Friday, December 09, 2016

Fullbore Friday

Living well is the best revenge, and more often than not, so is living long.

Just look at that smile
. The good Lord called him home back in October - but that is OK. It was his time. For decades a great man with a great family name stood as an example of ... we ... you figure it out.


Via the always wonderful TelegraphUK that I will quote from liberally;
Alistair Urquhart, who has died aged 97, was a prisoner of the Japanese from 1942 to 1945, surviving both the infamous Death Railway and the atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki; his memoir, The Forgotten Highlander, became a bestseller in 2009.

When Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942, approximately 80,000 British, Indian and Australian troops became prisoners of war. Urquhart took part in a forced march of 18 miles to Selarang Barracks on the Changi peninsula, which became a vast PoW camp. On the way there, the road was lined with the heads of decapitated Chinese on spikes.

Seven months later, he was crammed with 30 others into one of a number of small steel containers used for transporting goods by rail. It was dark, airless and so hot that the steel sides burned any skin that came in contact with them.

After five days and nights, he set out with his companions on a six-day march of 30 miles. Prodded by bayonets and beaten with bamboo canes, they had to keep up a good pace through the jungle while avoiding venomous tree snakes dangling from the branches overhead.

On arrival at Kanyu Camp, on the River Kwai, Urquhart had contracted malaria and was covered in scabies and lice, but he had to help build the huts in which some 200 of his comrades were to live.

After the huts were completed, he started work on a section of the 260-mile-long Burma-Siam Railway, hacking through jungle, gouging out passes, spanning ravines, bridging rivers in one of the most inhospitable regions in the world – all on starvation rations. Many thousands of British, Australian, Dutch, American and Canadian prisoners would perish in the task.
...
Cuts on feet and legs from poisonous plants, bad food or lack of hygiene were unavoidable and turned into ulcers which rotted flesh, muscle and tendons.

Urquhart, desperate to stop the rot that was devouring his legs, went to the doctor. He was advised to collect some maggots from the latrines and put these on the ulcers. The maggots nibbled away at the diseased flesh, new skin formed and the wounds healed.
...
When the monsoon arrived, the Kwai and its tributaries became loaded with cholera bacteria. Urquhart contracted the disease. He was isolated in the “death tent” and was the only survivor. He was then sent to Chungkai, a large hospital camp. Besides cholera, he had dysentery, beriberi and malaria and had lost the use of his legs.

He was examined by Colonel (Weary) Dunlop, an Australian doctor, who intervened with the Japanese constantly on behalf of his patients, at the risk of being executed, and has been credited with saving countless lives. After six months of treatment and rehabilitation, Urquhart was sent to the River Valley Road Camp in Singapore City.
...
In September 1944, together with 900 other British PoWs, Urquhart was herded aboard the cargo vessel Kachidoki Maru. He said afterwards that nothing that he had experienced in the camps had prepared him for the conditions on one of the Japanese “hellships”. Inside the hold, it was standing room only and there were no lavatory facilities. In the hot, dark, fetid atmosphere, men were driven mad by thirst. Cannibalism and even vampirism were not unknown.

Six days out of Singapore, the ship, part of a convoy, collided with an oil tanker which had been torpedoed and set on fire. There were no red crosses on the ship to indicate that PoWs were on board. That night, Kachidoki Maru was torpedoed by the American submarine Pampanito and sank within 15 minutes.
...
Water flooded the hold and Urquhart was washed over the side. The sea was thick with burning oil from other sinkings in the convoy. More than 240 of his comrades died that night. There were terrible scenes as men fought for a piece of driftwood that would support them. Urquhart found a one-man raft. By the fifth day, he was badly burned and unable to see. His eyes had been seared by the strength of the sun.

He was picked up, barely conscious, by a Japanese whaling ship and dropped off at Hainan Island. There, he and other prisoners who had survived the sinkings were paraded naked through the village. In mid-September he was taken by stretcher and lowered into the hold of another “hellship”.

Again the convoy was attacked by submarines, but after an 11-day voyage they reached Japan. Urquhart was put to work in a coal mine at Omuta. By that time he could hardly stand and scarcely knew his own name.

Dr Mathieson, a Scot serving in the RAMC, persuaded the Japanese to move Urquhart to the camp hospital, where he worked as an orderly. The doctor’s courage, dedication and skill saved Urquhart’s life and that of many others.

