Sunday, September 30, 2018

Weekend Data Dump

I went to Las Vegas with a couple of old friends and college roommates who I haven't seen since the 1980s. It was in memory of a mutual friend who passed away last year. I regret I didn't join in the annual trip in time to have fun with our friend who unexpectedly passed away. Despite the motivation, it was a fun trip ("Sin City" is hardly an exaggeration!) even though I don't have the gambling urge. And it was good to reconnect with those two friends in time.

Strategypage looks at DABS (Deployable Air Base System). I noted this capability back in August.

I don't know if I've ever read anything written by Ted Carpenter that I didn't think is nonsense. Just so you know my bias. Now he adds Yemen to the list of subjects he subtracts general knowledge from. I just don't see the particular horror and crimes of our side's effort in Yemen (as opposed to what our enemies do which are war crimes) to halt Iranian influence. Just as looking at any victory closely enough can easily make the victory look like a defeat, if you look at war closely enough it all looks pretty damned bad--which it is without insisting that reality is a war crime. Plus, Carpenter always looks on the bright side of retreating in the face of enemy advances. So there's that, too.

Foreign forces continue to make it easy for the Mali government to avoid dealing with their Tuareg minority in the north fairly and avoid dealing with corruption which would enable jihadi success without the foreign forces keeping the jihadi impulses down. Eventually the foreign forces will tire of enabling corruption and stupidity as the price of preventing a terror sanctuary. Until the terrorists strike Europe or spread Islamist terror to more important parts of Africa, of course.

The Chinese sent a hospital ship to Venezuela for a week. Normally that's a response to a natural disaster. In Venezuela, that disaster is just called "socialism."  Tip to Instapundit.

American rule of law, which is the foundation of our liberty and strength, is under assault by the Democratic attempts to undermine the Kavanaugh nomination by any means necessary. I suspect this is the attempt that will prompt Republicans to respond in kind when Democrats are in charge of reviewing a candidate. Which might be next year, ironically enough. You'd think that Democrats anticipating November victories would see the wisdom in maintaining good order and decency for when they have the gavel. No good can come of this outcome that started with resistance to the Bork nomination. Bad trends may be fast or slow, but if not reversed eventually arrive. We have arrived at the time of "eventually." For me, after watching Senate Democrats examine a Goddamn high school yearbook for clues of serial rape (which is more time than they gave to examining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, I think), I will never vote for a Democrat. To Hell with all of them. They are unworthy of the responsibility we give them. The world's greatest deliberative body, indeed. Shame on them. Motivated by their fantasy world of Trump destroying American democracy, Democrats are inflicting the actual damage. I've been pretty good about staying away from mere politics on this blog lately, as I vowed--for my own peace of mind--but this is different. I have a strong background in working with both parties in the state legislature for the sake of the institution. Democrats are inflicting great damage to the Senate. May this be a wake up call for sanity. Okay, that should be the end of my foray into domestic politics. I said my piece.

A labor strike? By those people? There? Somebody doesn't care about the Palestinians one bit, I guess. When even those people effectively agree that Palestinians are no longer queen of the victim prom, it's game over, man.

Rendering unto Caesar what is God's. The Chinese Communists now want everything under and in Heaven. Does the Catholic Church even care about being a religion any more? Papal objections that Rome gets the final word ignores the fatal flaw that any candidates are approved by Peking's communist rulers.

Will an Icelandic volcano disrupt air traffic? The last time one did I noted the potential military impact. Thank goodness no country in Europe is acting like an aggressive paranoid, eh?

Given the complete clusterfuck (hundreds of soldiers have been killed in recent weeks, and the "fatigued, ill-equipped government troops have reached breaking point") that Nigeria has made of their once-successful drive to defeat Boko Haram, giving the terrorists a bright strobing light of a target seems premature anyway.

Russia's violation of the treaty limiting shorter range nukes undermines the long-range nuke treaty, and may lead Trump to withdraw from both. Does Russia really want a nuclear arms race now?

"Protesters" don't heave rocks, burning tires, and explosives. Those are "attackers" and therefore legitimate targets. Israeli restraint is evident by the low death toll. Also, "More than 2 million Palestinians are packed into tiny Gaza, which is experiencing deep economic hardship." This word usage is designed to make you think the attackers need more "living space." Macao, Monaco, Singapore, and Hong Kong have higher population densities than Gaza, and Gibraltar trails just a bit. None are exactly the Hell hole Gaza is. Note too that Israel's population density is about the same as the Netherlands, Haiti, and India. I suggest economic hardship in Gaza stems from the low priority Gazan "leaders" give economic activity, compared to the joy attacking Israel provides.

No. Way! Tip to Instapundit.

