24 May 2015

All Politics is Local, Red v. Blue edition

One of the craziest thing that has come across my mind lately is how obvious "Pro Freedom" or "Patriot" locally elected officials are on the national stage, and how vulnerable they seem because of it. What follows is my mind ruminating on the future possibilities of local politics becoming the battle ground for the nation. When you think about American politics as some sort of HALO "capture the flag" event it makes a perverse amount of sense.

It is my base assumption that the pro-freedom local politians who make the national stage are the "crazy 10%" who are very vocal in their support of the constitution and their local community.

Which brings me back to "revolutionary" doctrine. Revolutionaries generally have two goals. Either to replace the party in power, or to replace the system in power. Even in the Patriot community today you see these two camps of thinking, those that think if we just got more of our people elected things wouldn't get worse and might get better, and those that think the system is so screwed it can't be repaired and must be scrapped (and I ask those people why they aren't shooting yet).

One of the lessons learned from the "Sunni Awakening" in Iraq is that members of the local community do know exactly who to kill to quiet their area down. It also shows that the current ISIS onslaught into Ramadi is with the tacit approval of at least enough of the population that they can hold what they take.

One of the conundrums of the violent revolutionary is you have to kill a LOT of people to have a successful revolution. The non-violent revolutionaries just need an oppressor with some sort of rule of law to exploit.

Think about the levels of importance in government. If a small town mayor were killed, how much resource could the small town push to solve that crime and bring the killer to justice? Obviously less than the county, state, and Federal Government. But what if small town mayors across the nation were being killed? You quickly run out of county, state, and FedGov resources to throw at what is obviously a "local problem."

But, since all politics are local, I am also going to assume that pro-freedom mayors are already in charge of pro-freedom communities, and that anti-freedom mayors are in charge of anti-freedom communities. On this assumptions, eliminating an anti-freedom mayor only ensures that another anti-freedom mayor would be elected/appointed to fill the vacuum. Individual politicians may die, but the office will probably respawn into some variation of what was just vacated. The biggest difference between HALO team games and real politics is only that there is no time limit on matches.

The communities that are highly stratified, are likely to have a highly contested election. So the question becomes, in order to take power, when do you kill the opposition? When they are in power? Nope.

Logically you would have to kill them before the final election votes are cast. Generally the rules state (although the rules can be very different depending on community) that if the winner is dead, the person who got the next most votes gets the office. So the time for the revolutionary to kill a politician is before they can be legally elected to office, even if the candidate you want ends up winning the popular vote the death of the opposition will send a message.

Now the fact that American politics isn't a blood bath of dead candidates is what I consider a de facto admission that everyone involved (red and blue at this point) is pretty firmly on the side of "the system is fixable (or corruptible)" type politics.

22 May 2015

The AMPV

BAE submitted a design based on the Bradley for the Army Multi Purpose Vehicle. This is designed to replace the M113 in Armored Brigade Combat Teams, and eventually replace all M113s.

This is a prett smart move, as at this point we really don't need a replacement for the Bradley that is built on todays technology. By reusing so much of the Bradly hull and drive train, they can make better use of internal space to do all the "support" role missions that M113s have been doing. Things like field ambulance, Fire Direction Center, mobile Command Post for example.

The latest upgrade to the Paladin self propelled howitzer brought it into the Bradley hull field of vehicles.

There is one development that I would like to see that no one is addressing. That is a medium tank built on a Bradley hull, specifically reusing the MGS 105mm turret for parts commonality across the Army. Why do I want this when Bradleys come with TOWs and 25mm already?

Because TOW missiles are freaking expensive, and 25mm doesn't blow holes in buildings the way a breacher round from a 105 does. Even the proposed 30mm Bradley upgrade doesn't blow holes in stuff the way a 105 does. I don't want a medium tank to fight other tanks, I want a medium tank to support mounted and dismounted Infantry in a combined arms team.

We've shown in the Stryker brigades that the MGS, for all its maintenance faults, is a real combat multiplier when conducting kinetic operations.

