Monday, September 30, 2019

No Blood for Oil Infrastructure

After Iran struck Saudi oil export facilities the question was whether America would strike back. I figured it was up to Saudi Arabia to strike back for an act of war against them. Apparently the Saudis will not retaliate militarily.

So no lasting harm, no foul?

Saudi Arabia's crown prince said in an interview aired Sunday that war with Iran would devastate the global economy and he prefers a non-military solution to tensions with his regional rival.

This is an interesting discussion of how the Saudis could weigh options.

I was content to have America squeeze Iran more rather than fight Iran symmetrically in a tit-for-tat militarized dispute that gives Iran the choice of when and how much to fight so that violence is calibrated to bolster support for the mullahs with a bit of victimhood to get sympathy abroad and a rally-around-the-flag effect at home--but not too much violence to threaten the regime.

If the Saudis wanted to strike back--like at Kharg Island, as I've mentioned over the years--I was in favor of supporting the Saudi effort.

But apparently, after thinking about it, nobody will strike back militarily.

I wonder how the Saudis will retaliate?

Conveniently Exposed for NATO Target Practice

Russia is building up base facilities in Syria as their payoff for saving Assad with Putin's 2015 intervention. I'm fine with every defense ruble spent away from the Baltic Sea region.

Should America worry?

A Russian submarine has moored at Russia's base in Syria after a patrol mission while another one is getting ready to sail off after replenishing supplies — the rotation that underlines Moscow's growing military foothold in the Mediterranean Sea.

The naval base in Tartus is the only such facility Russia has outside the former Soviet Union. In 2017, Moscow struck a deal with Syrian President Bashar Assad to extend its lease on Tartus for 49 years. The agreement allows Russia to keep up to 11 warships there, including nuclear-powered ones.

I don't worry. A Russian flotilla based in the Mediterranean Sea will lead a short but exciting life during a war. Russia doesn't need a blue water fleet and trying to cling to one is foolish.

Personally I prefer to have Russian defense resources diverted away from the Baltic Sea area to a place where NATO and other allies unlikely to help in the Baltic Sea region (like Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey (?), and to a lesser extent France) can destroy some of Russia's military power in the Mediterranean Sea.

Heck, Ukraine should probably consider Syria there first line of defense.

How much of Russia's Syria commitment has been done to justify the conquest of Crimea in the face of NATO opposition and economic punishment?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Weekend Data Dump

Squirrel! Assault rifle!

Peacetime electronic warfare recon.

You don't have to believe that Jesus is actually appearing to figure that if this is truly a trend in what Moslem people believe they see (or believe  what other people say they see) that this is significant, no? Tip to Instapundit.

The Children's Crusade came to Congress. I await the fact checking.

The new head of AFRICOM visited West Africa. Nigerien Air Base 201 in Agadez features heavily. And jihadis and stuff, of course. Speaking of jihadis, we killed some in Libya with our first air strike of the year there.

It is mind boggling that the long-delayed KC-46 is still having problems getting into service. Our ancient aerial refuelers aren't getting any newer. Strategypage has more. The Air Force has been eager to replace its aging tanker planes since before I started this blog in June 2002. That's effed up.

The Air Force is pivoting to great power competition. Air Force commitment to close air support for the Army isn't going to get any stronger. Not that the Air Force doesn't have a point that without getting air superiority nothing else can happen. But the lack of positive help from the air is a reality for the Army. Train and equip accordingly.

Scaring children is bad enough as a weapon to promote climate change hysteria. But it is an improvement over past murderous threats:

But it was "humor" so okay.

Cheap autonomous ground combat vehicles are the way to go. I assume networked ground combat will be a war of attrition whether waged by people or robots or blends of the two. So we have to be able to rapidly replace the robot casualties.

India and America had a big display of friendship in Houston.  Yeah, I don't see India and Russia becoming major allies again. Unless Russia stops bizarrely viewing America as an enemy and instead joins the West to confront the China threat.

The Joint Support and Enabling Command is now operational in Europe and will help move troops and supplies into the eastern NATO countries. Remember, until Russia invaded Ukraine that NATO had little ability in infrastructure or plans to fight in defense of the post-Soviet NATO countries in the east--let alone invade Russia. So congratulations Putin! Winning!

Don't tell the honorable representative that the AR-15 shoots .223 caliber rounds--she'll think they are more than four times as powerful as .50 caliber rounds.

In related news, the Army is getting ready to move divisions--mentioning both Europe and Asia--and having the supporting infrastructure to allow such divisions to fight. I'm glad (if that's the right word for this underwear-changing topic) this is happening and relieved that Asia is mentioned--for operations away from the Korean pensinsula--as I did in Military Review not too long ago. Of course, I was in favor of retaining that ability in Europe, in the same journal much longer ago (starting on page 15).

The Air Force would like friendly countries to be open to basing American aircraft in case of war. Yes, spreading out our planes would be helpful in war with China. God forbid. And that kind of ability will help for natural disaster response. Both require an Air Force able to operate away from established bases, of course, with the minimum of support going with the planes.

It is an assault on language to say that TRANSCOM's ship mobilization effort was "massive" when it involved 28 ships.

Area 51 remained secure last weekend. So our alien spacecraft reverse engineering and alien debriefing can continue on schedule.

Somalia. Now that's an endless war.

Senator Graham is trying to get Turkey back in the F-35 program. Good luck with that. Their role is being reassigned. And besides, we don't have an S-400 problem--we have an Erdogan program. Still, it doesn't hurt to have an outreach that can't work since I hope that rather than edging to be foes we are merely heading for a temporary break.

I find it bizarre that this story is labeled under "politics" as if it is Trump-centric, but Britain says Iran launched the attack on Saudi Arabia. Iran has offered their own Gulf security organization--which seems a lot like mobster "insurance" so your small business doesn't burn down.

Hahahaha! Oh wait, there are people who believe that will happen. Okay, now I'm weeping. Tip to Instapundit.

So ... colluding with Russia to steal our 2016 election wasn't enough. But this justifies (faux) impeachment? I don't think so. This is just tossing chum to her whackjobs to keep them happy for the moment. For more than three years of intense effort to find a horrible thing that justifies impeachment, "Ukrainegate" is what Democrats finally settled on? That's just sad.

Please tell me that even the most woke Resistance member knows this is batshit crazy, right?

Well yeah, falling energy prices would be good for America's economy. But don't assume that jihadis who once accused us of "stealing" their oil at high prices would leave us alone if there was so much oil that we didn't buy oil from their part of the world--either because we produce much more or have alternative sources of energy.

Diced and fried. Sure, cats kill more birds per year. But you can't dispute that solar and wind generation add quite a bit to the death toll. What really amazes me is that there are statistics on bird deaths caused by cats, windmills, and solar panels! And if the Green New Deal gets going, those second-place energy sources will leave those felines chewing on their dust in the ranking!

I have severe doubts about this idea. But at very low seak-skimming level could they be useful in the Black Sea to circumvent limits (tonnage and time) on our warships in Black Sea?

