Monday, April 17, 2017

Huber' "The Great Big Backfire Raid" and Current Events

 One of the funnier parts of the Book 'Bathtub Admirals'  - by  one of my favorite (but now deceased) bloggers  (Jeff Huber ) depicted an apocryphal incident - "The Great Big Backfire Raid" - when he was serving as the flight commander on board a US aircraft carrier in the North pacific during the 1980's.  The incident involved a spurious practice exercise to counter what was imagined to be a massive raid by Russian attack aircraft flying out of the Kuriles and Kamchatka peninsula to surprise, overwhelm and 'do dirt' to Uncle Sam's best Navy. The 'hero' of the story wins a cap feather for his plan to 'spoof' the Russians into attacking a submarine pretending to be a carrier task force, and then 'embarrassing' them  by having the 'cavalry' (US Naval air power) show-up to electronically clobber them with missiles.

                                         The 'forlorn hope' heading for peace in Korea

The greatness of that 'plan' gained him the approval of the bathtub admirals who later in the book, turn on him when he displays the greatest military sin - a 'lack of confidence' that prevented the fleet from piling into the flagship, after the commanding Admiral had ordered it to stop without informing the rest of the fleet. Huber points out that such 'initiative' may bring rewards, but it's a first-class ticket out of a service where 'playing by the rules' and attending to the persona of ones' 'betters' is the wiser and more career-healthy course.   Huber pointed out that his naval peers were among the commanders who took the US into its middle eastern adventures. Their 'heirs' are commanding the US navy to-day. By extrapolation it's more than likely that similar 'career pathways' are pre-eminent in the other US armed forces. Regular dismissals from service for undefined 'losses of confidence in abilities to command' are more -than-just- regular occurrences.

So it comes as no big surprise to find that someone in the military likely approved the deployment of a MOAB in Afghanistan last week.  One of the main questions about the bomb, which has been in the arsenal for at least 10 years now, is why it wasn't deployed in Afghanistan before?  A prototype was available to drop on Tora Bora when Bin Laden was hiding there and it wasn't used. Supplementary questions included 'why now' and 'who gave the order'? Turns out it wasn't the CinC.  Or he never claimed credit for the 'great event' - having 'authorized the military' - they did it. He 'rah rahs' them.


Which then makes one wonder how things are going to pan out in Syria, should somebody think a follow-up to the 'one off' is needed?  Or how things are going to  go in the East China Sea this week should a next-generation bathtub admiral feel threatened by 'the Norks', or how things will go in eastern Europe with, possibly, a latter-day 'pistol pete' and his understanding of a green light?

                                                   Norks 'just asking for it'.

The interview Trump gave on the occasion of the cruise-missling reposte to Assad 'gassing his own people' is  telling.  First of all the CinC screwed-up the accepted notion of what militaries are - describing how "the generals" had told him the ships were "locked and loaded" - I thought Admirals knew about ships - but they probably didn't have yacht element at Trump's prep school and regatta day wouldn't have been a biggie. The Prez  went on to confide how he's slipped 'the word' to the Chinese President that the birds were flying to Iraq, no make that Syria - but he had to be corrected. Then he went off on a tangent to describe his dessert.

                                                 Dessert for Donald

Meanwhile back to real reality.

I few into Toronto the day of the great big bomb scare.  Although there was no indication that much was wrong other than a half-hour delay after landing, in 'getting a gate' to unload, the 'cluster-feck' at CCIS seemed almost entirely normal.  It was only later that a possible unusual level of surliness in the border security service was explained by what had turned out to be a significant security event that happened earlier in the day.  A red eye flight to Chicago that morning included a US passenger who had, in his luggage what turned out to be a 'dummy explosive device'.  It was in his checked luggage and was detected by standard screening for such things.

The device was apparently accessed and 'sniffed' for explosives.  Detecting nothing the luggage was loaded on the aircraft, as was the passenger and the rest of those with him. The plane then proceeded on its way. If  I  have the story correct,  it was in the queue for take-off when something started to go awry and the 'flight' was halted.

It would appear that dummy explosive devices may appear regularly at airports, as part of the training and testing of security personnel and equipment. I imagine, too, that when such testing/training occurs there is someone in high command who knows about it, and when the correct, or incorrect determination is made, the 'targeted' flight can proceed with no real hassle. In this event it appears that nobody may have known about any testing or training and that's hat caused  the stoppage.

A subsequent investigation revealed that the American traveler was traveling with his own personal 'dummy explosive device' - for whatever reason. The results were a 'mischief ' charge for him,  a significant delay for the 100 + people traveling with him, who had to have all their luggage re-checked and themselves re-processed for security an US immigration, a very late flight, missed connections and the disruption of one of Canada's busiest airports for a day. And then there were the high fives and congratulations that 'lives were saved' - even passengers were relieved by all the success.

I guess it was better they didn't know that somebody in 'security'  after sniffing the bomb - pictured below - still thought it was a good idea to put it, and the guy who owned it,  on their airplane.  Only somebody's toes 'getting stepped-upon' stopped it from flying to Chicago.

                                                   The Toronto 'pseudo-bomb'

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