FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 19 through 22, 2017

New Sanctions for North Korea

I’ve stated before here in FOD, I don’t believe sanctions against North Korea will have the desired effect of divesting their efforts to develop nuclear weapons.  Kim Jong Un has consistently pursued a path of acquiring nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them in spite of the world’s desires for diminish his resolve to the point of allowing millions of his own people to die of starvation.  Lack of cash however, might have the effect of at least slowing North Korea’s efforts. China’s banks in particular have been willing to launder Kim Jong Un’s money for years.  Only recently, the Department of  the Treasury took actions against the Bank of Dandong over concerns that it was participating in illicit financial activities with North Korea — an early signal to Chinese financial institutions of U.S. willingness to increase pressure on entities that do business with Pyongyang.  On 21 September 2017, President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he had signed an executive order authorizing additional sanctions against North Korea by targeting individuals, companies and financial institutions that do business with what he called “this criminal rogue regime.”  Speaking before a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said his goal is the “complete denuclearization” of North Korea and added that the nation led by Kim Jong Un posed a “grave threat to peace and security in our world.”  Trump noted that he’d signed the executive order just as China’s central bank “has told their other banks … to immediately stop doing business with North Korea.” The president praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for the “very bold move.”  Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (photo right) confirmed that he did call the People’s Bank of China early Thursday morning to alert them to this coming action, but skirted the question when asked if these sanctions were specifically aimed at China.  “This action is directed at everyone,” Mnuchin said, calling the executive order a significant expansion of Treasury’s power to target the Kim regime and those financial entities and individuals who seek to do business with it. The executive order is “forward looking,” meaning Treasury will consider new designations on a “rolling basis” from Thursday on.  So far, the administration has sought to pressure Pyonyang largely through forceful economic steps, including Thursday’s latest action and U.N. Security Council sanctions earlier this month. The President has this right.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 19 through 22, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 14th through 18th 2017

Friends of FOD

If you recall an event you believe the group might be interested in, drop me a comment and I’ll research it and add it to the blog.

I accomplished some good work on the ’31 Chevy last week: picked up the newly powder coated frame (it’s a grey color), installed 4 bar rear suspension, resealed differential, serviced it with gear oil, installed front and rear shocks, removed transmission from engine, serviced and installed torque converter, installed flywheel, reinstalled transmission and engine and installed on frame, installed gas tank, installed all fuel lines and brake lines, bled brake system, installed drive shaft, began installation of engine electrical harness, filled transmission with fluid, filled engine with oil, installed alternator and air conditioner compression belts, visited the body at the body guy’s shop (it’s coming along), sent the new hood out for primer coating and of course spent a bunch of money on other parts I’ll need in the near future.  It’s beginning to look like a car, well at least a completed chassis.

 

 

 

 

Russia Launches Operation Zapad in Belarus On Anniversary of Soviet Invasion of Poland

Russia and Belarus launched Operation Zapad, an ongoing joint strategic military exercise of the armed forces of the Russian Federation and Belarus (the Union State) that began on 14 September 2017, conducted in Belarus as well as in Russia‘s Kaliningrad Oblast and Russia′s other north-western areas. According to the information made public by the Defense Ministry of Belarus prior to the exercise, fewer than 13,000 personnel of the Union State are to take part in the military maneuvers, a number that does not trigger mandatory formal notification and invitation of observers under the OSCE‘s Vienna Document.  Western analysts, however, believed in July 2017 that the total number of Russian troops, security personnel and civilian officials to be involved in the broader war-games will range from 60,000 to 100,000, which would make them Russia’s largest since the Cold War.  Since 2016, concerns have been voiced in a number of NATO countries over Russia’s suspected ulterior motives and objectives in connection with the exercise.  And on 17 September 2017, the mobilization for combat portion of the exercise will begin and will for the first time include participation by units of the Baltic Fleet.  Generally speaking it will be an opportunity for Russia and Belarus to practice a major exercise in rapidly mobilizing and deploying a combined force close to its Western frontier.  And this sword rattling will have the US and our allies in the region watching closely how and in what strengths Russia is able to move its troops.  Poland, who shares a border with Belarus, is particularly concerned with observing what the Russians will do in particular.  They have reason to be concerned as September 17, 1939 marks the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland.  You’ll recall the German invasion of Poland began on September 1, 1939.  On September 3, 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany, but failed to provide any meaningful support for Polish army outnumbered, and vastly inferior to the German invading forces.  German began to pressure the Soviets to invade Poland from the east, but Stalin waited several days.  Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and German ambassador to Moscow Friedrich Werner von der Schulenburg exchanged a series of diplomatic messages on the matter but the Soviets nevertheless delayed their invasion of eastern Poland. The Soviets were distracted by crucial events relating to their ongoing border disputes with Japan.

