FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 3rd through 7th 2017

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Invest in People and Not Just Platforms

As the US Naval investigations of the two broadside collisions with much slower commercial vessels, resulting in the death of 17 sailors, Congressional inquirers are also ramping up.   Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., (below left) the chairman of the House Armed Services’ Sea Power and Projection Forces Subcommittee,

traveled to Japan to visit the fleet and speak with Navy leaders and sailors about what Congress can do to help get the service back on track. This subcommittee was scheduled to conduct hearings on September 7th looking at Navy readiness and what it calls “underlying problems associated with the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain.”  Questions will be asked as to whether the Navy is stretched with more demands to patrol not only the Asia-Pacific region but to provide security for the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf as well as European-Atlantic areas.  “They’re having to do more with less,” said Seth Cropsey, a former deputy undersecretary of the Navy in the Reagan and Bush administrations and now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Since the Cold War, he said, “the fleet size has been decreasing the whole time while commitments have been increasing.”  And while new technology may be helpful, these are basic seamanship issues.  Some basic questions need to be addressed: do we have enough people aboard our ships?  Are they receiving adequate training?  Are they operating as they were trained?  Are our ships being maintained in a manner as to be fully ready for any encounter?  We know our aircraft maintenance programs lack the time and funding to improve readiness and it’s well known the nation’s shipyards are overworked and struggling to get ships through maintenance cycles.  How can we move forward with additional investment in ships and planes when we can’t take care of the one’s we have?  And the same can be said for our sailors who have been asked repeatedly to do more with less.  There are limits.  Have we reached them?  The more advanced the technology introduced into the fleet and into the hands of potential adversaries, the greater the demand on the men and women in the Navy.  Not only must they be able to operate more advanced systems, they also must not forget how to operate without them.  The ancient art of celestial navigation is just one of the most obvious ways the Navy has sought to ensure operational integrity regardless of how well technology is working.  When you drive a car these days, it is easy to become reliant on a screen shot provided by a camera, but that doesn’t mean you should not also glance in the rearview mirror or look out the window. The same principle applies to the high-tech U.S. Navy.  The service needs to maintain a high level of technical proficiency while retaining the ability to operate in a potential environment of technical denial.  We need to invest in our people and not just our platforms.  That’s the Fireball opinion for the day.  Comments?

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 28 through 31, 2017

 

Marines and Navy Heading to Gulf Coast For Possible Disaster Relief

In the wake of the ever increasing destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Marine Times is reporting, nearly 700 Marines will head toward the Gulf Coast Thursday aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge in case they are tasked with helping rescue Texas residents who have been slammed by historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.  The Kearsarge and the dock landing ship Oak Hill are both scheduled to get underway from ports in Virginia, Fleet Forces Command announced on Wednesday.  “These ships are capable of providing medical support, maritime civil affairs, maritime security, expeditionary logistic support, medium and heavy lift air support, and bring a diverse capability including assessment and security,” a news release from the command says. The Marines will also be able to purify water, distribute relief supplies, conduct aerial reconnaissance and provide engineering capabilities, a II MEF news release says.  “Marines conduct regular training and have gained real-world experience with Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief from relief efforts across the globe,” the news release says.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 08 through 10 August 2017

North Korea Ready to Give US a “Severe Lesson”

Just two days after the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved sanctions against the isolated regime for its escalating nuclear and missile programs, North Korea has responded.  In a statement from Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, distributed to media in Manila at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit, North Korea reiterated its position that it would not put its nuclear program or its missiles on the negotiating table.  The Pyongyang government also said, North Korea is ready to give the United States a “severe lesson” with nuclear force if Washington takes military action against it, Pyongyang said in a statement to a regional meeting on Monday.  Pyongyang also called the new U.N. sanctions “fabricated” and warned there would be “strong follow-up measures” and acts of justice. It said the resolution showed the United Nations had abused its authority.  And the stakes are increasing as of 09 August 2017, when North Korea says it is “seriously reviewing” a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with missiles — just hours after President Donald Trump told the regime that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury.”  United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson   reasserted the US will be monitoring implementation of the sanctions to ensure they are enforced by all countries.  The US, could for instance, bring pressure to bear on China by imposing fines on banks that do business with North Korea in areas prohibited by the past the present sanctions, essentially money laundering for Kim Jong Un.  Only recently have we imposed a fine on only one Chinese bank.  That sends a message to both China and North Korea.  As I’ve said here before, there is likely no dealing with Kim Jong Un in a direct manner so as to distract him from his goal of developing and deploying nuclear weapons that could reach the United States.  He has admitted one of his personal heroes is Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who he saw removed from power and eventually killed once he gave into foreign government pressures and economic sanctions (including the US) to give up his aspirations for the development of nuclear weapons.  Kim Jong Un will not give up this position.  See my comments in the 25 -27 Jul edition of FOD.  It’s either the long way or move toward a military option.  And the second path has many drawbacks.  Your comments and thoughts appreciated.

