Saturday, January 1, 2022

Let's Try Q & A And Whatever Else Sticky Post

Here is the post which I will try to keep sticky for people to ask questions and share their thoughts which are not on topic. This, I think is known as Open Thread. Fire away.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Scratching My Head.

Ahem. I don't know how to read into this.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy is taking major steps in an attempt to shake off years of false starts and setbacks with the Littoral Combat Ship program, an effort Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said he’d oversee on his watch. In an exclusive interview with Defense News on July 16, Gilday listed LCS as a major priority, saying he will turn up the heat on efforts to get the ship to become a major contributor to fleet operations.“There are things in the near term that I have to deliver, that I’m putting heat on now, and one of them is LCS,” Gilday said. “One part is sustainability and reliability. We know enough about that platform and the problems that we have that plague us with regard to reliability and sustainability, and I need them resolved.”
My take on this whole spike in activity regarding these very expensive and grossly under-gunned, putting it politely, ships is related to news from Russia who started trials for her combat modules for project 22160 patrol ships.
Gilday’s goal of fielding the mission modules is well along already, according to two sources familiar with the progress, who spoke to Defense News on condition of anonymity.The mine-warfare mission module is on track for a final test and evaluation by the end of this year, a source with knowledge of the program told Defense News, and the individual components have already passed testing and are in initial low-rate production.End-to-end testing of the mine-warfare mission module is set to begin in fiscal 2021 and is on track to have its initial operating capability declared in 2022, another source said.The status of the ASW mission module, which has been a regular target of Congress-imposed budget cuts, is a little less clear.
Let's face it--the issue with combat modules for LCS is nothing new, as is the issue of preposterous costs for such a ship, in excess of $700 million per hull. What may become an issue, and a huge one at that, will be if Russians will succeed (I am pretty sure they will) with testing of their own modules, including ASW one, and appearance of project 22160, say in Mediterranean, carrying containers with Kalibrs or P-800s, or 3M22s together with ASW packages. This WILL create a shitstorm in appropriate Committees and subcommittees in Congress--remember, pr. 22160 are shitstorm corvettes--because the question will be this: why those fvcking Russians managed in few years to come up with several working modules for what amounts to their version of LCS (of sorts) and we cannot do it for more than a decade? I would say such a question, actually, will be a legitimate one. But then guess what--have you heard about F-15X lately? I heard:

And now the Air Force is doing just that. Last week, the Defense Department announced in its daily digest of defense contracts awarded that Boeing will produce an unspecified number of F-15EX aircraft over the next three years, at a total cost of $22.89 billion.
Oh baby, for around $90 million a pop for a venerable and slightly up-gunned F-15 that looks so...so... Pentagonish. But isn't it how the whole US Defense Budget is spent? I omit here all those "doctrinal" decisions such as producing a rather mediocre aircraft such as F-35, but it will do for attacking third world nations, and calling it "Stealth" because 1950s radar cannot "detect" it, but generally one has to wonder "where's the beef"?  Argument of "complexity" of US weapon systems is a complete bunk--I write about this for years and people at TAC question this too.
OK, let me cut to the chase--most American "hawks" are not hawks but chicken-hawks most of who do not know shit from shinola when dealing with military, because they lack proper education and experience which would allow them to pass sound judgements on the issue of actual warfare. US weapon systems are no more complex than many from Europe, let alone Russia. Term "sophisticated" is a false equivalency and is used merely to impress dumb-asses who sign the checks for Pentagon. Criteria of Combat Efficiency of the system has long been discarded in the US in favor of monetary gain (through ridiculous unreal costs) and making Hollywood movies. The issue is not even that SU-35C, not speaking of SU-57, will tear F-35 a new one, or that Patriot PAC whatever the version, looks like, using Publius Tacitus terminology, a Nerf Gun when compared to Russian Air Defense systems. The issue is that the US simply cannot produce decent weapon system on time, on budget and, most important, cannot make it combat effective in real combat environment. 

Come on, Russians know this, so do many many people in DoD in the US, but they are not talking because US warfare long ago became about money, appearances and propaganda, not about defense. Come to think about it, not about offense either, since the US military record as of lately is not that impressive. Ridiculous price tags of US weapons didn't help much in Afghanistan or Syria, once Russia got involved there. Well, as one of the pundits concludes:

