Category Archives: The Lighter Side

Navy Introduces Innovation Qualification Pin

[Editor’s Note: This is satire.]

Secretary Ray Mabus discusses the new Innovation Qualification Pin in Akron, Ohio.
Secretary Ray Mabus discusses the new Innovation Qualification Pin in Akron, Ohio.

(AP Wire) At an InVenture Place event in Akron, Ohio – Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has announced the upcoming development of a Navy Innovation Qualification (IQ) Pin. The pin is intended to embrace a force-wide implementation of innovative culture and ensure navyinnovation meets the highest standard of excellence. Mabus said during his speech that, “innovation is one of the most powerful forces in the world, and it is only right that the most powerful navy seeks to harness it.” “With the necessary safety and oversight, of course,” added an aide.

In preparation for the IQ pin, Mabus has released a memo on assessing workplace innovation by fiscal year 2016. Plans are for standards of innovation to be codified by Chief of Naval Operations and Headquarters Marine Corps. The joint Navy and Marine-Corps effort to develop these standards, and ultimately the criteria for the IQ pin, is being called the “Innovation Bridling Squadron” (IBS). IBS’s charter is to develop force-wide qualification standards integrating lessons learned, operational risk management concerns, and DoD acquisition.

IBS is led by CAPT Wallace Binghamton from OPNAV N84, who was available for comment at the InVenture Center event. “Without oversight, innovation can often lead to the foregoing of regulations or unpredictable results,” said Binghamton, “integration of a fleet-wide standard will allow experienced leaders to mitigate risks, and ensure innovation does not stray too far from the safe and proven path. Those who eventually earn their IQ pin will be fully certified in the navy way of innovation.”

Binghamton assured us that IBS would be very disruptive, stating their inspiration will be DoD acquisitions. “Let’s be serious here – the US military knows innovation. We have everything from the F-35 to the Army’s Future Combat System,” said Binghamton, “We can design and field a new landing craft in the time it takes to fight only two world wars. We know innovation – we just need to get the word out.”

The IQ development committee consists of this dumpster grease fire behind the Chili's.
The monthly IQ development committee consists of this dumpster grease fire behind the Chili’s.

Binghamton then described his team’s vision for the IQ certification process. “When I was earning my Surface Warfare pin, it was a long and painful process. It is critical that equal rigor be put into our innovation process. We have a mock-up Personal Qualification Standard (PQS) form of about 70 pages at the moment – but that’s only a skeleton, of course.”

When told IBS’s current plans, and asked for comment, Mabus’ grunted and grabbed his stomach, growling a, “no comment,” before storming off, “to go talk to someone about IBS.”

The roll-out of IBS’s study on the timeline for developing the IQ pin is scheduled for 2020. The first Navy and Marine Corps InnovationQualified officers are scheduled roughly for 2030 in anticipation of China’s global hegemony and America’s ignominious retreat before communism’s iron boot. The physical pin design will be complete by 2035.

#CARRIERDEBATE: Bearcraft are the Answer

[Editor’s Note: The following more appropriately fits in our annual International Maritime Satire Week, but Matt couldn’t wait]

Friday night,  Naval Academy History Museum and USNI hosted a debate on the viability of Aircraft Carriers as a future naval asset. Bryan McGrath, the affirmation, and Jerry Hendrix, the negation, wrestled over the value-for-return and vulnerability of a carrier to enemy weapon systems. There were, however, three particular points of agreement – that there are concerning issues about the range and ability of the modern-day carrier air wing, that unmanned aviation is the future… and Grizzly Bears are terrifying.

In that light, it seems that a mutually-acceptable solution for the investment security and return sought by Jerry Hendrix and the flexibility and potential sought by Bryan McGrath would be using our greatest fear to solve our mutual problem. Even as we speak, the CNO’s office for naval aviation, N98, is testing the B3AR5: unmanned bearcraft. With the terrifying visage and endurance of a grizzly bear, with the flexibility and precision of an aircraft, the B3AR5 propels US naval security, and the bearcraft carrirer, into another 60 years of dominance.

ABHC Connor Stark coaxes a baseline B3AR5 out of it's bear trap for upgrade s and work-ups.
ABHC Connor Stark coaxes a baseline B3AR5 out of it’s bear trap for upgrade s and work-ups.

 

A confused B3AR5 during basic work-ups and training.
A B3AR5 is startled during advanced training.

 

Lockheed Martin's bid for the new B3AR5 data link architecture to act as a force-multiplier to the deadly lethality of flying bears.
Lockheed Martin’s bid for the new B3AR5 data link architecture, enabling swarm attacks to act as a force-multiplier to the deadly lethality of flying bears. Also synergy.

 

Prototype B3AR5 conducting flight-deck tests during sea trial.
Prototype B3AR5 in idle during flight-deck tests during sea trial.

