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You Might Have Missed: USS Cowpens, French Reapers, and the World Economic Forum

January 24, 2014

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Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, “Department of Defense Press Briefing by Admiral Locklear in the Pentagon Briefing Room,” U.S. Department of Defense, January 23, 2014.

Q:  Admiral, I wonder if you could take us back to that incident between the Cowpens and the Chinese ship, you know -- I don’t know how long ago it was, weeks ago -- tell us exactly what happened there.  You know, how dangerous was that situation?  You know, we likely will be seeing more situations like that as tensions increase in the East China, South China Sea, between China and the U.S., and also Japan.

ADM. LOCKLEAR:  Well, the incident was widely reported.  And I think that it was commented on by the leadership here in the Pentagon, as well as by me.  And, in fact, there was a demarche that was sent -- that we sent formally to -- and the demarches are -- those are not -- those are fairly routine globally.  I mean, we want to communicate to someone that we’ve been really concerned about something that has -- that has happened.

So in this case, there was an interaction in international waters, in international airspace that we routinely operate in and that the Chinese were conducting what they claim to be carrier operations that they believe have been properly notified.  Those notification procedures were a question.  And the -- I don’t think that the people that were on the Cowpens -- in fact, I’m sure -- were not aware of any notification of that.

At any point was the situation dangerous?  I wasn’t on the bridge of the ship, so I can’t tell you how the CO felt about it.  I would probably characterize it as more as unnecessary and probably more unprofessional.  And that -- but we have to understand, I think, as we look at this part of the world, and we look at the growing number of navies that are operating and the growing number of security concerns that are in this region, we have to expect the militaries are going to have to encounter and operate around each other.  And in this case, we have to expect that the U.S. and the Chinese navies are going to interact with each other.

So this just highlights to both of us, to both the PLA and to the U.S. military, that we have to do better at being able to communicate with each other in a -- in a way that allows us to not lead to miscalculation that won’t be productive in the security environment…

Q:  You say unprofessional.  Do you mean unprofessional on the part of that Chinese skipper?  Or just a general sense of, you know, unprofessionalness on the part of the Chinese navy?

ADM. LOCKLEAR:  Well, I don’t know if it’s unprofessional or whether it was lack of experience.  I mean, one of the things that our -- that I told my leadership and my sea captains is that, you know, when we’re operating in this area -- I mean, first, we talked to each other on bridge-to-bridge telephone, right, radio telephones to work this out.  And we speak in English, and other countries don’t.  They speak -- they’re speaking -- or they speak in English, but they’re not speaking in their native language.

And so there’s an extra calculation you have to figure into what someone’s trying to tell you when they’re speaking the second or third language that they speak and you’re speaking in your primary language.  And so we have to take this into consideration to make sure that we have -- that we have looked at all aspects of this.  

In the end, the U.S. military, my forces in the Pacific AOR, will operate freely in international waters, international airspace.  That’s the bottom line.  We will operate there.  And we’ll operate professionally, and we’ll operate peacefully for the purpose of peace.  And that’s the message to all the militaries that are operating in that region.

(3PA: Are there no Mandarin Chinese language speakers on U.S. Navy ships that operate along the coast of China? And, if not, wouldn’t that investment be worth reducing the potential for miscommunication and misperception?)


Who’s on the Magic Mountain?Economist, January 25, 2014.

Of the 2,622 hobnobbers invited to this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, just 15% are women.

(3PA: Ironically, one of the Davos sessions on January 22 was “Making Gains on Gender Goals.” The suggested hashtag was #gendergap.)


Amy Butler, “Global Hawk, U-2 Duel Resumes in ’15 Budget Fight,” Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 20, 2014.

In the Pacific, 55% of Global Hawk’s missions were canceled in fiscal 2013; 96% of the U-2’s missions were achieved.


Bill and Melinda Gates, “Three Myths on the World’s Poor,” Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2014.

A baby born in 1960 had an 18% chance of dying before her fifth birthday. For a child born today, it is less than 5%. In 2035, it will be 1.6%.


