Recently in Military Category

Yikes - F-35

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Sure hope that we get to it first - from Business Insider:

Japan lost an F-35 in the Pacific, and the US is in trouble if Russia or China find it first
Japan's military reported on Tuesday that it lost contact with an F-35 stealth jet some 84 miles off the east coast of Aomori prefecture, Japan, in the Pacific and that the hunt was on for the pilot and the downed plane.

But if Russia or China — which both maintain a heavy naval presence in the region — find the plane first, the future of US airpower could be over before it started.

"Bottom line is that it would not be good" for the future of US airpower if Japan or the US don't quickly recover the jet, retired US Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula told Business Insider.

"There is no price too high in this world for China and Russia to pay to get Japan's missing F-35, if they can. Big deal," Tom Moore, an expert on Russia and weapons proliferation, tweeted.

Talk about high-stakes. The jet has had some serious problems in the past but they seem to be working the bugs out.

From Popular Mechanics:

Report: Russia Engaging in Widespread Satellite Navigation Spoofing
A new report claims that Russian security forces have engaged in extensive spoofing of satellite-based navigation systems, often to protect President Vladimir Putin or Russian armed forces. A report by the nonprofit think tank C4ADS has logged nearly 10,000 instances of spoofing of GPS-type navigation systems,

The report highlights interference operations in the Global Navigation Satellite System, or GNSS. These satellites relay position, navigation and timing signals to cell phones, car navigation systems, and ships at sea 24/7 across the globe, providing location and navigation detail with unparalleled accuracy. Commonly known as GPS in the United States, Russia operates a similar system named GLONASS, Europe’s system is called Galileo, China’s is Beidou, and Japan’s QZSS.

C4ADS is the Center for Advanced Defense Studies and is an independent Military think-tank in D.C. Their website is here C4ADS and the 66 page report can be downloaded from here: Above Us Only Stars

Just skimmed it for a bit but sobering reading. So much of our lives are tied into the GPS system. A lot of the technologies have nothing to do with personal navigation - Enhanced 911 emergency services, all sorts of search and rescue, ambulance, police and fire services. GPS also provides highly accurate timing services to many agencies (including me). Links between telescopes are coordinated with GPS timing. Cell phone and ham radio use GPS timing services. The list is long and the idea that this signal can be distorted or warped gives me a case of the blue-blind paralytic willies...

Just what everyone needs - tactical spork

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Good Lord but the word "Tactical" is getting waaay overused these days - everything is tactical this / tactical that.

From Amazon comes the Ka-Bar Tactical Spork:

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On sale for $5.27 with free shipping so it might be worth getting two or three for the vehicle emergency kits.
But Tactical? Come on and gimme a break...

Well crap - RIP W.E.B. Griffin

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Good writer of military fiction - always lilked his stuff. From Publisher's Weekly:

W.E.B. Griffin, Military Man and Writer, Dies at 89
W.E.B. Griffin, the prolific author of nearly 250 books, nearly 160 of which were military fiction, died on February 12, his publisher, Putnam, confirmed. He was 89.

Griffin, né William E. Butterworth III, entered the U.S. Army in 1946, was assigned to the Army of Occupation in Germany, and later recalled to active duty in the Korean War, in 1951. Griffin was the recipient of the 1991 Brigadier General Robert L. Dening Memorial Distinguished Service Award of the U.S. Marine Corps and the 1999 Veterans of Foreign Wars News Media Award, and was a vested member of the Order of St. George of the U.S. Armor Association and the Order of St. Andrew of the U.S. Army Aviation Association.

Butterworth, a bestselling author many times over under a handful of pseudonyms, has more than 50 million copies of books under the Griffin name in print in more than 10 languages, including, his publisher said, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, and Hungarian. As Griffin, he was the author of 61 novels in seven series. Under different pseudonyms, Butterworth wrote a number of other books for both adults and children, including 12 of the 13 M*A*S*H novels.

"Known for his historical accuracy, richly drawn characters, thrilling adventure, crackling wit, and astute aptitude for the heart and mind of a military hero, Griffin delighted readers for decades with his electrifying novels about the military, police, spies, and counterspies," the publisher wrote in its tribute to the author. "We at Putnam are saddened to share the news of W.E.B. Griffin’s passing," a representative of the publisher added, calling the author "a decades-long bestselling author, decorated military man, and one of the bedrocks of G.P. Putnam’s Sons."

Quite the life. He will be missed.

Well crap - Jim Mattis

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From the Beeb:

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis resigns
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis will be retiring "with distinction" at the end of February, President Donald Trump announced on Thursday.

Mr Trump tweeted that General Mattis "was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations".

It comes a day after the president's controversial announcement that all US troops would be withdrawn from Syria.

Trump's move on Syria is going to set us up for problems down the road with Iran and Israel. Giving Iran a staging ground from which to Kill the Jews.

