All posts in “Joint Warfare”

“Air Raid Pearl Harbor. This is Not A Drill.” *

* Telegraph from Patrol Wing Two Headquarters warning of the attack on Pearl Harbor

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:

RT216

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

(More)

Tit-for-Tat Weapons Procurement: You’re Doing it Wrong

 

Pershing II battlefield support missile_16

Congressman Randy Forbes (R-Va) has delivered a letter to the Army Chief of Staff outlining the need for Army to develop and deploy long-range anti-ship missiles.  Because China has:

Randy Forbes letter to Gen. Ray Odierno — 2014-10-10 by BreakingDefense

So much shallow analysis here and accompanying articles – one wonders where to start…

1. Be careful about discussing either re-opening the INF Treaty or abrogating it all together. The Russians are spoiling for the least little pretext to walk away from it and are likely poised for a breakout in MRBM/IRBM fielding – which would be a bad thing overall but especially for Europe (cf. l’affaire de SS-20). Oh and “breakout” – one of those Cold War terms, where another country suddenly fields a system (usually nuclear) in capabilities and quantity that leave a gap in terms of years before it can be adequately countered. Years which constitute a window of opportunity for mischief (at best) by the guy fielding the system to play the field. Precisely where we were in 1979 as Jimmy Carter fumbled around to find a workable deterrent to the SS-20 acceptable by Europe.  Which begat the GLCM and more importantly the Pershing II deployments as part of the Two Track approach that was executed under Reagan. But times were different then because:

2. In 1979 we had a fairly robust industry (not as robust as the Soviets) insofar as battlefield BMs went – the Pershing II was already well under way for development and deployment. Today? Because of INF and a general stagnation in terms of long-range, sub-ICBM development as a result, we have…nada. But that might be moot because:

3. Where are you going to put these missiles? Guam? Japan? China has strategic depth and interior LOC’s to support and conceal a land-based *ground-mobile* ASBM which complicates counter-targeting. ‘Just kill the launchers’ you say? Given our (not so) stellar record in that very endeavor reaching all the way back to Operation CROSSBOW in WWII, plus the fact you’d be directly attacking a nuclear near peer — well, that requires some cogitation. Oh – and by concentrating a force like that on an island you are painting a nice big sign that says “strike me first.” But even that is somewhat irrelevant because:

4. What is your target? The Chinese ASBM is quite clearly meant to exercise control over the broad ocean areas in/around the 1st island chain and inside – as are their ASCM forces which are more numerous and dispersed. Also, clearly, it is meant for capitol ships. Just saying we will build a system to take out PLAN ships beggars the reality of real-time OTH-T and something the armed forces have had to deal with for sometime now – what will the ROE be to permit their use? Anyone remember OUTLAW SHARK? Bueller? Bueller?

So how about this. let’s set aside this silly talk of tit-for-tat ballistic missiles and instead focus on putting long-range (500km+), supersonic (Mach 2+), over-the-horizon ASCMs on our surface combatants and subs. All of them. Expand the target set. Sell them to our allies (if they haven’t already begun work). Make them capable of being launched from all variants of the F-35 such that F-35Bs off an America-class LHA can provide another layer of complexity to PLA leadership. Make the P-8 and B-1/B-52 compatible for carriage so that they can hangout outside of PLAAF/PLANAF fighter range and salvo missles at PLAN ships. heck, why not even give it a LACM capability too. Too much you say? Can’t be done you say?  I know a few overseas firms that would argue otherwise.

ASCM

 

IAMDthreat

This Week on MIDRATS: “Let’s Talk Missiles” – UPDATED

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Join us for Midrats this Sunday, 22 July 2012 on blogtalk radio, where the topic is missiles – ballistic and cruise; and your humble scribe is the guest.  Seven months into this year and we have seen much on this front.  Pick a theater and you will find ballistic and cruise missiles are at or near the top of the various COCOM’s top 5 concerns.  A report released by DoD a few weeks back states in part:

Iran continues to develop ballistic missiles that can range regional adversaries, Israel, and Eastern Europe, including an extended-range variant of the Shahab-3 and a 2,000-krn medium-range ballistic missile, the Ashura. Beyond steady growth in its missile and rocket inventories, Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems by improving accuracy and developing new sub-munition payloads. – Annual Report on the Military Strength of Iran

At the same time, Iran has also been working at developing forces and tactics that will be used in an anti-access campaign to close the Strait of Hormuz and threaten regional naval and land forces should it decide to retaliate against growing sanctions over its nuclear program.

