Monday, December 31, 2018

You Can Read Me Now In US Naval Institute Blog.

Russian Navy, Mission Found?

You may read my new piece on some doctrine-technology issues in today's USNI Blog post. Link is below. 

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.

You May Read Me on Unz Review Too.

1. I got my first piece published on Unz Review today, so you may check it out there

2. You can read my piece on some peculiarities of Russo-Chinese "alliance" at Unz Review. Here:

The Russo-Chinese "Alliance" Explained 

3. Here is the latest One. 

Russia's Stand-Off Capability: The 800 Pound Gorilla in Syria

4. On INF Treaty.   

 The Sand Castle INF Treaty

5. New piece on geopolitics and navalism.

The Russo-Chinese "Alliance" Revisited  

6. My new piece on Putin's speech came out today at Unz Review. 

The Implications of Russia's New Weapon Systems

Friday, November 16, 2018

When You Begin To Lose...

A Faith in humanity, after events such as this:
Suddenly some guy comes around and restores your faith:
Allyn Pierce didn’t think he would survive last week when his truck was surrounded by flames as he attempted to escape the deadly blaze in Paradise, California. Instead of driving to safety, the registered nurse decided to turn around — back into the flames. Pierce, who reportedly manages the ICU at Adventist Health Feather River Hospital, helped evacuate patients from the burning hospital as the massive Camp Fire drew near Thursday morning. Shortly after, he rounded up a few of his colleagues and attempted to drive them to safety, according to New York Times reporter Jack Nicas. “Like many residents in Paradise, they quickly hit gridlock,” Nicas wrote of the group in a tweet on Monday. “But unfortunately for them, they were stuck in the middle of the fire. Flames licked at the side of his truck, and as Allyn watched other cars catch fire, he thought his was next.”
Here is Allyn's truck after he helped save old patients from hospital about to be burned.  
Pierce wasn’t the only hero of the day. Tamara Ferguson, also a nurse at the hospital, detailed the harrowing evacuation in a Facebook post last week. Ferguson revealed that she and her co-workers ended up briefly caring for patients in the garage of a nearby home as they attempted to flee the burning area.
Allyn's words in conclusion, however, is what summarizes it best:
“Now all of us are like, ‘Oh, this is what we do,’ ” Pierce recalled to the Times. “We’re terrible at burning to death, but we’re amazing at taking care of people.”
Just your everyday, average...true heroes who risk their lives for others. It had to be better ending than that, albeit not losing a single patient to a fire is a huge reward in itself. But Toyota saw it:
“We are humbled you’d risk your life and Toyota Tundra to drive people to safety. Don’t worry about your truck, we’re honored to get you a new one!”
Isn't life worth living when such people are living next to you? I think it is.  And these are precisely the types of stories and people who should dominate media. 

It Is Getting Tiresome, Really.

I mean a constant barely hidden butt-hurt.

At least 13 countries are interested in buying a Russian missile system instead of platforms made by US companies, despite the threat of sanctions

When I am outraged by this butt-hurt I am not being facetious, self-righteous, chauvinistic or suffering from the acute case of schadenfreude. I am literally enraged by alleged professionals spewing an obvious utter bullshit for whatever reasons. In the end, when you come home in the evening you have to live with yourself. Here is what I am talking about:  

"It's the geopolitical aspects of the S-400 offerings that are the most interesting," said Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Karako highlighted that despite the appetite for the Russian-made system, the S-400 has yet to see combat, unlike America's Patriot missile defense system.

Here is an example for people who proclaim (or are being proclaimed) the experts and for those who are not. In any weapon system its evolution from basic legacy versions to advanced ones matters a great deal, hugely. In fact, this evolution is what defines latest version of the systems. Lessons, combat experiences, new technologies--all coalesce in latest versions of any weapon system. Record also does matter a great deal. And here is the issue: what combat performance of Patriot (of any PAC version) can even remotely touch a colossal combat experience of Soviet/Russian air defense complexes? Unless Mr. Karako wants to sell us a bridge about US air defense systems having a "record" (an underwhelming one, I may add, even against ancient SCUD ballistic missiles) in combat, he should recall that Soviet legacy systems, when manned by properly trained personnel, were a nightmare for many Air Forces in 1960s, 1970s and even 1980s. The sample space which was and still is available to Soviet designers of Air Defense (and anti-missile) complexes is on several orders of magnitude greater than any US designer and manufacturer of air defense systems could ever dream about. 

