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Wednesday, December 12, 2018 10:00 AM





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Can China and the United States Avoid War?

Russia and Ukraine – Why is the Kremlin picking a new fight?

Never Forget. Pearl Harbor 77th

U.S. Destroyer Conducts FONOP Near Russian Pacific Fleet Headquarters

Naval Intelligence’s Lost Decade

George H W Bush: The war years

Turning Black Friday Red, White and Blue

CNO: ‘No Surprises’ in GAO Report on Submarine Readiness Challenges


CHICAGO TRIBUNE | January 10, 1991


Can China and the United States Avoid War?

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd —in his keynote address at the
New China Challenge conference in October—considered the strategic competition
between the United States and China. This article is adapted from his speech.

As Prime Minister of Australia, through the Australian Defence White Paper of 2009, I was proud to commission the largest peacetime expansion of the Australian Navy in its history—growing our surface fleet by a third and doubling the submarine fleet. That naval expansion had a strategic purpose in mind—namely, the change in the economic and military balance of power between China and the United States. The white paper concluded: 

Barring major setbacks, China by 2030 will become a major driver of economic activity both in the region and globally, and will have strategic influence beyond East Asia. 

The crucial relationship in the region, but also globally, will be that between the United States and China. The management of the relationship between Washington and Beijing will be of paramount importance for strategic stability in the Asia-Pacific region. . . .

China will also be the strongest Asian military power, by a considerable margin. Its military modernization will be increasingly characterized by the development of power projection capabilities. . . . But the pace, scope and structure of China’s military modernization have the potential to give its neighbors cause for concern if not carefully explained, and if China does not reach out to others to build confidence regarding its military plans. . . . 

If it does not, there is likely to be a question in the minds of regional states about the long-term strategic purpose of its force development plans, particularly as its military modernization appears potentially to be beyond the scope of what would be required for a conflict over Taiwan. 1

This was several years before there was any evidence of Chinese land reclamation in the South China Sea. 

Dealing with the complexities of the changing East Asian security environment over the years has had its own challenges for U.S. allies, most of them invisible to the Washington policy establishment. In the midst of all this, Australia sought to prosecute a balanced relationship with Beijing: deeply mindful of our differences in security interests and underlying values, while pursuing an economic relationship to our mutual advantage. At various times my government incurred Beijing’s wrath on human rights—on Tibet, Xinjiang, and Australian-Chinese citizens, for instance; on trade—such as when we refused to allow Huawei access to the Australian telecom and broadband network; or in rejecting certain strategic foreign investment proposals—as when the state-owned Chinalco sought to take over the Australian mining giant Rio Tinto. 

Meanwhile, we expanded our security dialog with Beijing, our trade volumes doubled, and we approved the vast bulk of Chinese foreign investment in non-sensitive areas of the economy. Australia also ended up with more Chinese students in its universities than in any other country in the world after the United States, and we worked intimately with Beijing through the G20 during the global financial crisis to help stabilize financial markets and return growth to the global economy. 

All this is to underline that there is nothing quite like dealing with the Chinese state firsthand to focus the mind on what is strategically important—and what is mere political ephemera. 

How does Xi’s China See Its Future?

I believe history will mark 2018 as a profound turning point in relations between the two great powers of the 21st century—the United States and China—even if none of us can confidently predict what the long-term geopolitical trajectory will be. 

China’s rise as a global power did not begin in 2018 but rather 40 years ago. This rise has continued under multiple Chinese administrations, albeit within single party rule and a continuing strategic culture, focused on China’s acquisition of national wealth and power. But while what China internally refers to as “comprehensive national power” has increased steadily under Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao, what has changed under current President Xi Jinping has been the clarity of articulation of China’s strategic intentions. This is reflected also in the increased operational tempo of China’s military, diplomatic, and economic policy behaviors around the world. If the pillars of strategic analysis are capabilities, intentions, and actions, it is clear from all three that China is no longer a status-quo power.

It is important, however, to be clear about where increased national wealth and power fit within Xi’s wider worldview and his own particular set of national priorities. A road map of strategic goals does not necessarily say which China is likely to achieve. China’s leaders face a complex brew of domestic and international challenges that would cause most to go grey prematurely. But China may well prevail.  Read All ^


Russia and Ukraine – Why is the Kremlin picking a new fight?

By William Courtney, Brad Martin | Fox News


Russia cannot seem to shake its obsession with Ukraine. Starting in 2014, Moscow’s seizure of Crimea and war in eastern Ukraine have led the West to sanction Russians and expand aid to Ukraine, and NATO to shift land and air forces eastward.

Expanded Russian coercion, including the seizure of two Ukrainian gunboats and a tug in the Kerch Strait, and detention of their 24 sailors, may draw more NATO naval power closer to Russia’s shores and lead to tougher sanctions.

Why is the Kremlin picking a new fight?

Perhaps Moscow thinks naval coercion will give it leverage to negotiate an end to Ukraine’s economic blockade of Crimea and a resumption of Ukrainian water supplies to it. But the Kremlin has not given public priority to such talks.

Perhaps the Kremlin is seeking to bolster President Vladimir Putin’s political fortunes after a pension reform that sparked public protests. A poll published in October found that 58 percent of Russians trusted him, down from 75 percent last year.

Perhaps Moscow is trying to weaken Ukraine and show it to be a failing state. But Ukraine is recovering. In October the International Monetary Fund predicted that this year economic growth in Ukraine would be double that of Russia (3.5 vs. 1.7 percent).

