Weekly Wrap-up 27 OCT

Happy Friday! Thanks for checking out Bull-It Points…be sure to send your tips, criticism or compliments to chris@bullitpoints.com let us know what you like or how we can get better. –Chris Servello

Posting Saturday morning, BULL-It Points Podcast Ep4. Timed with the conclusion of Cyber Security Awareness Month, this week’s guest is Mr Joe Gradisher, a retired Navy Captain and current member of the Navy’s N2N6 Strategic Engagements Office. In a phone conversation with BULL-It Points, Joe discusses cyber security…the threat…what can be done to protect yourself and your organization…as well as what the Navy is doing to protect itself against potential competitors.

Now onto this week’s wrap-up…

Key Points:

Russia is pushing to control cyberspace. We should all be worried.

  • The Kremlin’s proposed convention would enhance the ability of Russia and other authoritarian nations to control communication within their countries, and to gain access to communications in other countries, according to several leading U.S. cyber experts.
  • They described the latest draft as part of Moscow’s push over the past decade to shape the legal architecture of what Russian strategists like to call the “information space.”

China Congress: No heir apparent as Xi reveals top leadership

  • The omission cements Mr Xi’s grip on leadership for the next five years, a day after his name and his teachings were written into the constitution. But it raises questions over whether Mr Xi, 64, intends to rule beyond 2022.
  • Mr Xi’s two predecessors have followed the orderly pattern of succession. But since he came to power in 2012, he has shown his readiness to write his own rules.

Time for the US to Stop Losing Ground to China in the South China Sea

  • But the real problem is that there are fundamental differences between China and the United States in interpretation of the relevant international law.
  • Indeed, the U.S.-China struggle for control of the SCS is symptomatic of a much deeper clash of values, national interests, and perceived destinies.
  • So each considers it their right and destiny to dominate and shape the international order to fit their needs.

Find the Root Causes First

  • Ship operations are a complex business, especially at times of heightened alert, elevated operating tempo, and crowded shipping lanes. Understanding the essence of the problem the Navy is trying to solve may not be as easy as it seems. Acting too quickly can create the façade of a solution that can dampen the will, and the necessary curiosity, to dig deeper.

Neither Congress nor the Pentagon have a path to a 355-ship Navy

  • Aside from the congressional hurdles that must be overcome, Trump’s naval buildup aspirations must overcome a seeming lack of coherent vision of what a bigger Navy means or how it’s going to be paid for.
  • Navy leaders have even seemed to put the brakes on their own stated goal of a 355-ship fleet. The new secretary of the Navy, Richard Spencer, agrees the Navy needs to aim for 355 ships, but wants to understand what kind of ships and technologies the Navy will need in the future before putting lots of money toward the move.

How Democrats and Republicans in Congress communicate differently

  • There’s a general perception on the Hill that when it comes to communications styles, Republicans typically start with the message, while Democrats start with the policy — which carries through to their communications styles.
  • Overall, Pew Research Center found that last year, Republican members were much more likely to post more Facebook messages over press releases than Democrats.

The fake news about fake news

  • Fake news perpetrators have a lot of financial incentives to create fake news that has nothing to do with politics: Any content that caters to emotions is more likely to be engaged with, and thus is easier to monetize from an advertising perspective. BuzzFeed’s recent piece about overseas content farms making money off fake content is a good example.


National Security

Boiling point: McCain frustrations with Mattis, McMaster go public

(Defense News, 22 Oct 17…By: Joe Gould and Aaron Mehta WASHINGTON — Simmering tension between Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain and the Trump administration’s national security team over information sharing, the defense budget and Pentagon appointments boiled into public view last week. Link

Russia is pushing to control cyberspace. We should all be worried.

