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Is there a Carrier Gap?

[ 78 ] July 8, 2015 | photo essay 080508-N-0483B-011.jpg

USS Essex (LHD-2)  U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Kari R. Bergman -Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I was on a panel yesterday on the “carrier gap” in the Middle East:

“Carrier demand has exceeded supply for many years,” said retired VADM Peter Daly, chief executive officer of the U.S. Naval Institute, speaking to an audience at a Washington seminar sponsored by the Navy League’s America’s Strength campaign and moderated by Bryan McGrath of the Hudson Institute. Also speaking were retired ADM Mark Fitzgerald, and Dr. Robert Farley of the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce.

The Navy, obligated by law to field a force of 11 CVNs, is authorized by Congress to operate only 10 carriers until the next CVN, Gerald Ford, is commissioned in 2016.


The Battleship Book

[ 15 ] July 7, 2015 |

819t0XM3kvLAs hinted on Saturday, The Battleship Book has become a reality. The book, which includes chapters on sixty-two battleships, plus several “interludes” and sidebars, stems largely from the Sunday Battleship Blogging series at Lawyers Guns and Money between 2005 and 2007. Most of the entries have been heavily revised and edited for inclusion in the book, so even long-term LGM readers will hopefully find something new. The Battleship Book is available in paperback through Amazon
, but Wildside Press has generously offered a coupon code (BATTLESHIP) for purchase of both the print version and the e-book through its own site. Note that the e-book and the print version will include different internal artwork, so it’s almost certainly worth your precious dollars to buy both. You can find an example of what the book will look like here (.pdf).

As you can imagine, there will be additional information available about the book in this space in advance of, and in the aftermath of, publication. And if you’re the sort of person who follows things on Pinterest, you can follow this board dedicated to the book.

Foreign Entanglements: Anti-Capitalist Crankery Edition

[ 0 ] July 7, 2015 |

I don’t think there’s any question that standards for guest invites at Foreign Entanglements have dropped dramatically:

China: 2025

[ 2 ] July 6, 2015 |

My latest at the National Interest takes a look at a few trends in Chinese military affairs:

The People’s Liberation Army and its constituent branches have undergone extraordinary change over the last fifteen years.  Doctrine, equipment, training, and strategic orientation have all evolved to the point that the PLA, the PLAN, and the PLAAF have become nearly unrecognizable from the vantage of the 1990s, when they used antiquated equipment, concentrated on making money rather than preparing to fight, and still looked for threats from the north rather than from the east.

The PLA has taken great steps forward over the past decade, just as it took great steps forward in the previous decade. What might it look like ten years from today?  What trends do we expect to continue?

Liaoning (CV-16). Courtesy of Global Times.

Liaoning (CV-16). Courtesy of Global Times.


WWC Final

[ 69 ] July 5, 2015 |

Breaking footage from Vancouver:


The Colonel…

[ 29 ] July 5, 2015 |
KentuckyColonel emblem.jpg

“KentuckyColonel emblem” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

The final post in my series on Kentucky in the Asia-Pacific takes a look at… chicken!

Internationally, there can be little debate; Harland Sanders is the face of Kentucky in a way that no other individual can match. Kentucky Fried Chicken (now known as KFC in most of the U.S.) has become one of the most successful fast-food brands in the world, and the commodification of Sander’s image and persona has been key to that success.

The six posts that constitute the series can be found here. It’s been fun to write, but back to aircraft carriers and such next week…

Happy Independence Day!

[ 4 ] July 4, 2015 |
USS Maryland, July 4, 1924.  Courtesy of

USS Maryland, July 4, 1924, Tacoma, Washington. Courtesy of

Incidentally, this is a thing. And BATTLESHIP is a code. More details later.


[ 107 ] July 2, 2015 |
Soccer ball.svg

“Soccer ball”. Licensed under GFDL via Wikipedia.

The end of last night’s England-Japan WWC match was about as devastating as anything I can imagine. I’m thinking through the classic catastrophic sports moments; Chris Webber’s timeout is the only thing that seems comparably decisive on such a large stage. I hope that the next thing is better for Laura Bassett; watching the team comfort her in the aftermath was the only thing that partially redeemed the moment.

