Links

I’m too tired to give these the write up they deserve.

John Schindler pointed us to this post, and notes that the crippling lack of intelligence SACEUR is facing is a direct result of Edward Snowden.

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If you’re going to have an air war, have an air war.

I think most of you by now realize I don’t consider airpower a panacea or replacement for ground forces. But using airpower foolishly is probably worse than not using it at all.

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The Fall of Saigon, forty years ago. Dave and Andy wrote it up so I don’t have to.

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Speaking of squandering a victory. CDR Sal on losing the already won war in Iraq.  Even the political left is noticing how badly Obama handled that.

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Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket had a mostly successful launch the other day. Video at the link.

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This Operation Needs a Snappy Code Name, Like Maybe, I Dunno, “Earnest Will?”

Following the harassment of a US flagged merchant vessel last week, and the seizure of a Marshall flagged vessel recently by Iran, the US Navy is preparing to escort all US flagged merchant vessels through the Straits of Hormuz, the narrow chokepoint that separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman.

Persian Gulf

Of course, this hearkens back to the late 1980s, when Kuwaiti oil tankers, frequently attacked by Iran, were reflagged under the US colors, and escorted by US Navy warships. That was Operation Earnest Will.

Iran, for the most part, shied away from direct attacks upon escorted shipping. They instead used Silkworm missiles to attack ships before the convoys formed up, resulting in Operation Prime Chance and Operation Nimble Archer, and they covertly mined the straits, which eventually resulted in Operation Praying Mantis

Of course, that was back in the 1980s. Ronald Reagan was willing to negotiate with the Iranians, but he wasn’t willing to put up with a lot of tomfoolery. After the drubbing the Iranians received in Praying Mantis, they greatly reduced their confrontations with the US for a considerable period of time. One suspects the current administration is somewhat less likely to militarily punish Iran for bad behavior.

Incidentally, the convoying operation just announced has us thinking once again of the very useful Cyclone class patrol boats, and it turns out, David Axe is featured in Rueters talking about them as well.

For more than a decade, a small force of 10 patrol boats has plied the shallow waters of the northern Persian Gulf, guarding Iraq’s strategic oil terminals and keeping an eye on Iranian military moves. The 10 Cyclone-class boats, based in the tiny Gulf state of Bahrain, are some of America’s busiest warships and would likely be the first to see action if the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program ever turned violent.

For the vast majority of maritime security operations, you don’t need  a major warship and its associated weap0ns, so much as you need the sensors, and most importantly, the physical presence. As someone once mocked the Air Force concept of “virtual presence*”, it’s “actual absence.”

The Cyclone PCs have a huge advantage over other warships available for escort duty. They’re there in the Gulf. And numbers matter. As a practical matter, the area a surface warship can surveil is pretty much the same, be it a Burke class destroyer, or a Cyclone PC. Yes, the Burke can better integrate outside information. But the organic surface sensors for both classes are pretty much the same- surface search radar, and binoculars. They both have roughly the same range. Given that a Burke ties up almost 300 sailors, versus about 28 for a PC, and you could buy replacements for all the current PCs for probably less than the cost of a single Burke, it plain makes sense to have a small fleet of them available for operations like this.

Further, using assets like the PCs for the actual escort (which would have had little difficulty dealing with the four small craft that actually seized the M/V Maersk Tigris) allows you to use Burkes or other major warships in wide support. That is, rather than tying down your most effective weapon to the slow convoy, it can maneuver to where it can best influence events, be it by conducting surveillance, or by actual combat, or simply by keeping it less vulnerable to Iranian weapons. Using the cheaper assets as an escort is an economy of force, and allows you to devote your prime assets to the main effort, which, should shooting start, isn’t so much actually protecting the convoy, as it is degrading Iranian capabilities. That is, attacking their assets.

What steps Iran will take next to counter us is an open question, but if I were on the NavCent staff, I’d sure take a look back at previous operations like Prime Chance and Nimble Archer.

 

*Virtual presence was an Air Force term for its ability to reach any point of the globe in a matter of hours. Which, when minutes count, the Air Force is only hours away.

One For the Body Snatchers

Er, I mean “Recruiters”.  Of which our gracious host was one.  Pushing clay-heads at Parris Island, I got an interesting perspective on the recruiting process.  And having known a few personally, the stories I heard were likely mostly true.

In the process of interviewing EVERY LAST damned recruit to go through a training cycle, I would save the better recruits for last.  Then, I could ask some off-script questions.  Like “If you could be alone with someone for fifteen minutes, who would it be?”  The answers were almost universally “My girlfriend!” or “Jennifer Anniston”, you get the idea…

Except this one recruit.  I asked him the question, but he didn’t answer for prolly thirty seconds.  Then, when he did, he answered “My f*ckin’ Recruiter, Sir!”

