Friday, July 27, 2018



 Computer numerical control (CNC) is a form of automation of machine tools by computers executing programed machine control commands. Until relatively recently production machinery used in manufacturing was controlled by hand wheels, levers, or mechanically by cams. The previous and still functioning technology was monitored where necessary by analog type sensors and displays which prompted human operator manual adjustment. In modern CNC systems the manufacture of mechanical parts and other items is highly automated. The part or other object to be manufactured has its mechanical dimensions defined using computer aided drafting (CAD) software. The CAD designed software then is translated into manufacturing process directives by computer aided manufacturing software. The manufacturing process directives are transformed by post processor software into the needed specific commands required for the machine to produce the desired object and then down loaded into the specific unit of manufacturing (CNC) machine.

 Unlike the trends in 3D printing so far, any particular component part of a whole may require the employment of any number of different tools such as drills , saws, presses, etc.. These tools are often combined into a combination of tools called a "cell" capable of control by CNC programing. In some installations a number of different machines are used via an external controller and human or robotic line operators move the component from machine to machine. In either case the steps in the manufacturing process are highly automated and produces an object that closely matches the original CAD design.

 Now, if you have been following 3 D printing technology you know that the CNC systems evolved separately within the realm of "reductive manufacturing". "Reductive manufacturing " refers to the manufacturing processes common since the "Industrial Revolution" where in quantities of various raw materials are converted into useful objects. In the process, materials such as wood, steel, etc. are reduced from boards, sheets, or bars and shaped into component parts, usually leaving quite a bit of "wasted material" on the shop floor". 3D printing processes of manufacture are by contrast not "reductive" in nature but produce items by layering powdered materials into forms of completed objects with no waste from left over areas of plates, bars, or boards. The 3D process has been becoming more viable for more objects of manufacture for a number of years now. Quite a number of items in commerce will still require reductive processes for quite some time into the foreseeable future. Both CNC and 3 D printing processes lend themselves to computer control or coordination. It was inevitable that the two technologies would start to blend at some point and we are starting to see that now. The combination of 3 D printing and CNC reductive manufacturing tools offers manufacturing great potential savings in labor , cost of materials , and production time. This blended technology just starting to emerge now is no doubt the next wave of major innovation in manufacturing industries.

 The technology will be a while both evolving into its apex state, and in commercial adoption. First, the blended technology is in its infancy, and where it is adopted older analog, reductive capital equipment will have to be scrapped or sold off at fire sale prices to third world interests, who won't want it for long. At Helios Ruehls we are observing these developments and trying to identify the safe bets for future investment. We search such things for the purposes of finding high tech investment opportunities for our endowment fund, and for corporate customers to whom we can sell research services. It is never our intention to outright own any of these companies simply to develop stable sources of investment income to support our fixed overhead, and potential customers for our services. We will share with our readers any thing useful that we find of investment interest in this field which is new to our monitoring efforts. 

 Meanwhile for our younger readers we can tell you that CNC technologies project a growing field of employment that you can prepare for now. Some of the job titles include but are not limited to:

CNC Programmer/ Machine Shop Technician

Machine Tool Maintenance Technician

  CNC Field Service Technician

Electro Mechanical Technician

 The jobs we looked at had compensation ranges from $17 per hour starting pay for new trainees to $ 65 an hour for journey men technicians. Educational requirements for these technician jobs universally included a high school diploma and a variety of post secondary technical training. Recommended courses to take in Voc-Tech school or a two year technical colleges include: 

Basic Electricity
Electronics (experience as an "Electronic Technician" petty officer in the Navy, Coast Guard, or Non Commissioned Officer in the Air Force appears highly valued )

Automation Processes

Pneumatics and Hydraulics

Automated Manufacturing

Programmable Logic Controllers

Process Control Devices

Computer Programming 

 These courses need not be part of a degree program nor the most exhaustive or comprehensive in nature. These are the subjects that a successful candidate for a CNC technician corporate training program should have formal training or  exposure to and / or some work experience in. Again as we have noted military / naval electronic technician petty officers and non commissioned officers at the end of a four year active service period generally have some exposure to training in all of these subjects and serious work exposure to them as well. Because of the demand for these types of skills the military services have a difficult time holding on to such enlisted members and some have provided fast track career paths to the top NCO / CPO pay grades or to Warrant officer status to be competitive with private industry. A high School diploma is an absolute necessity to enter such enlisted programs and some post high school exposure to the above listed subjects is a clear indicator of success in the military electronics field to military program screeners. Successful completion of a four year tour of active duty in the military / naval electronics field is an indicator of both the necessary background knowledge and a good work ethic to the civilian human resources departments. CNC technology started back in the 1940s and 50s and is still evolving rapidly. As it melds with 3 D printing technologies it appears to continue to offer new ,challenging, and lucrative opportunities to properly prepared technicians with less expensive preparation than a university degree in electronic engineering . 