Now someone will say that we already have the Abrams. This is true. And the Abrams is a much better tank than what I'm proposing. But the Abrams is also a much more expensive tank than what I'm proposing. The Abrams isn't amphibious the way a Bradley is, and I don't see a huge need for tank on tank warfare if there is a "Pivot to the Pacific" so much as a need for combined arms teams doing clearing operations.

The other thing that makes a 105mm turreted Bradley a nice idea is the much smaller logistical footprint in terms of fuel. It is as simple as one tank, or a platoon of Bradleys, per day. If you mind the pennies the dollars take care of themselves so to speak. Cheaper engines and transmissions in Brads than Abrams. Plenty of internal space for a gunner and loader, driver slot already taken care of.

Think about how happy the logisticians would be with a Bradley hull pure fleet compared to a mix of Abrams, Brads, legacy Paladins and M113s? Then if you needed more punch, just add the Abrams back into the mix.

21 May 2015

Surviving Rape

Once again I've had to sit through the mandatory sexual harassment/sexual assault training. 90 minutes of my life that I won't get back. The presenters get paid good money to come and train Soldiers, but the training focused on changing language in order to change culture.

That's not a realistic expectation of change in my opinion, as the link between "language" and "rape" has never been fully explored to establish any sort of causal relationship (the presenters called it "environmental camouflage" which doesn't make much sense to me). Even in other langugaes rape still happens. In fact I'm willing to bet that rape happens in every society, especially when the definition of rape has be re-defined to be overly broad as it has in our society.

But what I did think was value  added was the process by which sexual predators select, groom, then assault victims. I'd gone over that before, but the process was covered in greater detail. Then they did a good job of going over the ways that predators influence victims from coming forward, and finally got to one data point that I had not heard before.

"The bulk of military rape survivors interviewed said they didn't come forward because they didn't want to hinder mission accomplishment, or be thought of as a victim by their co-workers and team mates."

The presenters didn't provide the study that this conclusion came from, and I will try to dig deeper to find out where it came from. That is a big problem, but when you think about it, it's not just an Army problem.

How easy is it to change, "I didn't speak up because I didn't want to hurt the mission" to "I didn't speak up because I didn't want to hurt the people around me."? I know that the second statement is true for a number of civilian cases. In many cases the sociopaths who are serial rapists are skilled at raising their own social value so that they seem credible compared to their survivors.

This situation is actually easier for the Army to address, we simply tell all Soldiers that it is their duty to report predators. We explain that the life they save may well be someone in the future. We do this, and we treat the survivors with as much respect and dignity as we know how (which is often not enough based on the conduct of some of my peers). And you know what, reporting goes up, investigations are conducted, and the time between an incident and a substantiated report goes down.

On the flip side it also makes us look horrible to civilians who assume that because our numbers are higher things are bad in the Army. Honestly I think the Army handles sexual assault investigations way better than colleges (for both accuser and accused). I also think that the number of rape cases will not seriously change any time soon. The vast majority of our cases are first time Soldiers on first time Soldiers (with the remainder largely being superior on subordinate cases). So even if we eliminated all sexual harrassment/rape from careerists, we'd still have a huge population of 18-22 year olds who bring into the Army bad habits (more men are assaulted in the Army every year than women in raw numbers, but percentage wise it is more women than men by quite a bit).

But, more reports means that things are working. Having been the investigating officer on an unsubstantiated report, I can tell you that people do try to game the system to get other people fired or kicked out of the Army. I can also tell you that an unsubstantiated report won't stop you from getting promoted, at least in the one case I was involved in.

So instead of reframing the emotional context of coming forward being a mission distractor (and wasting time trying to force change language) I think it would be better time reframing the context to one of duty and responsibility.  I will say that I will make one change to my language, and not to eliminate the word "slut" from my vocabulary, but to stop calling people who have been raped "victims" and instead call them what they are, "survivors." Whether or not changing how I label people who have gone through that may not be much, but I do hope that it will assist in the individual process of regaining their sense of strength and power. Sometimes just realizing that you lived through something horrible and came out the other side helps you focus on moving forward instead of continually going through the event.