82nd Airborne Division paratrooper killed in training incident at Fort Bragg | abc11.com

FORT BRAGG (WTVD) —

Fort Bragg officials say an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper died during a training operation on post Tuesday.

Details surrounding the incident have not been released. Officials would only say the Spc. Nicholas Roberts, 27, of Longwood, Florida, died during training at Sicily Drop Zone on Fort Bragg. He was an infantryman with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Abn. Div.

The incident is currently under investigation.

“Spc. Roberts was a tremendous young man. He had only recently joined us but he brought with him experience and leadership qualities we seek in our Paratroopers,” said Col. Curtis Buzzard, commander of the 3rd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. “We were all saddened to hear of this tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

via 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper killed in training incident at Fort Bragg | abc11.com.

We talked the other day about SPC Tattersall receiving punishment for his selfie with his fish during a jump.

You’ll recall that we argued that the punishment was likely not so much for him, as a means of preventing others from taking things to the next (dangerous) level.

Here’s the thing about airborne operations. They’re inherently dangerous.

From what I’ve heard, SPC Roberts was killed during a night jump into Sicily DZ. I’ve not heard what went wrong (and indeed, that’s an investigation that will take some time). I have no reason to suspect any tomfoolery.

But like I said, airborne operations are inherently dangerous. There was also a recent fatal accident at the Joint Readiness Training Center. It’s not surprising that the chain of command is (again) emphasizing safety.

Our condolences to the family of SPC Roberts.

Please quit losing your mind over Jade Helm 15.

Probably 95% of people who have heard about Exercise Jade Helm taking place in their communities understand and support it, or, if they do have issues, they relate to genuine, if misplaced concerns, such as noise and other possible disruptions to their daily lives. Fair enough. But you  cannot look for basic information on the exercise without dozens, hundreds of “experts” telling you that JH15 is simply a pretext for martial law, seizing guns, and rounding up “patriots” in reeducation and concentration camps.

Brad Taylor took the trouble of writing up this issue, so I don’t have to:

I grew up in East Texas, running around the woods, camping, hunting and generally getting into trouble. I haven’t been home in a while due to twenty-plus years in the military and now living in South Carolina, but I still have family there. From what they’re telling me, something has clearly changed from my childhood days. Jade Helm, a USASOC Realistic Military Training event, is coming to certain Texas locales, and the population is losing its mind over “sinister” implications. FEMA concentration camps, UN gun-grabbers, and anything else that can be extrapolated, has been. Why? I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out why this exercise has generated such controversy, as it’s truly confusing. How can a state that breaks its arm trying to congratulate veterans, that declared a Chris Kyle day, assume that those same service members they’ve been cheering in the Dallas Airport are now out to enslave the entire state? Truthfully, that’s what really burns me. The men who planned the exercise, and the men who will execute the exercise, are me. Texas, the land I grew up in, is basically saying I – and the men I served with – are willingly planning to round them up and put them into concentration camps. Why? How has the Internet been able to leverage such unfounded paranoia? When did we go from supporting the troops to denigrating them as oppressors?

Let me add this- if the Special Forces community suddenly wanted to confiscate your guns, set up reeducation and concentration camps, and otherwise impose martial law, would they announce their plans in advance? Would they send a contact team to EVERY county and municipality briefing them on when the exercise will take place?

Here’s a video of one such briefing. Of course, the comments section is nuttier than a Snickers production line.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLM4-aImMkY]

Jade Helm is simply Robin Sage writ large. And North Carolina somehow hasn’t fallen under the sway of martial law, in spite of some 60 years of hosting off post exercises. Maybe SF is just really bad at martial law.

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I normally don’t like to send you, dear reader, to the nuttier corners of the internet. They don’t really deserve the traffic. But this is the kind of crap that is out there:

Katy Whelan serves as the medical advisor and reporter for The Common Sense Show. As such, she is privy to much of the information on topics which we have not yet published for one reason or another. With regard to Jade Helm 15, Katy has had access to some of the most sensitive information that is in our possession. Therefore, when Katy decides to assert herself in the field by confronting an official about Jade Helm, she can do so with an air of authority.

This past weekend, Katy had occasion to confront a Lt. Colonel Gallegos in a chance public meeting and the following represents the summary of her encounter.

“On Saturday April 11, I (Katy Whelan) was coming out of a Denver area Restaurant and saw a National Guard officer in the parking lot and decided to stop and chat with him about the Jade Helm training drill going on across the country”.