In the Pacific, besides the world’s largest and most robust program in developing and deploying a range of ballistic missiles from short- to inter-continental, they are likewise building a range of cruise missiles for land-attack and anti-ship that are both formidable in number and capability:

The PLA is acquiring large numbers of highly accurate, domestically built cruise missiles, and has previously acquired large numbers of Russian ones. These include the domestically produced, ground- launched CJ-10 land-attack cruise missile (LACM); the domestically produced ground- and ship-launched YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM); the Russian SS-N-22/SUNBURN supersonic ASCM, which is fitted on China’s SOVREMENNY-class guided missile destroyers; and the Russian SS-N-27B/SIZZLER supersonic ASCM on China’s Russian-built KILO-class diesel-powered attack submarines. - Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, May 2012

If past practice is prologue, we can expect to see domestic variants of the Russian-sourced cruise missiles in the near future (witness the SU-27 v. J-11).  Again, all part of a larger Advanced-A2/AD strategy being put into play as we in turn conduct the “Pacific pivot”.  And need we mention Syria, with its inventory of missiles and extensive chemical weapons arsenal, teetering on the brink of chaos and their  practice of passing missiles to Hezbollah?

Joint ventures of the sort between Russia and India that yielded the BrahMOS ASCM/LACM will increasingly become more common.  And with a world increasingly awash in growing numbers of ballistic and cruise missiles, how long before a non-state actor obtains, and uses, these sophisticated, technical weapons systems?  Oh wait – that’s already happened.  Just ask the Israeli navy

Oh, and did I mention hypersonics too?

Today’s warfighters find themselves in a complex, multi-layered and highly nuanced threat environment – one that parallels the multi-polar world that has emerged in the past two decades.  Successfully operating in this environment will require that we open the aperture on kinetic and non-kinetic solutions and take an integrated approach to air and missile defense.

Just some of the things we’ll be talking about Sunday afternoon.  Why don’t you join us?


UPDATE:
Here’s today’s transcript:

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

 

P.S.  A little read-ahead if you’d like for background:

The Doolittle Raid – 70 Years Later: Naval Officers and Planning

Here and elsewhere much has been written of the Doolittle raid, from the bookstand to Hollywood and the curriculum of War Colleges the world over.  Coming fast on the heels of the stunning blows barely four months prior a malevolent arc of destruction and defeat stretching from Pearl Harbor back across the Pacific to the Philippines and the rest of Asia, the raid was, no, is emblematic of the American fighting spirit and ability to improvise on the fly and conduct improbable operations on the field of battle.  From John Paul Jones’ raid on the English port of Whitehaven to putting a man on the moon barely a decade after the first tentative attempts to launch a satellite, our history has been replete with no small number of audacious operations.  Of all these though, the Doolittle Raid is probably the best known and yet, there are aspects that still remain shadowed.  To be successful required meticulous, but rapid planning. In short order an idea, germinated in Washington had to be planned, practiced, logistically provided for and executed in an air of ironclad secrecy.

This in an age where “netcentric” and “JOPES” weren’t even a mirage on the horizon.

As always, it was having the right people in place to do the heavy lifting behind the scenes that laid the groundwork for success.  In the case of the Doolittle raid, there were four naval officers, one you have heard of, but two or three others you just as likely haven’t, who played key roles in the planning of the raid.

CAPT Francis S. Lowe: A member of the USNA class of 1915, a 1926 Naval War College graduate, a submariner, then-CAPT Low was assigned as Operations Officer on ADM King’s staff at CINCLANTFLT, and later followed him to Washington when King became CINC, US Fleet and CNO.  Among his duties as Operations Officer was overseeing the ASW operations of the fleet, and it was in this capacity that he flew to Norfolk, VA in January 1942 to review the status of the USS Hornet CV-8.  Chambers Field (the original, now part of the heliport today) had the outline of an aircraft carrier painted on it for FCLP (Field Carrier Landing Practice) which is used to maintain some of the skills necessary to conduct flight operations off an aircraft carrier – to include launching with a minimum of deck space available.  It was during this trip that he observed some B-25s making passes at that outline in a mock attack and realized that twin-engine aircraft would fit on the deck of a carrier and wondered if the B-25s would be able to take off from a carrier. Upon his return to Washington, he mentioned his idea to the Admiral who thought it had merit as did General “Hap” Arnold (USAAF).

