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 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 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”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 22 through 27, 2017

Friends of FOD

Christmas vacation came along and I had to give my entire staff time off.  How unfair was that?

 

“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out”

I trust every Friend of FOD had a great Christmas and enjoyed repeated watching of the classic Christmas movie, A Christmas Story.  It’s a 1983 movie set in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s in which the adult story teller is reminiscing on one particular Christmas when he was nine years old. Ralphie Parker wanted only one thing for that Christmas: a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. Ralphie’s desire is rejected by his mother, his teacher Miss Shields, and even a Santa Claus at Higbee’s department store, all giving him the same warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out.”  While we all remember the Old Man wins a “major award” in a contest.  The major award turns out to be a lamp in the shape of a woman’s leg wearing a fishnet stocking.  It was derived from the logo for Nehi (pronounced “knee-high”) pop, a popular soft drink of the period.  The Old Man is overjoyed by the lamp, but Mrs. Parker does not like it and a feud over it — referred to by adult Ralphie as “The Battle of the Lamp” — develops and results in the lamp’s “accidental” destruction.  I have the working replica of that major award lamp and the Red Ryder Carbine 200 shot Range Model air rifle because you never know when Black Bart may show up in your backyard.  Early in the movie, Ralphie, tells us, “Some men are Baptist, others Catholic; my father was an Oldsmobile man.” Although the Olds, a 1937 four-door sedan, was seen throughout the movie, usually covered in snow, its biggest role was during the family outing to pick up a Christmas tree. After the Old Man skillfully negotiated the price of the tree, and it was tied to the top of the car, the family began their trek back home, singing Christmas Carols along the way. However, the merriment was interrupted when the Oldsmobile blew a tire. The Old Man’s prediction, that he would change the tire in record time (four minutes), unfortunately this wasn’t realized, when the lug nuts, held by Ralphie, were knocked into the air. Without thinking, Ralphie said, “Oooh fuuudge!” He, of course, didn’t really say the word fudge.  He said the big one; the queen mother of dirty words, the f _ _ _ word.  OK, here’s some car trivia:  What engine was in that ’37 Olds?  Answer:  Why the straight six of course as distinguished by the front horizontal bar grill.  The eight cylinder model had a mesh grill design.  In a stretch of events, times and places, Air Force Times is reporting One of the Silver State’s most unusual and exclusive hunts is now under way at the Nevada Test and Training Range, where 15 hunting tags have been issued in three mountain ranges normally off-limits to the public.  For most big-game hunts in Nevada, all you need to do is buy a hunting license and get drawn for a tag.  For the trophy ram hunt on the test and training range, hunters and their helpers must pass a criminal background check, submit a full inventory of their firearms, vehicles and optical equipment, and take part in a mandatory safety briefing so they don’t accidentally blow themselves up or shoot their eye out!  This year’s safety briefing took place at the Clark County Shooting Complex. The hunt began at sunrise Saturday, Dec. 16 and lasts through sunset Jan. 1.  As part of those preparations, military personnel swept the roads and designated campsites for unexploded ordnance, put up signs and blocked some side roads to keep hunters out of target areas where explosive material and other hazards are likeliest to be found.  Each hunting party is provided with a detailed map showing where it can and cannot go — distinctions that have more to do with safety than national security.  And everyone who goes on the range has to pass the same background check and only the tag holder is allowed to shoot. How did all my Cast & Blast hunters miss out on this one?

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 22 through 27, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 18 through 21, 2017

The House Tears Up Plan For Full-Year DoD Budget Within Short Term Continuing Resolution

All Friends of FOD realize operating the Government and particularly the DoD under the continuing resolution process speaks to the acrimony within Congress.  As I mentioned in a previous edition of FOD, there had been an attempt to at least stabilize DoD’s much needed FY-18 budget by including a full-year defense spending bill as part of the short-term continuing resolution (CR) for the rest of Government.  Defense News is reporting House Republicans are tearing up plans to wed a full-year defense spending bill to a short-term continuing resolution for the rest of government.  House Republicans were working to hammer out a new agreement before midnight Friday so they can leave town for the Christmas recess. To avoid a government shutdown, they must successfully factor in what the slim GOP majority in the Senate can pass.  Debate over the CR had to be tabled so as to be able to modify and then re-vote for the tax overhaul bill.  Even as Republicans took a victory lap Wednesday to celebrate passage of a tax overhaul, a government shutdown loomed as plans for the defense-CR hybrid bill collapsed under the weight of unrelated provisions.  Conservative Republicans are said to have withdrawn support for the hybrid CR, in part over its inclusion of an $81 billion disaster relief package.  It remains to be seen whether the next CR will deal with other contentious issues like the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Veterans Choice Program or an extension of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  A large enough bloc of assertive House Republican defense hawks and fiscally conservative Freedom Caucus members backed the hybrid defense-CR that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., allowed it to advance. But if those groups oppose a CR without higher defense spending, Ryan would need Democratic votes to pass the CR.  Several House Republicans said they hope to see a “clean” CR, with $5.9 billion in added defense funding requested by the White House — for missile defense, a troop surge in Afghanistan, and repairs for the collision-damaged U.S. Navy destroyers Fitzgerald and John S. McCain.  “Leadership’s going back to the drawing board on this one to figure out what they think can pass,” said Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies and co-chair of the moderate Tuesday Group.  “I can’t think of a bigger act of political malpractice after a successful tax reform vote than to shut the government down,” Dent said. “Talk about stepping on your own message. Really, how dumb would that be? Hey, but anything is possible around here. This is Congress.”

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day December 18 through 21, 2017”