Archive for the ‘manpower’ Category

War Hardly Possible for Australia: Navy On Two Month Holiday

November 18, 2008

Most of Australia’s navy is to be given two months off over Christmas as part of a new strategy to cope with crew shortages, the defence minister says.

Joel Fitzgibbon said the extended break was a way of encouraging sailors to stay in the service.

From the BBC

The number of sailors who stay aboard docked ships will be reduced, to make sailors’ duties more family-friendly.

Mr Fitzgibbon rejected claims by the opposition that the move would affect national security.

The opposition said the venture was an admission that the government had failed to recruit enough sailors.

‘Innovative ways’

Mr Fitzgibbon said: “We’re doing a lot of work trying to find new and innovative ways both to retain skilled people and recruit new people.”

Above: HMAS Darwin

Read the rest:

Former Pentagon official calls Iraq war “a major debacle”

April 18, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) – In a scathing analysis, a former senior Pentagon official has called the war in Iraq “a major debacle” that created an incubator for terrorism and emboldened Iran.

“Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle,” Joseph Collins wrote in “Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and its Aftermath.”

Two US soldier of the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment ...
Two US soldier of the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment look towards the Tigris River (unseen) during a sandstorm in the area of Arab Jabur, on the southern edge of Baghdad, on April 17, 2008. In a scathing analysis, a former senior Pentagon official has called the war in Iraq “a major debacle” that created an incubator for terrorism and emboldened Iran.(AFP/File/Mauricio Lima)

Published by the National Defense University, Collins’ paper is striking in that it comes from one whose position from 2001 to 2004 put him near the center of decision making that led to the war.

He was deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations when the United States invaded Iraq, only to find itself mired in the now five year old struggle to pacify the country.

Collins said the price of the war has been damage to US standing in the world, strains on the US military, and a negative impact on the war on terror, “which must now bow to the priority of Iraq when it comes to manpower, materiel, and the attention of decisionmakers.”

“Compounding all these problems, our efforts there were designed to enhance US national security, but they have become, at least temporarily, an incubator for terrorism and have emboldened Iran to expand its influence throughout the Middle East,” he wrote.

US soldiers patrol the village of Mullah Eid, 8 kms south of ...
US soldiers patrol the village of Mullah Eid, 8 kms south of Baquba, as the sun rises. (AFP/File/Patrick Baz)

As have other analysts, Collins pins the failure in Iraq on a lack of post war planning and the refusal of overconfident policy makers to commit enough troops to pacify Iraq after the invasion.

He blames Donald Rumsfeld, the domineering former defense secretary, for pushing for a small invasion force, and former CPA chief Paul Bremer for formalizing the US occupation, thereby alienating Iraq’s Sunnis, with little consultation with Washington.

Collins said the war was a “classic case of failure to adopt and adapt prudent courses of action that balance ends, ways and means.”

“After the major combat operations, US policy has been insolvent, with inadequate means for pursuing ambitious ends,” he said.

The Pentagon‘s effort since early 2007 to build up the overall size of the army and marines “is not likely to provide much relief in Iraq,” he said.

“Ironically, the surge is clearly proving that even another 30,000 troops on the ground could have a positive effect on population protection and counterterrorism.”

“We still await political progress — the ultimate goal, and one that is entirely in Iraqi hands,” he said.


America’s Naval Supremacy Slipping

March 18, 2008

During a recent trip to China with Adm. Timothy Keating, American reporters asked General Chen Bingde, chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, “Should the United States have anything to fear from China’s military buildup?”

The general responded: “That’s impossible. Isn’t it? There’s such a big gap between our military and the American military. If you say you are afraid, it means you don’t have enough courage.”
Courage or not, China’s rapid and massive military buildup (particularly in terms of its expanding submarine force and progressive aircraft-carrier R&D program) has analysts concerned. And the U.S. Navy — the first line of defense against any Chinese expansionism in the Pacific — continues to struggle with the combined effects of Clinton-era downsizing, a post –9/11 upsurge in America’s sealift and global defense requirements, and exponentially rising costs of recapitalization and modernization of the Navy’s surface and submarine fleet, aircraft, and related weapons systems. 
A warplane takes off from the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier ... 
F/A-18 takes off from the U.S. Navy
Aircraft Carrier USS John C. Stennis.

