Tuesday, April 30, 2019

If It Quacks Like a Duck

China uses its coast guard and a naval militia to advance state conquests without the navy participating in the belief that forces below the level of the navy means nobody will resist. No more.

Well this is all sorts of interesting in a butt-clenching sort of way:

The head of the U.S. Navy warned China that its coast guard and maritime militia will be treated in the same way as the nation’s navy in the South China Sea, the Financial Times reported, citing an interview.

China is increasingly relying on non-naval ships to assert its claims in the region, blurring the line between its military and coast guard, which has complicated U.S. efforts in the past few years, according to the report. China considers at least 80 percent of the South China Sea to be its sovereign territory, a claim disputed by other regional powers.

If the Chinese try to use their naval militia to ram our foul the propellers of our warships engaged in freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait, we won't rule out more forceful means of repelling them, I assume.

UPDATE: About that naval militia masquerading as fishing boats:

All the evidence is that the Chinese ships are elements of the People’s Liberation Army’s Maritime Militia, which studies by the United States Naval War College estimate to include well over 300 vessels and close to 4,000 personnel, though that is probably a major underestimation.

These units are made up of civilian fishermen who receive regular military training and pay while they are under the command of the navy. Their ships are usually not armed, though some are.

However, the ships have reinforced bows to enable them to ram other ships, and are equipped with high-powered water hoses, which are an effective weapon against the crews of other small ships. Most also have sophisticated communications equipment both for espionage operations, and so they can be easily marshaled and deployed while under military command.

Better-armed coast guards need to start arresting those crews and charging them as pirates before they back off.

UPDATE: From the recent press conference on the new annual report on Chinese military capabilities:

We -- we're less interested in the color of the hull than the activity and the actions. So what we're most interested in is China behaving in a manner that's respectful of international law and norms, and behaving in a manner that is not destabilizing and is more constructive. So we're less interested -- again, if its coast guard and maritime militia or classic gray-hulled navy, if the design is to infringe upon the sovereignty of another country, to provoke -- to -- in -- in the -- with the objective of creating some sort of tension that results in a favorable outcome for them, any of that is -- is more concerning than the color of the hull.

China wants the effects of naval power without using formal naval power. We now dismiss the formal distinction between the forms of Chinese naval power.

I, For One, Welcome Our New Robot Commanders?

I believe (if my memory is correct) that the Soviets tried to develop computer programs to make tactical decisions for lower level officers, based on their notions of "scientific socialism" that could quantify the process and make it predictable (allowing higher levels of command to have confidence that sound decisions are made at lower levels). Can AI do the job for American officers?

The Pentagon wants AI to assist human combatants, not replace them. The issue is what happens once humans start taking military advice — or even orders — from machines. ...

Future “decision aids” might automate staff work, turning a commander’s general plan of attack into detailed timetables of which combat units and supply convoys have to move where, when. And since these systems, unlike Aegis, do use machine learning, they can learn from experience — which means they continually rewrite their own programming in ways no human mind can follow.

Sure, a well-programmed AI can print a mathematical proof that shows, with impeccable logic, how its proposed solution is the best, assuming the information you gave it is correct, one expert told the War College conference. But no human being, not even the AI’s own programmers, possess the math skills, mental focus, or sheer stamina to double-check hundreds of pages of complex equations. “The proof that there’s nothing better is a huge search tree that’s so big that no human can look through it,” the expert said.

Developing explainable AI — artificial intelligence that lays out its reasoning in terms human users can understand — is a high-priority DARPA project.

As suggested, you don't want the military equivalent of a driver following a computer's directions into a lake.

But how does a program explain to humans what the humans don't understand?

Do read it all.

And I'd love to see how an AI would run the complicated Japanese plan for the Battle of Midway. Could AI use that complexity that was beyond the ability of humans to manage?

Related thoughts on simulating an enemy AI. My first impression thought is that you have to decide what advantages AI brings and perhaps look to simulate the gap between AI and humans rather than simulate the AI.

For example, if AI allows for faster decisions, slow down the speed that the human players can make decisions to reflect the gap. The gap is the issue and not the absolute speeds of humans or AI, right?

Although I'm sure the people working on this have thought of far, far more things than my first impression comes up with.

Monday, April 29, 2019

When You Start to Take Vienna, Take Vienna

The Stryker is a wheeled armored personnel carrier designed to bridge the gap between our leg infantry and mechanized infantry. As we find we need more mechanized infantry able to fight armored foes, the Stryker is being shoehorned into a role it was not built for.

On the one hand this is surely needed:

Great Power competition is back and with it the requirement that the U.S. Army be able to deter heavily armed peer adversaries. In Europe, the Army found itself outnumbered, outranged and outgunned. One of the few steps it could take immediately was to put a bigger gun on its thousands of Stryker Infantry Fighting Vehicles. As an experiment, it added a new gun and turret to a handful of vehicles in one brigade. This effort proved so successful both in speed and outcome that now the Army intends to up-gun the remaining eight brigades.

Why dick around? If we need heavier units able to go toe to toe with the Russkies (and Chinese), don't try to make medium vehicles into infantry fighting vehicles.

This is just BS:

Now the Army has decided to up-gun the rest of its Stryker brigades. This is an important initiative. Stryker brigades can be deployed more rapidly than armored brigade combat teams but are more mobile and lethal once on the ground than traditional infantry brigades.

I dare you to tell me that moving a Stryker brigade by sea is any faster than deploying a heavy brigade by sea. And don't you dare tell me that the Air Force will allocate the airlift to move a Stryker brigade by air in faster time than the entire unit can go by sea. A company could be airlifted quickly. Maybe a battalion if the Air Force is in a generous mood. But a brigade? No way.

And then you have to consider the supplies to keep the brigade fighting. Will that be airlifted in until sea lines of supply are established?

The article also says that up-gunning the Stryker is faster than designing a new vehicle. Sure. But we don't have to design a new vehicle! Equip the unit with existing Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams tanks.

That misbegotten light tank mobile protected firepower vehicle that will reinforce the Strykers is a waste of money when we have Abrams to spare to reinforce our non-heavy brigades, as I argued we should do in Army magazine. Either add a tank battalion to the Stryker brigades or replace one of the Stryker battalions with a tank battalion to retain the three-battalion structure.

If we need armored cavalry regiments, form them and equip them. If we need more mechanized infantry in our force structure, rather than try to turn Stryker brigades into mechanized infantry with up-gunned Strykers take some of those 8 brigades (including a Guard brigade) and form actual mechanized infantry brigades with a couple Bradley-equipped mechanized infantry battalions and a tank battalion for their maneuver elements. We don't need many Stryker brigades. Even if the Air Force will airlift a brigade, they sure won't lift 8  faster than they can be shipped overseas by sea.

And convert some of our leg infantry units--which cannot survive in the open on a modern conventional battlefield--to mechanized status.

We have 31 active Army brigades including 11 heavy brigades (actually one is yet to convert to that, but it is planned), 7 Stryker brigades, and 13 leg infantry brigades (dropping from 14 current), including 3 air assault and 4 paratrooper.

I'd convert 4 Stryker brigades to mechanized infantry brigades or armored cavalry regiments and convert 2 of the leg infantry to mechanized infantry. Or if the Army doesn't want two types of heavy units, just make them heavy brigades. That would give us just under half of our brigades as leg infantry (including airborne units) or infantry-heavy Stryker brigades, which is close to our 50-50 split between heavy and light during the Cold War.

Just admit it, we need a lot more tank-killing power in our brigades.

As an interim program, up-gunning Strykers is fine. But in the long run why try to make Strykers something they are not and cannot be?

