Underwater Drones

I remember reading a few years ago about Liquid Robotics ocean traveling wave glider. It used the bouyancy of waves to propel a robot across 9,000 nautical miles in just over a year.  It is a pretty amazing feat. And such technology offers the potential to monitor ocean temperatures, currents, etc

Apparently, the Navy has taken interest and is launching its own “glider” drones. The technology can potentially provide numerous benefits to security and underwater communication. Drones could be equipped to monitor our coastal waters for submarines. They could also be used to relay messages to our submerged subs.

I feel this is a positive expenditure of defense funds. I am very skeptical about the need for a new aircraft carrier. I see little benefit. 5 would do, two in the Pacific, two in the Atlantic, one in the gulf. Maybe 7 if you wanted if you wanted to have two that could patrol the world and rattle our sabers.

But if you ask me what we need. I’d say it’s a small pocket carrier that can support a couple of helicopters and a dozen or so drones. And engage in coastal monitoring and anti-submarine operations. And not for the U.S. Navy but for the U.S. Coast Guard.

USCGC Seminole Drone Carrier

The U.S. Navy needs a submersible carrier that can carry two jumpjets or four helicopters. That would facilitate tactical strikes on sensitive targets. Move in close to shore. Launch SEALS/Marine strike units. Return, land, submerge.  I’ve long thought this a far more useful tool in our present day world than large easily sinkable carriers and surface ships. At times I thought I was asking to much of technology, but I truly felt such a ship design is in fact feasible. And apparently, it was, as Japanese built such designs toward the end of WWII to strike the U.S. mainland. If Japan could do it with WWII technology, I am sure we could implement it far more effectively today.

 

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Published in: on December 23, 2013 at 5:14 pm  Comments (3)  
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Why Defense Spending is Bloated

POLITICIANS: You want more tanks!

MILITARY: Nah, we’re good…

POLITICIANS: You want more tanks!

MILITARY: We don’t need anymore. Thank you.

POLITICIANS: YOU WANT MORE TANKS!!!

MILITARY: No, WE DO NOT…

POLITICIANS: YOU WANT MORE TANKS!!!!
Oh, and please cut your budget by $500 billions.

http://news.yahoo.com/army-says-no-more-tanks-congress-insists-115422396.html

***

So why this insanity, where politicians force the military to buy equipment they do not need or want?

I believe this article highlights the answer. 560 different sub-contractors.  40 of which are in Pennsylvania.  Okay, so it seems like Pennsylvania is to blame. But wait 560/50 states = 56 each. So actually, Pennsylvania may not even have it’s full share of the blame.

So what gives?  It’s the “economy stupid”.  We have evolved the military machine into a jobs machine.  And what better way to keep a program from getting cancelled than to make sure every politician benefits.

If the entire production of the M1 Abram was done in Pennsylvania. It’s cancellation at the request of the military would only cause “job losses” in Pennsylvania.  But by dividing production across multiple states, even though it greatly raises inefficiencies, we can prevent a program from being killed.

Now it’s not just Pennsylvanians losing jobs, its dozens of other states. This is also a large part of what has made the F-35 probably the most abysmal acquisition failure in the history of the United States military.  A jet fighter to support the more capable F-22, as a more budget friendly fighter.  Except its total cost per plane after development and procurement costs will now exceed the F-22 by millions. Ooops.

First off, I believe we don’t need to have as big of a military force as we do.  And I feel localized development where you have a few locations capable of manufacturing equipment of a given type.  But localized within a state. While slow downs hurt. It allows those reductions to be done politically.

And why is this important? Because I believe the defense of this nation is jeopardized by such projects. We’re spending a trillion dollars on the F-35. When the #1 threat to America is a sailboat coming into a U.S. port from West Africa or Indonesia with a WMD.  And might I inquire where is all the new equipment for the U.S. Coast Guard. Who now has to address drug dealers smuggling in submarines.

Do we need more super-carriers to police the whole world? Or safer borders to protect our own cities. Answer that question and you see how screwed up military/defense spending in the U.S. is at the moment.

