Training for the High End Fight: Visiting NAWDC

The past decade prioritized the land wars, and the Navy along with the Air Force have provided key elements of support and engagement in the support of the ground forces.

With the growing threat from competitors who would engage in high tempo and higher end operations, the Navy along with the Air Force is focusing more intently on the high-end fight.

For the US Navy, this means in part ensuring the safety, security and performance of the fleet against threats in the maritime domain to enable the fleet to support multi-domain operations.

During our visit to NAWDC, we had a chance to sit down with officers from two elements of NAWDC which would seem at first blush quite different from one another, but in the evolving high end fight and the return of key concerns for effectiveness in at sea operations, actually are.

We interviewed LT Chris “Cathy” Eckel and LT Alicia “New Girl” Willms from N-8 which is a department focused on rotary wing tactics and employment, LT Kirby “TK” Myers who was wearing  Silent Service “Dolphins” from N20, which is a department which focuses on TLAMs and their integration into air operations.

According to the US Navy, N-8 is described as follows:

Navy’s Rotary Wing Weapons School is composed of a staff of 25 pilots and aircrewmen who instruct the Seahawk Weapons and Tactics Instructor program; provide tactics instructors to fleet squadrons;  maintain and develop the Navy’s helicopter tactics doctrine via the SEAWOLF Manual; instruct the Navy’s Mountain Flying School; provide high-altitude, mountainous flight experience for sea-going squadrons; and provide academic, ground, flight, and opposing-forces instruction for visiting aircrew during Air Wing Fallon detachments.

According to the US Navy, N-20 is described as follows:

The Tomahawk Landing Attack Missile (TLAM) Department provides direct support to U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) in the development and standardization of tactics, techniques and procedures for the employment of the Tomahawk weapon system.  

In addition, TLAM provides training to the CVW, fleet, and joint commands on TLAM capabilities and strike integration

The role of the rotary wing for the CAG is pretty clear-cut – it is primarily focused on ship defense.

And to do so, the Navy operates two helos, the Romeo and the Sierra to combine between them the sensors and missile payloads necessary to provide for close in and medium range carrier defense.

The dyad is worked with Romeo as the sensor rich aircraft and Sierra the weapons heavy strike asset and the interactions between them are designed to provide seamless ship protection and with the sensors and coms onboard links to other assets, which can provide for ship defense as well.

“Both are H-60 helicopters. But the 60 Romeo is a sensor rich aircraft.

“The Romeo has ESM, RADAR, interrogators, all things that make it a very, very good coordination and reconnaissance type platform.

“In contrast, the Sierra carries guns, equipment, and various missiles to provide the strike punch for the dyad.”

ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 25, 2017) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, assigned to the “Nightdippers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5, transfers a harbor pilot on the flight deck aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) prior to pulling into Naval Station Norfolk. Truman returned to Naval Station Norfolk following the successful completion of a 4-day sea trials evolution. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Rebekah Watkins/Released)

“The advantage of the Romeo is that the crew can actually manage the maritime picture, and direct aircraft in different places and different sectors, and provide a significant amount of SA to the strike group, particularly the high value unit like the aircraft carrier.

“The Sierra can do that to a much, much lower extent.

“But the advantage of the Sierra is that it is a significantly lighter helicopter, so there can be a lot more weapons/equipment in the air to be used by one of these platforms.

“The way the helicopters work together now is relatively efficient.

“I would like to have two or three Romeos in the fight, somewhere, with all of their sensors turned on, and providing all that SA, but have several Sierras that have lot of weapons in the air, if I need them.”

“The Romeo is a heavier airframe.

“So if I can have one or two helicopters configured for anti-submarine warfare, and then one that is just a sensor platform, I can have multiple Sierras that carry a lot of weapons because they have the extra weight to do that, the extra power to do that.

“Then, I have a lot of assets in the air to direct and coordinate depending on the strike mission.”

As the Fire Scout is currently being worked with the S-60 into a composite detachment onboard the LCS, it is anticipated that Fire Scout or a UAS capability will become part of the rotor wing providing for ship defense at some point in the future.

And as off boarding of weapons strike grows in significance and capability sensors onboard the rotorcraft can be leveraged by other elements of the strike force for the ship defense or perhaps other missions.

With regard to TLAMS, their role has been significant in providing for a land attack capability.

And as a submariner, Lt. Myers is working integration with the CAG as part of the extended reach of the airwing.

Indeed, a key function of TLAMS for the aviation community has been the destruction of enemy capabilities threatening the ability of the air wing to operate in contested environments.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (April 7, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a Tomahawk land attack missile April 7, 2017. Ross is forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, and is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert S. Price/Released)

“Tomahawk is a very integral part of strike warfare.

“I need to essentially be the day zero weapon that allows for attack air to dominate the air.

“Before that, we need to get rid of certain things in the way.

“Attack air is not going to be able to fly through certain surface to air missile sites without serious investment.

“My job, I feel, is to protect people.

“I want to set the battle space so that all of the aviators out there can fly safely.”

The current TLAMS are GPS enabled and largely focused on fixed targets but the evolution of the systems onboard the TLAM will allow for greater in flight repositioning and significant improvements against electronic magnetic threats.

The TLAMs and follow on weapons will form a key part of the enhanced capability of the fleet afloat to fit and win conflict at sea.

Put in other terms, TLAMS have been about land operations; now with the shift to higher intensity operations the ability to defeat adversaries at sea is a key part of the way ahead, within which the weapons revolution needs to evolve to provide enhanced capabilities to the fleet to defeat an adversary afloat or using land and air assets to threaten the fleet.

Both officers emphasized the need to build up the inventory of weapons in the arsenal and viewed this as even more important than building new ones. 

Building new ones will take time, and although clearly important, the focus on fighting with the fleet you have now prioritizes an inventory build up for the current operating force.

The officers both highlighted as well that as you add new weapons, there is a time lag as well as the crews learn the capabilities and would like to see enhanced training capabilities and accelerated acquisition as well to ensure that new weapons can enter the force more rapidly.

But if presented with a choice between ramping up current weapons or waiting for new ones, the officers clearly weighed in on the former.

The officers discussed being able to support the fleet at sea if needed with the TTP capabilities at NAWDC.

“We have a fly away team.

“And a flyaway kit, so in the event in which they need subject matter experts to go to a CAOC and say, “Hey, what is the way that we can integrate TLAM into this fight?” We’re ready to go to provide that support.”

U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) practice vertical replenishment with a SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopter during the Landing Signalman Enlisted course aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii, May 10, 2017. The course provides the Sailors the skills they need to perform the tasks essential to flight deck operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt Ezekiel R. Kitandwe)

We concluded by discussing the dynamics of change in providing authorities at sea to deal with the new threat environment.

Notably, in the world of the past decade TLAMS are launched by a very high level of a command authority.

As weapons like TLAMS become important to providing dynamic protection to a fleet at sea, there clearly needs to be authority at sea to use weapons to ensure the security of the fleet.

If you are going to have distributed lethality, you certainly need organic defense to ensure the safety and performance of the engaged fleet.

Admiral Swift, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, and his team were working hard on the rethink on decision-making authorities.

According to Admiral “Hi Fi” Harris: “What authorities should reside where and when? They are driving towards mission command which is crucial to deal with evolving threats.”

In short, the refocus on high end warfare and the probability of confronting an adversary at sea is reflected in the thinking and training at NAWDC.

Editors Note: 

First, as always inventory levels and the ability to surge weapon production is becoming much more important in the National Command Authority shift focus from “slo-mo” war to preparing for high intensity combat. Mobilization becomes even more important in the recrafting of the US military for the decade ahead.

Second, the current visit to Australia also highlighted the key role which Admiral Swift played in the command post exercise part of Tailsman Sabre 2017 which involved shaping effective C2 and distribution of authorities in a contested battlespace as well.

Third, Raytheon and the Navy are closing on a deal to reshape the TLAMS for the maritime battle.

According to an article by USNI, published on August 16, 2017:

The Navy and Raytheon are close to signing a deal to integrate a new sensor into the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile to allow the missile to attack moving targets at sea, the head of the Navy’s Tomahawk program told USNI News on Tuesday.

Once the deal is complete, Raytheon will start work to craft and install a sensor to convert a yet-to-be-determined number of Block IV TLAMs into a Maritime Strike Tomahawk variant, said Capt. Mark Johnson, Naval Air Systems Command PMA-280 program manager.

“We’re signing the contract now, there will be a couple of year development effort to determine the configuration of the seeker to go into the missile and a couple of years to take it out and test it to accurately know what the performance is so the fleet will have confidence in the system,” Johnson said following a ceremony celebrating Raytheon’s delivery of the 4000th TLAM to the Navy.