This makes total strategic sense if Russia is to avoid falling farther behind economically, they do need to slow down Western economies. Not that Russia pledged to reduce their carbon footprint! Oh no. Unlike America which has despite pulling out of that actually worthless accord--even if you fully subscribe to the belief system. And remember, Russian and European goals are based on pre-Soviet collapse emissions. Which allows both imperial bodies to claim significant reductions based on closing old heavy industry factories that would have closed from economics regardless of climate change concerns. Besides, in the back of Putin's mind he has to know that if Siberia warms up he'll have no Hellish landscape to send political prisoners if he wants to restart that whole gulag system, eh?

Canada is also pivoting to the Asia-Pacific region. For what it is worth given the skeletal nature of Canada's military these days.

The Navy is thinking of how to support Marine operations in the littorals without conventional amphibious warfare vessels. Ahem (starting on page 50). Maybe the Army should lead the way.

Now hush little baby, don't you cry
Everything's gonna be alright
Stiffen that upper lip up little lady, I told ya
Daddy's here to hold ya through the night
I know mommy's not here right now and we don't know why
We fear how we feel inside
It may seem a little crazy, pretty baby
But I promise momma's gon' be alright.
I feel sorry for Thunberg. She should not be in her apparent panic. But I'll not take her climate advice under any circumstances, my sincere pity for her notwithstanding. Really, I care. I just don't care about what she cares about. What stuns me is that so many so-called educated adults worship the Oracle of Greta (probably not work safe):


I'm fine with going after white supremacists who target non-whites if they are really a threat. But I'm not terribly convinced that the white supremacists are our biggest problem.

I remain flabbergasted that even as marijuana is legalized and normalized, that people are in full panic mode over vaping nicotine. And the worse results come from people putting illegal substances into their vaping devices, it seems.

China is pushing hard at Vietnam over drilling rights in the South China Sea that China claims as its own territory (contrary to international law). Vietnam will likely turn more to America. That's fine. But eventually Vietnam will have to resist more forcefully if they hope to prevent China from stopping Vietnam from using their own EEZ in the South China Sea.

All three Zumwalt "destroyers" are "in the water."  The truncated class of stealth destroyers is odd. Can they sail with non-stealthy ships without making their stealth moot? And how stealthy are they with stuff tacked on? Will one at sea (if all three are based in one fleet, allowing one to be deployed at all times while one recovers from and the other prepares for deployment) do any good for sea control? Or are they primarily to be test platforms for a new class that "affordably" uses the tech sunk into Zumwalt? Still, at least any mission makes more sense than the land-attack purpose given for the ship.

Russia's effort to screw with our 2016 election was like peeing in the ocean given the large amount of money Americans spent to influence us (although by getting the Democrats to unzip and join the stream it was fully cost effective). So I don't know what to make of this report that Russia's cyber effort in 2020 could be massive. Either way, why don't we go to paper ballots rather than try to harden electronic voting?

New angles in lightweight armor. While this is great for infantry and unarmored trucks, I don't see this as a means to allow for lightweight main battle tanks. If this works, won't enemies that don't have to ship their tanks across an ocean simply add a lot more of this lightweight armor and just race back to the total weight of current MBTs? And then we'd have to increase the weight again. And put an even bigger weapon on the MBT, making all MBTs ultimately even heavier? Unless we go to cheap disposable robot tanks that focus on lethality at the expense of protection because there is no crew.

Strykers have already gotten a 30mm gun and others will get anti-tank missiles, too. I've noted that before. I say when you start to build and armored cavalry regiment, build an armored cavalry regiment. Give them tanks, eh?

A fully scary account of the clusterfuck that is Yemen.

Trump stood up for Hong Kong's democracy protesters in his UN speech. Good for him.

Trump tells California that your loud claims to really, really care mean nothing if you don't actually produce results. Tip to Instapundit.

Maduro is hanging on in Venezuela. Really, shouldn't we know by now that telling a thug ruler he has to step aside doesn't work? With the power of caring about the health and welfare of his people less than our level of caring, he can sit on a mounting pile of corpses if he has to and wait us out. Unless his people revolt instead of fleeing abroad; or if his military gets sick of defending Maduro--and the Cuban enforcers go away. More here.

For nearly everyone, trendy (and expensive) crap. Suckers are born every minute.

What with their smooth surface in the groin area, haven't they always been gender neutral? Tip to the Morning Briefing.

This Lego-like grenade that can be adjusted for power might be the next Marine grenade. Be still my heart, could it be a left- and right-handed weapon?

An Army battalion-sized heavy task force that is part of the annual rotation of an armored brigade to Europe will spend its time in Lithuania.

A free and prosperous Taiwan provides economic benefits to China and hasn't harmed China one bit. Some academics think that given that reality it would make sense for China to grant Hong Kong independence. I don't think Xi will listen to academics' advice. Taiwan (and Hong Kong) may need to struggle for democracy for a long time.

Poland will buy F-35s. Is Russia having fun yet after years of claiming a near-toothless NATO is a threat to them? Face it, the Fuck-Up Fairy moved to Russia. How else could you explain Putin's thumbless grasp of threats?

The California state legislature couldn't pour water out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel. To be fair, the rate of inflation really has eaten into felony thresholds of $50 or $100 established in the 19th century in many statute books. I think in 1992 when I worked for Michigan's legislature I calculated that it would be about a thousand dollars in Michigan if you looked at inflation (I looked at a couple other factors, too, to provide comparison measures given the change in our economy over that time span). And it is legitimate to debate whether someone should be sent to prison for that level of theft. But are the crooks being pursued, caught, and sentenced to something? Or are these newly classified misdemeanors too low for police and prosecutors to bother with? If people aren't being punished under the limits of the law's dividing line--old or new--don't be shocked that criminals will gravitate to those crimes. That's an own-goal, dudes.

The rule is that if 99.99% of people use a word or symbol or whatever in a commonly understood perfectly okay fashion, but the remainder use it (or are said to use it) as a symbol of hate--the symbol or word is a symbol of hate? Why grant the haters that power? That's insane.

Ebola.

Oh FFS those journalists can't actually believe this, can they? Are they so in the tank for Biden that they have forgotten the difference between "figurative" and "literal?"

Zelenskiy and Trump weren't "badmouthing" Germany. They were describing a country that has failed to live up to its alliance defense commitments and which is actually helping Russia freeze Ukrainians in the winter by building a pipeline for Russian energy to Germany that bypasses Ukraine (which meant that cutting off Ukraine cut off Germany and Europe, too). That said, it is not fair to say that Germany doesn't also help Ukraine.

Fortunately I can microcare, too. Tip to Instapundit.

I have feared that Remainers would not allow Britain to leave the European Union,notwithstanding the pledge to abide by the Brexit referendum results. Was I right? Is hope this weak? I was long in favor of accepting any Brexit on the theory that it was most important to get out. And then work on fixing the bad terms of the Brexit. We'll see. Rule of law is dead in Britain if Brexit is denied.

This is way cooler than finding quarters in your couch cushions.

I get the feeling that the North Korean sailors who showed weakness by breaking down and then accepting South Korean help will be shot for their troubles.

