Category Archives: The Lighter Side

Maritime and naval stories with a dash of comedy.

Nail Polish for the Naval Warfighter

By Captain John P. Cordle (ret.)

Author’s note: The following story is a notional description of a discussion that must have occurred, because there is a detailed regulation covering a woman’s right to choose….the color of her fingernail polish. Since senior leaders spent so much time, research, and detailed factual analysis on the topic, dedicating an entire paragraph in Navy Regulations to the issue, it must be critical to warfighting readiness.

The year is 1993. After years of skirting the issue, the Navy is just putting the finishing touches on a new policy to allow women to fly in combat aircraft. Just before he was ready to sign, the Admiral realized that something significant was missing and he called his staff together for an urgent meeting. “Gentlemen – oh, and Barb,” he huffed, out of breath with excitement, “Where is the paragraph on women’s nail polish color policy?”

The men paled in anguish, aghast that this key fighting element had been overlooked and left out of the policy. Ashamed and embarrassed, they immediately convened an emergency war council meeting to discuss the issue and come up with a policy. Barbara (call sign “Barb,” a veiled reference to the way she corrected her male counterparts when they made comments that were trending toward inappropriate) was the only woman in the room–aside from the recorder, currently the Admin Officer but an aspiring fighter pilot herself–which would allow the official record to state that “female input was considered” in the decision (silent on what it was…). Barb looked down at her red nails, her favorite color, and started to protest: “Why do we need…?”

“Well,” one of the men interrupted her, holding up his hand in a shushing motion. “You can’t be flying a plane with just any color of nail polish.”

“Obviously,” said another.  

Harrumphs of approval filled the room. “So let’s make a list. What colors are there?”

“Huh?” said Barb. “Why do we need a policy in the first place? What difference does it make to you men what color my nails are?”

One of the men, a decorated Captain and fighter pilot, responded immediately on behalf of the group: “Hello – It’s distracting!”

More harrumphs. Now Barb was confused. “So what colors are distracting to you guys?”

“RED!” Three men shouted in unison, staring and pointing at Barb’s hands, to her horror. But the men didn’t seem to notice her discomfort – they were on a roll. “Forbidden!” the Captain said to the recorder, a young female Lieutenant, hiding her light blue Tiffany nails as she took notes.

“Huh?” said Barb. “Why do we need…?

“But the men were just getting started. “Blue! Black! White! Green!” There was a long silence, then – “PURPLE! Forbidden!” The recorder kept writing, her face blank but increasingly flushed.

“But we’ll be wearing gloves,” said Barb. “You can’t even see what color our nails are!”

The looks were cutting and in unison: “But we’ll KNOW- and be distracted!”

Barb continued, thinking about how one-sided this conversation was. She tried to relate on a personal level. “So if I want to choose a nice nail color for the weekend, I have to remove it or paint it over to come to work on Monday? Would you apply that rule to your wives and daughters?”

This earned Barb a quizzical look from the men; “duh – of course!” said one. “This is about warfighting and STANDARDS!” said one of the male commanders.

“Somehow this doesn’t seem fair,” said Barb, “since men aren’t impacted by this subject at all. It reminds me of the women’s hairstyle rules that caused a lot of women anguish due to premature hair loss” – she wondered if any of her male counterparts even knew what traction alopecia is. But again she was interrupted.

“Well, that’s not entirely true,” said one of the men, after all, “we often have to pay for it!” This elicited vigorous nods and a round of “hell yeahs” from the group.

Now came the moment of truth. Although it seemed like a foregone conclusion, and despite this being a military group, they were supposed to enforce a form of democracy: a vote. After all, nothing less was at stake as their ability to defeat a peer competitor in battle. The vote was settled quickly (6-3), with only the two minority officers (one Black and one Hispanic) siding with Barb. They shared that “sometimes you need empathy from the unaffected” but that did not resonate with the others; with that, a woman’s right to choose her own nail polish was eliminated.

