Editor’s note: The Pentagon is sending additional U.S. Marines to Libya to reinforce existing U.S. security forces following the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, officials at the U.S. Department of State said on Wednesday. The Benghazi attack resulted in the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three others. Several other reports indicate protests nearby countries have heightened security concerns at American diplomatic missions. Neither the Pentagon nor the Department of State would confirm any additional troop movements in the region.
A Marine assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU) fast ropes onto the USS Essex on Feb, 4 2011. U.S. Navy Photo
The U.S. Marine Corps has responded to the attack in Libya with a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST). FAST is an expeditionary group of highly trained rapid-response close-quarter-battle experts capable of significantly enhancing security at U.S. embassies and other government installations worldwide. Each FAST company — about 500 Marines — maintains a high-degree of readiness and is equipped and trains with high-end weaponry and technology.
The Marines established FASTs in 1987 in anticipation of an increased requirement to rapidly project power overseas when necessary to provide security to U.S. citizens abroad. Since their inception, FASTs have been operationally engaged in Panama (1989) in support of Operation Just Cause; in Tanzania and Kenya (1998) in response to the bombing of the U.S. embassies; in the Port of Aden, Yemen (2000) in response to the USS Cole bombing; as well as reinforcing security at American embassies in Liberia, Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Naval History, October 2012
During World War II, the war-ship that made the largest contribution to victory in the Pacific was the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6)—hands down. By war’s end, though, newer and more capable members of the Essex class had surpassed “the Big E.” The ship was soon decommissioned, and in 1959 she was scrapped—despite efforts to pre-serve her as a museum and memorial. Her legacy was perpetuated, however, in that she bequeathed her famous name to the world’s first nuclear-powered air-craft carrier, which was commissioned in November 1961.
Then Cmdr. Kent Lee aboard the USS Enterprise
The namesake carrier, originally CVA(N)-65 and later CVN-65, is now on her 22nd and final overseas deployment, serving with the 5th and 6th fleets. When she returns to the United States this autumn, she will be inactivated and then defueled. The current Enterprise , like her World War II counterpart, will be scrapped. The process of removing her eight nuclear reactors will so disfigure the ship that she will not be recognizable as an aircraft carrier and thus not suitable as a museum. But what a record she has com-piled. Her longevity is truly remarkable.
Since Congress passed the “Two-Ocean Navy Bill” in 1940, the U.S. Navy has been sized to operate simultaneously in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. First during the Second World War and then later against Soviet naval forces, the “Atlantic Fleet” held the line against America’s enemies.
USS Harry S. Truman underway in the Atlantic on Sept. 5, U.S. Navy Photo
Today, with the high-end threats in the Atlantic Ocean subdued, the Navy has called for posturing “credible combat power” in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. One question I am often asked is if this will result in a diminished role for U.S. naval forces on the Atlantic coast as the Navy turns its attention to the Indo-Pacific region. The answer: Far from it. Our East Coast forces will continue to play a major role in regions beyond the geographic scope of their “Atlantic” posture, taking the lead in contributing to sea control and power projection missions in the Arabian Gulf/Indian Ocean while also performing ballistic missile defense, constabulary, intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance, and partnership-building missions in the Southern Command, Africa Command and the European Command areas of responsibility.
As the Syrian civil war escalates and expands, policy makers are increasingly examining proposals to patrol “safe,” “liberated,” or “buffer zones” with military aircraft. Creating safe zones, Turkish officials have argued, could relieve human suffering and hasten the fall of the Assad regime without a more costly direct intervention. Ubiquitous in Western interventions since Operation Provide Comfort in postwar Iraq, and infamous in the Balkan wars of the mid-1990s, safe zones once again appear a straightforward solution to an intractable conflict. Yet the strategic and logistical details present serious challenges. Despite the relatively easy execution of a safe zone around Benghazi in Libya, a comparable effort to protect besieged cities in Syria would be much more costly and difficult.
A previous post outlined the significant aerial and maritime demands for creating a no-fly zone, which would be a prerequisite to creating a safe zone over any part of Syria. Inadequate suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD) would be problematic enough for air superiority fighters enforcing a no-fly zone, but would be even more threatening for aircraft performing ground interdiction strikes.
