FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 2nd through 7th 2018

Fireball Saying of the Day

In beer there is freedom, in wine there is health, in cognac there is power and in water there is bacteria.

 

Congrats On Your Retirement Taco

My congrats go out to Friend of FOD Taco who is retiring as the KC-46 Chief Test Pilot.  It was a good run my friend.  I can tell you there is a lot of fun to be had in retirement.  And congrats to another Friend of FOD Dobber who now takes over as the head of the KC-46 Flight Test Effort. All the best my friend!

 

New Possible Ship Deployment Schedule Ahead For Navy Ships

Defense News is reporting A typical carrier deployment from Norfolk goes like this: A tearful goodbye on the pier, a trip across the Atlantic, then one or maybe two port visits in Europe before heading through “The Ditch” and into U.S. Central Command territory. There you will stay for the bulk of the cruise before returning the way you came.  Those days might be coming to an end.  The Navy and Pentagon planners are already weighing whether to withhold the Truman Carrier Strike Group from deploying to U.S. Central Command, opting instead to hold the carrier in Europe as a check on Russia, breaking with more than 30 years of nearly continuous carrier presence in the Arabian Gulf. But even more fundamental changes could be in the works.  Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has made clear as the military’s top civilian that he has a very different vision for how the military will be used in the future. And recent comments have hinted at big changes on the horizon for the Navy and how it deploys.  In testimony last month, Mattis twice compared that kind of predictability to running a commercial shipping operation, and said the Navy needed to get away from being so easily anticipated.  “That’s a great way to run a shipping line,” Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee. “It’s no way to run a Navy.”  But as Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford drive towards new ways of employing the fleet, changing the way that fleet deploys will put pressure on its existing deployment model, forcing the Navy to rethink a structure that governs nearly everything it does — from manning and training to its maintenance cycles.  In an era of great-power competition with China and Russia, Mattis describes the Navy showing up where it’s not expected, making deployments less burdensome to the fleet and its families but more worrisome to a potential adversary.  “The way you do this is [to] ensure that preparation for great power competition drives not simply a rotational schedule that allows me to tell you, three years from now, which aircraft carrier will be where in the world,” he told House lawmakers. “When we send them out, it may be for a shorter deployment. There will be three carriers in the South China Sea today, and then, two weeks from now, there’s only one there, and two of them are in the Indian Ocean.  “They’ll be home at the end of a 90-day deployment. They will not have spent eight months at sea, and we are going to have a force more ready to surge and deal with the high-end warfare as a result, without breaking the families, the maintenance cycles — we’ll actually enhance the training time.”  Experts contend that what Mattis is describing, a concept he’s labeled as “Dynamic Force Employment,” would necessarily create tension with the Navy’s current deployment model known as the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP), an iteration of similar plans that have been in place since the Cold War.  Under the plan, introduced in 2014 by then-Fleet Forces Commander Adm. Bill Gortney, ships operate in a 36-month cycle that carves out 16 months for training and maintenance, a seven-month deployment and 13 months where the carrier and its escorts are to maintain a high level of readiness in case it needs to deploy again.  Around that model the Navy builds everything from when it brings in new recruits to boot camp to when an aircraft carrier needs to come out of its years-long reactor overhaul. It’s also a system that builds in a significant dip in readiness where, during maintenance phases, ships lose sailors with critical skills to other commands and shore duty assignments.  The dip in readiness is deliberate and informs both manning levels on the ship and the Navy’s overall end strength. Simply put, there are not enough trained sailors in the Navy to fill every job on every ship, and that’s all built into the plan.  The key to the whole plan working, however, is at least a degree of predictability. Shipyards need to know when they will have a ship and what the scope of the repair work will be so it can prepare in advance. School houses need to know when to convene classes. Commanding officers need to know that when they get ready for deployment, sailors with critical skills lost during a readiness dip will be replaced before the next cruise.  Predictability, however, is precisely what Mattis is trying to have less of in the face of a rising threat from Russia and China, said Bryan McGrath, a retired destroyer skipper and consultant with The FerryBridge Group.   “[OFRP] was designed to be predictable,” McGrath said. “From the outset it was touted for bringing predictability to the shipyards and to sailors and their families. Secretary Mattis, in the face of great power competition, seems to value those things less and I could not agree with him more.”  What Mattis seems to value is a system that would bank more readiness. Indeed, his National Defense Strategy says as much when it describes dynamic force employment.  “Dynamic Force Employment will prioritize maintaining the capacity and capabilities for major combat, while providing options for proactive and scalable employment of the Joint Force,” the strategy reads.  