Annals of Strategic Communication: The Carl Vinson Task Force Miscommunication

Joint Publication 5-0/Joint Operation Planning defines strategic communication as:

Focused United States Government efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of United States Government interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power.

The misstatements and miscommunications regarding where the USS Carl Vinson Task Force is and what it is doing have made US strategic communication, both in general and in regard to the DPRK, much, much harder and much more problematic.

I think, however, that the Occam’s Razor explanation for what happened is the most likely one. Here’s what I think happened:

  1. Admiral Harris, Commander US Pacific Command (USPACOM), informed Secretary of Defense Mattis that he had issued a Fragmentary Order cancelling the Carl Vinson Task Force’s port call in Australia and redirecting the strike group to the Sea of Japan to show the colors.
  2. The DOD notified the White House – most likely either through the Liaison Officer or through the National Security Staff.
  3. A copy of the Fragmentary Order was filed.
  4. Secretary Mattis misspoke on 11 April, because he hadn’t actually seen the FRAGORD, that the Carl Vinson Task Force was headed immediately to the Sea of Japan.
  5. The President was briefed, without any specific details, because no one on the National Security Staff had them, that the Carl Vinson Task Force was headed to the Sea of Japan.
  6. The President stated the Carl Vinson Task Force was headed to the Sea of Japan in his Fox Business News interview.
  7. The Carl Vinson Task Force steamed south from Singapore, as ordered, to take part in a scheduled exercise with the Australian Navy.
  8. As is often the case, the US Navy, through the Public Affairs Office, released pictures of the Carl Vinson Task Force passing through the Sunda Strait – 3,500 miles from the Sea of Japan off of the Korean peninsula.

Talking Points Memo has a full timeline at this link.

How did all this miscommunication happen? Simply put – there are almost no political appointees at the Pentagon (or anywhere else in the US government) right now. Secretary of Defense is, essentially, working without a team. He has no deputy, under, assistant deputy, and deputy assistant secretaries, nor does he have any directors, deputy directors, and/or special assistants at the Department of Defense – though several designees have been named for some of these positions. He also does not have any Service Secretaries in place  – though we have have three designated nominees. And none of the deputy, under, assistant deputy, and deputy assistant secretaries, nor does he have any directors, deputy directors, and/or special assistants at each of the Services. All the Secretary of Defense has is whichever Trump campaign and transition personnel are on the DOD and Service Beachhead Teams – none of whom have been chosen by Secretary Mattis. Right now you have a DOD Secretary, the DOD and Service Beachhead Teams from the transition, and then the career civil servants (both Senior Executives and General Schedule) and uniformed military personnel. Basically the entire layer of politically appointed managers, senior to junior, are completely missing. As a result, things are going to fall between the cracks, such as the exact nature of Admiral Harris’s FRAGORD to reposition the Carl Vinson Task Force.

Aside from the bog standard embarrassment of having the President, the Secretary of Defense (a retired USMC 4 Star), and the White House Press Secretary (a US Navy Reserve Commander) not knowing where a carrier strike group is, this is also a significant strategic communication problem. This morning the Associated Press reported (h/t and via: Talking Points Memo) that both our Asian-Pacific partners and competitors are disconcerted and wary given the President and the Administration’s seeming inability to communicate accurate information.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Unpredictable. Unhinged. Dangerous.

Many South Koreans are using those words to describe the president of their most important ally, rather than the leader of their archrival to the North. They worry that President Donald Trump’s tough, unorthodox talk about North Korea’s nuclear program is boosting already-high animosity between the rival Koreas.

The Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper said recently that Trump is playing a “dangerous card” with his verbal threats, risking a miscalculation by Pyongyang and a war on the peninsula.

What the US is currently strategically communicating in regard to the ongoing DPRK nuclear weapon and missile development programs is not exactly inspiring confidence on the Korean Peninsula.

The strategic communication problem goes beyond this. Earlier today the US State Department certified Iran’s compliance under the P5+1 negotiated agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). At the same time Secretary Tillerson notified Speaker Ryan that the US would undertake a comprehensive review of the agreement and that:

…the National Security Council-led interagency review of the agreement will evaluate whether it “is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

During his press conference this afternoon, Secretary Tillerson answered MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell’s question about why the US would want to unilaterally abrogate the agreement if it is working and Iran is complying/in compliance. Secretary Tillerson responded that:

MODERATOR: We’ll take a few questions. Andrea Mitchell.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, by your own letter to the Speaker of the House, Iran is complying with the terms of the nuclear deal. If you break out of that deal, won’t that send a signal to North Korea and other rogue nations that the U.S. can’t be trusted to keep its end of the bargain? And Iran is already being sanctioned for its terrorism, for its missile (inaudible) by the U.S. Is another option – one that many Republicans on the Hill have suggested – to increase those sanctions to punish Iran for those behaviors?

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, Andrea, I think it’s important in any conversation on the JCPOA – and I think this was one of the mistakes in how that agreement was put together, is that it completely ignored all of the other serious threats that Iran poses, and I just went through a few of those with you. And that’s why our view is that we have to look at Iran in a very comprehensive way in terms of the threat it poses in all areas, of the region and the world, and the JCPOA is just one element of that. And so we are going to review completely the JCPOA itself. As I said, it really does not achieve the objective. It is another example of buying off a power who has nuclear ambitions; we buy them off for a short period of time and then someone has to deal with it later. We just don’t —

QUESTION: So should we break out of it?

SECRETARY TILLERSON: We just don’t see that that’s a prudent way to be dealing with Iran, certainly not in the context of all of their other disruptive activities.

This part of Mitchell’s question is exceedingly important:

If you break out of that deal, won’t that send a signal to North Korea and other rogue nations that the U.S. can’t be trusted to keep its end of the bargain?

