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Navy sailors accused in LSD ring on board USS Ronald Reagan

What the Lull in Aircraft Carrier Deployments Means

Congratulations to our Puget Soundings Editor Dave Pittman

Save the Army’s Navy

The Only Enlisted Submariner to Ever Receive the Medal of Honor Locked Himself Inside a Sinking Submarine

US airstrike kills about 60 al-Shabab extremist fighters in Somalia

Navy sailors accused in LSD ring on board USS Ronald Reagan

Fox News  | November 8, 2018

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius, center, conduct a photo exercise with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships. (U.S. Navy)



An investigation into the alleged distribution and use of LSD aboard the USS Ronald Reagan reportedly has ensnared at least a dozen sailors.

The revelation comes after reports emerged this week that two sailors have been charged with using, possessing and distributing the hallucinogenic drug.

Lt. Joe Keiley, a 7th Fleet spokesman, told Stars and Stripes that an additional 10 USS Ronald Reagan sailors linked to the allegations have received non-judicial punishment, but would not provide details. He added three more could face charges and the sailors – all but one of who worked in the carrier’s nuclear reactor department – were removed from their duties as the investigation started.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Ronald Reagan leadership reviewed the work previously performed by the accused sailors and no improper work was identified,” Keiley added.

The website identified the two sailors who are facing courts-martial as Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Miller and Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Gevero.

The USS Ronald Regan, which is based in Japan, is the only aircraft carrier to be stationed outside the United States, according to the Navy Times.

It is the same aircraft carrier which last month was the scene of a U.S. Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter crash. The chopper crashed shortly after takeoff while conducting routine operations in the Philippine Sea. The Navy told Fox News none of the personnel hurt in that incident suffered life-threatening injuries.

The Navy first began investigating the possible drug ring aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in February, when it received a tip about a sailor using LSD, according to The Wall Street Journal.

First, dynamic force employment (DFE) is an innovative Department of Defense (DoD) strategy to keep U.S. adversaries guessing. Historically, when U.S.  carrier strike groups operate on the doorsteps of America's adversaries, they have been a powerful force to curb unwanted behaviors. Unfortunately, over the past three decades, the DoD got too predictable with how, when, and where it was deploying its forces, making it easy for adversaries to know how the United States would respond to aggression.  

This year’s 22-day gap in carrier coverage was attributable to implementation of DFE. Even though the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) returned home for a short break after the first three-months of her deployment in July, it was not because she required maintenance or lacked readiness. When Truman left the pier in April, she and her crew were trained and certified to operate uninterrupted for the entire planned deployment and beyond. They capable to leave for a hot spot at any point. The unusual deployment pause, in addition to operating in non-traditional areas , accomplished exactly what DFE was meant to—injecting unpredictability into the Navy’s operating patterns. 

Building on the DFE concept, it is clear that the military’s geographic combatant commands (CoComs) needed to reinvent the way they have done business over the past three decades. After years of trying to meet incessant demands for forward deployed forces, the Navy hit the wall of unsustainability. Overutilization of forces contributes to degradation of readiness and morale; and while the Navy consistently answered the call, as resources were cut, the sailors, airframes, and hulls paid the price.

Blurring the historic lines of the CoComs is a great and necessary thing. Learning how to use forces flexibly and efficiently without sacrificing lethality benefits readiness, the budget, and unpredictability, ultimately leading to a strong and more effective fighting force.

The readiness shortfalls many have identified in the wake of the tragic 2017 ship collisions are the result of what I describe as well-intentioned decisions manifesting catastrophic consequences . While it was widely warned that the operational tempo of the past three decades would prove to be unsustainable, I do not believe senior military leaders intended to create the significant readiness and maintenance deficits the Navy is dealing with today.

Recovery, however, has to start somewhere, and it is encouraging that senior Navy and DoD leaders (and Congress) finally are buying the nuts and bolts, flight hours and steaming hours, and sailors needed to make the force whole again.

The recent interrupted deployment of the Harry S. Truman proves the Navy is serious about employing the force dynamically. At the same time, the low number of U.S. aircraft carrier deployments this year demonstrates the Navy also is serious about digging out of its readiness hole.

That being said, the most important, most dynamic and yet easiest piece to overlook in the Navy’s recovery, is the significance of the role that people will play. So much of the recovery rests on the shoulders of the men and women who maintain and operate the Navy’s ships, submarines, and aircraft. Just as the equipment has worn down, so have the Navy’s people been strained answering an increasing global demand with fewer and fewer resources and bodies.

While dynamic force employment provides an unpredictability advantage in battle, it brings added stress to the home front. Sailors’ families do not run on a dynamic force employment schedule—at least not intentionally. When was the last time a school took a week off to be “dynamic educators?” Not having a predictable family schedule may exacerbate some retention and recruitment challenges the Navy already faces.

Aircraft that cost $100 million and aircraft carriers that cost $13 billion only meet their full defense potential with experienced operators employing them and skilled maintainers and support personnel keeping them going. Every discussion of readiness and recovery must include the efforts—and their effectiveness—to recruit and retain skilled operators and maintainers where significant investments of both time and money already have been made.

