Saturday, August 04, 2018

Weekend Data Dump

Australia is hosting their biennial multinational air combat exercise, Exercise Pitch Black, in Darwin. It started out with just Singapore, which is basically Australia's first line of defense at the southern end of the South China Sea. Note that Darwin is where America is gradually building up a rotational force of a Marine battalion.

Oh wonderful, Pakistan could be even more anti-American. They're a funny ally.

North Korea doles out the remains of American dead from the Korean War for political bargaining purposes. Remember that the reason North Korea has so many is that America didn't control the many battlefields in the north when the war was suspended.

This is stupid, with all due respect. If climate change is a national security issue, so is the economy. So is nutrition. So is childhood exercise. So is education. So is civil rights. What isn't a national security issue if you say it is because it affects the military's ability to carry out its national security mission? On national security, we should stay focused on fighting and winning--to hopefully prevent--our Goddamned wars.

The American military is always considering how to defend oil traffic in the Strait of Hormuz. We fought Iranian forces in 1988 during the 1987-88 American-led Western escort missions during the Iran-Iraq War. Today, our local allies are better able to take the lead. We may not need that oil directly, but our allies and trading partners do. And if they can't get it, our economy and alliances falter.

The Littoral Combat Ship program has made progress in anti-submarine warfare mission modules to insert into the hulls of the LCS. I like seeing progress on this because it adds to the potential systems The AFRICOM Queen modularized auxiliary cruiser could employ.

I'd rather have the metrics of territory controlled be used to judge our renewed air power in Afghanistan rather than bombs dropped and enemies killed and wounded. Those are means rather than objectives. Although it can take time for the government forces to exploit the damage done to the enemy in both men and equipment and in atomizing the enemy.

Armed American drones are now flying missions over Niger. We know our mission is working when news from Africa doesn't dominate a news cycle.

The Air Force is trying to battle their pilot shortage by creating a new track for transport plane pilots that lifts command burdens from them so they can just fly.  Pilots oddly like to fly their planes and not their desks with command duties. Why the Air Force doesn't follow Army practice and institute warrant officers for pilots who fly but don't command is beyond me. Their insistence on pilots being an officer and a gentlemen is just going to encourage unpiloted combat aircraft with robotic pilots that are neither officers nor gentlemen. So maybe I should thank the Air Force rather than complain.

It may be useful, but without being fully tracked with heavy armor, the Centauro II is not a "tank"--it is just a heavily armed armored car. The Italians say it is "lighter and more flexible than a traditional tank." My translation says that means it is "easier to kill than a traditional tank."

To better defend Europe, recent "NATO decisions focused on supporting the ability to ensure strategic-level supply via air, land and sea into and within Europe." NATO is working on this issue. This applies both to American forces arriving in western Europe and moving them--and other European NATO forces--into what until now has been a logistics desert in eastern NATO.

American and Turkey are working to coordinate our military presence around Manbij, Syria, to balance Turkey's desire to contain the Kurds who might support separatist Kurds inside Turkey and our desire to protect the Kurds who fought with us against ISIL. Well, it isn't a bad development.

I have no problem with developing  multi-domain battle (or operations or whatever you want to call it) if it is stepping up jointness. And more power to it if it brings in all the government's assets. What I worry about is the Navy and Air Force drafting Army forces for the core missions of those services in the face of threats that threaten their core competencies while the core competency of the Army is ignored. Synergy can work with everyone providing their core competencies to a joint fight and helping in other domains in the process of doing that.

Some left-wing activists pretended their cargo of medical supplies would break a "blockade" of Gaza.  There is no Israeli blockade of Gaza. What there is not is free access to Gaza from the sea where Iran would be free to ship in weapons and material used to attack Israel. Gaza has overland access to everything they need to live through Egyptian and Israeli territory, where it is screened for military and military-related supplies. Both of those countries periodically shut down that access when they have too many security problems flowing from Gaza. If there was a "blockade" of Gaza, everyone in Gaza would have died long ago.

China continues to build their Dystopian Police State 2.0.

You are either fully with Putin or against him. Donbas rebels have discovered that the attitude of resistance that was so appealing to Putin when the eastern Donbas was under Ukrainian control is discouraged with extreme prejudice when Russia is in control. I'm sure the same is true in Crimea.

Do battle lines still exist? Yes. Now stop wasting our time with silly questions about whether an enduring feature of wars has suddenly stopped being true because of ... whatever. As long as armies try to take territory and other armies try to protect territory, there will be front lines. The only real question is the force-to-territory ratio which might make the frontline static if high or movable if low.

War on women: reality edition.

No rule of law in Pakistan. So the democracy is less than effective. With bonus example of how selectively enforced laws (even if they are good laws) are a tool of the powerful.