The US unilaterally abrogating the JCPOA would be self defeating and a significant example of strategic malpractice. It would be self defeating because the result of unilateral abrogation will be that our P5+1 partners will not join us  – there is too much money at stake for them in dealing with Iran. Meaning we’ll be going it alone. That the other parties to the agreement will keep it in place, and will not back our reinstatement of sanctions, means that unilateral abrogation will have zero effect. Moreover, it gives Iran the excuse to 1) beat up on us in the court of global public opinion, 2) put space between us and our allies and partners, and 3) potentially restart their nuclear development program. And it will increase the PRC’s claim that it should be seen as a global rule maker to balance an increasingly erratic and feckless United States, especially in the Asian-Pacific Area of Operations. The strategic malpractice fully comes in, however, with the strategic message this will transmit. We will essentially be telling everyone that “the US’s word is no good, that the US cannot be trusted to live up to its agreements”.  And, as a result, you’ll see more states doing what the DPRK is doing – trying to develop a nuclear deterrent – to protect themselves from us as we will be see as an erratic threat to global order and the global system.

179 replies
  1. 1
    Adam L Silverman says:

    I know there is a lot more security stuff that happened today – a Counterintelligence mole hunt at the CIA for whoever is leaking to Wikileaks and reporting on how the plan/strategy to interfere in the elections was created in Russia. But they will have to wait until tomorrow for posts of their own.

  2. 2
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Simple – there are almost no political appointees at the Pentagon (or anywhere else in the US government) right now. Secretary of Defense is, essentially, working without a team. He has no deputy, under, assistant deputy, and deputy assistant secretaries, nor does he have any directors, deputy directors, and/or special assistants at the Department of Defense – though several designees have been named for some of these positions. He also does not have any Service Secretaries in place – though we have have three designated nominees. And none of the deputy, under, assistant deputy, and deputy assistant secretaries, nor does he have any directors, deputy directors, and/or special assistants at each of the Services.

    The level of incompetence is legendary.

  3. 3
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    nd the White House Press Secretary (a US Navy Reserve Commander)

    Commander Spicey? you fucking with me? in what knock-off Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, or The Three Stooges Join The Navy?

    I will now physically pick my mandible up off the floor (literally! say Biden) and read the rest of the post, because this whole thing has my brain spinning

  4. 4
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: He did his Reserve Duty at the Pentagon last weekend. I’m pretty sure he’s coded as a Public Affairs Specialist by MOS.

  5. 5
    Mike J says:

    What about the statement from (official acronym I can’t remember) “we’ll kick the shit out of them” followed by a day later, “that wasn’t us” and the “that wasn’t us” looks fake?

  6. 6
    Corner Stone says:

    “We have submarines…..very powerful”.

    The whole word salad is fucking disturbing. The president is not well.

  7. 7
    Corner Stone says:

    Having Kevin Uxbridge announce our SecDef status is really disturbing.

  8. 8
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: The President has publicly stated on more than one occasion that he doesn’t intend to fill all of the appointments because he doesn’t think we need people doing those jobs. The Administration publicly announced last week that they will not fill the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. And, if I’m recalling correctly, any of the other related positions in the Office of Religion and Global and Global Affairs. It is responsible for the following:
    https://www.state.gov/s/rga/index.htm

    The Office of Religion and Global Affairs (S/RGA) works to implement the National Strategy on Religious Leader and Faith Community Engagement through three overarching roles for the Department. The office advises the Secretary on policy matters as they relate to religion; supports our posts and bureaus in their efforts to assess religious dynamics and engage religious actors; and serves as a first point of entry for individuals, both religious and secular, who would like to engage the State Department in Washington on matters of religion and global affairs.

    In order to maximize strategic collaboration between special envoys and representatives working at the intersection of religion and foreign policy, the Department consolidated a number of existing offices within the Office of Religion and Global Affairs. The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, the Special Representative to Muslim Communities, and the Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are now part of the Office of Religion and Global Affairs but maintain their special mandates.

    The office collaborates regularly with other government officials and offices focused on religion-related issues, including the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, the Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, USAID’s Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

    Can’t see why we’d need any of those folks in 2017…

  9. 9
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Mike J: Yeah, that one’s pretty scary too. Rachel Maddow tweeted about it, and she’s not much of a tweeter. I assume she’ll be talking about it tomorrow

  10. 10
    Mnemosyne says:

    I just glanced up at the TV inside Sharky’s and the headline on CNN is “Where in the World is the USS Carl Vinson?”

    With a “First 100 Days” tag above it.

  11. 11
    lollipopguild says:

    Trump gives morons a bad name.

  12. 12
    Yarrow says:

    From Digby, this was in the Wall St Journal:

    In South Korea, Hong Joon-pyo, the presidential candidate from former leader Park Geun-hye’s ruling party, said it was inappropriate to judge before receiving final confirmation of the Carl Vinson’s whereabouts. But, in an interview, he said: “What Mr. Trump said was very important for the national security of South Korea. If that was a lie, then during Trump’s term, South Korea will not trust whatever Trump says.”

    That is just not good.

  13. 13
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mike J: I can tell you, without any doubt, that whoever made that statement was not an official Public Affairs Officer at CENTCOM. This is why CENTCOM, once it saw the statement in press, attributed to an anonymous CENTCOM PAO, issued a retraction and clarification, as well as a statement about how that statement was unacceptable. Right now someone at CENTCOM is trying to figure out who that anonymous source was and, if they ever find out, that Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and/or Marine is going to be facing an Article 15 hearing at the very least.

  14. 14
    amk says:

    at least the crimson tide crew had the excuse they were under water. literally.

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, the talking heads about this on CNN are two white dudes and two black women. Interesting optics.

  16. 16
    sharl says:

    OT – Adam, if you ever listen to podcasts (in the gym or wherever/whenever), you might find this episode interesting. The three co-hosts are all former Army guys (at least one is still in Army Reserve), and all have fairly leftie politics which colors their perspective of the U.S. role in the world.

    You may not see eye-to-eye with these guys on some stuff, e.g. the discussion that starts around 32m45s, but I thought you might find it interesting. IMO this episode was a bit more wide-ranging and introspective than the other few episodes I’ve heard so far; I appreciated it at least, thought as they say, YMMV.

  17. 17
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: She covered it last week in real time. Both the initial, incorrect anonymous quote and CENTCOM’s official response to it.