Lieutenant Commander Kochanski is a Navy Selected Reservist assigned to the staff of Commander, Naval Air Forces, NAF at Naval Air Station North Island. He is also a commercial airline cargo pilot for an international logistics company. While on active duty he served as an expeditionary EA-18G pilot and a T-45C instructor pilot. ^


Congratulations to our Puget Soundings Editor Dave Pittman

Posted November 2, 2018


Congratulations to our Puget Soundings Editor Dave Pittman for receiving the awards listed, News Letter of the Year-Class One, and Over All Newsletter. Well deserved Dave. Thank you. I would also like to take time to thank all those who send in contributions to the newsletter. Cdr. Steve Corcoran

You may view Dave's hard work at this link:

Review winning entry here or  ^

Save the Army’s 'Navy'


 Many Americans—including many people within the Department of Defense—do not know that the U.S. Army has a large “navy.” It is called Army watercraft, and within this field are about 300 vessels and 2000 soldiers with the specific 880 and 881 military occupational skill (MOS). Army vessels range in size from 75-foot small tugs (STs) to 315-foot logistic support vessels (LSVs) in active and reserve service. Army warrant officers and soldiers man these vessels, with an LSV crew consisting of 8 officers and 27 soldiers. Small tugs operate mainly in harbors and roadsteads, LSVs and 128-foot large tugs (LTs) operate worldwide and are designed and equipped to undertake ocean crossings. Annually the Army commits $120 million dollars to maintain its waterborne capability. (Photo caption: USAV Matamoros (LCU-2026) conducting beach operations at Isla Caja de Muertos, Puerto Rico, in 2014. Credit: author.)

The Army watercraft community faces a crisis, though many within the community may be in denial. Its vessels are not well maintained, it cannot staff full crews, it struggles to meet missions, suffers from embarrassing accidents (which are hidden from public view), and it does not provide what could be a valuable tool or resource for many current and future national challenges. During recent humanitarian and military operations Army watercraft have not been used, or severely under used.

A recent example is the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year when roads and the Port of San Juan were not accessible. Army vessels could have easily landed at a myriad of beaches, roadsteads, and smaller ports throughout Puerto Rico, bringing water, food, tents, medical supplies, generators, trucks, and engineers. But Army watercraft were never called. Instead FEMA and military leaders focused on bringing all supplies and services through San Juan. Weeks and months elapsed with little progress, while a dozen U.S. Army LSVs and utility landing craft (LCUs) sat idle in Tampa, Morehead City, and Fort Eustis. LSVs and LCUs are landing craft which can carry more than 5000 and 500 tons of cargo respectively, and are capable of sailing from the continental United States to Puerto Rico in less than a week. I have sailed as the skipper of both an LSV and an LCU on numerous training missions from U.S. mainland ports to Roosevelt Roads and Ponce, Puerto Rico.

In addition, Army watercraft are an integral part of the military’s Joint Logistics Over the Shore (JLOTS) capability. JLOTS is designed to offload materials and supplies over beaches and through unimproved or degraded ports. Army harbormaster units provide command-and-control authority, expeditionary units build piers, and LCUs and LSVs offload supplies and vehicles. Yet last year after Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands there was no call for military watercraft assistance. As days, weeks, and months passed in Puerto Rico, a JLOTS operation could have been launched, but no request came. The Army’s “navy” could have helped tens of thousands of Americans in distress but it was not asked.
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The Only Enlisted Submariner to Ever Receive the Medal of Honor Locked Himself Inside a Sinking Submarine

War History online

For those who sail beneath the surface of the sea, there are few greater fears than permanently descending to the depths alive. The movies would play this horror scene out time and time again as you watched the sailors press their faces to the ceiling of a room slowly filling with water.

But for one such man, that was the fate he chose for himself when he voluntarily locked himself inside a sinking submarine descending to the bottom. For his actions that day, Henry Breault would become the first and only Submariner ever to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

In the Fight

Torpedoman First Class Henry Breault was born in Connecticut at the turn of the century in 1900. Born to be a sailor, Breault would enlist in the British Royal Navy at the age of 16 to serve in World War 1 before America joined the fray.

Over the next four years, he would learn the art of seamanship and naval tradition from those who have historically done it best. After his tour with the Royal Navy, Breault joined the United States Navy in 1921.

And while the years in between the World Wars were a comparatively peaceful time for America, the United States Navy was frequently sent into forward areas as the nation was increasingly becoming a world power.

As such, the scene for this heroic action would take place not in a war zone, but right outside of the Panama Canal in October of 1923.

For Henry Breault was a crew member of the submarine USS 0-5 when his ship was part of a column of submarines heading for the canal. It was at this moment that a ship carrying bananas would help this man earn the Medal of Honor. Literally, a ship carrying bananas.

The steamship US Abangarez which was under the control of the United Fruit Company made a series of navigational errors and struck the USS 0-5 directly in the side opening up a hole of ten feet or more allowing water to gush inside.

Slashing through one of main ballast tanks, the 0-5 rolled to port and then to starboard before beginning its descent to the bottom.

But as fortune would have it, they weren’t exactly sailing over the Mariana Trench. For it was but 42 feet of water that separated the surface from the bottom, but that was plenty to send a man to Davy Jones’ Locker if need be.

To the Bottom

With the USS 0-5 sinking fast, Breault actually found himself in the fortunate position of having a relatively easy escape when the call to abandon ship was given. Working in the torpedo room, he quickly worked his way up to the main deck and was prepared to jump to safety when he realized a fellow crewmate had been sleeping below just before the collision.

With open and safe sea just a short distance away, he looked at safety and then looked back at a sinking submarine descending to the bottom and he chose the sinking submarine.

Heading back down the ladders to retrieve his crewmate, he caught up with the then much awake Chief Brown who was unaware of the order to abandon ship. They attempted together to make their exit, but the rising water impeded any attempt.

Wading through the water on board, they made their way to the torpedo room, and Breault latched the door shut just before the ships battery exploded. They were undeniably trapped underwater, and any attempt at rescue would have to come from above.

Thanks to the shallow depth, rescue and salvage efforts were able to begin immediately. While that might have been of little comfort to Breault and Brown who didn’t know their current depth, it gave hope to the Naval forces converging on the scene.

Approximately 4 to 5 hours later, salvage crews were banging on the hull under the hopes of hearing signs of life when Breault responded with metal pings of his own. Time was of the essence and the only manner in which they could be rescued in this day and age would be to lift the entire submarine from the bottom.

From the Depths

In another stroke of luck, some of the heaviest floating machinery around was near the Canal. One of the largest crane barges in the world, the Ajax, was in the region and quickly made way to the site. It took multiple attempts with many broken cables, but the USS 0-5 was eventually lifted.