“When maritime is ready to be cut into the Tomahawk, we’ll work with the resource sponsor to find out what the right number is.”

Navy, Raytheon Close to Finalizing Maritime Strike Tomahawk Missile Deal


Operating a Tanker and Lift Fleet in Contested Airspace

During my current trip to Australia, I had a chance to talk again with the Air Mobility Commander of the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Commodore Richard Lennon.

We last met earlier this year at Amberley Airbase.

During that visit, Air Commodore Richard Lennon, the head of the Air Mobility Group and Group Captain Adam Williams, the officer commanding 86th Wing as well as the CO of the 33rd Squadron (KC-30A), provided an update on the command and its activities.

In that interview and in earlier interviews with the two airpower leaders we discussed the evolving operational experience of the RAAF in operating the C-17/KC-30A dyad.

During this interview, we focused on the RAAF’s recent participation with the dyad in the latest Air Mobility Command exercise, Mobility Guardian 2017.

With the heightened concern of the necessity to prevail in contested battlespace, there is enhanced training for such operations. 

[maxgallery id=”99452″]

Mobility Guardian 2017 is part of this strategic shift in learning the skills necessary to operate in a contested battlespace and to prepare for high tempo and higher intensity operations.

Air Commodore Lennon described the focus of Mobility Guardian 2017 as follows:

“The exercise was the first of its type held in a very long time.

“The exercise focused on integrating the efforts of several partner air forces using their air mobility fleets in contested airspace to support force insertion.

“We were required to seize an airfield, establish a point of disembarkation, and through that process we were required to conduct aeromedical evacuations and airdrop missions to support ground forces.”

A key part of the exercise was working tactics and procedures with fighters to provide force protection for the air mobility fleet as it operated to support the force insertion effort.

US F-15s and A-10s accompanied the air mobility fleet in shaping the tactics and procedures for operating the fleet in a contested air environment.

The exercise has been two years in the making. Approximately 50 aircraft were involved with several thousand airmen participating in the exercise.

The Aussies brought their C-17 and KC-30A crews to the exercise as well as air dispatch, aeromedical evacuation, force protection and contingency response personnel.

A key challenge within the exercise was shaping interoperable procedures for operating in a contested air environment as each air force had evolved its own procedures over time.

Clearly with a higher tempo operation getting significant sortie generation rates and air dropped delivery is crucial to combat success.

“Our operations for over a decade in the Middle East have been largely in uncontested airspace where we’ve had control.

“In this exercise, we were really testing the readiness of our forces to rise to the next level and work in a challenging environment, and challenging environment it was.

“The exercise program was ambitious.

“It ran twenty-four hours a day for ten days.

“There was no let up, and everyone in the exercise was working hard.”

In an earlier piece, we noted that the French and British Air Forces had introduced the A400Ms into the exercise.  And Air Commodore Lennon had this to say about the inclusion of the new aircraft in the exercise:

“I was fortunate to have a flight on the French A400. It’s an impressive aircraft.

“The capacity of it’s between the C-130 and the C-17, but it operated quite well in the exercise.”

What were the major lessons learned from the exercise?

“There were a number of key tactical lessons learned.

“Notably, we need to alter procedures across the various Air Forces to ensure more rapid responses and smoother interoperability.

“The exercise highlighted the central importance of the kind of modernization we are doing with the C-17 and the KC-30A to provide for enhanced situational awareness and communications capabilities.

“We learned that we did not have all the information available which we needed and we were not able to process it rapidly enough; we are working with technologies and procedures to change that.”

“A key part of the exercise was working our con-ops with fighters to provide effective counter air.

“We matured our understanding of the procedures required to work effectively with counter air operations in support of the air mobility forces.

“A significant number of command and control and communications networks come into play during the activity once you bring in that counter air support, or escorts for the formation.

“Communications gets very complicated, very quickly and tests capacity.

“This is a major area of work for continued development.”

The Air Commodore emphasized that the results from this exercise and others were being inputted to the new RAAF Air Warfare Centre and the Air Mobility Group was working closely with them in evolving procedures and tactics for working in contested environments.

“The establishment of the Air Warfare Centre provides a great opportunity for us to improve our tactics techniques and procedures.”

The Air Warfare Centre exists within Air Command and is critical to establishing the RAAF as a modern and fully integrated combat force that can deliver air and space power effects in the information age. The AWC is supported by an integrated workforce which includes Air Force, Army, Navy, Public Service and Defence Industry personnel.

The vision of AWC is: “Excellence in Integrated Air Warfare for optimal Joint Effects”.

Its mission is to: “Deliver Integrated Air Warfighting solutions for superior combat effectiveness”.

 The goals of the AWC are to provide:

  • A focal point for bottom up innovation at the tactical and operational levels
  • Coordinated and integrated tactics and procedures development across all AF platforms using live, virtual and/or constructed (LVC) environments
  • Coordination of Science and Technology (S&T) and Research and Development (R&D) effort across AF
  • Testing of current and proposed Concepts of Operation (CONOPS) against force structure and higher level Defence plans at the operational and tactical level 
  • Collation of lessons learned through experimentation for inclusion in strategic planning, capability development, doctrine development, and exercise planning
  • Exchange of ideas across the ADF and the Coalition.

The AWC is comprised of the following:

  • HQ AWC – responsible for the coordination and implementation of common and integrated functions across the AWC IOT meet the AWC Mission
  • Test and Evalution Directorate – the ADF service provider to AF and Army for specialised flight T&E, aviation medicine support, aeronautical information products, stores clearance and aviation systems engineering support
  • Information Warfare Directorate – centralises the AF’s tactical information warfare elements and provides the wider RAAF with an integrated and tailorable operational support capability drawn from across the Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Information Operations domains. It enables the coherent development and management of the RAAF’s Information Warfare capabilities
  • AF Ranges Directorate – I the primary provider of Air Force Air Weapon Ranges and Live, Virtual and Constructive (LVC) simulation to enable the testing of war materiel and the training of AF capabilities in order to deliver more effective warfighters
  • Tactics and Training Directorate – focuses on the development of multi-discipline high end integrated tactics and training across the AF through a combination of training, education engagement and integrated exercises.

For earlier interviews with Air Commodore Lennon, see the following:

For earlier articles on Mobility Guardian 2017, see the following:

The slideshow highlights the RAAF at Mobility Guardian 2017 and the photos are credited to the Australian Department of Defense.

Accountability and Heroism: The US Navy Exemplifies Both

The US Navy is unyielding in holding those responsible for mistakes made at sea to very high standards especially when loss of life occurs.

It is a tradition of accountability that must be upheld and America is now reading about decisive action in removing from command those responsible for the collision at sea between USS Fitzgerald DDG- 62 and a 29,000 gross tonnage container ship AEX Crystal

But the Navy also singles out those who have done their duty in a crisis situation.

This tragic event at sea was professionally presented legally as a supplemental “Line of Duty Determination” signed by the Commander of Strike Group Five, and in a time of crisis many responded professionally and with heroism.


The report extensively covers the events of the collision at sea.

It is an important legal document to make sure those sailors injured and those lost are covered by the full weight of the thanks of our Nation.

No repayment can ever totally cover the loss of life, in the line of duty, but families can be aided in their time of grief. Those injured will be taken care of in the service and as appropriate by the Department of Veterans Affairs if they are no longer serving on active duty.

In the event of a collision at sea the US Navy has a code of accountability that is comprehensive and strives to always accurately capture all lessons learned.

The United States Naval Academy has and will continue to produce many Naval Officers afloat in war and peace, who chose to “Go Down to the Sea in Ships” in keeping us all safe in our homes.

So the word goes out to graduates on what happened.

Adm. Bill Moran, the deputy chief of naval operations, said that Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, head of the Navy’s 7th Fleet, plans to relieve Cmdr. Bryce Benson for cause. On Thursday, the Navy released a preliminary report on the June 17 collision between the Fitzgerald and the freighter ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan.

About a dozen sailors in all face some punishment, including all of the destroyer’s watch. Further sanctions are possible, Moran said.

“Clearly at some point, the bridge team lost situational awareness,” Moran said.

Aucoin acted swiftly because the investigation indicated serious mistakes were made by the crew, Moran said.  The Navy has lost confidence in the sailors being relieved.

Collisions should never happen, Moran said. “We got it wrong.”

Dr.Steve Hudock, Secretary of our USNA Class of 1969 foundation forward the Line of Duty document to our classmate and his poignant words capture the professionalism of service as a Naval Officer afloat:

“How many times were we steaming at night, darkened ship during our cruises?? (or practicing night EMCON recovery?)

God rest their souls.

Non Sibi—“

Our Class motto is “Not Self” and we are certainly not unique in that tradition among all classes.

