Friday, February 28, 2014

The Russians are coming

The internal strife in the Ukraine is given to be a stubble between pro-EU factions and those who want to stay aligned with Moscow.  The violence has gotten so bad that it appeared Ukraine President Yanukovych was ousted.  He has taken to the media to claim he was not.  The violence in the Ukraine has had some interesting effects.

First we have this little gem;

A Russian spy ship has slipped into Havana for an unannounced visit, a day after the country's defence minister announced plans to expand Russia's worldwide military presence.--The Guardian

Some of the reports I have read said the Viktor Leoniv SSV-175 "appeared" in the harbor of Havana.  No surface vessel just "appears" but what has many concerned is that the Russian ship deployment to Cuba did not have any of the normal communications in the press.  A sign perhaps that Mr. Putin doesn't feel it necessary to ask Mr. Obama's permission or that Russia is interested in what reaction, if any, the US plans in response to the Ukraine.

Elsewhere, the Russian Black Sea Forces have been very busy;

Ukraine has accused Russia of carrying out an armed invasion by sending naval forces to occupy Sevastopol airport in the Crimea region.

Another Crimean airport, Simferopol, has also been occupied by armed men, thought to be pro-Russia militia.--BBC

Russia already has 150,000 troops on military exercises on the border of the Ukraine.

The exercises are "to check combat readiness of armed forces in western and central military districts as well as several branches of the armed forces," Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was quoted as saying by state media.--CNN

Today we received this nugget of foreign policy acumen;

U.S. officials said Friday that President Barack Obama may scrap plans to attend an international summit in Russia this summer and could also halt discussions on deepening trade ties with Moscow, raising specific possible consequences if Russia should intervene in Ukraine. Obama himself bluntly warned of unspecified "costs" for Russia.

Any violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing," Obama declared. Such action by Russia would represent a "profound interference" in matters that must be decided by the Ukrainian people, he said. --
Associated Press

Given the failure of the Obama administration in bringing about any change in Syria, I'm sure Mr. Putin must be quaking in his boots.  What Mr. Obama, Mr. Kerry and Ms. Rice don't seem to understand is that Russia feels extremely threatened by having the Ukraine being lured by the EU.  A brief history lesson shows us why;

Here is a map of the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact.

Czarist Russia say invasions by the Mongols, Ottomans, and French.  The Russians would invade the Prussians leading to Hitler's invasion of Russia during World War II.  The above map is a result of the fear of further invasion by Western Europe.  What it doesn't show is the vulnerability the Soviets felt over their northern bored from US nuclear missiles.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States and Western Europe retaliated (in Russia's eyes) by further democracy in the former Warsaw Pact.  Poland, Hungary, Romania and former Czechoslovakia were brought under the Partnership For Peace initiative.  It was to help prepare the former Communist countries to enter the EU and NATO.  Over 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union and the break-up of the former Warsaw Pact, here is what the map looks like now;

Is it any wonder why Moscow and Mr. Putin have taken a hardline against any further incursions into their borders by a break away Ukraine?  Russia sees the US and Western Europe as the aggressors and Putin is looking to halt this incursion.  Being a hardline former Soviet KGB agent, I don't see Mr. Putin taking things lightly and will not likely be deterred by the US announcement of huge cuts to its military.

Monday, February 24, 2014


I had been focused on writing about the future of the Air Force but feel I neglected my favorite nincompoop, Secretary Hagel.  How can one announce a force reduction not seen since before WWII and then state, "American dominance in the seas, sky and space can no longer be taken for granted"(Daily Mail).  You have just confirmed publicly what China and Russia has suspected for sometime…the United States is no longer a threat.

Look at this little graphic that was in the Daily Mail article:

Russia and China have always assumed what they lacked in technology, they more than made up for in sheer numbers.  Now with the technology gap also decreasing, what exactly can be done if say Moscow decides to invade Ukraine?  Or if China and Japan decide to revisit long existing hostilities?

Hagel slugs on even though his cuts means he knows the US military will become a paper tiger, he states the Department of Defense Strategy "is focused on defending the homeland against all strategic threats, building security globally by projecting U.S. influence and deterring aggression, and remaining prepared to win decisively against any adversary, should deterrents fail".  The most obvious criticism of this asinine statement "defending the homeland".

According to the Department of Homeland Security website, "The vision of homeland security is to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards." Looks like the SecDef is allowing his department into mission creep and spending money unnecessarily on defending the homeland.

