2008/02/28

Kosovo sucess story and another less successful story

It took years of atrocities and civil/interstate wars (not really clear what) in Yugoslavia till several NATO air forces were employed to bomb Yugoslavia into submission. The ethnic cleaning (wiping away Albanians from Kosovo) was stopped.
A treaty allowed Western troops to secure Kosovo, a state was built up there, it declared independence and we happily recognized the new nation of Kosovo.

Finally a war, a nation-building operation and diplomatic actions with success.
That's the news (well it was, I'm a bit late). We just need to silence those critics in Belgrade and Moscow who don't accept the sovereignty of the Kosovars.


Meanwhile, some rather less optimal things happened.

A minority of a state (regional majority at the same time) wanted to break free and asked Western diplomats how they could get enough support for this idea. The answer was basically that they needed a couple thousand corpses to create enough agitation.

They received help from not so remote civil war fronts by war-experienced foreigners with experience in ethnic cleansing and launched a small civil war.
Their state's reaction wasn't favorable and with some exaggeration they created enough agitation in the West. Patience and appeasement was out, it was time for a war.
The only problem was Russia, which prevented a (by international law standards) legal war. Instead, we waged an illegal war of aggression - and won. The blunders of our air forces (like for example bombing completely pointless targets and striking lots of decoys, ridiculously inflated battle damage assessment results) didn't penetrate into public conscience, but were horrible.
Nevertheless, numerical and qualitative superiority yielded the first victory in a war based on only air power. Not a single aggressor soldier had died by enemy fire.

We went on to occupy the area and the insurgents turned into politicians. Many of these politicians were in fact criminals and war criminals, but we protected them against prosecution. The area became a major hub for a lot of criminal activity - drug trade, prostitutes trade and else.
The official economy of the region is marginal - crime is the economy.
We also accepted many of those people into some of our nations as refugees, smart move?

The regional minority (=national majority) was in great part forced to leave. We didn't call that ethnic cleansing, after all it were OUR soldiers who controlled the region. We were there to END ethnic cleansing, not to look away when it happens!
By the way - we didn't find the proposed huge mass graves, but were rather reminded of how useless aerial photography is for political decisions. It always depends on what the image interpreter writes on those photos (or what he was told to write on them).

Recently they declared independence. There's already another state of the same nationality, but nobody seems to care. We recognized their state and have yet another trouble with Russia instead of making friends. Friendship with a corrupt/criminal region is apparently more important than good relations with Russia.

A significant chunk of the region - excuse me - "new sovereign state" is still settled by a minority and doesn't belong to it, but somehow we don't care about this. Sometimes we care rather about official borders. It really depends on whether we like the borders or not. Good and bad borders, good and bad sovereignty, you know?

We had soldiers in that region for eight years and the balance is a disaster.

Now guess which state I was talking about.


Sven Ortmann

2008/02/14

Respect our democracy!

In October '07 I suggested that the loyalty of the European Allies was already too strong and not - as suggested by others - too weak.

The reasoning was that we are after all democracies and sovereign. If our people disagree with allied nation's government - bad luck. They failed at convincing us about their (often poor) ideas.

Here are some new numbers. Anyone who respects democracy should think twice about whether the German government should send additional troops to Afghanistan.


source: infratest dimap, on order of the ARD (public national television), Feb 4th & 5th, quoted from secondary source "Der Spiegel" (national weekly journal)

"Should the Bundeswehr do combat missions in Afghanistan like other nations' troops do?"
("Sollte die Bundeswehr in Afghanistan Kampfeinsätze übernehmen wie Truppen anderer Länder auch?")
pro: 13%
contra: 86%


"Should the Bundeswehr continue to be stationed in Afghanistan?"
("Sollte die Bundeswehr weiterhin in Afghanistan stationiert bleiben?")
pro: 42%
contra: 55%

So Mr. Gates wants to spread democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, but doesn't respect the democracy of his ally? Or is he just ignorant of the situation?

The USA can attempt to sanction this if they decide to do so. It doesn't seem as if Europe depends more on North America than North America depends on Europe today.
But they can apparently not change this public opinion, and asking a government to violate the people's wishes is disrespectful.

Sven Ortmann

Gates, NATO and the Europeans who don't want to fight at the end of the world

The U.S. SecDef Gates exerts pressure on European nations to contribute more troops for the Afghanistan trap.
People begin to talk in public about whether the NATO is still a good idea (they do so on both sides of the Atlantic, for different reasons).

Well, I'm tired of the mainstream American opinion on this. To occupy Afghanistan and support a puppet regime there is a bad idea.