Currently, America maintains a 280-ship Navy (including 112 ships currently underway) responsible for a wide range of seagoing operations, as well as air and land missions, conventional and unconventional. 
The fleet is small — a dwarf fleet compared to the nearly 600-ship Navy under President Ronald Reagan — but its responsibilities aren’t.
Among them are defense of the U.S. homeland and American territories and interests abroad.
Keeping the sea lanes open and safe from terrorism, piracy, and weapons smuggling. Maintaining air superiority above the Navy’s areas of operation. Maintaining sea-basing and amphibious landing and landing-support capabilities (this includes the Marine Corps, which technically and traditionally falls under the Department of the Navy). Maintaining light, fast forces capable of operating in rivers and along the coastal shallows (littorals). Maintaining a strategic nuclear capability (through its ballistic missile submarine force). Maintaining superior information and intelligence collection and counterintelligence capabilities. And maintaining its ability to engage in direct action — like the recent cruise-missile strike against Al Qaeda targets in Somalia — and providing support for special operations worldwide. 

USS Greeneville off the coast of Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Navy’s enemies and potential enemies include everyone from global terrorists like Al Qaeda to previous Cold War adversaries China and Russia.
And not only is the Navy fleet small, it is rapidly aging, and gradually losing the depth and flexibility needed to accomplish all of its current missions and strategic requirements.
The Navy currently maintains 11 aircraft carriers. The USS Enterprise is slated to retire in 2012, but the under-construction USS Gerald R. Ford could be delivered by 2015.The fleet is also comprised of an array of cruisers, destroyers, frigates, attack and ballistic missile submarines, amphibious assault and sealift-capable ships, support vessels of all kinds, and a variety of special warfare craft.
USS Wasp LHD-1.jpg
USS Wasp
Sounds formidable, and in 2008 it is. But the Navy is not even close to where it needs to be if it hopes to match, deter, or outfight the emerging sea powers that will continue to grow over the next 10, 20, or 30 years.
“Even though we obviously have a strong eye toward what’s going on in Iraq and Afghanistan for our ground forces, we still must have a balanced force that can deal with a range of threats,” says Peter Brookes, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs. “China is going to be a major conventional threat in the coming years. So we need the capability of projecting naval power across the Pacific to maintain peace and stability in that region.”
According to Brookes, the Navy needs to focus on — among other things — regaining much of its anti-submarine warfare capability (undersea, surface, and airborne) that has been neglected since the end of the Cold War.
USS Kitty Hawk CV-63.jpg
USS Kitty Hawk.  This aircraft carrier calls Japan “homeport.”  She was ordered to the vicinity of Taiwan on or about 18 March 2008 to provide security for the Taiwanese elections.  Photo from the U.S. Navy.
Hoping to remedy its overall shortfall, the Navy has proposed a 313-ship fleet – an increase of 33 surface ships and submarines — able to be deployed according to Navy officials by 2019.
Among the Navy’s new additions would be the Littoral Combat Ship — a small, swift-moving surface vessel capable of operating in both blue water and the coastal shallows — a nuclear-powered guided-missile destroyer, a next-generation guided-missile cruiser, a new class of attack submarine, a new carrier with an electromagnetic aircraft launching system (replacing the steam-driven catapult system), and ultimately a new fleet of jets like the F-35 Lightning II (the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter).
USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000).jpg
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000)
All of the newly developed ships and airplanes would have multi-roles, and would be able to go head-to-head with a wide range of conventional and unconventional threats. Problem is, developing new ships and weapons systems take time, are often technically problematic in the developmental stages, and increasingly hyper-expensive. Additionally, new ships and systems are being designed, developed, and built at the same time the Navy is having to spend money on manpower and costly, aging ships, aircraft, and weapons systems just to stay afloat and fighting.