Despite the prominence of attack helicopters and combat jets in discussions of the Syrian conflict, destroying Syrian air power is unlikely to be either decisive overall or sufficient to defend safe zones.
The success of the Libyan air intervention is a historical anomaly. In 1993, NATO’s Deny Flight no-fly zone over Bosnia failed to deter ground forces from attacking designated safe areas, eventually requiring ground bombardment and, more importantly, a massive Croatian ground offensive to defeat Serbian forces. In Iraq after the Gulf War, no-fly zones and years of punitive bombardments did not dissuade Saddam Hussein from repeatedly launching ground attacks into Shia and Kurdish areas. In Libya, it was rapidly obvious that destroying the Libyan ground threat to Benghazi, not simply its air force, was necessary to defend safe zones.
Proceedings, September 2012
In a series of 1990s simulations, the LCS concept was born; the Strait of Hormuz was the hypothetical scenario, and ‘the fight against sea and shore’ became the mantra.
The first of class littoral combat ships USS Freedom (LCS 1), rear, and USS Independence (LCS 2) maneuver together during an exercise off the coast of Southern California on May, 2 2012.
U.S. Navy Photo.
The recent findings of the Perez Report and related coverage in Defense News enumerated significant problems with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). It therefore seems worthwhile at this point to take a look at how the LCS was conceived and ask, “Is it up to the tasks it could soon face?”
In the mid-1990s, the Navy conducted a series of war games in which the LCS concept was born. The wargaming process was called the Joint Multi-Warfare Analytical Game (JMAG). The computer models included all areas of joint forces: command-and-control, intelligence, environment, political-military actions, land warfare, air warfare, sea warfare (including antiair, antisurface, antisubmarine, mine warfare and mine countermeasures), and special warfare. JMAG employed experienced subject-matter experts (SMEs) at the flag/general level in all the services for “Blue” and “Red” forces.
In June, Wisconsin engineer Michael Guslick made headline news when used a 3D printer to fashion a working firearm modeled on the AR-15. Although it was later revealed that he had only printed the weapon’s receiver assembly, those in the Sea Services would do well to pay attention as the technology of 3D printing has the potential to affect a broad swath of the way the Navy and Marines do business. From naval architecture to logistics to the delivery of emergency medical care, the possible effects of 3D printing are far-ranging and profound.
At its most basic, 3D printing—or additive manufacturing—is about starting with nothing and using base materials to build up to a finished product. Most models use nozzle jets to spray the base materials layer-by-layer, not unlike the way inkjet printers create color photos on a sheet of paper. That contrasts with the traditional technique of subtractive manufacturing—starting with large blocks of the base material and whittling them down through various processes to get to the end product. According to an article in The Economist, that traditional route typically cuts away and wastes up to 90 percent of the base material—a cost made all the more dear when using high-grade metals for military components, such as titanium for aircraft. In the same article, The Economist reported that researchers at European aircraft manufacturer EADS, demonstrating the use of titanium powder to print the same parts, used just 10 percent of the raw material.
Smart defense companies already have begun to incorporate additive manufacturing into their production lines, and not only for the cost savings. If a printer is large enough the manufacturer can print components as a whole rather than requiring further assembly later. That allows designers to create both intricate internal structures to develop extremely strong parts, and more rounded shapes for system components such as ducting and piping, which increase system fluid-flow efficiency and eliminate unnecessary system volume. It also removes the need for brackets and flanges for handling and for surfaces to bolt or weld the pieces together. For those very reasons the Navy is already using “a number of printed parts such as air ducts” in F/A-18s. It is also for those reasons that the long-term trend will likely be toward larger 3D printers that can take on greater portions of the overall job. The shipyard of the future may well be an enormous printer.
