Sunday, September 13, 2015

Expert Community?

I wrote about complete bankruptcy of the "western", so called, Russia expert community for years. Know Thy Enemy dictum by Sun Tzu is as relevant today as it was....forever. Yet, it is also ignored by Anglo-sphere (did I just write this?) consistently and so goes for its European off-springs brought up and taught by US Ivy League madrasas.  Western Russia experts, as well as their supposedly "genuine" Russian "experts" from Russia (mostly fringe freak-show ignoramuses), have one common trait--they are not professionals and..well..ignorant.  Here is an excellent piece by The Kremlin Stooge precisely dealing with this, rather huge, problem. 

I am always puzzled by the fact that so many who never served, who have no military background whatsoever, who never had any even remote understanding of war, think that they can have some opinion on the issues of warfare. For some reason, at least in the US, the bulk of this kind of people comes from humanities background and, what else, gaming community. Well, that plus overly zealous teenagers who didn't realize their sexual fantasies yet.  

P.S. I communicated recently (couple or so weeks ago) with one Ph.D. in Russian-American relations from Princeton. Nice guy, but, goodness gracious, the level of ignorance is appalling.  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Perils Of Mosquito--III

The existence of the missile boats as a class of ships, in Soviet/Russian case, was predetermined not just by their relatively low costs but because of the operational concept, which later became known as Gorshkov's Line. Or, in other words, the farthest edge (kromka) of the area from which the enemy attack on Soviet coast could be launched. The idea was to deny the enemy operational freedom on this line. Surely, capital ships of the Russian Navy theoretically could deal with this threat but, the thinking went, they were far more effective in meeting the enemy beyond the limits of 800-1000 mile ranges, on the high seas, way beyond the ranges of enemy's weapon systems. 

In 1992 US Navy produced its famous operational concept From The Sea, which later, in 1994, was updated to Forward From The Sea.  

Forward From The Sea 

In this document US Navy clearly stated its purpose, which since then changed very little. The United States would attack anyone who has access to sea if it thinks it is necessary: 

How the Navy Operates

Forward...From the Sea provides the basis for a simple, yet powerful, operational concept of how we will operate to carry out expeditionary operations. We conduct forward naval operations both to ensure unimpeded use of the seas and to project American influence and power into the littoral areas of the world. Expeditionary operations achieve U.S. objectives across the spectrum of the National Military Strategy. They are a potent and cost-effective alternative to power projection from the continental United States and are suited ideally for the many contingencies that can be deterred or quickly handled by forward-deployed forces. Expeditionary operations complement, enable and dramatically enhance the effectiveness of continental power-projection forces when a larger military response is needed.
  Our attention and efforts will continue to be focused on operating in and from the littorals. The landward side of the littoral can be supported and defended directly from the sea. It encompasses areas of strategic importance to the United States. Seventy-five percent of the Earth's population and a similar proportion of national capitals and major commercial centers lie in the littorals. These are the places where American influence and power have the greatest impact and are needed most often. For forward-deployed naval forces, the littorals are a starting point as well as a destination. Tactically, the distance we reach inland from the sea depends on terrain and weather, the contributions of joint and coalition forces, the potential adversary's capabilities, and the nature of our mission. The mission may require us to exercise our considerable reach and operate far inland.(C)
For any, even removed from naval realities, observer the language and the spirit of this concept is obvious. It is global, it is aggressive and it is, well, good only against the third rate navies. The collapse of the Soviet Union and, with it, disappearance of US Navy's only rival on the high seas played a very bad trick with US naval doctrinal thinking. Conventionally US Navy could easily defeat the remnants of the Soviet, now Russian, Navy but there was a slight "problem"--Russian Navy didn't want to fight on the high seas. In fact, in 1990s, it could barely deploy there. But things changed since. The change was in electronics and computers and, well, in the way Russia was governed. While the army of US "analysts" and "Russia experts" was busy compiling, yet again (what's new), a picture of rusty, drunk, incompetent Russia, Russian Navy was thinking in the framework which was diametrically opposite to From The Sea concept--it can only be described as From The Shore. Indeed, Russia has no business of "Force Projection" globally. In fact, even if Russia wanted to get herself into this business of blowing shit up on the remote shores, where would she "project" it, against whom? As of today, Russian naval assets either have or are on the way to the full blown conventional stand-off capability against any shore, including against targets in North America, and even these capabilities are deployed in purely  defensive posture.                          
Thus, the defense of the nation's shores  from the sea, which is known today as fancy abbreviation A2/AD (anti-access/access-denial) becomes the foundation of Russia's naval thinking as it should and for a very simple reason--Russia does not want to fight with the US near its coast line, the United States, on the other hand, sleeps and dreams about dominating coast lines of the states it considers hostile to the US national interests (whatever those may be between Monday and Friday of the same week) and Russia fits the bill here perfectly. President Obama, after all, compared Russia to E-bola and ISIS. Recent developments in the Black Sea (Sea Breeze, anyone) obviously have a flavor of good ole' Cold War and the statements coming from high positioned US military people testify to the fact that many in Pentagon and its neocon political handlers are barely fighting urges to get Russia into some sort of the confrontation with the "West". Russia does not want to fight, so, as the old saying goes, if the mountain doesn't walk to Mohamed, Mohamed walks to the mountain. USS Donald Cook was playing Mohamed, together with other NATO ships, for quite some time. 