It is akin to US Navy (we will omit here operational necessity and viability today) having a sample space in carrier aviation--even Royal Navy's considerable carrier experience is dwarfed by that of US Navy's. US simply produced, operated and learned about carrier aviation more than anyone else. As an example, Russians are not butt-hurting about it--they know that Americans are on orders of magnitude better at this and Russians actually try to learn instead of coming up with lame excuses about combat. Patriot saw combat and it performance was lacking, to put it mildly. The record was set. Soviet AD systems, to which S-400 is heir saw much-much more combat than Patriot, let alone THAAD, and they performed extremely well including having a strategic impact on operations both in Vietnam and Middle East. 

We also should not forget an astounding performance of Soviet legacy and modern short-range systems in Syria this April. The result was a shock to the system with 70% of TLAMs intercepted by the technology of 1960s and 1970s, granted with some upgrades. I guess Mr. Karako should ask himself a question--is it reasonable then, that nations which are in line for S-400, instead of THAAD, do not read PR spins on "being in combat" but understand that April 2018 performance by old Syrian Air Defense was to a large degree thanks to sensor capabilities of this very S-400. If less capable S-300 PMU2 can shut down Israeli Air Force operations over coastal Syria and, most likely, Lebanon--how is it called, "combat" or not? So, straight question--are Russian air-defense and missile-defense systems superior to American ones? Yes, they are and no amount of PR spin by all kinds of self-proclaimed "experts" nor pretending that Patriot's combat use matters against a gigantic combat experience of Soviet and Russian air defense systems, it does not--different capabilities, different designs and combat use philosophies realized in Russian weapons. Russian weapons are not panacea; as any very complex technology they are prone to malfunctions, breakdowns, in the end they could be overwhelmed and defeated under some very strict conditions, but they are simply the best in what they do. This is precisely why S-400, as well as SU-35, as well as ANY versions of 3M54 or 3M14 and many other things are the hottest items on the international arms market. The biggest economy in the world, China, buys them.

Russians are not that sublime or, altogether, stupid to not recognize a potential for an immense commercial boost of Russia's weapon systems showcased in Syria. Everyone knew that the show was coming once Russian VKS' first units started to arrive to Khmeimim in 2015. That is why Mr. Ralph Peters went hysterical stating that Russia wanted to humiliate US military--what a load of crap. Russians merely showcased their real military capabilities and one of the centerpieces of this show was traditionally immensely impressive Soviet/Russian air-defense weapons. They are simply the best in the world, S-400 is one of such systems. S-500 which is already in IOC is altogether a change in anti-air and anti-missile weaponry paradigm. So it is reasonable to assume that people want to buy those from the vendor which, speaking in Amazon's or Hotels dot Com lingo, has all 5-star rankings. So, Karako's "combat" argument is not an argument at all but the last butt-hurt straw to be grasped in a feeble attempt to avoid stating the obvious--Russia's claims for eventually becoming the number one international weapons vendor may not be that far fetched after all. In the end, it is just business, nothing personal, and former Soviet, now Russian, weapons makers surely love being shrewd capitalists by doing what original expanding capitalism did--by making a better more affordable product.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

No, Macron, Seriously.

There are many negative qualities US President Donald Trump exhibits on a daily bases, but there are some silver linings even in POTUS being boorish--he periodically says things which describe the actual state of the affairs, such as the background to this Macron's complain.
The reason Macron's stance brings smile to my face is because the times of the Great Convention with its caveat of "the forms must obeyed" are over. I would suggest Mr. Macron acquaint himself, and learn it by heart, with Lord Ismay's raison d'etre (how' s my French?) for NATO. As you all may recall it was expressed in three short geopolitical truisms, NATO was created "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down". Where is there anything about France? It has to be understood by Macron and any European still exercising sappy sentimental ideas of Atlantic solidarity and who try to still appeal to WW I which was dwarfed by a catastrophe and global consequences of WW II that Europe really matters--she does not. Only as a wealthy market for goods.

Speaking in broadsides, WW II outcome was about turning all European powerhouses, also responsible for unleashing WW I and laying down the groundwork for much bigger spectacle of WW II, into tamed, scared...ahem...vassals. The bigger boys came to rule--the Soviet Union by means of carrying the brunt of purely European invention of national-socialism's (and fascism) defeat in Europe, the US came on-board by defeating singlehandedly Imperial Japan (part of the Axis) and then allowing Great Britain to exhaust herself at the secondary theaters of operation before committing itself to closing acts of WW II in Europe. At least Great Britain resisted, France...well, we know the story. As one Russian observers recently noted--WW I, which is much further removed from us in time than WW II, with this war many veterans still surviving, "was the last victory of the West". I happen to agree. Of course there could be many, and some of them will be totally legitimate both in political and military terms, justifications found for France's capitulation to Hitler but in the end it was still humiliating defeat which no amount of celebrations and remembrances of much smaller WW I can obscure the actual decline of both Great Britain (on the winning side) and France (sort of on the winning side). British didn't send British SS Divisions to Russia, France did. As did most of Western Europe, from Dutch to Spain. Tolstoy with his War and Peace comes to mind immediately, when Tolstoy described Napoleon's Grand Armee as "a force of a dozen European languages". 