In the Grey Area of Presidential Transfer of Power

Speaking of the Logan Act, I looked it up in an old (paper) college textbook of mine, American Diplomacy. It speaks of the source of the act during the Quasi-War with revolutionary France:

Then, in January 1799, Congress passed the Logan Act, in honor of the volunteer diplomacy of the Philadelphia Quaker, Dr. George Logan, who had gone to France during the preceding year to offer his good influences. He had had interviews with [the French foreign minister] Talleyrand the [five-man executive called the] Directory and was acclaimed a "messenger of peace." [American Secretary of State] Pickering was furious at this interference. The act stated that any individual citizen who represented his country without consent of the department of state was liable to a fine of $5,000 or imprisonment for one year, or both.

The author dismissed the very idea that anyone could or should be prosecuted under the act, and that nobody had been. That is still true decades later.

I don't think the Logan Act could be applied in a first-ever conviction on John Kerry because who believes he represents the American government? Nobody could possibly think that.

And while members of an incoming administration could technically be charged with a violation of the Logan Act for reaching out to foreign leaders to get ready for a new administration, how is that even credible? Are you saying that it is proper for the State Department to block such contact by refusing to grant permission?

Even aside from Congress repealing the act, I imagine the entire issue could be set aside with a blanket State Department policy of granting of consent to members of the incoming administration to talk to represent his country in the name of the soon-to-be new administration. The president-elect would simply supply the State Department of a list of people as they are appointed and the department would rapidly give consent.

Certainly, why have a three-month transition period in presidential administrations if you don't allow a transition over that period (even if it is shorter due to a lack of a clear win in the election that requires further actions)? In the past the transition time would likely make the Logan Act moot because of the travel time to move between North America and Europe, or anywhere else in the world.

But if Kerry is advising Iran on how to cope with the sanctions until a more "flexible" Democrat is president, should Kerry register as a foreign agent? And if he isn't, what then?

Funny enough, Pickering himself was charged with violating the Logan Act, although in the end Congress merely censured him for certain acts related to his freelance diplomacy.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Weekend Data Dump

A bomb that didn't explode in the Easter attacks focused on a Christian-majority city in Sri Lanka was found. More about the target city of Negombo. A "little-known" Islamist group National Thowheeth Jama'ath carried out the attacks. Did al Qaeda, ISIL, or even Pakistan help them with an attack of this scale? The count of those murdered is north of 300. Pray tell what did Sri Lanka do to deserve this? Have a military presence in Saudi Arabia? Invade Iraq? Anything else that idiots say caused al Qaeda to hate us and kill us in large numbers?  Stop asking why to they hate us? In reality, the question isn't what anger Islamists. The question is what doesn't anger the Easily Excitable? Seriously, it's our fault? Why do leftists always worry about the backlash of Westerners to jihadi murder sprees rather than worry about the actual lash of the jihadi attacks?

I'm not happy about Second Amendment sanctuary municipalities. But I'm not happy about immigration sanctuary cities. So if this teaches those who ignore immigration laws that two can play at that game on something that offends them, let them fly for now. At least the federal government could crack down on both without looking partisan.

Defending Iraq is still necessary with its problems. Iraqis still have minorities who like Shia or Sunni extremists. And ISIL is still a terrorist threat if not an occupying force. Luckily more Iraqis recognize the threats and would like American-led forces and Arab state to help fight ISIL so it doesn't revive and to resist Iranian pressure to dominate Iraq. And the corruption. Always the corruption.

Egypt will get Russian Su-35 ground attack planes that Saudi Arabia is paying for. Which will help the Saudis provide alternative weapons--because Russia doesn't care--when Western countries fall for Iranian propaganda about using Western planes to attack our common enemies and try to stop the Saudis from using the planes.

Predictions--especially about the future--are hard. Tip to Instapundit.

Just as the Army is thinking about reinvigorating the division and echelons above for conventional warfare, should the Air Force restore the air division for the same reason? Note that in the article the authors mention Marine Expeditionary Units as an example, but they clearly mean Marine Expeditionary Forces. The former is a battalion-sized unit and the latter a combination of a Marine division and air wing. No big deal. The intent was clear.

I was certainly aware that North African Arab pirate states captured lots of Europeans for slaves. But I did not know those European slaves outnumbered the African slaves taken to America as a country or as colonies.

Which would be a big "ef you suckers who planned ahead, worked, and otherwise refused to borrow $200,000 for a BA in puppetry." Why are we thinking about rewarding stupidity and failure to prioritize? And why is it a good idea to tax the non-college educated to subsidize the well off who fail to prioritize and borrow too much money? Screw you people. Maybe cap government-backed college loans at twice the average annual salary in the field of major would be a better idea. And if you want to borrow more you have to sign a document admitting you are dumber than a mossy rock.

As America tightens sanctions on Iranian oil exports, Iran makes threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. Take this threat absolutely deadly seriously. Because Iran has taken action before we need to be careful in the Persian Gulf region. Of course, with this sanctions step against Iran, a move to squeeze Iran's proxy Hezbollah finances, and another missile defense drill in Israel, are these dots that point to a post-election Israeli attack into Lebanon to tear up Hezbollah's home base with a large-scale multi-month ground raid?

I thought this intelligence agency bias was a longstanding issue, at least with regard to analysts tilting left as opposed to field agents.

A tale of two tweets: In the former who know who committed an act of terrorism and why, and know who the victims were; in the latter somebody did something to someone.

Apparently conservatives don't care about the Sri Lanka terrorism victims because they aren't white AND the Western far right is uniquely angry about the Sri Lanka terror attack. Wow. It's hard to win that game, eh?

North Korea's Kim went to Russia to talk to Putin. For God's sake don't let the Russians "help" with North Korea.

I know I've mentioned that the Air Force war reserve stocks had declined to dangerously low levels. Although at one time I wrongly assumed that it was inconceivable that we'd dip into our war reserve stocks. The Army had the same problem and is working to rebuild the war reserve stockpiles. Russia has demonstrated an ammo problem. Let's hope China has one, too.

Perhaps Congress could stop pushing for a do-over on the Mueller investigation and stop China from using American-build satellites to make China's military more effective.

If reports are correct, this could be damaging to Iran. Tip to Instapundit. We are Iran's enemy (What is unclear about "Death to America!"?). We should act accordingly.

The murder count in the Sri Lanka bombings that ISIL has claimed responsibility for is up to 359, with over 60 arrested and 40 more expected to be arrested. So I guess the usual suspects are being rounded up. Background.

The rise of China's military. And as the article notes, Xi Jinping has put the military firmly under his control, which at least removes this problem of growing military auronomy I worried about. Of course, now we can worry about what Xi will do with the military he controls in order to make China great again.

I've long been dismissive that Putin is some kind of strategic genius. Strategypage's podcast addresses "Vlad the Imploder." Why Western conservatives (of the strongman variety and not the individual liberty kind) admire Putin is beyond me.

I find it fascinating that Democrats who said half of Trump's voters were "deplorable" (and since the election the percentage has gone up to 100%, it seems) think imprisoned felons should vote. Odd that this demographic is assumed to lean Democratic, no? Look morons, prisoners lose a lot of their rights because they are convicted and imprisoned--not just their voting rights. Hell, when I was a soldier I lost some of my rights. And as an employee of the legislature I lost rights (free association and speech) as a condition of employment. So I have no sympathy for this line of reasoning.

Putin is making it easier for Ukrainians in Russian-occupied Donbas to get Russian passports. Ukraine doesn't like this. I don't know why. Isn't this an easy first pass on who to deport when Ukraine regains control of the Donbas? I mean, can Ukraine count on pro-Russian residents of the Dombas to put "Resist Ukraine" bumper stickers on their cars?

