A World War

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“We have made a request to the German Government that we shall have a satisfactory assurance as to the Belgium neutrality before midnight tonight. The German reply to our request was unsatisfactory.”

So Asquith announced to a packed House of Commons.  First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill a few minutes before had transmitted the following message to the ships of the Royal Navy:  “Commence hostilities against Germany”.

The festering conflict in the Balkans, centered around Serbia and the Dual Monarchy, had been flashing into flames since 1912.  As Wilhelmine Germany and Imperial Russia became increasingly embroiled in the strife, so too would France (eagerly) and England (reluctantly) be pulled toward the precipice.   As each major power positioned itself for military advantage, mobilizations and war declarations followed in rapid succession.  Austria-Hungary against Serbia on 28 July, Germany against Russia, and the converse, on 1 August 1914, Germany and France on 3 August 1914, and the German invasion of Belgium without a declaration on that same day.

And, at midnight Berlin time, 23oo London time, 4 August 1914, Great Britain’s expired ultimatum to Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg ensured that the coming conflagration would be the first global war of the modern industrial age.   British Foreign Secretary Grey, whose Germanophobic policies and diplomatic bungling helped bring on the larger crisis, made the famous remark that; “The lamps are going out all over Europe, and we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

Ninety-nine years hence, nothing has had such effect on the psyche of Western civilization as has the Great War.

Detroit Shakedown

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It was as challenging to predict as the direction and time of this morning’s sunrise.  The Democrats want to bail out Detroit.

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Detroit, that bastion of “War on Poverty” and “Great Society” modeling for social spending, has failed utterly.  Countless “urban renewal” projects from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, sinking tens of billions of Federal dollars into the city, have come to naught.

Almost half the population of the city is illiterate.  Think about that.  In 2013.  47% of adults cannot read and write.   Where will the blame go?  Racism, of course.  As if the white man is preventing black children from being educated.  A third of the city is derelict.  With rampant crime and nearly 50% unemployment, there is little prospect of economic success on any scale.   The situation is as close to Anbar Province as you can find in America.

Most Americans are against such a foolhardy, expensive, and ultimately fruitless venture as a bailout of the once-great City of Detroit.   But, also very predictably, the results of the poll question fall along party, but mostly racial lines.

Republicans and Independents are tired of pouring money into the social and fiscal sink hole that is Detroit.   To them, enough is enough.

The majority of Democrats think the problem is that we haven’t spent ENOUGH of the taxpayers’ treasure into that pit of graft, corruption, and dead-end economic prospects.

African Americans?  They overwhelmingly favor a bailout.   So does Barack Obama, despite his protestations to the contrary.

So Detroit will get a massive bailout that will find its way into the pockets of Obama supporters, and in three or four years there will be as little to show for the effort proportionally as there has been for his “stimulus package” in 2009, which cost more in one stroke than eight years of the Iraq War, and which mostly went into union coffers and the pockets of political patrons.

Detroit’s population is overwhelmingly African-American.  Its problems have been greatly exacerbated by the heroin-like addiction of Federal programs that have destroyed business incentive, encouraged a destructive and self-perpetuating culture of gangs, drugs, and neglect.  That, mixed with a lack of even basic education which makes a great swath of the populace unemployable by anyone.  We will be told that to oppose a Federal bailout of the city, to be against another shot of the Federal needle, is cruel and unjust.  And that any who speaks against that bailout?   It isn’t because they see the waste and expense, without return on investment.  Nor because they identify one of the root causes of the decay of a once magnificent city.  No siree.

Any who oppose a Detroit bailout?  Dey be RACIST!   So the Federal cash, like a shot of heroin, will flow again.   And the dependence and decline will continue unabated.  But hey, we know how they will vote, those that survive.

Department of Deference

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Exhibit A:  Considered pornographic and the cause of aberrant behavior among service men.   Banned from the AAFES magazine racks.

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Exhibit B:  An event which service members were encouraged to attend.   Wearing of the uniform, connoting official sponsorship, is authorized.

