Archive for “January, 2010”

QDR 2010 and China

Tomorrow brings the much anticipated release of the first of three documents of significant import to the US Navy – the QDR for 2010 (Draft-QDR-2010-predecisional).  Language in the draft highlights China as one of several state-actors that have acquired significant anti-access capabilities over the past ten years. Additionally, it points out that:

Chinese military doctrine calls for pre-emptive strikes against an intervening power early in a conflict and places special emphasis on crippling the adversary’s ISR, command and control, and information systems. (draft QDR 2010, p. 32)

The report also notes China’s expanding reach and growing interests abroad, and underscores the need for a two-track approach of engagement and prudent planning:

China’s rapid development of global economic power and political influence, combined with an equally rapid expansion of military capabilities, is one of the central and defining elements of the strategic landscape in the Asian region and, increasingly, global security affairs. China has begun to articulate new military roles, missions, and capabilities in support of its larger regional and global interests, which could enable it to play a more substantial role in the delivery of international public goods. The United States welcomes the rise of a strong, prosperous, and successful China that plays a greater role in world affairs. However, that future is not fixed, and while the United States will seek to maximize positive outcomes and the common benefits that can accrue from cooperation, prudence requires that the United States balance against the possibility that cooperative approaches may fail to prevent disruptive competition and conflict.

The limited transparency of China’s military modernization – in terms of its capabilities, intentions, and investments – remains a source of growing concern in the region, which increases the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation. Our relationship with China must therefore be multi-dimensional in scope and undergirded by a process of building and deepening strategic trust that seeks to reinforce and expand on areas of mutual interest, while sustaining open channels of communication to discuss sources of friction in the bilateral relationship, and manage and ultimately reduce the risk that is inherent to any relationship as broad and complex as that shared by the United States and China. (draft QDR 2010, p. 53)

This is all well and good, especially in light of writings such as this which advocates a very Mahanian view of the Chinese Navy and establishment of overseas bases.  Justification, according to the writer, Dr. Shen Dengli, rests on 4 strategic precepts of China’s overseas interests:

With the continuous expansion of China’s overseas business, the governments are more accountable for protecting the overseas interests. There are four responsibilities: the protection of the people and fortunes overseas; the guarantee of smooth trading; the prevention of the overseas intervention which harms the unity of the country and the defense against foreign invasion. The purpose of the tasks is to deter the threats posed on our legal interests.

Guaranteeing these precepts is a function of a comprehensive approach to power that includes a military with wide-ranging capabilities from defense in close to the ability to strike at the attacker’s homeland.  We see this being accomplished with the previously mentioned anti-access capabilities China is developing to deny the ability of naval and

China's Basing Agreements in the Indian Ocean AOI

air-forces to conduct operations at and inside the first island chain, and at the other extreme, China’s own ongoing nuclear force modernization.  And the navy?

Obviously, navy is crucial in safeguarding the security of the country. When our country’s core interests are harmed, the navy is responsible to conduct retaliatory attack including blocking the enemy’s sea traffic.

Wrapping into a discussion of piracy, the author notes that the concern for overseas bases rests not on piracy issues of Somalia (at the core of the current discussion), but rather a greater threat posed to China’s trade routes:

When the public discusses overseas military bases, they refer to the supply base for the navy escorting the ships cruising in the Gulf of Aden and Somali. The discussion shows people’s enthusiasm in defending the interests of the country. Yet their worries are not the most important reasons for the setup of an overseas military base.

It is true that we are facing the threat posed by terrorism, but different from America, it is not a critical issue. The real threat to us is not posed by the pirates but by the countries which block our trade route. (emphasis added)

The threats also include secessionism outside the Chinese mainland. The situation requires us be able to hit the vulnerable points of our potential opponents by restricting their international waterway. So we need to set up our own blue-water navy and to rely on the overseas military bases to cut the supply costs.

