Friday, April 20, 2018

Fullbore Friday

When does your service end? When is it time to call war a young man's responsibility and ride out the storm with hope from a distance?

Well, ask yourself, had this man done his duty?
Samuel Whittemore was born in England on July 27th, 1695, and came to North America as a Captain in His Majesty's Dragoons, fighting the French in 1745. He was involved in the capture of the French stronghold, Fort Louisburg, and there captured a decorative french officer's sword, which he cherished for the rest of his life. About its capture, all Sam would say is that its previous owner had "died suddenly".

After the war he stayed in the colonies, purchasing a farm in Menotomy (now Arlington, Massachusetts). He married Elizabeth Spring, and after her death remarried to Mrs. Esther Prentice. By his two wives he had three sons and five daughters. His house, on Massachusetts Avenue, in Arlington, still exists.

In 1758, war again broke out between England and France. And again, Fort Louisburg had to be taken. At 64 years of age, Sam volunteered and joined a Colonial Regiment which reduced the fort to rubble. He then went on and joined General James Wolf in the successful assault on Quebec.

The 1763 Indian Wars in the west next attracted Sam's attention. Leaving his wife, children and grandchildren to attend the farm, he rode off to join the colonial force launched against the Ottawa chief, Pontiac. He returned home some months later with a brace of dueling pistols as a souvenir, and here again, all Sam would say is that the previous owner "died suddenly."
At a time when he was already well past his expected life span at 80, there was a new threat to his adopted home.

What is a man to do?
... (on the) night of April 19th, 1775) he watched as Colonel Smith led his column of 700 soldiers through Menotomy. He was probably concerned, but the British had come out of Boston before and there had not been any serious trouble. Later that morning he heard rumors that there had been fighting at Lexington and Concord. But, when General Percy marched through the town with an additional 1,400 soldiers, Sam's military experience told him there was serious trouble ...

Word had come to Menotomy that the combined, heavily engaged, columns of Smith and Percy were retreating toward the town, and were burning homes along the way, so the aged warrior decided to take action in spite of his being eighty years old! He strapped on his captured french sword, stuck his brace of dueling pistols in his belt, put on his powder horn and shot bag, took his musket from its place on his fireplace mantle ...

Sam selected a position that gave him a excellent view of the road from Lexington, and sat down to wait. His fellow minuteman from Menotomy pleaded for him to find a safer position, but he choose to ignore them.
This part of the story is why you should always stand up to those who snort at the part-time soldier.
His fellow minuteman started firing at the oncoming British Grenadiers of the 47th Regiment of Foot, falling back to reload, then firing again. Sam waited. Finally, when the column was directly in front of him, he stood and fired his musket. A grenadier fell dead. He drew his two pistols, firing both at almost point blank range. Another grenadier fell dead, a third fell mortally wounded. The British soldiers were on top of him, he had not the time to reload his musket or pistols, so drawing his sword, he . started flailing away at the bayonet wielding soldiers. A soldier leveled his Brown Bess musket, at point blank range and fired. The .69 calibre ball struck Sam in the cheek, tearing away part of his face and throwing him to the ground. Sam valiantly tried to rise, fending off bayonet thrusts with his sword, but he was overpowered. Struck in the head with a musket butt, he went down again, then was bayoneted thirteen times and left for dead.
Enough to fell any man ... but this was no simple man. In a time when medical care was still little more than leaches and prayer;
Using a door as a makeshift stretcher, Sam was carried to Cooper Tavern, which was being used as a emergency hospital. Doctor Nathaniel Tufts of Medford attended to Sam. He cut off his bloody clothes, and exposed the gaping bayonet wounds. Sam's face was horribly injured. Doctor Tufts knew the injuries were fatal, stating it wouldn't do any good to even dress the wounds. Sam's family and friends insisted and Dr. Tufts did the best he could. He tried to make the old man as comfortable as possible. After his wounds were attended to Sam was carried to his home, to die surrounded by his family. To everyone's utter amazement Captain Sam Whittemore lived! He recovered and remained active for the next eighteen years. He was terribly scarred, but always was proud of what he had done for his adopted country. He is quoted as having stated that he would take the same chances again.

You can question the old soldier's tactical judgment, making the stand in the manner he did, but you can never question his bravery. He also proved you are never too old! Sam died on February 3rd, 1793, age 98 and is buried in the town's cemetery.
This is just one story of thousands about what simple men, women, and children did to secure your liberty.

