About time for this again, isn’t it?

The reason being:

MAY 2018 • 5:57PM
Only four of Germany’s 128 Eurofighter aircraft are operational and ready for combat in the event of a crisis, it was claimed yesterday (WED), in revelations that will deepen pressure on Germany to live up to its defence commitments.

The remaining aircraft have been grounded by technical problems and a shortage of combat missiles, according to a report in Spiegel magazine.

But that’s not the problem

How 1,000C car park inferno vaporised the FLOOR: Apocalyptic images show gutted multi-storey with no sprinklers where all 1,400 vehicles were reduced to ashes by heat that could melt aluminium

Melting aluminium isn’t really the problem. It’s when the aluminium catches fire that you really want to worry.

As we found out in the Falklands…..

I thought the Septics were good with guns?

A US Airforce base in Suffolk suffered a major security breach when a driver forced his way through the main security checkpoint.

American military guards opened fire as the car travelled a significant way inside RAF Mildenhall after passing through a hail of bullets – stopping just metres short of a military aircraft, The Telegraph understands.

Suffolk Police confirmed a 44-year-old British man forced his way onto the airfield at RAF Mildenhall on Monday afternoon, having initially entered into a dispute at the base’s entrance.

The incident triggered a security lockdown. Suffolk Police confirmed the incident was not terrorist-related and a 44-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of criminal trespass.

A spokesman said: “Shots were fired by American service personnel and a man has been detained with cuts and bruises and taken into custody.”

Allow us to introduce the media to the phrase “sea trials”

The UK’s new £3.1 billion aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is leaking as a result of an issue with a shaft seal less than a month after the warship was accepted into the Royal Navy fleet by The Queen.

At 280m long and with an estimated half-a-century working life, the behemoth is the biggest and most powerful ever built by the UK.

However, it is understood the vessel has been leaking for some time.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: “An issue with a shaft seal has been identified during HMS Queen Elizabeth’s sea trials; this is scheduled for repair while she is alongside at Portsmouth.

“It does not prevent her from sailing again and her sea trials programme will not be affected.”

Warships are one off builds. Somewhat at the edge of technology. They’re, therefore, prototypes rather than something coming off a production line. OK, not entirely, but…..

So, when we get one, we stick it the water and try to work out what is still wrong with it. These are called “sea trials.”

Next?

Well, yes, military equipment

French warplanes and helicopters may be battling jihadists in the deserts of Africa and the Middle East, but the French Air Force on the whole is in a disastrous state, with 56 per cent of all its aircraft unfit to fly at any given moment, according to a senior minister.

“If I compare the current situation … of our planes with a car, it is as if I wanted to have a car every morning that works, I would have to own four cars,” Florence Parly, the armed forces minister, said during a visit to an air base in Evreux in Normandy.

Not that I really know about this area but this doesn’t sound too abnormal.

We have to have 4 Trident subs to have one at sea at any time, don’t we?

OK, slightly less flippancy. But military planes are built at the limits of the technology of the time. This makes them maintenance heavy. I don’t know what you actually expect, that 50% or 10% or what ever are undergoing airframe tune ups or whatever at any one time. But you’d expect – OK, I would – to have a lot more of the fleet out of action at any one time for normal scheduled reasons than you would for a civilian technology, no?

Which leads to, well, what is the correct number?

On the battlefield perhaps

British Isil fighters should be killed in Syria rather than be allowed to return to UK, a Government minister has said. Rory Stewart said converts who leave Britain to fight for the terror group are guilty of horrific acts and the only way of dealing with them is to kill them “in almost every case”.

Not sure we can quite do that later on, after they’ve come back to serve kebabs again.

Military man might know better perhaps?

So forget all the bullshit about “gun control.” Only if the Congress passes a law banning the manufacture, import, and sale of gas operated weapons except for use by the military and police will this be a safer country. The United States Army knows how dangerous these weapons are and controls their possession and use accordingly. It’s time the rest of the country followed the military’s example. One mass killing after another has proven that gas operated weapons are way too dangerous for civilians to own and use. Ban them.

