Saturday, September 30, 2017

Weekend Data Dump

I don't understand the protest by players at NFL games and why the left is cheering them on. Why protest the American flag when it is a symbol of all Americans and a symbol of our ideals of freedom and equality under the law? Is protesting racial inequality justified? Sure. But when that protest is directed against the symbol of our nation, the protesters make it about more than racial injustice. Why don't the players protest during the coin toss? Or on the sideline between plays? Or before the anthem? Certainly, there is room to improve. And the ideals our flag represents enable America to do better. Perhaps uniquely in the world. Just look at how the pursuit of equality through socialism has destroyed Venezuela. It is hard to argue that America hasn't made a lot of progress in living up to the ideals we cherish. So take your protests elsewhere, I say. Protesting the flag and our anthem is just ignorant, in my opinion. It's funny, really. In every presidential election liberals loudly protest that Republicans don't "own" the American flag. I'd believe them more if they didn't recoil from the flag outside of election years like a vampire reacting to Holy Water or sunlight. Lord, must everything be politicized? I was going to watch the London NFL game last weekend. But hearing about the protest made me skip it. I can watch MSNBC if I want that kind of "entertainment."

McCarthyism in the 1950s had the government investigating Hollywood looking for Russian communists. Today, Hollywood communists investigate the government looking for Russians. The article reminds us of my complaint about this new-found anger.

Perhaps Congress should pass a law making kneeling or raising your fist acceptable alternative methods of showing respect during the national anthem. Keep doing this and eventually protesters will have to dance like chickens as the only alternative to properly showing respect.

A man was arrested near the White House for wanting to get advice from the NSA and DOD on removing the chip from his head. That's odd. Everyone knows you go to HHS for that kind of information. Just Google it, for Pete's sake. Tip to The Morning Brief.

Obviously protest is patriotic again after that mysterious 8 year "pause" when it was only motivated by racism. Of course, this is a win for Trump and sanity (for the Left, how often would those two things be in one thought?) because it represents several steps down from the level of "resistance" to a dictator that the electoral college deniers have been engaged in since the last election. I yawn at mere protest. And bonus points for the Left embracing the NFL when only last week they thought it promoted violence against women. Perhaps we will be spared the annual Super Bowl myth of skyrocketing domestic abuse cases.

Sorry about the NFL focus, so far. I think I've said what I want to say. Over and out.

Excuse me if I suspect that this report of White House use of private emails was engineered by the administration to get the media to attack the practice; letting Trump offer complete cooperation as part of a general review of private email use by government officials over the last 9 years. [Days after writing this, I see CNN has taken the bait and is enthusiastically damning Trump for failing to avoid even the image of failing to comply with the law and slamming him for failing White House 101 in not realizing this requirement! Oh my Lord, this could be fun.]

Chancellor Merkel won a fourth term in office, albeit with a smaller majority coalition. Merkel is fine--especially in contrast to her more left-wing opposition. Yes, she screwed up with the migrant issue. But I'm perfectly happy she was re-elected.

America has a new travel ban in effect. On CNN, I listened to the analysts say that if Trump was serious, he'd put Saudi Arabia on the list. Amazingly, that would be the racist thing to do. The analysts believe it is religiously based, but as this article notes, "The inclusion of Chad is hinged on the failure of Ndjamena to share terrorism-related and other crucial information the U.S. required, the White House confirmed." The point of the order is to keep potential terrorists out and to do that we need good information about travelers coming from foreign countries. Saudi Arabia provides that information. Chad does not. Those CNN analysts seem to think the list is some sort of disapproval list rather than a security list.

American drones killed 17 ISIL terrorists in Libya's interior. Good. Kill them wherever we find them.

Russia is violating human rights in Crimea. Well, this is hardly a shock. Once Russia violated the UN charter and the Budapest Memorandum to invade Ukraine in the first place and annex Crimea, the human rights abuses naturally follow.

I'd buy Democratic complaints that America hasn't spent enough on Puerto Rico hurricane relief if Dems didn't think we spent too little on everyone who hasn't been hit by a hurricane.

"If we care about the poor, then we need to tell them the best way to improve their lives with middle class values." I'm not sure why that isn't blindingly obvious to the liberal intelligentsia in this country.

I find it amusing that kneeling is becoming a general symbol of resistance to Trump. So bending the knee--the symbol of submitting to lawful authority and superior power--is their symbol? I guess it was either that gesture or kissing the president's ass. So good choice, I suppose.

This author wants a specially built drone carrier--a CVQ. I've long argued that we shouldn't assume that traditional super carriers are the only way to have sea-based air power, if that is a needed capability. So this idea has merit, I think. Although I worry the author is over-complicating the launch process. I imagine the Navy could experiment with some elements of this type of carrier with a modularized auxiliary cruiser adapted as a drone carrier.

In related news, the Air Force has a pilot shortage. This is a serious problem for supporting the Army, Marines, and Navy. Planes can't fly without pilots, obviously.

To Hell with apologists for communism. Stopping that scourge is why I enlisted. The New York Times should be ashamed of their centennial coverage of the first communist revolution. Or will we be treated to essays about why "true Nazism" or "true Confederacy" haven't really been tried yet?

In related loser news, I see Second Lieutenant Dumbass has arrived. Tip to Instapundit. I hope he gets more experience with the UCMJ than he ever expected. I can't believe his statements about his chain of command are lawful. And this is fun: his goal was to "infiltrate" the Army. That word doesn't mean what Rapone thinks it means. Posting your communism and insubordination online is neither cover nor concealment. Honestly, the communists can have him. He'll fit in nicely at some college faculty lounge somewhere, I'm sure. Make him a visiting fellow in Dumbass Studies. Oh, and I see the young man was a weak-minded ninny led astray by a faculty member. How nice.