77 years ago today

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A day which shall live in infamy - or, as the Japanese ruling class found out:

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Yikes - Russia and the Ukraine

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From Sky News:

Russia 'fires at Ukraine ships and captures three vessels' amid rising tensions off Crimea
Ukraine says Russia has opened fire on its ships in the Black Sea and captured three vessels.

Two sailors have been wounded after two artillery boats were hit in the strikes, the Ukrainian navy said.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has called an emergency session of his war cabinet after a day of rising tensions off the coast of Crimea.

A statement from Ukraine's ambassador to the UK said Russian special forces had captured three ships in an "act of aggression".

Ukraine is a very rich nation compared to Russia - Russia wants (needs) the industrial base. From InfoGalactic:

Natural resources
Significant natural resources in Ukraine include: iron ore, coal, manganese, natural gas, oil, salt, sulfur, graphite, titanium, magnesium, kaolin, nickel, mercury, timber, and arable land.

From the CIA World Factbook:

After Russia, the Ukrainian Republic was the most important economic component of the former Soviet Union, producing about four times the output of the next-ranking republic. Its fertile black soil accounted for more than one-fourth of Soviet agricultural output, and its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics. Likewise, its diversified heavy industry supplied unique equipment such as large diameter pipes and vertical drilling apparatus, and raw materials to industrial and mining sites in other regions of the former USSR.

And, reading this next paragraph, it looks like the deep state was firmly entrenched there too. The elites did not want to give up their power or their corruption:

Shortly after independence in August 1991, the Ukrainian Government liberalized most prices and erected a legal framework for privatization, but widespread resistance to reform within the government and the legislature soon stalled reform efforts and led to some backtracking. Output by 1999 had fallen to less than 40% of the 1991 level. Outside institutions - particularly the IMF encouraged Ukraine to quicken the pace and scope of reforms to foster economic growth. Ukrainian Government officials eliminated most tax and customs privileges in a March 2005 budget law, bringing more economic activity out of Ukraine's large shadow economy. From 2000 until mid-2008, Ukraine's economy was buoyant despite political turmoil between the prime minister and president. The economy contracted nearly 15% in 2009, among the worst economic performances in the world. In April 2010, Ukraine negotiated a price discount on Russian gas imports in exchange for extending Russia's lease on its naval base in Crimea.

Screw the little people, I want MINE! But they seem to be turning themselves around quite nicely:

Ukraine’s oligarch-dominated economy grew slowly from 2010 to 2013, but remained behind peers in the region and among Europe’s poorest. After former President YANUKOVYCH fled the country during the Revolution of Dignity, Ukraine’s economy fell into crisis because of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, military conflict in the eastern part of the country, and a trade war with Russia, resulting in a 17% decline in GDP, inflation at nearly 60%, and dwindling foreign currency reserves. The international community began efforts to stabilize the Ukrainian economy, including a March 2014 IMF assistance package of $17.5 billion, of which Ukraine has received four disbursements, most recently in April 2017, bringing the total disbursed as of that date to approximately $8.4 billion. Ukraine has made significant progress on reforms designed to make the country prosperous, democratic, and transparent, including creation of a national anti-corruption agency, overhaul of the banking sector, establishment of a transparent VAT refund system, and increased transparency in government procurement. But more improvements are needed, including fighting corruption, developing capital markets, improving the business environment to attract foreign investment, privatizing state-owned enterprises, and land reform. The fifth tranche of the IMF program, valued at $1.9 billion, was delayed in mid-2017 due to lack of progress on outstanding reforms, including adjustment of gas tariffs to import parity levels and adoption of legislation establishing an independent anti-corruption court.

There is a large population of Ukranians near where my farm is - it will be interesting to hear what they have to say about these events.

Defending the border

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Looks like we are not blinking - from Military Times:

White House approves use of force, some law enforcement roles for border troops
The White House late Tuesday signed a memo allowing troops stationed at the border to engage in some law enforcement roles and use lethal force, if necessary — a move that legal experts have cautioned may run afoul of the Posse Comitatus Act.

The new “Cabinet order” was signed by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, not President Donald Trump. It allows “Department of Defense military personnel” to “perform those military protective activities that the Secretary of Defense determines are reasonably necessary” to protect border agents, including “a show or use of force (including lethal force, where necessary), crowd control, temporary detention. and cursory search.”

Good - if we do not do a show of force, these people will continue to come and come and come. It is not just this one convoy, I am sure that there are a lot more being planned and funded at this time. Time to let them know that we welcome legal immigration but will not countenance an illegal crossing of the border.

Looks like President Trump is doing excellent management as usual - got to see what we are dealing with before we can make decisions.
From Yahoo/Reuters:

Pentagon fails its first ever audit, official says
The Pentagon has failed what is being called its first-ever comprehensive audit, a senior official said on Thursday, finding U.S. Defense Department accounting discrepancies that could take years to resolve.