Or perhaps the Kremlin thinks naval pressure will help Russia take effective control of a wide swath of eastern and southern Ukraine. In spring 2014 Putin implied this goal by saying the region – seized by Catherine the Great – was not part of Ukraine.

Russia does seem to want military control of the Sea of Azov, despite a 2003 Russian-Ukrainian accord that ships of both states have a right of “free navigation” there. Ukrainian ports on the Sea are a lifeline for export of bulk commodities, such as coal, metals, grain and fertilizer.

The persistence and scale of Russian coercion will affect Western countermeasures. Likely ones fall into three categories: sanctions, commercial and maritime.

Since 2014 the West has made liberal use of sanctions. They require little government funding but can have big impact. A recent study by Bloomberg Economics found that sanctions may have reduced Russia’s GDP by up to 6 percent over the past four years.

Soon the U.S. is expected to announce new sanctions in response to Russia’s violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. A U.S. law requires sanctions over the use of a banned nerve agent in the attack last March on former Russian spy Sergey Skripal. The Kerch Strait crisis or other Russian coercion could give impetus to two sanctions bills pending in Congress.

Several Western commercial options could be considered. The West could help Ukraine build more rail and road links between eastern Ukraine and Odessa, Ukraine’s largest port. But added land transport could make export of bulk commodities less competitive on global markets. Western ports could become less receptive to Russian-flagged vessels.

U.S. and other Western military training and equipping efforts have enhanced Ukrainian land forces. In light of Russia’s naval challenge, the West could offer training to Ukrainian sailors and over time provide Ukraine with patrol ships capable of delivering anti-ship cruise missiles and greater maritime surveillance capacity. Even so, over any reasonable time horizon, Ukraine will not be able to compete on the scale of Russia’s large Black Sea Fleet supported by its major base at Sevastopol.

The U.S. Navy has increased its presence in the Black Sea over the past two years as Russia has deployed more warships there, particularly submarines. This year NATO warships have spent 120 days in the Black Sea versus 80 in 2017.

Within the constraints of the 1936 Montreux Convention, which bans permanent naval stationing in the Black Sea by non-littoral states and imposes other limits, the U.S. and other allies could further expand rotations of warships in the Black Sea. Destroyers and other ships having strong defense and anti-ship missile capabilities could be a good option. More patrols may help to deter further Russian naval adventurism.

European navies have long experience with coastal patrol vessels well-suited for operations in confined waterways. Recently retired but still capable German Gepard-class patrol vessels are an example. Other European navies operate patrol craft and could provide training and assistance. Better maritime defense capabilities would also help Ukraine deter future Russian coercion in the shared littoral area.

The Kremlin may not want Ukraine to bolster its coastal defenses or NATO ships to steam more often in the Black Sea, but its actions could lead in this direction.

Brad Martin is a senior policy researcher at RAND and Captain, USN (retired). ^

Never Forget. Pearl Harbor 77th

 All Hands December 7, 2018 |



U.S. Destroyer Conducts FONOP Near Russian Pacific Fleet Headquarters




A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer conducted a freedom of navigation operation on Wednesday near the home of Russia’s Pacific fleet.

USS McCampbell (DDG-85) steamed through Peter the Great Bay in the Sea of Japan, near the port of Vladivostok – home to Russia’s Pacific Fleet.


McCampbell sailed in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay to challenge Russia’s excessive maritime claims and uphold the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea enjoyed by the United States and other Nations,” Lt. j.g. Rachel McMarr, a U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesperson, said in a statement to USNI News.

“U.S. Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis. These operations demonstrate the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows. That is true in the Sea of Japan, as in other places around the globe.”

Moscow asserts the entire bay as Russian territorial waters, a claim that does not conform to international law.

Recently, the U.S. Navy’s FONOPS have mostly involved making a show of sending ships past islands claimed by China in the South China Sea. China has aggressively built up several islands in the region in an attempt to stretch the area it claims as sovereign territory beyond the international standard of 12 nautical miles from its mainland. Some of the islands are artificial and not recognized by international law.

“We conduct routine and regular freedom of navigation operations, as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future. FONOPS are not about any one country, nor are they about current events. All freedom of navigation assertions are grounded in principle and the rule of law,” McMarr said.^


Naval Intelligence’s Lost Decade

When then–Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead issued the memorandum formally establishing the Information Dominance Corps (now Information Warfare Community) in November 2009, he quoted Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés at Veracruz: “We’ve burned the boats . . . there’s no going back!” This is often seen as the act that led to Cortés’ historic defeat of the Aztec Empire in 1521. His men, as Cortés later put it, “then had nothing to rely on, apart from their own hands, and the assurance that they would conquer and win the land, or die in the attempt.”

Today, the Cortés anecdote is a metaphor for bold, decisive action necessary to take organizations through fundamental change to new heights. It is problematic, however, because it confuses the motivation for the plan with its actual execution. Burning the boats did not advance Cortés’s men one step toward Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital. The Spanish still had a long way to go—there were brigantines to build, alliances to form, and numerous battles to be won in the two-year campaign. After the boats were burned, Cortés’s men moved off the beach and got to work.

