Mis-Direction

We have a two ocean, “Blue Water” Navy.Good thing because while the nation has its eyes on the Middle East, China is nibbling away at our lunch!
There is a huge debate going on in the White House about how to respond to two SERIOUS Chinese threats, and so far the answer — just like the answer to so many problems — is “Let me think about this.”

Meanwhile two problems do not simmer, they boil, demonstrating that this administration cannot walk and chew gum simultaneously, and it makes the administration appear incompetent.

They ARE incompetent.

The cyber attacks on our industry and the very government are going on daily. The attack on the Office of Personnel Management was by far the worse because it compromised millions of U.S. documents regarding such mundane things as medical records and such vital things as the names of our spies in China!

The president has said that we must retaliate, and that we will, but he does not say how. It may be necessary to retaliate covertly, so that our fingerprints are not politically visible.

The next and equally important problem is the Chinese building airports and military facilities on man-made “islands” in the South Pacific, and claiming that those “islands” constitute the new basis for a 12 mile sovereignty. 

Of course that is hog-wash, but if not challenged it can become reality. Those are not natural islands at all, but massive deposits of soil upon coral reefs and underwater barriers. The 12 mile limit, if so acknowledged, cuts off tens of thousands of square miles of blue water between those “islands” and the Chinese mainland to both commercial and military traffic. 

There are many islands in the area…real islands that are claimed by other nations, such as Japan and the Philippines, and this sort of expansion could encompass many, or all of these.

Once again the White House is debating what to do. The Navy has always believed that their primary job is to keep the commerce flowing around the world, by protecting the sea lanes — and the White House knows it must do something but in this case it is difficult to do something quietly.

The Navy wishes to sail the Fleet into the waters of those Chinese, it’s as simple as that. It cannot be done quietly, and that is what bothers the primary resident in the White House. One or two Aircraft Carriers, under AWACS and accompanied by a couple of Cruisers and all the usual Frigates is a force to be reckoned with.

The Chinese may bluster, but nothing short of several nuclear weapons will deter such a force, and I doubt the Chinese are ready yet to take on the U.S. Navy, or open a nuclear war over those islands.

Meanwhile, undeterred, the Chinese continue to both breach our computers and build their “Islands”, claiming that those constitute a new site for their 12 mile limit.

Incompetence. 

The Mayflower Had a Better PR PERSON!

A replica of the ship that actually settled California — and it was long before the Mayflower in Massachusetts, it was the ship San Salvador in San Diego. Some Massachusetts people know that the Mayflower was not the first ship, but they contend that the Mayflower brought the first continually occupied territory — as if other cities didn’t exist. The Mayflower just had better Public Relations!
The Mayflower touched just north of Cape Cod, at Plymouth, Mass in 1620. (My wife is from a Mayflower family, and there are six families in Marshfield, Mass. still living on the original grants, including my wife’s family.)

So, imagine my wife’s surprise to learn that Juan Cabrillo arrived in San Diego Bay in 1542!

Yep! That’s before Jamestown, Va., also, 1607.

The San Salvador, a light 200 ton ship of only 100 feet, was not a usual sea-going ship, but rather what we would call a costal ship. Although there is a spot on San Diego Bay called Cabrillo Landing, it is a lot like the Plymouth Rock. It is unlikely either vessel landed at either point — the most likely point in San Diego Bay is called Ballast Point, currently the site of the Submarine Base. I served aboard three submarines stationed at Ballast Point.

The first European to touch what is the continental U.S. was Ponce de Leon, and the first cities were Saint Augustine, Florida, and Sante Fe New Mexico — both were settled cities before the Mayflower was even considered.

I Am Angry

There is a lot of Internet traffic contending the John McCain was nicknamed “Songbird” — because he talked so much.
I have no idea if it is true or not, but EVERYONE talks under torture, and anyone who has any first, or second-hand knowledge knows that.