An Ally who
1. is under attack,
2. receives support by his allies,
3. counterattacks,
4. establishes a stupid strategy,
5. launches a completely unrelated and unnecessary war of aggression elsewhere,
6. focuses his military power on that wrong area and then
7. considers his allies' efforts in the previous theater as insufficient is
RIDICULOUS, ARROGANT and INCOMPETENT. THAT is the poor ally, not the other ones.

Well, the story of poor decisions in this entire so-called GWOT is quite long, even when I only include the military-related and publicly known stuff.

I suggest that you read this article (originally from here).
It shows very well how ill-advised the efforts of Mr. Gates are in this case. It covers the conflict all-round, with most relevant aspects.

Sven Ortmann

2008/02/11

Uncertainty and stealth

War is about uncertainty.
(Yeah, at least one smart phrase per post!)

Well, there's lots of chatter about what seems to be a USAF campaign to get more than just 87 F-22. They want more of these fighters and get beaten for it.
"Fighter mafia", "irrelevant in 4GW", "irrelevant in COIN", "not a single plane over Iraq or Afghanistan", "irrelevant to our wars", "no adversary in sight who would make it necessary" - well, that's the general direction.

I'm not so sure about the conventional war / 4GW thing. The price tag wouldn't be justified even if it was a COIN war winner. COIN happens abroad - and is therefore irrelevant to our sovereignty. COIN is a very poor justification for spending resources - I know, that's the fashion, but it's still pointless. You hurt yourself economically and socially and the gain is marginal at best.

I'm much more interested in the usefulness of the F-22 in conventional war. Defending their nation's (and allies') sovereignty and wealth is after all the primary and well-justified mission of air forces. The F-22 needs to be cost-effective just like Typhoon, Gripen and Rafale in conventional war.

I have a long-time suspicion about stealth and its military relevance. It was a good idea in the 70's (and in the 1940's when German submarine snorkels were probably the first objects to be modified for radar stealth) and still in the 80's. Even the 90's might easily have been the decade for stealth. But stealth in 2020?

Stealth can only be relevant in 2020 if adversaries failed to develop a countermeasure for about four decades. That's very implausible.
A very effective and obvious innovation calls for a very effective countermeasure. It's been like that for thousands of years. Offense-defense-offense...it's a perpetual cycle. There's no such thing like an offense that ends all defense. The only thing that came close were the nuclear weapons - and they were their own counterforce.

I've had an idea today for the "there's no way how to beat stealth fighters...invisible...blah...kill them before they see our fighter...blah" crowd.

My ingredients are 90's and 2000's technology:
- UAVs demonstrated autonomous mid-air refueling
- free-flying drones for use as decoys like MALD

The primary weapon of the F-22 to exploit its low observability status and supercruise is the AIM-120 AMRAAM and in the future probably a faster, longer-reaching successor. But the principle is most likely still a BVR (beyond visual range) missile with small active radar by 2020.

Such a radar is not active all the way - the missile flies on an intercept course with updates by radio till the radar can find and track the target. This means that its hit chance depends entirely on the radar. There's no secondary infrared, ultra-violet or visual/low light visual sensor aboard. That maybe on board in the future, but most likely not by 2020.

Now imagine an enemy aircraft - not necessarily a fighter, but rather a small transport plane. It has a swarm of semi-autonomous drones around it which have an ECM system aboard. These drones confuse the AMRAAM - and once the ECM becomes too strong the AMRAAM probably to home-on-jam and aims at a drone instead of at the plane.
Other drones carry short- or medium-range missiles.
The drones can be refueled in mid-air and eventually recovered at a home base to increase their cost-effectiveness.

The F-22 would stay at BVR distance if possible because it's not very strong in close combat (large and easily visible, rather unimpressive agility demonstrations on air shows despite thrust vector control, small numbers, likely not much superior fire control and missile quality at short range).
This means that the drone-swarmed opponent can push the F-22 out of the battlefield, into SAM traps and generally - push it around.

It's not necessary to kill a stealth fighter to ruin its usefulness. It's enough if you can survive it and deny it the battlefield.

This is only one of many possible scenarios how to counter stealth planes. The USAF fixation on stealth is dangerous for its abilities. It is unrealistic that possible "near peer" adversaries who allegedly justify the F-22 expenses would be unable to come up with some countermeasure to its strengths after decades of forewarning.
The only ones whom you could defeat with F-22's are allies - as they don't feel threatened by the technology yet and do not prepare to counter it.

I agree with the critics that additional F-22 spending would be a waste, but I see very different reasons for that. The F-22 does not lack "near peers", its stealth concept lacks a surprise effect.

Sven Ortmann