With a great sigh of relief and much applause, after 31 hours trapped under the sea, the torpedo room hatch had been opened and emerged one Chief Brown and a future Medal of Honor recipient Torpedoman First Class Henry Breault.
 Read All

US airstrike kills about 60 al-Shabab extremist fighters in Somalia

Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG – The U.S. military on Tuesday announced its deadliest airstrike against the al-Shabab extremist group in Somalia in nearly a year, killing about 60 fighters.

The U.S. Africa Command said Friday's airstrike occurred near the community of Harardere in Mudug province in the central part of the country. According to its assessment no civilians were injured or killed, the statement said.

It was the largest U.S. airstrike since one on Nov. 21, 2017, killed about 100 al-Shabab fighters. The statement gave no further details about what was targeted in this latest strike and the U.S. Africa Command did not immediately respond to questions.

The U.S. military has carried out more than two dozen airstrikes, including drone strikes, this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa.

Somalia on Sunday marked the first anniversary of al-Shabab's deadliest attack, a truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed well over 500 people. It was one of the world's deadliest attacks since 9/11 and the worst extremist attack ever in Africa.

The United States, which also has targeted a small number of fighters linked to the Islamic State group in northern Somalia, has increased its military presence in the long-chaotic Horn of Africa nation since early 2017 to about 500 personnel after President Donald Trump approved expanded military operations.

Al-Shabab, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Somalia, continues to hold parts of the country's south and central regions after being chased out of Mogadishu several years ago. The group, estimated at several thousands of fighters, still carries out deadly attacks against high-profile targets such as hotels and checkpoints in the capital and other cities. It also remains a threat in parts of neighboring Kenya.

While some observers have questioned the effectiveness of airstrikes by the U.S. and Kenya and raised concerns about civilians being killed, the U.S. military maintains that they "reduce al-Shabab's ability to plot future attacks, disrupt its leadership networks and degrade its freedom of maneuver within the region."

Somali forces in the next few years are expected to take over responsibility for the country's security from an African Union peacekeeping force, which already has started withdrawing hundreds of personnel.

The U.S. says it continues to support that transfer even as some U.S. military officials have joined AU officials and others in expressing concern that Somalia's forces are not yet ready.


The President Has Made Military Sexual Assault Cases More Complicated, Experts Say

When the commander-in-chief told reporters this month that it's "a very scary time for young men in America" in light of accusations of sexual misconduct, it undermined years of progress the military has made in getting more victims to come forward, legal experts say.

President Donald Trump's comments -- and subsequent statements in which he called sexual assault allegations made against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh a hoax -- could have a chilling effect on getting any sexual assault victim, military or civilian, to speak out, said retired Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey Corn, a professor at South Texas College of Law who served as a longtime judge advocate.

In the military, though, where Corn said leaders have made real progress in getting more victims to report possible crimes, "there can be no doubt" that the commander in chief's comments will hurt those efforts.

"Say you're in the gym. You've been victimized the night before, and you're watching a clip from the president about how men are the ones in trouble and it's unfair to them if you don't report with corroborating evidence," Corn said. "You're going to say, 'Forget it. I'm a private in the Army or the Air Force and I've got to go tell a colonel or a captain. ... I don't stand a chance.' "

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Kavanaugh, Trump's pick to serve on the Supreme Court, faced a tumultuous confirmation process. Emotions ran high as Americans watched back-to-back congressional testimony from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who accused him of sexual assault when both were in high school decades ago.

Republicans argued that it was a "he said, she said" case, and that Kavanaugh had been found guilty by mob rule without any due process. Democrats argued that the allegations by Blasey Ford and others had not been taken seriously and weren't thoroughly investigated by senators across the aisle. The commander-in-chief took sides on Twitter and mocked Blasey Ford during a rally.

Kavanaugh was eventually confirmed Oct. 7 by a 50-to-48 vote, the thinnest margin of a Supreme Court justice in decades, and one that seemed to mirror the country's fiercely divided views.

The public was now involved in a debate that has played out in the military for years, said retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rachel VanLandingham, a Southwestern Law School professor and former judge advocate. Like Corn, she's worried about how it will affect victim reporting in military units.

"It's insidious and it's subtle, but I think the effect could be that it dampens a survivor's or victim's willingness to come forward with these reports because they're already afraid they're not going to be believed," she said.

Muddling the Toughest of Cases

Nearly 4,200 female service members and 1,084 men reported a sexual assault in the military in 2017, up 10 percent from the year prior. More than half of those cases -- 54 percent of them -- resulted in criminal charges being referred to court-martial. That was down from 71 percent in fiscal 2013.

Deciding sexual assault cases can already be exceptionally difficult, Corn said. Adding in questions about how military or civilian juries have been influenced by the president, senators or other national-level conversations only makes that tougher, he added.

"Military judges have to be more vigilant now in the jury selection process and the questioning of potential jurors to make sure ... this public discourse has not undermined their capacity to fulfill their judicial function, which is to have an open mind to assess the evidence fairly," Corn said.

This isn't the first time a commander-in-chief's comments about sexual assault could spill into military court proceedings. In 2013, a Navy judge ruled that two defendants could not be punitively discharged because President Barack Obama's comments about having a zero-tolerance policy for military sexual assault were deemed as unlawful command influence.

Former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos was also found to have exercised unlawful command influence during a service-wide tour, in which he spoke to Marines about sexual assault. That tough talk led to a court of appeals overturning a staff sergeant's sexual assault conviction.

Enforcing the rules without influencing future cases is a tricky issue for commanders, said retired Navy Capt. Lory Manning, director of government relations at the Service Women's Action Network, especially since those officers are often in charge of both the victim and the accused.

"That's a very fine line, and it's going to take court cases ... to figure out and provide much better guidance when you have a dual responsibility of preventing sexual assault and dealing with the aftermath if it happens," she said. "We need more case law and more nuanced training."