“I introduced myself to a Lt Colonel Gallegos from Buckley Air Force base in Aurora, Colorado. Below is a summary of the exchange”.

Katy:  “I am aware of the Jade Helm drill and I am concerned as to why this drill was being conducted”.

Gallegos:  (He was caught off guard and didn’t have a clear answer as he stumbled around for words and his body language was extremely nervous). “We have had drills like this before, like one we had before one 10 years ago”.

Katy: “There has never been a drill to this extent in size and scope”!

Gallegos: (His body language, again, was extremely nervous as he stumbled to find the right words as he chose to look down, smile and concede that I was correct on that point). “Yeah, that is true but it’s not a big deal”. (Editor’s Note: Not a big deal? Various factions of the military are preparing to impose martial law in the Jade Helms drills while extracting dissidents, and death squads will be planted in order to practice their “infiltration techniques” and this is “not a big deal”? This is an act of war against the American people and it is not a big deal?).

Katy: “I know the Jade Helm15 drill is in over 30 states”.

Gallegos: (He became increasingly nervous) and asked “How did I know this (as if I should not have this information)”?
Katy: “Isn’t this a joint a joint military and national guard operation and doesn’t this violate posse comitatus”.

Gallegos:  “No, that is not true because the National Guard will be the only ones running the drills”.  (Editor’s note: This is a bold faced lie uttered by Lt. Col. Gallegos! On the original Jade Helm 15 document, Special Operations Forces state that the 82nd Airborne and Special Operations Forces such as the Green Berets, Navy Seals will be a part of the drill. Therefore, Gallegos knows what he is participating in is illegal and is not limited to the National Guard. We further know that the Department of Defense is hiring people to play the role of detainees and incarcerated Americans under martial law).

Katy: “Then why, if it is a joint operation, why would the National Guard have the authority to be the organization to be running the drill”?

Gallegos: (Like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar, the nervousness of the body language was peaking as he stumbled around looked down and was rubbing his keys nervously). Katy took that to mean that her challenging statement was true.
“But nothing illegal will be done in the drill”, muttered Gallegos. (Editor’s Note: Despite the fact that the forces of Jade Helm will be extracting people without due process of law, and Gallegos thinks there is nothing wrong with this?). 

Katy: “Our current administration is violating the US constitution every day, so how can you guarantee that the orders coming down would be any different”?

Gallegos: (Again, displaying nervous body language as exemplified by looking down to avoid contact and nervously smiling, he stated, “I assure you it would all be legal. The Governor would be in command of the drill as only the National Guard would be conducting the drills and I cannot say much more than that”. (Editor’s Note: Since the passage of the John Warner Defense bill, the civilian authority exercised by the National Guard was transferred from the Governor of a state to the President and we are supposed to believe that a Lt. Colonel in the National Guard would be ignorant to that fact?).

Katy: “Isn’t Jade Helm about the extraction drills? In other words, what does the military know that we don’t know to train for this type of operation?”

Gallegos: (He further displayed more nervous body language to an incredible degree as he became increasingly and nervously evasive). “I assure you that it is all on the up and up and legal”.

Katy: “If there was an illegal order that came down from the chain of command, what would you do”?

Gallegos: “That would be up to the individual to decide”.
Katy: She pressed the point and again asked “Why would we need an extraction drill and what are they specifically training for?

Gallegos: He remained evasive and said “it is all legal”.

Yeah, random weird people coming up and ambush interrogating some Guard LTC at lunch.

He was caught off guard and didn’t have a clear answer as he stumbled around for words and his body language was extremely nervous).

No kidding. I’d be a little nervous too. Weird people tend to have that effect on me.

The chances this guy knows any more about JH 15 than he’s seen in a newspaper headline are virtually zip. Here’s a little secret. People in the Army, even Lieutenant Colonels, don’t know what every other element of the Army is doing at any given time. That’s because we’re paying them good money to focus on what their unit is doing.

Vermont Socialist Bernie Sanders is Running For President in 2016

bernie

… as a Democrat, CNN reports:

Sanders caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate but is an unlikely candidate for the Democratic nomination, primarily because he has never been a registered member of the party and calls himself a “democratic socialist.”

DSABERNIESANDERSPRESIDENT2016

It remains to be seen whether the Democratic Party would be willing to move that far to the right.

FMD

Surface to Air Missile for Surface to Surface use. DIY weaponeering.

