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 December 13 through 17, 2017

 

Happy Hanukkah

We’re in the midst of Hanukkah, Festival of Lights.  I don’t know why there are so many spellings of Hanukkah, but Hanukkah is the Hebrew spelling.  Then there’s Tiberiankhanuká or another a transliteration also romanized as Chanukah or Ḥanukah).  But whatever the spelling, it is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.  The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, called a Hanukkah menorah (or hanukkiah). One branch is typically placed above or below the others and its candle is used to light the other eight candles. This unique candle is called the shamash (Hebrew: שמש‎, “attendant”). Each night, one additional candle is lit by the shamash until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the holiday.  Other Hanukkah festivities include playing dreidel and eating oil-based foods such as doughnuts and latkes. Since the 1970s, the worldwide Chabad Hasidic movement has initiated public menorah lightings in open public places in many countries.  The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees, which describe in detail the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the lighting of the menorah. These books are not part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) but both books are included in the Old Testament used by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.  When the Second Temple in Jerusalem was looted and services stopped, Judaism was outlawed. In 167 BCE, Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple. He banned brit milah (circumcision) and ordered pigs to be sacrificed at the altar of the temple.  Antiochus’s actions provoked a large-scale revoltMattathias (Mattityahu), a Jewish priest, and his five sons JochananSimeonEleazarJonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. It started with Mattathias killing first, a Jew who wanted to comply with Antiochus’s order to sacrifice to Zeus, and then a Greek official who was to enforce the government’s behest (1 Mac. 2, 24–25).  Judah became known as Yehuda HaMakabi (“Judah the Hammer”). By 166 BCE Mattathias had died, and Judah took his place as leader. By 165 BCE the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful. The Temple was liberated and rededicated. The festival of Hanukkah was instituted to celebrate this event.  Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the kohen gadol (high priest) was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. The story goes that one flask was found with only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah. An eight-day festival was declared by the Jewish sages to commemorate this miracle.  The version of the story in 1 Maccabees states that an eight-day celebration of songs and sacrifices was proclaimed upon re-dedication of the altar, and makes no specific mention of the miracle of the oil.  Spin a dreidel and enjoy some chocolate gelt and Happy Hanukkah.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 13 through 17, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 15th through 19th 2017

Friends of FOD

Sorry, I got a bit long-winded here.  And a bit late.  A lot going on over the period of time.

 

OBIGS Issue Getting A Lot of Attention

Navy Times is reporting, Navy pilots have reported 461 physiological episodes in F/A-18 fighter jets and T-45 trainer aircraft since May of 2010 — an average of more than one every six days, Navy officials say. Yet the source of the problem remains unclear despite years of study and the recent completion of a 30-day review led by Adm. Scott Swift, Commander of the Pacific Fleet (photo below left – a attack pilot).  He took over from Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. in a ceremony on May 27, 2015.  On Thursday, Adm. Bill Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, briefed reporters about additional safety measures coming as a result of the review that are designed to curb this bedeviling trend.  The Navy intends to immediately add a water separator in the T-45’s Onboard Oxygen Generation System, or OBOGS, a component common in high-performance jets but not found in the training aircraft. “Without a water separator in that system,”

170320-N-QI061-024
ATLANTIC OCEAN (March 20, 2017) A T-45C Goshawk training aircraft assigned to Carrier Training Wing (CTW) 1 approaches the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The ship is conducting aircraft carrier qualifications during the sustainment phase of the optimized fleet response plan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard/Released)

Moran said, “we believe that there’s a potential for water moisture to get in there and not provide effective, dry air.” A new mask configuration — there have been 300 new masks recently delivered to training centers — will continue to be implemented in the training aircraft as well. T-45 instructors are already using the redesigned masks, and the plan is to have flight-starved students begin using them soon.  “They’re out in the training command today,” Moran said. “Instructors are doing warm-up flights and using that mask before we put students in the airplane to make sure that they understanding procedures.” Recent efforts to address the problem have included installing redesigned OBOGS in 84 percent of in-service F/A-18s. The Navy fitted hyperbaric chambers aboard the carriers Bush, Vinson and Reagan for immediate treatment of aircrew. And some pilots have been provided watches that measure cabin altitude thresholds.

 

 

New Commanding Officer for USS Fitzgerald to be Named Soon

Seven American sailors are now accounted for after a Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, early Saturday local time, the Navy has said.  At approximately 0230 hrs local time on 17 June 2017, USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) was in a collision with your big old fat mama ACX Crystal, a container ship of 29,060 gross tons, roughly four times larger than Fitzgerald. The collision occurred about 50 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan. The collision damaged the starboard side of the ship and caused flooding in a machinery space and two crew berthing spaces. Seven American sailors were missing after the collision and several others were injured. Those seven US sailors have now been found in one of the flooded berthing compartments.  Two sailors were evacuated by helicopter along with the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson.  He was transferred to U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka and is reportedly in stable condition. A second MEDEVAC is in progress.  The executive officer assumed command as the destroyer returned to port with the assistance of tugs and the Japan Coast Guard.  Naval tradition requires the commanding officer to be relieved in such circumstances.  There is never, or hardly ever, a reason to accept a commanding officer of a war ship to have allowed his vessel to be involved in a collision at sea.  Proof the Law of Gross Tonnage Wins in a collision at sea.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 15th through 19th 2017”