 The university educated seeking careers in the management of CNC technologies or CNC driven manufacturing companies should have exposure to electrical and mechanical engineering courses, and business management courses. Those seeking design careers will probably need post graduate education that includes exposure to both mechanical design and computer programming. Looks like a great emerging career field for the young. As far as investment opportunities we have no specific suggestions at this time. As we become aware of such we will either update this post or generate a new one focused on investment. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018




 Well, America's the liberal progressive (socialist globalist) propaganda machine otherwise known as CNN. CBS. NBC, ABC, PBS, and such publications as America Today, Time Warner Publications, most big municipal daily papers, etc. are at it again. While still stirring a bogus pot of "Russian issues"and hysteria over the President supposedly "ignoring" his Intelligence Chiefs (see: THE GREAT NAMAZU INTRODUCES "ARRIAS" ON THE PRESIDENT AND THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICES AND FAKE NEWS).
The Fake news industry is trying to create out of whole cloth the idea that it is illogical, irregular, unprecedented, and dangerous for the President to revoke the security clearances of former government officials who happen to oppose him publicly. 

The list of former officials that the President is seeking to revoke the security clearances on include but probably are not limited to CIA former Director John Brennan, Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former national security advisor, Susan Rice, former deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and former National Security Director Michael Hayden, according to the usual leaky sources. According to all of the media mavens whose shorts are bunched up over the entire idea of these people being "stripped" of their security clearances; this is felonious Trump "misbehavior". Really, shouldn't the public be made aware of the the following facts before making such an assertion as if it was gospel.

1. All military and civil servants are routinely "stripped" of their security clearances when they leave the military or civil service. These authorities to access classified materials are not the personal property of those they are issued to. Classified clearances are given to government officials on a "need to know basis". When a cleared person leaves government service they no longer have a need to know. The surrender of their classified clearance, and all access and identification gear, and classified materials in their possession is routine and close to universal.

2. The exception to the above rules is that certain high ranking officials who may be subject to consultation or recall to duty may sometimes retain clearances. But there are conditions to non active former Federal officials continuing to hold classified clearances. 

 First the President or a cabinet member level official must honestly anticipate that the person allowed to retain clearance is likely to be subjected to consultation and recall. 

 Second, the person continuing to hold the clearance must be willing to submit to any and all periodic background checks required to continue to maintain the clearance. He or she must also continue to obey all the relevant laws, rules , policies, and regulations associated with such access to classified materials.

 Third,the person continuing to hold the clearance may not reveal sensitive, inside, or classified information to any one, particularly not enemy agents or the media.

 In the case of all of the people above they have exhibited very hostile attitudes towards the President. Their chances of being recalled or consulted are thus close to zero. The primary reason for making an exception to the rule does not apply to any of the above cited former officials. This fact alone places upon the President the right, duty and obligation to rescind their clearances. Moreover, the people named above have extensive contact with the media and don't hesitate to grant interviews, appear as "talking heads" or guest analysts. No one having even a part time career in journalism ( or in this case propaganda) should continue to have access to classified material. 

 The purpose of the classified security clearance system is to protect our national secrets. What better way to compromise our national secrets than to give part time, full time . or simply aspiring media personalities (calling any of them "journalists would be a real stretch) personal access to our national secrets? Clearly the President has a legally binding duty to recover the security clearances of the people in question. Why does the main stream media have their shorts all bunched up over this issue? 

 First they resent loss of the open door to the national secrets that the these people represented to them plus their appearance of credibility that the continued security clearances represented.

  Second of course is that most of the main stream media has an agenda opposed to the policies of the Trump administration. The commitment to carry out these policies is what resulted in Trump's election. When you are a dedicated socialist, globalist ,agnostic hell bent on insuring by any means necessary that all Americans adopt your values, you are insanely impelled to attack Trump any way you can.  

 We reiterate, Brennan, Clapper, Comey, Rice, McCabe, and  Hayden, must surrender any classified material still in their possession, and any documents indicating that they are in possession of a valid security clearance immediately. This demand is not Trump behaving outside of the law, but of the named individuals failing to comply. They continued to hold such on an exception to the normal rule that by their own actions they can no longer qualify for. Holding a valid and active security clearance is incompatible as a matter of black letter law with the level of media exposure these people seek. Time to move on boys and girls and stop trying to parlay your public service into a new and lucrative career at the expense of the security of the nation. And make no mistake about it, granting and revoking security clearances is an executive action that ultimately rests with the President. Neither Congress or the Media gets a say so. Mr. President you have a right, a duty, and an obligation to remove these people from the lists of those who have access to classified material and places as quickly as possible. Please act. 

Monday, July 23, 2018



 I've urged you before to turn daily to the Logo (Logo is a hot link) site as an antidote to swallowing too much fake news. FAKE news comes in a variety of types; spin doctoring, deliberately timed (like the announcement that the US had indited 12 Russians, who of course will never be produced or interrogated just in time to taint the President's Russian visit) , lies, damn lies, statistics, and the most insidious , the selective half truth. 

 The latest that comes to mind is the main stream media's lament that Mr. Trump didn't follow the advice of his intelligence agencies, or had discounted their assertions about Russian meddeling in American elections. Of course to some degree Mr. Trump did discount the asertions of his intelligence chiefs and with good reason. But to hear the main stream American media tell it this is always a bad thing and never done by proper US Presidents. History disagrees. 

