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Minesweepers

[ 0 ] April 13, 2006 |

Interesting article in the latest Defense News (subscription required) about the Navy’s decision to fold its minesweeping assets into the Anti-Submarine Warfare Command. The move obviously doesn’t make sense to the minesweeping community, and doesn’t make much sense to me, either. The Navy has been quiet about the move, but the article suggests that the decision was made by officers without much interest and experience in mine warfare. The move will also result in the retirement of half the USN minesweeper fleet. Some of the material gap will be covered by the minesweeping module of the new Littoral Combat Ship, but the folding of mine warfare into ASW has some officers concerned that minesweeping will get the short end of the budgetary stick in a Command dominated by ASW.

Why is this a problem? Mine and submarine warfare are both naval equivalents of asymmetric warfare. They are weapons of the weak, designed to offset an enemy surface or air advantage. Of the two, mine warfare is less expensive and potentially more dangerous, especially as the USN’s focus has moved toward littoral areas where mines will likely be most effective. Anti-submarine warfare is more expensive, more interesting, and higher tech, which is probably why the Navy seems more interested in it than minesweeping. While this isn’t the most serious crisis facing the Republic, it is evocative of a Pentagon culture that continues to focus on expensive, high tech solutions to problems and ignore low tech, asymmetric threats.

Dissatisfaction

[ 0 ] April 12, 2006 |

Make sure to read Fred Kaplan’s column on the increasing discomfort of the officer corps with the Bush administration, and with Don Rumsfeld in particular. Also take a look at this NYT op-ed by Major General Paul Eaton, which I unfortunately missed at the time. General Eaton gave a lecture in my American Foreign Policy class back in the spring of 2000, while he was stationed at Fort Lewis.

I’m of two minds on the question of dissatisfaction in the officer corps. I recall, at SWAMOS 2000, Eliot Cohen talking about how the Clinton administration had allowed the senior brass far too much latitude, and that a Republican administration would likely see the firing of a few generals in short order, just to put them back in line. I do think that Clinton was too deferential to the uniformed military, and that the one ray of light in the Rumsfeld DoD has been the willingness of civilians to assert control. But that is obviously also a double-edged sword, and the restoration of civilian authority would undoubtedly have gone more smoothly and been less destructive if a) it hadn’t involved the silencing of military voices when that expertise was most necessary, and b) the civilians in question weren’t so goddamn stupid.

UPDATE: Brad Plumer says the same thing, only better.

Drinking Liberally-Lexington Recap

[ 0 ] April 12, 2006 |

The inaugural meeting of DL-Lexington went well, as far as I can recollect.

Submitted without editorial comment, Minka:

The Meeting

[ 0 ] April 11, 2006 |

Rich Lowry’s advice for the President:

Sit-down with conservative bloggers. They are some of his most loyal supporters–include them in the media out-reach.

Imagine that…. just imagine that…

Scene: Oval Office. President Bush is meeting with John Hinderaker, Kathryn Lopez, Jonah Goldberg, Charles Johnson, John Derbyshire, Glenn Reynolds, and Roger L. Simon.

President Bush: Thank you all for coming. I just want you to know that Laura and I value your ideas and support.

Reynolds: Heh. Indeed.

Lopez: Mr. President, you are, like, a god to me.

Bush: Thank you…

Hinderaker: Mr. President, I believe that your speeches will be studied by historians for centuries to come. For now, the only advice that I can offer is to suggest that you should denounce Mahatma Gandhi.

Bush: Denounce Gandhi?

Hinderaker: Yes, sir, denounce Gandhi. And his rabble. Can’t let the peaceniks get a foothold.

Reynolds: Heh. Indeed.

Simon: Mr. President, a lot of people are saying your administration has made mistakes in Iraq, but you shouldn’t pay them any attention. I’d say that the Iraq War is at least as well conceived and executed as, say, Pajamas Media.

Bush: Well, thank you.

Goldberg: Mr. President, South Park is really big these days. I think that you should consider appearing on South Park. I’m sure that Parker and Stone would treat you with the dignity you deserve. The kids really like South Park these days.

Johnson: Mr. President, have you considered giving a speech threatening to incinerate the entire islamic world? Some of my commenters think that would be a really good idea.

Reynolds: Heh. Indeed.

Bush: Well, I’m not sure…

John Derbyshire: BLARG!!!! DJTNTHNNJJKKWWHEETT!!! Teh GAY!!! GSLDDEAAALLTTTHNEEIAA!!!!! Sixteen year old GIRLS!!!! DKTHEEKK!!

Reynolds: Heh. Indeed.

Drinking Liberally-Lexington

[ 0 ] April 10, 2006 |

Lexingtonians,

Drinking Liberally-Lexington will meet tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6:30pm at the Horse and Barrel, 101 North Broadway.

See you there.

Baseball Challenge, Week 1

[ 0 ] April 10, 2006 |

The Green Weinies are in the lead. The Axes of Evel Knievel are near the bottom.

1 green weinies , W. Bell 230 59.0
2 St. Louis Cardinals , D. Solzman 228 57.7
Shangri-La Coelacanths , J. Daw 228 57.7
4 titleixbaby , P. Smith 205 42.4
5 Bolts from the Blue , R. Payne 203 41.1
6 Seattle HemiCats , M. Bruneau 200 39.2
7 I Love Technology , E. Loomis 196 36.6
8 Eephus , J. Schroeder 195 36.0
9 Kentucky Bearded Ducks , R. Farley 176 25.0
10 Sector 7G Carbon Blobs , S. Meredith 163 19.2
11 Axis of Evel Knievel , d. noon 157 17.1
12 Axis of Evel Knievel , D. Noon 150 14.9
13 The Stugotz , B. Petti 149 14.7
14 deez nuts , m s 148 14.3
Moscow Rats , I. Gray 148 14.3

Sunday Battleship Blogging: HMS Warspite

[ 0 ] April 9, 2006 |


HMS Warspite was the second of the magnificent Queen Elizabeth class battleships. She carried 8 15″ guns, displaced 28000 tons, and could make nearly 25 knots. Warspite and her sisters outclassed every battleship in the world upon their commissioning, and remained useful and impressive ships until the end of World War II. Warspite led the most distinguished career of any Royal Navy battleship in the twentieth century.

