Saturday, August 31, 2013

Guest Post- Tuna

     Sarge left me the keys to this place awhile back, and this afternoon he almost goaded me into posting something while he's out here on the left coast visiting family. That's us- Tuna and the Sarge, with photo-bomb courtesy of occasional reader and prolific phellow blogger of HMS Defiant who will remain nameless - not to protect any sort of anonymity, but because either he was only introduced as his blog title, or I never picked up his real name.  Either way, it was nice to meet up at Lex's place to have a drink with Sarge, HMS Defiant and his lovely wife, as well as Sarge's chauffeur and tour guide- none other than the one and only Naviguesser.



     I will continue to digress if only momentarily.  Check out the HMS Defiant link above.  The home page is somewhat near and dear to my heart.  Not that I'm a closet-SWO, but it's a painting of the USS ESTEEM (MSO-438).  I spent the month of June 1989 onboard her sister ship, USS GALLANT (MSO-489) during training as a Midshipman.


     That cruise, while a great learning opportunity which I relished, probably cemented my desire to become a Naval Flight Officer.  The Gallant and her 6 foot draft took on 12 foot seas up the coast from Treasure Island Naval Station in the Bay Area to Portland Oregon for the Rose Festival.  Those seas led to near constant gastronomic upheaval for everyone, and I mean everyone, including the Captain, one LCDR S. Johnson, although we never actually saw that happen.  Now however, having long ago put away my flight gear, I happily toil in what Lex would call "Cubicle Hell" at the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command (NMAWC).  Those ships are long gone, and their replacements, the Avenger-Class Minesweepers are quickly approaching end of life.  That keeps me busy as I attempt to replace their capability in the Fleet as we cautiously await, and wait, and wait, for the ever-so-promising Littoral Combat Ship Mine Countermeasures Mission Package (LCS MCM MP).  If there ever was a neglected warfare area, without which we could possibly face a massive slowing of the world's economy, it's Mine Warfare (MIW).   By the way, the Gallant CO later retired from the Navy after commanding two more ships and a base.  He was on the panel when I interviewed for my job at NMAWC and works with me in the same department.  Amazing how things come full circle.

     Where am I going with this you ask?  Don't worry, it's all related to the point of my guest post.    Sarge is not much for posting politically charged items, usually reserving this forum for all things Phantom, or phighter (ok, now that's just phoolish) Fighter-pilot related.  That's completely expected as he's a phormer phantom phixer, and his brood are either in the Fighter community or Naval Officers of other distinction.  Since I have the floor here though, I want to comment on something related to current affairs.

   In the Arabian Gulf we have some Avenger-Class Minesweepers, a detachment of MH-53E Sea Dragon Mine Sweeping Helicopters, and a bunch of EOD Divers- The MCM Triad.



                   


    Alongside our Brit counterparts who have a similar sized force, the burden of maintaining an MCM capability in the region (and keeping the gulf open) falls to us, and only us.  We didn't ask for this burden, but it's one was take on because we can't have madmen using indiscriminate weapons.  The U.S. only imports 13% of its oil from the gulf, but we know that there's a global impact of a straits closure.  We keep our forces there because it's the right thing to do and we don't wait for others to ask, give approval, or pat us on the back for doing it.

     With regards to Syria, the same principle applies.  I know it's not easy.  There are no rebels or Assad-backed forces flying airplanes into our skyscrapers; there is no oil there we need.  Backing Assad is wrong.  Backing the rebels sure isn't right.  It would be nice if we had a giant red "Easy" button for the President to put next to his "red line," but those don't exist.  Unfortunately, our red line, which I agree with, is ceasing to exist as well, and the longer we wait, the less meaningful our action will be.  President Obama is between a rock and a hard place, but it's one of his own doing.  He wants the UN to back him on using force.  My head is spinning from whether he believes in what he said as a Senator regarding Presidential authority, or whether he wants to act without their blessing.  Our Brit friends have already said no, they won't be joining us.  The President is pressured from all sides to act or not to act.  As I said, it's not easy, but as to that rock and hard place? I see a soft side to that rock.

     The US, and almost every other country in the world have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention.  The shear magnitude of those numbers is a mandate in itself against Syria.  Acting against Assad is not only a right, but a moral obligation.  He used what we call "Weapons of Mass Destruction," not "weapons that get people a little upset," or "weapons that are not very nice."  President Obama may not like us acting as the world's policeman, but when it comes to WMDs, just like mines in the gulf, it's a burden we must accept. When we act, we do it because we truly believe it is the right thing to do, not because some poll said it would play well on the world stage.  I'm not saying we should put troops on the ground, or even send in Big Time and the WSO.  Nobody wants another Iraq- we shouldn't send in a ground force to violently overturn Assad.  We should take out their WMD capability and if possible, the forces responsible, and we have the weapons to do so.  Taking out Assad might leave some sort of power vacuum for anti-US forces to take over, but it's not as if Assad is wrapping himself in an American Flag these days either.  Will there be repercussions and backlash?  Almost definitely.  Will there be casualties? - Yes.  Will there be innocent casualties?  Unfortunately the answer to that is probably yes as well.  That's a horrible resultant side-effect of warfare, but doing nothing has already sent a signal that Assad can get away with it.  That the US isn't as strong or caring as it once was.  That the use of WMDs really isn't as bad as it sounds- that they can now be titled "Weapons that kind of make people a little angry, but not enough to do anything about it."   We can act because we all agree that madmen can't use WMDs and get away with it- do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not ask congress.  Do your job.

    Today a reporter tried to press former President George W. Bush to weigh in on the Syrian issue.  He wouldn't take the bait, nor has he since leaving office.  He did offer this though: "The human condition elsewhere, matters to the United States."  C'mon Mr. President, Mr. Commander-in-Chief, it's time to prove it.

5 comments:

  1. Concur with your last. It's going to be ugly either way it goes down.

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  2. I like yer first pic, Tuna. You guys don't look half-bad for a couple o' old geezers. Or is that two and a half geezers, if we count Curtis?

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    1. My Air Force age is within 6 years of our host's DOB. I still have the official drivers license they gave me at Selfridge Air Force Base that reflects my great antiquity. I can't help it if they got the year wrong and I used it as a license to drink all through school. :)
      I put out an open invite to Beth and the Padre to join me in a glass of Guinness (for strength!) to Lex at the Pub. We'll see if they make it.

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    2. I tell ya what Curtiss, you're very well preserved considering your "great antiquity".

      Heh.

      It was an honor and a privilege to quaff one with you Sir. An honor and a privilege.

      Yes, Tuna, goes for you as well.

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  3. Wow. Pictures. Actual, properly formatted paragraphs, thoughtful, insightful commentary. Tuna, you're setting the bar awfully high.

    While I don't agree with all of your points, this is an excellent post. You made your point very well. Very well indeed.

    "Almost goaded you into posting"? Looks to me like I succeeded. ;-)

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)