His camp was 10 miles from Nagasaki, and when the atom bomb was dropped on the city, his shrunken frame was knocked sideways by the blast. For several days he and his comrades feared that the Japanese would massacre them to destroy the evidence of their atrocities, but on August 21 1945 the camp commander announced the end of the war and the British gradually took over.
Read the whole thing, especially the post war portion.

On days when you think you just have it hard, think of Alistair. It is never that bad.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Diversity Thursday

To the new Trump administration. 

As you build your list of Executive Orders to cancel, please move this to the first tranche. 

Humor me and read all the below. I have removed and edited nothing. I will comment here and there, but the whole memo is at the link and quoted in this post.

This is a rotting and fetid meal that the outgoing administration has left for you to eat - but you only have to eat it if you want to.

Throw. It. Away. On. Day. 1.

Presidential Memorandum -- Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the National Security Workforce


October 5, 2016

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

SUBJECT: Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the National Security Workforce
Remember, this has nothing to do with diversity of experience, educational background, geographical upbringing, socio-economic status, worldview, or anything else that really matters. No, that is not tracked. All this has to do with is a sectarian and divisive focus on the most useless of characteristics; that of the self-identified racial or ethnic group a person claims to be a part of.

This racialist approach is a cancer on our nation and its collective soul - but hey; people are making a living off of it and not enough people are fighting against it, so it will remain until excised like the malignant growth that it is.

Let's go ahead and look at the lipstick they are putting on this snarling, fetid pig of a Cultural-Marxist, socio-political assault on the American people;

Our greatest asset in protecting the homeland and advancing our interests abroad is the talent and diversity of our national security workforce. Under my Administration, we have made important progress toward harnessing the extraordinary range of backgrounds, cultures, perspectives, skills, and experiences of the U.S. population toward keeping our country safe and strong. As the United States becomes more diverse and the challenges we face more complex, we must continue to invest in policies to recruit, retain, and develop the best and brightest from all segments of our population. Research has shown that diverse groups are more effective at problem solving than homogeneous groups, and policies that promote diversity and inclusion will enhance our ability to draw from the broadest possible pool of talent, solve our toughest challenges, maximize employee engagement and innovation, and lead by example by setting a high standard for providing access to opportunity to all segments of our society.
Of course, the Chinese, Japanese, and Russians will argue the points above - as does reality - but like the incantations of some pagan soothsayer over a pile of sheep guts, we seem to think they reflect reality.
The purpose of this memorandum is to provide guidance to the national security workforce in order to strengthen the talent and diversity of their respective organizations. That workforce, which comprises more than 3 million people, includes the following departments, agencies, offices, and other entities (agencies) that are primarily engaged in diplomacy, development, defense, intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security: 1) Department of State: Civil Service and Foreign Service; 2) United States Agency for International Development (USAID): Civil Service and Foreign Service; 3) Department of Defense (DOD): commissioned officers, enlisted personnel, and civilian personnel; 4) the 17 members of the Intelligence Community; 5) Department of the Treasury: Office of International Affairs and Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection; 6) Department of Justice: National Security Division and Federal Bureau of Investigation; and 7) Department of Homeland Security.
Note the specificity here; "the national security workforce." That is where this is focused. Our nation's defense hiring practises will not focus on hiring the best available, but to hire in order to allow some Diversity Bully in a GS-15+ position and a cadre of hundreds other "Diversity Specialists" to be able to fill out their metrics, go to seminars to fill the coffers of the Diversity Industry, and otherwise justify their own existence. 

It will also provide a perverse incentive for more people to engage in racial and ethnic self-identification fraud. In the non-zero-sum-game that is hiring, it will also promote active discrimination against people based on race, creed, color and national origin by providing advantages to one group over another for no reason other than to meet a subjective, non-value-added metric devised to maintain a grievance industry and to lash out at other racial and ethnic groups for the most base of reasons - all under the umbrella of governmental action.