  18. 18
    Mike J says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    if they ever find out, that Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and/or Marine is going to be facing an Article 15 hearing at the very least.

    Can you Article 15 Trump?

  19. 19
    Steeplejack says:

    @Adam L. Silverman:

    Maybe break your post(s) on the front page to put the bulk “below the fold.”

    On this one I suggest a break after “have made US strategic communication, both in general and in regard to the DPRK, much, much harder and much more problematic.”

  20. 20
    Corner Stone says:

    Frum should be really happy that the Axis of Evil is still alive and well in the boogeyman category.

  21. 21
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: That was the quote I was looking for 1/2 an hour ago.

  22. 22
    efgoldman says:

    Shorter Tillerson: “I don’t have the first fucking idea what I’m doing or what’s going on, and neither does anybody else in this gods forsaken maladministration, especially including the “president.”

  23. 23
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Mnemosyne: How perfectly emblematic.

    100 days in, the ship of state was wandering aimlessly in no particular direction….

  24. 24
    Corner Stone says:

    Can CI and LEO please hurry the fuck up and roll these assholes up before they start a nuclear war with NK or Iran?

  25. 25
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thanks for this post, Adam. Very interesting and scary. Have you done the “penetration at all levels” post yet? I don’t want to miss it! I know there are about ten new topics you could do a post on every day. I wish things were a bit more boring in that regard right now.

  26. 26
    Raoul says:

    We will essentially be telling everyone that “the US’s word is no good, that the US cannot be trusted to live up to its agreements”.

    That seems inevitable as long as Trump is president. Frankly, Pence seems like he’d not do all that much better. He strikes me as waaaaaay over his head.

    And the utter lack of staffing is shocking (and not shocking, because Trump is not and has never, ever, been a manager. He’s a licensing hack and that’s it). We don’t have a singe US Attorney in place a month after the dramatic firing, too.

    When the f*k are journalists gonna put 0 + 0 together and understand that a crisis is imminent. There is one idiot steering the ship, a half dozen mirror-fogging cabinet members, and an entire layer of government missing. We’re gonna run aground, and who is noticing??

  27. 27
    Corner Stone says:

    Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s grant Exxon-Mobile a waiver to complete the oil deal with Rosneft!

  28. 28
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @sharl: Thanks.

  29. 29
    efgoldman says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I just glanced up at the TV inside Sharky’s and the headline on CNN is “Where in the World is the USS Carl Vinson?”

    It is really, really hard to lose or hide a carrier task force.
    I mean, I took a tour of the Kennedy (very similar craft) once. Fucking thing is a floating skyscraper on its side.

  30. 30
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steeplejack: Anything else I can get you while I’m up?

  31. 31
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: I have not. Partially because every day we get new evidence of even more penetration!

  32. 32
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I looked through your post and didn’t see it.

  33. 33
    WafflesTasteGood says:

    Whatever explanation points back to incompetence, at the highest level, in this administration, is the explanation I would put my money on.

  34. 34
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Raoul: The tweets, somewhere between pressuring and threatening South Korea over trade as he was leaving South Korea were, at best, tone deaf. At worst a good way to kick an ally and partner in the junk, and add insult to injury, while we’re trying to work with them and help them navigate a real existential crisis for them.

  35. 35
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: Saw that today too. Hoocoodanode?

  36. 36

    Tillerson’s words sound like the normal mealy-mouthed ‘Obama was weak, we are so strong’ crap that doesn’t necessarily mean Trump will do anything. It sounds like it would be in Russia and China’s interests if the US did shoot ourselves in the foot this way, and that worries me. If they wave money at Trump, he will certainly do it without the slightest care what effect it has.

    @Adam L Silverman:
    A white supremacy administration not only has no need for, they specifically do not want those offices. An administration that will ignore hate crimes and let racists commit all the atrocities they want was a major motivation for Trump voters.

  37. 37
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Yeah, no kidding! I feel like we’re living in a spy novel. 1980’s version but with modern technology. It’s a real pager-turner, that’s for sure.

  38. 38
    Corner Stone says:

    @Adam L Silverman: A nice MLT – mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomatoes are ripe.

  39. 39
    Mike in NC says:

    So the lights in the Pentagon (and at Foggy Bottom) are on but almost nobody is home. Sleep tight, America.

    BTW, the Pentagon has been slowly modernized over the years but the top deck/floor still looks very much as it did during WW2 (mostly used for storage space with some conference rooms and auditoriums).

  40. 40
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: I know because I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it and I couldn’t find the original source via a keyword search.

    Based on your tardy performance on this, I’m sorry but we’re not going to be able to extend that unpaid internship to you.//

  41. 41
    NotMax says:

    Today: “undertake a comprehensive review”

    By next week: “It’s complicated.”

  42. 42
    amk says:

    now rex drillerson is sabre-rattling iran. what’s it now, a four front or a five front war? one loses count.

  43. 43
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: One of you all emailed me the other day to tell me you made a leg of lamb. So I’ll see if I can borrow some leftovers and whip something up!

  44. 44
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Oh, noooooo! And the unpay was so good!

  45. 45
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mike in NC: We have no US Attorneys. We have no ambassadors (we do have a bunch of career Foreign Service Officers of ambassadorial rank as acting ambassadors as they are currently running the embassies in their roles as Deputy Chief of Mission).

  46. 46
    Mike J says:

    @amk:

    what’s it now, a four front or a five front war? one loses count.

    How many dolls in a matryoshka?

  47. 47
    Yarrow says:

    @Mike J: All of them, Katie.

  48. 48
    danielx says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    We will essentially be telling everyone that “the US’s word is no good, that the US cannot be trusted to live up to its agreements”. And, as a result, you’ll see more states doing what the DPRK is doing – trying to develop a nuclear deterrent – to protect themselves from us as we will be see as an erratic threat to global order and the global system.

    A ten year old con man/carnival huckster is running the US government at the moment. One whose demonstrated practice and policy is to treat a signed contract as a starting point of negotiations and who honors an agreement for precisely as long as it suits his purposes. One whose purposes change depending on how he feels about himself and how he thinks others think about him, but who views the world like it’s populated by other ten year olds.