Have you earned it? Are you prepared to answer the call when it comes for you?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

REFORGER Now and Forever

This is a bit from the, "What ... you're only thinking about this NOW!" category - but better late than

Some of this makes me think that a lot of the problem is the former Warsaw Pact nations' building boom of the last couple of decades, that and Western European nations forgetting their own history.

That being said, this is why you always need someone from the 4-shop in every thing you do;
The European Union wants to quicken the pace of moving military equipment across countries on the continent to prepare for future crises, according to a planning document unveiled Wednesday.

The project is billed as a key prerequisite for an ambitious project to build European defense capabilities outside of NATO, though still in support of alliance objectives. The “Action Plan on Military Mobility” comes after years of deteriorating relations with Russia, though no mention is made of the eastern neighbor in the March 28 communication to the European Parliament and the European Council.

COLOGNE, Germany — The European Union wants to quicken the pace of moving military equipment across countries on the continent to prepare for future crises, according to a planning document unveiled Wednesday.

The project is billed as a key prerequisite for an ambitious project to build European defense capabilities outside of NATO, though still in support of alliance objectives. The “Action Plan on Military Mobility” comes after years of deteriorating relations with Russia, though no mention is made of the eastern neighbor in the March 28 communication to the European Parliament and the European Council.

While EU member states have fused many of the policies governing citizens’ daily lives, there are still bureaucratic hurdles toward the free flow of military equipment from Portugal to the Baltics and anywhere in between.

A pilot exercise initiated by Estonia last year demonstrated the viability of beginning larger-scale planning for a Europe-wide transportation network capable of handling heavy equipment like tanks, the document states. That drill examined the ability for countries along a North Sea-Baltic corridor to pass equipment from one end to the other.

The exercise uncovered height and weight restrictions on some bridges and put a spotlight on the lack of heavy-loading equipment used for oversized military materiel traveling by rail.

The new planning directive builds heavily on the idea of advancing dual-use scenarios, or tweaking transportation infrastructure meant for civilian purposes to also work for shipping military gear. By next year, European Commission officials will study what specific logistics projects are needed to enable greater mobility of military goods.
It must be a good idea, it has RT all a flustered.

We used to conduct a huge logistics exercise on a regular basis during the Cold War, REFORGER. It tested both ends of the resupply chain and the ability to get forces inland. We need to restart this program. Do it every 3-5 yrs. It will help us find problems in peace we can't afford to deal with at war.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Why Vanuatu?

Nice SLOC you have there Down Under.

I'm pondering China's reach in to the South Pacific over at USNIBlog.

Come on by and read up on it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) Gets Her Revenge

Though she didn't fire a shot in anger in the latest Syrian strikes, everyone on the DONALD COOK should have a little zip in their step, they did something just as important - and satisfying.

Since she showed up in Rota, Spain in 2014 as one of our forward deployed BMD destroyers, she's has made a good show of the flag through the Med, Baltic, and Black Sea. The Russians took a liking to her as some kind of punching bag to make a point for INFO OPS or PSYOPS reasons.

First in April of 2014,
A Russian fighter aircraft made repeated low-altitude, close-range passes near a U.S. ship in the Black Sea over the weekend, the Pentagon said on Monday, condemning the action at a time of heightened U.S.-Russian tensions over Ukraine.

“This provocative and unprofessional Russian action is inconsistent with their national protocols and previous agreements on the professional interaction between our militaries,” said Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

Warren said a Russian Su-24 aircraft, or Fencer, made 12 passes at low altitude near the USS Donald Cook, a destroyer that has been in the Black Sea since April 10. It appeared to be unarmed, he told reporters.

The incident lasted 90 minutes and took place on Saturday evening while the U.S. ship was conducting a patrol in international waters in the western Black Sea, Warren said. The ship is now in a Romanian port.
...and then again in 2016 another little air show in the Baltic;

The US military released videos and photos showing Russian Sukhoi SU-24 attack aircraft flying across the bow of the destroyer in the latest of many recent cases the White House said were unsafe and unprofessional.

"There have been repeated incidents over the past year where the Russian military, including Russian military aircraft, have come close enough ... to other air and sea traffic to raise serious safety concerns," spokesman Josh Earnest said.