Barbara was upset but decided to bite her tongue. She thought about other restrictive policies that had impacted her physical and mental health, like hairstyle requirements that caused headaches and hair loss, or shaving policies that negatively impact many Black male Sailors. What if MEN routinely used nail Polish? What if white men had PFB? Would that change the outcome? Of course it would, she thought to herself. She thought about lodging one final protest but remembered what one of her minority friends had shared: “Sometimes when you are being discriminated against,” she thought, “it’s not in your best interest to point that out…”

Barbara sighed and took the document in to the Admiral for signature. He lifted his pen and stopped. “Your nails – how did you pick that awful color? It’s very distracting- I can’t remember where to sign.”

“It’s the only one left that’s allowed,” she replied. “For what it’s worth, your wife recommended it.”

“Well,” said the Admiral, “that color has to go on the forbidden list, or there goes our war fighting readiness, right down the toilet,” he sighed, adding one more color to the list, and then placing his signature at the bottom of the page.

The final wording looked like this:

Nail polish may be worn, but colors shall be conservative and inconspicuous. White, black, red, yellow, orange, green, purple, grey, glitter, striped, or any sort of pattern/decorative nail polish is not authorized. French and American manicures (white and off- white tips with neutral base color only) are authorized. 

“My work is done,” he said with a satisfied grin.

Barb wondered about what “conservative and inconspicuous” meant to him, and if it meant the same to her. Why is red not distracting on fire extinguishers and flight deck jerseys, but as egregious as my nails? Could the problem be with the men in the room?  

The group adjourned, and the Captain who led them was deeply satisfied that this policy would save lives in battle and increase the air-to-air kill ratio at least twofold for the next generation. No longer will nail polish distract our fighting forces. This will be a great FITREP bullet! The Admiral’s grin spread to the crowd, as they reveled in their good deed.

Barb was grinning too as she left the office, thinking about her bright red toenails – deep inside her combat boots.

Author’s note #2: At this point, we will use visualization to transport ourselves into the future, with a reasonable solution to this issue:

“Greetings,” the Admiral said to the group of 12 women of various ranks in specialties from throughout the Navy. “Today, July 1st 2023, it is my pleasure to convene the first ever Women’s Uniform Board, with full decision authority over the regulations and designs that govern women’s uniform and grooming standards.”  She glanced down at her bright red nails and smiled at the board members. “By the way, in this room, you can call me, ‘Barb!’”

Dr. Cordle retired from the Navy as a Captain in 2013 after 30 years of service. He commanded the USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79) and USS San Jacinto (CG-56), and earned the U.S. Navy League’s Captain John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership in 2010. He was recognized in 2019 with the Surface Navy Association Literary Award and the U. S. Naval Institute PROCEEDINGS “Author of the Year” Award for his extensive writing on leadership, crew endurance, manpower, and diversity.

Featured Image: EAST CHINA SEA (July 16, 2020) Operations Specialist 3rd Class Michelle Sejour, from Orlando, Fla., coordinates messages from the combat information center while standing watch as a phone talker on the bridge of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Taylor DiMartino)

Celebrating the Definitely True History and Future of the Top Gun Franchise and Carrier Aviation

By Billy Mitchell

Yes, it’s me. Billy Mitchell, Army officer, airpower advocate, and Father of the U.S. Air Force. I am writing today because I am finally confident enough to reveal the details of my long-term plan to integrate naval aviation into the U.S. Air Force. I know it’s time to buzz the tower because Top Gun: Maverick is finally in theaters and reviews are in – it’s a hit!

What’s that you say? You never heard that the Top Gun franchise is an Air Force info-operation to render the U.S. naval aviation community ineffective by failing to change its culture or adopt unmanned technology? What I’m about to tell you is classified. It could end my career – and no, this isn’t the worst dogfight you’ve ever dreamed of….

Given the hopes that Top Gun: Maverick will inspire a similar recruiting boom as its 1986 predecessor, I know that Congress and naval aviators will never get rid of their carriers or the people in their strike fighters. So once the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and Rocket Forces render your community and service impotent with “Great Balls of Fire,” just remember boys, there’s no points for second place in service parochialism or great power conflict.