I didn't complain about President Obama's "strategic patience" approach to North Korea. I thought it was better than trying to come to a fake deal (and the Iran deal shows I was right to worry about that approach). And I thought that waiting for North Korea to collapse was reasonable. What I didn't know is that the Obama administration may have let North Korea win the race between getting nukes and collapsing. For all that President Obama loudly complained about the problems he inherited from Bush, between Iran and North Korea Obama sure left a doozy of a nuclear problem for Trump, eh?

Strategypage takes a survey of Libya. Apparently the international community is taking a less stupid path, at least.

Democrats are desperate to paint the federal response to hurricanes in Puerto Rico as a failure based on racism despite the views of locals who see the federal government doing a lot to help. Could we just help the people there without making them props in Democrats' ongoing denial of the election results? Tip to Instapundit. And I remain unclear about the mechanism that led the media to talk far more about the NFL kneeling issue than about Puerto Rico. I'm sure it was Trump's Jedi mind tricks ("These aren't the stories you are looking for."). Or maybe the media just don't like brown people. Or maybe the media thinks that yet another hurricane tragedy story is not worth the effort. I heard from a friend that there are massive fires in Montana going unreported. Indeed there are. That was news to me.

I remain uncertain about whether North Korea has nuclear weapons as opposed to nuclear devices that they can explode in controlled circumstances surrounded by hundreds of scientists and technicians. So when I read or hear that North Korea has 20-60 weapons, I wonder what that means? Does it mean North Korea has enough nuclear material to build that many or that there are actual weapons that could be used? If the latter, what the Hell happened to the "imminent" standard that we are supposed to use prior to taking out a regime that seeks WMD? Did we miss that golden moment of North Korea being on the cusp of nukes that even Democrats claimed would justify American preemptive strikes? I don't know if we have a realistic preemptive military option if North Korea has nukes. And given my worries that North Korea will sell nukes to Iran, the only real response to North Korea going nuclear is destroying the mullah regime in Iran to get rid of the potential nutball customer.

Speaking of military options. If North Korea has nukes, I don't see how we have a real preemptive military option, even if we use nukes. We just don't know what we'd overlook hitting. Maybe our missile defenses would hold off that weakened nuclear threat. But that's a big risk. If North Korea begins hostilities, that's another question altogether and yes, we have military options--including nukes to target North Korean nuclear weapons. Oddly, the military options discussion in that link don't even mention the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB). I assume deliberately. Oh, and related SDB II update news. And related contracts for more anti-radiation missiles designed to go after radars. That's useful for suppressing air defenses, of course.

Seriously, what are Democrats trying to hide in the House Awan/server scandal? Tip to Instapundit.

Personally, I think transgendered military personnel shouldn't be discharged. If they wish to defend our country, that's good. Although I don't think the military should be paying for the surgery. Let activists on the left put their money where their mouth is in GoFundMe campaigns.

Some details about Russian ads on Facebook. I still think that Putin was trying to undermine faith in our election process and weaken Clinton, who he expected to win, rather than being a long-shot attempt to elect Trump. I hardly used Facebook, let alone for news (and have quit it since), so I never saw any of that fake news stuff. BTW, the Green Party candidate Stein was a regular on RT, Putin's propaganda outlet. Why no collusion investigation there? And if Russia's goal of their tiny media buys was to sow conflict, Democrats sure are giving Putin his money's worth, eh?

Sometimes it seems like the playing field in Congress where a pack of Democrats led by alpha wolves battle a herd of cats on the Republican side is tilted to the left. Republicans can't pass repeal of Obamacare in any form, it seems. Democrats enforced party discipline with a narrower margin to pass their awful Obamacare in the first place.

The North Koreans apparently don't think that Democratic analysts can provide a realistic explanation of President Trump. Which indicates the North Koreans are a lot more rational than many people give them credit for.

The data doesn't support the issue of whose lives matter as activists would have us believe. And if there is a problem, why aren't protests directed at the Democratic-controlled cities and police forces that are responsible for the vast majority of shootings by police? Nobody should die for no good reason at the hands of the police. But let's not lump everyone shot by police into the innocent victim category, shall we?

It increasingly seems as if women have the right to choose in only one very narrow area of life. Fall in line ladies, or Hillary (or Michelle) will take away your woman card, I guess.

The Navy's hospital ship will be sent to Puerto Rico. I'm a bit surprised. I didn't get the impression that a hospital ship was really needed. Wouldn't land hospitals have some priority on getting power to restore those services? I assume my impression was wrong and it is needed. NOTE: After I wrote this Thursday, I heard on TV that most hospitals (about 2/3) are running, unless I heard wrong. Is the ship being sent purely because of complaints that it wasn't sent?

Yes, what happened to the right to be wrong? I even mentioned this to my daughter the other day. Sadly, people seem more confident that they are correct and those who disagree are wrong and must be compelled to recant their wrongness and join the side of correctness. I used to think that I am more tolerant or perhaps open minded than many on the Left. But it might be that I simply accept they can be wrong without being bad people. And I assume the reverse consideration should be extended to me. No good can come of this trend.

I'm listening to a man (a mayor of someplace on Puerto Rico, it seems) on CNN complain that we should just act in Puerto Rico just like we did for the Normandy invasion in World War II "when we just did it." The man is an idiot. The amount of planning that went into attacking that day and sustaining the effort ashore took years to work out. Just the Mulberry artificial harbors were a massive undertaking to design and build, and then tow to the coast to emplace. Just do it, indeed. That said, given the now apparent bottleneck inland from the ports, we need to accelerate efforts to repair the road network and the ability to move the supplies stacking up at the ports to the people inland.

