A Return to Cam Ranh Bay?

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A satellite image of the Cam Ranh Bay Naval Base in 2013. Credit DigitalGlobe, via Getty Images

Last week, Jane Perlez had an article in The New York Times speculating about the return of US Forces to Cam Ranh Bay, in Vietnam. It’s an interesting thought, and not nearly far-fetched as it sounds to ears that remember the sixties.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that nations usually don’t have friends, they have interests. But in the same way, that Great Britain is the United States’ friend, China is Vietnam’s enemy. It’s something that goes back a thousand years, and as always: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. In addition, we should remember that likely in the late forties, in a misguided intention to support imperial France, we threw away a potential ally in Ho Chi Minh, who had been known to quote the Declaration of Independence fervently. It wasn’t Truman’s finest hour.

And so led the way to a war, which we fought badly, and lost. Although I would say we lost in Washington, not on the field. But we lost. And so our relations have been rather sour for a long while. From the article.

Vietnam’s needs dovetail with those of the United States, which has been encouraging maritime states in Southeast Asia to better defend themselves, an effort partly aimed at keeping the United States from being dragged into a direct naval conflict with China.

The prospect of access to Cam Ranh Bay, where the Vietnamese have built a new international port, provides another enticement for lifting the ban.

An American presence there would allow United States forces to use the port on the western edge of the South China Sea, complementing American facilities in the Philippines on the sea’s eastern edge.

“If the United States can get regular access to Cam Ranh Bay, it would be very advantageous to maintaining the balance of power with China,” said Alexander L. Vuving, a Vietnam specialist at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu. “If something happens in the South China Sea, it takes a while for the U.S. to get there. China can get there more quickly.”

The Vietnamese, who shun alliances and forbid foreign bases, have made clear they would not entertain exclusive use of the facilities by the United States but would allow it to share the base with others. Singaporean and Japanese vessels this year were the first to use the facility.

via Why Might Vietnam Let U.S. Military Return? China. – The New York Times

That all makes sense to me, we’ve talked many times here about how important the area is. It sits on one of the major shipping lanes in the world, see also what we said here. Understand this, the US (and Royal) Navy’s ability to contest this area is exactly what led the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor, and Singapore. The same can happen with China.

Along the same lines, China is increasingly finding that its moves are being resisted, peacefully so far, but things are stirring, and alliances are shaking, another case in point: India. From Kevin Knodell.

1-3ti_mjeJQQO1j9TIsWsgSAWashington and New Delhi are getting a lot more serious about military-to-military ties. As the United States and India become more wary of an increasingly assertive China, the two countries are gradually edging closer together.

On May 16, American and Indian met for a “maritime security dialogue” in New Delhi. “The dialogue covered issues of mutual interest, including exchange of perspectives on maritime security development in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region as well as prospects for further strengthening cooperation between India and the United States in this regard,” stated an Indian Ministry of External Affairs press release.

Washington and New Delhi are also close to formalizing a historic military cooperation agreement hazily called the “Logistics Support Agreement” — or LSA. The agreement would allow the two militaries to use each other’s land, air and naval bases for resupplies, repairs and conducting operations.

American and Indian officials agreed to hold the summit during an April visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Despite regular meetings and joint military training, the United States and India are not allies in any formal sense. India was officially unaligned in the Cold War but kept close relations with the Soviet Union — and the United States backed arch-rival Pakistan.

But there is a slow yet historic realignment underway. First of all, the United States and India are both growing warier of China’s rise as a major regional military power. Second, the U.S.-Pakistani relationship has deteriorated during the course of America’s decade-and-a-half-long war in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan is the world’s top recipient of Chinese weapons.

via: Watch Out, China

So for all the silliness in Washington, we appear to be in some respects still acting properly as the world’s premier maritime power, ensuring the freedom of the seas for all, hopefully, some gestures will be enough, and likely they will if it’s obvious that gestures are not the only thing in the cupboard.

There’s a word for that. It’s called deterrence.

Top Gun – Still Flying High after 30 Years

w704Funny what gets out attention going on subjects sometimes. I fell in love with the American Civil War in elementary school, during the centennial celebration, especially the books by Bruce Catton. As someone said, you could feel the heat, the dust, the boredom, and the horrors of battle in his words. Those legendary armies still, all these years, later, march in my mind. That became an obsession with first military history and later history in general. If I’m troubled about most anything, you’re likely to find me with my nose in a book, and invariably it will be either history, or a historical novel, and some of them are very good.