Wood’s argument that the only way to deal with adversary technology is with better technology is also false. We don’t need to out-engineer the Russias and Chinas of the world, we need to out-think them. For virtually every high-tech weapon, there is a low-tech counter. Our struggles to deal with IEDs in Iraq is the perfect example of this. The Pentagon spent $20 billion to develop counter-IED systems only to come to the realization that nothing worked as well as a dog.
Out-think is a fancy euphemism for coming to terms with military reality and facing facts, which for Pentagon will be really painful and goes completely against Modus Operandi and Vivendi both in US military and the US Congress agreed upon for the sake of keeping a gravy train running. Well, the run may continue but the US realistically cannot win a war with the peer. In fact, it will sustain colossal materiel and reputational losses gigantic price tags of its weapons notwithstanding. Just yesterday I listened to one discussion between some totally delusional "Marxist" Alekseev and former Colonel from General Staff Vladimir Trukhan, who apart from wiping the floor with Alekseev, noted that as a former Officer-operator of General Staff he doesn't take militarily NATO seriously. Or as he said: "we don't even break sweat". He has a point, but then again, I can only repeat myself--the real danger is in the United States stumbling into open military confrontation with China, let alone Russia, see its expensive military hardware destroyed en masse, not to speak of human losses, and being pushed to the threshold of the unthinkable. This is the only "out-thinking" the United Sates is capable of today and that makes me scratch my head. I heard there was a proposition to put a ballistic missile on Zumwalt-class DDGs to enable these three white elephants with a whopper of a price tag to have missiles capable of carrying hyper-sonic glider vehicles within Prompt Global Strike paradigm. If that is "out-thinking" what can I say.... Sergei Viktorovich, help!   

Friday, July 31, 2020

When Amateurs Discuss Tactics....

Professionals discuss logistics. You all know this saying which is ultimately true. Russian Armed Forces today celebrate a Day of Rear Services (and Logistics). It is a huge universe of crucial supply services, from ammo and fuel to food and pay, which also has its own War College--Academy of Material-Technical Supply named after Army General Khrulyov. No armed forces in the world can fight without rear services, which also, as was the case in WW II ended up being not so in rear and very often in the very center of heavy fighting. So, here it is--a good army (and navy) are only as good as the provisions delivered to them by logistics. 
 

Devaluation.

We all live in a time of devaluation. Everything is being devalued: human live, dignity, US Dollar, liberty, you name it. But what devalues even faster than all that are words, or, rather, their meaning, their semantic load. Like an old line of words written in ink which fades away with the age, words lose their meaning in the modern United States. I am not talking about Orwellian trick of replacing an actual meaning with something else, such as rioters and insurgents in Seattle or Portland being called "protestors", no, not that. I am talking about US main-stream media, who apart from being staffed with a lot of human compost, and who share responsibility for tearing already damaged United States apart, are complicit in devaluation of meanings. 

Here is an example: De Blasio Blasts 'Tyrant' Trump Over Election Delay Musing. Make no mistake, I like good hyperbole myself and use it once in a while, but US media do not know the limits beyond which meaning of tasteful disappears and simple BS and pathos start. They don't--look at them, from morons in NYT and WaPo, who do not understand that if shit they shovel into out faces hits the fan they may experience a rather unpleasant reckoning with people coming for them, to all kinds of other media personalities who never experienced any real difficulty, let alone danger in their life and still think that journalism is actual profession. Yet, most of pampered self-proclaimed "intellectuals" and words handlers, most of who would shit their pants when faced with real anger, real weapons and real danger, use the militant vernacular whenever they can and as a result, already disturbed and uneased American mind faces those facts that someone "blasted" someone, of someone "torched" somebody, or that someone "destroyed" someone else on a daily bases. 

Remarkably, all those terms are used by people who never served a day even as a cook in any armed forces, by people who would contemplate suicide if denied dining in upscale restaurants and shopping for designer brands. Yet, they have no problem using aggressive battle-like rhetoric and descriptions disregarding the fact that most of them are cowards. One has to wonder what such mama boys as Don Lemon or Chris Cuomo experience when they "fire back" at someone. What can possibly this Cuomo dude, an offspring of rich New York political family, experience in reality when not "embedded" with US troops and faces something he and his kind want all of us to face completely on their own? What can possibly they "analyze" with any degree of competence and courage? US media-political elite is pathetic, specimens of corrupt political animals from Jerry Nadlers and Liz Warrens on one side to a hypocritical Jim Jordans and Lindsey Grahams on the other, who are in it not for America and her people, but to satisfy their urges to realize their mediocre selves through power, is terrifying as is a media class which serves them. The US is burning and disintegrating in a front of our very own eyes but nothing is being done about it, nothing. Even when one makes an allowance for presidential election year politics.  

Thus we are all subjected to an incessant daily assault of all kinds of "blasting", "torching", "destroying", "firing back" and other battle terms making up an opaque massive stream of utter BS pouring out of every type of media on people. All that designed to cover up a complete paralysis, corruption and incompetence of US "elites". But the real downside of all this media battle of evermore is devaluation of meanings of all those terms. This devaluation, in the country which is ready to explode, can have a dire consequences for these very same "elites" when real blasting, torching, destroying and firing back starts. We'll see then how well people who are in the business of pep-talking the country into the real civil war will deal with real, not devalued meanings. It could be very scary and deadly, I know--been there, done that. We'll see how degree in journalism, political science or law will help to survive a real deal, which now seems almost assured. 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

A Superb Piece From Pepe.

Pepe Escobar wrote a superb, insightful, piece on China and South China Sea for the Saker's Blog and I post link here. The article is very much worth reading. 

The heart of the matter in the South China Sea


About Dollar, Sort Of.

