FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 1st through 7th 2018

Saying of the Day

I thought growing old would take longer

Friends of FOD

Running a bit late with this edition.  Actually I tried to publish last night, but the internet connection in my hotel was too slow to make it work, so I went to bed. Working on the ’31 Chevy is …. It’s almost like a job, but costs me instead of pays me.

 

How China Could Takeover Taiwan Without A Shot Fired

I’ve mentioned here in FOD how freedom of the seas and in particular the South China Sea is important not only to the Asian nations in the region, but for all nations who depend upon the free exchange of goods and services through those contested waters.  China’s ability to restrict trade to selective nations of their choice is a weapon as old as the sea.  Taiwan has long been a thorn in the side of China since the communist government has been in place.  And while Taiwan has military ties with Japan and the US there are likely limits established as to what we might do if China were to act militarily.  A few days ago Asian Times reported rumors have swirled on both sides of the Taiwan Strait since the beginning of last year that Chinese President Xi Jinping was mulling taking back the wayward, self-ruling island of Taiwan in one fell swoop amid growing militancy among the Chinese masses.  Some have gone so far as to suggest that by the early 2020s the two sides would be in a state of belligerence as Xi, unlike his predecessors, has no scruples against waging a full-blown war to recapture what Beijing considers a renegade province.  They say that the year 2022, the end of Xi’s second tenure as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, would be the deadline for him to exert his unrestrained powers to redeem the glory of the Middle Kingdom, after Xi has made “China dream” and “great revitalization” the tag lines of his rule.  “Xi’s grand visions will become empty platitudes if he fails to take back Taiwan before his second term ends, and in that case his ‘China dream’ will become a pipe dream, and he is fully aware of that,” said one analyst.  No one will doubt that China’s Central Military Commission and the People’s Liberation Army have in place a host of all-encompassing combat plans of tactics and deployment to suit all war scenarios, as well as stratagems to deter or fend off intervention by the US or Japan.  The Chinese military must have been updating these plans from time to time to reflect changes in geopolitics and Taiwan’s own defenses, for Xi to choose from should he feel that the time is ripe for a once-and-for-all, momentous action to tame and reclaim the island.  Meanwhile, Beijing has also been on a spree of building or inaugurating aircraft carriers, missiles, corvettes, destroyers, amphibious battleships and stealth fighters, fueling further speculation over whether Taiwan stands a chance when Xi, armed with the will of the rank and file, is girding for a new Chinese civil war.  While many observers believe Xi is readying the military and the nation for a showdown, a bid that will decide how he will go down in history, veteran military commentator Andrei Chang noted in the Kanwa Defense Review that the PLA’s big guns and ships may be for show to make Washington and Tokyo think twice before stepping in, and a trigger doesn’t have to be pulled now that Xi has a slew of non-military options at his disposal.  The Hong Kong-based current-affairs monthly SuperMedia also reported that among the many diplomatic and economic means to subjugate the island is issuing Taiwan Special Administrative Region passports and granting hukou (Chinese household registration) and permanent residency to the 2 million Taiwanese already residing in mainland China.  Previous reports also suggest that the PLA’s first overseas base, which sits right on the Horn of Africa in Djibouti (and discussed here in FOD previously), is aimed at Taiwan, since the resource-scarce island relies substantially on the narrow waterway linking the Suez Canal and the Arabian Sea for oil imports from the Middle East as well as trade with Europe. From the Djibouti base PLA troops could intercept tankers ferrying oil to Taiwan and seal off the island’s trade artery in no time.  Beijing’s frenzied investment and acquisitions targeting stakes in mines, oilfields and energy firms in the Belt and Road countries could also jeopardize Taiwan’s economic security should Beijing decree an embargo of crude oil and other natural resources, according to Chang.  Something they have been unwilling to do when it comes to dealing with North Korea.  The raft of economic, trade, financial and logistical measures short of a shooting war to contain Taiwan won’t provide an opening for Washington to weight in, yet given time, they could work to coerce Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen into coming to terms with Xi and accepting whatever he has in store for a treaty to create a future Taiwan Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 1st through 7th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 27th Through 31st 2018

Saying of the Day

In these days when each day we’re faced with remembering user IDs and passwords, I’ve simplified my on line security by having only one pin.  My pin is the last eight digits of pi.

