Right In Front Of You But You Can't See It

Date : 2020-08-25

The US Army is working to figure out how to fight the next war which is more than can be generally said for the Navy or Air Force.  Unfortunately, they’re blind (as is the rest of the military) to what’s in front of them.  Consider this statement from Army Futures Command Commander Gen. Mike Murray who was discussing the German Blitzkrieg:


“It was a combination of those three technologies [German military’s airplanes, radios and tanks] and how the Germans put it together to execute what we call Blitzkrieg" that was “fundamentally different” than any of the capabilities the Allied forces … (1)


Okay, General, you recognize that Germany achieved a breakthrough in warfare and you want to achieve something similar in terms of significance.  Good for you!  What are your thoughts, Gen. Murray, on how to achieve this?


In 2020, there are three key technologies that when paired together in novel ways can provide a strong advantage against possible conflict with near-peer adversaries, according to Murray: artificial intelligence, autonomy and robotics in the air and on the ground.

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Shallow Water ASW Story

Date : 2020-08-24
“Torpedo in the water!”
The abrupt announcement from Sonar Control caused the usual instant flood of adrenaline in the combat watchstanders aboard the USS Morton.  Each silently and guiltily prayed that someone else in the ASW squadron would be the target.  The men collectively held their breath for a moment as Sonar rattled off the distance, bearing, and course of the torpedo.
“It’s headed for Fluckey.”
After a split second’s hesitation for those who weren’t the target to silently thank the gods of ASW, the group’s ships reacted and began the envelopment. 
Tactics for this kind of shallow water ASW operation had been learned or, in many cases, relearned, the hard way and the price of that learning had been blood and ships.  Now, though, the three other ships of the group - the MortonO’Kane, and Gilmore (somewhat ironically, the Morton class ASW corvettes had been named for famous WWII submarine commanders) – began their well practiced envelopment maneuver.  What had previously been a four-ship, line abreast, hunting formation now peeled off in different directions to encircle the point where the torpedo had originated and which contained the enemy submarine.  The fourth ship, the Fluckey, which now had a torpedo pursuing it, had turned away to run at maximum speed.  That was how these envelopments worked.  The unlucky targeted ship turned and ran while the remaining three ships attempted to surround the submarine and fix it in the center of a triangle.
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An Ill-Fated Voyage

Date : 2020-08-24
The proud US Navy fleet left San Diego amid much publicity and ebullient speeches from naval spokesmen.  It seemed that every Admiral in the Navy claimed to have played a key role in developing and fielding this new fleet which was, by this voyage, ushering in a new era of naval power.  Press conferences sprang up like mushrooms.  You couldn’t spit without hitting another Admiral touting the wonders of this new naval concept.


The fleet was to be the first large scale demonstration of the wonders and magnificence of the manned/unmanned partnering that would define the Navy’s new fleet structure of the future.  The USS Ford, a Burke, a large displacement unmanned surface vessel (LDUSV), and five medium displacement unmanned surface vessels (MDUSV) were to sail from San Diego to the South China Sea where one of the MDUSVs would perform a publicly announced and greatly hyped unmanned Freedom of Navigation (FONOPS)  passage near one of the many illegal Chinese artificial island bases.  The voyage would not only usher in a new era of naval power but also send a clear message to China that the US Navy was still leading the way in naval technology.


In a nod to President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, whose voyage had introduced the world to American naval power, the press had taken to referring to the fleet as the Great White Unmanned Fleet and the more supportive of the media were given MH-60 helicopter rides to take photos of the fleet as it pulled out of port.


Lifts, 24/7 Water Supply, 24/7 Power Backup, 24/7 Power Backup, InterCom, Car Parking, Club House, Children’s Play Area, Gymnasium

Entertainment & Socializing
Amphitheatre, Pergola, Multipurpose Hall

Restaurant, Internal Street Lights

Sports & Fitness
Badminton, Lawn Tennis, Basketball and Squash courts, Jogging Track, Indoor Games, Swimming Pool, Spa, Skating Rink, Yoga / Meditation Area

Landscape Garden, Sewage Treatment Plant, Rainwater Harvesting, Solar Lighting

Security & Convenience
Gated Community, 24×7 Security, CCTV Camera Security, Earthquake Resistant

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The SEAL Mission

Date : 2020-08-24

Here’s another fictional story but this time, instead of focusing on larger scale battles, we’re going to look at a single individual and how he might operate in the near future.



