FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 18th through 21st 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Everyone is the son of his own works. – Cervantes

FOD Trivia Question

In 1851, what did Elias Howe, Walter Hunt and Isaac Merritt Singer all invent simultaneously, each in a different part to the US?

Previous FOD Trivia Answer

From what country do Brazil nuts usually come from?  Answer – Bolivia


Russia’s Strategy, ISIS’ Future And Countering China

General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stays out of the limelight.  His views are insightful and reflect a sound understanding of the present world situation.  Breaking Defense is reporting Gen. Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Staff, spoke last week with a small group of traveling reporters after attending a conference of NATO Military Chiefs in Warsaw, including Breaking Defense contributor James Kitfield. Dunford described Russia’s strategy for pulling NATO apart and reiterated that Moscow poses the single greatest global threat to the UnIted States. Edited excerpts of that interview follow.

Q: How would you describe Moscow’s strategy?

Dunford: Russia has studied the United States since 1991 [at the end of the Cold War], and they know that the source of our strategic strength is the network of allies and partners that we have built over 70 years, and that operationally our strength is the ability to project military power. So I think Russia’s strategy is pretty simple: They want to undermine the credibility of the United States in terms of meeting its alliance commitments, and thus erode the cohesion of the NATO alliance. They also want to field capabilities to challenge our ability to project power into Europe. That’s why they’ve taken this small slice of land in Kaliningrad [on the Baltic Sea] and deployed anti-ship cruise missiles, anti-ship ballistic missiles, and air defense systems there. It’s an anti-access, aerial denial strategy aimed at challenging the Euro-Atlantic link.

Q: Since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and military intervention in eastern Ukraine, NATO launched the European Deterrence Initiative; deployed four “Battle Groups” to frontline states in the Baltics and Poland; announced two new commands for reinforcing NATO forces in the event of an actual conflict; and adopted in principle Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ readiness goal of having 30 battalions, 30 warships, and 30 squadrons of aircraft ready to deploy in 30 days. Is it fair to say that NATO has awakened from its post-Cold War slumber?

Dunford: I will tell you that [last week’s Military Chiefs] meeting was one of the most productive ever for this reason: three years ago there was not the appreciation we see today of the challenge posed by Russia and the threat of violent extremism. As a military leader it’s very easy now because we don’t have to debate those threats any more. We now have a very clear mandate to adapt NATO’s to confront those challenges. NATO is first and foremost about deterrence, and collective defense in the event that deterrence fails. All of our activities – our exercises, our training, and changes in our force posture – are designed to send a message, especially to Russia, that NATO has effective deterrence and collective defense capabilities.

Q: Do you see similarities between Russia’s actions in the Baltic Sea and China’s aggressive posture in the South China Sea, where Beijing is building artificial islands, militarizing them, and then claiming zones of exclusive sovereignty?

Dunford: There are clear similarities, because what Russia is trying to do vis-à-vis our allies and ability to project power, China is also trying to do. China is a rising power in the Pacific, and they have a fundamentally different form of government and some protectionist economic policies that have created friction in our relationship. I would broaden it even beyond the South China Sea, and tell you we’re seeing an erosion in the rules-based international order in the region. Along with our Pacific partners we share a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific based on international rules, norms and standards.

Q: How do you enforce those rules and norms in light of China’s actions?

Dunford: The military dimension is Freedom of Navigation operations that we conduct, along with 22 other nations. These are normal activities designed to demonstrate that the United States [military] will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows. We’re not going to allow illicit claims to become de factoreality. That’s what (FON operations) are all about. Having said that, if you look at the stakes involved for both the United States and China, that argues for these issues being dealt with peacefully. There is absolutely no upside for either country in a major conflict.

Q: You mentioned the terrorism threat earlier. Do you believe the ISIS’ [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] caliphate is all but defeated?