The feminists and LBGT activists are in charge of this Nation’s defenses.  Not Chuck Hagel.  Not the Joint Chiefs.  All they do is enforce thoughtcrime punishments.

I am sure our allies and our adversaries are impressed.

I said so then, and was told such would never come to pass.  But it bears repeating.   Differing beliefs, the very thing we fight for, will not be tolerated by the People’s Defense Commissariat.

Sequester Cuts will be ugly.

Apparently, the only place anyone is willing to cut any expenditures is the DoD.

The “Super Committee” failed back in November of 2011, making sequester the next option. For almost two years the Department of Defense has been hoping and praying someone or something would protect it from the inevitable. Yesterday, reality hit and hit hard.

The incredibly short version:

We’ll have the smallest Army since WWII, a vastly reduced Marine Corps, less tactical and cargo capability for the Air Force and the loss of two or three carrier groups for the Navy. This will mean forgoing some missions we currently plan on taking on. As Robert Caruso put it, “do less with less”

via Ace of Spades HQ.

Packin’ and Preppin’- Quick Links

I’m preppin’ and packin’ for a trip today, so not a lot of time to write (plus I’m fighting the vestiges of a cold, so that kinda sucks the will to write as well).

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Maritime surveillance flights in the WestPac– Both China and the US have extensive MP flights underway, particularly in areas of… shall we say, contested sovereignty. Mind you, both sides are exercising the freedom of navigation, but even while operating will within the accepted bounds of international law, they can escalate tensions, and send rather clear messages of intentions. And as the EP-3E incident of 2001 showed, things can quickly become quite tense.

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Have a happy.

(Maybe not so SFW)

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DDG-51 Flight III and AMDR

Personally, I think a few Burkes with the new radar are a good idea. Get it in the fleet, and then look at the next destroyer hull. I don’t think, however, I’d replace all the Flight I and II Burkes with Flt. III.

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HMS Victory

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Taxpayers saved from vicious wildlife.

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VXX and the Hazards of Procurement

VXX reborn….

The original VXX program to replace the Presidential helicopter fleet became such a boondoggle, and object lesson on gold-plating and a failure to reign in requirements that a simple order of a relative handful of helicopters bloomed to a potential $13 billion program. That’s roughly on a par with the entire Navy shipbuilding budget for one year (though VXX would have been spread over several years) and as such was completely unrealistic. The basic “green” helicopter airframe wasn’t so bad. There were extensive costs involved in adapting a European airframe to US standards, but nothing insurmountable. The real problem came because the buyer, the US Navy, also had to represent the end user, the White House, and between them, they failed to properly define exactly what communications systems the aircraft needed.  It’s one thing to require secure Video Tele Conferencing on the Air Force One, when the President may be airborne for hours. But does he really need that on his helicopter? And a full galley for hot meals?  I think the President can get by with a thermos and a sammich for half an hour.

AW101/VH-71 Kestrel

In the reborn VXX program, the Navy has written a much more tightly defined set of requirements. But the method by which they’ve written them, and the scoring method set, has, as a practical matter, excluded all but one contender. The point of a competition is supposedly to avoid the issues of a monopoly supplier. But now there are concerns that Sikorsky will simply walk away with the program.

The U.S. Navy program to find a replacement for the “Marine One” Presidential helicopter is looking set to become a one-horse race following the withdrawal of AgustaWestland and Northrop Grumman.

The two companies had partnered to offer the AW101 three-engined helicopter for the VXX requirement to replace the aging fleet of Sikorsky VH-60 Whitehawks and VH-3 Sea Kings, but have decided to withdraw after analyzing the request for proposal documents.

In statement to Aviation Week, an AgustaWestland spokesman said: “After a comprehensive analysis of the final RFP, dated May 3, 2013, we determined that we were unable to compete effectively given the current requirements and the evaluation methodology defined in the RFP.

