FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 31st through June 4th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Life always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow.

 

INDOPACOM Is The New US Pacific Command

In a move that has been coming for awhile, the US Pacific Command is being renamed.  Military Times reports Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced Wednesday that U.S. Pacific Command would now be called  U.S. Indo-Pacific Command , in the latest move to counter Chinese economic and military pressure in the region.  Mattis said he directed the name change in recognition that “all nations large and small are essential to the region, in order to sustain stability in ocean areas critical to global peace.”  Mattis made the remarks at the change of command ceremony in Pearl Harbor for incoming INDOPACOM Commander ADM Philip S. Davidson (USNA ’82).  “In recognition of the increasing connectivity of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, today we rename the U.S. Pacific Command to U.S.-Indo Pacific Command,” Mattis said.  While Mattis stressed that the change was not meant to be combative, it did signal America’s commitment to ensure that every country “no matter its size …. [is] not bound by any nation’s predatory economics or threat of coercion.”  However, outgoing commander of the former U.S. Pacific Command, Navy ADM Harry B. Harris Jr., was more direct in his assessment of China’s impact on the region.  “Great power competition is back,” Harris said. “I believe we are reaching an inflection point in history…. A geo-political competition between free and oppressive visions is taking place in the Indo-Pacific.”  INDOPACOM is a unified combatant command of the United States Armed Forces responsible for the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. It is the oldest and largest of the unified combatant commands. Its commander, the senior U.S. military officer in the Pacific, is responsible for military operations in an area which encompasses more than 100 million square miles (260,000,000 km2), or roughly 52 percent of the Earth’s surface, stretching from the waters off the west coast of the United States to the west coast of India, and from the Arctic to the Antarctic. The Commander reports to the President of the United States through the Secretary of Defense and is supported by Service component and subordinate unified commands, including U.S. Army PacificU.S. Pacific FleetU.S. Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Marine Forces PacificU.S. Forces JapanU.S. Forces KoreaSpecial Operations Command Korea, and Special Operations Command Pacific. USINDOPACOM also has two direct reporting units (DRUs) – U.S. Pacific Command Joint Intelligence Operations Center (JIOC) and the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DMHA) as well as a Standing Joint Task Force, Joint Interagency Task Force West (JIATF-W). The USINDOPACOM headquarters building, the Nimitz-MacArthur Pacific Command Center, is located on Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 31st through June 4th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 2nd through 7th 2018

Fireball Saying of the Day

In beer there is freedom, in wine there is health, in cognac there is power and in water there is bacteria.

 

Congrats On Your Retirement Taco

My congrats go out to Friend of FOD Taco who is retiring as the KC-46 Chief Test Pilot.  It was a good run my friend.  I can tell you there is a lot of fun to be had in retirement.  And congrats to another Friend of FOD Dobber who now takes over as the head of the KC-46 Flight Test Effort. All the best my friend!

 