As far as a cultural shift, I think it can happen. Not with the language of loose women being shunned with a red vowel and promiscuous men earning the title of "Don Juan." But with the culture of how we view people who come forward.

When we can convince our Soldiers (and more importantly our Company high leaders) that their duty to the Army is to expose sexual predators for the good of the Army, we've won. When Soldiers remain convinced that unit harmony is more important than getting a rapist out of our midst, we've failed. If we let a rapist deploy and attack a civilian in a foreign country it can be a bigger detriment to mission accomplishment (cough, USMC, tranny, Phillipines, entire ship stuck in port for investigation, cough) than simply coming forward to fix the problem now.

Of course the words here are sterile, without the messiness of the lowest performing female Soldier in your unit accusing the NCO of the Year for your Battalion of rape. The social pressure on that person to not come forward would be immense, but the Chain of Command needs to know, because I've been in the Army long enough to know that the hard charging NCO with a Ranger tab can be a sociopath hiding in plain sight. I know that some people excel professionally to make up for moral bankruptcy. And I know that there are Officers and NCOs out there who don't have the experience to fully appreciate the gravity of keeping high performing bad apples in the Army.

If that cultural shift can happen, maybe we won't have to have contracted trainers come to train us on not committing crimes against each other. After all, when was the last time a Soldier had a mandatory class on not stealing from another Soldier? It seems like a deceptively simple solution which has a high standard of creating an environment that prevents sexual assault in the first place (one which the more rabid feminists will say doesn't do enough to actually eliminate rape, but I don't think that's possible).

19 May 2015

A Grunts take on Fighter Jets

There are very interesting things going on in the USAF, USN, and USMC.

First, the USAF is looking to upgrade the F-15 instead of diverting funds to the F-35: http://aviationweek.com/defense/boeing-select-f-15-ew-upgrade-contractor-may

Second, the four year study of extending the service life of the F-15 should be just about finished: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/us-air-force-looks-to-dramatically-extend-f-15-service-365200/

What does that tell us about the F-15 and F-35? Well, one it tells us that the USAF is definitely going to continue using the F-15 for a long while yet (and identified the need to do so at least four years ago) despite two rather high profile crashes last year: http://www.stripes.com/news/us/pilot-in-f-15-crash-was-decorated-combat-vet-1.300530 and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2785239/BREAKING-NEWS-US-Air-Force-fighter-jet-crashes-Lincolnshire-exercise.html

Now this won't surprise anyone who has been paying attention to the F-35 Saga. A 7.3 Billion dollar upgrade of the F-15 fleet is worth about 40 F-35s all told, if the South Korea deal that fell through for the F-15SE is any indicator. So upgrading about 400 some air frames for the cost of 40 new air frames seems like a no-brainer, especially with how much further development the F-35 needs compared to a combat proven air frame.

And all of this is in spite of the cracking longeron scandal:   http://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-defective-part-caused-f-15rsquos-breakup-in-2007-pentagon-finds/

But, that cracking longeron problem is showing up in F-16s as well: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/usaf-grounds-82-f-16ds-due-to-new-cracks-402853/

The USAF and Lockheed Martin are looking into modifications to extend the service life of those F-16s because of the delayed entry into the fleet of the F-35A. http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/usaf-details-f-16-life-extension-programme-375914/

It is no secret that the Navy had Boeing provide Service Life Extention for the Hornet: http://www.janes.com/article/50222/dod-to-award-boeing-slep-contract-for-legacy-hornet-fleet

And why? because additional flight hours supporting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan made them wear faster than planned, and the F-35C has been delayed. Even the USMC chose to extend the service life of the Hornets and retire the Harriers a bit early to save money. http://news.usni.org/2014/11/03/u-s-marines-retire-harrier-fleet-early-planned-extend-life-hornets

All told, this adds up to enough data that I can make a real foggy prediction from my crystal ball. The USAF is looking to fly the F-15 for another four decades, and the Navy and USMC fly the F/A-18 for at least another two decades. The original projections for the F-35 are complete BS at this point when the Air Force is quietly modernizing just over 700 F-15 and F-16s combined, with the option to upgrade more F-16s at the drop of a hat. The US Navy and USMC are SLEPping the Hornets because there is no way to get enough F-35s fast enough to meet the projected need.

