Sunday, February 03, 2019

Weekend Data Dump

Audie Murphy. Tip to Instapundit.

Defending against drones. I remain concerned (as I wrote in a recent Army article) about how forward infantry in combat will defend against massed drone strikes without lugging around a lot more gear and without being distracted from the ground fight 50 yards in front of them. The good news is that after over a decade of not needing air defense against aircraft (but anti-artillery was advanced), the Army is recovering air defenses. The bad news is that the threat is more diverse than it was before the air defense hiatus. Relevant to my infantry worries, the US is working on small relatively cheap missiles that would be better suited to drone swarms. Although I worry how a land-based system could be deployed forward enough to fight the swarms, as distinct from base defense.

What does China's Xi want from Taiwan? Um, Taiwan itself? Isn't that clear from Taiwan's status as the most core of China's core interests? (Well, the most core behind the supremacy of the Chinese Communist Party in China, for which any territory and any number of Chinese people will be sacrificed to maintain, of course.) One thing I don't get is how the KMT can be considered the pro-China party in Taiwanese politics. Aren't they the losers in the Chinese civil war who believe in a united China that they should control instead of the communists? I realize it has been a long time since the KMT fled to Taiwan and the party has evolved since then. But I thought that was at least the theoretical core of its reason to exist despite their call for one China that preserves Taiwan's democracy within it (good luck with that). For China, isn't the pro-independence DPP less of a threat to China's ruling party because the DPP simply wants to run Taiwan in peace? Or is the sight of Chinese successfully practicing democracy the threat the Chinese Communist Party sees? But it is interesting to read that the the "1992 Consensus" is even less of a formal agreement than the farcical Iran nuclear deal.

Is America (again) at peak oil? I admit I have worried about the short lifespan of shale oil wells. If we do have a window of opportunity before our oil output declines, let's use it while we have it to crush oil-producing foes. An interesting aspect is that we export our shale oil because we can't refine it with infrastructure based on heavier overseas oil. So we still need imported oil. And if the shale oil is fleeting, it makes no sense to re-tool our refineries for our own light oil.

The idea that we should allow despotic enemies--not, as stated, rivals--to prosper because it is in our interests is ludicrous. Especially saying that a stable Assad would help us fight terrorists. Recall the ancient history of the Iraq War when stable Iran's vassal state Syria funneled jihadi suicide bombers into Iraq to kill Iraqis and Coalition troops.

I continue to worry that we lost an opportunity in early 2018 to launch a preemptive strike on North Korea's nuclear infrastructure before they can be a threat to America. I have never believed North Korea is serious about getting rid of their nukes and only thought Trump's diplomatic effort was worth it as we geared up our forces from their levels of neglect in the Obama era to be able to hit them while their nuclear force levels are limited in range and numbers. Have a super sparkly day. I will gladly eat my words if our diplomatic effort works but I don't see it. We may need to get lucky and see North Korea collapse.

I hope the option of delaying Brexit beyond the original March deadline is dead. Any delay--even for a few weeks--tells Brexit opponents that refusing to agree to a deal is the way to stop Brexit despite the referendum that told the British government to leave the European Union.

Democrats keep looking for anti-Semitism in the Trump administration but they'd have more luck looking in the mirror.

The Army needs to be mobile to avoid Russian precision strike and persistent surveillance, if fighting in the Donbas is the taste of things to come. I have worried that any unit not armored (or not dug in with overhead cover) is toast if the threat Russia demonstrated is pervasive on the battlefield. I do think Russia has a problem scaling up that threat, but it does worry me.

The NATO secretary-general says Trump is committed to NATO and that his public demands for more European defense spending are working. Since NATO is an American treaty commitment, I've not worried about Trump. And on the public haranguing, that which does not kill you makes you stronger.

The 15-year mission to boldly go where no unmanned ground vehicle has gone has apparently ended for Opportunity in a Mars dust storm. Helluva a run.

Bernie Sanders was having a drunken ball with his Soviet friends in the Soviet Union on June 13, 1988. By contrast, I was having a very bad day on 13 JUN 88--but at least I had grenades to look forward to the next day.

The Navy is focusing on the characteristics it wants in the new frigate, post-LCS which was designed (poorly) for managing disorder rather for sea control.

