Your Weekend Reading Assignment- The ONI Assessment of the People’s Liberation Army Navy

The Office of Naval Intelligence has issued an assessment of the Chinese Navy (often referred to as PLAN) as well as its various Coast Guard type quasimilitary adjuncts.

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Here’s some helpful graphics showing ship classes as well.

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One more.

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There’ll be a quiz shortly after Load HEAT on Monday.

H/T to Spill

Israeli News Report: Obama Threatened to Shoot Down IAF Iran Strike

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From Israelnationalnews.com via Drudge.

The Bethlehem-based news agency Ma’an has cited a Kuwaiti newspaper report Saturday, that US President Barack Obama thwarted an Israeli military attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2014 by threatening to shoot down Israeli jets before they could reach their targets in Iran.

Not for the first time, Carter-era National Security Advisor (and anti-Semite/anti-Israel) Zbigniew Brzezinski advised shooting down Israeli aircraft to prevent them from striking the nuclear facilities of a mortal enemy that has vowed the destruction of the Jewish state.  It appears, if this report is true, that Obama actually agreed to such a notion.

Israel is far from a perfect ally, and they can be a thorn in the side of America even at the best of times.  But they are the only western-style free democracy in the Middle East.  They are also a valuable friend.  Conversely, Iran is an oppressive theocracy that has promised the destruction not only of Israel but of the United States, as well.  They are a destabilizing force in a strategic region, hostile to American interests and to those of our allies.

That Obama chose to heed the advice of the National Security Advisor of a pathetic weakling of a President speaks volumes (though Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like Bismarck). That he chose to make such a strong threat against an ally rather than our myriad Islamic fundamentalist enemies is positively thunderous.  Obama hates American power and influence, just as he does that of Israel and the UK.  He is an Islamist sympathizer and a statist communist, just as Rudy Giuliani had the courage to say publicly.   Obama is positively hot for a deal with Iran that would cede to them the ability to develop nuclear weapons, which they have promised to use against Israel.

The notion that the US would threaten an ally who wanted to strike Iran would seem preposterous under any other President.  I don’t know if it is true now, either, but such a thing is much more plausible with an anti-American, anti-Western communist in the White House.

What would have been the effect if Ronald Reagan had made a similar threat and stifled the Osirak strike?  Or George W. Bush had threatened Israel into canceling the attack on Syria’s nuclear facility in 2007?

There are 600+ days left of this malignant cabal of anti-American ultra-liberals in the Executive Branch.  One hopes there remains something resembling the United States of America on Inauguration Day, 2017.  And that our credibility and relationships with our allies around the world have not been irreparably damaged.  On Tuesday I will listen to Benjamin Netanyahu carefully.  I hope others do, too.

 

Loss of Liberty, One Amendment at a Time

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The FCC voted today to make broadband internet a “public utility”.    A quietly terrible tragedy, the effects of which will be disastrous for our liberties.   DaveO at Op-For spells it out superbly.

From 1983 until today, February 26, 2015, America had the freest press the world has ever known because of the free (in terms of controls, not necessarily in cost) the internet. Through Obamacare we have seen the government directly attack the free exercise of religion, and today we have lost the last truly free press. Just like Obamacare, the authors and FCC Chairman ramrodded the s through with zero oversight, zero accountability, and a whole lot of lies to the people. The risk of blogs and the internet informing principled opposition to the Tyranocracy was too much to bear. What next? The Second Amendment?

For those of you who actually believed that control of broadband internet by the same Federal Government that used the IRS and Justice Department to persecute political opponents of Barack Obama and the radical Left had anything to do with “net neutrality”, your naïve stupidity in trusting the motives and explanations of this Administration contributed materially to handing control of the last semblance of independent press to the most malignant Presidency in the history of our Republic.

You were warned.  But you would rather be willfully blind.  And so you shall remain.  Let’s hear from an expert on censorship:

Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?

-Stalin

Make no mistake, Barack Obama believes precisely the same.   And forget not that he counts our nation’s enemies among his friends, and domestic political opposition as his enemies.  He is once again employing his regulatory agencies, and his Führer’s Decrees, er, Executive Orders, to make sure we, his enemies, have neither.