USS Donald Cook and Ukrainian ship Hetman Sagaydachnyi maneuver near Crimean shores.  

Unlike demonstration of flag in the littorals of Arab countries, operations near Russia's littoral can, but hopefully will not, present any NATO's navy, or combination of those, with the number of problems they never encountered before. Unlike previous encounters with, mostly Arab, navies and greatly talked up (a favorite term of media pundits is "integrated", e.g. "Saddam has integrated air defense") military capabilities or, rather, lack thereof, the encounter, as an example, in the Black Sea, in case of the hypothetical hostilities "from the sea" will have a very different profile, because Russia, unlike previously crushed "military powers", DOES posses genuinely integrated defenses. Every single element of Russia's A2/AD is truly integrated into the very complex system of national Command and Control which:

1. Is already partially capable of providing what Admiral Cebrowski (or Garstka, or Alberts) would call a GIG (Global Informational Grid)  aka Virtual Battle Space. Yes, Russian littoral defenses start at the bottom of the sea and go up, way up, in fact to the places Russians opened the door to others--space. Including this very important targeting system known today as Liana. Last rumors I heard is that it is already on-line, but what do I know. This is the system which provides targeting data to anti-ship missiles. For those who do not know what targeting data is I would say that it is a pretty simple thing: it is either bearing (azimuth) and distance (range) to the surface target or add here the elevation (or angle of elevation) for aerial ones. This data could also be, which is just fine for ASMs, such as Yakhont, geographic coordinates, aka lambda and phi, known as geographic altitude and longitude. That's targeting in the real time. 

2. Apart from space means, including the only other global positioning system--GLONASS, Russia has, on every theater, what NO other nation crushed by NATO ever had--Russia has actual, combat-capable Air Force. Including the planes which are known as AWACS and we are talking about arguably the best airborne radar in the world. We are talking A-50 Airborne Early Warning System.

Inside A-50

3. Russia's Black Sea Fleet, quite urgently, recreated the separate brigade of SSKs, with first hull arriving to Novorossiisk (via Sevastopol, I am sure) shortly, if not already. NATO DID NOT encounter a competent and state of the art submarine force...ever. 

4. And then, of course, came Mosquitoes, which I predicted were inevitable on the Black Sea Fleet even before return of Crimea home. Russia needs salvo on the Black Sea--that is, the number of the missiles which will reach and overcome saturation threshold of the NATO's naval missile defenses, that is, as we all understand, SPY-1D and Aegis. What is saturation threshold, that it is the number of missiles at which AD system implodes and allows the "leaker" through, remains the matter of speculations. However, judging by the late 1990s scandal with US Navy trying to obtain Russian target drones based on  AS-17 Kryptons remade into SSST (Supersonic Sea Skimming Target) for training--the issue is really serious. Since then M=3 ASMs with the active radar homing (Yakhont, for example, sees targets from 70 kilometers) and EECM package became mainstay of Russian Navy and not only that. Suddenly, fairly indefensible from the air, unless external air defense cover is used, project 21631 Buyan (you see, no Osas or Komars anymore) missile ships began to appear on the Black Sea. 

Here they are at Novorossiisk Naval Base getting ready to be included in the Fleet's order of battle
The thing with these ships is that with the displacement of about one ninth of Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the price tag of about the same proportions, that is about nine times less expensive, they can provide the coverage for the whole Black Sea. One, of course, has to consider three points above that. The brigade of such ships can also provide a salvo to the strategic depth of land theater of operations or, speaking plain language, such ships can strike any city in Europe or, can strike land targets in the Persian Gulf while themselves being in the Caspian Sea. 