 

AT1 Billie Sanders conducting pre-flight checks on a B3AR5
AT1 Billie Sanders conducting pre-flight checks on a B3AR5

 

The first B3AR5 catapault launch w/ F-18 flight lead off the USS LEEROY JENKINS (BVN-1)
The first B3AR5 catapault launch w/ F-18 flight lead off the USS LEEROY JENKINS (BVN-1)

 

 

B3AR5 overflight of USS LEEROY JENKINS (BVN-1)
B3AR5 overflight of USS LEEROY JENKINS (BVN-1)

 

Naughty B3AR5 hits the sound barrier during a unauthorized flyby of the USS GERALD R FORD during sea trials.
Naughty B3AR5 hits the sound barrier during a unauthorized flyby of the USS GERALD R FORD during sea trials.

 

The first flight of Carrier Bear Wing, BVW-1, off the USS LEEROY JENKINS (BVW-1).
The first flight of Carrier Bear Wing, BVW-1, off the USS LEEROY JENKINS (BVW-1).

 

For the Army's new Coastal Artillery project, intended to give the US it's own ground-based A2AD capabilities, General Odierno, Army Chief of Staff, has commissioned tests of a ground-based version of the B3AR5.
For the Army’s new Coastal Artillery project, intended to give the US it’s own ground-based A2AD capabilities, General Odierno, Army Chief of Staff, has commissioned tests of a ground-based version of the B3AR5.

 

The Interview Review: No One Promised Hitchcock

Presents are open and dinner approaches… If you are considering adding “The Interview” to your holiday celebration, grab some spiked eggnog and read this review by yours truly available at War on the Rocks.

“The Interview” is a silly, fun movie that you’ll want the kids out of the room for. If you are (or were) expecting Kubrick or Hitchcock, I’m assuming you didn’t pay attention to the part of the trailer where Seth Rogan has to hide a drone payload in his butt. He had to loosen up quite a bit to do that and I’d recommend you do the same before watching (figuratively, of course).

I can see why North Korea would hate this parody of Kim Jong Un. An alcohol-swilling trust-fund brat with daddy issues, megalomania, and a penchant for Katy Perry isn’t the image one wants for a 31 year-old god-king whose internal mythos is that he is formidable genius…. Read the rest at War on the Rocks.

Matthew Hipple is the CIMSEC Director of Online Content and firmly believes that Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie ever.

DEF 2014 and the Guardians of the Machine

This piece by Mikhail Grinberg is featured as part of our Innovation week in honor of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum. It is also featured at The Bridge.

In December 1918, a few weeks after The Great War ended, the government of the United Kingdom released a report on the “Machinery of Government,” which it spent the last year of the war preparing. The purpose of the report was to first understand how various departments were organized and second to propose a series of recommendations for improvement. A prolonged period of conflict had left most departments with much “overlapping and consequent obscurity and confusion.” In fact, the very “purposes for which they were thus called into being” were wildly altered by four years of fighting on the Continent.

All departments were affected. But even those that were least tied to the wartime effort – Health or Education – fell short of basic organizational “foundation for efficient action.” Such were the report’s conclusions at a time when London was seeing a radically changed – and still changing – world through the fog of victory.

“Machinery of Government” gave birth to a simple concept that decisions about “what” to do in any particular department or “how” to do it – whether it is about acquiring weapons systems or setting academic curricula – should be done by experts and not policymakers. The answers to these questions need to meet policy objectives and strategic priorities set by politicians, but they should be unencumbered by Politics.

The report did not express this logic explicitly, but its recommendations led to this logical conclusion. The research community was the most fervent adopter of this approach, giving birth to today’s UK Research Councils, which are bodies of experts – scientists and artists alike – that distribute public funds to projects that have the most promise.

In April 2008, John Denham — the then Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities, and Skills — remarked how the spirit of a report written 90 years prior was still relevant to the science community. He outlined three key points:

  • Scientists are “best placed to determine research priorities”
  • Government’s role is to set “over-arching strategy”
  • And that research councils are the “guardians of the independence of science”

The Defense Entrepreneurs Forum (DEF) just concluded its second annual conference(#DEF2014), where dozens of bright young leaders from the military, government, academia, and industry gathered to discuss ideas. We gathered at a time when war has gone on too long, where new and existing machines of government have overlapping obscurity and confusion, and where Politics certainly seems to dog every aspect of governing more than it did in the past.

Last year’s conference (#DEF2013) concluded on a major high note, but what DEF is remained undefined. This year, we’re getting clarity. #DEF2014 participants have outlined a vision: to potentially become the guardians of independent and clear thinking about how to make the military better. A community that identifies problems, determines priority areas, works to meet overarching strategic objectives more efficiently and at a lesser cost, and guards these initiatives by having a place – DEF – to host and nurture ideas.