Suffice to say, it doesn't look like the USAF is going "all in" (or is unable to go all in for budgetary reasons) with the F-35A right now. That means the biggest customer is actively hedging its bets, and hoping Congress doesn't notice the other 600 F-16 airframes that could undergo SLEP.

That "death spiral" of fewer orders raising prices causing fewer orders causing higher prices? Everyone involved knows that's the case, which is why they are spending 7.3 Billion on upgrading a 40 year old design where the average life span already is 28 years, older than all but the most senior pilots flying them.

I think this must make a lot of potential customers should be looking for the Gripen E model to be their "interim solution" that might end up being permanent, or an opportunity for Boeing to keep pitching the Advanced Super Hornet and F-15 Silent Eagle as "interim solutions" to replace aging air frames that won't be replaced by the over expensive F-35. With the advances in sensors (AESA radar, IRST, passive radar) I think that a lot of nation states are going to keep upgrading legacy aircraft until an affordable 6th gen fighter comes out.

After all, there is a good case to be made that the "right mix of capabilities" is more important than having a "silver bullet solution."

18 May 2015

Oh Jade Helm, the gift that keeps on giving

So the Feral Irishman posted this link.

http://www.truthandaction.org/operation-jade-helm-massive-military-drill-across-7-states-unconventional-warfare/7/

I think this is a good time to show the "bullshit principle" in action. Notice how few words "Truth and Action" posted, and then how many I have to post to explain. I'm not going to link to the conspiracy videos, I'm just going to copy and paste the headline for the video, then in parenthesis describe what the video shows. 

Train Headed East out of Oroville, California – Equipment ‘As Far As Eye Can See': (shows a video of mraps on train)
Now that we aren't training for Afghanistan and Iraq as COIN fights it makes sense to send all the MRAPs we had for training at places like Fort Irwin, 29 Palms, and Hunter Liggett to depots. Most depots are east of California, except for Sierra Army Depot which is in California, but on the border with Nevada. Zero actual evidence of anything related to Jade Helm. Oh yeah, and we announced years ago that we would be sending MRAPs to depots for destruction or storage.
 MRAPs on California Highways, Turkish pilots at Wal-Mart: (shows video of USMC LAV-25 conducting road march).
LAV-25s are part of the USMC inventory. Turkish pilots go to California and New Mexico to train all the damn time. It's where the flight schools happen to be. Zero actual evidence of anything related to Jade Helm.
Hundreds Of Military Vehicles In Southern California: (shows video of parked military vehicles from highway)
Seriously, there are multiple brigades worth of combat power in California at any given time between Fort Irwin, 29 Stumps, California National Guard, Air Force and Navy bases... The number is probably closer to "tens of thousands" and should be considered "business as usual." Zero actual evidence of anything related to Jade Helm.

Military Equipment Behind Wal-Mart Building in Texas: (shows video of three HMMWVs on the back of a civilian flatbed truck)
Truckers often sleep around Walmart Parking Lots, so much so that there is even an android app for that. The military contracts with civilian trucking agencies to ship our gear from losing to gaining units. Zero actual evidence of anything related to Jade Helm.
 Thousands Of MRAPs and APCs Along I-15 In California: (shows video of Bradley Fighting Vehicles on train)
Trains are how we move the bulk of our equipment to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin. Fort Irwin is where all of our Armor Brigade Combat Teams go for their culminating training event. I-15 and I-40 are how you get to Fort Irwin. Zero evidence of anything related to Jade Helm. But if someone were paying attention, there were units from 12 states participating with an ABCT from Fort Hood, Texas, at the latest NTC rotation: https://www.dvidshub.net/news/163548/greywolf-brigade-builds-team-breaks-enemy#.VVjccDetEyo
Massive Movement From Canada Headed To California: (shows video of green military vehicles on train, less than a BN worth, more than a single company)
Canada trains at NTC too. http://www.army.mil/media/113636/ No evidence of anything related to Jade Helm.
Heavy Concentration Military Equipment Pennsylvania: (shows video of military equipment in PA)
The video is so poor quality that I can't make out what exactly I'm supposed to be seeing. Suffice to say that PA has plenty of military posts, depots, and even the US Army War College. The PA National Guard has the only Stryker Brigade Combat Team in the NG. No evidence of anything related to Jade Helm.