single modified tactical Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) launches from the U.S. Navy AEGIS cruiser USS Lake Erie
This photo provided by the U.S. Navy shows an SM-3 missile being launched from the USS Lake Erie warship on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2008. The Pentagon says the missile successfully intercepted a wayward U.S. spy satellite orbiting the earth at 17,000 miles per hour, about 133 nautical miles over the Pacific ocean. (AP Photo/US Navy)
Of the proposed  $515 billion U.S. Defense budget for Fiscal Year 2009, the Navy is asking for $149.3 billion — 29 percent of the budget — which includes the Marine Corps’ piece of the pie (As its current recap/mod needs are similar to the Army’s, we will address Corps issues in our forthcoming piece on ground forces.), and that requested figure will almost certainly, and necessarily, increase over subsequent years.
Nevertheless, experts contend we are kidding ourselves if we believe the Navy will crack the 300 mark under the current plan.

This picture released by the US Navy shows Fire Controlman 2nd ...
Our sailors make our Navy the most capable in the world. This picture released by the US Navy shows Fire Controlman 2nd Class John Whitby operating the radar system control during a ballistic missile defense drill on February 16 aboard the USS Lake Erie. The US warship is moving into position to try to shoot down a defunct US spy satellite as early as Wednesday before it tumbles into the Earth’s atmosphere, Pentagon officials said.
(AFP/US Navy-HO/Michael Hight)
“This is the dirty secret inside the Beltway,” says Mackenzie Eaglen, a senior policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation. “If you crunch the actual shipbuilding numbers — year-to-year for the next 10 to 20 years — a 313-ship Navy is a pipe dream.”
According to Eaglen, the budget requests for shipbuilding submitted to Congress between FY 03 and FY 07, averaged just over $9.5 billion per year. “What’s needed is at least $15 billion per year,” she says. “What’s worse is that I see Defense spending dropping.”
Cynthia Brown, president of the American Shipbuilding Association, believes money slated for new ship construction needs to be at least $22 billion per year.
“Of the proposed $149.3 billion, only $12 billion is slated for new ship construction in FY 09,” says Brown. “Since 2001, the Defense Department has increased its spending by 80.8 percent, excluding war supplementals, but shipbuilding has only increased 12.2 percent.”
Costs of recapitalizing and modernizing our Navy will continue to rise, as will the conventional and unconventional threats our sailors must be trained and equipped to fight. And considering the make-up of Congress — and who may be moving into the White House in 2009 — the nation’s primary power-projection force may find it near impossible to avoid becoming, as Eaglen says, “a mere shadow of its former self.”

NATO’s Superbowl Loss?

March 5, 2008

by James Zumwalt
Human Events
March 5, 2008

The 2007-2008 NFL season witnessed the march of one of the greatest teams in professional football history fall 35 seconds short of perfection. Despite its loss in Superbowl XLII, the New England Patriots demonstrated tremendous success in fielding a team each week with single unity of purpose — to win.

Each team member had equal responsibility to achieve this goal, knowing the rest of the team relied upon him to execute his assignment with maximum intensity and effort.

Imagine, however, if some team members, at the outset of the season, placed limitations on what they were willing to do on the field? What, for example, would have been the result had a defender informed the coach he would only defend against the pass for 20 yards out but not beyond that? Or, worse, if a fully capable player, fearing injury, opted to sit on the bench the entire season, unwilling to share the risks, leaving his fellow teammates to take hits for him.

No coach would ever field such a team, knowing that doing so would spell disaster.

Ironically, on a much more important field — a battlefield in the war on terror — this is exactly what is happening.

In 2003, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai asked NATO to help stabilize his country and provide security against the threat of the Taliban insurgency. Under a UN mandate, NATO took action, becoming the first ground mission in the six decade history of the alliance. French and German forces were sent to the north of Afghanistan; Italian and Spanish forces west; and US, British, Dutch and Canadian troops south — where most of the fighting takes place.