Suddenly getting small is becoming fashionable, after all, 1-2 Klubs will take out any large surface combatant. And single Yakhont, certainly, will have no problem destroying the target of LCS-1 or LCS-2 caliber, which, as we all remember, were designed to fight in littorals. Russia has it for small missile ships, the new project 22800 Karakurt, which will carry a navalized version of famous Pantsyr Air Defense Complex. 

Project 22800 Karakurt
And all that is just the start of what many already are calling a silent revolution in the naval warfare. 19th Century proponents of Jeune E'Cole would have been ecstatic today should they have lived to see the coming age of missile as a main striking weapon of the fleet. This and, well, this electronic mambo-jumbo with all those beyond horizon radar, multi static sonar, massive jamming capabilities (I should have put point 5 for that, I will), Net Centric Warfare and other things which moved navies away from pure platform-centric posture towards networks and integration with other forces. After all, it takes, under some conditions, 8 missile salvo by150-million dollar ship to destroy about 5-6 billion dollars of the hardware. And the numbers matter, as legendary Arleigh Burke told Elmo Zumwalt:"We need numbers"(c).

To be continued.........

Monday, September 7, 2015

Bravo, Peter Hitchens!

Peter Hitchens, to paraphrase Correlli Barnett, speaks in broadsides in his wonderful piece in The Spectator. 

The national puzzle is this: why did so many mainstream, reasonable, informed and sensible non-Trotskyist people readily accept the most transparent twaddle as fact?

What we really need is not Chilcot, but an inquiry into how we, the British educated classes (perhaps above all in my trade of journalism), are so easily talked into wars.

I don't think there is a puzzle here, though. We are witnessing today an emerging dictatorship of mediocrity and incompetence, wrapped in the ideological banners, known as media (see my post about Razib Khan below). We have brain surgeons writing about operations and not of the brain kind, more along the lines of naval and air force ones, we have people with no knowledge operating with information not knowing the difference between the two. There is also no time for reflection between media cycles. We have lawyers assessing intelligence information, we have economists writing about submarines' combat informational control systems. Housewives and househusbands with degrees in literature and gardening are judging force structure of enemys' navies. We finally got it--we leave in Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame paradigm when anyone, without risking anything, without any consequences has a lot to say and they do say it. Everyone is "journalist" today, hey, yours truly included, but at least I do not write reviews on New York theater scene and do not pretend to know everything about quantum mechanics. I also hate war. And then comes this ever important  issue, about which I write for years now--in general,  Anglo-Saxon elites, yes, even British ones, ARE NOT conditioned by the realities of the Continental Warfare. Yes, Britain fought its namesake air battle in WWII and she had London and Coventry, among many, bombed into oblivion, but that was it. No invasions for centuries, no artillery, tanks and urban combat blowing cities to smithereens, no rapes, no pillages, no slaves. There is NO framework in which to grasp the realities and then, of course...there are Precision Guided Munitions which make them all feel good. This is the key to this puzzle.

But I salute Peter Hitchens for his moral courage, for his integrity and hope that his salvo will hit the target. As Leo Tolstoy said in War And Peace:

I want only to say that it is always the simplest ideas which lead to the greatest consequences. My idea, in its entirety, is that if vile people unite and constitute a force, then decent people are obliged to do likewise; just that.(c)


An Interesting Encounter

I had a very interesting encounter today with fairly famous Razib Khan who blogs on UNZ Review. The guy is from Bangladesh, I recon, and is in some Ph.D. program on genomics or genetics, or whatever he studies. He writes mostly on some biodiversity topics plus fancies himself to be a history buff of sorts. I have no interest in all this genetics mambo-jumbo but today was attracted by one of his post re: Islam. This is how the exchange went on this thread:

R.K.: i think islam is probably the last chance in the oikumene.
SX12: What does this statement even mean? I tried to process it, failed.
R.K. the last chance to create a new civilization. it seems like once the # is “filled up” it’s hard to move into the space. it’s like cultural oligopolies.
SX12: Depending on what the meaning of “new civilization” is, granted that Islam is a civilization as of now, I see no possibility of anything particularly new in a positive sense emerging based on Islam.
R.K. i don’t care what you think about that (speaking as an anti-muslim myself).