I too am dumbfounded that there is an incorrect perception of American decline in Middle East influence and power. And we do have a lot to do in the Middle East.

Funny how that works. Not that Republicans don't do the same when convenient. But the media (the vast majority of it) has to be considered the arm of the Democratic party for their flexibility to be explained.

The French sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait, which annoyed the Chinese.

The Japanese are still trying to collect all of the pieces of the F-35 that crashed in the sea off of Japan. They'd best find it before the Russians or Chinese scoop up pieces and learn something important. This is going to be a real problem for our main fighter for the next 30 years given that we are exporting it around the world. We are taking this very seriously indeed.

End the reset? I honestly wasn't aware that India truly believed that relations with China could be reset given Chinese claims on Indian territory.

We are developing smaller nuclear warheads to give us more options to retaliate if attacked by nukes. I've long wanted such options because even with missile defenses that work, maintaining nuclear deterrence will require us to retaliate with nukes.  A "no harm, no foul" policy is open season on American cities. So we would have to strike back. But we don't want to slaughter civilians needlessly. And enemies know that. So just big nukes aren't credible to threaten in a small attack that might not even make it through our thin shields. It would be better to to be able to destroy specific military or nuclear targets with nukes that restrict the civilian death count as much as possible. Smaller nukes give us that option and so improve deterrence before we are struck. And a bonus note from the Strategypage post that we overcame the Fogbank problem.

Is it really that odd that America wants the overthrow of hostile and despotic regimes even as we don't target non-hostile regimes that are autocratic or even tending toward despotism? Would it really be better to have a universal policy of regime change against every non-democracy regardless of whether they pose a threat to America?  Wouldn't that just guarantee every non-democracy is a threat to America?

A reminder of actual collusion with Russians to influence an American presidential election. Ted Kennedy wasn't just a murderer (where do you draw the line between murder and letting someone die after you put them in the position of dying without your help?) who got away with it. If true, of course. But it fits well with public behavior back then of a whole lot of Democrats. Honestly though, I don't know why people say that we will all die if we don't immediately combat global warming exactly as those people say we must when people said Reagan was eager to start a nuclear war--and obviously he must have so we are already dead, right? Anyway, I'd be happy if the media investigated this Kennedy charge and refuted it. I for one would be relieved to know he didn't and that there was a limit to his moral shortcomings.

All week Microsoft was seemingly degrading my computer performance sometimes to the point of near uselessness with updates that often seemed centered on security software surges in my computer use. It finally seemed to end. I realize that it is important to prevent malware from hijacking my computer but it often seems like Microsoft hijacking my computer. I just hope a "good guy" hijack worked.

I no longer write much about my children, Lamb and Mister, because they aged into a range where it would be more embarrassing (to them) to write about them. But my goodness, I remain so proud of what good people they are and how they work hard. I love them dearly and remain grateful they are my children. My greatest hope is that they live happy and rewarding lives.

Thanks a freaking lot Candace Marie Claiborne.

Remember that Twitter does not represent America. Really, it is just the most politically obsessed and hateful portion of America.

Oh FFS: One problem in NATO is "the lack of secure interoperability between field radios used by U.S. troops and those of NATO allies." Isn't this one of the points of having an alliance that has lasted seven decades? I don't hope for common equipment but shouldn't we by now have interoperable equipment and procedures to use that equipment?

Nail the bastard. As an Army veteran he should damn well know the rules of engagement don't include attacking innocent civilians.

Federalism pretty much requires this distinction between unity and liberty. Too many people want to impose a unitary national government on our federal system.

The Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy has but two maneuver battalions, according to this article. I did not know that. Is this because it is retaining the Army expansion era two-battalion brigades or is it now a tradition three-battalion brigade but with the third battalion absent? And if the latter, is the brigade to be expanded to a full three battalions in time or is it expected to be reinforced in war by a National Guard unit or another battalion from the active force?

Yellow vest protests, much smaller than their peak, continued in France this weekend. I don't know if anything short of Macron's resignation will satisfy them. But it seems like Macron can wait them out with tear gas and I'll guess growing disapproval by the public whose lives are disrupted by the weekly protests.

When goodlife are no longer useful.

Bottom-up procurement works.

Interesting: Chinese--that is, in China--parents were big spenders in the college admissions scandal.

Sri Lanka continues to round up jihadis and their supporters--some who resist violently and are killed--after the Islamist attack on Christians on Easter that killed 253 people.

The fact that Iran still hasn't abandoned the Iran nuclear deal despite Iranian complaints that America is essentially waging economic warfare on them speaks to how badly tilted the deal is to Iran, no?

Many times during the Iraq War before the Awakening took hold, I was stunned at how the Sunni Arabs of Iraq were working hard to take the mantle of dumbest most self-destructive people in the world from the Palestinians. The Palestinians continue to prove they are the best in that category (tip to Instapundit).  All the Palestinians have achieved is to lose their status of Queen of the Victims Prom. But no worries. Their corrupt rulers will be just fine. So there is no incentive to stop their path of self destruction when only regular people pay the price in blood and poverty.

Hong Kong will be absorbed and resistance is futile. Did anyone really believe Hong Kong would have 50 years of avoiding Peking's communist tyranny? Hong Kong's only hope for retaining their dwindling civil rights is to foment revolution in China that will allow everyone to have freedom--or at least make China's communist rulers too busy to worry about Hong Kong.

Yeah, way too many people are getting PhDs in America: "A professor of anthropology from Dartmouth College claims the mere presence of a gun, especially if one makes physical contact with it, can transform a good person into a bad one." On the bright side, I guess prayers, spells, chicken organs, or talisman can protect you. It is very depressing that universities are turning out Witch Doctors these days. Tip to Instapundit.

A Mission Accomplished

Following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the Navy adopted the practice of having all its ships fly the First Navy Jack first used in the Revolutionary War. The Navy is going back to the tradition of the oldest ship in the fleet only flying that flag:

In June 2019 the U.S. Navy will restore the tradition of the oldest warship in service being the only one to fly the Revolutionary War era First Navy Jack (with 13 alternating horizontal red and white stripes with a rattlesnake superimposed as well as the words "Don't Tread On Me") instead of the usual Union Jack (blue with fifty white stars). Since September 11, 2002, all U.S. Navy ships have been flying the First Navy Jack and that was to continue for the duration of the War On Terrorism. The navy has no official comment on what this change has to do with the progress of the war.

Is this a symbol that the war on terror is officially over? Perhaps.

Consider that in Afghanistan and in Iraq friendly governments that we support fight terrorists.

So we aren't sending large numbers of conventional infantry in to fight terrorists these days. Especially with the need to focus American conventional forces more on conventional potential foes.

Special forces, air strikes, intelligence, and advisors are our contributions to a fight against jihadi terrorists that in some ways is more law enforcement of chasing down cells.

Although as the special forces and air strikes components suggest, there is still a lower level direct action aspect to the war on terror which continues even if it doesn't justify the First Navy Jack on all the ships. Just remember the Cole and don't get sloppy without that flag flying over every ship.

Remember that we had to re-defeat jihadis in Iraq War 2.0 after walking away from Iraq after the Iraq War victory and failing to keep the pressure on the defeated jihadis--which Iraq obviously proved unable to do without our continued help.

And of course, our military actions have always been a holding action to allow the Moslem world to resolve their civil war about who gets to define Islam--jihadi extremists or those willing to live in peace with non-Moslems.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Coast Guard Queen

The Coast Guard does have missions abroad that help our foreign policy without the grey hulls of the Navy. But the Coast Guard is stretched thin. It could use help.