Results of the inspection - conducted by some 1,200 auditors and examining financial accounting on a wide range of spending including on weapons systems, military personnel and property - were expected to be completed later in the day.

"We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it," Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters.

A bit more:

A 1990 federal law mandated that U.S. government agencies be audited, but the Pentagon had not faced a comprehensive audit until this one was launched in December.

That President would be George "Read my lips" H. W. Bush - a great one for ideas but zero balls to get them implemented. Glad that we finally have a President who will get things done.

Great headline from gCaptain:

World’s Biggest Dry Dock Sinks Holding Russia’s Only Aircraft Carrier
Russia’s only aircraft carrier was damaged while undergoing repairs in the north of the country after the floating dock holding it sank in the early hours of Tuesday and a crane crashed onto its deck, tearing a gash up to 5 meters wide.

The Admiral Kuznetsov has seen action in Russia’s military campaign in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad with its planes carrying out air strikes against rebel forces.

It was being overhauled on one of the world’s biggest floating docks in the icy waters of the Kola Bay near Murmansk close to where Russia’s Northern Fleet is based and was due to go back into service in 2021.

Maria Kovtun, Murmansk’s governor, said in a statement that a rescue operation had been launched and 71 people evacuated after the floating dock holding the ship had begun to sink.

Oops - sorry about your nice sensors. From the South China Morning Post:

Canada installs Chinese underwater monitoring devices next to US nuclear submarine base
While the eyes of the world have been on the strategic tussle between Beijing and Washington in the South China Sea, Chinese scientists, with the help of the Canadian authorities, have succeeded in positioning four monitoring devices in waters just 300km (186 miles) off the United States’ Pacific coast.

Right offshore from Kitsap Naval Base - the West Coast home for our submarine fleet. In international waters but still - that is chutzpah. Betting that one of our small submarines will be paying them a visit sometime soon...

He passed away at age 99 - from the New York Times:

Joachim Ronneberg, Leader of Raid That Thwarted a Nazi Atomic Bomb, Dies at 99
The Norwegian saboteurs skied across the Telemark pine forest in winter whites, phantom apparitions gliding over moonlit snow. They halted at a steep river gorge and gazed down at a humming hydroelectric power plant where Nazi scientists had developed a mysterious, top-secret project.

Lt. Joachim Ronneberg, the 23-year-old resistance fighter in command, and his eight comrades — all carrying cyanide capsules to swallow if captured — had been told by British intelligence only that the plant was distilling something called heavy water, and that it was vital to Hitler’s war effort.

Hours later, in one of the most celebrated commando raids of World War II, Lieutenant Ronneberg and his demolition team sneaked past guards and a barracks full of German troops, stole into the plant, set explosive charges and blew up Hitler’s hopes for a critical ingredient to create the first atomic bomb.

Mr. Ronneberg, the last surviving member of the 1943 raid and one of the most decorated war heroes of a nation renowned for valorous resistance to the 1940-45 German Occupation, died on Sunday in Alesund, Norway, his daughter, Birte Ronneberg, said. He was 99.

Talk about hero - we might be speaking German today if he and his team had not suceeded. There is a nice article about the plant and the raid over at Damn Interesting

From Duffleblog:

Afghan leaders assure US: ‘Our government has been shut down for 16 years and we’re fine’
A number of Afghanistan’s politicians, warlords, drug smugglers, and Thunder Dome administrators have signed an open letter assuring US Congressional leaders that everything will be just fine if the American government is forced to shut down, sources confirmed today.

“Our government has been shut down for over 16 years and we’ve been doing just fine,” wrote an eclectic mix of Afghan high society, which included a part-time member of Parliament and full-time member of the Taliban, a successful bombmaker, and a Korengal Valley timber smuggling entrepreneur.

“We want to assure you, our friends in America, government shut downs are not the end of the world,” the letter continues. “As your great emir Ronald Reagan once said, ‘the government that governs best is the one which governs least,’ and we have taken this to heart for nearly two decades.”

As a note - Duffleblog is a military satire website.

The courage of those poor sailors - from Associated Press:

Mystery solved as Australian sub found after 103 years
One of Australia’s oldest naval mysteries has been solved after the discovery of the wreck of the country’s first submarine more than 103 years after its disappearance in World War I.

The AE1 vanished off the New Guinean island of New Britain on September 14, 1914, with 35 crew aboard from Australia, New Zealand and Britain.

It was the first Allied submarine loss of the war and the first wartime loss for the Royal Australian Navy, yet the exact reason for its sinking remains unclear.

No fewer than 12 fruitless hunts for the sub had been carried out over the past several decades, but Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said Thursday it was located more than 300 meters (984 feet) below the surface in a search using a Dutch-owned survey vessel that started only last week.

God rest their souls.

