Clearly, I have found the right medium.
Of all the complicated gadgets in the Pentagon's arsenal, a nuclear submarine is one that probably shouldn't be built on the cheap. Yet according to military analysts, that's precisely what the Navy and two defense contractors did with a series of $2 billion attack subs, and now they're literally dropping chunks of their protective skins into the briny deep.
The problem afflicts the Navy's growing fleet of Virginia-class subs, high-tech boats longer than a football field and armed with a dozen Tomahawk cruise missles. The subs are coated with a "special hull treatment," urethane tiles that are supposed to make them super-stealthy, reducing their noise underwater and absorbing sonar impulses. As these photographs show, and as the Pentagon's top weapons inspector has reported, the tiles have been peeling off of the subs while they're at sea, often in large sections. So far, missing tiles have been documented on four of the Navy's seven Virginia-class subs, the first of which launched in 2003.
The disappearing tiles won't sink the subs, but they could seriously impede their primary mission—to run silent and run deep without being detected. "When pieces of the hull coating fall off, the sub gets noisier because it interrupts the water flow over the hull," Norman Polmar, a defense analyst who literally wrote the book on Navy subs, explained to the Newport News, Virginia, Daily Press. "When you put more noise in the water, you're easier to detect." A blogger at Halibut Hangar, which discusses submarine systems, puts it more bluntly: "The submarine platform may purr like a kitten when delivered and roar like a lion after a subsystem failure."Maybe we should staff these subs with a crew of IDF Death Babe submariners. It may just happen, according to some reports.
Drained by grueling hearts-and-minds efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military is refocusing on fighting and killing the enemy, not nation-building.
Writing recently in Foreign Affairs magazine, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said, "The United States is unlikely to repeat a mission on the scale of those in Afghanistan or Iraq anytime soon â that is, forced regime change followed by nation building under fire." Instead, U.S. forces will probably be called on to help other countries' armies defend themselves, particularly against terrorist attacks but also against conventional armies.
Lawrence J. Korb, a former assistant secretary of Defense who closely follows military planning, said flatly: "We aren't going to be doing counterinsurgency again. We're not that good at it." Many units' major combat skills are rusty because of the counterinsurgency focus, Korb said.Captain Picard, can I get a facepalm, please?
THE United Nations was set today to appoint an obscure Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earths first contact for any aliens that may come visiting.
Mazlan Othman, the head of the UN's little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference at the Royal Society’s Kavli conference centre in Buckinghamshire.
She is scheduled to tell delegates that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before - and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any “first contact”.
Good grief. We’re complaining about the Marines becoming too heavy, while we plan to send them ashore in the extremely heavy Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles. The Navy wants to be relevant, and in lieu of close support for the Marines, they plan on never-to-be-used powerless and irrelevant littoral combat ships. We want to do massive amphibious assaults against unknown enemies, yet we plan to start from so far off shore that we’re vulnerable to missile fire for some twenty five miles or more.
We want to be self sufficient, and yet logistics controls us to the point that we are planning for reverse osmosis purification units. We want to be quick to get to shore, but we cast our lots with the EFV when a new fleet of helicopters would allow us fast transit to the shore (and further inland) and fast-roping would allow quick ingress to the battle space with light, fast and well trained troops.
But are our Marines well trained? From backpacking, hiking and camping, I and each of my four children know how to purify water from our surroundings. I and each of my four children know how to climb and rappel. I and each of my four children know how to make decisions on the fly, not waiting on specific commands but relying on broad mission goals to guide our actions. And only one among my four children is a Marine.
Internal reports Tuesday from Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission provided new evidence of serious fraud in the country's parliamentary elections, including turnouts that exceeded 100 percent in many southeastern districts under the control of the Taliban or other militants. One district in Paktika province recorded 626 percent voter turnout, according to reports obtained by McClatchy.
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency, headquarters for the government’s eavesdroppers and code breakers, has been located at Fort Meade, Md., for half a century. Its nickname, the Fort, has been familiar for decades to neighbors and government workers alike.
Yet that nickname is one of hundreds of supposed secrets Pentagon reviewers blacked out in the new, censored edition of an intelligence officer’s Afghan war memoir. The Defense Department is buying and destroying the entire uncensored first printing of “Operation Dark Heart,” by Anthony Shaffer, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, in the name of protecting national security.