Choppers and Military Vehicles in Texas: (video showing choppers and military vehicles in Texas)
Texas has more military bases than you can count on all fingers and toes. Of course there are military helicopters and ground vehicles in Texas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_installations_in_Texas No evidence of ANYTHING related to Jade Helm.
Largest Bilateral Training Event in 20 Years: (shows video of American Paratroopers and British Paras conducting a joint mass tac exit, with follow on interviews on the LZ)
So we see parachutes fill the sky, and a British soldier being interviewed. No one mentions Jade Helm in the interview portion. No weapons were observed among the jump participants. We know that airborne forces will be a part of Jade Helm, but there is nothing nefarious going on here.
UN Medical Vehicles Headed To Texas From Mississippi: (shows video of an ambulance and truck on flatbed, video then rehashes a bunch of the "evidence" from earlier videos about vehicles on trains)
Ok, so I don't know why two vehicles painted in UN colors would be heading to Texas. Are they going to be transported out of the Port of Beaumont to a foreign customer? Are they being tranported to Texas to support Texas National Guard Training to replicate a Unified Action Partner (UAP)? No clue. And the guy who made the video has no clue either. No evidence of anything related to Jade Helm.
More UN Vehicles: (shows video of two UN marked ambulances in Georgia)
Then again, with all the UN vehicles that have been spotted over the years, you would think they'd have taken over by now: http://www.greaterthings.com/News/UNVehicles/
Hundreds Of Military Vehicles on a Train 30mi west of San Antonio: (shows train loaded with MRAPs)
 The DOD announced that MRAPs would be scrapped or stored. That means they get transported to places for scrapping and storing, like Army Depots. On Trains.... http://archive.defensenews.com/article/20140105/DEFREG02/301050007/Majority-US-MRAPs-Scrapped-Stored
Blacked out FEMA buildings in Kentucky, exercises and military across several states: (video shows a black, windowless building from inside a car from the highway).

Oh sweet shivering Shiva. I highly doubt that FEMA is planning something from the inside of a Bourbon Rackhouse (or rickhouse). The large, windowless wooden structures are painted black so that the summer sun in Kentucky can raise the internal temperatures high so that the alcohol can dissolve the wood essences from those lovely virgin charred oak casks. Seriously, enjoy your bourbon responsibly. And whoever thinks rackhouses are FEMA black sites should lay off the bottle. But if you are ever in Kentucky, I recommend the Bourbon trail: http://www.adventurejohn.com/2012/05/bourbon-trail.html

Marines prep for riot control in Virginia: (video shows Marines training for riot control)

Yes military forces train for riot control. We task the USMC with the ability to go into a foreign land, reinforce our embassy, and protect our citizens. We ask them to do it with the minimal amount of force necessary. Riot control training is a part of that. No evidence of anything to do with Jade Helm at all.
Military Training for roundup of citizens in Ft. Lauderdale: (video shows people getting into white vans)

I have no idea what was actually filmed here other than people getting into white vans and then driving off. Could be military personnel in civilian clothes, could be hired role players. No one knows. But no evidence of anything linked to Jade Helm.

National Guard Patroling Streets in Ontario, California: (video shows California National Guardsman conducting a conditioning road march)
National Guardsmen conducting a conditioning ruck march, in formation, with reflective vests and PT belts, with a follow on medevac HMMWV for safety. Looks like someone did a good risk mitigation plan for the training. No evidence of anything linking this to Jade Helm.