Erdogan's party support is declining as dissent grows in Turkey to his sultanship. Is he close enough to full autocracy to dispense with the facade of democracy and go full sultan?

It looks bad for the Democrats to impeach Trump when an election is half a year away from giving mere voters a chance to say whether Trump should be sent home (that observation was made by someone else but I can't find the source). It would almost be worth the impeachment process hysteria and divisiveness to have it work. And then have Trump with an election campaign infrastructure already in place simply run for election rather than reelection. I mean, is it even illegal for an impeached and removed president to run for the office?

I see somebody has been reading too much of China fanboy Tom Friedman. Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and a billionaire, doesn't think Xi Jinping is a dictator and thinks Xi listens to his subjects. Perhaps Xi is popular among the Chinese. Although by tightening state control lately the CCP doesn't act like it is (although the CCP definitely listens to--and watches--its people). The point is that if the people change their minds Xi can stay put as long as the Communist Party and security forces back him. One wonders if Bloomberg is stupid, evil, or bought and paid for by the Chinese thug rulers? Is there a fourth option that isn't apparent (beyond the healing powers of "and," of course)?

Related to my frustration with the Resistance, I've often said that if the Democrats had worked with Trump--who has a long history of being a liberal supporters of Democrats prior to running as a Republican--the Democrats could have gotten an infrastructure spending program in 2017 that would have made Obama blush. Just call it the Total Reconstruction Using Money Piles Act, and Trump would have signed it.

Somebody alert the NYT 1619 crew.

American forces hit jihadis for the third time in a short period of time in Libya. Is the ISIL threat growing or is our recon getting better with our new drone base in the region?

If Russia truly wanted to support Trump their foreign minister wouldn't be defending him in the so-called Ukrainegate. Lavrov is throwing chum in the water for Resistance types who want to impeach Trump.

Have I mentioned lately that professors as a class have forfeited an assumption that they have superior knowledge and wisdom? Tip to Instapundit.

On October 1st the Chinese will celebrate 70 years of Communist Party tyranny in China. Will they celebrate the tens of millions they murdered and the countless people they've imprisoned and terrorized? But oh well, they industrialized and modernized so all is forgiven--as if that kind of body count is required--according to some fools in the West. For those fools, the modernization isn't the omelet--the tyranny is.

On home front news, I finally figured out--perhaps because it got worse lately--that intermittent leaking under one of my sinks was caused by a leak in the sink itself. I had no idea that was a thing. They aren't one piece things that you can see from the top whether there is a hole or not. I pulled the sink out, caulked the heck out of the seams, and reinstalled it. No leak! But I inadvertently scared the heck out of myself. Apparently--in retrospect--during the removal process some water leaked into my kitchen below the bathroom a little bit. I noticed a water stain in the ceiling which looked like it was beneath the toilet. Egad! Is everything breaking down? I turned off the water to the toilet and contemplated by alternatives. But the stain dried out. And it made little sense that if there was a pipe leak that turning off the water into the toilet would stop the water from dripping. So I turned the toilet back on. Still okay. I was the cause of the water leak somehow. And now I'm spraying the ceiling with a mix of water and bleach which over time nicely fades the water stain after repeated spraying and drying. That was fascinating, I know.

Strategypage discusses tanks and threats to them. Tank survival is not just a matter of passive and active protection. Tank survival requires combined arms with infantry and fire support keeping threats to the tanks suppressed, dead, or away; trained officers and crews; and less appreciated, controlling the battlefield after the fight to recover disabled tanks to repair them and return them to the fight.

I would like American-German relations to be better. But the decline long pre-dates Trump. And as I noted during the Obama administration, the public love of Obama over there didn't translate into Germany being a better ally. Let's hope relations recover--without a major Russian threat to revive them. I reject that notion that Merkel was prescient in refusing to support the Iraq War because the evidence of Iraqi WMD stockpiles wasn't evident. The 1991 ceasefire required Saddam's Iraq to prove he had disarmed--not for America to prove Saddam still had WMD. Can anyone doubt Saddam would have rebuilt his arsenal--and perhaps used it against the Kurds again to regain that territory--if he had not been defeated? Fellow Baathist Assad has been using chemical weapons notwithstanding the 2013 chemical weapons agreement that Kerry made with Russia's Lavrov. Saddam would have followed a similar path.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Ukraine Kerfuffle

As it turns out, the "whistleblower" doesn't have "direct knowledge" of the phone call in "Ukrainegate." So the allegation seems like BS thus far.

It would be funny if the Constitutional-crisis-of-the-day about Trump's phone call ended up harming Biden. The media is playing it up assuming it must be bad for Trump. It may not be. If it does turn out to be bad for Biden, I'll have to wonder if the Trump administration baited the media with the whistleblower.

Although perhaps a Democratic rival with ties in the government got it going. That's if this plays out to harm Biden, of course.

Or it might be something bad, I must admit. I'm not willing to say it is inconceivable that Trump might do something wrong (especially given his conviction--with some justification--that the Democrats have done worse the last three-plus years and gotten away with it). But that's not the way to bet as far as I can see--especially after reading the "transcript" of the phone call (not based on a recording but from people listening and taking notes). Tips to Instapundit. More here.

Oh, and what's with that part in the transcript about a Democratic Party server in Ukraine?

Still, from someone whose opinion I respect, the Biden Ukraine episode isn't as bad as Republicans are making it out to be in defense of Trump. So shouldn't Biden welcome a Ukraine investigation that demonstrates that the charge is baseless?

But if Biden's action isn't as bad as I thought, isn't Trump's action at worst on par with Biden's, making the Speaker Pelosi faux impeachment announcement rather ludicrous? And what of the Senate Democrats pressuring Ukraine not to do anything to help Trump?

Is all of this--including Trump's request for renewed investigation--just business as usual for the government and unseemly? I mean, how does it compare to Obama's secret dispatch of wads of cash to Iran or refusal to prosecute Hezbollah drug operations in order to get the awful Iran nuclear deal?

What level of "reciprocity" is criminal, hmmm?

It is apparently not improper for the president of the United States, caught in a hot-mic exchange with the Russian president, to offer a quid pro quo deal in which the United States suggests it will pull back from missile-defense agendas in exchange for good Russian behavior designed to help the president and hurt his opponent in the forthcoming reelection.

I'm open to the idea that Trump acted wrongly. But the Ukraine call doesn't seem bad or that unusual. And it certainly doesn't seem like an impeachable offense.



What am I missing? After all this time of serial breathless reports on smoking guns of treason to be revealed any minute now, this is what will get Pelosi to drop the hammer?

And no (via Instapundit), the media is not building trust with their biased reporting. If the facts are so bad for Trump, why aren't the facts alone good enough to report?

Yet I will admit that if I hadn't been fed a steady fire hose blast of "OhmyGodlookwhatTrumpdid!" hysteria for the last three years I might not yawn at this flavor of the day "crisis." Seriously, people, I'm one of the people you could have convinced to oppose Trump based on my long opposition to his political ambitions and distaste for him personally. Democrats think they are saving the country with their hysteria. But they look like partisans willing to destroy the village in order to save it for their own political ambitions.