New Possible Ship Deployment Schedule Ahead For Navy Ships

Defense News is reporting A typical carrier deployment from Norfolk goes like this: A tearful goodbye on the pier, a trip across the Atlantic, then one or maybe two port visits in Europe before heading through “The Ditch” and into U.S. Central Command territory. There you will stay for the bulk of the cruise before returning the way you came.  Those days might be coming to an end.  The Navy and Pentagon planners are already weighing whether to withhold the Truman Carrier Strike Group from deploying to U.S. Central Command, opting instead to hold the carrier in Europe as a check on Russia, breaking with more than 30 years of nearly continuous carrier presence in the Arabian Gulf. But even more fundamental changes could be in the works.  Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has made clear as the military’s top civilian that he has a very different vision for how the military will be used in the future. And recent comments have hinted at big changes on the horizon for the Navy and how it deploys.  In testimony last month, Mattis twice compared that kind of predictability to running a commercial shipping operation, and said the Navy needed to get away from being so easily anticipated.  “That’s a great way to run a shipping line,” Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee. “It’s no way to run a Navy.”  But as Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford drive towards new ways of employing the fleet, changing the way that fleet deploys will put pressure on its existing deployment model, forcing the Navy to rethink a structure that governs nearly everything it does — from manning and training to its maintenance cycles.  In an era of great-power competition with China and Russia, Mattis describes the Navy showing up where it’s not expected, making deployments less burdensome to the fleet and its families but more worrisome to a potential adversary.  “The way you do this is [to] ensure that preparation for great power competition drives not simply a rotational schedule that allows me to tell you, three years from now, which aircraft carrier will be where in the world,” he told House lawmakers. “When we send them out, it may be for a shorter deployment. There will be three carriers in the South China Sea today, and then, two weeks from now, there’s only one there, and two of them are in the Indian Ocean.  “They’ll be home at the end of a 90-day deployment. They will not have spent eight months at sea, and we are going to have a force more ready to surge and deal with the high-end warfare as a result, without breaking the families, the maintenance cycles — we’ll actually enhance the training time.”  Experts contend that what Mattis is describing, a concept he’s labeled as “Dynamic Force Employment,” would necessarily create tension with the Navy’s current deployment model known as the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP), an iteration of similar plans that have been in place since the Cold War.  Under the plan, introduced in 2014 by then-Fleet Forces Commander Adm. Bill Gortney, ships operate in a 36-month cycle that carves out 16 months for training and maintenance, a seven-month deployment and 13 months where the carrier and its escorts are to maintain a high level of readiness in case it needs to deploy again.  Around that model the Navy builds everything from when it brings in new recruits to boot camp to when an aircraft carrier needs to come out of its years-long reactor overhaul. It’s also a system that builds in a significant dip in readiness where, during maintenance phases, ships lose sailors with critical skills to other commands and shore duty assignments.  The dip in readiness is deliberate and informs both manning levels on the ship and the Navy’s overall end strength. Simply put, there are not enough trained sailors in the Navy to fill every job on every ship, and that’s all built into the plan.  The key to the whole plan working, however, is at least a degree of predictability. Shipyards need to know when they will have a ship and what the scope of the repair work will be so it can prepare in advance. School houses need to know when to convene classes. Commanding officers need to know that when they get ready for deployment, sailors with critical skills lost during a readiness dip will be replaced before the next cruise.  Predictability, however, is precisely what Mattis is trying to have less of in the face of a rising threat from Russia and China, said Bryan McGrath, a retired destroyer skipper and consultant with The FerryBridge Group.   “[OFRP] was designed to be predictable,” McGrath said. “From the outset it was touted for bringing predictability to the shipyards and to sailors and their families. Secretary Mattis, in the face of great power competition, seems to value those things less and I could not agree with him more.”  What Mattis seems to value is a system that would bank more readiness. Indeed, his National Defense Strategy says as much when it describes dynamic force employment.  “Dynamic Force Employment will prioritize maintaining the capacity and capabilities for major combat, while providing options for proactive and scalable employment of the Joint Force,” the strategy reads.  His suggestion of sending ships on more 90-day deployments would put less strain on ships’ mechanical and electronic systems and would likely make shipyard availabilities shorter.  