Richard Burdon Haldane, who chaired the committee that authored the “Machinery of Government,” knew that any initiative cannot be effective if it’s scripted and formulaic. In fact, he suggested that “practical efficacy will depend upon the zeal and discretion… the living forces whose spirit is essential to any form of government that is more than a machine.” For the second year in a row, DEF has proven that it has limitless zeal and discretion, or in this year’s lingua DEF, conviction.

To those of us that make up DEF, this is more than a word…it is a charter. We have taken the first steps by supporting the implementation of great projects such as this year’s Innovation Challenge winner, the Syrian Airlift Project by Mark Jacobsen.

What’s next? It’s up to you…

Editors Note: What’s up next? Well, DEF 2015, of course! Also, contact the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum about putting on your own DEFx or a DEF “Agora“… but without the Athenian invasion of Sicily or the executing of victorious Admirals.

CIMSEC’s New Officers

The officers club in CIMSEC’s tropical island fortress.

The competition was fierce, the candidates outstanding, and the bribes somewhat disappointing.

Congratulations to CIMSEC’s new officers! You can read more about the candidates and their goals here.

President: Scott Cheney-Peters
Vice President: Chris Rawley
Director of Online Content: Matt Hipple
Director of External Affairs: Emil Maine
Director of Operations: Will Yale
Director of Social Media: Paul Pryce
Director of Membership: Matt Merighi
Director of Publications: James Bridger
Treasurer: Bret Perry
Secretary: Mike Carroll

Chapter Presidents:
San Diego, USA: Jeff Anderson
Central Florida, USA: Erek Sanchez
Hampton Roads, USA: Vic Allen
Washington, DC, USA: Scott Cheney-Peters
New York City, USA: Will Allen
UK: Chris Stockdale-Garbutt
New Caledonia: Alix Willemez
Egypt: Elsayed Agrama
India: Himanil Raina

If you’re interested in learning about the roles/responsibilities of Associate Editor, Associate Social Media Director, or Chapter President of an area not listed above, send me an email at director@cimsec.org.

As always, if you have any ideas on how we can make the organization better or would like to help out our all-volunteer effort in any other way, let us know!

Wargame, Red Dragon: Developer Interview

Eugen Systems released an heir to World In Conflict with their Real Time Strategy “Wargame” series. Their most recent edition, Red Dragon, occurs in Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, and coastal Russian Far East. The reason we were intruiged is that this new version included naval battles.  Now, turns out the naval battles are by no means anything you’d expect for 80’s warships… think more WWII with helicopters, F-18’s, and CIWS… but some of your dear CIMSEC editors and members played and had a pretty good time. It’s hard to argue naval realism when in ground combat you get to pick from several hundred units from 17 countries. Hell, one of the single player campaigns is you defending Hong Kong when Thatcher decides to push continued British presence. Capital!

As the last part of CIMSEC’s Wargames week, we decided that amongst our discussion of exercises and gaming that hone nations for war and war-fighters for survival, we would ask some question to the folks who build games and exercises for fun. The Eugen System team was kind enough to have a chat with us:

Q: What games inspired your team?

A: Our main inspiration for the Wargame series are old strategy games many of us at the studio used to play while younger: the Close Combat & Steel Panther series. One is real-time, the other turn-based, and our goal was to do as good a simulation and “easy to handle, hard to master” as the former, with the latter’s technical database, wide array of nations, huge number of scenarios, …

Q: Unlike many RTS games, Wargame has hundreds of different units–all asymmetric and unique. Through modeling and developing these, has your team come to any conclusions?

A: Well, by modeling so many units, we are highlighting the trend and doctrine of every nation: France’s “speed over armor” attitude, resulting from its tradition of military interventions in Africa ; Britain’s emphasis on armor and range, due to its Cold War allocated battlefield, the North German Plains …

Some of those are well-known to us from the start, but for some less known armies, such doctrine are only revealed after some time, while they are starting to build in our armory.

Q: What did you learn from your last game, Air Land Battle (ALB), that you applied to Red Dragon?

A: ALB’s main influence on RD can be found in map design. There had been some criticisms in the previous installment about maps that were considered too small or too “bottlenecked”. In RD, we have made sure to address this by making bigger and more open maps. Added to that the fact that river or sea and mountain are no longer impassable terrain, and you will see that RD’s maps are much more maneuver-friendly.

We have also taken into consideration many of the UI request to make the armory easier to use, and help new players and non-military buffs more at ease browsing among 1400+ units.
Artillery and air-defense balance were also deeply reworked using ALB’s lessons.

Q: Outside of Naval Warfare, what is the greatest difference between ALB and Red Dragon?

A: Maps. As said above, the new amphibious ability for many vehicles and the fact that mountain are no longer purely impassable gives the game a new feeling. You can maneuver on large scale, always try to outflank your opponent. No bottleneck will make a part of the battlefield secure because you’ve left a defensive force there. RD’s battlefields are much more open that ALB’s were.