But the insanity of the Democratic opposition (with an assist from some Republicans), the volume of the opposition, the unrelenting pace of the turn-the-dial-to-11 opposition, and the unfair demonization of his supporters by the opposition has made me willing to figuratively crawl across glass to vote for Trump--for the first time, you morons! Because Democrats of The Resistance have made it clear that the visibly flawed Trump is superior to anybody the Democrats could put up against him in 2020.

Bravo. Really. Brilliant work you guys.

UPDATE: Let me add some thoughts on Biden's threat to withhold a major loan to Ukraine if Ukraine didn't fire a corrupt prosecutor. It is fair enough to say everyone here wanted that man fired. We have an interest in increasing rule of law in Ukraine.

The problem is that Biden's son escaped an investigation for his actions in Ukraine because that prosecutor was fired.

Given the issue of Biden's son, Biden was the wrong man to send to Ukraine with the message to fire the prosecutor if the only issue was promoting rule of law. Didn't the choice of Biden to go to Ukraine with the job of getting the prosecutor fired also send the message to Ukraine that the new prosecutor shouldn't continue the case against Biden's son?

Wasn't there an implicit deal just from the fact of sending Biden, with the clear backing of Obama?  The investigation into Biden's son was dropped, after all, right? Or at the very least there were no consequences for the amazingly lucrative career of the Biden son in the wake of Biden's role in Ukraine.

I mean, with all the talk of quid pro quos, isn't that a more plausible case for wrongdoing than Ukrainegate 2019?

UPDATE: Of course, if there was no investigation of the company that hired Hunter Biden, I'd have to reconsider that aspect. Each side is saying opposite things and I guess I'm not sure what the reality is.

UPDATE: A Hunter Biden timeline. It looks corrupt. But I'm unclear if there was a Hunter Biden investigation in Ukraine.

The fired Ukrainian prosecutor--who Biden said Ukraine had to fire or lose a large loan--says there was an investigation. But he was fired for corruption. Still, we don't have to trust his word for it. What does Ukraine say now about that question?

UPDATE: Democrats really do seem to be destroying the village in order to "save" it. Sadly, their confidence that no insiders will leak information when they hold the White House is probably well founded.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Once More With Feeling

Assad has sort of won his civil war (which became a multi-war with multiple foreign interventions), so naturally he is rubbing his enemies in the poop of their defeat.

Huh:

The United States vowed a response Thursday as it said it had confirmed another chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, although there were no fatalities.

The Assad regime used chlorine on May 19 in Latakia province during its ferocious offensive to take back the last major rebel stronghold in nearby Idlib, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

I know, I know, the brilliant 2013 Syrian chemical weapons deal that Kerry negotiated with Lavrov eliminated all of Assad's chemical weapons! How can this be?

Wait? Your argument is that since chlorine wasn't part of the deal that its use as poison gas doesn't count? Phew! The dead and lung-crippled survivors will be relieved to hear that!

We will strike again, apparently. And it will have little effect other than putting us on record that we reject the use of such weapons. There is probably value in that. But don't expect more.

Countries without the experience of the western front in World War I (who are also democracies, and maybe that's the key) just don't seem to have the cultural taboos about chemical weapons use.

And honestly, for much of America and Western Europe, revulsion of Trump may be so great that the trauma of mass gas use in World War I will fade even in the West. If Trump is against gas use, maybe the global left will start to think it isn't so bad compared to bombs and bullets.

I'd be curious to see opinion polls of Kurds and Iranians who have been on the receiving end on the issue of poison gas use.

The Dog That Did Not Bark in the Tsentr

So Russia's latest in their series of strategic wargames was low key:

Russia’s annual major autumnal exercises are usually accompanied by a loud propaganda campaign advertising the country’s military might; this year, however, official reporting on the Tsentr 2019 war games was rather low key.

Why was it low key? Well this might explain it:

The strategic design for Tsentr 2019 was focused on testing Russia’s capabilities to project military power into Central Asia[.]

The only foe who might challenge Russia for influence in Central Asia where the Soviet Union once ruled is China.

Notwithstanding Chinese participation in Tsentr 2019, when Russia is still in appeasement mode toward China, it's best not to advertise this exercise.

UPDATE: China isn't terribly popular n Central Asia:

Notwithstanding twenty years of increasingly prominent political, economic and security relations, China remains poorly understood and even feared among Central Asians.

Russia has some leverage to compete with a stronger China. But it may not be able to pretend to be China's ally much longer if Russia wants to reassure Central Asians of Russian support.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Resistance is Not Futile

I wanted American troops to remain in Iraq after 2011 after winning the war in 2009--yeah, we won--and after defeating ISIL in 2017. Staying works.

Staying in Iraq to bolster democracy, keep jihadis down, and reducing Iranian influence were important jobs after the kinetics. We screwed up by being out from 2012 until ISIL overran large chunks of Sunni Arab-majority Iraq in the first half of 2014.

Staying in Iraq since defeating ISIL's caliphate has been a slow victory over Iran:

The government and Iraqis in general are particularly keen to retain American troops in Iraq, to discourage Iran from trying to take over the government by force. Elections and opinion polls show Iran is losing support and the Iranians are desperate to turn that around and do dangerous things as part of that effort. Iraqi government efforts to stop the verbal threats to American facilities and forces as well as the actual violence are hampered by the fact that while a shrinking minority of Iraqis support Iran those supporters still occupy key political and security force jobs.

We are at war with Iran--as the Iranian missile/drone attack on Saudi oil export capacity shows vividly. We aren't waging a lot of the war kinetically, but it is a war.

And Iraq is one of those fronts. It is a front that we can win--if we wage the battle. It doesn't take many Americans in Iraq to bolster Iraqi will to resist the Iranian influence. But this will take time.

Let me add that I am relieved that our small force in Iraq (plus allies) today is enough to work against Iranian influence. I certainly felt that much more was needed in 2011. I was apparently wrong back then to think we needed 25,000 American troops to defend the win. Although the ability to push back Iran's influence since 2017 when the ISIL caliphate was dismantled in Iraq doesn't mean necessarily that I was wrong in 2011, I suppose.

[I clarified the last paragraph and added a link I meant to include in the first sentence.]

Just ... Stop

Russia likes threatening NATO with all kinds of destruction but doesn't like it when NATO acts like it might fight back. Lord the Russians are annoying.

Oh grow the ef up Russia:

Russia on Friday accused the United States of brazenly threatening it after a senior U.S. general said Washington had drawn up a plan in case it needed to destroy air defences in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave in Europe.

U.S. General Jeffrey Harrigian said on Tuesday that "If we have to go in there to take down, for instance, the Kaliningrad IADS (Integrated Air Defense System), let there be no doubt we have a plan to go after that," the Breaking Defense magazine reported.

NATO didn't have any plans or infrastructure to defend post-Soviet NATO states in the east until the Russians starting acting like aggressive SOBs by invading Ukraine and threatening even nuclear weapons against NATO and other states in the region.

