FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 28 through 31, 2017


Marines and Navy Heading to Gulf Coast For Possible Disaster Relief

In the wake of the ever increasing destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Marine Times is reporting, nearly 700 Marines will head toward the Gulf Coast Thursday aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge in case they are tasked with helping rescue Texas residents who have been slammed by historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.  The Kearsarge and the dock landing ship Oak Hill are both scheduled to get underway from ports in Virginia, Fleet Forces Command announced on Wednesday.  “These ships are capable of providing medical support, maritime civil affairs, maritime security, expeditionary logistic support, medium and heavy lift air support, and bring a diverse capability including assessment and security,” a news release from the command says. The Marines will also be able to purify water, distribute relief supplies, conduct aerial reconnaissance and provide engineering capabilities, a II MEF news release says.  “Marines conduct regular training and have gained real-world experience with Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief from relief efforts across the globe,” the news release says.


North Korea Fires Missile Over Japan

While most of us are viewing the wide path of destruction brought about by Hurricane Harvey, the other news of August 28th was North Korea carried out one of its most provocative missile tests in recent years early Tuesday morning, hurling a ballistic missile directly over Japan that prompted the government in Tokyo to warn residents in its path to take cover. Asia Pacific reports,  “North Korea’s reckless action of launching a missile that passed over Japan is an unprecedented, serious and grave threat,” said Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe. He later told reporters that he had spoken by telephone with President Trump. “Japan and the U.S. stances are completely matched,” he said, adding that they discussed ways to tighten pressure on North Korea.  US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he still holds out hope for talks with North Korea, saying, “We are going to continue our peaceful pressure campaign as I have described that working with allies, working with China as well, to see if we can bring the regime in Pyongyang to the negotiating table, with a view to begin a dialogue on the different future for (the) Korean Peninsula and for North Korea.”  This launch was in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.  Hope is not a strategy.  President Trump responded on 30 August 2017 with a tweet saying that, “The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!”  Obviously, this differs from the expressed opinion of Rex Tillerson and late afternoon of 30 August 2017 Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, “We’re never out of diplomatic solutions.”  Well, what is there to say – the North Koreans fire a missile over the land mass of one of our allies in Asia – we don’t go to war over it – the stock market rises.



Info Emerging Regarding USS John S. McCain Collision

Information is beginning to emerge regarding the collision between the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer with the Liberian-flagged Alnic MC off the coast of Malaysia east of the Strait of Malacca on August 21, 2017.  Some initial reports included an avenue of the investigation that might even include the possibility of hacking or a cyber attack against McCain’s navigations systems or other ships’ systems. Any such information will be of interest to both the JAG (Judge Advocate General) Investigation and the Naval Board of Inquiry.  As of August 31, 2017, the Chief of Naval Operations  Admiral John M. Richardson has indicated to NavyTimes,  “To date…the inspections we’ve done shows no evidence of any kind of cyber intrusion.”  Other investigations will be convened by authorities such as the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.  One of the systems that will be looked at will be the Vessel Traffic Information System (VTIS) or Vessel Traffic Service (VTS).   A VTS is a marine traffic monitoring system established by harbor or port authorities, similar to air traffic control for aircraft. Typical VTS systems use automatic identification system (AIS), radarVHFradiotelephony, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) to keep track of vessel movements and provide navigational safety in this limited geographical area.  The AIS system in Singapore is a sophisticated one that not only tracks individual vessels’ courses and speeds, but sends alert messages to vessels when their intended courses could constitute a potential collision or near miss.  While commercial vessels are required to carry and use AIS, warships are not required to actively report their identity, location, course and speed.  For security reasons US warships do not normally actively report this information.  However, monitoring AIS, which warships can do, provides incredible amounts of SA (situational awareness) for any bridge team.  AIS is one of several systems the P-8A Poseidon and other military platforms use to assess players in what would otherwise be a field of multiple unknown vessels.  But you’ve got to turn it on.  I’m not saying McCain didn’t have it on, but the rumor from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore was that they could see Alnic MC, but not McCain.  This wouldn’t be unusual for security reasons, but perhaps points to an issue of interest for the upcoming investigation boards.  US warships use methods to “impede” radar returns for many types of vessels and/or reduce their own radar cross-section (RCS) in order to make themselves more stealthy.  Absorbent paint, angled surfaces to reflect and deflect radar output signals can reduce a warships radar return from its true size to that of a sampan.  Generally speaking, you might not want to reduce your RCS in an area with such a vast number of commercial vessels in your immediate vicinity during peacetime operations.  Adding to the complicated nature of this investigation is the collision location – in the waters near Pedra Branca,  an islet at the eastern entrance to the Singapore Strait – has resurfaced an age-old territorial dispute between Singapore and Malaysia.  Both have historically laid claim to Pedra Branca, and both also claimed the collision took place in their territorial waters, which extend 12 nautical miles from shore, according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Singapore released coordinates of the collision site to back its claim.  Standby for additional information.  In a separate bit of news, the Navy has recovered the remains of all the sailors who went missing since August 21st in the flooded compartments of the USS John S, McCain.  Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of these fine individuals and to their extended family, the crew of McCain.


