FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 12th through 15th 2018

Saying of the Day

You matter… Unless you multiply yourself by the speed of light … then you’re energy.

 

China Thinks US Is Insecure Regarding China

One of the missions of the US Navy is to keep lines of communication and transportation open throughout the world for all the world’s nations and economies.  It’s much easier to break or interfere with those lines of communication and transportation than it is to maintain them.  I saw this in Asia TimesThe United States has a sense of insecurity that is “beyond comprehension”, according to China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. He made that remark on Wednesday while refuting claims by the US National Intelligence director that the US faces multiple threats from China.  “I don’t know why the United States has such a strong sense of insecurity,” Geng said at a press conference. He said there was “no such thing as absolute security” and one country’s security could not be achieved at the expense of others.  Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday February 13 that the US is confronted with multiple threats by countries like Russia and China – cyber-threats, espionage, and weaponization of outer space.  He said Russia, China, Iran and North Korea posed the greatest global cyber-threats.  “Frankly, the United States is under attack,” said Coats (below left).  Coats noted that US adversaries and “malign actors”, including Russia and China, would use several tactics, including cyber and information warfare to challenge US influence around the world. But Coats devoted most of his remarks at the hearing to Moscow’s meddling in US elections.  The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, in response, urged the US to discard its confrontational, zero-sum-game mindset and make concerted efforts with China, Russia and other members of the international community to “correspond with the trend of the times.”  Global conflict was higher than at any time since the end of the Cold War.  “The US is the No.1 major power in the world with unparalleled military might. If it constantly thinks that it’s threatened hither and thither, what would other countries feel? How could they even survive in that case?” Geng retorted.  Concerns about China in regard to security, however, have gained steam. FBI Director Christopher Wray also told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that Beijing has been aggressively planting spies on US campuses.  And last week, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida wrote to five Florida institutions and asked them to shut down joint programs with China’s Confucius Institute, a Beijing-funded exchange scheme to set up centers overseas to promote Mandarin and Chinese culture. The centers have come into a media glare in recent years amid suspicions of espionage and an erosion of academic freedom in host countries in the West.  So do we need to be concerned regarding threats from China.  You’re damn right we do!

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 12th through 15th 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 3rd through 7th 2017

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Invest in People and Not Just Platforms

As the US Naval investigations of the two broadside collisions with much slower commercial vessels, resulting in the death of 17 sailors, Congressional inquirers are also ramping up.   Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., (below left) the chairman of the House Armed Services’ Sea Power and Projection Forces Subcommittee,

traveled to Japan to visit the fleet and speak with Navy leaders and sailors about what Congress can do to help get the service back on track. This subcommittee was scheduled to conduct hearings on September 7th looking at Navy readiness and what it calls “underlying problems associated with the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain.”  Questions will be asked as to whether the Navy is stretched with more demands to patrol not only the Asia-Pacific region but to provide security for the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf as well as European-Atlantic areas.  “They’re having to do more with less,” said Seth Cropsey, a former deputy undersecretary of the Navy in the Reagan and Bush administrations and now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Since the Cold War, he said, “the fleet size has been decreasing the whole time while commitments have been increasing.”  And while new technology may be helpful, these are basic seamanship issues.  Some basic questions need to be addressed: do we have enough people aboard our ships?  Are they receiving adequate training?  Are they operating as they were trained?  Are our ships being maintained in a manner as to be fully ready for any encounter?  We know our aircraft maintenance programs lack the time and funding to improve readiness and it’s well known the nation’s shipyards are overworked and struggling to get ships through maintenance cycles.  How can we move forward with additional investment in ships and planes when we can’t take care of the one’s we have?  And the same can be said for our sailors who have been asked repeatedly to do more with less.  There are limits.  Have we reached them?  The more advanced the technology introduced into the fleet and into the hands of potential adversaries, the greater the demand on the men and women in the Navy.  Not only must they be able to operate more advanced systems, they also must not forget how to operate without them.  The ancient art of celestial navigation is just one of the most obvious ways the Navy has sought to ensure operational integrity regardless of how well technology is working.  When you drive a car these days, it is easy to become reliant on a screen shot provided by a camera, but that doesn’t mean you should not also glance in the rearview mirror or look out the window. The same principle applies to the high-tech U.S. Navy.  The service needs to maintain a high level of technical proficiency while retaining the ability to operate in a potential environment of technical denial.  We need to invest in our people and not just our platforms.  That’s the Fireball opinion for the day.  Comments?

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 3rd through 7th 2017”

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.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 28 through 31, 2017”