Archive for the '26th MEU' Category

26th MEU Homecoming

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 11 months ago

It’s nice to receive my son home from his second deployment, the first in Fallujah in 2007, the second on the 26th MEU.  We stayed on beautiful Emerald Isle for the week, and the LCACs were a bit late getting on to shore on Monday.  The reception was a night time event.


Here on Emerald Isle for the Return of the 26th MEU

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 11 months ago

So we’re here on beautiful Emerald Isle, N.C., right outside of Camp Lejeune, to welcome my son back from his second deployment.  His first was in Fallujah, 2007, and this one was with the 26th MEU functioning as ready-reserve for CENTCOM.

I’ve been pondering and worrying over the whole idea of MEUs held in ready-reserve aboard Amphibious Assault Docks when there is such a heavy need for troops in Afghanistan, while Somalia turns headlong towards jihadi militancy, and when there is a need for force projection in the Caucasus in order to hedge against Russian hegemony and ensure logistics supply to Afghanistan.  Yet there is also a need for force projection in the Persian Gulf and in the Middle East generally.

Really.  I have pondered these and related issues until it hurts.  I have also been clear in my advocacy for responsible budgetary and engineering decisions.   The Captain’s Journal has been clear concerning our disapproval of the poor engineering and cost overruns of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.  We even recommended against continuation of the program.  After all, if cuts are coming to the Department of Defense, then we must do our part.

No more.  As it turns out, the current administration is planning to make drastic cuts in everything from nuclear weapons refurbisment to the F-22 program.  Because the DoD is filled mostly with responsible people who implement policy, it has been targeted for cuts, while we throw away multiple trillions of dollars on only God knows what for only God knows what reason.

So to the extent that I am read in the circles of power, I have helped to justify the jettisoning of an important element in the Marine Corps’ expeditionary program.  I feel that I have sinned against God and the Commandant of the Marine Corps.  After this post I will engage in protracted prayer and then drop and give the Commandant 100 pushups.

If it’s okay for a sniveling lackey like Timothy Geithner to print a trillion dollars and throw it down the drain, then it’s okay for the Marines to have their EFV.  They deserve it more than any other recipient of Geithner’s money.

In fact, in addition to repenting of the responsibility that I feel towards the fiduciary fidelity of the U.S. economy, I have adopted a new slogan.  “Show me the money!”  I want to see every weapons system currently in the design or manufacture stage followed through to completion, and then I want to see a two or threefold expansion in the weapons systems being planned and funded.  I want to see the number of MEUs increased at least threefold, and the size of the Marine Corps increased similarly or greater.  No more worrying for me.

So as I receive my son back from his hard work overseas and Mr. Obama ponders his NCAA bracket picks, my having agonized over the hard decisions has made the coming years easy for this administration.  No fuss, no trouble and no looking back.  Build the weapons and swear in the boys.  If anyone asks how we’re going to pay for it all, just tell them we’ll print the money.

2/6 Marines Counterpiracy Mission

BY Herschel Smith
8 years ago

Battalion Landing Team 2/6, Golf Company, 3rd Platoon, a unit with which The Captain’s Journal is intimately familiar, is now engaged in counterpiracy.

Members of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are participating in counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, a spokesman for Marine Corps headquarters said Thursday.

Amphibious transport dock San Antonio, the flagship for Combined Task Force 151, is carrying a reinforced Marine platoon, said 2nd Lt. Josh Diddams. Officials will not say how many Marines are on the ship, which left Camp Lejeune, N.C., in late August with the Norfolk, Va.-based Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group. A typical Marine infantry platoon consists of about 40 troops.

Task Force 151 is a multinational force recently organized to conduct land and air attacks on pirate bases along Somalia’s coast, where last year more than 40 vessels were hijacked, including a Saudi tanker carrying $100 million worth of crude oil and a Ukrainian ship loaded with tanks and other weapons bound for Kenya. The task force is operating in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Red Sea.

