Non-pilot to be new commander of US Air Force in Pacific

Instead of achievement or performance criteria, the U. S. military under Obama is making personnel decisions based on political criteria of “diversity.”

The latest case in point:

Although all previous Air Force combatant commanders in active large theaters of operation — the Pacific, Europe and Central Command — have been combat pilots, for the first time a non-career pilot has been nominated to be Commander of the U. S. Air Force in the Pacific.

She is Lt. Gen. Lori J. Robinson who, although she’s had more than 900 flight hours, is not a career or combat pilot.

Lt. Gen. Lori RobinsonLt. Gen. Lori J. Robinson

Rowan Scarborough reports for The Washington Times, July 17, 2014:

The White House has picked the first female general to head the Air Force in the Pacific, which will make her the first non-pilot to command air power in such a large theater of operation.

The Pentagon announced this week that Air Force Lt. Gen. Lori J. Robinson has been nominated for promotion to four-star general and as commander of Pacific Air Forces, the Air Force component of U.S. Pacific Command. It is a major combatant command whose air, ground and naval forces have broad responsibility for security in the Asia-Pacific region. Her nomination was sent to the Senate for confirmation.

Officials said pilots historically have commanded Air Force war-fighting components for the Pacific and for U.S. Air Forces Europe; Air Forces Central, which covers the Middle East and Afghanistan; and the 1st Air Force, which is part of Northern Command and protects U.S. skies.

Gen. Robinson is not a career pilot. Her military profession is air battle manager. She has served aboard the Air Force’s surveillance aircraft, the E-3 AWACs and E-8 JSTARS, and she was nominated for a promotion amid a drive for more diversity in the Pentagon.

A retired pilot said there is a reason the Air Force historically has put a pilot in charge of large combatant command Air Forces.

“It is because you make operational decisions that require the understanding of what you are going to ask pilots to execute in combat where the wrong decisions mean the difference between life and death,” the retired pilot said. “Now her vice commander and director of operations will be rated fighter pilots, but still she makes the decisions.”

Rose Richeson, an Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon, said, “The Air Force operates across three domains: air, space and cyberspace and provides capability and capacity in five core mission areas: Air and Space Superiority, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Rapid Global Mobility, Global Strike and Command and Control. Lt. Gen. Robinson has demonstrated knowledge and experience across the entire spectrum of these mission areas as well as recent operational application supporting coalition activities for United States Central Command.”

Gen. Robinson is now vice commander of Air Force Air Combat Command, which oversees the service’s fleet of bombers and fighters, and maintains readiness.

In the Pacific, she is replacing Gen. Herbert Carlisle, a career F-15 pilot who is assuming leadership of Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

An Air Combat Command spokesman said career air battle managers, such as Gen. Robinson, “principally provide command and control in the battle space and aid combat aircraft in finding, identifying and engaging their targets. They provide pilots with a tactical picture, which increases their capability by enhancing situational awareness. ABMs also provide early warning for inbound enemy aircraft and direct friendly assets to intercept them.”

The Air Combat Command history office and Air Force representatives said all previous Air Force combatant commanders in active large theaters of operation — the Pacific, Europe and Central Command — have been combat pilots.

However, Gen. Robinson would not be the first female officer to command an Air Force component. From 2010 to 2012, Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, a career transport pilot, commanded the 17th Air Force, which was then the Air Force component for Africa Command. She led the air campaign against Libya in 2011. The 17th was disbanded in 2012. Today, a career F-15 pilot commands Air Forces Europe and Africa.

A career navigator heads U.S. Special Operations Command Air Forces. That component operates AC-130 gunships, drones, transports and other aircraft, but does not conduct air campaigns.

Gen. Robinson was nominated amid a diversity push by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and a general focus on women’s issues by the White House. Mr. Hagel has vowed to stamp out sexual assaults in the military and said he is open to studying whether transgender people are permitted to serve.

The military also is preparing to put women in direct land combat units. 