Hell, we removed all of our heavy armor from Europe at one point. That's how much of a threat NATO was to Russia. No American tanks in Europe.

And now the Russians are upset that we reveal the bloody obvious that we'd attack Russian air defenses in Kaliningrad during a war?

https://d1w7fb2mkkr3kw.cloudfront.net/assets/images/book/lrg/9780/8362/9780836255140.jpg

Okay. The moment passed.

Those Russian air defenses would threaten the rear of the Baltic NATO states and would interfere with aerial reinforcements to Poland. Of course we'd plan to knock them out. And the Russians know that. Everyone knows that. But the Russians profess shock and outrage.

Poor, poor, victimized Russia.

Let me clue the Russians in a bit more. If Russia invades NATO we'd also go after their surface-to-surface missiles there.

Hell, I'd capture the entire region in case Russia attacks NATO.

If being annoying was factored into GDP, Russia would be a superpower.

#WhyRussiaCan'tHaveNiceThings

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Proto-Empire Strikes Back

Britain, as I've noted, doesn't want a potentially hostile power to organize Europe and harness all of its power:

For Britain, the consolidation of the Continent into a single bloc was a perpetual nightmare. Britain was militarily weak compared to the Continent as a whole and saw Napoleon, for example, as an existential threat. Had he been able to impose a stable system, dominated by Paris, on the Continent, the economic and military force he could have mustered would have overwhelmed Britain’s naval defenses in the not-too-long run and compelled Britain to accommodate itself to French hegemony.

Turning to America and non-European places instead of Europe abandons the long-held goal of preventing Europe from being controlled by a single power, the author says.

But isn't NATO with a strong America and non-EU Britain as major member states a way to thwart the rise of the proto-empire EU into an actual empire to achieve that long-held goal?

America has the same long-term goal--if not held as long as Britain--of not wanting a single power to control Europe, lest it be hostile to America. Economic and security ties would help both of us.

I don't know what happens despite the Brexit vote more than three years ago that told Britain to leave the European Union. It seems like Remainers and the British Supreme Court want to act as agents of the proto-empire.

Is the AFRICOM Queen Already Sailing?

I suppose the Navy has actually adopted my AFRICOM Queen modularized auxiliary cruiser suggestion in Military Review, but with purpose-built ships built to project land power. But will they be reserved for higher priority missions than supporting AFRICOM?

It's interesting that the Navy is building non-amphibious warfare platforms for power projection missions:

In mid-2019 the United States Navy ordered two more ESB (Expeditionary Mobile Base) type amphibious support ships, with the option for a third. These ships will enter service by 2023 and if all three are built the navy would have eight ESB type ships.

I didn't realize there were that many planned.

The concept has been tested:

This was not a new concept as in 2006 an Austin class amphibious ship was sent to the Indian Ocean without the normal complement of marines. That ship was instead used as a floating base for UAVs and SOF (special operations forces). A similar task was assigned a navy carrier in 2002, to support SOF operations in Afghanistan. In 2006, it was believed that the amphibious ship was also supporting SOF operations ashore in Somalia or Iran.

I recall the 2002 Afghanistan mission. I was not familiar with the others (unless I have forgotten them). I'll add that in the 1990s a Haiti operation against opposition would have put Army air mobile infantry and special forces on a couple carriers. If memory serves me just one was used for a permissive landing after negotiations. And I do recall the Ponce modifications.

Still, AFRICOM (whose unofficial motto is probably "Thank God for SOUTHCOM.") is low on the priority list and a renewed focus on China and Russia does nothing to improve its ranking in the regional unified command standings. Will any make it to African waters to support our friends there and hunt our enemies?

And even if enough ESB-type vessels are built to give AFRICOM access to these ships on a regular basis, my original purpose for the vessels to expand the Navy rapidly is still valid.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Inconceivable?

So China will falter despite Trump?

Is China's communist party going to face a crisis that destroys its hold on power?

While there is technically no time limit on dictatorship, the CPC is approaching the longevity frontier for one-party regimes.

The timelines of comparison includes the Chinese Communist Party's CCP, or CPC as that author uses) tenure as an insurgency rather than as the governing organization of the comparison states.

So if 70+ years is the danger point, that indicates the CCP could have 20-30 years of life left in it, no?

I don't know about the prediction. But I find this amusing:

With its superior military capabilities, technology, economic efficiency, and alliance networks (which remain robust, despite President Donald Trump’s destructive leadership), the US is far more likely to prevail in the Sino-American cold war than China. [emphasis added]"

Not that victory wouldn't harm America perhaps too seriously, too, he says. Although why it (as opposed to a Hot War) would be worse than the Cold War with the USSR that left us as the lone superpower after the West's victory is not explained.

But if our alliances are robust under Trump, perhaps the author wants to reconsider the "despite" part. Especially considering his predecessor, Obama.

This author pretty much ascribes to the quote above after the "despite", but still writes:

But neither [Trump's "alienating allies and total abdication of America’s moral standing"] should obscure the poisoned chalice he was ceded by his predecessor, whose disastrous legacy grows more and more palpable by the day.

Maybe Trump has harmed our diplomacy. His style is not my cup of tea, to be sure.

But how "robust" was our alliance structure in our "enemy-centric" policy under Obama that tried to appease foes into friends, as that second author writes?

A similar range [to our "reset" policy to appease Russia] of “enemy-centric” policies, to use the tart phrase of former Czech foreign and defence minister Sasha Vondra, were implemented in practically every region of the world.

And Trump's success in keeping allies in the fight "despite" his ham-fisted bluster even after Obama's disaster is the way to look at Trump?

A number of people keep saying that it is inconceivable that Trump isn't wrecking our foreign policy.



I don't think Trump is playing 3D chess. But I don't see the horrible effects of his bluster.

UPDATE: Inconceivably, America and Singapore renewed until 2035 the agreement that allows America's military to use Singapore port and airfield facilities.

The Path to Victory

How can people claim our war in Afghanistan has been futile (and lost) when this has been the situation in that country?

Once the peace talks were cancelled, U.S. forces in Afghanistan were ordered to hit the Taliban with maximum effort. The Afghan security forces were already doing so and the Afghan troops are have been carrying out nearly all the attacks against the Taliban this year. That is something the Afghans are proud of as they have been training and reorganizing for over a decade to reach that level of combat performance. Afghan soldiers and police also realize that they and their families have a lot to lose if the Taliban gain control. The last time that happened, in the mid-1990s, the Taliban retaliated against Afghans who had fought against them and families were not exempt. Technically the Taliban have abandoned such tactics but the Taliban still go after those who desert or switch sides. [emphasis added]

Remember, our intervention didn't have to finally defeat the enemy before we left. What we had to do was build up allied local forces who could fight as long as they need to in order to defeat our common enemies.

We've done that. And that achievement includes the Obama administration in that training program.