Vice Admiral Rowden's Message

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You can read the text of it over at Salamander’s place.  Micromanagement?  Possibly.  Necessary?  Some folks, among which is a guy named Greenert, seem to think so.  From where I sit, it seems there is some serious concern (finally) on the part of Navy leadership from the CNO on down, including SURFPAC, that our numbered Fleet Commanders don’t know how to fight their fleets, that Task Force Commanders do not know how to fight their task forces, nor Battle Group Commanders their Battle Groups, or individual COs and Officers, their warships.   There is, it is suspected, a lack of understanding of warfighting at all levels.  From the Operational Arts, to doctrine and tactics, down to techniques, and procedures, there is an alarming lack of understanding in areas for which we should strive for mastery.  In addition, it is likely that there is serious question about the true state of readiness of our fleet and the ships and aircraft (and Sailors) which comprise it.  Maintenance, training, proficiency, mindset, all these are suspect.

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I think SURFPAC’s message is a very good step in the right direction.  It may also shake out the most egregious impediments to training for war, both self-inflicted and externally imposed.  This includes peripheral tasks that take up inordinate time and attention, maintenance and manpower shortcomings that render weapons and engineering systems non-mission capable, and jumping through burdensome administrative hoops required to perform the most basic of combat training.

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I cannot say whether or not VADM Rowden dislikes Mission Command.  I hope that he does not, because the ability of junior commanders to take the initiative and act boldly across widely-flung battlefields in the absence of orders has been the critical element of success for many centuries.  But Mission Command requires junior leaders who are positively imbued in their craft, and senior leaders who understand what must be done and can clearly express their intent (and then have the courage to trust their subordinates).   The entirety of the US Navy, more so perhaps than the other services, must rely on such leadership for its survival in combat with an enemy.  Unfortunately, the Navy may be the service that has become the most over-supervised and zero-defect-laden bastion of micromanagement in all of DoD.

Gunnery training aboard U.S.S. Astoria (CA-34), spring 1942.

Vice Admiral Rowden’s message has an almost desperate tone to it.   As if, to quote Service, Navy leadership realizes that it is later than you think.  One cannot help but be reminded of the myriad comments from US cruiser sailors in 1942.  Following initial and deadly encounters with a skilled and fearsome Japanese Navy in the waters off the Solomons, many deckplate sailors swore they would never again bitch about the seemingly incessant gunnery and damage control drills that interrupted their shipboard lives.    Like 1942, a Naval clash against a near-peer who can muster temporary advantage will be a costly affair where even the winner is badly bloodied.  Unlike 1942, there is no flood of new warships on the slips which can make good such losses.

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Words from an earlier post of USS Hugh W. Hadley, on the picket line off Okinawa, reinforce the importance of what VADM Rowden wants:

LESSONS LEARNED, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:

                      1.  It must be impressed that constant daily drills in damage control using all personnel on the ship and especially those who are not in the regular damage control parties will prove of  value when emergencies occur.  The various emergency pumps which were on board were used effectively to put out fires.  Damage control schools proved their great value and every member of the crew is now praising this training.

                      2.  I was amazed at the performance of the 40 and 20 guns.  Contrary to my expectation, those smaller guns shot down the bulk of the enemy planes. Daily the crews had dinned into their minds the following order “LEAD THAT  PLANE”.  Signs were painted at the gun stations as follows “LEAD THAT PLANE”.  It worked, they led and the planes flew right through our projectiles.

Not the things of (fill in the blank) History Month or of SAPR or “diversity” training….

Government Regulation of the Internet

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This Friday is a very big day for free speech.  It is the day in which the Federal Elections Commission once again addresses regulation of political content on the internet.  The Washington Examiner tells us:

Claiming that thousands of public comments condemning “dark money” in politics can’t be ignored, the Democrat-chaired Federal Election Commission on Wednesday appeared ready to open the door to new regulations on donors, bloggers and others who use the Internet to influence policy and campaigns.

During a broad FEC hearing to discuss a recent Supreme Court decision that eliminated some donor limits, proponents encouraged the agency to draw up new funding disclosure rules and require even third-party internet-based groups to reveal donors, a move that would extinguish a 2006 decision to keep the agency’s hands off the Internet

It was a close vote, 3-3, back in October.  The Washington Times reminds us of Democrat Ann Ravel’s plans to govern political content on the internet, including blogging and other forms of expression:

While all three GOP-backed members voted against restrictions, they were opposed by the three Democratic-backed members, including FEC Vice Chair Ann M. Ravel, who said she will lead a push next year to try to come up with new rules governing political speech on the Internet.

