Updates from the Submarine Services

We don’t tend to write much about the submarine service. It’s mostly outside our wheelhouse. Also, the generally well run procurement of the Virginia class ships means there isn’t a lot of headline news to write about.

Here’s a presentation on the  state of the ongoing major programs in the sub fleet.

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The Aviationist » Watch this: How insanely low you can fly a civilian jet liner!

The Aviationist » Watch this: How insanely low you can fly a civilian jet liner!.

Follow the link for video. And quite a few more low passes.

The Argies do love their low flying. As the British noted after the Falklands “We should have known a country that produces a lot of Formula One race drivers would field some pretty good pilots.”

The Most Honored Photograph

Doesn’t look like much, does it? But, depending upon your definition, this photograph, a team effort by 9 men, is the most honored picture in U. S. History. If you want to find out about it, read on. It’s an interesting tale about how people sometimes rise beyond all expectations.

It takes place in the early days of World War II, in the South Pacific, and if you’re a World War II history buff, you may already know about it.

The Screwed Up Pilot

First, let’s get this out of the way. Jay Zeamer wasn’t a photographer by trade. He was mostly a wanna-be pilot. He looked good on paper, having graduated with a degree in civil engineering from MIT, joining the Army Air Corps, and receiving his wings in March, 1941. He was a B-26 bomber co-pilot when World War II started.

His classmates all rapidly became lead pilots and squadron leaders, but not Jay. He couldn’t pass the pilot check tests despite trying numerous times. He was a good pilot, but just couldn’t seem to land the B-26. Landing, from what I’ve read, was considered one of the more important qualifications for a pilot. Stuck as a co-pilot while his classmates and then those from the classes behind him were promoted, he got bored and lost all motivation.

Things came to a head when co-pilot Zeamer fell asleep while his plane was in flight. Not just in flight, but in flight through heavy anti-aircraft fire during a bombing run. He only woke when the pilot beat him on the chest because he needed help. His squadron commander had him transferred to a B-17 squadron in Port Moresby, New Zealand where he was allowed to fly as a fill-in navigator and occasionally as a co-pilot. He was well liked and popular — on the ground. But no one wanted to fly with him.

Zeamer finally managed to get into the pilot’s seat by volunteering for a photoreconnaissance mission when the scheduled pilot became ill. The mission, an extremely dangerous one over the Japanese stronghold at Rabual, won Zeamer a Silver Star – despite the fact that he still hadn’t qualified to pilot a B-17.

via The Most Honored Photograph.

Read the whole story of Old 666.

Law Enforcement Perfeshunal, Yessiree.

Impressive.  I bet CNN and Eric Holder will classify it as another school shooting.


He is the only one in the room professional enough to call a loaded weapon an empty weapon.  Well, along with the other “perfeshunal” out of view on the right.  Idiots like this are making arbitrary and capricious decisions about my (and your) right to keep and bear arms.

Stolen from SKK’s place.  Who got it from Ogrish.


The Devolution of Strategic Thought


Lazarus over at Information Dissemination has an absolutely superb piece about it.   His assertion is that what passes for strategic thought is almost entirely about budgets and technology.  Essentially, that the SCMR and QDR have been driving strategic considerations, rather than the other way around.

The Cold War strategy of containment was created when propeller-driven aircraft were the sole delivery source for atomic weapons. It achieved final success in an age of thermonuclear weapons delivered by multiple means. What similar strategies have been conceived by the McNamara-inspired, budget and technology -driven national security process? The disastrous Vietnam conflict and its mania for budget and analysis-driven warfare does not inspire confidence in the current system to create something as long-lasting and viable as Containment….

This ingrained institutional focus on money and technology at the expense of the geography, logistics, history, and cultural studies that have informed past successful strategies leaves the U.S. ill-prepared to confront the challenges of a new and potentially violent period of history.

Indeed, I would assert that the defense structure proposed by then-Secretary of Defense Cheney and CJCS Colin Powell at the end of the Cold War (1991) was the last serious attempt to include the above elements and considerations into a strategic view (and a military) that had the capabilities to meet America’s strategic needs in the post-Cold War world.   The work figured carefully the requirements for simultaneously waging two Major Regional Conflicts (MRCs) of a full-spectrum nature, and calculated the force and logistics requirements for shaping, fighting, and supplying those two MRCs simultaneously.  (For those who ask how such calculations should be made, I suggest reading that document front to back. )  The 1992 proposed force structure represented massive cuts in the Cold War military structure, upwards of 25% in both budget and size.

