FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 9th through 11th 2018

Saying of the Day

 

 

Navy To Receive More Super Hornets

The new DoD budget passed on 09 February 2018 includes a request for additional Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.  Navy Times is reporting a request in President Donald Trump’s new defense budget proposal could add 24 Super Hornets to the Navy’s air fleet and keep a Boeing plant in St. Louis alive, according to a report Thursday by Bloomberg News.  The defense budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 is expected to be formally released on Feb. 12. If confirmed, the request for more Super Hornets would be the largest addition since 2012 and would reverse the Obama administration’s decision to stop buying the aircraft.  The Trump administration has requested 14 Super Hornets, and House and Senate appropriators have proposed adding 10 more, according to Bloomberg. That total of 24 jets happens to be the key number needed to keep Boeing’s plant in St. Louis running.  The plant’s future was believed to be at risk after the Navy committed to adopting the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter to replace the F/A-18E/F Hornets.  The Hornets were originally set to retire by 2035, but the Navy was forced to reevaluate that date in 2015 due to persistent delays in the F-35’s development.  The F-35Cs are expected to reach initial operational capacity this year, but the Navy needs additional Hornets to fill its inventory shortage until more of the new jets are purchased.  The Navy has struggled recently with aviation readiness. As of last October, only one-third of the Navy’s Super Hornets were fully mission-capable and ready to flyThe Super Hornet fleet is scheduled to begin service life extension maintenance this year, and the Navy may take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade the Hornets to the more advanced Block III configuration. Fireball note: the upgraded to Block III is certainly warranted as this is the configuration we need moving forward to ensure fleet interoperability across varied carrier strike groups.)  The upgrades would give the Hornets conformal fuel tanks and add to stealth capabilities. Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 9th through 11th 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 1st through 7th 2018

Saying of the Day

I thought growing old would take longer

Friends of FOD

Running a bit late with this edition.  Actually I tried to publish last night, but the internet connection in my hotel was too slow to make it work, so I went to bed. Working on the ’31 Chevy is …. It’s almost like a job, but costs me instead of pays me.

 

How China Could Takeover Taiwan Without A Shot Fired

I’ve mentioned here in FOD how freedom of the seas and in particular the South China Sea is important not only to the Asian nations in the region, but for all nations who depend upon the free exchange of goods and services through those contested waters.  China’s ability to restrict trade to selective nations of their choice is a weapon as old as the sea.  Taiwan has long been a thorn in the side of China since the communist government has been in place.  And while Taiwan has military ties with Japan and the US there are likely limits established as to what we might do if China were to act militarily.  A few days ago Asian Times reported rumors have swirled on both sides of the Taiwan Strait since the beginning of last year that Chinese President Xi Jinping was mulling taking back the wayward, self-ruling island of Taiwan in one fell swoop amid growing militancy among the Chinese masses.  Some have gone so far as to suggest that by the early 2020s the two sides would be in a state of belligerence as Xi, unlike his predecessors, has no scruples against waging a full-blown war to recapture what Beijing considers a renegade province.  They say that the year 2022, the end of Xi’s second tenure as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China, would be the deadline for him to exert his unrestrained powers to redeem the glory of the Middle Kingdom, after Xi has made “China dream” and “great revitalization” the tag lines of his rule.  “Xi’s grand visions will become empty platitudes if he fails to take back Taiwan before his second term ends, and in that case his ‘China dream’ will become a pipe dream, and he is fully aware of that,” said one analyst.  No one will doubt that China’s Central Military Commission and the People’s Liberation Army have in place a host of all-encompassing combat plans of tactics and deployment to suit all war scenarios, as well as stratagems to deter or fend off intervention by the US or Japan.  The Chinese military must have been updating these plans from time to time to reflect changes in geopolitics and Taiwan’s own defenses, for Xi to choose from should he feel that the time is ripe for a once-and-for-all, momentous action to tame and reclaim the island.  Meanwhile, Beijing has also been on a spree of building or inaugurating aircraft carriers, missiles, corvettes, destroyers, amphibious battleships and stealth fighters, fueling further speculation over whether Taiwan stands a chance when Xi, armed with the will of the rank and file, is girding for a new Chinese civil war.  While many observers believe Xi is readying the military and the nation for a showdown, a bid that will decide how he will go down in history, veteran military commentator Andrei Chang noted in the Kanwa Defense Review that the PLA’s big guns and ships may be for show to make Washington and Tokyo think twice before stepping in, and a trigger doesn’t have to be pulled now that Xi has a slew of non-military options at his disposal.  The Hong Kong-based current-affairs monthly SuperMedia also reported that among the many diplomatic and economic means to subjugate the island is issuing Taiwan Special Administrative Region passports and granting hukou (Chinese household registration) and permanent residency to the 2 million Taiwanese already residing in mainland China.  Previous reports also suggest that the PLA’s first overseas base, which sits right on the Horn of Africa in Djibouti (and discussed here in FOD previously), is aimed at Taiwan, since the resource-scarce island relies substantially on the narrow waterway linking the Suez Canal and the Arabian Sea for oil imports from the Middle East as well as trade with Europe. From the Djibouti base PLA troops could intercept tankers ferrying oil to Taiwan and seal off the island’s trade artery in no time.  Beijing’s frenzied investment and acquisitions targeting stakes in mines, oilfields and energy firms in the Belt and Road countries could also jeopardize Taiwan’s economic security should Beijing decree an embargo of crude oil and other natural resources, according to Chang.  Something they have been unwilling to do when it comes to dealing with North Korea.  The raft of economic, trade, financial and logistical measures short of a shooting war to contain Taiwan won’t provide an opening for Washington to weight in, yet given time, they could work to coerce Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen into coming to terms with Xi and accepting whatever he has in store for a treaty to create a future Taiwan Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 1st through 7th 2018”

