FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 14th through 18th 2017

Friends of FOD

If you recall an event you believe the group might be interested in, drop me a comment and I’ll research it and add it to the blog.

I accomplished some good work on the ’31 Chevy last week: picked up the newly powder coated frame (it’s a grey color), installed 4 bar rear suspension, resealed differential, serviced it with gear oil, installed front and rear shocks, removed transmission from engine, serviced and installed torque converter, installed flywheel, reinstalled transmission and engine and installed on frame, installed gas tank, installed all fuel lines and brake lines, bled brake system, installed drive shaft, began installation of engine electrical harness, filled transmission with fluid, filled engine with oil, installed alternator and air conditioner compression belts, visited the body at the body guy’s shop (it’s coming along), sent the new hood out for primer coating and of course spent a bunch of money on other parts I’ll need in the near future.  It’s beginning to look like a car, well at least a completed chassis.

 

 

 

 

Russia Launches Operation Zapad in Belarus On Anniversary of Soviet Invasion of Poland

Russia and Belarus launched Operation Zapad, an ongoing joint strategic military exercise of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and Belarus (the Union State) that began on 14 September 2017, conducted in Belarus as well as in Russia‘s Kaliningrad Oblast and Russia′s other north-western areas. According to the information made public by the Defense Ministry of Belarus prior to the exercise, fewer than 13,000 personnel of the Union State are to take part in the military maneuvers, a number that does not trigger mandatory formal notification and invitation of observers under the OSCE‘s Vienna Document.  Western analysts, however, believed in July 2017 that the total number of Russian troops, security personnel and civilian officials to be involved in the broader war-games will range from 60,000 to 100,000, which would make them Russia’s largest since the Cold War.  Since 2016, concerns have been voiced in a number of NATO countries over Russia’s suspected ulterior motives and objectives in connection with the exercise.  And on 17 September 2017, the mobilization for combat portion of the exercise will begin and will for the first time include participation by units of the Baltic Fleet.  Generally speaking it will be an opportunity for Russia and Belarus to practice a major exercise in rapidly mobilizing and deploying a combined force close to its Western frontier.  And this sword rattling will have the US and our allies in the region watching closely how and in what strengths Russia is able to move its troops.  Poland, who shares a border with Belarus, is particularly concerned with observing what the Russians will do in particular.  They have reason to be concerned as September 17, 1939 marks the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland.  You’ll recall the German invasion of Poland began on September 1, 1939.  On September 3, 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany, but failed to provide any meaningful support for Polish army outnumbered, and vastly inferior to the German invading forces.  German began to pressure the Soviets to invade Poland from the east, but Stalin waited several days.  Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German ambassador to Moscow Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg exchanged a series of diplomatic messages on the matter but the Soviets nevertheless delayed their invasion of eastern Poland. The Soviets were distracted by crucial events relating to their ongoing border disputes with Japan.

They needed time to mobilize the Red Army and they saw a diplomatic advantage in waiting until Poland had disintegrated before making their move.  The undeclared war between the Soviet Union and the Empire of Japan at the Battles of Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhan) in the Far East ended with the MolotovTojo agreement between the USSR and Japan which was signed on 15 September 1939, with a ceasefire taking effect on 16 September 1939.  (Why yes that’s the same Molotov as the Molotov cocktail).  On 17 September 1939, Molotov delivered the following declaration of war to Wacław Grzybowski, the Polish Ambassador in Moscow: On that morning, 16 days after Germany invaded Poland from the west, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east. The Red Army entered the eastern regions of Poland with seven field armies, containing between 450,000 and 1,000,000 troops.  The invasion and the battle lasted for the following 20 days and ended on 6 October 1939 with the two-way division and annexation of the entire territory of the Second Polish Republic by both Germany and the Soviet Union.  The photo above shows the German and Russian commanders shaking hands after the defeat of Poland.  The joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland was secretly agreed to in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed on 23 August 1939.  The Red Army, which vastly outnumbered the Polish defenders, achieved its targets by using strategic and tactical deception. Some 230,000 Polish prisoners of war were captured.  The campaign of mass persecution in the newly acquired areas began immediately. In November 1939 the Soviet government ostensibly annexed the entire Polish territory under its control. Some 13.5 million Polish citizens who fell under the military occupation were made into new Soviet subjects following mock elections conducted by the NKVD secret police in the atmosphere of terror, the results of which were used to legitimize the use of force. The Soviet campaign of ethnic cleansing began with the wave of arrests and summary executions of officers, policemen and priests.  Over the next year and a half, the Soviet NKVD sent hundreds of thousands of people from eastern Poland to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union in four major waves of deportation between 1939 and 1941.  Soviet forces occupied eastern Poland until the summer of 1941, when they were driven out by the invading German army in the course of Operation Barbarossa. The timing I don’t believe is coincidence.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 14th through 18th 2017”

