Sunday, February 26, 2017

RIP, Bill Paxton.

I wanted to finish today a second part of the LT X piece and then I read the news. A very special man and an actor, one of the most underrated of all time, Bill Paxton has just died. Young, only 61. 

He had an incredible range, from outright funny comedic to serious dramatic. Who can forget his sleazy car dealer in True Lies? RIP, Bill, I sure as hell will miss you.             

Friday, February 24, 2017

Listen To Him While He Is Still Alive.

My favorite guitar and music genius of all time, incomparable rock, jazz and fusion maestro--Allan Holdsworth. He defies definitions, he creates magic out of nothing and yes, he is still better than you:


He is a creator of a brightly lit spaces. If you want to hear Allan rocking out, listen to his famous, probably first ever, shred on Soft Machine's Hazard Profile--it was 1974. And yes, he played with everybody from Eddie Van Hallen to Steve Vai and they bowed to him as Steve Said "in being completely humbled". Here is one of very, very many favorite pieces by him--a magic. What you hear here as keyboards--they are not, he plays Synthaxe

He influenced everybody.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

On Some Silver Linings

Dostoevsky wrote in his Diary about Cervantes' immortal work this: "In the whole world there is no deeper, no mightier literary work. This is, so far, the last and the greatest expression of human thought; this is the bitterest irony which man was capable of conceiving. And if the world were to come to an end, and people were asked there, somewhere: “Did you understand your life on earth, and what conclusion have you drawn from it?” – man could silently hand over Don Quixote: “Such is my inference from life. – Can you condemn me for it?” 

When viewing today a wasteland that modern American art has become, I recall the interpretation of Dostoevsky's thought on Don Quixote: When the humanity will be called for a final judgement, a lot will be forgiven because Don Quixote was written. I watched recently Arrival. Amy Adams is as always stunning and apart from being a superb actress is one one of the last vestiges of true femininity and beauty in art. And then it occurred to me to steal Dostoevsky's lines in regards to Hollywood: When the United States will be called for a final judgement a lot will be forgiven because Forrest Gump, Walle-E, Interstellar and Arrival were made. This is my Silver Lining thought of a day.

Lieutenant X On (The Fate Of) Aircraft Carriers-I

Isn't it a fortunate coincidence, that the moment I returned yesterday to A2/AD business, my "favorite" (wink, wink) magazine publishes today a rather interesting piece by an anonymous US naval officer with the handle of LT X. It is about US Navy's aircraft carriers or, as I would put it in my own terms, a doctrinal and operational dead-end. It is a very good piece in a sense that it states what has to be stated--and it is well reflected upon in George Baer's outstanding treatise "100 Years Of Sea Power"--US carriers were made into strike platforms, that is into "power projection" tools (and secondary nuclear strike platforms) immediately after WW II to offset USAF. But that is not what carriers were realistically meant to do. This is what I wrote in my piece in USNI Proceedings three years ago: 
For many Soviet/Russian naval professional(s) who grew up within ever evolving missile paradigm it was always a stretch to view carriers as merely a power projection tool--the issue of a combat stability (boevaya ustoichivost') of a CBG would inevitably arise and a carrier would be viewed as a universal fleet defender--a core of Air Defense and ASW in the fleet-against-fleet, aka Sea Control, battle. A "power projection" was merely an afterthought. But this is not what modern US Navy's carrier force is anymore--it is a power projection tool where its carrier(s) becomes the most weak link operationally when one considers that at this stage US Navy doesn't even have a modern anti-shipping missile and that modern ASW is a horrendously difficult task when one considers that modern Russian and, possibly some time in the future, Chinese subs will be able to strike from the distances of many hundreds of kilometers with the weapons which make CBG's air defense a terribly difficult task. Once Zircon comes on-line, the surface warfare and ASW paradigm will change dramatically. And so must the operational (and technological) concept of aircraft carriers. They must (and they will) work FOR the fleet, not the other way around--if not, modern CVNs will go, if not already, the way of dinosaurs and battleships. 

In general, the LT X's article is a very interesting piece, despite some mistakes he makes in re: Russian Navy but I will address those later. They will be especially fun to address with the facts of semi-successful deployment of Admiral Kuznetsov to Syria where EAW (Equivalent Air Wing) algebra, and calculus, spoke volumes. 

To Be Continued....

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A2/AD Business.

An interesting development today. Evidently, Russia and China signed the contract for a delivery of Russian-made anti-shipping missiles to China. It is a rather significant development. At this time it is not known which missiles will be delivered to China and, most importantly, in what "configuration": export, less capable version, or for internal, much more capable, Russian use. If to consider the fact that Russia started deliveries of  SU-35 in their original (that is what rumors say so far), "Russian" configuration,
Here is the first "Chinese" SU-35 with Russian transfer team.
then it is totally reasonable to assume that it is probable that Russian anti-ship missiles (complexes) will be of a "domestic" configuration. In this case we may conclude that if those missiles are of a Kalibr family or P-800 Onyx, their ranges will be up to 600 kilometers (around 320 nautical miles), not twice shorter as it is the case with export versions. This, if my assumptions are correct (I could be wrong, of course--time will tell), will have a major effect on how China may approach her interests in the South China Sea and defense of her littoral--a proverbial A2/AD. In this case China will be able to achieve almost a full "coverage", an overlapped missile obstacle course, along most of her First Island Chain.  
This will make the life of the US Navy surface ships rather exciting if someone in D.C. (and even with new US Administration it is not precluded) makes a decision to "project power" against Chinese interests. I omit here the legal and moral aspect of Chinese claims--I am not well versed in the legal details of this whole situation--but it is very clear that missile technologies play and will continue to play an increasingly large role in formation of naval strategies. In the end, a naval truism "a ship's a fool to fight a fort" is as relevant as ever, especially if one considers "a fort" having a capable Air Force.   