A huge Ukrainian arms depot suffered explosions. Sabotage is suspected. The Russians wouldn't be stupid enough not to sabotage a large arms depot. As I asked early in the war about a massive weapons depot near the Russian border in the east, how can this be left that way? Disperse that stuff so it isn't such a big irresistible target, or just to contain the extent of accidents. If the stuff is old, it certainly could have gone off on its own. But good Lord, Ukraine is at war, right? Take precautions! This late in the game there is no reason for there to be the option of enduring this "biggest blow" to their military capabilities.

A CRS report on America's role in the world. I had always wanted to work for CRS, which was the federal version of the LSB I worked for. But life has turned out well, so I don't want to give the impression of regrets!

From the "Well, Duh" files. Tip to the Instapundit Borg.

The Pentagon has asked permission to reprogram money for a number of missile defense programs.

Sweden is fairly weak although it has good technology for such a small country. And while it is not a NATO member, its recent Aurora 17 military exercises included a number of NATO countries and Finland, including a tank company from the United States Army National Guard in our 1,000-troop contingent. That's interesting alone. This telegraphs Swedish cooperation with NATO in case Russia threatens NATO Baltic states.

Oh, and I am no longer angry with CBS and Netflix making Star Trek Discovery generally unavailable here. They can keep it. The cast and writers have decided to turn the Klingons from stand-ins for the Soviets to Trump voters. So that show can boldly go where no sun has shown before, for all I care.

So feminists are going to erect a giant statue of a naked woman gazing at the existing giant penis on the Washington Mall and maintain a vigil around the statue for four months? That sounds about right for this day and age. Tip to Instapundit.

Are there no depths of depravity that a communist regime can plumb that won't get the "aww, isn't it adorable?" treatment from a liberal writer? The people who gave us "funemployment" when a Democrat was president give us "funcentration" camps!

The Left doesn't seem to like free speech when it conflicts with their agenda. Apparently, the Left thinks of the First Amendment as a train--you get off when you reach your destination.

The Russians finished their Zapad 2017 exercise centered on Belarus without using it as a cover to invade anyone. Which doesn't mean it wasn't a practice for a future invasion, of course. The Russians say all their troops returned home.

Oh for Pete's sake, it is literally impossible to lower the taxes of someone who doesn't pay any of those taxes. If you want to help those people, lower a tax they do pay. Maybe liberals will cut sales tax rates at the state level. Tip to Instapundit.

There are reasons that have nothing to do with not caring that we have problems rescuing Puerto Rico from the effects of the last hurricane. And part of it may be the failure of local officials to tell the federal government that the standard practice of shipping in supplies to ports and counting on locals to distribute it can't work because of lack of infrastructure, equipment, and personnel. But now is not the time for President Trump to criticize a major desperate for help (even if she is wrong to phrase her complaint the way she did). We need to take over roles that the locals are failing to handle (and yes, some of the failure is institutional unrelated to the storm) right now to save people and save the blame game for later. Not that Trump's statement interferes with ongoing efforts to make up for that early mistake in assumptions by FEMA and Puerto Rican officials. But the statement was a mistake.

Ever Repressive Union

The European Union will not tolerate any resistance from the nations that are the building blocks of the multi-ethnic imperial state that Brussels is building.

This analyst in defense of French President Macron's speech about European integration, including military integration, starts with a breathtakingly idiotic paragraph:

“A sovereign, united, democratic Europe.” This is the vision French President Emmanuel Macron outlined in a landmark speech on September 26, at the Sorbonne in Paris. Calling for a more united and democratic EU is not new. However, for a leader from a major country to passionately assert that European integration reinforces national sovereignty, rather than diminish it, is refreshing.

"Refreshing?" I think that analyst spelled "stupid" wrong.

European integration--ever closer union--under the EU led from Brussels will create a multi-ethnic empire that crushes national sovereignty. How an analyst can claim the opposite is stunningly idiotic.

Remember, for states like Poland and Hungary, the EU's "ever closer union" means the member states must conform to the proto-imperial super state's ideology and culture.

The EU will pressure those still-sovereign states to submit and will, when it can, use its gathering power to order submission. Then, the proto-imperial order will be a full empire, and the gloves will come off.

Britain must get out of the EU while it can and other EU states like Poland must resist anything but a trade pact as the basis for the EU.

If they don't succeed, these new EU states will have just replaced their domination by the Russian empire (under Soviet guise) with a (for now) more gentle EU empire.

It was a dreadful error in the cause of freedom for the European Economic Community to become the European Union.

NOTE: I used an update about Macron's speech in an earlier post in this post, if it looks familiar.

Accurate But Fake

The arguments in this article defending the value of the super carrier are true enough but they represent what I've been complaining about for a long time. Carrier proponents choose the arguments that favor the carrier, addressing the one role that makes their arguments valid; while ignoring the role that undermines their arguments.

The long-service life argument especially gets me. Well sure, the ship will last a long time--if nobody sinks it!

That's the basic issue, no?

The value of carriers is high when facing off against non-naval powers in a power projection role. But that isn't the sole measure of a carrier's value.

The value of carriers is low when facing off against aero-naval powers in a sea control role; and network-centric warfare (now "cooperative engagement capability," I believe) makes the platform-centric super carrier irrelevant to generating offensive firepower at a reasonable cost.

But so far the two sides argue apples and oranges about the merits of those two very distinct missions.

Friday, September 29, 2017

By All Means, Blame America

Venezuela's Maduro is pretending that America is a military threat to him. Which is good. Perhaps focusing on America keeps Maduro from looking for a target he can take on (in the short run, anyway).

Oh please, we have enough problems on our hands to bother with Maduro:

"We have been shamelessly threatened by the most criminal empire that ever existed and we have the obligation to prepare ourselves to guarantee peace," said Maduro, who wore a green uniform and a military hat as he spoke with his army top brass during a military exercise involving tanks and missiles. "We need to have rifles, missiles and well-oiled tanks at the ready....to defend every inch of the territory if needs be," he added.