The S-92 was probably the leading contender anyway. Boeing’s two possible entries, the H-47 and the V-22, were really non-starters from Day One. And it’s hard to see how the AW101/VH-71 could be a realistic contender after the debacle of buying several green airframes, only to cancel the program, and sell them to Canada for spare parts at pennies on the dollar.

S-92 as Marine One

Separate from, but simultaneous with the VXX program has been the Air Force’s CSAR-X program to replace its Combat Search and Rescue helicopters. The Air Force fleet of HH-60G’s is old, has limited capabilities, and has shorter range than the Air Force needs. For over a decade, the Air Force has sought to buy up to 121 helicopters to renew their fleet. And while the answer to the Air Force prayers is, to most disinterested observers, a no brainer, politics and the maze of procurement regulations have hampered the Air Force from actually buying any aircraft.

The obvious answer for the Air Force was to piggyback on  the Army’s MH-47G special operations helicopter program, which would have given them a very modern, very long range, very capable aircraft, with the added benefit that the Army had already paid most of the bills for development. And let’s not forget the economies of scale of having hundreds of Chinooks already in service, in terms of training, spare parts, and a robust depot level maintenance system.

And that’s pretty much what the first CSAR-X contract did, awarding the buy to Boeing and the HH-47.

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But the complexities of the procurement laws, and strong congressional support for constituent companies, meant that protests in court and the GAO led to the cancellation of the contract, and having to restart the entire program from scratch. Basically, we’ve poured hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps billions, down the drain. And the program requirements have been rewritten so that in effect, the only possible winner is the Sikorsky S-92. The other companies won’t even bother to compete.

Now, the S-92 isn’t a bad helicopter, really. It’s been something of a disappointment in terms of sales, and not without its problems, but it isn’t exactly a disaster.  But we’ve gone from a procurement system that provides the services with the best aircraft for the mission, with rules in place to prevent fraud, waste and abuse, to a system that protects the contractors over the customer. It’s insane.

As an added bonus for Sikorsky, the Air Force also desperately wants to replace its fleet of ancient UH-1N Hueys that provide support to ballistic missile sites. Their first plan, to simply buy UH-60s directly from the Army (rather than from Sikorsky) was shot down. Now, the S-92 is on the fast track to securing that mission as well, boosting the numbers bought.

There was a time in the not very distant past when the Air Force bought pretty much whatever aircraft the Chief of Staff said to buy. That’s something of an oversimplification, but not by much.

Today, we’ve reached a point where the concern for “fairness” has led to the Air Force, and Navy, being almost unable to buy any aircraft unless it’s a part of a Joint-Multinational program that involves every defense contractor and damn near every congressional district.

Queen’s World War 3 speech | Mail Online

The disaster planning meeting, known as the Cabinet Wintex-Cimex 83 Committee exercise, came in the spring of 1983 against a backdrop of worsening US-Russian relations and tit-for-tat battles on each side. It was the year that US President Ronald Reagan described the Soviets as the ‘evil empire’, deployed medium-range nuclear missiles to Europe and began the Star Wars project.

A Nato military exercise codenamed Able Archer nearly led to actual war when the Soviet Union became convinced it was a genuine attack.

The Queen’s words were imagined to be broadcast at noon on Friday, March 4, 1983.

In the exercise, Orange (the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies) launch a chemical weapons attack on Britain. The Blue forces (Nato) respond with a ‘limited yield’ nuclear strike forcing the Orange bloc to offer peace.

The civil servants even thought up what the Prime Minister would say. A participant writes a speech for Margaret Thatcher saying: ‘We wanted peace and strove to achieve it.

‘We are the victims of an unprovoked attack and, with our allies, we will fight back.’

via Queen's World War 3 speech: Found in the archives, the dress rehearsal for disaster | Mail Online.

Like Eisenhower’s speech if the D-Day invasion failed and Nixon’s speech if the Apollo 11 astronauts had died, here is another speech I’m quite happy was not needed.