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?

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 3rd through 7th 2017”

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 June 10th through 12th 2017

The China – North Korea Picture is Changing – Fireball Opinion

Let’s face it, one of the world’s most dire potential future events facing the US and other world nations involves a war with North Korea and its possible runaway consequences.  Seoul being 35 miles from the border between the two Koreas (technically still at war from the 1950’s) make it extremely vulnerable as a North Korean first strike target.  Envision even attempting to evacuate millions of Koreans from Seoul and its suburbs under fire.  This event truly boggles the imagination.  US officials have for decades attempted diplomatic and economic pressures in an effort to dissuade North Korea from building nuclear weapons.  North Korea has been isolated, but not as yet persuaded to abandon its nuclear weapons program.  But while the world’s nations point to the instability of Kim and his Stalinist feudal monarchy supported by wide spread criminality around the world, the reason he is still in power is China.  I would submit Chinese leaders have their own nightmare scenario where were the Kim regime to fall, millions of refugees would flood northeastern China as a race would begin to control North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.  China cannot imagine nor does it want to tolerate a unified, pro-Western Korea on its immediate border with US troops and our spy apparatus on the banks of the Yalu River.  For decades China has kept and supported North Korea regimes as a method of holding Western influences and her borders buffered by North Korea.  The idea that China has limited influence over the Kim regime is sophistry at best.  Let’s just call it the bull shit it is.  China has thus far been willing to support all sorts of sanctions except those that would work – its energy supplies to North Korea.  I think now however the picture is changing.  North Korea’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could hit America cities and/or their repeated testing and expressed development objectives has put the US on a collision course with North Korea in the near term.  If the US were to act as we have indicated we would, China must then envision a horror greater than a nuclear North Korea: instability on the Korean peninsula.  SECDEF James Mattis addressing Asian government leaders in Singapore last week called North Korea’s weapons programs a “clear and present danger” to America.  I believe Asian governments want reassurance President Trump will be more concerned with values than interests and how he might try to do a deal with China, specifically trading help with North Korea for an increased Chinese sphere of influence.  They want assurances the US will not look the other way as China builds airstrips and military bases on disputed reefs of the South China Sea.  Mattis went on to say America will not accept unilateral, coercive moves to change the facts on the ground and accused China of showing “contempt” for its neighbors.  I believe such a binary trade-off would not be a good deal.  China must deal with the issues of its expansion within the rules-based order established by the totality of the world’s nations.  China has made noise in regard to deployment of THAAAD missiles in South Korea as it underlines China’s ability to deal with external threats – the US and its allies.  Again I must raise the bull shit flag.  If you want to see THAAD gone – deal with the North Korean nukes.  China must be convinced its self interests lie in disarming North Korea.  The US has broader issues that could be part our discussions with the Chinese government, specifically, Uighur militants at work in western China have ties to Muslim extremist networks in Afghanistan and North Korean cyber attackers have used China as a base for their operations without Chinese government approval or knowledge.  We might be able to help on both those fronts.  While all-out war on the Korean peninsula may be unimaginable, if North Korea continues to develop ICBMs, America’s acceptance of greater risk will increase and military options will gain favor.  China has for too long allowed North Korean provocations in exchange for stability on the Korean peninsula.  Time to make a choice.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 10th through 12th 2017”