Tag: Military

Not Good

The amphibious assault ship (LHD) Bonhomme Richard is still burning in San Diego harbor.

Navy officials said Monday that the fire ravaging the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard for a second day has reached temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees, and it is still burning in various portions of the ship.

Smoke and fumes from the ship at San Diego Naval Base continued to pollute the skyline and air throughout San Diego. In an email Monday evening, a Naval Surface Forces spokeswoman said crews have made “significant progress” in the effort to save the ship.

Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, said Monday that the fire is in the superstructure of the ship and its upper decks and that the ship’s forward mast has collapsed.

“There’s obviously burn damage all the way through the skin of the ship, and we are assessing that as we kind of go through each compartment,” he said. “Right now the priority is to get the fire out so that we can take a complete assessment.”

Basically a Helicopter Carrier

It should be noted that the Bonhomme Richard was at the end of a refit to allow it to accommodate the Marine Corps STOVL F-35B, and as a result, this capability will be missing from the the fleet for the foreseeable future:

The amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, which burned through the night while in port in San Diego, was at the tail end of two years of upgrades supporting the integration of the F-35B, according to Navy documents.

That means the Navy will now have fewer options to deploy the next-generation fighter in the Pacific.

The Navy awarded the $219 million modernization contract to General Dynamics, National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. in 2018, which had options for up to $250 million. Bonhomme Richard is one of four large-deck amphibs to have received the upgrades. The Boxer was announced earlier this year as the fifth big-deck to get the upgrades.

Experts said the loss of Bonhomme Richard, whether a total loss or just lost for extensive repairs, deals a significant blow to the Navy’s plans to have F-35Bs continually deployed in the Pacific. And with Monday’s announcement that the United States had formally rejected China’s claims about the South China Sea, any accompanying boost in naval presence could be slowed by the fire.

This is such a 2020 thing to have happened.

A Huge Part of the Problem

One of the reasons that police have become a hyper-militarized occupying power is that police hiring increasingly draws from the military.

This means that rather than attempting to protect and serve, police increasingly attempt to, “Dominate the battlespace,” which is antithetical to proper policing:

Calls for the demilitarization of police have gained new prominence in the light of the latest wave of anti-police brutality protests sweeping the United States. But in a country where one-fifth of the police force is ex-military — including George Floyd’s killer in Minneapolis, Derek Chauvin, and Robert McCabe, one of the two officers responsible for knocking down Martin Gugino, the seventy-five-year-old protester in Buffalo — demilitarization won’t come easy.

Many police officers are themselves former members of the military who picked up a career in policing after returning from war zones. But this isn’t the only problem. Loaded down with cast-off gear from the Pentagon — body armor, bayonets, automatic rifles, grenade launchers, armored vehicles, and surveillance drones — police officers are more likely to regard peaceful protestors as enemy combatants, particularly when the Pentagon’s own top official refers to their protest scenes as “battlespace.”

But getting police officers out of the business of being an occupying military force —whether perpetually or in times of crisis — will also require much closer screening of job applicants who are veterans and elimination of their favored treatment in police department hiring.


Policing is the third most common occupation for men and women who served in the military. It is an option widely encouraged by career counselors and veterans’ organizations like the American Legion. As a result, several hundred thousand veterans are now wearing a badge of some sort. Though veterans comprise just 6 percent of the US population, veterans now working in law enforcement number 19 percent of the total force. Their disproportionate representation is due, in part, to preferential hiring requirements, mandated by state or federal law. In addition, under the Obama administration, the Department of Justice provided local police departments with tens of millions of dollars to fund veterans-only positions.

As noted by the Marshall Project in its 2017 report, “When Warriors Put On the Badge,” this combination of hiring preferences and special funding has made it harder to “build police forces that resemble and understand diverse communities.” The beneficiaries have been disproportionately white, because 60 percent of all enlisted men and women are not people of color.


Tougher to tackle is the issue of ex-military personnel being over-represented in the ranks of domestic law enforcers. When you leave the service, says Danny Sjursen, a West Point graduate who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, “there’s no de-programming…They just load you up on meds and then you go straight to the police academy.” According to Sjursen, “military-style of policing is based on notion that high-crime areas should be treated like occupied countries.” So the “military-to-police pipeline” increases the chances “that a guy comes back to Baltimore, Camden, or Detroit and functions the same way we did when occupying Kabul or Baghdad.”

