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Category: Robert Farley


[ 60 ] October 29, 2015 |


Y’all probably missed out on the real excitement Tuesday afternoon:

Northrop Grumman Corp., maker of the B-2 stealth bomber, landed the long-awaited contract to develop the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation bomber.

The Falls Church, Virginia-based contractor led a team that beat out another headed by Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. Watch for the losing bidder to immediately protest the award and delay the program by at least three months.

The $21.4 billion initial contract calls for Northrop to develop the first 21 production aircraft, along with related engineering and manufacturing work. The planes are scheduled to be ready for operational flights in 2025.

The service has said it wants to buy between 80 and 100 new bombers at no more than $550 million apiece to replace its aging fleet of B-52 Stratofortresses made by Boeing Co. and a least a portion of its B-1 fleet.

The $550 million price tag is a joke, of course.  It’s probably for the best that Northrup Grumman won the competition; means that not everything is in the Lockheed basket, saves some jobs in the aviation industry long-run, etc. As I suggested earlier, the real key to success avoiding particularly catastrophic failure will be to limit the ambition of the program; the USAF is going to want everything, which will undoubtedly lead to bloat, etc.

Also, everyone seems convinced that no one in the US government is sensible enough just to call the damn thing the B-3.


Let’s Give It Up for LGM’s Favorite Fighting Commenter!

[ 47 ] October 28, 2015 |


For at least a bit, the Shakezula we all know and love will be guest posting at LGM.  Please grant her every courtesy blah blah blah etc.


The Managementimage

The New Look

[ 6 ] October 27, 2015 |

Some thoughts on what the defense reform might look like in practical terms:

As Bryan McGrath has observed, the fundamental problem with American procurement and strategic planning, at this point, lies in our inability to think beyond the static division of resources between the four services. While Bernie Sanders supporters often decry the unwillingness of the United States to shift military spending towards social services, we remain far more capable of exchanging strategic bombers or aircraft carriers for schools, than for each other. We can reallocate resources within services, or allocate resources away from the military, but we cannot reallocate resources across services.  And this is the foundation of strategic disaster.


[ 16 ] October 25, 2015 |
F-35 EOTS.jpeg

“F-35 EOTS” by User:Dammit – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 nl via Commons.

My latest at the Diplomat takes a look at the US refusal to export to Korea four key technologies associated with the F-35:

The four technologies in question are the active electronically scanned radar, the infrared search-and-rescue systems, the electro-optical targeting pod and the radio frequency jammer.  Reports indicate that Korea will attempt to develop the latter two technologies indigenously, and the former two in cooperation with foreign (non-US) industry. The remaining technologies are certainly relevant to the future of the South Korean military industrial complex, and hundreds of American engineers are expected to soon begin work with their Korean counterparts.

So where does this leave the U.S. and South Korea?  The decision has produced a firestorm of criticism in Seoul, some directed at the United States, and some directed at a government which looked unprepared for the highly likely eventuality of a DoD veto. The KF-X program is in trouble; it was intended to provide 120 fighters for South Korea (and another 80 for Indonesia) between 2025 and 2030.  As Dev Majumdar notes, it is unlikely that South Korea will be able to develop all of the relevant technologies (or acquire them from other sources) in a timely fashion.  The DoD decision could lead to a cancellation of the entire F-35 deal, which would leave Korea without a fifth generation fighter for the foreseeable future.


Waiting for Jutland

[ 5 ] October 21, 2015 |
HMS Iron Duke (1912).jpg

“HMS Iron Duke (1912)” by User Morven on en.wikipedia – Downloaded from Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

My latest at the National Interest takes a look at the setting of the stage for Jutland:

The naval war between Germany and the United Kingdom was more complex and multifaceted than is commonly understood in public memory of the First World War. This article looks at where the two great navies stood 100 years ago, and how the approached the problem of figuring out how to destroy one another.


OTHER Wednesday Links…

[ 5 ] October 21, 2015 |
The Battle of Trafalgar by William Clarkson Stanfield.jpg

“The Battle of Trafalgar” by William Clarkson Stanfield.  Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Some links for your Wednesday morning:


[ 19 ] October 20, 2015 |
HMAS Canberra (LHD 02) berthed at Fleet Base East (5).jpg

“HMAS Canberra (LHD 02) berthed at Fleet Base East (5)” by Hpeterswald – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

My latest at the Diplomat takes a look at HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide:

Lost in the various debates about whether Canberra and her sister will eventually carry the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter are the significant capabilities that the ships currently command, and how Australia can put those capabilities to greatest effect. When these ships reach final operational capability (expected in 2017) they will represent the most impressive amphibious warships in the Asia-Pacific, apart from the big amphibs of the United States Navy. The Royal Australian Navy has long played an active role in maritime management, and these two ships will grant the fleet its most effective vessels to date.