Crap - Argentinian submarine is missing

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From The Guardian:

Argentina's navy searches for missing submarine with 44 crew on board
Argentina’s navy has launched a huge search-and-rescue operation for a military submarine with 44 crew members that has been missing off the coast of Patagonia for more than two days.

The last radio contact with the San Juan submarine was on Wednesday, when it was 430km off the coast of the southern province of Chubut, in the area of San Jorge bay, a naval spokesman said on Friday.

Local media reports claimed the submarine had been located 70 metres down in waters 300km east of the Patagonian coastal city of Puerto Madryn by the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liason Office. The media reports have not been officially confirmed and came as Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, tweeted that: “We are committed to using all the national and international resources that are necessary to find the Argentinean Navy’s submarine San Juan as soon as possible.”

Sending prayers out to the poor sailors and their families.

What an idiot

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Kim Jong-Un just fired another missle  - passing over Japan. Time for him to be taken out. From the London Daily Mail:

North Korea launches ANOTHER missile over Japan in the Pacific as regime taunts the world - and this time Seoul swiftly retaliates with its own test
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis branded North Korea 'reckless' after they launched a missile over the Japan and - sending millions of people into Japan into a panic on Friday morning.

From Yahoo News/Agence France Presse:

'Missile launch, take cover': Japan's terrifying wake-up call
"Missile launch! Missile launch! A missile appears to have been launched from North Korea. Take cover in a building or underground."

To the accompaniment of blaring sirens and emergency phone alerts, that was the terrifying loudspeaker message that jolted millions of Japanese awake in the early hours as North Korea blasted its second missile over the country in less than a month.

I am surprised that we do not have a submarine stationed offshore to take down each missile as they are fired. Blast them out of the sky - render them impotent as a power.

North Korea's missles

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Damnable if true - from the International Institute for Strategic Studies:

The secret to North Korea’s ICBM success
North Korea’s missile programme has made astounding strides over the past two years. An arsenal that had been based on short- and medium-range missiles along with an intermediate-range Musudan that repeatedly failed flight tests, has suddenly been supplemented by two new missiles: the intermediate-range Hwasong-12 and the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-14. No other country has transitioned from a medium-range capability to an ICBM in such a short time. What explains this rapid progression? The answer is simple. North Korea has acquired a high-performance liquid-propellant engine (LPE) from a foreign source.

Available evidence clearly indicates that the LPE is based on the Soviet RD-250 family of engines, and has been modified to operate as the boosting force for the Hwasong-12 and -14. An unknown number of these engines were probably acquired though illicit channels operating in Russia and/or Ukraine. North Korea’s need for an alternative to the failing Musudan and the recent appearance of the RD-250 engine along with other evidence, suggests the transfers occurred within the past two years.

And the possible source? Agents from an ally of ours - the Ukraine

The maiden appearance of the modified RD-250 in September 2016 roughly coincides with North Korea’s decision to halt Musudan testing. It is reasonable to speculate that Kim’s engineers knew the Musudan presented grim or insurmountable technical challenges, which prompted a search for an alternative. If North Korea began its quest to identify and procure a new LPE in 2016, the start of the search would have occurred in the same year Yuzhnoye was experiencing the full impact of its financial shortfalls. This is not to suggest that the Ukrainian government was involved, and not necessarily Yuzhnoye executives. Workers at Yuzhnoye facilities in Dnipropetrovsk and Pavlograd were likely the first ones to suffer the consequences of the economic misfortunes, leaving them susceptible to exploitation by unscrupulous traders, arms dealers and transnational criminals operating in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere.

A long and interesting read - the authors really did their homework with identifying the engine make and model.

Here is a transcript of General Matis' statement today from American Military News:

The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack. Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice, and statements from governments the world over, who agree the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] poses a threat to global security and stability. The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.

President Trump was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces. While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth. The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.

Can not get any clearer than that - Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man has a lot more to say on the subject:

Is war with North Korea inevitable?
Like many of my readers, I've been following developments in North Korea with great interest and growing concern. I think Kim Jong-Un is not so much deranged, as living in an alternate reality. He's surrounded by a party political apparatus that, through a bizarre cult of personality, seeks to semi-deify him in the eyes of the North Korean people, just as it did his father and grandfather. That means the only feedback he receives on a regular basis is fawning approval and approbation. He hears few, if any, voices that dare to "speak truth to power" - and those few that have tried, have died. He has little or no idea of US determination to prevent him putting his outrageous nuclear threats into action.

Perhaps the best summation of the current situation is provided by Larry Lambert.

The fat little dictator, Kim Jong Un, playing his 'mouse that roared' scenario is over-playing his hand, but there's nobody close to him who can explain it in a way that he will understand.

. . .

North Korean leaders have prepared for only one kind of warfare and have no experience fighting it. There is a grave danger that North Korea will misperceive or misinterpret US and Allied intentions.