Nearly ten years into its time in the Information Warfare Community (IWC), naval intelligence has not “left the beach” with a sense of urgency to acquire and field cutting-edge systems that will vault the community into the era of big data and human-machine pairing. Instead, it largely has remained complacent while watching dramatic change occur in the information domain. The past decade has witnessed the emergence of mass digitization, artificial intelligence, robotics, and rapid technological change: the big data era. Yet naval intelligence persists in using the same tools, people, and tradecraft as in 2009. In a global security environment where “margins of victory are razor thin,” this must rapidly be addressed. 2

The 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) challenges naval intelligence to play an integral role in the “lethal, resilient, and rapidly adapting Joint Force.” To do this well, naval intelligence must make priority investments in its people and big data–enabled technologies. And, perhaps most important, it must experiment with human–machine pairing, the most promising development for analytical tradecraft. The community has a proud history of out-thinking, outmaneuvering, out-partnering, and out-innovating adversaries. But naval intelligence cannot rest on its laurels in a renewed drive for prominence
. Read All ^


George H W Bush: The war years

BBC News | December 1, 2018


A number of presidents have seen the face of battle. George Washington, the American colonies' commander-in-chief during the War of Independence, famously led his troops across the Delaware River in the bows of a rowing boat.

Besides this, both Ulysses S Grant and Dwight D Eisenhower commanded US forces and Teddy Roosevelt led the Rough Riders as they charged up San Juan Hill during the Spanish American War.

And John F Kennedy directed the crew of his motorboat to safety after it was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer in the Pacific during World War II.

During the same conflict, in another part of that vast ocean, a 20 year-old US Navy aviator was winning himself the Distinguished Flying Cross. George Herbert Walker Bush would later describe his experience of war as "sobering".

Bush enlisted in the Navy on 13 June 1942, the day after his 18th birthday. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had happened six months earlier and he had just graduated from the exclusive Andover College.


After completing 10 months of pre-flight training at the University of North Carolina, George Bush was commissioned as an ensign in the US Naval Reserve on 9 June 1943. He was, at the time, the youngest pilot in the US Navy.


Three months later he was posted to the Pacific as a photographic officer with Torpedo Squadron VT-51, before moving to the light aircraft carrier, USS San Jacinto, in the spring of 1944.


Bush's move to the carrier coincided with one of the bloodiest campaigns of the war. As Japanese forces were rolled back across the northern Pacific, US troops had to "island hop" their way forward, often sustaining huge losses in the process.


After seeing action in the Marcus and Wake islands, Bush was involved in one of the largest air battles of the whole war over the Marianas islands in June 1944.


On 19 June, the US task force finally won out over the tenacious Japanese. Returning from the mission, he had to make a forced landing on water.


He and his crew were rescued by the destroyer, USS Clarence K Bronson, losing their aircraft in the process. And, six days later, Bush and another pilot were credited with sinking a small cargo ship.


On 1 August 1944 Bush was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade as the USS San Jacinto commenced operations against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands, 600 miles south-west of Japan.


On 2 September 1944, Bush piloted one of four Avenger light bombers which were to attack a Japanese radio station on the island of Chi Chi Jima.


Three months later he was posted to the Pacific as a photographic officer with Torpedo Squadron VT-51, before moving to the light aircraft carrier, USS San Jacinto, in the spring of 1944.


Bush's move to the carrier coincided with one of the bloodiest campaigns of the war. As Japanese forces were rolled back across the northern Pacific, US troops had to "island hop" their way forward, often sustaining huge losses in the process.


After seeing action in the Marcus and Wake islands, Bush was involved in one of the largest air battles of the whole war over the Marianas islands in June 1944.


On 19 June, the US task force finally won out over the tenacious Japanese. Returning from the mission, he had to make a forced landing on water.


On 2 September 1944, Bush piloted one of four Avenger light bombers which were to attack a Japanese radio station on the island of Chi Chi Jima.


During their attack, the four aircraft encountered intense anti-aircraft fire. While starting his bombing run, Bush's aircraft was hit and his engine caught fire.


He completed his attack and released the bombs, hitting and damaging the target. "We were trained to complete our runs no matter what the obstacle," he later commented.


The aircraft, though, was severely damaged and, with its engine blazing, Lieutenant Bush flew several miles out to sea before he and one crew member bailed out.


Unfortunately, this man died after his parachute failed to open. The third member of the crew was also lost.


Bush landed in the sea and waited for four hours in an inflatable life-raft, while several US fighter aircraft circled protectively overhead, before being rescued by the lifeguard submarine, USS Finback.


As he later quipped: "I saw this thing coming out of the water and I said to myself, 'Jeez, I hope it's one of ours.'"

The rescue was filmed by the submarine's sub-lieutenant and featured in a number of Bush's political campaigns. His opponents often criticised the move but his campaign teams always gave their blessing to the use of the footage.


For his part in this action, Bush received one of his country's highest awards, the DFC. He remained on the USS Finback for a month, during which the submarine came under repeated attack from Japanese destroyers, and helped to rescue a number of other pilots.


Bush returned to the San Jacinto in November 1944 and saw action over the Philippines. Within months, though, Bush's squadron, half of whose pilots had become casualties, returned to the United States.


During his short and sharp war, George Bush flew 58 combat missions and, besides the DFC, received three Air Medals and the Presidential Unit Citation awarded to the USS San Jacinto.


Bush himself became a flight instructor before being honourably discharged from active duty in September 1945.