    Hoocoodanode that such a person would be viewed (by populations and their leaders other than our own) as completely unstable and untrustworthy? ?

  49. 49
    NotMax says:

    @Adam L. Silverman

    they will not fill the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism

    Well, so much for David Duke’s other dream job.

  50. 50
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman: If it helps, here’s the link to Digby’s post on it. She didn’t include a link to the WSJ article, though. Just the excerpt.

  51. 51
    Bess says:

    @Yarrow:

    I feel like we’re living in a spy novel.

    Theater of the Absurd

  52. 52
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Yarrow: Thanks, I saw it there this morning, but couldn’t remember where. I thought it was in the AP’s report, but it wasn’t. Then I thought I’d seen it somewhere else. Spent fifteen minutes spinning my wheels.

  53. 53
    Steeplejack says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Some readers have limited bandwidth or problems with slow page loads. Hard as it is to believe, not everyone may be interested in your entire post. It has long been tradition here (and on other blogs) to put enough on the front page to give people a sense of the post and then let them click “read more” to get the rest of the story. It doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    Apologies if I misinterpreted your snarky tone.

  54. 54

    @Raoul:

    Frankly, Pence seems like he’d not do all that much better. He strikes me as waaaaaay over his head.

    Pence is dumb as a stump as well as being an arch-conservative supervillain-level ‘kicks puppies’ asshole. He is, however, fairly consistent and smart enough to let himself be used by more intelligent people, as long as he feels his evil is being fairly represented. I doubt he would leave all these positions unfilled, if it were his choice. He isn’t chaotic like Trump.

  55. 55
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steeplejack: I was being a smartass. Though I find it hard to believe that:

    not everyone may be interested in your entire post.

    That’s just crazy talk!

    I’ll fix it in a sec and keep that in mind in the future.

  56. 56
    Another Scott says:

    @efgoldman: Donnie’s minions probably should – at the very least – check GoNavy.jp to figure out where the carrier groups are before shooting off their mouths.

    They won’t, of course. Because they don’t care about facts and they don’t care about policy. They only care about bullying people.

    :-/

    I assume the Navy has something like MarineTraffic.com for our surface warfare ships, someone at the Pentagon must know how to call up that stuff on the secure network. Donnie’s people must have a Pentagon phone directory somewhere, right? :-/

    As TheDemocratMachine’s twitter web page says, “He will kill us all”.

    So, will someone finally introduce impeachment charges before September 30? July 4? April 28?

    (sigh)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  57. 57
    danielx says:

    @Yarrow:

    Updated John Lecarre, except a lot more scary because a babymonster is in charge of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal.

  58. 58
    gene108 says:

    Sad thing is the voters, who are all “USA number one!!!”, keep supporting people, who undermine our standing in the world – Bush, Jr and Trump – while mocking leaders, who work to actually make the USA number one, like Obama and Sec. Clinton.

    They have a very twisted view about what garners respect.

  59. 59
  60. 60
    The Dangerman says:

    Not knowing where a CBG is? Hell, Trump couldn’t find his own ass in the dark without a flashlight and a map.

    Now, finding Ivanka’s ass? Different story.

  61. 61
    Achrachno says:

    @WafflesTasteGood: Yes! The simplest explanation, and one corroborated by many other events and observations is just “They’re all morons”.

  62. 62
    NotMax says:

    @Corner Stone

    Had an amazingly luscious mutton chop at this venerable spot last fall, the specialty of the maison.

    Should those in or visiting NYC be tempted, it’s an old school white linen tablecloth and mahogany walls upscale spot. But there are a handful of small tables adjacent to the bar which are not formal at all, plus a separate pub menu with less gargantuan portions and correspondingly lesser prices.

  63. 63
    efgoldman says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’ll fix it in a sec and keep that in mind in the future.

    Steeplejack is just another old crank.
    I like all of the OP in one page.

  64. 64
    amk says:

    @Mike J: well, someone has gotta pay for ivanka’s chinese deals.

  65. 65
    amk says:

    @efgoldman: the mobile version seems to do it.

  66. 66
    efgoldman says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Not knowing where a CBG is? Hell, Trump couldn’t find his own ass in the dark without a flashlight and a map.

    Am I wrong to think you can see something the size of the Vinson from a damned weather satellite?

  67. 67
    Mike J says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Not knowing where a CBG is?

    Used to be the Bowery, now it’s Newark Airport.

    Uh, or not.

  68. 68
    amk says:

    Venezuela state oil company gave 500k cash to Trump inauguration.

    The grift graft never stops. Unlike the buck.

  69. 69
    Tripod says:

    Cue Yakety Sax and a overhead of a CVN steaming in circles at 30 fps.

  70. 70
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @amk: Sheldon Adelson gave $5 million. Somewhere Pepe is curled up and crying.

  71. 71
    Steeplejack says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Mutton?! You are dead to me.

  72. 72
    Mike J says:

    @NotMax:

    Had an amazingly luscious mutton chop at this venerable spot last fall, the specialty of the maison.

    As a fan of the New York Herald Tribune, I like their reviews.

  73. 73
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @amk: @Adam L Silverman: If I understood Maddow’s last segment correctly, trumpy can do anything he wants with the money? including just pocket it, or book a few floors of trump hotel suites for a few weeks and call it campaign staff housing?

  74. 74
    The Dangerman says:

    @efgoldman:

    Am I wrong to think you can see something the size of the Vinson from a damned weather satellite?

    Weather satellite? Doubtful.

    Of course, there are satellites out there that can show the sailors on the deck and how well tanned they are.

  75. 75
    Corner Stone says:

    @Steeplejack: Hey. When you said on Easter you did not like lamb I did not blast you on blast such that you got blasted.
    Lamb is amazeballs. Goat is great.
    Mutton sandwich is a line from Princess Bride but I am still on board with it.

  76. 76
    amk says:

    @Adam L Silverman: well, he was already green when he started off.