"This incident ... is entirely inconsistent with the professional norms of militaries operating in proximity to each other in international water and international airspace."
Ha, ha Ivan, you insecure bully. You'll get yours.

Patience. All it took was patience.

Somewhere there is a planner out there we all owe a beer to that gave the DONALD COOK her revenge;
In April of last year, two US Navy destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean steamed into the region, let off 59 cruise missiles in response to gas attacks by the Syrian government, and left unpunished and unpursued.

But this time, with the US considering its response to another attack against civilians blamed on the Syrian government, Russian officials threatened to shoot down US missiles, and potentially the ships that launched them, if they attacked Syria. A retired Russian admiral spoke candidly about sinking the USS Donald Cook, the only destroyer in the region.

When the strike happened early Saturday morning local time, the Cook didn't fire a shot, and a source told Bloomberg News it was a trick.

Instead, a US submarine, the USS John Warner, fired missiles while submerged in the eastern Mediterranean, presenting a much more difficult target than a destroyer on the surface. Elsewhere, a French frigate let off three missiles.

But the bulk of the firing came from somewhere else entirely: the Red Sea.
I don't know what, "Give DONALD COOK a call, they have your jock." is in Russian ... but Russia, the DONALD COOK has your jock - and the last laugh.

As a side-note, you know how the submarine bubbas will run up a Jolly Roger when they do a Special Operations mission or somesort? Well, this epic troll/PSYOPS deserves something new. The crew of the DONALD COOK needs to get a big troll flag to run up her mast for when she comes back to port.

Hat tip SJS, EM Simpson, & Herb.

Monday, April 16, 2018

NATO Spending A Little Better ... but ...

Nice set of graphics from DefenseNews with the 2017 NATO "Give a Damn" numbers.

Just imagine what a powerhouse NATO would be if all its members met at least the 2% goal.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Fullbore Friday

Civil wars are always a nasty bit of work, and with a few exceptions here and there, on the whole the American Civil War was mostly fought on the battlefield without the civilian slaughter often seen. This and the wisdom of President Johnson's administration standing against the Radical Republicans, is largely responsible for us being able to stitch the Union back together.

In the slaughter we inflicted on ourselves in that stupid war born of political failure, there were great moments of humanity. One of the finer examples was that of Sgt. Richard Kirkland, Company G, Second South Carolina Infantry, Confederate States Army.
All through the night of Dec. 13, 1862, the ambulance corps of the Union’s Army of the Potomac labored to remove their wounded brethren from the killing grounds at Fredericksburg.
Nevertheless, they were unable to reach the men who had advanced the farthest against the Confederate “sheet of flame” that came from behind the stone wall at the base of Marye’s Heights. As dawn broke on the morning of the 14th, hundreds of these brave soldiers still lay where they had fallen, crying out for loved ones, for a mercy killing or just a drink of water.

Crouching on the other side of the wall, the Confederates who had inflicted such devastation on the unfortunate federals listened to their enemies’ piteous pleas.
...the wounded men’s cries became too much for one rebel soldier to bear. Sgt. Richard Kirkland, Company G, Second South Carolina Infantry, left the lines and made his way to the nearby Stevens’ house where his brigade commander, Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw, had his headquarters. According to Kershaw’s later account, the young Kirkland said he could no longer stand to hear “those poor people crying for water” and asked permission to go over the wall with filled canteens to relieve their suffering.

Kershaw granted the request, but would not allow Kirkland to show a white handkerchief while on his mission. No truce had been declared between the opposing armies, and Kershaw knew it was not within his authority to initiate one.

Kershaw’s account goes on to describe what happened when Kirkland entered the deadly ground between the lines:

Unharmed he reached the nearest sufferer. He knelt beside him, tenderly raised the drooping head, rested it gently upon his own noble breast, and poured the precious life-giving fluid down the fever scorched throat.

This done, he laid him tenderly down, placed his knapsack under his head, straightened out his broken limb, spread his overcoat over him, replaced his empty canteen with a full one, and turned to another sufferer.

By this time his purpose was well understood on both sides, and all danger was over. From all parts of the field arose fresh cries of ‘Water, for God’s sake, water!’ More piteous still, the mute appeal of some who could only feebly lift a hand to say, here, too, is life and suffering. For an hour and a half did this ministering angel pursue his labor of mercy, nor ceased to go and return until he had relieved all of the wounded on that part of the field. He returned wholly unhurt.

