The idea of a small ship capable of carrying out large tasks is, certainly, not new. After all, already mentioned, Jeune Ecole imagined naval combat being conducted by the swarms of small torpedo and cannon-boats, which would be controlled by the telegraph. One of the main factors which influenced Jeune Ecole was the invention of the shell and Canon-obusier (or shell-firing cannon) by Henri-Joseph Paixhans, which changed drastically, including an improvement in accuracy, the main striking weapon of the fleets--naval gun. Russians demonstrated the effectiveness of Canon-obusier in the Battle Of Sinop in 1853, when Russian Squadron defeated Turkish Fleet. The shell-firing cannon came of age in this battle. It also made it onto the small ships.
We know the rest of the story, that is until new weapon emerged.
This weapon sent shock waves through naval world, when on 21 October 1967, Israeli Navy's INS Eilat was sunk by a two-missile salvo of Soviet-made Anti-Shipping Missiles (ASM) P-15 Termit (Styx), launched from Egyptian Soviet-made Komar-class (Project 183) small missile boat. The fact that the boat with 61 ton of displacement could sink a 1700 ton destroyer not by a torpedo seemed obscene at the time. Well, it is not obscene anymore. As Operation Trident by Indian Navy in 1971 demonstrated to a devastating effect--few Osa-class (project 205) boats armed with Styx ASMs were capable to achieve a strategic result despite a minuscule displacement of combatants. And then, of course, came Falkland War which was an eye-opening experience for many in Anglo-Saxon naval community. Royal Navy did its duty well and won the war but paid a steep price. ASM not only has arrived as a viable naval strike weapon, it has arrived as THE weapon of the naval warfare, which was a really bad news for the US Navy's carrier trade union.
Sure, one may say (and many do) that mosquito ASM capabilities are really not that great. Sure they are not by the very fact that this kind of fleet is called Mosquito for an engineering (and Russian convention of naming its missile boats classes after mosquitoes) reasons and is not capable to carry an immensely important component of ship's defense--a capable Air Defense Complex. Left to its own devices, any missile boat ends like the Libyan Fleet in the action in the Gulf Of Sidra in March of 1986 against....US Navy. The chances of these few Libyan boats, armed only with Osa Air Defense Missile Complexes against overwhelming fire-power of the US Fleet were, frankly, approaching zero. But in this operation, as well as in Falkland War, both US and Royal Navies fought what was essentially Sea Control Battles against the opponents who would attempt to challenge them in what today could be termed as A2/AD (Anti-Access/ Area Denial) framework. Argentinians, although defeated, fared incomparably better than Libyans. It took Royal Navy's HMS Conqueror and outstanding performance of RN's pilots from British carriers to break Argentina's attempts to deny Royal Navy access to the occupied islands.
The outlook for the Mosquito fleet, however, changes drastically when it is deployed and used properly. And, as both successful (sinking of Eilat) and disastrous (Battle Of Latakia) for Arabs use of the missile boats demonstrates, they can be used from the naval base location, without any deployment even within nations' littorals. The problem with Arabs, though, was in the fact that....well, to put it mildly, they had neither means nor abilities to use their boats effectively. In fact, in this funny business of Sea Denial, A2/AD, what have you, the main thing is, as Admiral Sergei Gorshkov pointed out in his The Sea Power Of The State (not the Sea Power AND The State as it is known in the West), interaction. In other words--you want to deny the enemy access, say, to your littoral, be ready to do it with the use of heterogeneous forces which will be able to interact--that is act in concert towards achieving the same A2/AD goal. For the green water fleets, and it is there where the bulk of the "mosquitoes" to be found, which are run by even mildly competent leaders--the main task will remain to provide conditions for the missile boats to launch their main weapon. To do so, they will need to avoid the fate of Libyan missile boats in the Gulf Of Sidra. That means two major conditions to be fulfilled against the navies which count Force Projection as their main doctrinal goal and that leaves us with very few navies in the world, headed, of course, by the US Navy and its whole structure honed for blowing shit up anywhere in the world where alleged US national interests are "threatened"--these conditions are viable Air Defense and ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare). Today, there is only one navy in the world, which can provide, however barely, the existence and survival of its mosquito component against any adversary--Russian Navy. Russians always had pretty good understanding (and experience) of the shortcomings and advantages of the missile boats and that is why today, Russia develops not one but two different types of the missile boats, which will be able to fill the niche inside the heterogeneous forces package, capable to deliver needed amount of high explosives to the pre-determined location at the pre-determined time. In fact, Russian navy deploys today the only boats in the world capable of purely naval combat (that is against surface targets) and for the strikes to a strategic depth on such theaters as Europe or launch missiles from Caspian Sea to Persian Gulf.