That doesn't mean that these trained troops don't need American help. Our air power is very important:

It’s not just the airstrikes, it’s also the American ability to airdrop supplies to areas that the Taliban have under siege. The Taliban take heavy losses maintaining those sieges and American supply drops enable Afghan forces to survive and win most of those battles. The Taliban learned this the hard way in 2018 when they saw many of their sieges fail because of the air delivered supplies. In 2017 the U.S. Air Force dropped 15 tons of supplies by parachute (often guided parachutes that can assure delivery in a small area.) In 2018 that increased to 304 tons and that, plus even more airstrikes made sieges unpopular with Taliban fighters.

And air strikes, recon, transport, and casualty evacuation, don't forget.

I don't know what the purpose of peace talks is. I sure isn't to achieve peace with the Taliban. But if the peace talks never achieve peace, with our help friendly Afghan security forces will continue to kill the Taliban who hosted al Qaeda which struck America on September 11, 2001.

And don't forget that peace talks are probably futile as long as our black-sheep ally Pakistan supports jihadis in Afghanistan.

But at least with locals doing the fighting, we don't have to sustain a large-scale war through Pakistani territory.

Boy would our problems be simplified if the Iranian people overthrew the mullahs in Iran.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Gambling Going On Upstairs

Iran has undeclared nuclear sites. Recall the hope and change:

To listen to the Obama administration, you would think the JCPOA leaves no stone unturned. The accord provides “the most comprehensive and intrusive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated,” President Obama claimed. The JCPOA “is not built on trust,” he contended. “It is built on verification.”

Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that Washington already knew the full extent of Iran’s past and present nuclear weaponization activities. “We know what they did,” he declared. “We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in.”

And people complain about Trump's lies? I'll take false statements on crowd size any day.

Verification of the Iran nuclear deal (the JCPOA) was always a sham. It was obvious from the start just by reading the awful Iran deal--without even going into the secret side deals with the IAEA that made inspections way too friendly to Iran's interests.

And Kerry was a blithering idiot to make his claim. He turned around the observation that a diplomat is an honorable man sent to lie for his country. Kerry was a dishonorable man sent to lie to his own country on behalf of an enemy.

The outline of the deal was always clear to me long before it was made and proved me right:

The Iranians will pretend not to have a nuclear weapons program; and we will pretend to believe them.

Are we clear now that Iran wants nukes?

Taiwan Needs a Military and Not a Missile Force

Taiwan needs a full military with a lot of missiles and not just an arsenal of missiles if it wants to deter and defeat a Chinese invasion.

I don't think Taiwan has the luxury of this kind of advice:

Instead of allocating its limited defense budget on expensive equipment such as stealth fighters, tanks or submarines, the Taiwanese military should invest in cheap, expendable, mass-produced weapons systems that can be easily moved, disguised, and deployed against an amphibious invasion force. In practical terms, this means a navy composed of missile patrol boats, mine-laying ships, small semi-submersibles, and underwater drones; an air defense component reliant on mobile surface-to-air missile batteries; ground forces armed to the teeth with aerial drones, land mines, and antiship and antiarmor guided missiles; a reserve force and civilian population fluent in guerilla tactics; and an industrial policy focused on developing breakthroughs in missile and drone technologies.

Taiwan doesn't spend nearly enough on its defense budget given the threat it faces.

Two, counting on keeping the Chinese off the island assumes that Taiwan can stop the invasion off the beaches. What if Taiwan can't do that? What if China can nullify some of Taiwan's missiles and is able to absorb the casualties and still get ashore? What then?

The very fact that the advice says Taiwan should get fluent in guerilla tactics concedes that Taiwan won't keep China's invasion force off of Taiwan. And it assumes that once China lands it will take the whole island.

Three, the advice assumes China will hit the beaches, which I doubt. Counting Chinese marines and amphibious warfare ships is a red herring. China will land at ports and airfields, I think.

Four, with a Taiwanese crust defense at sea without a capable army (with tanks), any weak Chinese landing on a beachhead can't be thrown back into the sea (or captured at an airhead), paving the way for a build up and offensive.

Even a ceasefire short of total Taiwanese defeat would just lead to a round two later when China has built up heavy forces in their landing areas behind the ceasefire line.

Five, if China successfully lands and sets up its own anti-ship and anti-ship missiles for A2/AD use, how will America approach Taiwan to liberate it any time soon even if Taiwanese are still resisting? Will Congress approve that kind of full war? Or say, "Oh well, too late. Too bad for the Taiwanese."

So what if the Taiwanese engage in guerilla warfare? Tibet and Xinjiang don't seem to be escaping their Chinese conquest any time soon. If I was in charge of China and conquered Taiwan I'd deport Taiwanese to those restive provinces to kill four birds with one mass expulsion of people.

Yes, Taiwan needs a lot of anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles. But they need a lot of everything else, too. Because they need to fight China every step of the way. Although, yeah, I wouldn't sell stealth fighters to Taiwan. Although buying stealth fighters doesn't seem to be a real issue.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Weekend Data Dump

Michael Yon continues to video the increasingly violence-tinged protests in Hong Kong. At some point it will be clearly rebellion. I remain pulled between admiration and dread. The protesters' only hope may be the equivalent of drawing to an inside straight. Just a reminder that this is actual resistance against actual tyranny.

If Trump did it quietly without Tweets, his asylum policies would be pretty much like sophisticated and nuanced Europeans. Tip to Instapundit. Although I will say I thought I knew for sure that refugees have to apply for sanctuary in the first country they hit rather than shop around for the best deal. According to the article, that's not the case under international law. So that is news to me.

An accusation from a Clinton attorney about an alleged victim who remembers no such thing and about which no named witnesses remember. Yeah, explain to me again why it is so wrong to mistrust the media. But the damage is done before the correction is made, so that's a win as far as they are concerned.

Maduro's socialist idiocy has finally gotten bad enough for Maduro to turn to the last resort--a little bit of free market. Lenin did the same thing. Which worked well enough to give the USSR Stalin and decades of misery and death for Russians and the world.

For all that Hollywood has incubated faux Resistance against a faux Trump dictatorship, Hollywood is surprisingly eager to comply with (collude?) an actual Chinese tyranny to have access to the lucrative China market. Yes, they'll look the other way for money. Huh. So much for moral superiority. I've posted on that reality before. It is part of a broad Chinese Communist Party effort to silence any sources of information that might stir domestic dissent. Given the US-China trade dispute, the Chinese are no doubt delighted to have Hollywood going after Trump so willingly. Although that kind of effectively pro-CCP rhetoric might not matter. Not that it is illegal for Hollywood to have similar opinions as the tyrannical ruler of a foreign country. But I'm just going by the rules the Democrats wrote for the whole Russia collusion nonsense.

The Libya fighting continues 8 years after the NATO intervention to depose Khadaffi who faced a rebellion.

I managed to grab a 2018 edition of The Military Balance. It's rather a bible of international security affairs. Normally they go for many, many hundreds of dollars. But I try to get one every five years or so when I find an older version at a cheaper price. My new one wasn't exactly cheap but at least it wasn't many hundreds of dollars. My last version was 2012, so for the moment I'm not too badly out of date!