  77. 77
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Incompetence to boggle the mind. Pure amateur hour, because none of these fuckwits (to include naval vet Bannon or reservist Spicer) understand a damn thing about the Chain of Command. They’ve obstinately refused to fill out an entire fucking layer of command personnel. It’s like a company commander attempting to command without a First Sergeant or shadow company clerk (the real one is at the battalion PAC) to actually run the damn place.

  78. 78
    Corner Stone says:

    Lamb is crazy fucking good. Best lamb chops I ever had were at a vendor party in Vegas a few years ago. They were from Australia. Like meat lollipops. Oh my God I want them again now.

  79. 79
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gene108:

    They have a very twisted view about what garners respect.

    They think that fear and respect are the same thing, probably because they were raised by scary, abusive parents who demanded obedience and ruled the household by fear. Their only ambition in life was to have children of their own so that they, too, could force “respect” by getting other people to fear them.

  80. 80
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I am not a lawyer specializing in campaign finance law, so let’s assume she had her staff verify that statement.

  81. 81
    Mike in NC says:

    @Adam L Silverman: My wife’s cousin is retired State Department. Entire career was based in the Middle East. He was DCM in Egypt and his last career assignment was ambassador to Lebanon several years ago. Turned down a few jobs in Iraq after the Bush fiasco.

    He lives much of the year in Beirut and we have yet to hear his views about the current mess in DC.

  82. 82
    Lizzy L says:

    I may be misinterpreting what Tillerson says in his response to Andrea Mitchell’s question, but it sounds like he ignores her point — that the US marks itself as untrustworthy if it unilaterally abrogates the deal with Iran. It’s possible he doesn’t think it’s true. It’s also possible that he thinks it’s true, but not significant. It’s equally possible that he doesn’t understand it. None of these options leaves me with much confidence in him.

  83. 83
    Corner Stone says:

    Let’s ask Matthew Dowd how the D party gets back into power.

  84. 84
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mike in NC: Okay.

  85. 85
    Steeplejack says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Thanks. I usually don’t come to a post from the front page—more often it’s “next post” or “previous post”—but I had to do some searching by date today and I noticed that there are some posts—and you’re not the only perpetrator—that really, really explore the front-page space.

  86. 86
    NotMax says:

    @Corner Stone

    On the planet as a whole, goat meat is far and away the most often consumed by hairless apes.

  87. 87
    efgoldman says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Let’s ask Matthew Dowd how the D party gets back into power.

    I’m sure Maureen and Bobo have valuable opinions, too ::retch::

  88. 88
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Lizzy L: the fact that Tillerson, with no discernible irony or self-deprecation, told the story about how his wife convinced him to take the SoS job because “God’s not done with you”, makes me seriously question his worldview, if not his mental health. I remember what happened the last time a Texan thought God wanted him in high office in this country.

    @Corner Stone: Lemme guess: Brian Willaims show? It seems to be the theme tonight, except for Maddow, to ask non-Democrats what Democrats need to do

  89. 89
    Yarrow says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I read something about that several weeks ago. Donations to the inauguration committee aren’t governed by campaign finance laws or whatever. Anyone can give as much as they want and it can be used for anything. Should be renamed Bribes R Us.

  90. 90
    Yarrow says:

    @NotMax: I’m a fan of cabrito.

  91. 91
    Mike in NC says:

    @gene108: Like somebody posted earlier today, Trump is just big foam finger for mostly old people anxious to declare White Supremacy.

  92. 92
    max says:

    The President was briefed, without any specific details, because no one on the National Security Staff had them, that the Carl Vinson Task Force was headed to the Sea of Japan. The President stated the Carl Vinson Task Force was headed to the Sea of Japan in his Fox Business News interview.

    Someone may have told Trump that the Vinson was heading to Korea at speed. Or someone may have been told (ordered) to send the Vinson at speed to Korea. Or Trump may have heard the right details and just spewed some bullshit. I can’t tell. I otherwise agree – if the Pentagon had transmitted an order to the Vinson TG to proceed immediately to Korea they would have,

    And, as a result, you’ll see more states doing what the DPRK is doing – trying to develop a nuclear deterrent – to protect themselves from us as we will be see as an erratic threat to global order and the global system.

    I think that’s been the problem since Bush’s 2002 State of the Union speech basically declaring war on the entire planet. Obama repaired some of the damage, but there’s a certain unfixibility to the entire situation, given the continuing War on Terror. Trump’s just intensifying the problem.

    max
    [‘I think our credibility has to be considered an expended asset.’]

  93. 93
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steeplejack: I’m expansionist, expeditionary, and irredentist. I claim this space in the name of the Queen!

  94. 94
    Lizzy L says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I’d forgotten that. Kind of wish you hadn’t reminded me. Bad enough that these folks have no experience, no support staff, and no knowledge of history, they think God talks to them.

  95. 95
    Mike in NC says:

    @amk: Sheldon Adelson gave $5 million.

    ETA: Adam covered that.

  96. 96
    randy khan says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Right now someone at CENTCOM is trying to figure out who that anonymous source was and, if they ever find out, that Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and/or Marine is going to be facing an Article 15 hearing at the very least.

    You did say that Sean Spicer was doing his reserve duty last weekend, didn’t you?

  97. 97
    NotMax says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist

    Cannot stomach Williams. His discourse oozes insipidity.

    Although one could develop a hard-fisted drinking game for each time he mentions what time it is or breathlessly announces a commercial break.

  98. 98
    efgoldman says:

    @max:

    I think our credibility has to be considered an expended asset.

    Literally nobody in the whole fucking world considers this maladministration credible except for around 60 million American voters, and the media who provide the Planet Delusia scenery for them,.

  99. 99
    randy khan says:

    I’m kind of relieved in a strange way that the Vinson thing turned out to be the result of incompetence, not a bald-faced lie.

  100. 100
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @max: I think the DPRK leadership saw what we did with Qhaddafi in Libya and decided they didn’t want to be next.

    As for credibility. I don’t think it is expended, but I definitely think it is fragile and perishable.

  101. 101
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @randy khan: He was at the Pentagon. And I doubt he was the anonymous source.