But his example of putting three carriers in a place like the South China Sea, even for a couple of weeks, would eat an enormous amount of readiness under the current deployment model. Not only do you need to gather three fully manned and trained carriers with all their escort ships present, but three air wings full of tactical aircraft that have been struggling with their own readiness issues, as well.  “You can bank readiness by decreasing forward presence,” he said. “That is, if you have fewer forces forward deployed for the hell of it, you have more to push forward when you want them.  “In other words, its punishment rather than deterrence — you surge after the enemy has made its move. Whereas if you want to deter them — to convince the enemy that the success of their planned attack is dubious, you have to be there, and be there powerfully, and that means a carrier strike group forward.”  Another way to put three carriers forward in one place on a semi-regular basis is to use the sustainment period that is built into OFRP. But sending a carrier group back out during 13-month period after a deployment where the group is held at a high state of readiness undermines one of Mattis’s stated goals of trying to put less wear on the ships and ease the burden of eight-month deployments on families.  Double-pump deployments for surge carriers is precisely the kind of unpredictability and strain that has caused a mountain of maintenance problems for the Navy through the 2010s — problems that then reduce operational availability of ships that are stuck in the yards for repairs.  “The Navy has not done much with the sustainment phase in OFRP, but presumably that will be one of the go-to moves to create flexibility and unpredictability in the schedule,” McGrath said. “There will, of course, be costs: fuel costs, less time with families, etc.  “It remains to be seen the degree to which Mattis’ plans are doable within the current readiness model. My sense is the readiness model is somewhat brittle and additional requirements will put pressure on that model. The current OFRP was designed to create predictable, sustainable levels of readiness. SECDEF wants to be unpredictable. There is going to be tension.”  Another potential stumbling block for Mattis’ vision for a retooled deployment model is his desire for shorter deployments, specifically his 90-day deployment idea.  Clearly, shorter deployments would reduce the strain on the ships and their sailors and families. But at some point, basic geography would seem to get in the way of this idea, said Thomas Callender, a retired submarine officer and analyst at The Heritage Foundation.  “I think the Navy needs to look hard at the proposed 90-day carrier strike group deployments,” Callender said. “It takes about six months to train and certify a CSG, including the aircraft carrier, its escorts and the Carrier Air Wing for potential combat operations. It also takes about a week (minimum) to transit from Norfolk to the Mediterranean. That means you would only have approximately 2 months of presence in the Med. To transit to the Arabian Gulf from East Coast takes almost three weeks more.  “When you look at the West Coast CSGs transiting from San Diego or Washington, it takes close to a month to transit to the South China Sea. At first glance, I do not see how six months of training for a three month deployment is an efficient use of [the Navy’s Operations and Maintenance Funding] resources, or its platforms and personnel —especially with the high Combatant Commander demand for global CSG presence.”  Addressing COCOM demand for Navy forces, which has been unrelenting over the past few years, would have to factor into any plan that Mattis and Dunford and trying to cobble together.  Under the Goldwater Nichols Act of 1986, forces are assigned to the combatant commands by the secretary of defense, meaning if Mattis wants to change what COCOMs get and when they get it, he can do that. But COCOMs do have the authority to outline what they think they need based on the operational environment — to set the requirements.  It’s unlikely that COCOMs will be satisfied with a month of carrier presence here or three weeks there, if that’s what Mattis wants to give them under his authorities. But that might just be what Mattis is going after in the firsts place with dynamic force employment, said Dan Gouré, an analyst with the Arlington, Va.-based think tank The Lexington Institute.  “I think this is bigger than just the Navy and how it deploys, I think this is about clawing back power from the combatant commanders,” Gouré said. “We have been living in a COCOM-centric world. Because they generate the force requirements, they are the ones setting the terms.”  In order to adjust to global great power competition, Mattis sees a need to assert more control over who goes where and when, especially with a smaller force than the U.S. had during the Cold War, Gouré said.  “With great power competition and a limited force pool, the decision seems to be to have an operational capability that can be deployed when a crisis emerges,” he said. “The COCOMs are going to have to take their lumps on this one.  “It also raises the questions of what exactly are the real COCOM requirements? COCOMs are a black hole of requirements to the point where you run out the readiness string trying to fulfill them. But the assumption shouldn’t be that all requirements are equal. What’s critical?”