I propose, that the development of these kinds of ships (boats) and of the missile complexes they carry is completely new, paradigm-shifting, development but before I continue, hopefully during the Labor Day weekend, I want to make some important points.
Disclaimer: I know, there are armies of internet "warriors" who browse world-wide-web constantly in search of the virtual fights and who do not understand that behind all this fancy military lingo is the reality of the combat with blood, suffering, torn limbs, horrible burns, torturous deaths. I am terrified by the possibility of Russia and US going to war, but I am also terrified by the blood-thirst of all kinds of patriots who are ready to fight somebody, while sitting in the chairs as I am doing now.
I have a profound respect to US Navy, its glorious history and many people, who served and still serve there, some of those people are my closest and dearest friends and they are not war mongers. However, the continuation of the posts on mosquito fleet, inevitably, will lead to a description of the scenario which is in the air, but, hopefully is not becoming a reality, in which US Navy will try to test Russia's littoral defenses and this scenario will, certainly, involve participation on a massive scale of Russian Navy's mosquito capabilities, which, as some already guessed, will be covered in the air and from beneath by necessary means which, in Russian language, are called Naryad Sil (Required Force--what is Naryad and why it is called as such, in English it means dressed, is a separate discussion;-) Meanwhile, I leave you with the question of why late Admiral Cebrowsky's (hell, try Zumwalt and his Project 60) ideas of Street Fighter will not work in US.
Hey, France, are you OK there? Do you need old Russian farts with AK-74s coming to help you with your "diversity" and the catastrophe which is already there. We cared, at some point, Pierre Richard, Alaine Delon and Gerard, and Lois De Funes and Fantomas. Are you guys OK there? Is your culture still relevant?
Does it still matter? Does it still break your heart............
P.S. Yes, we will spend couple of weeks discussing what the "gunman's motivations were"(c). He was from Morocco, last time I heard. Most likely he was trying to collect money for the charity. How does this diversity thing works out for you, Europe?
I do not hold Kissinger in very high regard, but I give him credit where it is due--he is one of the true elders of world's foreign policy (he even appeared in Pink Floyd's visualization of The Dark Side Of The Moon) and he saw a lot. No one can take it from him and from his "brand" of realism (it is known fact that Brezhnev and Nixon were fairly good, if not friends, at least, partners). Kissinger also miscalculated dramatically on the outcome of the Cold War--it was USSR, not USA, which collapsed and none other than Elmo Zumwalt had issues with Kissinger's position on the issue of US decline, at least in 1970s. But, this old fox of world's politics delivered a striking accusation of the US suicidal policies this week in his interview to The National Interest:
"Kissinger: If we treat Russia seriously as a great
power, we need at an early stage to determine whether their concerns can
be reconciled with our necessities. We should explore the possibilities
of a status of nonmilitary grouping on the territory between Russia and
the existing frontiers of NATO. The West hesitates to take on the economic recovery of Greece; it’s
surely not going to take on Ukraine as a unilateral project. So one
should at least examine the possibility of some cooperation between the
West and Russia in a militarily nonaligned Ukraine. The Ukraine crisis
is turning into a tragedy because it is confusing the long-range
interests of global order with the immediate need of restoring Ukrainian
identity. I favor an independent Ukraine in its existing borders. I
have advocated it from the start of the post-Soviet period. When you
read now that Muslim units are fighting on behalf of Ukraine, then the
sense of proportion has been lost.
Heilbrunn: That’s a disaster, obviously.
Kissinger: To me, yes. It means that breaking Russia has become an objective; the long-range purpose should be to integrate it."
The rest is pretty much a derivative of that. Why and how so--is a separate issue, which is worth discussing, including these, oh ever so illusive, US "necessities", but give good ol' Henry high five here--he nailed it. The word is in the open, it is so much easier to speak about it now, after all Obama's neocon "girls" are not even in the same league (not even close) than Henry Kissinger, whether you like him or not.