So let me tell you why Commander Bucher of the USS Pueblo signed his “confession” — the North Koreans took Bucher to a cell where a man hung in irons — the guy had one eye removed and it hung down his face with black matter dribbling down his face from the extraction. A bone stuck out of his right arm. He had chewed through his lower lip which hung by a thread, and he was just mumbling.

The NK Colonel took Bucher back to his cell and said, “Congratulations, Commander. You have withstood our beatings and torture, and now you see what we are capable of…sign the confession or we will parade your crew (82) and we will shoot them beginning with the youngest (19). If you can watch every crew member die before you — you win.”

If you sign after the 10th or 20th, you have wasted 10 or 20. If you don’t believe you can withstand all, don’t wast any. Sign!”

He signed.

I know this because I represented his family… He had been my XO on a Submarine. I acted as Buchers bodyguard and speechwriter after his return.

I have 26 years service, Enlisted and Officer, and I do not want ANY captured serviceman spoken about like Trump did, unless they have SERIOUS service behind them, and, according to the news, neither foes the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Trump was a silver spoon Ivy Leaguer — inherited his fathers business. 

I am deservedly ANGRY!

What We Need Is N AMERICAN DESK At the State Department

As long-time readers know, I was the organizer and main participant in the national Remember the Pueblo in 1969, and it cost me my Naval career. Lieutenants should be seen and not heard, and when a Navy Lt. Is quoted in Time magazine, often, and other media constantly, it is going to cost.
It was a learning experience, and the first thing I learned is that our State Department is filled with liberals who believe, as does this administration, that the United States is just too big, too powerful, and that the “foreign desks” on which the diplomatic staff sits, can best be represented by taking their side at every opportunity.

What we need at State is an AMERICAN DESK!

First, upon the seizure of the crew of the Pueblo, 81 men, by the North Koreans, my first words to Rose Bucher, the wife of the Commanding Officer of the Pueblo, CD-R. Loyd “Pete” Bucher, was, “Don’t worry Honey, the honor of the United States will not let this last 24 hours.”

I could not have been more naive. 

As my wife, Jean, Rose and I were dealing with phone calls from Pete’s friends from around the world, plus the national press (Walter Cronkite from the first day), plus the Navy Brass, we were also contacted by several mothers, fathers brothers and children of previous North Korean captives, and a helicopter pilot captive previously held.

The conversations, condensed, were: The State Department told us right after our loved ones were captured that we should be quiet, and let diplomacy work on this. We did, for years, but when we continually got the message, ‘We are working on it.'”

“When we finally got frustrated and went to the press, the press said, ‘That’s old news.’ They never listened to us.”

“Please, Please, PLEASE, do not stay silent.”

The Navy and the State Department asked us, and the pueblo families to stay quiet and let “Quiet Diplomacy” work its magic.  

I told the State Department that we would remain silent for 30 days, after which we would raise hell. That is exactly what we did.

(If you can imagine a young Navy Lieutenant giving an ultimatum to the State Department, the you can imagine why my Navy career was cut short!

We have zero idea if the furor we raised helped free the Pueblo crew, but the crew thinks so, and Pete and Rose thought so, We will never know. Within the Navy there were two schools of thought and it was best demonstrated by my being summoned to the office of the Commandant of the 11th Naval District, where the Commandant (Admiral) reamed me for an hour, after which, as I left, the Secretary told me the Commander of the Seventh Fleet Flagship wanted me aboard the flagship, USS Chicago, for lunch. The Admiral, Bernie Roeder, hugged this Lieutenant and we had a great conversation. 

The Navy tried to separate me from Pete Bucher’s wife — they thought I was some sort of evil Svengali, writing the speeches and getting national press interviews (Guilty) — so they first sent me orders to Keflivick, Iceland, and when I got the CNO to personally change those orders (I did have friends), the Forces of Evil tried to lure me away by sending me orders to the flagship of the Sixth Fleet as Navigator. (Got those changed, also.)