CAPT Donald Duncan: A 1917 graduate of the USNA, and holder of a MS in Radio Engineering from Harvard as well as a Naval Postgraduate school grad, then CAPT Duncan, a naval aviator with extensive carrier experience, was King’s Air Operations Officer and the one to whom it fell to evaluate the possible use of the B-25 from a carrier.  In 30 handwritten pages, he outlined all the necessary details and precepts for a successful strike in a feasibility study forwarded to King and Arnold recommending the use of B-25s and oversaw the proof of concept flight that showed the Mitchell bombers could indeed, launch from a carrier deck.  Subsequently he also oversaw the necessary logistical and administrative details needed to get the bombers to and onboard the Hornet at Alameda Naval Station.

LT Henry L. Miller: A 1934 graduate from the Naval Academy and native of Fairbanks, Alaska, then-LT Miller was a designated Naval Aviator.  A multi-engine pilot and graduate of the Bombardier course at Sandia base and the All Weather course at Corpus Christi, he was serving as a flight instructor and Personnel Officer at Ellyson Field, FLA when tasked to train Doolittle’s pilots on takeoff techniques from the limited deck of a carrier.  Shifting operations to Pierce Field (one of the outlying fields at Eglin AB – literally out in the sticks) LT Miller not only trained the raiders on take off techniques, but was also principle in teaching the finer points of shipboard life in general and accompanied them as operations shifted to Sacramento, CA and  all the way to launch from the Hornet, 700 nm from Tokyo.

LT Stephen Jurika: Born in Los Angeles while his parents were visiting there, then LT Jurika grew up in the Philippines where his dad owned a number of plantations.  He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1933 and served as a naval attache at the American Embassy in Tokyo before World War II. As the USS Hornet Association’s website notes, the plot thickens from there:

Being fluent in the Japanese language, he was able to collect significant information about the Japanese military and industrial capabilities, even photographing many of their sensitive sites. From August 1941 until October 1941, he reported to the Director of Naval Intelligence, providing a great deal of information about the Japanese threat, including specific information about the new “Zero” high performance fighter.  In October 1941, he was involved with the commissioning of USS Hornet (CV-8), initially serving as the Flight Deck and Intelligence Officer. In mid-January 1942, he consulted to Captain Donald Duncan who was then conducting a feasibility study about launching a bombing raid against Tokyo. Lt Jurika provided a great deal of information about the types and locations of high priority industrial and military targets. Two months later, when the Hornet was carrying the Doolittle Raiders to their launch point, Lt Jurika spent many hours briefing them on the locations of the high value targets and optimum flight routes.

He also had a personal contribution to make to the raid:

One bomb was decorated with Japanese medals, donated by Navy Lieutenant Stephen Jurika, who had received them during pre-war naval attaché service and now wished to pointedly return them to a hostile government. (NHHC)

Each officer would go on to serve with distinction in the war and afterwards.  CAPT Low took command of the cruiser Wichita and saw action from Africa to the Pacific.  Returning to the US he was Chief of Staff for Tenth Fleet, running ASW operations in the Atlantic theater of operations and finished the war as Cruiser Division SIXTEEN supporting the invasion at Okinawa and strikes against the Japanese homeland.  After the war he was in charge of the surrender and neutralization of all Japanese Naval installations in Korea and reported in November as Commander Destroyers Pacific Fleet, serving until March 1947, when, upon his advancement to Vice Admiral, he was given command of the Service Force, US Pacific Fleet. In November 1949 he returned to the Navy Department to conduct a special survey of the Navy’s anti-submarine program, and in February 1950 was designated Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Logistics). He continued duty in that capacity until May 1953, when he became Commander, Western Sea Frontier, and Commander Pacific Reserve Fleet. He served as such until relieved of all active duty pending his retirement, effective 1 July 1956. He was advanced to Admiral on the basis of combat awards.  CAPT Duncan would become the first CO of the lead ship of the Essex class CV and see action in the Marcus Islands and Wake.  From here he would serve as CARDIV commander, CINCPACFLT Chief of Staff, DCN(Air) and finally DCNO before retiring in 1957.