Sailors and Marines on the San Antonio spent weeks preparing the ship for its role as the command ship and afloat forward staging base for the task force, according to a Navy report. Marines on the ship include those with 3rd platoon, Golf Infantry Company, a military police detachment and intelligence personnel, according to the report.

The MEU, which recently left Kuwait after two weeks of training at Camp Buehring, did not respond to questions about the anti-piracy mission.

The Marines are currently (or were) on board the amphibious dock USS San Antonio.

The amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio transits the Gulf of Aden to serve as command ship for Combined Task Force 151. The task force conducts counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea and was established to create a lawful maritime order and develop security in the maritime environment.

The folks at Information Dissemination are engaged in some hand wringing over comments made by Tom Ricks.

I was disappointed when I read Thomas Ricks strategic assessment regarding the Navy’s approach to piracy.

Tom Ricks is an astute observer of military strategy, and if he sees the pirate situation off Somalia as simply a way to take a cheap shot at the disaster called naval shipbuilding strategy, then I’m afraid nobody in the media may understand what is and has happened. I’d like to welcome Thomas Ricks to the blogosphere by suggesting that when it comes to maritime strategy as it relates to the issue of Somali piracy, he doesn’t appear to know what he is talking about. Thomas Ricks writes:

Better late that never to be going after the Somalia pirates. To me, this is a strategic issue. Keeping the sea lanes open, especially for oil, should be a top priority for the U.S. military. Instead we seemed to defer to the Indians, Chinese and others, letting them take the lead. The Navy may feel that all its special operators — the guys trained to board and take over ships — are busy in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, admiral, does that tell you that you probably need more ship boarders, and maybe fewer aircraft carriers or anti-missile systems? You think maybe?

I noted that Yankee Sailor left a comment on the thread. I’m betting Thomas Ricks has no idea who Yankee Sailor is, nor why Yankee Sailor’s opinion is more informed. We know better. I have a lot of problems with the assessment Tom is making here, starting with what the top priority for the US military should be. If the top priority of the US military, including the Navy, isn’t winning the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, then something is wrong. There is a reason why there are more sailors deployed on land in the CENTCOM area of operations than at sea, and that reason is absolutely valid.

This is a strategic issue as Tom contends, but with the assertion of “better late than never” and the suggestion that “Indians, Chinese and others” taking leadership roles is somehow representative of a failure of maritime strategy, Tom Ricks is essentially admitting to me that he has never actually read the US Navy’s maritime strategy.

They go on to fret over comprehensive modifications of strategy and the question whether the Navy has the “right equipment” to address piracy.  This is a boring and wasteful discussion, and Ricks’ counsel is just fine.  The Navy has the right equipment in theater right now to address piracy.  An Amphibious Landing Dock, Amphibious Assault Ships, and Marines with guns who want to kill people.  Nothing else is necessary.

There have been other articles here and there questioning the need for the U.S. to address piracy in the Gulf of Aden.  Again, boring discussions, one and all.  Ships with weapons, ships with oil, and ships with other strategically important materiel were and are being taken hostage for huge sums of money, making Somalia a haven not only for pirates, but a wealthier place to boot, this largesse perhaps falling into hands that may later provide safe haven for Islamic militants.

Even if the pirates and militants do not currently get along, largesse flowing into a country without a government and under the control of warring factions cannot possibly be good for U.S. interests in the region.  If the Marines, as soldiers of the sea, cannot tackle the issue of piracy, then we are surely lost in a strategic malaise with too many pedantic people saying too many wasteful words.

One more point is in order.  The constant worry and hand-wringing over the legalities of counterpiracy operations and rules of engagement makes the Navy – and the law of the sea lawyers – and Information Dissemination – look weak and fragile.  Is this a nice way of saying it?

The problem is easy to tackle, and Ralph Peters, Lt. Col. P and TCJ have weighed in before concerning the methodology.  It involves killing pirates, dumping bodies overboard, and destroying their domiciles and enablers.  The prose is not for shock effect.  It’s serious, with recommendations that, if followed, would save lives and be a catalyst for safe seas.  This is the best strategy of all.  No need to retool ships, worry over strategic vision or call the lawyers.  It’s best when problems driven to the simplest solutions.