Though he had not served for a decade, Bush finally formally resigned from the US Navy in 1955. By then, after having graduated from Yale, he had already become a successful Texas oilman with political aspirations. ^


Turning Black Friday Red, White and  Blue

Monday, November 26, 2018

While many people were out looking for amazing shopping deals on Black Friday, BOWFIN Base SUBVETS Gary Johnson, Karl Dye, Brett Kulbis, Rick Salisbury and Paul Jurcsak were on a different mission. They joined Preston Sharp and Team Preston, made up of Mom April, her boyfriend Gary Sandoval, Preston’s brother Stephan and his girl friend Abby, and Preston’s friend DJ McHutchen, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl to support Preston’s mission of Veterans Flags and Flowers. It was not just Preston’s team that was there. Over forty other enthusiastic patriots joined to effort. There were representatives from the Rotary Club of Honolulu Sunset, out of state visitors from the Rotary Club of Dallas Fort Worth, over a dozen members of the Veteran Jeep Club - Jeep-i-Joe, a detachment from the Young Marines organization, Daniel “Wolfman” Salisbury representing the Boy Scouts, and some others that just wanted to join in to show their respect for our nation’s Veterans.

     As eager shoppers went from store to store to find the best prices on sales specials, we, as Team Preston, went from grave to grave to decorate the final resting place of the Veterans at Punchbowl with a flag and carnation. We honored over 3000 Veterans this glorious day. Preston has done similar Flag and Flower events in 25 states honoring over 185,000 Veterans. His mission is not done as he plans to continue honoring Veterans every day, not just holidays. He has more states to visit, and more Veterans to honor.

     Preston began his mission of honoring Veterans after visiting his grandfather’s grave and noticing that there were several graves of our nation’s Veterans that were simply there, not decorated as he thought, and knew, they should be. It was his Mom, as Moms always do, that said “If this frustrates you then do something about it.”  Well Preston is doing something about it and we are honored to be able to be part of his heroic mission. Jim Gibson of the CUTTLEFISH Base was the one who connected us with Preston which just goes to show how the Brother of the 'Phin are fraternally connected and continue to serve our great nation.

     All in all, it was a fantastic day. After our time at Punchbowl NSSC Command Master Chief Rick “Steak” Salisbury gave us a tour of the historic sites on Ford Island. Team Preston was most interested in seeing where it all began and the witnessing the remnants of the attack still preserved on the island, including the Utah Memorial and the bullet holes on the runways and buildings. Steak then sponsored the group for lunch at the Silver Dolphin Bistro, which everyone simply loved and complimented on the quality of the meal. From there we went to a guided tour of the USS OLYMPIA (SSN 717), the oldest SSN in the Fleet.  OLYMPIA’s CO, CDR Ben Selph, was on board to greet the tour and Communications Officer, LT Wong, who was CDO, led the tour which thoroughly impressed Team Preston. We finished off the day with a visit to the Bowfin Museum and Park.

     It was truly an honor to take part in such a noble mission that Preston is undertaking. The future of our nation is in good hands as long as people like Preston and the members of Team Preston are there to keep us grounded and to recognize the contributions of so many to make this the greatest nation the world has ever known.

Paul Jurcsak
USSVI Bowfin Base Pearl Harbor


CNO: ‘No Surprises’ in GAO Report on Submarine Readiness Challenges

USNI News | By: Megan Eckstein | November 26, 2018 10:49 AM


Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said there are “no surprises” in a recent Government Accountability Office report that found the Navy has lost more than $1.5 billion and thousands of operational days over the past decade due to attack submarines caught in maintenance delays or sitting idle while awaiting an availability.

According to the Nov. 19 report, “The Navy has started to address challenges related to workforce shortages and facilities needs at the public shipyards. However, it has not effectively allocated maintenance periods among public shipyards and private shipyards that may also be available to help minimize attack submarine idle time.”

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said there are “no surprises” in a recent Government Accountability Office report that found the Navy has lost more than $1.5 billion and thousands of operational days over the past decade due to attack submarines caught in maintenance delays or sitting idle while awaiting an availability.

According to the Nov. 19 report, “The Navy has started to address challenges related to workforce shortages and facilities needs at the public shipyards. However, it has not effectively allocated maintenance periods among public shipyards and private shipyards that may also be available to help minimize attack submarine idle time.”

Richardson, in a media call on Thursday during his Thanksgiving visit to USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), told USNI News that he found “no surprises in that report. Every bit of information in that is information we’re very, very aware of. We’ve been talking about the maintenance challenges at the public shipyards for some time, so no surprises there.”

The Navy this year released a 20-year, $21-billion plan to optimize and modernize its four public shipyards that work on attack submarines. But in the short term, Richardson said the yard readiness situation is “a very complex and stressed environment.”

The four yards are digging out of maintenance backlogs that built up due to insufficient manpower, unexpected work popping up once a ship got into the yard and other factors. The attack submarine force faced the brunt of the delays, though, because the yards prioritize ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) and aircraft carriers above the attack subs (SSNs).

Several instances have occurred where an attack sub idled at the public yard because the workforce was focused on a higher-priority ship, or where an SSN couldn’t even get into the yard because there was no capacity to work on it. Private shipbuilders Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat have asked to help take on some of the SSN repair work the Navy can’t handle, and there has been discussion on how early to award that work to the private sector versus wait and see if the Navy can handle it itself.