(Washington Post, 24 Oct 17…By David Ignatius) Russia’s cyber-meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been accompanied by what U.S. and European experts describe as a worrisome Kremlin campaign to rewrite the rules for global cyberspace. Link

Trump’s Nov visit can be his defining moment in Asia

(The Straits Times, 23 Oct 17…By Patrick M. Cronin) US leader’s historic Asian trip will have an enduring impact, but he must confront three harsh realities. Link

China congress: No heir apparent as Xi reveals top leadership

(BBC, 25 Oct 17) China has revealed its new senior leadership committee, breaking with tradition by not including a clear successor to President Xi Jinping. Link

Time for the US to Stop Losing Ground to China in the South China Sea

(The Diplomat, 24 Oct 17…By Tuan Pham) Beijing has reportedly unveiled a new legal tactic to promote, assert, and advance its maritime claims in the SCS. The latest lawfare approach involves shifting away from the so-called (and universally not recognized) “nine-dash line (NDL)” claim to a narrower “Four shas (4S)” (Chinese for four sands) claim that more tightly connects the four contested island groups of Pratas Islands, Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, and Macclesfield Bank.  Link


Fleet and Marine Tracker: Oct. 23, 2017

(USNI, 23 Oct 17)

fleet tracker oct 23 1 1


A Russian Ghost Submarine, Its U.S. Pursuers and a Deadly New Cold War

(Wall Street Journal, 20 Oct 17…By Julian E. Barnes) The Krasnodar, a Russian attack submarine, left the coast of Libya in late May, headed east across the Mediterranean, then slipped undersea, quiet as a mouse. Then, it fired a volley of cruise missiles into Syria. Link

Is the U.S. Navy Weak? The Chinese Seem to Think So.

(The National Interest, 23 Oct 17…By Lyle J. Goldstein)  Chinese military commentators have shared their thoughts on recent U.S. Naval accidents and what they think it means for the larger geopolitical struggle in the Asia-Pacific. Link

The PLA’s Navy Plan for Dominance

(CIMSEC, 24 Oct 17…By Richard D. Fisher, Jr.) Potential modernization plans or ambitions of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) were revealed in unprecedented detail by a former PLAN Rear Admiral in a university lecture, perhaps within the last 2-3 years. Link

Find the Root Causes First

(Proceedings Magazine Oct 17…By Rear Admiral Terry McKnight, U.S. Navy (Retired) and David Silverstein) Four alarming incidents among four ships of the 7th Fleet this year—the collisions of the USS John S. McCain (DDG-56), Fitzgerald (DDG-62), and Lake Champlain (CG-57), and the grounding of the Antietam (CG-54)—have triggered understandable and appropriate investigations and calls for prompt action. All of this “prompt action” is designed to solve the problem and restore safe operations within (and presumably beyond) the 7th Fleet. The question it begs is, “What problem are we solving?” Link

Neither Congress nor the Pentagon have a path to a 355-ship Navy

(Defense News, 23 Oct 17…By: David B. Larter) WASHINGTON — The great Navy buildup promised by U.S. President Donald Trump during his campaign is so far all talk and no action, and with progress on Capitol Hill stalled on almost all fronts, the Defense Department seems more likely to eat another round of sequester cuts than cut steel for a bunch of extra ships. Link


How Democrats and Republicans in Congress communicate differently

(Axios, 26 Oct 17…By Sara Fischer) Republicans go straight for the emotional responses of social media like Facebook, while Democrats prefer the more polished press releases. But they do have things in common — like mentioning bipartisanship on social media, even though it rarely actually happens. Link

19 Tips to Immediately Improve Your Writing (Infographic)

(Entrepreneur, 21 Oct 17…By  Emily Conklin) Communication is key when it comes to success in any field, but especially as an aspiring entrepreneur. Getting an idea up and running requires clear and concise writing skills, whether you’re composing emails or creating presentations. Check out the Instructional Solutions infographic linked below to learn how to polish your writing skills today. Link


The fake news about fake news

(Axios, 24 Oct 17) The hype around Russia’s involvement in the elections and fake news is complicated, so here are some truths around the topic: Link

