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Category: Robert Farley


[ 13 ] May 2, 2016 |
A large submarine travelling on the surface of the ocean.

“HMAS Rankin 2007” by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman James R. Evans – Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Some Monday links for your reading pleasure…


Ohio Remembers…

[ 74 ] April 30, 2016 |

Yesterday I visited the Queen City Club in Cincinnati for the opening of an honorary regional Estonian consulate. On the one end of the hall:

File Apr 30, 7 55 08 AM

“We’re going to good cop-bad cop this. I’m not the good cop.”

And on the other end:

File Apr 30, 7 55 27 AM

“I’m not the good cop, either.”


Boehner on Cruz

[ 84 ] April 28, 2016 |


Why can’t that nice young Ted Cruz unite the GOP? 

Much of the discussion – and laughs – focused on Boehner’s views on the current presidential candidates. Segueing into the topic, Kennedy asked Boehner to be frank given that the event was not being broadcasted, and the former Speaker responded in kind. When specifically asked his opinions on Ted Cruz, Boehner made a face, drawing laughter from the crowd.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” the former speaker said. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

In other news, watch Dylan Matthews cut pieces off of Jim Vanderhei. Slowly.

Raptor Raptor!

[ 28 ] April 27, 2016 |
F-22 AIM-120.jpg

“F-22 AIM-120” by USAF – Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Some further thoughts on a Raptor Restart:

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives commissioned a study on resuming production of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. The F-22 completed its production run in 2011, after a controversial decision by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to curtail the fighter in favor of simpler, less expensive projects.

As numerous analysts have pointed out, the costs of resuming the F-22 production line would be staggering. Although Lockheed Martin tried to retain all of the tooling and equipment necessary to restart the line, much of the human capital associated with assembly has been lost.  Moreover, engineers have struggled to find the appropriate equipment in storage, even for the repair and maintenance of the existing fleet.

The IP Expansion

[ 11 ] April 22, 2016 |
B-2 radar reflection.jpg

By Nova13 – Based on: File:An F-18 Hornet, B-2 Spiri, and two F-16 Fighting Falcons.jpg, Public Domain.


I have an article up at World Politics Review on US diplomatic strategy for intellectual property protection:

Intellectual property: It sounds boring, but its protection has become one of the cornerstones of U.S. economic policy. And now, it may have an impact on how the Pentagon thinks about the future of technology.

In recent years, the big push for international intellectual property protection came about through the concerted action of a group of powerful, well-connected American corporations. These corporations had determined that they could make a great deal of money—or at least stop the loss of a great deal of money—by putting crucial intellectual property protections into international law. Washington has embraced this idea, making intellectual property a central part of every major trade agreement of the past decade.

Bowling Green

[ 9 ] April 22, 2016 |

I’ll be in Bowling Green tomorrow morning for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest. Anyone in or near town is strongly encouraged to swing by; the lineup is always interesting, and I’ll be on an 11am panel titled “History: Battles and Bravery.” It is my understanding that battles and battleships are the only things worthy of historical study, a position that I will attempt to convey with utmost conviction.

The Eastern Eastern Front

[ 22 ] April 20, 2016 |
Soviet aircraft carrier Novorossiysk.jpg

Soviet aircraft carrier Novorossiysk. Public Domain.

My latest at the National Interest examines some of the lit on what World War III might have looked like in the Pacific:

Scholars have devoted far less attention to the planning of World War III in East Asia than to the European theater. The two classic novels of the Third World War (Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising and John Hackett’s The Third World War) rarely touched on developments in Asia. However, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Naval War College traced the potential course of war in East Asia as part of a series of global war games. These games lend a great deal of insight into the key actors in the conflict, and how the decisive battles of a Second Pacific War might have played out.



[ 64 ] April 20, 2016 |
Rear view of jet aircraft in-flight at dawn/dusk above mountains. Its engines are in full afterburner, evident through the presence of shock diamonds.

F-22 in full afterburner. U.S. Air Force. Public Domain

Been on the road for a bit, getting back into the swing of things…

Congress wants a study on whether to re-open the F-22 Raptor line.  This is a complicated question.  Way back when, I supported the decision to kill the F-22 at 187 planes, largely because the F-35 looked like it was going reasonably well, and because of other priorities.  Since that time the F-35 project has nose-dived, and the F-22 has performed exceptionally well, notwithstanding some issues at high altitude.  I think it’s fair to say at this point that the decision to kill the F-22 in favor of the F-35 was wrong.*

That doesn’t make restarting the F-22 line necessarily the right thing to do, however.  For one, restarting any line is extremely expensive, even when all of the tooling and the procedures have been locked down.  Workforce has to be trained (or rehired), factories have to be spooled up, etc.  The bump will all be in capability; new F-22s will cost more than new F-35s.  Moreover, the ban on F-22 export remains in place, meaning that it will still likely be impossible to recoup any expenses through an export model. Finally, although the F-22 is awesome, it’s also old; re-opening the project at this point means committing to a fighter that’s been in development since the 1980s, and in production since the 1990s.