Pakistan Holds Trump Card Regarding Afghanistan

President Trump laid out his new strategy for Afghanistan on August 21st and made it clear he would be pushing Pakistan in new directions former US presidents have found it better to tread lightly on.  Military Times quotes President Trump as saying, “Pakistan often provides “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror,” later adding that “we have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately.”  However the relationship between the US, our allies and Pakistan is more than just a little complicated by the fact Pakistan controls the supply lines for materiel into Afghanistan, known as the Ground Lines of Communication (GLOC). There is another route into Afghanistan.  It goes through those other ‘stan’ countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.  It’s certainly more complicated, longer, more expensive and is a more primitive pathway into Afghanistan.  The US found out just how more expensive this could be when we had to rely on a combination of the northern ‘stan’ route and airlift between Nov, 2011 and July, 2012 when Pakistan shut down the GLOC routes following an incident where 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by NATO forces along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.  The estimated costs went from $17M per month to over $104M per month.  Military Times reports, That cost-imposing cool is the “enduring point of leverage” Pakistan has over the United States, says Alice Hunt Friend, an Obama-era senior adviser to the deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy, plans and forces and country director for Pakistan, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.  “Because this relationship has so many layers, and because we are interdependent in a lot of ways, there is usually mutual interest in making all the logistics run smoothly,” she said. “On both sides, the U.S. and Pakistan, we just like to remind each other that ‘hey, you need me.’”  Now let’s throw in China.  Pakistan abruptly cancelled a scheduled meeting with Alice Wells, the US acting assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs on 29 August 2017.  The South China Morning Post reports, “Pakistani officials responded by saying the US should not “scapegoat” Pakistan and accused the American military of failing to eliminate militant sanctuaries inside Afghanistan.”  Wells had been due to discuss Trump’s new Afghan policy during her time in Islamabad.  Instead, according to South China Morning Post, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua meets with Chinese official Yang Jiechi (right). She met with Chinese envoy Deng Xijun to discuss Afghanistan after Islamabad snubbed a senior US official. During Monday’s visit, Chinese envoy Deng Xijun and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua discussed “efforts for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement.  “The Chinese special envoy lauded Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices made in the fight against terrorism, he said Pakistan’s efforts towards eliminating the scourge of terrorism should be fully recognized by the international community,” the foreign office said.  Beijing has pledged to spend US$57 billion on infrastructure projects in Pakistan as part of its “Belt and Road” initiative.  China’s spending in Pakistan has helped to revive the country’s sputtering economy.  The deepening ties between the two nations have turned Pakistan into a key cog in China’s plan to build a modern-day “Silk Road” of land and sea trade routes linking Asia with Europe and Africa.  From the Afghanistan point of view, they are pleased the US has welcomed Trump’s comments as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government has repeatedly pointed out Pakistan is part of the problem.  “The new strategy has identified threats and challenges the region faces and, therefore, we believe Afghanistan and the US would benefit from it in the long run,” said Shah Hussain Martazawi, a spokesman for Ghani.  “The strategy also identifies countries that have not played their role in the fight against terrorism responsibly,” Martazawi added, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.  Additionally Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Khwaja Asif, will embark on a three-day official tour of China, Russia and Turkey for consultations over Trump’s Afghanistan policy.  These latest developments, which envisions a greater role for Pakistan’s archrival and direct neighbor, India, would/could/might change the geopolitical alignments of the countries in the region.  It could destabilize South Asia even more by putting China and Pakistan on a bigger collision course with Afghanistan and India.



