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 8th through 13th 2017

US Navy Ships Delivering Food and Water to Irma Victims

Positioned off the coast of Florida, helicopters from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) are now delivering food and water to Florida as part of the Hurricane Irma relief effort.  As part of the ongoing recovery in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Navy and Coast Guard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and USS New York (LPD 21) are expected to join the relief effort Tuesday.  As part of the ongoing recovery in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Navy and Coast Guard helicopters and ships are continuing to evacuate people and shuttle food, water, and supplies to the U.S. Virgin Islands and south Florida.  Near Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Military Sealift Command’s dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12) started providing supplies to the USS Wasp (LHD-1), USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and USS Oak Hill (LSD-51), along with 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Federal Emergency Management Agency staff, which started providing humanitarian aid and medical airlifts Friday. William McLean pumped 620,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 40,000 gallons of jet fuel, and delivered 40 pallets of supplies to Navy units, according to the Navy.  USNS Wright (T-AVB 3), aviation logistics support ship, is expected to leave Philadelphia Tuesday to support relief efforts in near the Virgin Islands. Wright is assigned to the Military Sealift Command Prepositioning Program and carries aviation maintenance equipment to support U.S. Marine Corps fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 8th through 13th 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Thoughts of the Day July 14 through 19 2017

Friends of FOD

Where has the time gone?  I’ve been traveling and in some cases unable to publish when on the road.  A lot has transpired in the world.

 

Another Life-Threatening Fight Ahead For Senator John McCain

John McCain, R-Ariz., has been diagnosed with brain cancer, the Mayo Clinic said Wednesday in a statement released on behalf of the senator and his family.  Doctors removed a blood clot from above McCain’s left eye on Friday.  “Subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot,” the Mayo Clinic said in the statement.  The Mayo Clinic said in the statement that “scanning done since the procedure (a minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision) shows that the tissue of concern was completely resected by imaging criteria,” or cut out.  Support for the Arizona Republican, a former Navy pilot and prisoner of war, spanned both sides of the political aisle. The Republican and Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress wished him well, and former presidents Barack Obama and George H.W. Bush were among those expressing their support.  McCain during the Vietnam War was shot down and was held as a prisoner of war by the North Vietnamese from October 1967 until March 1973. McCain’s captors tortured him and held him in solitary confinement. Still, he declined an offer of early release until those who had been at the prison longer than he were let go.  Photo at right is John McCain returning home in March 1973.  The Hanoi Hilton couldn’t break John McCain’s spirit, so I’m sure he’s up for this fight as well.

 

  Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Thoughts of the Day July 14 through 19 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”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 03 through 05, 2017

Grand Slam Record

On Saturday there were 7 grand slams hit in Major League Baseball.  That has never happened in the history of the game.  Albert Pujols joined the 600-home run club on Saturday night, and he did it in a way that’s never been done before: via a spectacular, 363-foot grand slam.  The Angels’ 37-year-old slugger delivered his record-setting blast in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game against the Twins, skying a pitch from Ervin Santana into the left field bleachers. No one begrudged him the long moment he took to admire the ball as it drifted back over the wall. It was a moment he — along with an estimated 40,236 Angels fans — deserved to savor.

 

 

Global Allies Call For Continued FON Ops in South China Sea

Defense News reports, speakers at an Asian security summit have called for a continuation of U.S. Navy freedom of navigation (FON) patrols in the South China Sea, with the dispute still on participants’ minds even as other regional security challenges have made the news in recent weeks. In their respective speeches, the defense ministers of Australia and Japan have supported U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ assertion that the U.S. military will continue to operate in spaces allowed by international law in their respective speeches at the annual Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore.  Organized by the International Institute of Strategic Studies or IISS (Asia), the event brings together government and non-governmental defense and security professionals from Asia and around the world to discuss regional events, and is the biggest such summit in the region.   In his speech at the first plenary session on Saturday, Mattis said the U.S. military , “We will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows and demonstrate resolve through operational presence in the South China Sea and beyond,” adding that “our operations throughout the region are an expression of our willingness to defend both our interests and the freedoms enshrined in international law.”

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day June 03 through 05, 2017”