Archive for 2010

Calling Naval Air Professionals in Dallas and Chicago Areas!

December 20th, 2010 by xformed

SteelJaw Scribe needs some help tracking down retired Naval Aviators (in Chicago) of NFOs (in Dallas) to conduct interviews with 1/c Midshipmen.  Active duty, reserve of retired status sufficient. O-4 to O-6 needed.

His post is up here. If you can lend a hand t0 help the future, drop him a line!

Category: Maritime Matters, Military, Navy, Public Service, Supporting the Troops | Comments Off on Calling Naval Air Professionals in Dallas and Chicago Areas!

The First Line of Defense: Military Recruiters – Tell one (or more) Thank You

December 16th, 2010 by xformed

This is a multi-purpose post:

First up – a suggestion of how you can provide a very meaningful “Thank You!” in this season (or actually any time at all). While you may live far from a significant military presence, you most likely don’t live far from the local US Military Recruiting Office in your neck of the woods. Staffed with service members, if you have wanted to say “Thank you” to someone in uniform, there’s your sign. Next time you’re driving by, take a few minutes to stop in and shake hand or two.

Why? These men and women are the ones who get us men like SSGT Guinta and SGT J.D. Williams and so many others, who’s names we’ve read and those most all of us will never hear the names of, but know it took them all to defend the Nation. It’s the recruiters are the ones who either go out and find them to talk to, or have to assess them as they walk in to volunteer.

The eye for the ones who fit the specs, and the ones who do not. It’s the recruiters who do it. They do it not in a combat zone, but they do it with tremendous pressure to meet quotas, to make sure they check these men and women out, provide career counseling and work with the community, the parents and a number of others. They can’t “work” as well during what the civilian world calls “working hours,” they have to catch them when they can: After school, on weekends, in the evening, and they still have to keep “office hours,” too. Read: Many hours to perform their assignments. Reports, follow up, get them to physicals, paperwork for security checks, get them on the transport to the first assignment in the service of the Country. Then, they get to spend some “shore duty” (the Navy version) time with their families.

And don’t forget some people make it difficult, and occasionally impossible to meet those who might be willing to hear about the opportunity for them.

In addition to just “doing their job,” more than likely they will be in dress uniforms much of the time, and they (as far as I know) don’t get extra funding to maintain them, with the extra wear and tear and spaghetti sauce stains, etc that have probably resulted in unplanned purchases as a result. No doubt the many more miles put on their own vehicles is a cost they also bear accomplishing the mission.

Secondly: As an officer, I had more interaction with discipline cases along my time in service, and, for the “repeat offenders” we’d usually flip their service record open to the “Page 2” (Enlistment Contract) and look for the date of the signature of the person in question. While not in every case, when the date was the 30th or 31st of the month, we’d manage to vocalize how some lazy recruiter just grabbed whoever off the street “to make quota.” While it was easy to use that as a issue to vent over, more often as not, it certainly wasn’t the case. Not to mention I’ll admit, I never pulled the records for my great sailors and look at the same data point, and neither did I then allow myself to vocalize so sharp sailor in some community somewhere had done an outstanding job finding those men and women who were exemplary serve personnel. Fair’s fair, so I’ll have to make that acknowledgment now, late as it is.

Bottom line: Wars are fought with expensive hardware, cool planes, and massive amounts of ammo, fuel food and parts, but it is the man or women handling or using those things who defend the Nation. The recruiters who find them are the scouts to get them into uniform and they deserve special recognition for faithfully executing the duties of those assignments.

When you thank one, please let them know you know they are the ones who get us the protectors, and you appreciate the effort that takes them.

Now, google up the all the recruiting offices in your area and see if you can brighten a day in those places.

Category: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Leadership, Marines, Military, Navy, Public Service, Supporting the Troops | 1 Comment »

News Release: Documentary “Chosin” at The Navy Memorial 12/15/2010

December 13th, 2010 by xformed

Received via email:


Navy Memorial Screens Award-winning Documentary “Chosin”

On Battle’s 60th Anniversary

Contacts:        Taylor Kiland                                                    Linda Heiss

United States Navy Memorial                            Linda Roth Associates, Inc.