Monday, February 20, 2017

New National Security Adviser.

President Trump surely knows from what pool to pick his National Security Advisers. Just in: General H.R. McMaster was appointed new National Security Adviser instead of recently resigned General Flynn. McMaster, apart from being a combat veteran, holds Ph.D. At this stage, apart from passing, again, this extremely important appointment over the head of a militant necocon John Bolton, Trump's propensity for choosing to this position US Armed Forces senior military officers looks very healthy. The reason for this is very simple: US "diplomacy", "academe" and spooks are so discredited by now that any alternative such as people who actually dealt all their lives with serious and very particular tasks is a good change. Moreover, US Armed Forces by now are probably the only organization left in US which is capable of sober and coherent assessment of the world outside and knows what is going on on the inside with American power. Consider this: US JCS and Russian Chief Of General Staff just met in Baku several days ago and the meeting was cordial and very substantive. This is what happens when, without being overly idealistic and overplaying the significance, real professionals begin to talk. In the end, this is how one deescalate things--militaries are simply better at that.

At this stage, placing non-spooks and other "deep state" operatives on such important positions is a right choice. I admit, I am being biased towards military people, but then again, I have a very good understanding of how normal military professionals, not some political appointees in epaulets, think. So, good choice, I think, at this stage. By this appointment President Trump really shows that he views US Armed Forces as a very important part of his political agenda. They are also his really serious insurance against any stupid moves by the (I am just following a fad here) "Deep State". This appointment boosts system's stability.  Not bad, not bad. 

UPDATE: greatly respected, albeit not always agreed to, by me Andrew J. Bacevich wrote today a wonderful review of General McMaster. Worth reading.  

Friday, February 17, 2017

On Flynn's Affair.

I didn't really take a "pause" in my commentary on Flynn's situation nor did I "delay" this commentary. I indulge myself in posting on sites such as Unz Review and, sometimes, at the Moon Of Alabama. My commentaries are available there, especially in both Saker's threads on this issue. But before I proceed with commenting on an extremely interesting piece by Phil Giraldi, I want to remind those who read this little blog of mine what I wrote on Trump's Inauguration Day:

I wrote this on the run, so I apologize for possible errors and misinterpretations. I will  repeat again--nothing is settled yet and the whole Flynn's affair is merely a starting point in a conflict between President Trump and whole...if you are not sitting--sit...current US political system. I will repeat myself: Trump's sacrificing Flynn was what in chess is known as the exchange of a major figure for a tempo. US political system, the proverbial US "democracy" or "Republic" is a "Deep State", not just some US "intelligence" (the quotation marks are deliberate) community. Phil Giraldi, himself a former CIA officer, wrote today an extremely interesting piece in TAC.  It is not the fact that Giraldi is correct in identifying the underlying cause for Flynn's affair as anti-Russian mood in US political class--for anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the world this is not a news. This is not what struck me in Giraldi's piece. I quote the most crucial part, I highlighted what matters in yellow:

"Everyone who matters in the United States is now rushing to demonize Russia, even though Moscow was pretty much a passive player in what happened and has subsequently developed. The narrative that Moscow somehow influenced the outcome of the recent U.S. election has not completely gone away, largely fueled by Democratic Party rage over the final result even though no hard evidence has ever been produced to support the allegations regarding Putin’s interference. Some senators, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have always been prepared to respond dramatically to Russian initiatives. And the media has been on an anti-Putin binge ever since the fighting over Georgia in 2008. Quite a lot of what is now taking place is feeding off of a shift in perception in Washington. Russia is no longer seen as an adversary or competitor but as an enemy. This was clear in the Hillary Clinton campaign’s insistence on punishing Moscow, and it resonates in most mainstream-media coverage of any and all developments in Russia. 

Some suggest that the intelligence community is also on board with this sentiment, though that is often dismissively attributed to a desire for larger budgets and increased turf in Washington. But my own recent encounters with intelligence officers of the current generation has led me to believe something quite different—that many people in the IC really have come to believe that Russia is a major and very active threat against the United States, just like in the old days with the Soviet Union. I assume they have come to that conclusion through their understanding of developments in Syria and Ukraine, but I nevertheless fail to understand how they have adopted that point of view given the real limitations on Russian power. Whatever the reason, they believe in their Russophobia passionately, and I have discovered that arguing with those who are fixated on Moscow as the fons et origo of global chaos is futile".

