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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?
Friends of FOD – How did you observe the solar eclipse? All the best photos are on the internet, but I enjoyed seeing the solar eclipse in Boise, ID, thanks to Friends of FOD Roger and Glorie. Thanks to both of you! And I also got to do some fishing on the Boise River. Notice I said fishing and not catching. But a good time was had by all. Good stories appreciated.
Another Collision At Sea
USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) an Arleigh Burke-classdestroyer (below left) suffered “significant damage” to the hull after it was involved in a collision at sea with the Liberian-flaggedAlnic MC (below right) off the coast of Malaysia east of the Strait of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing and five were injured following the collision, which happened at 5:24 a.m. Singapore time (5:24 p.m. ET Sunday), according to the Navy’s latest update issued around nine-and-a-half hours later. And the search continues as of August 21st. After the collision the ship, which sustained damage to her port side aft, was able to return to port under her own power. According to United States Navy press release, the breach “resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms. Initial casualty reports indicate ten sailors missing and five sailors injured. Admiral John M. Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations (below left) has ordered an “operational pause” or safety stand down for a day to “include,
but not be limited to, looking at operational tempo, trends in personnel, materiel, maintenance and equipment.”
The Strait of Malacca is one of the most heavily transited bodies of water in the world, with more than 80,000 vessels moving through it annually, roughly one third of all oceanic transits. US Naval vessels usually have their best bridge team on duty for the transit. I noted in the 11 through 15 August edition of FOD that a military band is standard for that all important change of command. I would venture to say the yet unannounced, change of command for the McCain and perhaps even Commander of Destroyer Squadron 15 will not need a band. As you’ll recall, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) was involved in the June 17 with the Philippine-flagged merchant ship ACX Crystal, a container ship, off the coast of Japan resulted in the death of seven sailors. Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief have been relieved of their duties aboard Fitzgerald. I’m thinking the commanding officer of Destroyer Squadron 15, CAPT Jeffrey A. Bennett II might be looking for another job.
Strategic & Policy Forum and Manufacturing Council Disbanded
“You CEOs on my Strategic & Policy Forum and my Manufacturing Council who think you can quit; you can’t quit; you’re fired.” “And you’re all a bunch of grandstanders.” CEOs began announcing their resignations after Trump’s first comments about the violence last Saturday in Charlottesville between white supremacists and counter-protesters. The resignations accelerated after he re-emphasized his earlier remarks and on Tuesday blamed “both sides” for the series of events that led to the death of a 32-year-old Charlottesville woman. These CEOs are not grandstanding, they simply no longer want to be associated with this President who has now revealed what his true values are. Traditionally corporate leaders have been willing to join these apolitical forums so as to ensure their corporations at least have a seat at the table where policy decisions are formulated that effect corporate taxes, employment and trade policies. There were comments that the President went rogue on Wednesday – How can we believe in a President of United States who goes rogue? Your comments appreciated. Someone must have an opinion they’d be willing to express out there in FOD-land.
Steve Bannon – You’re Fired Too
What’s the half life of a White House advisor these days? White House Chief of Staff John Kelly announced today 18 August 2017, Steve Bannon has agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a brief statement to reporters. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.” Bannon’s departure caps a rocky tenure in the West Wing in which he was a central figure in a power struggle to influence the often unpredictable president. He clashed with many of Trump’s other top aides including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, and rumors of his waning influence and imminent departure had been circulating Washington for months. He will walk away from the White House as a key force behind Trump’s impulses to make racially divisive remarks and fan nationalist and ethnic tensions, most recently Trump’s comments on the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. As recently as this week, Bannon gave interviews seeming to embrace the racial turmoil Trump encouraged by comparing white nationalists and the protesters opposing them in Charlottesville. Don’t worry about how Bannon will make his next two dimes. Just hours after his exit became official, the newsroom where he first rose to prominence in far-right political circles, Breitbart News, announced he’d be returning as its executive chairman.
While many in President Trump’s administration have since spoken out against the hatred and violence of groups like white supremacists, the KKK and neo-Nazis, during the events in Chancellorsville, Virginia this past weekend, it is what President Trump did not say that is concerning. These extremist hate groups have no place in the American debate and by not condemning them, you allow them a voice. The President needed to condemn those groups. As Dante Alighieri said in his Divine Comedy, “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” I am encouraged by President Trump’s statement on the morning of 14 August 2017 where he did call racism evil and where he did explicitly denounce KKK and neo-Nazis organizations and stated they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Woulda, coulda, shoulda is the operative line here. As a consequence of the President’s comments, the African-American CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co Kenneth
Frazier (below right) resigned from President Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council Monday after Mr. Trump failed to condemn white nationalists for deadly violence at a weekend rally in Charlottesville, Va. “Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, faces, sexual orientations and political beliefs. America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier said in a statement announcing his departure from the council. “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” Frazier added. Less than an hour after Merck released Frazier’s statement, Trump slammed the exec in a tweet. I don’t see where alienating this individual adds positive value to the discourse. In a similar manner I don’t see how lashing out at his own party’s Majority Leader of the United States SenateMitch McConnell (left) benefits the President’s agenda on issues such as increasing the debt ceiling, tax reform, infrastructure improvements, and of course health care reform and gets worse with every tweet. Hey, there are daunting budget related deadlines coming with the end of the fiscal year, September 30th. Comments appreciated!
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre became the 31st member of the 3,000 hit club on Sunday while facing the Orioles. With his team trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, he hit a 3-0 fastball off of Wade Miley for a double, putting runners on second and third with one out. He’s the first Dominican-born player to reach 3,000 career hits. And then a rookie who just came up to the LA Dodgers, Klye Farmer, in his very first at bat against the San Francisco Giants Sunday night hit the walk-off hit in the bottom of the eleventh inning to beat the Giants 3-2. Kyle will never forget that first hit and only has 2999 hits to go before he can join the likes of future Hall of Famer Beltre.
Russian President Putin Orders US Diplomatic Staff Reduction
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that he was ordering the United States to reduce its diplomatic staff in the country by 755. In an interview with the state-owned broadcaster Russia 24, Putin said the move was in response to “illegal restrictions” imposed by the United States. Putin (left) claimed that more than a “thousand” U.S. diplomatic employees are in Russia, but “755 will have to cease their activities in the Russian Federation.” Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, said he didn’t believe Putin’s order targeted only U.S. diplomats. “When I was U.S. ambassador, we didn’t have that many Americans in Russia,” he said. But McFaul called the move a “major escalation” far out of proportion with the Obama administration’s decision to expel 35 suspected Russian spies in December. The Russian order came days after Congress passed a new round of sanctions aimed at punishing Moscow for interfering in the United States’ presidential election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria. The bill, which also included sanctions against Iran and North Korea, passed overwhelmingly in the House and the Senate, with only five dissenting votes between them. A provision in the veto-proof legislation would limit President Donald Trump’s ability to unilaterally lift the sanctions. On Friday, the White House said that Trump intended to sign the legislation into law.