Following the Doolittle raid, LT Miller commanded an Air Group on board USS Princeton (CVL-23), and during the remainder of the war he had command of Air Group SIX stationed on board USS Hancock (CV-19).  Following the war he served in the Navy Department until July 1948, first assigned to writing Air Operations Instructions, later serving as Executive Officer, Air Branch, Office of Naval Research. For two years he served as Public Information Officer on the Staff of Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, and from June 1950 to August 1952 served successively as Executive Officer of Composite Squadron SEVEN, and of USS Leyte (CV-32).  Graduating from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1953 and, he reported for duty in the Strategic Plans Division at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operation. Subsequent assignments saw him in command of USS Hancock, commander of CARDIV 15, and later, off Vietnam, CARDIV 3/Task Force 77/7th Fleet Carrier Strike Force.  On July 22, 1959 Miller was commissioned a Rear Admiral, and was appointed Chief of Staff and Aide to the Commander Naval Air Force, Pacific. Rear Admiral Henry Louis Miller commanded Carrier Division FIFTEEN, which is the Anti-Submarine Hunter-Killer Task Group from May 1961 to June 1962. Admiral Miller also served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans, Joint Staff, Commander in Chief, Pacific, during the time when the turmoil in South East Asia escalated. He then assumed command of Carrier Division THREE, a Heavy Attack Carrier Task Group, and at the same time he took command of Task Force, SEVENTY-SEVEN, and the Carrier Striking Force of the SEVENTH FLEET and in this capacity, took the first nuclear power Task Force into combat with the enemy in Vietnam.

LT Jurika followed the Doolittle raid with an assignment to COMAIRSOLS on Guadalcanal as Air Ops officer, a tour which included a special operation that earned him a Legion of Merit. Returning briefly Stateside as a torpedo instructor, he returned to sea as navigator on the USS Franklin (CV-13) and in this capacity, was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on the bridge in the wake of the attack and devastating explosions and damage that almost sank Franklin.  After the war and a variety of foreign service tours, retired and began a career as a professor at Stanford University and the Naval Postgraduate School.

Note: The oral histories of several of the principals involved with the Doolittle raid and battle of Midway – including that of Stephen Jurika, are available through the Naval Institute via the ‘print-on-demand’ program.  I think the advent of the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid and the upcoming Battle of Midway observances would be a great time for the Naval Institue Press, in line with the Strategic Plan released at last week’s Annual Membership meeting, to announce it was making e-book versions available of these histories.  w/r, SJS

Sea-Based BMD — Another Successful Test

USS O'Kane (DDG 77) launches an SM-3 Blk 1A for FTM-15 (source: www.mda.mil)

 

Another test of the SM-3 Blk 1A was successfully completed last night with the intercept of an IRBM-class target:

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), U.S. Navy sailors aboard the Aegis destroyer USS O’KANE (DDG 77), and Soldiers from the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command operating from the 613th Air and Space Operations Center at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, successfully conducted a flight test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) element of the nation’s Ballistic Missile Defense System, resulting in the intercept of a separating ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean. This successful test demonstrated the capability of the first phase of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) announced by the President in September, 2009.

At 2:52 a.m. EDT (6:52 p.m. April 15 Marshall Island Time), an intermediate-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Reagan Test Site, located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, approximately 2,300 miles southwest of Hawaii. The target flew in a northeasterly direction towards a broad ocean area in the Pacific Ocean. Following target launch, a forward-based AN/TPY-2 X-band transportable radar, located on Wake Island, detected and tracked the threat missile. The radar sent trajectory information to the Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) system, which processed and transmitted remote target data to the USS O’KANE. The destroyer, located to the west of Hawaii, used the data to develop a fire control solution and launch the SM-3 Block IA missile approximately 11 minutes after the target was launched.