. . .

Chinese leaders have fundamental differences with the US about the nature of the crisis, who must take the lead in a confrontation with North Korea and about the aims of sanctions. In short, the Chinese leaders do not trust the US leaders to behave in a way consistent with Chinese best interests.

The Trump Administration is not the Obama Administration and SECDEF Mattis is not some jumped-up political appointee. I still anticipate a kinetic war that will likely go nuclear on the Korean Peninsula within the next 5-6 months. The Norks are increasing hysterical and emotional and as stated above, their naive world view would likely cause them to react to something that is not intended as 'preemptive action'. When missiles are flying back and forth, China, on the border with North Korea has far more to lose than they do by sanctioning North Korea and starving them into backing down -- but they're still very slow to do that.

My own personal judgment is that the Norks themselves are past the point of no-return.

A good analysis - more at the site. Peter is ex-military and has a good sense of situational awareness.

From USA Today:

Trump White House weighs unprecedented plan to privatize much of the war in Afghanistan
The White House is actively considering a bold plan to turn over a big chunk of the U.S. war in Afghanistan to private contractors in an effort to turn the tide in a stalemated war, according to the former head of a security firm pushing the project.

Under the proposal, 5,500 private contractors, primarily former Special Operations troops, would advise Afghan combat forces. The plan also includes a 90-plane private air force that would provide air support in the nearly 16-year-old war against Taliban insurgents, Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security firm, told USA TODAY.

The unprecedented proposal comes as the U.S.-backed Afghan military faces a stalemate in the war and growing frustration by President Trump about the lack of progress in the war.

Makes a lot of sense - they don't win? They don't get paid. Finish the thing once and for all. The Afghani people have got to be sick of being a political pawn for the last 40 years.

Now this will be interesting to see

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From FOX News:

Iran poised to launch rocket into space, as North Korea readies another missile test, US officials say
Two enemies of America are poised for upcoming rocket launches, two senior U.S. officials told Fox News, with another North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile launch expected as soon as Wednesday night and Iran on the verge of sending its own vehicle into space.

Iran's Simorgh space-launch vehicle is believed to be carrying a satellite, marking the second time in more than a year that Tehran has attempted to put an operational satellite into orbit -- something the Islamic Republic has never done successfully, according to one of the officials who has not authorized to discuss a confidential assessment.

More at the site - my worry is not a re-entrant vehicle (ICBM), my worry is a satellite with an atomic bomb (however crude) in a polar orbit. The polar orbit revolves near each of the poles and every pass covers a different 'slice' of the planet. It is sometimes called a 'ball of string' orbit - looking at a wound ball of string gives you the idea. All Iran or North Korea has to do is detonate this bomb 200 miles over a large city and the resultant EMP will take out the power grid and most communications for a 500 mile radius.

Afloat again - USS Constitution

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Ready for another 200 years - from gCaptain:

America’s Oldest Commissioned Warship Refloated After Two-Year Restoration
America’s oldest commissioned warship, USS Constitution, was finally refloated on Sunday following a two-year, multi-million dollar restoration at the historic Charlestown Navy Yard, located at the Boston National Historical Park.

USS Constitution entered the yard’s Dry Dock 1 on May 18, 2015, and since then ship restorers and teams of Constitution Sailors have worked side-by-side to bring Old Ironsides back to her glory.

The restoration included the replacement of 100 hull planks and the required caulking, the re-building of the ship’s cutwater on the bow, as well as the on-going preservation and repair of the ship’s rigging, upper masts and yards. One of the biggest tasks in the restoration was the replacement of Constitution’s copper sheathing below the waterline. Copper sheathing has covered the lower hull since her launch in 1797, as protection against ship worms that could damage the wooden hull.

Quite the bit of American history. She was instrumental in the Barbary wars against the Muslim pirates and slave-traders.

Great story from Reuters:

Mattis bristles at Pentagon waste of $28 million on Afghan uniforms
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has criticized Pentagon officials for wasting as much as $28 million by making a questionable choice of forest camouflage-patterned uniforms for Afghan National Army soldiers.

The uniform pattern was selected without evaluating its effectiveness when only 2.1 percent of Afghanistan is covered by forests, the U.S. government's top watchdog on Afghanistan said in a report last month.

And the General's comments:

"Cavalier or casually acquiescent decisions to spend taxpayer dollars in an ineffective and wasteful manner are not to recur," Mattis wrote.

"Rather than minimize this report or excuse wasteful decisions, I expect all DoD (Department of Defense) organizations to use this error as a catalyst to bring to light wasteful practices - and take aggressive steps to end waste."

I would not want to be the person who ordered the wrong camo.

From the US Naval Institute:

Trump: Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford ‘100,000-ton Message to the World’
President Donald Trump made a case for continued American military dominance and congressional support for his pending defense budget against the backdrop of the entrance of the world’s largest warship into service on Saturday.