There is a near-zero chance America will use our military to overthrow Maduro.

If our military goes in, it will be to help the Venezuelan recover from the man-caused disaster of that country's inept socialist rulers impoverishing a once-prosperous nation. That is, a pure humanitarian move into ports and airports to deliver aid.

On the other hand, having Maduro pretend America is a threat may keep him from thinking about attacking the nearby island possessions of the Netherlands in the belief that the Dutch would be an easy foreign Devil to rally his people to his side.

UPDATE: And let me say that President Trump's comment a while ago that he didn't rule out military options for dealing with Maduro didn't play into Maduro's hands. Nobody thinks that force is really an option for Venezuela.

As even this author who claimed Trump's comment was a major error admits, Venezuela under Chavez/Maduro has blamed America for Venezuela's problems.

Whether dealing with Bush, Obama, or Trump, the socialist government of Venezuela whips of fear of American invasion to keep their people in line.

Future Warfare

I noted I submitted an entry for the Mad Scientist contest about future warfare. The top 25 entries are published here.

I didn't make that cut (there were over 150 entries). Which I knew. Here's my entry. Which I liked:

"Scouts Forward!"



Entering the Grid Vacuum
Sergeant Gary Washington, lead 3-7 CAV Scout in the M7A2 Giunta Cavalry Vehicle A-10, sat in the rear compartment struggling to remain in his seat. As they approached the dismount point, his plugged-in Model 4 Modular Exo-Skeleton/Liquid Armor Suit—MESLAS—topped off its charge. Regular infantry had to make do with mechanical Model 2 exo-skeletons, the poor Slugs. Lord knows what exotic power source the Special Forces Operators had for the super suits they got last year, in 2039.
Alpha-10 was moving forward somewhere in Bluestonia along with their A-7 wing vehicle into the suddenly created battlefield Grid Vacuum where the enemy phalanx had once stood its ground. The United States Army’s Third Infantry Division (Phalanx) had just pushed and shattered the Novgorodian 4th Guards Tank Phalanx. Atomized elements of that phalanx still survived by going to ground, but the grid that allowed them to fight as an integrated whole was gone. That’s what Intel thinks, anyway.
Combat between forces that wielded networked and long-range firepower directed anywhere along the forward edge of the battle area was fast and savage. Such a battle almost replicated the Lanchester Square Equation, which calculated attrition based on every friendly being able to shoot at every enemy. So a battle begun between fully functioning phalanxes was costly in machines, until one side gained a sensor edge and began to inflict attrition deeper and at a rapidly accelerating disproportionate rate. It was much like the old “push of shields” where ancient hoplite phalanxes struggled in head-on collisions until one side broke and ran. Sure, this was basic stuff from the seminal work Forging the Phalanx, but it was true.
If there truly was a Grid Vacuum that could be filled rather than a kill sack covered by a smaller Novgorodian operational maneuver phalanx quietly waiting in ambush for the 3rd Division’s heavy M11A1 Legion main battle tandems to storm in, the 3rd could advance.
That’s why 3-7 CAV was going forward. Artificial Intelligence was great and nobody worried about their broken shells going back to Dover Aerospace Force Base. But Mark I (enhanced) Soldier eyeballs were still necessary if you didn’t want to declare everything a free-fire zone.
Break through to face just enemy non-phalanx forces and it would be a turkey shoot. There was a time the Army always had that advantage. Those were glory days, indeed.
Sergeant Washington unplugged even as his team mate, Corporal Tony Lee, finished up his final checks. M-18 5.56/25mm Personal Precision Weapon? Good to go. Everything else was ratified by the AI system. Washington was especially comforted to see the four Overwatch Bots attached to the MESLAS fully functional at 99%.
HOOAH (Holistically Optimized Obedient Artificial-intelligence Hybrid), which controlled the MESLAS, confirmed in her confident cadence, “All systems good to go, Sergeant Washington. Your 4-mini-cell backpack is within function parameters, reading 91%; but I’ve tagged it for maintenance.”
“Thank you, Hooah. That’s a comfort.”
HOOAH noted Washington’s response, which correlated with positive morale in past actions. The judgment was supported by physical indicators of heart rate and oxygen consumption, among other vital signs monitored by the MESLAS Net-Medicine suite.
“Ready, Tony?” Washington asked.
“Good to go, sergeant,” Lee confirmed.
Washington, as he knew Lee would be doing, eye-balled the GCV external sensors streamed to his virtual reality helmet display to watch the outside world go by. No hostiles were pinpointed by the AI enhancers. Not that the two Virtual gunners remotely manning the two GCV Remote Weapon Station sponsons weren’t already hunting for hostiles. But he was an Actual, so this was more than a video game.
“We’re ready to drop the slab,” Washington reported to A-10’s commander. Staff Sergeant Ben Richmond was guiding his GCV to a covered position near the objective that might have enemies or just frightened civilians praying the phalanx would pass them over to re-engage the Novgorodians.
“Roger that. Firing the drone cloud now,” Richmond responded.
The drone cloud was a local ISR network of disposable micro-drones carried in rockets that fit in the 4-cell launchers carried by the GCV on both sides of the gun turret. They could run full-on for several minutes as they descended (lasting longer in a phalanx push was unlikely), but could still work on low power for limited sensor capacity—if they survived to hit the ground.