Kershaw’s recollections, titled “Richard Kirkland, the Humane Hero of Fredericksburg,” originally appeared in The Charleston News and Courier in January 1880 and was reprinted 12 days later in The New York Times.
Of course, the post-modern era being what it is, people have tried to deconstruct this story ... but even the NTY has to say;
So, is the Richard Kirkland story true? Looking at the available evidence, it’s almost certain that a Confederate did risk his life to bring water to at least one wounded federal soldier, and if that “angel of mercy” must be identified, odds are probably better than even that it was indeed Kirkland. While Kershaw likely embellished his recollections of the incident for his letter to the News and Courier, it’s just as likely that he named Kirkland as “The Angel of Marye’s Heights” for no other reason than that he believed it himself.

Kirkland went on to fight at the battles of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Chickamauga. At the last of these, he and two comrades advanced too far in front of their unit, and he was mortally wounded while trying to cover their retreat. Refusing his friends’ offers to assist him, he gasped: “I am done for. You can do me no good. Save yourselves and please tell my pa I died right.” Kirkland was barely 20 years old.
Like the one erected outside my ancestral church in Mississippi almost 150 years ago, this is another monument I hope the anti-intellectual Woke Historians Collective and their American Babiyan Taliban co-religionists never tear down.

A personal side-note about Sgt. Kirkland's death at the battle of Chickamauga. I thought the 2nd South Carolina Infantry rang a bell. 

At that battle, my family (multiple lines) fought in the 7th Mississippi in Anderson's Brigade of Hindman's Division. On the 18th they were on the far left of the Confederate line facing Wood's 1st Division of XXI Corp. By the 20th, Hindman's division was moved to the center left of the line alongside Longstreet's Corps.

Nine months after Fredericksburg, the 2nd South Carolina was still part part of Kershaw's Brigade of McLaws' Division of Longstreet's Corps. By the afternoon of the 20th, the 7th Mississippi and the 2nd South Carolina were fighting right next to each other as they pushed back the Indiana and Ohio forces of Brannan's Division of Thomas's XIV Corps.

Small war.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

LCS: Bringing a Junkie's Mentality to a Great Service

Let's start with a quote from the Behavioral Medicine Association, shall we?
The first casualty of addiction, like that of war, is the truth. At first the addict merely denies the truth to himself. But as the addiction, like a malignant tumor, slowly and progressively expands and invades more and more of the healthy tissue of his life and mind and world, the addict begins to deny the truth to others as well as to himself. He becomes a practiced and profligate liar in all matters related to the defense and preservation of his addiction, even though prior to the onset of his addictive illness, and often still in areas as yet untouched by the addiction, he may be scrupulously honest.

First the addict lies to himself about his addiction, then he begins to lie to others. Lying, evasion, deception, manipulation, spinning and other techniques for avoiding or distorting the truth are necessary parts of the addictive process. They precede the main body of the addiction like military sappers and shock troops, mapping and clearing the way for its advance and protecting it from hostile counterattacks.

Because addiction by definition is an irrational, unbalanced and unhealthy behavior pattern resulting from an abnormal obsession, it simply cannot continue to exist under normal circumstances without the progressive attack upon and distortion of reality resulting from the operation of its propaganda and psychological warfare brigades. The fundamentally insane and unsupportable thinking and behavior of the addict must be justified and rationalized so that the addiction can continue and progress.

One of the chief ways the addiction protects and strengthens itself is by a psychology of personal exceptionalism which permits the addict to maintain a simultaneous double-entry bookkeeping of addictive and non-addictive realities and to reconcile the two when required by reference to the unique, special considerations that àat least in his own mind- happen to apply to his particular case.

The form of the logic for this personal exceptionalism is:
Under ordinary circumstances and for most people X is undesirable/irrational;
My circumstances are not ordinary and I am different from most people;
Therefore X is not undesirable/irrational in my case - or not as undesirable/irrational as it would be in other cases.
Armed with this powerful tool of personal exceptionalism that is a virtual "Open Sesame" for every difficult ethical conundrum he is apt to face, the addict is free to take whatever measures are required for the preservation and progress of his addiction, while simultaneously maintaining his allegiance to the principles that would certainly apply if only his case were not a special one.
Could there be a more accurate description about where our Navy finds itself at the start of 3QFY18 concerning LCS?