Experts don't see the need for an independent Space Force now. They have interesting suggestions that could be better than my opinion that the Air Force should simply evolve to the Aerospace Force for the Earth-Moon system, putting off an independent service until we move out into the solar system.

If we do end up bombing Iran, you can't say we didn't try to talk.

A tour of socialist Venezuela's decent into poverty. I guess the bright side is that an international war is unlikely to be a result of the collapse. Which is good, given I have worried about that option to try and rally the people around the corrupt, inept rulers.

Tactical nukes for the Cold War turned very hot. I did mention that the Western Europeans in the Cold War feared the strategic effects of tactical weapons.

Trump didn't "strengthen" Iranian hardliners--he just made them more vocal. Was it really better when we pretended they weren't nutball hardliners while the nutball hardliners quietly worked against our interests?

India is closer to America, Japan, and Australia because of fear of growing Chinese power (and territorial claims); but India doesn't commit fully to the other 3 parts of "the quad" out of fear of China, it seems. Expect to see more of this since India gave up on its ambitious plan to build up forces in the northeast to counter China's growing strength in the region, as I noted in this post.

Ten years ago, Russia ambushed Georgia in the Goons of August War to consolidate Russian control of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Russian military was flawed but in less than a week the war was over. I'm sure Russia would have preferred that outcome in the Donbas if they could have pulled off an invasion. Ten years later Georgia's military is exercising with NATO and other friends, including American troops.

No good, that's a given.

The Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) becomes Stormbreaker.

If Russia is announcing the return of "UN" peacekeepers to the Israel-Syria border and participating in the patrols, I seriously doubt these are UN peacekeepers.

Israel warned Iran not to shut down Red Sea shipping lanes. I've discussed that Iranian threat over the years.

One can hope that Iranians will end the fanatical mullah government, but I've gotten my hopes up before. So I have no idea if these protests have real significance on that issue. Still, unlike in the past when America kept silent to "avoid tainting the opposition" (which is nonsense), Iranians now know that America is sympathetic. And the protests have been going on, on and off, since last December.

If we keep our distance as we should, these massed boats aren't a lethal "swarm"--they just represent a "target-rich environment."

Taiwan has successfully fielded the Apache attack helicopter.

Driving Miss Daisy: So an American senator basically paid a Chinese spy for two decades. I suspect that it is probably pretty easy to infiltrate Congress since working for a potential enemy is probably indistinguishable from the views of your average college liberal arts faculty lounge. Tip to Instapundit.

Sunni bombers kill 39. All I have to say is that if they hadn't invaded Iraq and would just get out of the region, the Sunni killers would have no reason to hate Shias. Amiright?

I still thank my younger self for not majoring in Soviet studies. Even though I despised the Soviets and their fellow communists while in college, it seemed rather pessimistic to major in Soviet studies as if I'd spend my career in that field. Since I got my MA in 1989, that was fortunate, eh?

A Strategypage tour of global defense purchasing.

Israel is getting increasingly frustrated with Hamas in Gaza. The rumor mill has it that Israel might invade to really dig out the threat. If my long expectation of an Israeli operation against Hezbollah in Lebanon is correct, this Gaza focus might be cover for Israeli mobilization. Maybe Israel ignores Hamas to go after Hezbollah. Maybe Israel hits both. Or maybe the target is Gaza and my expectation has been wrong.

So ... a meteor impacted near one of our missile launch early warning bases, Thule, Greenland, late last month with the force of 2.1 kilotons. (Hiroshima was destroyed by a 16 kiloton bomb, for comparison sake--although the meteor is obviously not a radiation-producing blast.) If the meteor had hit the base, the natural inclination would have been to assume a hostile state destroyed the base. Because who would believe the possibility of a meteor? Perhaps we would have raised our nuclear alert level and then dropped back down as the situation clarified, without any bad effect as other states with nukes wondered what we were doing. And you wonder why I don't look forward to the possibility of deterring nuclear-armed North Korea?

I know that there are those who say American sanctions on Iran just rally the Iranian people around the nutball mullahs, but I'm just not seeing that effect in Iran: "The protests have often begun with slogans against the high cost of living and alleged financial corruption but quickly turned into anti-government rallies."

If true--a big if, apparently--I wouldn't have cried if it worked. UPDATE: America denies involvement, implying there really was an attempt on Maduro's life.

I must say that while I often run across items that outrage me over their partisan "11" angle and I really want to post about them, I find I actually do feel much better about not getting involved in the insanity. And I read the outrage stories less often, too, so bonus. Both sides should proclaim that they believe that the extremists don't represent the majority and stop acting like we believe the extremists are just brave enough to say what the majority really feels.