Warspite and her four sisters constituted the Fifth Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet, a designation designed to take advantage of the ship’s high speed. In ordinary operations, Warspite would have been part of the main battle line of the Grand Fleet, which would have limited her to a speed of somewhat less than 20 knots. The necessities of maneuvering in formation limited the speed of a squadron to somewhat less than that of its slowest ship. Warspite, thus, had difficulty operating with the rest of the Grand Fleet. While the US Navy solved this problem by designing all of its battleships with a common (slow) speed, the Royal Navy accepted a speed differential and pursued an organizational solution. In early 1916, the Fifth Battle Squadron was detached from the Grand Fleet and placed under Admiral David Beatty, commander of the Royal Navy battlecruisers.

Due largely to Beatty’s ineptitude, the Fifth Battle Squadron arrived late at the Battle of Jutland. Beatty’s battlecruisers were being taken to the woodshed by the High Seas Fleet when Warspite and her sisters arrived, diverting fire from Beatty’s wounded ships and inflicting serious damage on the already battered German ships. For a short period, the Fifth Squadron faced the whole of the High Seas Fleet. After turning away from the German fleet, Warspite suffered a mechanical “incident”. Her steering jammed, and she sailed in two full circles in front of the High Seas Fleet, receiving fifteen hits from German heavy guns. Warspite’s accident saved the armored cruiser Warrior, on the verge of sinking after taking heavy German fire. Warpite survived, and slowly made her way back to port, avoiding two German U-boat attacks along the way. The experience at Jutland helped Warspite acquire a reputation for poor luck; she also managed to ram her sisters Barham and Valiant, to run aground once, to suffer a boiler room fire, and was a close witness to the explosion of HMS Vanguard.

Warspite was modernized twice during the inter-war period. The second modernization was quite extensive, replacing the entire original superstructure and repairing some of the damage leftover from Jutland. Warspite and her sisters remained useful in the Second World War largely due to their speed, and served with distinction in the North Sea and the Mediterranean. At the Second Battle of Narvik, Warspite helped to sink eight German destroyers trapped in a Norwegian fjord. Warspite was involved in several major actions in the Mediterranean, including the Battle of Calabria, where Warspite hit Giulio Cesare at a range of 26000 yards, thought to be the longest hit of one moving battleship against another. In 1941 Warspite was transferred to the Pacific and repaired at the Puget Sound Naval Yard before being attached to the Royal Navy’s Eastern Fleet in early 1942. The Eastern Fleet fought a few inconclusive actions with the Imperial Japanese Navy before being chased to the east coast of Africa. In 1943, Warspite was transferred back to the Mediterranean.

Warspite’s service in 1943 focused mainly on support of British and American landings in Sicily and Italy. On September 15, 1943 a German glider bomb hit Warspite, tearing through her superstructure, her main deck, and her hull. Warpite had to be towed to port, and was never fully repaired. She participated in shore bombardment at the Normandy landings, but hit a mine shortly afterward. Pieced together enough to deliver further shore bombardment in late 1944, she was retired in early 1945.

A campaign to preserve Warspite after World War II failed. Although the reluctance of the cash-strapped post-war British government to spend money on preserving a battered, aging battleship is understandable, it is nonetheless unfortunate that no British capital ships of the twentieth century survive. Warspite, the most active of Royal Navy battleships and the most beloved of the British public, would undoubtedly have been the best choice for preservation. On the way to being scrapped in 1947, Warpite ran aground. She was taken apart over the course of the next three years.

(Images courtesy of www.maritimequest.com)

Trivia: What battleship was the sole survivor of the June 21, 1919 “incident” at Scapa Flow?

Leaky

[ 0 ] April 9, 2006 |

Indeed.

So, just for the record, in the hermetically sealed moral universe of conservatives (where all compasses point to the right), when the President sends out his lackey to spread false information about the President’s ex-girlfriend, it is inexcusable, a threat to the republic. When the President sends out his lackey to spread false information about why the President sent hundreds of thousands of American troops to invade and occupy another country, it’s no big deal. Got it?

Boggled

[ 0 ] April 8, 2006 |

There’s something mind-boggling about the notion that either a) a sustained bombing campaign will topple the regime in Iran, or b) sanctions will force a revolution in Iran. The mind boggling thing is not that these ideas are absurd, that they have no empirical support, or that they are doomed to failure.

The mind-boggling thing is that these arguments are coming, presumably, from the same people who thought that invading Iraq was a good idea because a) a sustained bombing campaign was unlikely to topple the Iraqi regime, and b) sanctions had failed to force a revolution in Iraq.

Or maybe I’m wrong, and it’s just that the neocons in the administration have been shunted aside by the equally idiotic paleocons. Is that progress?

If we let them have Kaus, will they just leave us alone?

[ 0 ] April 8, 2006 |

Mickey is afraid that Mexican immigrants are going to rise up and “take back” California.

Heh.

Posts Worth Reading

[ 0 ] April 8, 2006 |

Erik on heroin in the Espanola Valley.

Redbeard on abortion on Saipan.

[ 0 ] April 7, 2006 |


Friday Cat Blogging… Nelson and Starbuck