Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Navy Submarines Moving West

Another news item that reflects the Navy's increasing focus on the Pacific.

The Navy will move six more submarines to the Pacific by 2010 while shrinking its Atlantic-based undersea fleet, officials said Monday.
The shift will put 60 percent of the Navy's submarine fleet in the Pacific and 40 percent in the Atlantic. Currently, the submarines are evenly divided between the two oceans.

China, take note.

Update: more gouge on China's submarine and overall defense capability

Monday, February 27, 2006

U.S. to Assist in Malacca Straits

From the Jakarta Post:

The United States on Monday pledged to help combat the threat of piracy and terrorism in the Straits of Malacca, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

Details of the cooperation will be planned after Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore sign a pact in April outlining standard operating procedures for maritime security, said Adm. William Fallon, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, which includesU.S. forces in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

No details have been released, or appear to even have been finalized, but I'm doubtful of a sustained U.S. Navy presence in the straits. What will probably result is a set of standard operating procedures and a few exercises to test interoperability, but little more.

Hat tip: EagleSpeak.

Navy to Stay With 10 Air Wings

Despite efforts to cut JFK (read more here and here) from the fleet and slim down from 12 carriers to 11, Big Navy has no plans to cut the number of air wings from 10.

The recently completed 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review calls for reducing the number of carriers from 12 to 11, which Adm. Robert Willard, Vice Chief of Naval Operations says is "adequate." But "we intend to hold to 10 air wings," he adds, noting 10 carrier air wings "is a key factor" in meeting Navy goals of maintaining a continuous carrier forward presence while having the ability to dispatch a "surge" of six carriers in emergencies.

New Navy Hurricane Plan in the Works

After its experiences with Katrina and Wilma, the Navy is implementing a new service-wide hurricane plan. From Stars & Stripes:

The Navy is trying to come up with a plan to take care of its own ahead of this year’s hurricane season, said Rear Adm. Donald R. Gintzig.
He said one major lesson from the hurricanes is that the Navy needs a way to reach people quickly to see how they are doing. “When you’re on a ship and someone yells ‘Man overboard!’, in a matter of minutes you can account for where everybody is and find out who’s missing,” Gintzig said. “When you get on shore, you scatter; you don’t have that same mentality.”

This is a good idea and it's about time. When I was stashed in Millington I was part of the effort to contact Navy families affected by Wilma, and it was not pretty.

Commander Says JFK Should Be Retired ASAP

Looks like Big Navy is making another push to decommission JFK soon:

The Florida-based aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy should be retired "as rapidly as possible," said Adm. John B. Nathman, the fleet commander here.

That could happen as early as March, with the following three to four months needed to physically place it in retirement, freeing the 2,200 sailors aboard for reassignment, he said.

"It is the right thing to do for the men and women on that ship," Nathman said. "It is actually the right thing to do for the ship because the decision has been made."

"The Gipper" Joins the Line

USS Ronald Reagan passes another milestone:

F/A-18E Super Hornets assigned to the “Eagles” of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 115 became the first aircraft launched from the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) to drop ordnance on enemy targets in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom Feb. 22.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Iraq: Potential NATO Member?

Just when I thought Israel was the most unlikely prospective NATO member on the map, a dark horse candidate has appeared: Iraq. Worse yet, the folks at American Thinker believe it's a good idea. The Thinker says:

It is not obvious today that NATO would welcome an Iraqi proposal, though the US and UK would be wise to support it. Turkey has long been a NATO member, so that there is a precedent.

"Not obvious?" I think we have the first candidate for understatement of the year.

And, other than the fact that Turkey has a Muslim majority, what are the other parallels? This criteria would make Iran and Yemen good candidates, too.

Just when I thought things couldn't get any weirder in the world, someone proves me wrong. I give the Iraqis three chances: slim, fat and none.

I Finally Get Cindy Sheehan

The events of this week have finally given me insight into Cindy Sheehan. Let me start this story with my sister-in-law, who I’ll call Kristin. Funny, attractive and rambunctious, is the first impression most people got when they met her. The other thing they noticed is she always sported a cast, brace or splint of some kind. Kristin liked to ski, surf and ride snowmobiles and dirt bikes with her brothers, so she always seemed to be nursing an injury. She also liked to have a good time, and was known to party hard - sometimes a bit too hard.