The Navy promoted its first woman this month to four-star rank: Adm. Michelle J. Howard, a surface warship commander, to vice chief of naval operations, the Navy’s second-ranking officer. The Air Force promoted its first woman to four-star rank in 2012, when Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger took over Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The Army’s first female four-star general, Ann Elizabeth Dunwoody, has retired.

To observers, the twin moves to promote a woman to vice chief of naval operations and to place a woman in charge of a major combatant command Air Force means that female officers are destined to be elevated to the six-member Joint Chiefs of Staff, which comprises the four service chiefs, a chairman and a vice chairman.

Women make up 14.5 percent of the active force but only a small percentage of combat pilots, 21 years after the Pentagon lifted the ban on women in those jobs. Of 3,714 Air Force fighter and bomber pilots last year, 85 — or about 2 percent — were women at the rank of lieutenant colonel and below.

See also:

~StMA

Obama admin wants $3.7 billion for illegals, but US troops in Afghanistan now gets only 2 hot meals a day

The Obama administration is spending $250 to $1,000 a day to house each of the illegal aliens from Central America “surging” across the Mexico border into the United States. That’s what Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Jeh Johnson told the U.S. Senate Budget Committee.

That’s why the Obama administration is requesting from Congress $3.7 BILLION in emergency funds for the border “surge” that began in 2012. The Daily Mail reports that only about 3% of the $3.7 billion would actually be used to strengthen border security, with the bulk of the requested funds going to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to care for the “unaccompanied children,” the majority of whom are males ages 15 to 17, according to the New York Times.

The Obama administration also awarded a $50 million contract to Baptist Child & Family Services (BCFS) to buy the Palm Aire resort and hotel in Weslaco, Texas, and transform it into a 600-bed facility for “juvenile” illegal aliens. Palm Aire’s amenities include an indoor Olympic sized pool, an outdoor pool, Jacuzzis, sauna, steam room, two racquetball courts, outdoor tennis courts, picnic area with grills, a fitness center with 20 machines and free weights, as well as free Wi-Fi and cable TV in all the guest rooms.

Palm Aire1Palm Aire Resort & Hotel

Public backlash to the news was swift, which led BCFS to withdraw its bid.

But the Obama administration has seen fit to cut the number of hot meals for U.S. troops in Afghanistan from four to two a day.

MRE

Carol Hills reports for PRI, June 21, 2013:

All US combat troops are to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

And the Pentagon is already making tough decisions about how to manage the drawdown.

That includes reducing the number of cooked meals available to the troops.

Until recently, because of the round-the-clock nature of war, the US military has been offering most troops in Afghanistan four cooked meals a day.

Now that’s in the process of being reduced to just two hot meals a day.

In an email to The World, a Pentagon spokesman said “The change is part of our transition to a more expeditionary posture, and is necessary to ensure US forces and DoD agencies make the best use of the resources available in the time remaining and while meeting retrograde requirements. By adding operational rations to the meal cycle, we will significantly reduce contractor and supply chain requirements.”

In other words, it will save money and reduce the American footprint in Afghanistan by cutting the number of contractors.

The troops won’t go hungry; they’ll still have MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), and packaged food available.

But it’s still a bad idea according to David Brown, an army veteran of Afghanistan, and now an author and journalist who writes under the name D.B. Grady.

An MRE doesn’t measure up to a hot meal after a long mission, says Brown.

He goes on, “being able to sit down across from your comrades over a meal, where everyone to a certain extent has let their hair down, it’s a stress-reliever, and it’s also a way of building solidarity with your brother-in-arms.”

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Brown described how a single army cook was able to transform morale on his base in Afghanistan by creating meals at midnight that people really wanted.

Sure speaks volumes about the priorities of the Obama administration.

~StMA

 

US Marine Corps commandant openly blasts CIC Obama

USMC Gen. James AmosU.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos

On July 15, 2014, speaking at the Brookings Institute think tank in Washington, DC, the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, 4-star Gen. James Amos, openly and publicly criticized Commander-In-Chief Barack Hussein Obama.