Oh, and it is all being done with your tax dollars.
The data collected by these agencies do not capture the full range of diversity in the national security workforce, but where data allow for broad comparison, they indicate that agencies in this workforce are less diverse on average than the rest of the Federal Government. For example, as of 2015, only the Department of State and USAID Civil Services were more diverse in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity than the Federal workforce as a whole. When comparing the agencies' workforces to their leadership personnel (Senior Executive Service (SES) or its equivalent), all agencies' leadership staffs were less diverse than their respective workforces in terms of gender, and all but DOD enlisted personnel and USAID Civil Service had less diverse leadership in terms of race and ethnicity. While these data do not necessarily indicate the existence of barriers to equal employment opportunity, we can do more to promote diversity in the national security workforce, consistent with merit system principles and applicable law.
Read that again. That is putting people on report that they need to promote based on self-identified race and ethnicity in order to meet a certain "metric."
When I issued Executive Order 13583 of August 18, 2011 (Establishing a Coordinated Government-wide Initiative to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in the Federal Workforce), I directed all departments and agencies to develop and implement a more comprehensive, integrated, and strategic focus on diversity and inclusion. This memorandum supports that effort by providing guidance that 1) emphasizes a data-driven approach in order to increase transparency and accountability at all levels; 2) takes into account leading practices, research, and experience from the private and public sectors; and 3) complements ongoing actions that agencies are taking pursuant to Executive Order 13583 and under the leadership of the Diversity and Inclusion in Government Council, including but not limited to efforts related to gender, race, ethnicity, disability status, veterans, sexual orientation and gender identity, and other demographic categories. This memorandum also supports Executive Order 13714 of December 15, 2015 (Strengthening the Senior Executive Service), by directing agencies to take additional steps to expand the pipeline of diverse talent into senior positions.
The President is reminding everyone that he has wanted action for a long time. He supports active discrimination, and he wants you to follow his example.
This memorandum also aligns with congressional efforts to promote the diversity of the national security workforce, which have been reflected in legislation such as the:

Foreign Service Act of 1980, which urged the Department of State to develop policies to encourage the "entry into and advancement in the Foreign Service by persons from all segments of American society";
Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which called on the Intelligence Community to prescribe personnel policies and programs that ensure its personnel "are sufficiently diverse for purposes of the collection and analysis of intelligence through the recruitment and training of women, minorities, and individuals with diverse ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds"; and
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, which mandated that the U.S. military develop and implement a plan to accurately measure the efforts of the military to "achieve a dynamic, sustainable level of members of the armed forces (including reserve components) that, among both commissioned officers and senior enlisted personnel of each armed force, will reflect the diverse population of the United States eligible to serve in the armed forces, including gender specific, racial, and ethnic populations."
Congress does share part of the blame in promoting sectarianism, this is true. Perfect example, covered here in detail, was the removal at the end of Democrat control of Congress in 2010 of the directive that the USCG Academy could not discriminate on the basis of "race, creed, color, or national origin." Yes, in case you missed it, they removed that so the USCGA could engage in discrimination in admissions. You can read all about it here.