Dropping the Rear Slab
Washington heard the alert from the track commander as A-10 slowed to a halt: “I’m popping the rear door seals and initiating positive over-pressure.” Richmond always sounded like he was speaking from another world forward in the crew compartment. With his retro moustache and odd obsession with old board games like Catan, he was kind of alien-like, really! Funny what you thought about before going “over the top.” Sitting in the rear compartment within your MESLAS was an isolated place. Dismounting was worse. And it would remain that way until the mission was over and everyone was back at headquarters.
Machinery whirred and a high flow of air blew through the compartment—SOP despite zero indications of an NBC environment—and soon the first crack of light appeared as the outside world was opened.
The ramp was down and the doors flung out, and it was time to go over the top into the world. “Dismount! Go!” Richmond ordered. Lee went right while Washington went left. And that’s likely the last time they’d see each other on this mission.
“See you on the other side, Lee. Washington Out.”
Lee loved that morbid farewell. Well, not a lot, truth be told. But Washington believed it was good luck. Lee’s HOOAH would flag it as “banter” not requiring a response—if it even let the joke go through.
Washington’s HOOAH was already scanning available sensor data, especially the micro-drone information, that painted a tactical picture guided by strict Program of Engagement settings. It identified potential lawful targets paired with fire assets available from Legion rail guns to his own M-18 PPW to neutralize them, dead zones, and confirmed civilians—background muting anything that did not pose a potential threat within the next 60 seconds. Live that long on top of the world and you planned your future.
It was an individual battle now, with a feeling of isolation made worse by the Soldier Enhancement drug cocktail that heightened his awareness, making Washington feel like an observer rather than a part of the world. Washington had no idea how the Operators coped with their genetic enhancements that replaced the drugs. He would be alone on his mission to clear the woods and coordinate with Lee when he approached Karmėlava from the southwest.
Mind you, Washington knew that he had fire support that could include the entire firepower of Third ID Phalanx plus whatever the Aerospace boys and girls would provide. And more to the point, he had A-10 and A-7 plus select Legion MBTs from First Heavy Enhanced Brigade providing operational overwatch for the recon push.
“Hostiles,” HOOAH stated, prompting Washington to stop and take a knee. “Target set A-D Hostiles in the woods line.” The targets highlighted as target pips were ranked in order they should be destroyed. Washington confirmed the tactical picture and weapon choice, raising his M-18 to his shoulder.
HOOAH had already released the safety and selected 5.56 DBC—dumb but controlled—firing protocol. Washington aimed at priority target A, gave the order, and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened until his MESLAS exo-skeleton arms moved the PPW on target and fired its first unguided round. The next three rounds fired within 2 seconds as the suit moved Washington’s arms to aim at Hostiles B, C, and D.
“All Hostiles neutralized,” HOOAH confirmed. “No threats visible. New target set A-C Hostiles detected moving deeper in the woods. Confirmed Hostile. Weapons free.”
HOOAH queued up the starboard RWS on A-10, which Staff Sergeant Richmond had released for this fire mission. The GCV was 50 meters back behind the low ridge that Sergeant Washington had just jogged over. The A-10 AI brain took over and elevated the 7.62 for indirect fire.
Washington gave the order, “Fire.” In a tiny fraction of a second, the sponson slewed for final targeting adjustment, firing two guided rounds per target just in case the targets moved and lost Hostile status. The first round would at worst re-establish the Hostile for the second round under the ROE/POE.
HOOAH assessed that her sergeant’s reflexes and decision times were well within effective parameters. The mission could continue.
Where Washington’s M-18 could not reliably reach the interior targets with either 5.56mm DBC or smart 25mm grenades, the diving 7.62mm guided rounds would push through foliage—barring tree trunks or large branches—and bend toward the targets.
Hostiles A and C were neutralized. Hostile B was tagged as probable neutralization—68%—and out of the tactical picture. “Sigh.” Washington actually spoke the word—which HOOAH noted as a minor confidence Divot. “That will have to be good enough for now,” he thought.
Sixty-four seconds had passed. Sergeant Washington felt on top of the world. He was alive and his targets were not.