This is a good mission to carry out:

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis (WMEC-910) is halfway through a 90-day mission to Africa’s Atlantic coast and already the crew has helped enforce fishing rights, combat smuggling and piracy and rescue two fishermen who had been declared dead.

I wonder if a modularized auxiliary cruiser along the lines of "The AFRICOM Queen" which I described in Military Review could be fitted out with helicopters and drones and serve as a mother ship for smaller vessels. The ship could carry out those missions that Thetis carried out instead of using the ships that could be used in home waters.

The auxiliary cruiser could also be armed and would have greater endurance to remain on station. Just a thought.

And we'd have to paint the ship white with red and blue stripes, of course.

Multi-Domain Fire Support

The Army needs the Air Force to provide timely and effective fire support. Multi-Domain Operations experiments are looking to update the old AirLand Battle coordination:

The Army and the Air Force are crafting a new combined air-ground combat attack strategy to improve warfare networks, perform long-range sensing of targets, strike enemies more effectively and strengthen defenses across multiple domains in real-time.

The Army-Air Force collaboration, called "Multi-Domain Operations," has included in-depth joint-service wargames; it is ultimately aimed at developing new doctrine, service leaders explained.

A new Army-Air Force collaborative war strategy is, broadly speaking, discussed in terms of being a modern, or new iteration of the Cold War-era "AirLand Battle" strategy.

Eventually the Marines and Navy need to be brought in.

And while I like this, is this objective of the MDO exercises new thinking?

[Enabling the capability of] firing ground weapons to attack enemy air defenses and leveraging the altitude and range of surveillance aircraft to pinpoint targets for land-based attacks.

I ask because I thought the Israelis did that in 1982 using drones to spot for artillery in order to clear the skies for their aircraft over Lebanon.

And I know I thought of this in the 1970s in a wargame when I noticed my aircraft were too at risk to air defense fire, and I notice my long-range artillery could hit the air defense systems. That cleared the way for my air power to hit ground targets without high casualties. Still, this is good to do.

In my ideal world, fire support is a black box where a call to destroy or suppress a target automatically calls in the appropriate weapon capable of taking out the target in a timely manner without the soldier making the support request even knowing what asset provided the support.

It could be a plane or space system out of sight, an attack helicopter, a ship or submarine offshore, a distant ground force missile or artillery asset, or even an 81mm mortar back at the company level.

If cyber weapons can suppress the target or add to the fires mission success--perhaps by negating point defenses against fires missions or information operations highlighting a path of retreat open to the enemy before the rounds hit to get them to retreat, for example--it is automatically plugged in to the mission.

Indeed, if the target is close to civilians, perhaps the call for fire support triggers automatic telephone warnings to civilian numbers near the target if there is time before the rounds need to hit.

And if there is automatic deconfliction between aerial assets and artillery to avoid the former being hit by the latter by being in the same air space, that would be great, too.

UPDATE: I see I already made this point while citing my wargame experience.

Friday, April 26, 2019

So About That Nonexistent Iranian Nuclear Program

This did not make the news and I'm just catching up:

In western Syria (Hama province) Israel launched another airstrike, from Lebanese airspace, on Iranian guided missile facilities. This site is rumored to be where Iran is carrying out nuclear weapons research. Foreign technical experts have been seen at the site, including some North Koreans and “Russian speakers.” Several people were killed, including two Iranians, and possibly other foreigners. Numerous structures were destroyed. [emphasis added

I did not hear one word about that aspect of the attack.

Now, the rumor could be wrong. But it fits with my longstanding worry that looking for Iranian nuclear weapons programs in Iran misses potential nuclear work:

Are important parts of Iran's nuclear effort in other countries such as North Korea and Syria? And what of Venezuela, which under Hugo Chavez has become best buddies with Ahmadinejad's Iran?

We could hit Iran, believe we've bought ourselves years of time, and then wake up one morning not long after to see a smiling mullah explain that the nuclear detonation in country X was an Iranian bomb being tested. And that Iran has ten more of the same design already.

Or we could strike a deal with Iran and believe we bought 15 years of time (and even if Iran doesn't cheat, they'd be secure to be better able to break out of the expired deal to rapidly deploy nuclear missiles).

Unless you think Iran really doesn't want nuclear weapons, you have to consider that Iran will see the 2015 deal as a shield against attacks while looking for ways around the terms that in theory might slow them down.

And under the terms of the awful 2015 Iran nuclear deal,--which isn't even legally binding, and remember Iran didn't even admit that they had a nuclear weapons program under the terms of the deal--the IAEA can only inspect limited numbers of locations in Iran.

So we don't actually know what Iran is doing inside Iran, let alone what Iran is doing outside of Iran.

Is This Ukraine's War of 1812?

Is Russia really signaling a way out of the Ukraine War?

Ukraine's new president could regain control over the separatist-controlled east of his country within months and get cheap gas and major investment from Russia if he repairs ties with Moscow, the Kremlin's closest ally in Ukraine said.

Viktor Medvedchuk, a prominent figure in Ukraine's Russia-leaning opposition, outlined the prospect in an interview before a presidential election runoff in Ukraine on Sunday which polls show political novice Volodymyr Zelenskiy should easily win.

He said the Kremlin was keen to know more about Zelenskiy, a 41-year-old Russian-speaking TV comedian who has no political experience, to understand if he is someone it could do a deal with, something it failed to do with incumbent Petro Poroshenko who polls show will be soundly defeated by Zelenskiy.

Of course, it depends on what Russia means by regaining control of the Donbas areas Russia controls. If it means that it formally goes under Ukrainian control but allows Russia to maintain effective control with para-militaries under Russian control, that offer means nothing.

And it depends on what Russia means by repairing ties with Moscow. If that means Ukraine has to subordinate its foreign policy to Russia and cut military and economic ties to NATO and the European Union in favor of integrating with Russian institutions, that offer means nothing.

And then there is Crimea. And the Sea of Azov Does Russia get to keep their conquests? That is unmentioned and so is completely off the table.

I think the only way forward is one that gives Russian-occupied Donbas back to Ukraine with no Russian strings, but with some local autonomy; which accepts Ukrainian independence in policy; and which allows Russia to keep an expanded Sevastopol base complex under a long-term lease with rights of way to the bridges over the Kerch Strait that Russia is building since the 2014 conquest.

And Russia has to pay rent for all that--including back rent for their occupation of Crimea with subtractions from that debt for relocating any Crimean residents who want to move to Russia.

The rest of what Russia owes Ukraine could be paid back with cheaper energy exports.

The Russian base in Ukraine could solve Russia's worry about Ukraine joining NATO by restating the NATO policy that no state with a non-NATO military base on its territory can become a NATO member.

I outlined much the same a couple years ago, based on the rent idea that I offered early in the war.

Russia should seriously consider this type of deal. Russia's military grows weaker while Ukraine's grows stronger (with their military grown from 130,000 largely ineffective troops to 250,000 better equipped, trained, and motivated troops), and eventually Ukraine will try to retake eastern Donbas. With the local Donbas residents growing tired of the war and becoming unreliable enough to compel Russia to take over more of the fight while disappearing uncooperative local rebels, could Russia hold the territory it gained?

And could Russia use their Sevastopol bases if Ukraine then adopts a Hezbollah strategy of bombarding Russian-occupied Crimea periodically? And laying mines off of Crimean ports?

Is that the future Russia envisions? Or would Russia prefer to cultivate a stronger Ukraine that might help against the ancient Turkish foe should Erdogan go full Ottoman revival on the region?

And peace with Ukraine would help defuse the tension with NATO that prevents Russia from facing their real threat in the Far East and Central Asia.