 

Japan and France Plan Joint Naval Exercises In ‘Show of Strength’ Against China

In a move that supports US efforts and those of other countries in the region Asian Times is reporting Japanese government sources have told the Asahi Shimbun that Japan and France will conduct joint naval exercises in February in a “show of strength” against China’s activities in the South China Sea.  Asahi says an agreement on the maneuvers is expected to be made at a “two plus two” meeting of the Japanese and French foreign and defense ministers on January 26 in Tokyo. The two countries are said to be bolstering their security cooperation in the Pacific region due to China’s expanding naval presence and its policy toward the South China Sea.  The exercise between Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force and the French Navy would involve the French frigate Vendemiaire, which is charged with patrolling France’s overseas territories, the sources said. But there’s no indication on where the exercise will be held.  The sources stressed that France views itself as a “Pacific nation,” given that it controls territories in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean, including New Caledonia and French Polynesia.  Japan reportedly wants to secure France’s support for its diplomatic strategy that seeks to maintain a “free and open Indo-Pacific region.”  The sources said the two nations are expected to issue a joint statement at the January 26 meeting that emphasizes the importance of freedom of navigation and other issues.  Japanese and French officials are also seeking a broad agreement on an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement for the exchange of supplies such as ammunition between the Japan’s Self-Defense Force and the French military.  They are further expected to confirm plans to begin joint research on mine detection technology.  Cooperation with France is the latest move by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to nurture new military ties and alliances as the balance of global power shifts.  Japan and Britain agreed in December to conduct joint naval maneuvers in the Pacific this year as part of a military cooperation pact. The pact also includes jointly developing a new air-to-air missile for the US F-35 stealth fighter used by both countries.S

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 27th Through 31st 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 19th through 22 2018

FOD Staff Vote To Reopen But Only Temporarily

As many of you realize the entire FOD staff was forced to close down last Friday when staff members could not agree upon how to extend the existing budget (which was already a continuing resolution) with provisions that would established protection for FOD Dreamers.  FOD Dreamers are those individuals who have influenced members of the FOD staff to address the provisions of DACA and at the same time not make it appear they have caused a FOD shutdown.  This disagreement has tied two differing facets of how to manage the entire structure of FOD.  This has occurred at a time when productivity is on the rise nationwide and despite the fact FOD was shut down; the DJIA along with the other major indices actually increased.  Who saw that coming?  The need to provide for a stable budget (already months late) and simultaneously extend DACA are crucial to the debate at hand.  DACA (Dashingly Aged Carrier Aviators) provisions currently in place are due to expire in March and could affect FOD Dreamers.   As you will recall DACA was established to provide support for those carrier aviators who were curtailed from flying off aircraft carriers against their will by foolish and ill-conceived age restrictions.  Many depend upon the provisions of a stable budget and DACA to pay their bar bills.  Despite the fact many Dreamers, as they are called, have demonstrated leadership skills and accomplishments in other facets of their lives they strongly desire to be brought into the greater population of pub seat occupier’s nationwide.  It seemed like the appropriate time to link this and the continuing budget issues together.  However after three days of FOD being closed (which I might add found the entire FOD staff skiing in Idaho) a crucial vote was taken today that passes yet another continuing resolution for the budget and at the same time guarantees the issues of DACA will be first upon the agenda.  So while the FOD staff has other crucial issues that need to be addressed, i.e. what color to paint the ’31 Chevy, China’s continuing aggression in the South China Sea, where to watch the Super Bowl, and how likely are the North Koreans to hack our Bit Coin accounts, the FOD staff has agreed to take up DACA.  I don’t see any other parallels to these events in the world today.  Who knew this could happen?  In a related manner it was revealed Armed Forces Network, which was shuttered on Saturday after the announcement that FOD (and some other institutions) were closed down, but was partially restored for Sunday’s NFL games.  This despite the fact we can’t depend upon NFL players to respect the flag that defends their right to make a completely outrageous amount of money.  In a statement, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said department officials “determined the operational necessity of television and radio broadcasts constitutes them as essential activities.” As a result, two of AFN’s eight channels will remain broadcasting for now.  She did not comment of the two sides’ positions in the FOD staff disputes.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 19th through 22 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 November 3rd through 6th, 2017