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 30th through July 3, 2017

US and NATO Negotiating More Troops for Afghanistan

The Associated Press is reporting, at a meeting in Brussels, NATO agreed to send more forces in response to commanders’ requests for as many as 3,000 troops to train and work alongside Afghan security forces. That number does not include an expected contribution of almost 4,000 American forces, divided between the NATO mission and America’s counterterrorism operations against Taliban, al-Qaida and Islamic State militants in Afghanistan.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said 15 countries “have already pledged additional contributions.” He expected more commitments to come, but confusion about America’s plans may have held back some countries. European nations and Canada have been waiting to hear what U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (right) will offer or seek from them. U.S. leaders haven’t publicly discussed troop numbers yet as they complete a broader, updated military and diplomatic strategy for the war.  In essence, NATO countries are waiting to hear what number of troops and in what mission specific areas the US is intending to provide and then they well make their decisions.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, (left) was in Afghanistan this week, meeting with commanders to gather details on specific military capabilities they need to increase Afghan training and pursue militant groups.

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 15th through 19th 2017

Friends of FOD

Sorry, I got a bit long-winded here.  And a bit late.  A lot going on over the period of time.

 

OBIGS Issue Getting A Lot of Attention

Navy Times is reporting, Navy pilots have reported 461 physiological episodes in F/A-18 fighter jets and T-45 trainer aircraft since May of 2010 — an average of more than one every six days, Navy officials say. Yet the source of the problem remains unclear despite years of study and the recent completion of a 30-day review led by Adm. Scott Swift, Commander of the Pacific Fleet (photo below left – a attack pilot).  He took over from Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. in a ceremony on May 27, 2015.  On Thursday, Adm. Bill Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, briefed reporters about additional safety measures coming as a result of the review that are designed to curb this bedeviling trend.  The Navy intends to immediately add a water separator in the T-45’s Onboard Oxygen Generation System, or OBOGS, a component common in high-performance jets but not found in the training aircraft. “Without a water separator in that system,”

170320-N-QI061-024
ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 20, 2017) A T-45C Goshawk training aircraft assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 1 approaches the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The ship is conducting aircraft carrier qualifications during the sustainment phase of the optimized fleet response plan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

Moran said, “we believe that there’s a potential for water moisture to get in there and not provide effective, dry air.” A new mask configuration — there have been 300 new masks recently delivered to training centers — will continue to be implemented in the training aircraft as well. T-45 instructors are already using the redesigned masks, and the plan is to have flight-starved students begin using them soon.  “They’re out in the training command today,” Moran said. “Instructors are doing warm-up flights and using that mask before we put students in the airplane to make sure that they understanding procedures.” Recent efforts to address the problem have included installing redesigned OBOGS in 84 percent of in-service F/A-18s. The Navy fitted hyperbaric chambers aboard the carriers Bush, Vinson and Reagan for immediate treatment of aircrew. And some pilots have been provided watches that measure cabin altitude thresholds.

 

 

New Commanding Officer for USS Fitzgerald to be Named Soon

Seven American sailors are now accounted for after a Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, early Saturday local time, the Navy has said.  At approximately 0230 hrs local time on 17 June 2017, USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) was in a collision with your big old fat mama ACX Crystal, a container ship of 29,060 gross tons, roughly four times larger than Fitzgerald. The collision occurred about 50 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. The collision damaged the starboard side of the ship and caused flooding in a machinery space and two crew berthing spaces. Seven American sailors were missing after the collision and several others were injured. Those seven US sailors have now been found in one of the flooded berthing compartments.  Two sailors were evacuated by helicopter along with the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson.  He was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is reportedly in stable condition. A second MEDEVAC is in progress.  The executive officer assumed command as the destroyer returned to port with the assistance of tugs and the Japan Coast Guard.  Naval tradition requires the commanding officer to be relieved in such circumstances.  There is never, or hardly ever, a reason to accept a commanding officer of a war ship to have allowed his vessel to be involved in a collision at sea.  Proof the Law of Gross Tonnage Wins in a collision at sea.

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