The next criticism is when he says "...building security globally by projecting U.S. influence".  Well Mr. Secretary there is no way to do that when you are closing bases overseas and cutting your force structure.  You can't deter aggression if you aren't there!  Cuts to aircraft and a lack of reinvestment in surface ships guarantees the US military will be unable to deliver on the Sec Def's assurance of "remaining prepared to win decisively against any advisory".  Unless of course he means nuclear forces will now be used.  Of course that can't be since Mr. Obama wants to reduce the number of nuclear warheads.

But wait, there is more from this nitwit that makes no sense:

Hagel confirmed that the Pentagon would soon 'shift its operational focus and forces to the Asia-Pacific [region]' while it continue to aggressively pursue global terrorist networks.'--Daily Mail

And how pray tell are troops supposed to get there?  Is DHS supposed to be dealing with the terrorists? And most importantly, how are you going to sustain prolonged operations without the troops and equipment for the long haul?  The nuclear option keeps coming to mind but of course, we aren't heading that way…except why then all of the fuss about cheating scandals in the nuclear forces?

Many will point to how the small troop strength prior to both world wars heavily contributed to those wars occurring.  What many fail to point out is how long those wars actually went on BECAUSE of the lack of troops and equipment.  Let's look at just one example from World War II.

When the United States entered WWII, it's primary air-to-air fighter was the P-39 Airacobra.  It lacked sufficient speed and performance at high altitude (above 18,000 feet) to be effective against the German and Japanese fighters.  The years between 1917 and 1941 saw a decided lack of investment in aviation technology.  The result was it would be almost 5 years before the US could field the premier fighter of World War II, the P-51 Mustang.

Yes, we are plowing ahead with the F-35 despite some serious design problems and huge price tag but the supporting systems are no where to be found.  The A-10 was almost completely eliminated but saved at the last minute.  C-17s are ending their production run.  The KC-46 is being given the go ahead but there won't be enough made so at least 200 legacy KC-135s will be maintained.  The B-52s are now being flown by the grandsons of the pilots who first flew them nearly 60 years ago.

We can't spend widely on the military but what is so ridiculous about the current Sec Def is how ineffective he has been at organizing his department.  Rather then cut spending and making the US more lethal, he has cut spending and made us a hell of a lot more vulnerable.

Feb 24, 2014

U.S. Air Force

Historically during times of war, the military grows due to increased spending but a downsizing inevitably follows.  The USAF is facing not only a crisis of downsizing but trying to keep its future alive.  Legacy systems (other than the B-52 and KC-135) will be phased out to make the budgetary room for the F-35 fighter and new KC-46 tanker.  Drones will replace legacy aircraft in roles such as reconnaissance/surveillance and close air support but many of these missions will be assumed by fewer aircraft (such as the F-35 and C-130J).

To this end, AF Secretary Deborah Lee James said, "...try to heal the problems that have arisen within the Total Force in recent years and "make sure we get it right."  That's another way of saying the old canard "right-sizing" which always meant larger cuts to the Reserve components (and here I am only speaking about the USAF, USAFR and ANG).  The Reserves and ANG has smaller fleets and organizations to begin with so when they are "right-sized" the reductions take a more significant impact to those units and personnel.

In an attempt to avoid this, the Secretary made the following statement at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium, "The upcoming Fiscal 2015 Air Force budget will see "a greater reliance" on the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, service Secretary Deborah Lee James told attendees at AFA's Air Warfare Symposium here Friday. James could not give specifics until the budget is released March 4, but she forecast a new scheme, based to a degree on the findings of the congressionally mandated National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force report, which sought "a greater collaboration" between the Active, Guard, and Reserve."  AFA Magazine

The USAF will need to reduce its end-strength by 25,000 over the next 5 fiscal years.  Reduction in Force (RIFs) or involuntary separations are not off the table.  In an already poor job market, tens of thousands of USAF veterans will be adding to those from the other services looking for jobs.  One of the ways being discussed by the Air Force structure commission is the elimination of the Air Force Reserve Command and its numbered air forces and organizations below.

Make no mistake, the recommendation is not about force savings but about elimination another challenge to the USAF supremacy.  USAF leaders have wanted to eliminate the ANG in the past but can't without incurring the wrath of the governors.  The Air Force Reserves don't enjoy the same protections and the USAF can easily eliminate their headquarters. (Beware Army Reserves, I'm sure the active duty Army leadership is watching this closely).