 Well trust the Socotra House to point out the historical facts that show the Media to be engaged again in fake news / propaganda, whatever you want to call it, except journalism. What I personally like about the Socotra House is that when it comes to historical analysis they don't hesitate to hire the ghost of a dead historical figure to provide the analysis. The Socotra analyst in this case is one "ARRIAS", who appears to be a dead ancient Greek guy. You may recall that American Admiralty Books , on my recommendation hired long dead Supreme court Justice Louis Brandeis to comment on Admiralty law. I admire organizations that hire dead guys and mythological figures. It shows a real sense of the value of a dollar since their pay demands are real low, and courage to withstand the sneers and jeers of non believers. 

 Well, the late Mr "Arrias" really did a number on the media's anti Trump assertions relative to how much attention he did or didn't pay to his Intelligence chiefs. We reprint this with permission not in the hope of resolving the present issue in the public mind; but as an illustration of how selective memory works in the fake news business. To learn more and gain perspective as the swamp is drained and the Deep State continues to attack daily the forces of light be sure to check in daily with SOCOTRA HOUSE PUBLICATIONS  

Who To Believe
            "Watching the news over the last week was like watching a Marx Brothers movie: zany, madcap, and detached from reality. After a while I was reminded of Groucho's great line: “Who ya' gonna' believe, me or your lyin' eyes?”

            It seems everyone is up in arms about the President and his seeming support of Tsar Putin over the intelligence community (IC) assessment that Russia meddled in the US election. Hmmm...

            First, meddling. I'm fairly sure the Russians did meddle. After all, they (or their alter ego the Soviet Union) have  been meddling in US elections pretty regularly since the 1920s. There was even a case of a (liberal, east coast) US Senator asking the Soviet Union to help him defeat a (conservative) sitting president running for re-election (1984).

            But what about the IC? Are we supposed to trust them? Deputy AG Rosenstein reminded one and all that intelligence is “based on evidence.” Indeed it is. And the IC always does present evidence when it makes an argument for this or that point. So, is the president supposed to trust them?

            How about a short walk down memory lane?

            Should President Truman have trusted the IC when he was told in 1950 that the Soviets were years away from detonating an atomic bomb? Turns out they had detonated one a month before the assessment was presented to Truman. 

            How about the 1949 IC assessment that the North Koreans wouldn't attack across the DMZ in 1950?

            How about IC (and nearly everyone else in Washington) being convinced that Reagan was going to be duped by Gorbachev and the Soviets? Reagan went with his own assessment, against the IC. And eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons. Should he have listened to the IC instead?

            Bush (41) was told Saddam wasn't going to attack Kuwait. He went with the estimate.

            Bush (43) was told there was ongoing chemical and biological weapons production in Iraq. He went with the estimate. Is the media recanting its condemnation of the IC in regard to Iraq and now conclude Bush was right in agreeing with the IC estimate? The IC did, after all, present evidence, just as Mr. Rosenstein said.

            And what about Obama? Obama was told that Russia was meddling in our election process but chose to do nothing. Did he think the IC was wrong? If not, yet he chose to do nothing, well... 

            Since WWII every president has, at one time or another, been “bitten” by trusting the IC. And not in minor ways, but in ways that resulted in the nation sending forces into combat.

            Intelligence, at least good intelligence, is difficult, and any intelligence organization that is batting above perhaps .600 is probably waiting so long to avoid making mistakes that their assessments are more or less worthless. Trying to accurately assess intent, particularly at the strategic level, is exceptionally difficult; there are going to be errors.

            Further, presidents have to make decisions that take into account a wide range of issues. Sometimes what a president must do is not necessarily aligned with the intelligence assessment. And, sometimes presidents make mistakes. No one is perfect.

            Meanwhile, perhaps we should remember a few things: unemployment is down to about 4%, the workforce participation rate is climbing for the first time in nearly a decade; the GDP is growing at nearly 3%, the markets are up, the majority of Americans believe the economy is improving and more than half are positive about the future. Government regulations are being cut back, taxes have been cut, businesses are expanding, and the executive has nominated a series of judges to numerous courts who believe they are limited to what the Constitution says.

            These are real and positive steps. There's an old Roman proverb that goes: Acta verum probant – actions prove the man. President Trump may say things that upset folks from time to time, or send out texts that do the same. But his fundamental actions have been sound and productive and good for the long-term health of the nation. More so than those of several preceding presidents. 

            Maybe what we need is less talk and more action, more hard looks at what is happening, more time focused on what the executive is actually doing, and less time worrying about what people are saying. 

            Or we may well end up the butt of a vaudeville gag."

Copyright 2018 ARRIAS
Reprinted with Permission

Thursday, July 19, 2018




 I'm sure that you noticed ,if you follow the news at all, that recently London experienced yet another "Lone Wolf " terrorist attack. Inevitably these attacks are conducted by someone shouting Muslim battle cries though the British media keeps insisting that the attacks "have nothing to do with Islam " despite the fact that the Koran clearly commands such activity. In Britain, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, and America the words "Islamic Terrorism" are all but banned from the mainstream media. Yet, with rare exceptions the terror seems to always have the following in common; a follower of Islam as perpetrator.  Another thing I've noticed about the "Lone Wolf" type attacks is that they seem to have two things in common; one perp on scene, followed by slow revelation in the news that in fact he had help and /or inspiration if not direction.  In one particular attack that officials and the media  labeled a "lone wolf attack" police later arrested 8 other "Lone Wolves" who conspired with "Lone Wolf Number 1 in planning his attack. Despite the fact that all of the perps were Muslim the media and officialdom continued to label the incident a "Lone Wolf Attack " and to repeat assurances that  "it had nothing to do with Islam". One recent official count indicated that since 9/11 there have been approximately 1,000 "Lone Wolf Attacks" by Muslims against Western public places . Frankly its time to consider that what our clueless leaders and media see as "Lone Wolfs" are simply the lead wolves for a very large pack following very clear directions from their "sacred book" and aided and abetted by their brethren in the "faith".  When will Western office holders get their heads out of the sand?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018