Another supposed secret removed from the second printing: the location of the Central Intelligence Agency’s training facility — Camp Peary, Va., a fact discoverable from Wikipedia. And the name and abbreviation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, routinely mentioned in news articles. And the fact that [SIGINT] means “signals intelligence.”
Not only did the Pentagon black out Colonel Shaffer’s cover name in Afghanistan, Chris Stryker, it deleted the source of his pseudonym: the name of John Wayne’s character in the 1949 movie “The Sands of Iwo Jima.”
“There’s smart secrecy and stupid secrecy, and this whole episode sounds like stupid secrecy,” said Gabriel Schoenfeld of the Hudson Institute, a conservative scholar whose book “Necessary Secrets” defends protecting classified information.
[Army Material Command] has units in 49 states and 127 countries, with 67,000 civilian employees, 47,000 contractors and fewer than 5,000 military officers and enlisted personnel.I'm not certain what's most shocking about this sentence. First, we have a 40-man band with a $4.4 million dollar facility which caters to roughly a brigade and a half's worth of soldiers. Then there's the startling revelation that we have AMC personnel in over two-thirds of the countries on the planet. Lastly, and most surprisingly, there's the 9:1 ratio of contractors to soldiers within AMC, only exacerbated by the 13:1 ratio of DoD Civilians to soldiers.
- DOD has not officially defined “hybrid warfare” at this time and has no plans to do so because DOD does not consider it a new form of warfare.
- DOD officials from the majority of organizations we visited agreed that “hybrid warfare” encompasses all elements of warfare across the spectrum. Therefore, to define hybrid warfare risks omitting key and unforeseen elements.
- DOD officials use the term “hybrid” to describe the increasing complexity of conflict that will require a highly adaptable and resilient response from U.S. forces, and not to articulate a new form of warfare.
- The term “hybrid” and hybrid-related concepts appear in DOD overarching strategic planning documents (e.g., 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Report); however,“hybrid warfare” has not been incorporated into DOD doctrine.
According to Newsweek, Wikileaks is at it again, reportedly collaborating with a London-based news organization to release another trove of classified documents, this time from the Iraq War. Sources claim that this collection is three times larger than the infamous "Afghan War Diary".
Detestable? Themistocles' Shade certainly thinks so, and I'm inclined to agree with him.
Yet, what's surprising about the Afghan War Diary wasn't so much what it revealed—little contained within the 70,000 documents came as a shock—but what they didn't reveal. For all of Bradley Manning's talk of uncovering "horrible war crimes", there were none to be found in Afghanistan. I suspect much will be the same with the Iraq War documents. Sure, some sources have claimed that the documents depict a "bloodbath" in Iraq, but that should be no surprise to those who paid attention to the war between 2004 and 2007.
There is, of course, the issue of revealing the identities of those who have worked with US forces during the course of the war. This was a very real concern in Afghanistan, though I doubt it would be as great an issue in Iraq. Insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) are broken, likely never to return in force. They have zero chance of usurping control of Iraq's government and instigating reprisals, as the Taliban could.
Which brings me to my question for the gallery: How badly have the Taliban been striking back at those who have worked with NATO in Afghanistan?
Update: The Pentagon scrambles to mitigate the damage from Wikileaks' latest salvo.
Even before the Able Danger imbroglio, Colonel Shaffer admits in his book, he was seen by some at D.I.A. as a risk-taking troublemaker. He describes participating in a midday raid on a telephone facility in Kabul to download the names and numbers of all the cellphone users in the country and proposing an intelligence operation to cross into Pakistan and spy on a Taliban headquarters.
In much of the book, he portrays himself as a brash officer who sometimes ran into resistance from timid superiors.
"A lot of folks at D.I.A. felt that Tony Shaffer thought he could do whatever the hell he wanted," Mr. Shaffer writes about himself. "They never understood that I was doing things that were so secret that only a few knew about them."
The book includes some details that typically might be excised during a required security review, including the names of C.I.A. and N.S.A. officers in Afghanistan, casual references to "N.S.A.'s voice surveillance system," and American spying forays into Pakistan.Damn, this guy sounds like Daniel Craig's James Bond.
Command is something associated with speed of decision-making and the critical need to do something or not do something even if the commander is not sure his/her command is the right one. The sources of power for command are coercion and compliance. Command is autocratic (hierarchical and coercive) in that it requires obedience (in its ideal form, execution-without-question).