Q: After Red Dragon, does the team have the desire to develop an expansion that really fleshes out more urban warfare?

A: We’re not there yet …

Q: What other conflicts have your team considered?

A: Wold War 2 of course …

But WW2 was already covered by many other games, including our own RUSE when we started thinking about Wargame, so we decided to go for something more original, less exploited. Hence why we chose “Cold War gone hot”, which offered the opportunity for many plausible scenarios and provided us with tons of combat vehicles to model and use in-game.

As for other possible Cold War conflicts, after European Escalation, we had considered several battlefields for the next installment: the two most logical were the Northern Front (Scandinavia, which we ended up covering in ALB) and the Southern Front (Mediterranean). We chose the former because Sweden offered a unique roaster of indigenous vehicles, bringing alone more new vehicles than the whole Mediterranean countries together would.

Q: What is your biggest regret with the games?

A: To have left some nations aside, although they could have been included in our previous installment. To make a nation viable, we have to model some 60-80 units, so we can’t add that many nations at a time.

In EE, Dutch and Belgian units had to be left aside, and Finland in ALB. That is not without regret that we have left those nations aside …

Q: What’s your biggest pride with the games?

A: Our biggest pride is when former (or even active!) military servicemen, especially those whom had served during the Cold War, are telling us they are playing our games and are enjoying the realistic feel of it. Then, we allow ourselves to think Wargame lives to what we wanted it to be when we stated the series.

Q: What’s your favorite unit?

A: Personally speaking, I’m fond of wheeled vehicles. I favor speed over armor. Call it national bias, but I think my very favorite one has to be found among the light wheeled tanks/tank destroyers, like the AMX-10 RC, the BTR-70 Z halo or the ERC-90 Sagaie. Had I to choose one, the latter one might be my favorite, for it emphasizes everything I like: speed, stealth, decent firepower, … and looks cool!

Q: What is the most interesting thing you learned from studying the historical background to the game?

A: ABLE ARCHER exercises, in November 1983.

Cold War is often taught or learned at school through different crisis (Cuban Missile Crisis, European Missile Crisis …) and “proxy wars” (Vietnam, Afghanistan, …) but never had we ever heard of how close the year 1983, and especially ABLE ARCHER, had brought us on the verge of WW3. This was completely new to us, and became the nucleus of Wargame: European Escalation’s “alternative scenarios” concept.

 

Gaming the Game: Fighting on the Playing Fields

Written by Jonathon James Nicholas Edwards: a scholar ever loyal to the crown. He loves bees and Oxford.

Games are a natural educational tool. Crows can be seen tumbling with one another through the air, kittens play with dead mice before they hunt for live ones, and the Duke of Wellington is widely credited with saying that the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.

However they have their limitations. In reference to the Duke of Wellington’s quotation, the Victorian writer Matthew Arnold said “Alas! disasters have been prepared in those playing-fields as well as victories; disasters due to inadequate mental training – to want of application, knowledge, intelligence, lucidity.” One of the primary limitations of most games is the unavoidable way that a canny, unscrupulous player can use the rules to “game” the system.

I know this from experience, because I’ve done it. I used to fence and made it to some regional competitions. Given the sport’s provenance as an activity for gentlemen, and the risk of injury from flying metal, fencing has strict codes of conduct and penalties for breaking them. Any behaviour that endangers or disrespects another player can be penalised. Failure to correctly salute an opponent or referee causes a fencer to forfeit the match. In general fencers are expected to maintain composure at all times.

In one match I faced an opponent who was much faster, more skilled and more experienced. In any fair match he should have won. However he was known to have a short temper, and I reasoned that I could goad him into breaking the rules. I fenced to frustrate. I dodged his lunges, and attacked with small cuts to the arms that just caught. Although my opponent took an early lead, he was clearly annoyed. After I won a few points in this way, he flung his sword on the ground. Citing it as a safety violation, the referee gave him a red card, one step away from the black card that would cost him the match.

The fight continued in this way, until my opponent was one point from victory, but one temper tantrum from defeat. As he attempted to stay calm, he broke his concentration, and I took a few more points, which antagonized him further. Ultimately he won the match, but my manipulation of the rules meant it wasn’t the easy victory for him that it should have been.

Rules are necessary to implement any game, however sometimes they subvert the purpose of the exercise; rather than being a measure of the best fencer, our match turned on my opponent’s ability to keep calm. This is humorous in a high school fencing match (although not for my opponent) but in situations with a direct practical application like war games it can be a serious problem. It is therefore useful to remember that any game has inherent limitations. Organizers and players must set up the game as carefully as possible, but recognize their limits. In the end we hope that they produce more people like Wellington, and fewer people like me.