Because of the pressure from Congress and others to stamp out sexual assault in the ranks, commanders sometimes feel compelled to push sexual assault cases to court-martial, which isn't always the right move, said Corn, who has advocated for keeping that decision-making power with commanders.

Since Trump's comments didn't speak as directly to military sexual assault as Obama's did, VanLandingham said it's unlikely they'll result in successful unlawful command influence claims.

But, Corn said, the comments could nonetheless make a prosecutor's job harder.

"You have the commander-in-chief and the president of the United States basically endorsing the narrative that anybody who doesn't make an immediate or prompt report with substantial corroborating physical evidence is probably fabricating the accusation," he said.

A Commander's Duty

In the aftermath of the Kavanaugh confirmation, it will be incumbent on military commanders to create and foster an environment in which sexual assault victims trust the system enough to come forward, experts said.

"The military has struggled, even under the best of circumstances, with getting young women and young men who've been sexually assaulted to come forward," Manning said. "They've tried all kinds of things, so we need to do a much better job ... of making them feel safe, respected and listened to when they do."

Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said that's his top message for commanders and senior enlisted personnel.

"'I can't tell you what to do on an allegation of any kind, but I can tell you that you can't do nothing,'" Neller said he tells them.

The Marine Corps saw the biggest spike in sexual assault reports in 2017 with 998, a 14.7 percent increase over the year prior.

"Our numbers are not going down, but the people who do this professionally tell me that's good because it shows that people are still willing to come forward and report allegations," Neller said last week. "To me, the two metrics are, do the Marines have confidence that the chain of command is going to listen to them? And do they trust them? Those numbers have increased over the years."

Proper training for those hearing the allegations and determining whether to pursue charges will be imperative in this process, VanLandingham said. Biases and inappropriate decision-making are overcome through proper procedures and good education and training, she said.

"That's where the military's training on sexual assault is so, so important," she said. "That informs those folks sitting in judgment. So training has to be more than a bunch of PowerPoint slides. ... It has to be meaningful."

Ultimately though, everyone involved in the legal process will need to be vigilant in the wake of Trump's comments -- from ensuring victims still report to making sure jury members deciding cases aren't influenced by his remarks.

"Words matter. When comments such as these are made by the commander in chief, they can have a powerful impact because of who is making them," VanLandingham said. "Therefore, leaders both in and out of uniform need to try even harder to combat inaccurate biases and unfair stereotypes that can undermine the fair evaluation and disposition of allegations of sexual assault.”

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @ginaaharkins.^


Only American Vessel That Launched An Invasion Of The Japanese Mainland

The Barb.

During WWII, the Allied Forces were locked in a bitter combat with Imperial Japan for control of the Pacific. Battles were conducted at sea or on smaller islands because an assault on the Japanese mainland would be far too dangerous. However, there was one vessel actually bold enough to make attacks unlike any other even on the mainland of Japan.

Commander Eugene “Lucky” Flucky operated the Gato-classsubmarine the USS Barb for the US Navy during WWII. The Barb sank 29 enemies vessels including a cruiser, a frigate and even an aircraft carrier. The Barb sank more enemy ships by tonnage than any other submarine during World War II.

After a very successful track record against the Japanese Navy Flucky’s superiors insisted that he retire while he was on top, but he aimed even higher. He requested the submarine be equipped with rockets and the USS Barb became the first ballistic submarine. He then launched an assault on the Japanese mainland so brutal that the locals thought it was a fleet of ships doing the bombardment. Possibly the greatest adventure the crew of the USS Barb ever embarked on was the only ground invasion of Japan where they managed to blow up a train, launching it 200 feet into the air.

This barely scratches the surface of the amazing adventures of the USS Barb. This video from The History Guy covers a little more ground of the incredible WWII stories of Lucky Flucky and his infamous crew. ^


Take Her Deep

History: Bremerton Base founder, a Past WWII Subvets President and Past USSVI National Commander survived in Halibut's November 1944 episode, served on several other diesel boats and put the USS George Washington (SSBN 598)in commission before retiring.



Independent But Integrated



A common and persistent belief in many parts of the U.S. Navy is that the submarine force has virtually no active connection to the remainder of the fleet. Emblematic of this disconnectedness is the notably changed relationship of submarines to carrier strike groups (CSGs). Since at least 2004, CSGs largely have omitted any reference to submarines in their organizational charts. Even before then, while attack submarines technically were attached to deploying CSGs, the reality (in the Pacific at least) was that following the strike group’s composite training unit exercise, a common deployment date, and an undersea warfare exercise, the submarine immediately parted company with the strike group, never to be seen again. 

The reasons submarines appear to have disappeared from the fleet—and CSG operations in specific—are several. Obviously, ballistic-missile submarines were never there in the first place, and sensibly so, as their sole purpose is to provide a virtually invulnerable, second-strike capability to the nation’s nuclear triad. They always were “somewhere else.” 

In the case of the attack submarines (SSNs), however, the explanation is more complex. First, today’s attack submarine mission sets primarily are related to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), which takes them far from typical strike group activities. Second, these boats have a major obligation regarding both safeguarding ballistic-missile submarines and defending the United States against the threat posed by adversary ballistic-missile submarines. Simply put, in the calculus of demand for tasking versus number of attack boats available (66 in 2016 compared with 101 in 1986), to assign boats to close CSG escort duties is viewed as suboptimal. So SSNs no longer consort with CSGs. There simply are not enough of them.

Yet, the detachment of submarines from deployed CSGs is more than an unfortunate numbers-driven game. It also is a reflection of the evolution away from CSG-centrism, which dominated Navy thinking post–World War II, and toward fleet-centric (vice platform-centric) thinking. A reflection of this shift can be seen in the growing awareness that the days of the CSG being the Navy’s gold-standard unit of measure may be coming to a close.