Increased Chopper and Jet Activity Coast to Coast: (video shows choppers in flight)
This could be true. Units could be training more now that spring has sprung and there is less weather risk for flying. But there is no evidence that even if it were true that it has anything to do with Jade Helm.
Military Buildup Largest Ever Seen: (official Infowars Bullshit)
The video starts of with the phrase "we know they are lying to us" and has the phrase "everybody knows they are lying to us." And then references the same videos of normal activity, vehicles on trains going to training sites and depots, vehicles on trucks stopped behind a walmart. No actual evidence that anything presented has anything to do with Jade Helm. Just a lot of questions based on the assumption that "they" are lying to "us."

There you have it folks, shaky camera work, a bunch of open ended leading questions, and you too can create a conspiracy. Just remember to repeat "everybody knows they are lying to us" often, so that the fact that you are only creating nonsense out of disparate facts that have logical explanations (like the fact that the rest of the military will be training as well, and not as a part of Jade Helm).

17 May 2015

Nepal

The international community responded to the earthquake in Nepal by sending people with skills and equipment to assist. From America this included municipal urban search and rescue teams as well as Marines and a change of mission for Special Forces teams already in Nepal.

This type of humanitarian assistance is just one of the many "response capabilities" that America puts on the Department of Defense. The State Department doesn't have people to do this, even though USAID and Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance have people working to do bigger stuff like coordinate for the actual rebuilding, when it comes to slapping first responders anywhere in the world that falls on the DOD.

That means some young Marine or Soldier is going to be asked to go do something that is risky, in areas without a safety net, solely to execute a mission that has no immediate impact on America's security needs. There are longer term benefits to doing these sort of operations, but the longer term benefits are not quantifiable in any meaningful way.

Suffice to say, American leaders are asking American service members to risk their lives for non-Americans so that in the long run foreign audiences see America as a good thing. This has already cost 6 Marines their lives, and odds are that there will be more to pay.

Now I'm not saying that the US should not use the DOD to provide humanitarian assistance. Missions like that may not be necessary for the core missions of the service, but they are important to US foreign policy. And the DOD exists as one of the tools to implement policy. Whether that is sending Soldiers to Africa to fight ebola or Marines to Nepal to conduct search and rescue activities. In the long run we exist as a tool for politics and often the right thing in politics is "something other than war."

On a side note, I think that these missions are an excellent source of pride for the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen who support them. Sometimes it is a good thing to wake up and know that your purpose for the day is to save lives and alleviate suffering.

But there is still a cost. First responders have risky jobs going into places that aren't safe to do things that have a high risk. And just because we lost 6 Marines in a "non-combat loss" it doesn't make their service or sacrifice any less. Right now the names are being close held while families are hoping and praying that the reason their Marine hasn't called the last few days is just because he was busy or something.

But for at least 6 American families, the disaster response to the earthquake in Nepal will come with a flag draped coffin, 21 gun salute, and the condolences expressed by a stoic officer.  It is important to remember these Marines are heroes not because they died, but because they volunteered to go into harms way and went when the nation directed. Godspeed Marines.

14 May 2015

The History of Close Air Support, and why CAS isn't justification for the F-35B

You can't talk about the history of CAS and not talk about the US Marine Corps. More than once someone has told me point blank that "The USMC invented CAS!" That is not true. What is true is that the USMC was a key player in developing CAS in the US Military. But they were not alone, even the US Army Signal Corps played a role. But even then, CAS wasn't invented in the United States. Nor was the first helicopter gunship which would happen decades later.

So I'm going to go through what I think is the pertinent history of CAS, especially as it applies to the US Navy and USMC, and try to end with what I think is a modest proposal for the future.

Marines should rightly be proud of their aviation history and doubly proud of their aviation history in the light of all the things they've sacrificed to acquire and maintain USMC specific aircraft. I think I've pointed out how USMC service specific aircraft are not good for the Department of Defense as a whole.

http://www.usni.org/magazines/navalhistory/2012-11/close-air-support-pioneering-years

http://www.afhso.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-100924-035.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junkers_J.I

http://www.firstworldwar.com/airwar/groundattack.htm

The historical participation of the discipline of CAS does not mean that the F-35 is "die in the ditch important" to the USMC since the USMC was doing CAS before it had a vertical lift jet, before it ever had a single helicopter.