But when you dug deeper, you found a woman who had a master’s in engineering and an MBA, too, so she was no mere party girl. At first blush, Kristin looked like a woman who had everything going for her: a great education, a fiancé and a baby on the way. A few years ago, though, her life took an unpredictable turn. Her first fiancé committed suicide, and she found him the next day, hanging from a beam in his house. Not much later her own house burned down, and she lost a precious dog. And, unbeknown to most of us, she desperately sought the approval of her family, and thought of herself as an unbearable failure.

Her partying got harder, and she mixed in pills to ease the pain. Her alcoholism and drug abuse ebbed and flowed over the past couple of years as she struggled to straighten her life out. But last weekend, she decided there was no light at the end of the tunnel and she could go no further, so Kristin took her own life. She left behind her parents, two brothers, a sister and a fiancé, but she took her unborn baby with her.

The most common words uttered at the memorial service were, “if only.”

“If only we had done more to show how proud of her we were.”

“If only we had done more to help her get through the tough times.”

“If only she had told us how bad things were, we would have done anything to help her.”

“If only….”

I have no doubt Cindy uttered her own list of “if onlys” when she first got the news that her first born, Specialist Casey A Sheehan, United States Army, was killed when an Iraqi insurgent’s bullet tore his brain apart. The list probably went something like this:

“If only I’d done more to talk him out of reenlisting.”

“If only I’d done more to keep him from joining the army.”

“If only the schools had barred recruiters.”

“If only that #&%$@, George Bush, hadn’t lied to Casey.”

And, in her own words, "[if only I had tried harder] to counteract more the false patriotism [Casey] was raised on...."

“If only….”

Cindy, like Kristin’s mother, had lost her first baby, something fewer and fewer parents have to deal with in this age. Children, after all, are supposed to outlive their parents, right? But, as Cindy processed the “if onlys” her grief turned to rage. Rage that other family members had supported and encouraged Casey’s decision to join, rage that the President had sent her son to what she believed was an unjustified war, and rage against ordinary Americans that believe ridding the world of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do. Read her own words, and you be the judge:

Now I have something to tell you, Barbara [Bush].... On April 04, 2004, three Army officers came to my house to tell me that Casey was killed in Iraq. I fell on the floor screaming and begging the cruel Angel of Death to take me too. But the Angel of Death that took my son is your son.


But my point is this, America: the longer we let the illegitimate pretender to the White House and his conniving and callous gang of co-conspirators to [sic] continue, the more our collective humanity is damaged.

The passages quoted above came from blog entries she wrote not long ago, and demonstrates that the battle of the "if onlys" is still raging in Cindy to this day.

"If only I could stop this war, other mothers won't have to go through this, too."

"If only I can help get rid of Bush and the Republicans, the next president can get us out of this mess."

"IF ONLY...."

So, now I understand better what is going on in Cindy's head. I do not agree with her conclusions, her decision to further destroy what was left of her life when the sun rose on April 5, 2004, or her decision to spend her life tilting at windmills, but I understand.

I just hope and pray that someday Cindy finds her catharsis, and lets go of the "if onlys." I know I'm still processing mine.

Update: Still apparently confused unaware of what she's actually saying, Cindy stumbles through an interview on the Indepundit.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Russians Congratulate U.S. on WWII Victory

Doh! Posters made for "Defender of the Motherland Day" in Russia mistakenly include a prominent picture of Mighty Mo' - USS Missouri.

A defence ministry spokesman, Vyacheslav Sedov, said "it was a civilian firm that produced the poster, and the people who made it were simply incompetent".

But it's not the first time...

A similar mistake was made last year when for 23 February postcards appeared in Crimea showing a World War II German T-3 tank and an American M60A tank.

Maybe these advertising folks know more about who really "won" than the apparatchiks think.

A Must Read on Military Life

Air Force Family has a classic post on one of the most painful experiences of military life: the commissary. A couple of snips to whet your appetite:

Yes, that's right. I said it. Of all the evil places one has to contend with on a military base with any regularity, the commissary is the Mordor of the Air Force Middle Earth.
And the worst thing is that you simply cannot spend less than an hour in the commissary at a time. Try it - go in for "just some milk." Dodge the elderly weaving down the center of the aisle at top speed in their motorized carts. Try to get past the women hobbling in stilletto boots. Avoid collisions with the "car carts" that have two kids in the driver's seat, one kid in the basket seat, and two walking along next to their pregnant mother (oh my goodness, I just described myself!).

Read on.