Reporting for The Fiscal Times, David Francis observes that “It’s highly unusual for a high-ranking soldier, let alone a high-ranking Marine, to publicly question White House and Pentagon policy. Yet that’s exactly what four-star Gen. James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, did yesterday in Washington.”

Speaking at the Brookings Institute, Amos criticized the Obama administration for:

1. Paving the way for the emergence of the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) by completely withdrawing American troops in 2011. Amos said: “I have a hard time believing that had we been there, and worked with the government, and worked with parliament, and worked with the minister of defense, the minister of interior, I don’t think we’d be in the same shape we’re in today.”

2. Failing to live up to U.S. obligations around the world. Amos said: “We may think we’re done with all of these nasty, thorny, tacky little things that are going on around the world — and I’d argue that if you’re in that nation, it’s not a tacky, little thing for you. We may think we’re done with them, but they’re not done with us. We’re probably the only country in the world that has the resources and the capability to be able to do some of this that others can’t.”

3. Forfeiting gains made in Iraq and Afghanistan for which U.S. troops had fought and sacrificed. Referring to the fall of the Anbar province in Iraq, which Marines won in 2010 and in whhich 852 Marines were killed and naother 8,500 injured, Amos said “It breaks our hearts. They believed that they’d made a difference.”

Reporter David Francis opined that “Perhaps Amos felt free to voice opinions on White House policy because he is set to retire this fall. Now, his comments are likely to influence the debate within the defense community about how to handle the myriad of crises going on around the world.”

H/t CODA’s M.S.

See also:

~StMA

Obama’s Pentagon lays off thousands of military officers, incl. active duty

tired soldier

The Obama administration is cutting thousands of officers from the military, citing the demands of sequestration. Those being laid off include a number of officers on active duty, with some receiving pink slips while on the battlefield.

Fox News reports, July 13, 2014, that the Pentagon is laying off thousands of military officers, including those serving or who have recently served in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, July 10, Gen. John Campbell told Congress that 1,100 soldiers, including some currently serving in Afghanistan, would receiving pink slips due to sequestration budget cuts to the Defense Department.

Roughly 2,600 captains and other officers have or will be laid off, with more expected.

Defense Department officials said the reductions are the result of mandatory spending cuts imposed by sequestration and are part of their larger plan to reduce the number of U.S. soldiers from 520,000 to 450,000.

The Army insists the draw-down plan “is a balanced approach that maintains readiness while trying to minimize turbulence within the officer corps.” But retired Major Gen. Robert Scales, a Fox News contributor, says the decision to send pink slips to soldiers overseas on active duty is dangerous and bad for morale because “It puts the soldier, the soldier’s family and the men under his command at risk. Young officers look at each other and wonder who is next.”

Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said: “Once again [President Obama] is putting domestic politics ahead of the security of our nation. The Army captains and majors receiving pink slips while on the battlefield is just the latest example. My heart goes out to these men and women who are risking their lives and making great sacrifices, yet are now being told they are being separated from the Army and will have no job when they return home to their families.”

See also:

~StMA

China “thinks” it can defeat America but will be thwarted by U.S. “Silent Force” of submarines

David Axe, “China thinks it can defeat America in battle: But it overlooks one decisive factor,” The Week, July 7, 2014

The bad news first. The People’s Republic of China now believes it can successfully prevent the United States from intervening in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or some other military assault by Beijing.

Now the good news. China is wrong — and for one major reason. It apparently disregards the decisive power of America’s nuclear-powered submarines.

Moreover, for economic and demographic reasons Beijing has a narrow historical window in which to use its military to alter the world’s power structure. If China doesn’t make a major military move in the next couple decades, it probably never will.

The U.S. Navy’s submarines — the unsung main defenders of the current world order — must hold the line against China for another 20 years. After that, America can declare a sort of quiet victory in the increasingly chilly Cold War with China.