This is Both Heartening and Worrying

This is significant because the maneuvers were ordered either by,  “The highest echelons of the District of Columbia National Guard,” (NY Times) or directly ordered by Donald Trump. (AP)

So, the military has ordered an investigation, and the implication is that the crew, and people above them in the chain of command, may be facing jeopardy as a result of following orders.

Clearly, this is a push-back against Donald Trump and Evil Minions, which can be taken two ways:

  • It is reassuring because it means that the military has remained largely unaffected by the politicization of the government under Trump.
  • It is concerning because it indicates a level of push-back to civilian authority that might presage a coup.

Actually, both could be correct:

The National Guard helicopter crew that flew low over protesters in the nation’s capital this week has been grounded, the Army secretary told reporters Friday.

The Army initiated an administrative investigation, called a 15-6, after a UH-72 Lakota was seen making low maneuvers in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said. The crew was grounded immediately after the investigation began, he added.


Videos showed Lakota and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters kicking up debris as officials tried to force demonstrators who’d broken the city’s 7 p.m. curfew off the streets. The Black Hawks were reportedly operated by the FBI.

McCarthy declined to say who ordered the helicopter crews to fly low over the protesters in Washington, citing concerns that he’s in the chain of command and the investigation remains ongoing.

What a Sh%$ Show

The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) was a failure, largely because it hot swappable mission module system created an underarmored and under performing frigate, though they were rather speedy.

Well, now the Navy is trying to replace their latest failure with the FFG(X), which would replace the long serving Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate.

The problem is that, because of the inevitable mission creep, the cost and weight are completely out of line with a frigate.

They will be replacing the 4100 ton displacement Perry frigate with a 7400 ton ship, which continuing to procure the 9,700 ton Arleigh Burke class, only it’s supposed to be half the price.

Ships, much like hamburger, and purchased by the pound, so the navy’s promise of a relatively inexpensive ship was always a fools errand, but even so the original estimate of $940 million, which is a ripoff to begin with, since the FREMM from which it is derived costs about €600M ($650M), but it now appears that it will cost about $1.4B a ship.

This is insane and unsustainable:

The Navy truncated orders for its ill-fated Littoral Combat Ship because the small vessels were vulnerable to attack and too lightly armed. Now, a new report suggests that the frigate intended to replace it may cost 56% more than projected partly because it’s bigger.

The service projects that 18 of 20 new frigates will cost an average of $940 million each in inflation-adjusted dollars. The first two are estimated at about $1 billion each because of one-time costs.
relates to Big Navy Frigate Risks Oversized $1.4 Billion Cost Per Ship

But the Congressional Research Service alerted lawmakers this week to “a potential issue” worth reviewing: the accuracy of Navy cost estimates considering that “ships of the same general type and complexity that are built under similar production conditions” tend to have similar — and substantially higher — costs per ton of displacement.

CRS raised a warning because, at 7,400 tons, the frigate to be built in Wisconsin by a unit of Italy’s Fincantieri SpA is about three-fourths the size of an Arleigh Burke destroyer and carries many of the same weapons systems. The latest of the destroyers are estimated to cost $1.9 billion apiece.

That could put the cost for most of the frigates at as much as $1.47 billion each, “an increase of about 56%,” based on comparing their tonnage to the destroyers’, the research service said.

CRS suggested lawmakers ask the Navy the basis for “its view that the frigate — a ship about three-quarters as large” as the destroyer, with installed capabilities that are “in many cases” similar — “can be procured for about one-half the cost.”

It can’t, and it’s over priced, and they are demanding too much from the platform, and they making the ship even larger than the model from which it is derived, (The FREMM is about 6,400 tons) so it’s likely to end up costing more than the Burkes.

Cancel this now, and procure a frigate, and not a destroyer with a slightly smaller gun.

Tweet of the Day

This was Captain Brett Crozier washing dishes last Thanksgiving in the scullery while @TheRealCVN71 was underway in Pacific so junior crew members could get time for holiday meal. (This is how its done) . US Navy photo Airman DJ Schwartz. pic.twitter.com/mL5A4TuBKN

— Barbara Starr (@barbarastarrcnn) April 7, 2020

This is a man considered to be too honest and competent for the Trump administration, so they fired him.

Truck Fump.

The Denials of White House Interference Ring False

The Trump administration has removed captain Brett Crozier as commanding officer of the Theodore Roosevelt after a memo of the dire straits of the crew as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak on board leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle.