The roll-out of a new enlisted performance review seems ill-timed.  Somehow, AF leadership is convinced that a new revamped system will overcome the inflated ratings.  Bull!  During my career, I saw the appraisal system for both officers and enlisted revamped 3 or 4 times.  The results were always the same, over-inflation.  Why the AF simply can't have a "pass/fail" system ratings scheme has always alluded me because regardless of the rating system, it inevitably boils down to "go/no-go".

The time is suspect though given all of the news of budget cuts and drawdowns.  It seems like just another way of reducing the force through paper.

Shock Treatment

Apparently the Air Force is looking to use mild electric shocks to keep drone operators awake.

"According to the results of one recent experiment, in which several drone operator volunteers were kept awake for 30 consecutive hours, the electric shocks are “better” than caffeine. There’s no jitters and no “crash” like when caffeine wears out. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, subjects performed twice as well as those who relied on their natural brain power."

If other stimulants cause dependency, isn't electrical shocks essentially doing the same thing?  The effects of this notwithstanding, I see drone operators being replaced by some type of robot in the very near future.  The lack of external stimuli for the operators during long missions must make it unbelievably boring and monotonous.  Mistakes and errors in judgement are bound to happen.  Robots are making their case and war got just a little more anonymous.


The Olympics went off without any terrorist incidents making the news.  At the same time, Ukraine has completely unraveled with the US admonishing Moscow not to interfere.

     National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned that it "would be a grave mistake" if Putin intervened militarily in the crisis. "The United States is on the side of the Ukrainian people," she said on NBC's "Meet the Press." The people expressed themselves peacefully, she said, and Yanukovych "turned on" the people by using violence against them.  CNN


Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Same thing, different service

The Air Force needed to do something about the C-130E models that were falling apart in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The solution was to develop BRAC criteria that would take the C-130H/2 and C-130H/3 out of ANG units and repurpose them into the active duty.  The active duty Army is now doing the same thing to the Army Guard with aviation units.  "Battle Brewing Over Future of Army Aviation Programs"

The Army wants to maintain its fleet at the expense of the Army Guard.  In exchange, the Army Guard receives bupkis.  The article exposes the criticisms of this idea but misses the biggest point.  Force leveling is NOT equal.  The active duty Army has 13 combat aviation brigades (CABs) and the Army National Guard has 8 CABs.  Taking aviation assets from the Guard does nothing to right size the forces.


The other day, another blogger (thanks Quimbob!) sent me a link to the very interesting article "Old Testament Armed Forces".  It is written by a conservative and former CIA officer.

As a young cadet, I remember discovering that some of the cadets and one of our training officers had formed a Christian Fellowship study group.  What I found strange was not that they were men of faith but that they conducted their study group in the cadet area and while in uniform.  Thus began my awareness of the impact of evangelical Christianity on the military (especially in the officer ranks).

Some may be surprised to learn that most troops are very religious and of those, many are evangelical Christians.  In part this is why many Muslims do not see the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as wars on terrorism but rather wars on Islam.  It is also why gays serving in the military is still such a hot-button issue for many troops, despite the acceptance of gays by mainstream society.

Many conservatives will point to the military as merely a reflection of the Judeo-Christian values that the founding fathers based this country upon.  Perhaps but the military is about the management of violence, not religious idelas.  The military mission is to kill the enemy and destroy their ability to wage war against us.  Those missions are hardly consistent with the teachings of Christ.

Phillip Giraldi makes two points towards then end of his article that are quite profound.  The first is, "That the United States military appears to be increasingly a professional force that has few links to the general population is by itself disturbing."  While I was still in, it was a source of pride that we were an "all-volunteer force" meaning both that every one who was in wanted to be in and that somehow made us all the more professional.  But now being retired for over 7 years, my experience is that "all-volunteer force"may not be in keeping with what the founding fathers had in mind.

There is a gap between how the average citizen views the world and the average troop.  The military is predominantly conservative and thus making decisions amongst like minded people invites the errors of groupthink.

His second point is "That it also might be developing a warrior class ethos that includes a certain kind of evangelical religiosity as a key element only serves to increase the distance between soldiers and most civilians, apart from the constitutional issues that it raises."  This is why Congressman Charlie Rangel was so in support of reinstating the draft.  A veteran of the Korean War, Congressman Rangel saw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being waged having an impact only on a small sector of America.  Only under those circumstances could you have a war that has gone on for over 10 years.