  102. 102
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @NotMax: and if there were an amount of booze, or an alcohol content to go with his more elaborate ways of telling the time “As we complete the 11th sixty second segment of this 22nd hour of our designated day, we are /self-satisfied smirk/ rapturously aroused to welcome to our soundstage news-reading platform [forty-five second obsequious intro] Nicole Wallace…”

  103. 103
    NotMax says:

    @Adam L. Silverman

    Gotta love classic Firesign Theater.

    CONQUISTADOR 1: …therefore I claim this rich world of pasture land in the name of the Empire of Spain!
    CONQUISTADOR 2: Hey hey hey capitano! The rain . . . she’s-a stoppa to fall . . . and the corn . . . she’s all-a dead!
    CONQUISTADOR 1: Shut up-pa, Vespucc’! I claim this stinking desert in the name of the Empire of Spain forever. Let’s go!

  104. 104
    Steeplejack says:

    @efgoldman:

    Don’t you still have to change pages so you can be a choleric blowhard in the comments?

  105. 105
    Ruckus says:

    @efgoldman:
    I have refueled at sea from the carrier USS America on several occasions (same class as the CV) and the flight deck was higher than the mast on our ship. It was also 2 1/2 times longer than we were. It’s fucking huge.

  106. 106
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @randy khan: It could be a lie. I just think a simple explanation, such as I provided above, is what happened.

  107. 107
    jimmiraybob says:

    Personally I think the strategy was brilliant. Tell the enemy that you’re coming straight at them and then sail the opposite direction completely around the globe and attack from the rear. Like I said, brilliant.

  108. 108
    efgoldman says:

    @randy khan:

    that the Vinson thing turned out to be the result of incompetence, not a bald-faced lie.

    That’s the simplest Occamsplanation. Doesn’t mean it’s the right one.

  109. 109
    danielx says:

    For all the well-wishers out there, Miss Zoey showed up about fifteen minutes ago, evidently stalking a rabbit hiding behind the boxwood outside the back porch. Spousal unit and I were out there talking about her and thought we heard (distantly) a distinctive hoarse, bitchy meow. Then another, and I go out where the boxwood is, rabbit makes like Usain Bolt and I hear another “meowr!” and here she slides out of the boxwood. Judging from her reaction to a rapturous homecoming, brat is probably wondering why she doesn’t run away more often. Catnip, kitty treats, milk…what’s not to like?

  110. 110
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Adam L Silverman: We’ll be able to get it back if and only if we remove the Rethugs from power. They’ve gone off the deep end. Eisenhower, Hatfield, Dirksen, hell even Nixon would disown this gang that not only can’t shoot straight, they can’t aim the weapon or insert the magazine without adult supervision.

  111. 111
    Yarrow says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    As for credibility. I don’t think it is expended, but I definitely think it is fragile and perishable.

    I get the feeling that our allies are giving us a little bit of time to get our act together. They’ve known for several years about Trump’s Russia ties. Now that he’s been elected they’re giving our intelligence community and the FBI some time to bring indictments. If they don’t come, or if they do come but Trump survives, then all bets are off. They’re willing to give us that time because they know those sorts of investigations and indictments don’t happen overnight. But we need to show we’re serious about it as a country. If we don’t, I don’t know what our future looks like in relation to our allies.

  112. 112
    efgoldman says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Don’t you still have to change pages so you can be a choleric blowhard in the comments?

    Nah, don’t have to change nuthin’. Just channel my inner Lauren Bacall.

  113. 113
    Lizzy L says:

    @danielx: “The cat came back; the very next day; the cat came back; they thought she was a goner; but the cat came back; she just couldn’t stay; away…”

    Good news! Happy for you and family and Miss Zooey and the speedy rabbit.

  114. 114
    Yarrow says:

    @danielx: I’m so glad she made it back home in one piece!

  115. 115
    workworkwork says:

    @Adam L Silverman: That was me. Your recipe worked perfectly but now I have a ton of leftovers and am trying to figure out different ways to serve them.

  116. 116
    Mnemosyne says:

    @danielx:

    Phew — good news! I hate when the little brats run away and scare the heck out of us.

  117. 117
    Corner Stone says:

    @Yarrow: How about chupacabrito?
    MmmmMMMmmmm…delicious!

  118. 118
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @workworkwork: I didn’t want to out your culinary exploits. As for leftovers, apparently CornerStone would like a sandwich.

    I personally like it sliced thin on a pizza with feta cheese and pitted Greek olives.

  119. 119
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Corner Stone: The food that eats you before you can eat it!

  120. 120
    Yarrow says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: They don’t even know what the weapons are. Would probably put one in the microwave thinking they were cooking dinner.

    They do know their way to and around the bank, though.

  121. 121
    Steeplejack says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Now you’re talking! Good eats.

  122. 122
    Corner Stone says:

    @workworkwork:
    Corner Stone<—this guy. You serve them to this guy.

  123. 123
    Mike in NC says:

    @randy khan: Hard to believe that WH press secretary Spicer is still doing weekend drills as a USNR PAO, since many categories of federal government employees, including members of Congress and FBI agents, are given special exemption.

  124. 124
    NotMax says:

    @efgoldman

    “Patience is not my strong point.”
    – Lauren Bacall

    No one, nowhere, ever made a a checked suit look sultry like Bacall.

  125. 125
    Davebo says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Hotel Zsa Zsa has some sweet lamb lollipops. Still, I miss the Warwick.

  126. 126
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Yarrow: High level of training on ATMs…probably have Issa advising them on how to break into them.

  127. 127
    efgoldman says:

    @Ruckus:

    It was also 2 1/2 times longer than we were. It’s fucking huge.

    When I toured the JFK in Boston, it was aside the longest open water pier available. A full third of the length was beyond each end of the pier

  128. 128
    Yarrow says:

    @Corner Stone: The rare delicacy that eats everything else on your plate and you aren’t sure you saw it in the first place? I’ve seen it on the menu but they’re always out.

