Questions, Questions, and More Questions

Why do we never get an answer
When we’re knocking at the door
With a thousand million questions
About hate and death and war?

Andrew Napolitano has them.  And they’re good ones.

What if President Obama secretly agreed with others in the government in 2011 to provide arms to rebels in Libya and Syria? What if the scheme called for American arms merchants to sell serious American military hardware to the government of Qatar, which would and did transfer it to rebel groups? What if the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved those sales?

What if the approvals were kept secret because some of those rebel groups were characterized by the same Departments of State and Treasury as terrorist organizations? What if the ultimate recipients of those arms were the militants and monsters in al-Qaida and ISIS who have slain and tortured innocents?

What if this scheme is defined in federal law as providing material assistance to terrorist organizations? What if that’s a felony? What if that’s the same felony for which the U.S Department of Justice has prosecuted dozens of persons merely for attempting? What if this scheme was not a mere attempt, but an actual arming of terrorists?

What if this scheme was approved not only by the president, but also by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? What if the idea of doing this was hers? What if congressional leaders in both houses of Congress and from both parties signed off on this?

There are plenty more, each worth the read, and our consideration.  To the surprise of nobody, the illicit e-mail account on unapproved servers (a violation of Federal law governing handling of classified information), where the record of electronic correspondence is carefully redacted by Hillary (in violation of the law signed by her husband in 1995) before being handed over, begins to look a lot more sinister.

What if Clinton was asked by senators while under oath about the delivery of arms made by American manufacturers to ports in the Middle East and she denied knowing anything about it? What if she knew she had personally approved the deliveries but falsely claimed she had no knowledge?

And the most chilling questions of all:

What do we do about lawless government by secrecy? What do we do about government officials who act as if they are above the law? What do we do if one of them lives in the White House and controls all federal prosecutions? What do we do if another of them is presently on her way there?

Just so happens that the government official in the White House is the same one pushing hard to disarm the populace and remove its last redress against tyranny.

H/T  Fran

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.

Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross awarded for actions in Benghazi

My primary frustration with the administration with regards to the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi is the lies, obfuscation, and dissembling.  Many will point out various warning signs before the attack and Hilary Clinton’s failure to address them. That’s a sin, of course, but she is hardly unique in that error of judgment. No, the immediate response of her and Obama was to tout a patently absurd tale of an obscure  YouTube video inciting riots, as well as willfully conflating events in Cairo with those in Benghazi.

The enemy gets a vote. Had the administration been willing to offer a plausible explanation, I’d have been willing to believe it. Would anyone be surprised to learn the CIA and various special operations forces were involved in post-civil war Libya, doing whatever it was they were doing? I suspect they were trying to funnel arms to various Syrian rebel factions, but a cover story about rounding up MANPADS missiles or some such would have done nicely.

But no, the admin lied, and badly at that. Worse, they’ve been doubling down time and again, thereby dragging out the scandal.

We still have no idea what really happened on the ground there that terrible night. But we do know it was a fantastically fierce fight. Via the Washington Times Rowan Scarborough:

In a unique battlefield commendation, a Marine Corps member of Delta Force has been awarded the nation’s second highest military honor for coming to the defense of Americans last year at a CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya.

Delta Force, a counterterrorism unit in the secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), has been thought of as a strictly Army outfit. But it does take on qualified “operators,” as they are called, from other services.

The Washington Times has reported that two Delta Force members were among a seven-person rescue team sent from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli to Benghazi on the night of Sept. 11, 2012. Their mission: rescue diplomats, security personnel and CIA employees pinned down by terrorists about a mile from the U.S. diplomatic mission where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and aide Sean Smith were killed by al Qaeda-directed militants.

The Distinguished Service Cross and the Navy Cross are second only to the Medal of Honor.  One indication of just how fierce the fight must have been is the rapidity with which the awards were made. In a time when some awards languish for years, these two were made in less than a year.  Reading between the lines, one might suspect JSOC is sending a message that they aren’t pleased with the administration.

The part about a Marine being in Delta is interesting, but not really surprising. Delta is pretty open about its recruiting. Every promotable Specialist/Corporal in the Army is invited to a briefing (usually held annually). Delta makes very clear that they are looking for people outside the traditional combat arms. Their thinking is that if you can manage to pass the screening, they can teach you everything you need to know about fighting. What they want is to leverage other skillsets people outside the Army’s infantry community can bring. Delta spends a lot of its time doing stuff that needs more than just shoot/move/communicate small unit skills. And given the small size of the Infantry relative to the size of the Army, why limit themselves in the potential pool of applicants? So it’s not terribly surprising they’re willing to look outside the Army itself for qualified bodies. We’re just curious who else they might have been willing to take on. We recall that the Navy SEALs invited a handful of Coast Guardsmen to take a shot at BUD/S.