Whom might those countries be?  Obviously the US, especially in the case of the “secessionism” issue (code for the Taiwan issue).  India too is a major consideration and there has been considerable discussion after the TBM shot earlier this month that it was more directed at India than the US.  Of course, India’s announcement toward month’s end of intent to continue with the Agni-III and -IV IRBM and ICBM with language directed at China may have been more than a tacit response as well.  The fact that a considerable portion of China’ overseas routes transit the Indian Ocean, especially those tied to her energy imports from Africa and the MidEast combined with India’s avowed intent to expand her presence and denial capabilities in that region underscores not only China’s security concerns, but those of the US as well.

The implications for US naval forces of a widespread network of overseas bases stems not just from the enabling action provided to Chinese naval forces overseas, but a more subtle one of its relationship to the Chinese maritime reconnaissance strike complex (MRSC).  An MRSC is geared to the near-real time localization and tracking of high value units.  information is fed into the complex from anyone of a number of different nodes – maritime patrol aircraft, satellites (ELINT and IMINT), OTH-R and plain old HUMINT, whether it be from a fishing fleet or a port authority from an overseas base that supports said fleet.  It all feeds into a command and control system that in turn, provides the kind of granular targeting accuracy necessary to employ anti-access weapons such as ASBMs or ASCM carrying subs to counter those forward-deployed naval forces.  This constitutes a direct challenge to one of the four strategic imperatives cited in the QDR, “prevent and deter attack” and specifically to one of the central tenets to that imperative, namely forward-stationed and rotationally deployed U.S. forces.

The past few years there has been a bit of internecine warfare underway between OSD, the Joint Staff, COCOMs and Services over the future direction and composition of forces.  One side has focused on the wars underway in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the more nebulous GWOT and the other on more conventional threats (read: China) and Major Combat Operations, or MCO.  The competition, of course, is over scare resources, be they current forces (and especially those High Demand/Low Density ones like ISR platforms) or funding for future forces.  The release of the 2010 QDR ostensibly settles that dispute in a not-quite Solomonesque way of dividing up focus and direction by first highlighting the need to win the wars we are currently engaged in, but also preventing and deterring more conventional conflict.  The reality of the situation is that the “dog closest to the sled” will get the most attention and focus on threats over the horizon will necessarily blur in the interim.  The inherent danger in such a practice is the strategic space it gives potential adversaries to maneuver and accomplish long-term goals – like establishing overseas bases.  A navy that faces declining numbers and increasing requirements (as of the end of January, over one-half of all ships in the Navy’s inventory were deployed) will be significantly challenged already. Having to face the prospect of an enlarged and robust MRSC will only exacerbate that condition.

(crossposted at Naval Institute)

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Programming note: Later this afternoon (31 Jan 2010),  Phibian of CDRSalamander, EagleOne of EagleSpeak, Galrahn of InformationDissemination on blogtalk radio for a panel discussion of the 2010 QDR – should be an interesting exchange.

Fifth Generation Fighters – The Competition Casts Its Ballot (UPDATED)

UPDATE:

Lots of comparisons to the F-22 based on the front end shots and planform, but I’m also thinking that Sukhoi took some cues from this bad boy:

based on a comparison from the tailfeather POV:

for comparison, here is an in-flight of the YF-22 and YF-23:

Things that make you go hmmm….

In this photo released by the Sukhoi Company Press Service and taken Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010, a Russian-made Sukhoi T-50 prototype fifth-generation fighter jet is seen at a test airfield near the Siberian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia. Russia’s new fifth-generation stealth fighter made a successful maiden test flight on Friday, the manufacturer said. (AP Photo/Sukhoi Company Press Service)

From  Ria Novosti comes word that Russia’s bid in the 5th generation fighter game has been cast:

Russia’s prototype fifth-generation fighter made a 45-minute maiden flight on Friday in the Far East, Russian television reported.

The flight had been postponed for 24 hours due to poor weather conditions in Komsomolsk-on-Amur where the prototype is being tested.

“The plane showed a superb performance. It has met all our expectations for the maiden flight,” said Olga Kayukova, a spokesperson for the Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer.