I think the real reason that the USMC is fixated on having their own aircraft that don't require a Navy carrier is cultural paranoia that can be traced back to Guadalcanal.
"I wanted to catch on paper the feeling one had as a shell comes whistling over. ... There is a sense of being alone, naked and unprotected. And time seems endless until the shell strikes somewhere." USMC Captain Donald L. Dickson referring to a water color painting of his experience at Guadalcanal. http://www.nettally.com/jrube/@guadoct.html
The USMC experience in WWII was pretty bloody, and a lot of that falls directly on the US Navy.
Shockingly, those who have never read the history of Guadalcanal will discover that with only a small portion of supplies and equipment ashore, the Navy, fearing Japanese bombardment and air attacks, abandoned the Marines and sailed away with much of the division’s food, ammunition, equipment and other supplies.
After taking a partially completed Japanese airstrip, the Marines went to work using captured enemy equipment, and by Aug. 20 had built Henderson Field. It was a joyful sight when 19 F4F Wildcat aircraft from Marine Fighting Squadron 223 and 12 SBD Dauntless dive bombers from Marine Scout-Bombing Squadron 232 landed on the packed earthen runway. The Marines finally had their air. https://www.mca-marines.org/leatherneck/bookreview/guadalcanal-us-marines-world-war-ii-pictorial-tribute
If you were on the outskirts of civilization, the ass end of nowhere, facing an enemy who outnumbered you, being "abandoned" by the US Navy would put a pretty deep scar on any organization. The Army doesn't get an entire pass either, as service infighting between the Army and Navy ended up with the Pacific Theater being split along service lines, which means the USMC didn't get the full support of the US Army.
The Joint Chiefs further divided the Pacific Ocean Area (POA), which included the Hawaiian Islands, into the North, Central, and South Pacific Areas. They designated Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Area (CINCPOA), with operational control over all units (air, land, and sea) in that area. Nimitz in turn designated subordinate commanders for the North and South Pacific Areas but retained the Central Pacific Area, including the Hawaiian Department, under his direct command. In the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA), General Douglas MacArthur assumed command, but no commander was named for the Southeast Pacific Area. The effective result of this organizational scheme was the creation of two separate commands in the Pacific (POA and SWPA), each reporting separately to the Joint Chiefs, each competing for scarce resources in an economy-of-force theater, and each headed by a commander in chief (CINC) from a different service.
Although the directives to Nimitz and MacArthur were generally alike, there were some fundamental differences. Nimitz was allowed to command naval and land forces in the Pacific Ocean Area directly, while MacArthur was enjoined to act through subordinate commands in the Southwest Pacific Area. The tasks assigned to each commander also differed significantly. MacArthur's assigned mission was essentially defensive, since he was told only to "prepare for the offensive" while defending Australia. Nimitz, while clearly having a defensive mission in the context of the overall economy-of-force role of the Pacific theater, was also instructed to "prepare for the execution of major amphibious offensives." The directive to Nimitz further specified that the initial offensives would be launched. http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/72-4/72-4.htm
But even then, the US Army was focused on Europe, as part of Roosevelt's "Europe First" strategy. This left the US Navy and USMC alone in the Pacific for the better part of two years.

And that is probably why the USMC is so fixated on having their own CAS, to the point where they defend beyond the point of rationality the justification for a jet that cannot perform. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/17/the-marines-stealth-jump-jet-plan-is-wishful-thinking.html

Then again the USMC only maintained an active fleet of about 150 Harriers. Of course with 1 Billion dollars covering only 6 F-35B's, that's a cool 25 Billion dollars to get 150 more VSTOL fighters (and 25 Billion is more than any single year USMC budget request to Congress). I'd like to point out that the USMC retired the 150 Harriers early and pushed 509 Hornets through service life extension to save almost exactly the base cost of 6 F-35Bs. http://www.janes.com/article/45885/usmc-to-hurry-harrier-phase-out-stretch-hornets-to-save-usd1-billion

But, when it came down to a choice between Harriers and Hornets, the USMC decided to keep the Hornet and retire the Harrier. Obviously VSTOL capabilities aren't high enough a priority to not decide that the Hornet is a better bang for the buck supporting the USMC mission.