They are claiming that there was no White House involvement, which is 6 pounds of sh%$ in a 5 pound bag:

Navy leaders have relieved the captain of a U.S. aircraft carrier after a memo to military officials in which he pleaded for help with a coronavirus outbreak at sea was leaked to a newspaper.

Capt. Brett Crozier, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, now at port in Guam, was relieved Thursday after superiors said they lost confidence in his ability to lead. The decision to remove him drew outrage from lawmakers and some relatives of crew members who backed the commander’s call for attention to the crisis.

Capt. Crozier had written a four-page memorandum recently demanding that superiors allow him to take the carrier to the port in Guam to offload sailors stricken with Covid-19. At least 114 of the vessel’s crew have tested positive for the new coronavirus.

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Capt. Crozier wrote in his March 30 memo, which was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. “If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset—our sailors.”


The decision to remove the Roosevelt commander came as a surprise to some Navy leaders, who said their focus had been getting resources to the ship, defense officials said.


Mr. Trump briefly addressed Capt. Crozier’s dismissal during a White House briefing on the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, denying the move was punishment for calling attention to the plight of the crew.

“I don’t agree with that at all,” Mr. Trump said. “Not even a little bit.”


Of course this was a political move, and it came straight from the White House.

Boeing Cannot Make Anything Anymore, Part MMMDCCXXIV

It turns out that Boeing, the company that invented the airborne tanker, has mission critical fuel leaks on its new KC-46 tanker.

Seriously, saved this issue 60 years ago, and now, after 25 years of stock buybacks, they can’t even prevent a fuel tanker from leaking fuel:

The U.S. Air Force has upgraded an existing deficiency for the KC-46A Pegasus fuel system to Category 1.

The service’s program office first identified “excessive fuel leaks” in July after an air refueling test. The Air Force and Boeing are working together to determine the root cause and implement corrective actions. A Category 1 deficiency means the government has identified a risk that jeopardizes lives or critical assets.

“The KC-46 Program Office continues to monitor the entire KC-46 fleet and is enhancing acceptance testing of the fuel system to identify potential leaks at the factory where they can be repaired prior to delivery,” according to an Air Force statement.

Every senior executive at the firm needs to be fired, including the board of directors, and stock buybacks need to be banned for the next 4 decades.

They are Keeping Sailors Confined to a Plague Ship

It’s the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and its skipper is begging for its crew to be put ashore because of a Covid-19 outbreak:

The captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier with more than 100 sailors infected with the coronavirus pleaded Monday with U.S. Navy officials for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew and avoid possible deaths in a situation he described as quickly deteriorating.

The unusual plea from Capt. Brett Crozier, a Santa Rosa native, came in a letter obtained exclusively by The Chronicle and confirmed by a senior officer on board the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which has been docked in Guam following a COVID-19 outbreak among the crew of more than 4,000 less than a week ago.

“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” Crozier wrote. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

In the four-page letter to senior military officials, Crozier said only a small contingent of infected sailors have been off-boarded. Most of the crew remain aboard the ship, where following official guidelines for 14-day quarantines and social distancing is impossible.


Mark Cancian, a Marine colonel who served for 37 years before retiring, said that “the Navy has got to figure out how to do this right or else they can’t deploy the rest of the fleet. 


Remember the $400 Toilet Seat?

Yes, it appears that our newest aircraft carriers, the Gerald Ford class, has another problem in addition to its advanced catapult system, advanced arresting gear, and advanced weapons elevators, it’s toilets do not work properly.

Pretty much every time that they attempted to make a technological great leap forward, it simply has not been able to work reliably:

New toilets on the Navy’s two newest aircraft carriers clog so frequently that the ships’ sewage systems must be cleaned periodically with specialized acids costing about $400,000 a flush, according to a new congressional audit outlining $130 billion in underestimated long-term maintenance costs.

The Navy isn’t sure the toilet systems on the USS Gerald R. Ford and the USS George H. W. Bush can withstand the demand without failing frequently, according to the watchdog agency’s report on service sustainment costs released Tuesday.

The new toilet, similar to what’s used on commercial aircraft, is experiencing “unexpected and frequent clogging of the system” so the “unplanned maintenance action” will be needed “for the entire service life of the ship,” the GAO said in the report requested by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Although the costly toilets are illustrative of the problem, “we generally did not include these types of ongoing costs in our calculation” of the Navy’s looming sustainment bill, according to the report.