Or maybe Ukraine just writes off Crimea and the Donbas, but sends Russia the bill for the land transfer and sues Russia for the price of the land and resources. By writing off the territory Ukraine would face no territorial dispute roadblocks to NATO membership. Which would be kind of hilarious.

Regardless of how the war Russia launched against Ukraine in 2014 is resolved, maybe it will be like our War of 1812--sometimes called the Second War of Independence--which finally got Britain to actually accept American independence formally granted in 1783. Could the Ukraine War begun in 2014 be the fight that gets Russia to actually accept Ukrainian independence that Russia formally granted in 1991? It's even about the same length of time between the events, coincidentally enough.

And Georgia should not be forgotten. Russia continues to control Georgian territory which Russia solidified in their brief 2008 Goons of August War invasion.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Good Enough for Some Government Work

The F-15, no matter how updated, cannot compete with or replace the fifth generation F-35. But as I've argued, there are missions that the 4th generation F-15 can carry out with no problem at all without the need to use the F-35s over-kill capabilities. This article at least recognizes that reality:

However, CAPE [the Pentagon’s Cost and Program Evaluation office] and Air Force officials see viable continuing missions for the F-15EX in homeland and airbase defense, in maintaining no-fly zones where air defenses are limited or nonexistent, and in delivering standoff munitions.

Yes. Although I though it was called the F-15X:

Not to state the obvious, but the F-15X wouldn't fight the F-35 given that we are selling it to allies (well, there is one potential problem).

But aside from that, this argument neglects that the F-15C is used for continental air defense and won't face enemy stealth fighters or air defense missiles; and forgets that a lot of potential enemies would have less capable aircraft--nor will even China and Russia have exclusively 5th generation planes (Russia especially)--that the F-15X could defeat. Why wear out F-35s on weaker air opponents?

Further, with the ability to carry so many air-to-air missiles, the F-15X could serve as a missile truck that an F-35 could be linked to for firing the F-15 weapons based on what the F-35 saw--without the F-35 revealing itself by firing. Maybe this plane could be the way to go to support the F-35 instead of the AABONE I suggested.

The F-15Cs are aging out too fast for the delayed F-35 production to replace. Buying some F-15EX planes to replace some of the retiring F-15Cs makes sense to me.

And as I've also noted, the F-15EX could take over some air defense missions from the F-22, freeing more of that small fleet to deploy overseas.

I could be wrong, but ruling out the F-15EX simply because it is not as capable as the F-35 misses the point that the F-15EX doesn't need to be as capable as the F-35 to do its jobs.

AFRICOM Needs a Mobile Reserve

United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is very active across a wide swathe of Africa, although in small numbers:

I continue to think that modularized auxiliary cruisers could provide a mobile reserve for the small footprints of US forces across the continent (and to extend operations south of our footprint in emergencies) as I outlined in "The AFRICOM Queen" in Military Review.

Right now our ground reaction forces are limited to Spain, Italy, and Djibouti, leaving large parts of an already huge continent out of easy reach.

Even though the auxiliary cruiser used as a power projection platform could only directly reach the littorals of Africa, the footprint on land would allow assets from the sea to leap frog inland across those lily pads.

And really, only if you haven't paid attention this is a surprise to you. But it is well known that AFRICOM is an economy-of-force theater trying to prevent jihadi threats from rising to the level that it will require diversion of resources from higher priority theaters in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

As I've noted before, I think the unofficial motto of AFRICOM is "Thank God for SOUTHCOM!" The command won't get a lot of military resources, but perhaps money to make an auxiliary cruiser or two could be shaken loose from the Pentagon.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

So It is a New Thing That Enemies Will Throw Everything They Have, Including the Kitchen Sink?

The hype of "hybrid warfare" annoys me. It seems like analysis paralysis. Let's start with this definition of hybrid warfare:

Hoffman writes that a hybrid threat is “any adversary that simultaneously and adaptively employs a fused mix of conventional weapons, irregular tactics, terrorism, and criminal behavior in the battle space to obtain their political objectives.”

By "conventional weapons" I assume he means conventional military units, since irregulars, terrorists, and criminals use "conventional weapons."

Why is this considered so unique? Really, the Vietnam War was hybrid warfare with this definition.

Our troops were constantly forced to balance conventional fighting against conventional military units--requiring our forces to concentrate--and irregular warfare that required our forces to break down and spread out to separate and protect people from insurgents, terrorists, and criminals.

Don't waste so much time reinventing the wheel when we traveled so far down a road on the same invention already. By the time we left South Vietnam, the insurgency was defeated and the North Vietnamese army had been held at bay. Only a cut off of American aid and air power by Congress reversed those victories.

And even the apparent Russian innovation in 2014 of sending troops while denying involvement was partially carried out by North Vietnam which funneled troops south to eventually take over the Viet Cong (who were shredded in the 1968 Tet Offensive) to AstroTurf a mass uprising.

But at least we didn't go along with the North Vietnamese fiction, as our bombing raids on North Vietnam showed--unlike in the Donbas where we oddly seem to mostly go along with the Russian fiction that local rebels with more tanks than Germany, Britain, and France can field in their arsenal are the other side in the war with Ukraine.

Just kill "hybrid" threats the same old way enemies have always been killed. Study what we did in Vietnam.

To the Cores of Big City

The Marines are preparing for urban warfare. Which is really like assaulting a defended shore but without the need to get from ship to shore. So I'm good with this complementary mission.


The Marine Corps plans to launch an urban-combat operations experiment this summer, and the service wants defense firms and academia to submit ideas for weapons and fighting technologies aimed at making Marine infantry units more effective in this deadly environment.

The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory recently released a request for information to search for emerging and mature technologies to be included in a new "limited objective experiment" focused on dense urban operations, according to an April 15 solicitation posted on the government contracting website FedBizOpps.

This will be a series of experiments held between August 2019 and August 2023, with the opening experiment set for August 1-30 at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Indiana, according to the solicitation.

Megacities are a thing we need to be prepared for. I hope part of what the Marines look at is what parts of a city they should seek to control when they go into a city. Surely there are core objectives to effectively control an enemy-held city for the purposes of advancing the military campaign without paying the price to fight for the entire city.

For the Army, I'd like it focuses on mobile warfare. But I'd like some of our officers (or entire headquarters elements?) ready for that urban warfare mission with the skills mostly hosted in the combat engineers to support any Army units (with training and equipment given to them in preparation) that need to supplement the Marines, as I mention in this post.

UPDATE: And of course the Army must have basics for urban combat well in hand because even outside of megacities there will be towns and villages to clear in a campaign.

I'm just worried that the focus on megacities will drag the Army into urban Hellscapes when the Army doesn't need to enter them to advance the objective of a campaign.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Short Run is an Entirely Different Matter

Turkey and Russia have a long history of warfare that argues against an enduring alliance. But an alliance that is fleeting is still a problem potentially. For both America and Russia.


There are still myriad issues standing between the two countries, most recently their support of opposing sides in the Syrian war. Alliances require shared interests – not just opportunities for temporary cooperation but a long-term convergence on issues of vital importance. Forming new alliances, therefore, requires countries to adopt new interests or, at least, new strategies for pursuing their interests. In the case of Russia and Turkey, there’s little evidence this has happened.

There were myriad issues that stood between Nazi Germany and the USSR allying. There were myriad issues that stood between alliance between the USSR and China. There are myriad issues that stand between alliance between Russia and China. But while those unnatural alliances hold they can cause problems.