I'd say that the choice for the USMC to send Harriers to Afghanistan wasn't designed to highlight their usefulness, it was to use up their usefulness. http://battlerattle.marinecorpstimes.com/2011/05/24/marine-harriers-to-replace-hornet-jets-in-afghanistan/ After all, why else would you add operating hours and maintenance issues flying an aircraft in a place where VSTOL capabilities aren't needed and are an actual hindrance to performance on a plane that can't carry as much whoop ass as a Hornet?

But, you can't blame the USMC for the F-35. That lies mainly with Congress. You can blame the USMC having a VSTOL fetish and flying service unique aircraft, but the F-35 program can be blamed on Congress for requiring a "joint strike fighter", on the USAF for pimping the idea of an all stealth fleet of fighters, on President Obama and the Democratic controlled Senate for cancelling the F-22 program http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/business/22defense.html?_r=0 instead of the F-35 program, and on Lockheed Martin for being the most unethical defense contractor in the history of the United States.

Here is where I make a prediction. At some point, we are going to have to admit that the F-35 is actually going to severely limit the USMC vision of autonomy in mission execution. The USMC will be a victim of the F-35 complexity, and will have to face the choice to fight joint, or fight without air cover as they can't keep enough F-35s in the air to support themselves. The CAS role will end up going to the Super Cobra and anything else the Marines can strap weapons onto like the C-130 and V-22s. Instead of being protected by high technology the USMC will be forced to rely on what is proven, and what they can make work to support themselves. Which is what they've been doing instead of deploying Hornets to support themselves in Afghanistan as they tried to extend the life of the Hornets to cover down until they could get new airframes.

The first moral of the story is, don't trust the USAF. The USAF doesn't care about CAS as an organization, and so any plane they have a hand in designing won't be a primary CAS platform. It will primarily be an air to air fighter or small bomber that maybe, possibly sometime in the future might morph into a serviceable CAS platform. This is the second time the USAF has led the charge for a "joint" fighter and the second time it failed to produce an inexpensive joint aircraft.

The second moral to the story is, Marines want to do it alone and they absolutely need CAS to do that. However, I think it would be cheaper and operationally more sound in the long run to give the USMC their own catapult capable aircraft carriers than to continue down the VSTOL road. Remember that the USS Midway was built in 1945 and not decommissioned until 1992 and displaced only 4.5 more tons than a modern "Wasp" class amphibious assault ship.

So ask yourself which would be better for the nation. A USMC that has their own "light" aircraft carrier to support a full Squadron on a 45,000 ton carrier that costs less than 6 to 8 F-35Bs (I'm using the 750 million price tag for a WASP as a guess for rough base), or a USMC that has 6 F-35Bs on a Wasp? Which would give the USMC more CAS capabilities? Would having a "light" carrier pared with an amphibious assault ship give the MEU enough cargo space to carry enough fighting vehicles to provide more capabilities than just a raid force?

Which option would be better for the USMC? More CAS birds or less CAS birds? More fighting vehicles or less fighting vehicles?

I think that a sound case can be made for having more, smaller, carriers owned by the USMC than fewer bigger carriers solely owned by the US Navy. Especially if those carriers can also carry fighting vehicles, or free up space on a Wasp class assault ship, for the Marines who will have to fight on the land. This would put more combat power forward for cheaper than the cost of refueling a nuclear powered super carrier. It would provide the USMC a platform from which to launch fixed wing ISR drones and enough whoop ass to rival any similarly sized peer formation on the planet.

Now here is the downside, this plan will still cost a lot of money. But if you are cutting the US Army down to 420,000 you can bet the USMC will have more mission requirements pushed to it, not less. I propose that money come from the USAF research budget into lasers and other unproven technology, cancel the next nuclear super carrier for the Navy, and slash the Army research budget until the USMC has three light carriers of their own (even if they are operated by Sailors, they will be owned and controlled by the USMC), one for each air wing.

Comments are open.