Back When I Was the Top Gun

If you look at the Wikipedia page of 1986’s Top Gun, some people might have you believe it’s a Paramount Pictures production at the height of the Cold War and Reagan/Lehman-era 600-ship Navy build-up. But the history goes back way further to the interwar period. And me? I didn’t feel the need for speed, only victory.

You see, I fought in the Spanish-American War and World War One (as you all seem to call it). I was an Army aerial observer in France and saw what aviation could become, so when I got back to the U.S. in January 1919, I was appointed the Director of Military Aeronautics. I knew that airpower would become the predominant force of war, so our country would need an independent air force equal to the Army and Navy.

I was the maverick in 1919 who wanted floating bases of aircraft to defend the country, but your senior naval aviators thought I’d never understand sea-based aviation requirements, so used Assistant SECNAV Franklin Delano Roosevelt to block me. FDR can thank me later for projecting forward the technology that won World War Two. But as I’m sure you historians remember, I got the Navy to commit to demonstrations of aviation against battleships by working the press like I am today. “1,000 bomber aircraft could be built and operated for the cost of one dreadnought and my airplanes could sink that battleship,” which is something you still seem to have forgotten today with your Ford-class carrier embarking F-35s compared to the B-21 Raider…But I digress.

As we remember now, SECNAV Josephus Daniels rigged the initial demonstrations in an attempt to show battleships could survive the bombing attempts. But in July 1921 with bombs I personally oversaw in designing, we sunk the old German warship Ostfriedland with a total of six bombs. Thankfully for the Navy, this exercise gave Bill Moffat enough authority to start building the carriers you would use to win in the Pacific in World War Two. But the only reason you used them was because the Japanese were so successful at sinking your battleships in Pearl Harbor (using airplanes).

There was some real genius in their flying – from the development of the Thach weave, to Dick Best sinking two Japanese carriers at Midway, or Pappy Boyington’s exploits throughout the Pacific – but I couldn’t say that here, to my Army Air Corps and Air Force brethren. I’d be afraid that everyone reading this would see right through me – but I know after World War Two, everyone had fallen for manned carrier aviation.

I never got to see it in person though. After a September 1925 crash of the helium-filled rigid airship Shenandoah that killed 14 and destroyed three seaplanes, I issued a statement accusing Army and Navy senior leaders of “almost treasonable administration of the national defense.” And to think I could have saved that line for your post-Cold War shipbuilding policies! Anyway, that statement got me court-martialed, and I resigned from the Army as a colonel. In short, how did I end up here? Well, the list of people I pissed off is long, but distinguished.

“Here” is the ‘Wild Blue Beyonder,’ the Aviator Afterlife I came to after my coronary occlusion in 1936. It’s here that I’ve been able to watch, far above you all, the advancements of aviation and try to help the Air Force absorb naval aviation. How can I do this, if I’m directly above you? Because I’m inverted. And it’s classified. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

After World War Two and the Need for a Movie

I watched as your admirals and SECNAV James Forrestal opposed unification to create a separate Air Force after World War Two. Their fitness reports said it all – they led by the seats of their pants, totally unpredictable. But it takes a lot more than just fancy grandstanding to win a long-term interservice rivalry. Despite the innovation of nuclear weapons and the B-36 Peacemaker, the admirals whined about the cancellation of the USS United States, and justified carrier-based strike-fighter-launched nuclear weapons to stave off the budget cuts you’d actually enact 50 years later.

That “Revolt of the Admirals” really taught me something though – I can’t get the Air Force to beat you at your culture, so I needed to let you beat yourself. It wasn’t until Howard Hughes, the Aviator-actual, arrived in the Wild Blue Beyonder, and we chatted about his film directing experiences, and how disappointed he was the Spruce Goose never made it to use in World War Two. That’s how I gave him his callsign “Goose” after the kangaroo court. He hated carrier aviation just as much as I did, given that the U.S. Navy gave up on seaplanes 60 years ago at the time of this writing.