I replied, I sometimes write some posts in Word and this one got saved, as it appeared, thankfully:

That is just fine with me. You, however, are no scholar of Islam and before writing anything on the topic, consider the fact that some people (like me, for example) have a very long history of dealing with Islam, including being born in the “oikumene”. I would suggest you get acquainted with Al-Ghazali and Umdat Al Salik and then look around at Islam’s “achievements” in the last half-millennium. But then again, people of Mahatir’s statue are, most likely, not on you list of worthy sources. And then comes this “small” thingy called military-political issues of Islam, of which, I can guarantee you 100% you have no clue about and, probably, never heard of Quranic Concept Of Warfare by Malik. That is why your statement about “new civilization” is, frankly, preposterous. But I doubt you are qualified to make serious geopolitical and military assessments of Islam without which ANY talk on ANY civilization is useless. Now contemplate if you want to approve this post.

That is what followed: 
R.Z. if someone (like the commenter above) tells me i should familiarize myself with al-ghazali to get educated, i’m going to ban them (like i did for the reader above).

My post, obviously, was erased, which, in the end, didn't prevent this genetics Ph.D. candidate to refer to it later--they, evidently, don't teach elementary ethics in genomics Ph.D. program. Why do I write about this incident with Razib Khan is very simple. The science of "history" (it is in quotation marks on purpose) requires many frameworks within which phenomenon could be judged. The history of Islam, however, requires today only one framework--the list of achievements, or rather lack thereof, in the last several hundred years to understand how did it arrive to state of being almost a complete wasteland economically, culturally, philosophically and academically. Only Sub-Saharan Africa beats Umma in backwardness and decay. Obviously Clausewitz' dictum on the judgement of the event by outcome applies fully here. Khan makes a very interesting and rather bordering on arrogance statement that "But to understand history I generally don’t put too much stock in the hand of God"(c). Well, considering my many years of schooling in Marxism, and me being an atheist (not a militant type--I do love and celebrate Christmas) I do. Go figure. From his verbose writing I do take away that he doesn't put too much stock in religion (faith) as a serious historic factor but this is precisely the factor which played a defining role in Islam's spread and led to its eventual decay, which we all observe today. After all al fikr kufr is as much an operational concept as it is ideological and religious one. I do not want to go in particulars of West's obvious culpability in the tragedies in Iraq, Libya and  Syria, among many other places, just yet, but I found Razib Khan's (who is, if I am not mistaken is very fresh from his teenage years) method of discussion rather peculiar.  

Obviously, Khan was called out on his statement on "new civilization" and later, in yet another, erased by him, my post, was asked to share his Islam "insights" on the account of Robert Reilly's seminal works The Closing Of Muslim Mind or on some issues pertaining the so called "doctrinal development" of Islamic warfare which will be absolutely critical in whatever "new" civilization Khan envisions. Obviously, for Ph.D. in genetics some operational, doctrinal or industrial problems facing this "new civilization" are a bit beyond the grasp and they don't teach Theory Of Operations or Net Centric Warfare, let alone LEAN production methods, which are the function of civilization, in his genomics classes but, despite all that, I would love to hear his elaborations on the account of "new civilization", which in the case of Islam is simply impossible since Islam did encounter what could only be described as civilizational dead end and the only way out of it is either to reform (and not in Wahhabi sense and that is effectively stopping being Islam) or see the world immersed in a true Clash Of Civilizations. So far, there are very few, if any, signs of Islam, especially Sunni Islam, reforming.  

So, for a relatively famous blogger, who, evidently lost or, most likely, never had any serious tactical, operational, military-academic, geopolitical and, of course, first hand Islam experience (and I am not talking about some neighborhood mosque in some town USA), writing such a statement about subject he learned from some purely scholastic exercises in futility against unfolding reality is a bit too much. But...despite this, including lying about me calling him stupid, I did call him coward, though, for him desperately avoiding substantive discussion:   
R.K. don’t respond to him, he keeps ranting about how stupid i am. which is fine, as i think he’s kind of a dumbass, but i am not going to harass him on his blog about it.
I would love to hear Mr. Razib Khan's thoughts on this "new civilization". I also hope he will not go off as he did with Al-Ghazali and will acquaint himself with true scholarly works such as this, among very many, before coming here: 


 or this:


or , well.....

I doubt he will appear here (I am sure--the excuses will be numerous) but it was worth a try..........It also is a worthy topic to discuss against the background of both US and West European adventurism in the Middle East, as well as discuss the dynamics of Jihad which started well  before the time of SMART weapons and space flight. Meanwhile, if this will teach Razib Khan not to write on the issues he has no clue about and stick to his Biodiversity, Genomics or whatever field he can have more or less competent opinion in, then it is all for the better.