In fact, the Chief of Naval Operations’ “Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority” specifies that the Navy increasingly must operate in an arena in which three major considerations predominate: globalized ocean traffic, globalized information systems, and a high rate of technical creativity and adoption. The strategy demands that all three of these factors be integrated into the Navy’s fleet operations, and that means thinking beyond the tactical level of the CSG and toward the operational/fleet level of warfare. Today, submarines, cruisers, destroyers, P-8s, and aircraft carriers and their air wings are viewed as tools to be used at the operational level, and disaggregation of the CSG may be increasingly routine.

Thinking Differently

Specifically, this change is being achieved operationally by the rise of the maritime operations center (MOC) at the fleet level. The MOC examines maritime activities with an emphasis on the implementation of “effects” across the entire battlespace. In this view, the CSG and its component parts are simply tools in the larger effort to attain these desired effects. So, while the carrier and its attached air wing may be the most potent tools available, the days of discrete and insoluble CSGs no longer are a given. 

This change can be observed in the increasingly common and necessary disaggregation of the strike group, once in theater. Whether this disaggregation is the result of a paucity of assets; the rise of distributed lethality or distributed maritime operations; or the requirements of ballistic-missile defense and what that means for cruisers and destroyers in terms of geographic placement, it seems true that fleet operations in support of operation plan (OPlan) execution will be decentralized at the tactical level. At the operational level—the level between strategic and tactical—however, synergy and integration are essential. In the fleet, the picture has gotten bigger. No longer is it “What is the CSG in the South China Sea doing?” Today, it is “What is the state of play in our undersea warfare . . . or cyber . . . or logistics campaign?”

With regard to these various campaigns taking place at the operational level, the term “network” or “grids” has come into play. As envisioned, this is the system through which intelligence and sensor/targeting information flows, is synthesized, and then is used by all platforms to execute the desired effects quickly and deliberately. The submarine force has a major role to play in this structure because speed and stealth are required in the time-sensitive targeting that demands not only the attrition of enemy forces but also—and just as important—the attrition rate of critical enemy combatants. Consider: Every day a key enemy asset remains on the field is another day in which it may threaten campaign success. So, in modern thought, not only is killing the enemy a concern, but killing them quickly is of paramount importance. 1

In the case of attack submarines, they increasingly respond to the theater antisubmarine warfare commander (TASWC), who is responsible for weaving together submarines, P-3/P-8 aircraft, ocean surveillance ships, and other sensors/effectors into the networked grid to achieve the effects mandated by the MOC and support different campaigns subordinate to the overall OPlan execution. The TASWC is based conceptually in what is called full-spectrum antisubmarine or undersea warfare—a process that coordinates component and joint capabilities to achieve the desired effects within and from the undersea domain to support the “Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority.” 

The TASWC will use any and all available undersea forces to be either the supported or the supporting commander in all warfare areas and campaigns. With regard to the SSN connection to the CSG, while the CSG may not be aware of the submarine’s involvement in strike group defense, the TASWC is responsible for moving submarines and other ASW assets at his disposal in defense of the carrier (or any other high-value unit) as needed. In short, through the MOC/TASWC, submarines still are closely and vitally connected to the immediate defense of the fleet—but only when and as needed. 

Old Think Becomes New

The problem of numbers still attends any discussion of a shift from peacetime to wartime, so it is sensible to ask whether the ISR, ballistic-missile submarine protection, and hunter/killer missions will somehow be shed in the event of war in favor of a broader and more aggressive tasking. As it turns out, the answer is yes . . . and no. 

Prior to the outbreak of World War II, one of the primary concerns of those who were formulating War Plan Orange—the strategy for a war against Japan—was the problem of getting the fleet from the Atlantic and into the Pacific. In recent years, this question likewise has occupied the submarine force, which would find itself shorthanded in the event of peer-to-peer warfare. Part of the solution has been determined to be a large-scale “flush” of much of the submarine force to the Pacific. So, while this movement is occurring, some missions may have to be sacrificed, pending the arrival of reinforcements, after which sufficient assets will exist.  

The planning for this large-scale movement is evolving even now, and fleet exercises have been instituted to develop the details: Which boats should be sent? When? Via what path? What are the second-, third-, and fourth-level implications on both sides of the world? How will they be seamlessly “chopped” into ongoing operations? At what level of warfare proficiency are they certified and will that dictate the assigned missions? How will they be replenished and when? 

In addition, even now, the submarine force is carefully retooling the way it does business to meet a changing perception of the challenges that might be faced during conflict. Most notably, efforts are being undertaken to move the attack boat force away from operations that are closely scripted and meticulously controlled and toward the more independent, unrestricted operations commonly understood to have originated in World War II. In the next war, should it come, submarine captains will be charged to range farther and more independently, using their own judgment to aggressively prosecute the war, by any means necessary. This independence will have to be tied to the integrated fleet battle plan, so that the target sets are well known and prioritized to achieve the desired end states. 

While it will be a struggle to implement this independence of action, fleet-wide, following decades of increased micromanagement, it is a must-do. In any major war scenario, the easy, worldwide use of satellite communications likely will be lost, along with Global Positioning System navigation. Ships of all sorts will be expected to operate, if not independently, then with little more than a top-level list of desired theater “effects.” 2

In the next war—and in diametric opposition to the growing interconnectedness of fleet units and the chain-of-command, top-to-bottom—it will be incumbent on unit-level commanders to act independently and aggressively in effecting their understood missions. Thus, in the Pacific at least, there is increased emphasis on clear, succinct, top-level guidance, so forces know what to do when and if interconnectedness is lost. The submarine force has foreseen this and already is pivoting in this direction.

Pacing the Threat

In support of that pivot and to pace its adversaries’ threat vector, the submarine force increasingly is experimenting with new technologies, including a universe of unmanned vehicles, both undersea (UUVs) and aerial (UAVs). The force just stood up its new UUV squadron in Bangor, Washington, to begin developing and fleshing out UUV operational and tactical concepts. In addition, there is a growing lean toward technologies that make attack boats more interactive, including sophisticated systems that allow, not only coordination with the TASWC, but also real-time communication with other forces in support of targeting and battle damage assessment. 