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

Saying of the Day

English is tough.  It can be understood through tough, thorough thought though.  Maybe I need another scotch in order to have a better saying of the day.  Try to work it into a discussion today.

 

There’s no baseball being played, but lots of baseball news

 

Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman Elected To Hall of Fame

VOTED IN: 3B Chipper Jones

Teams: Braves

Length of career: 19 years

Career stats: .303 BA, 468 HR, 1,623 RBI, 150 SB, 2,499 G, .455 OBP, .930 OPS

Career WAR: 85, via Baseball Reference

Ballot percentage:  92.2

Years on ballot: 1

What you should know: Real first name is Larry … got the nickname “Chipper” from being like his father, or a “chip off the old block” … 1995 World Series winner … 1999 NL MVP, 8-time All-Star … 2 Silver Sluggers …1995 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up … Braves retired his No. 10 … first pick of the 1990 draft … is the Braves’ all-time leader in hits and RBI … hit better than .300 from each side of the plate … Only switch-hitter with a career .300 BA and 400 or more home runs.

 

VOTED IN: OF Vladimir Guerrero

Teams: Expos, Angels, Rangers, Orioles

Length of career: 16 years

Career stats: .318 BA, 449 HR, 1,496 RBI, 181 SB, 2,147 G, .379 OBP, .931 OPS

Career WAR: 59.3, via Baseball Reference

Ballot percentage: 92.9

Years on ballot: 2

What you should know:  Appeared on 71.7 percent of ballots last year … 2004 AL MVP … nine-time All-Star … eight-time Silver Slugger winner … retired as the all-time leader in hits among players from the Dominican Republic, but was passed by Adrien Beltre in 2014 … helped Angels win five AL West titles … retired as an Angel when he signed a one-day contract with them … is the first Angels player in the Hall of Fame … six top-10 MVP vote finishes … has eight siblings … has eight children

 

VOTED IN: 1B/DH Jim Thome

Teams: Indians, Phillies, White Sox, Twins, Dodgers, Orioles

Length of career: 22 years

Career stats: .276 BA, 1,699 RBI, 612 HR, 2,543 AB, .402 OBP, .956 OPS

Career WAR: 72.9, via Baseball Reference

Percentage of ballots: 89.8

Years on ballot: 1

What you should know: Just the eighth player to hit 600 home runs … Five-time All-Star … 1 Silver Slugger … 2006 AL Comeback Player of the Year … 2002 Roberto Clemente Award … 2003 NL home run leader … Indians’ Hall of Fame … Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame … two Marvin Miller Man of the Year Awards … a Lou Gehrig Memorial Award … 19th all-time in OPS … 13th round pick in 1989 … two World Series appearances … signed a one-day contract to retire with the Indians in 2014 … has two kids.

 

A good class.

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

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 19th through 22 2018

FOD Staff Vote To Reopen But Only Temporarily

As many of you realize the entire FOD staff was forced to close down last Friday when staff members could not agree upon how to extend the existing budget (which was already a continuing resolution) with provisions that would established protection for FOD Dreamers.  FOD Dreamers are those individuals who have influenced members of the FOD staff to address the provisions of DACA and at the same time not make it appear they have caused a FOD shutdown.  This disagreement has tied two differing facets of how to manage the entire structure of FOD.  This has occurred at a time when productivity is on the rise nationwide and despite the fact FOD was shut down; the DJIA along with the other major indices actually increased.  Who saw that coming?  The need to provide for a stable budget (already months late) and simultaneously extend DACA are crucial to the debate at hand.  DACA (Dashingly Aged Carrier Aviators) provisions currently in place are due to expire in March and could affect FOD Dreamers.   As you will recall DACA was established to provide support for those carrier aviators who were curtailed from flying off aircraft carriers against their will by foolish and ill-conceived age restrictions.  Many depend upon the provisions of a stable budget and DACA to pay their bar bills.  Despite the fact many Dreamers, as they are called, have demonstrated leadership skills and accomplishments in other facets of their lives they strongly desire to be brought into the greater population of pub seat occupier’s nationwide.  It seemed like the appropriate time to link this and the continuing budget issues together.  However after three days of FOD being closed (which I might add found the entire FOD staff skiing in Idaho) a crucial vote was taken today that passes yet another continuing resolution for the budget and at the same time guarantees the issues of DACA will be first upon the agenda.  So while the FOD staff has other crucial issues that need to be addressed, i.e. what color to paint the ’31 Chevy, China’s continuing aggression in the South China Sea, where to watch the Super Bowl, and how likely are the North Koreans to hack our Bit Coin accounts, the FOD staff has agreed to take up DACA.  I don’t see any other parallels to these events in the world today.  Who knew this could happen?  In a related manner it was revealed Armed Forces Network, which was shuttered on Saturday after the announcement that FOD (and some other institutions) were closed down, but was partially restored for Sunday’s NFL games.  This despite the fact we can’t depend upon NFL players to respect the flag that defends their right to make a completely outrageous amount of money.  In a statement, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said department officials “determined the operational necessity of television and radio broadcasts constitutes them as essential activities.” As a result, two of AFN’s eight channels will remain broadcasting for now.  She did not comment of the two sides’ positions in the FOD staff disputes.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 19th through 22 2018”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 14th through 18th 2018