A very important lesson is drilled into graduating USNA Midshipman as they are about to enter the Fleet—always think and act:

Ship . . . Shipmate . . . Self

The great quote about the attack on DDG-67 USS Cole:

“The ship saved the crew the crew saved the ship-An Arleigh Burke Class DDG is a formidable ship.”

The  Damage Control Response of the crew of USS Fitzgerald DDG- 62, is a noteworthy remember of “Ship-Shipmate-Self.”

At the time after the collision the CO was trapped in his cabin but the Officers and crew responded:

“At the time of collision the DCA (Damage Control Officer) was asleep in her rack. She woke up when she felt the ship lurch. The collision alarm then sounded and the DCA quickly dressed and proceeded to the CCS (Central Control Station.) From their she directed DC efforts, sounded GC (General Quarters) alarm using general shipboard announcent system, and set primary and secondary boundaries(a first and second line of defense to control the spread of the flooding.)”

While the ships officers and crew were successfully saving the ship, including rescuing the Captain who was “hanging from the side of the ship,” the individual selfless courage of two sailors was noted in the report:

“Two Sailors chose to remain at the bottom of the ladder on the port side of the compartment, and then on top of the hatch after they egressesed, in order to help others out of the spaces even as the water was rising and began flooding into the space around them. The choices made by these two Sailors likely saved the lives of a least two of their shipmates.”

In memoriam to those lost so America always stays safe.

The crash created a large gash on the side of the destroyer, which flooded the berths of 116 sailors. When the ship was returned to a U.S. base in Yokosuka, divers recovered the bodies of seven sailors.

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24 and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37.

The seven people who were killed were identified as: Gunner’s Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26,

Conspiracy of Silence about DPRK Intentions

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich believing that he settled the Czechoslovakian problem, “Peace for our time”.

Chamberlain earnestly believed that Hitler was like any other European statesman who is core concern is the survival of the Nazi German regime, and the rapid pace of rearmament by Britain, France and the USSR will deter any further adventures. No sane statesman want, or can risk another war so soon after the peace of Versailles.  Mein Kempf cannot be what Hitler really believes.

The rest, is history.

Diplomacy and negotiations relies on accurately gauging intent and long term goals of all parties.  That requires that analysts assume the perspective of the “other” side, see things from their point of view, understand their constraints, opportunities, perception of risks and rewards.

And exercise extreme caution when project our own calculus and biases onto others.

To do this requires detailed hands-on knowledge of DPRK.

Much of the institutional memory and knowledge about DPRK from the Armistice negotiations of 1953 have been lost. The Korean war armistice of 1953 was not followed by a Peace Treaty as negotiations were unsuccessful.    Few current allied officials have “first hand” experience with DPRK’s demands or negotiating stances from the 1950s.

That knowledge has been lost to allies.

DPRK have, on at least these occasions: 1994, 1996, 2003, 2006, 2009, and 2013; formally threatened to withdraw from the Armistice and resume hostilities.

This is in addition to overt acts such as the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan in 2010 and other incidents.

In each case, things settled down, leading to complacency about DPRK’s intent and long term goals.

Another more recent source of knowledge about DPRK intentions is from the negotiations leading to the 1994 “Agreed Framework”, Six Party Talks, and other initiatives (e.g. missile technology proliferation) since.

Each of these negotiations resulted in face-to-face meetings with DPRK negotiators and senior allied officials where DPRK presented their demands.

Dr Jane Harman who visited DPRK in 1997 with a Congressional delegation, recently recalled:

“I asked a senior [DPRK] minister what it would take to get his government to stop proliferating missile technology, something our intelligence community believed they were doing. “How much will you pay us?” was his immediate reply. That North Korea views proliferation in monetary terms is deeply disturbing.   An alternative to deploying its own nukes might be to sell some to ISIS’s willing buyers and willing users.”

Allied officials in general, and US officials in particular, together with their counterparts from PRC and Russia/USSR, have generally been discrete about the demands by DPRK made behind closed doors.

By dismissing the DPRK opening offer stance as “ridiculous” and then negotiating them down to what the possible and acceptable and then only publicizing the end product (e.g. “Agreed Framework”, or “Six Party Talks”), outside observers are deprived of insights into the thought process of DPRK’s officials.

Understanding the thought process of DPRK officials is critical in gauging their motives and long term goals. Allied officials that have firsthand experience with dealing with DPRK have occasionally broken the silence and revealed what DPRK really wanted or felt they are entitled to even as they dismissed them.

But generally, there is little discussion of DPRK motives and long term intentions as the Trump Administration openly warn of war.

DPRK’s propaganda on these issues are blithely dismissed.

Western experts on Korea in general, and North Korea in particular, have by and large been discrete in sharing their firsthand knowledge of DPRK behavior and intentions with the exception of scholars like B. R. Myers (“The Cleanest Race”) who take DPRK’s intentions and perspectives as expressed in their propaganda seriously.

The conspiracy of silence by the priesthood of Korean experts resulted in an intellectual vacuum, in which allied prejudices and preconceived notions about what Korea wants is filled by our own hallucinations.   American values and percepts are projected onto DPRK as a “given”:   North Koreans are presumed to be rational actors who place absolute priority on regime survival in general, and survival of Kim Jong Un in particular.

DPRK cannot possibly be willing to risk the destruction of North Korea by launching a nuclear attack on US and Allies that will result in American nuclear retaliation.

DPRK must be deterrable if the US only strengthened missile defenses and raised DPRK’s risk and costs.

Denuclearization of Korea is out of the question.

Therefore, let’s negotiate with DPRK and get it over with.

DPRK can become a normal nuclear power like every other one before them that only possess a nuclear arsenal for deterrence.

Let’s apply these projections and see how valid our prejudices are against history.

The Nazi regime of 1938, including their Axis partners, was militarily not equal to France, Britain, and USSR, let alone USA.  German rearmament was done in breath, not depth, and not slated to be complete before mid-1940s.   Nazi Germany was not ready for war.

Yet, this same regime was not deterred from going to war and defeating all but Britain – a “mop up” operation that did not have to be finished before going to war against USSR.   The roadmap laid out in Mein Kempf was followed despite expert advice from the General Staff and the risks.

The same analysis could have informed Japan’s decision to go to war against the US in view of the advice of Admiral Yamamoto, and Saddam Hussein’s decision to fight rather than withdraw from Kuwait in the face of overwhelming odds.

Historians and war gamers can debate how these historical conflicts ended, and alternate outcomes could have been produced had Hitler defended what he had before invading USSR.

Or if Nazis made common sense realist moves like recruiting Ukrainian allies to fight the USSR. Imperial Japan could have circumvented the US oil embargo or executed a limited campaign against the Dutch East Indies to secure their oil supply or coordinated an attack with Nazi Germany against USSR.

Saddam Hussein could have withdrawn from Kuwait and forced the US to make the tough decision of invading — and then quietly bid his time while developing a nuclear weapon.

The point is, it is not at all certain from the perspective of the historical losers that they must lose.  

The same goes for DPRK – it is not at all clear that DPRK will automatically lose a war against the US and allies.

DPRK’s professed goal of victory in the Korean war is not entirely unrealistic.

DPRK’s longstanding goal and objective for the Korean war (from 1950s) is, a) expel UN (US and allied troops) from the Korean peninsula;  b) reunification of the Korean race and homeland on DPRK terms;  c) victory.    These long terms goals have not changed in decades.

Regime survival and security, particularly if it means status quo of a divided Korea with US and ROK in alliance, is not the goal for DPRK.

Professor B. R. Myers argues:   “The only logical answer is that it’s pursuing something greater than mere security — and there’s only one logical conclusion as to what that is.”

The goal is, victory defined by DPRK.

What does DPRK want as the victor?

DPRK firmly believes that they are, or will be the victor of the Korean war.    Expulsion of US troops and ending the alliance with ROK is only the first, necessary step to a peace treaty with the US.

A peace treaty, however, will not be concluded without DPRK receiving sizable compensation from the US (and allied) forces.

As recently as 2010, DPRK have demanded US$ 75 trillion in compensation from the US for the Korean war and “six decades of hostility”.   That breaks down to US$26.1 trillion from US “atrocities” during the war, and losses from 60 years of sanctions for a loss of US$13.7 trillion to 2005, plus property damage of US$16.7 trillion. Damages from sanctions since 2006 is in addition.   (See:  N Korea seeks $75 trillion).

Note that the demand is for US$ 75 trillion, or roughly 4 years of US total GDP of $18.6 trillion (2016).

The demands from other allies that participated in the Korean war under the UN like UK, Thailand, Canada, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, etc. are in addition to the USD $75 trillion from USA to 2006.

But do the demands end there?

DPRK is demanding from Japan compensation for colonialism and other wrongs.