1 crazy thing: 42% of American kids under 8 have tablets

(Axios, 24 Oct 17) A whopping 42% of children ages 0-8 have their own tablet device, up from less than 1% in 2011, according to Common Sense Media’s newest national “Media Use by Kids” census: Link


The Necessity of Questioning the Military

(The Atlantic, 22 Oct 17…By Loren DeJonge Schulman) Honoring the sacrifice of servicemembers requires understanding why they were put at risk, and demanding that those who did so hold themselves to account. Link

The Right Way to Honor the Troops

(Foreign Policy, 25 Oct 17…By Micah Zenko) By instructing the American people in how to properly honor the U.S. military — specifically, by avoiding critique of military policy — the Donald Trump White House has intensified the long-standing bipartisan practice of politicizing the service of U.S. troops. This would be unhealthy in any deliberative democracy. It’s especially so in one like ours, where the military plays such an outsized role in politics and social life. Link

Episode 3…Convo w/ Mike Fabey

By Chris Servello

In this week’s Podcast, we talk with defense reporter and author Mike Fabey. In a phone conversation with BULL-It Points, Mike discusses naval operations in the Indo-Asia Pacific, previews his new book Crashback  and talks about the need for transparent communication between reporter and subject matter experts.

Michael Fabey has reported on military and naval affairs for most of his career, winning the prestigious Timothy White Award and earning a Pulitzer Prize nomination. In his work for National Geographic Traveler, the Economist Group, Defense News Aviation Week, and Jane’s, he has collected more than two dozen reporting awards. No other journalist has had as much firsthand experience of America’s naval ships and aircraft and the officers who command them. A Philadelphia native, he currently resides in Spotsylvania, Virginia. Crashback: The Power Clash Between the US and China in the Pacific is his first book.

(Book Launch: Crashback, The Power Clash Between the U.S. and China in the Pacific Wednesday, October 25, 2017 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm CSIS Headquarters)

Key points:

On ballistic missile defense ships off North Korea and in the Western Pacific:

  • Continue to strategically place these ships, in areas not only around NK, but in the western pacific as well…were intelligence tells you they should go…and essentially when the missiles reach space shoot them down…gives a military option, a show of force…to show there are consequences for North Korea’s action short of all out military conflict.

Indo-Asia Pacific maritime environment:

  • Some much of the global commercial traffic goes through those waterways… arguably the most strategic waterway on the planet…for the last 70 years the US has been the traffic cop, the sheriff to make sure everyone follows the international protocol and norms….this is one of the reasons you can go into a Walmart and buy a laptop for only a couple hundred dollars…because we have kept those waterways open and free.”
  • Recently you see folks expanding into the maritime realm with a military bent…There is a big difference between using military warships to keep waterways open and free compared to putting military outposts on islands and shoals to have a military imprint.
  • What we have had lately is a confrontational atmosphere between the US, who is trying to keep the peace, and the Chinese who are showing more military muscle than China has ever shown…no weapons firedyet, but certainly an escalation of tension over the last several years.

Crashback…released on 24 Oct:

  • An unflinching and timely account of the simmering “warm war” between the Chinese and U.S. navies in the South China Sea…offers a unique, from-the-high-seas perspective on the spectacular and dangerous confrontations occurring between the world’s most heavily armed naval forces as they’re caught in an escalating struggle for territory and influence.

On past media engagement w/ the U.S. Navy:

  • The story, instead of becoming gotcha…gotcha..gotcha…, once the Navy did a 180 and become engaging and transparent…the stories focused on the proactive fixes instead of simply the problems…building a sense of trust and respect between subject matter experts and reporters.

Podcast Episode 2…convo with Bryan McGrath

By Chris Servello

In our Navy Birthday edition of the Bullit Points Podcast, we talk with Managing Director of The FerryBridge Group LLC, retired naval officer and well known navalist Bryan McGrath (@conswahoo). Bryan makes the case for strong American seapower as a central component of the United States national security strategy.