On Top of the World
“So far so good, Hooah. Tactical status, please.”
HOOAH logged the continued positive mission status of her human Scout partner—reporting the data up the chain of command—and at the same time pulled all backgrounded data into the tactical picture now that close threats were neutralized.
Sergeant Washington could see that A-10 was standing ready while Lee was continuing an uneventful sweep to the west. Alpha-7 was farther west doing its best not to emit signatures.
North, the town of Karmėlava loomed, with buildings, indeterminate persons and vehicles, and Randoms that could be anything given the fractional ISR picture one encountered forward of a friendly phalanx grid that has yet to be leapfrogged. The Network worked in cyber, sure; but CAESAR—Cyber-Assisted Engagement System: Army—was a mix of code and physical ISR and offensive and defensive weapons, whether tube, rocket, rail, or beam. CAESAR made a division a true phalanx.
Some air assets along with shell-carried recon clouds of micro-sensors were being sent over the Grid Vacuum, but long-range enemy rail guns and missiles made their useful lives short, resulting in a tactical status reliant on local sensors operating under the reach of the big weapons.
Anybody on the battlefield, whether Scouts or Slugs (especially), called being outside of a protected space “on top of the world.” Normally you had to dig underground while unobserved and not move (or emit) a muscle thereafter; move low and slow like random animal life; sit still in the open for no more than 3 minutes; or be encased in heavy armor, active defenses, and stealthiness to avoid being a bright strobing target pip on every Hostile’s screen.
Being a target pip was not healthy.
Thinking you could be a target pip was not healthy either. HOOAH recorded a Divot and carried on.
Sergeant Washington advanced, skirting the now cleared forest while moving in semi-random directions directed by HOOAH for semi-random periods of time. The outer buildings of Karmėlava got larger and through gaps and down open lines of sight on roads, the tactical picture was filled out. An Alpha Fires Strike could level the town, but that wouldn’t get dug-in or protected Hostiles avoiding available sensors, while making a mess of civilians.
HOOAH highlighted a Random pip in a building on the edge of town that was spiking up at 45% Hostile evaluation. The AI was seeing signature patterns that troubled its robotic mind.
Corporal Lee reported in. “Sergeant Washington, this is Lee. I am ready to approach the target. Overwatch Bots released and operating. Awaiting your orders. Over.”
Who knows what Lee actually said, but all HOOAHs automatically translated their meat sack partners’ language into standardized communications patterns. Washington responded, “You betcha. Working on it.” HOOAH would translate that, too.
As he examined his tactical picture, marking his destination point at the edge of the town, Washington recalled his class on HOOAH. Back in the old days in the First Korean War, a British unit under attack by the Chinese army reported, ‘Things are a bit sticky, sir,’ which the American commander took to mean “tough but okay.” Which meant American units more in need of help—because their commanders were screaming for reinforcements—could get scarce support. The British unit was smashed up. That kind of misunderstanding didn’t happen with HOOAH. If the other guy had HOOAH, of course.
Washington ordered his own MESLAS-mounted Overwatch Bots to deploy. Four cubes released from the exoskeleton limbs unfolded around him into flat quadcopters with sensors and lightweight 5.56mm Shorts with 5 rounds loaded, and sped forward. Washington would complete his advance under their observation envelope.
“Lee, this is Washington. Move in 10.”
Replying quickly, Lee indicated he would move on the command. Washington’s and Lee’s HOOAHs coordinated the signal that sent the scouts in motion.
When the signal was given, like Lee on the other side of the woods, Washington gave the order, “Hooah, bang bang moving.” It was old school, but HOOAH understood.
Normally the MESLAS amplified his own movements. But in a planned approach to target, the MESLAS treated Washington like a passenger, moving him forward in a covered approach as much as possible while he was fully tactical looking for threats from his suit sensors, the Overwatch Bots, Lee’s assets, and whatever else friendly was out there.
Alpha-10 was firing now. Richmond could see what his dismounts could see and was busy approving or altering queues of suggested 7.62 and 40mm rounds, including drone cloud rounds to guide in what followed, that the GCV HOOAH calculated.
There were enemies in Karmėlava. Many were going down as soon as they were tagged Hostile under ROE/POE. Like the men in the woods, they appeared to be irregulars. Maybe there were also hidden regulars with better weapons and armor who were meshed in a jury-rigged local network. Washington would find out soon enough.
HOOAH could see that the battlefield was getting messier. Hostiles were being revealed and targeted. At one point, HOOAH directed the MESLAS to fling Washington to the ground for cover. The body count would be impressive already if you could even compare the loss of however many irregulars were KIA to losing even one highly trained and well-equipped Scout-HOOAH team. And now HOOAH could see that Lee had taken cover, restricted to shooting indirect via remote sensor input.
As Washington neared his initial target, 40mm rounds set for masonry breach fired by the GCV hammered the building, creating a mouse hole to enter.
Washington fired 25mm rounds set for low-level concussion effect. One through the window left of the mouse hole and two more through the access point, set to explode on the other side. An Overwatch Bot dashed through the hole, where HOOAH indicated that it had fired two rounds at a Hostile still up.
Sergeant Washington struggled through the mouse hole, now back in control of the exo-suit. As he stood and moved through to the room on the street side, he saw that Lee was still pinned in place with more of A-10’s attention turned to supporting Lee in order to get him moving. Long range enemy fire could still be in the picture even without a working Novgorodian phalanx. Washington felt more alone at that moment.
HOOAH added two more Divots to the profile. And then the enemy really came alive.
Explosions rocked the building around Washington. Overwatch Bot Number 2 was mission killed in the falling debris. Confirmed Hostiles advanced on his position from several directions. Overwatch Bot No. 1 had settled on the roof and showed the threat clearly. After confirming the threat queue, Washington fired his M-18’s first 25mm smart shells through the window well back from exposure, but then had to advance to another window to swing the barrel into position to take on other identified Hostiles.
HOOAH noticed a BRDM-10 with a 30mm gun moving into position near Washington. Behind that was a “Technical” based on a large service van that more easily mimicked a civilian vehicle, signature-wise. It had a pop-up heavy machine gun through the open roof hatch now. “Sergeant, 20+ Hostiles, one BRDM, and one Technical. Signature analysis indicates a local network. Advise retrograde.”
“Roger that, Hooah. Thanks!” Washington was already moving toward the back of the structure. As he approached the mouse hole, he detached a Claymore Spike that he pounded into the wooden floor using his exo-skeleton-protected and enhanced right fist.
“Hooah! I could use some Boombas out there on the street to break them up a bit!”
HOOAH quickly assessed faster options for the mission effect and calculated that her Scout was correct. No human would have noticed that HOOAH’s process took any time at all. Within seconds the first circular eRobot-made M-980 Mobile Variable Yield Smart Mines—“Boomba” was a Slug nickname that had stuck—would be fired by a distant Legion MBT and infest that Karmėlava street. They had the advantage of being able to follow the POE and avoid harming Civilians. They freaked out the enemy for some reason as they scurried about, all predator-like.
Meanwhile, enemy rounds coming through the gaps in the damaged building dogged Washington’s steps. He exited through the mouse hole and emerged into a relative calm with the firing and pursuit temporarily behind him.