While many will disagree with his statement that this raises constitutional issues, consider an all-volunteer military of primarily evangelical Christians.  Would that not close the distance between organized religion and the nation state?  The Templar Knights painted red crosses on their shields.  As Mr. Giraldi points out, we have snipers putting biblical passages on their scopes.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Random Thoughts for 18 Feb 2014


The National Journal has an article entitled "High Time for Congress to Cave on Closing Military Bases".  There have been five rounds of Base Re-alingment and Closure Alignment (BRAC) rounds held starting in 1989, 1991 (which forced a huge involuntary separation (RIF) after Desert Storm), 1993, 1995 and 2005 (which saw the USAF steal airframes back from the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves).  While I agree we could do with less bases, especially those built up overseas, BRAC tends to source its "savings" by gutting facilities thereby forcing out mid-level personnel.  BRAC does not make recommendations on the bloated staffs in Washington DC.  The huge personnel costs associated with the general officer ranks and their requisite staffs could be the source of savings for military benefits but they are exempt from BRAC since most of these staffs don't reside in true military installations.  Many military staffs are housed in rented office spaces throughout the beltway, hence BRACs don't see these on their lists and the general staffs can survive largely unscathed by cuts.

House of Cards

The NetFlix show "House of Cards" does a pretty good job of showing how the political process drives the BRAC.  The character Frank Underwood works a deal to have a smaller installation stay open to court political favor at the cost of closing a much larger facility. "House of Cards" also did an excellent job in covering sexual assault in the military (Military Times).  The episode made a point of the brochures on preventing sexual assault that recommend in some cases the not-resisting is the best course of action.  The brochure, which I've not seen, sounds like a typical product of a committee that argued and compromised on the information instead of looking at things realistically.

Sexual assault in the military has increased as more women are to participate in front-line positions during combat.  Vietnam did not see females in combat and Desert Storm was too short.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have gone on for over 10 years with troops deploying multiple times.  The military has never looked at how troops in the 21st Century, facing combat conditions, will treat each other. We have a society now that spends more time interacting via electronic gadgets than with each other.  Take those same people and throw them into a combat zone, with no training in how to relate to one another, and the opportunities for assaults increases dramatically.  Add the stress of being killed at any moment with being away from friends and loved ones with young troops who have not yet learned how to act and it is a powder keg.

The discussion on sexual assault has to include not just the reporting and investigation but includes a look at how the military branches develop their culture.  I believe the Marine Corps is already approaching the issue in this way by re-looking at how its culture leads to an environment where sexual assault happens.

70 million Americans

According to WND, that's the number of Americans taking some type of mind-altering substance.  What should be even more alarming is as the wars draw down, more and more veterans with debiletating injuries or suffering from PTSD will be prescribed some of these same medications.  Imagine several huge metropolitan areas populated by citizens whose perception of reality may not be the same as yours.  If the numbers are correct, it may also explain in part the epidemic of sexual assaults.  Troops are prescribed drugs for a number of reasons and with the increased OPSTEMPO, drug use may have more of an effect on troop behavior they we realize.  Troops may also self-medicate (legal over the counter supplements or remedies) that may also contribute to the rise of assaults in the war zone when they can't get their fix.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Something about the Winter Olympic games has puzzled me.  The region is area is rife with unrest which caused Putin to put security into overdrive.  I for one believed there was (and could still be) some kind of incident, but so far nothing is happening that is making the news.  Partly due to the amazing amount of force brought by Putin and partly due to the underwhelming attendance by non-Russians, Sochi has so far not been Munich.

What stories that were coming out are about the substandard accommodations.  Rooms were only partially completed, an athlete ended-up locked in his bathroom, dirty water came out of the taps and the lack of enough pillows were all making the news.  Then there was the failure of the Olympic sign to light properly during the opening ceremonies.  What happened to the most expensive Olympics ever?

But something seemed too familiar about all of the negative images.  Russia, which under Putin had been undergoing a serious rebranding, was being made to look like a bunch of incompetent Cold War rubes.  It reminded me of a disinformation campaign, only this time it was the US conducting it against Russia.

A British blogger also has come to a similar conclusion.  The images of the Sochi games echoes the Soviet era.  The site goes on to conclude this was in response to Putin's stance against gay rights.  Perhaps or perhaps it was a way of trying to take away from Putin's image of a "man of action".

Of course the US has nothing to feel smug about as none of its speed skaters have yet medaled.  The reason now surfacing is their high-tech suits actually produced more drag.  So both sides are guilt of not properly testing things out in advance.