The same holds true for Russia and Turkey. And the history of conflict between the two is no longer heightened by bordering each other, sometimes with Turkey (then the Ottoman Empire) well north of their current northern borders. Russia (and the USSR) used to border Turkey in the east and Russia used to have access to Turkey in the west either through compliant or vassal states even when Turkey's border was not pushed north.

[I removed the map from the linked article that I originally inserted because it stopped displaying for some reason.]

So a Russia that would like to break NATO's hold on the Turkish Straits might want to ally with Turkey just to achieve that.

And so a Turkey that would like to expand back into its old Ottoman Empire expanse (in influence if not territory) might want to ally with Russia who would be more cooperative than America.

And both increasingly dictatorial states might see common interests in resisting the perceived threat of American democracy to their systems.

In the long run, a Russian-Turkish partnership might not last long. But in the short run it could be a huge problem. Assuming Turkey isn't just reaching out to Russia to get a better deal with America, as Geopolitical Futures raises. That's normal behavior for smaller states despite Erdogan's dangerous path.

But keep in mind that enduring histories of warfare can end. Britain and France had a long history of warfare--until they became allies. France and Germany had an enduring history of warfare. Until they didn't. America and Britain had a history of warfare and hostility that lasted over a century before reversing into a "special relationship."

So the enduring history of warfare isn't necessarily predictive of whether Russia and Turkey might ally.

And then there is the chance that Turkey going from an ally of America in NATO to an unsteady ally of Russia would only be a transition to Turkish alliance with China to gain a distant ally--and their military technology--against both traditional foe Russia and America which can be expected to oppose Turkish neo-imperial ambitions..

Which neither Russia nor America would like much. If the Russians had any sense at all they'd end their pointless hostility to America and NATO to turn European Russia into a safe rear zone to oppose Turkey and China who could combine to push Russian influence out of Central Asia.

UPDATE: Russia would like to have the Montreux Convention which governs access through the Turkish Straits keep NATO ships out of the Black Sea while allowing Russian naval power to have access to the Mediterranean Sea.

The 21st Century Eastern Question rages.

Objective: Europe

Europe is not safe from Russia or from itself. NATO remains important for securing America's interest in a continent allied to us rather than used against us with its still potent technological and economic power, as well as its military potential.

What are these guys talking about?

If Europe’s security doesn’t depend on NATO, U.S. security is almost totally unrelated. NATO was a good idea. It worked to allow Europe to rebuild after World War II, keep the Soviet Union at bay, and integrate German power into Europe. But with those goals achieved, NATO’s purpose in Washington gradually shifted. Today, the United States isn’t in NATO to help important but threatened states balance menacing rivals’ power. It is there to prevent allies from cooperating outside U.S. control and thereby ensure U.S. dominance of European security affairs.

Certainly I admit that Europe has the potential to outclass Russia. But Europe's scattered and largely light infantry armies cannot defend the borders of Europe from Russia's smaller but armored and homogeneous army of Russians. Yes, Russia is weaker than the USSR and is still weakening its military with one-year conscription despite high profile new weapons that create the image of renewal.

But the Europeans seem to be doing even more damage to themselves. And war is always a contest of relative strengths. Russia can do a lot of damage on the borders, taking much of it if America isn't willing to fight for it; and then put core Europe within reach of Russian arms by making core Europe once again the eastern front of Europe. Europe absolutely needs America to take on Russia. Europe needed America to take on civil war-wracked Libya in 2011, for Pete's sake!

Nor is the problem that NATO requires consensus. It does not actually require consensus to respond to an attack--each state can react as it will if one member is attacked. Nothing is automatic although deterrence is served by assuming that. How would a European Union army do better unity-wise unless the EU becomes an actual empire to enforce consensus from the top? I mean, I have no doubt that the Kaiser, Hitler, or the Soviet communists could have organized Western Europe for a more unified military effort had they ever won their drives to control the heart of the continent.

And if the European Union becomes the imperial state it is trying to be with its "ever closer union" policy that continues to erode national democracy in member states, Europe will have been taken over by a tyranny from within rather than by invasion. How long will Europe remain friendly in that eventuality, even if the weak European defense capabilities without America present manage to deter a Russian invasion?

And American security damn well does rely on Europe.

The Atlanticists are silly to call Trump a threat to NATO, as those authors in the initial link note such people claim. But at least the Atlanticists value the strong ties between America and Europe that NATO serves to preserve.

We would be fools to abandon Europe after the sacrifices we've made from 1917 to 2019 to keep Europe as free and as allied to America as we can in defiance of threats to Europe's status.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Defeat Iran to Prevent Another War for Iraq

Opposing Iran on a broad front is necessary and helps us in the narrow battle for Iraq, where we've been involved since Saddam's Iraq invaded revolutionary Iran in 1980. We can win the narrow front.

Iran wants Iraq to be as compliant as Lebanon or Syria to Iranian dominance. It isn't happening:

Senior Iraqi Shia clerics told Rohani that Iraqis would not tolerate Iranian pressure or respond well to Iranian pressure.

Actually it gets worse than that because Iraq, which Iran hoped to annex or at least turn into a compliant client state, is not cooperating. In part because Arab Shia have always disliked the Iranian (Indo-European) Shia and vice versa. Iraqi Shia get regular reports of how badly Iran still (after thousands of years) treats its Arab minority. So while the Shia dominated government of Iraq pretends to be friendly and grateful towards Iran it is becoming obvious to Iran that this is all for show and not real. Opinion polls in Iraq make it clear that most Iraqis are hostile to Iran and Iranian intentions. These suspicious attitudes are on the rise. This does not mean the Iraqis are above making some cash in somewhat questionable transactions. But becoming an appendage of Iran is not going to happen willingly no matter how much the Iranians threaten, cajole and scheme. ...

Iraqis are particularly angry at pro-Iran PMF leaders who keep talking about attacking American troops as part of a campaign to get the 5,200 American troops out of Iraq. Most Iraqis understand that without the presence of those Americans Iraqi would be even more threatened by most of their neighbors (Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia). Even many Iraqis who are not particularly pro-American recognize this use of American troops as a “protection force.” The Americans aren’t there to fight Iraqis but to keep the neighbors from making life difficult for an independent Iraq.

We need to stay in Iraq to secure the progress we've made--and it is a real victory despite the general failure to recognize the victory.

After all, America is still in Germany and still the Germans claim to worry that could go all Nazi on Europe. Maybe we need Nuremberg Trials 2.0.

Iraq can become a beacon of democracy and rule of law in the Middle East only if we stay involved to protect and nurture the fragile sprouts of democracy in that dangerous neighborhood made worse by revolutionary Iran.

And this help includes helping Iraq rein in the Iranian-created Iraqi militias raised to resist ISIL, some of which are basically Iranian units. The militias are in theory part of the Iraqi military and this leverage must be used to pry Iran's grip from them or disband those that continue to work for Iran.

You have to admit that Iraq is important given our repeated military involvement from the Iran-Iraq War (in the Tanker War), to the Persian Gulf War, to the post-war No-fly Zone enforcement, to the Iraq War, and to Iraq War 2.0. Presidents Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, Obama, and Trump have ordered military action to secure Iraq in one way or another. Obviously it is a bipartisan interest.

Wouldn't it be better if we stay involved in peacetime Iraq rather than walk away until we have to use military power to protect our interests?

And read the rest of the Strategypage post on Iran's actions.

China's Rise Doesn't Automatically Mean China's Dominance

China is a rising power that could have an economy larger than America's by 2030, but they are a mere leaf on the wind depending on which way America blows.

This is an interesting article rightly noting that the rise of China threatens the world order America built after World War II, which benefits America. China wants its power to create a different world order that benefits them despite their rise in the American-led system. So that's good. But this is kind of nonsense:

Fearful that the United States has grown more determined to undermine his country’s rise, President Xi has doubled down on his determination to strengthen the Communist party’s hold domestically while advancing China’s global influence.

