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!

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 08 through 10 August 2017

North Korea Ready to Give US a “Severe Lesson”

Just two days after the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved sanctions against the isolated regime for its escalating nuclear and missile programs, North Korea has responded.  In a statement from Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, distributed to media in Manila at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit, North Korea reiterated its position that it would not put its nuclear program or its missiles on the negotiating table.  The Pyongyang government also said, North Korea is ready to give the United States a “severe lesson” with nuclear force if Washington takes military action against it, Pyongyang said in a statement to a regional meeting on Monday.  Pyongyang also called the new U.N. sanctions “fabricated” and warned there would be “strong follow-up measures” and acts of justice. It said the resolution showed the United Nations had abused its authority.  And the stakes are increasing as of 09 August 2017, when North Korea says it is “seriously reviewing” a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with missiles — just hours after President Donald Trump told the regime that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury.”  United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson   reasserted the US will be monitoring implementation of the sanctions to ensure they are enforced by all countries.  The US, could for instance, bring pressure to bear on China by imposing fines on banks that do business with North Korea in areas prohibited by the past the present sanctions, essentially money laundering for Kim Jong Un.  Only recently have we imposed a fine on only one Chinese bank.  That sends a message to both China and North Korea.  As I’ve said here before, there is likely no dealing with Kim Jong Un in a direct manner so as to distract him from his goal of developing and deploying nuclear weapons that could reach the United States.  He has admitted one of his personal heroes is Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who he saw removed from power and eventually killed once he gave into foreign government pressures and economic sanctions (including the US) to give up his aspirations for the development of nuclear weapons.  Kim Jong Un will not give up this position.  See my comments in the 25 -27 Jul edition of FOD.  It’s either the long way or move toward a military option.  And the second path has many drawbacks.  Your comments and thoughts appreciated.

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day July 10 through 13, 2017

Friends of FOD

I’ve been travelling and working on the ’31 Chevy and as a result new editions of FOD have been delayed.  Photos in the next edition.  Congrats to Friend of FOD Rickey on his retirement from Boeing.  Rickey, all I can say is that retirement is good!

 

Navy Asking For New FFG Design Inputs

Contrary to the existing LCS platform designs, the U.S. Navy is looking for inputs from industry on a new multi-mission guided-missile frigate adapted from existing ship designs, a major departure from its modular littoral combat ship, according to a Request For Information (RFI) released Monday and covered by Defense NewsThe RFI lays out a ship that opens the door to almost any existing design that can be adapted to the Navy’s needs, which extends beyond just the two LCS hull forms being built by Lockheed Martin and Austal USA (left). The Navy is looking to avoid “sticker shock,” said Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall, the service’s director of surface warfare, said in a Monday telephone interview, and engage with ship builders about what trade-offs the Navy would have to make to get the most capability from the ship. Boxall (right) did not say how much the U.S. Navy is willing to spend but said the RFI was intended to draw out what the U.S. Navy could get for its shipbuilding dollar. In order to get the ship to the fleet as fast as possible, the U.S. Navy wants builders to adapt from existing designs, the RFI said. “A competition for FFG(X) is envisioned to consider existing parent designs for a Small Surface Combatant that can be modified to accommodate the specific capability requirements prescribed by the US Navy,” it reads. The U.S. Navy wants a frigate that can keep up with the aircraft carrier — a nagging problem with the current classes of small surface combatants — and have sensors networked in with the rest of the fleet to expand the overall tactical picture available to the group. “The FFG(X) will normally aggregate into strike groups and Large Surface Combatant led surface action groups but also possess the ability to robustly defend itself during conduct of independent operations while connected and contributing to the fleet tactical grid.”  The U.S. Navy would like for the ship to be able to: Kill surface ships over the horizon

  • Detect enemy submarines
  • Defend convoy ships
  • Employ active and passive electronic warfare systems
  • Defend against swarming small boat attacks

The U.S. Navy is looking to limit the number of ground-breaking technologies that go into the ship, looking for engineering and combat systems that are already common in the fleet. The U.S. Navy lists several capabilities, among the most important including:

Other capabilities in “tier two” include various sonar equipment such as variable-depth and towed-array sonar, Cooperative Engagement Capability to be able to share target data with other ships and aircraft in the fleet, rigid-hull inflatable boats, Next Generation Surface Search Radar, and a MK 110 57mm gun and related systems.  The U.S. Navy wants the ship to be used for surface and anti-submarine warfare — traditional frigate roles — and to take on lower-level missions, such as security cooperation, that don’t require multibillion-dollar warships. It also must be hardened against electronic warfare attack.  The U.S. Navy is also particularly interested in having the frigate be a platform for deploying unmanned systems “to penetrate and dwell in contested environments, operating at greater risk to gain sensor and weapons advantages over the adversary.” The frigate should be able to establish a complicated picture of a tactical environment with its on-board sensors, unmanned systems and embarked aircraft and beam that information back to the fleet through secure communications.  The U.S. Navy intends to award the contract for the first FFG(X) in 2020. It will buy one in 2020 and one in 2021, followed by two each year after that. The U.S. Navy’s requirement is for 52 small-surface combatants, the bulk of which will be LCS.

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 30th through July 3, 2017

US and NATO Negotiating More Troops for Afghanistan

The Associated Press is reporting, at a meeting in Brussels, NATO agreed to send more forces in response to commanders’ requests for as many as 3,000 troops to train and work alongside Afghan security forces. That number does not include an expected contribution of almost 4,000 American forces, divided between the NATO mission and America’s counterterrorism operations against Taliban, al-Qaida and Islamic State militants in Afghanistan.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said 15 countries “have already pledged additional contributions.” He expected more commitments to come, but confusion about America’s plans may have held back some countries. European nations and Canada have been waiting to hear what U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (right) will offer or seek from them. U.S. leaders haven’t publicly discussed troop numbers yet as they complete a broader, updated military and diplomatic strategy for the war.  In essence, NATO countries are waiting to hear what number of troops and in what mission specific areas the US is intending to provide and then they well make their decisions.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, (left) was in Afghanistan this week, meeting with commanders to gather details on specific military capabilities they need to increase Afghan training and pursue militant groups.

 

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FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 19th through 23rd, 2017

Friends of FOD

I got a little behind in getting out the last edition, so now it’s all combined into one edition.  Enjoy, comment, write your Congressmen!

 

Trump Budget Rant

Yesterday, May 22, the White House officially unveiled its 2018 budget.  The Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that the president is making good on his vow to save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, among other things, and said that they are not kicking anyone off who needs the programs.  Yet deep cuts to programs would indicate otherwise.  Trump’s budget would cut Medicaid by a lot, despite the president telling the Daily Signal days before launching his White House bid, “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.”  The administration proposes reducing spending on Medicaid programs by more than $600 billion over the next decade, a massive cut that appears to go on top of $839 billion in Medicaid cuts included in the House health care bill Trump is supporting.  Trump’s budget proposes slashing the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a $31.4 billion change to the program that pays monthly benefits to over 10 million disabled individuals under the retirement age. Barring the kind of hyperbolic growth Trump has promised and economists have disputed, Trump’s budget would do little to combat the national debt. Rather, it would potentially increase it.  For us veterans, the proposed budget decreases cost-of-living adjustments for veterans benefits payouts and eliminating those adjustments for some federal civilian retirees altogether.  The White House plan would extend the practice of rounding down veterans payouts to the nearest whole dollar, trimming a few cents off our checks. Trump’s plan calls for eliminating annual cost-of-living increases Federal Employee Retirement System enrollees completely, and lowering the adjustments for Civil Service Retirement System enrollees by 0.5 percent.  And while those Navy “Crabs” (Side Moving Beach Creatures) or Civil Servants are not always held in the best of regards, this would be represent substantial reductions in payouts for the estimated 70,000 federal retirees each year, along with the hundreds of thousands more already collecting their pensions. CSRS beneficiaries are not eligible for Social Security payments. FERS employees are, but those government pensions still make up a significant portion of their retirement income.  Trump’s budget was declared dead on arrival.  But then again I can think of a Presidential budget that wasn’t considered dead on arrival.

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