In a speech during the commissioning ceremony of the next-generation aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), Trump proclaimed the ship would be a message of strength and deterrence while praising the crew and Newport News Shipbuilding shipbuilders in the ceremony in Ford’s hangar bay.

“American steel and American hands have constructed a 100,000-ton message to the world,” Trump said. “American might is second to none and we’re getting bigger and better and stronger everyday in my administration. That I can tell you.”

Trump quoted the ship namesake President Gerald R. Ford’s position on military readiness and Ford’s belief that U.S. lack of preparation before World War II encouraged enemies to fight harder.

Yesterday's two hour ceremony can be watched here: VIDEO: Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford Commissioning Ceremony

Pork in the news

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First, it is the Joint Strike Fighter - the F-35 which is hamstrung because it was designed by a committee. It cannot do any one thing well because it tries to do too much of everything. More here, here, here and here.

Now, it seems that the US Navy is having its own share of problems. From Popular Mechanics:

The Navy Is Looking for a New Frigate to Replace the Troubled Littoral Combat Ship
The U.S. Navy has solicited industry for a new frigate design, reflecting widespread dissatisfaction with the troubled, frigate-sized Littoral Combat Ships. The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) fell victim to a combination of technological overreach and a changing geopolitical environment that made the ships minimally capable, unreliable, and obsolete in a world of variable global threats. In its place, the Navy wants a more traditional guided-missile frigate design capable of tackling larger, more complex roles.

I love that phrase "technological overreach" - translated, it means that this was designed - yet again - by a committee and cannot do any one thing well because...

We need to build our military but we should first start by cutting these pork projects.

Great news from Red State:

Military Judge Gives Bowe Bergdahl A Lot Of Bad News
When Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was released by the Taliban in 2014 he was feted by the Obama administration despite ample evidence that he was actually a deserter. His parent were guests at a Rose Garden ceremony with Obama, himself. Habitual and reflexive liar Susan Rice took to the Sunday shows to reprise her bravura performance after Benghazi, in this case she told a lie so monstrous that even CNN’s Jim Acosta, who never saw an Obama-related knob shoe he couldn’t polish, was shocked:

RICE: I realize there has been a lot of discussion and controversy around this. What I was referring to is the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That in itself is a very honorable thing.
ACOSTA: But ‘honor and distinction?’

Because of the omelet sizzling on the face of Obama and Rice and others, there seemed to be an initial attempt to fix the case so Bergdahl could just go away.

The case was swept under the rug and out of sight of the mainstream media thanks to Obama's influence but last week:

Last week, the military judge overseeing the trial rendered two adverse decisions. First, he decided that Bergdahl will stand trial on all charges. Most damaging, though, was his decision that if Bergdahl is convicted that the jury would be allowed to hear about the injuries suffered by an Navy SEAL and an Army NCO while specifically searching for Bergdahl.

Serious wounds to a soldier and a Navy SEAL who searched for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl can be used at the sentencing phase of his upcoming trial, a judge ruled Friday, giving prosecutors significant leverage to pursue stiff punishment against the soldier.

The judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, ruled that the service members wouldn’t have wound up in the firefights that left them wounded if they hadn’t been searching for Bergdahl, so their injuries would be relevant to his sentencing if he’s convicted of misbehavior before the enemy at trial in October.

I suspect we are heading for a guilty plea and Bergdahl taking his chances with a military judge. Any court-martial panel Bergdahl draws will be composed of officers with combat tours. Bergdahl can demand that a third of his jury be composed of noncommissioned officers senior in rank to him–but he’d have to have a profoundly incompetent defense team for them to think that senior NCOs are going to be very sympathetic to his case.

Good - throw the book at the guy as a lesson to others.

From Popular Mechanics:

The U.S. Navy Is Considering Un-Retiring a Bunch of Old Frigates
The U.S. Navy is "taking a hard look" at reactivating decommissioned frigates to help it reach its goal of 355 ships. The Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates were retired in the 2000s in a cost-cutting move, but they could be returned to duty for another decade or more of service.

The Perry-class frigate was designed in the 1970s as an escort for U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. Although they weighed only 4,100 tons, the Perry frigates were excellent mixed-mission vessels. Their main weapon system was a Mark 13 guided missile launcher, capable of firing SM-1MR surface to air missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles and fed from a 40-round internal magazine. (Ironically this gave the frigates more potential anti-ship firepower than a modern U.S. Navy cruiser.) The frigates also wielded a single Italian-made 3-inch rapid-fire gun, six anti-submarine torpedo tubes, a Phalanx close-in weapon system for last-ditch defense, and carried a single SH-2 Seasprite or SH-60 helicopter.

All good, solid and upgradable weapons systems. What with North Korea acting stupid, we need to be able to operate on several fronts at once.

