FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 20th through 22nd, 2017

Friends of FOD – Happy Thanksgiving

 

COD Aircraft Crashes in Philippine Sea

A U.S. Navy C-2 Greyhound engaged in Carrier Onboard Delivery aircraft carrying 11 people crashed in the Philippine Sea south of Japan on Wednesday as it flew to the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and three people were missing.  “Search and rescue efforts for three personnel continue with U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships and aircraft on scene,” the U.S. Seventh Fleet said in a news release.  The C-2 has had a good safety record and has not been involved in a fatal accident since 1973 and has been in service for more than fifty years.

 

 

 

North Korea Back On The List As A State Sponsor of Terrorism

I was a bit surprised North Korea was not already on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.  President Trump announced on 21 November his administration would redesignate North Korea to this category which carries with it additional sanctions (how many more can there be?).  So, practically speaking this redesignation is more symbolic than practical, as the most serious sanctions have already been put in place, and to date those sanctions have not had the desired effect of persuading North Korea to either abandon or negotiate regarding their nuclear weapons program.  The North spent 20 years on that list before being removed in 2008 by the George W. Bush administration for meeting nuclear inspection requirements. Pyongyang later violated the agreement.  In a speech to the South Korean national assembly two weeks ago, Trump cited atrocities carried out by the Kim regime and called the North “a hell that no person deserves.” Among other acts, Kim’s regime stands accused of carrying out the assassination of his half brother, Kim Jong Nam, with a chemical nerve agent at a Malaysian airport in February.  “Importantly, this is just continuing to point out North Korea’s illicit, unlawful behaviors internationally,” United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the White House daily briefing Monday. “And we felt it was important to reimpose the designation for that reason.”  Tillerson cited other recent sanctions from the United States and the United Nations on the North and added that the redesignation “continues to tighten the pressure on the Kim regime, all with an intention to have him to understand, ‘This is just going to get worse until you’re ready to come and talk.'”  Iran, Sudan and Syria also are on the list, which is administered by the U.S. Department of State. According to that agency, sanctions for those nations on the list include “restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.”

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day November 20th through 22nd, 2017”

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”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 23 through 26, 2017

Friends of FOD

A lot of FOD to pick up.  Comments welcomed of course.

 

Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts

We’re just beginning to grasp the scope of the devastation to Puerto Rico.  This American territory has been holding on by a thread for years and has been on the verge of bankruptcy several times.  Its infrastructure was already substandard and in need of major overhaul prior to Maria.  Military Times is reporting, two U.S. Navy ships, National Guard, Air National Guard, Reserve troops and Army helicopters are providing aid to Puerto Rico. But questions are mounting over whether the U.S. is doing enough for its territory and people, who are American citizens.  To date, the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge and dock landing ship Oak Hill have “conducted eight medical evacuations, 148 airlifts and delivered 44,177 [pounds] of relief supplies and cargo to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” U.S. Northern Command said in a statement.  U.S. forces have also restored a mobile communications tower at St. Thomas International Airport to enable the airport to receive additional aircraft to evacuate residents.  The amphibious assault ship Wasp has been conducting similar rescues in Dominica, but that ship will be departing the region to head to the Pacific, where it will eventually relieve the Bonhomme Richard, a Navy official said.  Approximately 2,600 U.S. military personnel and National Guard members are currently involved in Hurricane Maria relief efforts, the Pentagon said.  Currently, more than 700 Air National Guard airmen are deployed to Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to support relief efforts.  Most of Puerto Rico has no electricity or cell phone capabilities because of Hurricane Maria’s damage to the electrical grid and cell towers. There are long lines for food and water.  Likely we’ll need to do more and the more is likely to continue for years.

