Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Roger Scruton defines Western Civilization in these words:"The roots of Western civilization lie in the religion of Israel, the culture of Greece, and the law of Rome, and the resulting synthesis has flourished and decayed in a thousand ways during the two millennia which followed the death of Christ"(c)

Well, Western Civilization is Christian Civilization first and foremost. I, being an atheist, albeit of Oriana Fallaci's type, which she called Christian Atheist, understand clearly the roots of many things which I love and treasure in my life. In the end, it was Christianity which created a framework in which Western culture could flourish, including the science which, in many respects, spelled the doom to many Christian doctrines. It certainly demolished purely evangelical world-view. Yet, the message of Christ endures and so does morality which fights a desperate rear-guard battle for preserving what is left today of Western Civilization. It is the last bastion which separates our civilization from chaos and decay of gutless, self-centered world without any enduring and necessary inhibitors with which humanity managed to survive so far.

By celebrating Christmas we celebrate Western Civilization, this is especially true today and, being an atheist, today I am a christian in a full cultural sense that transcends the limits of scriptures. This day my thoughts are with persecuted Christian people of the Middle East, they are also with all decent, honest, hard working people who quietly live by 9 Commandments (unless we are talking Walter Sobchak types, if you get my drift;-). So, Merry Christmas, my friends, and let us hope that we will kick evil's ass and we should. 

Now to the Christmas presents. They are mostly for Russian Navy. 

1. Two Project 22800 Karakurt missile corvettes were laid at Pella shipyard in St. Petersburg.

These ships named Uragan and Typhoon are two first ships of what is promised to be 18 ships class. Displacing 800 tons they are more sea-worthy than notorious Byan platforms and, of course, are carriers of no less notorious Kalibr and Onyx missiles. First two hulls, as it seems now, will carry no missile Air Defense complex, albeit further ships in class will carry what is known today as navalized version of Pantsir gun-missile AD system, which will give these ships a very respectable close-range (18-20 km) air defense capability.

All this is not good news for US Navy and its, especially so, Littoral community. For US Navy, which became a hostage of sorts of its own magnificent and, arguably, unrivaled combat history which is dominated by large combatants (traveling 1 st Class, remember?), the whole notion of a 800-ton ship outgunning, in missile exchange, its own much larger and much too expensive combatants is anathema. Russian Navy will network these ships, making Russia's littoral impenetrable and will deploy these ships, in a good ol' Soviet tradition of 5th Operational Squadron, to Mediterranean, either as a part of Ship Strike Group (KUG) centered around larger combatants with vastly superior ASW and AD, or as an autonomous group. It is clear, however, that such a platform, albeit with "degraded" electronics and sensor suite has an enormous export potential, thus opening the door to export versions of  Kalibr and Onyx missiles. This could be a game changer in many littorals, especially of the nations which do have some semblance of real air forces and AD systems. 

2. A very important news: Northern Shipyard (Severnay Verf) has started a massive modernization program.

The centerpiece of this program is a brand new dry dock with the length of....400 meters. That means only one thing--aircraft carrier(s). Will the time be right for Russian carriers by 2020-2022? I am not in a position to judge but there never were doubts about Russia's blue water aspirations. We'll see. Judging by the tone of news, most of the programs for Russian Navy seem to be financed in full.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov

Just an interesting clip which gives a glance into the newest Russian frigate's insides. The video was made by frigate's crew. 

The view of the CICS Sigma 22350 at GKP (Main Command Post) is most interesting, while, by now, most people should have gotten used to the view of launch consoles for Kalibr or Puma directors. So, here it is--new class of Russia's frigates or, which is more appropriate for the old Cold War farts like me, SKRs, aka Escort Ships. 

I don't like baseball caps--nothing personal against baseball caps per se, but Russian/Soviet naval tradition of the most of the 20th century was always pilotka hat, also popular in US Army. Here is one of my favorites of all time (human and military leader), Ike in his pilotka.

But then again, traditional naval uniform hats known as gribany (mushrooms) were also "Emercomed", making Russian naval officers look more like the operatives of Sergei Shoigu's former ministry. Well, if it is the price one should pay for getting new classes of highly capable naval ships being procured (plus fairly hefty pay-checks of Russian officers), I guess Russian naval officer corps would agree that this is a small price to pay.  So, here it is.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Short (Relatively) Bypass Or Why I still Have Questions For Putin.