So, let me play Trump and be rude here for a minute: Churchill was smart enough to understand and, in fact, demand Britain's alliance with USSR, despite being a fanatical anti-Communist (in reality a euphemism for Anglo-Saxon Imperialist). France wasn't. One lives with the consequences of such decisions. Hitler (or more generally Axis) was destroyed by the Soviet Union, United States and Great Britain (and her Imperial appendices--2.5 million Indian troops fought for the Crown in WW II). So, in all it was Soviet-Anglo-Saxon victory, with USSR playing by far the largest role against the most capable adversary in the history of the world. French, of course, through De Gaulle, who at some point complained that Anglo-American Allied press was promoting him as if conducting advertisement campaign in selling a bar of soap, did partake but this couldn't obfuscate the fact of France departure from the status of superpower. Same went for the United Kingdom and Suez Crisis merely formalized the world as the United States, distant second UK, and the rest on one side--USSR and its allies on the other. 

While the United States had people the scale of Ike, George Marshall or even JFK the forms and pretense that Europe mattered in global military-political setup were obeyed. Bundeswehr, as an example, was a pretty impressive force for an utterly defeated and separated Germany. Germans were even allowed to do some things on their own, such as producing tanks, not aviation, of course--for that, the NATO's only big honcho had its own plans and...well, you know the story with F-104, as one of very many other examples of Atlantic "solidarity" and values of freedom and equality. But France became American vassal since immediately after WW II and when De Gaulle, a person of a scale of several orders of magnitude larger and more courageous than Macron, decided that France still mattered he was "helped" along his way out of French and European political life. Since then, all those 1968 children-students of Paris and other French cities' riots were firmly restrained in the rigid framework of the US humanities "education" which guaranteed that the only ideas which would be allowed will be those of Egalité! Liberté! Sexualité! Largely the same set of values whose catastrophic consequences we all observe today. As a result, no political figure of true scale ever emerged in French political life again, as is the case with the Europe and the US as a whole, with her "leaders" being increasingly smaller and smaller both in human-political scale and statue. Napoleon, a man of a rather underwhelming appearance, is rotating today in his tomb at the Les Invalides. 

So, it is really funny today to hear from a practical zero in every single sense which defines great leaders and humans, complaining about France being treated as a vassal of the US. But Trump is correct--France is American vassal. France is disintegrating country in the process of fast Islamization, with elites whose roots are in the feel good "leftism" and expanded horizons of Sexualite of 1968 and still living in a delusion that French art, cinema, music and intellectuals matter--they don't. European cultural and economic policies of the last half-century are nothing short of a disaster, this is not to mention the fact that Europeans really always knew that neither Soviet Union, nor Russia wanted to invade Western Europe and they left the task of "defense" from the enemy which was thinking how to defend itself to the United States. Well, what do they expect today? 

European Army? LOL. WHO out of current European "elites" has real balls, competences and ability to create such a force? Who would equip it? France? Germany? Well, Germans, probably, given the time and space eventually would have come up with something but, calling on Lord Ismay--keep Germany down. So, seeing today all those European pathetic losers who would sell their soul to the devil (together with their nations) for another term at the trough is really funny. A toy-boy asking for respect? If I would be Trump I wouldn't worry about European Armed Forces--not gonna happen, the last European human material which was capable to do something about pathetic debilitating state of Europe in general, and France in particular, was trashed out in 1968. A generation of gender-neutral tolerasts runs Europe today. Have you seen hippies and nihilists being real statesmen. I haven't and hopefully I will not have to--at least I hope so. In this sense, America, however in upheaval and declining, is still a much-much larger entity, militarily and economically, than France to take her seriously. It took uncultured Trump to merely state what everybody knew all along--vassals must behave like vassals. After all, "the forms must be obeyed".  

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Cutting Empire To Size, Or Yet Another "National Security" Crisis.

It becomes really redundant by now and, frankly, tiresome. 
Truth is, there is no "crisis of national security" in the US--nobody is intent on attacking the US or cut vital for the US Shipping Lanes Of Communications (SLOC), other than some terrorists, but FBI can handle that; US Navy, despite all of its very real problems, is still a very potent navy, especially its submarine component, to do the job of keeping SLOCs open. Neither Russia nor China are intent to interdict these SLOCs unless the United States decides to start a war on them, then, of course, if the US, say, tries to attack Russia, things change. Other than that--there is no crisis. Russia can obliterate the US today, she could do it yesterday, and she will be able to do it tomorrow, the same goes the other way--this is MAD, folks. But Russia explicitly doesn't want to attack the US. So, what's the fuss is all about? 