(202) 380-0718                                                  (703) 417-2709

WHAT: The Navy Memorial is screening “Chosin,” a documentary about one of the most savage battles of the Korean War: the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir.  Despite being surrounded and trapped by more than 200,000 Chinese troops, 15,000 U.S. troops fought 78 miles to freedom and saved 98,000 civilian refugees.  Survivor accounts combined with never-before-seen footage take the viewer on an emotional journey.  A panel discussion with the filmmakers and two DC-area Chosin Reservoir survivors will follow the screening.

Participating Filmmakers and Chosin Reservoir survivors:

  • Anton Sattler, Producer and Marine veteran from Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Brian Iglesias, Director and Marine veteran from Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Col. Warren Wiedhahn, USMC (Ret.), Chosin Reservoir survivor
  • Dr. Stanley Wolf, Chosin Reservoir survivor

WHEN:          December 15, 2010; 6:00 PM

WHERE:       United States Navy Memorial

Naval Heritage Center

701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C.  20004

Metro: National Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter (Green and Yellow lines)

COST: Free and open to the public

About the United States Navy Memorial

Conveniently located on Pennsylvania Avenue – halfway between the White House and the Capitol, the United States Navy Memorial provides a living tribute to Navy people and a place for them to gather and celebrate their service. The outdoor plaza features a “Granite Sea” map of the world, towering masts with signal flags, fountain pools and waterfalls and The Lone Sailor© statue.  Adjacent to the plaza is the Naval Heritage Center, where visitors can find educational displays about the contributions of the men and women of the Sea Services (Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine).  Also housed in the Naval Heritage Center is the Navy Log – the online place for Navy people to stay connected with each other, celebrate their service and preserve the memories of their service.  There, Navy veterans can build a record of their service online.  Call (202) 737-2300 or visit for more information.

Sounds like a great opportunity for those in the DC Area for this Wednesday!

Category: Geo-Political, History, Leadership, Marines, Military, Military History | Comments Off on News Release: Documentary “Chosin” at The Navy Memorial 12/15/2010

VALOur-IT 2010 Campaign Final Numbers: BZ!

November 16th, 2010 by xformed

For those without a Naval background, “BZ” is signal flag code for “Well Done.”

It’s been over for a few days, but the final totals, minus some that will trickle in via the mail for the VALOur-IT was:


Amazing. The beginning goal was $60K. The Army sprinted out of the blocks and blew throught their $15K “fair share” and had to bump the goal to keep it easy to see. They pushed their meter to $25K, and then the Marines, outflaked them and everybody else…..The Jarheads powered through the muck and went north of $30K to an amazed audience. Of course a nod from Michelle Malkin didn’t hurt at all, now did it?

Thanks to one and all for spreading the word on this wonderful, life changing project, that puts wounded soldiers, sailors. airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines back into the world via technology.

See you next year, but, donations for this, and the many other projects of Soldier’s Angels are gracefully accepted all year long.

Category: Air Force, Army, Charities, Coast Guard, Jointness, Leadership, Marines, Military, Military History, Navy, Public Service, Technology, Valour-IT | Comments Off on VALOur-IT 2010 Campaign Final Numbers: BZ!

Project VALOur-IT 2010 Campaign Begins

October 28th, 2010 by xformed

learn more

My favorite time of the year begins today, and goes until Veteran’s Day, 11/11/10.

Project VALOur-IT was an accidental collusion of two minds, some one offering help from Soldier’s Angels and the rest is history. The story is well told across the now 6 years, and over 5000 laptops, the very large majority of them new, with Dragon Naturally Speaking are in the hands of those wounded so they are limited by sight or typing disabilities.

The laptops are theirs to keep.

The funds are used only for the purchase of the laptops, and now Wiis and GPS units, and the transportation to the delivery points (usually the major US Military Medical facilities). All other costs for this project are borne by volunteers. It’s a charity project where, down to the final penny, it’s put to work for the purpose of the project. I like it for that reason, but I like it more because it provides some normality back to those who have suffered for the defense of the Nation, and for those in other lands.

for the last 5 years, a large band of bloggers have taken to the net to let people know this project exists and to request your donations. Not only are they active duty/retired/former military members, but supporters, family members, and any one else who jumps in to pass the word on to everyone they know.