Russia has been developing its newest fighter since the 1990s. The country’s top military officials earlier said the stealth fighter jet, with a range of up to 5,500 km, would enter service with the Air Force in 2015.

Russia’s fifth-generation project is Sukhoi’s PAK FA and the current prototype is the T-50. It is designed to compete with the U.S. F-22 Raptor, so far the world’s only fifth-generation fighter, and the F-35 Lightning II.

The PAK FA is to be equipped with the most advanced technology and armed with next-generation high-precision weaponry.

And India is working with the Russians on a collaborative version:

India, which has a long history of defense relations with Moscow, remains Russia’s sole partner in the project.

India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was reported to be seeking a 25% share in design and development in the project. It has also sought to modify Sukhoi’s single-seat prototype into the twin-seat fighter India’s Air Force wants.

This Date in Naval Aviation History: Vietnam Cease-fire Takes Effect (27 Jan 1973)

27 Jan 1973: The Vietnam cease-fire, announced four days earlier, came into effect and the carriers Oriskany, America, Enterprise and Ranger, on Yankee Station, cancelled all combat sorties into North and South Vietnam.

The cost of this endeavor in terms of lives and treasure was indeed dear.  From 1961 t0 1973 the Navy lost 896 aircraft in theater during this time — 523 fixed-wing aircraft and 8 helicopters to hostile action:

Operation Homecoming, the repatriation of U.S. POWs between 27 January and 1 April, began and NVN and the Viet Cong released 591 POWs. Of the 591 POWs released during Operation Homecoming, there were 566 military personnel and 145 were Navy personnel. Naval Aviation personnel accounted for 144 of the 145 Navy personnel.

Aircraft Total Losses Combat Losses
A-1 Skyraider 65 48
A-3 Skywarrior 7 2
A-4 Skyhawk 282 195
A-6 Intruder 62 51
A-7 Corsair II 100 55
C-1 Trader 4 0
C-2 Greyhound 1 0
E-1 Tracer 3 0
E-2 Hawkeye 2 0
EKA-3 Skywarrior 2 0
EA-1 Skyraider 4 1
F-4 Phantom II 138 75
F-8 Crusader 118 57
KA-3 Skywarrior 2 0
RA-5C Vigilante 27 18
RF-8 Crusader 29 19
S-2 Tracker 4 2
C-47 Skytrain 1
OV-10 Bronco 7
P-2 Neptune 4
P-3 Orion 2
SH-2/UH-2 Sea Sprite 12 0
SH-3 Sea King 20 8

Update – We Have News

Admittedly, there has been a bit of light posting around here of late – but with good cause.  With the new year we shifted location and jobs, moving from the purple world back to Navy blue and gold.  Still very much involved in the operational world and much more analytical work, but from a different perspective.  That and a much longer daily commute though have served to lessen the available hours during the week for writing.

About that writing – the project I was involved with last year is reaching fruition in March, via Stanford University Press.  Securing Freedom in the Global Commons is the title and I wrote one of the chapters:

Securing Freedom in the Global Commons


Scott Jasper

Forthcoming: Paperback available in March

Buy this book

ONLINE RESOURCES
Preliminary Table of Contents

The new millennium has brought with it an ever-expanding range of threats to global security: from cyber attacks to blue-water piracy to provocative missile tests. Now, more than ever then, national security and prosperity depend on the safekeeping of a global system of mutually supporting networks of commerce, communication, and governance. The global commons—outer space, international waters, international airspace, and cyberspace—are assets outside of national jurisdiction that serve as essential conduits for these networks, facilitating the free flow of trade, finance, information, people, and technology. These commons also comprise much of the international security environment, enabling the physical and virtual movement and operations of allied forces. Securing freedom of use of the global commons is therefore fundamental to safeguarding the global system.

The book is written for security professionals, policy makers, policy analysts, military officers in professional military education programs, students of security studies and international relations, and anyone wishing to understand the challenges we face to our use of the global commons.