After an arsonist caused $450 million in damage to the USS Miami on March 2012, the U.S. Navy considered scrapping the submarine. The eventual decision to repair the Miami and return it to service in 2015 means that the Navy will not have to add to a rather short but fateful list – ships lost since WWII. Between December 1941 and September 1945, over 350 U.S. Navy warships and patrol craft were sunk or damaged beyond repair. In the nearly seven decades since, fewer than 30 ships have been lost directly due to enemy action or accidents. These are a few of the notable incidents:
On the same day that the city of Hiroshima was reduced to ash by the first atomic bomb, the USS Bullhead (SS-32) became the last U.S. Navy ship sunk by the enemy during WWII. The submarine is thought to have been hit by depth charges dropped by a Japanese plane on Aug. 6, 1945 off the coast of Bali. The wreck of the submarine has never been found.
Church service in the torpedo room of the USS Bullhead while on patrol in the Pacific, 1945
Commissioned in 1943, PC-815 would go on to earn the name “The Jinxed Sub-Chaser”. Lt (j.g.) L. Ron Hubbard (the future founder of Scientology) was the first man to take the helm, only to be relieved of command three months later following a series of embarrassing incidents (including the shelling of Mexican territory) that caused his superiors to lose faith in his ability. The next few years were uneventful for the PC-815 until Sept. 11, 1945 when it collided with the destroyer USS Laffey (DD-724), burst into flames and sank.
PC-815 running trials on the Columbia River in Oregon, 1943
In preparation of the nation’s first lunar landing mission, Apollo 11, crew members underwent training to practice activities they would be performing during the mission. In this photograph Neil Armstrong approaches the helicopter he flew to practice landing the Lunar Module (LM) on the Moon.
Before Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, he was a naval aviator and flew one of the U.S. Navy’s first carrier-based jet fighters the F9F Panther in the Korean War. He left the Navy, went to college and joined NASA as a test pilot before being selected as the second generation of American astronauts, ultimately bound for the moon.
In memory of Armstrong’s passing, we are presenting a Proceedings photo gallery from 2009 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Dave Baranek was a technical advisor for the film, “Top Gun.”
When Tony Scott was hired to helm the motion picture “Top Gun,” he had been directing television commercials and music videos during a time-out from Hollywood after his first movie failed to achieve expectations. Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer wanted offered Scott the job of director, thinking his talent for 30-second spectacles would give the film a look of tightly controlled chaos of the dog fighting and life onboard an aircraft carrier. Scott quickly fell in love with the concept and signed on.
To use fighter pilot lingo, Scott re-engaged into movie making with a bag full of knots and guns blazing. The result was not only the highest-grossing movie of 1986, but an enduring film that still finds an audience on television and it continues to be the most familiar image of Naval Aviation for a great many people.
Tony Scott died last week, an apparent suicide at age 68.
A Libya-style military intervention in Syria could take up to six times as many combat aircraft as last year’s Operation Odyssey Dawn, according to a recent analysis from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.The analysis comes as calls are increasing to intervene in the escalating civil war in Syria.
USS Barry (DDG 52) fires Tomahawk cruise missiles in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn in 2011. U.S. Navy Photo
When Odyssey Dawn began in March 2011, it appeared to hail a new model for military interventions. The relatively swift, painless and low-cost application of offshore and aerial power against a hostile regime to protect a rising hub of Libyan resistance in Benghazi began the military unraveling of the Gadhafi regime. Today, as Syria’s own civil war intensifies and officials such as Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Joe Lieberman call for military action, might another aerial and offshore campaign effectively establish a haven for the Syrian opposition and topple the Syrian government?
Brian Haggerty, doctoral candidate at MIT, recently released an extensive open-source analysis of what an aerial campaign to suppress Syrian air defenses and establish a safe zone would entail. While the operation is feasible, mitigating its significant risks would require a major campaign—one requiring at least 191 strike aircraft, at least six times the number of comparable aircraft in the opening phase of Odyssey Dawn, and perhaps several times more bombers and cruise missiles.
Discerning the capability of Syria’s integrated air defense system (IADS) is critical to that question. American officials, such as General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stress the sophistication of Syria’s IADS relative to other countries in the region and particularly in comparison with Libya. Syria has faced American air power before, while the embarrassments of Israel defeating of its air force in the 1982 Lebanon War and destroying a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007 left it acutely aware of the need to deter and defeat hostile air power.