Archive for the 'Marine Corps' Category

Please join us at 5pm EST on 5 Feb 2017 for Midrats Episode 370: The SECNAV’s In Basket With James Holmes:

There will be no rest for the next Secretary of the Navy. He will need to lead his Navy and Marine Corps as they continue to engage in the Long War against expansionist Islamic extremism, while at the same time come up with the best way to respond to the new direction and guidance coming from President Trump and Secretary of Defense Mattis.

From China, to Russia, to Europe, the Islamic world to South America and India on one side of the house, to Congress, academia, and industry – what are those subjects tha the needs to tackle first, which need to be put on a slow boil, and which ones need to be thrown over the transom?

We have for the full hour to discuss this and more, returning guest James Holmes, PhD.


Dr. Holmes is a professor of strategy and former visiting professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College. A former U.S. Navy surface-warfare officer and combat veteran of the first Gulf War, he served as a weapons and engineering officer in the battleship Wisconsin, engineering and firefighting instructor at the Surface Warfare Officers School Command, and military professor of strategy at the Naval War College. He was the last gunnery officer to fire a battleship’s big guns in anger.

Jim is a Phi Beta Kappa received his BA from Vanderbilt University and completed graduate work at Salve Regina University , Providence College, and received his PhD at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

His most recent books (with long-time coauthor Toshi Yoshihara) are Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age and Red Star over the Pacific.

Jim has published over 25 book chapters and 200 scholarly essays, along with hundreds of opinion columns, think-tank analyses, and other works.

Join us live (for a pre-Great Big Professional Championship Game treat) if you can by clicking here. Or you can pick the show up later by clicking that link or by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.



Please join us at 5pm EST on Sunday 29 Jan 2017 for Midrats Episode 369: The Future of America’s Military at Risk, with Bob Scales

To meet the national security requirements of our republic in the years to

come, what direction and emphasis do we need for our military? What are the false horizons we need to watch out for, and what important areas do we seem to be either ignoring or forgetting?

For the full hour our guest to discuss this and more will be Bob Scales, Major General, US Army (Ret), discussing with him many of the issues he raises in his latest book from Naval Institute Press, Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk.

Described by the Naval Institute Press:

Scales on War is a collection of ideas, concepts, and observations about contemporary war taken from over thirty years of research, writing, and personal experience by retired Major General Bob Scales. Scales’ unique style of writing utilizes contemporary military history, current events, and his philosophy of ground warfare to create a very personal and expansive view of the future direction of American defense policies.
Each chapter in the book addresses a distinct topic facing the upcoming prospects of America’s military, including tactical ground warfare, future gazing, the draft, and the role of women in the infantry. Fusing all of these topics together is Scales’ belief that, throughout its history, the United States has favored a technological approach to fighting its wars and has neglected its ground forces.


MAJ. GEN. Scales commanded units in Korea and the United States and two units in Vietnam, and he is the recipient of the Silver Star for action during the Battle of Hamburger Hill. He completed his service as commandant of the Army War College.

Catch the show live or pick it up later by clicking here. Or you can find the show later on our iTunes page or at Stitcher



Please join us at 5pm EST on 8 Jan 2017 for Midrats Episode 366: Is it Time for a General Staff?.

The 1980s might be getting some of its foreign policy back – but why is our entire defense framework in the second-half of the second decade of the 21st Century based around ideas forged when the Chrysler K-car was still a young platform?

Is our present system creating the conditions for our uniformed senior leadership to forge the best path for our military to support national security requirements?

Our guest for the full hour is returning to Midrats to discuss this and more; M.L. Cavanaugh.

Matt and is a US Army Strategist with global experience in assignments ranging from

the Pentagon to Korea and Iraq to his current post at US Army Space and Missile Defense Command. He’s a Non Resident Fellow with the Modern War Institute (MWI) at West Point, where he provides regular commentary and analysis. He’s also a contributor to War on the Rocks, and Matt’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, and at ForeignPolicy.com, among other publications. After graduating from West Point in 2002, he earned his Master’s degree at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, and is currently at work on a PhD dissertation on supreme command under Professor Emeritus Colin Gray at the University of Reading (UK). You can find more on Matt at MLCavanaugh.com and he can be reached via Twitter @MLCavanaugh.

Join us live if you can by clicking here. If you can’t join us live, you can also download or listen to the show by clicking on that same link or by going to our iTunes page or from our Stitcher page.