Back to the Diversity Industry squid ink. I was going to skip over these parts, but I want everyone to suffer as much as I did in reading it.
Promoting diversity and inclusion within the national security workforce must be a joint effort and requires engagement by senior leadership, managers, and the entire workforce, as well as effective collaboration among those responsible for human resources, equal employment opportunity, and diversity and inclusion issues. In implementing the guidance in this memorandum, agencies shall ensure their diversity and inclusion practices are fully integrated into broader succession planning efforts and supported by sufficient resource allocations and effective programs that invest in personnel development and engagement. Where appropriate, they shall also support, coordinate, and encourage research and other efforts by the Federal Government to expand the knowledge base of best practices for broadening participation and understanding the impact of diversity and inclusion on national security, including in the fields of science and technology.
Key on "requires engagement" and "agencies shall ensure their diversity and inclusion practices are fully integrated into broader succession planning efforts." This is not suggestive; these are orders to begin in earnest discriminating against non-protected ethnic groups.
Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct the following:
A note; if done by one President, it can be easily undone by another. Just saying.
Section 1. Collection, Analysis, and Dissemination of Workforce Data. Although collected data do not necessarily indicate the existence of barriers to equal employment opportunity, the collection and analysis of metrics allows agencies to assess their workforce talent gaps, as well as the effectiveness of their diversity and inclusion efforts and the adequacy of their resources to address these gaps. The dissemination of data to the public and to agency personnel may increase the transparency and accountability of their efforts. Accordingly, agencies in the national security workforce shall:
This requires a lot of dedicated staff to execute. A lot of BA/NMP. The Diversity Industry full employment act. Non-value-added billets soaking up money to do what? Collect data on race, ethnicity, etc. In order to do what? Support active discrimination. Amazing, but true - and everyone is cowed in to accepting this by their government.
(a) Make aggregate demographic data and other information available to the public and broader workforce. Agencies shall make available to the general public information on the state of diversity and inclusion in their workforces. That information, which shall be updated at least once a year, shall include aggregate demographic data by workforce or service and grade or rank; attrition and promotion demographic data; validated inclusion metrics such as the New Inclusion Quotient (New IQ) index score; demographic comparisons to the relevant civilian labor force; and unclassified reports and barrier analyses related to diversity and inclusion. Agencies may publish data in proportions or percentages to account for classification concerns, and the Intelligence Community may publish a community-wide report with the data outlined in this section. In addition, agencies shall provide to their workforces, including senior leadership at the Secretary or Director level, a report that includes demographic data and information on the status of diversity and inclusion efforts no later than 90 days after the date of this memorandum and on an annual basis thereafter (or in line with existing annual reporting requirements related to these issues, if any).
Isn't that cute, "New IQ." Again, hiding what it is; a metric that tells the Commissar how much you are in alignment with The Party's racial classification system. Recall, as covered here in previous DivThu, individuals of conscience who do not want to identify themselves as any group but "American" are not allowed to. Indeed, your supervisor is required to classify you. If you won't, they will do exactly what the Nazi and KKK would do - just by looking at your face and your name. I'm not sure if they will be taking cranial measurements as of yet, but they are going this retrograde, who knows.
(b) Expand the collection and analysis of voluntary applicant flow data. Applicant flow data tracks the selection rate variances for job positions among different demographic categories and can assist agencies in examining the fairness and inclusiveness of their recruitment efforts. Agencies shall develop a system to collect and analyze applicant flow data for as many positions as practicable in order to identify future areas for improvement in attracting diverse talent, with particular attention to senior and management positions. The collection of data may be implemented in a phased approach commensurate with agency resources. Agencies shall include such analysis, including the percentage and level of positions for which data are collected, and any resulting policy changes or recommendations in the report required by section 1(a) of this memorandum.
Yes, things will get worse until they get worse. President Obama is trying to leave in place an Executive Branch that will base all promotion and hiring decisions based first and foremost on a racialist world view.
(c) Identify additional categories for voluntary data collection of current employees. The Federal Government provides minimum reporting categories for agencies collecting race and ethnicity information in the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Statistical Policy Directive "Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity." That standard also encourages agencies to collect more detailed data, which can be compared by aggregating such data into minimum categories when necessary. Further, agencies may also collect additional demographic data, such as information regarding sexual orientation or gender identity. No later than 90 days after the date of this memorandum, agencies shall determine whether they recommend the voluntary collection of more detailed demographic data on additional categories. This process shall involve close consultation with internal stakeholders, such as employee resource or affinity groups; clear communication with the workforce to explain the purpose of, legal protections related to, and anticipated use of such data; and adherence to relevant standards and guidance issued by the Federal Government. Any determinations shall be submitted to OMB, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor for consideration.
Yes, you read that right. Uncle Sam now wants to know about your sexual preference. I don't know if, "Leggy, curvy Colombian women with dark, curly hair, or alabaster skinned athletic redheads" is an approved category, but it should be.
Sec. 2. Provision of Professional Development Opportunities and Tools Consistent with Merit System Principles. An inclusive work environment enhances agencies' ability to retain and sustain a strong workforce by allowing all employees to perform at their full potential and maximize their talent. Professional development opportunities and tools are key to fostering that potential, and each agency should make it a priority to ensure that all employees have access to them consistent with merit system principles. Agencies in the national security workforce shall therefore:

(a) Conduct stay and exit interviews or surveys. Agencies shall conduct periodic interviews with a representative cross-section of personnel to understand their reasons for staying with their organization, as well as to receive feedback on workplace policies, professional development opportunities, and other issues affecting their decision to remain. They shall also provide an opportunity for exit interviews or surveys of all departing personnel to understand better their reasons for leaving. Agencies shall include analysis from the interviews and surveys -- including if and how the results of the interviews differ by gender, race and national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, and other demographic variables -- and any resulting policy changes or recommendations in the report required by section 1(a) of this memorandum.
You will perform self criticisms for the cadre on a regular basis. You will create more busy work to show a demand signal for more cadre assignments.
(b) Expand provision of professional development and career advancement opportunities. Agencies shall prioritize resources to expand professional development opportunities that support mission needs, such as academic programs, private-public exchanges, and detail assignments to relevant positions in private or international organizations; State, local, and tribal governments; or other branches of the Federal Government. In addition, agencies in the national security workforce shall offer, or sponsor employees to participate in, an SES Candidate Development Program (CDP) or other programs that train employees to gain the skills required for senior-level agency appointments. In determining which employees are granted professional development or career advancement opportunities, agencies shall ensure their SES CDP comports with the provisions of 5 C.F.R. part 412, subpart C, including merit staffing and assessment requirements. Agencies shall also consider the number of expected senior-level vacancies as a factor in determining the number of candidates to select for such programs. Agencies shall track the demographics of program participants as well as the rate of placement into senior-level positions for participants in such programs, evaluate such data on an annual basis to look for ways to improve outreach and recruitment for these programs consistent with merit system principles, and include such data in the report required by section 1(a) of this memorandum.
Yes, even educational opportunities will be tracked on a racial and ethnic basis.
(c) Institute a review process for security and counterintelligence determinations that result in assignment restrictions. For agencies in the national security workforce that place assignment restrictions on personnel or otherwise prohibit certain geographic assignments due to a security determination, these agencies shall ensure a review process exists consistent with the Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information, as well as applicable counterintelligence considerations. Agencies shall ensure that affected personnel are informed of the right to seek review and the process for doing so.
This is someones hobby horse that I think may have to do with assigning people to certain nations that may not agree with certain lifestyles - but as in most Diversity items, they are not clear to the general public what they are working on.
Sec. 3. Strengthening of Leadership Engagement and Accountability. Senior leadership and supervisors play an important role in fostering diversity and inclusion in the workforce they lead and in setting an example for cultivating talent consistent with merit system principles. Toward that end, agencies in the national security workforce shall:

(a) Reward and recognize efforts to promote diversity and inclusion. Agencies are strongly encouraged to consider implementing performance and advancement requirements that reward and recognize senior leaders' and supervisors' efforts in fostering an inclusive environment and cultivating talent consistent with merit system principles, such as through participation in mentoring programs or sponsorship initiatives, recruitment events, and other opportunities. They are also encouraged to create opportunities for senior leadership and supervisors to participate in outreach events and to discuss issues related to diversity and inclusion with the workforce on a regular basis, including with employee resource groups.
In case people don't follow the Diversity Diktat out of agreement or sense of duty - they will force you to by threatening your career. You will discriminate, or you will have to answer to The Party.
(b) Collect and disseminate voluntary demographic data of external advisory committees and boards. For agencies in the national security workforce that have external advisory committees or boards to which their senior leadership appoints members, they are strongly encouraged to collect voluntary demographic data from the members of committee and boards, and to include such data in the information and report required by section 1(a) of this memorandum.

(c) Expand training on unconscious bias, inclusion, and flexible work policies. Agencies shall expand their provision of training on implicit or unconscious bias, inclusion, and flexible work policies and make implicit or unconscious bias training mandatory for senior leadership and management positions, as well as for those responsible for outreach, recruitment, hiring, career development, promotion, and security clearance adjudication. The provision of training may be implemented in a phased approach commensurate with agency resources. Agencies shall also make available training for bureaus, directorates, or divisions whose inclusion scores, such as those measured by the New IQ index, consistently rank below the agency-wide average 3 or more years in a row. Agencies should give special attention to ensuring the continuous incorporation of research-based best practices, including those to address the intersectionality between certain demographics and job positions.
Focus on this; "implicit or unconscious bias training mandatory for senior leadership." I warned you years ago. Even if you are not a bigot, and there is nothing that would lead one to think you are - the government will say you are one anyway. They will paint you in to a corner and ask you to prove a negative.
Sec. 4. Reporting on Progress. No later than 120 days after the date of this memorandum, and on an annual basis thereafter, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, in consultation with the Directors of OMB and OPM, shall report to the President on the progress of the national security workforce in implementing the requirements of this memorandum, based on information provided by relevant departments and agencies.
Before he leaves office, natch.
Sec. 5. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof, or the status of that department or agency within the Federal Government; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of OMB relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law, and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(d) The Director of OPM is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA
There you go. Obama is going to leave behind a national security leadership that will be distracted by and expending exorbitant amounts of time and money doing nothing but putting jelly beans in certain piles ... and if there are not enough of one bean or another - will stop all else until more of that bean are found. You see, nothing is more important than the piles of beans, because if the piles are not in line with the Party Diktat, then one will lose their job.