Additionally, he discusses his concern that the American public doesn’t understand the value of seapower and the necessity for a strong Navy. Bryan suggests several ways to increase  and improve the Department of the Navy’s communication effort…seeing that success as central to growing a 350-ship Navy.

Key Quotes:

I came away from my six month speaking tour somewhat disheartened at the level of understanding in those rooms about anything other than a sort of a superficial patriotic appreciation for the Navy. The wasn’t much of an understanding how the Navy protects and sustains our economy.

“I come away from it thinking Navy leadership has a relentlessly and continuously educating the american public about seapower.”

“My pitch was that the security and prosperity of the United States of America was disproportionately reliant on strong American Seapower.”

“At the SECNAV and CNO level a relentless advocacy has to be the minimum standard that we demand of these decision makers.”

“The communication function in the department of the Navy could deal with a lot more rigor.”

It is the Department of the Navy’s job to create that case for why those additional ships are required…and why the Navy’s role is different than the Air Force and the Army because of the degree to which naval forces regulate a peacetime environment.”

06 OCT 17 Bull-It Points

Happy Friday! Thanks for checking out Bull-It Points…hopefully many of you are about to start your long Columbus Day weekend. Be sure to send your tips, criticism or compliments to chris@bullitpoints.org let us know what you like or how we can get better. Also, if you would like to receive BULL-It Points via email drop us a quick note…email distribution begins next week.
New this week… “The BULL-It Points Podcast.”…posting on Saturday. Our first guest is renowned defense reporter, avid Nationals fan and all around great guy Chris Cavas. In a phone conversation with BULL-It Points, Chris gives his views on the state of our Navy and provides media tips for subject matter experts and professional communicators.–Chris Servello

Now on to this week’s wrap-up…

Key Points:

Heritage Assessment of Military Power:

  • The U.S. does not have the right force to meet a two – major regional contingency (two-MRC) requirement and is not ready to carry out its duties effectively. Consequently, as we have seen during the past few years, the U.S. risks seeing its interests increasingly challenged and the world order it has led since World War II undone.
  • The Navy’s overall score for the 2018 Index is “marginal,” the same as for the previous year…. given the continued upward trends in OPTEMPO that have not been matched by similar increases in capacity or readiness funding, the Navy’s overall score could degrade in the near future if the service does not recapitalize and maintain the health of its fleet more robustly than is now the case.

The Future the US Military is Constructing: a Giant, Armed Nervous System:

  • Every weapon, vehicle, and device connected, sharing data, constantly aware of the presence and state of every other node in a truly global network. The effect: an unimaginably large cephapoloidal nervous system armed with the world’s most sophisticated weaponry.

Improving Advice and Earning Autonomy: Building Trust in the Strategic Dialogue:

Navy Digital Warfare Office Proving Data Analytics Can Help Address Nagging Operational Problems:

  • While its ultimate goal is to influence acquisition to create a smarter data environment – much the way industry has used big data to better reach its customers, create efficiencies in production and more – the office’s first major action is to create awareness of its mission through a series of pilots that tackle readiness problems in the aviation, surface ship and personnel communities that have not been solved with traditional approaches.

Social Media is ‘First Tool’ of 21st-Century Warfare, US Lawmaker Says:

  • “We may have in America the best 20th-century military that money can buy, but we’re increasingly in a world where cyber vulnerability, misinformation and disinformation may be the tools of conflict. What we may have seen are the first tools of 21st-century disinformation.” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

Clips of Interest:

National Security/Defense

An Assessment of U.S. Military Power (The Heritage Foundation, 05 OCT 17) habk30fFKKp

The Heritage Foundation Index of U.S. Military Strength gauges the ability of the U.S. military to perform its missions in today’s world, and each subsequent edition will provide the basis for measuring the improvement or weakening of that ability. Link