Dunford: If you look at the terrain they hold, the resources they command and the media capabilities they have today versus two years ago, it’s fair to say that ISIS is on their heels a bit. It’s also fair to say that we have had other extremist groups at this same stage, only to see them adapt and find other ways to try and advance their agendas. So we know the job is not completed yet.

Q: What is the next stage in the fight?

Dunford: I think ISIS will start to organize itself into a guerilla insurgency, rather than a more conventional force that tried to hold ground. They’ll look for opportunities to launch high-profile attacks, but probably focused more locally, because the pressure ISIS has been under over the last two years has disrupted its ability to conduct external operations. It’s just hard for its fighters to move around right now. In the meantime, the greatest challenge we face today is probably from individuals and homegrown violent extremists who are inspired by ISIS’ ideology.

Q: How important was it that Congress passed a bipartisan, $674 billion defense spending bill on time, without a continuing resolution or sequester caps kicking in?

Dunford: That was the first time that has happened in my 41-year career! (laughs) I think that reflects a commitment from the executive and legislative branches to give us the wherewithal to do our job. Now that we have a sufficient level of funding, my message to our legislative leadership is that the most important thing going forward is a sustained level of funding. Because it took us years to get into this fix where we couldn’t spend money efficiently, or be good stewards of our budget, because we lurched from year to year with fluctuating levels of spending. That didn’t allow us to be effective partners with the defense industry, for instance, because they need predictability in order to deliver [equipment and materiel] on time and at projected cost. No matter how big the defense budget is, every year we have to make choices. And we can make much better choices and prioritize better if we’re looking ahead three-to-five years informed by predictable funding levels.”

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 18th through 21st 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 5th through 7th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty six different kinds of cheese?  – Charles de Gaulle 

FOD Trivia Question – It’s A Science Question

A molecule of linked amino acids is a _________________.

Previous FOD Trivia Answer

What vaccine was developed in 1955 while Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States?  Hint – It’s been covered in FOD  Answer:  The Polio Vaccine also known as the Salk Vaccine


Leadership of Fear

Air Force Times is reporting Col. David Owens was fired from command of the 317th Airlift Wing at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas after an investigation outlined a repeated pattern of berating and ridiculing airmen under his command and toxic leadershipA commander-directed investigation, dated April 4 and obtained by Air Force Times through the Freedom of Information Act, found that at times, Owens’ anger and intimidation of his airmen rose to the level of inflicting “psychological abuse that degraded or insulted members of his command.”  The investigation also substantiated allegations that Owens had “failed to establish and maintain a healthy command climate” at the 317th by “displaying unreasonable anger of physical aggression … upon receiving unexpected or unwelcome news from subordinates” and “regularly subjecting … commanders and senior enlisted personnel to public ridicule at weekly leadership meetings for perceived shortcomings or failures to perform.”  Owens once even “became visibly angry” after birds defecated on his personal vehicle, the report said.  (Fireball note:  Well that’s totally understandable.)  In a related story President Trump is considering firing U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson after the midterm elections due to her perceived slow-rolling of his order to create a separate Space Force, according to a report from Foreign Policy.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense May 17, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank)

In an article posted online Thursday afternoon, Foreign Policy reported that Trump and Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan are “angered … with what is seen as a campaign to undermine the Space Force effort” by Wilson. Citing three unnamed sources, Foreign Policy reported that Trump has not made a final decision on firing Wilson, but that potential replacements, including Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., are being considered.  When asked to comment by Air Force Times, the service referred any questions to the White House.  Wilson was previously a critic of proposals to create a sixth separate branch of the military to handle space operations, and told Congress that taking space operations out of the Air Force would jeopardize its efforts to integrate space with other war-fighting operations.  But at the Defense News Conference last month, Wilson said she was in “complete alignment” with Trump’s order to create a Space Force.  “If we’re going to do this, let’s propose to do it right,” Wilson said. “Let’s have this debate, support the president’s proposal and put it forward — and make sure that we don’t do this with half measures.”  Wilson incurred Trump’s wrath this summer, when the White House deemed the Air Force’s first draft of a plan to stand up a Space Force inadequate and rejected it.  In a Sept. 14 memo signed by Wilson, the Air Force estimated that creating a Space Force would cost $13 billion over five years. Some experts, such as Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that estimate was grossly inflated. (Fireball note:  This is the Air Force.  They will want to build a golf course and then consider a Space Command, but likely this is a conservative estimate.)  Harrison suggested the Air Force’s estimate may be an effort to “sabotage the idea by making it seem much broader and more expensive than it really would be.”  But skeptical lawmakers, including such Republicans as Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, felt the projected price tag reinforced their concern that creating a new Space Force would be an expensive, unnecessary boondoggle.  And then there is the current Attorney General of the UnitedStates Jeff Sessions.  Does anyone see a common thread?






Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 5th through 7th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 2nd through 4th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

(Prince Feisal to Lawrence after Lawrence of Arabia has taken Damascus with his Arab army)  There’s nothing further here for a warrior.  We drive bargains.  Old men’s work.  Young men make wars, and the virtues of war are the virtues of young men.  Courage and hope for the future.  Then old men make the peace.  And the vices of peace are the vices of old men.  Mistrust and caution.  It must be so.  – Prince Feisal


FOD Trivia Question

What vaccine was developed in 1955 while Dwight D. Eisenhower was President of the United States?  Hint – It’s been covered in FOD


Previous FOD Trivia Answer

As we gaze at the stars on a clear night, they seem to flash or twinkle.  What causes this? Answer: Uneven heat distribution in the Earth’s atmosphere.


Yankees, With A Convincing Wild Card Win Advance to Face Red Sox

There will be more historical Yankees – Red Sox games this season.  Wild Card games are exciting in that they are a winner take all.  It doesn’t seem quite far that your entire season comes down to one game, but that’s the current format.  I’m not in favor of more games that go on to dilute the overall play however.  Of course it’s much easier to accept the current situation when your team wins. This party started early on.  Aaron Judge staked starter Luis Severino to an early lead, belting a two-run home run on a rope to left field off of Athletics “opener” Liam Hendriks. Lou Trevino handled the next three innings for the A’s and pitched admirably, holding the Yankees scoreless. Shawn Kelley did likewise in the fifth.  In the sixth, the Yankees opened the floodgates. Facing veteran Fernando Rodney to open the frame, Aarons Judge and Hicks each doubled to plate a run. Rodney then uncorked a wild pitch while facing Giancarlo Stanton, allowing Hicks to move to third base. That prompted manager Bob Melvin to bring in Blake Treinen. Treinen finished off the at-bat by walking Stanton, who then stole second base. Treinen served up a two-run triple to Luke Voit (his first MLB triple), making the score 5-0. Voit was promptly brought home on a sacrifice fly by Didi Gregorius.  Severino wound up going four scoreless innings for the Yankees, yielding a pair of hits and four walks while striking out seven on 87 pitches. Dellin Betances pitched immaculately, facing the minimum over two innings with three strikeouts. He was great tonight.  David Robertson worked a scoreless seventh. Zach Britton allowed the A’s to get on the board in the eighth, serving up a two-run home run to the opposite field to Khris Davis. Giancarlo Stanton immediately got back one of those runs for the Yankees, smashing a solo home run down the left field line in the bottom of the eighth off of Treinen to make it 7-2.  Aroldis Chapman took over in the top of the ninth, tasked with protecting a five-run lead. He gave up a leadoff single to Marcus Semien, but rebounded to strike out Jonathan Lucroy and Mark Canha before getting Matt Chapman to ground out to end the game.  It’s a sad end for the A’s, who won 97 games during the regular season and are now out after losing one postseason game. Well not that sad.  One wonders what might have been in store for them had they been in the AL Central rather than the AL West. Meanwhile, the 100-win Yankees will gear up for a match-up with the 108-win Red Sox. It will be the first postseason meeting between the Yankees and Red Sox since the 2004 ALCS.  As usual the post game interview with Aaron Judge congratulated the A’s on their season, acknowledged the historic season of the Red Sox, pointed out the great play of his teammates and now it’s on to Boston.


Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day October 2nd through 4th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 28th through October 1st 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

Liberty is not merely a privilege to be conferred; it is a habit to be acquired.  – Lloyd George 

FOD Trivia Question

As we gaze at the stars on a clear night, they seem to flash or twinkle.  What causes this?

Previous FOD Trivia Answer

What force propels a car forward or stops it? Answer:  Friction 


North Korea Says It Won’t Disarm First

In a continuation of what has been the playbook of North Korea for decades, North Korea has now declared they won’t disarm without sanctions relief.  North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told the United Nations on Saturday that continued sanctions on Pyongyang were deepening its mistrust in the United States.  “Without any trust in the U.S. there will be no confidence in our national security and under such circumstances there is no way we will unilaterally disarm ourselves first,” Ri told the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.  The comments come as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prepares to travel to Pyongyang next month for his fourth trip to North Korea, his third as secretary of state. Discussions of a second summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are already underway.  China and Russia have said the U.N. Security Council should reward Pyongyang for steps taken after U.S. Trump and Kim met in June and Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization.  (Fireball note:  Reward?  What has North Korea done to demonstrate it intends to follow through with a denuclearization plan?  This is all a ploy by China and Russia to prop up the North Korean government and make this family business state a better/stronger buffer zone between China and South Korea.)  “The perception that sanctions can bring us on our knees is a pipe-dream of the people who are ignorant about us. But the problem is that the continued sanctions are deepening our mistrust,” Ri said.  However, Pompeo told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday: “Enforcement of Security Council sanctions must continue vigorously and without fail until we realize the fully, final, verified denuclearization.” Ri noted that North Korea had taken “significant good-will measures such as stopping nuclear and ICBM tests, dismantling the nuclear test site in a transparent manner and affirming not to transfer nuclear weapons and nuclear technology under any circumstances.”  “However, we do not see any corresponding response from the U.S.,” he added.  Pyongyang has also made clear that they are looking for a formal declaration to the end of the Korean War. The U.S. has not ruled it out.  “It’s hard to know. I don’t want to prejudge precisely where we’ll end up,” Pompeo said this week when pressed on the possibility as a next step. “But make no mistake about it, there is real progress being made.”  The Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  It should also be noted China and Russia have violated those sanction agreements and is providing North Korea with the means to continue to persecute their population while supporting the present regime. The President continues to defend his position and defend his work to settle a nuclear deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he has given up nothing but his time during a June summit yet stands on the cusp of denuclearizing the North.  In a wide-ranging news conference on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump told reporters that despite tough U.S. sanctions against the North staying in place, he believes that Kim wants to get a deal done because of their close ties.  “We have a very good relationship. He likes me, I like him, we get along,” Trump said. “He wants to make a deal and I’d like to make a deal.”  (Fireball note: Obviously, the President has taken in little or none of the information provided him by US intelligence organizations.  Why would any US president say, “He likes me, I like him, we get along,” when speaking of one of the most vicious dictators in world history?)  Trump’s optimistic comments come amid widespread skepticism that Kim will actually relinquish an arsenal that Pyongyang likely sees as the only way to guarantee the Kim dynasty’s continued authoritarian rule.  Although Trump maintained that he’d given up nothing in his dealings with Kim, he has faced criticism for his decision during the Singapore summit to scrap annual U.S. military drills with ally South Korea. Critics called it a concession for the North, (Fireball note: and more importantly to China) which has long railed against the drills as invasion preparation and proof of U.S. hostility.  Trump said Wednesday that he’d long wanted to stop the drills, which had always been portrayed by the allies as defensive in nature, because of their high cost and said he could restart them if needed. “For the taxpayer, we’re saving a fortune,” Trump said.  (Fireball note:  YGTBSM)

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 28th through October 1st 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 23rd through 27th 2018

FOD Saying of the Day

It is better to deserve honors and not have them, then to have them and not deserve them. – Mark Twain


FOD Trivia Question

What force propels a car forward or stops it?