Yes, Brexit is all about preserving British democracy in the face of a continental proto-empire that will turn Great Britain and Northern Ireland into one (or more) imperial provinces as the prefix fades with power.

Maybe if the FBI and White House hadn't been so focused on mythical Russian collusion with Trump, the FBI would have done its job and not been FUTA by Russian intelligence: "The operation, which targeted FBI communications, hampered the bureau’s ability to track Russian spies on U.S. soil at a time of increasing tension with Moscow, forced the FBI and CIA to cease contact with some of their Russian assets, and prompted tighter security procedures at key U.S. national security facilities in the Washington area and elsewhere, according to former U.S. officials."

So Beto wants to confiscate guns?

Yes, that's mine.

Cuba's oil shortage. Couldn't happen to a nicer communist dictatorship. Without a superpower or even an oil-rich idioocracy in Venezuela to subsidize it, the failure is easier to see.

If  Brexit is so bad for Britain, why isn't the European Union welcoming Britain's exit confident that Britain will fail without the embrace of the proto-empire?

The Philippines is making progress on ending the rebellion of Moslems in the south with an autonomy agreement; but is facing increased Chinese subliminal territorial aggression in the South China Sea--but has growing international support against China's illegal expansion.

I know the NRA isn't a terrorist group, as so many Democrats claim. I know because if the NRA was an actual terrorist group, Democrats would make excuses for them and ask "why do they hate us?" all the time, as if we did something to deserve it.

I don't know what was up with that. Way outside my lane.

I don't know why people pick on white girls so much for liking pumpkin spice. I think it may be the only thing they can like without being accused of cultural appropriation (which is a stupid concept, of course).

I know I mentioned this in some data dump as an incomprehensible South Korean decision, and Strategypage goes into the whole 2016 GSOMIA (General Security Of Military Information Agreement) debacle as South Korea pulled out over anger with their ally Japan, thus giving China and North Korea a victory. Peak Stupid climbs ever higher.

A real 2-decade hate is reserved for Koch brother political opponents exercising free speech rights (and dancing on the grave of one) and not for an actual killer and sexual deviant (allegedly) who donates big to your side. It's all a big yawn in the media. Still, a couple more deaths due to overdosing on meth while in his home and he would have been a mass murderer (allegedly) and perhaps earned the hatred that the AR-15 gets from Democrats. Maybe all the AR-15 has to do is bundle money for Democrats to get immunity. Tip to Instapundit.

The Germans aren't complete allied slackers.

The Army is bolstering its ability to logistically support American forces in Poland.

The Navy tested for the first time its ability to rapidly mobilize its reserve transportation fleet. All 28 ships. Which itself is a problem. And the problem is worse because the Navy says it has too much to do to escort the few ships we have to move and supply expeditionary forces overseas. Relying on hiring other ships in a major war will be a problem despite our ability to do that in wars against small powers or terrorists.

The Marine commandants is beginning a year of wargames that aims for a force that can survive against A2/AD threats: "In building a vision for how to equip for an era in which its ships, aircraft, and overseas bases exist under constant threat from long-range precision weapons and electronic warfare attacks, the Marine Corps will try and go 'smaller, lighter, less exquisite, more numerous,' a top Marine general says." I've noted this and in Proceedings suggested amphibious vessels that could meet his quoted needs. It would certainly be worth wargaming them.

Putin and Assad have rolled out the "mission accomplished" banner. Not quite. Indeed, Russia has had to reinforce his forces in Syria despite earlier loud withdrawals. Sure, Assad won in the sense he is still behind the big mahogany desk and not sharing horror stories with Khadaffi, Osama bin Laden, and Saddam in Hell. That's a big deal for Assad, naturally. But can he survive that victory given the price and shortcomings in the win?

I don't know why any Democrats would listen to Hillary Clinton given that she managed to lose to Trump. A ham sandwich with a (D) after it on the ballot should have been able to defeat Trump.

But seriously, why is California declaring economic warfare on other states?  Isn't this a violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause? Or in violation of something that assumes we are one country?

If America can truly decouple our economy from China's economy, it will make blockading China a better option for America in case of war. Although the issue of blockading China is complicated.

So when Sweden really was more socialist it was kind of tyrannical in regard to eugenics? Well, some people really are deplorable, I guess. Tip to Instapundit.

Yes, an evergreen topic for our Navy is that it should do more work on mine warfare defenses. counter-mine warfare isn't as sexy as hyper-sonic anti-ship missiles but even simple mines sure are effective.

Oh wonderful. Did these scientists not watch Jurassic Park? Life finds a way. Tip to Instapundit.

Great. I'm glad Obamacare required the health industry to digitize our health records. Sure, a different law requires them to remain private. But oh well. Tip to Instapundit.

Sure, we've been panicky and wrong before. But this time for sure (tip to Instapundit)! Look, the underlying basic science can be correct broadly speaking without the predictions or solutions being anywhere near close to correct. Of course, if it is a religion, it all makes sense. Now go and emit no more.

Yeah, ef the NYT and their fellow travelers. And yes, if the free states hadn't compromised with the slave states, the slave states wouldn't have faced the pressure (and war) to end slavery. How long would slavery have continued in the south without the effects of America's founding commitment to freedom and equality? Oh, and since the NYT has addressed slavery in the Americas as an ever-damning episode for modern America (but not for anybody else in the Western hemisphere), now do Islam. I dare them. Although to be fair it would be a longer project that begins well before 1619 and doesn't end in 1865.

Have I mentioned lately that professors as a class have forfeited the presumption of intelligence and knowledge? The most vocal professors seem to be pampered clowns who have cushy jobs that provide nothing of value to America. They are ruining the reputation of the vast majority of even left-wing professors who do their jobs. Eventually, state legislatures will decline to fund these clowns as they have in the past. Remember who to blame. It won't be the fault of legislators "starving" higher education. Best and brightest, indeed.

A Siberian shaman heading to Moscow to expel the "demon" Putin was taken into custody by the Russian authorities. Wow, I really underestimated just who sent Putin to Russia.

Prime Minister Trudeau has apparently been addicted to brown-face costumes. I heard we are now up to three incidents. But he's progressive so that's okay. Canadians will still think Trump is the big ol' racity racist with racist thoughts and policies in North America. But even if Canadians turn against Trudeau, at least he could run for governor of Virginia, eh? That's how the left works. Trudeau is lucky the campaign is on so it is too late to replace him. Throwing him under the bus after his use-by date would also be how the left works.

Pelosi wants House to pivot away from impeachment focus lest voters get the idea they have no interest in legislating. Hitler was devastated to be told this, of course.

In related news, conservatives shouldn't impose "cancel culture" on Trudeau? In theory, yes. Cancel culture that looks for any blemish no matter how old and paints that as the total person is toxic and should be killed. But until the left feels enough pain from the rules they thought would only harm conservatives, I say cancel away with them. Still, the author has a point that if you didn't think Trudeau should resign for policies and scandal, resignation over this is ridiculous.