Transgender Ban in the Military

I outlined the beginning of the fight beginning to take shape over transgender troops and sailors in the US military in the 28 through 31 July 2017 edition of FOD and in earlier editions as well.  At that time, Marine General  Joseph F. Dunford, the  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday that thousands of transgender troops in the ranks will continue serving indefinitely until the Pentagon gets formal notice of President Donald Trump’s proposed ban and figures out a way to implement it.  “There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense   James Mattis and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance,” Dunford said in a memo to the service chiefs and senior enlisted advisers.  On 28 August 2017, additional guidance has been forthcoming from the White House.  The Pentagon is directed to take its own look into the questions of how, if at all, transgender troops affect unit cohesion, readiness and lethality, and resource levels — the three factors that the White House says it should consider before re-allowing transgender people to serve openly.  Those are the metrics President Donald Trump outlined in a policy directive he sent to the Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security late Friday afternoon. That directive was the official follow-up to a string of bombshelltweets in which Trump announced he was reinstating a ban on trans troops that the Pentagon had walked away from in July 2016.  Trump’s directive allows Defense Secretary Jim Mattis some leeway to deciding whether current transgender servicemembers can stay, but bans future recruits and prohibits the department from paying for troops’ gender reassignment surgery.  Mattis would have to return to the president with a “convincing” case that “a change to the policy is warranted,” the order says.  Pentagon spokesman, COL Robert Manning (USA JAG), issued a statement on 28 August saying, “We’re very early in the process; we just got the guidance.  We’re at a point right now where we have to provide the services interim guidance and then provide implementation guidance six months from now.” Before overturning the ban last year, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter conducted a working group and commissioned a Rand Corporation study to evaluate “the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.” That study found that allowing trans troops would cost little and would have “no significant impact on unit cohesion or operational readiness.”  But the Pentagon now is re-examining those questions as it starts developing guidance for the services to implement Trump’s order.  And now the legal actions will begin in earnest.  Comments from Congress – lots!  Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has voiced his objections to the Trump administration’s decision to reinstate the ban on transgender persons serving in the military.  He is supported by several other senators and representatives including this one from Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who said, “When my Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender or anything else. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind.”   Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, who opposes the Pentagon’s funding of gender reassignment surgeries, also denounced Trump’s decision.  “As a veteran, Senator Ernst served alongside fellow service members from all different backgrounds and parts of the county. She believes what is most important is making sure service members can meet the physical training standards, and the willingness to defend our freedoms and way of life. While she believes taxpayers shouldn’t cover the costs associated with a gender reassignment surgery, Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity,” said Ernst spokeswoman Brooke Hougesen.  Secretary of Defense Mattis announced on 29 August transgender troops can continue to serve pending a study intended to promote military readiness, lethality and unit cohesion, with due regard for budgetary constraints and consistent with applicable law.  Here’s some comments I made in the 25 through 27 July edition of FOD.  I was of the hope I would generate some additional discussion on an important issue facing our military today.  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.  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 or the courts. And Military Times also reported top defense lawmakers on Capitol Hill have objected to President Donald Trump’s transgender military ban, calling the policy change short-sighted and potentially dangerous.  Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said, “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.”  Comments, it’s not too late Friends of FOD.


Lest We Forget

The incidents in Charlottesville a couple weeks ago are already fading from headlines as Hurricane Harvey takes its toll on Texas and further to the northeast of Houston.  But on August 11, included KKK members, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists marching on the main quadrangle of the University of Virginia campus.  They carried Nazi flags and shouted, “You will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us.” They walked around the Rotunda, the university’s signature building, and to a statue of Thomas Jefferson, where a group of counter-protesters were gathered, and a brawl ensued.  The events of August 28, 1941 shows what that Nazi flag personifies.  Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union had advanced to the point of mass air raids on Moscow and the occupation of parts of Ukraine. On August 26, Hitler displayed the joys of conquest by inviting Benito Mussolini to Brest-Litovsk, where the Germans had destroyed the city’s citadel. The grand irony is that Ukrainians had originally viewed the Germans as liberators from their Soviet oppressors and an ally in the struggle for independence. But as early as July, the Germans were arresting Ukrainians agitating and organizing for a provisional state government with an eye toward autonomy and throwing them into concentration camps. The Germans also began carving the nation up, dispensing parts to Poland (already occupied by Germany) and Romania.  But true horrors were reserved for Jews in the territory. Tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews had been expelled from that country and migrated to Ukraine. The German authorities tried sending them back, but Hungary would not take them. On August 28, troops under the command of the Higher SS and Police Leader for the southern region, SS General Friedrich Jeckeln, (below right) carried out mass murder of the entire Jewish community including both deportees and locals. According to Jeckeln’s own report, a total of 23,600 Jews were massacred in this action. It was one of the first large-scale mass murder operations in pursuit of the Final Solution in Reichskommissariat Ukraine.  Within the Soviet Union proper, it was preceded by a similar killing spree which began on July 9, 1941, and continued until September 19, in the city of Zhytomyr (made Judenfrei) with three mass-murder operations conducted by German and Ukrainian police in which 10,000 Jews perished. It was followed by the killing of 28,000 Jews shot by SS and the Ukrainian paramilitary in Vinnytsia on September 22, 1941, and the September 29 massacre of 33,771 Jews at Babi Yar. All told, more than 600,000 Jews had been murdered in Ukraine by war’s end.