Iraqi corruption continues to run rampant. This enables Iranian influence--such as keeping Iraq dependent on Iranian natural gas because Iraq still burns off "waste" natural gas in oil production rather than capturing it. And it could ignite Iraq War 3.0 because the pro-Iran militias in Iraq continue to bully the Sunni Arabs who have provided bases of support for jihadis to resist attacks. As I called for during the Iraq War, once the battlefield victory is completed we need to put civilian advisors for law enforcement and the judiciary to get more rule of law to win the (relative) peace.

Iran is digging its tentacles into Syria to cement their control with economic deals. This will not end well for Syria.

If they withdraw the welcome mat they are awful despicable racists, right?

South Korea's impressive ship-building capacity (and their advanced economy in general) makes South Korea an important objective to control or have on your side these days, if you think about it that way. I bet China thinks about South Korea that way. This came to mind perhaps because I recently noted this issue in relation to Taiwan.

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service says Trump can build the wall without new explicit Congressional authorization even without declaring an emergency.  As I've often said, worrying about what presidents might do that violates the law pales by comparison to what presidents can do legally without specific Congressional authorization because a past Congress granted general powers on the subject to the executive. I keep hoping that this is a path for left-right cooperation as the left has discovered to their horror what Trump can do with perfect legality. But all it has done is encouraged the left to seek the reins of power all the more intensely. And while it is true that many on the right have no problems with the issue as long as Trump wields the power, the situation that tilts the field to the executive can't change if Republicans don't use that power while Democrats do--what incentive does that situation give the Democrats to change the system?

I see the Easily Offended have found a reason to hate Nike by holding a shoe upside down and squinting so they can really perceive the corporate religious hate. Good grief, what doesn't offend them?

Apparently a good number of people went to college to get degrees in dumbass.

Well, a country just declared an emergency over a border threat to quickly purchase assets it lacked to protect their border. Really, the entire procurement bureaucracy over there is an emergency situation.

Uh oh, just saying "no"--or even no "for now"--to unification with China is grounds for China to forcibly take Taiwan. (Although when I thought about how China might invade I abandoned the idea of it coming "across the beach" in my Taiwan invasion scenario). No affirmative consent is required for this assault as far as China is concerned.

I don't have the three biggest misconceptions in the West about China's military. So I have that going for me. Which is nice.

In my Sources and Methods section, I note that journalism has become untrustworthy as its subject knowledge has decreased--and I'll note as its ideological slant got worse and worse. I started to notice that trend in 1984. Sadly, that era of my growing suspicion of the media may now be viewed as a Golden Age because at least the journalists in that era had the skill sets of journalism that they set aside rather than not even having--or being aware enough to know exist, really. Tip to Instapundit. Optimist that I am, I hope the convergence of media ideology and subject matter ignorance peaked in the disgraceful Ben Rhodes media warfare episode promoting the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Sadly--and dangerously--an ignorant American media has been weaponized as long as foreign agents can come up with the right ideological angle to get our woke media to go into attack mode. Have a super sparkly day. Maybe I'm not that much of an optimist, after all. The media still provides a valuable service. But as an industry--with some exceptions at an individual level--they deserve neither respect nor trust in their product. Also via Instapundit.

Yeah, Argentina, ef thank you very much. Apparently, even if the Chinese were willing to explain what they do there at the space facility, the Argentinian government doesn't really ask. Still, we do know the facility has a dining room and a game room. So we've got that going for us. Which is nice.

Fahrenhtweet 451. And a clusterfuck in response that I can endorse.

I haven't had as few posts in a month since February 2005 as I had in January. So I have been successful in scaling back. Although obviously the data dump remains an escape valve. Now I have to direct my fingers pried away from blogging to actual writing--which I've lost interest in doing the last 5 months, sadly, despite a stack of projects to start, finish, or rewrite sitting on my desk.

Funny that Trump's verbal jabs at Prime Minister Trudeau didn't cause Canadians to rally around him for his reelection campaign. Because I'm constantly told that is how people in enemy nations with thug rulers view any American statement against the ruler.  You'd think that would work with the elected leader of a friend and ally, too. But I freely admit I don't get nuance.

It isn't too shocking that Russia is violating a 2003 agreement about sharing the Sea of Azov with Ukraine in order to control it exclusively when you recall that Russia violated earlier agreements and the UN Charter to invade Ukraine and take over the eastern Donbas and Crimea, annexing the latter while the former is an active theater of low-level war. But please stop the "hybrid" war nonsense. It's just warfare.

I find it amusing that Maduro is threatening America with the worst Vietnam repeat ever in Venezuela if we intervene. Didn't any of his leftist admirers from America clue him in that Iraq is now considered by the left as the worst strategic disaster evah? Even the idiot dictator Maduro hasn't overlooked our victory in the Iraq War, apparently.