How China wins

The bad news came from Lee Fuell, from the U.S. Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center, during Fuell’s testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 30.

For years, Chinese military planning assumed that any attack by the People’s Liberation Army on Taiwan or a disputed island would have to begin with a Pearl Harbor-style preemptive missile strike by China against U.S. forces in Japan and Guam. The PLA was so afraid of overwhelming American intervention that it genuinely believed it could not win unless the Americans were removed from the battlefield before the main campaign even began.

A preemptive strike was, needless to say, a highly risky proposition. If it worked, the PLA just might secure enough space and time to defeat defending troops, seize territory, and position itself for a favorable post-war settlement.

But if China failed to disable American forces with a surprise attack, Beijing could find itself fighting a full-scale war on at least two fronts: against the country it was invading plus the full might of U.S. Pacific Command, fully mobilized and probably strongly backed by the rest of the world.

That was then. But after two decades of sustained military modernization, the Chinese military has fundamentally changed its strategy in just the last year or so. According to Fuell, recent writings by PLA officers indicate “a growing confidence within the PLA that they can more-readily withstand U.S. involvement.”

The preemptive strike is off the table — and with it, the risk of a full-scale American counterattack. Instead, Beijing believes it can attack Taiwan or another neighbor while also bloodlessly deterring U.S. intervention. It would do so by deploying such overwhelmingly strong military forces — ballistic missiles, aircraft carriers, jet fighters, and the like — that Washington dare not get involved.

The knock-on effects of deterring America could be world-changing. “Backing away from our commitments to protect Taiwan, Japan, or the Philippines would be tantamount to ceding East Asia to China’s domination,” Roger Cliff, a fellow at the Atlantic Council, said at the same U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission hearing on Jan. 30.

Worse, the world’s liberal economic order — and indeed, the whole notion of democracy — could suffer irreparable harm. “The United States has both a moral and a material interest in a world in which democratic nations can survive and thrive,” Cliff asserted.

Fortunately for that liberal order, America possesses by far the world’s most powerful submarine force — one poised to quickly sink any Chinese invasion fleet. In announcing its readiness to hold off the U.S. military, the PLA seems to have ignored Washington’s huge undersea advantage.

(Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam K. Thomas/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

The Silent Service

It’s not surprising that Beijing would overlook America’s subs. Most Americans overlook their own undersea fleet — and that’s not entirely their own fault. The U.S. sub force takes pains to avoid media coverage in order to maximize its secrecy and stealth. “The submarine cruises the world’s oceans unseen,” the Navy stated on its Website.

Unseen and unheard. That why the sub force calls itself the “Silent Service.”

The Navy has 74 submarines, 60 of which are attack or missile submarines optimized for finding and sinking other ships or blasting land targets. The balance is ballistic-missile boats that carry nuclear missiles and would not routinely participate in military campaigns short of an atomic World War III.

Thirty-three of the attack and missile boats belong to the Pacific Fleet, with major bases in Washington State, California, Hawaii, and Guam. Deploying for six months or so roughly every year and a half, America’s Pacific subs frequently stop over in Japan and South Korea and occasionally even venture under the Arctic ice.

According to Adm. Cecil Haney, the former commander of Pacific Fleet subs, on any given day 17 boats are underway and eight are “forward-deployed,” meaning they are on station in a potential combat zone. To the Pacific Fleet, that pretty much means waters near China.

America has several submarine types. The numerous Los Angeles-class attack boats are Cold War stalwarts that are steadily being replaced by newer Virginia-class boats with improved stealth and sensors. The secretive Seawolfs, numbering just three — all of them in the Pacific — are big, fast, and more heavily armed than other subs. The Ohio-class missile submarines are former ballistic missile boats each packing 154 cruise missile.

U.S. subs are, on average, bigger, faster, quieter, and more powerful than the rest of the world’s subs. And there are more of them. The U.K. is building just seven new Astute attack boats. Russia aims to maintain around 12 modern attack subs. China is struggling to deploy a handful of rudimentary nuclear boats.