At any event, hail to the unknown heroes who have been recognized by for their gallantry and valor. Perhaps some day, their tale can be told.

H/T to This Ain’t Hell who notes:

Even though we’ll never hear about the award from the real folks who earned them, I’m sure we’ll hear from the fifty or so phonies who will claim the awards in the next few years.

Morning Links

Before I sally forth and do yardwork, here’s some items that have been on my mind.

Democrats walk out of Benghazi hearings before victims family members testify.

Seriously? How many times have we seen Democrats offer photogenic “victims” or “advocates” to testify before hearings?  The families of the dead in Benghazi have stated over and over they just wish to be heard.  But apparently “representative” to Dems means something different than what you or I might expect.

And here’s the thing about Benghazi that infuriates me. The administration lied to me (and you) with its utterly farcical story of a youtube video.

Had the administration put forth at least a plausible story, I’d be fairly understanding. Say a statement along the lines of “Amb. Stevens and the others were engaged in a low profile effort to secure missiles and other weapons from radical elements in the post-revolutionary environment in Libya when those elements staged an attack upon our consulate.” It’s plausible. And the enemy does get a vote. And it has the advantage of likely being mostly true.

Instead, the Obama administration has found itself having to deny, obfuscate and denigrate. And the thing with lying is, you keep digging yourself in deeper. It didn’t have to be this way.

—–

What is it with nutty professors? I support a great deal of academic freedom, and even a healthy dose of skepticism. But this dude is just nutters. FAU has enough issues they may need to rethink the value of his contributions to the school. And certainly, students and parents need to think very carefully about what kind of institutions they spend their (borrowed) money on.

—–

13 shot in the Navy Yard- Full court press in the news for days.
13 shot in Chicago- a blurb in the local papers.

—–

Have some splodey:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjOx3_-oiUU&w=448&h=252&hd=1]

What Might Have Been… Broncos and 106mm RCLs.

On the heels of our recent post about the M40 106mm Recoilless Rifle, a reader, Dave, sends in this little morsel about a plan to mount the 106 on the OV-10.

http://www.volanteaircraft.com/images/ov-10-recoilless-rifle.jpg

The primary weapon for the Bronco was usually the Zuni 5” folding fin rocket. It packed a good punch, but it wasn’t terribly accurate, and each rocket weighed a good deal.  While mounting a 106 on an airplane would have its own weight penalty, each round of ammunition would weigh less. And the recoilless rifle would be a good deal more accurate than any rocket. And there was a plan for an autoloading weapon.

Found here, which is an interesting piece all on its own.

Commando Solo

It’s Craig, back from an unwelcome absence!  Brad threatened to stop the LOGPACs, so I’ve got to post something!

How about this bird with all the antennas?

FIG 20 Sept 08 282
EC-130E Commando Solo II

This static display at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania is a EC-130E “Commando Solo II.”  Although this “Herc” was put out to pasture in 2006, it’s replacement, the EC-130J has recently appeared in the news supporting Operation Odyssey Dawn (or is it Already Done?).

The Commando Solo is the Air Force’s specialty PSYOPS platform.  The concept dates back to the Vietnam War when the Navy operated NC-121J Super Constellations to rebroadcast TV and radio transmissions in theater.

Project "Jenny" NC-121J Blue Eagle

In between broadcasts of the World Series and I Love Lucy, someone figured out the “bad guys” were also tuning in.  So a PSYOPS slant began to emerge.   The Navy got out of the re-broadcast business by 1970, handing it over to the USAF under the code name “Coronet Solo,” using the similar EC-121S Super Constellation.  The 193rd Tactical Electronic Warfare Group, of the Pennsylvania National Guard, flew the “Connies.”  Vietnam rotations carried the code name “Commando Buzz.”  By 1978, the Air Force replaced the old piston-powered “Connies” with a small batch of EC-130Es.  The EC-130Es operated as “Volant Solo” and the PSYOPS mission came to the fore.  The 193rd became a Special Operations Group (and later a Special Operations Wing), participating in Grenada and Panama.  Just before Desert Storm, the EC-130s became “Commando Solo.”  Upgrades produced the “Commando Solo II” and finally the current variant “Commando Solo III.”

FIG 20 Sept 08 289
Tail Antenna on EC-130E

The EC-130E carries equipment to broadcast on practically every radio and TV frequency.  The crew plays out long wire trailing antenna in flight for some missions, necessitating large blocks of airspace clearance.

The last of the EC-130Es retired in 2006, with the example seen here making the last flight into Muir Army Airfield to become a static display at Fort Indiantown Gap.