Throughout he keeps talking about semi- and automatic rifles.

Sorta missing the pistols thing.

On the use of Captain as a title years into retirement

Something that slightly puzzles. I can understand someone using Captain RN as a title off into retirement. Significant job, real career progression etc, takes decades to get there.

Captain Army I understand less. It seems to me, and of course this could just be because I’m very blinkered here, that it’s something rather reserved for members of the landed gentry. No, not aristocracy. Capt Chumleyumly, Master of Hounds, sounds about right. But it does seem, in my limited experience, to be only those in that sort of position who keep using the rank.

So, why is this?

Stay in long enough and you’ll be a Major. So, Captain means you left early, or when you wanted to, or something. Or of course that you got fired but that’s difficult. Even today it tends to be not getting promoted which is the signal, not actual firing.

The only thing I can really think of is that as a non-graduate it takes 5 years to get to Capt. Thus retiring as a Capt. shows that you did at least 5 years, not some very short term commission (which, umm, do the three year ones even exist any more?). So, a little more than just Sandhurst and skiing with the Blues and Royals for 2.5 years.

Is that it? Military peeps around here? Or is there something else I’m missing? For as far as I can see it really does seem to be a particular section of sciety which does use Army Captain as a title off into decades of retirement. Why do they?

How joyous about trans and the military

So, Obama said trans people can serve. Trump’s just said nope, they can’t. At which point we get this:

A California congressman fired back at President Donald Trump’s Twitter announcement barring transgendered service members, saying the decision will affect thousands of people.

Hmm, well, no, not really. Because we’re using different definitions here.

Lieu spokesman Jack d’Annabale said the congressman got his estimate from a May 2014 brief by researchers at UCLA’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy.

They used responses to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, sent to respondents by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality. The definition of transgender included “those whose gender identity or expression differs from those traditionally associated with their assigned sex at birth,” according to the study.

That’s one possible definition of trans. How people view themselves inside their heads.

Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in September 2015 used data from the UCLA brief and other sources to determine that 12,800 service member would be eligible for transgender health care. The study suggested of those, 188 would use benefits for transition services, at a cost of $4.2 million to $5.6 million.

That’s another possible definition, how many people go under the knife. Neither definition is actually the correct one, with the emphasis on the there. Either definition is useful at times. The trick is to work out which time is useful in what circumstances. No, I don’t know the answer for the military either. But my own prejudices would lead me to the idea that the first definition isn’t the relevant one while the second could be.

My actual point here is the trivial one that we’ve always got to examine the composition of any statistic which is thrown at us. Thousands you say? OK, how are you defining what you’re claiming thousands of? As with that perennial around here, poverty? Yes, but what is it that you mean by poverty? Having to cut back on the tabs in order to be able to afford beer? OK, sure, that’s a form of poverty but are you sure you want to go to the barricades for that one? In the same manner you want to over whether without tabs or beer, or pleasures, someone can get 2,000 calories a day?

Bad idea here, bad idea

Army leaders will be recruited direct from the civilian world rather than rising up through the ranks, under a proposed overhaul to bring in specialist skills for 21st century warfare.

The plan to hire straight into the regular Army’s middle and possibly even higher ranks will overturn generations of tradition and a career structure that has seen leaders work their way up from the bottom.

Yes, I know they’re saying not in the combat arms and yes, I understand the basic problem they’ve got of certain specialist skills. But the answer, I would strongly suspect, is to have an entirely new status, career structure, ranking system even, rather than try to shoehorn into the current structure. Instead of Major (Specialist) something more like Specialist (Major). There are those around here with much moire military experience than myself so what say them?

From memory Doctors and Padres go in directly as Captains, so this isn’t entirely unknown already. But they are considered very, very, different from line officers, aren’t they?

Queen Lizzie uses Windows XP

Navy chiefs boasted the defence system on the UK’s biggest ever warship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be NASA standard – rather than like the NHS system that was hacked into several months ago.
But computers in the flying control room on the £3.1billion state-of-the-art carrier showed the system was still running on Windows XP.
This was the same software used by the NHS computers which were hit by a global cyber-attack in May this year.

