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We have the DOD FY18 budget briefs

In brief (pardon the pun) no 600 ship Navy or million-man Army any under these budgets, which, of course, still have to run the gauntlet. On the bright side, the A-10 gets to stay.

Army Budget Director Maj. Gen. Thomas Horlander briefs Pentagon reporters on the president’s fiscal year 2018 defense budget proposal, May 23, 2017.

Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget Maj. Gen. James Martin Jr. briefs Pentagon reporters on the president’s fiscal year 2018 defense budget proposal, May 23, 2017.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget Rear Adm. Brian Luther briefs Pentagon reporters on the president’s fiscal year 2018 proposal May 23, 2017.

The ‘Morg goes ‘back home’ (to Vietnam)

Morgenthau off Governors Island in New York Harbor circa 1970. Note the 5″/38 DP forward and the WTC in the background.

USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722), a 378-foot high endurance cutter, was commissioned in 1969 and, after nearly a half-century of service, including action in the Vietnam War, numerous major drug interdictions, law enforcement cases, and a variety of noteworthy rescues was taken out of U.S. service at Honolulu in April. Now, renamed CSB 8020, she was commissioned into the Coast Guard of Vietnam where she will continue her traditional mission under a red flag.

“This cutter provides a concrete and significant symbol of the U.S-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership,” said U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Michael J. Haycock, assistant commandant for acquisition and chief acquisition officer, in a statement. “The Coast Guard is honored to see this vessel continue to preserve global peace and prosperity as a part of the Vietnam coast guard.”

As part of Operation Market Time, Morgenthau was very active in the Vietnam War, conducting support for coastal patrol craft, naval gunfire support, and patrol duties off the coast of Vietnam in 1970-71. During her period in Market Time, she delivered 19 naval gunfire support missions on targets ashore, inspected 627 junks and sampans, and cruised 39,029 miles on patrol. In total, she fired 1,645 rounds from her main 5-inch gun, destroying 32 structures and 12 bunkers ashore.

Her crew also sank an armed North Vietnamese SL-8 trawler in a night surface action while it was trying to infiltrate the South Vietnam coastline.

Morgenthau later made Coast Guard history by being one of the first ships to have gender-integrated crews and captured a number of drug runners on the high seas. In short, she had an extensive and celebrated career.

USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722), a 378-foot high endurance cutter, by John Wisinski

The cutter was transferred in conjunction with an additional six smaller 45-foot patrol boats this week as tensions in the South China Sea between China and her neighbors escalate and Vietnam is now counted as a key U.S. ally in the region.

New Metal Sharks headed to Vietnam

This is not the first time the U.S. has helped rebuild the navies of former enemies. Among the first ships of the new Japanese and German fleets in the 1950s in the aftermath of World War II were loaned former U.S. Navy vessels.

Moving past equipping the Vietnamese coast guard, the Southeast Asian country is looking to pick up 100~ modern fighter-bombers “to replace its antiquated fleet of 144 Mikoyan MiG-21 Fishbeds and thirty-eight Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter strike aircraft.”

While some say competitors range from the Saab JAS-39E/F Gripen NG, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and South Korea’s F/A-50 lightweight fighter, how much do you want to bet they may get 100 gently refirb’d surplus F-16C/Ds fresh from the boneyard.

Heck, we are using the F-16A/Bs as target drones at this point.

A QF-16 Full-Scale Aerial Target from the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron flies over the Gulf of Mexico during its first unmanned flight at Tyndall Air Force Base Sept. 19. The 82nd ATRS operates the Department of Defense’s only full-scale aerial target program. The QF-16 will provide a more accurate representation of real world threats for testing and training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. J. Scott Wilcox).

The ‘Pineapple’ is no more

A source close to the family of Manuel Noriega says the former Panamanian dictator has died at age 83. The onetime U.S. ally was ousted as Panama’s dictator by an American invasion in 1989 and spent years in prison in several countries.

Operation Just Cause resulted in the death of 26 U.S. troops and more than 325 wounded. PDF casualties were estimated at about 235 military and wildly divergent (200-3,000) figured when it comes to civilian casualties.

A Panama Defence Force patch for the 7th Infantry Co. the “Macho de monte” mountain man unit which, along with Battallion 2000 were considered the elite of Noriega’s forces. Currently on display at the USAF Armament Museum (Photo by Chris Eger)

“Jump Into Night, Torrijos Airport by Al Sprague Panama, 1989” The operation used 27,000 U.S. active, reserve and National Guard troops and included combat parachute jumps, Delta operations to rescue high-value personnel, and extensive use of Naval Special Operations to hobble the PDF.