Editor's note: Before we open up the latest from Namazu we would like to remind our visitors that this is a maritime blog and the only connection between the Great Catfish's post today and the maritime world is that Namazy himself is a maritime character and lives in the sea. Why do we let him pontificate in these pages on non maritime subjects? Plain and simply his contract gives him complete creative control. He won that contract by being our biggest draw. Readers like him so we let him rip. -Johnas Presbyter, Editor

 I've been watching the performance of America's new Chief Executive, Donald Trump ever since his inauguration. He appears to be a new phenomena in American politics, a politician who appears to be working against great odds to actually fulfill his campaign promises.  He has met with far more success than America's main stream media will ever admit to. But one prominent campaign promise seems to elude him, the elimination of "Obama Care". Between the obstructionist Democrats (DIMS) in Congress and their secret allies the Republicans in name only (RINOS) , he hasn't gotten much in the way of reform of this horribly flawed program done, much less the promised repeal and replacement. The DIMS and the DINOS are aided and abetted in their campaigns to continue to impose Obama Care, the first ever government program in America to require Americans to buy something whether they wanted it or not., by America's main stream media.

 I remember a time when the "free press of America" was the envy of the world but today they have a deserved reputation as a propaganda organ of the Democratic party, as purveyors of "Fake News". Despite our Editor in Chief's constant whining about my tendency to drift off the maritime topic line I am far too busy to constantly analyze all of the fake news out there. But one item struck me due to the media's constant harping and the obvious untruth involved. When you first hear it almost any reasonable person would be alarmed by the threatened repeal and replacement of Obama Care, as long as they didn't realize it is not only untrue but irrational and mathematically impossible.

Here it is:

"24 million people will die if Obama Care is repealed"

 An amazing and scary claim and often reported in the media and mentioned in editorials against the repeal of this noxious law, and always reported without comment when uttered by news worthy opponents of repeal. But let's examine this claim in the light of reason and its pretty simple reason that even DIMS could understand, if they actually used a little logic.


 Surely the repeal of Obama Care wouldn't result in 100% fatalities among the affected policy holders, most generally aren't even sick. In addition, to accept this assertion it is necessity to not only assume that the fatality rate from repeal would include 100% of the 11 million policy holders, the Dims and the Main Stream Media (MSM) are still short 13 million fatalities in their estimate. 

 Where do the DIMS and MSM expect to find the additional 13 million human deaths to give their figures any validity?  How do they expect to assure that all 11 million policy holders will die?  

 Here is a scary thought the Obama Care legislation is so lengthy that virtually no one has read it. However, among those who had made the attempt there was quite an uproar about "death committees" written into the bill designed as an economy measure to withhold treatment from those judged by these committees to be terminally ill. Even if that provision is used to the max by Deep State purveyors of this misbegotten legislation, they couldn't possibly kill off that many people and disguise the effort as medical necessities. But the American Left isn't worried, they are now as far left intellectually as any lefty movement ever known. The left has always had a method for meeting such statistical goals. Its called the firing squad.


Saturday, July 14, 2018



File:Location of the Ryukyu Islands.JPG
Image believed in the public domain but publication here does not imply permission to redistribute

 Japan's westernmost permanently  inhabited territory is the island of Yonaguni. The population is approximately 1500. Thanks to the Dragon's ceaseless efforts to steal Japanese sovereign territory that population is about to increase. In the last twenty four months the island received a military radar base and 100 resident members of Japan's Self Defense Forces. This is a substantial increase in security since for decades the islands sole security forces consisted of two police officers. The island is situated about two thousand miles southwest from Tokyo and a virtual stone's throw from Taiwan. The population had been slowly shrinking and the median household income is below the typical Japanese median. So one would think the population would be rather in favor a standing presence of the JSDF both because of their proximity to a potential enemy who has displayed aggressive behavior, and for the economic boost it represents by adding a 100 member payroll to the island economy.

  Japan's westernmost point monument on Yonaguni (PD)

Instead, the local vote on accepting and cooperating with the installation passed by only a 50 vote margin. The ground breaking ceremony for the radar installation drew 250 local protesters. There is a large segment of the population that seems to view proximity to Taiwan as a plus rather than a potential danger. That segment wants to boost tourism from Taiwan. We can only suppose that Taiwan has not made claims on this long inhabited island as they have done relative to other nearby uninhabited islands. Mainland China supports most claims by Taiwan to uninhabited islands in the region since China claims Taiwan is actually a province of China. Taiwan doesn't agree with the Dragon's assessment of their independence but doesn't refuse the support either. We think that the desire for trade with Taiwan on Japanese Yonaguni amounts to something of a support for our contention that effective settlement is the one undisputed and internationally accepted claim to territory. We think neither China nor Taiwan has made a move on Yonaguni simply because it is permanently inhabited by the Japanese and has been since sometime in the twelfth century and was formally incorporated into modern Japan in 1879. There isn't even an arguable claim that Taiwan or China could make on the island. The locals seem pretty confident since they can actually see Taiwan from their shore on an exceptionally clear day, they want trade with Taiwan to increase locally. Everyone admits that since the radar station started construction, trade and visitors from Taiwan has fallen off ,