The Future the US Military is Constructing: a Giant, Armed Nervous System(Defense One 26 Sep 17… By Patrick Tucker)

defense large

Service chiefs are converging on a single strategy for military dominance: connect everything to everything. Leaders of the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines are converging on a vision of the future military: connecting every asset on the global battlefield. Link

Improving Advice and Earning Autonomy: Building Trust in the Strategic Dialogue (The Strategy Bridge.Org, 03 Oct 17…By Jim Golby)

Over the last three U.S. presidential administrations, questions about the appropriate level of military autonomy have dominated the practice of civil-military relations at the strategic level. Link


USNI News-CNA Fleet and Marine Tracker: Oct. 3, 2017 (USNI, 03 Oct 17)

fleet tracker oct 2

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Oct. 3, 2017. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the map reflects the location of the capital ship. Link to full tracker: Link

Special Report: Hurricane Maria (NavyLive Blog Rollup of Navy Coverage)



Here Are The Major Changes Coming To The Navy After A Year Of Deadly Mishaps (Task and Purpose, 02 Oct 17…By Sarah Sicard)

Since the Navy announced its plan to make changes during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Sept. 19, officials have made four major moves — and the Chief of Naval Operations says there are many still to come. Link

Navy Digital Warfare Office Proving Data Analytics Can Help Address Nagging Operational Problems (USNI News, 04 OCT 17…By Megan Eckstein)

THE PENTAGON – The Navy is seeing first-hand that thoughtful data collection and analysis can go a long way in addressing lingering readiness problems, as the Navy Digital Warfare Office continues to roll out a set of pilot programs meant to introduce the service to the benefits of data science. Link

Russia’s Latest Game: Challenging NATO at Sea (Bloomberg View, 05 OCT 17, By The Editors)

Russia just conquered a fictional country, and it’s scaring the heck out of some real ones. The Kremlin’s recent Zapad war game shows the need for NATO to do more to deter Russian aggression not just on land, but also on the Baltic Sea. Link


When communicating major change, watch your step (Good Company Blog Tribe PR, 03 Oct 17…By Elizabeth Baskin)

How does a company communicate a major change? In many cases, not well. In a Tribe study with employees nationwide, 84% of respondents said their companies handle change communications “poorly.” Link


Social Media is ‘First Tool’ of 21st-Century Warfare, US Lawmaker Says (Defense One, 29 Sep 17…By Jack Corrigan)

One lawmaker believes Russia’s use of social media to influence last year’s election demonstrated how warfare has moved away from the battlefield and toward the internet. And the U.S. has been slow to adjust, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said Thursday. Link

Does Even Mark Zuckerberg Know What Facebook Is? (New York Magazine, 03 OCT 17…By Max Read)

Mark Zuckerberg had just returned from paternity leave, and he wanted to talk about Facebook, democracy, and elections and to define what he felt his creation owed the world in exchange for its hegemony. A few weeks earlier, in early September, the company’s chief security officer had admitted that Facebook had sold $100,000 worth of ads on its platform to Russian­ government ­linked trolls who intended to influence the American political process. Now, in a statement broadcast live on Facebook on September 21 and subsequently posted to his profile page, Zuckerberg pledged to increase the resources of Facebook’s security and election ­integrity teams and to work “proactively to strengthen the democratic process.” Link

Cyber Security Awareness Month

On Data Breaches: Beware of Professional IT Pride Leading to a Fall (Government Technology, 01 OCT 17…By Dan Lohrman)

We have witnessed headline-grabbing data breaches at Equifax, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Deloitte in the past month. Many other global companies and governments have seen massive security incidents over the past few years. There are endless lessons learned, but very few talk about this cyber blind spot that impacts us all. Link

For Fun


In 2017 it seems that everyone is in everyone else’s business, and the list foreshadows the coming battles as various industries, and the titans who captain them, increasingly weave together into one. Link