So, let us start with making some very important notes here:  

1. There is no doubt that the pitch of Russophobia in D.C. is feverish, in fact--it is full blown anti-Russian hysteria. That goes BEYOND mere consideration of Russia as an "enemy". History knows many occasions when even an enemy was afforded a degree of respect, this is not the case in US vs. Russia, emphasis on US. Russians do respect American people and this respect does manifest itself even in Russian media. Why such an anti-Russian hysteria? If to throw away a classic West's racial hatred towards "dirty Slavs", Russia being the largest Slavic country, it is, as I said many times, the fact of Russia:

    a) Never being conquered by combined "West". In fact the
        combined "West" had its ass handed to it on a number of
        major occasions;
    b) Ability of Russia to generate serious spiritual, social and       
            alternatives, such as it is happening now. 

These are good enough reasons to hate Russia but I may add here another factor, which is one of the major factors behind the existence of this blog--West is supremely ignorant of Russia. It doesn't understand Russia and this fact makes it mad.  But "West" can not help it.

2. Now we come to 2008 Georgia. I will omit here today what many in Russia knew all along, that Saakashvili's military adventurism was coordinated with McCain and served as a a last ditch attempt to boost terrorist US Senator before US presidential elections with "We are all Georgians now". There were many, including supposedly "top" US military "analysts" (not to mention all kind of Russia's domestic clowns such as Pavel Falgenhauer), who thought that NATO trained and partially NATO and Israel equipped  Georgian Army would have no problem dealing with those primitive obsolete Russkies. The speed with which elements (not even the whole) of Russia's 58th Army demolished "westernized" Georgian Armed Forces sent many in D.C. and European capitals into shock. And here is a very interesting point which has to be made: contemporary "West" and especially the United States (I am talking about governments, of course), while claiming a European cultural heritage remain, especially in the US, very Asiatic in their approaches to the foreign policy--no surprise when one considers a dominance of neocon Jews in US institutions responsible for formulation and implementation of the foreign policy. Any attempts on peaceful resolution of the conflict are viewed as weakness, which has to be exploited--a feature very characteristic of tribal people. Well, US' Georgian puppet exploited it, all right. The outcome of this whole operation didn't sit well with many in D.C.  and the main reason, as always, was the fact that they miscalculated. But I wrote about this from the inception of this blog--US' "elites" continue to live in the permanent Chalabi Moment

US political class, much of which is very badly educated, concocted for itself a parallel universe of pleasant narratives, The End Of History anyone, which, granted a general propensity of the US for messianic views, doesn't sit well with such very easily understood truisms, which create a very tense reactions even among US "elite" people who want to try to understand the outside world. Some of those many truisms as related to Russia are:

a) Russia's history is much longer than that of the US, in fact--the combined time Russia spent fighting wars (and invasions)  is much longer than US history. That is a fact to consider. 

b) Russia's military history, experience and the scale of wars she fought dwarf anything United States ever encountered, with the exception of magnificent naval battles US Navy fought in the Pacific in WW II. But bringing up the issues of contributions and costs in any serious conflict creates a very defensive reaction, at best, a hysterical one at worst. Yet, the simple historical fact that Russia throughout her history destroyed every single West's (I omit here other, non-Western, invasions) invasion, from Teutonic Knights in 1242 to  Polish occupiers, to Napoleon to Hitler was somehow lost on those who thought that it was US who defeated Hitler, and won WW I, WW II and, of course, "won" the Cold War. 

Nobody likes to be proven wrong, but considering general lack of culture among neocons-neolibs-interventionists, the only reaction they know is to blame someone, not their own ignorance and incompetence. Russia's actions on 08-08-08 paraded them as complete hacks and it was never forgiven. Nothing is culturally European here, don't you agree? Where is here this wonderful ancient Greek self-deprecating and self-irony, where is admission of mistakes and learning from them which is in the foundation of Western rationality? Not a trace of it--just Asiatic hatred for those who dared to expose the true face of someone, with all of its stupidity and weakness. In fact, modern American political discourse is all about appearances, not substance--an American oligarchy's Kabuki Theater. The substance is long gone, that is why Trump is also hated so passionately and hysterically--he does bring substantial issues into discussion. Trump is also a real European in all that, for all Trump's many faults. 

3. It is now my academic position, and I was making this case for some time now, that US political class, with some notable exceptions, lacks culture, intellect and education. By education I do not mean some faux-scientific "humanities" degrees but real, enlightened and encyclopedic, view of the outside world. Very few American "academics" are really academics in a full meaning of this word since, after living within US "culture" (or rather lack thereof) of history, one is bound to arrive to a disheartening conclusion that US political "elite" is literally not capable of basic departure from the main vector of its "education"--that US was, is and will be the best there ever was in the history of the world in everything. I do not exaggerate. Those people really DO think that US "defeated" Hitler, "won" Cold War, was a decisive force in WW I, that US' GDP is 18 trillion dollars, they still believe that US is a "democracy" etc. They literally live in a parallel universe and whenever encountering reality they fail, time after time, to learn and prefer to blame reality for their discomfort--not themselves. This is Asiatic in its very foundation.  On the level of institutions of higher learning, political clubs, even media, while still dangerous, this attitude could be mitigated or even resisted, when this set of attitudes propagates into policy formulation and decision making circuit this becomes a clear and present danger, not to the US herself only but to the world. Phil Giraldi today confirmed what I was writing about since the inception of this blog--see the highlighted and in screaming red font above.