Overall, the Ford’s estimated lifetime operations and sustainment costs have grown to $123 billion from $77.3 billion, the most of six programs GAO evaluated.

“The Carrier toilet system is indicative of the kinds of issues we highlight in our report that are requiring more money, time, and effort to fix than originally anticipated due to a lack of adequate sustainment planning during the acquisition process,” said Shelby Oakley, a GAO director who manages the agency’s ship acquisition reviews

“The pipes are too narrow and when there are a bunch of sailors flushing the toilet at the same time, like in the morning, the suction doesn’t work,” said Oakley. “The Navy didn’t anticipate this problem.”

The US Navy has almost 250 years experience with handling how much sh%$ a sailor puts out, and they could not get this right.

Hell, even Princess Cruise line can make their toilets work.

This problem is not unique to the Navy though, when the B-2 originally deployed, there was no toilet (now they have a chamber pot), and they added a cot to the back of the cockpit so that pilots could deal with the rigors of missions that could exceed 24 hours.

How does the Pentagon, and the defense contractors, miss this crap?  (Pun intended)

About F%$#ing Time

The International Criminal Court will be investigating all of the parties ion the Afghan war for crimes against humanity, including the US military.

Considering the abysmal record of the US military investigating itself for such things, this is long overdue:

The United States is to be investigated for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan following an International Criminal Court (ICC) ruling today. The court overturned an April 2019 decision blocking a probe into the actions of U.S. troops, Taliban guerillas, and Afghan government forces.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has been pressing for formal investigations into alleged U.S. war crimes since 2017. But she has faced threats and opposition from President Donald Trump, notably having her U.S. visa canceled in retaliation.

Washington claimed that the measure was necessary “to protect its sovereignty and to protect our people from unjust investigation and prosecution” by the court.

The U.S. is not a party to the Rome Statute that established the ICC and refuses to recognize the court’s authority over its citizens. It has gone to great lengths to cover up alleged war crimes committed across the world, including with plans to charge WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the Espionage Act. Assange could face 175 years behind bars for publishing a series of videos and leaked cables exposing corruption and war crimes committed by the U.S. in Iraq and elsewhere.

While there is a no possibility of any US citizen facing anything resembling justice from the ICC, the prospect of an aggressive an independent review of the US military’s actions, even if limited to, “Name and shame,” would be a significant step forward of the moral development of the world.

This is Will Never Save Money

Will Roper, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, wants to restructure the cost profile of the next US fighters to front load the costs, on the theory that this will save money down the road through Silicon Valley style “Distruption.”

Well, that just pegged my bullsh%$ meter:

The U.S. Air Force’s acquisition chief said Feb. 18 that he expects a congressional backlash over how a recent revamp of the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) procurement strategy could drive up the average procurement unit cost (APUC) of a sixth-generation fighter.

But the Air Force remains committed to an acquisition strategy for an F-22 replacement that accepts higher upfront costs in order to save money during the sustainment phase of the program, said Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force, speaking during an “Ask Me Anything” webinar for the service’s acquisition workforce. The Pentagon calculates APUC by dividing total procurement costs, including recurring and nonrecurring bills, by the number of units purchased.


But Roper, who was appointed in 2017, said in early 2019 that the strategy had changed. The details of the highly secretive NGAD program are murky, but Roper has compared the new acquisition strategy to the business model for the Apple iPhone. Apple does not sustain the iPhone beyond a few years, so it makes profits by charging a premium on the design at the point of sale. Although the upfront cost is higher, Apple’s business model incentivizes an external community of software developers to create applications for the iPhone at little to no cost.

Roper wants to apply a similar philosophy to the development of the next generation of combat aircraft. He wants traditional defense prime contractors to transition away from a sustainment model for profits and incentivize them to focus on design by offering them a premium.

An iPhone has a life of about 3 years., and with the exception of electricity to keep it charged, it has a sustainment cost of $0.00.

A fighter aircraft is a completely different life cycle.

This is a particularly disastrous form of bullsh%$ bingo.

Missing the Point

A number of publications have reported with much fanfare that Bernie Sanders is leading the field in donations from active duty military personnel by a large margin.

This misses the point, which is that we as a society should not give a flying f%$# in a rolling doughnut about this.

The fact that it is a major story, and cast as a major victory for the Sanders campaign, is a reflection of a hyper militarized, and hence highly dysfunctional, society.

The Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight Buys the Plane That Can’t Shoot Straight

I am referring, of course, to the trillion dollar F-25 mistake jet, whose cannon is wildly inaccurate, and puts cracks in the airframe:

Add a gun that can’t shoot straight to the problems that dog Lockheed Martin Corp.’s $428 billion F-35 program, including more than 800 software flaws.

The 25mm gun on Air Force models of the Joint Strike Fighter has “unacceptable” accuracy in hitting ground targets and is mounted in housing that’s cracking, the Pentagon’s test office said in its latest assessment of the costliest U.S. weapons system.


The number of software deficiencies totaled 873 as of November, according to the report obtained by Bloomberg News in advance of its release as soon as Friday. That’s down from 917 in September 2018, when the jet entered the intense combat testing required before full production, including 15 Category 1 items. What was to be a year of testing has now been extended another year until at least October.

“Although the program office is working to fix deficiencies, new discoveries are still being made, resulting in only a minor decrease in the overall number” and leaving “many significant‘’ ones to address, the assessment said.

This procurement program really is a complete cluster-f%$#.

The Pentagon Spends Too Much on Acronyns

Case in point, a digital autopilot based gunnery enhancer that the USAF has named Digitally Enhanced Aiming Through Control Law (Death Claw).

The concept is simple, using the flight control system to aid gunnery accuracy, but someone spent weeks coming up with this name:

A 40-year-old idea to improve strafing accuracy by transferring flight control of a manned fighter to the autopilot to aim the gun is being revived as the U.S. Air Force looks internally for innovations that can be demonstrated and delivered quickly.

An operational version of the Digitally Enhanced Aiming Through Control Law (Death Claw) system is in development less than two years after the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School conceived and performed an eight-month demonstration.

The concept is sound technically, but the name is beyond silly.

Also, I recall a similar system being tested on an F-15 in the late 1980s.

Boeing Cannot Make Planes Anymore

It now looks like the Remote Vision System (RVS) for the Boeing KC-46 tanker is still not working properly, and may never do so, which would mean that the boom operator has to go back to a station at the rear of the aircraft:

The U.S. Air Force does not believe Boeing’s proposal for the KC-46 Remote Vision System (RVS) will meet the program’s critical performance parameters, according to a service official.

This is based on evidence the service has seen to date, Lt. Gen. Jon Thomas, Air Mobility Command deputy, told Aerospace DAILY Jan. 29.

“The tanker is not capable of all of its missions and won’t be until the problems with the Remote Vision System are fixed,” he said.

The Air Force is counting on the KC-46A Pegasus to recapitalize its tanker fleet and delays to the program only exacerbate the service’s capacity problem.

“It’s really hard for us to consider the KC-46 part of our operational capacity,” Thomas said.

Seriously, if there is anything in aviation where Boeing should be the center of excellence, it is aerial refueling, and they cannot get that right.

Clearly, We are Preparing to Invade Endor

Smart call on the Space Force camouflage.

Never know when you’re gonna have to blend into a space jungle or hide behind a space bush.


— SarcasticRover (@SarcasticRover) January 18, 2020

I know this is hard to understand, but on the left there is a picture of camouflage and on the right there is a picture of space. Study these carefully until you can see the difference. pic.twitter.com/7HhAeHRyrm

— JRehling (@JRehling) January 18, 2020

Now we’re talking. Let’s get that sweet military contract. Do you want to underbid me this time? Or shall I underbid you? #spacefarce pic.twitter.com/7i3dQnlhsk

— HartbrakебляMcCarthy (@BumpItMcCarthy) January 18, 2020

ShopBop has been hired to design the new #SpaceForceCamo uniforms. A sneak peak: pic.twitter.com/oOnl8jmiCU

— Ken Smith (@KenSmith) January 18, 2020

This would explain why the newly constituted US Space Force will have a camouflage uniform.

The alternative, that they have discovered space jungles, is too absurd to consider.

Needless to say, Twitter is going insane over this:

The U.S. Space Force on Friday offered a first look at its utility uniforms with its service name tape, unleashing a torrent of mockery over the decision to use a camouflage pattern for a military branch associated with the dark endlessness of the universe.

“Space Force” soon began trending on Twitter — mostly not because of excitement about the uniform.

“Smart call on the Space Force camouflage,” one Twitter user wrote. “Never know when you’re gonna have to blend into a space jungle or hide behind a space bush.”

“I’m dressed better for Space Force than this and I’m wearing $10 leggings from Target,” said one woman, who shared a photo of leggings with images of cats floating in space.