On the donate page linked to the button above, you can also get the code to put a button like this, or the alternative style, to post on your site/blog/etc.

Category: Air Force, Army, Charities, Coast Guard, Jointness, Leadership, Marines, Maritime Matters, Military, Navy, Supporting the Troops, Technology, Valour-IT | Comments Off on Project VALOur-IT 2010 Campaign Begins

66 Years Ago Today: The Battle Off Samar

October 25th, 2010 by xformed

The anniversary of one of the most significant battles in US Naval history took place on Oct 25th, 1944, near the island of Leyte in the Philippines.

Monument to Taffy 3, lead by RADM Sprague, USN (click to enlarge)

The story of Taffy 3 at the Battle Off Samar has been the subject of many books, one that I particularly enjoyed was the “Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors” by James Hornfischer.  Beyond the strategic and tactical discussions, it was filled with interviews of the men who survived, making it a very personal look at such a battle.  I have found this more than interesting, as my computer instructor was CAPT Amos T Hathaway, USN, and I served on the USS CARR (FFG-52), which was named after GM2 Paul Henry Carr, the MT 52 Gun Captain.  It was also the day an American Indian, CDR Ernest Evans, CO of USS JOHNSTON (DD_557), earned the Congressional Medal of Honor.

While I enjoy the history of “Black Shoes” fighting to the end in a war that became dominated by carrier warfare between opposing naval units, the aviators of Taffy 3 displayed the same courage, attacking Japanese battleships, and cruisers with the .50 and .30 caliber machine guns and in many cases, empty bomb and torpedo racks. They did so to add to the confusion of the Japanese crews, to help keep any effective volumes of fire from being focused on but a few targets.

In 2004, I did an extensive post on the battle.  You can read it here.  It was the final battle between surface combatants, and the story of desperate times, which crew rose to the challenge.

Category: Geo-Political, History, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy | Comments Off on 66 Years Ago Today: The Battle Off Samar

Piracy’s Impact on International commerce, Law and Diplomacy Panel

October 20th, 2010 by xformed

Lesson learned: Sit near a power plug, and once logged into the conference Wi-Fi, don’t drop the connection, lest the others load it to capacity, and you have to scribble notes the rest of the day.

LCDR Claude Berube, USNR, USNA Professor in the Political Science Department was the moderator.

Robert Gauivin, executive director, Piracy Policy, USCG HQ began the comments:

It is the US’ responsibility to fight piracy. Also noted, it is the requirment of the US merchant vessels to have a defensive plan in place – a Vessel security Plan. They need to have a security detail, which can or may not be armed, and may or may not be contracted.

Outside the lifelines of the US flagged vessels, then units like Task Force 151 and other nations provide assistance. His work involves inter-agency coordination/cooperation: State, DoD, DOT, USCG, etc.

Ships install a Ship Security Alert System (SSAS), which, when activated brings the US Federal resources to bear in the situation.

His group works with shipping company security officers. and also works issues with where captured pirates would be prosecuted (more in later commentary).

CAPT Mark Tempest, USNR (Ret) and maritime lawyer: It’s all about sovereign rights. Privateers operate in the name of a body of people who are recognized in International Law as being able to grant the authority for these people to raid commerce, specifically in history, to fund this designating body, be they local rulers, or a nation state.

Pirates, on the other hand, are functionally “sea robbers” and there has been a long history of “low grade sea robbery” for a very long time. coupling this with the lunch speaker’s comments, that has applicability to yhe current conditions in the area off Somalia.

mark went on to discuss the model of “Prize courts,” where captured vessels were assessed for value. The side note is the “judge” also got a percentage, so this method became less used as pirates figured they could sell the goods and the vessel and get the money for themselves, with out the middle man fees of the court. More margin (follow the money). “It’s all about the money in Somalia. Money is power in Somalia.”

Prosecuting “pirates:” Just where do you do this? With a variety of laws and human rights concerns in the many nation states involved in the law enforcement look at this situation you have to consider the nationality of:

  • Vessels Flag of registry
  • Master
  • Crew
  • Cargo’s owner(s)
  • Insurer
  • Union (if involved)

That’s a long list of choices, and then how to make them fit each circumstance for the best response in the prosecution.