When I set out options for dealing with North Korea's nuclear ambitions, I left out negotiations to de-nuclearize North Korea. That route had failed and I didn't consider it an option. I remain skeptical that North Korea will agree to give up nukes via talks rather than using talks to buy time to make North Korea's arsenal too resilient to destroy with high assurance. But Trump clearly thought outside the box I constructed for the crisis. I hope Trump is right. I worry that nothing can assure North Korea that we don't plan to invade them, considering that for more than sixty years we haven't.

Thailand's Islamic terrorist problem continues to decline. But the south remains different and vulnerable to unrest of one sort or another. Oh, and corruption, of course.

American F-35Bs--flying from an amphibious platform--will get their first combat mission over Afghanistan. Although Afghanistan is hardly a test given the complete lack of need for stealth to operate against ground targets there. (And that mission took place.)

The beatings will continue until loyalty improves. There is method to Maduro's madness. But never say socialism doesn't level out society. Other than the lavish lifestyles of the top 1% of the ruling class, the other 99% is all equally impoverished!

Ukraine, the biggest victim of Russian aggression (as of this writing), is happy with American support.

Russia is squeezing Ukraine at sea economically in the Sea of Azov. I'm not sure how much Ukraine can do militarily given Russian superiority at sea. I still think Ukraine should charge Russia rent for controlling Crimea and the waters around the peninsula, and seek legal remedies. Russia could easily blockade Ukraine and there is little Ukraine could do about it.

It's nice to have a long-range deployable naval mine. But good grief, I hope the aerial weapon carries more than one mine at that weight. How many could a plane deploy? How many could we afford to buy if that effort is needed for a single mine?

The corruption issue I've raised about India's military procurement bureaucracy is just part of the corruption in general that will hobble India's attempts to match China in power (part of a wide-ranging post on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India).

American B-52s challenged Chinese claims to the South China Sea again.

If the European Union can create an alternative to China's New Silk Road (by whatever name it goes by) project in Africa, I'd actually congratulate that otherwise repugnant tyranny-loving entity.

This author calls for an Army Maritime Command to maximize the Army's "navy."  Few know the Army has boats and ships. But knowing the Army has a navy is one reason I called for an Army modularized auxiliary cruiser. It isn't just for AFRICOM.

I obviously don't want men to assault women. I have a daughter (and mother, sister, sister-in-law, and niece, as well as women friends for that matter). But I also don't want innocent men's lives destroyed by baseless accusations automatically believed. I have a son. And as a citizen, I want rule of law--as I've droned on about for years in regard to foreign countries--here in America.

We should want--and help--Prince Mohammed bin Salman succeed in his efforts to reform Saudi Arabia. This is a path for Islamic moderates to win the civil war that is the heart of the war on Islamic terrorism.

Some protests in the Islamic world about China's mass detention of Moslems. Moslems clearly want to move to America but "Islamophobia" is a problem here.

I noted a RAND study that disputed that having warrant officer pilots whose job is to fly planes rather than desks as officer pilots do would solve the Air Force pilot retention problem, citing lower pay for WOs compared to officers. I hadn't considered that and so adjusted my view on the issue. This officer disputes the RAND study focus on pay and fits more with my original view. But I admit this is outside my lane.

Russia and China want UN sanctions on North Korea eased. I honestly don't know if this is for the purpose of shielding North Korea's drive for nukes or whether this is because they are actually worried that a real nuclear deal with America will peel North Korea away from alliance with them.

From the "Well, Duh" File: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday accused Iran of hiding nuclear-related material at a warehouse in Tehran, which he said proved it had not abandoned its nuclear weapons program."

If there really is a humanitarian disaster looming in Yemen, America should lead an effort to get food aid there. No question. But aside from terrible pictures, where is the food crisis? In territory controlled by Saudi-allied forces? In Houthi territory? Who, if anyone, is blocking food as a weapon of war? And remember that there have been a lot of false cries of wolf (and six months ago the issue was not starvation but "food insecurity") with talk of mass war casualties when the reported death toll hasn't nearly as bad as other wars and not much more than the Ukraine death toll that is mostly ignored; and with loose talk of Saudi war crimes when the responsibility for bombing deaths there usually lies with the Houthis who use human shields. And finally, this is a reminder that a higher rate of casualties to shorten a war is more humane than the false compassion that lowers the casualty rate at the price of lengthening a war.

American forces may not remain in Syria as long as Iran maintains forces there, but it sounds like we will make sure American support for the Kurds and Arabs in the region generally defined as east of the Euphrates River continues.We have about 2,000 military personnel in Syria right now. Whether that includes special forces that we tend not to talk about is another question.

This is just silly. I think European "cohesion" has been an EU aspiration (pursuing "ever closer union") but in reality non-existent (thank goodness); and Trump is strengthening NATO. Nor do I think America will pull out of the WTO.