The win by the US over Russia in ice hockey seems to be the final piece in this 80s reboot.  Hopefully this does not continue into another Cold War.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dress Rehearsal

The Internet is full of interesting tidbits.  Most are not well thought out and some are downright loony.  Reading through it though provides much entertainment and sometimes, just sometimes you come across a little gem that causes you to stop and think.

So was my occasion this evening while perusing various articles when this caught my eye.  The Washington Examiner ran an article by Paul Bedard conjecturing that the deployment of Iranian navy ships off of US territorial waters is a dress rehearsal for an EMP attack.

The hypothesis does fit the evidence.  Iran lacks the ability to produce enough nuclear weapons to pose any real threat to the US.  It has always been thought that Iranian nuclear weapons were a threat because they could target Israel and thereby destabilize the Middle East and threaten oil supplies.

But that is linear thinking and it linear thinking is the kind that causes businesses to go under and military leaders to lose wars.  Instead of thinking of Iran's nuclear program as being an attempt to get parity with the United States, we need to think of it differently.

First the United States and the former Soviet Union built their nuclear weapons with the intent of intimidating the other into never using theirs first.  Hence the problems were are seeing now with the cheating scandals in the US nuclear forces.  A weapon that is never intended to be used is treated with contempt by the operators and maintainers.  The senior leaders want to prove otherwise so they create more and more demanding standards that have little bearing on reality.

Perhaps Iran has seen this folly and is approaching their nuclear program in a different manner.  Iran may need to only produce enough weapons grade material to launch an EMP attack over New York or Washington.  It seems the risk of having the US retaliate with their nuclear weapons would dissuade them from that but perhaps not.  Perhaps a threatened EMP attack could be used a blackmail tactic.  Or simply taking out Wall Street would so financially cripple the US that a retaliatory strike is considered remote.

Sometimes, no matter how improbable it may seem we need to accept that it is possible.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Power Grid Attack

There is an interesting story on the Internet this week about an attack on a California substation…back in 2013.  The story even made the  Los Angeles Times

Why is the story only now being reported?  The consensus in most of the articles is that the 2013 attack was a dress rehearsal and the implication, although left unsaid, is that another attack is coming.

The details are sparse and some articles seems to have added details.  The attack happened last year when snipers shot up 17 transformers in 19 minutes.  They fired into the radiators of the transformers causing a slow of leak of transmission oil.  Once the radiators drained out of oil, they overheated and the transformers shutdown.  A simultaneous attack on underground transmission lines also was launched.

One could argue that this information was kept from the public while investigators followed-up on leads.  According the LA Times article, no suspects have been arrested.

Gun owners see this as an attempt to launch another call for gun control based on the manner these attacks were committed.

The use of small arms instead of bombs or other WMDs is not surprising.  The 2008 attack in Mumbai demonstrated what a small group of highly trained attacker could do armed only with rifles.

What seems to be missing is the motive for these attacks.  The timing of the attacks, according to energy experts, was during the spring which is why the attacks on the transformers did not have a greater impact.  If they attackers were able to conduct their attacks so precisely, then why not attack during the summer?  The attack indicates it was already well rehearsed so why the need for a dress rehearsal?

Military precision is a term being bandied about in many articles on the attack.  The implication being that this was either a terrorist group with military training or an "inside" job by those working for the goverment.  It should come as no surprise that there are terrorist cells here in the US, many with the requisite skills and equipment to have carried out this attack.  Certainly an "inside" job is also not surprising as a way to force the utility companies into funding additional security measures.

It could also be an organized crime operation to blackmail utility companies.

In the years since 9-11, our critical infrastructure remains our most vulnerable point of attack.  Roads, bridges, waterways, food supply and distribution, power grids, etc remain relatively open to attack.  Just look at how easily E. Coli has gotten into our food supply.

That's what has me wondering about the power grid attack.  Our power transmission lines criss cross over remote areas of the country. Substations are located in remote areas even in metropolitan areas.

California seems to be ripe for an attack.  It has a huge land mass with multiple major metropolitan areas.  It is going through a major drought.  DHS has always focused rollouts of new technology on the Eastern side of the US, especially around New York and DC.  Los Angles and San Diego are both ports with the Mexican border nearby.