The United States started the 180-day countdown to pull out of the partially defunct (verification provisions expired a while ago) Cold War-era INF treaty that limited intermediate range missiles. To be fair, the Russians stopped abiding by it so they effectively killed it. We'll see if this gets the Russians back into compliance or back to the table.  Our military would like intermediate range conventional missiles in the Pacific to counter China, which is not part of the treaty. Also, I am amused that people ask if our withdrawal (and not Russian non-compliance) will cause an arms race. Now, I'm not saying there can't be an arms race. I'm just saying broke Russia won't be involved.

Sudan and South Sudan continue to be awful places to live.

If Mexican cartels were shipping plastic straws into California, I'm reasonably sure the border wall would be 40 feet high with minefields on the Mexican side.

Senator Kamala Harris proposed making lynching a hate crime? Wait, that's legal? You mean that she hasn't already introduced a bill to make it a felony? What was she doing the last couple years while that apparent--she says--horrible loophole in our laws existed?

The European Union sides with Spain over Gibralter, calling it a colony of Britain. I guess the EU has no problem with Spain's Cueta and Melilla "enclaves" in Africa.

Why Western feminists aren't the most hardcore anti-jihadists is beyond me. Actually, I do know--they are not feminists but the women's auxiliary groups of leftism. Which is different.

Meteorite strike in Cuba. But this can't be right: "Photos published showed small black stones which when split open had dark red veins." Dark red veins?! That's the start of a science fiction movie that does not end well for humans.

I am slowly reading the Army study on the Iraq War (volumes one and two). It is interesting that the study discusses the tug between the Bush administration and the Army about the size of the invasion force. Back when conventional operations wrapped up, I noted that it seemed like the force composition was a way around a hypothetical force limit established by the civilians. I noted that while the invasion had just 3 division headquarters (3rd Infantry, 101st Airborne, and the Marine MEF), plus a British division--with another American division quickly following and the 173rd Airborne dropped in the north to support the Kurds (funny enough I had met the brigade commander who presented his paper in the same forum I had presented a paper at the 1997 AUSA convention. He seemed like a good guy.), the American initial invasion force actually had the line battalion equivalent of 6 US divisions (28 Army and 32 Marines--plus 10 British)--which is what the Army considered the force needed for a major theater war (MTW), as the term of art was back then. I had a shorter history of the Iraq War (but with two major portions in links). For some reason it really ticks me off that the 3-division (or worse!) invasion notion is so settled.

Also on the study, the Army grossly over-estimated the skills of the Iraqi military. I remember making a map of Iraq and Kuwait on hex paper, and making unit counters based on my estimates of Iraqi divisions and American/British brigades. I figured an American brigade could, unaided, annihilate an Iraqi regular army division and that with air power an American brigade would annihilate a Republican Guard division. My quick and dirty analysis/simulation led me to think we'd reach Baghdad pretty quickly. I wanted to bounce the city on the run, and to the Army's credit it did try the "Thunder Run" raid through Baghdad to test that concept and ultimately punched into the city from the southwest while the Marines made a river crossing in the southeast, ending the initial concept of isolating the city. Given the speed of the advance by both the Army west of the Euphrates River and the Marines in the Tigris/Euphrates valley, I find it hard to believe we really over-estimated the Iraqi military in practice.

French "yellow vest" protests continue, this time protesting "non-lethal" weapons used by police.  I have no idea where the protests are heading. It is more than fuel taxes now but is it "regime change?" But this is a good reminder that "non-lethal" weapons are simply "less-than-lethal (usually)." Ideally, such weapons are used with the same threshold for use as firearms. In that case on average they will be much less lethal than firearms. But if "non-lethal" weapons have a much lower threshold of use because they are seen as "non-lethal" then their advantage will be much less in terms of causing casualties.

Democrats have been hunting for proof of racism in the Trump administration without much luck (except in their fantasies) when they had one in their own ranks all along. But that's okay, CNN confused the party affiliation for a lot of viewers, I imagine. Funny how that works. And although Northam now says he isn't in the picture, isn't his previous confusion over which one of the two people he was in the picture indicate he dressed both ways at one time? Seriously, his defense is that he momentarily forgot he wasn't a racist back then? Unless the media (again) totally took this out of context and this was part of some "Faces of Evil" presentation, this is bad. And honestly, I find it hard to believe that the yearbook would allow such a thing in print unless there is some explanation. We'll see. This will be memory-holed quickly after it is resolved.