4. Neither Soviet, nor modern Russian (despite own spectacular failures, but it happens to anyone) Intelligence people are of very high opinion about US IC. These statements from former Soviet and Russian intelligence professionals are widely available in Russian media, ranging from interviews to a major media outlets such as Vzglyad or RG to less prominent news services and blogs. What Philip Giraldi points out is a testament to the utter incompetence of US analytical organizations which is a strategic failure. It is also an utter failure of US academic institutions who prepare this "new generation" intelligence officers because formation of such a "point of view" can happen only under two conditions:

1. Indeed, atrociously low academic level of teaching those people about outside world in general and Russia in particular. Judging by the "level" of such Russia's "scholars" as Michael McFaul or Samantha Power--no surprise here. The field of Russian "studies" in US is a pathetic "academic" wasteland of hearsay, propaganda, ideological and racial memes, populated by amateurs with some fancy academic "degrees". But we knew this all along. What is being omitted, despite understanding, is the fact that US Russian "studies" field has one and only one curriculum whose "academic" essence can be expressed as "Why the United States Is Better Than Anyone Else".  This is not a starting point from which anything could be learned. 

2. And here comes this punch line: even if one is an average thinker and has an access to modern media, one can not fail to notice that:

a) United States, starting from the Korean War, didn't win a single war with the exception of the victory over grossly and deliberately overrated Saddam's Army. Yet, it still has an audacity to claim that its military is the best in the world.

b) Most of the time, US found itself supporting either bloody dictators or Islamic terrorists. From Afghanistan, to Kosovo to a collection of own Sons Of Bitches in Central and South America, to Ukrainian neo-nazis, to having a Beltway being completely in the pockets of Saudi and other Gulf satrapies supporting terrorism. This is not a glorious record, in fact--it is a shameful one. One has to be in denial to try to present it otherwise. The case of US foreign policy being run, de facto, by Israel is the whole other story altogether--today, US foreign policy is not US foreign policy, it is AIPAC's foreign policy, which has very little in common with real interests of average Americans.

So, unless one is sublime to the point of a complete idiocy (and this is still not excluded as a possibility), one has to ask, what's all the fuss is about? The answer is in Philip Giraldi's own words: "given the real limitations on Russian power"(c). I wrote about complete misunderstanding here. I will repeat the point: US "elites" do not understand nor know what military power is and how it is applied. Their record of failures is simply stupefying. Least of all they understand that in regards to Russian military power. Russia's (military) power is indeed limited but it is designed not to pursue global confrontations. Russia has no desire nor plans to storm US or Canadian coasts, US does have such plans regarding Russia. Russia is not an expeditionary power. If today both United States and Russia would find themselves stripped off their respective nuclear arsenals, any attempt of NATO (that is US) to attack Russia, as it was done in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yugoslavia, conventionally will result in a catastrophic level of NATO (US) casualties and will lead not only to a military defeat but to a dramatic political changes in US and Europe. Or, putting it in a layman's lingo and speaking in broadsides:

              US Can Not Conventionally Defeat Russia.  

  Clausewitz, Vom Kriege, Book 8, Chapter 9.

Hitler had almost 4.5 million under his command. When viewed in conjunction with inevitable and warranted comparison of respective histories (especially military ones), cultures and accomplishments, Russia is a clear and present danger to this new (and old) generation of "intelligence officers"  and of other representatives of this proverbial "Deep State" because it makes them metaphysically:

                                FEEL INFERIOR

But that is not what they have been taught and how they were brought up. In their Manichean world Russia, by the virtue of her existence and history blows this whole narrative of American exceptionalism out of the water, no matter how one tries to interpret it. United States must be "good" and Russia, as a consequence, "evil". Anything short of this means only one thing--US losing it self-proclaimed status of a "Shining City" on the hill, this means death. No other nation can do this to US "elites": neither Germany, conquered in large part thanks to the Red Army demolishing cream of the cream of Wehrmacht by 1944, nor France, nor even China--an economic powerhouse but culturally a complete foreign object. Russia can and DOES it. Hence, in Kissinger's words--It means that breaking Russia has become an objective (c). Washington's shift in the perception of Russia does not matter as long as it is confined to the discussion clubs, but in case of this "Deep State" we are talking about a bizarre collection of myopia, incompetence, inferiority complex bizarrely mixed with racism, and, in the end a complete hatred and obsession with Russia. If this is how US "elite", "deep state", IC, what have you, thinks and feels it inevitably will lead to emotional, mental and political breakdown and that is exactly what we all observe now. The worst thing for them? They can not bomb Russia and declare a victory. Trump is hated and is associated with Russia in one very important, however unnoticed by many, metaphysical aspect--he won elections because he stated what Russia by the virtue of own existence and surviving everything what was thrown at her, continues to state: the self-proclaimed emperor has no clothes. 