We’re focused on the wrong weapons development.  It’s like history repeating itself. We’re building battleships when aircraft carriers are the future. Now we’re building aircraft carriers, when fast nimble border guarding equipment is priority.

And yes, I fear another “Pearl Harbor/9-11” type incident because of this…one that would be far far worse.

 

 

We Are Losing the War on Terror

The 11th anniversary of 9-11 passed this month. It was further bittered by another attack on Americans. I did not blog about 9-11 because I am very torn with regards to it.

Essentially, 10 years later I am more sorrowful. Not as much as I was 11 years ago when 9-11 transpired just an hour or so from my home. But I will say that I am far more discouraged at the 11th anniversary than I was at the 1st anniversary.

This recent article is part of why. The article details the growing influence that Iran has in Iraq. And from a quick read you can gather fairly easily that Iraq is likely to become another Iranian puppet state like Syria and Libya.

All that money, and all those precious lives, expended on the war in Iraq – for what?

We failed to bring real stability, we failed to rebuild a thriving infrastructure like with did in Germany, Japan and Korea. And I believe in part that is due to the fact that we balked on spending $$$ to build and wound up spending even more on a prolonged conflict.

Now we read about our troops in Afghanistan going on needless patrols only to be blown to bits. Gaining no terroritory, accomplishing nothing…

I wager any Vietnam veterans reading these recent accounts of futile patrols in Afghanistan are crying. Because they know how painful it is to lose a friend, but how much more painful it is to lose that friend needlessly and without purpose.

But even if Aghanistan and Iraq are chalked in history as failures. That’s not the true proof that we lost this war. The real proof we lost the war on terror is the TSA.

Everyday thousands of Americans and their children are subjected to invasive searches and seizures. Checkpoints in which bodies are groped, fondled, and handled in ways that’d land a priest in jail. And this is tolerated…along with the trampling of numerous other civil liberties. All in the name of freedom safety. A safety most will affirm is merely theater.

Are we REALLY afraid that a passenger plane will be hijacked and used as a bomb again? I’m not. I know if anyone attempted to hijack an American passenger plane, those Americans on board would rise up and subdue their hijackers; dying if necessary, to keep us safe.

If it ever happens again, it will not be a passenger plane. Rather, it will be a cargo plane such as those used by UPS or FedEx. A plane with nothing but a 2-3 man crew to be overcomed. And even that I believe is unlikely.

Meanwhile, what scares the crap out of me is how easy it would be to sail a 25 ft boat from West Africa or Indonesia into Baltimore, NY, Miami, San Francisco or San Diego harbor and go BOOM!!!

The lack of a nuke or dirty bomb is pretty much the only thing preventing America’s enemies from accomplishing such a strategy. So while we waste billions on security theater in our airports. The real threat and danger lurks. If there is anywhere that needs money, it’s the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Border Patrol.

The Coast Guard with it’s aging ships is in desperate need of new tools to do their job and keep us safe. I’d argue they’re more important than the U.S. Navy at the moment. A 25 ft sailboat with a dirty bomb is a far greater threat than a surface engagement with another superpower like Russia or China.

Frankly, I would like to see Congress to authorized a new light drone carrier for the Coast Guard so they can run drones up and down the coast line monitoring for suspicious activity or radiological signals. Equip their vessels with anti-submarine warfare equipment. As recent articles have pointed to increased use of such equipment by drug cartels to smuggle contraband into our nation.

These simple actions are “no brainers”, that Congress apparently is unable to contemplate. And why I fear that one day, we may see a tragedy that makes 9-11 pale in comparison unless we wise up.

But so far, it sure looks like we’re losing the “War on Terror”. Yes, we got Saddam. Yes we got Osama bin Laden. But we’re losing Afghanistan, Iraq, and American Liberty.

***

I know that some will be offended by my accusation that we are losing the war on terror. Please, do not take that as a desire on my part to do so. But rather calling into question the failed strategies and implementations. And the fact that we are paying an exceedingly high price in liberty to gain a miniscule amount of safety.

