Google the phrase “Target Rich Environment”
and you will get about 5 million hits.
One of my favorite quotes comes from a feel good movie released in 1986
Warning: PG 13 applies, if you are easily offended,
skip past the quoted area
Maverick: This is what I call a target-rich environment.
Goose: You live your life between your legs, Mav.
Maverick: Goose, even you could get laid in a place like this.
Goose: Hell, I’d be happy to just find a girl that would talk dirty to me.
The Urban Dictionary defines the phrase as: A combat situation in which an attacker, normally equipped with a superior weapons system, is presented with a large number of highly desirable, poorly defended and high-value targets all at once.
October of 1944 must have felt like that for the
US Navy submarine forces in the Pacific.
USS Jack Feb 14 1944 sank four tankers in one day
1944 had been an awful year for the Japanese on the whole.
New subs were joining the fleet and saturated the Pacific. This was no small task considering the size of the Pacific and the challenges of long range submarine patrols. But superior technology added to the manufacturing base of the United States coupled to produce killing machines that would ultimately add to the sinking of 1,152 ship (about 55 percent of all tonnage in the Pacific war) for a loss of 52 submarines.
US Submarines spent 11,700 days on war patrols and fired almost 6100 torpedoes. The earlier problems with the Mark 14’s had been solved and successful attacks mounted day by day. In October, 185 successful attacks were carried out. The single most productive day for the fleet was October 24, 1944 when 20 successful attacks were delivered.
The Japanese felt the strangulation and late in the war, the sea north and east of Luzon became known as the “Sea of the Devil”
In Singapore in 1944 it was said that “one could walk from Singapore to Tokyo on American periscopes.
From William P. Gruner’s book “U.S.Pacific Submarines in World War II:
“Cutting the Japanese Jugular”
“Japanese shipping routes spanned the Pacific from the Gilbert Islands in the east to the Malay Peninsula in the west, and from the Kuriles in the north to the Dutch East Indies in the south. This ocean traffic was the life blood of Japan’s war effort for she had few natural resources and was dependent upon imports of oil, coal, iron, food and other materials for her war effort. Consequently, it was essential that the same Japanese ships that distributed food, fuel, war materials and troops to the many scattered Japanese outposts carry raw materials back to the Empire.
Cold statistics on ship sinking’s do not describe the plight of the Japanese outposts when guns, ammunition, tanks, fuel and food failed to arrive. Devastating, too, was the loss of thousands of troop reinforcements when they went down with the transports sunk by our submarines.
These losses were serious, but a far more serious loss brought about by our submarines was the failure of the Japanese merchant marine to provide the Japanese home islands with critical war materials. They blanketed the areas around the Japanese home islands and outposts throughout the Pacific.
They were active off Indonesia, the Philippines, the Gilbert, Marshall, Caroline and Mariana Islands, New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies, and the western Aleutians. They quickly began sinking Japan’s merchant fleet, and prevented it from supplying their far-flung empire with arms, fuel, food and troops. “
Submarines also became the lifeboats of the Navy for a number of rescue missions. Most Americans can remember the famous event where a young pilot named Bush was rescued from a certain death near Chichi Jima. But during October 1944 the Narwhal returned from a special mission to Negros Island, rescuing 6 men and women and 14 children. She will forever be remembered entering Brisbane Harbor flying 12 clean white diapers from her signal halyard. Talk about a clean sweep!
The maximum number of subs during the war was 288. This force was an important reason the Japanese war machine was being ground to a halt by October of 1944. Although the war would continue for another 10 months, the increasing use of submarines crippled the ability of the Japanese to stop the forward movement of the United States and Allied forces.
How would we fare in today’s environment?
What would a target rich environment look like if we were the target?
One factor of course is the technological advances over the course of the last 55 years. Nuclear power means submarines can patrol farther, longer, faster, deeper and with more deadly accuracy than her earlier counterparts. The array of weapons available to a Virginia class boat (or almost any active boat in this day and age) makes the boat a deadly killing machine like almost no other. Torpedoes with extended rages, thinking power, and vastly improved speed and maneuverability increase the chances that an enemy will be successfully engaged. Sonar technology is so far advanced from the early days that it makes hiding almost impossible.