NATO’s mission in Afghanistan was an enormous evolution for the alliance. It represented the first time the Alliance was taking action against a threat outside the European theater.

This was an important step because the member nations, recognizing that the threats to their mutual security posed by terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were global, necessitating more than purely local action.

The future of NATO as a credible force, with single-minded unity of purpose, turned on its performance in Afghanistan.

And it has failed.

Despite the strategic importance of NATO’s success in Afghanistan, it quickly became apparent not all team members came to win. Promised manpower levels were not provided. Some team members placed operational restrictions on their forces. They were not allowed to operate at night.

Others were barred from operating in those areas where the threat was greatest and, thus, help needed the most. Some even put limitations on the distance forces could patrol outside their bases. It was clear not all team members had the same unity of purpose in mind, content to leave other team members to take the hits for them.

Instead of fielding the 18-1 Patriots, NATO fielded the 1-15 Miami Dolphins. President Bush and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have been pressing our NATO allies to do more in this very important fight.

Trying to at least get those nations imposing limitations on the use of their forces, Gates has pointed out, “Brothers in arms achieve victory only when all march in step toward the sound of the guns.” He repeatedly encouraged NATO team members to make their restrictions as benign as possible.

But their continued failure to do so is making the military commander’s mission in Afghanistan a nightmare as leaders need constantly consider what assets can be used at what times and in what locations. Missions are impeded as commanders fail to have unlimited access to all resources in-country. This is no way to fight a war you intend to win.

Leaving a disproportionate share of the risk and responsibility for fighting the Taliban and stabilizing Afghanistan to only a few members of the NATO team is a recipe for disaster. It undermines the team concept of all for one and one for all. It undermines support for the mission by a public who senses less than a full commitment to maximizing the application of military force. Why show up for the game if you’re not going to give your all towards achieving victory? Such a lack of risk balance has prompted Canada, which has suffered the
highest casualty rate of any country, to threaten a withdrawal of its forces next year if other member states fail to contribute more to combat operations.

President Bush has made clear, “Afghanistan is NATO’s most important military operation. By standing together…we will protect our people, defend our freedom and send a clear message to the extremists — the forces of freedom and decency will prevail.”

Afghanistan is NATO’s Superbowl. But while NATO leaders pledge to stay the course there, they are doing little to demonstrate a winning commitment. It was recently revealed that Prince Henry — third in line to the British throne — secretly spent more than two months as a combat soldier in Afghanistan before his presence was revealed by the media.

The bad news is the media placed greater value on reporting this story than on limiting risk to human life; the good news is Henry’s front line deployment demonstrated the Brits’ unity of purpose and commitment to the principle all team members are equal and should share equal risks. If only we could get all our NATO team members to accept this standard.

Short of that, NATO’s quest to win its Superbowl may well go the way of that of the New England Patriots.

James Zumwalt is a retired Marine who served in the Vietnam and Gulf wars. He has written opinion pieces on foreign policy, defense and security issues for dozens of newspapers. He is president of his own security consulting company.

China: Muscle Moves Mountains of Snow, Ice

February 6, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

China is now doing what China does best: hurling thousands and even tens of thousands of people at a problem to ensure resolution.

Some of the work is simple and backbreaking: moving tons of snow and ice from roads, airports and train stations.

Soldiers clear ice and snow in Shanghai. The impact on China's ...
Soldiers clear snow and ice at Shanghai’s airport.
(AFP/Mark Ralston)

Convoys of trucks miles long move from coal storage and mining centers to the power plants in desperate need of fuel.

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a convoy ...
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a convoy of trucks carrying coal heads to provinces hard-hit by snow and ice storms to increase coal supply and bring back power there from Erdos, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Monday, Feb. 4, 2008. The worst snowfall in decades beginning early January paralyzed cities in a part of the country.
(AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Xin)

A horde of electrical power repairmen has descended upon power lines felled by heavy ice.

Yet in some areas, the power has not yet been restored since it was lost 12 days ago.

