Tuesday, April 30, 2013

US Coast Guard Status and Missions

As of 2012,the US Coast Guard had 42,190 active duty personnel and 7,899 Reserve,supported by 8,722 civilian employees and 32,156 Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers.The Coast Guard operated 941 shore facilities and 24 air stations.It had 244 ships plus 1,776 boats less than 65 feet ,along with 198 aircraft.
In the course of 2012,there were 162 drug operations netting 70 seized vessels,352 detentions and about 361,000 pounds of illegal drugs.Migrants intercepted and repatriated numbered 2,995.
Patrol boats and personnel were deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of US Central Command,patrolling Iraqi oil platforms and securing ports,as well as monitoring the movement and shipment of hazardous materials.
A Maritime Safety and Security Team was sent to Guantanamo Bay,Cuba on port security and coastal patrol missions and a Redeployment Assistance Inspection Detachment was ordered to Afghanistan.The Coast Guard also participated in Operation Arctic Shield,exercises that increased readiness in the ever more active region.
Fisheries-enforcement operations were carried out,along with thousands of search and rescue missions.The Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup and Hurricane Sandy recovery were significant preoccupations of the Coast Guard in 2012.
In spite of all these responsibilities,the service was planning to cut around 1,000 personnel for budgetary reasons.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Special Intelligence Briefing:DNI

Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon,said Lieutenant General James R. Clapper,Jr.,US Air Force retired,Director of National Intelligence.That would be decided solely by the Supreme Leader,Ayatollah Khamenei.We would only have a brief forewarning,General Clapper told the Senate Armed Forces Committee April 18.
Pakistan views India as their preeminent threat.They have lost thousands of troops in pursuit of militants,whose presence in Pakistan hasn't changed basically.
The Defense Intelligence Agency has a higher degree of confidence that North Korea can weaponise a missile than the rest of the intelligence community.We do not know if that would work.
I saw how little the DIA was devoting to terrorism when I was its director in the 1990s.I fear I've seen this movie before.
The Iranians are developing two systems that could have intercontinental capability.The sanctions on Iran are having a huge impact on their economy,but have not yet changed their policy.
In Sudan,a very high proportion of the population is young,unemployed males,susceptible to jihadism.This is also true in other African countries.
The sequestration is certainly consuming us,the capability.We collectively are gonna have to correct what people expect of the intelligence community,because it is not gonna be the same.
We won't know what we've missed until something blows up,as Senator Angus King(I-Maine) put it.
We are facing more threats now than at any time in the past fifty years,General Clapper believes.
General Clapper,72,served in the US Air Force from 1963-95 in various military intelligence capacities.The Vietnam veteran went on to head the Defense Intelligence Agency from 1992-95;and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency from 2001-05.He was Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence from 2007-10,when President Barack Obama appointed him Director of National Intelligence,the nation's senior intelligence official.
General Clapper was decorated with the Legion of Merit(3);the Bronze Star(2);the Air Medal(2);and the National Intelligence Defense Service Medal.He is also an Officer of the Order of Australia(Honorary).

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

After Years in Port,Polar Star Back at Sea

The US Coast Guard Heavy Icebreaker Polar Star(WAGB 10) has finally gone back out to sea following years of engineering upgrades.It joins the Healy(WAGB 20) as the only other heavy icebreaker in the fleet.The Polar Star's sister ship,Polar Sea(WAGB 11),was also upgraded,but suffered an engine failure in 2010 and is slated for decommissioning.
The Polar Star is on a two week shakedown voyage,the Coast Guard said,out of its Seattle homeport.The ship is capable of rocking itself free of ice by means of three pairs of connecting tanks on opposite sides of the ship.Returning it to sea has been a priority in recent years as the Healy was left to do all the Arctic icebreaking on its own.
Polar Star was commissioned in 1976.It is estimated that building a new heavy icebreaker would cost upwards of a billion dollars-no mean feat in these cash-strapped times.
The vessel has five scientific labs and room for 20-35 researchers,in addition to the Coast Guard complement of 134 crew.It is 379 feet long,with a beam of 83.5 feet,and can sail at a speed of 20 knots.
Besides Arctic and Antarctic icebreaking,it supports research in such fields as geology,vulcanology,oceanography and sea-ice physics.
Polar Star carries two helicopters on major deployments.They are used for ice reconnaissance,scientific support,cargo transfer and search and rescue.The ship's armament consists of small arms.
Two blog posts by the Polar Star's crew are posted below to give an idea of the years of engineering work that was done to upgrade the ship.

Polar Star Blog: Can Fan Fun

Polar Star Blog: Can Fan Fun: Last week marked the completion of the installation of our new can fans (ventilation fans) on the starboard side of the Polar Star. The task...

Polar Star Blog: Keep Your Fingers Crossed!

Polar Star Blog: Keep Your Fingers Crossed!: Today was the second day of filling the potable water tanks in Aux. 4 on the Polar Star. Not only does this bring the boat one step closer ...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Feeling the Impact:Sequestration and the Defence Industry

Drastic and arbitrary US budget cuts are hindering the defence industry in a big way.Sequestration is the single worst piece of public policy in my 35 years of experience,said Clay Jones,CEO of  leading defence contractor Rockwell Collins.We've laid off 150 in Iowa and the rest of the year will lay off another 150 throughout our enterprise.
That's just the tip of the iceberg.One of the biggest problems is,it is impossible to plan.2014 will be even worse.We already took 60 million in restructuring charges.We don't like it,but we're gonna manage well.
Our defence business went down 8% last year;it will go down another 10% this year.By 2015,however,our commercial business will grow 10%.There's a high demand for fuel-efficient aircraft.We're about 33-35% international.That will grow to over 40% by 2020.
We'll be paid eventually.The biggest impact will be on the cash flow.
We produce the helmet-mounted sight for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter-the most Buck Rogers thing in the aircraft,so I think we're secure in that project.
Senator Ben Cardin,D-Maryland,said he doesn't expect any progress in resolving the sequestration issue.
Rockwell says the world's leading aerospace and defence companies rely on them for smart communications and aviation electronics solutions.Their products span displays,electronic warfare/intelligence,navigation and guidance,precision targeting and weapons,space components and other engineering applications.
Rockwell Collins,Inc(COL)