These readiness challenges, though, come as operational commanders are asking for more and more attack subs to support their areas of responsibility, and subs are increasingly being requested to support high-end training with carrier strike groups, with P-8A aircraft and with each other for sub-on-sub training. As demand increases and readiness remains a challenge, the inventory may drop into the mid-40s, compared to a requirement for 66, due to planned decommissionings.

“In terms of the impact the attack submarine force has on the strategic environment, that’s also exacerbated by the fact that we’re [facing] a declining force level right now. Even as we build two Virginias a year, we’re taking submarines out of the inventory as they decommission. And so Navy leadership, including the Submarine Force leadership, Adm. [Charles] Richard, Adm. [Tom] Moore at [Naval Sea Systems Command – very, very focused on this, and so we’ll continue to adapt. All of those things you mentioned in terms of schedule adjustments, the back-and-forth in terms of taking advantage of all of the capacity in both the public and the private sector – that’s something that we talk about very very frequently as we try to optimize our way through these challenges,” Richardson told USNI News. ^


US Carrier's Port Call a Possible Gesture Ahead of Trump-Xi Showdown

NCIS documents cast doubt on Navy SEAL’s guilt in slaying of Islamic State fighter

| Navy Times

Two high-ranking Iraqi military leaders with close ties to the SEALs cast doubt on the case military prosecutors have formed against Special Operations Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher, who’s accused of murdering a wounded prisoner of war, according to records provided to Navy Times.

Their transcribed interviews contradict nearly every aspect of the federal case against Gallagher, 39, who faces up to 18 criminal counts, including premeditated murder for allegedly stabbing to death a badly wounded Islamic State detainee near the Iraqi city of Mosul on May 3, 2017.

A report prepared by the Naval Criminal Investigate Service on Oct. 22 — five weeks after Gallagher was arrested by federal agents and incarcerated in the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in San Diego — includes an interview in Baghdad with Iraqi Emergency Response Division commander Maj. Gen. Abbas al-Jubouri and his aide, Col. Issa Kadhim.

“Chief Ed was ‘long in the service,’ very experienced,” said al-Jubouri. "He was hard on them and responsible for them. They were very young and inexperienced. Chief Ed is experienced in war from lots of time in Afghanistan and Iraq and he is very good. Chief Ed was very good with all weapons systems, especially the (anti-tank rocket). He is the best Chief.”

“He was very strict with his men,” al-Jubouri added. “He was an asshole to them, like I am an asshole to my men — because you have to be as a leader. He was very aggressive and hard on his men, never wanting to stop working or take a break. Chief Ed never wanted to stop and he worked all the time."

Both al-Jubouri and Kadhim remembered “vividly” when they brought the Islamic State fighter to the SEAL compound and NCIS had no problem pinpointing the date because an Iraqi TV reporter interviewed the captured but seriously wounded boy shortly before Iraqi forces hauled him away.

According to the NCIS file, Ali Jawad, a TV combat correspondent with close ties to Shia militia groups, especially the Badr Brigade, did a brief videotaped interview with the ISIS fighter, which was later uploaded to the social media platform YouTube.

On his back, the boy said that he was 17 years old and joined the Sunni jihadist militia before the month of Ramadan because his father “was beating me and telling me we do not go with ISIS" and he wanted to hear them tell him he did a “good job.”

The reporter then turned to ERD field commander, Brig. Gen. Mahdi al-Hayali, who said that the boy was shot while carrying a PK machine gun, but was going to be taken to a village outside Mosul for interrogation.

Kadhim recalled the trip back to the SEAL outpost because he was along for the ride. Al-Jubouri said that the boy — he pegged his age between 15 and 17 — was the sole survivor of a band of ISIS fighters that once had numbered up to 50 militants before they were besieged by the ERD.

Struggling without a steady supply of food, water and ammunition, the unnamed boy was the only one left in the ISIS unit. He was discovered riddled with bullets, with the “most prolific” wound to his leg where “the artery was shot” and he was “bleeding badly, with little chance of survival," according to the transcribed interview.


Read All

And then see interview with Chief's brother ^



Oceans: Sea-Level Rise and Disappearing Nations

Mass migrations are major international political issues. Now there is an added concern: “climate refugees.” Climate change has warmed the world ocean and led to the melting of landbound ice in Greenland and Antarctica, and from the world’s 200,000 glaciers.

There are three major components to today’s sea-level rise: thermal expansion of the warming ocean (42 percent), melting glaciers (21 percent), and melting of the massive landbound ice sheets in Greenland (15 percent) and the Antarctic (8 percent). Scientists consistently have underestimated the melting rate of landbound ice. Measurements now show that the West Antarctic, the Antarctic Peninsula, and Greenland are melting at an accelerated rate. And this is not seasonal melt—it is a permanent loss.

In coastal areas there has been the realization that manmade remedies—such as coastal protection civil works—can only buy time, maybe decades, for those living there. And as difficult as it may be culturally and economically, those people do have a choice. Move inland. With eight of ten major cities in the world essentially in coastal plain areas, it is clear that major migrations must take place in the future.

There are 44 small island states, however, where the inhabitants cannot move inland. Several already have declared that they eventually will have to abandon their countries because of flooding. Now, the populations of entire nations will have to migrate.

Two examples of those drowning states are Kiribati and the Maldives; one in the Central Pacific and the other in the Indian Ocean.

The 33 islands and atolls that make up the Republic of Kiribati (population 113,000) on average are only 26 feet above sea level. With an increasing number of severe weather events caused by global warming, much of the country now suffers when high seas overtop some of its islands. The percolation of seawater into the soil affects fresh water aquifers and contaminates limited lands used for agriculture.