What we observe today is unprecedented--forget lying and propaganda, those people actually do believe in it. Detached from the reality, hysterical to the point of being apoplectic--we are witnessing a wholesale "elite" going completely insane. It is legitimate to say today, that this "Deep State" is an enemy of American people, it is clear and present danger to the world, even when it will try to use indirect strategies for undermining anyone it views as an enemy, Russia being #1 for them outside, Trump being the enemy #1 inside. The war just started: a political one  in Washington, and it may yet become a hot one elsewhere. Until the corridors of the American political power are completely cleared of this filth, the United States will remain in a decline and be a clear and present danger to the world and to herself. American survival today hinges on a complete removal of this "Deep State". If not, we may, indeed, lose the whole country to a turmoil and, probably,  bloody disintegration. That is how high are the stakes. In this case, Michael Flynn's affair is just a small tactical bump in the epic struggle.       

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Follie De Grandeur Or Why Bundeswehr Will Remain A Joke.

It is a truism by now that Western media (with some very few exceptions) are nothing more than a collection of hacks or straight forward imbeciles who live in their own created and paid for by handlers universe which does not correspond to reality in any way. US (so called main stream) media are bad, a sewer, really, but German ones--that is a special case, those gave a fabricated lie and Josef Goebbels a bad name. Here is why. Today, Berlin's daily Der Tagesspiegel published a piece by its Brussels' correspondent Markus Grabitz titled:  Steht die Nato vor dem Aus? (Does NATO Stand Out? Or, most likely, Is NATO Over?)  

Google Translate does the job and the piece is basically nothing but reflexive peeing into own pants by what in Europe passes as "intellectuals"  and is full of myopia so characteristic of the EU's political (and media) class. It would have been an absolutely average and useless piece if not for this and I, with the help of translator, quote:

Does Europe still need NATO?Without NATO's protective shield and its deterrent effect on potential attackers, the security situation in Central Europe would dramatically change. The Baltic States, Poland or Hungary would not be able to defend themselves against their Russian armies with their national armies. The Bundeswehr would not be able to do this in its present form. The German economic power is, of course, three times the size of the Russian economy. In an extreme case, Germany could afford a military equal or even superior to the Russian. This would, however, be many times more expensive than today's defense expenditure. The collective defense in NATO is not only more secure. It also saves money. All NATO countries together are more than 25 times superior to Russia. Basically, no military expert believes that Putin would dare to deal with NATO. This assumption is, of course, based on the fact that the alliance makes its alliance guarantee credible: in an attack on a member, NATO would defend this country with its concentrated force.

I literally had to rub my eyes and pinch myself to make sure that I am not dreaming and  reading what I am reading. My issue was not with geopolitical delirium and historical ignorance literally saturating this whole piece--it is expected from German media. My issue was with two phrases highlighted in red and blue and the reason for my reaction is solidly justified--this is how those EU imbeciles, from the top down, think. I will start with the "blue", which will explain why "red" is also a testament to a complete bankruptcy of EU ideology and real politics. I will start with the plane I observed not for once over Baltic Sea, including their "simulation" of the attack on our ship. This jet fighter was Lockheed F-104 Starfighter.  United States produced many good fighter jets in its history--some were good, others were outstanding fighter planes. Starfighter was a piece of shit. Everything about it was bad, USAF abhorred it and, as it is often the case, unloaded this piece of flying crap (or aka in Italian Air Force--a flying coffin) onto Luftwaffe. You think Germans were happy with this plane? Hell, no! They lost...drum roll..116 pilots in this machine in the peace time. But guess what? Germany was told to jump and the only thing Germany was allowed to do was to ask: "How high?" And high jumping Luftwaffe did until flying this POS became so dangerous and so scandalous that this fighter was basically grounded. By that time Luftwaffe lost 30% of its Starfighter force. 


This scandal was partially due to Lord Ismay's favorite truism that  NATO (that is US vassaldom) was needed  "To keep Russians out, the Americans in, and Germans down". And, boy, did they do "keeping Germans down" thing to the fullest. Part of this "down", apart from brainwashing of Germany's "elites" and, as a consequence, a general population was in denying Germany any ability to have a viable aerospace industry. Make no mistake, Germany was allowed to have its own weapon systems' development, such as armored forces, or naval shipbuilding but no real aerospace. Participate? Yes. Have own indigenous civilian and military aircraft? No. Yes, it is true that today Germany houses a number of integration facilities for Airbus, aka Airbus-Germany and employs there 48 000 people but this are civilian aircraft and it is not a fully enclosed technological cycle. In the end, the main "thinking" for Airbus planes is done in Toulouse. Engines for those aircraft are altogether a different story. But military aviation? This is a whole other story and there is a reason why. 

Currently there are only TWO aerospace powers, nations, in the world who can provide a complete enclosed cycle for a top notch, cutting edge military aircraft from extracting the ore to design, R&D and full production cycle of all components of such an aircraft, especially its avionics and engines. Do I need to name these two nations? Anybody who would  suggest that China is in this league would have to strongly reconsider. Chinese, for the lack of better word, desperate desire to get hands of Russia's SU-35 is easily explained by long time inability by China to develop world-class jet engine and avionics for its fighters, very many of which are nothing more than knockoffs of Russia's venerable SU-27s. But at least Chine has a cycle (and a shitload of money), it does produce her own military aircraft, Germany does not, even if to consider a cooperative European effort with Eurofighter Typhoon. In the end, even the Eurojet EJ200 engines used in Typhoons are a cooperative effort based on Rolls Royce design.  So, in order for ambitious Germany to get armed forces "equal" or "even superior" to those of Russia, Germany has to start with military aviation and here Germany is no contest since Russia's military (and civilian) aviation experience dwarfs that of Germany by several orders of magnitude. 

