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Author: TriSec    Date: 03/02/2021 12:54:08

Good Morning.

We'll start with some history this morning. Most of you are probably aware of the Sullivan Brothers, all KIA in WWII.

All five brothers served aboard the same ship; the USS Juneau. Like many in that era, the five brothers enlisted following Pearl Harbor.

The Sullivans enlisted in the US Navy on January 3, 1942, with the stipulation that they serve together. The Navy had a policy of separating siblings, but this was not strictly enforced. George and Frank had served in the Navy before, but their brothers had not. All five were assigned to the light cruiser USS Juneau.

The year 1942 was the hardest for the Allies; there were many reverses and defeats in the first part of the now-global war. The USS Juneau did not survive the year - she was sunk in action during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on 12 November 1942.

A few minutes after 1100, two torpedoes were launched from Japanese submarine I-26. These were intended for San Francisco, but both passed ahead of her. One struck Juneau in the same place that had been hit during the battle. There was a great explosion; Juneau broke in two and disappeared in just 20 seconds. Fearing more attacks from I-26, and wrongly assuming from the massive explosion that there were no survivors, Helena and San Francisco departed without attempting to rescue any survivors. In fact, more than 100 sailors had survived the sinking of Juneau. They were left to fend for themselves in the open ocean for eight days before rescue aircraft belatedly arrived. While awaiting rescue, all but 10 died from the elements and shark attacks. Among those lost were the five Sullivan brothers. Two of the brothers apparently survived the sinking, only to die in the water; two presumably went down with the ship. Some reports indicate the fifth brother also survived the sinking, but disappeared during the first night when he left a raft and got into the water. On 20 November 1942, USS Ballard recovered two of the ten survivors.

While stunning, the final results were not immediate. It took the loss of another family group, the virtually unknown Borgstrom Brothers, before the US War department changed their rules and adopted a "Sole Survivor Policy". While of course it has been "Hollywoodized", we're all familiar with this thanks to Saving Private Ryan.

In any case - The Sullivans were lionized and are now legendary. As part of that legacy, the US Navy commissioned a Fletcher Class destroyer, and it's the only one named for more than one person. Serving during the second half of WWII and the Korean War, she is now one of four remaining Fletcher Class destroyers remaining afloat as a museum ship. Except she might not be afloat for very much longer.

The first sign that the USS The Sullivans was in danger of sinking is when staff at the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park noticed the ship was listing to port.

Park officials said the harsh winter and damaging winds have created a crisis for the 78-year-old Fletcher Class destroyer and major attraction at the park.

"We've got a National Historic Landmark here. She needs some help," Paul Marzello, president and CEO of the naval park, said, promising, "I'm not going to let the ship go down on my watch."

He said age and the weather are to blame.

"The harsh Buffalo winter weather has severely damaged the hull of USS The Sullivans below the waterline and the ship is taking on water," Marzello said. "If we cannot repair the hull and stop the water, she will sink."

The ship was made for speed and maneuverability with a thin coating of steel, he said.

"She certainly was not meant to sit in the water for 78 years," he said. "This is to be expected."

He said routine maintenance is required on ships of that age, and the naval park repairs holes to the hull every spring.

The park has a plan for the long-term repair that was supposed to start later this year, but it will cost more than $1 million. The park is waiting for funding from a number of sources for the long-term repairs.

But now the need is immediate, and the park is reaching out to the public.

"We're guessing she's got at least two to five holes that sprung out," Marzello said, adding the damage probably is a result of ice freezing and thawing, or debris floating down the Buffalo River. The ship also could have been damaged in storms with high winds, he said.

"At this point the ship requires $100,000 in emergency repairs just to keep her afloat until we can begin the long-term repairs. We are asking for help from the public to raise the $100,000," Marzello said.

It is curious to me. Living in the city with the oldest commissioned museum ship afloat in the world today - the US Navy fawns over her and takes care of her with all the backing of the Federal Government. Other museum ships around the country are also lovingly cared for - but why not this one?