Even the men who serve on board the newest submarines have added new dimensions to the weapon. Better educated and trained in the arts of submarine warfare, these modern warriors represent some of the best the Navy and nation have to offer.
Recently however, an attack has been mounted that even the best technology has been unable to overcome
Despite a world that is actually growing more dangerous by the hour, the very existence of a strong submarine force could be under scrutiny by groups who have no idea of the importance of maintaining a strong force and the capability to quickly respond to dynamic changes in the global environment.
That opposing force are the people who created the economic mess we are in today: Congress and other elected officials from the executive branch. Instead of looking at our ships and submarines as an investment for the future safety of the Republic, they see a target rich environment. Foolish and short sighted decisions have created an economic tsunami which threatens to disrupt our country and send shock waves through the rest of the global economy. In a just world, the perpetrators of these crimes would be in jail already but instead they meander along with their pensions intact and their privately issued benefits beyond the reach of justice.
Page after page leading to reams of documentation exist to show that all of the elected officials of the past twenty years have played a role in the destruction of what was once the strongest economy on the planet. The saddest thing is that the worst offenders seem to be the least touchable. The Barney Franks and Nancy Pelosi’s of the world seem to go on and on despite their malfeasance.
At the risk of being put on some watch list, I can assure you that it would greatly please me if every American citizen considered the unique privileges of all members of Congress past and present as part of a new “Target Rich Environment”
I have a question: What job on the planet will let you continue to serve with no recriminations for wrong doing? What job on the planet makes you immune to the people who pay you? What job on the planet lets you collect a pension that no one else can get, medical benefits that no one else can get, and post job perks that no one else can get?
Why do we allow this?
Probably because most of the rest of us have settled into complacency. The danger of complacency is that someone out there has a bullet with our name on it. Whether it is a trade war bullet or an actual bullet, other countries who despise our past are waiting for the day when they can exact some sort of vengeance on us. It is only a matter of time if you look at the life span of civilization.
(This is a long read but highlights the threat in a much better way than I can)
The capability to build ships, planes and submarines is gradually being lost. Newer technology requires more sophisticated means to produce them. More sophistication requires more educated and trained workforces and designers. We have already lost much of our shipbuilding industry and become more and more dependent on foreign entities to carry our burdens. We have limited our ability to ramp up quickly in either energy or defense due to the siren songs of “Peace in our time”. Right this very moment in time, we stand once again at a crossroads where America’s future can go one way or another.
While we once again whittle away at one of our greatest national assets, our potential opponents are gearing up for the next conflict. “Let he who has ears hear.” If the Arab spring completes its vicious cycle and takes out Saudi Arabia, the end game is not good for those who are currently dependent on their oil and good will. All of Europe and Japan are intricately linked to the current energy cycle. How long will those countries last without oil? Their economies would be a wreck in short order and they may find themselves unable to stop sales of weapons and technology to the new Arab powers (not to mention the Chinese and a resurgent Russia.) Think it couldn’t happen?
Who would have thought a year ago that a rabble rousing group of poorly armed protestors would topple Mubarak and Gadhafi?
The real question is, do we continue on this path of stripping our defenses or do we regroup and hold the government’s feet to the fire? Personally, I could live without a number of useless government agencies that exist for no other reason than to fill patronage jobs. I would really like to see the playing field leveled where organized labor no longer has any part of government and teachers. God only knows we don’t need another library dedicated to the memory of people like John Murtha. If dead politicians want to be remembered, they should be remembered for actually fixing the problems not causing more.
I believe if we don’t stop the decay, in some future October within our lifetime someone will be writing in Chinese or some other language describing the target rich environment they found themselves in…
surrounded by sinking ships
with the red white and blue flags
slowly submerging for the last time.
I’m getting too old to do much good in this new age but I can still aim pretty well. I’m just afraid that my meager supply of ammunition won’t hold out long against tanks and I am darn certain it won’t do a dang thing to bring down Chinese Predators (built courtesy of our technology).