As the IRBM target continued along its trajectory, the firing ship’s AN/SPY-1 radar detected and acquired the ballistic missile target. The firing ship’s Aegis BMD weapon system uplinked target track information to the SM-3 Block IA missile. The SM-3 maneuvered to a point in space as designated by the fire control solution and released its kinetic warhead. The kinetic warhead acquired the target, diverted into its path, and, using only force of a direct impact, destroyed the threat in a “hit-to-kill” intercept.

During the test the C2BMC system, operated by Soldiers from the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, received data from all assets and provided situational awareness of the engagement to U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Strategic Command.

The two demonstration Space Tracking and Surveillance Satellites (STSS), launched by MDA in 2009, successfully acquired the target missile, providing stereo “birth to death” tracking of the target.

Today’s event, designated Flight Test Standard Missile-15 (FTM-15), was the most challenging test to date, as it was the first Aegis BMD version 3.6.1 intercept against an intermediate-range target (range 1,864 to 3,418 miles) and the first Aegis BMD 3.6.1 engagement relying on remote tracking data. The ability to use remote radar data to engage a threat ballistic missile greatly increases the battle space and defended area of the SM-3 missile.

Initial indications are that all components performed as designed. Program officials will spend the next several months conducting an extensive assessment and evaluation of system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

FTM-15 is the 21st successful intercept, in 25 attempts, for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002. Across all BMDS elements, this is the 45th successful hit-to-kill intercept in 58 flight tests since 2001.

Aegis BMD is the sea-based midcourse component of the MDA’s Ballistic Missile Defense System and is designed to intercept and destroy short to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats. MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD Program.

This test in essence replicates what Phase I of the European Phased Adaptive Approach will be capable of in final form — a sea-based SM-3 Blk 1A intercept of MRBM/IRBM class missiles with cueing from a forward-based sensor (here the TPY-2).  The lead element of Phase I, the sea-based element, is already deployed with the scheduled deployment of the USS Monterey (CG 61) earlier this year on BMD patrol.  Worth emphasizing is that while deployed on BMD patrol, Monterey is nonetheless still capable of multiple missions, of which BMD is one, demonstrating the flexibility of these mobile, sea-based units.

USS O'Kane (DDG 77) (via www.navy.mil)

Doolittle’s Raiders: Last Surviving Bomber Pilot of WWII Doolittle Raid, Dies at 93

The last pilot from the Doolittle raid, Col Bill Bower, USAF-Ret., passed away Jan 10 at his home in Boulder CO:

Bill Bower, last surviving bomber pilot of WWII Doolittle Raid, dies at 93

Capt. Bill Bower was the last surviving bomber pilot in the Doolittle Raid against Japan in April 1942. Pictured are Col. Bower's crew from the raid. From left to right, William Pound, navigator; Bill Bower, captain; Waldo Bither, bombardier; Thadd Blanton, co-pilot; Omer Duquette, flight engineer. (Family photo via Washington Post online)

As a 25-year-old first lieutenant, Col. Bower commanded one of the 16 Army Air Forces’ B-25s in the top-secret mission under the direction of then-Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle. Col. Bower and the 79 other men who participated in the bombing run came to be known as the Doolittle Raiders . . . After skimming the waves during the 600-mile flight to Japan, Col. Bower directed his plane toward Yokohama and was stunned by the island’s natural beauty.
“I had the impression that, my gosh, what peaceful, pretty countryside that was,” Col. Bower later said. “What do they want war with us for?”
When Col. Bower arrived over his target in Yokohama, about 25 miles south of Tokyo, he encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire. His crew dropped the plane’s 2,000 pounds of ordnance on Yokohama’s dockyards and an oil refinery.
Col. Bower then throttled on toward China, where the Americans had tentatively planned to land and regroup in Chuchow, 200 miles south of Shanghai.
But plans changed. The planes encountered strong headwinds and stormy weather that burned fuel
.

Like many of those who survived and made it back to the States, Col Bower continued to fight:

After the Doolittle Raid, Col. Bower flew missions in England, North Africa and Italy. He became an officer in the Air Force when it was formed in 1947. He served as the commander for an Air Force Arctic supply unit and later commanded Dobbins Air Force Base in Marietta, Ga. He retired from the military in 1966.