John Wesley Powell’s Expedition Party Loses Three Men

For several years I had the good fortune to be invited to join some friends on the houseboat Gone With The Wind over Labor Day weekend on Lake Powell.  It was always a great trip.  The lake’s namesake was certainly an interesting character.  John Wesley Powell was a U.S. soldier, geologist, explorer of the American West, professor at Illinois Wesleyan University, and director of major scientific and cultural institutions. He is famous for the 1869 Powell Geographic Expedition, a three-month river trip down the Green and Colorado rivers, including the first known passage by Europeans through the Grand Canyon.  Prior to the Civil War, Powell studied at Illinois College, Illinois Institute (which would later become Wheaton College), and Oberlin College, over a period of seven years while teaching, but was unable to attain his degree.  During his studies Powell acquired knowledge of Ancient Greek and Latin. Powell had a restless nature and a deep interest in the natural sciences. This desire to learn about natural sciences was against the wishes of his father, yet Powell was still determined to do so.  In 1860 when Powell was on a lecture tour he decided that the Civil War was inevitable; he decided to study military science and engineering to prepare himself for the imminent conflict.

During the Civil War, he served first with the 20th Illinois Volunteers. While stationed at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, he recruited an artillery company that became Battery “F” of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery with Powell as captain. On November 28, 1861, Powell took a brief leave to marry the former Emma Dean.  At the Battle of Shiloh, he lost most of his right arm when struck by a minie ball while in the process of giving the order to fire.  The raw nerve endings in his arm would continue to cause him pain for the rest of his life.  Despite the loss of an arm, he returned to the Army and was present at Champion HillBig Black River Bridge on the Big Black River and in the siege of Vicksburg. Always the geologist he took to studying rocks while in the trenches at Vicksburg.  He was made a major and commanded an artillery brigade with the 17th Army Corps during the Atlanta Campaign. After the fall of Atlanta he was transferred to George H. Thomas‘ army and participated in the battle of Nashville. At the end of the war he was made a brevet lieutenant colonel, but preferred to use the title of “Major.” In 1869, he set out to explore the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. Gathering nine men, four boats and food for 10 months, he set out from Green River, Wyoming, on May 24. They gathered at Green River, Wyoming because there was a railroad crossing the Green River which eventually flowed into the Colorado River.  Passing through dangerous rapids, the group passed down the Green River to its confluence with the Colorado River (then also known as the Grand River upriver from the junction), near present-day Moab, Utah, and completed the journey on August 30, 1869.  On 28 August 1869 however, the expedition was low on food (food supplies were lost along the way) and had already passed through some of the most challenging rapids in North America.  I can tell you that even with modern rafts and the Glen Canyon Dam the rapids of the Grand Canyon can be very challenging.  Near the lower end of the Grand Canyon, they heard the roar of giant rapids ahead.  Moving ashore for the night, they explored down river on foot only to discover rapids more daunting then any they had faced over the course of the last three months.  Powell noted in his diary,   “The billows are huge and I fear our boats could not ride them…There is discontent in the camp tonight and I fear some of the party will take to the mountains but hope not.”  Indeed three men did leave the camp, whether with the blessings of Powell or whether they stole away in the night is not known.  In any case, on August 28, 1869, Seneca Howland, O.G. Howland (brothers), and William H. Dunn began the long climb up out of the Grand Canyon. The remaining members of the party steeled themselves, climbed into boats, and pushed off into the wild rapids.  This was just two days before the group reached the mouth of the Virgin River on August 30, after traversing almost 930 mi. The latter three disappeared; some historians have speculated they were killed by the Shivwitz band of the Northern PaiuteIn 1881, Powell was appointed the second director of the U.S. Geological Survey, a post he held until his resignation in 1894, being replaced by Charles Walcott. He was also the director of the Bureau of Ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution until his death. Under his leadership, the Smithsonian published an influential classification of North American Indian languages.  John Wesley Powell: His Life and Legacy is a good read.


Surrender of Japan

We often think of the surrender of Japan at the end of WW II as immediately following and as a result of the detonation of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and later Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.  In reality it was a slower process due to many divisions with the Japanese leadership, an attempted military coup d’état and a first ever national radio broadcast by the Japanese Emperor.  Faced with the prospect of an invasion of the Home Islands, starting with Kyūshū, and the prospect of a Soviet invasion of Manchuria—Japan’s last source of natural resources—the War Journal of the Imperial Headquarters concluded:

We can no longer direct the war with any hope of success. The only course left is for Japan’s one hundred million people to sacrifice their lives by charging the enemy to make them lose the will to fight