SEMPER PARATUS

Great article on a Haitian who was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, now about to graduate from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.  Going from rescuee to rescuer.  His tale almost sounds like it could be the makings of a movie.

http://news.yahoo.com/coast-guard-grad-rescued-sea-boy-162002706.html

I was in fact a cadet in the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut when the Haitian & Cuban rescue operations were taking place.  Many do not realize the labor and work that the smaller older Navy of the United States puts in every day.  Coast Guardsmen have served in all the major wars and conflicts. They also are there conducting rescues, maintaining navigable waters, and preserving the environment.

Viewing this article I am reminded of my own time aboard the Cutter Eagle, the same uniforms, hooded sweat shirts, my own climb up the mast….the adventure and pride of serving in one of the few military services in the world that actually serves saving lives not just taking them.  

Sadly, not anywhere near as glorius on the TV screen, the Coast Guard often operates on a meager budget with aging ships.  Now their role is more important than ever, protecting our coastline from terrorist threats.  If there is a place in our defense budget where we should be dumping funds, it’s the U.S.  Coast Guard.

SEMPER PARATUS

 

Semper Paratus

SEMPER PARATUS

“Always Ready”

There will forever be a fond place in my heart for the United States Coast Guard.  Having only briefly been a member of said service; for a mere six month stint at the Academy, one would not imagine how deeply set in my soul it is…

It’s a good motto…, one of two that I have served. Both are strangely akin as the other is “Be Prepared”, the motto of the Boy Scouts of America.  One cannot be ready if one is not prepared.

In troubled times, adhering to and living  such mottos can be the difference of life or death. I do not know that I’d say America is in troubled times, perhaps troubling times would be a more apt term. We are at a period which could easily lead us into troubled times.

As such, I’ve been seeking how to be both prepared and ready.  And what am I preparing for?  For what need must I be ready?  I don’t know specifically.  The zombieapocalypse?  Naw… but perhaps other troubles? Economic hardship? Food shortages? Riots? Loss of liberty? Or perhaps a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster? All of these are possibilities…

What it really boils down to is this. I endeavor to be prepared and ready to:

a) protect my family and our well-being

b) provide aid to my neighbors and community

c) come to the call to serve if my nation requires it of me

Note, nation does not necessarily equate to the government entity, but rather to “We the People” and the ideals of the Constitution and Liberty. I swore an oath to protect this nation from powers both foreign and domestic.  I took that oath when I entered service in the United States Coast Guard.  I do not consider that oath relinquished upon my departing, I believe it continues to this day.

I hear some talk about stock piling food, arms, ammo, savings, etc.  I believe such to be prudent. Americans, myself included, have forgotten how to be thrifty, how to be savers who store up during the fat years for when the lean years come.  But I believe it important to think beyond our individual selves.

We were asked after 9-11 to stockpile food, water and supplies for a minimum of 3 days.  How many Americans in fact did this?  If a day of trouble were to come, such as hurricane Katrina brought to New Orleans.  Are you prepared to handle more than yourself?  If your neighbors homes were washed away and yours still stood. Could you offer them food, water, and protection?

If not, you’re a loner. A lone wolf is not as strong as the community of a pack of wolves.  Americans have grown into lone wolves, with most of our attentions focused on ourselves.  Communities have become merely a group of families living in a neighborhood where all promise to keep their grass golf course green.

I’ve been fondly thinking back on memories of my time in the Coast Guard. Having just re-connected with a few service mates. As I do so, it seemed fitting to pass on to you the motto, and share my thoughts regarding the need for us to become a “communities” again.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

– Pastor Martin Niemöller

If you do not know your neighbors, how will they speak out for you?  Or you for them?

***

NOTES:

Regarding the history of “Semper Paratus”, the first recorded reference was in the New Orleans Bee newspaper in the 1830’s in reference to the Revenue Cutter Service (which later became the U.S. Coast Guard).[1] In 1910 it appeared on the Coast Guard ensign,[2] and was put to music in the 20’s.

Further information available here.

Published in: on May 6, 2009 at 3:59 am  Comments (1)  
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