Ignore the enemy pouring over the battlements, we must focus on our little piles of beans.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The 7th, in Color

So much is written about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that I don't think much more could be added here this year.

Instead, let's use the power of color to bring to the front one of the most important lessons of this attack. This isn't ancient history that is best looked at in the abstract. On the fading edge of living memory, but still every bit of why we were caught flat footed applies to what we do today.

Perhaps part of the problem is that we see it in grainy black and white photographs and a few bits of video. It seems a long time ago, an abstract.

From false assumptions, habits worn of peace, and the natural belief that bad things only happen to other people in other places - it is all there.


Crossposted at USNIBlog.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

James Webb - Where He Is Best

Regulars here know that I've had some issues with James Webb through the years, dating back to when he started defending Murtha in a prep for his run as a Democrat as a Senator.

A lot of people got excited when he ran for President this year, but I knew he wouldn't last. Like he was a 1-term Senator, he really isn't a politician. He doesn't have the stomach for the BS. He is something else - he is a thinker. He is an observer. He is an author.

He also speaks for a lot of America that the usual sources of information do not understand any more. He reminds me so much of my father in many ways. Mostly because they share the same background.

I would highly recommend to you the following speech he gave last month; Foreign Policy in America's Interest: Keynote Address Jim Webb.

This is Webb at his best.


Grasping at the Fading Light

It's taken a week, but I think I've finally found a way to address a slightly bizarre article by Wyatt Olson in S&S on the soon to be outgoing SECNAV. It isn't the writing that is bizarre, it is the mess of the subject at hand, Ray Mabus.

After originally being a fan, I soured on Mabus when he started down the "Great Green Fleet" boondoggle, and I've never really seen a reason to come back. I wish I were wrong about him, but after going back to Olson's article, I've come to the conclusion that I was correct in keeping a tilted head. 

Mabus isn't "bad" as SECNAV, it is just that in so many things, his personal biases lead him to be wrong. If he focused on what a SECNAV should so, I think he would be an exceptionally solid SECNAV - but look at the strange items he invested professional capital on to satisfy personal agenda items. What a waste.

First, let's start with what Mabus has done well.
On the top of his to-do list was increasing the number of ships being built for the Navy, a goal Mabus has achieved.

“In 2001, the U.S. Navy had 316 ships,” Mabus said. “By 2008, seven years later, after one of the big military buildups in our history, we were down to 278 ships.” With the contracts in the pipeline, the Navy is on track to possess 308 ships by 2021, he said.
Looking to the previous administration, as his Chief of Staff put it;
Not blaming, just facts. 41 ships put under contract 01-08. 86 under contract 09-16.
One could push back a bit about being involved in two resource stretching land wars in Asia from 01-08, but the numbers are what they are. Mabus's fleet building was done with the opposition party in control of Congress for most of his years in office - so good on him and his team there.

Now, let's get to the part of Olson's review that led me to further believe in Mabus's detachment from what his other policies actually are and their consumption of professional capital. Just a few examples;
Mabus contends that the underlying motive for his changes has been to make sailors and Marines better warfighters.
Warfighters. OK. When someone uses, "warfigher" in this way; shields up.
Mabus also touts the success of moving the Navy and Marine Corps away from fossil fuels to renewables. He launched the Great Green Fleet initiative soon after becoming secretary, and earlier this year the first aircraft carrier group was deployed using a 50-50 blend of fossil and biofuels.

As of last year, Navy and Marine Corps bases were getting half their energy from renewable sources, such as solar, wind and geothermal, Mabus said. Renewables account for about 35 percent of the energy the Navy uses at sea – half of which is nuclear.

“We’re better warfighters today because of it,” he said. “We’re more expeditionary because of it. We’re less vulnerable because of it.”
Experiments are good, but paying exorbitant amounts of money for bespoke blends to try some Soviet style industrial policy for renewable energy (covered here over the years), all during the period that fracking turned the USA in to a net exporter of fuel? No. Then there is the abuse of the word "warfighter" - something we'll see again. There is zero evidence anything involving fuel from beef fat helped in the Long War. Zip, zero, nada.
When it comes to naming ships, Mabus said, “I know I’m not going to please everybody. But my job, as I see it, is to make sure that those ships connect to the American people.