I find it amazing that people are talking about whether America would start a hot war be retaliating against Iran's missile/drone strike when Iran started the hot war by knocking out half of Saudi Arabia's oil export capacity. Why is Iran getting a pass by the Nervous-American class for initiating a war? And how are the Europeans so eager to help Iran avoid sanctions reacting to Iran's act of war? With resolve or a renewed drive to give the mullahs the Sudetenland?

I was somewhat relieved when I heard that a mechanic who sabotaged an airliner did it for work reasons notwithstanding his name. I'd prefer it if Americans didn't try to kill other Americans. Well apparently the man may actually have been trying to conduct his part in the jihad.

I'm going to guess that this is just another BS partisan complaint with no more importance or validity than any other over-hyped BS charge leveled over the last few years. Perhaps I'm wrong. We'll see, I guess. But if this is about corruption involving a Biden family member, what's wrong? We have an interest in battling corruption in Ukraine. If it harms Democrats, why is that America's problem? Remember that Biden has boasted that he used the threat of withholding aid to get Ukraine to fire a corruption investigator, which had the effect of ending an investigation into his son's business dealings. No complaint for that? Also, why wasn't this a problem?

The cause of illness among American and Canadian diplomats posted to Cuba may be a pesticide for combating Zika. I never thought it was a weapon although I figured some type of remote listening device might be the issue.

Even if you are right that siding with some awful people will get them to turn against you last, eventually those awful people do get around to you.

France is leading an effort to get an all-European anti-tank missile into production. But other European countries already have missiles. Is this about defense or pan-European industrial policy?

Finally, a real miscreant in the Trump administration is beginning to get a dose of needed justice for his actions that hurt America. Tip to Instapundit.

South Korea and Japan have formidable militaries. Why South Korea is hacking away at their alliance with Japan is beyond me. South Korea and Japan need each other. Yes, Japan was a cruel colonial master. But America got over the Kaiser and Hitler. Our problems with Germany stem from Germany's refusal to help defend Europe. Japan seems fully on board defending their region, including South Korea, from threats from China and North Korea (and Russia).

It's a sad day when anti-Kremlin protests are brutally dispersed in Georgia. It's a Georgian Nightmare.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The People are Tired of Something, No Doubt

Is there Trump burnout spreading among the voters as left-leaning pundits suggest? I don't know. I know I am weary of the constant dishonest charges and sometimes even pointless attacks on trivial things by Democrats as if they signal End Times.

I'm bewildered by the anti-Trump Republicans who while understandably disliking Trump, seemingly prefer a Democrat in the White House.

And I roll my eyes at the sometimes worshipful tones of his elite backers. Even as I understand the relief of  "civilians" across the country who are grateful to have someone who listens to their problems and fights.

But I'm not tired of Trump's policies for the most part, although I do worry his inner New York City liberal will come out before he leaves office in 2025.

And the Democrats who are the only alternative are just nuts these days. If they were sane they would have worked with Trump to coax his inner Democrat out. But thank God they have been too dense to do that.

Is Trump too harsh in his tone?

Well, we saw what being a gentleman who suffered Democratic dirt did for George W. Bush's reputation. And for Romney's candidacy. So as wearisome has Trump's demeanor may be, I can't rule out that it is necessary to ward off the effects of the relentlessly hostile and dishonest Democrats, media, professor class, and Hollywood.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, I've mostly stopped watching the news to avoid the turn-it-to-11 faux Resistance and the Republican (admittedly justified) outrage over the Resistance. That's what I was weary of seeing. And I feel much better now.

But I'll still vote for Trump. For the first time. I will not reward the Democrats for what they have intensively done since 2016 to corrupt our institutions and poison our civic life. Period. That is what I am tired of these days.

Found On Road Dead

The new Ford carrier is having problems with nuclear propulsion, catapults, landing system, ammo elevators, and radar. Already expensive, it will be more expensive to fix. Other than that Ford is fabulous.

Oh Lord:

The new Ford class CVN (nuclear powered aircraft carrier) has become a major disaster rather than a more effective new ship design. Several innovative new technologies were supposed to have made the Fords more effective and cheaper to operate than the previous, and similar looking Nimitz class. Two of those new technologies, EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System) catapults and landing equipment and high-speed electromagnetic ammunition elevators (for getting explosive items to the deck more quickly). There are lesser problems with the nuclear propulsion system, the new radars and modifications needed so that the new F-35C can operate. ...

The Ford is already two years late and will probably be at least four years late. Much of those delays could have been avoided if many of these new technologies were not installed on the first of the Ford class. Originally these new technologies were to be introduced separately in the first three Fords. Those early CVNs could have the new tech installed during the major refurbishment/upgrade periods that take carriers out of service for a year or more every decade. Before construction began on Ford it was decided to try and save some money by introducing all this new tech in the first ship.

The super carrier is great for power projection missions that require a floating air field to fight enemies ashore without significant anti-ship capability.

But that's the apple to the other very different orange mission.

When the mission is sea control against a major naval and air threat, as far as I'm concerned the super carrier is just a potential super expensive burning hulk.

The super carrier is the ultimate in platform-centric warfare. That is an environment that requires you to mass assets together to mass effects (as in striking the enemy).  And the Ford-class carrier is supposed to the be ultimate super carrier with the ability to generate more sorties with fewer crew.

In a network-centric world with large numbers of long-range, precision weapons guided by persistent surveillance and within a network that can mass effects without massing assets, a few high-cost assets that mass effects on the single platform are counter-productive.

Not only are those few very capable assets very expensive to build, they are expensive to protect. Assets that could otherwise go on offense are tied to the carrier to protect its very valuable skin.

And worse, the new Ford can't carry out its mission at all--as costs go up trying to fix problems. Sure, the Navy thinks that the operating costs of the carrier will be significantly lower than the carriers before the class, but will that work out better than the construction costs?

People use the fact that China is building carriers to justify our own carriers. But what are we doing to match China's naval build up? Building more carriers? No. We are adding missiles to Navy ships and subs, and getting the Army, Air Force, and Marines to add their own cannons and missiles to the anti-ship mission (see the Army's Multi-Domain Operations concept).

I'm grateful that China is effing up, too, by spending resources on carriers. I've wondered where in the world they think they'll use them (unless they are distractions for our Navy).

But that doesn't mean we aren't also effing up by thinking the super carrier is needed to control the seas when we have cheaper weapons that we can spread throughout the fleet. A fleet that would be larger if we didn't have to put so much of our budget into carriers.

Still, as I've long argued, the super carrier is useful for power projection missions short of a major war with a major power that requires us to fight to control the seas. I wouldn't retire them all.

But I would let their numbers dwindle by slowing down our rate of construction, and retire those in service a bit early in order to mothball them with some life left in case we need to reactivate carriers if we need sea-based air power that won't face significant anti-ship threats.

I'm worried about the Navy's inability to bring new ships into service without major glitches in design and construction quality. This isn't a problem just for Ford. But the Ford problem may have a silver lining.

Will the cost and problems with the Ford class super carrier push the Navy to build more ships and subs instead when the reality of network-centric warfare (or the previous buzz words up to today's "kill web") failed to drive the change?