The ink was hardly dry on that strategy document when Clinton SecDef Lester Aspin undid the entire effort with his “Bottom-up Review”.    On the recommendations of that “review”, the respective services’ structure and budgets were slashed to levels far below what was considered the minimum for maintaining the capabilities and capacity across the spectrum required in the “uni-polar” 1990s and 2000s.   Nowhere in Aspin’s document was the careful calculus, based on empirical and historical data.  Instead, it contained assertions of dubious legitimacy, and considerable, if unidentified, risk.  (Considerably smaller estimates for what fighting an MRC entailed, and an assertion that fighting two simultaneously was no longer a requirement, to wit the new “fight one, hold one” concept, whatever that might mean.)  The hollowing of the force eviscerated not only existing capability, but severely reduced R&D and production of replacement systems and equipment, and bottomed training and maintenance budgets.  The “savings”, of course, was known as the Peace Dividend, which was almost entirely spent on social programs and other Clinton Administration priorities.   As a result, the “Army we have” that went into Iraq in 2003 was the Army (and other services) created by a budget and technology-driven process with non-strategic political overtones.   Contemporary conversations about Defense force structure and spending echo the disastrous Aspin tenure as SecDef.

I was a Senior Mentor (for China) at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy SIMULEX exercise this weekend, where the subject of “grand strategy” was central to the respective country teams playing in the event.  This precise discussion (how a strategy drives military development) was had on a number of occasions.  It took a while, but students began to understand and embrace the “long view” of decades and centuries inherent in Chinese strategic thinking, rather than the 4-year QDR/election cycle immediacy of what passes for American strategy efforts.

Go read the whole thing.  Lazarus is also spot-on in his discussions of Goldwater-Nichols accelerating the very conditions it was enacted to prevent.

BTW:  Here are some previous thoughts of mine on the subject:



Load HEAT- Mary Stuart Masterson

She had roles in three fantastic movies, Some Kind of Wonderful, Gardens of Stone, and Fried Green Tomatoes*.  If you didn’t love her in these movies, you have no soul.

Mary Stuart Masterson (1) Mary Stuart Masterson (2) Mary Stuart Masterson (3) Mary Stuart Masterson (4) Mary Stuart Masterson (5) Mary Stuart Masterson (6) Mary Stuart Masterson (7) Mary Stuart Masterson (8) Mary Stuart Masterson (9) Mary Stuart Masterson (10) Mary Stuart Masterson (11) Mary Stuart Masterson (12) Mary Stuart Masterson (13)

*Which was the big break for friend of the blog Peabody Award Winning Actor Nick Searcy.

Jailed activist tells of life in cold cell

She spends 23 hours a day in a draughty Russian prison cell, with Arctic blizzards blowing outside, and is allowed to walk outside in ”an outdoor chicken pen” for just an hour a day.

Greenpeace activist Alexandra Harris, a 27-year-old permanent Australian resident and British citizen, has written to her Sydney manager James Lorenz to describe how she passes the time dreaming of running into her family’s arms.

Ms Harris, from Manly, was in a group of 30 – comprising 28 Greenpeace activists, a freelance photographer and a videographer – charged with piracy by Russian authorities after they tried to scale a state-owned oil platform in a protest against drilling in the Arctic last month.

Alexandra Harris.

“I prayed for the first time in my life the other day. I prayed for freedom and courage.” Photo: AP/Greenpeace

On Thursday, Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee dropped piracy claims against the group, which includes three Australian residents, but replaced them with hooliganism charges, which carry a jail term of up to seven years, instead of 15 years for piracy.

via Jailed activist tells of life in cold cell.

Much of the buffoonery of our society is a result of our success. People like Ms. Harris have so long been cooco0ned in successful societies that they believe it to be the natural state of man.

Our society (the Anglosphere, in this instance) tends to be quite forgiving of antics such as hers, provided no physical harm comes to others.

But that is hardly the case around the world. Perhaps in the next 7 years, she’ll learn that lesson.