But given all of that, it does raise the question about why now?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Iranian warships will sail to U.S. maritime borders for first time

A destroyer and helicopter supply ship seems almost laughable but would previous Iranian administrations have felt emboldened enough to try such a move?  The message being sent to the White House is not just that Iran has had enough but that they are not afraid.  And this is what is most dangerous, the years of back and forth between Tehran and Washington have numbed the Iranians to any serious retaliation by the United States.  It is also a sign that the Obama Administration is not having much progress in keeping Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.  It may also mean that an announcement by Hilary Clinton to run for President will further escalate tensions.

Daily Mail

A Culture of Perfection

Now the US Navy is facing a cheating scandal amongst its ranks.  Unlike the USAF, the cheating involves nuclear technicians versus nuclear launch officers.  The nuance may make little difference.

The military culture changes only when faced with irresistible forces that compel change such as war.  The USAF did not change basic training until many years into the Iraq an Afghanistan war.  Until those wars, new recruits at Lackland were still being trained to operate from fixed bases well away from the battlefield.  When a shortage of truck drivers by the Army occurred around 2003, USAF vehicle operators were brought in to help fill the need.  Air Force vehicle operators were never intended to work outside the wire before and as such required much training by the Army in order to work in convoys being attacked by the enemy.

The USAF basic training began to change the experience for new recruits getting them used to working in an expeditionary environment. but it took years for the change to occur.

The nuclear forces of the USAF and USN have not had the same tempering event.  They train the same way they did when the US and Soviet Union were at the height of the Cold War.  Nuclear forces have not had to re-evaluate their training against any real world experience (thank God!) to see if requiring memorization of answers makes the troops better.

The military and civilian sectors are moving quickly towards more automation, especially drones or unmanned vehicles.  We've seen reconnaissance/surveillance platforms that are virtually autonomous and now the British have unveiled the Taranis hunter/killer aerial drone that can perform its entire mission profile without human intervention. British Drone

Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the number of tasks that truly require human intervention for nuclear weapons.  I am not an advocate for drones, I actually believe the opposite since having a large autonomous forces invites the potential for action without the risk of consequence.  But nuclear weapons have only been used once, by the US during WWII against Japan.  All other nuclear weapons sit and wait to hopefully never be used.  Efficiencies could be gained by looking at increasing automation in the nuclear career field.

That's why I don't agree with Secretary Hagel's comment, "take a step back and put renewed emphasis on developing moral character and moral courage in our force.”  If we insist on a zero failure rate on proficiency test for nuclear forces, then we pretty much have guaranteed to see cheating.  Why?  Because the emphasis is on the score and not the knowledge.

Hagel's comment fails to recognize the true culture of "cooperate and graduate" that permeates military technical training.  Every vet will tell you about how they all worked together to graduate, get ready for the final or to help someone that was lagging behind.  It is part of what bonds troops together and helps form unit cohesion later.

Troops in the nuclear side are no different.  They see the need to help each other master the mind-numbing questions that may have little to no relationship to how you actually perform the task.  Hagel should look to have a reevaluation of the testing, not more lectures on ethics and the need to change the culture.  Nothing I've read indicates a problem with the military culture, it seems to be a problem with the perceived lack of relevance of the proficiency tests.

Pentagon Cheating Scandal

Thursday, February 6, 2014

China's Blue Water Navy

China has an aircraft carrier that was built by the Russians.  The Chinese Navy is in the process of building another.  These carriers do not have the steam catapult launch capability of US carriers making the range and effectiveness of the Chinese carriers far less than the US Navy.

However, Ralph Cossa misses the point when he says, “A single aircraft carrier, with limited range aircraft and little blue water experience, hardly makes China a major sea power, but people are already reacting to the shadow rather than the little guy behind the screen,”--Press TV

The point is not carrier-on-carrier battles but rather the ability of China being able to project power somewhere the US is not, forcing one of the few remaining carrier battle groups to relocate.  By having the ability in the future to send Chinese forces to foreign shores, the US will be obliged to move in kind taking its carriers away from strategic locations.  It is not about effectiveness, it is about numbers.  Even a few, Chinese carrier battle groups would be enough to cause US Navy planners some serious problems.  The US carriers can only be in so many places at one time.

The Chinese carrier is also means China is demonstrating a commitment to being a world superpower at a time when US nuclear forces (now including the US Navy) are facing cheating scandals.  The US military may still be qualitatively superior but our reliance on technology over numbers means we simply can't be everywhere.  China and Russia realize a larger presence can compensate for lack of advanced technology. You don't need to fire a shot if you can get your enemy to go bankrupt trying to flex its dwindling numbers.