[SL] A commenter beat me to it, but although its effectively one country big stage is a smaller one than Webber, an otherwise even better comparison is Steve Smith, the rookie defenseman who celebrated his birthday by eliminating his own team, the greatest regular season version of the Gretzky/Messier/Kurri/Coffey/Fuhr Oilers:

Was this moment of sheer misery one of the best days of my life? Well, yes. But Laura Bassett take note, and heart: the also-UK born Smith played 14 more years in the NHL and is now an assistant coach in Carolina.

On the Search for the Clubhouse Guy

[ 60 ] June 30, 2015 |

Roy Thomas. Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia.

Some interesting thoughts from Russ Carleton on how you would go about searching for clubhouse “chemistry”: (subscription)

I have a feeling that if I surveyed even the most hardcore sabermetricians out there, they would all acknowledge that ideas of chemistry and clubhouse presence aren’t silly. They’d probably push back against the common narrative that Team X won the World Series based on the shining light of justice that came from Smith’s locker. (After all, there were probably veteran guys on all the other 29 teams who did not win the World Series.) They’d probably say that it’s hard to measure. (It is.) But if Smith sits down with Jones, shows him a trick he’s learned over the years on how to hit a curveball and Jones turns from a one-win player to a three-win player, don’t we have to give some of that credit to Smith?

I’m going to start with the assumption that chemistry and clubhouse presence exist and that they can have real, tangible effects on players, making them either better or worse. We don’t know how it works. We don’t know who’s who. We don’t know what the effects are. But what if we could at least make some reasonable assumptions about what those effects might be? Actual data-driven ones. For example, we know that some managers seem to have a special talent for keeping their players from burning out over the course of a year, and that the effect might be as big as 30 runs from the best to the worst.

So, how much could these soft factors actually be worth?

I’d be interested in coming up with a list of things that we assumed-away-because-we-couldn’t-measure, then realized-had-an-impact-when-we-developed-better-tools. I’m guessing that the list would be longer in football and basketball than in baseball, but of course it would also be interesting to track down some examples from politics.


On Saved Games and Best Practices

[ 66 ] June 29, 2015 |

Operation Iraqi FreedomSome conjecture…

Every player of the popular video game Civilization knows to hit the save button before engaging in the risky, stupid invasion of foreign country. In the case of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it became apparent after the first few months that the war was not working out as its framers had envisioned.  The failure to find weapons of mass destruction was only the icing, so to speak, on the disaster of failed reconciliation, state collapse, and executive incompetence.

What if we had “saved game” before we invaded Iraq? What would America’s strategic options look like today?


[ 22 ] June 27, 2015 |

7818077_f496The latest in my Kentucky-in-the-APAC series takes a look at RAND!

Paul’s association with offshore balancing stems, in large part, from his father’s embrace of the concept. Ron Paul ran for President in 2008 on a non-interventionist platform, distinguishing himself from the rest of the GOP field. The elder Paul has made a career of arguing the quasi-isolationist (to borrow the term of his critics) position on foreign affairs.

But what does offshore balancing mean for the Asia-Pacific? We can imagine that a Paul presidency would resist the temptation and risk of commitment to Japan or any of the South China Sea claimants with respect to potential conflict with China. If offshore balancing can’t avoid war over a few rocks in the East China Sea, or a few piles of sand in the South China Sea, then it’s not worth very much as a strategic perspective.

Corporations, Not Activists

[ 109 ] June 25, 2015 |
Third Reich box cover.jpg

“Third Reich box cover”. Via Wikipedia.

This is an example of reacting to a controversy without really understanding what the controversy is about:

Today, Apple decided to start yanking games that use the Confederate flag in any way (viaTouchArcade). For example, you can now no longer buy the strategy iOS games Civil War: 1862, Civil War: 1863, Civil War: 1864, and Civil War: Gettysburg, which, as you might guess, use the Confederate flag because they’re video games about the Civil War.

With any luck, this will work itself out in a couple of days, and the games will be restored. Right wingers are going apeshit, of course, but as far as I know there are no anti-flag activists of any standing who have decried the use of the Confederate flag in Civil War video games.  Apple’s action stems from a misunderstanding of the arguments of activists, accompanied by a apparently complete disinterest in what they’re actually calling for. And to go out on a bit of a limb, this is a good example of why technology companies, and the corporate world more generally, should have an interest in supporting some degree of liberal arts education; it shouldn’t be difficult to sort through the differences between flying the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse, and depicting it in a video game about the Battle of Gettysburg.

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