His suggestion of sending ships on more 90-day deployments would put less strain on ships’ mechanical and electronic systems and would likely make shipyard availabilities shorter.  But his example of putting three carriers in a place like the South China Sea, even for a couple of weeks, would eat an enormous amount of readiness under the current deployment model. Not only do you need to gather three fully manned and trained carriers with all their escort ships present, but three air wings full of tactical aircraft that have been struggling with their own readiness issues, as well.  “You can bank readiness by decreasing forward presence,” he said. “That is, if you have fewer forces forward deployed for the hell of it, you have more to push forward when you want them.  “In other words, its punishment rather than deterrence — you surge after the enemy has made its move. Whereas if you want to deter them — to convince the enemy that the success of their planned attack is dubious, you have to be there, and be there powerfully, and that means a carrier strike group forward.”  Another way to put three carriers forward in one place on a semi-regular basis is to use the sustainment period that is built into OFRP. But sending a carrier group back out during 13-month period after a deployment where the group is held at a high state of readiness undermines one of Mattis’s stated goals of trying to put less wear on the ships and ease the burden of eight-month deployments on families.  Double-pump deployments for surge carriers is precisely the kind of unpredictability and strain that has caused a mountain of maintenance problems for the Navy through the 2010s — problems that then reduce operational availability of ships that are stuck in the yards for repairs.  “The Navy has not done much with the sustainment phase in OFRP, but presumably that will be one of the go-to moves to create flexibility and unpredictability in the schedule,” McGrath said. “There will, of course, be costs: fuel costs, less time with families, etc.  “It remains to be seen the degree to which Mattis’ plans are doable within the current readiness model. My sense is the readiness model is somewhat brittle and additional requirements will put pressure on that model. The current OFRP was designed to create predictable, sustainable levels of readiness. SECDEF wants to be unpredictable. There is going to be tension.”  Another potential stumbling block for Mattis’ vision for a retooled deployment model is his desire for shorter deployments, specifically his 90-day deployment idea.  Clearly, shorter deployments would reduce the strain on the ships and their sailors and families. But at some point, basic geography would seem to get in the way of this idea, said Thomas Callender, a retired submarine officer and analyst at The Heritage Foundation.  “I think the Navy needs to look hard at the proposed 90-day carrier strike group deployments,” Callender said. “It takes about six months to train and certify a CSG, including the aircraft carrier, its escorts and the Carrier Air Wing for potential combat operations. It also takes about a week (minimum) to transit from Norfolk to the Mediterranean. That means you would only have approximately 2 months of presence in the Med. To transit to the Arabian Gulf from East Coast takes almost three weeks more.  “When you look at the West Coast CSGs transiting from San Diego or Washington, it takes close to a month to transit to the South China Sea. At first glance, I do not see how six months of training for a three month deployment is an efficient use of [the Navy’s Operations and Maintenance Funding] resources, or its platforms and personnel —especially with the high Combatant Commander demand for global CSG presence.”  Addressing COCOM demand for Navy forces, which has been unrelenting over the past few years, would have to factor into any plan that Mattis and Dunford and trying to cobble together.  Under the Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986, forces are assigned to the combatant commands by the secretary of defense, meaning if Mattis wants to change what COCOMs get and when they get it, he can do that. But COCOMs do have the authority to outline what they think they need based on the operational environment — to set the requirements.  It’s unlikely that COCOMs will be satisfied with a month of carrier presence here or three weeks there, if that’s what Mattis wants to give them under his authorities. But that might just be what Mattis is going after in the firsts place with dynamic force employment, said Dan Gouré, an analyst with the Arlington, Va.-based think tank The Lexington Institute.  “I think this is bigger than just the Navy and how it deploys, I think this is about clawing back power from the combatant commanders,” Gouré said. “We have been living in a COCOM-centric world. Because they generate the force requirements, they are the ones setting the terms.”  In order to adjust to global great power competition, Mattis sees a need to assert more control over who goes where and when, especially with a smaller force than the U.S. had during the Cold War, Gouré said.  “With great power competition and a limited force pool, the decision seems to be to have an operational capability that can be deployed when a crisis emerges,” he said. “The COCOMs are going to have to take their lumps on this one.  “It also raises the questions of what exactly are the real COCOM requirements? COCOMs are a black hole of requirements to the point where you run out the readiness string trying to fulfill them. But the assumption shouldn’t be that all requirements are equal. What’s critical?”