Pierre Tran, “French AF Conducts First Reaper Flight,” C4ISR, January 16, 2014.

The French Air Force Thursday flew a first flight, lasting 40 minutes, of a US-built Reaper surveillance drone based in Niger, an Air Force spokesman said.

(3PA: With France now flying its own surveillance drones, it will no longer need targeting intelligence from the United States as it did since the 2013 intervention in Mali.)


Efraim Benmelech and Carola Frydman, “Military CEOs,” National Bureau of Economic Research, January 2014.

Whereas in 1980, 59% of the CEOs of large, publicly held corporations had served in the military, today only 6.2% of CEOs of these firms have a military background…

When we do find statistically significant effects, our findings suggest that military CEOs pursue more conservative—rather than aggressive—financial and investment policies.

Our estimates indicate that military service is associated with a 70% reduction in the likelihood of fraud compared to the unconditional mean.

Our analysis shows that chief executives’ service in the military is related to executive decisions and corporate policies and outcomes. More precisely, we find that CEOs who have served in the military tend to have lower investments and R&D; they do not use excessive leverage; and their firms are less likely to be involved in fraud. Moreover, military CEOs seem to perform better in times of industry distress.


Memorandum for the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff: Possible Responses to North Korean Attack on the Republic of Korea,” U.S. Department of Defense, April 16, 1968.

2. CINCPAC OPLAN 27-yr – Defense of Korea –

a. CINCPAC has recently submitted CINCPAC OPLAN 27-69, which is a complete revision and update of OPLAN 27-65. JCS review, under MOP 144 procedures, has been expedited and will be concluded on 20 May 1968.

b. Very flexible plan – nuclear and/or conventional – with or without CHICOM and/or USSR intervention – defensive, offensive, withdrawal.

c. Two phases – hold as far forward as possible – when forces and situation permit conduct offensive actions.

d. Forced and Logistics – Force and logistic requirements (up to 12 1/3 US divisions and 40 Tactical Bomber Squadrons) would require disengagement from Southeast Asia, additional force withdrawals from NATO commitments, dissolution of the training base, mobilization, and/or early use of nuclear weapons.

3. As a result of the PUEBLO incident and the deployment of additional aircraft to PACOM to meet the threat of the North Korean air order of battle, CINCPAC was tasked to prepare plans for the neutralization of the North Korean AOB.

a. CINCPAC forwarded his OPLAN FRESH STORM, which has been reviewed by the JCS. Approval will be forwarded to CINCPAC on or about 15 May 1968.

(1) CINCPAC OPLAN FRESH STORM – Four preemptive options and one retaliatory option – conventional weapons – options differ as to forces and timing – round-the-clock operations until North Korean AOB is neutralized or the operation is terminated.

(2) Option ALPHA – US Tactical AIR

Option BRAVO – US Tactical Air, ROKAF

Option CHARLIE – US Tactical Air, ROKAF, B-52s

Option DELTA – US Tactical Air, ROKAF, B-52s

Retaliatory – Option ECHO – US Tactical Air, ROKAF, B-52s

4. Nuclear contingency plan against North Korea – subsequent to the PUEBLO incident, CINCPAC forwarded a basic outline for planning of a nuclear contingency plan against North Korea. A CJCS message informed CINCPAC that has planning concept appeared appropriate and to forward his detailed plan for JCS review and approval. This plan he has termed FREEDOM DROP –

a. Coordinated nuclear plan using US tactical aircraft and/or HONEST JOHN rockets and SERGEANT missiles.

b. Three options varying from several military targets to all significant North Korean offensive and logistic support targets – 70KT maximum yield – flexible selection of options or sequential use of options.

c. FREEDOM DROP has been reviewed under  the procedures of MOP 144 and approved as submitted by CINCPAC. Message informing CINCPAC of the approval has been withheld by direction of the Chairman, JCS, for a propitious time of release…

(3PA: Read more on the 1968 North Korean capture of the USS Pueblo and subsequent compromise of U.S. intelligence.)

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