So, the other day, @ThinkDefence shared a tweet that took me here:

The surprising move by Libya Dawn that resulted in the conversion of several S-125 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) into surface-to-surface missiles is not the only of its kind in Libya. Indeed, initiated at roughly the same time, Libya Dawn also worked on the conversion of 2K12 SAMs to the surface-to-surface role. The first contraption, seen above, combines an Italian produced Puma 6×6 APC with the launch section of a Soviet designed 2K12 SAM system.

The collapse of Libya into a mishmash of competing factions means that there really isn’t a lot of new weapons being imported beyond perhaps some small arms.

That being the case, the combatants are forced to make do with what they have on hand. There’s not really much of an air war going on, so Surface to Air missile systems are not exactly a priority. But in the old Ghaddafi days, they were, if only because they’d been raided a few times by A-6s, A-7s, and F-111s.

The 2K12, better known in the West as the SA-6  Gainful, was something of a rude surprise to the Israelis when they first faced it in Egyptian hands in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It’s rather dated technology by today’s standards, but still a credible threat.

But again, the factions in Libya don’t really need SAMs. So apparently, they’re using these as unguided surface to surface missiles.  As the Onyx Blog notes, they have a poor warhead and fuze for this role, but shooting something is better than nothing.

And it isn’t as if they’re the only ones to use SAMs in a surface to surface role. US Navy Arleigh Burke class destroyers beginning with DDG-79 USS Oscar Austin don’t carry the Harpoon anti-ship missile, and so rely on their anti-aircraft SM-2 missiles for the anti-surface role.

One program that never came to fruition, sadly, was a recent one involving the SM-2. Earlier blocks of SM-2 missiles have been replaced in service by newer, longer ranged versions of the SM-2, and now also by the SM-6, featuring basically the same airframe and autopilot, but also incorporating the radar seeker from the AIM-120 AMRAAM and the IIR seeker from the AIM-9X.  This new production meant a couple thousand earlier SM-2s were surplus to needs. Someone in the Navy or at Raytheon had the bright idea to convert them for land attack use. The SM-4* Land Attack Standard Missile (LASM) program was born.

LASM took a surplus SM-2 and replaced the Semi-Active Radar Homing guidance system with an INS/GPS system. The firing ship would simply input the map coordinates of the target, and launch the missile. The missile could fly a very efficient ballistic or semi-ballistic path to the target, which meant its range would be considerably greater than for the air to air role. While its warhead would be no great shakes against any hardened target, it would be fairly effective against soft targets.

For whatever reason, most likely budgetary, LASM was cancelled. Which, to us, seems a shame, as the next logical step to us would have been to equip it with the seeker from the AGM-88 HARM, and use the LASM to suppress land based air defenses in support of carrier operations.

 

*SM-3 is a ballistic missile defense variant of the Standard Missile Family.

More punishment for paratrooper who jumped with fish

The paratrooper who celebrated his upcoming departure from the Army by jumping with his pet Siamese fighting fish — and whose selfie of the act later went viral on social media — will serve 12 days of extra duty before closing out his time in uniform.

Spc. Matthew Tattersall, who is assigned to 2nd Battalion, 505th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, received a company-grade Article 15, with the extra duty as punishment.

via More punishment for paratrooper who jumped with fish.

I’m a leg, so I don’t normally comment too much on Airborne matters.

Safety matters, a great deal. It would have been a damn shame if SPC Tattersall or one of his fellow soldiers had been injured because of this.

But…

Look, everyone knows everyone takes at least one selfie on a jump sometime. For that matter, there are plenty of pics and youtube videos posted of POV jumps.

And this was SPC Tattersall’s last jump. It was, for him at least, a “Hollywood” jump, without the encumbrance of a weapon and a rucksack. And one suspects that while he might not be a Senior or Master Parachutist, he’s probably got enough jumps under his belt to have a fair idea what he’s doing by now.

As to his 1000 word essay, please note that in the eyes of the Army, that’s not punishment, but rather training, and thus not double jeopardy.

We have a sneaking suspicion that SPC Tattersall is “that guy.” The member in good standing of the E-4 Mafia that is a bit of a clown. A solid citizen that does what is required of him, but has never treated the Army as seriously as the Army likes to be treated.

One also strongly suspects that SPC Tattersall received an Article 15 not so much for his own actions, but as a shot across the bow of the next guy. One guy doing something silly is one thing. But young men, being young men, particularly in the era of viral social media, often attempt a little one-upsmanship. Where this incident was not a gross violation of safety, the next time might not be so benign.

Still, SPC Tattersall seems to have the right frame of mind to cope with extra duty (it’s unpleasant, but no one ever died from mopping the battalion headquarters) and we wish him the best upon his transition back to civilian life.

And best wishes to Willy Did Makeit.