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 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.

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