Please join us at 5pm EST at 11 Dec 2016 for Midrats Episode 362: Towards a 350 Ship Navy, with Jerry Hendrix:

Even before the election, President-elect Trump mentioned he wanted to get to a 350 ship Navy. The outgoing Secretary of the Navy has put us on a path to 308, and in his waning months is fighting a holding action on the shipbuilding budget giving as good of a turnover in this area to his relief.

What are the viable paths to 350 we could see in the opening years of a Trump Presidency? How long could it realistically take? What would a fleet look like 5, 10 or 20 years down the road?

What will this fleet be built to do? Will we need new designs to meet the evolving maritime requirements of an eventual national strategy?

To discuss this and more Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be one of our favorite guests,

Dr. Jerry Hendrix, CAPT USN (Ret.), Senior Fellow and the Director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security.

His staff assignments include tours with the CNO’s Executive Panel, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and the OSD Office of Net Assessment.

His final active duty tour was the Director of Naval History.

He has a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from Purdue University, Masters Degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School (National Security Affairs) and Harvard University (History) and received his doctorate from King’s College, London (War Studies). He has twice been named the Samuel Eliot Morison Scholar by the Navy Historical Center in Washington, DC, and was also the Center’s 2005 Rear Admiral John D. Hays Fellow. He also held the Marine Corps’ General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. Fellowship. He authored the book Theodore Roosevelt’s Naval Diplomacy and received a number of awards, including the United States Naval Institute’s Author of the Year and the Navy League’s Alfred T. Mahan Award for Literary Achievement.

Join us live if you can (or pick the show up later) by clicking here. You can also get the show later by visiting our iTunes page or from our Stitcher page.



Please join us at 5pm EST on 4 December 2016 for Midrats Episode 361: Where Youth and Laughter Go; With “The Cutting Edge” in Afghanistan

For the full hour this Sunday our guest will be Lieutenant Colonel Seth W. B. Folsom, USMC the author of Where Youth and Laughter Go. Described by USNI Books:

Where Youth and Laughter Go completes LtCol Seth Folsom’s recounting of his personal experiences in command over a decade of war. It is the culminating chapter of a trilogy that began with The Highway War: A Marine Company Commander in Iraq in 2006 and continued with In the Gray Area: A Marine Advisor Team at War in 2010.
***
The chronicle of Folsom’s command of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, “The Cutting Edge,” and his harrowing deployment to Afghanistan’s volatile Sangin District presents a deeper look into the complexities and perils of modern counterinsurgency operations in America’s longest war.

We will discuss not just his latest book, but also larger issues related to command, the nature of the war in Afghanistan, and the Long War.

Please join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here.

You can also find the show later at our iTunes page here or on our Stitcher page here.



VLIn the next few weeks to months we should find out who will be the next Secretary of the Navy. Especially with President-Elect Trump’s desire for a path to a 350 ship Navy, there will be a lot of fine detailed work to be done, but out the door there is a larger theme that I would recommend to whoever finds their way in the office; back to fundamentals.

Long deployments, running rust due to fewer deck Seamen and less time and money to do preservation, DDG-1000 that can’t survive a Panama Canal transit, LCS engineering casualties almost every fortnight – these and other items are just external manifestations of a Navy that is a bit off balance. Some will argue that many of the causes of this ill-resonance felt throughout our Navy predate the present SECNAV, but that isn’t really the issue at hand.

What would be more important than attacking detailed issues first? Former Navy Intel Officer and Asst. Secretary of State Robert Charles recent article, Securing the Navy, had me thinking about that last night.

He based his article on the SEP 2016 Navy survey (which if anyone has a copy, I’d love to see it). Some of his observations are a bit evergreen,

…sailors are “increasingly unhappy with lengthy deployments, high operational tempo, and calls to reduce pay and benefits,”

“Sailors are most likely to leave uniformed service because of poor work/life balance, low servicewide morale

Yep. I think you will get that in almost any survey to one degree or another.

Then some other items are brought up;

How did we get here, … leadership appears to have become distracted or dissuaded from traditional ways of inspiring, rewarding, reinforcing and guiding men and women. Instead, leadership became enamored with domestic political ends and social engineering, forgetting to inspire and reward the resolve of men and women in uniform.

The next administration needs to focus on the Navy not as a social experiment, not as a way of pulling in fringe votes for fringe candidates, but as a group of professionals, selfless and committed, patriotic and hard-working, mission-focused and mutually respecting. They deserve good leadership, leaders devoted to them and to their success, not to political agendas. Individual careers matter, and so does the mission to which individuals devote their lives, assuring America’s national security.