Seems like I’m not the only one, either. My friend Dale, over at Command Performance Leadership, tells a similar tale about the opening of Top Gun a few days over thirty years ago. Well, OK, I admit it, I loved it then, and I still do today, as well. But like good history, Top Gun has some lessons to teach, and that’s Dale’s business, so listen up, we’re gonna sortie right into The Danger Zone.

One month before I left for boot camp, on May 16, 1986, the iconic movie, Top Gun, opened in theaters.  Starring Tom Cruise, playing the role of Lieutenant Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell, Top Gun would become one of the most endearing military movies of all time.  From its opening scene (may I opine: The best opening scene to a movie ever!), to it victorious ending, this movie is jam-packed with great action and music.

If you don’t believe us, hook that video up to a good stereo, and crank it. This was the first movie I bought on videotape (Betamax stereo, in fact), and it’s hard to describe (in polite company) what my reaction was when I played it through my fairly adequate stereo.

In addition to its excellent music and its action-packed scenes, the movie’s dialogue is immortal.  Comical, hard-hitting and full of power and meaning, Top Gun is full of unforgettable lines, like these:

Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.” ~ Captain Tom “Stinger” Jordan

“Top Gun rules of engagement are written for your safety and for that of your team.  They are not flexible, nor am I” ~ CDR Mike “Viper” Metcalf (Commander, U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School – Top Gun)

“A good pilot is compelled to evaluate what’s happened, so he can apply what he’s learned” ~ Viper

These, and many other lines, certainly capture the strict discipline and protocol that you would expect from the military.  And, then there arelines that you might use at work just to annoy your co-workers, such as the infamous, “I feel the need … the need for speed.”  Or, there are lines like the ones listed below that are suited for everyday use and have particular meaning (click on image to be taken to larger image via its web link ): [It won’t work here, but it will from CPL. Neo]

*Courtesy: The Further Adventures of Doctrine Man (Facebook), akaDoctrine Man (Twitter)*

Out of the movie also comes leadership wisdom.  Top Gun is referenced often when discussing leadership and team dynamics; a sort of leadership ethos.  This was extensively explored by Bob Jennings andJ. Israel Thompson in a series of posts that were written as fictional “interviews” with key characters from the movie.  Links to each of those posts are listed below:

Often in the movie, however, there are those times when a butt-chewingwas necessaryThe fine art of delivering corrective action is sometimes garnished with some colorful language.  As the movie evolves, you notice Viper’s style becomes the textbook example of how to deliver negative feedback.  There is, obviously, a right way and a wrong way.

Like Dale, I too learned a lot about leadership from, “Those Magnificient Men in their Flying Machines”, but I’m nearly a generation older, I learned from Gregory Peck, General Savage in 12 O’Clock High. But you know we learned the same lessons, B-17s going to Germany, or F-14s in the Indian Ocean, the lessons are essential and timeless. And just as true in the civilian world, as in the Navy, or the Air Force.

But Dale also brought some fun.

Which ‘Top Gun’ Character Are You?

Quiz #1          Quiz #2          Quiz #3          Quiz #4

______________________________________________________________

Call Sign Generator

via Top Gun – Still Flying High after 30 Years | Command Performance Leadership

Which character am I? well, if you must know, Maverick twice, Jester, and Iceman, once each. I think that’ll do.:)

And remember: “The plaque for alternates is down in the ladies room“!

The Real Wayne

2E49CEE500000578-3311130-image-m-32_1447128028102Every once in a while, and it’s rare, one of those articles comes along, that one simply wants to reprint. But one can’t both because we have respect for the author and the original publisher, and because of the copywrite laws, which protect us all. So we excerpt and we link, and we urge you to ‘read the whole thing’™. This is one of those times, from Ron Capshaw writing on www.libertylawsite.org.

On a movie set many years ago, actress Geraldine Page found herself seated between actor Ward Bond, an enforcer of the blacklist of communists then raging in Hollywood, and his friend, the conservative actor John Wayne. Page was only accustomed to being around her fellow show business liberals, so she listened to the two men’s conservative views with a sense of “horror.” But as the conversation went on, she developed a marginally more favorable view of Wayne, whom she called a “reactionary for all sorts of non-reactionary reasons.”

“I swear that if John Wayne ever got transplanted out of this circle of people that are around him all the time,” said Page, “he would be the most anti-reactionary force for . . . good.”