Retrograde to Alpha Ten
Washington could hear the BRDM, and HOOAH calculated progress based on sound alone to put it in the tactical picture. The immediate threats were infantry and especially the Technical—his last First Sergeant had called them “urban assault vehicles.” It was a “classical reference,” Top had said. Washington assumed it was from some 2D about the old Army. Whatever. It was dangerous.
“Focus, sergeant,” HOOAH advised. Her soldier’s reaction time was clearly degraded. Divots were added to his profile. Sergeant Washington was still within marginal operational parameters. “Overwatch Bots—re-designated 1, 2, 3—are nearly in position. Corporal Lee is withdrawing. I will fire a Claymore Rocket-Assisted Spike to cover his movement in 2 seconds. Brace yourself,” HOOAH warned.
“Thanks Hooah. I appreciate you on my six!”
The 4-cell backpack bucked a bit as it launched the CRAS. It would drive itself into the ground at its impact point, and sweep the ground with directional explosively launched ball bearings if Novgorodian pursuers followed into the open.
Preparing for retrograde, Washington’s three Overwatch Bots established a line to guard against the Technical making a rapid sweep to catch him in the open. The enemy vehicle shouldn’t live long if it did that, but it might live long enough to end one Sergeant Gary Washington’s precious life on top of the world.
Washington began his retrograde run. The tactical picture was getting a bit alarming.
The Novgorodian BRDM was about to drive through a gap between two buildings. HOOAH highlighted the threat and when Sergeant Washington did not quickly respond by ordering a counter-measure, HOOAH confirmed its POE and fired both of the multi-purpose rockets from Sergeant Washington’s 4-cell. The BRDM counter-measures struck down the first rocket but were not able to cycle fast enough to stop the second warhead that penetrated just under the turret, sending flames shooting from the crew compartment. The local network did not have any defensive missiles slaved to deal with the threat.
Just then, the Claymore Spike in the building vacated by Washington reported three Hostiles with a Civilian shield pushed ahead of them entering the room. Quickly calculating the shot spread, the weapon under POE detonated its left-most quadrant, splitting one Hostile in two, sparing the Civilian, but allowing the other Hostiles to open fire on the weapon/sensor, destroying it. That data stream died, leaving the two Hostiles featured on the tactical display to slowly fade as the last-known position information got stale.
HOOAH added several more Divots for the failure to engage the BRDM and worried in its AI sort of way that Sergeant Washington was becoming borderline combat ineffective.
As Sergeant Washington ran from the town and toward the safety of A-10, he could see without looking over his shoulder, thanks to his Overwatch Bots and other MESLAS sensors, that enemy irregulars were appearing at windows and opening fire. Their fire was pretty inaccurate so no automatic responses were triggered in the Overwatch Bots.
HOOAH intervened. “Sergeant Washington, engaging is optimal. Shall I queue targets?”
“Absolutely, Hooah. Let’s use the 5.56. And have the Overwatch Bots engage.”
Washington stopped, dropped to a kneeling firing position, aimed in the general direction of the closest Hostile, ordered “Engage, Hooah!” and pulled the trigger.
The MESLAS took over, and when the first Hostile was within the aim point, fired. Washington observed the tactical picture as the exo-suit fired the M-18 at the next targets, coordinating with the Overwatch Bots for target selection. With a human operator, this was technically not a banned killer robot in action.
Within 7 seconds, 8 Hostiles were down and enemy fire from the buildings ended. Two of the Overwatch Bots were black on their ammunition supply. Washington resumed his retrograde.
HOOAH had already added Divots as her Scout proved able to act on AI suggestions but without the awareness to initiate tactical actions. This mission on top of the world couldn’t end soon enough.

Things Get a Bit Sticky
The tactical picture was clearing behind Sergeant Washington as the enemy irregulars lost their interest in exposing themselves to fire. He was getting more and more interested in getting under armor within A-10 and calling it a day. This mission had been too hairy by far.
The bright side was that there were no signatures of an enemy phalanx of any size lying in wait. The CAESAR could be leapfrogged forward to keep 3rd ID Phalanx in the fight with a chance to finally break into the clear and hit un-networked forces that would be easy pickings in a Lanchester Annihilation Cascade. That was the dream for the effort it took to batter through an enemy phalanx. Even the Networked Legacy Brigades could be committed at that point.
The tactical picture indicated a presence to Washington’s right, amplifying what his eyes could perceive at the woods line he had cleared on the way to Karmėlava. A shot rang out and before HOOAH could move the MESLAS to ground—even though it had already identified the weapon as a 12.7mm sniper rifle—Washington was hit in the right leg, with the exo-skeleton frame absorbing part of the energy of the impact but not enough to prevent the powerful round from penetrating the liquid armor suit that protected Sergeant Washington.
“Sheist! Hooah! I’m hit. … Hooah.” Sergeant Washington was down and combat ineffective. The Divots didn’t matter at this point.
HOOAH sent out the FLASH OVERRIDE signal “Broken Arrow!” A Scout was down. A well trained and very expensive Army Scout and his equally expensive MESLAS. All ROE/POE were lifted within the threat radius to Gary Washington until further evaluation.
The Overwatch Bots reacted by setting up in a triangular perimeter with two (one still with rounds) facing the town to detect and shoot at any threats. Already, the liquid armor began to self repair its hole and would exert direct pressure on the wound when the hole had mended, drastically reducing blood flow.
Rounds from A-10’s main gun exploded along the woods line where the shooter had been detected by one of the nearly drained micro-drones scattered in the woods at the beginning of the mission.
Sergeant Washington’s own MESLAS managed to fire off its last CRAS round to add to his small perimeter. And big rounds from the dedicated Legion rail guns began exploding at the edge of the town creating a curtain of shrapnel and blast that would discourage any pursuit by the enemy. Normally fire that close to potential Civilian targets would have been disallowed by standard ROE/POE. A Broken Arrow mission changed a lot about how risk was managed.
To stabilize Washington, the MESLAS Net-Medicine suite evaluated the leg wound—it was bad—injected the wounded Soldier to deaden the pain, and otherwise began monitoring and transmitting vital signs back to the forward medical station. Evaluating Washington as savable, HOOAH signaled for a Battlefield Evacuation Drone, an armored stealthy flying system capable of lifting a casualty into its protected interior. It would begin treatment as the BED raced to the rear where full human medical care could begin within 10 minutes of the order to retrieve a casualty.
Without fail, the BED drone (everybody called it that, ignoring what the “D” stood for) arrived and rapidly but gently moved the WIA still in his MESLAS into the casualty bay. It sealed itself and began pumping extra oxygen into the space while it lifted on its four tilting rotor pods, and then sped off at nap of the earth to avoid air defense detection by the enemy.
The Scouts had achieved their mission at Karmėlava. With Lee already aboard A-10, it and A-7 took up overwatch positions to receive resupply drones and to wait for the regular units of the 3rd ID (P) to push through the area and beyond, and make way for the CAESAR leapfrog.
The Third Infantry Division (Phalanx) mission to free Bluestonia would continue.