“If you live in Wichita, you don’t have much connection to the Navy normally. But now that there’s a USS Wichita, there’s that connection.”
In defending his strange ship naming policies - I have to throw a flag here. Wichita is in Kansas. When you look where the Navy recruits from, on a per capita basis Kansas comes in at #27 of 54 USA States and territories measured. Kansas has more Navy to it than the SECNAV's home state Mississippi (#28), and some States where one would think the Navy's presence would have some impact on recruiting; New Hampshire (#46), Connecticut (#48), and Rhode Island (#50).

Is the SECNAV ill-informed or just grasping for excuses and distractions unmoored by facts in order to avoid discussing why he really picked the names he did? Hard to tell, but he owes our Sailors from Kansas an apology.

He should have stopped there.
Mabus’s predecessor instituted a namesake convention based on famous American explorers and pioneers for a new class of supply ships called T-AKEs. Mabus named ships after civil rights leaders Medgar Evers and Cesar Chavez because he regards them as pioneers.

“I got the name Cesar Chavez from the shipyard,” he said. “They were the ones who recommended it because 85 percent of the shipyard workers in San Diego are Hispanic.”
Yeah, read that again.

What does one do with this? Is this patronizing or just plain insulting? 

What an assumption he makes here wrapped in an acceptance and promotion of sectarian based naming of ships. I guess that was more important than the consideration that Chavez was openly negative about his time in the Navy and the Navy in general.

As for the numbers, here's a fun fact; San Diego is only 28.8% "Hispanic." Under Mabus's leadership, the Navy has spent tens of millions of dollars bleating on about making sure our Navy "looks like America" - yet - well - I'll let you take it from there, this isn't Thursday.

There is more in the article to chew on, but here is a quote to help you look forward;
How much of Mabus’ legacy, including contracting, renewable energy and gender equality, will survive the incoming administration is an open question since Republicans won control of Congress and the White House in the Nov. 8 election.

“It’s hard to roll back the stuff your predecessor did unless there’s some reason that it’s absolutely not working,” VanDiver said.

Of potential reversals, Mabus said, “If you go back, you make us a less effective warfighting force. I don’t know anybody who wants to do that.

“It shouldn’t be ideological. It shouldn’t be a matter of political correctness or anything like that. It’s what makes us better warfighters.”
That is whistling past the graveyard. That which can be created on the sand of personal whim can be removed via the same methods.

It is not that hard to roll things back, all it takes is will and leadership. Looking at who the team the Trump Administration is probably going to put together from, you will have a Navy team focused on 350 ships and little foolishness. 

There will be compromises that will need to be made, we'll have to dance with the programs we have in the first decade, and hard work will need to be done to get on that glidepath - but the focus will be on what a Navy is, not what social and political experiments can be done with it. 

To accelerate progress towards 350, the new team will require the stripping away of non-value added distractions and anything that slows efficiency down. As such, there will be ample opportunity to pack up some of the previous Administration's hobby horses and put them on the curve for pickup.

It will be a grand sight to see.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Knowing Your South China Sea

I have a little personality quirk that requires me to do something that, to be clear about, I really wish everyone else did as well.

I am a firm believer that you cannot discuss military or foreign policy matters without a map within arm's reach. Without out geographical context, it is all just words and numbers. It is like trying to understand national borders without studying history - everything is unmoored conjecture and word salad.

Along those lines, I highly recommend that everyone bookmark the webpage of the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative's webpage - specifically their Arbitration Map. Their "Features," "Analysis," and "Island Tracker" are all exceptional executive summaries of a complicated issue that will not be going anywhere.

Remember - always have a map handy.

Hat tip SteelJawScribe.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Author LtCol Seth Folsom, USMC on, "Where Youth and Laughter Go; With 'The Cutting Edge' in Afghanistan" - on Midrats



For the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern our guest will be Lieutenant Colonel Seth W. B. Folsom, USMC the author of Where Youth and Laughter Go; With "The Cutting Edge" in Afghanistan. Described by USNI Books:
It is the culminating chapter of a trilogy that began with The Highway War: A Marine Company Commander in Iraq in 2006 and continued with In the Gray Area: A Marine Advisor Team at War in 2010.

Where Youth and Laughter Go completes LtCol Seth Folsom’s recounting of his personal experiences in command over a decade of war. It is the culminating chapter of a trilogy that began with The Highway War: A Marine Company Commander in Iraq in 2006 and continued with In the Gray Area: A Marine Advisor Team at War in 2010.
We will discuss not just his latest book, but also larger issues related to command, the nature of the war in Afghanistan, and the Long War.

Join us live if you can, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio or Stitcher

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.