China isn't advertising its warship launches as it has in the past. Clearly we can see them, so China must want to lower the threat imagery.

Netherlands police prevented a "major terrorist attack." Although it was early in the plan before the arrested men got the weapons they wanted for the carnage they planned to inflict.

An American B-52 skirted Russian territory around the Barents Sea. As a Russian SSBN bastion and the home to Russia's major fleet, that's a sensitive region for Russia.

Somebody needs to take away Sweden's belt and shoe laces.

A Greek author (writing in the New York Times) attacks Trump for allegedly not valuing allies (the author is completely wrong) by noting ancient Greece's alliances that made them great. The author describes how the alliance became an empire without then wondering about the wisdom of urging Trump to act like the ancient Athenians. Seriously, isn't his tale a warning against Trump compelling allies to be subject states? If not, what is the point of the article which oddly wanders off into domestic American politics? Actually, the tale of ancient Athens should be a cautionary tale of Brussels turning the EU from a voluntary trade bloc into  an empire of subject states kept in line with brutal force if necessary. That was a seriously stupid and unfocused opinion piece.

American and Japanese warplanes demonstrated freedom of passage in the East China Sea air space.

Did a Russian fighter snap a photo of an American F-22 over Syria? Maybe. The photo could be doctored. But it isn't impossible. Remember the F-22 is stealthy--not invisible. And the Russians have had three years to pull that off.

The American military is testing multi-domain operations in the Pacific. Honestly, it doesn't seem like a real multi-domain campaign with the synergy provided by each service working its own domain in a joint campaign. It seems like the military is testing how all the services can help control the sea domain from their own domains.

I'm just never impressed with futuristic descriptions of how a military force can win with razzle dazzle technology without an enemy being able to effectively interfere. One can doubt the ability to carry out a traditional over-the-beach invasion on a large scale without buying a fantasy alternative.

The Army and Marines need to do a better job of maintaining prepositioned equipment overseas. With most of our ground power back in the United States rather than forward deployed, those sets of equipment are vital for quickly getting initial units overseas.

Given renewed focus on stopping Iran, it does seem odd on the surface that America is removing two SAM batteries from Kuwait and one from Bahrain (the one to be removed from Jordan is not so odd given the collapse of southern front rebels in Syria). But keep in mind we're talking about only three batteries. Those are small units. And we've been selling a lot of weapons to Gulf allies who can pick up the slack. Nor are those the only forces for the mission in the Gulf region. And we do need to focus more on Russia and China, you must admit.

Germany experiences the joys of an ill-tempered president visiting them. Oh, not Trump who bluntly tells Germany to do more to defend NATO (which we are doing more energetically)! I'm talking about Erdogan who would love a loyal Turkish fifth column inside Germany. Enjoy! I'm sure the rest of Europe will help Germany without needing to rely on America, who some in Europe claim is "unreliable."

Oh Lord. I hope the Navy is on the move to help Indonesia with coping with the disaster. Hopefully the death toll doesn't climb too much. Or, since the airport is functioning, the Air Force. I do believe we have supplies for disaster response stored in the Philippines, if memory serves me.

A Syrian rebel faction rejects the Russia-proposed demilitarized zone deal in Idlib province. They probably accurately assess that the pro-Assad forces will invade anyway, just a little bit later, and that a deal simply weakens the ability of the rebels to resist.

Iran's paramilitary activities inside Iraq have gotten bad enough to prompt America to scale back our presence in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. Hey, it's not like Iran isn't willing to storm a diplomatic compound, eh?

The US Navy sailed within 12 miles of Chinese islands in the South China Sea, in defiance of Chinese claims that those islands grant them control of the region. We called this a "freedom of navigation operation." Sailing within 12 miles is significant because it denies that the sea features turned into islands with lots of concrete make them legal islands that create a 12-mile sea ownership radius for China rather than a safety cushion of a few hundred yards (500?) under international law. Hopefully the American destroyer actually carried out warship functions while transiting so it wasn't a simple "innocent passage" mission that does not challenge claims of ownership. In the Obama administration, so-called freedom of navigation missions were actually innocent passage. That seems to have changed under Trump but the article does not give me reason to know for sure.

I'm not a veteran despite having served in uniform with a DD-214 to prove it; so somebody who wasn't even in uniform should not be recognized as a veteran. That's not a hard question to answer.

I find it hard to believe that this level of security effort by Denmark is about a serious crime.

Yes, Greece is being really silly to worry that Macedonia seeks to take Greek Macedonia. And if Macedonians did have that goal, changing their name  would have zero effect. That said, this is unfortunate.

UPDATE: Oh, and I can't believe I forgot to wish people a Happy Fiscal New Year's Eve! Sorry.