The really good news is that this project is going to dramatically expand in the coming year, with more writing and other responsibilities — in other words, whole new avenues have and are opening up in ways not imagined even a year ago.  And yes, there is also a novel underway as well as other venues too.

All of which, of course, will also impact  free time for posting.  Yet it remains a target rich environment, so to speak, and I have no intention of stepping away from here either.  There had been some consideration about short posting – two or three lines and a link or two, to keep the daily count up, but that runs counter to the original intent of honing writing skills with thoughtful, meaningful posts that offer insight and understanding on critical subjects as well as historical perspective.

So, to our vast readership of five or so, fret not, the posts will continue in the coming year, albeit on something less than a daily basis.

And watch this space for more developments…

USS Enterprise (CVN-79): Petition Update

Readers here will recall the petition we launched last July when it came to light that there was a “sense” of Congress motion passed that the next ship following the Gerald Ford (CVN-78) should be named after Barry Goldwater.  You will recall we were, well, less than enthusiastic (to put it charitably) that yet another capitol ship was going to be named after a politician, when there was a prospect we’d be without an Enterprise in the fleet of carriers envisioned post-2013 (CVN-65’s presumed decom).

Evidently, many more of you feel the same way – emphatically so by the comments on the petition.  At almost 6 months to go, we are closing in on 2,000 signatures (1,986 as of 18 Jan 2010).  Outstanding as that is, I’d like to see if that can be doubled in the remaining six months.  My intention is to print out the petition for delivery to the Secretary of the Navy, CNO and Senator Webb (my senator and a former SECNAV), hopefully in person, as a direct and tangible “sense” of both our nation and friends abroad (check the countries of some of the signers).  But that’s not all – I want to do this before the 50th Anniversary of the christening and launch of the current USS Enterprise (24 Sept 1960).

Time is pressing – there are no namings for a carrier slated for this year, but that is no guarantee that something won’t be pulled behind closed doors.  Just take a look at this document and see what is in the wings: RS22478_20091223_Navy-Ship-Names_23Dec09 (downloads PDF)

So please, lend a hand, post an article or link, advocate, write your Senators and Representatives.

Write SECNAV.

Let’s see if we can get 4,000 – 5,0000 or more signatures on this petition! (ed. BTW, we are one of the top 10 petitions at epetitions.net! – SJS)

Let our effort be the very definition of the word — and in the spirit of the ship we would see named “ENTERPRISE”!

Update (24 Jan 2010): 2100+ signatures and climbing!  Along with the support in the comments section, the following arrived this week as well:

Steeljaw,

My name is Austin.  I have been lurking on the Navy blogs for awhile.  I don’t usually comment, just read what people with a lot more experience than me have to say.  I came across the Petition for the Enterprise at the USNI board and then yours.  If you have noticed lately, it seems to be hijacked by a mysterious entity called Webb Institute.  I graduated in 2009 and am responsible for the influx of Webb students, alumni and family that have signed the petition in the past few days.  Webb is solely a naval architecture school.  I was the 113th graduating class and there are a little over 1000 living graduates.  Its small.  But I sent the petition to the current classes and my class and we have made an impact on the petition.  Many graduates work for the Navy as civilians (myself included), a couple active duty nuke officers, and lots of DoD contractors.  I have no doubt a Webbie or 10 has worked on the various Enterprise’s through the years and are currently working on the Gerald Ford.  We are proud of our founder’s and our own accomplishments and contributions to the US Navy and would like to see it continue in the proud traditions that it should hold dear.

Thanks to you and the Navy blog community in general.

Austin – thank you and all the good folks at the Webb Institute for your support. – SJS

Aircraft Carriers and Civil Assistance: Then and Now

17 Jan 1930.   USS Lexington (CV-2)  completed a 30-day period in which she furnished electricity to the city of Tacoma, Wash., in an emergency arising from a failure of the city’s power supply. The electricity supplied by the carrier totalled 4,251,160 kilowatt-hours.  From Historylink.org:

In the 1920s, Tacoma received most of its electrical energy from dams on the Nisqually and Skokomish Rivers. Supplemental energy came from the Dock Street steam plant (1922). A drought in 1929 severely cut the power from the hydroelectric sources. The shortage became so critical that Superintendent Ira S. Davisson (1860-1951) had to cut power to Cascade Paper Company. Cascade laid off 300 employees. Fort Lewis turned the lights out in the barracks at 4:00 p.m.