Management (or what the US military terms ―administration) is associated with deliberate (note the meaning of the term when hyphenated: de-liberate) setting of rules, process engineering, and rationally-derived resource allocation decisions to handle tame (recurrent) problems that have been solved before. Key management values are bureaucratic and technocratic (technological). The source of power for management is regulated by legal-rational rules and procedures.
Leadership is associated with wicked situations that make command and managerial technical rationality problematic. Whether the situation is diagnosed as critical, tame, or wicked should drive whether to exercise command, management or leadership (and as Grint concludes, the complexity of the situation may demand elements of all three—and it is an art form to properly blend them). The key source of power for leadership is democratic (heterarchical) in nature in that it comes from those who, through intuitive processes and emotional responses, choose to follow.
As I've been catching up on the weekend's happenings—the non-LEGO Whorehouse related ones, that is—I've been struck the generational differences inherent in some recent posts from milbloggers like Commander Salamander, Gulliver at Ink Spots, Elizabeth Dickinson at Foreign Policy Online, and SWJ's Major Mike Few.
The experiences an officer gains during his or her first years in service—when our minds and mores are most malleable—will shape their worldview for the rest of their careers. As such, both of America's forays into Iraq—as well as other social and political phenomena—have shaped Gen Xers and Gen Yers in very different ways.
Commander Salamander reminds us that there are many events which define each generation of officers. The generation which lived through Vietnam was so haunted by Vietnam that they threw away much of the counterinsurgency doctrine, turning their attention instead to Air Land Battle. Subsequently, Gen Xers were defined by events such the First Gulf War, the end of the Cold War, Tailhook, and the military drawdown of the 1990s—possibly leading to a sense of military hubris, and a "do more with fewer troops" attitude.
We will always owe Gen Xers a debt of gratitude, for it was they who trampled Saddam's armies in the deserts of Iraq in a 96-hour blitzkrieg. Indeed, it was this generation's all-volunteer force, armed with sophisticated precision-guided weaponry, which returned home to victory parades, vindicating the specter of the Vietnam War. But in many ways, the relative ease of Desert Storm may have added to a sense of hubris; a belief that overwhelming military force—and precision fires in particular—could solve the world's ills.
With the wars in Afghanistan turning into decade-long endeavors, there is a sense of profound skepticism among the post-9/11 generation about the utility of force, for certain. But there's something else as well. Whereas those that lived through the Vietnam War harbored their resentment towards the civilian leadership, I think many of us feel the same way about both the military and civil leadership—at least during the first few years of the war.
The surge strategy in Iraq of sending troops to distant outposts "left a lot of soldiers out there where there wasn't entertainment or morale-type things," he said. The increased use of helicopter transportation in such a conflict zone also argues in favor of smaller groups. The Army band world has adopted an informal motto, Colonel Palmatier said: "If it can't fit into two Blackhawks, it's not going to happen." (Blackhawk helicopters can generally hold 4 crew members and 14 troops.)
The high-profile, large-scale Army bands, of course, remain. Along with the Army Field Band, which tours heavily, they include the United States Army Band, informally known as "Pershing's Own" or not so informally as Tusab. There are also the United States Military Academy Band and the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. The Army has 30 more bands on active duty, as well as 70 Reserve and National Guard bands. All told, it has slots for 4,600 band members.
Army bands have plenty of company in the other services. The Navy has 13 bands; the Air Force maintains 12 active-duty bands, joined by 11 in the Air National Guard; the Marine Corps sponsors the United States Marine Band ("the President's Own") of White House renown, and a baker's dozen other active-duty bands.
[Army bands are divided] into categories: large, usually assigned to an Army command; medium, for the corps level; and small, for division headquarters or individual installations. The bigger the band, the more performance teams.
"Sadly, [Colonel Sellin] is right," wrote commenter Carl F. of Dallas. "The military has become so enamored with PowerPoint that it is rapidly losing track of its real mission and replacing it with a pablum-type spoon-fed mini-information series of slides that can't come close to truly clarifying muddy water, much less the war. Unfortunately, if today's military leaders were to put up against the Axis forces of [World War II], we'd all be speaking German or Japanese -- which we'd learn from them via PowerPoint."
Responding to Carl F., reader C.J. wrote: "I'm not so sure we'd be speaking German or Japanese at this point, but because the 'briefing' mentality is pretty cross-cultural, I'm more inclined to think we'd still be fighting some offshoot of the 18th and 19th century global colonial wars. Oh, wait..."