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The other lesson of Cheonan‘s sinking

Via the always insightful Bubblehead at The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

Now that submarine torpedoes are in the news, expect more less-than-knowledgeable commentary like this post at the Human Events blog, which brings up not-infrequent meme that supercavitating torpedoes are a superweapon that can’t be countered (and that they’re somehow superior to regular homing torpedoes). The author also says:

The evolution of submarine warfare has been a cat-and-mouse game in which a technological advantage can turn the hunter into the hunted. The March 26 incident may now give the submarine the advantage.

As if that hasn’t been the case for about 50 years. Sure, it helps skimmer morale to run exercises where they think they’re actually tracking a submarine in real-world conditions, but the fact remains that the best defense against a well-handled submarine is another submarine (or a clever minefield). This incident only shows that even a crappy submarine is superior to most surface ships, especially unalerted ones.

— Bubblehead.  “The Submarine Advantage.” The Stupid Shall Be Punished, 19 May 2010. [Emphasis mine]

There’s a lesson in there, somewhere.

Also not-to-be-missed are the stories of ASW adventures in the comments; this one is my hands-down favourite.

Category: Foreign Affairs, National Defence  Tags: ,  Comments off

ISAF dumping “nonessential” amenities

Bubblehead at The Stupid Shall Be Punished notes an interesting item on the blog of Command Sergeant Major Michael T. Hall, International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan.  ISAF will be shutting down Orange Julius, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen and Military Car Sales concessions.  It it also seeking to reduce the amount of canned and bottled goods coming into Afghanistan, and—strangely—first-run feature films and non-USO entertainment.

There are, no doubt, sound reasons for GEN McChrystal and CSM Hall to make these changes.  Perhaps the rear-echelon areas do need to get re-focused on supporting the warfighter out in the field, far from the big bases.  Perhaps the dangers of road-transporting all this stuff outweighs the benefit; nobody should be getting killed for the privilege of eating Pizza Hut, after all.  This is also why the Air Force flies 165 airlift sorties a month, to lessen the amount of food, gear and people that have to travel along IED-vulnerable roads.

The comments are instructive; there are some positive remarks, but I think it fair to say the vast majority are perplexed if not appalled.  My own sensibilities are ably reflected by a couple of Bubblehead’s commenters, whose thoughts I will reproduce here (any emphases are mine).

What I don’t get about this is, does it take that much more room to ship a BK hamburger over to Afghanistan than a regular ol’ unbranded mess hall one? If they’re putting all the pizzas in cardboard boxes, that sounds like reducible waste, but come on. Food is food, unless everything they eat is dehydrated.

The movie thing seems ridiculous, and likely to backfire as the alternative ways soldiers find to spend their time probably aren’t going to include mastering the violin or reading the classics.

Anonymous, 25 March 2010 1718

No, Nein, Nyet!!

Now, I’ve not done an IA tour, but I see this as a pointless endeavor in trying to make headlines along with fortifying our next SITREP.

Give the folks on the ground who are pounding sand a break wouldja’ please?! Those simple things like pizza hut and theaters are a biggy for those who serve over there. Umm, what useful purpose does it serve to minimize these areas of comfort?

What?…do you need more room? Is that it? You’re in the middle of the stinkin’ desert. You have more “potential” real estate than you know what to do with. Ever flown in to Vegas? For those who have not been there, I can say when you look out the starboard porthole of the plane while descending to McCarran Airport, you see nothing more than desert. Vegas is in the middle of the desert. You have ample square footage to build on.

Now back to the sand box across the seas. You have more than enough room if needed. There is no reason to take away the comforts of home. Again, I’ll admit I’ve never been there, but please don’t fuck it up for all the ground troops who are sweating it out so you can look good for your next Eval.

MT1(SS) WidgetHead, 25 March 2010 1801

If the purpose is to remember that the focus is on winning the war, perhaps there should be austerity programs back home too.

Rationing, warbonds, etc.

It seems the US People have lost the focus, not the soldiers.

