What Happened To Our Surface Forces?

USNI Proceedings – To chart a course going forward, it is necessary that we understand what went before and how it all went wrong so we can avoid the mistakes that have led us to this place. It is not enough to remedy issues such as the lack of quality sleep available to those who serve in ships, or elapsed and waived certifications, or faulty training in seamanship and navigation. It is not enough to decide that we need to begin transmitting on the automatic identification systems (AIS), or that we should rationalize all of the bridge radars and ship control systems in the fleet, or that we should usurp a captain’s prerogative to write his or her own standing orders. This approach is tantamount to treating the symptoms of an illness instead of addressing the underlying causes. The surface warfare community must determine the answer to the following question: What is the malady that lies behind the symptoms?

The Significance of US and Chinese Hospital Ship Deployments to Latin America

CIMSEC – USNS Comfort and China’s Peace Ark have carried out commendable humanitarian work throughout many coastal communities in Latin America and the Caribbean as their tours in these regions have helped individuals who would otherwise have trouble accessing medical services. These humanitarian assistance deployments will continue to be necessary in both the short- and long-term. As for the geopolitical value of such deployments, they are a non-dangerous and effective example of “soft power” via which both Beijing and Washington utilize to maintain and improve their image in these regions.

Outgunned Allies Must Contest Baltic, Black Seas: NATO Admiral

Breaking Defense – “When I was an ensign, a lieutenant, we knew we could beat the Russians. It was just a question of time because we were better than them,” NATO’s top admiral said. “I’m not sure we could make that assumption now.”

Dynamite at the Speed of Light: How Directed Energy Can Transform the US Navy

CIMSEC – If we are going to successfully engage adversaries relying on A2/AD strategies, our Navy needs bold and innovative solutions that can successfully counter their attrition focus.

No More Self-Licking Ice Cream Cones: Marines Need to Train Against Realistic Adversaries

War on the Rocks – Marine training reflects a Cold War mindset with only minor adjustments over the past two decades. A substantial shift is required for service level training to ensure Marine units are prepared for the current and forecasted future operating environment.

From CES: The sea is alive with cheap, powerful robots — and that will be dangerous

Defense News – Amidst the audio-visual assault of the CES show floor, there was a trend in consumer robotics that I think is worth following: underwater robots are here, and plentiful, and will likely only get better and cheaper in the years to come.

Xi Jinping and His Generals: Curiouser and Curiouser

War on the Rocks – As the PLA continues to push its modernization program towards its first milestone of 2020, it is likely to be much more thorough-going and successful than might have been expected, as a result of high level support and pressure, including the neutering of bureaucratic resistance.

Top Gun For Warships: SWATT

Breaking Defense – As the overstressed surface fleet struggles to rebuild its readiness for great power war, it’s adding a whole new type of training exercise called SWATT. Modeled on the Top Gun program for naval aviators — Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training involves mock sea battles of increasing complexity against other surface ships, submarines, and aircraft.

First F-35B shipboard deployment to begin as US warship arrives in Japan

Defense News – The U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship Wasp has arrived at its new home port in Japan, setting the stage for the first time the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II fighter jet will go to sea on an operational cruise later this year.

The National Security Strategy’s Implications for Seapower

War on the Rocks – The 2017 National Security Strategy is a statement of Trump administration priorities, and its central tenets can be directly traced to statements made by Donald Trump on the campaign trail, albeit now framed in more genteel terms. National security experts are busily analyzing the strategy to discern its insights, pivots, oversights, inconsistencies, and priorities. This essay, however, concerns itself solely with the strategy’s implications for American seapower.

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Narcosubmarines: Nexus of Terrorism and Drug Trafficking?

CIMSEC – Drug submarines (hereafter referred to as narcosubmarines) are manufactured in the thick jungles of eastern Colombia and are not the primitive vessels of one’s imagination. FARC’s narcosubmarines boast sophisticated anti-detection features and navigation, can haul up to 10 tons of cocaine, and can cost upwards of ten million U.S. dollars.

To Fix TacAir Pilot Retention, Follow the Money

USNI Proceedings – The TacAir Navy has a pilot retention problem. Money isn’t the only reason, but it’s a contributor.

Is Japan Ready for the Quad? Opportunities and Challenges for Tokyo in a Changing Indo-Pacific

War on the Rocks – On Aug. 22, 2007, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke in front of the Indian Parliament and articulated a vision for the Indo-Pacific region. He spoke of a “confluence of the two seas,” seeking to draw a strategic link between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Abe posited that Japan and India had a shared responsibility, as maritime nations located at the opposite edges of the “two seas,” to ensure the maintenance of peace and prosperity anchored by democratic principles.

Suez Crisis: Yemen rebels threaten to choke major shipping lane using bomb boats

Daily Express – Rebels in Yemen are using remote-controlled boats loaded with explosives to target Saudi oil tankers in an attempt to block access to one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

How Australia’s Maritime Strategy and Partnerships in the Indo-Pacific Upset China

CIMSEC – It was revealing that Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017 was explained by the Australian Department of Defence as enhancing military cooperation with some of Australia’s “key regional partners”; specifically named as Brunei, Cambodia, the Federated States of Micronesia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Timor-Leste. Politically the absence of China as a partner was deliberate but accurate, and in which the range of other countries represented a degree of tacit external balancing on the part of Australia.

Indian Navy looking at more P-8I ‘submarine killers’

Economic Times – The Indian Navy is considering the acquisition of more Boeing P-8I aircraft for surveillance and Anti-Submarine Warfare.

Marines kick off war games with Japanese soldiers at Camp Pendleton

San Diego Union Tribune – Despite overseas tensions triggered by a nuclear-armed North Korea’s missile tests and China’s territorial claims in the Western Pacific, Japanese and American forces kicked off war games on Friday in California.

Japan confirms sub spotted near Senkakus was Chinese

Mainichi – The Japanese government said Friday it has confirmed that a submarine spotted near Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea the day before was a Chinese naval vessel.

The Mystery of the Exiled Billionaire Whistle-Blower

New York Times Magazine – From a penthouse on Central Park, Guo Wengui has exposed a phenomenal web of corruption in China’s ruling elite — if, that is, he’s telling the truth.

Russia’s nuclear underwater drone is real and in the Nuclear Posture Review

Defense News – A draft of the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review confirms the existence of an underwater nuclear drone made and operated by Russia, a capability the U.S. Defense Department had not previously publicly acknowledged.

The Dimensions of Russian Sea Denial in the Baltic Sea

CIMSEC – Recent actions by the Russian military all point toward conveying the message that Russia does not want the presence of foreign militaries in Baltic Sea waters and is capable of taking countermeasures to exert its sovereignty in the region.

China defends deployment of naval ship to Japan-claimed islands

UPI – China defended the deployment of a naval vessel to the Japan-claimed Senkakus, also known as the Diaoyutai Islands, after Japan issued a warning about the latest move from Beijing’s military.

LCS Grows Teeth, At Last…

Breaking Defense – The Littoral Combat Ship is finally about to get the capabilities envisioned for it at the start, 15 years ago.

Navy Has No Plan to Introduce New Ammo for DDG-1000

Defense News – It’s been more than a year since the Navy decided to cancel procurement of an expensive new ammunition for its Zumwalt-class destroyers, but the service is still pondering how to best replace the munition.