These new envisioned systems are necessitated by the realization that in modern warfare, unmanned and intelligent systems offer capacity and capabilities that manned systems cannot. They can provide a greater view of the battlespace farther forward and with less risk. Ultimately, this means longer arms for kinetic reach and an ability to be connected to the netted grid even in satellite-jammed environments. 

The submarine force may be silent, butg the maritime battlespace to the requisite level of risk. And once the war is fully joined, they in a fight, it is and will be an invaluable asset. At the outset of a conflict, owing to their stealth, submarines can roam at will and carry the initial salvo to the enemy, clearin will be everywhere—and nowhere—bringing the fight to the enemy’s front door: fully integrated and indispensable.

1. See also ADM Scott H. Swift, USN, “A Fleet Must Be Able to Fight,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 144, no. 5 (May 2018), 38-43.

2. See for example LT (j.g.) Daniel Stefanus, USN, “Embracing the Dark Battle,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 143, no. 4 (April 2017), 26-31; Milan Vego, “Mission Command and Zero Error Tolerance Cannot Coexist,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 144, no. 7 (July 2018), 58-61; and CDR Carl Graham, USN (Ret.), “The Mirage of Mission Command,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 144, no. 8 (August 2018), 62-65.

Captain Corpus is the deputy for training and assessments at the Undersea Warfare Development Center. His active-duty assignments included chief of staff, Naval Mine and ASW Command; chief of staff, Carrier Strike Group Five; and commander, Submarine Squadron 15. He holds a bachelor of science in marine engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master’s in systems analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Captain Eyer served in seven cruisers and commanded three: the USS Thomas S. Gates (CG-51), Shiloh (CG-67), and Chancellorsville (CG-62). ^


Report details 'vulnerabilities' in industries vital to national defense, US official says

By Paulina Dedaj, Louis Casiano | Fox News

The U.S. industries responsible for the production of military weapons systems show “a number of vulnerabilities,” a White House report revealed Thursday, according to a senior administration official.

The 107-page report identifies at least 300 specific vulnerabilities -- including a major issue regarding the skilled-labor gap that the administration says “demand(s) immediate action.”

While the entire list of vulnerabilities is classified, the report highlights some of the problems the Department of Defense is facing.

For example, there is a limited supply of the fabric used for troop’s tents and uniforms and of the rare-earth minerals used to make radars, the Wall Street Journal reported. That could require “decisive efforts to modernize and revitalize the domestic fiber and textile industry,” the report says.

Meanwhile, a low supply of American welders also leaves the defense industrial base at risk, said Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy.

“What you wind up with are single points of failure,” he said Wednesday. “Single sources for key components, like propeller shafts for our subs, gun barrels for our tanks, fuel for our rockets and space-based infrared detectors for missile defense. So we’re at risk in many different ways.”

For years, officials at the Pentagon and in the defense industry have recognized supply-chain issues -- from securing specialized ball bearings to the existence of only a single U.S. plant for making propellers for the Navy.

“We are aware of the critical issues,” said one senior executive who has worked at both the Pentagon and in industry. “You can fix those relatively quickly.” The Pentagon already makes targeted contract awards to support struggling firms -- for example, accelerating payments or increasing the order size.

On Friday, President Trump is expected to sign measures with the intent of using nearly $30 million in “seed or modernization” money to bolster American manufacturing of necessary components such as batteries and fuel cells.

The plan is to stimulate the domestic defense industry and make the market more competitive.

Not included in the measures are the broad import curbs Trump has promised to protect the steel and aluminum industries in the name of national security.

“Our first principle is to strengthen the manufacturing and defense industrial base,” said Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy. “Trade policy is just one of many tools to do that. ... You’ve got to attack these vulnerabilities.”

But invoking national security concerns for trade issues such as tariffs on aluminum and steel exports has raised questions from trade experts.

“There remains room for mischief in any governmental review of national security and international trade,” said Jim Hasik, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank.

Ellen Lord, the Pentagon acquisition chief, said during an interview in July that “there is a large focus on dependency on foreign countries for supply, and China figures very prominently there. I am very concerned that we have secondary sourcing in all of our critical components.”

From 2001-15, 17,000 U.S. firms stopped serving as prime contractors for the Defense Department, according to a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, another think tank.

The downturn resulted in cost-cutting measures for big contractors like Boeing and Northrop Grumman. The result: delays in approving security clearances, leading to worker shortages and competition for workers from the tech industry.

But things could be on the upswing. The last two defense budgets added $75 million for procurement and research, a 15 percent bump over the 2017 fiscal year. Those figures reverse a decline in military spending between 2013 and 2015.^


The New Silk Road Runs through the UAE



When Chinese President Xi Jinping flew to Africa on his way to the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) summit this past summer, he followed a route that has become familiar to many Chinese travelers: he stopped in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Dubai International Airport—the busiest airport in the world by international passengers—has become a major hub for Chinese travelers heading to Africa, South Asia, and Europe. In fact, Emirates Airlines estimates that nearly one quarter of its passengers on Africa flights are Chinese who connected in Dubai.

Of course, President Xi was not interested in shopping at Dubai airport’s glitzy duty-free stores while he waited for a connecting flight. Xi visited the UAE to consolidate ties with a country that has become increasingly important as a major China trade hub for the world. It also happened to be the first foreign visit of his second term, a symbolic act not lost on his UAE hosts. They rolled out the reddest of red carpets for the Chinese president, according him the highest civilian honor, lighting up prominent UAE landmarks in the colors of the Chinese flag, and offering a program of China-themed cultural events during the visit.

As trade rifts threaten the global economy, emerging corridors of trade relationships among developing countries (sometimes called “South-South relationships”) are still humming and reshaping our global commercial geography. The UAE–China relationship is a good example of that. With some 4,000 Chinese companies and four of China’s largest banks operating in the UAE and a trade relationship approaching $60 billion, the UAE–China relationship is one of the most dynamic of all China’s relationships in the Middle East and North Africa.