They needed time to mobilize the Red Army and they saw a diplomatic advantage in waiting until Poland had disintegrated before making their move.  The undeclared war between the Soviet Union and the Empire of Japan at the Battles of Khalkhin Gol (Nomonhan) in the Far East ended with the MolotovTojo agreement between the USSR and Japan which was signed on 15 September 1939, with a ceasefire taking effect on 16 September 1939.  (Why yes that’s the same Molotov as the Molotov cocktail).  On 17 September 1939, Molotov delivered the following declaration of war to Wacław Grzybowski, the Polish Ambassador in Moscow: On that morning, 16 days after Germany invaded Poland from the west, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east. The Red Army entered the eastern regions of Poland with seven field armies, containing between 450,000 and 1,000,000 troops.  The invasion and the battle lasted for the following 20 days and ended on 6 October 1939 with the two-way division and annexation of the entire territory of the Second Polish Republic by both Germany and the Soviet Union.  The photo above shows the German and Russian commanders shaking hands after the defeat of Poland.  The joint German-Soviet invasion of Poland was secretly agreed to in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed on 23 August 1939.  The Red Army, which vastly outnumbered the Polish defenders, achieved its targets by using strategic and tactical deception. Some 230,000 Polish prisoners of war were captured.  The campaign of mass persecution in the newly acquired areas began immediately. In November 1939 the Soviet government ostensibly annexed the entire Polish territory under its control. Some 13.5 million Polish citizens who fell under the military occupation were made into new Soviet subjects following mock elections conducted by the NKVD secret police in the atmosphere of terror, the results of which were used to legitimize the use of force. The Soviet campaign of ethnic cleansing began with the wave of arrests and summary executions of officers, policemen and priests.  Over the next year and a half, the Soviet NKVD sent hundreds of thousands of people from eastern Poland to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union in four major waves of deportation between 1939 and 1941.  Soviet forces occupied eastern Poland until the summer of 1941, when they were driven out by the invading German army in the course of Operation Barbarossa. The timing I don’t believe is coincidence.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 14th through 18th 2017”

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 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 September 1st and 2nd 2017

Happy Labor Day

Well here it is Labor Day already.  The long weekend holiday is the unofficial end of summer (hate that thought), the beginning of school (hated that), the time for expansion of the baseball rosters (hate that – 40 man rosters change the game too much going into the playoffs), and it’s time to save 50% or more on your next mattress set with no payments for at least two years (don’t need a new mattress).  But it is also the beginning of college football (Go Navy), the start of professional football (that’s good, but they only play once a week), a great weekend to grill some steaks (love that), International Bacon Day (love that – you can look it up), catch some of those Atlantic salmon that made good their escape and now need to be caught (love that), NASCAR’s  Southern 500 NASCAR auto race has been held on Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina from 1950 to 2003 and since 2015 (like it as it’s usually a good short track race), ride your bike (gotta love that), at Indianapolis Raceway Park, the National Hot Rod Association holds their finals of the NHRA U.S. Nationals (some great names and cars show up for this one), and of course it’s the last day it’s considered acceptable to wear white or  seersucker (who knew – OK fashion folk like Friend of FOD Mr. Fuzzy have this marked on their calendars to go along with the opening day of elk season).  Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.  Photo below right shows first Labor Day Parade in NYC in 1882.  I was pretty much against labor unions until I joined Northwest Airlines.  There was a snap back clause in the contract under which I was hired providing for a pay raise of the lesser of 3% or the average pay increase of the seven major airlines in business at the time.  The math clearly pointed to the 3% option as all those airlines had received increased wages as airlines were making money.  Imagine then our surprise when our paychecks in mid-September only included a 1.4% pay increase.  When management was queried as to this decision, the reply was, “we think that’s what it should be.”  Eight months later and utilizing binding arbitration, it took less than fifteen minutes for the pilot’s to prevail.  The back pay was returned over a two month period and we each received a note from management in our company mailbox stating, that as the company didn’t have to pay back interest on the monies withheld over that time period, it shouldn’t be taken as a personal matter as it was only a prudent company business decision.  They had an eight month interest free $84M loan paid for by the pilots.  That’s why pilots have unions (but I’m not bitter – well just a little – no a lot – OK, I’ll let it go – someday).

 

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 1st and 2nd 2017”