Note: See “China in a frenzy to build nuclear attack submarines” and “China’s new map includes ‘Second National Territory’ of oceans

Able to lurk silently under the waves and strike suddenly with torpedoes and missiles, submarines have tactical and strategic effect greatly disproportionate to their relatively small numbers. During the 1982 Falklands War, the British sub Conqueror torpedoed and sank theArgentine cruiser General Belgranokilling 323 men. The sinking kept the rest of the Argentine fleet bottled up for the duration of the conflict.

America’s eight-at-a-time submarine picket in or near Chinese waters could be equally destructive to Chinese military plans, especially considering the PLA’s limited anti-submarine skills. “Although China might control the surface of the sea around Taiwan, its ability to find and sink U.S. submarines will be extremely limited for the foreseeable future,” Cliff testified. “Those submarines would likely be able to intercept and sink Chinese amphibious transports as they transited toward Taiwan.”

So it almost doesn’t matter that a modernized PLA thinks it possesses the means to fight America above the waves, on land, and in the air. If it can’t safely sail an invasion fleet as part of its territorial ambitions, it can’t achieve its strategic goals — capturing Taiwan and or some island also claimed by a neighboring country — through overtly military means.

That reality should inform Washington’s own strategy. As the United States has already largely achieved the world order it struggled for over the last century, it need only preserve and defend this order. In other words, America has the strategic high ground against China, as the latter must attack and alter the world in order to get what it wants.

In practical military terms, that means the Pentagon can more or less ignore most of China’s military capabilities, including those that appear to threaten traditional U.S. advantages in nukes, air warfare, mechanized ground operations, and surface naval maneuvers.

“We won’t invade China, so ground forces don’t play,” pointed out Wayne Hughes, a professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. “We won’t conduct a first nuclear strike. We should not adopt an air-sea strike plan against the mainland, because that is a sure way to start World War IV.”

Rather, America must deny the Chinese free access to their near waters. “We need only enough access to threaten a war at sea,” Hughes said. In his view, a fleet optimized for countering China would have large numbers of small surface ships for enforcing a trade blockade. But the main combatants would be submarines, “to threaten destruction of all Chinese warships and commercial vessels in the China Seas.”

Cliff estimated that in wartime, each American submarine would be able to get off “a few torpedo shots” before needing to “withdraw for self-preservation.” But assuming eight subs each fire three torpedoes, and just half those torpedoes hit, the American attack boats could destroy all of China’s major amphibious ships — and with them, Beijing’s capacity for invading Taiwan or seizing a disputed island.

(Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Adam K. Thomas/U.S Navy via Getty Images)

Waiting out the Chinese decline

If American subs can hold the line for another 20 years, China might age right out of its current, aggressive posture without ever having attacked anyone. That’s because economic and demographic trends in China point towards a rapidly aging population, flattening economic growth, and fewer resources available for military modernization.

To be fair, almost all developed countries are also experiencing this aging, slowing and increasing peacefulness. But China’s trends are pronounced owing to a particularly steep drop in the birth rate traceable back to the Chinese Communist Party’s one-child policy.

Another factor is the unusual speed with which the Chinese economy has expanded to its true potential, thanks to the focused investment made possible by an authoritarian government… and also thanks to that government’s utter disregard for the natural environment and for the rights of everyday Chinese people.

“The economic model that propelled China through three decades of meteoric growth appears unsustainable,” Andrew Erickson, a Naval War College analyst, told the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.

What Erickson described as China’s “pent-up national potential” could begin expiring as early as 2030, by which point “China will have world’s highest proportion of people over 65,” he predicted. “An aging society with rising expectations, burdened with rates of chronic diseases exacerbated by sedentary lifestyles, will probably divert spending from both military development and the economic growth that sustains it.”