For me, as for many others in USSR of my generation, 1970s started with British Glam. They started with this, incredible Brian Connolly's voice:
Yes, we listened to Deep Purple (Deep Purple In Rock, anyone), Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin (of course), we also listened to Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull and....you guessed it--Pink Floyd. We also loved Nazareth and AC/DC. But it was British Glam, which captured the essence of the time--no shit, Sweet is in Def Leppard's videos, and it was also Slade who sang for us. For us the 70s ended, surprisingly, with 1987 wonderful piece by Slade:
Listening today to these masterpieces, against the background of the wasteland of modern piece o' sh....I mean pop-music, I feel down and, yet, somehow uplifted.
We were good, guys. We knew how to feel and it remains the classic case of the grass being, indeed, greener. The last gasp of that epoch was in Wayne's World and then.....it disappeared (did it?). But it is still out there, somewhere....
I have an issue with that. A huge one. Very few combat units can boast a sacrifice of this scale--basically, a kamikaze. The only one which comes to mind is Russian light cruiser Varyag, which came to fight Japanese squadron outside Chemulpo in 1904, being, together with cannon boat Koreetz (Korean), outnumbered 2 to 14. Russians made a movie, a German, stunned by Russian heroism, wrote a song, which became a cult song in Russia/USSR for more than a century. Yet, the US Navy's small (1,350 ton) destroyer escort, who fought as a battleship against overwhelming odds in the Battle Off Samar, as part of Taffy III, never got a movie by freaking Hollywood. Some big mouth US General, who never saw any serious action against first rate Wehrmacht at the peak of its might, and who is really irrelevant to the outcome of WW II, gets an Oscar movie (granted acting genius of George C. Scott) Patton, and the ship which performed a feat of heroism, rarely equaled in history, remains merely a model. No song, no movie and, yet, she helped to win the battle and sunk fighting against overwhelming odds. Anyone finds something wrong with this picture? I do.
Hollywood version of WW II is appalling in its lack of understanding of what real war is. But we should know better and call them as we see it. Little destroyer escort USS Samuel B. Roberts remains forever in the pantheon of true military heroes.
When incomparable Captain Wayne Hughes published his seminal Fleet Tactics And Coastal Combat, I guess, Mahan worshipers and Carrier Trade Union (c) went apoplectic.
To write about "missile era", "coastal combat" and describe small, missiles' armed US Navy's fictional Cushings to demonstrate an example of real naval combat--that is a heresy in the US Navy, which, as none other than Elmo Zumwalt put it, got used to "travel first class". Yet, Hughes' book gained a cult status among both naval aficionados and professionals, some of whom, such as Admiral Blair (at a time, C'n'C of Pacific Command) or Vice Admiral Lauthenbacher Jr. (at a time, Deputy CNO), gave the book and the author absolutely rave reviews. I can only join in my deepest admiration for Captain Hughes and his brilliant mind.
The ongoing disaster with LCSs and huge issues with AD/A2 for US Navy only underscored the problems which develop with the fundamental premise of the Sea Control (that is, largely, US Navy) fleet, as Hughes puts it, is "Saying that navies don't "purchase and possess real estate" as armies do is to emphasize the navy as a means toward the end of controlling an enemy on the ground. Rarely is the center of gravity of a conflict on the sea or in the air." The international consensus, at least for the last two decades, is that the US Navy is doing just fine when providing the freedom of the seas and keeping Shipping Lanes Of Communications (SLOC) open. The set of the problems emerges within littorals, the coastal combat and US Navy's function of Force Projection when it is against, and you may have guessed it already, peer or near-peer power. Of course, the US Navy thinks that it can fight and win the battle on the high seas, or open ocean, against any enemy and here US Navy has ample reasons to think so--it is, presently, undeniably the most powerful navy in the world with a superb naval tradition and combat history. But magnificent naval battles Americans won against Japan on the WW II teach only limited lessons on the modern combat. Why it is so is quite obvious--nuclear weapons and anti-shipping missiles.