More later on this panel….gotta head to the gate for the flight.

Category: Economics, History, INternational Relations, Leadership, Maritime Matters, Military History, Political | Comments Off on Piracy’s Impact on International commerce, Law and Diplomacy Panel

“Blackbeard to Barbary Pirates, Making Their Mark on History” Panel

October 20th, 2010 by xformed

Table of contents for Piracy USNI Conference

  1. “Blackbeard to Barbary Pirates, Making Their Mark on History” Panel

RADM Callo, USN (Ret) leading the panel. Author of “John Paul Jones, America’s First Sea Warrior,”

Wants us to leave thinking not “I didn’t know that,” but “I hadn’t thought of it.”

Consider the technology of piracy. That which supports it, that which suppresses it.

Thought: “Piracy is a business. It has a business model. If you are to suppress it, you need to treat it like a business.”

We have the best operators, but if the political aspect of counter piracy isn’t handled well, we can’t stop it. Political will a huge factor involved.

Professor Dr Lundsford, @ USNA, Author: “Piracy and Privateering in the Golden Age Netherlands.” Notes the Brits didn’t just go after pirates with raw Naval Power, but by looking at altering the economics and the social morays, too. Good idea to look at the societies that use piracy for clues as to how to deal with it. Factors in long term piracy:

  • Available population of recruits.
  • Base of operations
  • Sophisticated organization
  • Financing
  • Cultural bonds for solidarity
  • Access to goods to be raided

Frederick Lanier, Attorney, author: “The End of Barbary Terror: America’s 1815 War against the Pirates of North Africa.” The Barbary Pirates are the most noted in US historical memory. It only affected us 30 years, but had haunted Europe for centuries. It took taking two of our ships and hundreds of our people to get us to act, and that was the spawning of our Navy. We did begin with paying off the Pirates, from George Washington, to the tune of 12% of the Federal Budget, and the lack of power, we were at their mercy.

The Barbary Pirates were driven by money, but did have some elements of Jihad.

They were not localized geographically, but ranged outside the Med, as far as Ireland and maybe Iceland, using amphibious assaults.

They had been around for centuries. John Adams said don’t take them on, unless we were willing to deal with it for centuries. Think about that for a moment…

Sponsored by the current regimes of the day, for their financial gain. The goal was ransom money. An organized ransom market. Options: Pay or use force. You could pay in advance! Protection payments, which we did for almost 20 years with Algeria.

Conveys, blockade their ports, arm your merchants, bombard their bases, or…regime change.

“Intelligence” between sailors useful.

Brits payed Pirates to keep their Naval costs down, as then the pirates raided the ships from other countries. Incentiving?

LCDR Ben “BJ” Armstrong, USN. Active duty HSC-2 pilot. Masters in Military History and a real operator.

Personnel: Need to be trained in “Irregular Warfare.” Boarding and landing operations need to be practiced.

Aggressive junior officers are a necessity, Like Decauter. Stephen Decauter was the one who came forward with the idea to burn the PHILADELPHIA. The right vessels need to be available to engage in the fight. “Littoral Warfare” needed effective ships.

You also need partnerships, for logistics and other support.

Use history, but there is no exact parallel.

Now to questions.

Dr Lunsford: When it’s a “way of life,” it’s very difficult to eradicate, eg: The “bucaneers.”

RADM Callo: Sophistication: The Ability to adjust. They are doing that now.

How does the 1820s pirate experience fit today? CNA rep. LCDR Armstrong:
Biddle, Poter and Wearington.

Biddle: Bring ships and run convoys.

Porter: go “inshore.” ROE: Spain wouldn’t grant permission to go ashore.

Be careful as how you draw historic parallels.

Dr Lunsford: Don’t see the parallels with Latin America break away period. Get ride of the recruits and base of operations, you solved the problem. Make sure you look for operational and political (i’d add economic) lessons for application of parallels.

Danish Navy Officer: Can small navies make an impact: LCDR A: “Yes, absolutely.” The US Navy was the “small Navy” when it took on the pirates in the 1800’s. Frank Lanier: Us wanted to act unilaterally, but James Madison instructed to allow Dutch Navy to act as allies. The Dutch Navy bombarded Algiers the next year. Dr Lunsford: The US Navy can’t be everywhere. TF 151 is an example to address the problems. RADM Calo: “quantity has a quality of it’s own.”