Serious cost overruns, tactical insufficiency, poor handling, the F-35 is how not to build an airplane. We could have purchased the Saab JAS 39 Gripen and come out way ahead for half the money. Now this - from Defense One:

US Air Force Grounds F-35s at Arizona Base
The U.S. Air Force has grounded 55 of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at Arizona’s Luke Air Force base following five incidents in which pilots experienced symptoms of oxygen deprivation.

The pilots “reported physiological incidents while flying” but a backup oxygen system turned on, allowing them to land safely, Capt. Mark Graff, an Air Force spokesman at the Pentagon, said in an email Friday afternoon.

Will this stinker ever fly correctly?

Talk about Cultural Appropriation

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From the military website Duffel Blog:

ISIS Condemns Kathy Griffin For Cultural Appropriation
RAQQA, Syria — The self-proclaimed Islamic State has issued a statement condemning self-proclaimed comedian Kathy Griffin, accusing her of “cultural appropriation” after she posed for a photograph with a mock severed head of President Donald Trump.

The group, which has been protective of its brand ever since taking over vast swaths of Iraq and Syria and establishing itself as the premier beheading agency in the Middle East, said it was deeply disturbed by Griffin’s “ignorant and offensive” use of a “sacred Islamic State tradition.”

“This is just another example of a privileged white woman culturally appropriating the proud custom of a marginalized people. Beheadings are our thing, not your thing,” said the statement, which was released on Telegram.

Duffel Blog is a work of satire - fun to read.

A great Mad Dog quote

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From Breitbart:

Mattis: Nothing Keeps Me Awake at Night, I Keep Other People Awake at Night
Sunday on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis was asked what keeps him up at night.

Mattis replied, “Nothing, I keep other people awake at night.”

Perfect answer.

From Defense One:

New Tactics, Quicker Decisions Are Helping to ‘Annihilate’ ISIS, Pentagon Says
President Donald Trump’s new war plan for the Islamic State is working well, said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford.

In their first joint appearance since Trump took office, the Pentagon leaders characterized ISIS as a shadow of its former self and doomed to lose all of its territory. They credited looser restrictions on generals and a shift to surround-and-annihilate tactics.

Trump came into office this year pledging a new approach, promising to hit ISIS faster and harder, threatening to fire top U.S. commanders, and demanding a new war plan on his desk within 60 days. What’s new isn’t the strategy — the U.S. is still executing the Obama-era “by, with, through” approach in which direct assaults are conducted by local partner forces. But less than four months after Trump took office, Mattis said the operational and tactical difference has been clear.

“He made the decision. We took the decision and executed it for an accelerated campaign,” Mattis said. “No longer will we have slow decision cycles because Washington, D.C., has to authorize tactical movements on the ground.”

And by the looks of it, the Saudis will have skin in the game when we sell them billions of dollars of US made ordnance. Plus the repair and maintenence parts. And upgrades. They will be paying us money for the next 30 years. Win/Win

Fat-boy Kim is just asking for it - from the London Daily Mail:

Kim Jong-Un fires ANOTHER ballistic missile that lands 60 miles from RUSSIA - after months of threatening Trump with nuclear war and days after a new president took office in South Korea
Kim Jong-Un has fired a ballistic missile 500 miles into the Sea of Japan in the latest show of force amid tensions with the US.

The launch took place in a region named Kusong located northwest of the capital, Pyongyang, where the North previously test-launched an intermediate-range missile it is believed to be developing.

A US official told CNN the missile landed in water 60 miles south of Russia's Vladivostok region, home of the Russian Pacific Fleet.

More at the site. Everyone is watching, Kim is facing some economic powerhouses with China, Japan, Russia and the United States (with a hawk for President). Is he trying a Mouse that Roared scenario?

Due out July 21st - website - story: Dunkirk evacuation

Interesting preparations - China

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From The Korea Times:

'Don't move or I'll shoot' - China teaching Korean to soldiers on N. Korean border
Chinese soldiers stationed along the North Korean border are learning Korean in case North Koreans cross the border to flee any U.S. attacks, according to a Japanese news outlet Tuesday.

The Yomiuri Shimbun said the soldiers are memorizing phrases such as "Stop" or "Don't move or I'll shoot" in Korean, citing sources familiar with China's People's Liberation Army (PLA).

"The PLA is teaching Korean to soldiers near the North Korean border in case North Korean refugees start flocking into China if a military conflict arises between the U.S. and North Korea," the newspaper said.

The moment the North Korean government is destabilized, there will be a flood of refugees. A united Korea would be an economic powerhouse.

Coming to a head in Nork

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Fat-boy Kim is making more threats. The USA just moved a THAAD missle system in to South Korea. Now China is pissed. From Yahoo News:

THAAD missile defense system initially capable in S.Korea - sources
The U.S. military's THAAD missile defense system in South Korea has reached an initial operating capability to defend against North Korean missiles, U.S. officials said on Monday, forging ahead with the system despite staunch objections from China.