US Navy, at least its Carrier Trade Union, doesn't like anti-shipping missiles. So much so, that I will simply post here the scan from Admiral Zumwalt's marvelous memoirs On Watch:
You can easily make your own conclusions on what can only be described as the sabotage of anti-shipping missiles (ASM) development in the US Navy. No surprise then, that even today US Navy cannot deploy any true supersonic, let alone hyper-sonic, ASM. But here is the issue--some other power, of which we speak not as of yet--does have those and, apart from understanding their utility for fighting on the high seas, it developed this absolutely atrocious idea that those Mach 2-3, long range ASMs, with the development of miniature solid state electronics and improvement in propulsion could be very valuable in the littoral. Moreover, one doesn't have to spent 12 billion dollars to attain the saturation threshold of ANY air defense system to solve this one and only, most important, contemporary problem of any navy--the problem of a "leaker". In fact, this could be done for a relatively small price and can (and it did) solve the issue of the safety of own littoral. After all, the final target the fleet is on the land. It is there, where hostile government has a seat.
For decades, during the Cold War, naval staffs of both US and USSR were calculating the probabilities of success, respectively, in attacking and defending the Soviet/Russia coast. And it was then that Russians invoked the spirits of Jeune Ecole and its radical, for its time, ideas that, as Theodore Ropp summarized it about Jeune Ecole:
1. The weaker fleet would stay at its bases and refuse combat.
2. The stronger would be forced to do the same, for fear of the torpedo.
3.The only significant naval activity would be commercial warfare.
4. Warfare would be absolutely merciless, disregarding the laws of war.
You can read Eric Dahl's brilliant expose on Jeune Ecole in Naval War College Review here:
We do not concern ourselves here with pps.3 and 4, since they require additional, and extensive, elaborations, but pps.1 and 2 capture the essence of the Coastal (or Littoral) Combat superbly, when pp.1 is corrected with addition of a single caveat:
The weaker fleet would stay at its bases and refuse combat on the high seas.
In the littoral, however, under the defensive umbrella of own coastal aviation, screens of SSKs, which are honed for operations in this type of waters, the weaker fleet, armed with modern ASMs and well networked, becomes a true deadly menace for any navy. What used to be called a mosquito fleet becomes capable of sinking any enemy ship thus rendering enemy's capital ships useless when trying to "project force" and that may have truly strategic, and even global, ramifications. Just like that. This reality is beginning to dawn on US Navy. Hence, however disastrous, program of LCS, which was based on Admiral Cebrowsky's "Street Fighter" concept (correct one, I may add). In the end, FERs (Fractional Exchange Rates) do define the outcome and there is no better exchange rate (including financially), then to provide conditions for 1 billion dollars worth of assets do the job on the force whose monetary value runs into tens of billions, while its mission could be killed by about 10 to 15 million dollars worth of leakers. This is an excellent exchange rate from any point of view. Thus is A2/AD issue which torments US Navy today--at least it is an indicator that the Navy with so much combat history is trying to stay realistic, despite a horrendous news of the production for the sequel for Top Gun ;-) That is scary......
This is not me being a jerk--I do have an enormous respect for Royal Air Force, its glorious history and professionalism of its pilots--but for now, Sukhoi's SU-30MKI combat jets, serving with Indian Air Force (Bharatiya Vāyu Senā), remain the deadliest 4+ generation fighters in the hands of a supremely competent and well-trained Indian pilots.
Obviously the stream of accusations in bravado, "we fought only using half-of-our-capabilities" excuses and other things of this nature will (well, already) follow. And this is not to say that Typhoon is a bad jet--it is an excellent and capable fighter, but it is what it is;-)
"Our soldiers are doing the training with the Ukrainians and we've
learned a lot from the Ukrainians," said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges. "A third
of the [Ukrainian] soldiers have served in the ... combat zone, and no
Americans have been under Russian artillery or rocket fire, or
significant Russian electronic warfare, jamming or collecting — and
these Ukrainians have. It's interesting to hear what they have learned." (c)
This is from Joe Gould's piece in the Defense News:
Ben Hodges, yet again, repeats here the, now standard in US media, baloney about "Russian artillery fire" and things of this nature. I want to reiterate yet again (especially for Mr. Ben Hodges) that if there would have been a "Russian artillery or rocket fire" in Ukraine--the Ukraine as we know it today would cease to exist in 72 to 96 hours, Ukrainian Armed Forces would cease to exist even faster. Ben Hodges, of course, knows this (or maybe he does believe in BS, akin to Orwell's 1984) and that is what important about this article in DN.