Let's spin the golden oldies, shall we? Back to the dulcitones of yesteryear, in this case almost a decade ago to 2009;
The Navy announced Oct. 13 the decision to deploy the USS Freedom (LCS 1) in early 2010 to the Southern Command and Pacific Command areas ahead of her originally scheduled 2012 maiden deployment.

According to Navy leaders, littoral combat ships (LCS) are needed now to close urgent warfighting gaps.

"Deploying LCS now is a big step forward in getting this ship where it needs to be - operating in the increasingly important littoral regions," said Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations. "We must deliver this critical capability to the warfighter now."

The Freedom will have an immediate impact on fleet readiness and global reach as an asset with unique combat capabilities and the ability to meet littoral tasking not previously seen in the modern cruiser or destroyer fleet.

"The Navy plans to build a considerable number of littoral combat ships which will form the backbone of our future fleet," said Adm J. C. Harvey, Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, charged with executing the early deployment. "The sooner we integrate them into our fleet, the sooner we can incorporate them in the order of battle. This deployment offers a golden opportunity to learn by doing. Employing the USS Freedom in theater two years ahead of a normal timeline allows us to incorporate lessons that can only be learned in a deployment setting more quickly and effectively in the LCS fleet integration process."
...and here we are.

A decade after commissioning Hull-1. A decade and a half after the triumph of the Transformationalist movement. How many changes? How many excuses?

Here we are;
The Navy may not deploy any of its Littoral Combat Ships this year despite previous plans to deploy one to the Middle East and two to Singapore in 2018, due to a confluence of maintenance availabilities that has most of the LCS fleet sidelined this year.

Three of the Navy’s four original LCSs are in maintenance now, and four of the eight block-buy ships that have commissioned already are undergoing their initial Post Shakedown Availabilities (PSA), Cmdr. John Perkins, spokesman for Naval Surface Force Pacific, told USNI News.

In addition to the deploying ships themselves being in maintenance, so too are the training ships that will be required to help train and certify the crews.
Still, no ability to do ASW. No ability to do MIW. Exceptionally limited - almost comical - ASUW.

Oh, and the air det?
Weaponized MQ-8B Fire Scouts are ready for deployment, they just need the Littoral Combat Ship program to reconfigure its weapon storage to squeeze in the ammunition, program officials said.
The weapons testing went great from the airframe standpoint,” Dodge said. “One of the issues with the advanced weapons systems is because it’s based on an unguided rocket, it’s designed to be built up in an armory and the LCS armory doesn’t have the space that you can build up.”

The LCS has one magazine, used to store all the ships weapons, including any that would be used for aircraft and other weapons systems.
Good googly moogly; ready, fire, aim.

We chose this path over a decade ago, and yet not only do we not have mission systems, the Sailors' training pipeline en route to the ships is so jacked up, we don't have enough Sailors to properly man the ships we have conducting extended static displays ... not to mention training them once they are there.

As a Fleet LT told me, deployment isn't a priority; deliver is.

And there is your problem. We are so focused on spending money on hulls that equipping them, manning them and training them for warfighting is an afterthought.

It is 2018 and we still do not have it right.

We have what we have and need to make the best of it - but we simply can't. The solution now is what the solution was that I offered over a decade ago. Stop building these ships NOW and find some use for what we have. License build a couple of dozen Eurofrigates until we get a good USA design ready to go.

We have built way more of these white elephants now than if we followed Plan Salamander a decade ago, but it is never too late to do the right thing.

Stow the cost arguments before you drag them out again. 

Look at what OHP, SPRU and DDG-51 Class warships were doing 10-yrs after commissioning of their Hull-1, and then behold LCS.

Remember, what would you rather have; 3 FFG deploying in 2018, or 5 LCS hanging out pierside? What is the real value for your money?

Over and over again we continue to choose LCS or to make excuses. We define deficiency down for the sake of what?

Like any addict, we will make excuses and warp everything to feed that addiction. What are we addicted to, our own desire to defend our bad decisions? Hope?

Choose life my dear Navy. Choose life.

...but to really understand that, you need the non-Kristen friendly OG version.

Hat tip Sid.