USS San Antonio Heads Back to Sea

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 3 months ago

The San Antonio Express-News gives us the conclusion of weeks of repairs in Bahrain for the USS San Antonio.

The USS San Antonio, docked in Bahrain the past several weeks for repairs to a leaky engine oil lubrication system, left port Tuesday and prepared to rejoin its strike force in the Persian Gulf.

The Navy said that poor welds and joints that lacked support caused the leaks, which sprang up during the ship’s maiden voyage this fall.

But spokeswoman Pat Dolan said the Navy team that spent 25 days making the repairs still had not determined who was responsible for the sub-par construction: the service or Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. It also isn’t clear if three other San Antonio-class ships in the fleet have the same problems.

“They’re just returning from Bahrain,” she said of the repair team, “so we don’t have the root-cause analysis complete yet.”

The San Antonio will rejoin the USS Iwo Jima expeditionary strike force, now in the Navy’s 5th Fleet area of operations. As the ship continues its mission, the Navy will press its investigation into the cause of the leaks as well as learn if there are problems with oil lubrication systems aboard the USS New Orleans, USS Mesa Verde and USS Green Bay.

Dolan said the Navy hopes to have the analysis of those ships finished by mid-December.

Troubled by design flaws, construction delays and a failed inspection last year, the San Antonio entered the fleet well behind schedule, its $1.8 billion price tag three times the original estimate. The San Antonio left the East Coast for the Persian Gulf at the end of August but put into port in Bahrain last month when the crew discovered the leaks.

A special 40-member team that included pipe fitters, inspector and engineers was flown to Bahrain and spent more than three weeks analyzing and repairing the oil lubrication system.

Dolan said the team repaired the systems for two of the ship’s four engines in the forward and aft main machinery rooms of the San Antonio. She said she was unaware of any other problems with the ship.

Inspectors found an inadequate number of hangers to support lubrication pipes that feed oil into the engines, Dolan said. The lack of hangers, coupled with vibration throughout the ship, caused some of the welded joints to come loose, she said.

The failures can be attributed to inadequate piping support, poor welding, material selection and insufficient quality assurance,” she said. “They ended up putting in additional pipe support, going in and taking out in some cases whole sections of pipes and joints. I can’t tell you the blow-by-blow, what they did or repairs. I can tell you that’s in general what they did.”

It’s good that a root cause analysis is being performed, but this analysis should include fully independent engineers, contracted from a pool of engineers not associated with defense contractors. The team should include experts in welding, fracture mechanics, mechanical and vibration engineering, and fluid flow and corrosion (chemical) engineers.

Furthermore, the analysis shouldn’t stop with a technical analysis, but should include the whole management and decision chain that led to the circumstances we face with the USS San Antonio, such as the use of Management Oversight and Risk Tree analysis. The problems listed above must be categorized into root and contributing causes and a full open source report issued on the management and engineering failures, along with recommended corrective actions.

Prior and other resources:

Time, The Navy’s Floating Fiasco.

The Captain’s Journal, The 26th MEU Stuck at Bahrain.

The Captain’s Journal, The 26th MEU, The USS San Antonio, and Military Equipment.

26th MEU Stuck at Bahrain

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 3 months ago

In The 26th MEU, the USS San Antonio, and Military Equipment, we detailed our objections to the job that Northrup Grumman had done in constructing the amphibious transport dock USS San Antonio, with its snarled electrical cables, unreliable steering, and general poor craftsmanship throughout the physical plant. It is wasteful of time and resources, and certainly hampers the ability of the U.S. Marines to perform during their duties.

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26th MEU Stuck at Bahrain

8 years, 3 months ago

In San Antonio Express-NeMEU Stuck at Bah192.156.19.109-corp/" r. gives us the cpiracy.

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132 26th MEU,Marine Corps,Piracy
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