I really get sick of people who describe every foreign action as a reaction to an American action or lack of action, as if only America has the agency to make choices.

(So the Chinese just react and don't think decades ahead as we are constantly told?)

Xi's decisoin to strengthen party rule over China and to strengthen his own rule over the party have nothing to do with American actions to react to China's rise and potential threats to our allies in Asia.

So no, America is not to blame for China's clampdown at home. Their rulers are perfectly capable of being oppressive SOBs the way they have been for a couple millennia.

And while China is surely rising, as that article linked notes, most countries would rather side with America's view of the world than China's. So even if China is more powerful than America, America's superior geography combined with China's tough neighborhood means we can support neighbors of China to successfully resist pressure to bend the knee to China's power.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Weekend Data Dump

Mali: at the intersection of no and where jihad and bad government. The French are holding the line there in this front in the war on terror. But the Mali government guarantees that the French are needed to hold the line.

I don't believe I've ever challenged the patriotism of Democrats. But if would help the Democrats who angrily deny that Republicans "own the American flag" if Democrats didn't react to our flag the way vampires react to sunlight and holy water. Tip to Instapundit.

Some of the reasons the body count among Palestinians in their ongoing weekly attacks on the Israeli border--not protests--isn't orders of magnitude higher.

The Navy isn't changing its rules of engagement for Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf after the president designated the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization (and after Iranian threats in response). Hopefully the rules of engagement already say we sink anything that gets too close. The designation is formal now.

China won't force the unification with Taiwan yet? Maybe. But there's that "when near, appear far" advice Sun Tsu gave. If China invades Taiwan before American, Japanese, and Taiwanese power regains lost ground as China has armed up, it will look like this, I judge.

Will our mission in Somalia really conclude in 7 years? I'm doubtful that we will ever be able to stop "mowing the grass" there to keep the jihadi level low enough. Not as long as we are chained to the notion that the UN member state  Somalia bears any relation to the situation on the ground. I'd recognize pieces of Somalia as states and let them decide how to gradually pick up territory they can actually control--or give it to the Ethiopians if they dare.

If China is making gains in the information war by exporting their model of a controlled Internet, we need to update our Voice of America/Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Asia model to get apps into operation that will allow people to poke through the Great Firewall to see information from the "wild" Internet.

The US (with Japan's equally focused help) is really working hard to get the wreckage of the Japanese F-35A that crashed. Best not to let the Russians or Chinese get their hands on it.

As long as Russia doesn't control Belarus, I would not put a full active duty American armored division in Poland. I'd like the ability to have a full division there quickly with prepositioned equipment, but the Russian threat to Poland is limited as long as Russia has to move through Lithuania and Belarus to reach it. And if we build up forces too much in Poland (as opposed to infrastructure to receive reinforcements quickly) we might provoke Russia to take over Belarus. Although Russia's armed forces continue to rot away, making that a risky operation. So Russia would have to be really foolish to risk a war with NATO. So what I'm saying is there is a chance.

I don't know what to make of this, but it is certainly more plausible to say that Russia wanted socialist Bernie Sanders who honeymooned in Russia as president in 2016 rather than Trump. Tip to Instapundit.

If a "grasp of reality" is required, we're all effed. Via Instapundit.

Russian use of irregulars and mercenaries (private military contractors) is really nothing new in Russian and Soviet history.

The Indian army is being forced to accept an inferior but indigenously developed 155mm howitzer rather than more of the M-777 that was developed by VSEL Armaments (okay that origin isn't in the post but I am currently drinking from the VSEL Armaments coffee mug touting the XM-777 and AS90 Braveheart self-propelled version). The British-designed M-777 is used by America and other NATO countries, and the Indian army wants more of them. Oh well. China continues to smile at India's dysfunctional weapons design and procurement bureaucracy. In the meantime India's aging and worn out artillery continues to age and wear out. Ah, what's the rush? It isn't like India faces enemies on their borders, eh?

To be fair, who could have seen that plan fueled by compassion going awry?

North Korea is working on nuclear facilities. I don't trust them. But I don't know if North Korea is successfully buying time or if our military hand has been stayed because North Korea has halted their progress short of long-range nuclear weapons sufficiently enough for us to wait them out.

The Navy's big-deck amphibious warfare ships can indeed be used as mini-carrier strike groups. But it only makes financial sense because the ships have a primary amphibious mission and can be used as a mini-strike carrier. It would make no financial sense to build small carriers for the naval aviation mission. Although I admit that precision and stealth make the mini-carriers far more useful than they would have been prior to the F-35/precision weapons combination.

Will China's loans to build Belt and Road Initiative projects just leave the host countries with physical assets and resentment toward China over the terms of the loans to build the infrastructure; while leaving China with bad debts that can't be collected but with trade routes through those resentful countries that can't be bullied out of fear of losing those trade routes?

Now that's privilege.

I miss the days when human resource departments were one person who hired and fired and kept your records secured. Now they are empires of their own who seek to build a New Soviet Man who is a finely smoothed cog unable to give offense in acts, words or habits. No amount of research identifying ineffectiveness will roll back their power. Tip to Instapundit.

How can we not be living in a simulation when the expert discussing unhappiness in men and the scapegoating of masculinity is named "Carla Manly." Luckily I care a lot less about what other random people think about me than other random people would like, I suppose.

Oh FFS. Get a life Snopes.

Oh good grief, I got an email from Barnes & Noble Wednesday night letting me know I could get the Mueller Report for free on the Nook e-reader.  I guess Democrats won't be getting on with their lives any time soon. Please don't forget that despite Russia's efforts to help Trump in the 2016 election they were not for the purpose of getting Trump elected. They could read polling data as well as Hillary's campaign could. The Russian effort was clearly intended to hurt Hillary and weaken her presidency; and to sow chaos and mistrust of American democracy. They guessed wrong on the first part but the Democrats have expanded the latter effect by orders of magnitude, you must admit.

North Korea tested a short-range tactical missile. Yawn. This is nothing and counts on people hearing "missile test" and thinking it means a long-range nuclear missile. It does not. Also, North Korea wants Secretary of State Pompeo kept out of the talks? Well good luck with that. That demand might ensure Pompeo is the only person in on the talks on the American side. Well, him and Bolton. Oh, it might have been an anti-tank missile. It was certainly not a ballistic missile of any type.

I don't know if this record with Japan's F-35s is a normal thing for a new plane.

Russia's "little green men" are far from some revolutionary key to victory. Which is what I've been saying. Those LGM in Crimea spawned the entire "hybrid warfare" craze that is ridiculous. And yeah, as that author says, the European Union has done good work in bringing the ex-Soviet vassal states into Europe. Even though I have serious problems with the EU, I have admitted that the EU represents an improvement over the Soviet Union for those states.

"Beto's" rise in the hearts of progressives was as fast and spectacular as his fall. Pete should keep looking over his shoulder. It's a long time to the first primary.

Russia has completed the delivery of an order of Su-35 planes to China. Talk about selling the rope that will be used to hang Russia.

What a bunch of loons.

Iraq's prime minister is visiting Saudi Arabia after his visit to Iran. Good. The Saudi offer of money and relations will help secure a win in Iraq if it can reduce Iran's destructive influence in Iraq. It's about time Arab solidarity takes precedence over the Shia-Sunni divide.

Democrats must be thinking, "Et tu, Mueller?" I imagine Mueller is just one unhinged Twitter user away from being unable to eat a meal in peace in a restaurant. The investigation will continue--but not all on Democrats' terms.