MilBlog ROE Button Problem Fixed

When I left Norfolk, I also dropped the ISP where I had the MilBlogs ROE button stashed. I've fixed the problem in the code and updated the Join page, where subscribers can fix the missing button problem

SECNAV Applauds Lean Savings

First, some bits from the story:

Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter visited Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) Feb. 15 and got a firsthand look at progress on two of the shipyard’s most important initiatives, lean savings and improving safety.
“We are beginning to see pockets of unprompted actions being taken by members of our workforce at NNSY, resulting in cost savings on the job site,” said Mike Zydron, NNSY’s Process Improvement director. He then cited the increasing number of NAVSEA Lean Six Sigma College alumni being deployed at NNSY as Black Belts and Green Belts now trained in facilitating effective process improvements.
“We’ve had 35 Rapid Improvement Events in the past year-and-a-half, and we have plenty more to do,” Jack Harris, mechanical group superintendent and Lean champion said.

This Six Sigma/Lean thing has become a big deal in the Navy lately. I've got a good friend that set aside his dolphins to go work for GE about a decade ago and was one of their first blackbelts. Since then he's become quite a critic of Six Sigma, and GE in general hasn't seen the payoff they had hoped to. Now, said friend, knowing the Navy thought that we could probably see significant benefits because of the tremendous ineffiencies in our system, but as this article points out, Six Sigma's not a cure-all. Oh, and he also said the Navy would need to stick with it past the 18-24 month point - when a new decision-maker is looking to leave his mark on things and has "a better idea."

Navy Begins Crack Down on Cell Phone Usage

This has been coming a long time:

The Navy will begin to issue warnings to all motorists who are pulled over for using non-hands-free cell phones while driving on Navy installations starting March 1.

This restriction follows a Department of Defense regulation banning the use of non-hands free cell phones on military installations unless the vehicle is safely parked.

In the future drivers using cell phones should be chased down and beaten.

Commander Promotion Board Disbanded

Glad I'm not in zone for promotion this year.

The Fiscal Year '07 active-duty commander line promotion selection board was disbanded Feb. 21 after it was discovered that written material not specifically approved by the Secretary of the Navy for distribution to board members was made available to selection board members, both prior to and during the selection board.
Community managers, detailers and support staff are not allowed to communicate with board members or prospective board members about matters related to the board, except for routine administrative matters.
Rear Adm. David Gove, commander, Navy Personnel Command, has convened an investigation into the issue. The officer who sent the unapproved material has been relieved, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Timing is Everything

Sometimes timing is everything. Take the Philippine mudslides, for example. Mud comes down, covering up to 1800 Philippinos, but 5,000 American troops were already on scene or enroute for exercise Balikatan '06. From the AP:

Large-scale joint war exercises involving about 5,000 American troops opened Monday, with a U.S. general ready to divert as many of his forces as needed to help in a landslide-hit village where up to 1,800 people are feared dead.

Washington already has diverted at least two warships with 17 helicopters and about 1,000 Marines to Guinsaugon, in eastern Southern Leyte province, where would-be rescuers have been frustrated in finding survivors after part of a mountain collapsed Friday.

U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Mastin Robeson said he was ready to send more.

One note at the end of the story shows how routine the war on terror has become:

A bomb exploded late Saturday, killing one and wounding 28 near Jolo's army headquarters, where U.S. soldiers are encamped under heavy guard. No American was injured, but the bombing, which authorities blame on the Abu Sayyaf, heightened concerns for the Americans' safety.

Another bomb, not reported elsewhere and added as a footnote to this story.

Update: More background on who's there and what they're doing here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Somalis Ask US Navy for More Help

From AFP:

The powerless Somali transitional government has asked the US Navy, which last month arrested pirates in the country's coastline, to extend its patrols in the Indian Ocean and curb illegal fishing along its vast coastline.
"Somalia is grateful for recent initiative taken by the United States Navy aimed at curtailing rampant sea piracy that has been taking place in the territorial waters of Somalia," Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Hassan Abshir Farah said in a statement Sunday.

"But it will also be pleased if similar action could be taken against illegal fisheries in the Somali territorial waters. The illegal international fishing vessels cause serious damage to Somali marine resources and its environment," he said.

I doubt we want to get in the business of protecting their fisheries, but this sounds like entry approval for their territorial waters to me.