Reviewing the ongoing debate over DPRK’s motives and long term intentions if they are allowed to develop a thermonuclear arsenal with the capability of reaching any place in the world, one is hard pressed to find any commentary or analysis that pay any attention to the financial / economic demands being made by DPRK, or, the consequences of DPRK being able to back up their financial demands with their thermonuclear arsenal.

The conspiracy of silence from “Korea experts” is deafening.

Let’s talk to DPRK, find out if their intent, motivations and long term plans have changed and make the findings public before we allow our governments to negotiate a Sudetenland compromise for “Peace for our time”.


North Korea and SLBMs: A China Card?

North Korea devoted considerable resources to their Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile Program, fielding at least 2 variants:  Pukkuksong-1 & 2.

Both of these are solid fueled missiles that appear to be not clones of existing PRC or Russian missiles, but may be Iranian Sejjil variants.

Solid fueled missiles on mobile launchers on land is a logical step for DPRK to make a quantum jump in the survivability and readiness of their missile arsenal.   Launch times shrink from hours to minutes — as fast as the Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) can be rolled out of a bunker and erected.

A natural progression if DPRK is allowed to be a member of the nuclear club.

The jump to launching from a surface ship or submarine introduce another quantum jump for a more survivable platform. Submarine based platforms, in theory, can be dispersed underwater within a geography limited by their underwater endurance and greatly complicate any effort to destroy them — unless they are continuously tracked —- a resource intensive option.

Undersea endurance in turn, favors nuclear powered SSBNs that do not risk snorting.

North Korea is far away from building indigenous nuclear powered submarines compared to their ability to field a submarine launched ballistic missile.

Thus, the evidence suggest a modified Romeo or a Golf II like variant for the DPRK Sinpo-class SSB fitted with perhaps 1 S/MRBM.

Ballistic missile submarines create issues of command and control.

DPRK is not known to have developed systems like ELF for underwater communication.   Wireless communication may be jammed or destroyed, leaving “Letters of Last Resort” as the only means for the Captain to make a launch decision.

At short ranges in a boomer bastion, this may not be a problem. (e.g. resort to signal flags).

What about operating areas?

The missile submarine complex at Sinpo South Shipyard is on the east coast of DPRK, bordering the Sea of Japan.  The island of Mayang-Do offers the possibility of creating a mini-boomer bastion that make it a challenge to find and target the submarine by conventional ASW with our without air dominance over Sinpo.

Thus, the low endurance of a conventional submarine may not be an issue.

Later, let’s consider potential targets for a missile sub in the boomer bastion and why not base it on the west coast of DPRK.

If the DPRK nuclear missile submarine (with one missile) is to venture out, first to the Sea of Japan, and beyond, it will be targeted by one or many of (if not the) best ASW forces in the world once it is beyond the boomer bastion or coastal waters.

Making it out to ROK waters can upset THAAD’s limited angle of view, but that is still only one missile that can be countered by Aegis or other systems. Transiting past the choke points beyond the Sea of Japan with a 1970s era diesel submarine will require incredible luck, skill, and shocking incompetence on the part of allied navies guarding the exits.

For all that trouble, DPRK gets one nuclear warhead’s worth of damage.

What is the point of this when DPRK land based solid fueled mobile missiles offer just as good an option if the target is Japan, our bases in Alaska, Guam, Wake, etc.?

And they can volley launch these missiles to virtually guarantee a successful nuclear strike within 5 years.

North Korea’s submarine launched missile strategy makes no sense if the target is CONUS, Canada, or Hawaii. That is better handled with their existing liquid fueled ICBM programs that is very far along, close to maturity and ready for mass deployment.

For a surprise nuclear first strike strategy that is indicated by their ICBM basing strategy that do not need hardened silos, they got all they need.

A telltale about the DPRK submarine missile program is the apparent lack of support given by the PRC to the program. Whereas the Russians sold off Golf II submarines to DPRK for “scrap”; the PRC have sold Romeo SSKs, there has been no known major transfers of ballistic missile submarine / undersea launching technology by the PRC.

Though some argue the Pukkuksong-1 could have originated as a JL-1. PRC did not transfer nuclear SSBN or SSB knowhow.

The staggering cost of operating a single SSB (even an old Golf II), would be hard to justify for either offensive or deterrent value, let alone a fleet to ensure one deterrent is always “at sea”.

Yet, we are confronted with DPRK virtually simultaneously developing both hot and cold launch systems, and apparent concern about the survivability of DPRK’s numerous short or medium range land based missiles.

Enough to warrant funding a handful (one) undersea missile submarine firing one missile?

The contrast between the lack of concern for the survivability of the ICBM force vs. the “minimal deterrent” submarine based force is stark.  With only one known missile submarine based platform, it cannot provide continuous deterrent — but have to be surged out to sea “on demand” for brief periods (ranging from time below surface on battery power to fuel / food endurance).

It is, thus, consistent with a “minimal deterrent” and not offensive strategy.

The question is, deter who?

There are alternative explanations for the DPRK missile submarine strategy.

This could be the product of bureaucratic politics within the KPA: If the Army have lots of missiles, the Navy must have their own!

It could be “because they can”, or different logic, rationale, that Professor Graham T. Allison illustrated in “Essence of Decision”.

Without foreclosing on alternative explanations, one must consider what might be the North Korean rationale that can explain this prodigious deployment of resources for so little incremental warfighting capability.

North Korea’s investment in submarine based nuclear missiles is not following the model of all previous nuclear weapons powers.

The Soviets rushed into liquid fueled missiles on Hotel class diesel submarines in 1960.

The PRC until recently did not feel the need for an “at sea” deterrent.

It is not clear today that the fleet of PRC Type 094 Jin class missile submarines are fully armed with nuclear ballistic missiles and / or regularly on deterrent patrol.

Why the big rush by DPRK?

Korean empires have historically had to survive between first, the great powers of China and Japan, and then in the modern era, plus Russia and America.   While the rugged terrain of Korea, particularly at the border of China and Russia provided some protection, historically, Korean rules have always had to play a delicate game of balancing off their most dangerous / threatening enemy against the others.

Thus, a persistent and repeating theme is the rapidly shifting sands of Korean alliances.   When Korea is divided into multiple Kingdoms, each sought to ally with outside powers to either balance or to “unify” Korea.   This pattern is very much evident today.

Koreans, culturally, traditionally, and politically, are realist to the core with mercurial loyalties.

The art of shifting alliances and allegiances, or doing whatever it takes to preserve Korea, or to unify Koreas, is deeply hard coded in the Korean DNA.

Thus, from the DPRK perspective, they must have many doubts about their historical patrons (e.g. the Soviet Union) who largely abandoned them after the fall of communism.

Likewise, there is plenty of room for doubt as to whether PRC support of DPRK will “flip”.

Can DPRK trust the Beijing-China regime to not cave to US pressure?

This brings us back to the problem of just who is the DPRK nuclear missile submarine intended to deter?

Unlike the land based ICBMs and S/MRBMs that can be both used offensively or defensively, the submarine based missile is pretty clearly a 2nd strike weapon or intended to be survivable: A minimal deterrent.

But against whom?

NORK missile submarines are unlikely to be survivable if they ventured too far.   That suggest that their purpose is likely very limited. Command and control is also a major problem — when ready, the SLBM will likely have a very limited (e.g. one) targeting order to execute for their single missile. Orders can be passed by something as simple as a signal flag ashore visible on a periscope.

This suggests a target that will be extremely vulnerable, and likely not defended with any form of sophisticated defense system like AEGIS, THAAD, or even Patriots. Targets that fit this description and have a high certainty of “success” are:   Beijing, Shanghai, or other major PRC cities.

No allied target fits the bill.

DPRK’s missile submarine program’s goal looks like an insurance policy to ensure that Beijing-China do not abandon them.   Or to invade DPRK and knock out their land based nuclear forces.

It doesn’t make sense as a program against US and allies.

But it makes sense to ensure Beijing does not switch sides on DPRK.

The U.S. Navy Trains for High Tempo, High Intensity Ops: Visiting Fallon Naval Air Station

High-intensity warfare is characterized by rapidly evolving, high-lethality, multi-domain operations. The skills, tactics, procedures, and the level of force integration required for successfully conducting such operations will challenge the generation of officers who have come to maturity fighting in counter-insurgencies.

It is a culture shift; it is a platform shift; it is an acquisition shift; it is an exercise shift.

How will the US and the allies make these shifts, and to take the force we have and make it more high intensity combat ready and ensure that modernization going ahead enhances the capability to engage in and win high intensity conflict?

This is becoming a key focus of the US Navy at their premier training facility, the Naval Aviation Warfigthing Development Center or NAWDC at Fallon Naval Air Station.