Currently Luftwaffe has at its disposal 123 Typhoons (a very good fighter) and 89 Panavia Tornado, roughly half of which has been cannibalized for spare parts and eventually failed to deploy as part of NATO Syria force. So, if we are to consider what Germany has to undertake to even equal Russia in military aviation format we may start with stating that currently Germany has about 200 (maximum) combat worthy aircraft against Russia's Aerospace Force's. How Germany is going to close the gap in several hundred combat aircraft between Luftwaffe and Russia's Air Force, which deploys some of the world's most cutting edge combat aircraft remains simply a mystery to any sober observer. Russia's PAK FA (T-50) has its IOC by the end of this year. Russian Air Force took a delivery of hundreds of newest SU-30/SU-34/SU-35 and MiG-29SMTs since 2009, about 100 of a monster of MiG-31 will complete its modernization to BM modification by 2018. We are not talking about couple hundreds, the gap in modern (I underscore, modern--that is a whole shebang from glass cockpits to cooperative engagement capabilities) combat aircraft between Russia and  Germany is more like 6-7 hundred. All Russian military aircraft are produced domestically. German? But, of course, Germany doesn't have own AWACS capability, Russia does and her latest A-50Us are marvels of signal processing and radar technology.  With all due respect to German engineering genius but designing and building a Mercedes, stuffed with a bunch of electronic toys invented not in Germany (GPS is built and controlled by US) is one thing, building modern Aerospace (emphasis on space) force  is a completely different shtick. After all, Russia Aerospace forces use their own GLONASS for their high precision weapons. Russia's MRI machines may not be as good as that of Siemens but they are good enough to have Russian-made processors in them. 

In general, modern Germany barely registers in the aerospace field which is dominated by United States, Russia, China and Anglo-French alliance. So, in order for Germany to "equal" Russia here she needs to build own aerospace industry. Even if to consider Germany's (sometimes greatly overrated) scientific and engineering capability--it would take her about 20-25 years at least and hundreds of billions of...Deutschmarks? If, after those 25 years, Germany will be able to produce a completely indigenous design of even half-decent (not 21st century equivalent of F-104 Starfighter) modern fighter, then the wet-dream of Herr Grabitz may come half-true. But, frankly, I do not see how Germany can match Russia in civilian, forget advanced military, aircraft. The same calculations go into other defense spheres, from making state-of-the-art nuclear submarines and weapon systems for them (yes, Germany does produce decent enough SSKs, some with Air Independent Propulsion), such as long range cruise missiles to the whole S4ISR complex, where same Germany doesn't register realistically either, since does not have viable space program (another trillion or two and about 30-40 years). For that, Germany, as a NATO member, depends completely on USA. So, if someone thinks that Germany will be able to "match" Russia here--one has to really make an appointment with psychiatrist. But that brings us to the "red" part--I dedicated a lot to this topic in this blog and no matter how it is unpleasant for some Germans, Russia's real GDP is about the size of Germany, in reality, when idiotic IMF monetary statistics is discounted, much larger than that of a Germany. It is just that Russian satellites cost less than overpriced and over-engineered BMWs. 

But in the end, with all my deep respect to German people and for their massive accomplishments, some of which I admire myself, it has to be understood that modern economy and modern war is not what German journo hacks think they are. All those indices and wet-dreams fly out of the window once one has to face a very cruel reality in which Germany remains and will remain a large economy and military-political midget, who will never again make any trouble in Europe big time. But by far the most important thing those German media imbeciles have to understand that Russia has no plans whatsoever to "attack" any NATO country, let alone Germany whom Russia can obliterate by purely conventional means, let alone, if, God forbids, push comes to shove, by nuclear means. But the way things are happening now, Germans themselves do a hell of a job turning their country into a third world shithole and they, maybe, are already pass the point of no return. In this case they will have to try to "equal" something more of their own size.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Military Power In US Marine's View.

A rather interesting and thoughtful piece by Captain Joshua Waddell in Marine Corps Gazette about innovation and self-delusion. Whilst thoughtful and competent, it is also a bitter  piece, which is understandable when one considers the sequence of events in the last 15 years. 

"Let us first begin with the fundamental underpinnings of this delusion: our measures of performance and effectiveness in recent wars. It is time that we, as professional military officers, accept the fact that we lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Objective analysis of the U.S. military’s effectiveness in these wars can only conclude that we were unable to translate tactical victory into operational and strategic success.1 As military professionals, it is not sufficient to offload the responsibility for these failures, at least in their entirety, to decision makers in Washington or in perceived lack of support from other governmental agencies. We must divorce ourselves from the notion that criticism of our performance is an indictment or devaluation of the sacrifices our Marines made on the battlefield. Like many of you, I lost Marines in the “Long War” as well. It has taken several years of personal struggle to arrive at the conclusions I am writing now."