ADM McKnight chimes in (he commanded TF 151): Danish Navy ship ABSOLOM was excellent on TF 151. Well prepared.

LCDR Armstrong: Cooperation can be extended beyond navies. NGOs and commercial interests and other government.

Frank Lanier: State supported terrorism? The Barbary pirates made money for the political structure that supported them. They made money off of “Christian Dogs” but it wasn’t about expanding the Caliphate.

Any “fingers of the Russians, Chinese or other Arab states funding these activities (in Somalia)?” No one has heard of it, but LCDR A indicated Russians and Chinese are part of the anti-piracy work.

Former Adm of MSC: “Struck by the number of ‘stakeholders’ who came to join in the current discussions.” Maritime unions, Lloyds of London, commercial companies, etc.

Frank Lanier: Much more interrelated today, it was simpler back then.

(Off to find a power outlet……)

RADM Callo: every US Citizen is a “stakeholder” in this issue…..

Category: Geo-Political, History, INternational Relations, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History | Comments Off on “Blackbeard to Barbary Pirates, Making Their Mark on History” Panel

Piracy in History – USNI History Conference

October 20th, 2010 by xformed

Dr Martin Murphy opening the conference.  His book, “Small Boats, weak States, Dirty Money:  Piracy and Maritime Terrorism in the Modern World,” is speaking.

When some one is called a “pirate,” ask: “In who’s eyes?”

Piracy rises as a clash between military, political or economic issues,

Piracy has been around a long time, first noted in writing in 140 BC.

Piracy became a label for anyone who managed to interdict the current economic system of commerce, for Rome and the early days of England.

The Muslim Wahhabi Sect was a group in history that practiced piracy about 1808.

The Barbary Pirates were more properly classified as privateers, as they were under the direction of countries.

The current day “pirates” are the ones we’ve seen before: Organized, layered protection, brutal to maintain discipline, negotiation skills to extract money and the ability to range over ocean areas in small boats.

The argument of piracy in Somali of the area being over fished is not a valid rationale, as Somalis are fish eaters, but the story works well to justify their continued actions in the minds of the West.

“Politics and piracy are rarely separable.” Politicians can benefit from allowing this to happen.

Piracy and religion is now linked today, as use in the service of Jihad. The influence of Wahhabism is on the rise in Somali.

Before labeling all piracy criminal, we need to review the context, and ask “under who’s law?” It has it’s rules and it’s limits.

Category: Geo-Political, History, Maritime Matters, Military History | Comments Off on Piracy in History – USNI History Conference

Who Wins Wars, Who Loses Them

October 19th, 2010 by xformed

An accidental find, worthy of today’s situation in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Wars and battles are not lost by private soldiers. They win them, but they don’t lose them. They are lost by commanders, staffs and troops leaders, and they are often lost before they start.

– LtCol (BG) Sam Griffith, USMC
CO 1st Raider Battalion

It goes to the responsibility of the leadership, at every level to set the stage for a win or a loss in conflict. The Marine or soldier or sailor cannot change that outcome much at all.

Will will soon see the effect of this in 2011, as the war, that has gone on too long for some, is hastily retired from, with some rationale of we need the money elsewhere.

It will be penny wise and pound foolish, if the enemy that has been beaten back is allowed to thrive in our absence, to enable us to see if we really can absorb another major terrorist attack.

Update: another yellowed 3″x5″ card holds this bit of history to put things in perspective once again:

Come with me into Macedon, most portent, grave and reverend senators and taste the rigors of a soldier’s bed, the blood and anguish of a soldier’s wars. Come with me into Macedon, fat comfortable strategists at home, and you will see how humble men have died to save the freedoms – and the baths – of Rome!

– General Lucius Aemilius Paulis addressing the Roman Senate after being critisized by same for certain aspects of his victorious campaign against Perseus in the Third macedonian War, 2nd Century BC

Rings true today. Just change a few names and places and it’s a good fit.

Category: Geo-Political, INternational Relations, Leadership, Military, Political, Supporting the Troops | Comments Off on Who Wins Wars, Who Loses Them

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