A good starting point. As a great man one said; excellence is achieved by a mastery of the fundamentals.

In David Maraniss’s book on Coach Lombardi, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, the author outlined what Lombardi said to his new players in the summer of 1961.

He took nothing for granted. He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before… He began with the most elemental statement of all. “Gentlemen,” he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, “this is a football.”

Fundamentals. The basics. One should always make sure those are mastered first – but when things don’t seem to be going right, then what? You need to step back a bit and start again with the basics.

A lot of SECNAV Mabus’s time in office and political capital was spent on items a few layers beyond Navy basics; “green” fuel, shoehorning women in to every USMC combat position possible, excising “man” from ratings … no wait … eliminating ratings altogether, and a few other priorities. We all have our list. It was his watch, he had his priorities. Fair.

What would be a good start for the next SECNAV? Perhaps a start would be a moment to state, rather simply,

This is a Navy.



Please join us on at 5pm EST on 13 Nov 2016 for Midrats Episode 568: Seapower as a National Imperative, with Bryan McGrath:

Why a Navy? Why a strong Navy? Why is a strong Navy an essential

requirement for the United States Navy?

From its ability to project national will, to it hidden hand in the economics of every citizen’s life, why is it so critical that we have a Navy second to none.

To discuss this and more – especially in light of the election – will be returning guest, Bryan McGrath, Commander, US Navy (Retired).

Bryan McGrath grew up in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1987. He was commissioned upon graduation in the United States Navy, and served as a Surface Warfare Officer until his retirement in 2008. At sea, he served primarily in cruisers and destroyers, rising to command of the Destroyer USS BULKELEY (DDG 84). During his command tour, he won the Surface Navy Association’s Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Award for Inspirational Leadership, and the BULKELEY was awarded the USS ARIZONA Memorial Trophy signifying the fleet’s most combat ready unit. Ashore, Bryan enjoyed four tours in Washington DC, including his final tour in which he acted as Team Leader and primary author of our nation’s 2007 maritime strategy entitled “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower.”

Since retirement, Bryan has become active in presidential politics, serving first as the Navy Policy Team lead for the Romney Campaign in 2012, and then as the Navy and Marine Corps Policy lead for the Rubio Campaign in 2016.

He is the Assistant Director of Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower, and he is the Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group LLC, a small defense consulting firm.

Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here or pick the show up later from our iTunes or Stitcher pages.



Please join us at 5pm EST on 6 November 2016 for Midrats Episode 567: Goldwater–Nichols; Problems and Solutions

The systems that trains, mans, and equips our military – and provides guidance and support to their civilian masters is broadly shaped by Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. There is much discussion that in the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century, is there a better system to serve our national security requirements than one designed at the height of the 20th Century’s Cold War?

Using his article in War on the Rocks, Don’t Rush to “Fix” Goldwater-Nichols as a starting point, our guest for the full hour to discuss this and other related issues will be Justin Johnson of The Heritage Foundation.

Johnson spent over a decade working on defense and foreign policy issues on Capitol Hill before coming to the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense were I am now a defense and foreign policy analyst at Allison Center for National Security and Foreign Policy.

Johnson received a master’s degree from the Naval War College with a particular focus on terrorism and the maritime domain. He is also a member of the 2013-2014 Future Leaders Program at the Foreign Policy Initiative, the 2011-12 class of Next Generation National Security Leaders at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and the 2012 class of the Heritage Foundation’s Marshall Fellows.

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Johnson grew up in Iowa before moving to Eastern Europe. After living in Germany, Belarus and the Czech Republic, Johnson attended Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia where he studied philosophy and art.

Join us live if you can, or if you forgot the time change, you can pick the show up later by clicking here or from our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.



Please join us at 5pm EDT on 30 Oct 16 for Midrats Episode 356: Fall Free For All Spooktacular!

Midrats is back live! With a week left to go till the election, I am sure you are about done with all the political talk, so join us at 5pm Eastern this Sunday, October 30th as we cover the the globe on the breaking national security and maritime issues that have come up over the last month.

From FORD to KUZNETSOV; from The Baltic to Yemen we’ll have it covered.

As always with our Free For Alls; it is open mic an open mind. Call in with your issues and questions, or join us in the chat room.