I was working on the continuation (second part among many to come) of the Military Power, when I got sidelined, first by a short, and rather friendly, exchange with one of the users at the Unz Review and then by horrendous cold. I do not post much at all on any of the discussion boards, but this was an exception and it was here, if any one is interested:

The point of exchange was not what Saker, among very many other observers of the Russia's foreign policy and military-political dynamics, described but, yet again, the quality of the so called "elites".  In this particular case, Russian and US "elites". I promised that I will expand on my personal opinion on this matter and here it is--I am "expanding". I will say nothing new or what have not been discussed before but before I delve deeper into the topic here comes my fine print--I really do not like Putin that much.   

While the "western" media salivate, or, rather, vomit bile, on Putin's account and exhibit all signs and symptoms of unhealthy obsession with his persona--why, I will discuss later in this post--I still remain critical of him for his domestic endeavors. Even return of Crimea and of my beloved Sevastopol back to Russia, while softened greatly, did not completely transform my stance on Putin's account in so far as his domestic policies go. There is NO denial that today Vladimir Putin is the most influential statesman globally. In fact, he is a true statesman, not just politician. This fact alone carries a lot of weight in modern world, especially against the background of the so called "western leaders" who are overwhelmingly neither leaders nor western. In fact, most of them are anti-western and all of them, without any exception, are professional bullsh...politicians driven by the principles of the internal politics, while having no principles of their own. This has a name and it rhymes with constitution, revolution...just doesn't come to me at the moment from the top of my head. In other words, I am no Putin's fanboy and I see not only his, undeniably impressive, geopolitical persona but also a man with his own faults and there are few of those. Some of those few had and continue to have a direct, and not always positive, impact on Russia. I do, however, understand that he is not alone on Russia's political Olympus and that he, apart from Russian people, does have obligations to Russia's "elites". I also know well that, unlike me, a consummate arm-chair "strategist", Putin is briefed daily by, probably, the best analytical team in the world. Now that I made my "fine print" presentation--back to the "elites".

Here comes first and most profound difference between Russian and American "elites". I am talking about real Russian elites, not the fringe collection of Russian "pro-democracy", so called liberal, freaks, ranging from Masha Gessen to cretin Boris Nadezhdin, among many--all of them on the payroll of US State Department and other US "sponsored" NGOs. This Navalny, Inc, no matter how popular among US media, are not elites and they represent nothing of consequence for peoples of Russian Federation. Real Russian elites, however, always lived and continue to live in the world in which WAR constantly remains a real possibility for Russia proper. NO American politician, intellectual, military leader, or what have you, ever lived under the constant threat of the conventional war being waged on US territory. As none other than Richard Pipes noted about the  Soviet (Russian) political culture: "whose roots feed on another kind of soil and which has had for centuries to weather rougher political climes."(c)

As I already stated many times in this blog, in fact, one of the major rationales for starting this blog was to write about this phenomenon--US "elites" have no idea about consequences of application of military force. Russian elites do. Back to Pipes, who, unlike me, can not be accused of being a Russophile and has a well deserved reputation of a rabid anti-Soviet and Russophobe "scholar". "Such a country (Russia) tends to....assess the rewards of defense in much more realistic terms."(c) And what are those realistic terms? Here is an example: 

Here is another one:

And here is another one, Serbia--attack on the Slavic Christian Orthodox Oecumene. 
So, here comes the warranted and irresistible question: what can possibly Hillary Clinton, mama's boy Marco Rubio or, ever so tearful, former Speaker John Boehner (8 weeks of service in US Navy), know about war? Or, speaking in political "science" parlance--about application of military force? Well, nothing. Unless, of course, say, Congressional Research Service will do an incredible job and prepare for them a special briefing on how to deal with their relatives being killed, raped and their properties destroyed. Here is the thing--overwhelming majority of the US political class, "academe", especially war-mongering neocon one, and military hawks never served in the armed forces of their own country. Let's take a look at some of the most vocal hawks in US political and  "intellectual" class:

Marco Rubio--not a day spent in armed forces, let alone in actual operations, a lawyer by trade. The fact of him working as an assistant to real war veteran Senator Bob Dole doesn't count as military service. Aggressive interventionist hawk.

Hillary "under the bullets" Clinton--well, no comments. 

Robert Kagan--not a day in the armed forces, "degree" in Peloponnesian War. Neocon, war-monger. 

President Obama--not a day in the armed forces, Harvard lawyer. Convinced that Global Warning is the root cause for terrorism.

Dick Cheney--draft dodger. Political "scientist" by trade. 