Oh, Ohio!

[ 16 ] October 18, 2015 |

First things first, the LGM Columbus Gathering on Friday night went fabulously well; an LGM fan showed up (“Are you Farley?  You look a lot older than in your videos”), and considerable beer was consumed at a variety of Columbus locales, including the Elevator and the Columbus Brewing Company.

On Saturday djw and I moved on to Hocking Hills Park, Old Man’s Cave area, where we hiked about seven miles. Following this, we hit Athens, where we visited Little Fish and Jackie Os before finishing the evening (and the Oregon-Washington game) at the West End Cider House. While still at Jackie Os we caught the second half of the Michigan-Michigan State game, in the company of a lovely couple who divided their allegiances between the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio Bobcats.  As soon as Michigan got the ball back in the final minutes, they got up to leave; I said “Michigan State can still get the ball back; you should stay and watch the end.  You don’t want to show up at home and learn that MSU’s won 28-23, do you?”

I was trying to be helpful.  I should never try to be helpful.

Flag of Ohio

“Flag of Ohio”, Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.


Making a Date with Columbus!

[ 12 ] October 16, 2015 |
Official seal of Columbus, Ohio

“Seal of Columbus, Ohio” by Alex43223 – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

If you are a Columbus resident, or will be in Columbus for non-residential reasons, djw and I will be at the Elevator at 7:30 tonight.  We will suspend our judgment of your life choices for the duration of the meet.  Hope to see you there; leave a comment if you plan to swing by.


[ 60 ] October 15, 2015 |

I’m currently in Dayton, Ohio, as part of a combination recruiting trip/ill-conceived vacation.  Watkins and I are planning to hit Columbus tomorrow (any LGM fans?) and Athens on Saturday.  I delivered the anti-Air Force screed last night at Wright State, to a crowd that could have used a lot more angry Air Force officers.

In any case, I present you with Captain Bud, who is currently patrolling the streets just outside the University of Dayton.


Four Myths about the European Refugee Crisis (And Why You Need to Know the Reality)

[ 102 ] October 13, 2015 |

This is a guest post by Dr. Adam Luedtke, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the City University of New York – Queensborough Community College. He received his Ph.D. from University of Washington, and has held academic positions at Princeton University, Washington State University and the University of Utah. He has written numerous books and articles on the politics of global migration.

News reports about the EU refugee crisis have been misleading at best, and have potentially (in an unfortunate guise of well-intentioned awareness and concern) made the situation even worse for the refugees. While the headlines have outlasted the media’s usual attention span, they will inevitably fade, but the plight of 60 million refugees will not. For those wishing to do more than post solemn declarations of concern on social media, there are some critical facts to know–facts being obscured by how the media talks about the crisis. The first step to helping more refugees, in a more effective way, is to correct misperceptions about: 1) who the refugees are–that is, who makes it out (and why), versus who remains in conflict regions; and 2) how governments can or should act to alleviate the problem. As powerful as headlines are for sparking concern, people remain wholly misguided about the origins, manifestations and optimal solutions to the problem. The first step to moving beyond this ignorance is to consider the problem systematically, and debunk the most common media myths that obscure such understanding.

Myth: Europe is facing its largest refugee crisis since World War Two.
Example: “Even now, with the biggest refugee crisis since WWII… the E.U. doesn’t seem to be conscious of its magnitude.”

Today’s crisis is horrible, but the early 1990s saw more refugees than now, and the crisis was more acute. In 1992, on the heels of communism’s collapse and turmoil in Eastern Europe (including genocide in former Yugoslavia), there were 670,000 asylum applications to (the 15) EU countries. Among other things, headlines detailed regular Neo-Nazi firebombings of shelters in Germany. So, the belief that we are in the largest post-WW2 refugee crisis is simply wrong. Last year, 626,000 people (44,000 fewer than 1992) applied to all (now 28) EU countries. The first quarter of 2015 shows this year may pass 1992’s total of 670,000. However, even if this happens, the period 1992-1997 will still have seen a larger number than 2010-2015 (and today’s total is spread over double the countries).[2] Our media feed perceptions of an unprecedented crisis, shocking us with graphic images and a steady stream of detail about the misery. It is fortunate that this raises awareness and prompts desire for action. But incorrect information undermines the cause of helping refugees. The sudden burst of alarm–and the well-intentioned concern that results–obscures important facts, such as who makes it to Europe, and who is left behind.

Myth: The poorest and most desperate arrive at Europe’s doorstep.
Example: “Most migrants who live illegally in the European Union fly to the 28-nation bloc on valid visas. But for the poorest and most desperate travelers… the journey often takes months by sea or land, with payments to traffick[ers].”