Anonymous, 26 March 2010 0452

The last quote says it all, really.  The people that need to be reminded that there is a war on are not the men and women who are already deployed to the Sandbox.  It is the citizenry back home in North America who are blessedly far removed from any hardship, privation and danger.

RELATED: Mr. Brooks of The Torch has cogent thoughts as well.

Category: National Defence  Tags: , , ,  Comments off

Airlift: a distraction?

As an aviation-related blog, naturally the Company focuses its attention on the aerial aspects of the relief effort in Haiti.  But airlift has some inherent limitations, chief among them being that even the very largest aircraft have tiny payload capacities when compared to ships.  In typical logistics doctrine, airlift happens first because it can reach an affected area in hours, whereas sealift takes days (or sometimes weeks).  But as the conflict or crisis drags on, airlift’s priority wanes once sealift is established.  Writing at the US Naval Institute blog, author Galrahn (who also writes at Information Dissemination) is anxious to see sealift get the attention it deserves.  While I don’t necessarily agree with his characterisation of USAF’s effort, it’s an interesting read.  And it is inarguable that sealift’s throughput and cost effectiveness is an order of magnitude greater than airlift; airlift’s primary advantages have always been speed and flexibility, not volume.

Todd H. Guggisberg, Assistant Professor, Department of Logistics and Resource Operations (DLRO) US Army Command and General Staff College emailed me today with an important observation.

As a retired career Army logistics officer, I am following the events closely.  Understanding what it means to feed/water/shelter 3 million people is difficult for most Americans.  One of my logistics students did a quick estimate and came up with a requirement for 2,000 cargo trucks per day to supply ONE humanitarian ration to 3 million people per day….and rations are easy compared to water.

That might explain why there has been a policy change regarding the danger of airdropping relief supplies. Are things getting critical? Probably more than most Americans probably realize.

One C-17 airdrop represents ~30,000 rations (usually divided between humanitarian rations and bottled water), and we would need to conduct more than 100 C-17 airdrops per day and equally distribute those rations just to get just 1 bottle of water or 1 humanitarian ration to each of the 3 million people the UN says are in need in Haiti today. The SOUTHCOM focus to date on the one runway airfield is a distraction, by no fuzzy math is it possible for ~180 planes around the world to meet the demand of the Haiti catastrophe

— galrahn.  “Obama’s Public Diplomacy From Haiti Wears Combat Boots.”  US Naval Institute blog, 19 January 2010.

I am sure the US Navy (and allied navies) are working hard at opening up critical port facilities; but this bound to be somewhat camera-unsexy.  It involves a lot of planning, surveying, diving and so forth, things the land-based media can’t film easily.  It takes far less effort for a camera operator to sit at an airfield and get shots of aircraft taxiing around, while a reporter makes concerned noises.  They will continue to film the airport because that is what they know, and because more of their audience back home have flown aboard commercial aircraft into an airport (and can relate to that).  Very few audience members will have known the experience of sailing into a major seaport aboard a ro/ro bulk carrier, and helping to unload it.

Combine this with the media’s usual lack of knowledge/interest in military matters, and odds are most reporters on the ground don’t know that the next few hours in the seaports are where the battle for Haitian lives will be won or lost.

Category: Miscellania  Tags: , ,  Comments off

Doolittle Raiders on Flickr

Flickr user Doug Sheley has done yeoman work by compiling a visual record of all sixteen Doolittle Raid aircrews; naming the personnel, their assigned target, and any combat deaths (on this operation or subsequent missions).  For details specific to each image, click on the image, you will be redirected to the Flickr page for it.

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, Crew No. 7, originally uploaded by Doug Sheley.

Photo #: NH 53296, originally uploaded by Doug Sheley.

Doolittle Raid on Japan, April 18,1942, originally uploaded by Doug Sheley.

Doolittle Raid on Japan, April 18,1942, originally uploaded by Doug Sheley.

See the whole Flickr set for more.

Category: Historica  Tags: , ,  Comments off