I am by far not the only one who saw this fate for US Dollar and, frankly, it wasn't that difficult to predict. Now there are some tangibles on this matter. 
After years of talking about abandoning the US dollar, Russia and China are doing it for real. In the first quarter of 2020, the share of the dollar in trade between the countries fell below 50 percent for the first time.To give an indication of the scale of the adjustment, just four years ago the greenback accounted for over 90 percent of their currency settlements.According to Moscow daily Izvestia, the share has dropped to 46 percent, tumbling from 75 percent in 2018. The 54 percent of non-dollar trade is made up of Chinese yuan (17 percent), the euro (30 percent), and the Russian ruble (7 percent).
Pretty much self-explanatory. Russia can afford to sell whatever she wants for whatever currency she wants. She can pump oil to China and get payments in Yans or Euros if she decides to do so. The answer is simple--Russia is a superpower and she behaves as such.  
Movement away from the dollar can also be seen in Russia's trade with other parts of the world, such as the European Union. Since 2016, trade between Moscow and the bloc has been mainly in Euros, with its current share sitting at 46 percent.
That brings us to this point Michael Hudson made recently when speaking on Western economic "science". Remember?
Indeed, they don't. It is nearly impossible to explain to Wall Street banker what military-economic power balance is and how it influences prices and currencies.  For some dude with degree in "economics" from Western university, who is getting ready to plunge into the world of financial speculation, trading in figments of imagination and intangible myths that is, and who is brought up, in the words of General Latiff, on a steady diet of Hollywood portrayal of a war, connection between hyper-sonic missile technology and economic implosion of the United States is beyond his (her) sensory grasp. But the connection is there and it is very direct. The US can bomb Iraq into the stone age for Iraq's desire, same as Libya's Qaddafi, to sell their oil for currencies other than US Dollar, but Russia cannot be bombed. Well, she can be bombed, but the United States will also cease to exist--so here is a direct connection. Russia unloaded all of her US Treasuries and trades with anybody she wants in whatever currency she desires. 

Many people from "elites" still cannot recognize a simple fact that the MAIN pillar of US Dollar system, apart from "trust", is not even US manufacturing capacity, which is largely gone, but US military power on which US Dollar's primacy was based. Not anymore. US military is turning into a hollow force with an astonishing speed. It is somewhat reminiscent of the process of a decline of the former Soviet Armed Forces in 1990s Russia. While not at that level of decay yet, there is nothing realistically which can prevent US Armed Forces from hitting  such a level. This is yet to be seen if it goes there but the United States is in no position anymore to enforce anything militarily even against regional power such as Iran without sustaining huge losses, both material and reputational. Against China? Hm. Not within First Island Chain. Now consider the fact that Europe has Euro, Russia has Ruble, China has Yan and China and Russia begin to trade in mutual currencies, while US-China trade war accelerates and there you go--the "after-dollar" global picture emerges and... well, just look at this picture:
Isn't that cute how gold "suddenly" (within a year) decided to grow, despite all attempts to suppress its "price". And I am not even talking about the oil price. Somebody is laughing all the way to the bank. In related news, one of the reasons for the US to feel somewhat uneasy--here is a video of Russian Navy's incessant combat drills, this time with Frigate Admiral Essen facing off with two supersonic P-35 anti-shipping missiles fired from famous "sotka" (100), aka Utes, site at the Crimean shore. 
I have to admit--I love this new ship uniform. Seems elegant and easy on your skin. But the thing which conveyed profoundly what Russians think about current historic moment was this simple comment by some Russian person under this video by Russia's Defense Ministry:
Раньше, при советском союзе, я не смотрела программу время, потому как, всё было хорошо ... урожай хлеба высокий, строительство жилья идёт полным ходом, атомные и водородные бомбы есть, армия сильная ... а вот после распада СССР, до прихода Путина, в России был кошмар.Когда к власти пришёл Путин, жизнь в России стала налаживаться ... и вот сейчас, ко мне пришло спокойствие, как при советском союзе ... урожай хлеба высокий, строительство жилья ведётся, вооружение нашей армии идёт по всем направлениям ... это просто кайф👍Главное, больше никому НЕ позволить грабить нашу Россию, как было в проклятые 90-е ... и никаких майданов в России.Сейчас очень спокойно жить в России ... это кайф👍
Translation: It used to be that in Soviet times I didn't watch program "Vremya" (Time, main Soviet and Russian official news broadcast), because everything was good... the harvest was great, housing construction proceeded apace, we had atomic and hydrogen bombs, the army was strong... but after the collapse of the USSR, before Putin, it became a nightmare. Then Putin came, the life started to return to normalcy... and now my calmness returned to me as if back in the USSR... the harvest is great, the construction of housing goes ahead, the rearmament of our armed forces proceeds in all directions... this is bliss. Most important, not to allow anyone to rob our Russia as was happening in condemned 1990s... no any maidans in Russia. It is so peaceful to live now... it is a bliss.

This is a profoundly Russian observation. It is shared by majority of Russians and that is what, in the end, decides the issue. Russia can exist only as superpower or none at all. This lesson was learned well.