Reality: The new arrivals have suffered greatly, but their poorest and most desperate compatriots never make it out of the region. Only those with resources can afford the high fees charged by human smugglers. Because the burden of travel is usually placed on refugees themselves, the poorest and least-equipped are trapped in their home countries or make it to neighboring countries at best, which are often underdeveloped and face grave sociopolitical problems themselves. 1.8 million Syrian refugees have been admitted to Turkey, with Lebanon taking 1.2 million and Jordan 600,000. The world was captivated by images of little Aylan Kurdi’s body, after his family attempted sea passage. It was only because his aunt in Canada gave the family thousands of dollars that they were they able to pay the human smugglers who facilitated that journey from Turkey. Turkey now shelters more refugees than any other country in the world, and just four countries (Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon and Iran) host 36% of global refugees. The most deserving refugees are ignored by the logic of this system. If this is true, then who makes it to safe haven in the West?  The greater skills and resources of the “successful” refugees can benefit host countries, while admitting them in the comparatively small numbers they represent alleviates the political pressures from the headlines. But haven’t countries now stepped up their efforts?


Credit: European Union

Myth: Rich countries are finally taking in their fair share of refugees.
Example: “Why are the Germans being so nice? Angela Merkel has come out in favor of giving the refugees a big welcome. Being nice to refugees… helps dispel the ‘ugly German’ image. Angela Merkel has no difficulty in appreciating… human rights.”

Reality: Germany likes people to think it’s helping, but overall, rich countries admit few refugees, and the recent increases (though welcome) are a drop in the bucket. Germany does host the world’s eighth highest refugee population, but their refugee-to-native ratio is about 40 times less than Jordan’s. In the U.S., total admissions have dropped to under 70,000 from a 1990 peak of 122,000. Indeed, developing nations now host 86% of the global refugee population, and 25% of all refugees reside in the world’s “Least Developed” countries. This unbalanced settlement of refugees reveals the global system’s disproportionality. Refugee camps closer to the country of origin allow for more refugees to be helped. But the costs are much higher to resettle refugees in the West. This is why rich countries back a system which secludes refugees in temporary encampments, where they can be organized and managed by NGOs, who help shift focus and responsibility away from politicians. As analyst Robert Gorman notes, “Although the UNHCR is the institutional focal point of refugee protection, individual governments are the ones who must take up the cause.” So how could individual governments have handled this crisis better?

Myth: We could have avoided the crisis if states coordinated better.
Example: “Crisis… could have been avoided had refugees been able to travel normally, or make applications for asylum at embassies.”

Reality: Even if rich countries were willing to host every single refugee out there, it would be logistically impossible. Extra efforts should therefore be concentrated on the conflict region. While the option of asylum for refugees who reach Western shores is critically important, it is “hopelessly inadequate” as a solution to refugee crises. The causes of refugee flight are complex, and require a multi-faceted approach, including diplomacy and conflict resolution. To Oxford’s Matthew Gibney, even if “democratic states were to satisfy all of humanitarianism’s requirements, the claims of many of the world’s refugees to a safe place of residence would still go unmet.” Obviously, refugees arriving on the Western doorstep cannot be turned away. But in weighing the costs, benefits and ethics of refugee policy, we must acknowledge the relatively privileged status of the few refugees who have the means to make the journey, versus the dire needs of far larger populations near the conflict. There are no easy answers to their plight, but the inevitable search for answers must begin with correct facts. Otherwise, headlines will shock and sadden, without prompting effective action.


[ 44 ] October 12, 2015 |

Interlocking USC Logo.svg

There’s no doubt that the Oregon football program is currently a mess, what with…. Hey, look over there!

USC has fired coach Steve Sarkisian, the school announced Monday.

“After careful consideration of what is in the best interest of the university and our student-athletes, I have made the decision to terminate Steve Sarkisian, effective immediately,” USC athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement.

“I want to thank Clay Helton for stepping into the interim head coach role, and I want to add how proud I am of our coaching staff and players and the way they are responding to this difficult situation.

“Through all of this we remain concerned for Steve and hope that it will give him the opportunity to focus on his personal well being.”

On Sunday, Sarkisian was asked to take an indefinite leave of absence. Haden said Sunday it was “clear to me that he was not healthy.”

To be fair to USC, there was no evidence whatsoever that Sark was hitting the sauce (via Lemieux):

What emerged is a portrait of a man who favored Patron Silver tequila or Coors Light and frequented a handful of Seattle-area bars, typically accompanied by staff members, and didn’t hesitate to drink — early — while traveling.

During a stop at a rib joint in Nashville in January 2013, for example, Sarkisian and three assistants ordered four shots of Patron Silver, four shots of an unspecified liquor and five beers. The coach cashed out at 11:53 a.m.

I respect the late morning drinking, but tequila and Coors Light?

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