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SECNAV Scrambles to Find Chit for 2 Trillion Dollars

International Maritime Satire Week Warning: The following is a piece of fiction intended to elicit insight through the use of satire and written by those who do not make a living being funny – so it’s not serious and very well might not be funny.  Our apologies to those who read this without the warning and mistakenly believed it to be true. 

Sources in SECNAV’s office are positive a request for a $2 trillion plus-up is around here, somewhere.

Revelations from last week’s presidential debate have put Secretary Ray Maybus’ office into a tailspin. During the debate, President Obama’s stated that Mitt Romney planned to provide, “two trillion dollars in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for.”

“I could have sworn I left the special request chit in the SecDef’s inbox,” said Secretary Maybus. The Office of the Secretary of Defense has announced it only received four Christmas Leave chits, a duty-swap chit, and hasn’t seen any special request chits for more money.

“I know I turned it in to SECNAV,” said Chief of Naval Operatons, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, “I put two folders in the Secretary’s inbox. One was for Christmas Leave and the other a request for EXACTLY 2 Trillion dollars. I remember, because I almost left my leave chit in the wrong folder. I’m taking second leave, since usually the first standown period is more relaxed.”

The mystery of the missing lion’s share of Christmas leave chits, as well as the special request chit for 2 trillion dollars, has puzzled many. OPNAV reports turning in at least 160,523 chits for Christmas stand-down. Reportedly, three personnel elected to skip leave altogether due to a low balance of leave days. An unamed insider suggests that, if they just find the rest of those chits, the special request for money will be with it.

This is not the first time major budget-related chits have been lost close to leave periods. Before Thanksgiving in 2010, the OPNAV Office of Assesment (N81) signed and routed up a chit to cancel the Littoral Combat Ship program due to the discovery that it was “total garbage.”

“Imagine our surprise,” said N81’s former head, Rear Admiral Zapp Brannigan, “we thought we cancelled the project, but return from leave to discover they’re building not one, but both those disasters. Maybe they misread our request.”

CNO Introduces Equal Opportunity Red Teams

International Maritime Satire Week Warning: The following is a piece of fiction intended to elicit insight through the use of satire and written by those who do not make a living being funny – so it’s not serious and very well might not be funny.

On Friday, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) will direct the Navy Equal Opportunity Office (NEOO) to set up a series of Equal Opportunity Red Teams (EORTs). NEOO leadership is attempting to bridge the growing gap between the sparsely reported violations of the Navy’s Equal Opportunity policies and the well-hidden sea of writhing bigotry in today’s navy.

With bigotry so well disguised in competent and reasonable professionals, Command Managed Equal Opportunity (CMEO) members need opportunities to keep their skills sharp. “We know wide-spread discrimination is out there,” said CAPT Frank Sandwall, OIC of the EORTs, “It’s hard to build the experiences necessary when the overwhelming racism and sexism of our military is so effectively hidden.” The EORTs are gearing up to visit upon crews openly the vast biases they have hidden so well under their professional and friendly demeanor.

Details are still light on how EORT’s will function, but several potential options discussed include:

1. Operation Kholer: Aesthetically sub-standard inspectors will monitor Sailor’s ability to detect being leered at while attempting to shower, offering counseling afterwords and training on how, even if you don’t see them doing it, most Sailors are perverts not to be trusted.

2. Operation Quick Draw: EORT will quickly enter a space, screaming as many slurs as they can at all parties present to remind them of the many harmful things they should be attuned to. Afterwords, counselors will survey the Sailors on phrases and terms NEOO missed to use in the future.

3. Operation Undercover Boss: EORT personnel will disguise themselves as embarked Sailors and play racist/sexist comedy routines from Comedy Central on laptops to determine which Sailors are willing to accept hurtful humor in the workplace. Names of Sailors with inappropriate levels of apathy or complicity will be noted and referred to Perform to Serve.

4. Operation Denny Crane: EORT will deploy female personnel of higher-than-average attractiveness and ensure that all personnel attempting to converse on non-work-related topics are immediately counseled on inappropriate relationships in the workplace.

LCS precom USS Milwaukee suffers a cataclysmic dry-dock accident while the crew attends a week-long Equal Opportunity and Sexual Assault training session. NEOO personnel take the incident as a sign they are successfully exposing recalcitrant vessels and crews.