File:Sonai yonaguni.jpg
Photo:  Snap55 at Japanese Wikipedia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.  The town of Sonai on Yonaguni

 The radar station poses no threat to Taiwan or China and certainly the 100 Japanese military personnel, mostly technicians are hardly even a credible defense of the island much less a threat off the island. But China and Taiwan hate the radar installation because it is used to monitor the trespasses into Japanese territorial waters and activities legal and illegal in their exclusive economic zone, the dragon's real target. Yonaguni is part of the prefecture of Okinawa, home of a large U.S. and JSDF presence. Only 50 more locals believe than disbelieve that their island should be used to tighten border control. A sizable minority want the island to be a bridge to Taiwan and China. We think the radar station is necessary at this time, but agree the record of Okinawa doesn't support a view that a military presence assures economic prosperity. But the confidence of the people of Yonaguni that they are not the targets of illegal occupation and annexation illustrates the depth of acceptance of effective settlement as the single most definitive rule of soverignity.File:Yonaguni Ruins Scuba.jpg
Yonaguni is a major scuba diving destination due to the clear water conditions, abundant marine life and the existence of mysterious underwater ruins. Photo by in wikitravel under GFDL and cc-by-sa on 31. May 2005,   GNU Free Documentation License .....In case you were wondering why anyone in Taiwan would want to visit. Oh yeah........ it also has beautiful beaches and a tropical climate.

We first posted on this develompent in 2014. THis post is simply a past tense update of the post we published when construction on the radar station bagan in 2014. Since completetion a lot has happened. The DIPLOMAT has published a comprehensive update on the facility and island. In their on line article they note :

"The principal objective of the new permanent intelligence gathering post is to improve Japan’s air and maritime domain awareness around the Nansei (aka Ryukyu) island chain and to provide an early warning system in the event of conflict. Yonaguni Island is located near the edge of an air defense identification zone that China set up unilaterally in 2013.
The new surveillance station will be capable of monitoring Chinese activities in the East China Sea and also able to intercept high-frequency communications in mainland China, Russia, North Korea, and the South China Sea.
Japan currently operates some 18 major permanent listening posts throughout its territory. These radiowave interception facilities are capable of capturing very high frequency and ultra-high frequency bands at closer range and can intercept high frequency transmissions for up to 5,000 kilometers (3,106 miles) in all directions. Every listening post is integrated with Japan’s air and missile defense radar stations.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018



SEE OUR NAVIGATION AND CARTOGRAPHY SECTION FOR MORE ON NAVAL/ MARITIME MAPPING: Naval operations and warfare were (and remain) a key subject of mapping and charting. This beautiful book looks at a series of key conflicts from the sixteenth century to the present day and explains how they were represented through mapping and how the maps produced helped naval commanders to plan their strategy.
There are plentiful maps and a good story to tell, both about naval history and about mapping at sea. Conflicts covered include the the American Revolution, Spanish Armada, the Napoleonic Wars, the First and Second World Wars, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The book is so visually interesting that one might pass it over as a "coffee table book" but there is a lot more to it than that and it may have a place in any nautical professional's professional library. The maps and charts are in color and feature in most cases a lot of detail. Coffee table object of interest, object of art, or serious historical treatment; In our view it could serve any of those purposes, but probably succeeds best as nautical art history. It seems worth the price for any of the other purposes as well, though for serious naval historians it probably doesn't qualify as an authoritative or original source but could lead such a researcher to such sources. The full URL for the Amazon site for the book is printed below.


Thinking about navigation and charting we suggest all serious navigation students and mariners read our post THE UNDERLYING INACCURACY IN TODAY'S NAVIGATION