John Bolton--lawyer, warmonger. Some service in National Guard, no deployment to Vietnam. Supported Vietnam War. 

So, the pattern emerges, even if to consider some few true armed forces veterans who serve in the US Congress and play an important role in formation of the American political class' views on war. Obviously, the names of warmongers such as John McCain pops up immediately. And so does the name of Senator Tim Cotton. The conclusion, after even brief review of US House Of Representatives armed forces veterans gives the next picture: 80 military veterans of all kinds, including those who served in Reserves, out of 435 Representatives--that is 18.4%.  

Veterans in Congress (114th) 

Here is PBS and PEW Research data for  2010 regarding military service veterans. 

By the numbers: Veterans in Congress

In all, by 2010 only 7% of US population had any relation to any military service. Even fewer (and by a huge margin) ever saw combat or operations which involve serious risk to life. Most importantly, the US losses in all of its conflicts barely form what would be called a national military historic experience. 

Enter Russia. It is not a secret that ALL Russian men of the ages between 40 through 60 (the group from which most of political elites are drawn), unless were given stay of military service due to attendance of the institutions of higher learning (such as Russia's PM Dmitry Medvedev),  served in armed forces. Soviet Union had a mandatory military service (VVO--Vseobshya Voinskaya Obyazannost, Common Combat Duty). Add here the mandatory school subject of NVP (Nachalnaya Voennaya Podgotovka--Initial Military Training) which was making high school students pretty efficient with basic tactics and the use of firearms. Yours truly, as a high school boy, together with my class mates, visited not for once real military ranges, shooting AKMs and AK-74s. This was school program. Military Departments were and still remain an inseparable part of most Russian (not even Soviet) institutions of higher learning. To put it mildly, the pool of people in Russia, from which elites are formed is on several orders of magnitude more aware of the....well..military and what it means. It does not make those people better or worse than their American counterparts, in fact, some segments of Russian political elites are anything but. But fact remains, when dealing with application of military force, considering Russia's combat history....well, let's see:

Vladimir Putin--lawyer by trade but spent most of his life in KGB and headed FSB, before becoming Russia's PM and, eventually, President. 

Sergei Ivanov--Head of Putin's Administration. Linguist, KGB and SVR. Also served as Defense Minister.  

Viktor Ivanov--Former KGB, Afghan War veteran.  Headed FSK.

Even Sergei Shoygu, who replaced hapless and incompetent Serdyukov at the post of Defense Minister, while having civilian engineer background, for years  headed paramilitary EmerCom which does have its own actual military formations.   

Even by today's  Russian "liberal" standards, Russian society would be considered in the US as an extremely "militaristic". From numerous cadet corps, where boys and girls are taught in military environment and feats of heroism of Soviet and Russian people are extolled, to the vast network of military academies, preparing grad and post-grad officers, Russia remains the nation committed to its own defense. Lastly, every family in Russia either lost someone on the battlefields of WW II  or have someone who fought both at front lines or worked in the rear. This reality is incomprehensible for US elites, they simply do not understand the price of war. 

It is a tragedy and a travesty when Ivy League "educated" lawyer or "political scientist"  takes on itself a mantra of a military "leader" pushing for the policies which bring nothing but suffering and destruction to millions of innocent people. Maybe when they will have the pictures of their own homes on fire, their children killed or maimed, their wives raped, when they will have nothing to eat for days or when they will....will they? No. Sadly, the illness progressed so far that it is incurable. This is the level of these "elites".

I'll Fight Putin Any Time, Any Place He Can't Have Me Arrested 
This petulant "scholar", suffering from the small dick complex, is from Brookings Institute. No wonder then what kind of the pseudo-scholar BS is produced by this neocon cabal from Brookings. But forget that, Governor Christie seems to take it even further. 

Chris Christie wants to get in the ring with Vladimir Putin? Knock yourself out, Guv 

This is not funny. It is down right scary, including US Generals calling on killing Russians on network TV. I never heard anyone in Russia calling for killing Americans. I know no Russian officer will allow that and, probably, because Russians know the price of losing someone at war--the experience US was largely spared and that is the problem. Without conditioning of Continental Warfare, without shared historical experience of wars the immature bravado becomes more than just bragging but policy and it is now up to people, who do understand war to prevent it. US "elites" neither want to nor can do it anymore, neither do they understand what war is, even when they write history books on it.  

P.S. I will "like" Putin when Medvedev and his government is gone. It may happen yet.