Meanwhile, the Navy refused to give the wife of the Commanding Officer, the addresses of the families of the crew. The spokesman sent a letter to Rose saying, “The administration does not find it useful to cooperate with those who may not be friends of the administration.”

http://allenhemphill.com/uss_pueblo.htm

Unrealistic Expectations

The Iranian Foreign Minister says today, that the restriction on ballistic is not in the main body of the agreement but in Annex, and “restrictions” are not required but Iran is “called upon to comply” — therefore not binding. 
Further, the Foreign Minister says, the restriction on ballistic missile development is on ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear weapons, and since Iran never intended to develop nuclear weapons, the restriction is invalid.

Not to mention that the religious leader still calls for “Death to America,” but that is nothing new.

What is new is that Kerry says these things are “troubling” — as if (almost) everyone could see and here that coming from the get-go. 

Saudi Arabia has expressed their disgust with the deal — it is not a treaty — and, while they do not have the interest or assets to attack Iran, they do have bases that can provide much needed refueling for Israeli jets enroute to and from Iran.

The Saudis themselves are unlikely to provide cover for the Israeli jets, although they certainly have advanced American jets, armament, electronics and, most importantly, American training. The Saudis, have always — at least until Yemen — been risk averse, and are more likely to engage in nuclear weapon competition through buying nukes from Pakistan or North Korea.

Kerry is not just a fool, easily duped and out maneuvered by trained Middle East negotiators who cut their teeth bargaining in the bazaar, but he apparently was under presidential orders to get whatever he could. 

From an administration that considered ISIS a “JV” squad, being unrealistic and naive is a hallmark of the Democratic Party. 

Perhaps the administration might have just hoped that the “deal” would unravel in the next administration. 

Another unrealistic expectation.

Remembering the LST

CBS is featuring a piece on an old sailor named Ernie who is walking across America to remind us of the WWII LST. — Landing Ship Tank. There is only one left in its original WWII configuration, although we built more than 1,000 them.
Know the ship well… I served on one crossing the North Atlantic. By then (1952) the LST I was on had been converted to the ARVA-6, the USS Megara. The ARVA stood for Aircraft Repair Ship, but all that meant is that the Navy took the tank deck and filled it with aircraft fuselage repair machinery. It took a ship designed for a crew of 80, with food preparation for 80, food storage for 80, toilet facilities for 80 and sleeping facilities for 80 — then stuffed 240 men aboard. 

(I slept in the Armory, with a mattress(sic) laid upon the Cosmoline-smelling rifle repair bench. I will never forget the smell!)

As a Seaman, I was returned too late from Korea (aboard the the USS O’Bannon, DDE 450) to enter Annapolis because of an administrative SNAFU, the Navy decided to send me to Europe aboard this ARVA rust bucket. Designed to make a one way trip to heave combat troops on the last mile of invasion, this ship had made…lets just say too many miles. Far too many miles.

Crossing the North Atlantic, we broke a main expansion joint, and as Helmsman I watched the bow first rise to the left, then the right, then the left, while the stern where the helm was located, remained steady on the course. We put into Horta Bay, in the Azores to get repairs after the bucket brigades kept us afloat. 

 I was eventually sent back States from Taranto, Italy, first to Prep School (they wanted to make certain we had not been too long away from school), then to Annapolis.    

It was an experience to serve aboard that ship, as an 18 year-old, but I hope that Ernie gets attention to these ships — they certainly helped win WWII.

Trump Just Tanked

Donald Trump went one bridge too far, putting down Prisoners of War in general, and John McCain in particular — that stepped Way Over the line! Think of the Bataan Death March as the very best example, or the pilots shot down over anywhere, but Tokyo as an example.
This from a man who never served in the military!

I am willing to bet good money that Trump falls heavily in the Republican polls, and quickly.    

This is one from which he cannot recover…

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