Final Pass
Last Landing of the EC-130E

Replacing “Commando Solo II” were all new EC-130J “Commando Solo III” in the Super Hercules airframe.

Commando Solo: Impacting the hearts and minds
EC-130J Commando Solo III

Same mission but with those cool six-bladed props.

Airpower Summary
EC-130J on the Taxi-way

The “Commando Solo” birds have flown ops over Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq in recent years. And then on March 20 of this year, the EC-130Js orbited off the coast of Libya broadcasting, “Libyan ships or vessels do not leave port, the Gaddafi regime forces are violating a United Nations resolution ordering the end to the hostilities in your country. If you attempt to leave port, you will be attacked and destroyed immediately. For your own safety do not leave port.

Flare Shot
Flares from an EC-130J

A far cry from those 1960s top 40 pop songs, you think?

 

Libya, The President, The Congress, and War

We’ve been conducting military operations against the regime in Libya for over a week now, and still the President has not sought the approval of Congress for this action. Some folks say this is an impeachable offense. Others say it is well within the President’s powers as Commander In Chief.

The Constitution clearly grants solely to Congress the power to declare war, and further grants to Congress the power to regulate the military. But the Constitution also clearly names the President as the Commander in Chief of the armed forces* As usual, the framers of the Constitution attempted to impose a balance of power between the branches of government, recognizing the need for a strong executive, but also hedging against too much concentration of power in the hands of one man.

The United States has been involved in wars, expeditions, quasi-wars and innumerable other military actions throughout its history, but has only actually declared war a handful of times. But in many cases, even when a formal declaration that a state of war exists between the United States and another sovereign nation, the Congress has passed what we now refer to as an Authorization for the Use of Military Force. The most recent example of an AUMF is Iraq. Clearly, in those cases, the actions of the President were in line with the will of Congress. But what about military operations initiated by the President without congressional approval? My reading of the Constitution has always been that the founders clearly wanted to Congress to be responsive to popular will to act as a brake on military adventurism. But the founders also clearly wanted the President to be able to respond promptly to any attacks, and further, that once war was declared, to have the power to efficiently pursue it.

During the Cold War, it was seen as not only possible, but likely that the President would be faced with committing the United States to the deadliest war in history, with only minutes to act. The incredible speed and power of nuclear ballistic missiles meant any attempt to gain approval from Congress while under attack was impossible. And what of 9/11? As the nation was under attack by hijacked airliners, there clearly was no time to seek approval. These are obvious examples where I don’t think any of my readers would claim the President would need to seek approval to act. When the US itself is clearly under attack, I think we all want the President to be able to respond appropriately.

What about US forces in Germany during the Cold War? What if the Soviets starting crossing the border in the massive onslaught that the Army spent 50 years preparing for? Would the President need to go to Congress for approval when Germany is being invaded? Yes, I know that Article 5 of the NATO treaty states that an attack on one member is an attack on all, but who in our government is it that makes the determination that any attack is indeed an Article 5 violation?  NATO’s governing body? If so, the US representative to that body is from the executive branch. Can the Congress delegate its power to declare war to a member of the executive branch, or a foreign body? As a practical matter, the inherent right to self defense that every military command holds would dictate that they would begin operations. But does that mean the President can deploy forces in such a manner that invites attack in order to avoid seeking Congressional approval?

When the North Koreans seized the USS Pueblo in international waters, that was clearly a causus belli as understood in international law. But did that give the President sufficient cause to initiate operations against North Korea? Or would he have needed a declaration (of whatever sort) from Congress?

Or how about fighting secessionist states? Lincoln starting fighting the Civil War, and only later sought the blessings of Congress. If Texas suddenly seceded again, would the President be within his rights to invade, or would Congress properly have the power to determine the national response?

This is and always has been a grey area of the Constitution. There are reasonable arguments to be made on both sides, and from my cursory reading of history, the answer seems to be that the President can do whatever he can get away with. There are three primary checks against this broad interpretation of Presidential power. First, popular support. Few Presidents willingly go against overwhelming popular opposition to a policy (wars may become overwhelmingly unpopular, but they rarely start that way).  Second, Congress still has to the power of the purse, and can act to defund any operations it truly objects to. And finally, impeachment. If the Congress is sufficiently convinced that the President has overstepped his authority, the Congress can impeach him and remove him from office. This is, of course, the court of last resort.

So what do you think? Where are the limits of Presidential power when initiating war?

 

 

*Extra Credit- The President has constitutional power as Commander in Chief over the Army and Navy. What about the Air Force? I presume he has statutory power, but the Constitution is silent on that matter. Is there a body of constitutional law that covers the Air Force?