The “Lady Lex” arrived at Tacoma’s Baker Dock in the rain to the sounds of a brass band and the applause of City Light customers. The Lexington’s boilers supplied a quarter of Tacoma’s power for about 30 days, leaving on January 17, 1930. That month, the skies opened and rain filled Tacoma’s reservoirs.

Tacoma enjoyed a special relationship with the carrier until its loss at the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8, 1942. (ed: CO’s POSTEX report here – SJS)

Eighty years later…

Jan. 15, 2010.   The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) operating off the coast of Haiti during humanitarian relief efforts. Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 are conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations in Haiti in response to the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake disaster. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Barker/Released)

Of Leadership and Proffered Leadership Styles

Early in the new year and it has been a busy one for Navy, setting aside all the work going into the Haiti relief effort.  No, instead we witnessed two more CO’s being relieved, with one in particular, gaining special notoriety.  To wit, there has been a pretty lengthy re-telling of first- and second-hand accounts of the manner in which that particular CO treated those assigned to the command.

In a word, it is disgraceful.

Many of us, perhaps all of us to some degree or another, who have served have been subjects to or know of the “screamer.”  They are those whose preferred method of training, leading and advising is bent on degrading others in the mistaken notion that it elevates themselves.  No community is immune, though some seem to do a better job at pruning from their ranks than others.

Treating this as a “Lessons Learned” moment, I offer the following from the Naval Leadership blog as a parable focused on relations with our fellow human beings:

A Janitor’s 10 Lessons in Leadership

By Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group Commander

William “Bill” Crawford certainly was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Mr. Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our squadron janitor. While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades and room inspections, or never-ending leadership classes, Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory. Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, “G’morning!” in his direction as we hurried off to our daily duties. Why? Perhaps it was because of the way he did his job-he always kept the squadron area spotlessly clean, even the toilets and showers gleamed. Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us had to notice or get involved. After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not ours. (Read the rest here)  (H/T SB)

I’d mentioned in a much earlier post that I had the honor of making friends with a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor who was assigned to one of the turrets on USS Nevada.  At the time, I didn’t know he was that – simply that he was a committed Christian, led a quiet, humble life and enjoyed a good conversation at his advanced age.  It wasn’t until many years later, near his passing, that he gave me as a pre-command gift, an old, very used book of prayers for use at sea (a USNI publication I would note) that he mentioned it.  Likewise, many years earlier I was stunned to find myself in the same line for a teller at the onbase NFCU as a certain James H. Doolittle – a thoroughly unpretentious, but judging by the reaction of the teller, quite nice elderly gentleman.  You never know who you are going to meet, work for or lead and what impact they may have, directly or not, in our lives.  It behooves us, then, that we treat our fellow beings with respect and accord due.  Not saying you have to make nice with everyone and there are times when honest disagreement may lead to heated discussion.  That said, it doesn’t, or shouldn’t at least, devolve into public belittling or physical abuse.  The effects of such an attitude are far reaching, and as anyone who has had to come in and put things back in order after such a reign will agree, it takes a chunk out of your psyche to help get others back on their feet.

In closing I leave you with another parable whose meaning, especially in vs 37-40 should be crystalline in their meaning:

The Sheep and the Goats
31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matt 25: 31-46, NIV)


Air Force Pilot Missing In Action From Vietnam War Is Identified

In the mail today:

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial.

Air Force Maj. Russell C. Goodman of Salt Lake City, Utah, will be honored this week at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., home of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbird demonstration team. At the time of his loss, Goodman was assigned to the Thunderbirds and was flying with the U.S. Navy on an exchange program. He will be buried in Alaska at a date determined by his family.