And to add psychic pressure to those tasked with restoring services, today is the eve of day one of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration.

“It doesn’t feel like the New Year at all,” said Shi Ying of the central city of Chenzhou. “It should be happy but instead it’s scary.”

A snow covered village is seen near Chenzhou in China's southern ...
A snow covered village is seen near Chenzhou in China’s southern Hunan province Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008. Cold, exhausted residents stood in long lines for water and gasoline Tuesday as the central Chinese city of Chenzhou entered the 12th day of a blackout sparked by the worst winter storms in more than half a century.
(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

In many regions, there is no TV or radio, and residents have no information about when utilities might be restored.

And on Tuesday, the U.S. Ambassador to China donated 150,000 U.S. dollars to China for disasters relief in snow stricken areas.

The U.S. ambassador to China Clark T. Randt, on behalf of the U.S. government, presented the donation to the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC).

Japan will give 57 million yen worth of emergency aid, including blankets and power generators, for snow-plagued China in response to Beijing’s requests, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Chief Engineer Gu Junyuan of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission said electricity was restored to parts of Chenzhou on Monday evening, but the power failed again after just three hours.

“Since time is running out, our task is still an arduous one,” Gu told reporters in Beijing. He said workers would be hard pressed to restore power by Thursday, the Chinese New Year.

A motorcyclist passes a snow-covered region in Pingshi, in southern ...
A motorcyclist passes a snow-covered region in Pingshi, in southern China’s Guangdong province, more than 300 km (186 miles) north of Guangzhou, China, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008. Workers rushed to restore power Tuesday to regions of China hard-hit by snow and ice storms, in a struggle that state media said has already cost the lives of 11 electricians.
(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Anita Chang of the Associated Press reported that cold, exhausted residents stood in long lines for water and gasoline. One woman did laundry on the sidewalk using a plastic basin and water from a fire hydrant, the sleeves of her bulky coat rolled up to the elbows. Others washed vegetables in front of shuttered storefronts.

“It is extremely cold and inconvenient. I haven’t had a shower for about 10 days,” said a Chenzhou travel agent who gave only her surname, Hong.

Prices of food, candles and charcoal briquettes used for heating and cooking have shot up — quadrupling in some cases — due to shortages, residents said.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are completely gone in many areas which now rely upon canned food.

Temperatures in Chenzhou hovered around 34 degrees, and were expected to dip below freezing Thursday.

Hunan and neighboring Hubei province have registered some of the coldest temperatures on record in the past month. On Monday, the government meteorological bureau said the provinces had recorded the longest run of days with an average temperature of freezing or below in a century.

And the Meteorological Bureau admitted that China was completely unprepared for this inclement weather which has long been predicted.

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, soldiers ...
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, soldiers climb the Jinggang Mountains in east China’s Jiangxi Province on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008 as they are mobilized to fix power transmission lines damaged by heavy snow storms. The loss of power brought electric trains to a standstill, stranding more than 5 million holiday travelers.
(AP Photo/Xinhua, Dai Qingming)

Severe winter weather began pounding central and southern China last month, and the normally temperate regions were woefully unprepared for ice and snow.

Supplies of coal, which China uses to generate 70 percent of its electricity, dwindled amid transport bottlenecks.

Many trains run on electric power supplied from overhead. These overhead power lines were felled by ice.

The loss of power brought trains to a standstill, stranding more than 5 million holiday travelers. Official estimates have put losses to agriculture and the economy at $7.5 billion.

China’s leaders have made repeated trips to affected regions, reassuring residents and stranded travelers that the government was doing its best.

The government has mobilized over one million army troops and militia members. In one scene shown on state TV, dozens of troops slowly removed thick ice from a stretch of highway by hacking at it with pickaxes.

Accompanying the effort was a fulsome propaganda campaign emphasizing unity, overcoming hardship and pride in the motherland. All media in China is controlled by the communist government.

“The great Chinese people will never be vanquished by any disaster,” President and Communist Party leader Hu Jintao said at a Chinese New Year celebration in Beijing.