Such distinctions were not made by liberal lawmakers in Sacramento recently. The California legislature voted down a Republican lawmaker’s proposal for a “John Wayne Day” for the state of California, declaring Wayne beyond the pale because of his support for the House Un-American Activities Committee and the John Birch Society.

On the surface, they would seem to have a case. Wayne did support the blacklist against movie-industry communists, saying, for example, that he never regretted running screenwriter Carl Foreman out of the country. He did support Senator Joseph McCarthy’s (R-Wis.) sloppy and self-serving statements about communists in government. And he indeed was a member of the John Birch Society, a bookish (which is to say nonviolent) but undeniably zany group that entertained conspiracy theories about who controlled the levers of the U.S. government. He also supported the U.S. defense of South Vietnam, which was under siege by guerrillas supplied by the communist North Vietnamese.

The liberals in the California legislature also charged racism, citing a 1971 interview Wayne gave to Playboy magazine in which he said: “I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”

Well. A few other things also need to be considered…

– See more at: The Real Wayne

Sounds a lot like almost every American I’ve ever known and respected. Maybe why that’s after all these years, he’s still the favorite actor of many of us, as well as around the world. There wasn’t anything simple about him, and there isn’t about us either.

But also like many of us, including Jess, I rarely think of the Duke without thinking of Maureen O’Hara. Seems to me a strong character like Wayne, needs a strong co-star to play off, and that ginger Irish lass was about as strong as they come, and they worked so well together.

But when she died last fall, I missed something. Did you guys realize that she was buried next to her husband, Brigadier General Charles Blair, USAF, at Arlington Memorial Cemetary, the General and his Lady, still with the troops, as it should be? By the way, he died in an aircraft accident in 1978.

2E47407B00000578-3311130-She_was_buried_next_to_her_husband_U_S_Air_Force_Brig_Gen_Charle-a-33_1447113520697It is also reported that when she died, she was listening to the soundtrack of The Quiet Man. I like that, not least because it is one of my favorite movies, maybe my favorite. It’s also reported that amongst the mourners was Melinda Munoz, John Wayne’s daughter.

The Shannon Rovers from Chicago perform bagpipe music during the graveside service for Maureen O'Hara

The Shannon Rovers from Chicago perform bagpipe music during the graveside service for Maureen O’Hara

But she never forgot her Irish heritage either, saying, “My heritage has been my grounding, and it has brought me peace”. She also said, “Some people see me as a former screen siren while others remember me as the dame who gave as good as she got in movies with John Wayne, for example,’ she reflected.

‘Many women have written to me over the years and said I’ve been an inspiration to them, a woman who could hold her own against the world.’

And the Duke said this, “She’s a great guy. I’ve had many friends, and I prefer the company of men. Except for Maureen O’Hara.

From The Daily Mail

So it’s been a busy week, for me, for Jess, and for most of you, as well. So let’s sit back and remember the general’s lady when she was the colonel’s lady, in the last of the trilogy, Rio Grande.

The Marker is All that Remains, Until We Look Further

This showed up in my inbox yesterday as they do periodically. I’m always moved, but something about this one struck me as special, Maybe because of the linked blogs military connection, or because he’s a good writer or just something about the guy himself. I don’t know, but I want to share. From WeaponMan.

This small, but beautifully worked, marker was nailed, Christlike, to a cross that marked the end of a man’s world and the beginning of the Commonwealth War Graves Commisison’s responsibility for caring for his last remains. When his daughter, who somehow received the temporary cross, presumably when Richard de Rupe Roche’s grave was marked with a permanent stone by the Commission after the war, passed away, the marker which had been on the cross came into the white-gloved hands of the curators of the Imperial War Museum in London, who handle and preserve the century-old marker with care, perhaps even reverence.

Name plate from temporary grave marker of (409) Corporal Richard de Rupe Roche who served during the First World War on the Western Front with the Queen’s Westminster Rifles (16th Battalion, The London Regiment). Corporal de Rupe Roche died on active service on 8 January 1915 (aged 34). He was the elder son of Captain Richard Roche RN and Maria Jane Roche, and husband of Ethel Roche of Culver Cottage, Fletcher Road, Horsell, Woking. He is buried in Houplines Communal Cemetery Extension. (Information derived from the Commonwealth War Graves ‘Debt of Honour’ database). The cross belonged to his daughter Miss Barbara Roche who died in 1981; Miss Roche’s only memory of her father was waving goodbye to him as he left by train when she was only five years old.

