, visit, post a comment on Facebook, or email your questions/comments to [email protected].

Making Time,

IDC Self Synchronization Team

On 13 September 2011 a GreySide Group press release reported that Michael Ferguson was brought on as the Vice President of Global Operations. Just days later he and his team of three Americans and a Brit were arrested on illegal weapons charges in the Nampula Airport.

Ferguson spent 21 years with the SEALs to include deployments with SEAL TEAM 1 and SEAL TEAM 8, before becoming a weapons and tactics instructor for the Coast Guard, and, just this month, an executive for the GreySide Group – a Herdon, Virginia based international risk management firm.

According to a BBC report, Ferguson commented he and the others were on a mission to free a vessel held by pirates in Pimba.

Inacio Dina, Nampula’s provincial police spokesperson, told the BBC that the weapons include a FN 5.5mm rifle, ammunition, and communications gear.

Greyside has not yet commented. The US Embassy has said they had no connection to the group.

Other details of this story are unknown at this time.

BBC Report

GreySide Press Release

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