With his passing, there remain five survivors in toto of the raid to carryout the annual toast:

(Click on thumbnail to enlarge - note the inscription on the goblet - SJS)

At every reunion, the surviving Raiders meet privately to conduct their solemn “Goblet Ceremony.” After toasting the Raiders who died since their last meeting, they turn the deceased men’s goblets upside down. Each goblet has the Raider’s name engraved twice — so that it can be read if the goblet is right side up or upside down. When there are only two Raiders left, these two men will drink one final toast to their departed comrades.

From another time – another war echoes an age old sentiment: “Where do we get such men?”

Article Series - Centenary of Naval Aviation (1911-2011)

  1. Flightdeck Friday: Smoke and the Battle of Midway
  2. Flightdeck Friday: RF-8 Crusaders and BLUE MOON
  3. Flightdeck Friday: Midway POV – Wade McClusky
  4. Flightdeck Friday: 23 October 1972 and The End of Linebacker I
  5. Former VFP-62 CO and DFC Recipient, CAPT William Ecker, USN-Ret Passes Away
  6. CAPT John E. “Jack” Taylor, USN-Ret.
  7. Flightdeck Friday: USS MACON Added to National Register of Historical Places
  8. Tailhook Association and Association of Naval Aviation
  9. Flightdeck Friday: Speed and Seaplanes – The Curtiss CR-3 and R3C-2
  10. Flightdeck Friday: A Family Remembers a Father, Naval Officer and Former Vigilante B/N
  11. Out of the Box Thinking and Execution 68 Years Ago: The Doolittle Raid
  12. The ENTERPRISE Petition – A Gentle Reminder
  13. USS Enterprise (CVAN/CVN-65) At Fifty
  14. A Golden Anniversary: The Hawkeye At 50
  15. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy
  16. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part II)
  17. Project CADILLAC: The Beginning of AEW in the US Navy (Part III)
  18. Reflections on the E-2 Hawkeye’s 50th Anniversary
  19. An Open Letter to “The 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Foundation”
  20. U.S. Naval Aviation – 100 Years
  21. Doolittle’s Raiders: Last Surviving Bomber Pilot of WWII Doolittle Raid, Dies at 93
  22. More Naval Aviation Heritage Aircraft (But Still No Hawkeye)
  23. Naval Aviation Centennial: Neptune’s Atomic Trident (1950)
  24. Naval Aviation Centennial: One Astronaut, A Future Astronaut and Reaching for New Heights
  25. Flightdeck Friday Special Edition: The Space Shuttle – Thirty Years of Dreams, Sweat and Tears
  26. Flightdeck Friday – Postings from the Naval Aviation Museum
  27. Saturday Matinee: US Naval Aviation – the First 100 Years
  28. National Museum of Naval Aviation – Some Thoughts and A Call to Action
  29. Flightdeck Friday – 100 Years of Naval Aviation and the USCG
  30. Guest Post: THE U.S. NAVY’S FLEET PROBLEMS OF THE THIRTIES — A Dive Bomber Pilot’s Perspective
  31. This Date in Naval Aviaiton History: Sept 18, 1962 – Changing Designators
  32. Centennial Of Naval Aviation – The Shadow Warriors

Thought for the Day

Looking Into the New Year (I)

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, KJV)

The world turns, a calendar is checked off and we find ourselves on the cusp of the new year, contemplating the momentous and minor events of the year past and pondering the one to come.  It is a time when pundits make bold predictions, oft followed by more bold pronouncements almost 180-out in their prognostication.  At best, they are fodder for the typical end-of-year lists of Who Got It Wrong The Worst.

Fear not – I will make none of those here – were I to have even a smidge of such prescience, the stock portfolio would be thick and in the black and I’d be working on my fourth Pulitzer-in-waiting book.

It’s not and I’m not.  Alas.