Previous FOD Trivia Answer

The infamous carnivorous Venus Fly Trap is obliged to devour insects because the surrounding soil is deficient in this chemical.  Answer: Nitrogen


House Finalizes FY’19 DoD Spending Legislation and Trump Drops Threat of Government Shutdown

Military Times is reporting House lawmakers on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a $674 billion defense appropriations measure that President Donald Trump has promised to sign, ending any last-minute drama about a possible government shutdown.  Late last week, Trump took to social media to blast “this ridiculous Spending Bill” for including too much non-military money and no funds for his planned wall along the border with Mexico.  But on Wednesday, Trump promised that “we’re going to keep the government open.” With the House’s 361-61 vote to finalize the deal, the president has until Sunday night to sign the measure and avoid any disruption in government funding.  Earlier in the day, House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the bill — which also includes full-year funding for the departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Labor — as a plan that “does a lot of the things that we all want to accomplish together.”  House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called the legislation an unquestioned win for the administration and the country.  “It will be a major achievement for the military,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I think he understands the achievement of getting a big majority of discretionary money in place before the beginning of the fiscal year.  “I want his signature on the dotted line. With that, for the first time in nine years, the managers at every level of the (Defense) Department will be able to do their job without the ridiculous constraints imposed by continuing resolutions.”  Congress hasn’t finalized the new fiscal year defense budget before the start of the new fiscal year in 10 years. Instead, as lawmakers have debated spending levels, military operations have been funded for multiple months each year through extensions of the previous year budget, a process that Thornberry called harmful to national defense.  “We tend to forget that under a (continuing resolution), you’ve got to spend money on the same things this year that you did last year, whether you need it or not,” he said. “You can have no new starts. All these restrictions.  “This is a chance to finally break out of that, at a time when the world is moving fast and technology is moving just as fast.”  The defense appropriations bill has more than $606 billion in base defense spending and nearly $68 billion more in overseas contingency funds, in line with White House requests and spending targets outlined in the annual defense authorization bill approved earlier this summer.  The measure funds a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops starting next January and a boost in military end strength of 16,400 spread across the active-duty and reserve forces.  Operation and maintenance spending totals $243.2 billion of the defense total, and research and development efforts another $96.1 billion. Defense health and military family programs would receive $34.4 billion.  House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, touted the bill’s investments in air superiority, shipbuilding and ground forces at a press conference beside Ryan, saying, “it all adds up to a pat on the back and money for our military.”  “The most important thing is this is the first time in ten years we’ve gotten a defense bill done on time,” she said. “Working with (Defense) Secretary (Jim) Mattis, he said the money’s important but getting it to us on time, when we have the time to plan and to build is the most important thing.”  Beyond the 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters authorized by the 2019 defense policy bill, the spending bill added another 16 for a total of 93. The decision comes as the Pentagon is expected to decide next month whether to move the aircraft into full-rate production.  The Navy’s shipbuilding account got a $2.2 billion boost over the $21.9 billion it asked for, including a 33rd, 34th and 35th littoral combat ship, three more than the 32-ship requirement set by the Navy.  Amphibs also fared especially well, driven both by Congress’ desire to push the Navy to a 355-ship fleet as fast as possible and by the evolving role played by amphibious ships in the Navy’s strategic thinking.  Army weapons and munitions technology development would get a big cash injection, with a $343 million boost over the Army’s $40.44 million request for research, development, technology and evaluation dollars for weapons and munitions technology.  Combined with a minibus of Veterans Affairs and military construction spending finalized earlier this month, nearly 90 percent of the federal government’s spending bills will be in place by the start of fiscal 2019, which is Oct. 1.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 23rd through 27th 2018”