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day May 2nd through 7th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 16th through 21st 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Give a man a beer and he drinks for a day.  Teach a man to hang out with guys who brew beer and he has beer for a lifetime.  Thanks Friend of FOD Roger for a great FOD Saying of the Day suggestion.   This evolved from the famous fish saying:  Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he’ll buy a boat, poles, reels, waders, tackle, bad boat beer, and numerous ‘fish whisperer’ guides; all far surpassing the cost of buying fish from your local fish monger.  But – when you catch that fish – it’s all worth it.  This parable goes along with sell a man a streetrod and he has a car to show and be proud of.  Teach a man to build a streetrod and he’ll spend years and thousands of dollars trying to build a better one, or two or more of them.  What’s up with that?

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 16th through 21st 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 5th through 8th 2018

Bama Beats Georgia

In a great national championship college football game that saw an amazing group of freshmen players on both sides, Alabama beat Georgia 26-23 in overtime.  And Mayhem is back!  The New Year’s resolution of the kinder, gentler, Mayhem didn’t even last two weeks…..

 

US Suspends Security Assistance to Pakistan

The relationship between the US and Pakistan has long been a complicated one.  The protracted 17 year war in Afghanistan has made us strained allies in the war against terrorism.  Defense Times is reporting the decision by the U.S. to suspend security assistance to Pakistan could have serious consequences for the American-led fight in Afghanistan, and potentially further strengthen ties between Islamabad and China.  As you’ll recall China is spending big money in Pakistan to develop and build the new silk road.  Our need to encourage Pakistan to assist the US conflicts with the government of Pakistan’s generally reluctance to put pressure on the tribal forces in Afghanistan they identify with more closely than those of western cultures.  Then there was that whole deal of allowing Osama bin Laden to hind in and flourish in Pakistan.  And it’s important to note that as we withdraw our influence or in this case money from the region, China is there to fill the gap.  Spokesperson for the United States Department of State Heather Nauert announced new restrictions on Thursday that cover security assistance above and beyond the $255 million for Pakistani purchases of American military equipment that the administration held up in August, but it was not immediately clear how much money and materiel was being withheld.  Nauert made clear the $255 million was still blocked. The new action targets payments of so-called Coalition Support Funds that the U.S. pays to Pakistan to reimburse it for its counterterrorism operations. Those funds are typically paid later in the year, and already require U.S. certification, so the effect of Thursday’s announcement was unclear.  The move comes days after President Donald Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet that accused Pakistan of playing U.S. leaders for “fools,” as well as a growing number of voices from the administration that have complained Pakistan is not doing enough to combat militants targeting U.S. personnel in neighboring Afghanistan.  On Monday, Trump said the U.S. had “foolishly” given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid in the last 15 years and had gotten nothing in return but “lies & deceit.” He reiterated longstanding allegations that Pakistan gives “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”  The big question facing the American effort in Afghanistan now becomes whether Pakistan retaliates by shutting down the supply lines for materiel into Afghanistan, known as the Ground Lines of Communication, or GLOC.  Hours before the announcement,  United States Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis was asked if there were any signals from Pakistan that cutting the aid would result in the GLOC being closed, to which he responded, “We have had no indication of anything like that.”  But closing the GLOC remains a long-standing concern for the U.S. Those lines represent the cheapest way of getting supplies to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, something the Pentagon learned the hard way between Nov. 2011 and July 2012, when Pakistan shut the GLOC routes down following an incident where 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed by NATO forces along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.  Reporting in 2012 revealed that costs for getting needed supplies into Afghanistan went from $17 million a month to $104 million a month, a significant upcharge even by Pentagon budget standards. With significantly fewer troops in Afghanistan today than in 2012, the costs would not be quite so high, but could still hurt a Department of Defense that finds itself lacking budget stability.  Pakistan has for years tried to counterbalance its alliance with the U.S. with one from China, including with its military relationships. Industrially, Pakistan has agreed to work with China to produce a new submarine fleet as well as working together to develop what in Pakistan is known as the JF-17 jet fighter. In addition, China has developed the Azmat-class missile boat for Pakistan, which will carry Chinese-built weapons.  Notably, a Pentagon report from last June concluded that China will seek to develop a military base in Pakistan, which would represent only the second People’s Liberation Army military facility outside of China.  In an off-camera briefing with reporters on Friday, Mattis took a more conciliatory approach. He acknowledged Pakistan’s anti-terrorism efforts and emphasized that aid would be restored if the U.S. sees evidence of renewed effort by Pakistan.  So I’d say Pakistan has some choices to make.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 5th through 8th 2018”

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”