It would mark a major reversal for the commission, which for nearly a decade has protected the ability of individuals and interest groups to take to engage in a robust political conversation on the Internet without having to worry about registering with the government or keeping and reporting records of their expenses.

One should be most alarmed at handing ANY administration or entity of government the kind of power being considered here.  To consider giving such power to THIS administration is akin to willfully loading the Bill of Rights into a shredder.  Republican Chairman Lee Goodman summed up perfectly the impact of such an intrusion by the Federal Government back in October:

FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman said what Ms. Ravel is proposing would require a massive bureaucracy digging into the corners of the web to police what’s posted about politics.

“I cannot imagine a regulatory regime that would put government censors on the Internet daily, culling YouTube video posts for violations of law — nothing short of a Chinese censorship board,” Mr. Goodman said.

One can wager that the objectivity of such government censorship will be on par with that of the IRS in deciding tax status of PACs, the EPA in approving or denying construction of nuclear plants, and the Justice Department in dealing with cases involving black perpetrators.

If you really believe that the push to designate broadband wireless networks as a Public Utility under Title II is really about “net neutrality” and is unrelated to the clearly-stated desire by Democrats for regulation (read: censorship) of Constitutionally-protected free speech by political opponents, you can drive to Brooklyn and walk around on the bridge you just bought.    Or you can recite a thousand times:

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North Korea Fires Russian SS-N-25 Switchblade ASCMs

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Yesterday, the Korean People’s Navy (KPN) successfully fired three supposedly indigenously-developed anti-ship cruise missiles into the East Sea out to a range of approximately 200 km.  While the DPRK may claim the missiles are a home-made design, analysts say they are in actuality Russian export-variety Kh-35E Uran ASCMs (NATO codename SS-N-25 Switchblade).  The Kh-35 series is a close equivalent to the US AGM-84 Harpoon missile, being slightly smaller and with a lighter warhead (360 lbs) than the Harpoon (488  lbs).

It is possible that the newly-cultivated relationship between Putin’s Russia and the DPRK is bearing fruit for both entities.  This weapon system, if successfully integrated into the DPRK arsenal, represents a significant and problematic upgrade to North Korea’s offensive and defensive capabilities.  The SS-N-25 Switchblade has a seeker head very comparable to the deadly 3M-54 Klub (NATO codename SS-N-27 Sizzler), with both a radar homing and anti-radiation ability which can acquire out to 50km.

The fielding of significant numbers of SS-N-25s represents a multi-generational upgrade for the DPRK, the majority of whose ASCM inventories consist of obsolete SS-N-2 Styx and smaller (and shorter-ranged) C 801 and C 802 systems.  It is likely that the new capabilities will be employed in shore-based systems, greatly expanding both range and lethality of DPRK coastal defenses.  In addition, the plentiful but obsolescent smaller ships and craft of the Korean People’s Navy (corvettes, PTG/PG and Fast Attack Craft) configured to carry the SS-N-25 suddenly multiply exponentially their combat potential in a surface fight.  Ditto the obsolete IL-28s and other older aircraft of the Air Force, should they be configured to carry the Switchblade.

Should it come to pass that the SS-N-25 eventually comprises a major part of the DPRK ASCM inventory (courtesy of the Russians), a hard problem just got harder.   Just in time to shrink our Navy below 250 ships.

The Real Military Threat from China: Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles | The National Interest

“Air-Sea Battle” with Chinese Characteristics: a large fleet of land-based aircraft armed with some of the world’s most advanced anti-ship cruise missiles.

Lyle J. Goldstein

January 22, 2015

 

During the 1982 Falklands War, Argentina possessed a measly total of five Exocet anti-ship cruise missiles with which to face down the Royal Navy in the South Atlantic. Had that number been more like 50 or 100, that conflict might well have had a very different ending. This important lesson has not been lost on China’s military chiefs. Indeed, China has placed great emphasis on anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) development over the last three decades and is now set to reap the strategic benefits of this singular focus.

via The Real Military Threat from China: Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles | The National Interest.