  129. 129
    Mike in NC says:

    @Ruckus: As an Officer of the Deck (Under Instruction) I once had my ship on a collision course with USS America, as the CO very kindly reminded me. But I still got a great fitness report when all was said and done. : )

  130. 130

    @efgoldman:

    Literally nobody in the whole fucking world considers this maladministration credible except for around 60 million American voters, and the media who provide the Planet Delusia scenery for them,.

    Honestly, I don’t think they consider him credible, either. Neither group cares, the former because ‘fuck you, liberals’, and the latter because… uh, ‘fuck you, liberals’, actually. And Trump is being incredibly racist, so the voters are getting what they want. The media do wish he’d be less obviously a senile liar about it.

    @Yarrow:
    I think you have a point. Nobody trusts Trump. They’re still hoping they can trust America.

  131. 131
    Corner Stone says:

    @Davebo: Haven’t been to Za Za in a couple years. Last time was for a work party. Just so happened it coincided with a number of NBA players in the bar and a number of (X times N) professional talent in the bar doing their best to lure the eye of the NBA guys.

  132. 132
    Mike in NC says:

    @danielx: Good news. We had indoor/outdoor cats in NoVA and were always worried about what they were up to.

  133. 133
    efgoldman says:

    @Yarrow:

    They do know their way to and around the bank, though.

    Not US banks, they don’t. Reporting requirements are too strict.

  134. 134
    NotMax says:

    @workworkwork

    If you saved the pan drippings, might consider a variation of egg on horseback.

  135. 135
    Yarrow says:

    @efgoldman: Federal Treasury they do. Figured that out right quick.

  136. 136
    efgoldman says:

    @danielx: Recent dialog reported by my daughter (Mommy) with 3-1/2 year old granddaughter:

    “My meat is all gone!”
    “Okay”
    “I fed it to the cat”
    “You aren’t supposed to–”
    “Now I want to give him some jellybeans”
    “Oh god no”

  137. 137
    Keith P. says:

    @Corner Stone: NYT had an article recently about how little lamb Americans eat. My family always had it for every other x-mas, so I eat it all the time. I made a leg of lamb for some friends of mine, and they’d actually never had it…were blown away by how good it was. Only time I’ve had lamb and didn’t like it was/is at Fogo de Chao. They’re very proud of their lamb (farm raised in New Zealand), but AFAIK it’s just got salt and pepper (and tastes gamey as hell); I always – always – make it with evoo, lemon, garlic, rosemary, S&P, and *maybe* a splash of wine.

  138. 138
    efgoldman says:

    @Mike in NC:

    I still got a great fitness report when all was said and done.

    Old service trick: Give someone a great fitness report, to ensure that some other poor bastard takes him/her.

  139. 139
    Raoul says:

    @danielx: At a deeper level, people in other countries also look at the US voters and say, “We don’t trust you any more, either. That you could pick such an obvious clown breaks any sense that we know you.”

  140. 140
    Corner Stone says:

    @Keith P.:

    about how little lamb

    Mmmm…little lamb….

  141. 141
    NotMax says:

    @Keith P.

    Nice change of pace for the summertime is a butterflied leg of lamb, slathered with a honey mustard sauce and grilled.,

  142. 142
    efgoldman says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Mmmm…little lamb….

    Your IRL name is Mary Hadd?

  143. 143
    Corner Stone says:

    This little lamb of mine. I’m going to let it shine. This little lamb of mine. I’m going to let it shine. With olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. This little lamb of mine.

  144. 144
    Yarrow says:

    @Raoul: Except our voting system is so weird and it’s pretty common knowledge that Hillary won the popular vote. If it comes out that the vote was hacked by Russians, that might change the rest of the world’s perception of us. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

  145. 145
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @efgoldman: One of my bosses did that in reverse, on one of my lieutenants. He was the senior rater, and wrote that he could foresee no national emergency requiring the return of this officer to active service.

  146. 146
    Raoul says:

    @The Dangerman: The new GOES-16 (weather satellite) with Advanced Baseline Imager will be pretty amazing as it gets operational. The few pics I’ve seen from it are spectacular.

  147. 147
    Captain C says:

    @Adam L Silverman: This is unacceptable if the Inauguration date was still March 4.

  148. 148
  149. 149
    joel hanes says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Let’s grant Exxon-Mobile a waiver to complete the oil deal with Rosneft!

    My economy is feeling stimulated just thinking about it.

  150. 150
    NotMax says:

    Not quite a smoking samovar but inching closer.

    A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

    They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [en.riss.ru/], after the election.” <a href="A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

    They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies […], after the election."

    The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office. >Source

  151. 151
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    even more penetration!

    Welcome to “Balloon Juice After Dark”!

  152. 152
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Keith P.: That’s either the fat or the age. It means they didn’t trim the fat on the lamb down or it’s older and qualifies as mutton. I personally keep it simple: dry rub it with coarse grind kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Then rub it with olive oil before trussing it up and roasting.

  153. 153
    danielx says:

    @Raoul:

    There’s that. From what i understand a lot of people in other countries have acquired the idea that US foreign policy is a roll of the dice on any given day, at least of late. You could count on one thing from Republicans about foreign policy in the past – which was to promote stability and predictability, because that’s what is best for business and long term cash flow. With a certain amount of mayhem towards others permitted, as long as they were people who could be demonized.

    Such is no longer the case.

    I thought I had seen government driven by ideology during the Bush II regime (the Regency), but what I see today goes far beyond that and for that matter far past Nixon’s administration or that of Warren G. Harding. For sheer larcenous enthusiasm and treasonous acts, Trump and his minions are beyond comparison in US history. I do not have in my vocabulary an obscene enough expression to describe what they are doing to our country and its reputation, and my vocabulary is pretty damn extensive.

  154. 154
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Captain C: No argument here.

  155. 155
    NotMax says:

    So O’Reilly is sacked and perennial waiter in the wings Tucker Carlson fails upward yet again. Give him six months of helming plummeting ratings before being yanked by the suits in the corner office.

  156. 156
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NotMax: This is what I referenced in comment 1.