Multiply that by several million, translate it into all the languages of the European continent, and behold the human picture of First World War.

The IWM does not say it, but Barbara, born 1913, was Richard’s and his wife Ethel’s only child. When Richard died, he left a substantial estate (for the time) of £2,365 15s 6d. (For those not old enough to recall pre-decimalization English money, those figures denote two thousand, three hundred sixty-five pounds, fifteen shillings and sixpence… people would usually say two thousand, three hundred sixty-five pounds, fifteen and six. Don’t get us started on guineas.

Says the IWM of this little artifact:

Name plate from a temporary grave marker of (409) Corporal Richard de Rupe Roche who served during the First World War on the Western Front with the Queen’s Westminster Rifles (16th Battalion, The London Regiment). Corporal de Rupe Roche died on active service on 8 January 1915 (aged 34). He was the elder son of Captain Richard Roche RN and Maria Jane Roche, and husband of Ethel Roche of Culver Cottage, Fletcher Road, Horsell, Woking. He is buried in Houplines Communal Cemetery Extension. (Information derived from the Commonwealth War Graves ‘Debt of Honour’ database). The cross belonged to his daughter Miss Barbara Roche who died in 1981 and was a close friend of the donor’s sister, to whom she left all her personal property. Miss Roche’s only memory of her father was waving goodbye to him as he left by train when she was only five years old. Several photographs and two letters of condolence were acquired with the marker (see correspondence file). One photograph shows a simple wood cross with the grave marker fixed to it at Houplines Military Cemetery and the others show Miss Barbara Roche as a young girl with her mother Ethel and a separate photograph of Corporal Roche.

For all their effort, the IWM has missed some details of Richard Roche the father and Richard de Rupe Roche. Fortunately, amateur historians memorializing Isle of Wight notables have unearthed them, and historians far away in western America have found more. These details reflect well on the men and their family. Captain Roche served in a ship in support of the British force that occupied the north end of San Juan Island in Washington (while American Marines occupied the south end, and diplomats wrangled over the border). Roche père did considerable exploration there; some terrain features are named after him to this day. He passed on in 1888 in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, so at least he did not live to see his son go to war — either time.

In World War I, Corporal Roche received a Mention in Dispatches, a significant valor award. It turns out he was already a veteran who fought and was wounded in the Boer War.

Private 4766 Richard de Rupe Roche served with 50 Company (2nd Hampshire) 17 Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry in the South African War. He was ‘Wounded Dangerously on 28 Mar 1901 at Rondal’, and awarded the Queen’s South Africa (QSA) Medal with Clasps: Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, Rhodesia, South Africa 1901.

He would have been just 20 in that war. He was well enough on his return to England for sport:

Richard de Rupe Roche is believed to have played for Wakefield Rugby Football Club in the inaugural season of 1901/2.

via The Marker is All that Remains, Until We Look Further | WeaponsMan

Keep reading, including the comments. Here is the reason, we have Memorial Day, and why it is so special, and why Britain and the Commonwealth have Remembrance Day. Hognose’s last sentence, although obvious, is one we must never forget.

“In war, the best fall; it has to have a dysgenic effect on a nation.”

Conservative success!

344223-scottish-conservatives-leader-ruth-davidson-on-a-tank-close-ge15-uploaded-april-29-2015-quality-news

In the 1997 General Election, the UK Conservative Party lost all its Scottish seats, and with the creation of devolved parliament in Edinburgh (where I now live), it seemed that north of the border, the Conservatives were a dead ‘brand’. As recently as 2011 they had only 17 seats in the Scottish Parliament, and with the Scottish nationalists winning an unprecedented second term with a majority of seats (something hard to get under the electoral system here), it seemed that the country was headed toward a one party state and possible independence. Then something happened – or rather someone happened – a 5 foot 3 bundle of energy called Ruth Davidson became leader of the Scottish Conservative Party. She seemed, to put it mildly, an unlikely leader for the Scottish Unionists.

She comes from a working-class background, got to University, went into the media and then, so it seemed, committed career suicide by taking up a career as a Tory politician in the most viscerally anti-Tory part of the UK. Before she became leader there was some doubt as to how Tory voters – and others – would react to the fact that she was both openly gay and a practicing Christian? The short answer was delivered yesterday when the elections saw her win a seat in Edinburgh (I voted for her) and her party become the second largest in the Scottish Parliament. So, what went right?