Normalization of Deviation Within Seventh Fleet Led To Collisions At Sea

I spoke to some of findings of the Navy’s investigation into the recent collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain in the last edition of FOD.  Acceptance of deviations or the normalization of deviation from standards of training led directly to the shortfalls in the core functions of basic ship operations at sea in the case of the recent collisions at sea.  Defense News is reporting in one of the most remarkable U.S. Navy documents in recent memory, the service is admitting to widespread failures and training shortfalls at the core of its most basic function: safely operating ships at sea.  A comprehensive review of the Surface Navy conducted by the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command found that both the Japan-based 7th Fleet headquarters leadership and its ship commanders allowed training and proficiency to erode as they sought to keep ships underway to meet operational requirements.  “The risks that were taken in the Western Pacific accumulated over time and did so insidiously,” according to the report released Thursday. “The dynamic environment normalized to the point where individuals and groups of individuals could no longer recognize that the processes in place to identify, communicate and assess readiness were no longer working at the ship and headquarters level.”  The problems became easy to ignore because, prior to the mishaps, they were still getting the job done, the report argues.  The comprehensive review, led by fleet boss Admiral Phil Davidson, found that the issues in 7th Fleet were in some ways unique to the pressures and demands in the Pacific region, the Navy’s most fast-paced and dangerous operating environment, but in other ways pointed to serious lapses in training and evaluation of its officers and sailors.  The review raised troubling questions about the ability of surface warfare officers in today’s fleet and their ability to act under pressure.  In a detailed analysis of the four major accidents in 7th Fleet this year — two deadly collisions, a grounding and a minor collision with a fishing boat — the review found that officers and enlisted sailors performed poorly when faced with a dangerous situation.  The review ascertained that in all four incidents this year, when the crews were faced with an extreme situation, they delayed actions, froze and did not alert their crews of imminent danger.  “Incorrect actions in extremis were a contributing factor to the chain of errors that resulted in the incident[s],” the report reads.  The report also found that teamwork was at times non-existent between the bridge and the ship combat information centers, the place that displays and synthesizes the information from a ship’s sensors and weapons systems.  Furthermore, the review determined that sailors had routinely failed to use the tools available to them to increase awareness of their situations.  In the review, the Navy also acknowledges that its surface warfare officers lacked sufficient navigation and seamanship skills, and recommends creating an “objective, standardized assessment program to periodically assess individual seamanship and navigation skills over the course of a surface warfare officer’s career.”  The review details steps, including new evaluation processes, to correct the issues.  In regards to the issues at 7th Fleet, the review argues that leaders in the region were blinded by operational commitments and that cutting corners became the norm in order to fulfill commitments.  “Evidence of skill proficiency on ships and readiness problems at headquarters were missed, and over time, even normalized to the point that more time could be spent on operational missions,” the document reads. “Headquarters were trying to manage the imbalance, and up to the point of the mishaps, the ships had been performing operationally with good outcomes, which ultimately reinforced the rightness of trusting past decisions.  “This rationalized the continued deviation from the sound training and maintenance practices that set the conditions for safe operations.”  The collisions of the destroyers John S. McCain and Fitzgerald this summer led to the relief of both commanding officers and several other crew members, as well as the destroyer squadron commander, the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group commander and the 7th Fleet Commander.  And that’s why we had changes of command without bands.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 3rd through 6th, 2017”