Ah, but blood and treasure are those two finite resources that the United States loves to waste. Certainly not related to the Sullivans, but part of a larger picture are two more stories for you to ponder. Joe Biden has yet to take any steps to reverse the previous policy of extracting ourselves from Afghanistan. It is, perhaps, the one thing that his predecessor got right. Nevertheless, a lengthy trail of lies and corruption remains.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The United States wasted billions of dollars in war-torn Afghanistan on buildings and vehicles that were either abandoned or destroyed, according to a report released Monday by a U.S. government watchdog.

The agency said it reviewed $7.8 billion spent since 2008 on buildings and vehicles. Only $343.2 million worth of buildings and vehicles “were maintained in good condition,” said the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, which oversees American taxpayer money spent on the protracted conflict.

The report said that just $1.2 billion of the $7.8 billion went to pay for buildings and vehicles that were used as intended.

“The fact that so many capital assets wound up not used, deteriorated or abandoned should have been a major cause of concern for the agencies financing these projects," John F. Sopko, the special inspector general, said in his report.

The U.S. public is weary of the nearly 20-year-old war and President Joe Biden is reviewing a peace deal his predecessor, D-- T-- [name redacted by editor], signed with the Taliban a year ago. He must decide whether to withdraw all troops by May 1, as promised in the deal, or stay and possibly prolong the war. Officials say no decision has been made but on Monday, Washington's peace envoy and the American who brokered the U.S.-Taliban deal, Zalmay Khalilzad, was back in the Afghan capital for a tour of the region.

But that is of course, a drop in the hat as far as military budget is concerned. Longtime readers here are aware of my opposition to the "flying turd", or Lockheed F-35. Never mind the aircraft's shortcomings; it's also a massive resource suck on the United States. Probably not a relevant comparison, but think of how the pandemic might have played out if the fight had this kind of financial resources.

The American people were promised that the F-35 would be an affordable replacement for the A-10 and the F-16 when Lockheed Martin won the coveted contract in 2001. Then-Secretary of the Air Force Jim Roche said the new jets would cost between $40 and $50 million a piece and that the total cost of the program, from development to production, would be $200 billion. In the 19 years since that announcement, total program costs have doubled to approximately $400 billion. When all the operating costs for the planned fleet are calculated across the program’s expected 50-year lifetime, the American people will spend an estimated $1.727 trillion.

The prototype of the F-35 first flew back in 2001; it spend fourteen years in development before operational units finally started reaching front-line units in 2015. In conception, the aircraft was supposed to replace three aging airframes - the A-10 Thunderbolt (ground attack), the F-16 Fighting Falcon (lightweight day fighter) and the AV8B Harrier (STOL ground attack). It does none of these jobs well, but that's an argument for another day.

But since the F-35 was allegedly designed to replace the F-16 in the first place, that makes our last story all the more mystifying.

The U.S. Air Force isn't ruling out bringing a new fighter jet into its inventory as it looks to replace older, fourth-generation F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, according to the service's top general.

As the service tries to determine the right mix of aircraft for its future inventory, it's considering the idea of a new fighter that falls somewhere between fourth- and fifth-generation airframes -- one that could easily be upgraded throughout its life, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown said last week.

"Let's not just buy off the shelf; let's actually take a look at something else out there that we can build," Brown said during a Defense Writers Group virtual chat with reporters. He added that the service would want something that can be economically sustainable, produced quickly and has an open-architecture software system that can be rapidly modified to keep up with missions.

His comments reiterated those of Dr. Will Roper, the former assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, and Mike Holmes, a retired general and former head of Air Combat Command. In recent months, both have spoken of wanting to bring in a new jet with a "family of systems" that lets it connect easily to other aircraft and fight alongside them.

Roper told Aviation Week in January that the Air Force is weighing buying new F-16 fighters from Lockheed Martin as "a capacity solution" to increase its jet inventory. Lockheed moved its production line to its South Carolina plant in 2019 to centralize its manufacturing of F-16s, which have been updated since the last jet was delivered to the Air Force in 2005.

But Brown said the F-16 may not be the best option.

"I want to be able to build something new and different that's not the F-16, that has some of those capabilities, but gets there faster and features a digital approach," he said Feb. 17.

In the end - the military ALWAYS gets what it wants, and the rest of us will have to live off the crumbs.


3 comments (Latest Comment: 03/02/2021 19:45:34 by BobR)
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