In 2014, Anote Tong, Kiribati’s president (2003–16), negotiated the purchase of land in Fiji for food production as that capability was diminished in his country. With an eye toward the future, he hopes his climate refugee countrymen eventually can settle in that new land. At present rates of sea-level rise, this nation of islands will become drowned by the end of this century.

The Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives (population 428,000) consists of 1,192 low-lying coral islands with an average height of 5 feet. The highest terrestrial point in the crowded capital city Malé is only 6 feet. Experts estimate that at current rates of change, sea-level rise will submerge this nation by 2100.

These are but two examples of coral island nations that will have to be abandoned before the 21st century ends. And, because scientists consistently have underestimated sea-level rise, migrations of these nations could be much sooner.

The question is, where does the population of a drowned nation go? These climate refugees do not want a diaspora where they cannot maintain their national cultural integrity wherever they settle. While the numbers of people to be relocated may be small, these are still mass migrations as they involve the entire populations of sovereign countries.

In 2018, the United Nations developed a “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.” It will address the worldwide problems and propose remedies for climate-driven migration. Member states are expected to approve it by the end of the year.

According to the United Nations, in 2015 52 million people were “forced refugees,” and the number is growing. Eventually, island peoples will be added to this refugee population. Since very few of the at-risk island states have more than 100,000 people, getting their voices heard may be difficult.

Dr. Walsh, a marine consultant, is a retired naval officer and oceanographer. During his naval career, he served at sea in submarines and ashore in ocean-related research-and-development assignments. ^


A transgender Navy SEAL Responds


A transgender Navy SEAL who was the focus of a CNN documentary, "Lady Valor," says President Trump's tweets were a disrespectful way to announce new policy and that the administration is sending unclear and ominous signals about its approach to liberty itself.

Kristin Beck served as a Navy SEAL for more than two decades. Then named Chris Beck, she deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa and earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. She came out as transgender after leaving the military in 2011.

In the last months of President Obama's administration, the Defense Department initially approved a policy, still under review, that would allow transgender Americans to serve openly in the US military. On Wednesday, after President Trump's announcement of a reversal of that policy on Twitter -- stating that "the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military" -- Beck spoke with CNN Opinion's Jane Carr about what this means for transgender Americans and what comes next for those currently serving or who aspire to serve.

This interview has been edited lightly for clarity and flow.

CNN: As someone who served, what was your first reaction to the news of the President's tweet? What were your first thoughts?

Kristin Beck: The first thought was, why would you tweet that? Why not have a press conference? There are a hundred different ways to make an announcement that are better than a tweet. It blindsided millions of people. It's disrespectful. He needs to figure something else out as far as how he communicates with the public. As for the message itself, you (the Defense Department and by extension, the commander in chief) gave all the people in uniform a safe space to come out and be free and live as we say Americans do, free and brave, and now you're going to bomb that safe area? It's disturbing.^


Command Has Not Been Eroded


For starters, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, Vice Admiral Rich Brown, clearly believes in the primacy of COs and in our judgement. From his first communication via “Personal For” message to his commanders through this fall’s Commanders’ Training Symposium, his consistent message is one of empowerment and reducing administrative burdens while setting thresholds for minimum requirements in the force. [1]

The new Surface Force Training and Readiness Manual (SFTRM) streamlines the qualification process, and, for ships with strong leaders and capable crews, dramatically decreases training redundancies while giving valuable time back to the Captain. A day at sea is great, but a day at sea without inspectors on board is better. The SFTRM allows ships to forgo the previous block training and incorporates our most qualified watchstanders into mission area certification—changes that incentivize COs and give training time back to the crews of prepared ships. [2]

Revoking the previous Surface Force training instruction empowered COs to make training programs that truly work for our Sailors and crews. [3]

I am one of the Navy’s most junior commanding officers. As an “early command” captain of a minesweeper, I should be the most micromanaged. The reality is the opposite. I have remarkable latitude to do my job, and I am intrinsically empowered to do it. With due credit to my supportive immediate superior in command (ISIC) and his predecessor, I never have felt that the success or failure of the ship is anyone’s responsibility other than my own. Yes, occasionally a leader up my chain of command takes a strong interest in what my ship is doing, but questions asked of me are only to ensure I have sufficient resources (funding, parts, maintenance team support) to do my job.

One of the beauties of our aging mine countermeasures force is that we have old communications suites. This means sometimes I am not reachable at sea. Don’t fret—my superiors don’t. I am trusted and trained to handle the ship safely and conduct my mission.  Additionally, just because an email arrives in my inbox does not mean it has to be answered immediately. I think back to my expeditionary training in which I learned to “shoot, move, communicate” in that order. Do your job first, and then communicate.  

Comprehensive Review/Strategic Readiness Review-directed and Surface Force-directed initiatives are enablers rather than detractors from readiness and autonomy. Recently established policy changes:

  • Develop a stronger officer training continuum
  • Streamline deployment certification processes
  • Invest in simulator training to help bridge the gap for ships in prolonged in-port periods
  • Remove cumbersome training program requirements
  • Establish logbooks to balance talent-to-task on the bridge
  • Provide simple baseline requirements for standing orders that enable watchstanders to quickly re-qualify on new platforms without worrying about where to find permission items or platform-specific information

These efforts strengthen my ability to do my job by giving me more capable officers on the bridge, less distracting training requirements, and a simple “floor” for minimum performance.