Still, there are several items to be watching for in the coming year, some slated for delivery on the first day of the new year while others may crest later – or fade altogether.  Submitted for your consideration then:

1.  Guiding documents:

Beginning New Year’s Day a slew of documents critical to determining our future course in terms of national security, force structure and employment are scheduled for release.  Chief among these are the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and Ballistic Missile Defense Review (BMDR).  By far and away, the QDR is the most sweeping and will have the biggest impact on future planning.  Guidance will be provided – such as will we continue to depend on forward- and rotationally deployed forces, or fall back on a fortress America sending out rotationally deploying forces?  Will we plan for two major wars? One? Or put emphasis on deterring/dissuading and contingency actions, banking that a major regional action with a near peer competitor isn’t in the cards? What will the forces look like?  We’ve already gotten a peak under the tent flap with the cancellation of the F-22, CGX, and other big ticket items meant for a major conflict.  Will our focus shift back to regional emphasis and how will we go about engaging regional friends, partners and allies?  This and more we should know in less than a week when the QDR is released.

And the other two?  Well, the last NPR (2002) brought about a profound shift in the “Triad.”  During the Cold War, the Triad was composed of the three functional strike legs of our nuclear deterrent – manned bombers, land-based ICBMs and sea-based SLBMs.   Under the “new Triad” those forces were rolled up into a single leg of Offensive Forces along with non-nuclear strike and included Active/passive Defense and revitalization of our defense structure as the other two legs.  The current NPR is expected to take a hard look at nuclear disarmament and coincides with the expiration of the START accords and subsequent negotiations with Russia over a new nuclear arms limitation treaty (more later).  Proliferation of nuclear weapons and material/knowledge is also expected to factor highly, especially in light of what has and is transpiring in Iran, Syria, North Korea, India and China.  Since the 2002 NPR we’ve seen North Korea conduct a test of a notional weapon, India and Pakistan expand their testing and means of delivery and an extra-national network run by A.Q. Kahn foment proliferation of nuclear weapons technology and knowledge amongst a host of bad actors.  This, of course, begs the question of expected means of delivery (safe presumption – ballistic and cruise missile) and the newest document on the block, the BMDR.

Since the 1997 Rumsfeld report and the ’01 QDR, both the threat of ballistic missiles and the promise of ballistic missile defense have grown to such an extent that the time for an independent review is at hand.  What we can expect to see from the BMDR will be a review of the threat and guidance on where we will pace our emphasis on development, deployment and employment.  Given that there is growth across all ranges in ballistic missiles – from the IR/ICBM ranged North Korean TD-2 to the many missiles in the Middle East that pose threats to Israel and other states in the region, to China’s own growing missile force, it is a rich field, threat-wise, that the BDR plows.  Expectations are it will reflect and formalize the shift in emphasis from a global ballistic missile defense system based on ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, focused on the North Korean threat to one based on multi-use platforms like BMD configured Aegis DDGs and CGs employing the SM-3 BlkIA and SM-2 BlkIVa in the regional and theater fights.  Again, guidance will be provided on force structure and development and testing.  Most affected by this will be Navy (maritime- and land-based Aegis BMD) and a lesser extent, Army with the THAAD program.  The new Phase Adaptive Approach to defending Europe  will likely serve as the model for future BMD development and deployment.  Another expectation from the BMDR will be the emphasis it will likely place on all means of missile defense – not just kinetic.

Finally, the Navy appears to be edging ever closer to releasing the Naval Operating Concept (NOC), the key document that links the “new” Maritime Strategy with the operating forces by operationalizing its concepts.  Originally due out within 6 months of release of the MarStrat, the NOC was derailed by several items of controversy between the three sea services, not least of which was that of force structure in general, and shipbuilding in particular between the Navy and Marine Corps.  Coming after the QDR. NPR and BMDR, the current director of plans, RDML Thomas, the NOC will:

“… explain how naval forces, operating together, put the strategic imperatives of the tri-service maritime strategy into action, according to the director of plans. “The NOC’s original purpose was to operationalize the maritime strategy,” Thomas noted. “Right now you’ve got a Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power with specific strategic imperatives and core capabilities and then you have a bunch of activities that are taking place in support of joint forces, combatant commanders around the globe. But what links your strategic imperatives with your activities? How do you know what specific effects you’re trying to have in support of the larger effect the nation is trying to have globally?”  The purpose of the NOC is to “go after some of those specific effects,” Thomas said, to “better marry up our activities with the direct support” of commanders around the globe.  “Part of the reasoning there is those activities support the strategy, but in a resource-constrained environment you have to re-double your efforts to go after specific effects and if it’s something that is in the ‘nice to do’ category versus the ‘need to do’ category, then that ‘nice to do’ may get left on the cutting room floor,” the one-star admiral argued. “I think the NOC will be a pretty robust document.” “

Next:   What do the Russians want now?