It’s also worth noting that the worm can turn pretty quickly on the evaluation of defense projects.  Eight years ago the F-22 was an expensive disaster, incapable of contributing in a meaningful way to the COIN fights going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Now, it is widely acknowledged by aviation experts to be the finest fighter in the world, a good distance ahead of any competitor currently flying, and most still on the drawing board.  The F-15 and F-16 (especially the latter) followed similar paths.


*Let’s take some care on this sentence; it takes no position on whether killing the F-22 to fund, say, schools or free Toyota Corollas or new battleships or anything else would have been a good idea.  Defense procurement decisions are generally of the branch rather than the root variety

USS Portland

[ 36 ] April 12, 2016 |
US Navy 110609-N-VL218-336 The amphibious transport dock ships USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and USS New York (LPD 21) are underway together in the Atla.jpg

Sisters of USS Portland: The amphibious transport dock ships USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and USS New York (LPD 21) are underway together- U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Edwin F. Bryan –  Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Well, this is embarrassing.

For the second week in a row, Portland’s talking about banning city employees from traveling to a bigoted state, and this time Mayor Charlie Hales’ Pascagoula dreams may be dashed.

Hales and First Lady Nancy Hales had planned to travel to Mississippi next month to pay a visit to the USS Portland (actually, the third USS Portland to be owned by the US Navy), named in honor of this city. But after Mississippi became the latest state to pass a terrible, homophobic, discriminatory lawyesterday, Hales says he’ll put those plans on ice.

“I would be very disappointed if the Mayor of Portland was not able to be there for the launching of the Portland,” Hales said this morning, adding “these travel bans, if they are to mean anything, should mean we are not able to go to Mississippi.”

Turns out that they’ll commission USS Portland in Portland in late 2017. Sucks to be you, Mississippi.


[ 11 ] April 11, 2016 |

RFS Pyotr Velikiy transiting the Suez Canal

I have updated the page for the Battleship Book with the latest reviews and podcasts; please check it out. Most importantly, take a listen to the recent podcast I recorded with Ankit Panda of The Diplomat. Note that the book is finally available from Amazon!  You can get the ebook direct from Wildside

If you’ve already bought the book, then let me encourage you to review it at Amazon or some other relevant retailer (even if you hated it). Amazon reviews are a huge help for any author, so if you’ve read any of these books, please take a few seconds:

No Way Out

[ 17 ] April 11, 2016 |
P-8A Poseidon of VP-16 dropping torpedo in 2013.JPG

“P-8A Poseidon of VP-16 dropping torpedo in 2013” by U.S. Navy – Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.


A Taiwan-born Navy officer who became a naturalized U.S. citizen faces charges of espionage, attempted espionage and prostitution in a highly secretive case in which he is accused of providing classified information to China, U.S. officials said.

The Navy examined the charges against Lt. Cmdr. Edward C. Lin in a preliminary military justice hearing on Friday. The service did not release his identity, but a U.S. official disclosed it Sunday under the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the case. Lin’s connection to the case was first reported by USNI News.

Ash Carter has cancelled his visit to China, apparently in connection with this case.  The maritime recon mission is some pretty serious stuff; I’ve been digging through some old wargaming material from the Naval War College, and the P-3s were expected to bear a heavy load in case of conflict. P-8s also do fun stuff like this. In any case, spying of this nature is probably more important in the big picture than all the cyber-espionage stuff that we’ve heard so much about recently; Chinese intel has been very serious about making inroads into the various Chinese language communities in the United States, although it hasn’t historically had a lot of success with the Taiwanese-American community. Down the road, we may see the US intelligence community and the Pentagon start to get sketchy about security clearances for Chinese-Americans, especially those with fairly recent family connections to the mainland. That would be a shame.

Japanese Nukes

[ 16 ] April 11, 2016 |
Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15.jpg

“Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15” by Angelique Perez, U.S. Air Force -Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Latest at TNI: Letting Japan build nukes would have been a bad idea.

During the Cold War, the United States supported selective nuclear proliferation as a means of deterring a Soviet invasion of Europe. The Russians might not believe that the United States would trade Berlin for New York, but they might find a British or French threat more credible.

Washington did not pursue the same strategy in Asia. Although Japan could easily match Britain or France in economic power and technological sophistication, the United States didn’t see fit to support Japanese nuclearization. Instead, the United States quashed Japanese nuclear ambitions whenever they appeared.

As always, the comment thread is a treasure.

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