We first visited Fallon Naval Air Station in 2014 and produced a Special Report on the evolution of Naval Aviation anchored in part by that visit.

As the then head of the training center, Admiral Scott Conn, who will soon become head of N-98 or The Air Warfare Division of OPNAV, commented at the time:

Naval aviation is very interdependent on how we train aircrew and how we resource to those training requirements.

As competing readiness requirements pressurize the flight hour program, a bow wave is created by pushing training qualifications later on in one’s aviation career.

Naval aviation is looking at this issue hard, to ensure our future forward deployed leaders will have the requisite knowledge, skills and experience to in fact, lead.

We have returned to Fallon this summer and found the training command in the process of promoting significant change associated with preparation for the evolution of high tempo or high intensity combat operations.

The name of the command has changed in part to reflect the significant shift in direction for training for naval air warfare or really becoming combat development training, rather than training for platform proficiency as a core focus.

The target goal is to shape an integrated distributed force able to dominate at all levels throughout the spectrum of warfare.

Several changes have been already been put in place to facilitate this effort, and more are on the way.

One challenge though is the training word.

This term tends to conjure up learning skill sets on a platform and getting proficient on that platform and the conflict envelope within which that platform will confront peer competitors. The image of TOPGUN comes to mind in which it is aircraft versus aircraft in face offs to drive enhanced proficiency.

TOPGUN is part of NAWDC; not the definer of it.

Although platform proficiency is crucial, it is simply a building block in weaving capabilities for the integrated high-end fight and to do so requires significant change, some of which we saw in the period from our last visit to the latest one.

We had a chance during our visit to meet several times with and to interview the current head of the training command, Admiral “Hyfi” Harris.

This Fall the Admiral will join the Nimitz in operations in the Middle East where strike ops are being conducted currently against ISIS.

Since we last visited the training command, the name has changed and that change reflects a broadening of the focus to both infusing the Navy with an evolving aviation approach and integrating the air wing with the broader challenges occurring within the fleet.

It is about preparing for the integrated high-end fight and the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC) captures that demand signal.

And with the arrival of software upgradeable aircraft, like Hawkeye and F-35, it will be increasingly important to put the evolving TTPs or Tactics Techniques and Procedures as part of the software code rewriting effort as well.

Prior to June 2015, NAWDC was known as Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) which was the consolidation of three commands into a single command structure on July 11, 1996. NSAWC was comprised of the Naval Strike Warfare Center (STRIKE “U”) based at NAS Fallon since 1984, and two schools from NAS Miramar, the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) and the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School (TOPDOME).

NAWDC is the Navy’s center of excellence for air combat training and tactics development.  NAWDC trains naval aviation in advanced Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) across assigned combat mission areas at the individual, unit, integrated and joint levels, ensuring alignment of the training continuum; to set and enforce combat proficiency standards; to develop, validate, standardize, publish and revise TTPs. 

In addition, NAWDC provides subject matter expertise support to strike group commanders, numbered fleet commanders, Navy component commanders and combatant commanders; to lead training and warfighting effectiveness assessments and identify and mitigate gaps across all platforms and staffs for assigned mission areas as the supported WDC; collaborate with other WDCs to ensure cross-platform integration and alignment.

The Admiral emphasized the need to resource fully the training cycle by which he meant having the current operationally ready assets in the hands of the warfighters so that they could from the outset train effectively for deployment on the carrier.

He highlighted that there were two barriers, impeding the ability to get to an optimum training rhythm.

The first might be called readiness shortfalls.

“The Navy’s tiered readiness system, necessary in the current fiscal environment, has peaks and valleys in the training cycle.

“So you’ll come out of a maintenance phase and you’ll be at the low end of your training.

“We need to make sure that as soon as you go into the basic phase, you have every aircraft that you are authorized to have, and every aircraft has every system that it’s authorized.

“We want to be able to start the training right away, so that you can build reps and sets over time, versus the peak of coming here, getting reps and sets, and then slowing back down again.

“What we’ve found lately is that as squadrons are coming through, they’re about half a step, half a cycle behind.

“They’re not going into Basic Phase with their full kit.

“Therefore, when they go to their Advanced Readiness Program, they’re still getting up to speed.

“When they come to Fallon they’re still learning some of the things they should have learned in the Advanced Readiness Phase.

“And then when they go on to their Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) and marry up with the ship and the strike group, they’re still learning things that they should have been hard-wiring in Fallon.

“And we’re having to pass those gaps, if you will, onto the next piece of the training track.

“Readiness should be thought of as investing, the more you can do earlier, and allow that training to compound, the better of you are in the long run, particularly for the high end fight.”

The second challenge is having the most advanced equipment being used in the fleet available to NAWDC.

“If I had my way, we would have E-2D here at Fallon.

“We would have the most current Super Hornet.

“We would have F-35 on the line.

“We already have Growler, and our Growlers are operating with the same systems as the latest coming off of the line.

“And they would have all the systems necessary for our schoolhouse instructors to be out there on the cutting edge of developing tactics.

“And currently we’re doing it piecemeal.

“We are playing pickup sticks when we need to shape a more capable operational force with our TTP development here at NAWDC.”

And the enhanced integrated training and development is at the heart of preparing the fleet for higher tempo operations.

We discussed this development in two ways.

First, NAWDC is working very closely with the surface warfare training community and the Air Force in shaping a more integrated combat training perspective which needs to become more significant in shaping development as well.

With regard to the surface warfare community, the Admiral emphasized the following:

“We have surface warfare officers here at NAWDC.

“We work closely with the Surface Warfare training community as well in shaping a more integrative and integrated approach as well.”

U.S. Air Force members from the 169th Fighter Wing and South Carolina Air National Guard are deployed to Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada Fallon to support Naval Carrier Air Wing One with pre-deployment fighter jet training, integrating the F-16’s suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) capabilities with U.S. Navy fighter pilots. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson) September 2016

With regard to the USAF and integrative training, the Admiral focused on the Growler training with the USAF.

“Our HAVOC team works with the USAF Weapons School in the Weapon School Integration phase which runs about a month.

“If you want to think of it in the college realm, this is a 400-level class.

“And we’re seeing the Growler used differently by the Air Force than we would probably use it in the Navy.

“That cross-pollination has been extremely useful for both the services.”

Second, the F-35 is a very different type of combat aircraft and it would be good to see pairings of that aircraft with Advanced Hawkeye and the Growler to shape the evolution of information dominance operations, as a very clear outcome of working these advanced platforms together to deliver evolving combat capabilities.

“I would like to have advanced Hawkeyes, F-35s and Growlers all here so that we can work integrated TTPs to shape a more effective way ahead for the operational capability of the fleet.”

“I would like to get those type model series weapons and tactics instructors cross-pollinated even more, so that the classes and the courses are integrated more fully than they are now.

“We’ll have to find different ways to do that because of the Navy’s carrier cycle; we are not resourced to be able to do an air wing and do full Weapons and Tactics Instructor classes at the same time.

“We have to keep those separated. I’d like to move closer to the USAF model, but we don’t have that flexibility because of the carrier operational cycle.”

One way NAWDC will expand its work on integrated warfare is by being able to use new facilities being built right now that will integrate the platform simulators and allow for integrated training and operational thinking at NAWDC.

“We are building an integrated training facility.

“We’re going to have all of our simulators under one building, under one common security environment, so that we can do planning, briefing, execution, and debriefing all under the same security umbrella with the full team.

“The demand signal is that we all need to work together; and the new buildings are being built to meet that demand signal.”

These new facilities will allow for the growth of live virtual constructive training (LVC), although this LVC approach is in its infancy but will become more significant to combat development and training efforts over time.

Integrative and interactive training is a key element of shaping a more capable 21st century combat force.

One element leading to greater success in this effort is a more integrated air and surface warfare community.

As the Admiral put it: “The SWO boss, Admiral Rowden, has been pretty adamant about the benefits of their Warfighting Development Center, the Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center.

“SMWDC has been, in my mind, going full bore at developing three different kinds of warfare instructors, WTIs.

“They have an ASW/ASUW, so anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare officer.

“They have an IAMD officer and they have an expeditionary warfare officer.

“Admiral Rowden talks about distributed lethality and they are getting there rapidly.

Warfare tactics instructors (WTI), from left to right, Lt. Cmdr. Mike Dwan, Lt Doug Wilkins, Lt. Lisa Schmidt, Lt Joseph Lewis, Lt Scott Margolis, Lt. Andrew Blanco, Lt Weston Floyd, LT Justin Bolly, Lt. Serg Samardzic, Lt. Rebecca O’Brien, and Lt. Cmdr. Derek Rader pause for a group photo at Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon, in Nevada. The 11 integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) WTIs participated in a pilot integrated air defense course (IADC) — a joint effort led by the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) and Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC). IADC will activate in late 2016 and train carrier air wings, carrier strike groups, and air and missile defense commanders in a simulated training environment at NAS Fallon. Several IAMD WTIs will teach and train the inaugural course alongside their aviation counterparts from Navy Weapons Fighter School (TOPGUN).