Troops on the ground in Just Cause, note the extra M203 rounds

U.S. Army M-113 near the destroyed Panamanian Defense Force Headquarters Operation Just Cause, 21 December 1989

The sweepers Pelican 1917-2007, and no, that is not a bar of soap

The name “Pelican” in honor of the large and rather dopey seabird, has always been carried by a mine warfare vessel in the U.S. Navy.

USS PELICAN (AM-27) Caption: With PN-9 #1 on her fantail, after the unsuccessful San Francisco to Hawaii flight in early September 1925. The ship is going to Pearl Harbor Hawaii. Description: Catalog #: NH 44902

The first, AM-27/AVP-6, was a Lapwing-class minesweeper laid down 10 November 1917 at Gas Engine and Power Co., Morris Heights, New York. Commissioned a month prior to Armistice Day, she helped with the sweeping of the North Sea Mine Barrage and was almost blown sky high when a chain of six British mines exploded all around her on 9 July 1919. Heroically saved by her crew and responding ships, the beaten Pelican limped to Scapa and was repaired. Later converted to a seaplane tender, she served in both the Atlantic and Pacific in WWII (including work as a “Tuna boat” Q-ship) before being sold for scrap in November 1946 after 29 years service.

USS Pelican via Navsource

The second Pelican, (MSC(O)-32/AMS-32/YMS-441) was a YMS-1-class minesweeper built at Robert Jacob Inc. City Island, New York. Commisoned with a hull number only in 1945, she assumed Pelican‘s vacant moniker 18 February 1947. She supported the Eniwetok atomic bomb tests and then saw extensive service in the Korean War, including helping to clear the heavily mined port of Chinnampo. Taken out of service in 1955, she was loaned to Japan as the JDS Ogishima (MSC-659) for 13 years before striking in 1968.

The third Pelican, MHC-53, is an Osprey-class coastal minehunter built at the now-defunct Avondale Shipyard, Gulfport, Mississippi, launched 24 October 1992 and commisoned 18 November 1995. Based on the 164-foot Italian Lerici-class minehunters designed by Intermarine SpA in the early 1980s, and built in variants for Algeria, Finland, Malaysia, Nigeria, Australian and Thailand, the Osprey‘s were a good bit larger, at 188-feet overall but could float in just seven feet of water, enabling them to perform littoral sweeping and clear mines from inland waterways.

Below is a slice of her hull sandwich that I have, a two-inch-thick piece of green soap-colored carbon fiber-reinforced polymer resin that has the consistancy of a brick– and is non-magnetic.

The Osprey-class were the largest vessels built at the time, save for the eight-foot longer HMS Hunt-class minehunters, to have fiberglass hulls. This may have been surpassed since then by a mega yacht or two, but I doubt it as most of those are steel hulled.

While most countries still use their Lerci-class vessels (31 are afloat worldwide and Taiwan is building six more by 2023) the 12 Ospreys, after spending their time in the Reserves, were decommissoned 2006-2007 while still relatively young. Eight low-mileage Ospreys had either been transferred to or marked for transfer to other navies: two each to the Hellenic (Greek) Navy, Lithuanian Navy, Egyptian Navy, and Republic of China (Taiwan) Navy, anf four scrapped (!)

Pelican, struck from the Naval Register 16 March 2007, was commisoned by the Greeks as HS Evniki (M61) the same day, and she continues in active service.

Evinki, in the Corinth Canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. The rock walls, which rise 300 ft. above sea level, are at a near-vertical 80° angle.

2dMARDIV’s Gunner goes show and tell on suppressors

The 2nd Marine Division’s Gunner explains what’s up when it comes to the effectiveness of suppressors in an effort to dispell some myths.

The Marines have been spending a lot more quiet time with their suppressors lately and CW5 Christian P. Wade in the above video tackles some misconceptions about how they operate as part of the 2nd Marine Division’s “Ask the Gunner” segment on the unit’s social media page.

Wade uses a 10.5-inch barreled Mk18 just to rub it in that he is the Division Gunner and fires it unsuppressed through a chronograph, then adds a can and repeats the process with the same ammo.

“So, as you can see, you don’t suffer a defective range or lethality, or accuracy penalty by having a suppressor on your weapon,” says Wade after the results are in. “What we covered today was the principle question of putting a suppressor on your weapon and what that does to your capability. It increases your capability. And if nothing else, I want you to walk away with that. It doesn’t slow your bullets down, you literally have to use subsonic ammunition to lose that range and lethality capability. And we’re not doing that to it.”

End the end, he closes out with a forecast that could be good news to those in the Marines who would like to keep their new cans.