Image of USS Mount Whitney

USS Porter (DDG-78) in October 2007

USS PORTER  U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Gearhiser 

Two U.S. Navy ships have entered the Black Sea in response to a Ukraine led international exercise. The Bear is not happy. The command and control ship USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC-20) and the guided missile destroyer USS PORTER (DD-78) have joined other NATO naval vessels and the Ukraine Navy in an exercise in joint operations. The black sea is important to Russia ("the Bear") for a variety of reasons one of which is that sea contains their only ice free port giving access to the Mediterranean  Sea and the Atlantic beyond. Why just two ships? An international treaty limits the number of naval craft of any nation without a Black Sea coast that may be in the sea at any given time. No such limitations apply to those with a Black Sea coast such as Russia, Georgia, Turkey, or Ukraine, so of course the Bear is big naval force in the highly compact sea. But when a bunch of non Black Sea coastal states each provide ships in numbers under the treaty limit coordinating with a Black Sea coastal state such as the Ukraine the Bear is forced to look at a naval force that may well be quite superior in power to their existing Black Sea Fleet. The treaty that limits the number of non coastal state war ships at any given time also imposes a time limit on their presence so such exercises tend to be short in duration. However nothing stops the naval forces of the Ukraine or Georgia from exiting the Black sea and entering the Mediterranean Sea to exercise regularly with NATO naval forces. These admittedly short and simple exercises in the Black Sea simply demonstrate to the Bear the interoperability of their former vassal states navies with the NATO fleets. The gate way to the Black sea is through the straits of the Bosporus , which is completely within the territory of Turkey, presently a NATO member state. Any Russian observer would have to notice that despite all of the US main stream media coverage of Russian power in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea off of Syria, NATO forces could annihilate the Russian naval forces in these areas at will. Provocative Russian demonstrations of naval power in these areas are meant to play to the Western media. Western exercises in these areas are to simply practice and demonstrate the the naval skills necessary to make very short work of the Russian fleets if they ever present a real and present danger. If such a battle ever broke out the Russian Atlantic fleet not already at sea would be locked up in ports with outlets to the Atlantic that are not ice free and must run through NATO controlled narrow seas. The Bear has some unimpeded access to the sea on their Pacific coast but those units could not force access into the Mediterranean Basin if hostilities broke out. If the West continues to fund its naval forces it has nothing to fear from a swimming bear. The Dragon on the other hand has more limited goals and dominates the anticipated battle space. But with proper planning a naval war with the Dragon could be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Monday, July 9, 2018





The Coast Guard's efforts at establishing a "persistent presence" in the High Arctic Ocean and on the North Slope of Alaska has been bogged down by major financial and logistic hurdles. Of course the first hurdle is the fact that while Congress demands such a presence; and rightfully so considering Russia's increasing presence and recent territorial claims almost to the boundary of our territorial sea, they haven't fully budgeted such a presence. Nothing unusual there, the Congress has never been known for fully budgeting all Coast Guard missions and especially so in recent times. The Coast Guard has been trying to establish a persistent presence on the North Slope for a few years now using "forward basing" concepts, crew rotations, seasonal vessel presence and other tried and true ideas from earlier "isolated duty" developments.

  In the High Arctic forward basing is proving terribly expensive, especially when not specifically budgeted for. However if the Coast Guard would start to think in terms of a constabulary force in the High Arctic a lot of the forward basing expenses, crew rotational expenses, could be reduced greatly. This would result in more extensive and persistent, and obvious, year round presence and service achieved.  Historically, the North Slope of Alaska has been permanently inhabited by organized human society since at least 900 AD, probably longer. There is a native educated population and work force available for many Coast Guard civil missions that can be performed by civil servants.  
 The North Slope is "sparsely inhabited" but far from uninhabited, there is a resident work force that could man Coast Guard civil mission facilities with training.

 Photo USCG

 Regular Coast Guard Forces on the North Slope are only visitors and the logistic train is long and expensive. A native work force for most civil missions of the Coast Guard would reduce the logistic train, increase services and extend availability and persistence while lowering costs. 


The concept of a constabulary force is not new to the High Arctic reaches, just to American thinking. The Canadian Mounted Police utilize a constabulary corps all over the remotest regions of Canada. The RCMP constables are local officers who may leave the area of their assignment for periodic training but almost never on new permanent assignment. These RCMP constables are recruited from local people from long established families in the areas. The "constables" are quite happy living in these remote locations and quite happy to have a real career opportunity at home. The concept actually isn't alien to the Coast Guard now or historically. During the days of one of  the Coast Guard predecessor organizations the U.S.Life Saving Service (USLSS) local rescue stations were manned by civil service local boatmen. The station Captain may have been drawn at times from a national roster of uniformed members but most often was local and there for the long term. Another Coast Guard predecessor agency was the U. S. Light House Service (USLHS). Some primary seacoast lights were literally tended by as many as two generations of civil service "keepers" drawn from locals who worked the light and lived on the light's grounds in the "keeper's quarters" sometimes passing the arrangement down to a son or daughter.

                           File:Life saving station crew and boat house.jpg      
RCMP DAILY UNIFORM                                                        U.S.Life Saving Service Crew  Photo USCG

Today the Coast Guard's repository of local knowledge resides with its uniformed military reserve and uniformed but civilian volunteer Auxiliary. Unfortunately, the Coast Guard doesn't think of these constabulary forces as such very often, rather they are seen by modern Coast Guard administrators as "force multipliers" to be called out to augment the presence of the regular force. In fact though, there are even today, situations where these are true constabulary forces, the main force on scene with the regular forces in the supportive role. For example there are large inland lakes on state borders where an "Auxiliary Station" is the only real persistent Cost Guard presence. On the Great Lakes there are a number of life saving stations in the "Summer Stock" program that are only fully manned in summer by activated military reserve members. Many of the Coast Guard's Vessel Traffic Centers are manned in large part by local civil servants.

File:Icebergs in the High Arctic - 20050907.jpg The High Arctic is a tough place to live for man or beast but people have been living there for thousands of years. By focusing on building a native civil service corps and volunteer Auxiliary and reserve members there will be less need for expensive crew rotations and logistic support of regular Coast Guard personnel. Not all of it is wilderness, case in point:   Barrow , Alaska


This photo of Top of the World Hotel is courtesy of TripAdvisor. An updated version was built on a different site  completed by fall of 2014. The building, if available for sale would be an easy conversion to a Coast Guard operations center and barracks at far less than new building costs in Barrow.