“We are watching young lieutenants share with their bosses in a training environment, specifically during IADC (Integrated Air Defense Course).

“This is probably not the way we want AEGIS set up, or how we want the ship to be thinking in an automated mode.

“We may not previously have wanted to go to that next automated step, but we have to because this threat is going to force us into that logic..

And you’re seeing those COs, who were hesitant at first, say, “Now after that run in that event, I get it. I have to think differently.”

A second element is building out training ranges in a key area of operations, namely the Pacific.

“We do need to continue, to work beyond Nellis, beyond Yuma, beyond Fallon, we’ve got to start looking at what could we do in Alaska, how can we make Alaska and the events that we do in Northern Edge, more robust?

“What kind of systems, what kind of sensors, whether it’s TCTS or the ability to go back and replay an event up at Alaska.

“Or look at Guam as a graduate-level training area, what could we do in Guam when you’ve got all those assets that are there from both the Air Force and the Navy.

“How much more could you do in and around Guam?

“What could you do in Australia, with an ally who is very forward-leaning in technology and integrating with the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force, and the way they are integrating their armed forces together?

“Where can you take advantage of those opportunities?

“All while understanding that as you do that, you are practicing or playing in somebody else’s backyard, and they are watching what you’re doing.

“How do you do that, where you can be watched?

“And what do you have to reserve for places where you’re less likely to be watched?

A third key element is working cross platform integration to shape a more effective approach to information dominance.

“How do I use the capabilities in the F-35 to enhance what I get out of that fourth-gen platform?

“And, in ways that you didn’t think you were going to do it before.

“Not just by being a bigger, better brother that’s going to take care of you on the playground.

FALLON, Nev. (Sept. 3, 2015) F-35C Lightning IIs, attached to the Grim Reapers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, and an F/A-18E/F Super Hornets attached to the Naval Aviation Warfighter Development Center (NAWDC) fly over Naval Air Station Fallon’s (NASF) Range Training Complex. VFA 101, based out of Eglin Air Force Base, is conducting an F-35C cross-country visit to NASF. The purpose is to begin integration of F-35C with the Fallon Range Training Complex and work with NAWDC to refine tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) of F-35C as it integrates into the carrier air wing. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Cmdr. Darin Russell/Released)

“But how do I pass information, what information needs to be passed, and when does it need to be passed?

“When do I have to be that white knight on the charger coming in to rescue you, to get you back on a timeline, and when can I just sit back and play maybe quarterback or coach and just suggest, look here, look there, do this, don’t worry about that threat.

“And the integration of how do I use that system and the capabilities in the F-35 with those that are in the Growler, where are they complementary?

“Where are they different, and mutually supportive?

“In the times that we have had the E-2D out here, how can I work all of those things together?”

And the evolution of LVC will play an important part in the combat development training process.

“LVC affords you that environment where you can do the very high-end warfare in an environment where you are not going to be observed. And you can integrate with your surface counterparts; you can integrate with your Air Force counterparts.

“That linkage is going to be phenomenal. Because now we’ll be able to go from F-22s, Air Force F-35, anything else they want to throw in the mix, all the way to AEGIS Baseline 9. And some of those can be live and some can be virtual.

“And we can go execute. I think that’s exciting.

“When you can have a submarine launch a simulated TLAM that’s being tasked to them by a MOC somewhere else, that gets a real-time update from an actual F-35 flying on the range, that is seeing that the target that you thought was at point A has now moved to point B and you go back through the MOC to go through the firing unit to give that TLAM an updated target, that is powerful.”

Throughout the interview and in earlier conversations with the Admiral, the evolving man-machine relationship as a foundational element was discussed in several ways.

The CNO has highlighted the importance of enhancing the ability to leverage the man-machine relationships, notably with regard to preparing and executing high tempo and high intensity operations.

Nothing ever fully substitutes for time in the air. Consequently, the evolving ability to meld flight simulator training beyond the traditional emergency procedures or simulating mission flying is now being developed as a dynamic “man-machine” learning process.

The engagement process of content learning essentially is shaping how does a pilot and aircrews react to the speed-of-light dynamic flow of information in combat can be captured by both performance on the “range” and by the procedures followed in the cockpit.

Now those pilot and aircrew specific data points can be put into simulators, thus allowing real time repeat learning on how to be a better and better combat team.

The Admiral stressed it will be an exciting time as the new facilities come on line for both aircrews and commanders to specifically hone combat skills.

Clearly, the leveraging of the new platforms built around this relationship such as the F-35 and P-8 is important, as well as the capability to build out LVC and integrated simulation to train more effectively.

Above all, what the Navy is looking at are ways to shape new capabilities for learning and the ability to leverage machines to get better fidelity for learning.

The Admiral highlighted another aspect of this process when he discussed the need to enhance the ability to customize learning to repeat specific skill sets for warriors rather than having to repeat whole simulated courses.

“We are looking to improve simulated learning for targeted skillsets, and individualized learning over all. And one way you can do that is what they’re already seeing in the helicopter simulators, where the helicopter pilot is learning how to hover.

“And the simulator is assisting them as necessary to make the hovering more successful.

“As the pilot gets better, the learning software in the simulator backs out and allows the pilot to continue on their own.

“They get in the simulator the next day, the simulator knows who that person is, knows what they needed the day before, maybe backs that off a little bit to see if they’ve learned anything. And then brings it back up. So you have the simulator actually assisting with the learning.

“And they’re seeing that people are learning to do skills like hovering faster.”

The final subject we discussed is the close linkage between Fallon and the operational fleet in terms of developing TTPs on demand from the fleet as the fleet is engaged in operations.

One example was working TTPs for air combat strafing in Afghanistan as a carrier was about to engage in this task.

“ For example, we needed the ability in the mountains to do strafing at night because of the proximity of the threat and wanting to have a low threshold for civilian casualties met by using the gun on the Super Hornet and the Hornet.

“Very quickly NAWDC developed a methodology for night strafing, and it was developed, put right back out to the fleet, and executed within months.”

Another recent example was reviewing TTPs after the shootdown of a Syrian jet in the Middle East and working through the mission and sorting out any improvements in TTPs, which might need to be developed.

After an extensive review, none were deemed necessary to be made.

“The skillsets that we learned in the Advanced Readiness phase, and in Air Wing Fallon, and in COMPTUEX, were everything that we needed to be able to execute the mission we did in Syria.”

In short, NAWDC is a new type of combat training development command, which will be increasingly integrated with other warfighting development centers in building the warfighter for 21st century combat operations.

But it won’t happen without the right kind of investments, the right kind of shift in mindset and getting away from the platform centric mentality.

And its full impact will be seen when TTPs can be key drivers of development, software and shape modernization requirements going forward.

Appendix: The Structure of NAWDC

NAWDC’s individual mission requirements include:

N2:  The Information Warfare Directorate at NAWDC is responsible for ensuring command leadership and personnel are provided the full capabilities of the Information Warfare Community (IWC) to support combat readiness and training of Carrier Air Wings and Strike Groups.  The Directorate is comprised of four areas of focus: Air Wing Intelligence Training, the Maritime ISR (MISR) Cell, Targeting, and Command Information Services (CIS).  

The Air Wing Intelligence Training Division is responsible for training CVW Intelligence Officers and Enlisted Intelligence Specialists in strike support operations.  The MISR Cell is tasked with providing ISR integration into Carrier Air Wing training as well as qualifying MISR Package Commanders and Coordinators.  The Targeting Division trains and certifies all CVW Targeteer personnel and provides distributed reach-back support for deployed units worldwide regarding target development.  CIS provides cyber security and computer network operations for the entire NAWDC enterprise.

N3:  NAWDC Operations department (N3) is responsible for the coordination, planning, synchronization, and scheduling for the operations of the command, its assigned aircraft, and airspace and range systems within the Fallon Range Training Complex (FRTC).

N4:  NAWDC’s Maintenance Department is the heart of training for all the NAWDC schoolhouses.  Maintenance’s focus is providing mission-ready fleet and adversary aircraft configured with required weapons and systems for all training evolutions.  We support day to day training missions with the F-16 Viper, F-18 Hornet and Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, E-2C Hawkeye and the MH-60S Seahawk; conducting scheduled and un-scheduled maintenance on 39 individual aircraft.  These aircraft and weapon systems are the foundation for all other NAWDC Department’s training syllabi.