The connection does not fit easily into recent molds. This is not the typical hydrocarbons-for-manufactured-products relationship. Nor is it like other “Belt and Road” investor-investee relationships that position Beijing as either transformative benefactor (witness the Piraeus port in Greece, dramatically revitalized by Chinese investment) or debt-trap “colonizer” (as an increasing number of countries from Malaysia to Sri Lanka describe it).

Consider the following: China exports more to the UAE, a country of 10 million, than it does to India, with 1.3 billion people. The majority of the UAE exports are transshipped elsewhere, mainly through the Jebel Ali port in Dubai, the ninth-busiest container terminal in the world. Dubai is emerging as something of a “Hong Kong West” for China as an air and sea hub as well as a destination for traders and tourists. Last year, China surpassed India as Dubai’s largest trade partner, and some 750,000 Chinese tourists visited the city last year.

Dubai seems purpose fit for the Belt and Road Initiative, given the city’s growing role as a global logistics center. But the high-flying commercial metropolis of Dubai is not the only city driving the relationship. The UAE capital, Abu Dhabi—home to the country’s oil wealth and its foreign and security policy—has embraced China closely.

The UAE–China relationship began to take strategic depth after the visit of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan to Beijing in December 2015. Of course, there is oil in the relationship. The UAE is not one of China’s major suppliers, barely cracking the top ten, but in March 2018 the oil relationship went from tactical to strategic when China paid some $1.2 billion to take part in two major offshore oil concessions operated by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

Another sign of the growing relationship is Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Port. The Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company Limited (JOCIC) announced in April that 15 Chinese companies had agreed to invest $1 billion in the Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone, currently developed by JOCIC and dubbed the China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Industrial Park.

Khalifa Port, owned by Abu Dhabi Ports Company, is also home to the Cosco Shipping Abu Dhabi Terminal. The latter is being developed by Cosco Shipping Ports, China’s leading state-owned maritime and ports operating company, under a 35-year concession awarded in 2016. Cosco Shipping reportedly paid $400 million for construction, and the new development will nearly double the port’s existing 2.5 million twenty-foot-equivalent units.

The terminal is expected to start operations by the end of this year. While Khalifa Port still has a long way to go to challenge Dubai’s Jebel Ali as the region’s leading container terminal port, Cosco ships gradually will shift from Dubai to Khalifa. Most of the containers landing in Khalifa Port will either be used in the free-trade zone or transshipped elsewhere, but some of them may find their way to the Dubai megamall known as Dragon Mart, the largest Chinese wholesale market outside of mainland China.

The UAE–China relationship seems to be accelerating into the trade-fight winds roiling the world rather than retreating. When two countries with significant surplus capital and broad trading networks across the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region—as well as Europe—join hands, geo-economic observers should pay heed.

Mr. Molavi is a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.


A Stand-Off


Run Silent, Run Shallow

A great deal has changed since World War II submarine offensive combat operations and Cold War intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). Many coastal nations have realized that a few capable nonnuclear submarines—preferably air-independent propulsion (AIP) types (sometimes referred to as “SSPs”) armed with antiship cruise missiles (ASCMs)—offer one of the best options to provide credible, economical defense of their territorial waters.

For countries that can afford them, modern nuclear attack submarines can operate offensively in littoral waters extremely quietly without being threatened by the majority of anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) defensive measures. They can penetrate such barriers essentially at will. A modern SSP can hunker down at very slow speeds and become nearly impossible to find in a classic broad-area, passive sonar antisubmarine warfare (ASW) search conducted by an SSN. 

In other words, the defending nation finds it difficult to keep the offensive SSNs out, but those SSNs cannot find and engage the defensive AIP/ASCM submarines that are keeping the surface warships and carriers out of the A2/AD zone.

What’s a navy to do?

A New Threat Environment

Although the post–Cold War U.S. surface navy took some time to rediscover the idea of fighting in the littorals, submariners never lost sight of it. Deep-ocean Hunt for Red October –type peacetime ASW events drew the most attention, but the real bread-and-butter operations for U.S. submarines involved covert ISR operations in Soviet coastal waters. 1 This history of shallow-water ISR extends back as far as the pre–World War II period when U.S. submarines closely watched the Japanese fortification of Pacific islands. During the course of the Pacific war, many offensive submarine operations were conducted in the shallow waters of the Pacific Rim inside of what is often called “the first island chain.”

The be-all and end-all of the Cold War’s “Third Battle of the Atlantic” (as Professor Owen Cote of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology named it) was the United States’ and NATO’s “acoustic advantage.” At times, the advantage was as great as 40 dB. In practice, this meant U.S. submarines could hear activity at many tens of miles that the enemy could hear at one mile—a nice edge to bring to a fight. That differential no longer exists, and even though some edge against potential adversaries’ top-end nuclear and nonnuclear submarines remains, it often translates into initial detection ranges measured in hundreds of yards rather than miles.

The bad news is that modern, quiet submarines no longer have the ability to sanitize a given geographic area of other modern, quiet submarines, since the mean time to detect an adversary is unacceptably large, especially in the littorals—waters shallower (often much shallower) than 100 fathoms, where background noise and extremely quiet propulsion systems combine to make passive sonar less effective than in the open ocean. 

The good news, however, is that adversary submarines face the same problem. A Virginia -class submarine can operate with relative impunity within a denied area. Improvements in foreign subs mean a Virginia may not be as effective as a U.S. submarine once would have been at antisubmarine warfare, but it can perform other types of valuable mischief

Successful submarine employment in current and foreseeable scenarios will require a “connectivity advantage” analogous to the Cold War acoustic advantage. The quantity of data passed is less important than the quality of the data—and its assurance throughout a submarine’s operating envelope—and it will require the ability to disrupt the other side’s connectivity.