The fuss is about this (from the article):
But the authors worry that the department, as it is structured both strategically and financially right now, would not be able to successfully manage two conflicts at once – or be guaranteed victory in even one, should it come down to a fight with Russia or China.
Talk about folie de grandeur of unimaginable scale (see Report). One may ask the question on how those people in National Defense Strategy Commission really envision, say war against Russia alone. It is really a fascinating, for all the wrong reasons, scenario since, I am sure, these guys (such as former CNO Admiral Gary Roughead among other 11 members of this Commission) try to play this scenario strictly in conventional framework, because otherwise the United States as a state will cease to exist. 

I was thinking about this, not to mention getting tired of reading all kinds of alarmist, justified and not, as in this case, "reports" and here is my simple take. 

1. United States never fought against first-rate, well-trained, equipped and determined adversary which can match US capabilities across the whole spectrum of modern warfare. US fought in Vietnam where it lost to determined but largely peasant force with only some very few capabilities of a first world army, it fought in Korea where it ended with bloody stalemate and, of course, US had its turkey shoot against grossly incompetent Saddam's Army. US armed forces never fought in their modern history against the adversary capable to strike (conventionally) to the strategic depth. That means under no conditions were US troops, their rear services, bases, strategic command and control assets, ammunition stocks etc. subjected to a serious (and sustained) fire impact since one day Pearl Harbor affair.  Of course, we do not even talk about US proper.

2. United States doesn't have effective battle field air defense capable to prevent such a (stand-off) impact--no US AD complex is capable to reliably intercept most Russia's stand-off weapons thus exposing every single US combat asset on the theater of operations. 

3. A painful issue of US air assets--good luck dealing with the best air-defense in the world. A single regiment of S-300 PMU2 in Syria shut down Israeli Air Force (equipped with much vaunted F-35) operations over coastal Syria. 

4. Ground forces? Another wowser since nobody knows how US ground forces will fare against steady and fast attrition of its assets against arguably best anti-armor and area-impact weapons in the world. US simply has no historic experience with that under the conditions of very limited resources and manufacturing base being destroyed (conventionally) domestically. 

So, how this Commission envisions such a war is a really funny question. They do state, however: 
We recommend that DOD more clearly answer the question of how it intends to accomplish a core theme of the NDS—defeating major power rivals in competition and war. Without a credible approach to winning a war against China or Russia, DOD’s efforts will befor naught
Apart from fluffy (and expected) pseudo-military BS, I have question to this Commission--do they have any idea how it will feel, if they imagine a set-piece (totally unrealistic scenario) battle at Russia's borders in purely conventional way, to lose, say, 150,000 KIAs alone just within one-two months of "fighting"? You say impossible? I would say I am being way too cautious. After all, this is US Army Colonel speaking in 2012 BEFORE certain events unfolded:

This should be emblazoned on every wall of any US military-related "think-tank" or "commission" because reality will be even grimmer once one understands that in order for US (NATO) to fight Russia they will need to come into Russia's backyard (Russia is not going to occupy or attack anyone unless attacked first) and people way more capable strategically and tactically than those in Pentagon tried it, not for once, and ended losing not only wars but their armies and  states. US military "thinkers" evidently have no grasp of what even conventional war with Russia may bring to the American side--the scale of attrition which will make Vietnam an easy stroll in the park in comparison, albeit Americans who fought there were tough soldiers and good leaders on tactical level. This is not the case today. But General Van Riper's lessons still must be studied to avoid a catastrophe which expects any adversary deciding to fight Russia in her vicinity. 

But what is this "crisis" really about? It is actually about not willing to face reality and fight a real war (it is scary and is pregnant with major political consequences), as opposed to comfortable rolling over grossly inferior adversaries. It is about constantly diminishing military capability margin, which was grossly inflated to start with in the wake of the Soviet collapse, and which now is getting to be more proportional to the Empire which is being "cut to size" by geopolitical, economic, military, technological and human reality. So, no--United States is not capable to fight either Russia or China separately, let alone those two simultaneously--this delusional idea was born out of ignorance, hubris and, frankly, lack of knowledge of the real warfare with capable adversaries. Projecting (lack of) "lessons" from Iraq or Afghanistan occupations and (not)fighting there in what is a medium to low intensity conventional (COIN) conflicts onto modern 21st century warfare against nuclear superpowers--it is either, indeed, folie de grandeur or a sign of a mental disorder among those who have to face reality of American very real economic and, with it, military decline. United States either learns to live within its by far not limitless means and accepts the new geopolitical reality, thus preserving own status as one of the few true global superpowers, or it will destroy itself completely trying to retain which it thinks, wrongly, a providence-bestowed crown of hegemon. I feel it is time to address some issues of possible casualties in a conventional conflict. I will do it later.