The Bougainville Invasion (Part 4): March 1944 – May 1944

With this submission, CINCLAX’s in-depth review of this part of the Solomons campaign is complete. I think you will agree with me that considerable thought and work went into these articles and join me as a hearty “BZ” is passed his way.  On the horizon – inthe next few weeks we will wrap up the action at sea and then give each of the authors a chance to (briefly) state their analysis as to the relative importance of Midway vs. The Solomon Islands campaign. – SJS

Completing the Cartwheel – the Final Encirclement of Rabaul

Meanwhile at Cape Gloucester and Manus…

Almost contemporaneous with the 3rd Marines departure from Bougainville, the now well-rested 1st Marine Division of Guadalcanal fame was loaned to RADM Dan Barbey’s 7th ‘Phib for a December 26, 1943 landing at Cape Gloucester on the western tip of New Britain. This followed an insignificant diversionary Army landing 10 days earlier at Arawe on the southwestern coast. While the Cape Gloucester Marines succeeded in capturing an airstrip, this field never became a significant factor in the continuing reduction of Rabaul, and turned out to be a rather wasteful operation that cost some 248 lives. The Japanese force at Cape Gloucester had no artillery with which to close Dampier Strait, so it had been no threat to Allied operations. It was monsoon season, and daily rainfall could reach 16 inches; thus the 1st Marine veterans opined the terrain and weather conditions were as big an obstacle as the Japanese, and the mud even worse than Guadalcanal.

On February 29, 1944, MacArthur’s 1st Cavalry Division landed on Los Negros Island in the Admiralties (north of New Guinea), then a week later on Manus Island to seize the magnificent Seeadler Harbor. Later in the year, this would be an invaluable staging place for operations on Palau and Leyte.

Such was the work of the weaker of the two arms of the South Pacific campaign to “Break the Bismarcks Barrier.” Now it was up to the stronger arm, Halsey’s, to complete the reduction of Rabaul.

Continue Reading…

Article Series - Solomon Islands Campaign Blog Project

  1. The Solomons Campaign: Geographical and Political Background
  2. The Solomons Campaign: Status of the United States Fleet and Plans After Midway
  3. The Imperial Japanese Navy after Midway
  4. The Solomon Islands Campaign: Prelude to the Series
  5. The Solomons Campaign: WATCHTOWER — Why Guadalcanal?
  6. The Solomons Campaign: Guadalcanal 7-9 August, 1942; Assault and Lodgment
  7. The Solomons Campaign: Unleashing the Assassin’s Mace
  8. The Solomons Campaign: Execution at Savo Island
  9. The Solomons Campaign: The Battle of the Eastern Solomons, 24-25 August 1942
  10. The Solomons Campaign: Strategic Pause and Review – Japan’s Last Chance for Victory?
  11. The Solomons Campaign: THE BATTLE OF GUADALCANAL, Part I
  12. The Solomons Campaign: THE BATTLE OF GUADALCANAL, Part II
  13. The Solomons Campaign: Cactus Air Force and the Bismarck Sea
  14. The Solomons Campaign: Operation Vengeance – The Shootdown Of Yamamoto
  15. The Solomons Campaign: Ground Action – The New Georgia Campaign, June 20-November 3, 1943
  16. The Solomons Campaign: The Bougainville Invasion, November – December 1943(Part I)
  17. The Bougainville Invasion: November – December 1943 (Part 2)
  18. The Bougainville Invasion (Part 3): December 1943 – March 1944
  19. The Bougainville Invasion (Part 4): March 1944 – May 1944
  20. The Solomons Campaign: Battle of Santa Cruz (Part I)
  21. The Solomons Campaign: Battle of Santa Cruz (II)
  22. Solomon Islands Campaign: Battle of Santa Cruz (III)
  23. Flightdeck Friday – MIA Edition: WWII Navy Aircrew Returns Home