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 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.

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 4th and 5th, 2017

Friends of FOD

I hope all my readers had an enjoyable long weekend and that you all had the opportunity to take in a local fireworks display.  Nothing says the Fourth of July like a good fireworks display.  A rather shortened edition today, as I’m departing on a driving trip to CA to work on that ’31 Chevy Five Window Coupe.  Maybe I’ll be inspired by some on the road stories along the way.

 

North Korea Successfully Tests First ICBM

According to the South China Morning Post, North Korea on Tuesday said it had successfully tested its first ­intercontinental ballistic missile, catching military experts ­off-guard and ratcheting up ­pressure on its Asian neighbors to take a harder line against the hermit nation.  China, Pyongyang’s main ally, issued a joint statement with Russia that calls for a halt to missile tests in exchange for the US and South Korea suspending their large-scale military exercises.  While that’s not likely to happen, it does show China is committed to continuing support of North Korea and at the present time is unwilling to use the one negotiating point available to China – control of the oil supply flowing into North Korea from China.  And in fact the US Army and the South Korean military held their own missile exercise in territorial waters adjacent to South Korea.  The US Pacific Command said in a statement, “The launches were in direct response to North Korea’s destabilizing and unlawful actions.”  Based on the missile’s similarity to China’s own ICBMs with a range of more than 6,000km, he estimated it could strike Alaska, but the lower 48 states as well as Hawaii would be out of range.  China’s foreign ministry said it opposed the test and called for restraint by Pyongyang, as well as calm from all sides. “China urges the DPRK to refrain from acts that violate UN Security Council resolutions so as to create necessary conditions for resuming dialogue and negotiation,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, using the North Korea’s official name.  One Chinese foreign affairs ­expert said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might have intended the test as a reminder to China and the US of Pyongyang’s presence ahead of Xi and Trump’s meeting in Hamburg.  Kim might also be trying to sow tension between Beijing and Washington over how to contain the North’s weapons programme, according to Sun Xingjie, a professor at Jilin University. Disagreement between the two sides could see the US move closer to Japan and South Korea, which in turn would push China towards North Korea, he said.  Trump has grown increasingly impatient over the deadlock in resolving the nuclear crisis, and blamed China. He discussed the issue with Xi by phone on Monday, but both sides failed to ­announce any progress beyond reiterating their commitment to a denuclearized Korean peninsula.  Trump took to Twitter after the launch, writing: “Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”  Twitter is not a substitute for diplomatic negotiation however.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 27th and 28th, 2017

President Trump Pledges ‘Unwavering Support’ For Our Troops

President Trump praised US troops as part of his European visit last day’s agenda during a visit to Naval Air Station Sigonella in eastern Sicily.  Trump praised the troops for their continued efforts to fight terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa, and said the attacks that include a suicide bombing in Manchester, England, earlier this week and against Coptic Christians in Egypt underscore the need for a strong military.  “The single greatest strength to our armed forces is you, you, all of you,” Trump said to the troops. “You have poured out your hearts, your souls and even your blood for this nation, and we will pour out our gratitude for you, in return.”  However he didn’t mention they might not receive a cost of living pay adjustment commensurate with their civilian counterparts mentioned in the last edition of FOD.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 17th and 18th, 2017

Fireball to Become Jeter’s Angel

The group led by Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush to purchase the Miami Marlins for an estimated $1.3 billion have lost an investor.  Bloomberg reported today that an investor who had been in talks to contribute $150 million to the $1.3 billion bid was unable to reconcile the terms of his investment.  When news of their accepted bid was first reported last month, it was said the ownership group included at least five investors. I have decided to step up to the plate and bail Jeter and Jeb out of their predicament.  I have communicated my offer of $1000.00 to make the deal go through.  And while I’ll share it with only Friends of FOD; because Jeter’s number 2 was just retired, I’m willing to go as high as $222.22 over that $1000.00 offer.  I’m only asking for 2.22% ownership, plus two seats in a really good box forever and I’ll also generously agree to be the bat guy when the Yankees come to town.  I’m expecting a reply very soon.  So I’m keeping my phone next to me all night, because I know these kinds of deals require personal involvement to make them happen.

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