N5:  Responsible for training Naval aviation in advanced Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) across assigned combat mission areas at the individual, unit, integrated and joint levels, ensuring alignment of the training continuum; to set and enforce combat proficiency standards; to develop, validate, standarize, publish and revise TTPs. 

Also provides subject matter expertise support to strike group commanders, numbered fleet commanders, Navy component commanders and combatant commanders; to lead training and warfighting effectiveness assessments and identify and mitigate gaps across all platforms and staffs for assigned mission areas as the supported WDC; and collaborates with other WDCs to ensure cross-platform intergration and alignment.

NAWDC’s Joint NAWDC’s Joint Close-Air Support (JCAS) Division continues to answer the needs of current theater operations with increased production of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers Course (JTACC).NAWDC’s Joint NAWDC’s Joint Close-Air Support (JCAS) Division continues to answer the needs of current theater operations with increased production of Joint Terminal Attack Controllers Course (JTACC).  NAWDC JCAS primarily trains Naval Special Warfare and Riverine Group personnel, but has this year also trained U.S. Army Special Operations, U.S. Marine Corps Air and Naval Gunfire Liaison Officers, international personnel, as well as U.S. Navy Fixed and Rotary Wing Forward-Air Controller (Airborne) personnel.  

NAWDC’s JCAS branch is the U.S. Navy’s designated representative to the Coalition JCAS Executive Steering Committee, and is a recognized authority on kinetic air support to information warfare (IW), tactical precision targeting, and digitally aided CAS.

N6:  Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School (CAEWWS), also referred to as TOP DOME, is the E-2 weapon school and responsible for Airborne Tactical Command and Control advanced individual training via the Hawkeye Weapons and Tactics Instructors (HEWTIs) class.  CAEWWS is also responsible for development of community Tactics, Technique and Procedures and provides inputs to the acquisition process in the form of requirements and priorities for research and development (R&D), procurement, and training systems.  

CAEWWS works closely to support other Warfare Development Centers and Weapons Schools; such as the Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center’s Integrated Air Defense Course (IADC) and Integrated Air and Missile Defense WTI Integration Course (IWIC).  Other functions include support to advanced integrated fleet training by way of WTI augmentation to the N5/STRIKE Department for CVW integrated training detachments; also known as Air Wing Fallon Detachment and support of squadron activities.

N7:  In the early stages of the Vietnam War, the tactical performance of Navy fighter aircraft against seemingly technologically inferior adversaries, the North Vietnamese MiG-17, MiG-19, and MiG-21, fell far short of expectations and caused significant concern among national leadership.  

Based on an unacceptable ratio of combat losses, in 1967, ADM Tom Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations, commissioned an in-depth examination of the process by which air-to-air missile systems were acquired and employed.  Among the multitude of findings within this report was the critical need for an advanced fighter weapons school, designed to train aircrew in all aspects of aerial combat including the capabilities and limitations of Navy aircraft and weapon systems, along with those of the expected threat.

In 1969, the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) was established to develop and implement a course of graduate-level instruction in aerial combat.  Today, TOPGUN continues to provide advanced tactics training for FA-18A-F aircrew in the Navy and Marine Corps through the execution of the Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor (SFTI) Course.  TOPGUN is the most demanding air combat syllabus found anywhere in the world.  The SFTI Course ultimately produces graduate-level strike fighter tacticians, adversary instructors, and Air Intercept Controllers (AIC) who go on to fill the critical assignment of Training Officer in fleet units.

N8:  Navy’s Rotary Wing Weapons School is composed of a staff of 25 pilots and aircrewmen who instruct the Seahawk Weapons and Tactics Instructor program; provide tactics instructors to fleet squadrons;  maintain and develop the Navy’s helicopter tactics doctrine via the SEAWOLF Manual; instruct the Navy’s Mountain Flying School; provide high-altitude, mountainous flight experience for sea-going squadrons; and provide academic, ground, flight, and opposing-forces instruction for visiting aircrew during Air Wing Fallon detachments.

N9:   The NAWDC Safety Department (N9) serves as the principle advisor to the Commander on all matters pertaining to safe command operations and is responsible for administering the following safety programs: aviation, ground, ergonomics, motor vehicles (personal, commercial), recreation, and on- and off-duty.  Our goal is to eliminate preventable mishaps while maximizing operational readiness.  We accomplish this by preserving lives, preventing injury, and protecting equipment and material.

N10:  The US Navy’s Airborne Electronic Attack Weapons School, call sign “HAVOC”, stood up in 2011 to execute the NAWDC mission as it pertains to Electronic Warfare and the EA-18G Growler.  HAVOC is comprised of highly qualified Growler Tactics Instructors, or GTIs, that form the “tactical engine” of the EA-18G community, developing the tactics that get the most out of EA-18G sensors and weapons.  HAVOC’s mission is also to train Growler Aircrew and Intelligence Officers on those tactics during the Growler Tactics Instructor Course.  

The Growler Tactics Instructor Course is a rigorous 12 week syllabus of academic, simulator, and live fly events that earn graduates the Growler Tactics Instructor designation – the highest level of EA-18G tactical qualification that is recognized across Naval Aviation.  The Growler brings the most advanced tactical Electronic Warfare capabilities to operational commanders creating a tactical advantage for friendly air, land, and maritime forces by delaying, degrading, denying, or deceiving enemy kill chains.

N20:  The Tomahawk Landing Attack Missile (TLAM) Department provides direct support to U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) in the development and standardization of tactics, techniques and procedures for the employment of the Tomahawk weapon system.  In addition, TLAM provides training to the CVW, fleet, and joint commands on TLAM capabilities and strike integration

Allied Pacific Exercises and Training: Shaping a Deterrence in Depth Strategy


Australian Prime Minister on North Korean Situation

In this video, the Australian Prime Minister discusses the North Korean situation and its seriousness.

He also reaffirms the ANZAC agreement and the common US and Australian response to North Korean aggression.

Diplomacy and statecraft are clearly a key part of the refocus of public attention on the nature of the evolving threats to liberal democracies.

Australian PM on the North Korean Crisis August 11, 2017 from on Vimeo.

Where are the NORK ICBM Silos?

The rapid development of North Korean ICBM capability exposed an apparent inconsistency with similar developments in other nuclear weapons powers.

Land based ICBMs, by their nature, are physically large missiles.Liquid fueled, they are difficult to transport whether empty or fueled. Solid fueled ICBMs are less problematic, but still require extensive maintenance if actively and routinely transported by road.

These problems have tended to restrict most ICBMs to either stationary land bases, or at sea where transportation by SSBNs is less stressful.

Mobile land based ICBMs, moved about on wheeled or tracked road transporter erector launchers or rail, expose missiles to many risks plus wear and tear.

To date, North Korea have demonstrated a variety of road mobile ICBM platforms that are mostly stored in bunkers. While it is well known that DPRK have extensive underground facilities, particularly for artillery, munitions, short or medium range missiles, none is known via open source intelligence to be dedicated ICBM missile silos like the US Minuteman silos. The PRC historically made extensive use of large underground bunkers with underground missile launch pads that are reloadable.

It is not known if North Korea is following this model.

Most of North Korea’s ICBM tests, to date, are either conducted on fixed above ground launch pads, or a mobile transporter erector launcher (TEL) / pad.

But how are they going to base them in the near future when their ICBM arsenal reaches initial operational capability?

The most plausible explanation is that DPRK is moving toward solely relying on mobile TELs for their liquid fueled ICBMs.   Liquid fueled ICBMs that are fueled on the launch pad require a large convoy of supporting trucks and many hours of preparation for launch.

This long lag time in the “open” enabled advanced detection of launch and at least in theory the possibility of pre-emptive strikes as a missile is fueled.

North Korea can, alternatively, master the delicate task of pre-fueling the missile horizontally prior to transport out of the storage bunker. That would shorten the time for launch to perhaps 30 minutes to an hour.

But that is still a significant window of vulnerability compared to the time required to launch a pre-fueled silo based missile, which can be launched in minutes or as quickly as the hatch can be opened.

If the choice is for a US style ICBM silo, it will likely to be large not only to accommodate the liquid fueled rocket, but potentially, large enough for “strap on” solid fueled boosters that may be required to lift an early generation thermonuclear warhead and missile packed with penetration aids and decoys from DPRK to anywhere in USA.

Construction of large ICBM silos can in theory be detected through several “national technical” means. While it cannot be ruled out that DPRK ICBM silo construction have escaped public notice, it is an open question whether they built them at all.

The PRC, who until the 21st century, had an “assured means of retaliation” posture that presumed their ICBMs in hardened silos will survive a first strike, and can be launched afterwards.

Though this may have changed to an offensive first strike posture at least for S/MRBMs aimed at near-abroad targets.