Join us live if you can, or pick the show up later by clicking here. You can also get the show later by visiting our iTunes page or at Stitcher



Relinquishing command is always bitter sweet because of the people and the experiences you have to leave behind and because there always seem to be so many things that you still want to get accomplished.

As I pen this post, a reflection piece, I am in the final moments of command as Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet – 7th Fleet’s amphibious arm that also includes a mine countermeasures force and a helicopter sea combat squadron. By the time many of you read this, I will have turned over the reins to my long-time friend Rear Admiral Marc Dalton.

I met the expeditionary strike group—emphasis on strike group versus amphibious ready group—about this time last year on their way back from a very successful summer patrol, capped by completion of Exercise Talisman Saber.

Rear Adm. John B. Nowell, Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7, turns over command to Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) during a change of command ceremony

Rear Adm. John B. Nowell, Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7, turns over command to Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) during a change of command ceremony

Our forces are the best of the best in amphibious warfare in the world and have been for years. But, I challenged my staff and the leaders on the deckplate to go higher, to recognize that getting our Marines to the beach is just one component of maritime superiority, a superiority that we should be postured to achieve as an integrated naval force with Marine Corps partners anywhere in the world.

We have applied the Composite Warfare Command (CWC) construct to the operations of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) with great work by Amphibious Squadron 11, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Destroyer Squadron 7, USS Shiloh (CG-67), USS Preble (DDG-88) amongst others to robustly bolster our ability to defend the amphibious task force. This work will carry forward as we continue to integrate CruDes capabilities into the ESG.

We are operationalizing the concept of an “up-gunned” ESG, a concept now being promoted by Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the Pacific Fleet, and Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, commander, 7th Fleet, in anticipation of USS Wasp (LHD-1) with the F-35B joining the 7th Fleet amphibious force in the near term.

Rear Adm. John B. Nowell acknowledges the achievements of individual sailors from various commands attached to Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7 during a change of command ceremony aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6)

Rear Adm. John B. Nowell acknowledges the achievements of individual sailors from various commands attached to Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7 during a change of command ceremony aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6)

The beautiful thing about our trajectory as a naval expeditionary force in this regard is that our Marine Corps brethren have been equally engaged in trying to be more robust in their expeditionary capabilities. The Marine Corps is already scalable with its MEU-MEB-MEF design, but we’ve done some important work, as a Blue-Green team, to look at ways to bring Naval-Marine integration beyond the MEU level. It could mean augmenting the MEU with increased capabilities or using MEU assets from a sea-base to augment MEB assets ashore.

But that’s the big picture stuff, the stuff that many think-tankers can pontificate on for hours – and so could I, but I won’t here. What I’m most proud of is the bonds we have been able to form with our allies in the region, bonds that have true meaning.

It has been said before that while you can surge forces, you cannot surge trust, and trust is what these partnerships have forged.

160419-N-AE545-609 KUMAMOTO, Japan (April 19, 2016) Members of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force load supplies onto an MV-22B Osprey aircraft from Marine Medium Tilitrotor Squadron (VMM) 265 attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of the Government of Japan's relief efforts following earthquakes near Kumamoto. The long-standing alliance between Japan and the U.S. allows U.S. military forces in Japan to provide rapid, integrated support to the Japan Self-Defense Force and civil relief efforts

Members of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force load supplies onto an MV-22B Osprey aircraft from Marine Medium Tilitrotor Squadron (VMM) 265 attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of the Government of Japan’s relief efforts following earthquakes near Kumamoto

We truly see the power of these partnerships during times of crisis, like the recent earthquakes near Kumamoto, where U.S. and Japanese forces worked hand-in-hand, using the 31st MEU’s MV-22 Ospreys ashore and at sea on board JS Hyuga, to deliver critical supplies to those in need. Well before formal messages were sent, critical actions were taken to get the ball rolling, based on our partnerships and trust, at every level.

This is but one example of the many accomplishments made possible through hard work on the deck plates, by Sailors and Marines who have a dedication to duty and a high standard for mission accomplishment day in and day out and second to none.

And so, as I prepare to say those heart-breaking words “I will now read my orders,” I know I leave behind a force that is ever-so capable of standing the watch. I was fortunate to have relieved Rear Admiral Denny Wetherald who took the ESG back to sea as a deploying strike group staff, and I now turn over to an old shipmate in Rear Admiral Marc Dalton, who will now set the bar even higher.

I’m so proud to have been part of this amazing Blue-Green team, and I look forward to watching from afar as the Navy’s forward-deployed expeditionary force does incredible things.



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