Another person posted a picture of a camouflage pattern next to a completely black box. “Study these carefully until you can see the difference,” he wrote in response to the Space Force.

The reality, as it usually is, is actually a bit more prosaic.

Their new uniform is, except for the various badges, reuses the existing camouflage uniforms, because, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Why spend all that money on a new uniform?

Then again, why spend all that money on standing up the cockamamie idea of a Space Force in the first place?

Tweet of the Day

Hate to say it but reports claiming US military leaders were “stunned” when our totally normal president took their most extreme suggestion is military PR. Of course they knew it was a possibility, and they were ok with it; otherwise they wouldn’t suggest it to a lunatic.

— Alex Kotch (@alexkotch) January 5, 2020

This take is not completely accurate.

It increasingly seems that there are elements within the Trump administration, the foreign policy establishment, and the state security apparatus who have been doggedly trying to go to war with Iran for decades.

Still, whoever was involved in this decision needs to be named and shamed.

Good Point

Ian Welsh has a very interesting analysis of the US policy of assassinations targeting leaders of organizations hostile to American interests.

Specifically, he notes that it doesn’t work, think about how many Taliban #2s have been drones, but we continue.

His conclusion, one I wholeheartedly agree with, is that assassination of leaders does not work to stop properly functioning organizations, and that the reason that we continue to use this strategy is because US institutions are fundamentally dysfunctional, where the loss of a leader can put the whole organization at risk:

The assassination strategy the US pursues is interesting, not in what it says about the US’s foes, but what it says about the American leaders. Al-Qaeda’s “No. 2 Man” has been “killed” so often that it’s a running joke, and Taliban leadership is regularly killed by assassination. Bush did this, Obama really, really did this. Probably a lot of these stories are BS, but it’s also probably safe to assume that a lot of leadership has been killed.

The Taliban is still kicking the coalition’s ass.

Leadership isn’t as big a deal as people make it out to be–IF you have a vibrant organization in which people believe. New people step up, and they’re competent enough. Genius leadership is very rare, and a good organization doesn’t need it, though it’s welcome when it exists. As long as the organization knows what it’s supposed to do (kick Americans out of Afghanistan), and everyone’s motivated to do that, leadership doesn’t need to be especially great, but it will be generally competent, because the people in the organization will make it so.

American leaders are obsessed with leadership because they lead organizations in whose goals no one believes. Or rather, they lead organizations for whom everyone knows the leadership doesn’t believe in its ostensible goals. Schools are led by people who hate teachers and want to privatize schools to make profit. The US is led by men who don’t believe in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Police are led by men who think their jobs are to protect the few and beat down the many, not to protect and serve. Corporations make fancy mission statements and talk about valuing employees and customers, but they just want to make a buck and will fuck anyone, employee or customer, below the C-suite. They don’t have a “mission” (making money is not a mission, it’s a hunger if it’s all you want to do); they are parasites and they know it. [I would add that our military works toward getting retired generals comfortable sinecures at Lockheed Martin]

Making organizations work if they’re filled with people who don’t believe in the organization, or who believe that the “leadership” is only out for themselves and has no mission beyond helping themselves, not even enriching the employees or shareholders, is actually hard. People don’t get inspired by making the C-suite rich. Bureaucrats, knowing they are despised and distrusted by their political counterparts, and knowing that they aren’t allowed to do their ostensible jobs, as with the EPA generally not being allowed to protect the environment, the DOJ not being allowed to prosecute powerful monied crooks, and the FDA being the slave of drug companies and the whims of politically-connected appointees, are hard to move, hard to motivate, making it hard to get to anyone to do anything but the minimum.

So American leaders, and indeed the leaders of most developed nations, think they’re something special. in fact, getting people to do anything is difficult, and convincing people to do the wrong thing, when they joined to actually teach, protect the environment, make citizens healthier, or actually prosecute crooks, even more so. Being a leader in the West, even though it comes with virtually complete immunity for committing crimes against humanity, violating civil rights, or stealing billions from ordinary citizens, is, in many respects, a drag. A very, very well-paying drag, but a drag. Very few people have the necessary flexible morals and ability to motivate employees through the coercion required.

So American leaders, in specific, and Westerners, in general, think that organizations will fall apart if the very small number of people who can actually lead, stop leading. But that’s because they think that leading the Taliban, say, is like leading an American company or the American government. They think it requires a soulless prevaricator who takes advantage of and abuses virtually everyone and is still able to get people to, reluctantly, do their jobs.