 In the High Arctic, especially at Barrow there is actually a resident work force large enough to provide ample recruiting populations for many Coast Guard civil missions and military support missions as career, local civil servants, Auxiliary volunteers, and in some cases, Coast Guard military reserve members. The Arctic region natives make up the majority of residents in Barrow and many of the non native population are intermarried so that in Barrow, on the very shores of the Arctic Ocean there is a population of thousands with deep roots there who expect to raise children there in the presence of the children's grandparents. Make no mistake about it, Barrow is a cold and forbidding place to most anyone from the rest of the United States, but it is home to thousands of people.

  Barrow is no Arctic boom town. Only incorporated as an Alaskan city in the late 1950s it none the less has been a human population center on the Arctic shore since at least 900 AD. While the Coast Guard would definitely have to rotate outsiders in and out for relatively short tours of duty the Barrow and North Slope Borough contains enough qualified workers with a high school diploma through Associate's Degrees to fill most of the civil service jobs that it would take to support a communications station, possible future Vessel Traffic Center, Aids to Navigation Support facility, much of the aviation support for a forward seasonal air base and/ or year round UAV operation. Barrow has 4,429 permanent residents of which 61 percent are Inupiat Eskimo. Many other residents are related to the Inupiat people through marriage, it is a fact that the 4,429 residents of Barrow are not easily amendable to relocation. However many of the residents of smaller villages and towns in the North Slope Borough would relocate to Barrow for a good job. The total population of the North Slope Borough is about 9,400.  Because Barrow is the administrative center of the North Slope Borough it contains many of the features one might expect to see in a county seat with a population of 50,000 including two hotels,  a hospital, public schools through high school and a community college, a public library,a Presbyterian church since 1898, a U.S. Post Office, a number of restaurants, a supermarket, dry cleaners, specialty stores, and a municipal airport with regularly scheduled regional airline service. There are not a lot of people in the North Slope Borough but those who live there were most often born there and like it just fine. Barrow is their capitol and they take great civic pride in it.


  In the North Slope communities about 85% of the population over the age of 25 has a high school education or better. There are 639 military veterans in the population. The annual, non seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for 2012 was 4.5%.  According to the 2010 census there were 957 members of the North Slope Work Force unemployed.  It would be a fair assumption that of the 957 unemployed members of the work force in 2010 as many as 813 would have been in possession of a high school diploma or higher level of general educational achievement.  In 2010 1,275 members of the North Slope Borough work force self described themselves as "under employed". To start building a constabulary force the Coast Guard would probably only need a dozen or so initial employees all of which would probably require extensive training. Few would need an education beyond high school to succeed at the training. The unemployed and underemployed segments of the work force appear more than adequate to recruit an initial start up work force from. The youth of the region appear to want to stay in the area and new potential employees will be entering the work force annually. If the Coast Guard were to partner with the local community college the training requirements for future new hires could be reduced and recruitment to keep pace with Constabulary force growth would be virtually assured.


           U.S. Coast Guard

             ARCTIC STRATEGY

                      MAY 2013

The present Coast Guard Arctic Strategy Implementation Plan (2015)  (linked to above) calls for a ten year "Planning Horizon".  This plan assumes "Current demand signal for Coast Guard services in the Arctic will remain at current levels, or slightly increase." We think the militarilization of the High Arctic region by Russia warrants a more immediate response that is not just based on US High Arctic citizen demand for traditional Coast Guard services, but responds to the national security need to project a more vigorous military presence in the region that. none the less. is not provocative in nature. A substantial increase in Coast Guard radio traffic, and year round aerial operations , even if the winter ops are largely by drone has deterrent value. While the Coast Guard is not a threatening military organization, it is historically closely tied to the U.S. Navy and an enabling force for the U.S. Navy. A strong Coast Guard presence signals that a U.S. Navy presence deployed to the area will have a welcoming supporting force in being. The present Coast Guard plan calls for many of the traditional Coast Guard approaches to "isolated duty". We have observed that some of these traditional plans have not worked as hoped for in the High Arctic environment, onecase being experiences with seasonal helicopter deployment.

During Coast Guard operation Arctic Shield the Coast Guard operated two H-60 helicopters for a portion of the summer season out of Barrow. Barrow has a commercial air port and it was thought that operating two of the helicopters would be greatly facilitated by having a commercial air port to operate out of. However the only available rental hangers were a tight fit and the rental was about $60,000 each per month. During the Forward basing test 25 air crewmen were rotated in an out for three week tours. The North Slope is shaping up as the single most expensive place where the Coast Guard has ever been mandated to expand into with its full range of services. By basing the Coast Guard presence in the region on a largely constabulary force based model a lot of the seasonal and even shorter term rotational posting, and hardship isolated duty posting could be greatly reduced or eliminated. The Constabulary approach increases Coast Guard institutional local knowledge, and extends many services that might have been seasonal into year round services. Here are some potential examples of constabulary approaches to a variety of Coast Guard missions that will have to performed in the area.