That’s the Windows XP which is so outdated that it cannot load, let alone pass on, modern viruses?

Seems pretty safe really…..

On balance, no, I don’t think so

Germany’s defence minister has called for the names of Nazi-era figures to be removed from military barracks.

“The armed forces have to make it clear, both internally and to the outside world, that they are not a continuation of the Nazi Wehrmacht,” Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday.

Seems reasonable enough. But then:

The Marseille air force barracks in Appen is named after Capt Hans-Joachim Marseille, the “Star of Africa”, a fighter pilot who took part in the Battle of Britain and North Africa campaign, and shot down 158 Allied aircraft, more than any other Luftwaffe ace.

The Lent army barracks in Rotenburg is named after Col Helmut Lent, a “night-fighter” pilot who shot down 110 Allied aircaft, 102 of them at night.

The Schulz-Lutz army barracks in Munster is named after Maj-Gen Adelbert Schulz, commander of the 7th Panzer Division, who served in the invasion of Belgium and died on the eastern front.

Umm, actually, no. The cause was bad enough, yes, but then armies don’t get to decide the cause, do they? I’d be worried if they were still calling something Goebbels or Goering, sure, but brave men who fought as they were told?

Recast this to us. The various North West Frontier wars were obviously, clearly, a hateful abomination of colonialism in modern parlance. Brave men would have been those who fought against that extension of the British hegemony.

But Piper Findlater still keeps his VC, right?

Not really quite Frank Whittle’s story

It was an idea given little credibility at the time but pioneering tests on an invention 80 years ago were the beginnings of what brought the world into the jet age.
Bumbling bureaucrats dismissed Sir Frank Whittle’s idea as ‘impractical’, allowing Nazi engineers to peruse plans that could have won Britain the war with ease.
After years of being discredited, the RAF officer eventually tested his crude jet engine at a small factory in Rugby, Warwickshire, on April 12 1937.
Yet it would be years still before the RAF and the world would finally recognise the potential of an idea that allows millions to travel the globe today.
Frank Whittle was once rejected from the RAF, passing the academic test but failing physically, struggling with the physical assessment and measuring just five foot.
But after subjecting himself to a gruelling physical and diet regime, he applied again and was accepted, reporting for duty as an apprentice at RAF Cranwell in 1923.
Academically gifted, he was recommended for a cadetship and began RAF College at Cranwell, where students would write a scientific thesis every six months.
It was here that Whittle, obsessed with the future of aviation, first considered the idea of a jet engine that could fly at high altitudes and unfathomable speeds.

Re the engine itself, no, the RAF realised they had a blinder there. Also that 20s metallurgy wasn’t really going to be good enough. And by the time that was good enough we were in the early stages of preparing for the war (and the Ministry wasn’t that dumb, really, they knew very well that to build jets they needed tungsten the major supply of which was in Portugal – there’s record of a meeting between a Min. bod and Whittle confirming this). At which point, do we expend our resources on an untried new technology? Or build out those Spitfires etc which we know work and we can build in quantity?

For better or worse they took the second decision and it’s not obvious that that was the wrong one. In war good enough in quantity can be better than better but in short supply.

And his cadetship, according to the story, wasn’t quite like that either, as I’ve mentioned around here before. This is how the story goes at least.

Officers were gentlemen, by definition. Therefore only gentlemen could be allowed to become officers of course. An apprentice was someone who worked upon engines ‘n’stuff, an artificer perhaps. Not a gentleman’s occupation, obviously. Pilots were gentlemen, the mechanics were, well, rude mechanics.

The RAF then had a bit of a rethink as they realised that knowing how to pass the port wasn’t really the major qualification they needed in a pilot nor indeed an officer. So they selected 12 artificers to go off through Cranwell to become officers. A test, you see? Whittle was number 13 on this list. And then one of the 12 broke his leg in a cross country competition (look, I’m telling you, this is how the story goes!) meaning that Whittle got shunted up and went to Cranwell.