The Problem for Shallow-Water Defenders 

Defensive submarine operations in shallow waters protect a defender’s coastal waters from invasion. This invasion may take the form of an amphibious landing or an attack on national assets from sea-based air power. In any case, large surface ships and carriers must close the enemy coast.

Submarines playing defense may need to get close enough to the surface ships to do their own targeting. In World War II, most successful torpedo attacks were conducted from inside 2,000 yards, but modern torpedoes permit attacks from greater than 20,000 yards. As a rule of thumb, if the submarine can see the target, it can be attacked.

Surface ships possess highly developed close-in ASW detection and engagement capabilities including effective periscope detection radars. This leads to a problem for the defensive submarines. Submarines possess four critical core capabilities—stealth, mobility, firepower, and endurance. Nonnuclear submarines—even AIP ones—fall short in terms of mobility and endurance if they must search for and close highly mobile targets such as amphibious ready groups (ARGs) or carrier strike groups (CSGs). 

An appropriate tactic for nonnuclear submarines on their own—shallow—turf is to stay hidden and not move a lot, especially at noisy high speed. The concept is suited perfectly to employment of long-range ASCMs: stay in “hide” positions until the attack, move to a launch position, attack, then quickly return to the hide. The weakness of this practice is that someone else has to provide the ASCM-equipped submarine with near-real time targeting data.

The Offense Does not Have It Easy, Either

For purposes of this discussion, offensive submarine operations rest on several assumptions. First, the location to be attacked is far from the homeports of the attacker. Second, the deployed submarines will have to operate without logistical support for several months. Third, the waters to be infiltrated might be extremely cold or extremely warm. And fourth, a timely response is critical. 

Large size and significant power for air conditioning and life-support equipment greatly enhance the platform’s ability to reach distant waters, whether arctic or tropic, and remain for extended periods. This helps explain a recent trend in nonnuclear submarines designs toward the 3,000–3,500-ton displacement range as opposed to approximately 1,000 tons, the standard just a short time ago. But even the large ones do not compete in all aspects with nuclear submarines.

The core values of stealth, mobility, firepower, and endurance are most fully embodied in nuclear-powered attack and guided-missile (SSGN) submarines. These boats possess the range to cross oceans and the stealth to penetrate A2/AD defenses.

Even so, the SSNs or SSGNs cannot easily take the fight to the stealthy, hidden AIP submarines. And the defensive submarines pose the last, most potent A2/AD threat to the surface ships that wish to attack the territory the AIP boat is defending.

What a Navy Can Do

The threat these unlocated defending submarines pose to surface ships must be eliminated or at least severely mitigated. The vulnerability lies in the means by which these defenders receive targeting data from nodes on shore. The opening round of offensive ASW actions should be land-attack strikes from the SSNs and -SSGNs against these nodes, as well as on targeting assets such as over-the-horizon radar sites (including secondary strikes on radars that pop up after the primary sites are taken down). In this regard, this “suppression of enemy submarine connectivity” is analogous to the familiar suppression of enemy air defenses integral to any air campaign. 

It is interesting, but not entirely surprising, that dependence on connectivity (or mission degradation in the absence of it) varies as a function of submarine type. That is, the more capably a submarine platform can use mobility and/or endurance to compensate for late or inaccurate intelligence, the less it depends on off-hull support. Additionally, the bigger a platform is and the greater discretionary electrical power it has for sensors and computer processing of raw data, the more it is likely to become a source for rather than a user of an information grid. 

Two key assumptions support the concept that disrupting shore-based targeting facilities and their connectivity to offshore submarines will substantially neuter a modern A2/AD complex. The most critical assumption is that adequate command and control connectivity will be maintained with the penetrating SSNs and SSGNs. The other is that the defensive submarines largely will be incapable of effectively operating autonomously because of the large size of the A2/AD area that results from defending against long-range land-attack cruise missiles. 

The U.S. submarine force owns a long history of having to function effectively in an independent role with limited means to ask for or receive guidance from their masters ashore. This has resulted in a necessary skill set that emphasized the technique—the art—of submarine warfare. It required an extensive apprenticeship to develop. 

Modern technology provides very large “pipes” through which to pass two-way data, information, and knowledge. It also enables a more procedural manner of submarine warfare, a tempting scheme for countries with smaller navies. Technology therefore permits these platforms to be effective while manned with less experienced crews—so long as this high bandwidth connectivity is not disrupted. 

More Data, More Risk

If highly trained U.S. submarine forces can continue to resist the temptations associated with having these large pipes available and actively maintain the techniques required to operate effectively in a degraded command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence environment, then both of the above assumptions should remain true.

Offensively oriented submarines typically have more options for connectivity due to their larger size, available power, and redundancy in equipment. But properly operated they should be less dependent on connectivity than smaller and power-limited defensively oriented submarines. 

This dichotomy provides favorable options for the offensive platform and highlights a defensive vulnerability to be exploited—all while playing to an offensive strength. Keeping SSPs moving by forcing them to do more of their own ISR and targeting exposes them to the maximum danger from the offensively minded SSNs and SSGNs while also consuming their limited AIP capability. Cutting off the data tether to the land increases the chances SSPs will surrender the advantage of silence and make the kind of noise that only motion induces. An underwater submarine duel makes for great movies—but it is not how the Navy will win a submarine battle in the littorals.

1. A substantive examination of these operations is contained in Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage (New York: PublicAffairs, 2016).

Captain Patton served on two SSBNs and five SSNs, commanding the USS Pargo (SSN-650). He also served in the Office of the CNO in submarine research and development, as the chief staff officer and deputy for readiness and training at Submarine Development Squadron 12, as the director of tactical training at Naval Submarine School, and as the director of wargaming systems at the Naval War College. He now consults on matters of stealth warfare, sensors, weapons and communications. He served for three years as the technical consultant to Paramount Pictures for the film The Hunt for Red October . ^

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