As we were writing the movie, we got nervous. We thought for sure that the 1982 Falklands War would teach the U.S. Navy the enduring need for long-range strike capabilities, given how even small numbers of Argentine fighters carrying Exocets could sink ships and push carriers out of effective range. I turned to Howard and said, “Talk to me Goose – will this movie even work?” He nonchalantly responded, “Oh yeah, these bro-culture aviators will lap it up. Just a walk in the park for us.” So we worked through the traditional Hollywood seances to pitch Tony Scott, Don Simpson, and Jerry Bruckheimer. Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse, we can now just plug into the internet, but thankfully Paramount loved the idea.

They did think it was a little on the nose to have our two main characters be a maverick aviator named Mitchell who doesn’t fit into the system and a lovable and awkward counterpart with the name Goose who disappears from life halfway through. I remember Jerry Bruckheimer screaming at the Ouija Board: “You don’t own this movie! Paramount does! Mitchell, your ego is writing checks your lack of a body can’t cash!” Which was fair – but the movie was a huge success!

Over $350 million at the box office; cemented Tom Cruise as a star; convinced people across the country that being shirtless with jeans was a legitimate volleyball uniform, and led a whole generation of naval aviators to join the community just as the Soviet Union collapsed. Without that threat requiring them to innovate, they could just live off the vapors of Maverick, Goose, Viper, and Ice Man at Tailhook, while occasionally bombing Eastern Europe or the Middle East. That was some of the best flying I’ve seen to date – right up to the part where their cultural inertia ensured they’ll get killed in this century. And thanks to the Navy pulling all non-strategic nuclear weapons off non-SSBNs by 1991, that whole argument for carriers from the Revolt of the Admirals went right out the window!

Heck, the original Top Gun was so impactful over so many decades that Goose and I finally were able to convince John Paul Jones and Willis “Ching” Lee as a practical joke that the SWOs needed their own movie. They pitched Hollywood on what became 2012’s Battleship. It was a box-office bomb, but it helped take Navy surface forces out of the Air Force’s long-range strike game in three ways:

  1. It validated that toxic leadership should be maintained through nepotism or special privileges, and that the fire of battle will ultimately fix these cultural issues.
  2. Rihanna’s character served as an operations specialist, gunner’s mate, and various other roles, validating the optimal (minimal) manning constructs that were so successful with the Littoral Combat Ship and Zumwalt-class destroyers.
  3. And lastly, the climactic battle is premised on the USS Missouri, a museum battleship, getting underway in mere hours through the capabilities of septuagenarian veteran maintainers with limited financial investment or detailed explanation. I believe this is the current NAVSEA policy for leaving American shipyards, as I’ve seen it explained in the Balisle Report, Comprehensive Review, and the regular pictures of rusty combatants traversing the world’s oceans.

And to think the SWOs killed the Tomahawk Anti-Ship Missile (TASM) in 1994 only to bring it back three decades later as an improved “Maritime Strike Tomahawk”? What a run for Top Gun.

This is what the Chinese call a “Target-Rich Environment” – the Need for a Sequel

Even after the PLA lost that lovin’ feelin’ during the 1996 Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, those reckless U.S. carrier aviators put their crew and their plane first. The PLA on the other hand couldn’t live down having multiple American aircraft carriers nearby and interfering in the China/Taiwan issue. In the following generation, they “fielded, and [are] further developing, capabilities to provide options for the PRC to dissuade, deter, or if ordered, defeat third-party intervention during a large-scale theater campaign such as a Taiwan contingency.” And look, I get it – you don’t have time to think up there in the Pentagon, developing the future of carrier aviation over a generation. If you think, you’re dead. People know the F-35 works just like the F/A-18 works just like the F-14 worked.