 

 

 

USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain Take Another Top Officer

The Commander of the  U.S. Pacific Fleet is retiring after learning there’s no possibility of him being promoted out of his current job, he said in a statement to NBC News on Monday. Admiral Scott H. Swift was in charge of the Pacific Fleet during the period this summer when two different ships, USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) sustained collisions at sea that left 17 sailors dead.  Swift said the Chief of Naval Operations  Admiral John M. Richardson told him that he would not be nominated for the United States Pacific Command post, which is senior to Pacific Fleet.  In a statement, he said he was retiring “with great appreciation and gratitude for the honor of having served so many Sailors and their families for what will be 40 years in January.”

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 23 through 26, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 19 through 22, 2017

New Sanctions for North Korea

I’ve stated before here in FOD, I don’t believe sanctions against North Korea will have the desired effect of divesting their efforts to develop nuclear weapons.  Kim Jong Un has consistently pursued a path of acquiring nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them in spite of the world’s desires for diminish his resolve to the point of allowing millions of his own people to die of starvation.  Lack of cash however, might have the effect of at least slowing North Korea’s efforts. China’s banks in particular have been willing to launder Kim Jong Un’s money for years.  Only recently, the Department of  the Treasury took actions against the Bank of Dandong over concerns that it was participating in illicit financial activities with North Korea — an early signal to Chinese financial institutions of U.S. willingness to increase pressure on entities that do business with Pyongyang.  On 21 September 2017, President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he had signed an executive order authorizing additional sanctions against North Korea by targeting individuals, companies and financial institutions that do business with what he called “this criminal rogue regime.”  Speaking before a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said his goal is the “complete denuclearization” of North Korea and added that the nation led by Kim Jong Un posed a “grave threat to peace and security in our world.”  Trump noted that he’d signed the executive order just as China’s central bank “has told their other banks … to immediately stop doing business with North Korea.” The president praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for the “very bold move.”  Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (photo right) confirmed that he did call the People’s Bank of China early Thursday morning to alert them to this coming action, but skirted the question when asked if these sanctions were specifically aimed at China.  “This action is directed at everyone,” Mnuchin said, calling the executive order a significant expansion of Treasury’s power to target the Kim regime and those financial entities and individuals who seek to do business with it. The executive order is “forward looking,” meaning Treasury will consider new designations on a “rolling basis” from Thursday on.  So far, the administration has sought to pressure Pyonyang largely through forceful economic steps, including Thursday’s latest action and U.N. Security Council sanctions earlier this month. The President has this right.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 19 through 22, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 11 through 15 August 2017

What Our President Did and Didn’t Say

While many in President Trump’s administration have since spoken out against the hatred and violence of groups like white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis, during the events in Chancellorsville, Virginia this past weekend, it is what President Trump did not say that is concerning.  These extremist hate groups have no place in the American debate and by not condemning them, you allow them a voice.  The President needed to condemn those groups.  As Dante Alighieri said in his Divine Comedy, “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”  I am encouraged by President Trump’s statement on the morning of 14 August 2017 where he did call racism evil and where he did explicitly denounce KKK and neo-Nazis organizations and stated they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Woulda, coulda, shoulda is the operative line here.   As a consequence of the President’s comments, the African-American CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co Kenneth

Frazier (below right) resigned from President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council Monday after Mr. Trump failed to condemn white nationalists for deadly violence at a weekend rally in Charlottesville, Va.  “Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, faces, sexual orientations and political beliefs. America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier said in a statement announcing his departure from the council.  “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” Frazier added.  Less than an hour after Merck released Frazier’s statement, Trump slammed the exec in a tweet.  I don’t see where alienating this individual adds positive value to the discourse.  In a similar manner I don’t see how lashing out at his own party’s Majority Leader of the United States Senate Mitch McConnell (left) benefits the President’s agenda on issues such as increasing the debt ceiling, tax reform, infrastructure improvements, and of course health care reform and gets worse with every tweet. Hey, there are daunting budget related deadlines coming with the end of the fiscal year, September 30th.  Comments appreciated!

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 11 through 15 August 2017”