Despite the slow pace of repairs in Chenzhou, a transit hub with an urban population of more than 1 million and another 3 million in the surrounding countryside, the situation appeared to be improving elsewhere. A man was stampeded to death by a surging transit crowd last week.

Highways were being cleared of ice and train service was restored, allowing tens of millions of migrant workers to complete holiday journeys home.

Power had been restored to 27 of the 50 cities and counties affected, the electricity commission said. Nationwide, power was flowing again along 130 of 170 transmission cables affected.

The official Xinhua News Agency said 11 electricians had died while working to restore power. It wasn’t clear if they were included in the official death toll of 60 people killed in accidents and building collapses blamed on the storms.

Sun sets at the snow covered field Monday Feb.4, 2008 near Suzhou, ...
 ***************************Sun sets at the snow covered field Monday Feb.4, 2008 near Suzhou, China. China’s main north-south national freeway reopened Monday after weeks of snow and ice storms that have throttled transport and disrupted supplies of food and fuel during the country’s peak holiday season.
(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)


From The People’s Daily:

Electricity has come back to most of the Chinese regions hit by the worst winter storms in five decades, but people in eight counties are likely to spend their Lunar New Year’s Eve in darkness, the government said Tuesday.

China has so far managed to resume full or partial power service in 148 of the 170 counties and cities blacked out by the snowstorms, the national disaster relief headquarters under the State Council said in a statement.

But power service is not expected to be resumed by 6 p.m. Wednesday, in eight counties, including Guiyang, Jiahe in Hunan Province, Zixi, Lichuan, Yihuang and Le’an in Jiangxi province, Pingtang in Guizhou province and Ziyuan in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Spring Festival, the most important traditional Chinese festival, falls on Thursday this year. But Wednesday evening, the Lunar New Year’s Eve, is the most cherished hour for family reunion.

By 6:00 p.m. Monday, 6,785, or 49 percent of the power transmission lines paralyzed by the snowstorm have resumed operation after repair, according to the statement.

Stockpiles of power station coal reached 24.06 million tons on Sunday, up 2.99 million tons from the low level on Jan. 28, Tan Rongyao, supervisor of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission(SERC), said Tuesday.

The increasing power coal reserves have helped to cut the shortfall in power generating nationwide to 12.26 million kilowatts from 39.97 million kilowatts, according to the SERC.

The coal shortage, however, meant that only 36.23 million kilowatts of power generating capacity was available on Tuesday, 990,000 kilowatts less than a day ago.

The worst-hit provinces of Guizhou, Hunan and Jiangxi have restored 53 percent, 53 percent, and 60 percent respectively of their normal electrical loads by repairing power transmission wires paralyzed by blizzards and a deep freeze, Tan added.

“It shows the efforts to guarantee coal and power supply have yielded initial results,” Zhou Dabing, general manager of the leading power producer China Guodian Corporation, said.

The severe weather has stranded million of passengers eager to go back home for the Lunar New Year, the most important traditional festival in China, and caused blackouts in a large swathe of the country’s southern, central and eastern regions.

The snow havoc also has so far killed more than 80 people, toppled 300,000 homes, damaged 90 million hectares of crops, and resulted in direct economic losses of about 80 billion yuan (11 billion U.S. dollars) in 19 provinces and regions, according to the Red Cross Society of China.

China’s rail, highway and air transport systems are returning gradually to normal as the snowstorm eases, but millions of people are still being left in the cold and dark.

Chenzhou, a city hardest-hit by the snowstorm in the central province of Hunan, was not expected to get electricity supplies restored soon. Its four million residents have been left without electricity and tap water for 11 days.

The State Council ordered local government to step up precautions against potential geological disasters, environmental pollution, public health incidents, and transport accidents in thewake of the disastrous weather.

Meanwhile, Chinese vice-premier Hui Liangyu paid a visit to the central meteorological station Tuesday, where he urged all meteorological services to closely monitor the weather and improve their forecasts to guide disaster prevention and relief efforts.
Source: Xinhua