And that is the story. Proof of this have I none except that one Bill Worstall was one of his fellow artificers sent on the same course as one of the 12. And if that’s how Gramps told the story then that’s good enough for me and it damn well should be good enough for you.

Don’t think Owen understands the US Constitution

So now we know what it takes for an unhinged, bigoted demagogue to win liberal applause: just bypass a constitution to fire some missiles.

A man widely castigated as a proto-fascist only needed to drop bombs without observing due process.

Leadership is shown by a man widely feared to be a) unhinged b) demagogic and c) authoritarian, dropping bombs in defiance of his country’s democratic process.

He bypassed the constitution this time,

They will have legitimised one extra-constitutional military intervention,

constitutional norms can be disregarded at a time of national crisis.

and would disregard constitutional norms.

Current constitutional practice is that, just as every US President has done since WWII, the Pres gets to decide this stuff.

Owen might not be right here therefore

Well, yes, obviously, who didn’t know this?

Army chiefs have launched a probe into whether tough military training is leaving thousands of female soldiers infertile.
They fear gruelling drills could be damaging the reproductive systems of young recruits, after evidence from the sports world showed one in four young female athletes struggles to conceive due to tough training schedules.
Now concerns are rife among leading medical experts in the British Armed Forces that many of the 16,000 serving women soldiers could also be affected.

Women who do gruelling training regimes tend to stop menstruating as their body fat drops.

And?

It’s temporary.

And, umm, isn’t this what we actually want? People who are front line troops don’t take 2 years off now and again?

Something left over from the Empire

At least 200 Indian paramilitary police were hospitalised with suspected food poisoning after eating meals at a training camp in the southern state of Kerala, police said Sunday.
Training cadets and security forces belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) complained of diarrhoea and vomiting after eating rice and fish curry for dinner on Saturday at a training camp in Ernakulam district.

No, not Delhi Belly.

The guard accused senior officials of siphoning funds meant for food rations,

That, rather used to run riot thourgh the Armed Forces, did it not?

Quote of the Day

“There are basically two ways to fight the US military: asymmetrically and stupid.”

HR McMaster

Little thing that interests me here. McMasters is, in that picture, wearing only 6 ribbons. Which is about what you might expect on a seasoned British officer (campaign medals etc without any gallantry awards, around and about these days, no?) but that’s a pittance for a septic. Gongs get handed out for learning how to fold the paper before wiping.

So what’s the story? Does he have some unusually low number of gongs for an American officer of his age and rank? Is he wearing some special short list to not show off? What?

OK, looking at Wikipedia he’s got a much longer list than he’s wearing in the picture. So, what’s the story there? You only wear the important ones with the posh uniform?

Fascinating

Russia plotted to assassinate the prime minister of a European nation and overthrow its government last year, according to senior Whitehall sources.

An election-day coup plot to attack Montenegro’s parliament and kill the pro-Western leader was directed by Russian intelligence officers with the support and blessing of Moscow, to sabotage the country’s plan to join Nato.

This is just me and my prejudices of course but I do tend to think that if this was actually planned from the centre then it would have worked. There’s an amazing number of rather less competent hyper-nationalists out there who might dream of trying something like this though.

Interesting

Britain’s accounting watchdog has sounded the alarm over the military’s spending plans, warning the MoD’s ability to pay for kit and maintenance is “at the highest risk ever”.

The National Audit Office’s analysis of the MoD’s £178bn spending plans for 2016 to 2026 – which include projects such as the F-35 fighter, Dreadnought nuclear submarines and P-8 Poseidon spyplanes – warns of a series of concerns on the already stretched defence budget.

In the standard analysis of government the purpose of it is to gain those public goods that we cannot gain without it. And defence, against those marauding Walloons, is first on that list.

It’s true that MoD is not notably well run – but then nor is most of government. Yet here the argument is about whether government can afford to spend 2.4% of government revenue on what is government’s first task.

Hhhm, maybe we took a wrong turn at some point?