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 2nd through 7th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 28th through April 1st 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

The man who smiles when things go wrong has thought of someone to blame it on – Richard Bloch

 

Support Needed

Each day when send our children to school.  It’s time we support those teachers by paying them commensurate with their responsibilities – educating the next generation of American citizens.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day March 28th through April 1st 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 01 through 04, 2018

Happy New Year

In 45 B.C. New Year’s Day was celebrated on January 1 st  for the first time as the Julian calendar takes effect.  Roman dictator, Julius Caesar designed a new calendar based upon solar year developed by the Egyptians and calculated the solar year to be 365 ¼ days and decreed a day be added every four years in February so as to keep the calendar from falling out of step.  However their calculations were a bit off as Caesar the his astronomer Sosigenes failed to calculate the correct value of the solar year as 365.242199 days and not 365.25 days.  Likely they used the wrong app for that.  The 11-minute/year error added seven days by the year 1000 and 10 more days by the mid-15th century.  In 1570, Pope Gregory XIII omitted 10 days in 1582, institutionalized leap year, and thus implementing the Gregorian calendar.  And they didn’t have the US Naval Observatory to give them a good time hack.  And work on your assigned New Year’s resolution of forwarding FOD to two new people and ask them to subscribe.

 

Boeing and Embraer Talks Continue

Reuters is reporting talks between Boeing Co and Embraer SA are continuing but  that key questions, specifically, who will control the Brazilian plane manufacturer remain unsettled or at least not reported.  That generally means the Brazilian government has not yet approved what such a combined corporate structure might look like.  Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico had reported that the talks have focused on joint ventures and joint business agreements to share costs and revenue or develop new products without changing control of Embraer.  Such an arrangement could ease approval from the Brazilian government, which holds a ‘golden share’ giving it veto rights over strategic decisions at Embraer and has expressed reservations about a foreign company taking control. However, a joint venture may not be an effective way to combine engineering resources, explore new business opportunities and satisfy Boeing’s interest in Embraer’s portfolio of regional passenger jets, defense programs and business aircraft, said one of the sources, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of talks.  Boeing has worked around concerns in foreign markets before, structuring defense subsidiaries in Australia and Britain to satisfy sovereignty demands, and those cases may serve as a reference in Brazil, the sources said.  The talks are widely seen as a way for Boeing to strengthen its position in the regional jetliner market, in which Embraer is strong, thanks largely to its 70- to 130-seat E-Jets.  Less than three months ago, Boeing’s European arch-rival Airbus SE agreed to buy a majority stake in Bombardier Inc’s 100- to 130-seat C-Series jet, putting pressure on the U.S. planemaker to seek a similar partnership.  The Boeing-Embraer talks involve Embraer’s defense business, as well as its passenger business, sources have said.  In the Tuesday report, Valor said Boeing was confident it could convince Brazil’s government that it could safely operate in Brazil’s defense sector, partially by pointing to defense deals the U.S. planemaker has made in countries such as Australia.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 01 through 04, 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 25 through 27 2017

Friends of FOD

Hey, I’m getting tired of talking to myself here.  I need your comments to make this worthwhile to me and to others.  I’m sure you Friends of FOD have some opinions.  Let’s hear/see something from you.  And if you have suggestions or personal contributions surrounding an event or a interesting tidbit from around the dates of a particular edition.  I’d really like to hear from you active duty Friends of FOD.

 

Trump Verses Transgender Service Members

The big news across the military today is President Trump’s tweet from July 26th saying transgender individuals would not be allowed to serve in any capacity in the US military.  This announcement came as a shock to Pentagon leaders who had no idea such a policy change was coming.  In fact Secretary of Defense  James Mattis (left) is on personal leave this week and newly confirmed Deputy SECDEF Patrick M. Shanahan (below right) is holding down the fort.  Previously, the policy allowing the enlistment of transgender recruits into the military was put on hold pending a six-month review of all military policies.  That review did not cover transgender individuals already serving openly.  There are many unknowns here and more questions than answers.  Does a tweet make policy, or does it need to be codified before a change in policy can be enacted?  What happened to the requirement to be published in the Federal Register?  What guidance should be provided to unit-level commanders regarding men and women under their command?  And more importantly, what does a change in policy mean to thousands of men and women who have identified themselves in the months since the Obama administration’s policy allowed and welcomed them to serve openly?  I think it’s a bit too late for such a radical change of policy.  That horse has left the barn!  The military, rightly or wrongly has been THE organization where social changes have been codified ahead of societal norms in the civilian population.   I was going to mention this in FOD anyway, but Executive Order 9981 was an executive order issued on July 26, 1948, by President Harry S. Truman. It abolished racial discrimination in the United States Armed Forces and eventually led to the end of segregation in the services long before segregation was dealt with by the civilian sector.  In January 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta issued an order to end the policy of “no women in units that are tasked with direct combat”, though it still has yet to be determined if and when women may join certain direct combat roles, but changes are occurring.  Women are now in leadership roles across all commands, demonstrating there are no glass ceilings if you have good leadership and management abilities.  And women in the military are paid equally for their service, something women are fighting for today in the nearly all civilian sector jobs.  Just to conclude, President Trump tweeted on Wednesday that transgender service members could be forcibly separated because the Defense Department cannot, “… be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”   Military Times pointed out, the Defense Department spends 10 times as much money on Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medications than it spends on healthcare services for transgender troops.  So the expense for transgender troops will never fly in Congress. And Military Times also reported Top defense lawmakers on Capitol Hill quickly blasted President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban Wednesday, calling the policy change short-sighted and potentially dangerous.  Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., called the surprise news “yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.” He said Trump’s statements on the issue were unclear and confusing.  “Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving,” he said. “There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train, and deploy to leave the military, regardless of their gender identity.”  Expect to see legal actions filed soon.  Your comments appreciated.