  157. 157
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @danielx:

    we heard (distantly) a distinctive hoarse, bitchy meow.

    sounds like you were hanging around the Human Resources department

    No offense to any HR people here, of course

  158. 158
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steve in the ATL:
    Dear Balloon Juice Forum,

    I never thought it would happen to me…

  159. 159
    Ruckus says:

    @Mike in NC:
    When, where, what?

  160. 160
    danielx says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    What can I tell you? A female cat and the second or third time* I heard it that’s the adjective that came to me. I wondered if I was being a male pig about it and asked various females of my acquaintance of their impressions and their reactions (without being prompted) were unanimous – yes, she sounds really bitchy.

    *first time i heard it, it sounded like yes, a human resources harpy.

    First time I heard it my reaction was

  161. 161
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @danielx: I get it. I’ve had bitchy cats before.

    I also got a bitchy response from some HR ladies when I asked them to institute a mandatory pre-approval process for anyone who wants to wear stretch pants to work. You’d think people would have more self awareness, but instead *I* had to go to sensitivity training. Again.

  162. 162
    Mary G says:

    @Adam L Silverman: They seem to feel that leaving all these jobs unfilled is a feature, not a bug. It’s got Steve Bannon’s “blow up the bureaucratic state to smithereens” fingerprints all over it.

  163. 163
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mary G: Bannon is not even displaying the training a new ensign gets on how orders work and how the chain of command works. His blind ideological hatred of bureaucracy is making his boss look bad to anyone but the feces-flinging masses that are the trumpanzees. So for him, sure, feature, not bug.

  164. 164
    Ian says:

    @Raoul:
    Lets not argue about them failing to post people in government. The one they got, well, is in the highest of lifetime positions of power.

  165. 165
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I posted it in an earlier thread.

  166. 166
    TenguPhule says:

    @danielx:

    From what i understand a lot of people in other countries have acquired the idea that US foreign policy is a roll of the dice on any given day, at least of late.

    Its even worse then that.

    Instead of going to the State Department to find out what the fuck is going on, the foreign diplomats are bribing Trump insiders for what’s actually going on.

    We are so fucked.

  167. 167
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman: No Rosemary? You heathen devil!

  168. 168
    TenguPhule says:

    @Yarrow:

    But we need to show we’re serious about it as a country.

    Well so much for that faint hope.

  169. 169
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I don’t think it is expended, but I definitely think it is fragile and perishable.

    I guarantee you the next time we have to write a check from the bank of Please Believe Us, its gonna bounce.

  170. 170
    TenguPhule says:

    @NotMax: It also tends to smell faintly of piss before cooking.

    /Another edition of delightful little facts you didn’t know before

  171. 171
    TenguPhule says:

    @Corner Stone: If you have Costco near you, they sell Australian lamb. And yes, it is really good.

  172. 172
    fuckwit says:

    @Bess: As someone tweeted today, we’re living in a novel in which a man stuck in 2013 desperately Tweets dire warnings to his future self as president in 2017.

  173. 173
    J R in WV says:

    @danielx:

    Awwww, so glad she’s back. So everyone was right, just out for Spring Fling, chasing little young rabbits, micey, it’s too early for little baby birdies.

    And sometimes they do get trapped in a garage that was left open long enough to be attractive, and then automatically closed from a distance. Until yesterday my automatic open-close remote had quit working. A new diskoid lithium battery installed – a little tricky – gave it new range of over 100 yards. You can open&close the garage door from the house, at least 100 yards away. Could trap a cat, or racoon, or anything in there.

    Anyways, glad furbaby is home safe and sound.

  174. 174
    J R in WV says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I was serving on a Sub Tender, buillding 16 we were called. Moored 340 days a year, doing repair and supply for the boats. One day, midsummer, at lunchtime, we were all relaxing, it was blue sky and sunny with big puffy white clouds on the mess deck the hull openings were all open, so fresh air and views while we ate.

    The the collision alarm goes off, THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!! Evidently some senior officers were teaching Jr officers the entry level ship handling with the submarine rescue ship attached to the squadron. It had 15 anchors and side propulsion if needed, and was very manuverable.

    One of the students had it turned around the end of the mole and headed straight for dead center of the tender, which was tied to the pier, pointed due north. Doors were slamming shut, and pumps were starting up deep in the engine compartments. Even the hull openings were being slowly closed and dogged, as the klaxon alarm rang over and over.

    Finally we were saved by the Old Bosuns on the rescue ship, who had dropped anchors all down both sides of the rapidly approaching ship, while the shiphandler students had engines full reverse, stirring up the bottom of the harbor into grey soup. Mud that hadn’t seen daylight in 40 years was on top of the water in the harbor…. Welcome to Key West guys!!

    The alarm was shut down, the doors popped back open, those growling pumps down below in the engineering spaces ground to a quiet stop. But you knew that someone was going to get written up for that show of shiphandling unskills.

    I had forgotten it from 40 years ago. Those officers were better qualified than people running huge parts of the Pentagon today!!!

  175. 175
    Shalimar says:

    @NotMax: That means in the last year, Tucker Carlson has replaced Van Susteren, then Kelly, then O’Reilly. On the one hand, it’s nice that they have a clear hierarchy in valuing their talent and continue moving people up the chain. On the other hand, they have lost so many long-time stars that Tucker “America’s Oldest Frat Boy” Carlson is now at the top of the hierarchy. That cannot be good.

  176. 176
    evodevo says:

    @efgoldman: Ditto. I want ALL the news/analysis and I want it NOW.

  177. 177
    Aardvark Cheeselog says:

    So, to return briefly to the topic, if anyone is still reading:

    Is OP saying that the FRAGORD was to modify the plans for the Vinson Task Force to cancel a scheduled port call that was originally going to happen after the joint exercise, and the Task Force has been sailing according to plans as modified by the FRAGORD all along?

  178. 178
    Miss Bianca says:

    @danielx: Yay!

    (that’s all I have for this important thread on national insecurity).

  179. 179
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Aardvark Cheeselog: Yes. The only thing changed from the orders pre change by Commander PACOM was that instead of the post exercise port call in Australia, the Carl Vinson Task Force would proceed North to the Sea of Japan along the Korean Peninsula after completing the exercise with the Australian Navy.

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