Marine and Maritime Aerial Communications. The Coast Guard could probably partner with the North Slope Police for a small space in the police station for an aviation radio, single side band, and Vhf marine radio transceivers. Four local high school grads could be hired as civilian radio operator trainees (suggested GS 5 level)  and  be sent for several months to voice radio operations training to the Coast Guard Auxiliary voice radio operator syllabus. On return the trainees would be promoted to civilian voice radio operators and would man "Coast Guard Auxiliary Radio Station Barrow" in the police station as close to a 24/7 basis as possible. They would also be expected to recruit and train some Auxiliary volunteers to help bring the Auxiliary radio station up to constant 24/7 operations. The newly qualified radio operators would be promoted to GS-7. One of the new operators would be promoted to GS 9 and made "station supervisor" with responsibility for scheduling, Auxiliary recruitment , over time control, maintenance etc.  The Auxiliary radio station would temporarily be dependent on the police for communications outside of the marine and aviation bands with the outside world. The Auxiliary radio station would be serviced by the same technicians servicing the police station communications equipment.

 At the same time that the radio operator trainees are hired someone local with a business administration back ground should be hired and sent to training with Coast Guard yeomen and civilian administrators in civil service pay and benefit management, as well as property management. This person should probably be recruited at the GS 8 level and promoted to GS 10 on completion of training. Returned to barrow this person's initial duties would be to see to the wage and benefit administration of the radio operators and processing of any expense claims by Auxiliary volunteers. This position should be eligible for eventual promotion  all the way to GS 14  as the civil service , Auxiliary volunteer, military reservists constabulary work force grows. The Constabulary work force is going to need a Constabulary personnel administrator to assure the pay checks show up on time. The initial radio operators provide a nucleus of trainable existing civil servants around which an eventual regional communications station and or vessel traffic service might be grown.

Aids to Navigation

 The constabulary model for this mission is based on the old Light House keeper model. The mission kick off starts with the recruitment of a single aids to navigation technician who will probably have to be trained out of area but must be a resident of the area with an intention to stay. His or her first task would be to research all private aids to navigation in the area and prepare contact information for the various owner operators. The second task is to recruit and train Coast Guard Auxiliary and other ATON observers and establish lines of communication for reporting aid discrepancies.  The new hire should have some electro-mechanical and administrative skills and experience and to be competitive with the incoming oil companies, the Coast Guard may have to offer GS 9 or above starting pay. Initially the new hire could work out of his or her Barrow home until seasonal buoys and markers are established and some sort of ATON shop, yard and boats are needed. The initial person selected should have eventual civilian "officer in charge" potential. Initially he or she should have at least a hand held vhf voice marine radio and communicate on a regular basis with the Auxiliary station in the Police headquarters. The key point is to get the aids to navigation mission launched on a civil service basis and grow it as needed with local civilian labor. It is desirable that the ANTON mission also generate radio traffic as soon as possible, this being a traditional Coast Guard activity, it signals a growing Coast Guard presence to our Russian "listeners" and yet is not the sort of activity likely to provoke a military response. But it says loud and clear that "we are here,and we are watching". 

SEARCH AND RESCUE: Over time the corps of civilian radio operators should be sent to National SAR school in preparation for handling seasonal SAR traffic from forward deployed manned air craft or visiting Coast Guard ships. Some time between the evolution of the Coast Guard Auxiliary Radio station to a Communications station or combined vessel traffic center and communications station the work force should be expanded to incorporate 24 /7 watches with at least one qualified SAR Incident Controller available. Given the cultural tendency in the native population for volunteer community service some Auxiliary SAR capability is likely to evolve.

AVIATION: It will probably be some years before manned aviation operations will be needed beyond the summer season. But it was made clear that in the last forward basing exercise that the Coast Guard will eventually have to build a purpose built hanger out at the air port. Even though it may require hiring local young people and investing years in their training every local civilian avionics, mechanical repairman living year round in the area reduces the number of regular Coast Guard personnel who have to be rotated in and out or hard ship posted. The Coast Guard should also consider unmanned aerial vehicles for most surveillance missions, preferably flown by civilian flight control technicians that the Coast Guard trains from the local labor force. This could expand an over flight presence to year round operation at very low costs. 

MISC. INCUBATION ACTIVITY: Some where among the local military veterans are probably a few eligible for Coast Guard reserve direct petty officer membership. Even if it were only three petty officers formed up into a "detail" under the senior petty officer if they could be placed in pay billets the Coast Guard would have a ready utility work force on call to support the growing Coast Guard activities in and around Barrow. As the Coast Guard is seen to be growing as an employer, a force for good in the environment, and a force that will still be there when the oil companies leave, reserve and Auxiliary service will be seen as a foot in the door to highly desirable Coast Guard civil service status.

 The work force is there if the Coast Guard decides to take the constabulary force approach to force development and invest in training the locals for the civil missions. Even at premium civil service pay levels the more the High Arctic Coast Guard presence is manned by native peoples and locals the less expensive it will be for the American Tax payers. The American tax payer has a big interest in the oil and gas, and fisheries, and possible new shipping routes of the High Arctic.The American Tax Payer also has a big interest in the protection of our northernmost border.  But only the actual residents of the North slope Burrow have the visceral interest in the protection of their immediate homeland and near ocean environment that has roots going back to at least 900 AD. Let's put as much as possible of the Coast Guard's protective missions directly into the hands of a permanent constabulary Coast Guard force in the High Arctic.