As a final attempt to stop the Allied advances, the Japanese Imperial High Command planned an all-out defense of Kyūshū codenamed Operation Ketsugō.  This was to be a radical departure from the defense in depth plans used in the invasions of PeleliuIwo Jima, and Okinawa. Instead, everything was staked on the beachhead; more than 3,000 kamikazes would be sent to attack the amphibious transports before troops and cargo were disembarked on the beach.  If this did not drive the Allies away, they planned to send another 3,500 kamikazes along with 5,000 Shin’yō suicide boats and the remaining destroyers and submarines—”the last of the Navy’s operating fleet”—to the beach. If the Allies had fought through this and successfully landed on Kyūshū, only 3,000 planes would have been left to defend the remaining islands, although Kyūshū would be “defended to the last” regardless.  The strategy of making a last stand at Kyūshū was based on the assumption of continued Soviet neutrality.  A set of caves were excavated near Nagano on Honshu, the largest of the Japanese islands. In the event of invasion, these caves, the Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters, were to be used by the army to direct the war and to house the Emperor and his family.   The surrender of Imperial Japan was announced on August 15 but not formally signed until September 2, 1945, bringing the hostilities of World War II to a close. By the end of July 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) was incapable of conducting major operations and an Allied invasion of Japan was imminent. Together with the British Empire and China, the United States called for the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces in the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945—the alternative being “prompt and utter destruction”. While publicly stating their intent to fight on to the bitter end, Japan’s leaders (the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War, also known as the “Big Six”) were privately making entreaties to the still-neutral Soviet Union to mediate peace on terms more favorable to the Japanese. Meanwhile, the Soviets were preparing to attack Japanese forces in Manchuria and Korea (in addition to South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands) in fulfillment of promises they had secretly made to the United States and the United Kingdom at the Tehran and Yalta Conferences.  On August 6, 1945, at 8:15 AM local time, the United States detonated an atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Sixteen hours later, American President Harry S. Truman called again for Japan’s surrender, warning them to “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.” Late in the evening of August 8, 1945, in accordance with the Yalta agreements, but in violation of the Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, and soon after midnight on August 9, 1945, the Soviet Union invaded the Imperial Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. Later in the day, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb, this time on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Following these events, Emperor Hirohito intervened and ordered the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War to accept the terms the Allies had set down in the Potsdam Declaration for ending the war. After several more days of behind-the-scenes negotiations and a failed coup d’état, Emperor Hirohito gave a recorded radio address across the Empire on August 15. In the radio address, called the Jewel Voice Broadcast (玉音放送 Gyokuon-hōsō), he announced the surrender of Japan to the Allies.  Japanese officials left for Manila on August 19 to meet Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers Douglas MacArthur, and to be briefed on his plans for the occupation. On August 28, 150 US personnel flew to AtsugiKanagawa Prefecture, and the occupation of Japan began.

Potsdam Conference

They were followed by USS Missouri, whose accompanying vessels landed the 4th Marines on the southern coast of Kanagawa. Other Allied personnel followed.  MacArthur arrived in Tokyo on August 30, and immediately decreed several laws: No Allied personnel were to assault Japanese people. No Allied personnel were to eat the scarce Japanese food. Flying the Hinomaru or “Rising Sun” flag was severely restricted.  On August 28, the occupation of Japan by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers began. The surrender ceremony was held on September 2, aboard the United States Navy battleship USS Missouri, at which officials from the Japanese government signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, thereby ending the hostilities. Allied civilians and military personnel alike celebrated V-J Day, the end of the war; however, some isolated soldiers and personnel from Imperial Japan’s far-flung forces throughout Asia and the Pacific islands refused to surrender for months and years afterwards, some even refusing into the 1970s. The role of the atomic bombings in Japan’s unconditional surrender, and the ethics of the two attacks, is still debated. The state of war formally ended when the Treaty of San Francisco came into force on April 28, 1952. Four more years passed before Japan and the Soviet Union signed the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956, which formally brought an end to their state of war.