NEOO predicts that further funding will be required within a month of EORT deployment to deal with the seething wound of hidden bigotry revealed by the EORT program. There are current plans to follow up EORT with red-teaming designed to flesh out command Drug and Alcohol Prevention Adviser (DAPA) program issues. Recent deployment of quarterdeck breathalyzers have failed to curb the yet undetected plague of work-hours drunkenness that some high-level administrators know in their hearts is rampant in the fleet.

“Al-Qaeda is out in the field red-teaming their forces every day,” said CAPT Sandwall. “While they are sharpening their skills to end American and allied lives, we should spend the time necessary to red team our equal opportunity policies. Diversity is a strategic imperative in the Navy, and if we don’t find and destroy all humor, personal connections, and differences that threaten it, we will fail.”

Despite the high spirits at NEOO, not all personnel are as positive on the new programs. When asked about the initiatives, an anonymous petty officer recently returned from a tour on an IA in Afghanistan curled up in a ball and started screaming.

“Clearly, these were screams of delight,” said CAPT Sandwall.

Stealing a Long March

Falling Out

Force development is much like agriculture. Seeds appear trifling things; but such small objects can engulf entire fields or grow to incredible height. Investing early in incubator programs can lead to huge changes in the future. When observed from a position of strength, the small changes garnered by others seem superficial rather than tectonic. The American defense establishment is missing those tectonic changes as China’s military begins the process of stealing a march in force development.

Whatever you do, don’t think “crash.”

China is pursuing a broad portfolio of revolutionizing technologies. We have discussed in detail the potential opportunities for drone warfare on this blog and elsewhere.  However, those working to reap such opportunities are not here in the U.S. where ideas are shared freely, but in the People’s Republic of China.  Scientists in China have developed a system by which, with thought alone, an operator can control an aerial drone.  Rudimentary technology at best, it is nonetheless a leap we have yet to take.  Even at the beginning stages, it shows smoother control with a mental operator rather than a manual one. Although the US does seem dedicated to drone saturation, we have not moved past our initial uses and operation of them. Drones still require legions of remote operators rather than partial automation and direct connections with the men in the field. While we have yet to integrate our many exciting advances in automation and bionics, the PRC has grabbed a great leap forward and changed the very way they interact with drones.

China is also marching past us in more mundane military technologies.  We have discussed the practicality and pragmatism of the Houbei versus our misbegotten LCS.  Far from the risky investment in an in-shore knife-fighter some desired, LCS was held back as a conventional, do-everything (aka: nothing) combatant without the relative advantage in speed, strength, or resilience to give it any sort of field advantage.  We essentially attempted to build a Ford RS300, but halfway through decided to finish it as an Isuzu Elf.  Meanwhile, with the PLAN following a disciplined strategy for blue-water modernization, a stream of solidly-constructed and capable warships are pouring into the Pacific, making the failures of our current investment ever more evident. Our attempts at modernization in the air are just as white-washed; worse than the do-everything design of LCS, the new Joint Strike Fighter attempts to stuff the needs of every branch into one frame that doesn’t quite make anyone happy. Even basic capabilities, like anti-ship missiles, lag embarrassingly behind. While the U.S. still uses a sub-sonic cold-war relic, the PRC rolls out DF-21Ds. Where technology does branch out, it seems unnecessary, like the laser-guided Griffen Missile system on PCs that already have far-more capable Mod 2 25mm cannons.  China’s more reasonable and planned forays into future technology have made our past-ideas decorated with sweet rims look ridiculous.

We are also shrinking from the one area in which we could claim total dominance: space.  Although our nation is now in the mini-euphoria from Curiosity’s landing on Mars, most have forgotten that this is an achievement of a program started 8 years ago.  Our current manned space program is dead.  NASA shifted the lion’s share of investment to “earth sciences,” a realm already well-manned by all the scientists ON earth.  China not only retains a manned space program, but advertises a plan for both the Moon and Mars.  Even if such a schedule is a dream, at least they still have one.  While this is not directly a military issue, it is a strong force multiplier.  Space is the ultimate high ground.  To lose dominance there undermines a vast number of U.S. capabilities.

Has never attended mandatory “Improving Financial Management” training

Our mighty oak is rotting from within. Money is pouring into failed projects.  Our Sailors are over-stretched and time is cut for the training/education necessary to add critical value to those personnel.  Our priorities are skewed, millions of man-hours are lost to politically correct schools and rubbish ship-wide life-choices training.  Meanwhile, the PLAN marches forward, steadily planting the seeds necessary to grow a modern blue-water navy supported by a far greater industrial base than anything the U.S. can muster.  They are slowly reaching into the commons, as the face put forward by the U.S. becomes harder and harder to maintain.  If we don’t get back into step soon, we may need that long-view of history to see just how far ahead of us the Chinese march has advanced.