“Suppressors are a good thing, it increases your lethality, it makes you harder to kill, and you’re gonna get one here pretty soon,” says Wade.

Bonus for the cantaloupe takedown cutaway with the Magpul D60, btw.

Happy 100th to the most forgotten service

This week is the 100th birthday of one of the most unsung of the U.S.’s seven uniformed services– the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.

USS Albatross, or as NOAA thinks of her now, Albatross I

Dating back to the Coast & Geodetic Survey and United States Fish Commission which used seconded Navy ships for its blue water work (see former Warship Wednesday alumni, the USC&GSS Pathfinder and USS Albatross) and Army officers for land surveys (the first commander of the Corps was an Army colonel from the intelligence branch), the force today amounts to some 400 uniformed officers who operate the agency’s dozen ships (some as large as frigates) and half-dozen aircraft including two converted P-3 Orions used as Hurricane Hunters.

NOAA Ship (NOAAS) Albatross IV

They are the smallest of the U.S. uniformed services and, while they have a provision for a single O-9, the branch typically exists with a RADM as a senior officer. They wear Navy dress blues and dress whites and Coast Guard working uniforms, all with NOAA devices. Since 2013, they have conducted their 18-week OCS at the USCGA in New London, Conn.

NOAA 42 “Kermit” (N42RF) is a Lockheed WP-3D Orion used by the service for the past quarter-century.

The corps was born in battle.

From NOAA:

With America’s entry into the World War I, a commissioned service of the C&GS was formed on May 22, 1917 to ensure the rapid assimilation of C&GS technical skills for defense purposes. During World War II, officers and civilians of the C&GS produced nautical and aeronautical charts, provided critical geospatial information to artillery units, and conducted reconnaissance surveys.

Continuing in the tradition of their C&GS predecessors, NOAA Corps officers continue to play a vital role in the acquisition and analysis of environmental data that aid NOAA and other agencies in meeting the national security, economic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century. NOAA Corps officers command ships that scan the seafloor for potential hazards to shipping, monitor oceanographic and atmospheric conditions, and study ocean resources. They also pilot NOAA’s highly specialized aircraft that collect environmental and geographic data necessary for weather and flood prediction, nautical charting, disaster response, and resource management.

As noted by John Hopewell of the Washington Post’s Weather Gang:

There are two clear advantages of having nearly 400 uniformed specialists. Unlike civilians, they can be moved rapidly from project to project and — in the case of war — can be deployed quickly to support the military itself.

In fact, that’s why the NOAA Corps was established as a commissioned officer group 100 years ago. If one of the officers is captured by an enemy, they could not be executed as a spy — something their civilian predecessors risked.

The corps operates and maintains much of NOAA’s hardware, including Hurricane Hunter aircraft fisheries ships (but not satellites). They conduct special missions after disasters, such as the 2016 blizzard or the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to gather data and provide support. After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the corps surveyed the seafloors of New York City and Virginia channels and ports for hazards.

Masters of the Desert

Pathfinders attached to the British Army’s 16 Air Assault Brigade hone their long-range patrolling skills, both mounted and on the ground, in the arid plains of Aqaba Governorate in southern Jordan on Exercise Olive Grove.

A Pathfinders soldier covers the rear of an observation post while his colleague searches for targets. MoD Crown Copyright. Note the HK 416s and the very U.S. SF looking kit, including contractor caps.

Pathfinders, mounted in a Coyote and Jackal patrol vehicles, stop to confer during a long range desert patrol on Exercise Olive Grove. Photo: MoD Crown Copyright

A Pathfinder photographs targets from an observation post in the mountainous deserts of Jordan on Exercise Olive Grove. Photo: MoD Crown Copyright

Like all pathfinders, “the unit is an advance force, trained in specialist airborne insertion techniques and capable of conducting offensive action tasks at very short notice. Soldiers are trained to operate behind enemy lines in small, self-sufficient patrols finding and relaying vital information back to Brigade HQ to enable it to plan and execute missions.”

3 Para dropped it like it was hot in Olive Grove.

Major Rick Lewin, Officer Commanding of C Company, 3 Para told said:

    What we’re trying to do is demonstrate the way we operate and give the Jordanians an opportunity to decide if they like that. Simultaneously, our soldiers are doing precisely the same thing, they’re watching the Jordanians whose shooting on the range is incredibly accurate, and also they were moving through the cover incredibly efficiently and quickly, so this is very much going both ways all the way through.

Interested in the Coyote above? The Supacat-designed/Lockheed-Martin built Coyote tactical support vehicle, (TSV) light, is based on a 6×6 derivative of the Jackal 2 and supports the go-anywhere, high-mobility Jackals across the harsh Afghanistan terrain.

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