KAL 007

Korean Air Lines Flight 007 also known as KAL007 was a scheduled Korean Air Lines flight from New York City to Seoul via Anchorage, Alaska. On September 1, 1983, the South Korean airliner serving the flight was shot down by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor. (below center) The Boeing 747 airliner was en route from Anchorage to Seoul, but deviated from its original planned route and flew through Soviet prohibited airspace around the time of a U.S. aerial reconnaissance mission. The Soviet Air Defense Forces treated the unidentified aircraft as an intruding U.S. spy plane, and proceeded to destroy it with air-to-air missiles, after firing warning shots which were likely not seen by the KAL pilots.  The Korean airliner eventually crashed in the sea near Moneron Island west of Sakhalin in the Sea of Japan. All 269 passengers and crew aboard were killed, including Larry McDonald, a Representative from Georgia in the United States House of Representatives. The Soviets found the wreckage under the sea on September 15, and found the in-flight recorders in October, but this information was kept secret until 1993.  The Soviet Union initially denied knowledge of the incident, but later admitted shooting down the aircraft, claiming that it was on a MASINT spy mission.  The Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union said it was a deliberate provocation by the United States to test the Soviet Union’s military preparedness, or even to provoke a war. The White House accused the Soviet Union of obstructing search and rescue operations.  The Soviet Armed Forces suppressed evidence sought by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) investigation, such as the flight data recorders, which were released eight years later, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  The incident was one of the most tense moments of the Cold War and resulted in an escalation of anti-Soviet sentiment, particularly in the United States. The opposing points of view on the incident were never fully resolved; consequently, several groups continue to dispute official reports and offer alternative theories of the event. The subsequent release of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 transcripts and flight recorders by the Russian Federation has clarified some details.  As a result of the incident the United States altered tracking procedures for aircraft departing from Alaska. The interface of the autopilot used on airliners was redesigned to make it more ergonomic.  In addition, the event was one of the most important events that prompted the Reagan administration to allow worldwide access to the United States Global Positioning System (GPS).  After taking off from Anchorage, the flight was instructed by air traffic control (ATC) to turn to a heading of 220 degrees. Approximately 90 seconds later, ATC directed the flight to “proceed direct Bethel when able.”  Upon arriving over Bethel, Alaska, flight 007 entered the northernmost of five 50-mile wide airways, known as the NOPAC (North Pacific) routes, that bridge the Alaskan and Japanese coasts. KAL 007’s particular airway, R-20 (Romeo Two Zero), passes just 17.5 miles (28.2 km) from what was then Soviet airspace off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula.  The autopilot system used at the time had four basic control modes: HEADING, VOR/LOCILS, and INS. The HEADING mode maintained a constant magnetic course selected by the pilot. The VOR/LOC mode maintained the plane on a specific course, transmitted from a VOR (VHF omnidirectional range, a type of short-range radio signal transmitted from ground beacons) or Localizer (LOC) beacon selected by the pilot. The ILS (instrument landing system) mode caused the plane to track both vertical and lateral course beacons, which led to a specific runway selected by the pilot. The INS (inertial navigation system) mode maintained the plane on lateral course lines between selected flight plan waypoints programmed into the INS computer.  When the INS navigation systems were properly programmed with the filed flight plan waypoints, the pilot could turn the autopilot mode selector switch to the INS position and the plane would then automatically track the programmed INS course line, provided the plane was headed in the proper direction and within 7.5 nautical miles of that course line. If, however, the plane was more than 7.5 miles from the flight-planned course line when the pilot turned the autopilot mode selector from HEADING to INS, the plane would continue to track the heading selected in HEADING mode as long as the actual position of the plane was more than 7.5 miles from the programmed INS course line. The autopilot computer software commanded the INS mode to remain in the “armed” condition until the plane had moved to a position less than 7.5 miles from the desired course line. Once that happened, the INS mode would change from “armed” to “capture” and the plane would track the flight-planned course from then on.  The HEADING mode of the autopilot would normally be engaged sometime after takeoff to comply with vectors from ATC, and then after receiving appropriate ATC clearance, to guide the plane to intercept the desired INS course line.  The Anchorage VOR beacon was not operational because of maintenance.  The crew received a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) of this fact, which was not seen as a problem, as the captain could still check his position at the next VORTAC beacon at Bethel, 346 miles (557 km) away. The aircraft was required to maintain the assigned heading of 220 degrees, until it could receive the signals from Bethel, then it could fly direct to Bethel, as instructed by ATC, by centering the VOR “to” course deviation indicator (CDI) and then engaging the auto pilot in the VOR/LOC mode. Then, when over the Bethel beacon, the flight could start using INS mode to follow the waypoints that make up route Romeo-20 around the coast of the U.S.S.R. to Seoul. The INS mode was necessary for this route, since after Bethel the plane would be mostly out of range from VOR stations.  A simplified CIA map (left) showing divergence of planned and actual flight paths.  