Functioning organizations aren’t like that. They suck leadership upwards. Virtually everyone is being groomed for leadership and is ready for leadership. They believe in the cause, they know what to do, they’re involved. And they aren’t scared of dying, if they really believe. Oh sure, they’d rather not, but it won’t stop them from stepping up.

This not only explains the failure of our assassination policy, it explains the failure of our business, politics, and military.

What we are seeing (taken from the comments to Mr. Welsh’s post) is that our managers are Ayn Rands John Galt made flesh.

More Boeing Follies

Still not Working

Boeing proposed an advanced vision system for their new tanker.

It does not work, so they are looking for government money to add a laser ranger-finder to their refueling boom:

Boeing is researching adding a laser-range finder to the KC-46A Pegasus’ problem-plagued refuelling boom camera system.

The laser-range-finder retrofit onto the boom cameras, known as the remote vision system (RVS), would give operators additional information about the true distance between the end of the KC-46A’s boom and a receiving aircraft’s receptacle during in-flight refuelling, says Will Roper, assistant secretary of the US Air Force (USAF) for acquisition, technology and logistics at the Reagan National Defense Forum on 7 December.


The KC-46A in-flight refuelling tanker’s original RVS cameras had two problems: a distorted three-dimensional video feed which makes it difficult for operators to perceive distances; and a problem automatically adjusting to changing lighting conditions, which causes the screen to washout in certain scenarios.

“There is… a rubber sheet effect where some parts get stretched, some parts get compressed, so that the reality that the operator sees on the screen is not the same as the one outside the plane,” says Roper.


“The remote visual system — I am going to worry about it each day until we have a validated design,” he says. “One thing I am very happy about, we’ve got some of the best visual experts at the Air Force Research Lab and they are creating a model, a simulator of the RVS, [that] we can work through design iterations with Boeing, ahead of them putting engineering investment time on them.”

In older tankers, the boom operator sits at the rear of the plane, and direct it into position, but this time around they decided to use a sophisticated camera system, because ……… SCIENCE.


Pentagon’s predilection for incorporating unproven technology in front line systems seems to serve no purpose beyond increasing contractor profits.

So, Boeing screws up, and we all pay for it.

Boeing really cannot make anything anymore, can they?

Remember Skybolt?

I am referring, of course, to the GAM-87 Skybolt air-launched ballistic missile, which was developed by the United States in the early 1960s as a was to penetrate increasingly capable Soviet air defense systems.

It was canceled when the Polaris SLBM was determined to better fit the needs.

We now have evidence that the People’s Republic of China is developing a very similar system, though it will likely not be used as a strategic system.

It appears to be a derived from the mobile land base DF-21 of the It will be used to target aircraft carriers, and the air launched capabilities will force carrier groups even further from China, particularly since the platform China’s upgraded Badger the H-6N, is designed with air to air refueling capabilities:

A centrefold graphic recently flourished intimate details of a Chinese bomber carrying a stark new weapon. State-controlled media has since gone into cover-up mode. But military analysts think Beijing may have been caught with its pants down.

The government produced Modern Ships magazine has splashed high-resolution computer-generated images of China’s most recent addition to its strategic bomber line-up – the H-6N – over the front and feature pages.

But that’s not what drew the eye of the world’s defence thinkers.

The graphics showed the new bomber carrying a huge ballistic missile slung under its fuselage. And that missile looks a lot like one of a family of ballistic weapons deployed by China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) as aircraft carrier killers.

I do not think that this is an unintentional release of information.

After all, how can you deter a CVBG if they do not know about the threat.

The carrier aircraft is extensively modified as well:

Defence enthusiasts noted several strange things about the latest N variant of China’s Xian H-6 series of strategic bombers when it was unveiled to the public at the 70th National Day parade in October.

The state-controlled Xinhua news service simply said it was a “homemade strategic bomber capable of air refuelling and long-range strike”.

But when a flight of three of the bombers flew over Beijing, military experts saw it doesn’t have bomb-bay doors. Instead, it has what appears to be new heavyweight attachment points in a recess along the centre-line of its fuselage.

Also noted was its modified, extended nose-cone and an air-to-air refuelling nozzle.

Assuming that the system can be made to work reliably, and this would include a multitude of sensors and cuing systems, it would be a formidable areal denial system.