Mr. Goldstein is indeed correct that large inventory of Chinese ASCM present a greater threat to US surface fleets in the Western Pacific than probably any other single Chinese weapon system.

But his analysis is too focused on the arrows in the quiver, and not enough on the eye of the Archer.

The huge numbers of cruise missiles are useless if rather precise information is lacking on the location, course, and speed of the intended target. And for all of China’s impressive improvements in maritime strike capability over the last three decades, their investments in maritime patrol aircraft and other targeting systems seem decidedly lacking.

To be sure, to influence the course of events ashore, a power projection navy such as ours must eventually close the coast, coming within easy sensor range of an enemy. But the great virtue of seapower here is the initiative to choose the time and place for such strikes.

That’s not to say the US Navy should simply assume it can easily better the Chinese. It shouldn’t. But it is a caution to the reader to not magnify the threat beyond all reason.

More on the Sony Breach

Seems some more people with an ear to the keyboard have doubts that DPRK was the culprit, as the FBI told us week before last.  From CNN Tech, there is this:

Some U.S. cyber experts say the evidence the FBI has presented to attempt to incriminate hackers working for the communist regime is not enough to pin the blame on Pyongyang.

“It’s clear to us, based on both forensic and other evidence we’ve collected, that unequivocally they are not responsible for orchestrating or initiating the attack on Sony,” said Sam Glines, who runs the cybersecurity company Norse.

Also, my old friend and colleague Scott Borg weighs in:

There is a group in the Kim regime that is responsible for cyber warfare, but independent IT security researcher Scott Borg doesn’t believe North Korea was capable of the Sony hack.

“It’s beyond the skill level that we have been able to observe,” he said.

Things that make you go “Hmmmmmmmmm”.

The Problem With Attribution of Cyber Attacks

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…is that it is all but impossible.  A skillful black hat can easily lead investigators down paths they want them to take, while obscuring the true origins of a network breach.  Mimicking attack vectors, using code associated with known hacking entities, even using language in the coding that points to known entities or countries, are common methods employed by those who wish to leave a false trail as to the origin of network attacks or exploits.  (Of course, the most dangerous of that lot can hide for months or years the fact that there has been any network exploit at all.)

There was much discussion in the office this week about the FBI’s announcement that they had what amounts to definitive proof that the DPRK had perpetrated the now-famous hacking of Sony Pictures.   I was definitely in a minority with my skepticism, for two reasons.  The first is that I have a very hard time believing anything coming out of a Federal agency in this Administration.  The Department of Justice, the IRS, the EPA, The State Department, Homeland Security, have all promulgated bald-faced lies to the American people, largely to cover up criminal and unconstitutional activity and/or the incompetence of those in charge.  The second is the rather unrealistic understanding the Federal Government (and DoD in particular) has of how the Internet works.  They THINK they know.  But they don’t.

Apparently, I am not alone in my skepticism.   From the Daily Beast:

So, malware found in the course of investigating the Sony hack bears “strong” similarities to malware found in other attacks attributed to North Korea.

This may be the case—but it is not remotely plausible evidence that this attack was therefore orchestrated by North Korea.

The FBI is likely referring to two pieces of malware in particular, Shamoon, which targeted companies in the oil and energy sectors and was discovered in August 2012, and DarkSeoul, which on June 25, 2013, hit South Korea (it was the 63rd anniversary of the start of the Korean War).

Even if these prior attacks were co-ordinated by North Korea—and plenty of security experts including me doubt that—the fact that the same piece of malware appeared in the Sony hack is far from being convincing evidence that the same hackers were responsible. The source code for the original “Shamoon” malware is widely known to have leaked. Just because two pieces of malware share a common ancestry, it obviously does not mean they share a common operator. Increasingly, criminals actually lease their malware from a group that guarantees their malware against detection. Banking malware and certain “crimeware” kits have been using this model for years.

So the first bit of evidence is weak.

But the second bit of evidence given by the FBI is even more flimsy:

“The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. government has previously linked directly to North Korea. For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.”

What they are saying is that the Internet addresses found after the Sony Picture attack are “known” addresses that had previously been used by North Korea in other cyberattacks.

