All posts by Alan Tweedie

Sub Officers Jealous Air Force Missileers Get to Have All the Fun

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. See the rest of our IntMarSatWeek offerings here

LOCATION CLASSIFIED – U.S. Navy Lt.j.g. Paul McKudo leaned over the conn rail to check the boat’s position on the chart. “Yep,” he sighed, “still here.”

As officer of the deck on board USS Louisiana (SSBN-743) McKudo is responsible for safe navigation of this nuclear powered warship which carries a key leg of the U.S. nuclear weapons triad, 24 Trident II D-5 Nuclear Ballistic Missiles.

“I understand the importance of our mission and the strategic role we have in our nation’s defense” McKudo said, “but I really want to be in the Air Force missile program, those guys know how to party”.

Recent news involving Air Force officers appeal to the junior officers in Louisiana’s wardroom. They see the buttoned-up culture of Navy ballistic missile submarines as too restrictive and lacking variety.

“I have a buddy from college who works in the missile fields up in North Dakota,” says Ensign Robert Connely, Louisiana’s reactor chemistry officer. “He tells me stories about driving Suburbans 90 miles per hour through snowy corn fields. That sounds awesome”.

“Look, those guys don’t even have to really take any sort of regular tests or anything,” McKudo said with excitement. “And when they do it’s so open book the Chinese get to crib the answers too. Plus their generals get to party so hard, especially on foreign travel, it defies the imagination”.

According to a recent study by the RAND corporation, officers in the Air Force missile corps are “burnt out” and often act in a manner inconsistent with the standards of the military due to their levels of stress. Members of Louisiana’s wardroom do not sympathize.

“They get to sleep on watch!” said. McKudo. “Try being out in the middle of the ocean for three months, constantly think about boiling water, then come talk to me. They are obviously just partying so hard they forget what they are doing. They don’t even have to closer the door! It’s better than Florida State U!”

“You know what happens if we forget to close the door?” asked Connely. “We sink – that’s what happens. Can’t sink in the middle of Wyoming, no sir.”

The two officers’ watch reliefs arrived, signed the logs, descended the ladder to the wardroom, the boat having traveled 6 miles in their 6 hour watch. After surveying the small collection of games and DVDs they agree to play their 326th game of Cribbage.

Alan Tweedie currently serves in the Navy reserve as an intel officer. At his civilian job he spends a lot of time with former Air Force missile officers who have no idea how good they had it.

President Deploys US 10th Fleet

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.

Navy 10th Fleet Sailors test out their new digital digital camoflauge uniforms for their deployment to cyberspace.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced today that the U.S. Navy’s 10th Fleet will make a groundbreaking deployment directly into cyberspace later this month.  Citing a “clear and present danger” to the nation’s cyber security, over 500 Sailors will enter the internet and confront cyber threats head on.  “We have a very real need to eliminate these threats to our national security,” said Panetta.  “Nothing less than the full commitment of our forces will be sufficient.”

New technologies will be used for the ground-breaking deployment, including an experimental laser developed by ENCOM Cyber Technologies, which will enable the Sailors direct access to cyberspace.  In a statement released by Vice Admiral Michael S. Rogers, 10th Fleet’s Commander, he stressed the importance of cooperation between the Navy and ENCOM.  “Without access to this technology our warriors would not be able to confront our enemies,” wrote Rogers.  “We thank our industry partners for their impressive developments.”

PT: A 10th Fleet Navy LT plays a game of virtual ultimate frisbee to condition himself to the rigors of cyberspace.

The deployment of 10th Fleet – expected to last six-months barring any emergent tasking – provides an exciting opportunity for the fleet’s Sailors, including port calls in cyber cafes in Estonia, apartment blocks in Russia, and a military academy in China.  But it will be a challenge and strain on family ties.  Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Second Class Kevin Flynn of Grand Forks, ND will be one of the Sailors participating in the deployment.  “I didn’t join the Navy to sit behind a desk” said Flynn, “even though I have to leave my family this is going to be an amazing few months.”

While much of the deployment’s goals are shrouded in secrecy, a DoD official who asked not to be named because she is not allowed to speak to the press did provide some details.  A specific piece of software known as the Master Control Program (MCP) is high on the list of targets due to its potential to harm highly vulnerable DoD cyber assets.

At a press conference yesterday President Obama commented briefly on the deployment.  “As Commander-in-Chief one of my most sobering duties is to ask our young men and women to go into harm’s way,” said Obama.  “But let me be clear, there is no other way to eliminate these grave threats to our freedom.”

The U.S. Navy’s 10th Fleet was reactivated in 2010 and is headquartered at Fort Meade, MD.

Ice-basing the Arctic

So the trappings of life under the thumb of your home country have finally forced you to the seas. Why not strike out to the pristine, untouched mineral-rich reaches of the Arctic? Climate change in the far north may soon open the long-sought Northwest Passage which will allow ships summer time passage from Europe to Asia a fraction of the travel time. Oil exploration is booming with all the big oil companies vying for their slice of the pie. Increased shipping capacity could mean a black gold mine for your tiny floating kingdom, if you can find a place to put it.

This map shows just how complicated the Arctic seascape really is.  Russia has already planted their flag at the North Pole sealed in a titanium capsule.  They are still working out the particulars on the definition of their continental shelf, which may validate their claim of the pole and a huge swath of the frozen north.  But don’t forget, once clear of Russian claims you still have to contend with Danish, Norwegian, Canadian, U.S. and Icelandic territory.  A sea-based nation could benefit from partnership with any of these nations for security and export potential, assuming any of them would be interested in having a little neighbor to the north. 

An Arctic sea-base would mean a harsh existence for its inhabitants. Long periods of cold and darkness would require advanced climate control. Keeping the whole thing afloat on or amid constantly shifting polar ice and occasional liquid water would require clever flotation systems.  Yet all the expense of setting up this sea-base will be worth it.  Others have made significant investment with seemingly impractical logistical hurdles but still continue to make the far north work, there is such a huge economic incentive to do so.  

Creating a sea based nation in the Arctic could provide a tiny floating country with vast mineral wealth and, if the climate models pan out, an easy way of getting it to market. And as of this writing, the Somali pirate threat to the Arctic is pretty much non-existent, good news for security.