The very small Short Take Off, Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft settled gently to the ground next to the house the target was reportedly occupying.  It was dark and the aircraft’s stealth (including acoustic suppression) had been sufficient to ensure an undetected landing.  Double checking before leaving the aircraft, the operator patted the bag containing the package he was to deliver.  This was a non-lethal delivery intended only to send a message to the target.  The mission was to be a quick in-and-out operation with the package to be left for the target to find in the morning.


Lowering himself to the ground, he paused a moment to listen and assure himself that he was still undetected.  Satisfied, he spotted the small outcropping on the roof that his pre-mission intel had identified and then unhooked a specialized grappling hook from his MOLLE vest.  The vest was a recent addition to his standard outfit and he wondered how he had gotten along without it before.  He gently tossed the hook up to the roof outcropping and felt it snag securely.  Hand over hand, he quickly scaled the side of the house and pulled himself onto the roof.  It would have been much easier to land the aircraft directly on the roof, like in TV shows, but the reality was that unless a building was specifically constructed to take the weight, even a very light aircraft like his was just too much for a roof to hold.
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The Myth of Modularity

Date : 2020-08-24
Ford pickups over Ferraris. 
Certain ideas get repeated so often that eventually discussion of their underlying validity (or lack thereof) gets bypassed and the discussion moves on to implementation.  Diversity is one example.  Despite absolutely no evidence that diversity offers any advantage, the national discussion bypassed the validity of diversity and moved straight into methods for achieving it.  Similarly, modularity has moved beyond discussion of its merits (or lack thereof) and straight into methods for achieving it.
CNO Greenert has been one of the biggest champions of modularity with numerous public statements espousing payloads over platforms but with little discussion of the actual merits.  Are modular payloads really the universal solution to all our tactical, technological, engineering, and budgetary challenges?  Navy leadership would assure that they are.  Are they, though?
Let’s consider a simple example.  We want to win a car race.  How do we do it given that we only have a pickup truck at our disposal?  Well, modularity would suggest we simply put a bigger engine (the module, in this case) in the truck.  Unfortunately, about half way through the first lap our truck would find its engine failing due to an inadequately sized exhaust system, its brakes overheating and failing because they aren’t properly sized for the power of the engine, the acceleration would be incapable of competing with the other true race cars because the gearing isn’t optimized for the engine, its tires would be shredding due to the high speeds, stress, and friction induced heat, and, worst, we’d crash because the steering and suspension couldn’t handle the high speed cornering.  In short, our modular pickup truck would get blown away by the specialized race cars whose every component was exquisitely optimized for racing.


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Stealth for Dummies

Date : 2020-08-24
Continuing the highly acclaimed (according to ComNavOps' brother-in-law) “Dummies” series, we turn our attention to stealth in warship design.  Just as there was (there isn’t now since they’ve all read the Armor for Dummies post and have been educated !) a group of people who, misguidedly, believed that armor was pointless because it couldn’t totally stop every weapon in existence, so too, there is a group of people (probably the same group) who believes that stealth is pointless since it can’t make a warship completely invisible.  Such a belief could not be more wrong and we’ll now see why.
Most people believe that the purpose of stealth is to conceal the location of a ship – if you can’t find it you can’t attack it.  That’s great except that the naysayers will point out, correctly, that it’s not possible to completely hide a ship with stealth measures.  You can reduce the radar (or visible, or infrared, or electromagnetic) signature to some degree but any ship can be detected.  Let’s face it, we can’t completely mask aircraft and ships are many times larger.  Further, some aspects of ship design just don’t lend themselves to enhanced stealth.  The hull just plain has to be a big vertical chunk of metal.  We can slope the sides somewhat but the hull is still a big radar return.  The same goes for the superstructure.  The various sensors and weapons offer large radar returns and their signatures can’t really be reduced all that much without adversely impacting their function.  Ships need cranes, boats, and deck gear all of which increases the ship’s signature.  So, there’s no getting around the fact that a ship can’t be made invisible.


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