Democrats learned to love war when Obama was president and waging them:

Democrats have now learned to love war when Trump opposes them. This is ridiculous. And I say this as someone who thinks we need to keep supporting allies (with troops or otherwise) in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for our national interests. Although I was prompt in warning that we needed to articulate an objective for keeping troops in eastern Syria post-ISIL caliphate, because I worried we'd get on a road to Mogadishu (or Beirut Marine barracks). Say what you will about me, but my views don't change with the administration in power. I predicted that the "good" war would become bad. I didn't seen this issue coming full circle!

No matter how lofty the ideals of the UN are in theory, in practice the authoritarian states that are members manage to subvert the body for their evil purposes. I wouldn't pull America out of the UN or set up a rival League of Democracies. But I would support America defunding any UN body so subverted (at least let the thug regimes pay for this junk), cease cooperation with the UN bodies, and establish outside bodies to do the good work the subverted UN bodies are supposed to do.

As I get older, I find the whole Punxsutawney Phil show rather charming in a pointless lighthearted tradition sort of way. Which, as you know, is what separates us from the animals--in addition to opposable thumbs, of course. Early spring per Phil. Fingers crossed.

The US will have two more facilities in the Philippines that our military can use in a crisis, on Luzon and Palawan. The crisis could be humanitarian or otherwise. The otherwise could be the result of Chinese construction on territory that the Philippines claims--like Kagitingan Reef.

The Transparency International corruption score of nations is out. While useful (as a rule of law guy who worries that democracy is often only defined by voting), I do worry that it is based on perceptions of corruption. Further, as it seems to be getting more attention, I worry that the reporting of perceptions could be skewed by the people who report, both to protect the home team and to attack rivals.

The US will have a "large-scale" Pacific exercise (Pacific Blitz) focusing on amphibious operations, including the Army. This is a good start to thinking about defeating a peer military. Eventually the Army has to be the focus of large-scale Asia-Pacific exercises, as I addressed in Military Review.

If there is money, the Air Force would like to buy a new air superiority version of the F-15 (the F-15X) to replace old F-15Cs rapidly reaching the end of their service lives. I like having another egg in the air superiority basket in case the revolutionary F-35 has an exploitable weakness that takes time to fix.

"Red scarves" and "blue vest" protesters who oppose the violence that is breaking out in "yellow vest" protests in France have joined the street scenes. We'll see if the newcomers remain focused on peaceful and non-interfering (with daily life) protests or if they become rival combatants to make the persistent anti-tax/anti-Macron protests more violent. And again, don't think the "yellow vests"--no matter that they have real grievances--are anything to admire. They are just statists with different objectives for the state to achieve with its power.

Eric at Learning Curve is not happy with the Army's framing of the Iraq War as a preemptive war solely base on WMD. Seriously, this was a continuation of the Persian Gulf War that never really ended if you include the no-fly zone combat (and inspections to confirm that Iraq fulfilled its 1991 commitment to prove it had eliminated WMD capabilities--which Iraq resisted, putting them in material breach of the 1991 ceasefire) that filled the gap between the 1991 war and the 2003 invasion. Heck, as I noted at the time, the intensified no-fly zone enforcement prior to the 2003 war really seemed like the opening moves of the invasion by preparing the battlefield by suppressing Iraqi air defenses. [Link fixed. Really]

Despite Maduro's efforts via socialism to create more poor who were his base of power, the hungry poor seem to be grasping at the hope provided by Maduro's possible departure. What will Venezuela's soldiers do if ordered to violently put down protesters? Could Maduro rely on street mobs to fight for him rather than march for him?

Yes, remaining in Iraq is needed to watch Iran. We need to stay to block Iran's efforts to grow malign and destabilizing influence in Iraq, which contributed to the collapse of the Iraqi security forces in 2014 because Iraqi leadership valued loyal military commanders over competent commanders without the US present as a counterweight to Iran.

Zimbabwe troops accused of systematic torture of protesters. Zimbabwe continues to be pictured in the encyclopedia to illustrate the "Third World Hell Hole" entry.

The 1980s called and they want their thug police state back.

If I hear another Democrat call a border wall a "14th century technology" I'm going to scream at the stupidity. Just exactly what tech level are walking and climbing, anyway? Seriously, a physical barrier--whether a wall, a fence, or something else as appropriate, reduces the need for manpower and buys time to react to detected crossings to stop them. Any physical barrier must be defended to work. But physical barriers work.