Additionally, rigorous assessments and quality checks provide valuable indicators of competency in the Surface Force—a win for COs and senior decision makers.

With a multitude of shipboard requirements, those of us on ships—and in command of ships—make daily and hourly decisions about where and how to spend our limited time and finite resources. Which programs, sailors, officers, equipment, and spaces need attention? Which must wait for another day? It is our job to make these risk decisions, establish priorities, and set the standards. As a commanding officer, I consistently seek to prioritize, diminish distractions, eliminate redundancies, and focus on the basics of ship handling first and tactics second. I am the most experienced person on my ship. I establish the standard, hold the standard, and work hard to imbue my sailors with that standard.

The Surface Force has challenges aplenty, but erosion of the role of the commanding officer is not one. In a utopian future, administrative requirements disappear and COs spend our days driving ships and practicing with our crews at gunnery quarters. In the meantime, we fit in the administrative tasks when we must, and we understand that we own the problem and the solution. Commanding officers own the fight.

[1] Commander Naval Surface Forces message date-time group 230035Z Jan 18, Personal For ComNavSurFor Commanders and Commanding Officers from Vice Admiral Brown; ComNavSurFor message 242355Z OCT 18, Personal For ComNavSurFor Commanders and Commanding Officers – 2018 ComNavSurfPac Commander’s Training Symposium Read Out
[2] ComNavSurfLant/Pac Instruction 3502.7, Surface Force Training and Readiness Manual, 01 November 2018.
[3] ComNavSurFor message 232126Z OCT 18, Cancellation of the Shipboard Training Programs Instruction.

Lieutenant Commander Reppert  is the commanding officer of the USS  Ardent  (MCM-12). She is a 2006 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and has a master’s degree in security studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Her prior sea duty assignments include the USS  Lassen  (DDG-82), USS  Carter Hall  (LSD-50), and USS  Truxton  (DDG-103) ^


Remains of Heroic WWII B-24 Pilot Identified 73 Years Later

He said Hristov and Karakashev "have never forgotten about the man who crashed into their village. They never asked for any of that and they were caught in the middle of a war, but they still took the time to bury him properly. They legitimately care, and it's so humbling to me."

Mitochondrial DNA analysis of the remains found by the team later showed that they were those of Crouchley.

In July 2018, Ogramic went back with his wife to visit Churen and met again with Karakashev and Hristov. They recalled what had been their successful search for a hero of a long-ago war.

"As a war refugee myself, I can relate to death in general," Ogramic said, "but I also thought it was really cool that, even after all these years, people never give up looking for fallen heroes."

"We finally knew we'd gone there for a reason, and we'd done it for a person who gave his life away for our freedom," he continued. "[Crouchley] ultimately gave us everything we have, and there's no greater cause than that."

Seventy-three-years later, at age 95, Karakashev, now known as "Grandpa Lazar," had his hands in the dirt of the mountainside again, helping teams from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) locate the long-eroded gravesite and recover remains.

In September, DPAA announced they had positively identified Crouchley's remains. Also recovered was his wedding ring with the initials of his wife, Dorothy, engraved on the inside. They had been married for less than a year when he was lost.

DPAA spokesman Chuck Prichard told Tuesday that Crouchley's family had been notified and Army casualty officers are working with them to arrange for the return of the remains and a funeral. The family has not yet agreed to any public statements, he said.

Crouchley is entitled to burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

The remarkable story of Crouchley's heroism in his last moments, and the difficult and politically sensitive search to find his remains, was related by DPAA and by Air Force Master Sgt. Vedran Ogramic, a member of the search team and himself a refugee from war in the Balkans.

"[Grandpa Lazar] got very emotional and broke down and cried when we talked about Lt. Crouchley, and he started reliving the old scenes from World War II," Ogramic said in his account, written up by Karen Abeyasekere of public affairs at the Air Force's 100th Air Refueling Wing at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall, United Kingdom. "But at 95 years old [at the time of the search], he still went down the mountain with us and screened heavy buckets of dirt. He got to work, wanted no help, and just acted like he was one of us."

Last Mission of 'Miss Yankee Rebel'

Crouchley enlisted in 1942 and, after earning his pilot's wings, was assigned to the 828th Bombardment Squadron, 485th Bombardment Group, 15th Air Force. He first went into combat in May 1944, flying missions out of Foggia, Italy, in a B-24H Liberator bomber nicknamed "Miss Yankee Rebel."

The Liberators were called "Flying Boxcars" by the crews, and sometimes "Flying Coffins." There was one way out, at a hatch near the tail, making it difficult for the pilot and co-pilot to exit in an emergency down a narrow and cluttered passageway to the rear.

The B-24s also couldn't fly as high as the B-17 Flying Fortresses, making them more susceptible to flak and ground fire, according to Air Force historians. But they had more range than the B-17s and were the workhorse bombers of the war, flying missions in Europe and the Pacific.

On June 28, 1944, Crouchley and a crew of nine took off from Foggia in the B-24H on a bombing run to Romania. On the return, the B-24 was crippled by anti-aircraft fire over Bulgaria.

Crouchley "stayed at the controls of the plane, keeping it in steady flight while the rest of the crew bailed out," the DPAA said. He went down with the plane and would posthumously be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.