Beijing has opposed activation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), arguing the system's radar could be used to spy into its territory, despite assurances from Washington that THAAD is purely defensive.

The United States is looking for China to use its influence with Pyongyang to rein in its advancing nuclear and missile programs, and it is unclear how Beijing will react to the development.

Heh - the THAAD is good - great kill rate in the latest round of testing and because it relies on kinetic energy to destroy the incoming missle, it is a lot safer than using conventional ordnance.

More claims from The Best Korea

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Fat-boy Kim is losing his marbles - from South Korea's Yonhap News Agency:

N. Korea threatens to sink U.S. nuclear submarine deployed to S. Korea
After the United States deployed a nuclear-powered submarine and an aircraft carrier to South Korean waters amid high inter-Korean tensions, North Korea on Sunday threatened to sink the underwater vessel, accusing America of stepping up military intimidation.

"The moment the USS Michigan tries to budge even a little, it will be doomed to face the miserable fate of becoming a underwater ghost without being able to come to the surface," the North's propaganda website Uriminzokkiri said in a posting.

"The urgent fielding of the nuclear submarine in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, timed to coincide with the deployment of the super aircraft carrier strike group, is intended to further intensify military threats toward our republic," the website claimed.

Kim is stepping things up to where he can not back down while saving face. I hope he doesn't have any nuclear surprises in his satellite.

I did not write about their spectacular missile launch failure the other day as I wanted to wait and see what hard data shook out. This news report is unusual but plausible - a couple of links:

If we did hack their missiles, it would be an incredible feat - the hackers would have to break through the Korean firewall that isolates their country. More likely an inside job by a very brave soul.

About ten years too late

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From Defense Systems:

DARPA tasks BAE with workaround to secure the power grid in event of massive attack
The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and BAE Systems are working to forge alternative communication networks that would come into use in case of a cyberattack on the U.S. electrical power grid.

Although the aim is to ensure safe connectivity among all of the civilian nodes which depend upon the power grid, the program is particularly focused on securing defense networks and operational combat activities.

The program, called Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterization Systems (RADICS), consists of a variety of technical capabilities. These include an ability to recognize or provide early warning of impending attacks, map conventional and industrial control systems networks, ad hoc network formation and analysis of control systems, a DARPA statement said.

It is one thing to come up with an idea and a cool acronym. Another thing entirely to actually implement it in an effective way. They should have been thinking about this ten or twenty years ago. North Korea has a satellite in a ball of string orbit which covers the USA every couple of days. There is a reason why the world banned atmospheric testing back in the 1960's

The first use in combat - from FOX News:

US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan after Green Beret killed
The U.S. military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, just days after a Green Beret was killed fighting ISIS there, a U.S. defense official confirmed to Fox News.

The GBU-43B, a 21,000-pound conventional bomb, was dropped on an ISIS tunnel complex in Nangarhar Province.

The MOAB -- Massive Ordinance Air Blast -- is also known as the “Mother Of All bombs.” It was first tested in 2003, but hadn't been used in combat before Thursday.

And this comment:

"As [ISIS'] losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense," Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement. "This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against [ISIS]."

As a wonderful person once said - Punch back twice as hard. More here, and here. A perfect response - you hurt one of ours? We will destroy 1,000 of yours. Next? Wonder if this was a practice run for North Korea - they use a lot of tunnels too...

Outsourcing the Syria problem

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Great idea from T. Rex - from The Duffleblog:

Pentagon awards contract to United Airlines to forcibly remove Assad
The Pentagon announced Tuesday it had awarded a sole-source contract to United Airlines for work related to the forcible removal of President Bashar al-Assad from Syria.

The contract, worth $2.1 billion, tasks the airline company with locating Assad, grabbing him from his seat in the presidential palace, and “dragging him out of Damascus by his arms.” The contract also notes that Assad should be “asked several times, politely” to give up his seat of power, though if he refuses, United workers should bloody his nose up a bit, according to the posting at FedBizOpps.

Heh - unfortunately, The Duffleblog is a satire site... Would have been fun to see.

From Popular Mechanics:

Putin Could Have Tried to Shoot Down Trump's Missiles. Why Didn't He?
Russia-watchers have spent a lot a time wondering: Just what would Vladimir Putin do if he were directly challenged on Syria? Well, now it's happened. Last night, the United States launched a volley of cruise missiles against a Syrian airfield.

This is not one of those situations where Putin had no options. He was warned of the strikes in advance—a good and smart move, given that Russian personnel are stationed at the targeted airbase. With that information in hand, Russia could have tried to intercept America's missiles. It did not. Here's what Putin might be thinking.

A lot more at the site - very good analysis. The Russians had about one hour of warning before launch and the flight time of the Tomahawks was another 30 minutes. Plenty of time.

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