We often say here that personality matters. Well, Ruth Davidson is a former territorial army officer, she broke her back in her twenties and had to learn to walk again – she’s not really going to be phased by political insults. She’s a bundle of energy, she’s so obviously sincere in her support for the Union that she’s been able to win support from those who are not natural Tory voters but want to save the Union and do not trust the Labour Party (which did dismally here) to do so. Labour, in an attempt to win some nationalist votes, at least sent signals it might be willing to do deals on the subject. No doubt there were those offering the save advice to Ms Davidson, but she rejected that line and went with what she believed.

There’s a lesson here for the Conservatives south of the border. Widely seen as dominated by upper-class public school boys who have no idea how the rest of us live, their candidate for the London Mayoralty, the multi-millionaire Zac Goldsmith, was beaten into a cocked hat by the Muslim son of a Pakistani bus driver, Sadiq Khan, a Labour MP who sounded as though he actually lived in London in the way most ordinary people do. Boris Johnson, another public schoolboy, had the charisma to be able to appeal across the political divide, and who knows, may become Prime Minister when Cameron stands down.

But up here, the dynamism of Ruth Davidson offers another option – a down to earth figure who can appeal to people across the political spectrum and whose obvious sincerity and connectedness to reality makes her a popular figure. Boris might hope she stays here – we certainly do.

Character is Crumbling in Leadership

Ebctnb5Dale R. Wilson, who publishes Command Performance Leadership, is one of my oldest blogfriends. He doesn’t publish as often as he used to, which is a shame, but when he does, his posts are always incisive, and important. This is no exception.

In military and civilian academic institutions around the world, above and beyond their core curriculum, character is taught and inspired.  In each of the military academies in the United States, as well as college Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs, the purpose and responsibility is to produce leaders of character.  To accomplish this, they incorporate the values of integrity, respect, responsibility, compassion, and gratitude into the daily life of cadets and midshipmen who aspire to become tomorrow’s leaders. […]

At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point character development strategy promotes living honorably and building trust.  West Point believes that their approach not only develops character, but modifies behavior over the course of the 47-month cadet experience.  Ultimately, the desire is for cadets and rotating faculty members to depart West Point with the character, competence, and commitment to build and lead resilient teams that thrive in complex security environments.  Most importantly, everyone commits to living honorably and building trust, on and off duty.

The Cadet Honor Code at West Point:

A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.[iv]

Recommended Reading: Duty, Honor, Country [Go there, if you haven’t read this lately you owe it to yourself, to see what built our country! Neo] […]

No matter what our challenges happen to be, either driven by stress or human urges, we must strive to reach deep within ourselves to overcome the temptation to make poor decisions; no matter if we are in uniform downrange, or in daily life with our family or friends.  Our country, society, superiors, peers, subordinates, family, and friends are relying on our steady and consistent moral courage to translate into professional decorum and behavior; always.

Many respected military leaders of the past espoused the vitally important qualities of a leader.  Lieutenant General John A. Lejeune, the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps said, “Leadership is the sum of those qualities of intellect, human understanding, and moral character that enables a person to inspire and control a group of people successfully.”  Among General Douglas MacArthur’s 17 Principles of Leadership, which essentially acts as a leader’s self-assessment questionnaire, there is this question: “Am I a constant example to my subordinates in character, dress, deportment and courtesy?”

via Character is Crumbling in Leadership | Command Performance Leadership

Well, are you? Frankly this isn’t something just for the military, nor is it just something for Americans. This is the essence of leadership, and servant leadership, at that. It is the ideal,the pinnacle of leadership. None of us succeed all the time, but if we wish to have a free society, we must try, and even more to the point, so must those we appoint to lead us.

Frankly, I learned this early, my dad, showed this, almost as strongly as General Marshal did, but even so, ROTC codified it for me in the saying.

First: the Mission

Second: the Men

Last: yourself

That is what I’ve always strived for, and in whatever measure I’ve been successful, it is that striving that is responsible. But, in business today, like our military, I see little of this. What I see is a selfish, uncaring of anybody but oneself attitude, that assumes that everybody is looking out for themselves. They may be right, to a point, but they (and their companies) will not find long term success, using this rubric, nor will America. Because much too often they’ll not lead, but manage, and bring that down to the level of the next quarterly bottom line. In every case that I have seen, that has led to losing the best people, and the ruination of the reputation of the brand, and often the demise of the company.

Not a good recommendation, for our companies, nor, especially, for our churches, and our military, and, emphatically not for our country.

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