Except Goose and I started to get worried again. When the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile reached initial operating capability in 2010, we thought, “Surely these naval aviators will clamor for the aircraft ranges necessary to operate from beyond that missile’s danger zone.” But ride into the danger zone they did, continuing to do ineffective presence while the South China Sea was militarized, and providing free OPFOR training to the Chinese. Within three years naval aviation was landing the X-47B drone aboard a carrier – an unmanned reconnaissance system with such accuracy it would dent the carrier deck with its consistency. Surely you Cruise-wannabes would acknowledge the future and transition it to a program of record for an unmanned strike fighter, enabling far longer ranges and time-on-station than manned fighters. Right?

Even in the think tank world, experts started asking: Is the carrier obsolete? Why has the air wing’s range diminished dangerously? How could air wings transform to do long-range sea denial in support of a Taiwan counter-intervention scenario, now seen as the pacing challenge for American geopolitics this century? And all of this while the Chinese fielded the DF-26 “Guam Killer,” DF-17 Hypersonic Missile, and tested a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS)/Hypersonic Glide Vehicle hybrid with potentially global conventional strike range? It was as if senior aviators were screaming at future wars, “I will adapt to new technologies when I’m god$%& good and ready! You got that?”

We knew it was time for a sequel. If the U.S. naval aviation community could once again fall in love with manned carrier aviation, they would never adopt the unmanned systems at the speed or scale needed for modern threats. A sequel, loved by all, would pave the way for a single service with conventional and strategic long-range maritime strike capabilities able to take it right into China’s danger zone: The U.S. Air Force. Will thousands of sailors die and billions of dollars of American treasure sink for these facts to be realized? Probably. The defense department will regret to inform many that their sons and daughters are dead because their predecessors were shortsighted.

So yeah – we got Top Gun: Maverick made. It’s great. Was it a bold, ironic move to open the movie with Tom Cruise shredding a government boondoggle manned aircraft trying to fly at Mach 10 when that could very easily be unmanned? Sure – but goodness that anthem is iconic, so don’t think about the force structure implications. And you know what the best part is? We probably didn’t even need the sequel. The Winged Luddites of carrier aviation ensured that X-47B was killed in 2015. The replacement MQ-25 Stingray won’t reach IOC until 2025 and is slated to provide only tanking to the long held-dreams of putting Top Gun’s finest right to the edge of the envelope – not even going Mach 2 with their hair on fire. Probably going Mach .9 max conserve to make the whole trip for blue water ops.

All this while my Air Force actually is succeeding with multiple autonomous drones and developing greater autonomy so that as DARPA’s AlphaDogfight trials showed, drones never get too close for missiles to switch to guns. They just always win. But the Air Force’s airfields don’t move– so they’re easy to target right? Sure – but the Navy’s newest moving airfield was bought in 2008, and will deploy in 2022. So are you going to tell me that your crippled maritime industrial base will replace a carrier during the length of the entire world war? It’s like Meg Ryan once said, “Take me to war and lose me forever!”

Where does this leave carrier aviation? You want to say this is fine. But really, it’s so bad it would take my breath away. If I were in fact a corporeal junior naval aviator looking at the long-term direction of my community in the face of growing threats, I’d want to find anyone – Congress, senior community leaders, or acquisition professionals from the past three decades and just scream: “Guys, it’s not your leadership, it’s your attitude and acquisition execution. The enemy’s dangerous, but right now you’re worse. Dangerous and foolish. You may not like who’s enabling airpower with you, but whose side are you on?”

So as I sit up here in the Wild Blue Beyonder, all I can say is: The Air Force will be your wingman anytime. Mostly because you can’t stay out at these ranges anyway. Looking forward to taking your aircraft and dollars next POM cycle. Watch the birdie!

Colonel William (Billy) Mitchell, US Army, Retired, is an incorporeal spirit, airpower advocate, and unlisted executive producer of military films in Hollywood. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or Department of Defense.

Featured Image: Top Gun: Maverick movie poster by Paramount Pictures.