Catching Up

The effort necessary to regain our momentum would be disruptive, but not impossible. First, stubborn pride and sunk costs are no way to direct procurement. LCS must be cancelled. In its place, begin a vetting process for contracting a pre-existant hull to be built in the US, backed up by a low-mix of new coastal patrol crafts and the new MK VI’s.  This would provide the desired coverage using fast, proven, and cheaper vessels that would save us billions in these tight times.

Where the LCS has many fine replacements, the JSF has crowded out the development of real alternatives. The diplomatic/trade capital invested also makes it an impossible program to cancel without painful follow-on consequences. However, the billions saved from LCS could fund a quicker turnover to automated and integrated ComBot technology, creating an “AEGIS in the sky” of super-fast autonomous aircraft and ComBots on the ground integrated with our fighting men and women. It’s a future closer than you may think. These new automated systems could lead to new systems to take on LCS’s failed missions, such as brown-water ASW and mine-sweeping.

With the US’s new technologies, we rely heavily on space. It is a commons commanding the ultimate high ground from which we guide our weapons, communications, and our intelligence infrastructure. Less concrete, but existentially more important, we must continue our investment in the development and exploration of space. The United States, at its very essence, doesn’t represent a set of borders, we survive as an idea. Being a nation undefined by a border, we must constantly strive beyond them. When the US landed on the Moon, we didn’t represent just ourselves, but all humanity. Such is a cause and driving force behind our constant success… a dream. To abandon that dream, even worse to cede it to the likes of the PRC, would be tantamount to ideological suicide. We must re-invest in our manned space program. This is not in defense of our physical commons, but in the commons of ideas, something to believe in. Much like the JSF and LCS programs, we don’t believe anymore. We’re going through the motions. We need to regroup and find a real direction towards the future, because the PRC marching past us.

Matt Hipple is a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy. The opinions and views expressed in this post are his alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense or the U.S. Navy.

SeaUnsteady: Personal Sovereignty?

First they stopped painting everything grey, then they stopped safety checking their cell-phone chargers… eventually, it all went to hell.

Serious SeaSteading has primarily been the vestige of free market pioneers, entrepreneurs looking for a freer, more open space to conduct business. An important part of that ideal is personal sovereignty: life, liberty, and property. For a giant sea-going vessel, property will be a huge issue.

Can seasteaders truly own their state-rooms, their offices, or their facilities? Those familiar with ship-board life realize the amount of maintenance that often needs to be done in order to keep a ship sound. A normal suburban neighborhood doesn’t need to manage the distribution of weight amongst the properties to ensure landworthiness and structural integrity. Obviously, heavy weight and modification restrictions will apply to property. In this light, how would a seastead be governed? It is easier to leave your neighbors to their own devices when what they own and where won’t cause you to heel or when their home modifications won’t cause your deck to buckle. A homeowners’ association is bad enough when your poorly cut lawn won’t potentially undermine the integrity of the neighborhood’s fire-fighting systems or the water-tight integrity of hull frames.

Can a seastead ever be the libertarian paradise their conceivers wish it to be? Taxes alone may be excessive due to the the constant maintenance necessary for a huge metal hull in which a whole community is living day-to-day. The wear-and-tear would be greater than on any cruise ship. Additionally, along the line of thinking about national sovereignty brought up by CDR Hodges, what happens to the citizens of a seastead during periods of necessary hull repair? Ship’s return to dry-dock in order to have critical maintenance accomplished. How would nations grant access rights to seasteaders in a maintenance period? How do the sovereignties of two nations accomodate each other when one is dry-docked in another? If certain seasteaders are not allowed off the ship while in certain ports, would they essentially become accidental prisoners? Who would accept a refugee nation if their vessel were damaged beyond repair?

The problems with seasteading reach far beyond the black-box problems of how the ship-as-whole exerts influence over it’s surroundings legally, politically, and kinetically. When one transplants a community of free-thinking individuals onto a ship for more than the temporary joys of a pleasure cruise, the constraining dictats and harrowing risks of a life at sea must set the conditions for its survival. The challenge will be building a nation that cruises without treating the community like a crew.

Matt Hipple is a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy. The opinions and views expressed in this post are his alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense or the U.S. Navy.