At about 10 minutes after take-off, KAL 007, flying on a heading of 245 degrees, began to deviate to the right (north) of its assigned route to Bethel, and continued to fly on this constant heading for the next five and a half hours.  International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) simulation and analysis of the flight data recorder determined that this deviation was probably caused by the aircraft’s autopilot system operating in HEADING mode, after the point that it should have been switched to the INS mode.  According to the ICAO, the autopilot was not operating in the INS mode either because the crew did not switch the autopilot to the INS mode (shortly after Cairn Mountain), or they did select the INS mode, but the computer did not transition from INERTIAL NAVIGATION ARMED to INS mode because the aircraft had already deviated off track by more than the 7.5 nautical miles tolerance permitted by the inertial navigation computer. Whatever the reason, the autopilot remained in the HEADING mode, and the problem was not detected by the crew.  At 28 minutes after takeoff, civilian radar at Kenai Peninsula on the eastern shore of Cook Inlet and with radar coverage 175 miles west of Anchorage, tracked KAL 007 5.6 miles north of where it should have been.  When KAL 007 did not reach Bethel at 50 minutes after takeoff, a military radar at King Salmon, Alaska, tracked KAL 007 at 12.6 nautical miles north of where it should have been. There is no evidence to indicate that civil air traffic controllers or military radar personnel at Elmendorf Air Force Base (who were in a position to receive the King Salmon radar output) were aware of KAL 007’s deviation in real-time, and therefore able to warn the aircraft. It had exceeded its expected maximum deviation sixfold, 2 nautical miles of error being the maximum expected drift from course if the inertial navigation system was activated.  KAL 007’s divergence prevented the aircraft from transmitting its position via shorter range very high frequency radio (VHF). It therefore requested KAL 015, also en route to Seoul, to relay reports to air traffic control on its behalf KAL 007 requested KAL 015 to relay its position three times. At 14:43 UTC, KAL 007 directly transmitted a change of estimated time of arrival for its next waypoint, NEEVA, to the international flight service station at Anchorage, but it did so over the longer range high frequency radio (HF) rather than VHF. HF transmissions are able to carry a longer distance than VHF, but are vulnerable to electromagnetic interference and static; VHF is clearer with less interference, and preferred by flight crews. The inability to establish direct radio communications to be able to transmit their position directly did not alert the pilots of KAL 007 of their ever-increasing divergence and was not considered unusual by air traffic controllers.  Halfway between Bethel and waypoint NABIE, KAL 007 passed through the southern portion of the North American Aerospace Defense Command buffer zone. This zone is north of Romeo 20 and off-limits to civilian aircraft.  Sometime after leaving American territorial waters, KAL Flight 007 crossed the International Date Line, where the local date shifted from August 31, 1983, to September 1, 1983.  KAL 007 continued its journey, ever increasing its deviation—60 nautical miles off course at waypoint NABIE, 100 nautical miles off course at waypoint NUKKS, and 160 nautical miles off course at waypoint NEEVA—until it reached the Kamchatka Peninsula.  Units of the Soviet Air Defence Forces that had been tracking the South Korean aircraft for more than an hour while it entered and left Soviet airspace now classified the aircraft as a military target when it reentered their airspace over Sakhalin.[9]After the protracted ground-controlled interception, the three Su-15 fighters (from nearby Dolinsk-Sokol airbase) and the MiG-23[38] (from Smirnykh Air Base) managed to make visual contact with the Boeing. The pilot of the lead Su-15 fighter fired warning shots, but recalled later in 1991, “I fired four bursts, more than 200 rounds. For all the good it did. After all, I was loaded with armor piercing shells, not incendiary shells. It’s doubtful whether anyone could see them.”  At this point, KAL 007 contacted Tokyo Area Control Center, requesting clearance to ascend to a higher flight level for reasons of fuel economy; the request was granted, so the Boeing started to climb, gradually slowing as it exchanged speed for altitude. The decrease in speed caused the pursuing fighter to overshoot the Boeing and was interpreted by the Soviet pilot as an evasive maneuver. The order to shoot KAL 007 down was given as it was about to leave Soviet airspace for the second time. At around 18:26 UTC, under pressure from General Kornukov, and ground controllers not to let the aircraft escape into international airspace, the lead fighter was able to move back into a position where it could fire two K-8 (NATO reporting name: AA-3 “Anab”) air-to-air missiles at the plane.  At the time of the attack, the plane had been cruising at an altitude of about 35,000 feet (11,000 m). Tapes recovered from the airliner’s cockpit voice recorder indicate that the crew were unaware that they were off course and violating Soviet airspace. Immediately after missile detonation, the airliner began a 113-second arc upward because of a damaged crossover cable between the left inboard and right outboard elevators.  The last cockpit voice recorder entry occurred at 18:27:46 while in this phase of the descent. At 18:28 UTC, the aircraft was reported turning to the north.  ICAO analysis concluded that the flight crew “retained limited control” of the aircraft.  Finally, the aircraft began to descend in spirals over Moneron Island before coming down 2.6 miles killing all 269 on board.  The aircraft was last seen visually by Osipovich, “somehow descending slowly” over Moneron Island. The aircraft disappeared off long range military radar at Wakkanai, Japan at a height of 1,000 feet.  KAL 007 was probably attacked in international airspace, with a 1993 Russian report listing the location of the missile firing outside its territory at 46°46′27″N 141°32′48″E, although the intercepting pilot stated otherwise in a subsequent interview. Initial reports that the airliner had been forced to land on Sakhalin were soon proven false.