Buying Time: A Whole-Of-Government Approach for Postponing a Taiwan Invasion

By LCDR Obvious, USN

To Thwart a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan, the US Must Slow Walk Their Request Chit

The Taiwan Relations Act (hereafter “TRA”; Pub.L. 96–8, 93 Stat. 14, enacted April 10, 1979; H.R. 2479) requires that the People’s Republic of China submit a request chit to the United States Congress at least 14 business days prior to an invasion of Taiwan. When the TRA was first drafted in 1979, US military planners believed this was ample time to allow the US to pre-position forces in order to deny, deter, defeat, disrupt, degrade, destroy, distend, or discombobulate PRC forces before they were able to successfully seize Taiwan. Since the PRC began its military modernization in the mid-1990s, Western national security experts have raised the alarm that the 14-business-days-advance notice required is no longer adequate to ensure that the US military has complete and total dominance over PRC forces in the Western Pacific at the start of combat operations. 

Two attempts have been made by Congress to extend the 14 business day requirement to 21 and 30 days in 1988 and 2005, respectively, however both of these efforts failed in the Senate. What is less well understood is subclause 16:7 of the TRA which states that “Congress will make every effort to respond to a PRC request for ‘reunification’ with Taiwan promptly upon receipt of ‘The Chit.’” So much hangs on one’s interpretation of “make every effort” and “promptly.” This article will explore ways in which the US can employ a whole-of-government approach to adhere to the spirit of the TRA while still buying valuable time to pre-position US forces in the theater for victory against the PRC. 

The most obvious way for the US to delay official Congressional recognition of The Chit is sadly already off the table. In 1979, then-PRC Premier Zhou Enlai cleverly ensured that language requiring a prompt response even if Congress was in recess was added to the final language of the TRA by US Permanent Shadow SECSTATE Henry Kissinger. During Congressional recesses, each ranking member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee is required by the TRA to nominate a lead and alternate Senate page from their offices to remain in Washington, DC, to be on standby to receive a PRC invasion request chit in the event one is generated by Beijing. Senate pages performing this task are provided a per diem allowance for this service amounting to $257 USD. 

To successfully slow walk delivery of The Chit to Congress, we must start earlier in the approval chain. The TRA specifies three offices that must receive, review, sign, and forward The Chit in sequential order before it is delivered to Congress. Adding delays at each of these steps can buy the US military critical hours and even days of preparation. The first stop for The Chit is the SHELLBACK Listening Station, a Navy cryptologic station located on a small rock outcropping 57 nautical miles north of Guam. Rising sea levels and significant coastal erosion following the opening of a Subway Restaurant on the outcropping in 2003 have threatened the operation of SHELLBACK Station, however, at great expense to the taxpayers it remains fully operational today and is manned by one Navy Warrant Officer, two Navy Senior Chiefs, one Navy Chief and one Petty Officer First Class. 

SHELLBACK’s operations are run out of a single Quonset Hut seized from the Japanese in 1943. Other than the Subway and a small collection of radar towers, this is the only facility on the outcropping. SHELLBACK was built for a single purpose – to ensure the United States lived up to its commitments under the TRA by rapidly processing any PRC invasion request chits they received. Having never received a chit, SHELLBACK is currently rated as one of the most efficient units in the INDOPACOM theater of operations. Failure to immediately process The Chit would threaten SHELLBACK’s efficiency rating to the point where they might fail to be awarded INDOPACOM’s “Battle E” commendation for the first time since 1981. 

If the United States receives indications and warnings that the PRC is about to formally request permission to invade Taiwan, the US Navy should immediately select the Petty Officer First Class stationed at SHELLBACK for promotion to Chief Petty Officer. This will kick off a 6-to-20 week Chief Induction Season, involving the entire SHELLBACK command. A study by the Rand Corporation in 2017 indicated that interjecting a Chief Induction Process into an otherwise high- functioning command could reduce operational efficiency by over 85%. For our purposes, assume The Chit routing process — which under normal circumstances should take an hour — could be delayed by as many as three days. This might not seem like a lot but three days would give the US government ample time to evacuate all US citizens from Taiwan, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, the Hawaiian Islands and the US West Coast in preparation for a conflict with the PRC.