JFK's Flight Deck Closed for Business

From an AP wire report:

The Navy suspended flight operations Friday on the USS John F. Kennedy, upsetting Florida lawmakers in Congress who want to keep the aircraft carrier based in the state. The Navy has been trying to scuttle the 38-year-old carrier for about a year, but Congress passed a bill in December saying the Navy should continue to maintain and operate all of its 12 carriers. U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw said he was told by Navy Secretary Donald Winter that the carrier was being taken out of operation because faulty equipment could endanger pilots attempting to land on it.

I also noticed that the QDR called for an 11 carrier fleet. Let the pushback resume!

Navy Quarterback Charged With Rape

From CNN:

Lamar Owens, the quarterback and most valuable player of Navy's 2005 football squad, has been charged with raping a female midshipman in her dormitory room, the academy announced Wednesday.
Since the alleged attack last month occurred on academy grounds, Owens was charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the investigation is being handled by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, Gibbons said.
An Article 32 hearing, similar to a civilian grand jury inquiry, will be held to determine if there is sufficient evidence to go ahead with the case, he said.

TV series aside, most Naval Officers don't hold NCIS in very high regard, so I hope they don't botch this or there'll be hell to pay.

The Syria-Iran Partnership

EagleSpeak tipped this Sailor off to Syria-Iran cooperation in smuggling, but that's far from all they've been up to. In addition to cooperating on building the Iraqi insurgency, Iran has pledged in the past to aid Syria in dealing with "security threats", and there's been talk of a full-blown alliance. Most worrisome, is the belief by some of Syrian cooperation with Iran in developing nuclear weapons. Watch for Syria and Iran to be the two main funding sources of a Hamas led Palestinian Authority, too.

Israel and NATO Membership

The ever-vexing Middle East peace process has caused the old saw of Israeli membership in NATO to bubble to the surface again. This idea has been kicking around for at least half a century and has died several quiet deaths over the years. Israel was invited to join the founding talks in 1949, though they declined to attend, and following the Yom Kippur War Israel actually petitioned for membership. The request at the time was such a hot potato that the members of the alliance went so far as to refuse to even comment on the application, much less debate its merits.

Ron Asmus is currently beating the drum loudest, with articles in the Washinton Post and Policy Review over the last year, though others have weighed in. And, while extending NATO's Article 5 protection for collective self defense appears to be a panacea for Israel's security for some, many (this Sailor included) have doubts.

True, the ties between NATO and Israel are already strengthening. In addition to growing military and economic ties with NATO member Turkey, Israel has had expanding involvement with the larger NATO apparatus, including two joint military exercises in 2005. One focused on submarine rescue responses and the other, much more significant exercise focused on mine countermeasures. Indeed, Israel appears to be evaluating the implications and testing the waters for another application in the future. It's also worth noting that Israel's enemies in the Middle East are worried about the implications as well.

In the end, all of this is probably hot air in the near term. First, Israel must resolve its borders disputes before they're even eligible for membership. Second, Israel must overcome the perception in Europe that they're a racist state and a threat to international security. What's the bottom line? Don't hold your breath.

Hat tip to the Salamander, open posted in Mudville.

Dershowitz Backs Doctrine of Preemption

A column by the Washington Times' Tony Blankley suggests that none other than Alan Dershowitz is moving towards a position of support for the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. Read Blankley's quote of Dershowitz:

The classic theory of deterrence postulates a calculating evildoer who can evaluate the cost-benefits of proposed actions and will act — and forbear from acting — on the basis of these calculations. It also presupposes society's ability (and willingness) to withstand the blows we seek to deter and to use the visible punishment of those blows as threats capable of deterring future harms. These assumptions are now being widely questioned as the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of suicide terrorists becomes more realistic and as our ability to deter such harms by classic rational cost-benefit threats and promises becomes less realistic.
Now, despite Dershowitz's use of the term "preventive", it's not clear from the quote whether Dershowitz is supporting actual preventive war, but I suspect he's not. Still, it's a sign of progress when an icon and idealogue of the Left takes such an obvious step in the direction of realism.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Dept. of the Navy Backs Bloggers

Updating a post from a while back about the military's policy towards blogs, I noticed that the Department of the Navy published a very generic policy for blogs late last year. It's but a few sentences, but it's a start:

DON commands may not operate unmoderated news groups, boards, or any other unrestricted access posting services ... Some Web logs (blogs) may fall into this category ... There is also no prohibition on blogs operated by individual members as private citizens. The DON recognizes the value of this communication channel in posting current information and supporting the morale of personnel, their family and friends. As long as personnel adhere to specific restrictions on content, the DON encourages the use of blogs and recognizes this free flow of information contributes to legitimate transparency of the DON to the American public whom we serve.