This 360 vision system is way better than tiny, filthy vision blocks or sticking your torso out of a hatch.

I added this to this post as an update, but I like it enough to repeat it! After two years of telling us that the Mueller report would directly lead to Trump in prison, the shock to Democrats' world view has led them to ignore the report conclusion that there was no collusion and insist the truth is out there. Somewhere.

Does this count as collusion? How about this? Do Steele and Hillary have a lot of explaining to do? Trump's people did not collude with the Russians. That's good. Can Democrats say the same of their relationship with the Soviet Union during the Cold War? First two links via Instapundit.

Marine rotations to northern Australia continue to build up toward a full 2,500-troop Marine Expeditionary Unit. The deployment was started by the Obama administration.

Democrats are stunned that a 2-year investigation with unlimited money and staffed by Democrats who wrote the report ("19 lawyers and 40 investigators questioned some 500 witnesses worldwide. They issued 500 search warrants and 2,800 subpoenas") as slanted as they could were not able to make a case for Trump collusion with Russia during the 2016 election. The investigation should have been able to indict a glass of water with an 'R' on it with that kind of weight--plus media cheerleading--behind it.  For all the Democratic talk of "Sure, Trump didn't collude with the Russians--but they didn't tell the Obama administration about it!" developing, remember that the Obama administration already knew about it and neither told the Trump team about it nor did anything to stop the Russians. Oh wait, Obama did tell Putin to "cut it out." I guess not more should be expected, eh? Democrats rightly mock Republicans who claimed Obama was a secret Moslem literally born in Kenya. Democrats still claim Trump is a secret Nazi figuratively born in Russia. Do the math. Tips to Instapundit.

A better and more secure Army battlefield Internet is needed to enable my suggestion in Infantry magazine in how to preserve our infantry when they are just spam in a can moving to contact in an infantry fighting vehicle in support of the tanks.

By the end of World War II Canada had the fourth largest air force and the fifth largest fleet in the world. They deployed an entire army-sized unit to Europe. And in Afghanistan Canada was one of the few allies who fought and bled at our side. Today Canada is having problems buying 88 F-35s that replace their ancient F-18s to maintain even a rump air force. It won't be long before only the Winnipeg Jets jerseys have any fighter jets in Canada. What the Hell? Tip to Instapundit.

John Bolton is losing his edge when he comments on North Korea and the North Koreans offer but "mild criticism" for his statement.

If we don't solve our problems, events will resolve them.

I just bought new carpeting for my main floor. I got a really good deal on a good carpet. I've long joked that cat food makers should market their food not by animal type but by carpet coloring. If you have tan carpet you buy tan cat food. Because cats will throw it up, and they bizarrely run to the carpet rather than spit up on the tile floor where they started making alarming throat noises. And now I think I should have gotten coffee-colored carpet.

I'm sure data is a tool of the patriarchy, or something.

I still think the 2016 was essentially an uprising against the Republicans and Democrats who were not addressing their concerns and problems. Trump was an outsider who had a history of being a New York City Democrat, and he won the Republican nomination. Sanders was an outsider who was an "Independent" but was actually a socialist. And but for extreme collusion between Hillary, the Democratic party, and portions of the media, he would likely have defeated Hillary for the Democratic nomination. In 2020, assuming Trump wants to run, Trump will be the Republican nominee. And Bernie Sanders could very well win the nomination for 2020 even if the Democratic party is willing to go to even more extreme and blatant lengths to stop Bernie. Normally outsiders force the party they challenge to adapt to survive. Will both parties adapt to the clear frustration that blue collar voters are signaling with their votes since 2016?

Trump spoke to Haftar whose eastern Libyan forces are trying to take Tripoli from the UN-recognized government. It was a mistake to recognize that government which has way too many Islamists and jihadis in it. More and more Europeans are starting to realize that it was a mistake. And stiff-arming Haftar just gave Russia an opening to gain influence there. Hopefully we move on from the mistake. The Tripoli government has counter-attacked.

We are going forward to build a B-21 long-range stealth bomber to replace the B-2. Would it be possible to convert some of the B-2 bombers to stealth aerial refueling planes to cope with longer range air-to-air missiles that will be able to keep our non-stealthy aerial refueling planes too far away?

ISIL forces killed a couple dozen Syrian fighters in desert regions well west of the Euphrates River, which represents our effective "border" for action. ISIL forces have besieged government forces which provided the opportunity to ambush a relief column. Is this evidence of a post-caliphate insurgency?

Peacetime military discipline seems cruel and unusual until the wartime casualties demonstrate it is needed. And yes, despite the war on terror, few troops are in harm's way these days so the military at home is in peacetime mode. In my Army basic training, you'd be dropped for pushups for failing to completely button your uniform. Attention to detail was inculcated that way so you would not screw up with actually important details.  It is not cruel to prepare your troops to win and survive battle. I wish Marine Major General David Furness luck in this decision.

I appreciate discussions of how China could invade Taiwan. I put less emphasis on beaches and more on airborne assault in my 2005 scenario that I think holds up very well as a template. Although my scenario counts on a rapid assault while the Chinese aircraft and missiles are suppressing Taiwan's air defenses and command and control. And my scenario assumes that China can mobilize without alerting the Taiwanese (and America and Japan) too much and pushing them to mobilize. My scenario assumed invasion under cover of increased security readiness for the 2008 Olympics in China that would provide a soothing explanation for what was visibly taking place. Something else would have to be happening to convince Taiwan that Chinese military preparations were for something other than an invasion of Taiwan. Perhaps that is a fatal weakness of my scenario.

I've wondered if Russia will finally stop their self-destructive hostility to NATO in order to focus on deterring a rising Chinese threat to Russia's Far East and threats to Russian influence in Central Asia. And it occurs to me that American pressure under Trump might actually help Russia grasp that course of action. When Obama was president America bent over backwards to be "flexible" to Russia regardless of what Russia did, including interfering in our 2016 election with no push back. Which made it easy for Putin to conceal his appeasement of China by acting hostile to NATO. Now Russia pays a price for hostility to NATO. Might that price change Russia's policy?

"Yellow vest" protests continue in France.

Enjoy your jihad.

So aides didn't carry out some of Trump's directives? And that saved our republic according to the Democrats? Really? Trump didn't imprison the aides or take their families captive to compel obedience? Trump didn't disappear them or even fire them in favor of someone who would carry out the orders? That's all it took to stop a new Hitler from creating a dictatorship? Huh. Good to know. At this point I assume this kind of thing is business as usual in any White House and that the only unique thing is that the media publicizes it. Why do I say that? Because while I am not happy to have a president who is crude and has said rude things about women in addition to being unfaithful to his wife, Johnson was far cruder and both Kennedy and Clinton had far worse records with treating women and infidelity. The difference is that the media minimized, excused, or ignored the offenses of those Democrats. I admit I am looking forward to the post-Trump era for those issues. But I remain ecstatic that I'm not enduring the present waiting for the post-Hillary Clinton era.

Ah Hell. Eight blasts at Sri Lanka churches and expensive hotels on Easter.  There are more than 160 dead as of writing this. And two were carried out by suicide bombers. During the civil war there, suicide bombings were routine. So that fact doesn't automatically mean Moslem--who are about 10% of the population--jihadis did it. And if these are Islamic jihadis, is Pakistan's hand in this? Suspects have been arrested but no motives are disclosed as yet.

We have a winner in Ukraine. I have no idea what to make of this development. He barely speaks Ukrainian but voters are apparently completely frustrated about the glacial pace under the current president of the battle against corruption--which as I've noted is necessary for Ukraine to defeat Russia.

Isn't this ridiculous issue settled yet?