Reboot
The technical sergeant at the MESLAS Maintenance Company was frustrated beyond measure that the MESLAS Model 4 unit sent back 9 days ago would not respond. Oh, it was functional. The exo-skeleton and liquid armor components were repaired. Even the upgrades worked flawlessly.
“Eltee? I’m not sure what I can do with that damaged Scout MESLAS I repaired. The damage wasn’t that extensive, but the HOOAH AI just won’t respond like it should.” The NCO paused, adding puzzlement to her voice, “It works. And it all checks out.” Another pause.
“But it just keeps saying ‘Divot, divot, divot,’ and won’t stop.”
/END STORY/

The Guinta Cavalry Vehicle is patterned on the vehicle I described in this Infantry article.

Forging the Phalanx is the title of an article on that topic I've been sitting on for about a decade. I hope to work on it in the spring, actually.

Ukrainian Lives Matter

Apparently there is a debate about whether the West should sell arms to Ukraine, which will see the 4th anniversary of Russia's invasion of Crimea and the Donbas early next year.

I don't know why the issue is a debate.

Failure to sell arms denies Ukraine the ability to carry out their sovereign right to defend themselves against aggression.

Failure to sell arms rewards Russian aggression.

Failure to sell arms destroys the credibility of the United Nations which promises collective defense against aggression.

Failure to sell arms in the long run may encourage Ukraine to side with Russia, thus erasing a buffer zone that keeps Russia farther from NATO. 

Failure to sell arms encourages Ukraine and any other country that faces a more powerful enemy to own nuclear weapons to deter aggression. First the international community took away Ukraine's nukes and now it denies Ukraine conventional weapons and equipment? Really?

Why is there a debate? Is the West really content to let Ukraine suffer a low level of casualties forever in order to avoid offending Russia?

Sell arms to Ukraine to help them eject the invaders and send body bags back to Russia. That will change Putin's calculus.

UPDATE: The media is amazing. In this article about Ukrainian accusations that Russia has left troops in Belarus, the author writes:

Ukraine sees itself as being at war with Russia and has accused Moscow of sending troops and hardware to fight in the Donbass region, which Moscow denies. [emphasis added]

Are you effing kidding me? Ukraine "sees itself as being at war with Russia!"

Russia invaded Ukraine! Russia annexed Crimea and continues to wage war in the Donbas! Ukraine is at war with Russia!

In what conceivable alternate reality is it possible to say Ukraine merely sees itself at war with Russia rather than actually being at war with Russia since February 2014?!

And you wonder why I say that the "hybrid warfare" that so many waste time analyzing is nothing more than Russia invading a target; Russia denying they are invading the target; and the West largely going along with that lie?

If it isn't clear that Russia has invaded Ukraine, how can anybody oppose selling arms to Ukraine out of fear of offending Russia? When Ukraine could possibly be at peace or at worst fighting ghost troops who have nothing to do with Russia?

Sometimes the stupidity just burns.

UPDATE: The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thinks America should supply Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.

With all the armor the AstroTurf "rebels" have, this is a good idea.

And it reflects my view that big ticket items like armored vehicles aren't needed because Ukraine has the tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to put into service with the right support to update them.

Could Virtual States Reduce the Bloodshed Over Land?

Strategypage discusses the Rohingya in Myanmar (Burma) and the general issue of "stateless" people. In this digital age, is there an alternative to requiring land to be a state?

I've mentioned this e-state notion both for Israel as a Plan B in the nuclear age and for Palestinians who would have a hybrid-land/digital state to encompass "refugees" (actually the descendants of refugees) in Arab states.

Could this be an option for the Kurds and others who lack a state in the modern state-centric system?

Could "states" that have nothing but embassies in traditional territory-based countries as their sovereign territory provide a true national experience and benefit as an alternative to long fights to wrest control of land from somebody else as the basis for declaring a state?

I think it would be worthwhile to explore what functions a state provides that aren't actually based on owning territory or not owning all the territory your people live in.

And then look at how being governed in a virtual state online could carry out those functions. If states really don't want these stateless people as a burden, surely a good portion of the taxes they pay could go to the virtual state government to fund the new entities.

A police force operating in the physical world capable of moving across borders would be needed; and elements of government would need places to carry out at least some of their functions. Does statehood require you to own the building where the functions occur? Or could this be done all online?

Would Myanmar wage war on the Rohingya if those people accepted virtual Rohingyan citizenship even if they live, work, and own personal property inside Myanmar?

It would be extremely interesting to see if Arabs living in Israel would choose to become citizens of a Pal-E-stine or remain i-Sraeli citizens. 

Ultimately, the virtual states could still negotiate for actual territory. And maybe that would be done peacefully in time on a basis that satisfies both parties.

Or maybe people would find they are happy to live in a virtual state that preserves their ability to live in the physical world without being attacked and discriminated against.