Wisely, American political and military leaders have made the investments necessary to sustain U.S. undersea power for at least that long. After a worrying dip in submarine production, starting in 2012 the Pentagon asked for — and Congress funded — the acquisition of two Virginia-class submarines per year for around $2.5 billion apiece, a purchase rate adequate to maintain the world’s biggest nuclear submarine fleet indefinitely.

The Pentagon is also improving the Virginia design, adding undersea-launched dronesextra missile capacity, and potentially a new anti-ship missile.

Given China’s place in the world, its underlying national trends and America’s pointed advantage in just that aspect of military power that’s especially damaging to Chinese plans, it seems optimistic for PLA officers to assume they can launch an attack on China’s neighbors without first knocking out U.S. forces.

Not that a preemptive strike would make any difference, as the only American forces that truly matter for containing China are the very ones that China cannot reach.

For they are deep underwater.

China’s new map includes “Second National Territory” of oceans

On June 25, 2014, Reuters reports that China has unveiled a new official map of the country giving greater play to its claims on the South China Sea by making the disputed waters and its numerous islets and reefs more clearly seem like national territory.

Although previous maps published by Beijing included China’s claim to most of the South China Sea, that claim was depicted in a little box in a bottom corner to enable the rest of the country to fit on the map. That placement made the South China Sea’s islands appear more like an appendage rather than an integral part of China.

The new, longer map dispenses with the box, and shows continental China along with its self-declared sea boundary in the South China Sea — stretching right down to the coasts of Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines — on one complete map.

An unnamed official with the map’s publishers told the Chinese government’s official newspaper People’s Daily that the new “vertical map of China has important meaning for promoting citizens’ better understanding of … maintaining (our) maritime rights and territorial integrity.”

H/t CODA’s M.S.

New map of China 2014Click map to enlarge. Note the purple dashes marking the South China and East China Seas as parts of China.

Indeed, China’s recent aggressive moves in the South China Sea, as well as last November’s declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone over the East China Sea, are but indicators of an overall policy shift by the Chinese military from a land-based to an ocean defense strategy.

From p. 230 of Maria Hsia Chang’s Return of the Dragon: China’s Wounded Nationalism (Westview, 2001):

An article in [Beijing's Guofang journal] National Defense in 1995 explains that, “In the past, for a long period of time,” humanity primarily relied on land for their survival and development, thinking that “national territory (guotu ) only meant dry land.” But in today’s world, due to rapid increases in population and dwindling land and resources, “national territory” must mean more than “land territory” (lingtu ) but should include “territorial waters” (linghai ). This has led nation-states to turn to the “oceans” (haiyang ) — most of which are still “virgin territory” — in their search for new “living space” (shengchun kongjiang  ).

The PRC  now conceives oceans to be its “second national territory” (dier guotu  ). It defines “maritime national territory” (haiyang guotu ) as “the maritime portion of any land and space belong to or under the jurisdiction of a coastal country.” China’s “second national territory” includes 12 territorial seas (linghai ), 24 “maritime adjacent regions” (haili pilian qu ), 200 maritime economic exclusive zones and continental shelves — totaling more than 3 million square kilometers or one-third of China’s land mass.

Defense of its “national maritime territory” requires Beijing to shift its defense strategy from one of “coastal defense” (jin’an fangyu ) to “offshore defense” (jinhai fangyu ). National Defense maintains that since “the frontline of maritime national defense lies beyond China’s territorial waters . . . there will be times” when China’s defense of its seas “may require doing battle in farther maritime regions” including “international waters and seabeds.” China’s perimeter of “offshore defense” is conceived to include two “island chains.” The first chain stretches from the Aleutians to the Kurils, the Japanese archipelago, the Ryukyus, Taiwan, the Philippine archipelago, and the Greater Sunda Islands. The “second island chain” comprises the Bonins, the Marianas, Guam, and the Palau archipelago.

See also:

~StMA

Science journal retracts 60 articles because of corrupted peer review process

Academic/scholarly journals depend on peer reviews to ensure that papers submitted for publication meet quality-control standards. Those journal articles, especially in the hard sciences, are a reservoir of information and resources for governments.

Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Richard Smith, chief executive of UnitedHealth Europe, calls peer review “at the heart of the processes of not just medical journals but of all of science. It is the method by which grants are allocated, papers published, academics promoted, and Nobel prizes won….When something is peer reviewed it is in some sense blessed.”

It is, therefore, of no small concern that a science journal on acoustics, the Journal of Vibration and Control, had to retract some 60 already-published articles after discovering its peer review process had been corrupted by a “peer review ring” led by Professor Peter Chen, a physicist at Taiwan’s National Pingtung University of Education (國立屏東教育大學).

Note: Acoustics is the scientific study of sound, especially of its generation, transmission, and reception.

Retraction notice

Fred Barbash reports for The Washington Post, July 11, 2014:

The story was first reported by an online publication called Retraction Watch after the group that operates the journal, SAGE, announced the results of an investigation. While the journal involved, which covers acoustics, is a bit obscure, the scandal may very well go down in academic history as one of the most brazen on record.

Today, Daniel Sherman, the spokesman for SAGE, which operates about 700 other journals, provided some additional detail by e-mail in response to questions from the Post.

The scam described by the Journal of Vibration and Control revolved around a physicist at the National Pingtung University of Education (NPUE) in Taiwan, Peter Chen, who allegedly used fake e-mail addresses, fabricated identities and phony reviews to get the 60 papers past the peer review process at the journal and into publication. Chen has not surfaced recently, according to SAGE. He was unavailable for comment.

Some of the reviews recommending the papers for publication were written by the physicist himself using the names of others at genuine academic institutions, the journal says. Some, the SAGE spokesman said, were written by others, and no academic affiliation was provided, just the name of a country.

Said Sherman:

In some instances real academic names were used and we believe email addresses were set up for assumed and fabricated identities at genuine institutions. We have proof from one academic confirming his identity was used and a gmail account set up in his name. Affiliations were used for some of the recommended reviewers (others just had countries listed) but we do not have verification that these people were working at these institutions. A lot of the reviewers simply have Taiwanese or Chinese addresses and no affiliations.

Some of the reviews were written in as little as two minutes, from start to finish. They were quickies, some “templated,” the spokesman said.

And some of the articles that got published, in addition to listing the physicist as the author, listed real scholars who had nothing to do with the papers. “We believe some of the co-authors may be innocent parties as they may not have had anything to do with the submission process or may not have known they were co-authors on the papers,” said Sherman.

The scheme began to unravel, SAGE and the Journal said in statements, on July 8 when journal editors discovered Chen using aliases in SAGE’s computerized review system. It unraveled further when e-mails sent to all the addresses of reviewers elicited no response.

Sherman:

We believe real people were involved, but it is not clear how many. We contacted all 130 names, but we did not receive a response from any of these individuals to verify their identity.

The big question here: How did all this manage to escape the notice of the editor of the Journal of Vibration and Control? “Templated” reviews? Hundreds of Gmail addresses instead of addresses from university accounts? None of the reviewers using an ID number under the ORCID system used by SAGE and other publications to identify legitimate scholars?

SAGE uses a platform called ScholarOne for processing manuscript submission and peer reviews. But, said Sherman, “anyone is able to create an account on ScholarOne. In these days of faceless internet interaction it is relatively easy to do, however the system still relies on an editor to verify the account if used in peer review. It is not possible for us to verify the real identity of the individual or individuals setting up accounts.”

The JVC editor at the time, Professor Ali H. Nayfeh, is no longer with the publication. He has retired. SAGE said that “three senior editors and an additional 27 associate editors with expertise and prestige in the field have been appointed to assist with the day-to-day running of the JVC peer review process.”

Chen, meanwhile, has not been located, either by the Post or by the Journal or by Sage, which has been trying to reach him for some time during the 14-month long investigation.

National Pingtung University of EducationNational Pingtung University of Education

~StMA