USAF Ace in Vietnam

Captain (later Brigadier General) Richard Stephen Ritchie, United States Air Force, and Weapons System Officer Captain Charles Barbin DeBellevue, leading Buick flight with their McDonnell F-4D Phantom II, shot down a North Vietnamese MiG 21 interceptor. This was Ritchie’s fifth confirmed aerial combat victory, earning him the title of “ace.” [Chuck DeBellevue would later be credited with six kills.]  Following his graduation in 1964 from the United States Air Force Academy, Ritchie was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and completed flight training first in his class.  Ritchie volunteered for a second combat tour in 1972 and was assigned to the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force BaseThailand. Flying F-4 Phantom IIs with the famed 555th (“Triple Nickel”) Tactical Fighter Squadron he shot down his first Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 on 10 May 1972, scored a second victory on May 31, a third and fourth on July 8, and a fifth on August 28. All of the aircraft he shot down were MiG-21s, and all were shot down by the much-maligned AIM-7 Sparrow radar-guided air-to-air missile. Ritchie became the United States Air Force‘s first and only pilot ace of the Vietnam War.  An advantage that the Triple Nickel pilots had over other US aircrews was that eight of their F-4D Phantoms had the top secret APX-80 electronic set installed, known by its code-name Combat Tree.  Combat Tree could read the IFFsignals of the transponders built into the MiGs so that North Vietnamese GCI radar could discriminate its aircraft from that of the Americans. Displayed on a scope in the WSO’s cockpit, Combat Tree gave the Phantoms the ability to identify and locate MiGs when they were still beyond visual range.  The aircraft is on display at some second rate trade school in Colorado.  OK just kidding.







Just to throw in another F-4 Phantom story, 28 August commemorates the anniversary of Operation Sageburner.  Sageburner was developed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Naval Aviation in 1961.  Lieutenants Huntington Hardisty and Earl De Esch, United States Navy, flew a McDonnell F4H-1F Phantom II to a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Speed Record of 1,452.777 kilometers per hour (902.714 miles per hour) over a 3 kilometer (1.864 mile) course at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. They flew BELOW 125 feet above the ground.  Many Navy pilots will recall the film of the earlier record attempt when the pitch damper failed on F-4H-1F BuNo 145316 flown by Commander Jack L. Felsman, and Ensign Raymond M. Hite, Jr.  The Pilot Induced Oscillation (PIO) caused the aircraft to breakup in flight due to excessive G forces on the aircraft and both engines exit the aircraft in flight.  Both crewmembers were killed.  The world-record-setting airplane, McDonnell F4H-1F Phantom II, Bureau of Aeronautics Serial Number (Bu. No.) 145307, SAGEBURNER, is at the Paul Garber Restoration Facility of the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.


DC-10 First Flight

29 August 1970: The McDonnell Douglas prototype widebody airliner, DC-10-10, N10DC, made its first flight from Long Beach Airport to Edwards Air Force Base, California, where it underwent flight testing and F.A.A. certification.


The aircraft commander was the company Project Pilot, Clifford L. Stout, with Deputy Chief Engineering Pilot Harris C. Van Valkenburg as co-pilot. John D. Chamberlain was the flight engineer and the flight test engineer was Shojun Yukawa.  During the first flight the DC-10 reached 300 knots (345.2 miles per hour, 555.6 kilometers per hour) and 30,000 feet (9,144 meters). The primary purpose of this flight was to check the airliner’s basic flight characteristics, aircraft systems and the installed test equipment. The flight lasted 3 hours, 36 minutes.  During the test program, N10DC made 989 test flights, accumulating 1,551 flight hours. It was put into commercial service with American Airlines 12 August 1972, re-registered as N101AA.  In production from 1970 to 1988, a total of 386 DC-10s were built in passenger and freighter versions. 122 were the DC-10-10 variant. Another 60 KC-10A Extender air refueling tankers were built for the U.S. Air Force and 2 KDC-10 tankers for the Royal Netherlands Air Force.  The first McDonnell Douglas DC-10 was in service with American Airlines from 12 August 1972 to 15 November 1994 when it was placed in storage at Tulsa, Oklahoma. The 24-year-old airliner had accumulated 63,325 flight hours.  After three years in storage, the first DC-10 returned to service flying for Federal Express. In 1998 it was modernized as an MD-10 and re-registered again, this time as N530FE. It was finally retired from service and scrapped at Goodyear, Arizona in 2002.