After SHELLBACK, The Chit is routed to the INDOPACOM PRC Relations Office in Mililani Mauka, a suburb of Honolulu. The PRC Relations Office (PRC-RO, pronounced “prick-ro”) is purposely-designed to facilitate the transfer of any PRC invasion request chits from Guam to the State Department in Washington, DC. Since its creation in 1979, PRC- RO has been manned by a single government civilian, Mr. Daniel Peterson. The language in the TRA establishing PRC-RO and hiring Mr. Peterson was specifically requested by Senator Barry Goldwater (R-Arizona), Mr. Peterson having previously served on Senator Goldwater’s 1964 Presidential campaign. After 36 years of flawless government service, Mr. Peterson retired in 2015 and went on to found Eagle-Dragon Communication Associates, a private company which was awarded the exclusive contract to operate PRC-RO in the 2015 NDAA. 

Mr. Peterson (“just call me ‘Dan’”) maintains the same working hours as a civilian contractor as he did while in government service. However, Mr Peterson has requested and received permission from INDOPACOM N15 to leave a little early on Fridays so he can beat the traffic on the H-1 and get to his great granddaughter’s lacrosse game on time. If SHELLBACK Station can hold release of the Chit until 1400 Friday Honolulu time, Mr. Peterson will have already departed for the weekend, buying the US government two and a half days to create and release the 2019 NDAA-mandated TikTok videos explaining to Zoomers what a fallout shelter is.

After The Chit is released from PRC-RO, it travels to the US State Department. The author is a career US military officer, is unaware how the State Department works and frankly couldn’t be bothered to learn for the sake of this article. He assumes that The Chit will be processed like a passport application, slowly but within a realistic amount of time. Moving on…

Once released from the State Department, The Chit is driven to Congress by the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in a white 1974 Plymouth Fury Sport Suburban station wagon. The requirement to use this particular automobile is specified in the TRA language and is believed to have been added by then-Michigan Senator Carl Levin (D) in an effort to support the Detroit auto industry. The State Department is required to keep two well-maintained white Suburbans wagons on site in perpetuity for this purpose, costing the taxpayer approximately $26,000 per annum in maintenance.

Following the steps outlined above may add almost a week of processing time before Congress receives The Chit, the point when the formal 14 business day approval process specified in the TRA begins. Given the pace and scale of the PRC’s preparation for a conflict with Taiwan, including the construction of hundreds of new warships, bomber aircraft, spy satellites, and land-based conventional and nuclear ballistic missiles, this week of preparation may mean the difference between victory or defeat for the US in the Pacific. We must take every reasonable, legal step to slow walk the processing of this required form before it is too late. Fortunately, this plays into a crucial U.S. asymmetric advantage. If there is one thing the whole of the US government excels at, it is processing routine paperwork incredibly slowly.

LCDR Obvious is a serving US Navy officer in the Indo-Pacific region. He has read the recent crop of articles promising One Weird Trick to deter China from invading Taiwan with a combination of mirth, skepticism, and alarm.

Featured Image: Chief Logistics Specialist Daniel Hamar from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) verifies inventory paperwork with Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group (NAVELSG) Logistics Specialist Second Class Darius Threat from Columbus, Ohio during a Supply Management Inspection (SMI). (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Edward Kessler/Released)

Real Time Strategy 4 – Command and Conquer: Generals

RTS_Logo2The RTS crew kicks off 2016 with a discussion of the Command & Conquer series with a focus on “Generals.” Join us as we dive into how the geopolitical environment of 2003 shaped the game, what makes the C&C series so great, and how one of our members potentially looted his copy during Hurricane Katrina.
“Real Time Strategy,” is a discussion on the lessons and non-lessons of the simulations we use to both learn and entertain in the realm of military strategy, tactics, and history.