The other nine crew members were captured and became prisoners of war, but all survived and later returned to duty, the DPAA said.

Bulgaria was still enemy territory, and no U.S. personnel could get to the crash site. On June 29, 1945, Crouchley was declared dead.

After the war, investigators from the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) compared Crouchley's medical information to unidentified remains recovered in Bulgaria, but a positive match could not be made. On July 2, 1948, Crouchley's remains were declared non-recoverable.

By then, Bulgaria had fallen into the Soviet orbit, and the search essentially ended. But in 2010, an investigative team from two predecessor agencies of the DPAA were able to do a site survey of the area where the B-24 was thought to have gone down.

They recovered weapons whose serial numbers correlated with the serial number of Crouchley's aircraft, DPAA officials said.

The 69-Day Search

After more historical analysis and sometimes difficult coordination with Bulgarian authorities, the DPAA recovery teams in July 2017 received permission to begin excavation in the general area of the mountainside overlooking Churen where the plane was thought to have gone down.

So how would they communicate with the locals whose assistance was vital? Ogramic, an exercise planner and unit inspection coordinator for the 100th Air Refueling Wing, was chosen by U.S. Air Forces-Europe to serve as a linguist for the recovery team.

Ogramic is originally from Bosnia. At age 15, he and his family became refugees from the Balkan wars of the 1990s, moving to Seattle. He spoke Serbo-Croatian, but it was close enough to Bulgarian for him to work with the locals in Churen.

"I'm part of the Language-Enabled Airman Program, and USAFE received a tasking for linguist support for the mission in 2017," Ogramic said. "I did some research on the mission before I said yes, and I thought it was an awesome cause that I wanted to support. We couldn't drive right up to the site, so we would take a truck up there to a stopping point, gather all our tools and take them down the side of a mountain."

The old Soviet truck belonged to villager Todor Hristov.

"He coordinated everything, took us to the site every day, provided us with food, cut down trees to enable us to get to the dig site. You name it, he did it," Ogramic said. ^


Charting a Course: Stop the Erosion of Command

       Authority in command is supposed to be absolute, but over time commanding officers’ authority has eroded while accountability hasincreased—

       a trend that will not result in wartime efficacy. (U.S. Navy / Daphne White)

Historically, enormous trust and responsibility have been assigned to Navy commanding officers (COs). They were depended on to conduct, competently and independently, the many missions assigned. It also was understood that if things did not go well, they would be held responsible. This was the burden of command; and since the first warships put to sea, it has been a lure to those who wish to test themselves under the most rigorous circumstances. Unfortunately, that trust, already in a state of decline, has entered a period of near freefall, while responsibility—or perhaps more correctly “accountability”—has increased to the point that COs are potential sacrificial lambs.

This evolving dynamic represents not only a troubling threat to the Navy’s unit-level warfighting efficacy, but also an abrogation of Navy Regulations. Chapter 8 specifies that authority in command will be commensurate with responsibility, both of which are absolute and unavoidable. This is the compact under which officers assume command. Yet, without colloquy or comment, it is being broken more and more.

Three developments increasingly drive this dynamic. First, the explosion of easy, global interconnectedness means that anyone can speak, face-to-face, with any CO, at any time and anywhere on earth. Second, the number of admirals, relative to the number of Navy ships in commission, is out of proportion—in 1944 there were 256 flags for 6,084 ships; today there are 359 flag officers for 280 ships. Third, the desire to presume upon a CO’s prerogatives is exacerbated by an undiminished “zero defects” mentality. As can be observed in the case of last year’s collisions, the entire operational chain of command, up to and including four-star admirals, can be held responsible for whatever happens at the unit level. The lesson is clear: It is imprudent for senior officers simply to trust the COs beneath them. Better to aggressively intrude, if only to cover their own sixes.

The jury is still out on the effectiveness of long-term remediation to the systemic problems exposed by the Navy’s collisions and groundings of 2017, but the immediate solution has been a rush to increase senior involvement in ship operations. The result is crushing new administrative requirements levied on already overburdened ships. As was recently pointed out in “The Surface Navy’s Training Program Remains an Administrative Nightmare” in the October Proceedings, the new Surface Force Training Manual requires nearly 12,000 pages of annual documentation per ship to properly assess training and pass inspections. Further, the traditional prerogative of captains to decide what is necessary and best for their commands is increasingly eroded. Today, for example, though Afloat Training Group may not be appropriately staffed to train or certify specific topics in specific ships, there can be no certification waivers granted, regardless of a CO’s best judgment, reason, or case. The block must be checked. Meanwhile, the new Full Speed Ahead training in sexual-harassment prevention and appropriate social-media use remains an absolute requirement and occupies hundreds of manhours per ship per year.

Emblematic of the erosion of trust in COs is the fact that they no longer are trusted to produce their own battle and standing orders. These are now provided.1,2 Senior staffs have anticipated every eventuality and have determined responses better than captains can. The message is clear: Don’t think; comply.

Experts predict the next war will be fought in a communications-denied environment. Adversaries will shut down or limit U.S. military communications, and ships, submarines, and aircraft will have to figure it out on their own. What then? As the Navy continues to impinge on the authorities of COs, is it growing a generation of risk-averse administrators who will be unable to think, act, and fight independently?

1. ComNavSurfPac/ComNavSurfLant Instruction 3120.3, 26 July 2018 .

2. ComNavSurfPac message 231523Z Aug 2018.


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