On Feb. 20, 1967, Goodman and Navy Lt. Gary L. Thornton took off in their F-4B Phantom from the USS Enterprise for a bombing mission against a railroad yard in Thanh Hoa Province, North Vietnam. They were struck by enemy antiaircraft fire and their plane exploded. Thornton was able to eject at just 250 feet altitude, but Goodman did not escape. Thornton survived and was held captive until his release in 1973.  Search and rescue attempts were curtailed because of heavy anti-aircraft and automatic weapons fire in the area of the crash.

But wait, there’s more…

20 Feb 1967.  Operation ROLLING THUNDER has been underway for almost two years now.  Today, USS Enterprise (CVAN 65), part of Task Force 77 operating on Yankee Station, is launching elements of Air Wing NINE on a strike to attack a railyard near the city of Tanh Hoa, in North Vietnam’s Tahn Hoa province.  In the strike package is an F-4B (NG 614/BuNo 150413) from VF-96.  Piloting “Showtime 614” was Maj Russell Goodman, on an exchange tour from the Air Force and a member of the 1964-65 Thunderbirds demonstration team.  Flying with him was his RIO (Radar Intercept Officer), ENS Gary L. Thorton, USN.

In North Vietnam, the leadership determined that since gaining air superiority over U.S. forces was out of the question, it would instead implement a policy of air deniability. At the beginning of the Rolling Thunder, North Vietnam possessed approximately 1,500 anti-aircraft weapons, most of which were of the light 37 and 57mm variety. Within one year, however, the U.S. estimated that the number had grown to over 5,000 guns, including 85 and 100mm radar-directed weapons. That estimate was later revised downward from a high of 7,000 in early 1967 to less than a thousand by 1972.  Additionally, North Vietnam’s deployment of SAMs was such that by 1967, North Vietnam had formed an estimated 25 SAM battalions (with six missile launchers each) which rotated among approximately 150 sites. With the assistance of the Soviet Union, the North Vietnamese had also quickly integrated an early warning radar system of more than 200 facilities which covered the entire country, tracking incoming U.S. raids, and then coordinating SAMs, anti-aircraft batteries, and MiGs to attack them.

During 1967 U.S. losses totaled 248 aircraft (145 Air Force, 102 Navy, and one Marine Corps).

Click on thumbnail to enlarge image

Somewhere south of the city of Tahn Hoa, an  S-75 Dvina (NATO designation: SA-2 GUIDELINE) surface to air missile is launched and approaches its target at speeds nearing Mach 3.  Near the target, its proximity fuse detonates the 430 lb fragmentation warhead, blowing debris in a lethal radius up to 150 ft.  Onboard Showtime 614, the aircraft is rocked by the blast, just off the portside and slightly below the wingline.  With communications lost to the pilot and the aircraft disintegrating around him, ENS Thorton ejects, his last image of Maj Goodman leaving him with the impression he was either dead or unconcscious because his head was down and wobbling back and forth.  Captured almost immediately by the North Vietnamese, ENS Thorton remained a POW until 4 March 1973 when he was reapatrioted along with the other American POWs as part of Operation Homecoming.  During his debriefing, ENS Thorton expressed his belief that Maj. Goodman did not eject.

Without confirmation though, Goodman would remain classified as MIA.  Back home, Maj Goodman left behind his wife of 12 years, June, two daughters and a son.

Between October 1993 and March 2008, joint U.S.-Vietnamese teams led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) investigated the crash site twice and conducted two excavations, recovering human remains and pilot equipment. The aircraft debris recovered correlates with the type of aircraft the men were flying.  Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used mitochondrial DNA – which matched two of his maternal relatives — in the identification of Goodman’s remains.

The family learned their father’s remains had been identified about a week after their mother died Nov. 10 in Alaska, daughter Sue Stein told KTUU-TV in Anchorage.  Later this year, the children hope to spread their parents’ ashes on an Alaskan mountain. Before that though, the Thunderbirds will host a welcoming/remembrance ceremony at their homebase, Nellis AFB, tomorrow (13 January).