Translating battlefield success into a political resolution, that is attaining political objectives of the war is what makes a victory and it is hard. Sometimes, it is impossible. Such as was the case in the First Chechen War when Russian Army delivered one operational success after another only to be stopped by Russia's political "top" operating in its own interests, such as interests of Boris Berezovsky whose complete role in Chechen conflict is still not completely revealed. There is no denial of the fact that US Marine or US Army soldier are, on average, better soldiers than anyone US Armed Forces encountered in their "long war" in the Middle East. They are also better equipped, but those are just several among many factors that influence the outcome. Political, ideological and cultural restraints play no less important role in the outcome. Waddlle also makes a crucial observation:

"What makes this necessary, however, is that if you accept the objective, yet repulsive, fact that our Marines died on the losing side of our most recent wars, you cannot then accept that the status quo of the Marine Corps, and the larger defense establishment, is in an acceptable state of affairs. This is further compounded by future forecasts of conflicts with adversaries that are beginning to look like more like peers despite the self-aggrandizing “near-peer” label we assign them.2 We allow ourselves to look at our impressive defense budget and expensive systems and throw around hyperbole about the United States having the greatest military in the world. How, then, have we been bested by malnourished and undereducated men with antiquated and improvised weaponry whilst spending trillions of dollars in national treasure and costing the lives of thousands of servicemen and hundreds of thousands of civilians? Judging military capability by the metric of defense expenditures is a false equivalency. All that matters are raw, quantifiable capabilities and measures of effectiveness. For example: a multi-billion dollar aircraft carrier that can be bested by a few million dollars in the form of a swarming missile barrage or a small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) capable of rendering its flight deck unusable does not retain its dollar value in real terms. Neither does the M1A1 tank, which is defeated by $20 worth of household items and scrap metal rendered into an explosively-formed projectile. The Joint Improvised Threat Defeat Organization has a library full of examples like these, and that is without touching the weaponized return on investment in terms of industrial output and capability development currently being employed by our conventional adversaries."  

I am ready to subscribe to every word in this observation. Of course, wars do vary and, hopefully only theoretical, peer-to-peer war will involve a vast range of combat, varying from local insurgency and guerilla warfare to an employment of very high-tech and very expensive weapons. And here is the point this little blog of mine was making from the inception. US cannot anymore produce weapons which would satisfy basic cost/effectiveness criteria. Let's face it--US weapons, some of them bad, others--very good,  are damn expensive. Some of them are so expensive that they lose any real operational value since even a loss of a single one of them will mean not only a huge monetary loss but a PR and political catastrophe. Many forget today the effect shooting down of F-117 by Serbia's Air Defense Force in 1999 had. It was a bombshell which in a single day made all those authors who claimed F-117 to be totally "invisible" to enemy's radar to change their tune, especially against the background of F-117 being shot down by 1960s Soviet AD system. But in the end, it was a professionalism of Serbian crew which created a public relations disaster in US. Sinking of US Navy's aircraft carrier? This will be a political nightmare which may push US to do the unthinkable. But war is a very democratic affair--the enemy also has a say in it. In the end, pure monetary assessment of military is absolutely stupid and anti-scientific. War is a science and there are ways to make more-or-less correct predictions. 

Waddell doesn't miss (of course) Russia's example:

"This year, the budget for the entire Russian military, the one that embarrassed our national policies in Ukraine and Syria, was 3.1 trillion Russian rubles, which comes out to roughly $42 billion by the exchange rate at the time of this writing.6 Even adjusting for the collapse of the ruble (ironically giving the United States, a nation with strategic cash reserves in the international exchange currency, more buying power), their previous modernization budgets roughly meet less than half of the Department of the Navy’s corresponding yearly budgets. This is the same Russian military whom the RAND Corporation has estimated would be unstoppable in an initial conventional conflict in the Baltic States, even against the combined might of the NATO forces stationed there."

Here he repeats the old cliche about Russia, such as Russian forces being involved in Ukraine--there is no regular Russian Army there. If it would have been there, we all would have been discussing the fate of the remnants of the Ukrainian Army which would have been demolished in a matter of days, if not hours. Counter-insurgency is a different matter. I already stated, not for once, that Russian Ruble simply buys more bang for a buck, so to speak. But here is the deal and I also speak about it constantly. Remember Arthur J. Alexander's percentages influencing military procurement? US' Military-Industrial Complex and military-political environment simply has NO pressure produced and applied to them by ACTUAL military threats to the United States which would create a necessary critical mass allowing for producing better and more effective weapons, the same as more realistic operational concepts. It is one thing to fight at your home's doorsteps, totally another--going to the remote neighborhoods looking for trouble. I really doubt that mighty Mexico or ever bellicose Canada would invade and wreck a havoc in the US and that is the key factor. US military-industrial complex can afford to make not only good weapons but a lot of very expensive and lame weapon systems. The failures of those will not result in US being attacked, let alone occupied. Russian MIC can not afford this. Make no mistakes, Russia also produces, once in a while, some lame weapon system but it is a fairly rare occurrence. But it is understanding of this fact which seems to escape many US observers. Russia can not afford to produce F-35 or LCS, not in fiscal terms, I am pretty sure Russia can repeat these two for a fraction of the costs. Russia can not afford this geopolitically, the United States can, and that makes a whole world of a difference.

In general, however, the piece is good, it is written by a competent man, a combat veteran, and this piece is a good demonstration of the transformation and evolution of the views which are happening inside US military. It is worth reading even if for contemplation of the ways warfare is changing while always remaining the same.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Tragic Fate Of Limpopo.