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 25 through 27 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 10 through 13, 2017

Friends of FOD

I’ve been travelling and working on the ’31 Chevy and as a result new editions of FOD have been delayed.  Photos in the next edition.  Congrats to Friend of FOD Rickey on his retirement from Boeing.  Rickey, all I can say is that retirement is good!

 

Navy Asking For New FFG Design Inputs

Contrary to the existing LCS platform designs, the U.S. Navy is looking for inputs from industry on a new multi-mission guided-missile frigate adapted from existing ship designs, a major departure from its modular littoral combat ship, according to a Request For Information (RFI) released Monday and covered by Defense NewsThe RFI lays out a ship that opens the door to almost any existing design that can be adapted to the Navy’s needs, which extends beyond just the two LCS hull forms being built by Lockheed Martin and Austal USA (left). The Navy is looking to avoid “sticker shock,” said Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, the service’s director of surface warfare, said in a Monday telephone interview, and engage with ship builders about what trade-offs the Navy would have to make to get the most capability from the ship. Boxall (right) did not say how much the U.S. Navy is willing to spend but said the RFI was intended to draw out what the U.S. Navy could get for its shipbuilding dollar. In order to get the ship to the fleet as fast as possible, the U.S. Navy wants builders to adapt from existing designs, the RFI said. “A competition for FFG(X) is envisioned to consider existing parent designs for a Small Surface Combatant that can be modified to accommodate the specific capability requirements prescribed by the US Navy,” it reads. The U.S. Navy wants a frigate that can keep up with the aircraft carrier — a nagging problem with the current classes of small surface combatants — and have sensors networked in with the rest of the fleet to expand the overall tactical picture available to the group. “The FFG(X) will normally aggregate into strike groups and Large Surface Combatant led surface action groups but also possess the ability to robustly defend itself during conduct of independent operations while connected and contributing to the fleet tactical grid.”  The U.S. Navy would like for the ship to be able to: Kill surface ships over the horizon

  • Detect enemy submarines
  • Defend convoy ships
  • Employ active and passive electronic warfare systems
  • Defend against swarming small boat attacks

The U.S. Navy is looking to limit the number of ground-breaking technologies that go into the ship, looking for engineering and combat systems that are already common in the fleet. The U.S. Navy lists several capabilities, among the most important including:

Other capabilities in “tier two” include various sonar equipment such as variable-depth and towed-array sonar, Cooperative Engagement Capability to be able to share target data with other ships and aircraft in the fleet, rigid-hull inflatable boats, Next Generation Surface Search Radar, and a MK 110 57mm gun and related systems.  The U.S. Navy wants the ship to be used for surface and anti-submarine warfare — traditional frigate roles — and to take on lower-level missions, such as security cooperation, that don’t require multibillion-dollar warships. It also must be hardened against electronic warfare attack.  The U.S. Navy is also particularly interested in having the frigate be a platform for deploying unmanned systems “to penetrate and dwell in contested environments, operating at greater risk to gain sensor and weapons advantages over the adversary.” The frigate should be able to establish a complicated picture of a tactical environment with its on-board sensors, unmanned systems and embarked aircraft and beam that information back to the fleet through secure communications.  The U.S. Navy intends to award the contract for the first FFG(X) in 2020. It will buy one in 2020 and one in 2021, followed by two each year after that. The U.S. Navy’s requirement is for 52 small-surface combatants, the bulk of which will be LCS.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 10 through 13, 2017”