1. I said it many times, I will repeat it again--the US Army hasn't encountered serious opponent, capable of conducting competent combined arms warfare operations, in ages. Turkey shoot against supremely incompetent Saddam's Army or low-intensity semi-police operations in Afghanistan are not the type of operations one really learns from in order to fight Continental War(fare) and defeat peer or near-peer, that is the nation-state. As Laurie Buckhout states "Our biggest problem is we have not fought in a comms-degraded
environment for decades, so we don't know how to do it," Buckhout said.
"We lack not only tactics, techniques and procedures but the training to
fight in a comms-degraded environment." Well, Laurie, welcome to the real war.
2. In the case of Ukraine's civil war, I am really surprised that it took so long for some news of a "culture shock", when dealing with actual serious warfare, to start trickling into the information universe of American triumphalist "We are the best army in the galaxy" and "We can defeat anyone", despite stark evidence to the contrary. The article above is a good start and, possibly, a good argument for all kinds of the internet "warriors" convinced in their profound understanding of intricacies of the modern war and how Osipov-Lanchester Equations apply when fighting the enemy who, actually, has means and will to fight back.
3. While Russia does support Novorossia Armed Forces, including through numerous volunteers, she never demonstrated in full (which is reasonable) her electronic warfare capabilities. What was demonstrated, however, evidently produced an impression, and then comes this touchy-feely issue of US Army's "advisers" training Ukrainian forces. As many sources reported some Ukrainian veterans of war were, frankly, puzzled with what US Army can actually teach them since none of the "teachers" ever experienced what those Ukrainian veterans did--that is real warfare which, as Colonel Macgregor states in his article in Time magazine:
"In 110 days of fighting the German army in France during 1918, the
U.S. Army Expeditionary Force sustained 318,000 casualties, including
110,000 killed in action. That’s the kind of lethality waiting for U.S.
forces in a future war with real armies, air forces, air defenses and
Ignoring this reality is the road to future defeats and American
decline. It’s time to look beyond the stirring images of infantrymen
storming machine-gun nests created by Hollywood and to see war for what
it is and will be in the future: the ruthless extermination of the enemy
with accurate, devastating firepower from the sea, from the air, from
space and from mobile, armored firepower on land."
4. For those competent and thoughtful observers who still populate politically correct corridors of power in D.C., it was clear that what happened in Georgia on 08-08-08 (yes, it is 7th anniversary of Saakashvili's and his US curators' suicidal adventure) IS the real war, which involves whole complex of heterogeneous forces and does involve maneuverable combat by armor (including in MBGs--Maneuverable Battalion Groups). Ukraine's civil war only confirmed the dominance of artillery and armor in serious combat against peers. The COIN crowd should have noticed that, but I only assume. But at least Gould comes to the correct conclusion in his article:
'Future of War Is in the Ukraine'
Or, I would rather say, not the "future" but never-interrupted evolution from the past (see the title of this blog) when nations fought nations with all they have got. Writing of the American "book" on war failed. The serious war WILL have large masses of troops, armor, aviation and full C4SIR complex involved in a Clausewitzian activity "to compel the enemy to do our will"(c). These are the bad news for US military. These are also horrible news for neocons in State Department, since they never had understanding of this process of "compelling" and what it takes, and fully bought into the alternative reality of US military blowing shit up with impunity by using stand-off weapons against supremely incompetent and backward opponents. Will we see tank armies again? Yes, we will:
Now, in conclusion, to the ever important and crucial question for internet warriors and couch troops: Can US Army conventionally defeat Russian Army?
My answer is simple--not in Russia's immediate vicinity, such as Ukraine. The worst news here, in the same time, are not even that it can not, but that Russia is not intent to "invade" Europe and this fact is very difficult to hide. Especially against the background of US-led "global democratization", which resulted in millions of civilians killed, maimed, displaced and their nations destroyed. As for war. War is NOT a linear affair, at the very least, in its foundation are differential equations of Osipov-Lanchester, which describe, in the most basic form, the Square Law.
It is from here where serious subject of Theory Of Operations derives itself, but that is a separate topic in itself and, maybe, some time in the future, I will touch upon it. It will involve a lot of mathematics. Because the war is more than just non-linear it is also probabilistic in nature and it is often up to people, their resolve, skills and courage, to change its outcome. Especially for people who fight on their own land.