If you are not a Russian (Soviet) who was born in 1960s you wouldn't know the most wonderful mid-1960s Soviet children's' movie Aybolit-66, which was based on a wonderful children's poetry by beloved Kornei Chukovsky. Aybolit is Russian for Ouch, It Hurts. Hence, Doctor Ouch, It Hurts. I remember colossal lines to Baku's Vatan movie-theater of parents and children to the box office to get a magical ticket for this movie event. It was almost a stampede.

The story is taking place in imaginary African country of Limpopo (after the famous river and, later, in 2000s an actual province of RSA) which is ruled by ruthless villain Barmaley. Well, wonderful Doctor eventually beats the villain and everybody is happy. It is children's book, and a movie, OK? Well, not until famous Russian pranksters Vovan and Lexus got to Congresswoman Maxine Waters and informed her on behalf of Ukraine's PM Groisman that after invading North Korea, aggressive Putin and those Russian thugs now invaded Limpopo and overthrew a legitimate government of Barmaley and installed Putin's puppet Doctor Aybolit. I am not making this shit up!!

This already made the news on Russia's all main networks, you can see video here. What can I say? First you have US Senator James Inhofe finding Russia's regular troops in Ukraine thanks to fake photos given to him by Ukrainian delegation. Then you have a bunch of Russia's "experts" even today still basing their conclusions about situation in Donbass on the "presence" there of those mythical stealth Russian regular army units. Now--this. I guess, studying classic Russian children's literature is in order for some members of US Congress. Who knows, next time Russians may commit another horrible crime, such as installing a communist government on the Moon by evil Znaika

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Queens Of The Skies.

I love 747s. Let me wax poetic and sappy sentimental here--you look at modern 747 and feel safe and comfortable. You enjoy those recognizable lines with a distinctive hump, and while in the sky you actually enjoy the flight and expect good things only.  I flew both 747-400s and 747-8s and even despite being relegated by extremely high prices into steerage, doing transatlantic is always a joy. Once this magnificent plane overcame its growing pains and matured she became truly a Queen Of The Skies--a testament to a great American aerospace engineering and her elegant hump is recognized worldwide.


Well, they want to stop 747s manufacturing by 2019, albeit 747s run was extended thanks to Russia's Volga-Dnepr Cargo carrier which ordered 20 747-8 freighters. The reason for ending 747s is well known--economy. Well, not really economy but profits. Make no mistake, I get it, airlines have to operate for a profit and 4-engine jumbo is bit too thirsty for their taste, ergo--less profit. But here is my take: between me being stuck in 747's steerage and the same in some two-engine newbie I would rather feel somewhat spatially limited in 747 than in anything Airbus throws at you, or, rather throws you in. I'd rather feel safe and moderately comfortable than comfortable and having just a double, as opposed to quadruple, redundancy. But here are another considerations which go into travel: safety, aesthetics, tradition, class and 747s' latter part of life is a testament to that. Speaking in plain language--I don't want to see these magnificent birds being grounded and, eventually, terminated. Sure, with modern day engineering it is possible to develop a jumbo even with a single engine. Can you imagine an economy on this one? But would you fly on it? I sure as hell would do my utmost to never put my ass in the most comfortable seat they may offer me in this flying thing. A simple truth of modern air travel is that the same as in 1967, in 2017 we still fly air breathing jet-engines. Yes, they are way more sophisticated and reliable than their parents but the engineering truism still remains: a probability of the failure of a complex system is in direct variation with the square of a number of all (mechanical, electric, hydraulic etc.) connections in this system. This is when you begin to appreciate a gentle rumble of all 747's four engines and this allows you to relax a bit at 11 000 meters over Atlantic. 

Now come those crazy Ivans who yesterday said--screw your (super) profits we will stick for awhile with four engine configuration. United Aircraft Corporation and Ilyushin signed yesterday a contract for development and production, starting in 2019, of Ilyushin-96-400M (In Russian). Suck on it, accounting. Not only profits (however important) should be considered when making decisions on how people fly. Soviets and then Russians were always in love with Ilyushin machines, from legendary Il-2 Shturmovik of Great Patriotic War to venerable Il-62s which flew long-distances, including internationally, including transatlantic and over Pacific, to early versions of Il-96s. News of a freshly signed contract were met with a huge outpouring of public joy both for resumption of production of a beloved, albeit deeply modernized, including new engines, jumbo which will be able to carry 390 passengers and for still seeing, in the age of air breather, so loved and so ensuring quadruple redundancy. 


This, and, of course, something that makes those magnificent birds so special with their 4 engines, harking back to the times when the long-range flight was an event. Flying over Atlantic, Pacific or over Norther Siberia, where there are no airfields for thousands of kilometers, or over Northern Pole, on all four makes it so much more comfortable emotionally. In our insane world this is worth a lot, way more than some marginal profitability which goes straight into the pockets of airlines' fat cats and stock buybacks. For the rest, there are two-engine work horses. Until we fly on air-breathers and not on anti-gravity drives or by folding space, seeing those wonderful 4-engine machines makes me feel reasonably safe and happy, isn't it what the travel should be about?