To cyber security experts, the naivety of this statement beggars belief. Note to the FBI: Just because a system with a particular IP address was used for cybercrime doesn’t mean that from now on every time you see that IP address you can link it to cybercrime. Plus, while sometimes IPs can be “permanent”, at other times IPs last just a few seconds.

Now, the FBI’s conclusions may be correct, and the DPRK may be officially or unofficially behind the breach.  But TDB raises some important points.  The DPRK can claim that a skilled hacker can make the evidence point back to them with little effort.  And indeed this is a correct assessment.  Why the Administration’s jump to blame the DPRK?   Perhaps, as the article states, it is yet another example of amplifying and manipulating an event (a good crisis not going to waste?) as justification for yet more government control via draconian regulation.

Blaming North Korea offers an easy way out for the many, many people who allowed this debacle to happen; from Sony Pictures management through to the security team that were defending Sony Picture’s network.

You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to see that blaming North Korea is quite convenient for the FBI and the current U.S. administration. It’s the perfect excuse to push through whatever new, strong, cyber-laws they feel are appropriate, safe in the knowledge that an outraged public is fairly likely to support them.

I will be writing more about so-called “Net Neutrality” in the near future.  But be certain that the regulations proposed by the Obama Administration have little to do with true net neutrality (despite the rather infantile assertions of some) and much more to do with expanding the regulatory power of the Federal Government over the content of the internet.   With the mainstream news media either firmly behind the Far Left, or beholden to them for reasons other than intellectual agreement, trust in the Big News outlets is at an all-time low.  It is on the internet where the fabrications of both the Obama Administration and its lap-dog agents in the press are torn apart by people with facts and experience, and people like Holder and Hillary and entities like the NYT and MSNBC are shown to be liars.  So the assertion in the above citation is certainly plausible.  To some of us, it is at least as plausible as the FBI’s proclamations of incontrovertible evidence of North Korea’s guilt in the Sony breach.

The Next Wave of Chinese Expansion

When we look at aggressive Chinese actions, we tend to see them in terms of the South China Sea, and the first island chain. That is, in the far reaches of the western Pacific Ocean.

Writing at The Diplomat, David Brewster takes a look at Chinese efforts to extend their influence not to their east, but rather to the west, in the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal.

Since late 2013, Beijing has been promoting its “Maritime Silk Route” (MSR) initiative as a proposed oceanic complement to its various overland “Silk Route” projects. Details remain sketchy, but the proposal appears to envisage a system of linked ports, infrastructure projects and special economic zones in Southeast Asia and the northern Indian Ocean. While much of the public discussion to date has focused on ports and infrastructure, probably of greater significance is the development of new production and distribution chains across the region, with China at its center. The concept might be seen as akin to Japan’s “flying geese” strategy of the 1970s when Japanese companies outsourced component production to successive tiers of lower-cost states in Southeast Asia.

This actually makes a fair amount of sense, and while the Chinese might resort to bullying and aggressive behavior, it isn’t necessarily so.

China’s massive economic growth in the last 40 years was largely financed by selling very cheap goods to America. Not solely, but largely. But that is changing. First, the market is saturated, with poor prospects for growth. And China desperately needs to continue economic growth or risk internal instability. Second, the growth in the Chinese economy has raised the standard of living, meaning that the very tool they used to achieve growth, dirt cheap labor, is no longer available. On the plus side, however, their manufacturing infrastructure and their pool of talent has grown.

The Bay nations have a large pool of low skilled, extremely cheap labor. China can seek to establish trade with those nations, buying the sort of cheap goods they formerly exported to us, now for their own domestic consumption, a prices cheaper than their own production can achieve. And the Chinese can then export to those Bay nation goods that they previously could not afford.

The Chinese Maritime Silk Road can be seen as a form of soft colonialism, or as embracing trade as a mutually beneficial means of economic growth and a path to prosperity.

Brewster’s article reasonably looks at Chinese attempts to gain access to ports and other facilities for military applications. Which, from a Chinese perspective is entirely reasonable.  The Royal Navy didn’t grow to span the globe just because. It grew to protect the international trade of the British Empire. So too can one see the Chinese Navy protecting its trade routes, particularly when the post-war guarantor of maritime security, the United States Navy, is shrinking, and less and less able to exert its influences in areas such as the Bay of Bengal.