Maj. Richard Goodman (from left), U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron; Chaplain (Capt.) David Horton, 99th Air Base Wing; and members of the Goodman family salute as the remains of Maj. Russell C. Goodman are transferred Jan. 12, 2010, from an aircraft to a hearse at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

Rest easy Maj Goodman, and welcome home – may you find eternal peace and rest with your loved ones.

Note: this is my 1,000th post since beginning this blog some four years ago.  While it has covered a wide range of topics during that time, I can think of no better way to mark this milestone than the resolution of another MIA case by those wizards at the Joint POW Accounting Command. – SJS

Chinese Announce Successful Missile Intercept Test

From China today comes news today of a successful missile intercept test:

“BEIJING (AP) — China announced that its military intercepted a missile in mid-flight Monday in a test of new technology that comes amid heightened tensions over Taiwan and increased willingness by the Asian giant to show off its advanced military capabilities. The official Xinhua News Agency reported late Monday that ”ground-based midcourse missile interception technology” was tested within Chinese territory.  ”The test has achieved the expected objective,” the three-sentence report said. ”The test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country.” Monday’s report follows repeated complaints in recent days by Beijing over the sale by the U.S. of weaponry to Taiwan, including PAC-3 air defense missiles. These sales are driven by threats from China to use force to bring the island under its control, backed up by an estimated 1,300 Chinese ballistic missiles positioned along the Taiwan Strait.”

Of course China doesn’t do anything without some express purpose, and to that end we would note that today is the 3rd anniversary of the infamous ASAT test, conducted on 11 January 2007.  Infamous, because of the on-orbit debris field it generated and near universal condemnation it engendered.  So find ourselves three years later and coincident with that date and the announcement by the US of plans to go ahead with the sale of PAC-3 batteries to Taiwan as a (small) partial counter to the hundreds of SRBMs China has deployed.

Interesting times, eh?

CAPT Roy P. Gee, USN-Ret: Midway Veteran

From the Midway Roundtable comes word that another veteran of that battle has folded his wings. CAPT Roy Gee, USN-Ret. who flew from USS Hornet (CV 8 ) with Bombing EIGHT quietly passed on 28 Dec 2009. Details of his life may be found at the Roundtable’s site. Also there is a first person account of Midway:

Suddenly, “Pilots Man Your Planes” was announced. We all wished each other good luck as we left the ready room for the climb to the flight deck and our SBDs. (And by the way, climbing up and down the ship ladders many times a day will get you in great physical condition! Carriers didn’t have escalators in those days.) I met my R/G, Radioman First Class Canfield at our assigned SBD and went over our mission and recognition charts with him. I don’t know which particular aircraft (side number) we flew that day—my only record of that went down with the Hornet at the Battle of Santa Cruz.


After completing an inspection of the aircraft and its bomb, Canfield and I climbed into the cockpits. As I sat there waiting for the signal to start engines, I suddenly got the same feeling of apprehension and butterflies in the stomach that I got before the start of competition in high school and collegiate athletics. The butterflies left after takeoff as I focused on navigating and flying formation. Our two squadrons (VB-8 and VS-8) rendezvoused in two close-knit, stepped-down formations on each side of CHAG’s section, which consisted of CHAG and VS-8 wingman ENS Ben Tappman and VB-8 wingman ENS Clayton Fisher. CHAG’s section was flying above and somewhat separated from VB-8/VS-8 and was escorted by 10 VF-8 F4Fs. As we proceeded to climb to 19,000 ft, we soon lost visual contact with VT-8. We were maintaining absolute radio silence and were on oxygen, and our engines were on high blower. I eased my fuel mixture control back to a leaner blend in order to conserve fuel as we leveled out at 19,000 feet and proceeded on our assigned course.” Read the rest here.


Rest in peace CAPT Gee with the thanks of those who honor your courage and action on that fateful day when so much hung in the balance.