Saying of the Day

Id est quod id est.   It is what it is, but it sounds a lot smarter in Latin.

 

Five Officers Referred To An Article 32 Hearing

In an extremely rare event, the Navy has decided to charge five officers with negligent homicide for their roles in the two fatal ship collisions, the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) (being moved aboard MV Treasure below left) and the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62).  In the early morning hours of 17 June 2017, the USS Fitzgerald (also being moved below right) was involved in a collision with the container ship MV ACX Crystal, seriously damaging the destroyer. Seven of Fitzgerald‘s crew were killed. Several others were injured, including her commanding officer, Commander Bryce Benson. The John S. McCain was involved in a collision with the merchant ship Alnic MC on 21 August 2017 off the coast of Singapore, which resulted in the deaths of ten of her crew, and left another five injured. I don’t recall a case in recent Navy history where accident at sea has triggered such criminal charges.  Navy Times is reporting The Navy on Tuesday laid out the charges that would be presented at what is called an Article 32 hearing, which will determine whether the accused will go to trial in a court-martial. No doubt paving the way for the severe charges was the significant loss of life in the two collisions.  “What’s different here is the loss of life,” said Eugene Fidell, an expert in military law who teaches at Yale Law School. “The victims’ families are obviously devastated by this, the Navy obviously feels it has an obligation to them as well to its own standards.”  The Fireball guess would be the cases will end with plea bargains and the officers are more likely to be dismissed from the service, lose their retirement or receive other administrative punishments.  Again according to Navy Times, in one of the few relatively recent similar cases, two Marine officers were tried on charges of negligent homicide and manslaughter for piloting a small twin-engine military plane into a cable holding a gondola in Italy in 1998. The wing of the twin-engine Prowler was flying too low when it sliced through the cable, sending 20 civilians in the cable car plummeting to their deaths. The two officers were found not guilty of those charges, but were later found guilty of obstruction of justice for destroying a video taken during the flight.  (There were a number of issues in this case which certainly warranted dismissal of the charges).  Commanders involved in other ship collisions have largely avoided any type of homicide or manslaughter charges.  In the case of the Ehime Maru and USS Greeneville collision on 9 February 2001, Greenville (SSN-772) conducting an emergency main ballast tank blow off the coast of Oahu while hosting several civilian “distinguished visitors”, mainly donors to the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the Greeneville struck the 191-foot (58 m) Japanese fishery high school training ship Ehime Maru (えひめ丸), causing the fishing boat to sink in less than ten minutes with the death of nine crew members, including four high school students.  The commander of the Greeneville, Commander Scott Waddle, accepted full responsibility for the incident. However, after he faced a court of inquiry, it was decided a full court-martial would be unnecessary and Commander Waddle’s request to retire was approved for 1 October 2001 with an honorable discharge.  The Navy said Wednesday that preliminary hearings for the five officers charged in the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions will likely be held in the coming weeks in the Washington, D.C., region, but exact locations and dates are not set yet. The hearing officer will decide whether there is enough evidence for the cases will go to a trial by court-martial and what specific charges will be brought against the officers, based on that evidence.  The maximum punishment for negligent homicide is three years in prison and dismissal from the Navy. For a conviction on that charge, Fidell said, prosecutors must prove the officer was guilty of “simple negligence” that resulted in the deaths.  In addition to the negligent homicide charge, several officers are also facing charges of dereliction of duty and endangering a ship. The maximum punishment for the dereliction of duty charge is three months in jail, and the maximum punishment for endangering a vessel is two years in jail.  The Navy conducted a series of investigations and reviews into the two collisions, concluding that the accidents were the result of poor judgment, bad decision-making and widespread training and leadership failures by the commanders and crew who didn’t quickly recognize and respond to unfolding emergencies.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 14th through 18th 2018”