It ain't perfect, but it's a start.

Open posted to Mudville.

The Contrast Between Red and Blue

Something happened Friday afternoon that brought many of the differences between Red Staters and Blue Staters that I observed over the last few months back to mind. My wife was out running errands in the minivan with the three Agents of Chaos (my boys, 6, 4, and a most terrible 2) in downtown Newport, RI. Now, the minivan still has Virginia plates, and there were three key items on the back that really make it stand out: a Support the Troops ribbon, a Navy ribbon and a W ’04 sticker. It was the last item that really interested her harasser.

After loading the Agents of Chaos in the van at the pizza place, my wife departed for the dry cleaners. Not long after, she noticed a man in a white pickup driving aggressively to keep up with her. Now, my wife spent the first thirty years of her life in Boston, so I’m sure this knucklehead really had to work to keep up with her.

The man’s following closely and swerving behind the minivan. My wife’s getting nervous. The eldest Agent of Chaos is too, and is pressing my wife for an explanation. After a few blocks of this, the man finally crosses the double yellow line (in front of the Newport Police Station, no less) to try and get around her and she pulls to the side to let him by. For those of you that know anything about Boston drivers, this in itself is quite an accomplishment.

Does the man drive by? Nope, he stops alongside the minivan.

Does he give a mere hand gesture indicating “who’s #1?” Nope, he rolls down the window and starts screaming.

What ensued was an extended, high-decibel ideological diatribe about the Republican Party and the ancestry of the Commander-in-Chief. By now, my wife is shaking and the eldest Agent of Chaos is screaming from the back of the van, “IS HE GOING TO KILL US?”

When I heard about this a couple of hours later, I pressed my wife to file a police report, but she doesn’t want to relive it. Additionally, she doesn’t really have many useful details to report, and we’re departing shortly for the other side of the world, so I doubt the Newport Police could or would do much about it. In the end, I acceded to her wishes to forget about it, with the exception of the following sea story.

I left the “Mighty Warship” last fall and was stashed in Millington, Tennessee, for about a month at the Navy Personnel Command. When I arrived in Tennessee I discovered that the only jacket I had was my green flight jacket, which is covered with patches from the ships on which I’ve served and operations in which I’ve participated. Wearing that jacket around Memphis was quite an eye opener. Three or four times a week someone would shake my hand and tell me how much they appreciate American servicemen and women. Often they would buy me a drink and even pick up the tab for a meal in gratitude.

Even more tellingwas when I flew to Boston, via Atlanta, to go to a wedding over a weekend. I left work at lunch and chose to travel in uniform to save time. Since I was a Sailor, the agent at the ticket desk in Memphis declined to charge me for an overweight bag. A stranger bought me a cup of coffee on the way to the gate. When I was in Atlanta for a three hour layover, about a dozen others approached me to say thanks, a few bought me beers, and one, a retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major, paid for my lunch.

In the hour I waited in the airport in Boston, only one person said anything, and he identified himself as a Vietnam vet and spoke in a whisper, apparently afraid to offend the Blue State thought police. Sad.

Thanks to Mudville and Wizbang for the open posts.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Iranian Newspeak

The stupidity of totalitarianism is illustrated superbly by an AP wire report noting that the Iranian confectioners' union has ordered that Danish now be called something else. Take in these gems of socialist-idealist thoughts:

"Given the insults by Danish newspapers against the prophet, as of now the name of Danish pastries will give way to 'Rose of Muhammad' pastries," the union said in its order.

"This is a punishment for those who started misusing freedom of expression to insult the sanctities of Islam," said Ahmad Mahmoudi, a cake shop owner in northern Tehran.

And we expect to be able to reason with these people? I'm sure the Danes will be weeping in the streets over this one.

I Am My Own Worst Enemy!

I've discovered from the last few weeks that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to blogging. If you recall I finished my master's degree just before Christmas and took a month of from deep thought to recharge. It did, after all, take me four years to finish my degree while working (more than) full time for the Navy. However, for two of the last three weeks I was in a school that was not very demanding on my time, and all this week I have been my own master, having no real job at all. And how much have I blogged? Zip. Zero. Zilch. I guess I have a gift for filling up my time with activities.