If the North Koreans have not invested in building hardened silos for their liquid fueled ICBMs, it can be a sign that they are expecting to field a mobile solid fueled ICBM shortly — and thus, sidestep the complexity of liquid fueled missiles.

Another explanation is that DPRK do not need or anticipate the requirement for survivability provided by basing liquid based ICBMs in hardened bunkers.

Or they feel that hardened silos (of the latest design) are not survivable anyways.

Not providing for survivability of an nuclear ICBM force is inconsistent with its use as a deterrent force.  

Basing missiles in the “open” was an expedient measure used by the Soviets in the 1960s which was abandoned as soon as they found something better. It is preferable to enhance readiness and survivability by storing missiles in bunkers, silos, or place them on submarines.

Deterrent forces, by their nature, are systems that sit unused for extended periods: decades until they are obsolete without ever being used.

Occasional samples are tested to ensure the stock is reliable if ever needed.   Thus, ICBMs on the US, Russian, Chinese, and Israeli models tend to be built to be long lasting, rugged, maintainable, and can be held at readiness for long periods with modest maintenance.

No expense is spared in making nuclear deterrent systems reliable and safe during their long periods of storage while ready to launch.

But are NORK ICBMs built this way?

Another line of reasoning is that DPRK intend to strike the first blow with their ICBMs — particularly using the liquid fueled versions that are most vulnerable once conflict broke out.   If this is the case, the ICBMs will have to be able to penetrate known defensive systems like the US ground based missile defense (GMD) systems.

That suggests that NORK may not be concerned by giving advance warning of the launches as the US and allies have not historically been willing to cross the line to pre-emptively destroy a “missile test” launch.

But what if the “test” involved volley firing of (e.g.) 10 ICBMs?

The US have not responded proactively to the PRC and DPRK volley launching multiple missiles in “tests”.   Thus, precedent favors no response if DPRK volley fired ICBMs in a “test”.

What if it is not a test?

The US will find out only when they see the trajectory heading across the Pacific.

What then?

Simultaneous firing of many ICBMs, mixed with IRBMs, will allow some of them to be used for blinding of sensors and destruction of key missile defense installations.   (e.g. Japanese and other Pacific radar sites). Before PACOM can determine if the launch is “hostile”, their sensors and communications will likely be blinded and / or disabled.

Decoys, dummy missiles and warheads can overwhelm the small number of ABM interceptors leading to a high probability that at least one thermonuclear warhead will detonate over CONUS.

US posture biased against “provocations”, rather than contribute to stability and preventing nuclear war, encourage DPRK to adopt a surprise massive first strike strategy aimed at a Pearl Harbor like knockout blow.

Do the ICBM basing plans of DPRK reveal an offensive nuclear first strike strategy being put into place?

If so, it leads to very different calculations as to DPRK intent and longer term goals.

DPRK may not be deterred.



The USMC Operating Concept Addresses the Shift from Slow Mo to High Intensity War

The Marine Corps Operating Concept (MOC) describes, in broad terms, how Marine Corps forces will conduct the range of military operations as we shift from slow mo war.



Video by Matt Lyman

Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory | Futures Directorate


Time for a Tactical and Strategic Call to Action

Washington (CNN) Federal investigators exploring whether Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian spies have seized on Trump and his associates’ financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving their probe forward, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The web of financial ties could offer a more concrete path toward potential prosecution than the broader and murkier questions of collusion in the 2016 campaign, these sources said.

Since the swearing in of the Honorable Robert Mueller it has been a race in his finding something that may make it politically impossible for President Trump, who has every right to do, to fire him.

The announcement of a Grand Jury is very close to such an event.

The next step, in not being fired, will be leaking finding the possibility of an actual crime has been discovered.

Sadly with today’s “fake news” cycle, it can be any possible criminal activity by anyone connected to President Trump.

Due process and innocent until being proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt be damned in the vicious DC Main Stream Media court of public opinion.

Such a leak probably will seal the deal in making former FBI Director Mueller fire-proof.

Although one should never ever underestimate President Trump’s moral courage in saying enough is enough and acting on such a travesty of justice.

Fired FBI Director James Comy wanted to trigger such a miscarriage of justice sideshow with real teeth and he has also been called a personal friend of former Director Robert Mueller.

This personal nexus and documented conflict of interest begs at a minimum for Special Counsel Muller to honorably resign his DOJ appointed position.

Right now, starting today, the problem is that all connected to Businessman Donald Trump even those with a “six degrees of separation”  connection to his business dealings may eventually have a very rough time in front of a Grand Jury.

The Deputy Attorney General has allowed a very wide scope for the Special Council.

All should never forget what happened to “Scooter” Libby, or the horrific play made by Lawrence Walsh in the Bush (41) election.

From the history of that legal moment:

On the eve of the 1992 presidential election, on October 30, Mr. Walsh obtained a grand jury re-indictment of Weinberger on one count of false statements. One phrase in that superseding indictment referred to President George H.W. Bush.

Some believe that Bush had been closing the gap with Bill Clinton, and that this event stopped his momentum

President Clinton’s attempted removal from office over lying about sex was a Special Prosecutor’s very public fumble because the criminal members of the Clinton Inc team should have all gone to jail based on the hard National Security evidence collected during the 1996 Year of The Rat campaign.

But right now the NYC financial backers of President Trump should be very concerned because, billions or not, the DC jungle fighters can eat their lunch.

An epic political fight to destroy all things President Trump is now underway.

Consequently the issues mean nothing because the false Russia Collusion narrative means to an end in destroying people is now in play

The Trump/Pence administration is now engaged in two front war-one from enemies foreign—ISIS, NORK, South China Sea and especially festering Iranian military and terror threat with big Obama gifting of money coming into play.

The other strategic war in “Operation Destroy Trump” is from within.

It is now past time to protect against an essentially silent coup under color of law.

Just wait until The Honorable Robert Mueller, Esq “Democrat law firm” starts looking into all financial issues, outside the initial scope of the phony baloney Russia “collusion” assertions.

It is long past time to ask where is any Grand Jury action focusing on Clinton Inc.: the “ lock her up” mantra, the felonious “unmasking” effort and the ongoing leak investigation?

The Trump Administration has lost control of the fight.

The famous DC lawyer “Ty” Cobb was clueless on the announcement while many many MSM venues all knew, about it.

So far without a Grand Jury looking into “leaking” the media will continue to know more, thanks to the Honorable Robert Muller’s team’s “leaking.”

All know that leaking Grand Jury testimony is a very grievous felony and by “leaking” I am not implying that Mueller’s team would ever commit such a crime.

But in the ebb and flow of Law Enfoldment actions at the highest levels of Government the identity of “Deep Throat” being the very bitter number two at FBI should always be kept in mind.

Being blindsided by the announcement of a open Grand Jury maybe a data point that the Trump Team so far  is trusting this battle to be a normal legal “fight” and not a full assault using all the tricks in the DC playbook of perfidy

Essentially unless all wake up, especially Trump backers in NYC and fight back effectively they will not know what is happening because it is just so outside their “big buck” financial frame of reference.

Sadly it is very unfair but DC rules are unfair and way different.

Beginning over two decades ago as an individual deeply involved in all aspects of how this all works inside  legislative and Executive departments and living through  fiery media cauldrons  allows me to commiserate on the inevitable impending pain by those connected to President Trump-sadly starting with his family.

Rallying the American People can always help, but it is only one critical element in what is shaping up to a full on war to keep the Swamp creatures  in power because DC power and the influence money at stake is huge.

Former COS, Reince Priebus’  actions in keeping the Hill/RNC  Swamp alive in allowing WH personnel to essentially rig the game sub Rosa against Trump early supporters shows convincingly that the Trump campaign loyalists have already paid a terrible price, especially the more junior Schedule  C troops whose 120 day paychecks have run out.

Across the USG, especially in the White House, the loyalists on the Trump team are not on the field when it counts.

But one must always close with a nod to our eternal American optimism.

When all looks bleakest America we will always have the legacy of “untouchables.”

But MSM please do not insult Americans by claiming this investigative team is of that ilk.

Rather the veterans and their families and all of Trump Nation are the real “untouchables” throughout America.

All Americans should always have the great hope in dark times to trust in our innate sense of fair play and everything will finally be A-OK.

I predict American’s combat veterans are those men and women who see clearly the evolving violation of our Constitutionally blessed electorial process.

After all they faught for those principles:

“…hucksters will reach out to harness this generation’s energy for their own purpose. However, whatever a veteran does, big or small, every American should know that these men and women have a well-developed instinct for the truth. They are untouchable on that front.

So unscrupulous politicians, scam artists, hustlers, and parasites be on notice. If a man or a woman can face down the Taliban, come at them at your peril.   Same advice goes to criminals and street thugs.

America, as once reported in the great space race, is “A-OK”.